Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday 20

Writers are eccentric creatures. For example, I must be the only writer in the world who carries around a stone in her pocket every day. Okay, a pretty, polished coin-size hunk of hematite, but still, one of my stranger habits. I carry the stone for two reasons: 1) it's engraved with a word that reminds me of my purpose, and 2) it reminds me that my purpose is the only thing of mine that I ever want to see carved into stone. I told you it was strange.

My daughter recently bought a Chococat mousepad for me at her school book fair because she knows that I'm the world's oldest Chococat fan. I have a Chococat cell phone case and don't care what the other grownups think of me when I take it out. I think he's adorable. I had a Chococat sunglass case, but lost it or had it pinched from my purse when I wasn't looking two years ago, and I'm still mad about it.

I came up with the title for my next novel while standing in line at the grocery store on Monday. Everyone in front of me had checkout issues (price checks, coupon violations and paying in pennies) and it was taking forever. I started rearranging an old Edgar Allan Poe poem in my head to amuse myself and bingo, there was my title. This is almost as odd as how I came up with the title for StarDoc while in the shower thinking about a photo I'd seen with a newspaper article on a marine biologist (his Jeep had the license plate SEA DOC.)

Yesterday I sent a box of books written by me and other authors to some soldiers stationed in Iraq. I only packed books I've read myself because giving strangers books that I haven't read seems a little rude to me (I will occasionally give friends books I haven't read but I also warn them that I haven't.) I'm not sure why I think it's rude, other than I don't want to waste anyone's reading time on a lousy book.

Other writers' eccentricities always seem much more colorful and dangerous than mine. I don't own any offensive T-shirts, period costumes or black fedoras, and I can't fake a British accent worth a damn. I've never deliberately poured Coke on a colleague's head or grabbed anyone's private parts during an awards ceremony.

But boring as I am, I'm at your disposal today. Any questions for me?

30 comments:

  1. You may very well be the only writer who carries around a stone in their pocket. Although, I have seem those stones with words carved upon them at a local bookstore. So maybe not.

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  2. I can't wait to read your bio. You're working on a bio, right?

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  3. S. William wrote: ...I have seem those stones with words carved upon them at a local bookstore. So maybe not.

    I found mine at a science museum, and bought one with a different word on it for my best friend, who is also a writer. I should ask her what she did with hers. :)

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  4. Joel wrote: I can't wait to read your bio. You're working on a bio, right?

    Eeeeek! Ah, no. No bio. I'm just not that interesting.

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  5. Other writers' eccentricities always seem much more colorful and dangerous than mine. I don't own any offensive T-shirts, period costumes or black fedoras, and I can't fake a British accent worth a damn. I've never deliberately poured Coke on a colleague's head or grabbed anyone's private parts during an awards ceremony.

    you mean i'm supposed to have eccentricities?

    I HATE having my picture taken. I hide from cameras, and I'm good at it too... *G* does that count?

    I do have to admit, though, pouring coke on somebody's head is a temptation I've fought a few times.

    What was the title...*G*

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  6. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Hello PBW! Thanks again for last week's Friday 20 help. I culled a short list to investigate from your search (sitll stupified at my lack of search talent hehe). Have any encouargement for a girl starting to *enjoy* writing for the sake of it again (those fiction classes killed me)? Especially when she reads her stuff after compiling her book wishlist and goes, oh man, this sucks? But recognizes that she's still young and new and willing to learn and knows she needs to work on conflict and darling-killing and... I'll stop now. *g* Ah, perspective. Crazy thing, eh? I'm hoping to enter your e-book contest but I don't know if I'll be finished on time.

    Jess

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  7. Shiloh wrote: you mean i'm supposed to have eccentricities?

    They won't let you in the Quirky Writer's Club unless you have at least one.

    I HATE having my picture taken. I hide from cameras, and I'm good at it too... *G* does that count?

    Absolutely. I'm the same way; no one has managed to take a photo of me in four or five years now. The secret is not to wear the author name tag they give you -- or wear it backwards.

    I do have to admit, though, pouring coke on somebody's head is a temptation I've fought a few times.

    I've spilled Coke on a famous author, but it was because someone pushed into me from behind. She was very nice about it.

    My worst temptation for bad behavior comes when a colleague starts talking about their books like they are God's gift to publishing and yet no one will ever, ever understand their pain -- I get a highly inappropriate, terrible case of the giggles.

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  8. Whenever I am having difficulty with any aspect of writing, I take a shower. I get the best ideas there, from solving plot issues to writing dialogue. My husband knows to leave me alone when I get out of the shower and head straight for a steno pad...

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  9. Well, you did say ask anything, and what I wanted to ask is:

    Do you make a living writing novels?

    Do you make a good living writing novels? (Your definition).

    Yeah, kind of nosy.

    Best,
    Mark Terry
    www.markterrybooks.com
    THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK
    coming Oct. 1, 2006

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  10. Anonymous9:43 AM

    LOL lovelysalome, me too! Showers are so darn inspiring, odd though it may be. I think it has to do with the fact you can't really be interrupted. I mean, except a fire alarm or physical emergency, like your kid sets his hair on fire... but otherwise, they're uninterrupted. *g* Sorry, PBW, it's Friday and my birthday's this coming Monday so I'm giddy.

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  11. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Ah, that one above was from me.
    Jess

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  12. I cam across this quote this morning: "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." Ray Bradbury

    So my question is this: what, besides writing, do you do to keep yourself from going insane? Excluding things like kids and marriage.

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  13. I confess... I am a Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, and Chococat fan.

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  14. Anonymous12:11 PM

    My father always says that I'm definitely the writer in the family, because I'm the most eccentric.

    Evidentally the fact that I have a PASSIONATE hatred of birds, to the point that I only eat poultry because I feel like I'm getting back at them, is strange. As is the fact that I have a Zombie Attack Plan like most people have earthquake and tornado disaster plans. And I collect stuffed animals that I win out of crane machines. I have a medium laundry basket full of them now.

    Yeah, I guess I'm weird, but I think I enjoy life more than someone who tries too hard to be 'normal'.

    Crista

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  15. Jess wrote: Thanks again for last week's Friday 20 help. I culled a short list to investigate from your search

    Wonderful! I hope one of them works for you.

    Have any encouargement for a girl starting to *enjoy* writing for the sake of it again (those fiction classes killed me)?

    Is there anyone better at stomping the joy of writing than a writing teacher? Lol.

    Whenever someone or something seriously messes with my work, I pare down to the most basic writing routine: writing every day, listening to music and making sure I get in my morning meditation. I don't let myself brood about non-writing issues. Keeping it simple and doing only what you love most with the writing squelches all the peripheral and unnecessary distractions that can get between you and the page.

    Especially when she reads her stuff after compiling her book wishlist and goes, oh man, this sucks? But recognizes that she's still young and new and willing to learn and knows she needs to work on conflict and darling-killing and... I'll stop now. *g* Ah, perspective. Crazy thing, eh?

    I hear you. The day I stop looking at my WIP and thinking "God, this sucks with teeth" I'll e-mail you. Hasn't happened yet, though

    I'm hoping to enter your e-book contest but I don't know if I'll be finished on time.

    This has been such a popular idea that I'm planning to do another one in the Spring or Summer next year, so don't sweat it if you don't make this one.

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  16. Lovelysalome wrote: Whenever I am having difficulty with any aspect of writing, I take a shower. I get the best ideas there, from solving plot issues to writing dialogue. My husband knows to leave me alone when I get out of the shower and head straight for a steno pad...

    Another water creature. :) I keep kids' soap crayons in the shower so I can write things on the tiles.

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  17. Mark wrote: Well, you did say ask anything, and what I wanted to ask is: Do you make a living writing novels?

    Yep.

    Do you make a good living writing novels? (Your definition).

    In the past I have been slammed for talking candidly about my income, so I don't discuss it anymore. That way no one's ego gets bruised.

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  18. Sandy wrote: I cam across this quote this morning: "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." Ray Bradbury

    Eh. Reality's not so bad.

    So my question is this: what, besides writing, do you do to keep yourself from going insane? Excluding things like kids and marriage

    I have a wonderful private life that stays as far away from publishing as I can keep it. Aside from my time with the family and my guy, I garden, cook, quilt, clean my house and take long walks with my dog. I love to drive around the lakes in my region and look at all the beautiful houses and ranches and farms. I hang out with other housewives and non-writer friends. That all keeps me balanced.

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  19. Heather wrote: I confess... I am a Badtz-Maru, Keroppi, and Chococat fan.

    Sister!

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  21. Note: Above comment deleted because Blogger is messing with me and posted it before I was finished writing it.

    Crista wrote: Evidentally the fact that I have a PASSIONATE hatred of birds, to the point that I only eat poultry because I feel like I'm getting back at them, is strange.

    Does JamiJo know about this? Lol. I feel the same about horses, except more on the fear side.

    As is the fact that I have a Zombie Attack Plan like most people have earthquake and tornado disaster plans.

    Okay, now that's weird.

    And I collect stuffed animals that I win out of crane machines. I have a medium laundry basket full of them now.

    You can actually get things out of those machines? I am in total awe of you. I've never nailed anything, not even a stuffed sun-faded M&M man.

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  22. I have so many eccentricities that I could be here all day listing them. The older I get, the more like Monk I become. *g*

    Like you with Chococat, I'm a HUGE Scooby Doo fan. I have a stuffed Scooby that talks, DVD's of the original series, key chains, and bookmarks. I also have several stuffed wolves. I tend to collect rocks from every scenic place I visit, but I don't carry them around with me. Instead, I carry one of Solomon's seals. I don't like foods with nuts in them, but I will eat dried nuts. I don't like meat in soups or stews, but I love things covered in gravy. Like I said, I'm weird. *ggg*

    I have a question for you. I hate writing description. Have you come up with any tips or tricks to help add description to your work?

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  24. ROFL.

    I came here to ask Jordan's question too.

    I've just done the first reread of the short story for the ebook challenge, and whilst I have the worldbuilding done, none of it shows up in the short story! Next time, I might as well do the worldbuilding afterwards.

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  25. I confess I've never heard of Chococat before today, but 1996 was a traumatic year for me, so I might have missed it.

    I don't think I'm so eccentric, but a boss nicknamed me Idi-A-Jean and Mrs. Bates a number of years ago. Do you think the eccentric one was me or him? And am I the only person who conjurs two diametrically opposed images when I hear those two names?

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  26. Jordan wrote: I have so many eccentricities that I could be here all day listing them. The older I get, the more like Monk I become.

    You know you're in trouble when you don't think Monk is funny. At. All. Lol.

    Like you with Chococat, I'm a HUGE Scooby Doo fan. I have a stuffed Scooby that talks, DVD's of the original series, key chains, and bookmarks.

    Awwwww.

    I tend to collect rocks from every scenic place I visit, but I don't carry them around with me. Instead, I carry one of Solomon's seals.

    Hey, that may be where I got the Oracle vibe from.

    I don't like foods with nuts in them, but I will eat dried nuts. I don't like meat in soups or stews, but I love things covered in gravy. Like I said, I'm weird.

    You're just selective about how your food is combined, that's all (I don't like meat dishes with fruit or dairy products but will eat all three separately.)

    I have a question for you. I hate writing description.

    See? It's not just me, people.

    Have you come up with any tips or tricks to help add description to your work?

    I don't like fumbling with descriptions when I'm writing because they're difficult for me to write and slow me down, so I skip describing anything that isn't very clear in my head and add it in later, either during my evening edit or my full manuscript edit (usually the latter.) On the first draft, I'll tag a place that needs more description like this: [describe forest outside chateau] or [describe Toulouse at night.] I don't know if this will work for anyone else but it's helped me a lot.

    The other thing I've been trying to do is describe things more as I think they would be seen through my character's eyes than my own, to get more of the character's voice and personality into the scenes and to break up the setting and other descriptive passages. In my last Darkyn book, I had a number of huge contrasts among the main characters and I really exploited that with describing how they saw things. Here are a couple of examples (all different scenes and places as seen by the characters):
    ----------------------------------
    Alex's POV:

    “I cannot say.” Elizabeth smiled like a blond Mona Lisa. “I see you’re admiring my chamber. There is nothing like it in the world.”

    Except the color of urine from a patient in kidney failure. Alex tried to think of something kind to say. “Very, uh, bright and cheerful.” If you were into having your retinas fried.
    ---------------------------------
    Gabriel's POV:

    Gabriel recognized the crosses and chalices, for he had pressed his lips and drank the blood of Christ from them during his human life. A stack of ivory tablets, sculptured with figures and animals from the Scriptures that had been gilded with fine gold leaf, sat neat atop eagle lectern of bronze; boxes in which the Templars had kept the gold and silver coins of Pilgrims visiting the Holy Land had been stacked like milk crates.

    It was Aladdin’s Cave, come to life.
    ----------------------------------
    Nick's POV:

    Setting sunbeams played a lousy game of hide-and-seek with Nick under the treetop-framed purple sky. She avoided a spider web the size of a dinner plate, and paused for a moment to admire its black-and-yellow-striped maker. The spinner raised two legs and curled them, beckoning her or waving to her, Nick wasn’t sure which.

    She liked Nature. Walks in the woods were okay by her. Thanks to her stepdad, Malcolm, who had treated her like the son that he and her mother would never have, Nick didn’t get girly about bugs.
    ----------------------------------
    Alex is a very practical, unpoetic soul, Gabriel is much more spiritual and artistic, while Nick is simpler and much younger in her attitude. I hope by using those aspects of their personalities as tonal guides for how I wrote the description strengthens the characterizations while preventing it all from sounding like wallpaper.

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  27. Milady wrote: I came here to ask Jordan's question too.

    See above answer. :)

    I've just done the first reread of the short story for the ebook challenge, and whilst I have the worldbuilding done, none of it shows up in the short story! Next time, I might as well do the worldbuilding afterwards.

    Maybe it's easier for some of us to plan the world and have it in mind while we're writing versus layering it all in during the first draft.

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  28. Jean wrote: I confess I've never heard of Chococat before today, but 1996 was a traumatic year for me, so I might have missed it.

    Be careful now that you know about him. His sweet lil face will suck the heart right out of your chest.

    I don't think I'm so eccentric, but a boss nicknamed me Idi-A-Jean and Mrs. Bates a number of years ago. Do you think the eccentric one was me or him?

    Him. Sounds like the drill instructor who used to call me Snow Snake.

    And am I the only person who conjurs two diametrically opposed images when I hear those two names?

    I thought of idéologique and Daisy Bates until my vastly atrophied pop culture brain cell at last kicked in. I've been reading too many French and civil rights books lately, I guess...

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  29. Another water creature. :) I keep kids' soap crayons in the shower so I can write things on the tiles.

    Oh my goodness - what a cool idea. (writes on shopping list)

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