Wednesday, July 17, 2013

3W: All Writers Are Insecure

Yeah, it's true.

Published, unpublished, untried, tried, experienced, inexperienced, pros, beginners.


One of my best friends told me the other day, "I'm in that stage where I feel like no one is going to like my writing," when she's one of the best I know! Another told me, "I'm thinking about self-publishing a novella, because I want to introduce the world of my novel before I actually release it." For another, "I world-build too much; and I don't have the writing to compensate for it."

We all have our fair share of problems. The thing is, we CANNOT let this insecurity overtake us. It's for this reason Alex J. Cavanaugh started the Insecure Writers' Support Group (that I really wish I could re-join), and it's one of the most effective methods I've seen of helping insecure writers.

In my opinion, it's okay to be irrational if you're feeling insecure. Take a moment to imagine your book becoming a movie one day. Imagine the great reviews you're going to get. Get into a mindset that a majority of people are going to love your work (but don't let this become a permanent thought). Do what you need to do to get out of your rut, but don't let it go to your head. Confide in a friend. (Join the IWSG!)

Sometimes I think all writers, and other people who have similar work, need a reminder: you're not the only one feeling this way. There are others out there just like you, and you can go find them and encourage each other. Not only will it help them, but you'll feel better about yourself.

So I say this to you now: We are insecure. I'm insecure. So when you're feeling that way, seek someone out. You're sure to find someone with an open ear or a shoulder to lean on!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Random Monday: What If...?

I've been watching a LOT of Gordon Ramsay stuff lately. Here's the thing. It's Kitchen Nightmares, and he goes around to these restaurants that are currently failing. He figures out the problem and screams and curses at them helps them get back on their feet.

I had an idea pop into my head, of a beautiful, magical fantasy-land.

What if there were a restaurant, or café, for writers?

Imagine: Walking down the street when you catch a glimpse of a sign for a new café on the corner, urging you to bring your own flash drive (but it's okay if you don't!). As soon as you walk inside the doors, small square tables with some sort of elaborate color design are shuffled throughout the area.

But on each a tablet (which is attached to prevent theft). These tablets only have two programs: Scrivener or Microsoft Word. As if that wasn't cool enough, there are USB ports to use to save your progress after you've had your food or drank your coffee. Forget a flash drive? That's okay, they sell them at the counter!

Did I mention, for any writers on the staff, there are a few tablets behind the counter? Working, waiting for a coffee to brew, an idea pops into your head--type it down on the tablet--voila! You don't have to worry about forgetting it.

In the back of the patron's area, the linoleum turns to carpet, and a few armchairs are settled around a bookcase that has a few classics, a few recent releases, and a few books on agents and publishers. (Barcoded to prevent theft.)

Each month, either an agent or an author comes in for questions or a book signing.

Come on, why hasn't this happened yet? Is this not a GREAT idea?! What would you call the restaurant? The only thing that pops into mind for me is to rip the name from AgentQueryConnect, Query Corner, where writers go for critiques on query letters.

Have a great Monday!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Random Monday: In Their Shoes?

Your alarm clock rings. You get up and go through your morning routine, and finally catch a glance in the mirror. not right. You look like you, but at the same time, you don't. What's going on? Next thing you know, everyone is calling you by a different name. Then you realize:

You're being called the name of the MC in your book!

How do you react? How many of you are getting genderbent? (okay, that's not relevant, but.) Also, think about this: You have prior knowledge of the timeline and chain of events.

Knowing what your MC will likely face, how do you react? Would you change the way some things would happen in order to keep yourself from facing their tragedies? What would you do if you woke up one morning as the main character of your story?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Interview Saturday: With LEAH/SEVEN from MARKED by Z.G. Writer!!

A rather moody-looking male exits out onto the stage. His light brown hair reflects the light to look golden, and highlights his blue-green eyes. He examines the audience for a while, and then breaks into a grin, his moodiness vanishing in an instant.

“Well, here we are. Welcome to the second Interview Saturday. I’m your host, Zade Ramsy, and our next topic of interview is the interesting Leah of Marked, by Z.G.Writer! Please visit her blog via the hyperlink.” He holds a hand out as a girl, considerably shorter than him with brown hair extending down her back, walks out from the opposite end of the stage. “For your convenience, here’s a brief description about where Leah comes from and who she is.”

Leah is a 17-year-old girl who hailed from the proud Hunting Lands…before she was taken away by Dirigeant, the new government of the Southern Hills. Thrown into a life she is forced to live, Leah comes off as a studious and subservient ward of the State after they killed her parents. All children taken in the manner that Leah is taken in receive something called a Mark on their body, which becomes their identification. When they hit 18, they’re forced into a life of servitude to Dirigeant, either to a legal citizen or to some branch of government. However, all is not what it appears. Leah makes a drastic and desperate decision to ignite a rebellion against Dirigeant when her 18th birthday nears. She hopes to take down the tyranny from the bottom up, with her ultimate goal being President David Trent’s death. But there is always a cost to something you want the most.

Leah/Seven is both the leader of the rebellion against Dirigeant, and a Marked. She doesn't remember much about either her parents or the culture of the Hunting Lands. As Leah, she usually puts off a quiet and solitary air to avoid drawing a lot of attention. In her Seven persona, as that is most of her appearances, she's cool, distant, but commands attention. She shows she has a keen and quick intellect as the story progresses.

Zade motions for Leah to sit in one of the chairs sitting on stage as he leans back in his own, arms crossed. “So, let’s get this straight: You’re the leader of a rebellion against a country you hate because of its oppression. That is an insane coincidence, because I am also part of such a rebellion…not the leader, though.” He smirks. “Just a lowly spy.”

Leah follows his lead and sits in the untaken chair, looking him over before offering a smirk of her own. "Yes, that's the basic gist of it. Dirigeant's oppression is far reaching and no one does anything to stop it. That's one of the reasons I stepped in."

“So what is it about Dirigeant? Do they just pick random families to massacre and take their kids from?” He shakes his head. “That’s really kind of sick. Almost worse than my country, whatever it is they do. Rosaria doesn’t kidnap kids. …At least, not that I know of.”

Leah sighed heavily. "No, it's not so much that as they want dominance and a work force. Anyone above the age of 13 is either killed when they resist or left alive but are forced out." She pauses, seeming to think about it. "I don't think I should say more, I have a feeling I'd get in some trouble if I did."

“Creators and their secrets, huh?” Zade grins. “I’m curious. Why the name ‘Seven’?”

Leah smiles then, one that is more genuine than her smirk before. "It's kind of a childish reason, really, but a close one to me nonetheless. I took that as a moniker when I started because I was seven years old when I was taken. That day changed a lot of lives, not just my own. When people first heard it, they didn't also really know what to make of it. The sense of mystery was kind of a nice bonus."

“Well, it’s much cooler than my nickname.” He rolls his eyes, then shifts in his seat. “Hunting Lands? Southern Hills? Give us some background.” He inclines his head, just barely, as though trying to observe her from a different angle. “Where are such places? And how did Dirigeant come into power?”

Leah brushes back some hair that had fallen into her face and adjusts her position in the chair, as if trying to counteract him. "The Hunting Lands, as was already explained, are the lands I was born, but they aren't really from your world, as I imagine. You've never heard of it, as I've never heard of Rosaria." She smiles again. "They've acted as the main source of food for the other three nations, which is likely one of the main reasons Dirigeant expanded so far there in the first place. They've almost completely taken over, save for a few villages..." She adjusts herself again and fixes her gaze on Zade, trying to get a read for him now. "The Southern Hills, as the name would imply, lays to the South and is Dirigeant's place of origin. The Southern Hills are rich with minerals and raw materials like stone, some different ores, and oil. There are two other nations, but I won't press more into the matter."

She purses her lips then, looking thoughtful. She shifts yet another time. "I have my theories of how Dirigeant was conceived, but the truth behind its formation has never been publicly released to Marked, and I doubt that it's been released to Dirigeant citizens. I do know, though, that it was formed before my time, as I grew up with a vague knowledge of it before I was kidnapped."

“Damn. At least we know, for the most part, why Rosaria is around.” He shakes his head. “Are there other groups out there besides yours? You’re pretty young…how did you gather such a following to create a full-scale rebellion?” A glimmer of respect shines in his eyes. “I doubt I could’ve done that if I tried.”

Leah nods and smiles once again, though it's a mixture of both pride and slight amusement. "There is at least one, yes, but their...activities are less pronounced than what we've been able to do. I don't have a lot of members under my command, but I wouldn't trade them for the world, I also wouldn't be where I am without them." She smirks. "Of course, I had some hard work to do to get them."

He nods. “So, tell me…do you specialize in any of the work, or do the people who work with you do most of it? My superior doesn’t do shi—” At a whack on the head from his creator, who magically appears and disappears off stage, Zade clears his throat and amends. “Doesn’t do crap. We do all the work for him.”

Leah blinks as Zade's creator appears and disappears in a flurry and laughs softly. "I do almost all the work; I am of the opinion that I should take responsibility of my cause. It's my crusade, and I don't want to force that burden onto others. If they wish of their own free will to do so, I allow it. As for specializations..." She sighed. "I'm not too proud of it, but I act as the infiltrator and main assassin. I am prepared to do so, so that others don't need to bloody their hands as I have. I am also willing to die for my cause if need be."

More than Chaos, at least, Zade thinks. “Tell me a little more about the Marked. Other than being slaves to Dirigeant, are they allowed certain things such as love, work, um…vacations? What is it that makes being a Marked so bad?”

Leah frowns then, looking a little saddened by the question. She takes a deep sigh. "Marked are basically brainwashed from whatever age they're taken in to believe that Dirigeant has saved them all from horrible lives. While there are some who believe as I do, they're either too afraid or unwilling to do something about it. Marked are only allowed work through Dirigeant, and only what Dirigeant chooses for them. They are allowed little time off, but nothing along the lines of a 'vacation'. As for love... A Marked and a citizen of Dirigeant are forbidden to have any sort of relationship other than a work-related one. Marked are allowed to have a relationship, but any child brought about is automatically made a Marked themselves upon birth and the cycle starts all over again. We have little freedom to begin with and even less when we start 'working.'"

Zade stares at her, entranced, and shakes his head sadly. He chooses not to comment, and instead asks, “Could you describe a little about this David Trent? Do you think he alone initiates all of the ill activity of Dirigeant, or if there are other people working with him directly?” 

"It's a little of both, to be honest," Leah sighs. "David has the ability, but I believe that his father's place as the first President of Dirigeant helped him in winning his election. He does have people under him though, and interacts with them to set things in motion. As for things like personal bodyguards or thugs or the like... I have yet to see such a thing."

“Breaking the fourth wall a little here.” Zade winks in general direction to the creators and audience. “Yeah, we’re much more aware than you think. You should throw us all in a chatroom sometime and let us have at it.” He clears his throat. “Anyway. Marked seems to be in a dystopian or science fiction setting. What year is it? Is this an alternate universe, or in the future? Advanced technology, or no?”

Leah chuckles a bit at the reactions from the crowd and grins. "Well, it is a bit of both, though I would lean more towards fiction as well. The year is almost 3100, it's 3094; though Marked does start at the end of the year, so it will actually progress though 3095. It is in the future, by your standards," she shoots a glance to the audience and creators," but it's more of an alternate timeline. Still Earth, still relatable type of things, but not Earth as you would recognize it. As for advanced technology, no, not so much other than the Marks and what goes along with that." She grins even more. "Sadly, no flying cars or space bars."

“Damn!” he says in disappointment. “Oh well. Fourth wall now repaired.” Zade hammers an imaginary square in front of himself. “Right. So, in the general Cantora—my rebellion—style, I’ll ask you a few lame interview questions.” He puts on a false official-looking demeanor, folding his hands together and crossing his legs. “Leah, how do you think you could help any other rebellions?” He very noticeably ignores the glare from his creator offstage. “Just…theoretically.”

Leah smirks to Zade again and offers her own attempt at being more official-looking by straightening her back and tipping her chin up. She also very noticeably ignores a very pitiable and sad look from her creator. "I tend to do a lot of...'public-speaking' in my Seven persona. I like to give what some would call 'public service announcements' to the general public and to even Dirigeant themselves, to incite their minds, as it were. In other ways, I am able to go in without being noticed and go for my kill and slip away. When and if I am discovered... I'm not so good in big fights; though I can almost usually always escape."

“I see.” He looks thoughtful, no doubt considering the fact his rebellion hasn’t made a public announcement in a while. “What are your strengths and your weaknesses? Anything from cute puppy dogs to be able to knit,” Zade adds in a tease, curious to see how she’ll react.

Leah laughs a bit, smirking in amusement. She toughens her face a bit. "My strengths, as you've likely picked up already, is that I tend to be methodical and careful about things. I don't like leaving room for error, as error in my line of work typically leads to death... or worse." She purses her lips. "I am also fast, agile, and I can usually think through what my opponent is going to do before he does it." She lets out a little sigh. "You probably want to know non-job related skills too, yes?" She smirks then. "I enjoy reading, drinking coffee, observing people and things, and I also enjoy learning in general. I enjoy knowing things, not just for what... benefit it may have for me, but also to just know and understand the world around me better."

She clears her throat. "As for weaknesses... I am not strong. If I were pitted against a male of your size and stature, I could kill him and/or be able to escape. Against a larger group though, say of soldiers, I would have to flee." She glances off stage. "A minor break in the Fourth Wall again, I would say I'm rather immature when I start my little campaign but that I am forced to mature as the story goes. Being a leader of something like this can do that to a person." She hammers an invisible square, repeating what Zade had done, and smiles back to him. "I am also not much of a people person, to be honest. I can get rather paranoid, though not to extremes, I am risk-taking, which can backfire on me, and I tend to hold a lot of grudges." She brushes some hair behind her ear. "As for... in general weaknesses, I hate really tight spaces, I've been scared of fire since I was a little girl, I hate pears, and I'm also afraid of rabbits..." She frowns and says seriously, "They're evil."

“B-bunnies?” Zade manages, covering his mouth to quash the inevitable snickers building up. “S-sure. Oh. Um.” He coughs, trying to bring himself back to professionalism. Deep breath. Calmly. “Being the leader of a rebellion is bound to be stressful. Is there any way you just take time to wind back and relax?”

Leah laughs warily. "Oh, you have no idea." She grins and says a little sarcastically, "I don't remember the last time I relaxed..." She puts a finger to her lips in mock thought. "There is a lake, within walking distance of city limits, that Marked are actually allowed to go to, when permitted of course. I've been a couple of times with my class and it is actually a rather nice place." She smiles though, very fondly. "I also like to spend time with Nathan. He's actually my right-hand in the rebellion, and my lover or whatever you'd like to call it. He's helped me through so much, I would be lost without him. Any time we get alone anymore is precious to me."

Zade nods in complete understanding. “Last question, following my last interviewer’s lead…where do you see yourself in five years?”

Leah sighs and runs a hand through her hair. "Five years is quite a bit of time..." She smirks at what she's about to say. "Hoping that all goes according to plan, excuse the cheesiness of the line, I will be successful in overthrowing Dirigeant, and will have retired to the Hunting Lands with Nathan. I would install the prior government, with changes to how they were structured to ensure Dirigeant couldn't happen again, and I would leave. It sounds harsh and cruel, but it would not be my place to just take control like that, nor do I want the glory of overthrowing the tyrants."

“And that’s the best ruler anyone could hope for.” He smiled. “That’s all we have for today.” Zade walks over to Leah and extends his hand to her. They stand, and he kisses her knuckles before waving to the audience. “Thanks so much for your time, Leah. Or Seven. I’m sure we all here wish you luck in your rebellion—I know I do. Hey, maybe when you’re done, you can help us out.” He smirks. “Just something to think about. As a request from our creators, I’m supposed to take you to get some coffee.”

Leah offers a wave to the crowd and a smile to him. "And I yours. I'd be more than happy to come and offer whatever help I could." She raises and eyebrow and grins. "Coffee sounds good right now. Besides, I'd like to get to know your side of your rebellion."

“Thank you again, Leah. And see everyone again on the next Interview Saturday!” Waving once more, Zade walks offstage with Leah. Curtains…close.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

3W: Progress for the Sake of Progress

Ever had one of those WIPs that you're extremely excited about? You love its concept and where the plot is going, and you know how the story will conclude...but you don't want to actually sit and write it? I'm having one of those times right now.

Every time a friend asks me to participate in a 1k1hr, I force myself to work on this so I can get to the parts I really want to write. I don't know what it is about this one. There are a lot of different aspects to look at, but it seems as though I can only focus on a few particular ones.

I've gotten quite a bit of work done on this WIP, but I've noticed from the word count and my word count expectation that I need to be wrapping it up in the next 20,000 words. It seems like a lot of space, but I still have quite a few chapters to work through.

I'm sure it'll right itself in the end. Most of my WIPs are very nice to me and usually do. We'll see! I plan to have this first draft done by the end of July.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Random Monday: It Might Be the Sound of Motivation

*Listening off into the distance*

It might be the sound of all my writer buddies making me participate in 1k1hrs... Honestly, if you've never done a 1k1hr, you've never wrote like you will during one. Do it!

I hope all of you liked last week's interview Saturday. I enjoyed talking to Danielle about it and letting Ashley and Sula have at it. Their responses were so fun and, yes, Ashley and Sula still have both arms. No need to worry.

I'm actually keeping on top of the blog posts. Let's hope it stays that way. Happy Monday, everyone! Tune in this Saturday for the second-ever Interview Saturday!