Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Keep It Going Contest

When I was younger, we would play a game. Someone would start a story, and then someone else would add to it, building the story as each person tacked on their own personality. The goal was to keep the story going. The twists and turns that each person would add were as unique as the people telling the story.
Well, guys and gals, I want to introduce to you the “Keep It Going Contest.” Below you will find the beginning of a story. The game is to add your own creative spin to it. Unlike writing prompts, I want you to do it right here in the comment section.
HOW TO PLAY: Here’s how it works. The first commenter will add to my contribution, the next will add to hers, and so forth, building onto it like a puzzle. So that when the contest is over I could take all the comments and show what we created. You just need to read my passage and the last comment made, and then add your own contribution to the story. I recommend typing out your part in a separate doc so that five people don’t jump in front of you before you hit submit.
PRIZES: Oh yes, there are prizes. Winners will be randomly selected, and there will be three of them, yes three. Each winner will win one of the following, which they will select:  Critique of your first 10 pages or $10 Amazon gift certificate.
RULES: First and foremost you must become a follower. That’s step one. The are multiple ways to earn entries into the contest. The points are as follows:
1) Be a follower. +2 if you were already a follower, +1 for all new followers

2)Submitting your contribution to the story in the comments. Please limit your entries to 250 words, however, multiple entries are allowed. +5
            2) Posting a link to the contest on your blog. +3
3) Tell me how you heard about the contest (I will also be giving a special prize to the person whose name comes up the most.) +1
DEADLINE: The contest will run from now until Saturday, March 6 at 11:00 pm EST. I will announce the winners the following Monday.

Questions and comments are welcome. 
Have fun with it. Be creative. Take this story wherever you want it to go. Seriously, just because I don’t mention vampires, werewolves, or three-legged wooly boogers doesn’t mean that there aren’t any.
Here we go…
Janet paced back and forth, wearing out the pile on the speckled berber rug. Tommy should have arrived over two hours ago. He was supposed to be in, out, and back in her arms. The bags were packed, the car was gassed, and the GPS was programmed.
“What’s taking so long?” she said aloud, releasing the blinds. The new crease in the thin plastic strip showed her impatience.
She turned on the television, finding the local news. Forcing herself to sit down, she stared, praying that the newscaster would not tell her something that her cell phone had not.
Her skin nearly touched the ceiling when the doorbell rang.
She leaped from the couch. Not bothering with the peephole, she swung open the door.
“What are you doing here?” Janet asked.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Randomly Delicious

Happy Friday all! It’s been one heck of a week. Knee deep in those revisions, and loving every minute of it. It’s all starting to come together except for one scene, which I have moved four times. Stupid sneaky scene!

Anyhoo, I have decided to revise this blog like I revise my manuscript, one step at a time. Got me one of those fancy Shelfari thingies. (Went with the black. Thanks, Michael!) But I’m not just talking about looks. No, no – we talkin’ content.

One thing that I have been working on is a blogging schedule. I admire you Mon-thru-Frid’ers, but Momma’s got one crazy life. I am dedicated to this blog, but there have been weeks where getting a single post is labor intensive. But I think I have come up with a way to give you a Mon, Wed, and Friday line up.

I am really excited about two new things that I am rolling out next week. So excited and I just can’t hide it, nor would I try. Can’t lie to you people.

First, on Monday, I am announcing a contest that I will be hosting right here on Eyes 2 Page. It’s a unique spin on an old game. One that should prove to be a lot of fun, and with three prizes up for grabs –no less. (Insert girl squeal, manly “Yea, that’s cool,” or YA unimpressed teenage angsty “Whateves”) So, tune in Monday and wear your creative jeans.

Second, starting this next Wednesday, I will be starting “Whatcha Say Wednesdays.” It’s a great chance for us all to learn more about our peers, and hopefully even more about ourselves. Topics will range from serious to daydreaming to downright silly. But I will not ask you your favorite color, because, well, I don’t have one, and I will be sharing too.

So, I ask you my fine penned friends, what else would you like to see from this blog? What posts have you enjoyed? What’s your favorite color? Haha, Jus’ kitten!

Ok, stepping away from the coffee now...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WIP: Under Construction

When I decided to write five new chapters for an already finished manuscript, I knew it would be a daunting task. Especially if those chapters are in a different POV from the majority of the book. After the initial thought had formed and had time to simmer, a little voice, the voice of doubt, stepped in and had something to say. I had not written one word of the new chapters, and I was getting, “It’s too hard; it won’t work; you’re wasting your time.”
I kindly told the voice to hush. With a won’t-know-til-you-try attitude, I stared at the familiar flashing cursor. A week later, I finished the rough draft of all five chapters. And I’m very glad that I did.
The chapters, like any first draft, need a great deal of work, but before I start polishing, I will be going through several steps to prepare these chapters so they can slide into the book. Think about it. If you decide to build onto your house, you can’t just slap some wood up and start painting. There is cutting, sanding, and other prep work needed before you can add this new room. The last thing would be the paint. For example, the first chapter slides in between existing chapters four and five. I need to work on passage of time, trying to keep things linear, the transition to each scene, and avoid duplication of ideas.
I’ve worked out an approach to help take each step at a time, because I find that breaking it into bite size chunks is much easier to swallow.
1) Before and after transition checks – I want to make sure sliding in and out of the second POV is not jarring, but is significant enough that the reader realizes immediately that the shift has happened. Stephanie Meyer did this in New Moon, and the first time I missed it, and was part way through the passage before realizing, Oh, we’re Jacob now. By Eclipse, I was right there with her. Even if you are remaining in the same POV, you must make sure that the transition is still smooth. This will lead to revising not just the new chapters, but the old.
2) Consistency and duplication checks – When adding brand new chapters, some things in previous chapters may change. You have to go through and make sure that you are not contradicting yourself. In line with this, you must also make sure that you are not duplicating ideas. When covering a story from multiple POV’s, you don’t want to tell the exact same story through both of their eyes, otherwise the POV switch would not be necessary. The second POV needs to bring something new to the table. For me, Adam Bristow sees the dark side of the story. He is down in the nitty gritty. While Felicity is clueless that the dark side even exists.
3) First Coat – Begin the polishing process. Cleaning up the echos, making sure action tags are there. Make the new chapters as strong as possible.
4) Voice consistency check – Now that the entire book is fairly shiny, I can go back and divide the book into the different POVs.  I plan to go through each POV separately, making sure that the voice of the character remains true and distinct.  This is especially true for Bristow. He is British, uses slang, and is male. I have to make sure that all of his chapters read with the exact same voice, and that they are unique, making them stand out from Felicity’s chapters.
5) Final Coat – Read the entire book, and revise once more. For me, revisions are normally a three part process: read and edit, revise, final read through. I always read through it after a round of edits because when making edits, I often leave a dangling period or something bizarre that does not belong.
6) Let it dry – Put the manuscript a way for at least one month, and go find something else to do. Draw the blueprints for the next novel. During this time, I often hand the ms over to critiquers. This go round, I will be searching for another reader, one who has not read it. More on this later. I’m thinking about doing a fair trade, so keep me in mind if you are looking for a critique.
Ok, I’ve run long. I’m hearing the Oscar wrap up song.
I’d love to hear any advice you have for adding to a finished ms. How many POV’s are in your current WIP. Have I lost my mind? (The last question was mainly for me.) I’m thinking about writing on some of the consistency checks that I’ve used in the past. Is this something useful to you?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Whoops! Blogfest

I’ve never really participated in Blogfests, mostly because I don’t get the memo until way late at night and have trouble racking my brain around a excerpt that might fit but doesn’t require too much set up or will give too much of the storyline away. I’m still praying that one day you will all read it.

I was directed to the site by Donna Hole and Tina Lynn, and enjoyed their posts so much that I had to jump on board. So, the rules from what I understand is to post an excerpt from your WIP that shows a clumsy, awkward or embarrassing moment. Visit Laurel’s Leaves for more details if you decide to play along.

Alright, the set up. This is a fun scene from Iron Thirst. Felicity and her friends are at DragonCon, which is a fantasy and science fiction convention in Atlanta that takes place in four different hotels over Labor Day weekend. Christian is her best friend, and Mike is a friend of his from his college days. They are walking out of one hotel, and heading to another further down the street. It’s a itsy teensy excerpt, but one I enjoyed greatly.


          We continue to move through the crowds. Above us are two large gargoyles. The massive creatures of stone tower over us. Leaning up against one of the critters is a blue and red superhero with his cape flapping in the wind. We step over a pile of camera-flashers as we continue on our path. Seriously, you would think he was actually faster than a speeding bullet judging by the girls gushing over him. Just a man in tights, but not to this crowd.
           It is a nice little downhill trek to the next hotel. My body keeps trying to run instead of flopping along at this awkward angle. I’ve bumped into Mike four times. I look down and notice that one of his boots is untied. My inner child giggles and takes control. I step and try to catch the flailing lace under my boot, but his foot pulls it out of my reach. I’m given another chance. I try again, but fail.

           It has now become a mission. It must be done. I move in a little closer to him. The little scraggly lace lies still for a brief moment, and I stomp on it. This wonderful plan of mine backfires, because he is forced to stop and I crash into his back, causing Christian to collide with me. Christian steadies himself by grabbing my waist with one hand, and Mike’s shoulder with the other.

          “If we are making a sandwich, I’m facing the wrong way,” Mike announces.

          “Fee, what the hell?” Christian asks.

          “Mike, tie your damn shoe!”

           Right, his fault. Yeah, completely wrong effect.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And the winner is...

…not me. A while back I entered the Canary Yellow into the WOW! Women on Writing Fall Flash Fiction contest. I just saw the winners, and though I was not one of them -  I was very impressed with the entries. It was fun to play along. I look forward to the next contest I get to participate in. This was my first short story and my first contest, and I was pleased to make it as far as I did.
But on to the fun stuff!  In the last few months I did rack up a couple of awards from you fine folks, and it’s time for me to pay it forward.

The first comes from Michele over at Southern City Mysteries. She runs a great blog, and is a fellow member of Sisters in Crime. Thanks Michele!
So, I am passing it on to two people that I read on a regular basis, and think you guys should to.
J.M Diaz over at Ulterior Motive. His blog is zany, opinionated, and of the utmost awesome.
Secondly, Roni at Fiction Groupie. She has done an amazing job with her blog, and you can always count on learning something from her. She puts a great deal of work into what she writes, and it shows.
The second comes to me from Donna Hole. She has been a wonderful reader, and I always look forward to her comments. You're awesome, Donna! 
 I don’t always play by the rules, but in the instance I will. The rules state that you should answer the questions with one word and pass the award along to five bloggers.
So, to be a rebel – I’m doing this backwards.
I’m nominating the following over-the-toppers: (Now let’s see if I can get all the links right.)
Krista’ @ Zombie-Free Blog

Lauren @  Ramblings Of An Under-Used Mind

Tina Lynn @ Sweet Niblets

Glenda @ Schemer's World (She’s new at this bloggin’ thing, and has cracked me up already!)

Scott @ Ergo

I hope you guys play along! (Whew, that was hard.)
So, here are my responses. I was a few beers in when I answered, and decided to leave it instead of editing myself. I figure you want to know someone, liquor ‘em up and then quiz ‘em. Hmmm, I’m going to try this with my next batch of characters. Margaritas in AJ’s brain!  :-)
Your cell phone: Buzzing
Your hair: Blazin’
Your mother: Unpredictable
Your father: Remembered
Your favorite food: Salsa
Your dream last night: Regrets
Your favorite drink: Margaritas
Your dream goal: Author
What room are you in: Mine
Your hobby: Writing
Your fear: Snakes
Where do you see yourself in six years: Unsure
Where were you last night: Editing
Something you aren't: Patient
Muffins: Texas
Wish list item: Yes
Where did you grow up: Arkansas
Last thing you did: Refill
What are you wearing: Pajamanas
Your TV: Noise
Your pets: None
Friends: Supportive
Your life: Dreamy
Your mood: Mellow
Missing someone: Always
Vehicle: Charger
Something you aren't wearing: Shoes
Your favorite store: Indie
Your favorite color: Green
When was last time your laughed: Now
Last time you cried: Now
Your best friend: Husband
One place you go to over and over: Mind
Facebook: Always
Favorite place to eat: Mexicano
Thanks again guys! This was fun.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Designed for a Second Reading

*Before I get started on today’s topic, I wanted to inform you that I have been forced to close Anonymous comments. The spam was getting ridiculous. I was starting to receive about five or six per day, and I was deleting them as fast as you can say, “Act now!” But enough is enough. I’ll give it some time, and then try again. We now return you to your irregularly scheduled broadcast*
 (This video can still make me cry laughing)

I am one of those people who only reads books or watches movies once. (With the exception, of course, of TV repeats such as Breakfast Club.) I hardly ever buy DVDs, and could live with only my library card – but my need for “now” and my future dream employment leads me to still buy my books. (Karma thing)
But there are a few books and movies that are specifically designed for a second reading/viewing. I’m going to focus on movies for this post, because it’s more likely that we have all seen my examples rather than books that I might mention.

Two great examples of movies designed for a second viewing are “Fight Club” and “Sixth Sense”. Movies where the ending left you screaming, “Oh. My. God” -- “No Way!” –or-- “Shut the front door!” If you are like me, you started the dang thing over to catch all the clues sprinkled throughout the movie that you couldn’t see before. Clues that were so subtle you wouldn’t have caught them, but now it’s right there like a neon sign.
All of these examples include a big flip. Big Flip = Change that switches the perceived reality of the situation. I love this style, and to be honest – it’s what I want to be when I grow up. If you’ve read my short stories, they have this in common. My manuscript, yep – you guessed it, falls right in line.

The trick is wording and subtlety. The clues must be there, but they need to be invisible and only seen when your readers go through the book the second time. As if by finishing the book, they are handing a special decoder pen that unlocks all the hidden secrets you have tucked inside. An example of where this is not done well is “Hancock”. There are no clues leading up to the big flip. It’s just there. Like the writer said, “Ooo, this would be cool”. You have to appreciate and respect your audience. People will pick your work apart looking for holes and inconsistencies. The entire novel/movie must support the big flip.

But you can’t be too obvious. If people see it coming like a giant flying booger then the effect is lost. It will plop on the page, and your readers will be very disappointed. Superman Returns is a great example of this. The big flip of the boy being his son. My reaction - Duh! That movie is a great representation of plot holes and inconsistencies. You want a lesson on what not to do – watch this movie with a critical eye. Seriously. Sorry, rambling…

I was very fortunate to have the same person read my manuscript twice to help prevent this. (Thank you, Beej! You’re still the best.) The first time she read it, I wanted to know when and if she figured things out or if she had guesses as to what was coming next. My favorite answer was on one particular surprise, “Not until you revealed it in the book.” (Giggle, giggle, girl dance.) Then for round two, I wanted her to see where I put the clues – and she got ‘em. It was awesome to see her draw a big red smiley face by one in particular. (Woohoo! Success.) Sorry that was vague, but I hope that one day you will all read it – and I won’t be my own spoiler.

Have you used this style in any of your work? What’s one of your biggest flips? What’s the worst you’ve ever seen? (Be vague; we don’t want to be spoilers.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Just One More Time

Each time I set out to tackle my manuscript, I qualify it as the “last round of edits”, and I am convinced each time I begin them that it truly is. Closer to the end, I know I'll be back. See, I discuss it here and here. I’ve watched enough movies to know that when you say you’re going to do something one more time, you either get busted by the police or shot. Nothing as tragic as that here – unless I kill over after I suffer a fatal paper cut or stab myself with the red pen. But this time the wait was worth it. I am finally able to see some real problem areas within the manuscript, and have come up with clever ways to fix them. 
I pulled my first prologue, because it was too cheesy and too Twilight. (Not on purpose, but just how it turned out. Heck – it was the first thing I wrote). On the third set of edits, I wrote a new prologue that solved some problems, but created another – lack of consistency.  It was in another person’s POV from the rest of the story, and you don’t hear from him again until near the end. So, I trashed it too and moved on without the prologue, but it was still lacking.
The problem with my manuscript is that the protagonist falls into a world she doesn’t know exists, forced into situations she has no business being in, and the story is how she deals with it. You need to see her in her own environment before stripping it all away from her – and then watch her grow. The story is told in the protagonist’s first person POV. She is light and airy, while the world is dark and sinister.
The reader needs to know what they are getting into. I keep thinking about From Dusk ‘til Dawn.  I apparently missed all the previews and warnings about this movie before watching it. I sat down with my popcorn, and watched George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino be the bad guys. Then about a third into it, more than a normal Act I – BAM! DANCING, EVIL, FUGLY VAMPIRES.  Where the heck did that come from? I love vampire movies; I love horror, but that was not what I thought I was sitting down to watch. Isn’t this the Pulp Fiction guy? Bank robbers, extreme violence, but why the hideous vampires.
I don’t want to ever do that to my readers. Surprise them, keep them guessing, but let them know the story they are curling up with.
So, prologue’s back in, and it is much stronger. It is in the other character’s POV. Just because the reader should know doesn’t mean the protagonist should. She gets to remain clueless. I’m adding a few chapters throughout in his POV. It works, because there were a few other behind the scenes items that I am now able to bring to life. And he is a great character – probably my strongest. Their voices are very distinct from each other – so it is not confusing. And best of all, I get to step back in his head.
I’m very excited about this round of edits. I’m not kidding myself by calling it my last.
What round of edits are you on? How many of them where your “last”? 
Do you fear or embrace the prologue?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Spam: The Other Grey Meat

I’ve been noticing a few spamilicious comments left on some of my older posts. They are coming across under anonymous users.
Three options: I block anonymous users. I hate to do that, because I would rather hear someone’s comment with their mask on than to not hear it all. Another option is to turn on the comment moderation.  Again, something I am not excited about. I would prefer to let people say what they want, when they want. Third, ignore them until they cause me to have a cussing fit.
Have you guys had a problem with this? Suggestions?