Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Congratulations to ALL NaNo Wrimo-ers- Win or Lose!

(Reposted from Nov 30th, Nano Wrimo 2009)
Humor me... consider the following images...

What do they have in common? The views are amazing, are they not?
The view from the top of anything is always the most glorious. It is precisely this view that drives, dare I say, dares the adventurous to climb. The end... justifies the means.

As breathtaking as the views are from the destination you sought through the climb, it is the journey itself that holds the lion's share of rewards.

For NaNoWriMo... it's the joy of meeting small #writegoals and #goalwars... It's the joy of making friends (NaNoBuddies) along the way- the camaraderie born of a common struggle... And, it's certainly the joy of pushing yourself past limits you thought impassable.

We are not judged in life by achievements alone, but by the obstacles we've overcome along the way. Walking a thousand in-line stairs to the top, while significant, pales in comparison to taking a thousand steps on a winding path through uneven terrain, rocks, mud, fallen trees, and thorny brush. The person who stands atop the summit in clean clothes will never feel as good as the person who crowns the peak in tattered clothes torn by turmoil.

Win or lose, everyone's NaNoWriMo experience was different. And everyone's experience counts! And even if you only got half way up the mountain, there are things you learned about yourself. And you are better for even beginning the trek. I salute all those who even began the climb. If I had known in the early morning hours of November 1st what I know now... there is no telling into how many languages I could have translated "FORGET THIS!!"

But as I look back down the mountain I just climbed... I feel so much better for having done it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pyanopsion- The Ancient Greek Lunar Month of October - November

With Halloween in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving just ahead, it is a great time to peer into past Greek festivals and celebrations.

PYANOPSION is the Ancient Greek lunar month of roughly October to November. The Greeks observed three major festivals during this time.

Thesmophoria, occuring from the 11th to the 13th of Pyanopsian, honored Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The festival celebrated the third of the year in which Demeter abstained from her Goddess of Harvest role in mourning of Persepone's return to the Underworld. Married Athenian women celebrated with a feast and ritualized bathing to promote fertility. Read more here.

Oschophoria was a wine-pressing festival honoring Dionysus. The Mysteries of Dionysus were also held. The biggest attraction was a procession where young men would carry vines still bearing grapes. Behind them, a chorus sang hyms to the God of the Vine. Read more here.

Apaturia commemorated a single combat between Melanthus, representing King Thymoetes of Attica, and King Xanthus of Boeotia, in which Melanthus successfully threw his adversary off his guard by crying that a man in a black goat skin (identified as Dionysus) was helping him. Zeus and Athena presided over this four day festival during which the revelry was so intense, that the fourth day was used simply to rest and recoup. Read more here.

Pyanopsia honored Apollo and was held in Athens. The Greek hero Theseus began this ritual by first honoring Apollo for his assistance in helping him defeat the legendary Minotaur.
For more on the minotaur, check out this post: Many Shades of Minotaur- Grabbing Art By The Horns

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Advanced Character Building and Development

Whenever I think of character building, my mind always goes back to when I played Dungeons and Dragons.

If you're not familiar with D&D, players begin the game by creating the characters they are going to play with. You can chose from different races (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, etc), Class (Fighter, Magician, Cleric, etc), Alignment (anything from Chaotic Evil to Neutral to Lawful Good). Then you roll the dice to determine their attributes, strengths, weaknesses. You get the idea.

It is very much the same when conceiving the characters for a new story (which I'm doing right now). In fact, my D&D experience proabably shaped my current story telling in many more ways. Once everyone has their characters they go on an adventure quest only the characters (and the real life people who play them) have no idea where they are going.

A Dungeon Master holds the map and knows where the characters are and has to describe to the players where they are going, what they see, and who they encounter. Good for the DM from a descriptive standpoint. Good for the players because their imaginations are completely piqued.

The characters in a story can be developed in a lot of ways.So along this line of thinking, I've considered character development in four ways:

1)Physical Appearance:
Tall, short, handsome, homely, thin, rotund, clean cut, rough edges, hair, eyes, etc. Then also consider if there are any characteristics that make them unusual or unique. Piercings, tatoos, physical abnormalities.

Here's a good exercise. Pick 3 pictures from internet or magazines and describe them as if you were talking to a friend on the phone who couldn't see them.

2) Behavior and Actions:
Are they life of the party, center of attention, or are they a wall flower? Do they tend toward bull in a china room or eggshell tip toer? Do they gesticulate grandly? Are they easy going? Anxious? Short temper?

Here's a good exercise: Imagine a party with a lot of people where something odd happens. Plop your character in the middle of it and don't script their reaction. Just allow them to act and react.

3) Perspectives:
How do they view their world? How do they view their place in their world? How do they view others?

Here's a good exercise: Try to imagine a person who is 3rd generation poverty stricken and then also a person who is 3rd generation wealthy. Drop them both into a setting of your choosing and describe how each views their setting.

Now I must say, dialogue is one of FAVORITE things to write. "I" think I do great dialogue. But I suppose it's all in the eyes of the beholder. But I digress.
Dialogue is so powerful because sometimes the dialogue can say even more than the other descriptors above. Sometimes dialogue works in concert with perspectives, which creates a powerful tandem.
Consider this; how do they speak? Proper? Dialect? Slang heavy? Broken English? Do they even speak English? Is English their first language? Do they have an accent? Southern drawl? Are the concise, verbose? Snarky? Do they speak rapidly or slowly?
Consider the dialogue in The Color Purple. Or even Gone With The Wind. Consider indivual speech patterns like that of James Earl Jones.

Dialogue can be really fun. And it forces the writer to get completely into the character's head for the "voice" to be true.

Here is a very good link to some more in depth character development information.
Adventures In Children's Publishing

Below is a pretty good video that also delves deeper into the subject of character development. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I've Done It! Iv'e whipped Nano Wrimo. Or, is that not her name?

To inspire all you writers and authors out there, especially those deep into NaNo Wrimo right now (gear up for the final push), here is a bit of levity I ran across.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ARTFUL THURSDAY: Many Shades of Minotaur- Grabbing Art By The Horns

So, I was doing some research for a post soon to come about Pyanopsion (Ancient Greek lunar month of October to November) and a festival held therein called Pyanopsia which Theseus began in honor of Apollo's aid in killing the dreaded Minotaur. Then I read a post by a writerly friend named Amalia Dillin who happens to be a Theseus scholar as well as a fantastic writer. And in her post she retold a bit of the Theseus and Minotaur myth from Ariadne's POV. Do click through to her post above.

At any rate, I decided to put the Minotaur in front of the spyglass and see what sort of art I could dig up. Truly, a half-man/ half-bull can conjure soooooo many interpretations. The Cretan beast has been immortalized from Greek myth all the way to video games. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Stephen J. Cannell On Writing

Today I found some interesting tidbits from a world reknowned mystery writer on How To Craft A Long Term Writing Career. Stephen J. Cannell should know. With over 40 of television's hottest shows of all time to his credit, and 17 novels, Stephen J. Cannell is a near expert in the field. Unfortunately, Mr. Cannell passed on September 30, 2010. You can search his achievments in the search box above.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SUNDAY INSPIRATION: Musings From Halfway Up The "Nano Wrimo" Mountain

Hopefully, you 2010 Nano Wimo-ers out there are close to your mid month goals. Even if you're not, take some time out today to feed your soul for the remainder of the journey. This is actually a re-post from last year when I was participating in Nano Wrimo. In the thick of things, as it were. But as I re-read it... it called to me as appropriate and timeless. I think it's just as meaningful now as it was then.

The difficulty of completing a 50,000 word novel, from scratch, in thirty days can scarcely be imagined until one steps foot upon the path of most resistance. Forging a trail barehanded through dense, thorny brush might be easier. The statistics bear this out every year. Of the tens of thousands who begin NaNoWriMo each year, only 15% - 20% ever finish.

Yet and still, every year authors worldwide embark on this perilous journey of self-discovery, at risk of estrangement from the entire outside world… Meaning, the world outside their own heads. They do it, in part, because everyone loves a challenge. Everyone loves an underdog. Everyone loves to be a part of something larger than themselves.

I have a 55-hour work week at my day job, a working wife and a two year old child. My path is strewn with obstacles, and it winds through late nights, fatigue-induced hazes, sometimes delirium. And at every turn I have been greeted by the 800 lb gorilla: self doubt.

A task of this magnitude will force realizations upon you. Chief among mine: there is nothing else I would rather be doing than climbing this literary Everest. Prose beckons me like a long-lost lover and my characters inspire me daily. Even though I am 7,000 words behind the prescribed pace, I am absolutely committed to finishing. And as for this challenging road ahead, I channel Henley:

OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

To all my fellow NaNo Wri Mo’ers… Good Luck and Godspeed. May we all drink champagne together…See you at the finish line.

As many of you know, I DID finish last year. And, you can do it too! 
Keep pushing. Keep writing!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

ARTFUL THURSDAY: Graceful But Deadly- Centaurs

Since I have been deep into writing a series of scenes in my WIP "Caenus" involving a centaur, Kheiron (Chiron), to be exact... I figured this week's Artful Thursday should be devoted to the centaur (from Ancient Greek: Κένταυροι – Kéntauroi). These images range from the historical to the fantastical. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: How To Keep Pace In Nano Wrimo

Hey all you Nano Wrimoers out there, I'm with you in spirit this year. And in said capacity, I'd like to offer some tasty tidbits or advice that I found. When you're stuck or need inspiration or need to figure out how you will reach your daily goals, come back and look at this often. You'll glean more each time you view them.

I know! I know! You're saying... "But, if I look at your tips, then I'm not writing. And if I'm not writing, I can't make my 1,667 per day goal." And a daunting goal it is. I didn't think so at first when I began on the path last November. But, good googley-moogley, once you get inside the Nano Wrimo tunnel with a commitment to finish on time, the entire world will conspire against you. I promise.

Anyhoo, when you get a break or you hit writer's block or after you've hit your daily goal, come back and take a look. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shout Out To All My Nano Wrimoers!!

As an author and a former Nano Wrimo Winner (50,026 words- 11/09) I'm sending out best wishes, strength, and perseverance to everyone who is participating this year. I'm not participating this year because I'm knee deep in revisions. But know this... my soul and spirit are with you Nano Wrimoers!!

Here's a little inspirational video for you:

Keep your nose to the grindstone and your foot on the pedal!! Good Luck!

Stay tuned for Tuesday's Tidbits post on 09/11/10 about "Nano Wrimo Tips and Strategies"

Thursday, November 4, 2010


TheTHURSDAY AESTHETICS is officially being changed to ARTFUL THURSDAYS! *mark your calendars now* tee-hee

SO I've been doing heavy research into sword fighting for "Caenus," my current manuscript. There are several fights in his story and they increase in intensity and complexity. So I wanted to share The Art of War, beginning with representative artwork and ending with popular culture references. Enjoy.

And here is an example of art-imitating-art-imitating-life... presenting the hottest toy on everyone's Christmas list this year: The King Leonidas Action Figure

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Writing The Blockbuster Novel

I ran across these videos of Robin Rice talking about How To Write a Blockbuster Novel. And in this series of videos, she quotes from Al Zuckerman. Al Zuckerman's book is called Writing The Blockbuster Novel. The points made are pretty powerful.

The following videos emphasize 2-5. Here are the steps in their entirety.
1) Story must have High Stakes... for person, city, country, world
2) Characters must be larger than life... doing something extraordinary
3) There must be a dramatic question... an overreaching question that affects the entire world the characters inhabit
4) Must be high concept... characters do some really out of the ordinary things
5) Multiple points of view... must be able to experience the dilemma on multiple levels

So what do you think? What makes a blockbuster novel? Do you agree with the points above? Do you have anything to add?