Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Little Sunday Levity

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Star Wars vs. Classical Mythology

Hey English teachers there's an awesome writing contests for high school students over at the Bernice L. Fox Classics Writing Contest presented by Monmouth University. This year's prompt: Compare Luke Skywalker or Anikin Skywalker to a Hero from Classical Mythology... WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT?

Don't dawdle... entry deadline is March 15, 2011. Sorry for the late notice but I just found it.

Tuesday Tidbits: Deliver On Your Promise

Remember her? Remember that doe-eyed optimist who was simply living her life... minding her business at the beginning of your story?  Thought you would. You began your story by painting a picture of her normal, run-of-the-mill life... and then something happened to her. An event rocked her world. Turned it upside down. And she went on a quest to discover rhyme and reason and make sense of it all.

When you first introduced her, you inherently promised something. You promised she was going to grow and evolve and change... for the better of course. Just like cold, ugly iron is subjected to the fire and heat of the forge in order to become a sharply honed sword. So it was with your character. She faced insurmountable odds. She met with failure again and again on her journey for truth and understanding.

The final piece of the plotting puzzle, is to Deliver On Your Promise.
In my original post Keep Yer Pants On, Plot By Numbers I suggested that you could follow simple, effective plot points to aid your story. A lot of people disagree with plotting. They think it's the devil... the antithesis of good writing. Character determines all. And I say there's a place for characters leading the way and there's a place for events leading the way. They are for different types of books.

What my original post, and subsequent series have been about are ways to lead your character through a tried and true series of events.
Grab Your Reader By The Nose
Rock Your Character's World
Hit Your Character In The Jaw... A Few Times
Deliver On Your Promise

I think even the most hard core character-driven "pantsers" can recognize hints of truth in what I've presented. Because they are more or less elements of good story telling.

So back to our girl. We've led her through hell and back and she has grown and changed. There should've been a physical transformation and/ or mental and/ or emotional. And then she emerged on the far side... glorious and triumphant. She's discovered things about herself and her world... discovered her own powers and how to wield them. And she's not the same little girl anymore.

I hope you enjoyed this series. I'm open to any comments and an open dialogue on anything I've written.


Monday, February 21, 2011

DNA Writers' Contest

Check out this epic contest of awesome proportions! Or, is it awesome contest of Epic Proportions?
At any rate it's awesome and it's epic and if you consider yourself a writer you should enter... the awesomeness epic awesomesauce that is their contest over at DNA Writers: Writing Is In Their Blood!

The synopsis: For reaching 100 followers in a short span of time, the lovely ladies at DNA Writers are holding an Epic Double Helix Contest. And all you have to do to enter is fill out the form... oh and bullhorn the contest all around the online-isphere!  That's It.

Go head on over there and drink the awesomesauce!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits: Hit Your Character In The Jaw... A Few Times

This is the third installment in the series I began 4 Tuesdays ago entitled Keep Yer Pants On, Plot By Numbers. You are welcome to visit the last three posts to see where I'm headed with this series... Post 1 and Post 2 and Post 3.

We've discussed Grabbing Your Reader By The Nose with a great first line and first paragraph. Hook the reader in and get them emotionally involved... and then BAM, you Rock Your Character's World!! Your character's world gets turned upside down (which draws the reader in even more).

 Today, I'm talking about Hitting Your Character In The Jaw. Trust me, they'll thank you later.

As a writer, you must escalate the tension and draw it out. Remember when I said how your protag must face a conflict or challenge they can't easily solve? Sure you do, because your loyal followers of this series. *wink*

Obviously, if the challenge cannot be easily solved then Your Character *Has To Fail*... at least in the short run. After all, she's facing insurmountable odds, yes? She has to run into wall after wall, and meet frustration after frustration. You can even give her small successes and large failures. Through all of these challenges your character will grow and change. We all learn far more from our mistakes than from our victories, right?

We've also discussed how your character has an external struggle that she needs to overcome. But she should also have an internal conflict that needs to reconciled as well. As the story progresses and the challenges escalate, the consequences for not solving them should become more dire, which causes the reader to become more emotionally engaged.

And, by the time the protag meets the defining moment, aka The Climax, she will have made a discovery. A discovery about herself. A discovery about her world. A discovery about her powers and her control of them.

Come back next Tuesday for the final installment in the series. Deliver On Your Promise.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"That's YAmore" Blogfest

Thanks to the Oasis For YA for hosting this lovey dovey mushy "That's YAmore" blogfest. Whether you write sci-fi or fantasy or dystopian or historical... it's difficult not to get caught up in a good romance. And with that in mind, this YAmore blogfest showcases, in 250 words, some of the best romantic scenes in YA WIP's anywhere in the blogosphere. Please click through the link above to visit the other participants.
This will probably be my final blogfest post from my Caenus WIP. (subsequent blogfests will likely feature other WIP's I have in the cooker.) In this scene, Caenus, who has been doggedly pursuing Adriande, finally gets his chance to kiss her.

Caenus and Adriande walked through one of the six arched openings to the ornately constructed fountain. Torches illuminated their steps. They descended a short stairwell to the basins to withdraw some water.
Cupping their hands and dipping them into the basin, they both took a few sips of water and then paused for a moment, turning to face one another in the half-light. Caenus tensed, sensing the perfect moment had come. His gaze locked on her. Neither moved an inch.
Go for it. It won’t get any better than this. Caenus grabbed her right hand with his left. He waited. She didn’t jerk away.
He extended his right hand upward. Caressing her shoulder, he slowly moved his hand to the back of her neck. Pulling her close, the space between them evaporated and their lips grazed several times before joining. A slight jolt of energy shocked Caenus, and held him frozen as she returned his kiss. His heart beat faster. She stole his breath.
Their lips broke contact. He inhaled deeply. Completely enveloped in her rose-petal and honeyed essence, Caenus struggled for words, but found none. After staring at one another for a collection of moments, Adriande giggled.
“You do something to me, Caenus of Iolkos,” she breathed.
When Caenus finally caught his breath, he responded, “Likewise.”
Adriande threw her arms around his neck and squeezed tightly. The embrace lingered as they simply enjoyed the closeness.
 “I’ll make you deal, Caenus. If you can win the games, perhaps I’ll come visit your Iolkos.” 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Artful Thursday: The Art of Love

"Cupid, draw back your bow
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me
for me"
Not many people know this, but the Greek God Eros has a contested origin. As a member of the Protogenoi, or "first born" Greek gods according to Hesiod's Theogony, Eros, or rather (love), was among the first entities or beings to ever come into existence... right alongside earth (Gaia),  sky (Uranus), day (Hemere) and night (Nyx). Love is a thread in the very fabric of our universe. Yes, the concept of Love and thus Eros... has been around since the very beginning... before any of the Olympians were even a butterfly's flutter in Rhea's womb.

The origin Eros is most commonly known for, however,  is being the son of Aphrodite (Greek Goddess of beauty, love, and desire) and Ares (Greek God of war and blood lust)... yeah, try figuring that one out... (all girls like a bad boy, I guess) His image as this particular Eros... more personified... less conceptual, is one he shares with his Roman counterpart, Cupid; equipped with wings,  a bow, and arrows that can make anyone fall in love... including himself (see Eros and Psyche and #5 below)

So as we anticipate celebrating Valentine's Day (more on that origin on Feb 14th) let us take a look at the deity that has been responsible for some of the deepest loves we've ever felt.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits: Rock Your Character's World

This is the second installment in the series I began 3 Tuesdays ago entitled Keep Yer Pants On, Plot By Numbers. You are welcome to visit the last two posts to see where I'm headed with this series... Post 1 and Post 2.

Today, I'm talking about Rocking Your Character's World.
We discussed Grabbing Your Reader By The Nose. Great first line and first paragraph. Hook the reader in and get them emotionally involved... and then BAM!! Your character's world gets turned upside down (which draws the reader in even more).

Her home is destroyed.
She finds out that her husband of ten years is gay.
She is thrust into a death match.
She finds an irresistible boy standing in her living room, with no idea where he came from or how to keep from kissing him.
She discovers that the boy she has crushed on since 7th grade finally notices her, but it's because he's a vampire and he needs to feed off her.

You get the idea.

From my WIP Caenus: Caenus is forced by his father to compete in the same grueling games that claimed the lives of his older brothers.

From my WIP *Yet Untitled*: Winged beasts attack a boys mother. But then he discovers that she was never his mother and he is now hunted by powerful Gods who want to kill him and his siblings who he's never met.

The conflict has to be substantial enough that the reader doesn't say "ehhh, whatever" and has to be believable... at least as it pertains to the genre (no alien antags in an historical romance). And the consequences of the catastrophe must Raise. The. Stakes. (where have we all heard that before?)
Yes, the stakes need to be raised to a level where the reader doesn't say, "so what?"

The crisis must be something that your protag can't solve easily, because the challenge of solving it sets the story in motion. This event may send your character on a quest or mission... even if the mission is to discover themselves. 

There should also be internal and external conflicts. Your character's flaws and nuances will inform how they react to the external conflict, but it's through the internal conflict that they grow. Yep, remember the *promise* you made to the reader in the opening... you promised the reader that the character would grow. And it's through the solving of the conflict that she will do this.

I hope this was informative. Feel free to add to this in the comments. It's an open forum.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday's Tidbits: Hit Your Character In The mouth... A Few Times.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"It Was A Dark And Stormy" Blogfest

Thank you to Brenda Drake over at Brenda Drake Writes for hosting this "It Was A Dark And Stormy" Blogfest. That is such an awesome title for this contest, which calls forth everyone's first line from a finished manuscript. And yes there are prizes, so click through the link above to view the other entries.

So here is the first line from Caenus:

Prince Caenus deflected a thrust from his friend’s sword, feeling the heat of his father’s gaze needling his skin.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"You've Come A Long Way Baby" Blogfest

Thanks to Christine over at Writer's Hole for hosting this blogfest. She is celebrating her own four year journey along her path to publication... how her command of the craft has improved over that time. As writers, we can't help but notice our improvement through the revision process. We look at early stuff we wrote and nearly gag, wondering how we could've written such godawful rubbish. But the journey is just as rewarding as the destination.

In this blogfest we are to post an early version of a scene. And then follow it with a well critiqued and revised version... to show growth. So here we go. First is my opening to Caenus as I first wrote it. Next will be my opening to Caenus now.


King Kranos sat perched upon the low wall
surrounding the interior courtyard of the Iolkosian
royal palace. He gazed intensely at the training
session taking place between his son and his son’s
longtime friend. As dust rose from the ground in
random clouds, kicked up by the swiftly moving
feet of the two sparsely armored young men, the
king wondered how long it would be before his son
would be strong enough to assume command of the
military. A fine prince he was, though unremarkable
and undistinguished as yet.

Prince Caenus, standing a muscular six feet tall
with skin that had been kissed by the sun, dodged and
ran around the huge ten-foot statue of Kheiron, the wise
centaur of lore, which stood at the northern edge of the
courtyard. The statue depicted the half-man/half-horse,
reared up on his hind legs and pulling a bow taut that
looked as if, at any moment, it would launch its arrow
far into the middle of the Gulf of Pagasae.

In a surprising move, Golan, Caenus’ friend,
jumped on Kheiron’s back and swung over to the
other side, cutting off his friend’s evasive maneu-
ver. Again, wood beat against wood, their sparring
swords dancing against one another as if familiar
foes, all to the amusement of the king.

“Is that your best, Caenus?” Golan yelled, duck-
ing a half-hearted swing of his friend’s sword. “Is
there no more fight in you than this peasant’s display
of swordsmanship?”

Golan was correct in his questioning assess-
ment. But, at present, Caenus’ soul could not focus
on the sparring. He certainly appreciated the train-
ing, but thoughts of his upcoming eighteenth birth-
day dominated his mind. The son of King Kranos
of Iolkos, brushed his dark chestnut, curly locks of
hair from in front of his soft, inviting brown eyes.
His squared jaw softened as he wiped beads of per-
spiration from the length of his straight nose into
his loincloth that was heavily soiled with dirt from
the sparring session.


Prince Caenus deflected a thrust from his friend’s sword, feeling the heat of his father’s gaze needling his skin. During a brief lull in sparring action, the prince shot a sidelong glance toward where his father brooded. Disappointment bent the lines on King Kranos’ forehead.
 “I need a strong son to reign when Hades darkens my doorstep!” the king barked. “You can’t beat your friend in a swordfight. You can barely ride a horse. When will you be strong enough to command the military?”
A shaft of sunlight streamed through thickening clouds and onto the royal palace. Kranos remained in the shadows. Studying. Assessing.
A sword point bit into Caenus’ ribcage, demanding the prince’s attention. Caenus shifted his sun-kissed frame, his focus again singular. Dodging his friend’s advance, Caenus darted between fluted columns near the edge of the otherwise sparse palace courtyard.
Caenus’ best friend, Galen cut off the prince’s evasive maneuver. And again, wood beat against wood. Thrust. Swipe. Swing. Block. Dust rose from the ground in random clouds, kicked up by the swiftly moving feet of the two young men. Their sparring swords danced against one another as familiar foes.
 “Is that your best, Caenus?” Galen said, ducking a half-hearted swing of his friend’s sword. “Is there no more fight in you than this peasant’s display of swordsmanship?” 
Galen knocked the sword from Caenus’ grasp and, with the flick of his wrist, guided the tip of his own sword to Caenus’ throat.
“King Me!” Galen beamed with victorious confidence. He smiled, perspiration coating his short crop of dark hair.
Caenus’ shoulders slumped. He appreciated the training session, but thoughts of his upcoming eighteenth birthday held center stage. He brushed a curtain of wispy hair from in front of his eyes. His squared jaw softened as he wiped beads of perspiration from the length of his straight nose into his loincloth, already dirty from the sparring session.
With Galen’s sword tip at his throat, Caenus looked around the courtyard slowly. Before he turned back around, his father had grabbed a handful of Caenus’ hair.
 “The House of Kranos will not stand behind your weak sword!”
The prince gasped at the preternatural speed with which his aged father had crossed the sandy expanse between them.           
“Are You Training Or Playing Games?” Kranos roared. “There is no place for mediocrity in the history of great men! Is this all that my blood can produce? Is it?”
Caenus remained silent, deferent. His father’s disappointment cut straight through him. He sighed, casting his eyes downward. 
I wish I could tell my father that I’m trying my hardest. Why does that count for nothing? He looked at his father diagonally due to how sharply his hair was being pulled. The pain of his father’s grip threaded through him.
“Are you destined to be like your brothers? Worthless? I’ve not had a son yet that could even return from the wretched games, let alone win.” Kranos spat on the ground, shoving his son’s head. “If your brothers could see you now, may the gods rest their souls. And you’re not even half the prince they were.”
Caenus’ heart sank as a lump formed in his throat. His stomach clenched. A single tear formed at the corner of his eyes as thoughts of his deceased brothers bled into his father’s disappointment. He willed the tear back, determined to give his father no satisfaction. Though he hadn’t known his brothers well, he still looked up to them. Now their ghosts haunted him.
Thank you for stopping by. Please click through the link above and see the rest of the entries.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Paying It Forward

I am participating in a Pay It Forward campaign begun by Shelli Johannes over at Market My Words. There are a few people who have given back to me to help me with my writing. One of the most helpful has been Blonnie Wyche from Wilmington, NC. She is an active member of SCBWI Carolinas, writing for the Pen and Pallette, and operates a critique group for the Wilmington area.

I contacted her about joining her critique group and she informed me that it was full. Not only that, but that the group met at a time I couldn't possibly meet. But, in her gracious manner, she agreed to work with me on a one-on-one basis. She helped to shape my fledgling story and provided invaluable advice. And for that, I'm truly grateful.

Blonnie... thank you. And, someday I hope to have the same impact on another writer coming along, finding their way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Artful Thursday: Raise Your Glass!

Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion. Ovid

What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.
 William Sokolin 

 Wine is bottled poetry. Robert Louis Stevenson
A great festival, Anthesteria, was held near mid-month of the ancient Greek lunar month of Anthesterion (roughly January to February) to honor Dionysus- the Greek God of Wine. It was a three day festival during which social order was cast aside, allowing slaves to enjoy the revelry. So it is with great pleasure that I present Dionysus as this week's Artful Thursday subject.

*Raise Your Glass*

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Apology For No "Tuesday Tidbits" This Week

Please accept my sincere apology for not fulfilling my *unwritten contract* with you, my loyal readers. I said I would have up the next post in my Keep Yer Pants On, Plot By Numbers series (click here... and here to see the previous entries) I've just returned from a potentially *life changing* experience at the New York SCBWI international conference. It was everything I thought it would be and more. And that is my *doctor's note* (ahem) for not writing the post... which *will be* up next week. Promise. So please come back.

But you will not leave empty handed. Ive recently run across two quotes that I'd like you to ponder, and If you're so inclined, leave a response about what they may meant to you.

The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.
~ Tom Clancy


‎"Only those willing to go too far will know how far they can go." ♥

Happy pondering and Happy writing!