Sunday, May 25, 2008

Goin' to the Movies

We're in the summer movie season and I have to say, I'm looking forward to quite a few flicks being released over the next three months. I saw the first one today, the latest addition to the Indiana Jones Trilogy.

I remember catching a Sunday matinee of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nineteen years old and on my own while my family went on vacation, I had gone to church then sped across town to Loew's Plaza. There was a line when I got there--back then, the theatres only got one copy of the movie so if it was a big hit, you'd have to be at the movie theatre at least an hour before the show started to get a ticket. That may seem a horrible inconvenience but truthful, it was tons of fun talking to other people who were as excited as you were to seeing a movie.

Once I got my ticket and made a quick stop by the concession stand, I went to find the perfect seat. The lights go down and I'm transported to the jungle, watching as a drop-dead gorgeous Harrison Ford goes after the treasure, defeats the enemy and wins the girl.


That day began a nineteen year love affair with Indy which continues today. While I found somethings about the latest movie too far fetched, I still love the character.

Which got me to thinking about my own characters--as a writer, I want to make characters who make you love them. Exciting, yes; flawed, of course but lovable all the same. But how? Indy is just a college professor who likes to dig up relics from the past, right? Wrong--he also has a moral compass that while not of a Christian bend, displays a goodness that most everyone can identify with.

While I don't want to script stories like George Lucas, I would love to learn how he comes up with characters that people loved even nineteen years later. Characters like Indy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sleep Writing

I am a horrible insominca--and have been since I was around eight years old. Such a worry wart, I'd actually walked the floors of our little ranch house, sticking my fingers under my brother's and sister's nose just to make sure they were still breathing.

And over the years, my sleeping problems have only grown worse. It's nothing for me to get a scant four or five hours a sleep every night but some nights, even with the help of sleep aids, I find myself wide awake. Tonight is one such night.

I can do crazy things in my sleepless state--a few months ago, my doctor prescribed a round of Ambien to help me in my quest of a full night's sleep. And I have to say, the stuff knocked me out. The only problem was that I was one of those rare few who did things like emailed people, ate like a cow, even tried to drive while I was 'sound asleep.' I know I had a problem when in my drugged state, I wrote out a proposal and sent it off to an editor I admire. I'm not sure what it said, but she contacted me, asking if anything was wrong--my email was just plain strange.

Lord only knows how many people I've embarassed with my sleep writing--I just hope the editors won't hold it against me.

Writing lessons I've learned from American Idol

There are few things on TV these days that I absolutely can't miss. Most of them have already had their season finales(Bones--which threw me for a loop; House--whose writers did an awesome job with the first part of the two part finale. Who would have ever thought a fly in the oinment hanging from a necklace would lead to Amber's demise?)

But if any show has taught me about writing, it's American Idol.

First, how many times have we heard Simon talk about the contests being good singers, but forgettable? I thought about that a lot as I worked on my latest manuscript. As writers, we can be good, even great at stringing words together but if the passages we write are forgettable, if they can't invoke emotions, what good are they? It's one of the things I've found myself working on--making sure who ever reads my stuff FEEL it along with my characters. Or our words become forgettable.

Then all the judges(expect maybe Paula who doesn't seem there half the time) have talked about picking the wrong song. I understood that--for years, I've been trying to write everything(hen lit, suspense, simple romance) when my heart has always been in historical fiction. It's what I read and what seems to flow from my pen the most. Does that mean we shouldn't stretch ourselves? No! but understand your strengths and use them to your advantage.

And last but not least, I've learned that just because you don't win, doesn't mean you're not a winner. Look at Clay Akins, Chris Daughtery, Kellie Pickler--none of them won the big prize but went on to have successful careers in music. Why? Because they kept plugging at it, never giving up.

Good lessons from a reality show.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday, Monday

After a weekend of catching up with my husband--he travels quite a bit for his job--and loading everything into my new computer system, I'm looking forward to today. Yes, it's another busy one but I'm on a writing tear right now that is so encouraging and for a writer who has lived the last few years wondering what the heck she's doing trying to write, it's an amazing feeling.

One thing that helped my attitude was church Saturday night. We're doing a series on David and the pastor was pointing out all the ways that David had to prepare for the throne of Israel. He didn't become king overnight, but grew into the position with the help of wiser, more experienced people like Samuel. That's much like it is with writing--you don't become a good writer overnight but with study and the help of people who have already traveled the road you're on.

I just thank the Lord for putting those people in my life--folks like Christine Lynxwiler and Tracey Batemen who 'held my hand' when I was taking my baby steps into this world of writing, Lynette Sowell for gently correcting my early projects and Sandra Moore for being my sounding board. Even if I never get published, they've given me so much and I want to thank them for it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Computer Blues

My laptop died this week. And anyone who's a writer and is living on a deadline knows that that's not a good thing.

So between hours of writing my manuscript long-hand and putting out the fires that are my daughters' lives, I did some quick reseach on laptops. Some had all the bells and whistles, stuff I didn't need in my line of work. And some didn't have enough stuff to keep me going into the next three months, much less the next three years. The funny thing is that I seemed to know more about computers than I gave myself credit for. I even taught the manager of Circuit City the copyright rules for Office 2007. So maybe I'm not as tech-ignorant as I thought.

But the biggest problem is transferring everything from my old computer into this one. I felt good just getting back to my blog site without messing up.