Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zenith

YAY!!!! Today is the final day of April, and the final day of the A-Z challenge, so I saw Zenith would be an appropriate word for today because we're at the peak, the climax, the highest point of the challenge. There's nowhere else to go from here (except to bed and have a nice long sleep).

It's been fun this month. I've got to meet a lot of new people and it has kicked my brain into gear by having to think about what word I needed to do each day.

Thanks to everyone who has entered my contest, and as promised, through, I have the winner right here.

Congratulations Jessica Bell, who is the winner of the $30 Amazon gift certificate.

And, since I'm feeling generous, I have decided to award a second prize of $10 Amazon gift certificate.

Congratulations to Monica.

Both winners have been contacted. Thanks once again to everyone who entered. I hope everyone had such a fun month.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Yandere

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What exactly is a Yandere I hear you ask. A Yandere is a girl who is so desperately in love that she is willing to:
  1. kill herself for the person to protect the one she loves (for the sake of love)
  2. kill the person she loves if she can't be with them (for the sake of love)
  3. kill everyone else who stands against her (for the sake of love)
Okay, why am I talking about a Yandere? Well, I did need a "Y" letter word, but despite it being a Japanese anime word, it is a common character type in stories, especially romances. I have read numerous stories where the girl is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the guy (even if she has just met him). There is nothing wrong with this character type, if not over done.

Then there is the other side of the story where a girl has become so obsessed with the guy that she's willing to do anything to take her rival (usually the MC) out of the picture. 

So, for your viewing pleasure. Here is the perfect example of Yandere from the TV show, Buffy (Oh, how I love Spike Buffy).

P.S. The definition of Yandere comes from the Japanese words Yamu meaning sick and Deredere meaning sweet. Essentially it means Sick Sweetie.

So,  have you come across a Yandere in anything you've read? Do you think this character type can be seen as healthy/sympathetic? Do you think it's possible for the relationship where a Yandere is involved to be a healthy one?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for X-factor

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What exactly is the "x-factor"? Well, you've heard the saying, you've either got it or you don't. The x-factor is the "got it" factor that draws you in and makes you pay attention. It's the WOW factor that has you wanting more days after you've finished reading the book.

This is something every writer strives to get. I just love books that draws me in and refuses to let go. I don't know how to explain how that particular book is special, there's just something about it whether it's the characters, plot or setting (usually a combination).

I know I definitely aim for the x-factor, even though I wouldn't know when my stories have it since it would probably change with each person and each preference. All I can do is keep striving to make my stories the best they can be, and if I love them, then maybe someone out there will also feel the same.

So,  do you think writers are born with the x-factor or can they develop it? How do you know if a book has the x-factor?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Waitress

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Everyone needs their day job, right? I would LOVE to be able to sit down and write all day and all night, but unfortunately that doesn't pay the bills. So yes, in my day job I'm a people watcher... whoops, I mean waitress.

There is also another good reason for having a day job, especially one that involves dealing with all the "lovable" people that believes they are always right and there's no such thing as a stupid question. Believe me, I've been in the hospitality industry for too long that I've heard it all and yes, there can be stupid questions such as "do you serve food" or "are you open"... you're talking to staff at the "restaurant" I think, we do serve food and we are open. It's not hard to think before you speak.

Yeah, I know it's not exactly the most glamorous job around, but the amount of interesting people I've seen is well worth all the work. As a writer, I've been able to watch people's quirks, mannerisms and attitudes. This is how I look at my job, just another outlet to research my characters... well, just until I finish this year then I'll be qualified to "teach" at high schools.

See, jobs aren't that bad. It's just what you do with the time you're there working that's what counts.

So,  what do you do for your day jobs? If you could have any job, what would you want to do?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Verbose

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Verbose can be described as using too many words. Sometimes I have a tendency to do this, especially in the first draft of my story when all I care about is getting the plot out. But, in writing, or even speaking for that matter, all words are valuable and must be chosen specifically for the purpose.

Word choice is a very important element when it comes to telling the story. Too many words may come off as passive or may even make the reader feel overwhelmed because of all the information they're receiving. It's okay to be a bit verbose in the first draft, but during the numerous edits that occurs afterwards, each word/sentence has to be seen to have a purpose.

When it comes to eliminating verbose writing:
  1. Eliminate unnecessary information. What background information is necessary and which is just filler. Don't overload the reader.
  2. Eliminate unnecessary words, this can include contractions (especially when writing for the teen audience). Knowing your audience plays a lot with this. I don't know any teen who doesn't contract as many words as they can, so a story that has too many "it is" or "will not" may seem a bit snobbish and dull.
  3. Go through the manuscript and eliminate as many "that"'s as possible. You'll be surprised at how many times "that" is just a filler and not really serving a purpose.
  4. Go through the manuscript and eliminate as many adverbs as possible... the deadly "ly" words. See if the sentence can be explained in any other way.
Being verbose is not necessarily a bad thing, but when writing all words should have a purpose and not be a filler.

So,  do you have a problem with being verbose? What do you do to get rid of your excess words?

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Underdog

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What is it about underdogs that we can't get enough of? I love reading about characters that have weaknesses and looks like they will not win in the battle. I especially love writing them. Call me sadistic, but if the character is on the verge of death or horrible defeat that's even better. There's just something about the struggle that they make throughout their journey to reach their goal that makes them interesting and likeable.
But, I'm also the one that hate to read about overpowered characters that have little to no weaknesses. I really couldn't stand Superman before Smallville came out because Superman was always the one superhero that had too many powers with little weaknesses that the cops always called on to do their jobs. Give me the rugged rogue that has to break a few little rules if they have any chance of defeating the evil bad guy.
Even with non-paranormal settings. The underdog's journey is always interesting if they put all their heart and strength into accomplishing the impossible.
p.s. I love Glee for just this reason...

So,  what sort of characters do you like? If you like the underdog, what is it about them that you like?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for TV Tropes

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There are a few places I turn to when I'm looking for some inspiration or have hit a road block in my writing. I either go to the movies, listen to music, read something else, or I turn to TV Tropes.

For those that don't know about TV Tropes (go there immediately... but beware there might be some unaccounted hours in your day) it is a website where constant viewers assemble many story/plot/character tropes as they can.

When you're having problems thinking of any quirks for characters or something to get the plot moving, TV tropes will have it and any movies/literature/tv shows/etc that that particular trope has appeared in. Lets just say your character has pesky parents that keep getting in the way of the plot, or your plot involves the need to hide someone (possibly in a basement), or your villain's dastardly plan seems too implausible to have succeeded, there is a trope for everything.

P.S. This may happen to you.

So, where do you turn if you need inspiration? If you've been there, what's your favourite trope?

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Superheroes

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I absolutely love superheroes. They open up a whole range of possibilities and imagination. I also used to wish I could have some sort of superpower. Not that I wanted to be a superhero, I just thought it would be cool.

That's why I decided to write a hero/villain story. So, let me introduce SWAYED (hey, another S word) which is set in a world overrun by heroes and villains. My 2 MC's are a part of that unfortunate crowd and have to decide whether to become the hero or villain of the story. This first chapter is from Jett. Take a guess at which side he chooses.


Since when did the Wicked Witch of the West decide to take over the world? That's the first thing that popped into my mind when a flying monkey robot busted through the classroom window. Oh well, it meant missing the rest of Maths. I could live with that.

The class erupted into chaos, most of the students rushing toward the window to gawk at the action taking place outside.

"Come on, everyone," Mr. Willis said from the front of the room. The beads of sweat clinging to the thin strands of chestnut coloured hair made his bald patch glisten beneath the lights of the room even though the mop of brown hair tried to cover it up. "Just like we've practiced."

I turned my gaze away from him and stared at the fight occurring outside. An idiot with a bulky frame that bulged out of a red, skin tight Lycra suit with a big white "CS" smeared across the front. His legs looked like stubby white fish crammed into sausage casings. How in the hell did he fit into those tights? A gawky red mask covered his eyes, making his blond hair stick up in protest. He fended off the constant stream of attacking monkeys while a floating TV displayed a chuckling freak disguised as Ned Kelly with a metal helmet that covered his entire head, leaving only a slot where his eyes peered through.

"Jethro," Mr. Willis' voice snapped me out of my daze. "Jethro Matthews."

I turned my attention even though it's way more interesting watching what's happening outside. A vein bulged in Mr. Willis' forehead as he stood in the door, hands on hips. Everyone else had already evacuated. 

"We need to go…" He was cut off by the whistling of an object zooming toward the room. His eyes stared out the window. He looked like a marble statue with how white his face had turned.

I ducked just as a large, utterly out of control figure crashed through the window, sending shards of glass flying in every direction. Jumping behind a desk, I shielded myself from most of the onslaught. He zoomed over me, barely missing my head, and collided with the wall on the other side and crumpled into a lumpy ball.

I looked over at the doorway. Mr Willis was no longer there. Too bad for making sure all students were safe before evacuating. 

“Stand aside, citizen.” The hero jumped to his feet, sticking out his chest and placing his hands on his hips. “Captain Supremo has the situation well under control. There is no need to fear.”

"What are you talking about?" I screamed. "You were the one to put me in danger."

These heroes thought that they could crash through any building and still get their asses kissed because they are supposed to be the good guys. That was how this worked, ever since the epidemic started. That's what the reporters called it. No one knew what had given so many people superpowers, but at the moment there were over six heroes in operation, as well as their nemesis', and that's just in this suburb. But, it all started here and that's why the town officially changed it's name to Centralnova. There were too many of them out there, and the thought of the heroes brought a bit of bile up my throat.

Captain Supremo walked past me and back to the busted window, flicking his white cape over his shoulder. “All part of the job, citizen.”

"Don't you even care?"

Captain Supremo just continued walking.

Fed up, I looked around and grabbed the first thing I could lift. Gripping my hands around the legs of a plastic chair, I swung it at the hero and it slammed into his back before he even realised what I was doing. 

Stumbling forward, he dropped to his knees. For good measure, I hit him a few more times - maybe six or seven - until his unmoving body curled up on the ground. KO.

I looked up to where the flock of monkeys remained stationary, floating in mid air. Their gazes darted between me and the unconscious hero.

Maniacal laughter boomed around the area. The floating LCD screen entered the room through the gaping hole. The Ned Kelly impersonator sat behind a desk, stroking a monkey robot. He looked like a corny movie villain..

“Well, well, it looks like my evil monkeys have defeated you,” he said.

If it wasn't bad enough to be nearly killed by a hero, I wasn't going to stand by and let any villain take credit for my work. Using all of my strength, I tossed the chair at the screen. It shattered the picture with a shower of sparks.

In a chaotic flurry, the monkeys turned and started away before the monitor dropped to the ground.

So, if you had any power what would it be?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Regret

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Once upon a time there was an 11-year-old girl who had a fight with her best friend. The next day she finds out the friend died in a house fire. I bet you're saying this is cliched, right... never getting the chance to say sorry is just an overdone plot. Unfortunately that little girl was me. I guess that's why I hate fights. I'm not passive, but I don't like leaving a situation in the middle of a fight.  

Regret is a part of life. Anyone that tells you they have absolutely no regrets then they're either very lucky or is not really living. Every choice we make has two or more outcomes, so there's always a possibility of thinking back and wondering "why did you choose that path".  It's what makes life interesting.

Same goes when reading and writing. It wouldn't be interesting if the character was always making the right choices, always winning, never wanting to look back and think about how things could be different. No one would want to read that. 

Regret is a part of life and it's how you choose to deal with that regret that makes the story more interesting. You can either learn or fall into the "would've, could've, should've" frame of mind... I choose to move on. There's no point with handing onto the past and the choices that I could have made.

So, do you have any regrets? Is there any moment you would like to go back and change?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Quality vs Quantity

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I'm a perfectionist. It took me forever to write my first novel (and I'm not talking about the practice ones and half started ones that I have lying around on my hard drive somewhere). It took me around 4 years, but that was with researching (yeah, mine's a vamp novel but I researched my butt off), world creation, character creation and writing... I just had to get everything perfect.

For my new story, I've learnt my lesson and I've actually given myself some goals that I'm aiming to meet. This is where quantity vs quality comes into play. As writers, it's the quality of work that people take notice of. But, writers also need to keep busy and always be working on another project.

How does one balance the quality vs quantity dilemma?

  1. revise, revise, revise... put that manuscript away for a month and come back with fresh eyes.
  2. get yourself beta readers/critique group (they're invaluable).
  3. set goals. Have that date set that you need to have the first draft finished by.
  4. always have another project to start working on as soon as you write "THE END".
  5. HAVE FUN... you'll never get anywhere if you don't enjoy what you write.

So, do you focus on quality or quantity in the first draft? Do you do anything to make sure you have both quality and quantity?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Pretending

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Pretending is something I'm good at. Every day I pretend that I know what I'm talking about. It's not really hard actually. If you speak confidently about something, people will start believing you.

Today I pretended I wanted to buy an iPod dock just to get a free charge... hey it worked, walk around the electronics store testing the different models it took my iPhone from a red to green status.

As a writer, it's my job to pretend. I need to pretend in order to create the characters, create their situations and make their world. It's all about pretending in order to make the reader believe that the story (no matter how fantastical it is) is believable.

How can one be good at pretending?
  1. Speak with passion
  2. Walk with confidence
  3. Dare people to question
 Well, how can this relate to writing? Easy... be passionate and confident about what you write and dare people to question the world you create.

So, what have you pretended lately?

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Outtakes

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I know, whenever I look at a DVD or Bluray movie I always look to see if they have scenes that weren't in the movie. I love watching extra scenes. Novels aren't any different. I know as a writer, that there are just some scenes or characters that, even though I might absolutely love, I have to get rid of for some reason.

Here's a snippet from my novel, Shadow Embraced, that I had to get rid of because I rewrote the earlier scenes to involve a lovely chase through the woods. To sum up this scene, my MC, Scar just got busted for fighting and to teach her a lesson she is dumped in the middle of the forest by Rome the student president (who's also a werewolf) for some bizarre detention...


I find my hands tied, a blindfold covering my eyes, lying on the wet ground. Rain buckets down. No one says a word. I don't even know if anyone's still here. They probably ditched me out here.
Someone pins me down, my uniform sticks to my skin. “Count to five,” Rome whispers in my ear. His voice coming out in a low growl. If I weren't shivering already, I would have thought he's the cause. Slowly, I feel my hands get untied. “Then, find your way home.”
I hear him walk away. I start counting. “One... two... three...” I don't want to be here anymore. “Four... five...”
My hands tremble. I grip the blindfold and rip it from my eyes. The falling rain blurs my vision. I squint to focus, trying to figure out where the hell I am. Trees surround me. I can see the faint glow of lights coming from a distance. That must be the school. Isn't this a fun night? Left in the middle of nowhere. They will be sorry when they return and find my frozen body buried in the mud come morning.
A twig snaps behind me. A low inhuman growl wafts across the field. There's something else out here. The mud squelches as it approaches. They left me, and now there's something out here. I hate my life.
Forcing myself to my feet, I run in the direction that makes the most sense, away from that thing. There's only one thought in my head, and that's to get the hell out of here. The creature's roar echoes around me.
I turn my head and make my first mistake. My feet catch on a twisted tree root and send me crashing to the muddy earth.
I strain my eyes trying to see whatever's out here stalking me. The rain obscures my vision, but that doesn't stop me from seeing the monstrosity. Powerful raptor claws pry deep scars in the earth beneath it. Its steel-tight muscles quiver beneath the flesh, gently bristling its sleek coat of long echidna-like quills in slow, smooth waves. Large glaring eyes blaze a yellow so bright that even my night vision can’t mask it. A small jewelled locket dangles loosely around its neck like a dog tag. Its long reptilian beak parts in a horrific dragon grin. Leisurely, the creature licks its lips.
It takes half a second for the terror to hit. I bolt.
Its warm breath brushes the back of my neck. I run faster, trying not to slip in the mud. No matter how quick I move, it's right there behind me, toying with me. This is how the poor girl in all those horror movies must feel.
Every muscle aches. The icy air rushes painfully into my lungs. What's the worst that can happen if I just stop and play dead right here? The creature utters another bowel-shaking roar. I take that back, it would be very, very bad. I don't want to die out here.
I glance down at a puddle of water. It ripples as if trembling from fear as well, distorting my own reflection.
'Fight,' the reflection speaks.
I must be exhausted, that or I've totally lost my mind.
'Fight,' it repeats.
Something shifts inside of me, forcing its way to the surface. Suddenly I can see everything clearly, magnified. My eyes move quickly, tracking every drop of rain as if some machine is calculating and adjusting accordingly. A vast reservoir of power surges into me, flowing from my core. My muscles pump harder, driving me forward. Automatically my body manoeuvres to avoid obstacles, so quickly that trees seem to jump out of my way. Light blooms in the distance. The school's straight ahead.
I sense the creature moving through the woods behind me. Without intending to, I find myself running up a tree trunk. Grabbing the branches, I swing myself higher. I have no idea what I'm doing. With one sharp movement, I feel the tree disappear from beneath me and I fly out into the open air. Trying to figure out why I'm even doing this, I realise something. I'm not. At some point I went from driver to captive passenger within my own body.
'Fight,' my inner voice mocks. The new driver.
I land with a heavy thud, right on top of the misshapen creature, and slam him to the ground. My whole flying squirrel act took less than a second, but I've won.
Something hits me from behind with the force of a wrecking ball. Sliding a bit, I land face down in the mud. Without warning, I'm back in control. 
“Now, that was fun.” Rome stands over me. “A stupid move that could have gotten you killed if the threat was real, but impressive nonetheless.”
“What the hell?” I scream. 
“Let that be a reminder.” He turns to leave. “Don't get caught fighting again.”
He walks away, leaving me lying in the mud. After he disappears from my sight I manage to muster enough energy to get up and limp back to the dorm. If every day is going to be like this one, I may have to consider escaping after all. At least the rain has stopped.


Well, I hope you enjoyed the little snippet from Shadow Embraced. I think this outtake was for the best since the threat is more powerful when she actually comes face to face with a werewolf.

So, do you like reading/watching outtakes? Have you ever written a scene or a character that you've had to get rid of? 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Never

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As a writer, I think I would go stark-raving mad if I didn't constantly say NEVER. But, isn't never a bad word? Well, it all depends on how you use it. I always say never. Just take a look:

  1. NEVER stop learning
  2. NEVER be afraid to try
  3. NEVER give up

See, never can be a very positive word. It's definitely a word that everyone can learn to live by.

So, how do you use the word, NEVER? 

M is for Mystery

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I absolutely love mysteries, no matter what genre. The hard to guess villain/ending is more thrilling and challenging to watch/read. I don't know if it's because I'm a writer or I just over-analyse situations, but I have a tendency to try and guess the ending/villain of the movie long before the finale rolls around (and usually I end up being right)... I love movies where I'm absolutely wrong. That means that the author has done a fantastic job of putting enough twists and turns, and enough potential villains into the story that it becomes a complex tale.

At the moment, my WIP is a horror mystery, and I'm finding it extremely hard to have an objective view over whether the scenes are too predictable and whether the ending will be cliche/not interesting/not scary. Because I know the story, I know every ins and outs of what's going to happen and I feel (especially around the "cheap scares" that I'm throwing in) that this story will not be as thrilling, horrific or mysterious as I'm picturing it to be.

So, how does one go about making a suspenseful mystery?

  1. Have enough suspects to place the blame on.
  2. If your character thinks something should happen... then it really shouldn't.
  3. It's always the least expected (or the butler :D)... and the least expected could be the person that's most likely to because everyone expects that so they're not watching him... yes, that does make sense.
  4. Do the unexpected... Try reading through the scene as a reader and ask "what would I do?" and then do the opposite. They definitely won't expect that.

This is where awesome beta readers come in handy. I've already ordered my brother to read the "scary" scenes and see if it's too predictable. He's also a horror buff like me who offers fantastic suggestions if it totally sucks.

P.S. As a horror buff I bow my head to Wes Craven for creating another perfect horror with Scream 4... Just got back from it and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I also didn't know what a fantastic actress Emma Roberts is.

So, do you like mysteries? Do you like to be surprised or would you prefer to know who's the villain up front? For the writers, have you ever written a mystery, and how did you handle keeping it mysterious? 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Lunacy

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We're allowed to all go a little crazy some times. As a writer, I think it's my job to stretch the line between sanity and insanity because I'm constantly thinking of new ways to torture my characters. To have the imagination to create (or destroy) whether it's reading a book and vividly picturing what's happening to being the one creating the world. We all need a little bit of lunacy or the world would be a very boring place.

The Looney Tunes are fantastic examples of the lunacy it takes to imagine crazy events. So, here's a clip that I absolutely love where Coyote finally catches the Roadrunner.

So, have you done anything looney lately?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Koala, Kangaroo & Kookaburra

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Okay, I know the picture above has absolutely nothing to do with koalas, kangaroos or kookaburras, but they were the only things I could think about that start with K to do a post about Australia. And, with doing this post I noticed how weird it was that the three most noticeable native Australian animals start with the letter K.

What's with the picture above? Well, that's what I get if I drive 20 minutes. 20 minutes the other way I've got a rainforest, 20 minutes in another direction the countryside and 40 minutes north I've got the capital and busy city. Yeah I know, I'm very lucky about where I live.

So, for a fun little post here are some fun little facts about Australia:
  1. Australia is the sixth largest country in the world.
  2. More than 85 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast (including me :D).
  3. Australia was originally a British penal colony for exiled thieves and murderers.
  4. Those from New South Wales are called cockroaches, I’ll leave that to your own imagination (yeah, that was me... now I'm a Queenslander till the end of the year before moving back).
  5. Sydney is the largest city with over 4 million people, while the capital Canberra has around 300,000.
  6. A thong in Australia refers to rubber footwear and not a pair of tiny bum less knickers as it does America.
  7. One of our former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke was in the Guinness Book of World Records In 1954 because he drank 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.
  8. Australia is home to 21 of the world’s 25 deadliest snakes.

So, where does everyone come from? Do you know any interesting facts about your home town/country?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Jigsaw

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I used to love family game time when I was younger and we all sat around a massive jigsaw puzzle, trying to find which piece goes where. Sometimes it got frustrating because the piece I had didn't fit where I wanted it to go, and sometimes I just felt like giving up (especially when faced with endless blue tiles of sky).
Isn't life just like one big jigsaw puzzle. You're constantly finding the pieces to put together, sometimes even banging away at odd shaped pieces to make them fit. That's how I feel sometimes, and as a writer it's my job to create a puzzle for my characters (and the readers) to try and piece together.
When will the jigsaw be complete? Well, that all depends on what you're aiming for. If you can see your goal and know exactly what you're doing, I can say that you're almost there. Just a few more annoying pieces to bang into place along the way. If you're not, there's no need to despair. Finding the pieces could be even more fun and challenging.

As for me, I can see my puzzle coming together. I'm just enjoying putting the puzzle together on my way.

So, how is your jigsaw puzzle going?  Is it near complete or are you just beginning?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Ignite

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What do I mean ignite? It could be to ignite a fuse that will lead to some sort of explosion, but to mean, ignite is just the medicine for passion. Something has to ignite to make you want to do something, that particular moment that you decided you want to do something. I mean, my passion for writing was ignited at the end of high school when I decided to write my first story for my sister. If it wasn't from her pleasure and saying it was the best thing she's ever read (she was a bit bias... and the main character was based off her, just with magic powers) I don't know where I would be.

Whatever you do, whatever your passion is, there is always that one moment in time that ignited it. Whether there's going to be some big explosion or if it's going to fizzle out in the end, well that's just up to how determined and focused you are. I'm hoping mine will end with some massive explosion. I'm not going to give up until I reach my goals, so my fuse might be a very long one.

Tips for a long ignition:
  1. Rejection only makes you stronger... if you continue to work to improve.
  2. Determination is key.
  3. Find something or someone to work for.
  4. Decide what you're working for... what goal is it that you want?

Have you ignited something in your life? 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Horror

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I've always grown up watching horror movies. Even when I wasn't "allowed" to, I always snuck into the room where my cousins had the movie playing just for a sneak peak. So, tonight while I was watching a Wes Craven movie I was thinking what actually goes into making a "good" horror movie. See, I'm very fussy when it comes to my horror. I love psychological thrillers or supernatural twisters, but I can't stand gore for gore sakes... I can't watch the Saw movies (literally, I fell asleep through the first one and haven't been tempted for the rest).

What are elements of a good horror?
  1. Setting is keyIt doesn't always have to be on a dark and stormy night, but small towns that hold secrets work really well. I have seen a movie that had a lot of scares in a sunflower field and it worked really well. 
  2. The villain never stays dead
    Where would the fun be if the big bad actually died on the first time the hero overpowered it? No, the hero needs to feel safe for a little while before the monster comes back with a vengeance.
  3.  It's not just the body count, but the method
    Slasher flickers are usually not that impressive. I don't care about how many silly teens end up gutted, all that matters is the creativity that goes into those deaths. This also adds to the horror because the viewer knows something is coming but doesn't know what to suspect.
  4. Cheap scares only work if they're scary and unexpected
    I love cheap scares, but every time a mirror is shown in a horror movie you can be certain that they're going to do a ghost in the mirror or something. Now, doing something that the viewer won't expect is something that will really give a scare.
  5. Make the hero question their sanity
    Even going as far as question their innocence. Are they actually the monster that's out there.

I really need to consider these aspects because the story that I'm now concocting is a YA horror, and even though I've watched plenty of horrors, I've never actually written straight up horror. My stories usually end up more supernatural and paranormal fantasy. And, at least to me, horror writing is actually very hard because how would I know if something's truly scary since I'm writing it and know what's going to happen?

And, to leave you all for this fine Saturday and since I'm super excited to see this movie when it gets released on Thursday, here's a clip that I found up taken from good old Australia. 

Do you like horror movies? If so, what's your favourite horror movie? Or, why don't you watch horror movies?

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Gonna-itis

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My father is always calling me the Gonna Girl. This is because whenever I get asked whether I can do something I, for some reason, answer with "I'm gonna". This has become a very big slogan of mine, and I can so relate it back to writing and goal making.

Isn't there so many goals or even promises that you answer with "I'm gonna get around to it", "I'm gonna do it" or "not right now but I'm gonna". Even if it's just to get someone off your back that you answer with "I'm gonna".

This disease is called gonna-itis. Beware it is contagious, but there is a very simple cure. To be rid of the gonna-itis all you have to do is:
  1. Prioritise your goals - this will help you decide which "gonna" goals you have to do first.
  2. Learn to say no - I know it's difficult sometimes, but maybe these "gonna" goals all come out because you take on too many and are scared to disappoint someone so you say you're gonna do it.
  3. Bribe yourself - no, that's not bad. Give yourself a little treat if you complete the goal that you say you're "gonna" do.
  4. Get off your butt and DO IT.

Do you suffer from gonna-itis? What are some things that you say you're gonna do but really never get around to doing them? How do you get over your gonna-itis?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Firsts

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One reason to read and write YA is to relive and create firsts. These firsts can be happy or sad. Just to be able to go back to that one moment in time and be able to relive that first, or experience something new or out of the ordinary that you haven't experienced before. This is the main aims of YA, to be able to go back to a time of "reasonable" innocence and relive those moments.

It's funny, I'm nowhere near my teens anymore, but I can still remember some of my firsts.
  1. First kiss: Behind a brick wall and in front of half the school... yeah, for some reason two people kissing was a big spectator sport at 15.
  2. First loss: My cousin died when I was 10. He was the same age as me. He died on a soccer field after being kicked in the head.
  3. First time feeling real fear: Not till I was 18. I was involved in a car accident and found out what a pinball feels like. I surprisingly walked away from that (yeah, the cops and ambulance was surprised at that as well).
  4. First regret: 17, when I was at my friends 18th. Yeah, being brought home by the cops wasn't exactly how I wanted to end the night either... hey, I only regret going out, I was actually the only sober one and spent the night baby sitting a passed out friend.
  5. First novel complete: Yeah, I don't really want to go there. It was written by an 18 year old who was writing for a very strict audience... baby sister (which I pleased). Let's just say that she was written into the story and turned out to be a missing princess who was sent to earth to save her... yeah, she liked it but it's not seeing the light of day.
There are some moments in life that have been engraved into my mind, but I think all these events, whether happy or sad or even embarrassing, have made me who I am today. Maybe I would want to go back and redo some of the "firsts" that I've had, but where would all the fun be with that?

What are some of the firsts you remember? If you could, would you want to go back and change some of these?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Empathy

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The dictionary says empathy is "ability to identify with a person or an object". I say it's being able to put yourself in "one's shoes" and as a writer I find this an essential skill. Even as a reader, it's this suspension of disbelief to be able to understand and relate to the characters that I'm reading about. I love being all teary eyed or fearful about a character, because that means I care.

This, I feel, is the hardest part of writing and I commend anyone that can get me to really feel for a character. I write a lot of fantasy and horror, but that doesn't mean I don't have to get the emotions right. It actually means that I've got to get the reader to believe the character's emotions and attitude even more because the situation is totally made up.

In my current WIP, I have a character that dreams about death. She is the modern version of Cassandra (from the Greek legends who saw the fall of Troy) and I can tell you that I know squat about what it feels like to be burdened with those sorts of visions, but even worse that no one believes her.

So, how do you become accustomed with empathy?
  1. Watch as many movies as possible which has that sort of situation/emotion
  2. Go and sit in the park and watch people, making notes if needed, to see how people act (hey, this was what I was told about creating believable emotions in acting)
  3. Start an emotion diary and write down the different emotions you feel, what brings them on and how you act
  4. Listen to music and think about how each makes you feel. Perhaps create a playlist for the story/scene you're writing.
What do you do to create believable emotions for your characters? Do you continue reading if you can't relate to the character or their emotions?

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