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Monday, March 25, 2013

When a Change Really Does You(r Story) Good (March Madness Check-In, Day 25) #WIPmadness

"Maybe you weren't ready for that ... but your kids are going to love it."
- Marty McFly, Back to the Future, Part I

I've been enjoying all of the Back to the Future references this month. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea first because it's been a lot of fun. Michael J. Fox has a special place in my heart because he's from my city, and there's even a few buildings around here with his name on it. Little known fact: did you know I have a poster of a young MJF circa 1987, urging kids to read? I think it was part of a series the American Library Association put out back then. The public library I was working at was throwing it out finally in 2007 because they had newer, shinier posters, so they let me take it. It now adorns one corner of my office, and it kind of broke my heart on Friday when two techs came by to install a new scanner and one of them said, "Who's Marty McFly?" Sigh.

So, before anything can happen to tinker with our timeline, I'd better announce another March Madness winner:

Carol Garvin!

Congratulations, Carol!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled madness. ^__^

One of the other awesome actors I had the fortune to see at Emerald City Comicon was none other than Christopher Lloyd, a.k.a. Doc Brown. He was fun to listen to. Before he began the Q&A, he mentioned something that neither me nor my husband knew: that before Michael J. Fox was chosen to play the role of Marty McFly, a significant chunk of the film was shot with a completely different actor.

Whoa. Really? That's a huge change to make for a major motion picture that far into production. But it looks like the decision paid off, because can you imagine the movies any other way?

Okay, so think about that. Have you ever made such a significant change to a writing project that you hadn't expected you'd ever make? Perhaps something that was there from the start that you'd started to ignore in revisions because it was so ingrained into the fibre of your work? Or have you began a project with one premise driving the story only to realize that no, the story needs to go somewhere else, and this thing you started with needs the boot?

One that really sticks out for me, one for the list of amusing tales later on in my writing career, is the fact that I started out writing the manuscript I'm sending to agents soon in an unsuitable POV: First-person present tense. To the point where writing in present tense came naturally to me, felt natural, and felt right. *shudders* I've learned my lesson now. This is not to say that it might work for others (case in point: Hunger Games) but it definitely wasn't meant to be for me. Turns out my characters function much better in the past tense. Realizing that mistake and fixing it was vital, because it helped me rediscover my real voice, not the voice I'd been adopting for all that time.

It was an eye-opener, but I feel so much better for it, and even more confident about my voice. Even though I basically did the equivalent with POV as was done with the actor for Marty McFly.

Marty: "Doc... what if we don't succeed?"
Doc Brown: "We must succeed.

And we will.

That's my two cents madness for the week. How about you? Thanks for checking in here, folks! Now don't forget to stop by Shari's blog tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking Breathers (March Madness Check-In, Day 18) #WIPmadness

 Hello, March Madness Wipsters! How's your progress going now that we're more than halfway through the month?

Say, remember how back on Day 4, I mentioned seeing Sir Patrick Stewart live at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle? Well, another thing he said during his talk really stuck with me.

It was from the story of how he landed the role of Captain Picard. The tale was itself lively and amusing and I'm pretty sure you can find an awesome version of it online somewhere (like, say, HERE - and the fifteen bucks is totally worth it, especially if you watch the Wil Wheaton vs. Paul and Storm dramatic reading and concert). He had a lot of fun things to say. But I'm gushing, so I'll stop now, kthx. ;)

Anyway, what he said that stuck was that he had schooled himself into doing one thing after an audition: he would assume that he did not get the role, and he would then put it completely from his mind by doing something enjoyable to forget it completely. That way, instead of worrying about roles he didn't know if he'd get, if he did manage to land a part, it would be a delightful surprise. (Cue amusing anecdote about how his agent had to hunt him down when he was chosen to be Picard.)

Gee, auditions for roles? Stressing over being chosen? I don't know about you, but to me that sounds a whole lot like the publishing business, don't you?

Digression: So I totally checked out this weekend. Kind of starting with Thursday when DH and I got the chance to see the Canucks play live, things got crazy-busy. Several non-writing commitments reared their heads, and in the off moments, my own mind was thoroughly entrenched in the land of Dobrenica, set deep in the heart of eastern Europe. Sherwood Smith's Blood Spirits was the sequel to Coronets and Steel, and I apologize to my fellow hosts for not checking in much the past few days, but it had me pleasantly mesmerized.

I have just one goal this month, which is to work towards sending out submissions on my YA high fantasy. Last week I mentioned how I needed to rework a major section. Well, the fixes were made and it's now in my critique partner's hands. I know this wasn't as big as an actual submission, but it is the next logical step, and I am waiting. Rather than twiddle my thumbs, I went straight back to work on my non-YA urban fantasy. And then I grabbed a book I'd been wanting to read for some time, and totally fell under its spell.

I feel so much better now!

The more I think about it, the more I realize that for me, this was me taking that break. I shut down the concerns of the outside world and put the worries from my mind.

Have you ever done something similar? Distracted your brain from fixating on possible outcomes of something huge, like a submission, by doing something fun? Speaking as someone who likes to push forward and not let go until I'm done, I totally recommend it. Now I just have to remember that when it comes to *actual* submissions. Baha.

So. Um. What else can I say today? Hm ... I feel like I'm forgetting something.

Oh, yeah. PRIZE TIME! :D

Congratulations to ... *drumroll* ...

Jennifer Pickrell!

Jennifer, head on over to Denise Jaden's blog to pick one of the many fabulous prizes, then be sure to e-mail her at d (at) denisejaden (dot) com with your choice.

And don't forget to check in at Shari Green's blog tomorrow.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Never Alone (March Madness Check-In, Day 11) #WIPmadness

I didn't quite make my goals for this weekend's madness. I'd hoped to have an entire section rewritten. After slashing a good 5K from my manuscript (no joke), I was ready to make repairs. But I got caught on a paragraph and stalled out. Totally.

Those words needed to go. A heart-to-heart with my critique partner helped me realize that they'd been a relic from when I was in a completely different place in my life, and by the end of Friday, I was glad for them to disappear. And once they were cut, I was eager to get to fixing. But Sunday afternoon, I spent an entire hour agonizing over one little part. I made no progress at all. I was trying to be a Good Little Girl and stay off the Internet. (Hah.) So I floundered.

Eventually I gave up and asked my husband. He set down what he was doing and came to help me. I described my troubles. Within five minutes, the problem evaporated.  

So yeah, I'm feeling pretty grateful to both of them right now.

This was a reminder to me that writing may be a solitary act, but that doesn't mean I have to work completely in a vacuum. None of us do. Having someone else to talk things through with (be it best friend, partner, writing group, Twitter community or cat) can really help when we're struggling. Heck, that's one of the awesome things about this month (and even when it's over, with the #WIPmadness group and weekly check-ins), because we have each other. Sometimes, if we're wrestling with a writing problem, all we have to do is seek advice from a like-minded soul who can understand and offer assistance.

Even if the mere act of talking out the problem is all we need to help us realize what we have to do.

So, how's your Madness going? How have others helped you figure things out about your WIP or other goals? If you're struggling with something in your Madness goals right now, would you like to share? Maybe the community will be able to help!

Don't forget to check out Shari Green's blog tomorrow for March Madness, Day 12.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mad, mad Monday ... (March Madness check-in, Day 4) #WIPmadness

"You can have fun and do good work at the same time. In fact, you do better work if you're having fun." 

Sir Patrick Stewart (Emerald City Comicon panel, March 3, 2013)

Merry Monday Morning, Mad Marchers! Mmph. I could misuse many minutes mincing my melliloquent missive. But don't mind my mirthful mania, however miasmic it may be.

Wait for it ... wait for it ...

Okay, there! The coffee's finally kicked in. And now it's time to check in!

Friendly reminder: If you are trying to comment with a WordPress account and having trouble, try using something else. For example, do you have a G-mail address? That's your Google account. For some reason though the Internet is seriously trending towards unity, certain websites don't seem to be playing nice with each other. Hope this helps!

Friendly reminder, part II: If you haven't signed up for March Madness, you have not yet missed the boat. There is no deadline. Latecomers welcome!

So how goes your morning? Your month? Your madness?

Done now, I swear. :)

I just got back from a wild weekend south of the border (so for me, Seattle) at Emerald City Comicon. Lots of geeking out, seeing celebrities, and spending time with friends. Patrick Stewart's panel was the last one of the convention, and it was *packed*. That above quote that I shared with y'all rang so true. So I ask: how do you bring fun into your work? What great examples can you share of how enjoying yourself while writing has made your work better? For me, sometimes just hanging out on twitter in writers' threads actually helps me get more work done. Especially when we can ask questions and give each other instafeedback. How about you?

March the Fourth be with you!

And don't forget to check in tomorrow at Shari Green's blog.