"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Stuff Every Writer Needs

Who knew writers were material girls (and guys)! In this post, I thought I'd compile a list of the little things that make writers tick. Enjoy!

  1. A Writing Space. Be it a table by a window, an attic bedroom, a regular spot at a coffee shop, a park bench, or a meticulously designed study just for us, a space dedicated to writing is every writer's dream. And the more time we can spend making it perfect, the less time we have to actually work!
  2. Books. And lots of them. Beside's food and water, this is the fuel that keeps our minds churning.
  3. A Computer. And typing skills. Enough said.
  4. A Lamp. Good lighting is essential to every writer's space. It is especially helpful when staying up late during NanoWriMo!
  5. A Good Pen. Every writer knows what they like in a pen. From fountain, to ballpoint, to gel tip, or even quill, something about this age old writing instrument draws us back time after time.
  6. A Good Notebook. To go with the pen. Make sure it's portable, and high quality. This is one of the writer's most important tools because we use it to trap those precious drops of inspiration that can fall at any moment. 
  7. A Typewriter. This is my personal favorite. What better way to get started in the morning that the smell of inky ribbon and the clack of the keys against the paper. There's something so permanent about it, like you're hammering your words into stone. Talk about a wake up call.
  8. A Dog. Or a cat. Though I'm not much of a cat person, any pet can make a difference in a writer's life. Who else will love you unconditionally, no matter how much bad poetry you recite for them?
  9. A Dictionary/Thesaurus (the old fashioned kind). While you can get this online and as a feature in many word processors, sometimes it's nice to have a real book to refer to. (See also: #2)
  10. A beach, forest, or other natural rest spot. When the going gets tough, or you just need a break from writing, choose a place where you can relax and recharge. 
Well there you have it, all the essentials. But remember, while it's fun to get caught up in the nit picky details when choosing items for our writer's toolbox, sometimes we have to let go of them for a little while a do what's really important. Write.

Photo Cred

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Novel in Progress is....Finally in Progress!

Hey Everyone! I've been in San Antonio these past five days, on a business trip with my parents, which is why I haven't been posting or commenting. Of course I've gone much longer stretches of time without posting or commenting, so this explanation falls short. My apologies. 

Anyway, while in San Antonio I began thinking about my novel, and how I've been afraid to start it or even take a step toward it for a while now. It took me a while to find a good idea. Actually I had a number of ideas, but some of them I lost interest in and couldn't move forward on, or I thought they weren't novel worthy enough. But I've finally settled on one. It may not even be a particularly good idea, but I'm interested in it, and thats what counts. During my little trip to San Antonio, I think I realized that my goal is really just to finish a novel, and I'll worry about publication later.

*sigh* What a breath of fresh air! For a while there I kept thinking way too far in advance, instead of just focusing on what I have to do right now, which is outline my story and then write it. And yes, I'm doing an outline. It's a slightly modified version of The Snowflake Method, which seemed like the best place to start for a beginning novelist like me. 

So, if you'd like to keep track of my progress....wait a while. Haha. It's going to take me a long time to finish the design documents, partly because I'm working on revising some short stories that are going into a Blurb book made by me and my very artistic best friend (a.k.a: VABF). My goal is to finish them by the time she gets back from an art workshop in Chicago (I'm so proud of her!!), so that we can start laying things out. So...that means my novel is on the back burners for now, but I will still be working on it whenever I can. 

And... I've been talking way too much. All you people out there have something to say! What are some projects that you're working on?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life After Harry Potter

The first thing I thought when the screen went black and the credits began to roll at last nights midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, was, "I can't believe it's over." Somehow, this was not the reaction I had been expecting.

Maybe I thought I was prepared for the end. Maybe I went into denial and kept telling myself that Harry Potter couldn't end, that it would live forever. The more likely story is that I thought I would be so blown away by the last film that I would only be thinking about how good it was and not the fact that there will be no more of them. Ever.

Of course the movie was amazing. They did a fantastic job with it, which only made the end to the series that much more heart wrenching. During the last third of the movie I'm sure there was not a dry eyed person in the theatre, and the sound of sniffling was only interrupted by cheers for Molly Weasley when she defeats Bellatrix.

And now for the questions nobody can answer. Will Harry Potter live on? Will our children be reading our well worn copies of the books we cherished when we were kids? Or will there be another series in its place? No matter what happens, I think that Harry Potter will always be special to those who grew up with its characters. It will be remembered, not only for its wonderful writing or its world wide fame, but because it taught people everywhere to believe in magic.

Monday, July 4, 2011

How to Get the Most out of your 4th of July

We writers take holidays seriously. Not because we spend most of our time writing in our pajamas (if we're lucky) and holidays are the only time we get to dress up, but because holidays are a great way to get new material for stories. Right? Ok.

So, on that note I'm going to tell all you fellow writers out there how to get the most out of your 4th of July.

1. Go places. Ok, this may seem obvious, but for those of you who were planning on sitting at home doing nothing today, wake up! What better opportunity are you going to have to observe all those 4th of July party goers.

2. Bake. What's more patriotic that good ol' apple pie? Plus, you can get your mind off of writing for a little while you wait for inspiration to show up.

3. Spend time with family. And while you're at it, steal your favorite uncle into the back room and give him that manuscript you've been dying to show someone. (Just make sure he'll give you good advice!)

4. Crash a Barbecue. Ok, well you don't have to ruin the party, but definitely observe the happenings at your typical backyard grill fest. You never know when you may have to write a scene like that!

5. And finally, go see fireworks! Not only are fireworks essential to a successful 4th of July, but while you're at it why not do a character study of the hot dog vendor at the event. Who knows what stories will pop up?!

Well thats all for now. Hope you all have a great 4th of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Random Music Post #1

Well, it was bound to happen sometime! I told you in my first post that I was slightly obsessive about playing the piano, which (of course) makes me prone to random music posts on my otherwise writerly blog. 
This is a piece that I'm hoping to learn by the end of the summer- Schubert's Impromptu No. 2, Op. 90. Hope you enjoy it, and when I've learned it I'll post my own video (though I doubt it will be as epic as this!)  :D

Review: The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

"The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothersis a rollicking and smart novel—mythic, mysterious and utterly compelling. Thomas Mullen shows us ourselves in his speculative historical fiction, and for readers who love great stories told beautifully, his books can't come fast enough."

—Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the PoetsThe Zero, and Citizen Vince

It's rare to find a book that stays with you long after you read it. There are plenty of books that I think fondly about when the subject comes up, but only a few who's characters draw me back into their world at random intervals, making it impossible to think about anything else. A kind of haunting, but in a good way. ;)  To my surprise, I found that The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen is one of those books.

The basic premise is as follows: Jason and Whit Fireson cannot die. This is especially convenient because they also happen to be bank robbers in the 1930s. Interested yet? Even if this seems a little unbelievable, Mullen handles it so well that the reader instantly suspends their disbelief and is wrapped up the fast paced narrative. And, while I didn't want to have to use this phrase, I could not put the book down!

All of the characters were interesting and well drawn. I especially liked the conversations between Jason and Whit, which were natural and humorous. The book is wide ranging, and goes in depth into several more minor characters surrounding the brothers. I found myself rooting first for the brothers, then for the cops that are chasing them, then for the third brother who feels lost in the wake of the two family outlaws. The time period is also fairly well drawn, and the spirit of a desperate country during the  Great Depression is put together nicely with a few stark images here and there.

After reading the reviews on Amazon, I can see why some people would complain that the setting and time period were not as clear as they hoped, or that the moral situation of the two outlaws was not well expressed. While I can see where they're coming from, I choose not to be quite as picky. Overall, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers was captivating and well written, with characters that I can hear in my head if I just close my eyes and listen. What reader could ask for more?