A String of 30 Lights


book art

book art

Over on my friend’s blog, she’s talking about NaNoWriMo. I left her a comment at Cathy Brockman’s blog. You’ll find my comment below,  only expanded because sometimes, I have a lot to say about a specific thing.

This is what Cathy asked: When you are choosing a book, how important is the title to you?

I know that was the main point of her post,  but my mind went in a different direction because you know, one idea leads to another, then another, then you have a chain and pretty soon  it’s like a string of Christmas lights. She started off her post by discussing the difference  between a plotter and a pantser. This is what fueled the ignition, that started the  train moving.

I am a plotanser. I’ve used both methods in the past. The first time I did NANO in 2011, I totally pantsed it. Just off the top of my head, all I had to work with was an initial scene that a conversation with my eldest daughter had sparked about a dragon complex, hoarding gold. The light bulb went off, the writing frenzy began, and I exceeded the word count by a LOT. I mean a LOT. The goal is 50000 words,  I hit somewhere in the 90000 range.  However, I had to throw out a bulk portion of that wordage because it didn’t progress the story. It helped me to get to know my characters, it helped to understand their world, and it helped me in the practice of writing. It is painful to cut out large chunks of what you ‘have written’. It was discouraging. The next time, I plotted. I plotted to the nth detail. No deviations. I had a map and I had a destination but somewhere along the line, the thrill of writing the story, letting it unfold was lost in completely planning it and that story still sits unfinished.

Now, I use a skeletal structure plot with key points, which allows me to be creative. That’s what works for me. Let me expound for a moment.

I try to  think through my story using the 3 Act method. Of course, I can’t just follow that so I end up with a four act  method.

Act 1 – Establish the character, show the MC in their before life. This is how they are now.  There is something missing that they need to change. At the end of the first act is the inciting incident that launches the story.

Act 2 A – the MC tries to deal with inciting incident in their old ways and fail, something has to change. they fumble, meet with failure, get frustrated, angry,  and  by midpoint – MC has a false sense of comfort because they  think they can handle it but can’t. This is the point that they come face to face with the fact that change must happen.

Act 2B – things get worse. Consequences to the not changing are happening. They feel the squeeze. The only thing that makes us change is force. How is the MC handling that force? Emotional overload, stress overload. Change is forced.

Act 3 – They are either resolved to change or fight it every step of the way then reluctantly changing. If they have made the change then they overcome.  If they have not then they ultimately fail. Happy ending? OR Noir?

Think about it. Next time you sit down and watch a movie,  or  a tv show, test  it against the above.

From this I develop my skeletal outline breaking out into chapters.  Each chapter is a point that progresses the story.  Within a chapter may be multiple scenes that occur. On the current WIP I had 18 chapters. I broke these chapters down to 30 points, following Lazette’s method  for her 30 points of light! My points aren’t as laser focused as hers. I’ve made it my own.

For Valkyrie’s Curse: Trial of Aegir, the second book in my Valkyrie’s series, here’s a brief look at Act 1.

Act 1

  • Chapter 1
  1. Glowing Amber
  2. Super Hero Dreams
  • Chapter 2
  1. Playing Catch Up
  2. Discovering the gifts
  • Chapter 3
  1. Recurring dreams of paradise/Giant snake
  • Chapter 4
  1. Relationships
  2. Aella’s map
  • Chapter 5
  1. Atlantis

Keypoints that give me  a prompt for the day,  that keep me on track for the story, and  point in the general direction of the end. For the most part,  it works. But  sometimes I end up spending more time on one point than simply covering that point. For November 2nd, I wrote a volume of words to open the scene and set the stage, before I ever got to point one. Stage setting is important as well.

And in all of that,  I never did get to the point that Cathy asked about covers.  As to purchasing books –  I’ll buy a book if I like the title and conversely won’t buy a book if the title sounds lame.  As to my own books,  sometimes the title comes easily, other times I toil over them.  While revising my next to be released book Valkyrie’s Curse, I was inspired to expand it. It has now blossomed into a  7 part series. I’m using nano to get the first draft down for book 2 of that series. I toiled over the titles for quite some time on this, aggravating my close circle of friends until they were sick of me. While I was lamenting, trying to be oh so clever with titles one of those friends made a suggestion that was absolutely Brilliant.

I latched on to that puppy with both hands!

By the way,  the recipes will continue tomorrow.  I’m feeling rather ill today, and the idea of food pictures is . . .  even writing it made my stomach lurch.

Write on my friends, write on!

~~~

Ellie

 

 

 

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Interview with Author V.L. Locey


Well folks, today I have another guest in ” studio”.  Hmmm, that’s being rather liberal but it sounded better than ‘ hanging out in the kitchen’.  While I  offer up a pot of my best Black Silk, I got the chance to talk with my good friend Vicki Locey. 

I first met her  through Storytime Trysts.  She wrote several steamy stories for our readers on that blog.  Over time, we’ve developed a morning sprint group where we challenge and encourage each other. Some days we do better than others, but one thing that has held true for me – she is an encouragement.  Her example of diligence is motivating.  

With several books under her belt now, this fine lady shared some insight with me.

Do you consider yourself a creative?

I do now. There was a time that I didn`t consider myself creative or artistic. I assumed being artistic meant you painted, or that being creative meant you made something: knitting, needlepoint, pottery, sculpting, that sort of thing. It took me some time to come to terms with myself as an artist. Now I understand that I paint with words.

 Eloquently stated.  I agree, sometimes we tend to pigeonhole.  I thought for many years that since I can’t sing,  have no aptitude for painting or sculpting that I wasn’t an artist.  However, I’ve had many people tell me they loved this piece or that one, that I began changing my view which led me to research this topic of creatives. 

What  media do you use to express this?

Books.

 What  inspires you?  Discuss a specific time that inspiration struck.

My inspiration can come from anywhere or anything. A song on the radio. A severe thunderstorm. A comment made when having coffee with friends.

Oh cool!  Maybe something we talk about today will spark something.  At least you didn’t bring the zombie goo this time. *Vicki. levels  a look at me unsure that I’m joking*

Okay. So you want specifics, eh? I was having coffee with some fellow women authors. One, who is also a hockey fanatic, mentioned something about a rowdy game that she feared would roll out into the parking lot after the game. That tiny comment went home with me, nipping at the corners of my mind. By the next day, I had the idea and characters all worked out for my first M/M hockey novella. Boom. Just like that.

Wow!  That’s Impressive.  I usually don’t get the entire story that quickly, just a basic idea.  Do you ever struggle for inspiration?

Not generally. I seem to struggle to contain all the ideas. Sifting through the chaff to find the good ideas is always hard. They all seem brilliant when they flare to life.

“Oh. My. God. A book about zombie cats who ride Harleys! Yes! YES!”

Uhm. No, Vicki. Let`s not and say we did.

Sounds like some of my ideas when I am sleep deprived.  LOL!

 OOH!  I know, I’ll write a story about a zombie dog that infects the other dogs at the pound!  Right,  a french poodle, a mutt, and a chihuahua!  Yeah, It will be funny!  * shakes head sadly*

 Ok, moving on – Which is more daunting, beginning or the perseverance to finish,  or cutting the “umbilical cord”?

I don`t have any real issues with starting, or finishing.

Cutting the cord? Sometimes, but not usually. If I know that it`s done, then it`s done. I`ve polished it the best I can. Time to submit it and see if the publisher agrees. Sometimes they don`t. Sometimes they do.

I love that about you!  The fact that you don’t get riled up, or stressed out over  it. I’m trying to  learn from your example on that one,  I get all wound up over just the idea that they might reject my work.  Yeah,  I know I have issues. 

Describe your process from inception of an idea to conclusion of your work.

I start with the idea. Then I begin to masticate it, like a new stick of gum. Chewing it over and over, tasting the flavor on my tongue. If it tastes like a winner, then I open a file. In that file are two Word documents. One for the manuscript itself, the other one that I title Odds & Ends. The Odds & Ends document will have my character bios, supporting characters, any information that is relevant to the book, and images of the cast if I can find pictures that I think fit.

OMG – I do that too!  I look online for  people that “fit” the look I am going for  on my characters,  then  put them on the character index cards for easy reference.  I know I need to  move to the modern age and go digital, but I like my cards. 

Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt.  Please continue. 
 
I do not do long involved plot skeletons. I do a beginning, middle, and end. That`s it. I have learned that for me, meticulous plotting silences my muse. She has already written that story and will not rewrite it. So, yeah, Madame Pantser here pretty much leaps on her bike and freewheels through her books. So far it seems to be working out okay.

 Hmm,  I will have to think about what you just said as I’ve fought with my muse numerous times to  get the story written, and she points to my outline and shrugs. 
Of the characteristics of a creative, which category most describes you?  Which one least fits you?
Probably Passions best describes me. The one that least fits I would say is Head Games. I see my traits scattered throughout the categories so it`s really hard to choose just one.

Do you struggle with discouragement, distractions,  or lack of motivation?
Online distractions, yes, at times. I’ve learned to simply turn off Facebook or Pinterest when it`s time to work.

Lack of motivation isn’t a problem of mine.

Discouragement? Sure. There are times I wonder if anyone cares, if anyone is reading my work, if I should just give it up. Then, something seems to come along, a pleasant review or a teenager that hugs me because she has never seen LGBT novels in our county before. Yeah, that lifts me back up. It makes me want to write more.

How do you fund your  lifestyle, and  how would you describe your lifestyle?
Well, my lifestyle isn’t really anything that needs a lot of funding. I`m an author, so I stay at home. I`m still trying to break even on the self-published books I had printed. If you`re looking to get rich, be a doctor or a hockey player. Trust me on that one. The majority of us are maybe making enough to pay for editing on our next books if they’re indie.

Yeah,  I know a lot of people that think if they write A book,  one book that they will be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling.  Right,  like it’s sooo easy.  They never think of  people like Mark Twain that lived close to poverty even though he was a world recognized author.  Agatha Christie wrote fantastic tales yet she didn’t live in the lap of luxury. For every  rich author, there are hundreds that earn a decent income and still another hundred that  make just enough to keep the lights on.  Sorry, pet peeve there.  * Sips coffee and offers a refill to Vicki*

Tell me about two of your works that you are most proud of.
Of Gods & Goats. It was my first book, and although I`ve learned so much since it went into print, it still symbolizes how brave I was to enter a new career at 50. I`m quite proud of all my works, but perhaps my To Love a Wildcat series is, at the moment, the one I`m feeling the most pride about. Of course, that will probably change when the next series begins, but this one is special. The non-conformity to the size two, perky blonde, white, twenty-year-old cookie cutter romantic leading lady is the reason I`m so proud of my Wildcats stories.

Ha!  I hear you there!  I am all about the nonconformity of my characters, even though I was recently chastised for writing  the overused themes, the damsel in distress thing –  I honestly don’t think I have any damsel in distress in any of my writings.  OK maybe in VAlkyrie’s Curse, I’ll have to look at that one again.  It’s on  the back burner anyway. 

 

What life titles do you hold?  ( mother, brother, sister, dad, uncle, editor, artist, graphic designer, nurse, husband, etc.)

 

Mother, sister, wife, author, chicken herder, hater of commas, reader, hockey fan.

Would you be willing to share a picture of your workspace?

It`s my kitchen table. Someday, maybe, I might have a desk, but until that day all the smutty magic happens here:

 

Vicki's workspace

Have you ever jotted down your idea on a napkin, torn bag, wrapper, or sketched a quick drawing of an item on any of the above?

For sure. Many times! I`ve also leaped out of the shower, repeating an idea or a line of dialog over and over until I can find a towel and a pen and paper.

 

What  piece of advice would you offer other creative?

 

Never let others determine your destiny. Don`t let family and friends tell you that you`re too old, too young, too fat, too skinny, too white, too black, too rich or too poor to pursue your dreams.

 

 That is great advice!  I wish I’d heard it many years ago.  Thank you for coming by and sharing  coffee with me, and for allowing me to pick your brain for my readers.

Vicki Locey
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, belly laughs, anything romantic, Greek mythology, New York Rangers hockey,  comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a steer named after a famous N.H.L. goalie,  a pig named after an American President, and a flock of assorted domestic fowl. When not writing romantic tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand, writing, or cheering on her beloved New York Rangers. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

I love to meet new friends and fans! You can find me at:

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/pages/VL-Locey/124405447678452

Twitter- https://twitter.com/vllocey

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807700.V_L_Locey

My blog- http://thoughtsfromayodelinggoatherder.blogspot.com/

On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=V.L.%20Locey&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank 

Write on my friends, and go read a good book!