Monday, January 30, 2012

Speaking of Villains

So I FINALLY finished the book, The Help, and as I had previously blogged, it wasn't as well written as I had expected it would be, but it does raise an interesting topic.  I had also seen the movie, and the changes from the book to the movie were an improvement in the overall story.  It is so sad that we have not been able to move beyond these deep prejudices in our society, and these feelings are still boiling just below the surface.
In my last blog I wrote about villains, and in the book The Help, the villain was Hilly Holbrook, and I thought this was a very well portrayed character, movie and book.  She is really the essence of a bully, demeaning the African-American people who work for her and pressuring her peers into following her example.  She's a villain whose demise I cheered on.

On another topic, I have been trying to make some changes on my blog but it has been difficult.  I spent WAY too much time trying to figure out how to post my picture, and my husband, a computer programmer, finally figured it out, but it took him a long time as well.  One thing I'd like to figure out is how to post pictures from the web, just to make it more visually appealing.  If anyone has any suggestions? 

Saturday, January 28, 2012


What kind of bad guy do you like in your books?
Obviously it depends on the genre you write, but personally I love the subtle ones.  Ones that you're not quite sure if you like them or not.  The example that comes to mind is Anna Karenina (because I read that book recently!).  I was sympathetic towards her until she left her only child, that she adored, for a man who she was having an affair with.  Then she became unforgivable to me, because how could a mother do that?  In a way, these kind of people are fun to read about because it gives you a little boost, as in, I'm a much better person than this.
In the novel I'm working on, my villain is based on a real life person who portrayed herself in different ways to different people.  From the perspective of certain people, she was not a bad person at all, but there was definitely an ugly side to her character.  That's how it is in real life, and that's what makes it interesting.
What's your opinion?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Great Authors Make Great Characters

Building characters that are truly three dimensional is a skill that not all writers have.  These are just my opinions as an avid reader, but it is also a goal I strive to achieve as a writer.  Some examples are Ernest Hemingway's MC in For Whom the Bell Tolls.  I love his sparse writing and the MC became for me a very masculine, mysterious, REAL person, someone I continued to think about after I put the book down.  I was disturbed and emotional, feelings that you have if it has become real to you.  In the book Anna Karenina, the author also created very diverse, real people in his descriptions.  I thought it was very impressive how he could jump around from the different characters, male and female, and give such a believable description of their actions, behavior, and dialogue. 
Another one is Jane Austen, which is why she is so timeless.  Even though she wrote about a society from so long ago, you can still relate to people in her books.  For example, in Emma, the character who is sweet but talks too much about nothing in particular.  Don't we all know someone like that?
How do you make your characters believable?  Are there authors that you consider role models in this area?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dare I Call Myself a Writer

I had this great idea for a novel.  It's been brewing inside of me for a long time and I've finally committed myself to making it happen.  So I started writing and bought a book, Getting Your Book Published for Dummies, (yeah, I know) and started reading it.  Basically it boiled down to- non-fiction, great! here's how.  Fiction?  You don't have a chance.  It's slowly been dawning on me that getting published is like winning the lottery, making it in Hollywood, or becoming the winner on American Idol.  But that's okay- writing is a fire within.  I must do it, whether I succeed or not, because it's my dream.  So I bought another book on publishing.  I sat and looked through it before I actually got it this time.  It started out so positively, making the point that in this day and age of online publishing, you can make it happen.  Then I got home, continued reading, and got to the little blurp on fiction.  Again, you don't stand a chance.  But it did refer me to the Writer's Digest for Novels and Short Stories.  Okay, now we're talking!
One suggestion has been to gain experience, like building a resume, by getting short stories published in literary magazines and entering contests.  So far I've written two and half short stories and a poem.  I'm starting with contests and have submitted one so far, although I still have a pending non-fiction piece that has not been officially rejected.
So, how are you planning on getting published?  And why do you write?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Whiskers, Writing, and Juggling Acts

I got it!  This is Willow!  I'm proud of myself because it took my kids taking my camera away, the batteries going dead before I could take some decent pictures, the computer not being set up, an arguement with my husband to fix it, and finally success!  But my husband is annoyed with me- I'll have to fix THAT later.  Willow is awesome.  We (as in me and the kids) are in love with him, so in a few weeks I'll make it official and adopt him.  We have him in a heated storage room attached to our house because we are acclimating (is that a word?  too lazy to look it up) him to our family, which includes a motley pack of dogs.  Two of said dogs would probably like to hunt the cat, and do some not so nice things to him, but they are also the two senior, arthritic dogs who hopefully couldn't catch him.  The third dog could, but is the biggest coward you ever saw, and a well placed swat from the cat would put her in her place.  Unfortunately, Willow is too nice to swat her, but they were okay together anyway.

Next topic, juggling acts.  Does anyone else feel like they are in a not so successful juggling act?  Because that would be me.  If I write, my house self-destructs.  If I clean, I don't write, and the house still self-destructs.  Then, because I work part-time doing 12-hour shifts, any progress I have made in any area has completely disintegrated and I live in fear that that hoarders show will come knocking at my door.  Meanwhile my children are wandering around, semi-unattended, with an occasional shout from my husband who has reached the end of his patience.
Little side story to illustrate:
The other day my 5 year old went running into the office where he was sitting, yelling, "ATTACK!"  My husband said, "NO!"  So she went into retreat yelling, "UNATTACK!"

I'm going to finish this blog off now because one of the senior dogs lying by me has gas and the air is quite noxious right now!  Plus I have to corral the wandering kids and throw them into bed.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My discoveries of the week

This week has been huge for me as far as discovering resources and finding networks of people with the same interests.  I joined Twitter, but I don't really get it yet-  my twitter account is JeMune if anyone is interested.  I've been reluctantly dragged out of the stone ages and am learning to at least endure technology, but not embrace it yet. 
Other finds of the week include a new blog I joined called If You Can Dream It, (she's on my blog list if you want to check her out).  I LOVE her blog site set-up, plus she's pro-shelter pets so hurray for her!
Speaking of the animal shelter- I made my way over there yesterday.  First time since I had my surgery, and well, I must confess, I got another pet.  My husband didn't freak out as expected, especially since we have a furry pet for fish negotiation thing going on.  (He's into the whole fish/aquarium thing).
So the latest edition is a cat whom we've renamed Willow.  He has a broken meow, as my 11 year old put it.  He sounds like he's mad but he is a total sweetheart, and the minute you start cuddling him his purring engine turns on.  I'll try to post his picture later, but I forgot how!   Now, I've always officially been a dog person, having had certain experiences with some rather psycho cats.  However, there are cats out there who are more like dogs, loving and cuddly, just as there are psycho dogs who are more like cats, and will turn on you so fast you didn't see it coming. 
We introduced him to Mocha, our bunny, and after checking each other out,  (you could almost read the thoughts "What a weird looking bunny/-cat?")  At that point Willow tried to stick his paw into Mocha's cage to play with his ear.
One last thing- for all out there, writer's and non-writer's alike, check out the website, if you want a good laugh.  He's a literary agent posting query's (book proposals).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bear with me!

I've updated my blog, deleting a bunch of blogs that I didn't want to be public anymore.  I just read some suggestions on keeping an online presence, so I'm cleaning this one up and will be getting more focused on the purpose of it, which is to get myself out there and known as a writer.
I'm excited and overwhelmed.  I've started reading about what it is going to take to get established and I have so much to learn, but as someone said, "The only failure is to not try."
I'll still add my little stories of life because it's things I like to chronicle anyway, but I'm also going to write about my journey starting from the beginning of what I learn and how I grow in making my dream of becoming a published author true!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Greed knows no limits

In the news, the ex of Tiger Woods demolished a beautiful 12 million dollar mansion to rebuild a house that suits her taste.  The backlash has been fierce, and I say with good reason.  It makes me sick to my stomach really.  Having lived in South America for three years, I try to remember the little things we have to be grateful for in this country.  Like running water, cold AND hot, electricity we can count on, sewage and garbage systems.  I'm a solid middle class person- we make a decent living to provide the necessities of  life and even some luxuries.  I think that our view of living has become warped because of the steady stream of information we are fed that make us think certain things are a must in order to be happy.  Like granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, jacuzzies, huge walk-in closets, etc.

A program on HGTV called house hunters proves my point.  Time after time the families selecting a home to purchase make comments on the outdated features, and although they might be perfectly functional, the couple will say they would have to remodel immediately because they just couldn't live with such a feature.  One couple even discussed ripping out the newly installed granite counter top because they didn't like the color!

If someday I have the success to make a large amount of money with writing, (highly unlikely I know), but I've thought about what I would do with it.  I would pay off our mortgage, but I would also like to stay true to myself and stay simple.  I'd give to my favorite charities, including the local humane society, and build a home for my in-laws in Ecuador that they will never have to lose.  (They will be losing their current home to road expansion in the near future)  In fact, I would like to make it a business- a property including two cabins that could be used like a bed and breakfast.  Maybe here I would fulfill my dream of building a petting zoo so I could work doing something I loved, and give free tickets to underpriviledged children.

What would you do if you were rich?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The truth about dreams

The reality is, my dream is and always has been to write.  When I chose the images for my high school ring, on one side I put visions and on the other side I put journalism.  One thing I keep in the back of my mind was what the professor said to Jo in the book Little Women, and that was of writing about things that you know.  I had written a lot of fantasy as a child, but as for reality, what could a girl in high school write about that was worthy of being read?  Now I'm almost 40, hitting that this coming summer, and life is better than ever.  I'm finally working on making my dream a reality!

I submitted my first piece to Glamour magazine and it was the story of what happened to me during surgery.  (See previous blog).  I actually got a personal email back thanking me for the story and was told it would be forwarded to the appropriate editor.  I guess that was a good start, even if it never makes it.

My major project is a novel based loosely on my experiences in Ecuador, S. America but is completely fictional.  I'm on chapter six right now but that will be a work in progress for quite some time.  I've written a short story that I'll be preparing to submit to a literary magazine but it needs some tweeking yet.  It's a parallel story of two young girls from different countries and their experience with a doll.  It deals with the disposable nature of life in a post industrial nation compared with a developing one.

I just finished reading a book called Tennyson by Lesley Blume.  It was written for young people but I really enjoyed it.  I loved the history element, the way she developed characters, and overall thought it was really well written.  I checked out her blog and discovered she is a huge success as a writer and journelist, and a lot of things she is interested in are things I am too, so I'll be checking out more of her books.  I've also been trudging my way through The Help, but I have to confess I liked the movie better.  Some things in the book just weren't believable and other parts just seemed to be thrown in as an after thought.