Monday, September 28, 2015

A walk down memory lane…

I’ve been able to spend some free time reviewing my short story, with the expectation that I’ll have it out by November.  That is still the plan, and I’m optimistic and hopeful that the plan stays on track.

After completing another run through of my short story today to finalize what I hope will leave me much closer to a final edit, I became just a bit nostalgic.  As with many of my story ideas, this one came to me quite a few years ago and when I saved yet another draft on my computer today, it hit me just how  many years ago I first began to type up my notes about this particular idea.  It was actually in November 2011, which is fitting, considering my short story has been dubbed “1111” during the whole creation stage. 

It’s interesting to me how some stories are born.  The stories behind my Jorja Matthews mystery series all began with a simple idea that formed in my head years ago; however, many of the mini-mysteries in that series were all conceived as I created the main mystery surrounding Jorja and her family.  The story behind 1111 was conceived about four years ago now, while the story behind my short, short 1313 Psycho Path was created after a simple brain-storming session with my boys when they asked me to write a scary ghost story. 

The first draft of 1111 was written in early 2014 and I hadn’t planned to put off this novel for so long, but with the other books I’ve been working on, it just took a back seat.  I believe this is the only book that has actually sat for long periods between each revised draft, making the review less subjective on my part than with my other stories.

It’s a remarkable task, reading something you’ve set aside for awhile.  You can almost pretend you’re reading something written by another person.  Kind of like when you dig out your journals from when you were twenty-something or when you were a teen…for those who have kept their journals that long.  Stephen King is one author who suggests putting your manuscripts away for a period of time before reviewing them – to better gain some objective.  It’s an understandable concept and probably works quite well.  I’m just not a very patient person and have a hard time putting the review off for that long.  But I’ve had those rests between reviews of 1111 and it does give me a different perspective when I’m not as close to the story as I was when I had just completed the first draft.

As stories take time to bloom into what’s been imagined, authors also develop and flourish as they continue to write from year to year.  I am one who enjoys writing stories as well as blogging and as with authors and the books we write, those who blog also develop their voice as they share their passion. 

Ever since I wrote my very first post back in December 2011, I’ve continued to blog about my writing journey and that’s where my walk down memory lane occurred.  I thought about that first post I authored back when I shared my dream of writing with others.  It will actually be four years this December since I began this blog and shared my passion.  That’s incredible to me.  After re-reading my first post, I decided to read through some other posts, just to see what it is I had to say back then.  It was surreal reading back on old posts; I know I wrote them, and I remember many of them very well, but I’m reading them again from a more objective frame of mind. 

And the best thing about my little jaunt down memory lane? 

I still enjoying reading my old posts and referring back to them.  Maybe I’m a little less objective than I thought.  J  Here are just a few examples I’d like to share with you:  when a huge storm stopped me from using my computer for almost a week; my love for my dogs; my exciting news about my first book cover reveal; my first book signing; how I deal with distractions; when I entered my first book contest; note to self about how to relax more often; how much fun it is to attend different writing or book events; and how to work with others to make your book the best it can be.

Just some light reading for you, as I share with you my walk down memory lane. 

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A book, a movie, a…completely different story?

Imagine having an idea.  Imagine putting that idea on paper.  Imagine others showing how much they love your idea by buying your books until eventually the dream of a lifetime comes true:  someone offers you big bucks to put your brilliant idea on the big screen.

It can be hard to envision, maybe because it is such a big dream.

The dream does come true for some authors, and quite often lately for the young adult writers.  And I say…all the power to them and anyone else who reaches this professional goal.

But then imagine having an idea, putting that idea on paper, feeling the love from all the readers who adore your story and buy your books and then, after the dream of having your book turned into a movie comes to life, the big screen version is quite different than your original story.

Does it bother the authors when movies don’t stick to their original story?  It may.  Does it bother the readers who love the books?  Yes, I believe it really does, most likely because they don’t want any changes to be made to a story or to characters they love so much.  And possibly because they believe their favorite author or story is being wronged in some way. 

This weekend I enjoyed a night out with my youngest son to go to the theater to watch The Scorch Trials, the second book of The Maze Runner series.  I read the series after I bought the books for my son to read (before it became a movie) and he finally talked me into reading them because he liked them so much.  I really enjoyed the books and, like my son, I looked forward to watching the series when The Maze Runner first hit theaters last year.

I really can’t recall how many big changes from book to movie were made with the first movie, but there were many differences between the book and movie with regard to The Scorch Trials.  Did it make the movie any less fun to watch?  No, actually, my son and I really enjoyed the movie – so much so that we went back to watch it a second time! 

So often the book is much better than the movie based on the book.  You’ve heard the phrase:  never judge a book by its movie?  But does it make the movie any less interesting or fun to watch?  Not necessarily, especially with the special effects movie producers have access to these days.  

Obviously, if readers don’t want to see a movie based on a book, they don’t have to.  If it’s not up to par, they can voice their opinion, but it doesn’t take away from what the author has accomplished by putting the story out there in the first place.

And actually, in keeping an open mind about what it takes to make a book into a movie, there’s something else to consider for those who are distressed when a movie is different from the book it’s based on.  Movies are just movies; they offer a few hours of entertainment and are based on the views of someone who uses the author’s original idea to provide a visual adaption of the story.  You can watch a movie that captures the story exactly as written and you may enjoy it or be disappointed with it because it’s not up to par but regardless, you’ll never be surprised by it.  Or, you can go to a movie with an expectation of what will happen from beginning to end, only to be surprised when the storyline takes a turn or two you hadn’t expected. 

While I don’t enjoy watching movies right after I’ve read the books, since I still feel deeply vested in the story and would be more prone to have issues with any changes made to the plot, I do enjoy movies the most when I don’t always know what to expect (except for those I enjoy watching over and over, such as The Lord of the Rings).  I don’t mind taking a chance on a book-based movie and I don’t mind when they surprise me.  I also know that if the movie really isn’t up to par based on a favorite novel, I can always read the book again.

And that’s the great thing about books and the imagination:  books are the stepping stones to the imagination and they’re always there when you need them.  

So keep calm, read on and have a great week!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Exciting news! I’m hearing voices in my head again!

Okay, I don’t mean to come off sounding a little…off, but there’s some truth behind hearing voices when you’re a writer.  At least there is for me.  It’s that part of my imagination I’ve made very good use of over the past few years since before and after I wrote and published my first book.  It’s what happens when I get just a hint of an idea for a character, a plot or just a simple storyline, and the characters or story idea continues to haunt me so that I’m no longer able to ignore it. 

Eventually, the characters or story idea is something I go to sleep thinking about, wake up after dreaming about or just can’t get away from while I lose myself deep in thought during my drive to and from work.  The thoughts become something I amuse myself with, make notes about and eventually begin to write about.

Although I did set aside the month of April to start a new book during Camp NaNo, and I am happy with the results of what I was able to accomplish, the rest of this year has proven to be difficult when it came to writing.  My imagination has been difficult to breach and the voices of my characters have been stubbornly quiet.

Back in March I posted about my inability to create, and I believe now as I did then:  writers block is nothing more than where your mindset is at the time you need to write.  Here’s a paragraph from that post:

This occurrence of writer’s block is much more extreme but again, it is only due to where my mindset is at this moment. It’s obviously going to take more time before I’ll be able to delve deeply into the stories and characters I enjoy so much. There are a few hurdles I need to get past, some more fears I need to face but eventually the huge, ugly wall that’s been blocking my ability to create will finally begin to crumble so that I can toss the pieces aside and move on. There are no odds against me making it through these tough times; it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.    

I did have to get past some additional fears and move through some more difficult times but the time away from writing also allowed me to focus on family and healing.  I may not be completely healed from my grief and we may still have some difficult times ahead as a family, but I’ve noticed something lately… I feel as is the fog I’ve been shrouded in is beginning to clear and I now have the sense of being prodded more often by thoughts about my characters and stories.  Lately it’s to the point that I am regularly thinking about the mystery surrounding my characters and I have new ideas stirring, as well. 

It’s been so long…and I’ve really missed it.  I feel as if I’m welcoming an old friend. 

I don’t know what I have to do to keep my imagination churning or the characters chattering, but I’m going to do my best not to let either slip away or hide again.  I have too much to complete when it comes to writing and time slips away so quickly…I have a hard time believing it’s already the middle of September. 

So where does that leave me with my work in progress?  I’m still going to try to complete my short story – in a perfect world I’d like to have it out by the beginning of November so maybe I can reach my goal if I set a strict deadline.  We shall see.   My new young adult novel is still going to remain a work in progress, one I’ll add to as the muse allows and one I hope to complete and publish later next year.  But it’s the new characters in my fourth Jorja Matthews book that are speaking the loudest so I’m going to spend the rest of my free time working on that book.  Especially since I’ve heard from so many people lately how much they have loved the series (thank you!!) and can’t wait for another.

It may sound strange when I say I’m happy to hear my characters are speaking to me again, but for those who enjoy my stories, I believe you’re probably happy to hear this news as well. 

Thank you, take care and and have a great week!