I've started work on the first draft of A Dinosaur Ate my Homework
- the second book in my middle grade time travel adventure series. It's going well so far, though between preparing college lessons and finishing the third Snowy adventure, the going is slow.
Here's a little snippet from what I wrote today: For one glorious moment, I knew it couldn’t be real.
The Sentinel’s defense system enhances subliminal fear in anything that gets too close. Sure, in my nightmares, the dinosaurs don’t usually come within drooling distance, but it wouldn’t be the first time a ship-triggered illusion scared the crap out of me.
My relief lasted as long as it took for the T-Rex to exhale.How about you?
Care to share a line or two from your current WiP?
A few weeks ago, the good folks at the Georgian Court University asked if I would like to teach their creative writing course this semester. I've taught a couple of weekend summer writing workshops there, so I had a good foundation to get me started on the 28 lessons plans I needed to come up with.
I like teaching. It's fun to help other folks learn new skills, and there's nothing like trying to explain the how and why of things to focus your own understanding of a subject. During extra research, I always pick up useful tips and different approaches which I wouldn't otherwise get.
The additional work involved means I won't have so much time for library talks etc., at least not for the first part of the year, but once I have a better idea of just how much outside of class work is involved, I plan to hit the road with my new library/college talk, The Power of Popular Fiction.
All in all, I'm having an excellent start to the year.How about you?
What have you been getting up to lately?
With my son home from college for the holidays, Senior Management and I got a rare chance of a trip to the movies together.WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!As with the LoTR trilogy, I thought all the changes/omissions/additions made for the movie version fitted in well. The second movie opens with a flashback, complete with Peter Jackson (plus carrot), in his traditional Hitchcock cameo. We see Gandalf and Thorin at the Prancing Pony in Bree. The scene does a great job explaining why the dwarf who would be king needs a burglar, as opposed to an army. Later, at Dale, it was good to see more of Bard than we saw in the book. Also, the introduction of iron harpoons as the movie’s version of Bard’s dragon-killing black arrows makes a lot more sense. I was pleasantly surprised to find the romance between Kili and the she-elf, Tauriel, worked just fine – perhaps because I’d watched the deleted Rivendell dinner scene in the extended version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. There was plenty more to enjoy, including: The spiders of Mirkwood (eek!); Stephen Fry as the Master of Dale, and of course, Smaug the impressive.I love Peter Jackson’s over the top approach to fight scenes – In King Kong, the gorilla’s battle with the T-Rex trio remains one of my all-time favorites – so I was looking forward to see what he did with the barrel riding scene. He didn’t disappoint. Lol, out loud movie moments include: Legolas’ reaction when he sees drawings of Gloin’s wife and son (a young Gimli); Bombur’s barrel-rolling, Ninja impression; Legolas’ unusual approach to white-water rafting; Dwalin’s head-in-the-toilet appearance; the unfortunate orc who thought he was out of danger when he made it to the row boat beneath Bard’s window. Overall, I’d give this movie a 9/10, which is a half-point up from An Unexpected Journey. Definitely looking forward to the DVD, the extended edition DVD, and of course, the third movie. How about you?What movies have you seen recently?
We both liked the look of Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Walt Disney’s 20-year campaign to persuade Mary Poppins author, P. L. Travers, to sign over the movie rights, and the author’s involvement in the process of taking her book from page to screen.
However, much as we love all things Disney, in our house, Hobbits trump magical governesses any day of the week, so we opted for The Desolation of Smaug.
Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:
Writing to a Theme (Elizabeth Spann Craig) http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/2013/11/writing-to-theme.html
9 Ways To Undermine Your Characters’ Best Laid Plans (Lisa Cron)
Storytelling (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
Writing with Two Heads (Joe Moore)
Should Unpublished Novelists Build Platforms? (Rachelle Gardner)
Three Men and a Manuscript: A Forum on the Storytelling Craft (Larry Brooks)
Solicitation Alert: Bloggingbooks (Victoria Strauss)
5 Tips for Writing Themed Submissions (Karen Nelson)
When Your Story Takes a Vacation - 5 Ways to Cope (Shonell Bacon)
Three Deadly Potholes That Await (to swallow your story) Along the Writing Road (Larry Brooks)
(Sorry, this post seems to have gone walkabout. I'll replace the link if it ever returns)
If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2012, and last week’s list.
If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time). Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.
I had a hoot and a half at NJ SCBWI's Fall Craft Weekend. Great food, excellent company, and lots of learning.
The peer critiques and agent/editor feedback I received on the first fifteen pages of Abraham Lincoln Stole my Homework were helpful and extremely encouraging.
All the lectures I attended were informative. By far the best (for me) was Laurie Calkhoven's marvelous talk on scene structure. I left there with a far better understanding of how to write scenes gooder.
Although I've been a member since 2010, this was my first SCBWI event. It certainly won't be my last.
How about you?
How was your weekend?
In the two and a bit years since Fur-Face came out in paperback, I've sold my work at about 50 book fairs, street festivals, pet shows etc. and spoken about writing in front of an audience over 150 times (more than 100 of which were solo talks).
Given the choice, I'd much rather be at the back of the room, taking notes, but with thousands of new books published every week, I understand that, for most writers at least, coming up with the best story we can write might not be enough.
People often express surprise when I tell them I'm shy. I take that as a compliment because I work very hard to appear self-assured. During 2012, when I first made a determined effort to get out and about, I certainly became more confident but I still worry people won't like me or what I've got to say.
I find loud, lairy, music helps chase the nerves away. For most of this year, I've had Iron Maiden blaring out of the speakers every time I head out to give a talk. A few rock songs played at volume eleven seems to do the trick. I arrive at my destination, raring to go - I also practice a lot in front of the mirror, which definitely helps :)
How about you?
When you know you have to step out of your comfort zone, how do you boost your confidence?
I just finished the audio version of Pride and Prejudice, narrated by Irene Sutcliffe. Although I knew the story, I'd never actually read the book before.Not many of the so-called classics actually stand the test of time. Most lose their luster over the years. Not because they weren't good, but because the style of production evolves and audience taste changes.
While you can expect to see many classics on the typical 100 Best Books Ever list, compiled by whoever, it's often due to nostalgia, or more likely, what I like to call 'The Emperor's New Clothes' effect ie: people vote for a classic, rather than their true favorite, possibly because they think it makes them appear more wisdomous, or perhaps because they don't like to go against the crowd.
I'm happy to say that, for me at least, Pride and Prejudice thoroughly deserves its good reputation. Sure the language and narrative style has changed over the last couple of hundred years, but the story works just as well now as it ever did, and the characters are wonderful! My favorite by far was Mrs. Bennet. Her reaction on learning of Elizabeth and D'Arcy's engagement made me LoL out loud. How about you?
What do you think of the book you're reading at the moment?