Amanda Lewis

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Fascination

I have been trying, since last friday, to figure out how to word this post; and like everything else in this writing career of mine, the world helped me along in a round about way.

I had trouble sleeping last night. Fell asleep on the couch (an unusual occurence for me), got woken up by my 2-year-old daughter at 4:30 am, and saw my s.o. off to work at 6:30 am.

I decided to stay up and catch the early morning edition of Criminal Minds; this particular one entitled Zoe’s Reprise. This particular show is about F.B.I. criminal profilers specializing in serial killers. The character Zoe is a young wanna-be profiler who goes to Agent Rossi’s book signing and later goes to a recent crime scene (someplace she really shouldn’t be) to try to gain some insight into what she believes to be the work of a serial killer, but all the crimes look unrelated, she meets the un.sub. and doesn’t survive; inciting the full team’s presence to investigate her theory.

After the un.sub. is caught, Rossi questions his ability to continue P.R. on his new book and wonders with contempt the fascination the public has with serial killers. As one of the other agents explains; it was another of his books that inspired her to join the F.B.I.

Two things about this caught my ear; first, the obvious:

Public Fascination

P.F. does not end with serial killers. There are many: magic, vampires, shifters, mythology, etc. Really, anything that is different from ourselves. This creates a huge revenue and fan-base for authors who can make them believable; J. K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Krestley Cole, and most notably: the new fad Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) to fill the gap after Harry Potter and before the last instalment of Twilight. (Lucky)

But I suppose the real question is; why is the public fascinated at all?

I wish I could answer… If I could, I’m certain I would be the one with the best seller, the movie, and (in J. K. Rowling’s case) the theme park. Alas, one can dream… Moving on.

Second; Inspiration

Inspiration is a funny thing; some people call it “their muse” others call it “destiny”. Whatever the name, the result is the same; forward momentum of an idea . For one needs to develop an idea before it can be acted upon (even if it’s micro-moments between the two processes). But still, inspiration is key to any action.

The pitfall of a writer, as it is for the famous and fame, the strength is also the weakness; who you inspire. For instance: the profiler writes a book about serial killers, and this same book inspires one to copy the murders within and another to train to fight the murderers within its pages. With the good must come the bad. But perhaps the quote at the end of the episode is not lost in this regard:

In youth we learn; in age we understand.
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marievoneb135183.html)

I think that in many ways I must follow the advice of the wise Kristen Lamb in her blog, Voice- The Key to Literary Magic Part 1, in which she states: “Ah, but when it comes to finding and developing our writing voice, we need to ask the tough questions before we proceed:

Am I humble enough to admit I don’t know everything?

Can I check my ego long enough to learn from those who know more than I do?

Can I face rejection and criticism and keep going?

Can I be happy writing even if I never make money?

What kind of writer do I want to be?

What is most important to me?

How do I define success?

How hard am I willing to work?

What am I willing to sacrifice to live my dreams?”

 

And from her blog Don’t Eat the Butt #4- Real Writers Never Struggle; “For the rest of us, struggle is part of the process. Writers struggle because they are writing. Just because you are having a hard time, doesn’t therefore make you an aspiring writer.”

P.S.: Thank you Kristen for your honesty and for giving me the kick in the pants when I need it!

Thanks for reading… Any thoughts? I’m not scared of a bad review. Leave a comment; I adore feedback!

xoxo til next time! :*

Eureka! (a personal a-ha moment)

A-Ha!

 

I think I have a cold. One that makes me sneeze when I should be yawning, and for the past week I’ve been awake til all hours of the night. So last night I started thinking about why I’m stuck within the first chapter of my W.I.P., and by the time my eyes were finally closing, I figured it out; my protag doesn’t have the proper motivation to propel the story forward with conviction.

A sizable issue to be sure.

When I originally mapped the character I said her motivation is “to live up to her name, to find her strength, spirit and own mind.” and her goal is “to be world-renowned (within the business) photographer.” But I’ve since realized that both of these are goals. Goals in a story are concrete, achievable things, a motivation, however, is much more abstract. For example: the result is murder, the goal is to get away with murder, the motivation is because the victim was dating the girl the killer wanted for himself, thus making the girl the surprise victim in the end to help piece together the killer’s motive. (I know I did that kind of backwards, but that’s how investigators see it; and now how I am forced to find my own character’s motivation.)

So the main character’s motivation is to find a man her father would be proud to call son or more abstractly; approval. A simple enough thing I guess, but will it carry a whole story… we’ll just have to see.

Send me your thoughts on the subject… Even in school I had trouble with the motivation of characters in books… I suppose it’s not something you grow out of, but must learn out of…

Thanks for the listening ear as always…

Happy Hump Day.

The Importance of Friendship

This morning my little girl was watching Lilo & Stitch, and for those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a lovely tale of two misfits finding a family in each other. Their friendship isn’t exactly easy in the beginning but they grow together. The catch-phrase for the movie is; “O’hana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.” Coupled with Elvis music; the movie is very likable.

Friendship is important to all stories. In fact the eight major characters have titles and are naturally common to most stories, whether intentional or not.

8 Archetypal Characters: …there are other opposing character functions that are part of a well-rounded story. Altogether, Dramatica Theory identifies 16 basic character functions, divided into 8 basic opposing pairs. (Actually, Dramatica uses the term “motivations,” but I find the term “functions” makes more sense in some cases.) In other words, to make your novel feel complete, it should include a character who… 1) PURSUEs the goal and … 2) one who AVOIDs the goal. 3) one who HELPs someone’s efforts and … 4) one who HINDERs someone’s efforts. 5) one who tries to get someone to CONSIDER a course of action and …6) one who tries to get someone to RECONSIDER a course of action. 7) one who seeks a course or explanation that is LOGICally satisfying and …8) one who seeks a course or explanation that FEELs emotionally fulfilling. 9) one who exhibits self-CONTROL (focuses on one task or area to the exclusion of everything else) and…10) one who appears UNCONTROLled (tries to juggle or reacts to many things at once.) 11) one who makes an appeal to CONSCIENCE and …12) one who makes an appeal to TEMPTATION. 13) one who SUPPORTs (speaks in favour of) any effort and …14) one who OPPOSEs (speaks out against) any effort. 15) one who expresses FAITH (confidence something is true, despite lack of proof) and …16) one who expresses DISBELIEF (confidence something is false, despite lack of proof.)

This is not to say that you must have 16 characters in your novel. Heaven forbid you should be that formulaic! Any character in a novel can fulfil one or several of these functions, and you are free to assign these functions to different characters any way you like. You can have as few as two characters, each of which takes on half the functions. Or you can have as many as 200 characters. (Though not every one of 200 characters may perform a dramatic function in the main plot, minor characters may play important dramatic functions in subplots.) There are, however, two guidelines:

1. Each function should only be fulfilled by one character at a time. Two characters serving the same function simultaneously is redundant. For instance, only one character in a scene should make an appeal to LOGIC or express FAITH.

2. No character should fulfil both functions of an opposing pair. The orphan boy, for example, cannot both pursue revenge and seek to prevent it at the same time.

(I know what you’re thinking. What if your protagonist is conflicted within himself? Couldn’t he both PURSUE and AVOID at the same time? The simple answer is no. However, what writers often do in such situations is create two characters, both of which exist within someone’s mind, who can take on opposing functions. For example, many TV shows have scenes in which a tiny imaginary angel (CONSCIENCE) and devil (TEMPTATION) sit on opposite shoulders of the protagonist, each trying to convince him to take a different course of action. Or you can create one character that represents someone’s LOGICal side and another that represents their FEELing side and have them battle it out in the person’s imagination.

1. Protagonist (pursue, consider) vs. 2. Antagonist (avoid, reconsider)

A protagonist considers the importance of fulfilling the Story Goal and pursues it, while the Antagonist tries to get him to reconsider and does everything to avoid the goal being achieved.

The powerless uncle and the elderly wizard are examples of two other archetypal characters …

3. Guardian (help, conscience) vs. 4. Contagonist (hinder, temptation)

The typical Guardian is like the protagonist’s wise teacher, mentor, or parent who helps him and guides him into doing what is right. The Contagonist (a term invented by Chris Huntley) delays the protagonist and tempts him to give up his pursuit of the goal. (This archetypal character is sometimes known as a Trickster or Temptress.)

If you are a fan of fantasy and science fiction, you are probably quite familiar with the next two archetypal characters…

5. Reason (logic, control) vs. 6. Emotion (feeling, uncontrolled)

For instance, in the various Star Trek television series, the Captain typically has two advisors. One is a Reason character (e.g. Spock, T’Pol, Data, Odo, Warf) who takes a logical approach and appears in control of his emotions. The other is an Emotion character (Dr. McCoy, Riker, Ensign Ro, B’Elanna Torres, Major Kira, Trip) who appeals to the Captain’s feelings and tries to get the Captain to pay attention to more than just the main goal of the mission.

Another example is the characters Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter novels. Ron generally fulfills the functions of the Emotion archetype, while Hermione takes the Reason functions. (Although, there are issues on which they trade places.)

If you’re not a fantasy fan, you may recall that in several of Jane Austen’s novels, married couples take on the archetypal characters of Reason and Emotion. For instance, in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth’s father is always rational and controlled while her mother is prone to emotional and irrational outbursts.

The final two archetypal characters are the …

7. Sidekick (support, faith) vs. 8. Skeptic (oppose, disbelief)

Sidekicks express unflinching the emotional support and faith of a best friend or pet (in some stories, the hero’s dog is actually his sidekick). They approve of the hero’s every plan, and are always certain it will succeed. Skeptics, on the other hand, are perpetually pessimistic and opposed to every plan. Marvin, the chronically depressed robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is a good example of a skeptic.

You can use these archetypes in your own novels, particularly if you are writing genre fiction or any work which is more plot-oriented. They are a convenient shortcut, which will not appear stereotyped as long as you dress them up in new clothes.

Taken Verbatim from http://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/archetypal-characters.html; an excellent guide for (non-pantser) writers who like to use plotting.

 Is there anyone in your life whom you associate these types in your own life? I have a few (if not all) even though they usually evolve to something different as real people don’t stagnate.

xoxo Happy Monday!

Bride Knows Best

 

This afternoon I was watching an episode of “Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta” titled… (you guessed it) “Bride Knows Best”. The show, based out of a bridal shop in The South, where every girl who walks in wants to please her Mama and Daddy with something beautiful. But sometimes, like in this show, the parents are not on board with the individual personality of the daughter or her taste. Like all other aspects of clothes there are some that just don’t work on the figure or make them feel confident; but with a wedding dress it’s much more pronounced.

So, this episode was all about the Bride finding her own voice, confidence and style. Like all fairy tales; this ended with everyone liking the dresses, because they saw how the Bride lit up.

I think this is a great thing for everyday life too, not just for brides. To have confidence and our own voice with our style, our careers, and what we want out of our lives!

With that I give you a TGIF!

xoxo Amanda

The Missing Link

How do we get more out of life? We get ready for it!  A big part of the way people perceive us is the way we dress and our general body language. For instance; what does the picture above say?

My S.O. hates it when I don’t get out of my p.j.’s all day because he perceives it as apathy. Also there is a lot to be said for what a suit or a fancy dress says about someone. The really cool part is that the perception of these is personal to the one perceiving it.

Ideally the way we perceive others and ourselves is fair and unbiased and that the clothes without reflect the personality (and possibly the intentions) of the person within. Lets face it, many things do that; body hygiene, music choice, accessories, pets (or lack thereof), the state of our homes… etc.

Now as to the body language, an excellent book on body language is Superflirt by Tracy Cox. In it, among other things, she discusses in just the first chapter titled, The Basics “…Get what you want without saying a word. Plus tips on how to talk to strangers, invade someone’s space, eye up the talent, and turn someone on-in a mere 10 seconds,” all based on body language… Impossible you say? Drop me a comment and perhaps you may borrow the book from me. Lol subtle? I think not!

Also this book is semi-interactive making it really distinctive (and awesome in my books). What’s your flirting style? uses 3 basic types a) The Auditory b) The Kinesthetic and c) The Visual. Also included is how to spot them based on (yup you guessed it) body language, as well as, each type’s unique possessions.

The best part about this book is learning that even if you’re not a natural flirt, you can still learn it like a pro because knowing what messages you’re sending is half the battle in controlling them.

Now the missing link is harder because writers have to do all this without ever having the reader able to see any of it. This is where the psychic connection comes in… for further clarity on this phenomenon read Stephen King’s book On Writing in which he writes, “Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”

I know it is kind of subliminal, but has there ever been a time where you noticed that the way you looked, dressed, flirted, ect made a difference to the one precieving you (other than the obvious job interview or bar pickup)?

xoxo I love hearing from you guys.

Happy Wednesday!

Colours!

“9 Colors That Give You a Mood Boost” adapted from February 2012 Cosmopolitan magazine by Korin Miller pages 144 & 145 (for you plagiarism people out there).

#1 Red (orange-red)

If you want to be focused… Try wearing red nail polish. According to the experts red makes you pay more attention to details. Even a tiny hint of it works very well.

#2 Yellow (sunshine)

If you want to start your day with a burst of energy… Try painting your kitchen walls yellow. Something just shouts Good Morning! when you see yellow (maybe the sun is a culprit?)

#3 Purple (lavender)

If you want to be carefree and laugh… try placing a pot of violet flowers prominently in your living room. Most people associate a softer purple with happy children, so if you’re stressed out take a peek at purple. (Hmmm could this be why purple and yellow is a classic colour combo at weddings???)

#4 Green (lime)

If you want to chill out… Try using a green yoga mat. Surprise, surprise… Green is associated with nature… calming, and relaxing nature… (ahhh….)

#5 Blue (Facebook blue for lack of a better description)

If you want to come up with a cool idea… Try scribbling down thoughts using a pen with blue ink. According to the experts people who are drawn to blue are better at using their imagination. (Could this be why blue is a popular favorite colour?)

#6 Orange (pumpkin)

If you want to motivate yourself… Try using orange laces on your sneaks. Orange makes you feel more stimulated. (Maybe that’s why Halloween’s so popular.)

#7 Brown (earthy cuz I didn’t want to write dirt)

If you want to feel really comfy on a crappy day… Try hanging out at you local coffee shop. Brown rules java joints (duh Amanda), making them the perfect place to kick back when it’s yucky outside. (Hmmm one of my favourite sweaters is brown. What about you?)

#8 Black

If you want to be totally desired… Try wearing a LBD (little black dress). Ladies feel sexy in something short and black, but black itself can make you feel empowered and sophisticated, which makes you exude seductive confidence. (Hmmm is that why black is everywhere in make-up?)

And finally…

#9 White

If you want to get over a breakup… Try slipping a white cover on your duvet or quilt. According to the experts the color white makes us feel hopeful about the future. (Hmmm and I thought that the loose-leaf paper and white screen when you start a word doc was more cost-effective to produce… OMG! They’re messing with our minds!!!) Meh…

So what’s your favourite color? What do you think about where you find these colours in abundance? How does the colour of something affect your purchases or loyalties? How do you use colour effectively in your life?

Drop me a line. I love to hear from you guys!

Loving the Parents

Earlier today I was watching an episode of Criminal Minds titled “What Happens at Home” (for those of you that follow the show); it’s blurb is “(2010) The team profiles a killer targeting women inside of a gated New Mexico community, and Hotch asks for help from a FBI cadet.”
 
The interesting part about the cadet is that she’s the daughter of a convicted sadistic serial killer, which makes her a key component in finding the current killer.
 
The cadet feels responsible for the families of the victims because of this connection and this feeling drives her to put her life in danger. The fantastic quote at the end of the show put a finer point on it;
 
Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.
Oscar Wilde
(found at www.brainyquote.com)
 
I’m happy to say that I’ve forgiven mine. The thing with having children of your own is that it puts a rather harsh perspective on the relationship you have with your parents and knowing that I am doing the best I can with what
I have at the time makes me realise that my parents did the same.
 
I think it’s when we can’t be sure that our parents did the best they could that we find we can’t forgive them. And sometimes it’s only after they’re gone that we truly find forgiveness and peace. The Joy Luck Club is a succinct study on this very subject.
 
The dragon to me symbolizes a fighter. Everybody knows that to be in love you have to fight for it to make it work; it’s never easy.
 
So have you forgiven your parents? Is there a love that you have to fight for?
Drop me a comment; I love hearing from you guys!
 
So Happy Friday All! & Have a Great Weekend!

Poetry in Lit

Poetry… It’s a beautiful thing when done right, even sometimes when it’s done ‘wrong’. It can paint pictures of places, feeling, and any other thing the author requires; it’s versatility is unquestionable, while always sustaining an air of mystery.

Sometimes you won’t find it in a poetry book or at a reading; sometimes you’ll find it as the inspirational basis for a fiction novel (Nora Roberts is notorious for them); but the place where poetry is the most prolific, and to be honest lucrative, is  music. Musical quotes litter our lives, get stuck in our head, and if you’re a writer, permeate your work too.

I’ve seen a little rhyming quote at the beginning of a book do more for setting up the feel of an entire book than a prologue on occasion. Aswell, some only serve to confuse until much late in the story when the reader realises that the author meant it as a clue to the final outcome. I find the best clues can stand on their own, be hidden in the background, and make perfect sense of their purpose at the end, all without confusing the reader along the way with seemingly useless information.

I wish to use poetry in my most recent WIP as part of the important as well as mysterious dialogue. I don’t know if it’s wise for the overall feel, or subtle (I have a feeling someone will call it contrived) but I feel it fits, and with the beauty of my work, I can tweak it until I’m happy with it. Or if it won’t fit no matter what, then I’ll scrap the idea for fresh. lol 🙂

Sounds simple I know, but I am not a pantser in the traditional sense, but I would consider myself a pantser in the area of ideas; I like story ideas that hit me at the weirdest times and the oddest hours because they’re anything but contrived. I’ve woken up at 3am before from a dream scene that totally clicked and worked for my story.

(Probably why I have so many story threads, come to think of it… well that and I hate mysteries in life and in fiction.)

Poetry can be really cool too. Even though it’s in a language that I can’t read the imagery that Meer Taqi Meer ephass (hope that’s right) creates with Shahnawaz Alam Ahmed is clear in any language.

With that image I’ll leave off until Friday. So happy Wednesday everybody!

Are there any books that any of you can recall with poetry, or one that didn’t have it that might have benefitted from its use? Drop me a comment anytime. 🙂

Lothaire by Kresley Cole (a soft book review)

 

You know you love someone when they come home with an expensive book from your favorite author, not because it’s a holiday; but when asked why my s.o. replied, “because I said I would get it for you.” (So nice when they do what they said they were going to, even when you’re the one who forgot.)

Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t consider myself the type of girl that forgives only with gifts. But gifts are great all the same. Show me one woman who doesn’t like gifts and I’ll show you a woman whose insecure in some way about something. (Not a judgement… well maybe a little… I prefer to see it as an observation.)

Ahem… Moving along…

What I was getting at before I got side-tracked with political correctness, was the book in question; Lothaire by Kresley Cole which has the distinction of being # 11 (I believe) in the author’s series The Immortals After Dark in the Romance genre; of which I own all. I got into the series before I met my s.o. in 2007 so it’s been an easy but longtime loving collection of these books.

So, in anticipation of this instalment I read some book reviews… As expected; not all were glowing acclaim. Some were almost cruel calling it contrived, formulaic, and boring. Not the kind of review I’d want to read on my work.

So when it magically entered my hands with the love of my s.o. I opened it with mild trepidation.

I shouldn’t have worried.

As always I love this author’s work. How in earlier books (where the current protagonist, Lothaire, is a background character and sometimes an antagonist in past books) the character is largely taken at face value. In his own book we finally understand his motives, admittedly largely bad for everyone but him, but justified none-the-less.

Other bonuses with Cole’s work is her sarcastic, sometimes black humour, and her uncanny ability to make it feel possible if not completely plausible using local flavour and superstition to constantly bring in elements of reality.

As one who has read the series in order, I can’t realistically say that this book would be as wonderful by itself. I would not recommend reading them out-of-order as they work better as a cohesive unit (with a series arch) if read in order.

Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that each book has a prologue and an epilogue. The former serving as an introduction to the new character and the later serving as an appetite teaser for the story to come next (instead of the ever annoying excerpt.) I know they’re required here, as it makes it feel like puzzle pieces to the big picture that the series will reveal, but it is worth examining their relevance which Kristen Lamb does a great job of in her recent post The Seven Deadly Sins of Prologues.

Well that does it for me, happy reading all.

Any great books you’ve read in a while? Always looking for new material as I love to read and great writers read everything. 🙂

Teddy Bears

 

🙂 lol I love this photo.

My daughter has a long-limbed red monkey that I know helps her go to sleep every night… that and a sippy of milk… and maybe some Mommy cuddles too.

But the truly great part about this, was and still is, that everyone has a toy that did this for them. Mine was a regular brown bear named Kirby. He wasn’t fluffy; and he’s so old now that his felt nose has rubbed off almost completely, but the stuffing inside is packed so tight, that unless The Natural Disaster gets ahold of him, (which she won’t) isn’t going anywhere.

I think that as we get older we don’t lose those mental ‘protectors’, only reform them. When you’re little they’re your teddy bear; but when you grow up they’re far less tangible. Sometimes it’s easier to ‘see’ the ‘monsters’ than the way to fight them.

So, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’ve already written some about the monsters in my previous blog My Top 10 Ways to Silence the Monsters in My Head in which I tried to fight them. I think that in this blog I’m trying to identify the fighters themselves and where we might develop them from; because I’m just neurotic interesting that way. 🙂

So, who was your ‘fighter’? The teddy bear you couldn’t let go of? Or if you did; the one you’ll never forget?

xoxo I love hearing from you guys. 🙂 So drop me a line. Happy Friday… Er… Saturday?

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