Amanda Lewis

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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

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. 🙂

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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?

Writer’s Block

*sigh* It’s official. I am stuck. Can’t go forward, can’t go back; shoved in the middle where the story almost feels like I’ve already written it cuz I over-plotted. So now I guess the question is… (dreading this thought) do I scrap it & start over with a fresh idea or do I try to breathe new life into the overworked & scarred tissue?

I’ve been lately watching the show Ink Master on Spike & I can see sometimes when a tattoo is going to turn out badly because the artist is over-thinking it right from the start. So how do you see it in yourself before it’s too late?

Is it better to be a “pantser” and ride the wave of the story as you’re writing it? Or is it better to plot; to make sure you have a workable story with believable characters? And how can you tell when it’s become staid, boring, and too… (aweful word) predictable…

The truth is that I don’t know. But I do know that I can’t write if my emotions are a havok. I can’t write if I’m distracted. And I can’t write if I can’t talk through it.

Iknow I have to stop putting limitations on myself, but anyone who wants to judge can go away. Accepting that you’re neck deep in your problems and limitations is the first step to recovery. (And for those of you that haven’t been paying attention that last “I can’t” paragraph was me facing my limitations.) I don’t belive in the “fake it til you make it” addage. I believe in stopping to face and name my problems and then work at overcoming them.

But the truth is that I would take any advice or tips that anyone has on overcoming obstacles like this. Because when you’re a work at home mom of a 2 year old like I am it’s difficult to find a moment to yourself that isn’t a night-time one.

xoxo happy wednesday 🙂

 

My Top 10 Ways to Silence the Monsters in My Head

 

For some, monsters are fictional creatures, for others they are evil offenders in prisons; but for me they are people I’ve met in my life whom I’ve had to overcome (like an antagonist). To be honest, they started out ordinary people, and it’s been years since I got over them, but I realised that I still hear their voices in my head… but some time ago their voices turned into mine; the doubting voice in my head that tells me I can’t accomplish something or that I’m not good enough or even questioning my abilities. “My monster still walks, but I can’t tell anymore if it’s still the monster it started out as or the monster I created and carry with me.”

The hardest part is silencing that voice. I’m certain that it’ll always be there, but I have figured out some tactics for to fight it.

1) Playing with my 2-year-old daughter.

The funny thing about playing with your kids is it allows you to get out of your own head for a while. The sound of their laughter makes the world feel just a bit brighter. (For those of you that don’t have kids; pets work too.)

2) Reading a book

I feel sorry for people who don’t read because it allows you to leave your own life for a while and just relax. I’m an avid reader, and for me it’s not because I have a horrible life, but because I love the imagination; like dreaming while you’re awake.

3) Take a shower

Getting clean is symbolic as well as literal. You get to wash away the dirt of the day and your self-depreciating attitude along with it.

4) Clean your house

This has the same effect as taking a shower, only it’s scrubbing the dirt away from your environment. Cleansing.

5) Get a massage

Self explanatory. If you’ve never had one, get one, you’ll understand.

6) Have coffee with your friends (a beer works too)

Company who loves you is a wonderful thing to be valued and cherished.

7) Go for a walk

A bit of nature goes a long way. I much prefer summer walks to winter ones because of the warmth.

8) Do something you loved as a child

For me it’s swings. Find out what yours is and do it.

9) Get a chocolate fix

This one seems silly but chocolate has an enzyme in it that creates an effect like happiness in your body. (A good thing.)

10) Write in a journal

Writing down your bad feeling allows you to acknowledge them and then let them go.

I hope this list helped, and please let me know of any methods I missed that work for you. xoxo Have a great Wednesday! 🙂

The Best Quote

I know that it’s technically Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 but I’m just going to ignore that and pretend it’s still Monday. On a different computer than usual so no picture today. Here’s a quote instead; “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!”

So, I was skimming through one of my “other-half’s” unsavory magazines and happened to find an interview with Steven Adler (once-upon-a-time-drummer-for-the-original-Guns-N’-Roses) a recovering addict. I really came to respect his straight-shooter style on Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, and he is now sober.

Sorry. Getting off topic a little. Adler mentioned a quote originally said by Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) “If you don’t like what I have to say; don’t get mad, get better.”

Brilliant as far as writing’s concerned (and really business in general) because there is a learning curve to it that is not the easiest and takes perseverance, determination and the skin of a rhino to get through.

Before we go on, I’d like to mention that all the quotes in this post are from Steven Tyler. What can I say? The guy’s had a lot of experiences.

More quotes that are great for writers:

1) Are you going to be the one with the courage to reach your goals? “It’s like, have you got the balls? If you were waiting for an elevator and the door opened up and there was 2 people in there f***ing-would you get on?”

Sorry, Mr. Tyler, but that one’s just awful. I’m more wondering; if I were the one in the elevator would I have enough ‘balls’ to keep going if all-of-a-sudden I got an audience? (Can anyone say AWKWARD!?)

2) Are you willing to be the pioneer? “The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those that got there first.”

Patience is a wonderful thing, but remember the fine line between patience and hesitancy. I’m guilty too. (It’s why I can see the line… most of the time.)

3) “F.I.N.E. – F***ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional”

Hahaha I had to put this one in. The next time I tell “my other half” that, “I’m fine,” I’ll definitely be thinking of this one! 🙂

So, are there any quotes that have helped you with life, career, love, or trauma? Or maybe just a random quote or joke that makes you laugh? Share up! I love hearing from you guys! 🙂

Have a great day!

computer internet not working

I’m very sorry, but this is a notice that my computer internet is not working. And my blog page is not loading properly onto my blackberry. So I will definately be blogging in force (lol) once the bug has been cured! Xoxo be back soon!

Romance and Horror: not light years apart

I spent most of the weekend reading, when admittedly I should have cleaned. Unlike when I was a kid, I now find my most energetic times in the late evening or night… when everybody in my house is sleeping; it’s when I write the best and it’s when my ideas coalesce into actions.

My WIP is a romance… I honestly don’t know what other category to place it in. But everytime I mention this fact, most of the people around me groan… Movies are rarely done on romances (romantic comedy and some YA are about as close as Hollywood will come to it). In the stricktest sense Romances are about the extraordinary couple and the struggles that they face… romantic comedies are more akin to a Harlequin with jokes. Don’t get me wrong, Harlequin’s are great. But they lack an extraordinary quality. The closest to a romance I’ve seen in movie form is Twilight (but not the same; as it’s riddled with angst-ridden teens) and the classic tales from Jane Austen & Charlotte Bronte.

Wisdom, I recently recieved, is that writers should read (rocket science… no). But you shouldn’t just read your own genre, you should read and examine every genre, including movies (did a little dance for joy about that last part as my husband and I are big movie buffs). So, lucky me, Space (channel) is holding a Stephen King movie week starting… (drum-roll please! You guessed it) today!

So, in that vein, as the stars align *giggles* I decided to compare my favorite genre (again you guessed it) Romance with Mr. King’s prefered genre of Horror!

Most people would not place the Horror and the Romance genres together. But they are two sides of the same coin. OK! Lets look at a few elements that these two have and compare them.

#1 Sex & Death

Put simply in a Romance novel the two main characters have sex. It serves the purpose of bringing them together and creating a bond in them. As proved in real life relationships the dynamics change when sex is brought in. So, it stands to reason that it would be the same in the fiction world as well. Conversely, in Horror movies people die, are murdered one by one as the character becomes obsolete or does something truely stupid. Sometimes as a consequence even. In thrillers (a close cousin of the horror and sometimes an element of a horror) the death doesn’t come at all. In these movies the fear is enough and creates the same adreneline rush in the audience as death and sex. 🙂 even the French have a popular phrase for it; le petit mort: literally “the little death”. There are, of course, exceptions. One good example of a Romance with no sex (not geared toward sex-sensitive audiences) is Lynn Kurland’s “My Heart Stood Still”, a story about longing, the test of time and the endurance of the heart.

#2 Women & Men

Demographic also plays a huge role in how these stories are presented. The deep, meaningful relationships and exciting adventure are things that gear more toward women. Whereas, the pulse-pounding action, scares around every corner, death and mayhem gear more toward men… Why? Because these are things that even  the ordinary woman or man living the ordinary life can escape to a world where everything is anything but safe and still, when they put the book down or walk out of a theatre, feel safe at the end of the day.

#3 Heroine & Hero

This one kindof goes along with the demographic. In Romances, it’s usally a heroine (for the most part) and her conflict. In Horror, it’s usually a hero and his conflict. Even though there usually are major suppoting characters of both sexes, but it is easier to bring in your expected audience with a character that superficially is just like them. It’s briliant in “Misery” how the protagonist is a man and the antagonist is a woman… something that’s rarely found in romances, this role reversal works beautifully for it’s purposes. Can you figure them out?

#4 Isolation

On the other hand these two genres are similar in a couple different ways; isolation is one of them. In general, characters are thrown together early and not separated, most of the time for survival. A forced closeness creates tension. In Horror, suspition and dwindling survivors and less possibility as to who the killer is. In Romance, trust and a bond that neither is likely to break until the climax.

#5 Affirmation of Life

Lastly, another similarity these two genres share; is the ultimate Affirmation of Life. In the end the killer is defeated and the couple gets hitched. Simpler than it is, but both of these outcomes create the same elation in the audience. A sigh of relief, a cheer of triumph, or even a nod of satisfaction. The audience leaves happier than when they came.

Can you find some other examples that these two genres are similar or different? Which one do you prefer? Why? Drop me a comment! I love to hear from you!

Happy Writing Monday!

The Kiss of Death

 

“I’ll fit ‘it’ in some time at some point”

Believe it or not, these words are the kiss of death for any dream or aspiration. ‘It’ can be replaced with almost anything; ‘going back to school’, ‘writing time’, ‘cleaning my house’… etc.

I’m guilty of a few of these “get to it” sins too.

death literally means:

1. a : a permanent cessation of all vital functions : the end of life — compare brain death b : an instance of dying deaths>
 
2. a : the cause or occasion of loss of life <drinking was the death of him> b : a cause of ruin <the slander that was death to my character — Wilkie Collins>
 
3. capitalized : the destroyer of life represented usually as a skeleton with a scythe
 
4. : the state of being dead
 
5. a : the passing or destruction of something inanimate <the death of vaudeville> b : extinction
 
 
 
8. Christian Science : the lie of life in matter : that which is unreal and untrue
 
Wow… To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that extensive a definition; but you get the point… Don’t make excuses. Don’t let the “lack of time” or whatever else take away from what you want to do or what you have to do. There will only ever be 24 hours in the day so plan for them (I know, I know. I’m still learning this one too.) Identify those things that eat your time (t.v. or surfing the web or whatever) and set yourself a time limit for them. Then get to what you must do.
 
Any thing you’ve had trouble with the kiss of death for? Or recently resurrected back to life? I love hearing from you guys so drop me a line anytime! 🙂
 
TGIF!

Bad Words

Get your mind out of the gutter!

No, I am not here to talk about curses. Although, George Carlin is always a good ice breaker. Even Stephen King mentions him in his book ‘On Writing’, “And do feel free to take appropriateness into account; …in some company it’s perfectly all right to prick your finger, but very bad form to finger your prick.”

No, the bad words I wish to discuss today are words I strictly leave out of my (mental toolbox Mr. King) vocabulary.

#1. Perfect

per·fect adj\ˈpər-fikt\

1. a : being entirely without fault or defect : flawless <a perfect diamond> b : satisfying all requirements : accurate c : corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept <a perfect gentleman> d : faithfully reproducing the original; specifically : letter-perfect e : legally valid
 
2. : expert, proficient <practice makes perfect>
 
3. a : pure, total b : lacking in no essential detail : complete c obsolete : sane d : absolute, unequivocal <enjoys perfect happiness> e : of an extreme kind : unmitigated <a perfect brat> <an act of perfect foolishness>
 
4. obsolete : mature
 
5. : of, relating to, or constituting a verb form or verbal that expresses an action or state completed at the time of speaking or at a time spoken of
 
6. obsolete a : certain, sure b : contented, satisfied
 
7. of a musical interval : belonging to the consonances unison, fourth, fifth, and octave which retain their character when inverted and when raised or lowered by a half step become augmented or diminished
 
8. a : sexually mature and fully differentiated <a perfect insect> b : having both stamens and pistils in the same flower <a perfect flower>

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect; I make mistakes (sometimes bad ones, sometimes detrimental ones that mask themselves at first). I really hate messing up. Like a mouse that can collapse its body, this word tries to squish its way in under the closed-door of my consciousness. But, also like a sneaky little mouse, you don’t realise it’s in until you find it’s droppings along the baseboard. (Not that I have any personal experience with mice.)

The pursuit of perfection isn’t really a bad thing. It’s only when you get the slap of reality that you realise it was taking over at all. The pursuit of perfection is the seed of doubt. If you actively pursue it you won’t get anywhere. How many writers don’t finish their book because “it’s not perfect yet”? How many times has a woman looked in the mirror and decided that she wasn’t good enough because “she didn’t look like a perfect model or actress”? How many….?

You get the point. When you let go of the pursuit of perfection you allow yourself permission to be human. To make mistakes and accept them for the opportunity for growth that they are. (Still working on that one, Mom.)

#2 Normal

  /ˈnɔrməl/ Show Spelled[nawr-muhl] Show IPA
adjective

 
1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
 
2. serving to establish a standard.
 
3. Psychology .

a. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.
b. free from any mental disorder; sane.
 
4. Biology, Medicine/Medical .

a. free from any infection or other form of disease or malformation, or from experimental therapy or manipulation.
b. of natural occurrence.
 
5. Mathematics .

a. being at right angles, as a line; perpendicular.
b. of the nature of or pertaining to a mathematical normal.
c. (of an orthogonal system of real functions) defined so that the integral of the square of the absolute value of any function is 1.
d. (of a topological space) having the property that corresponding to every pair of disjoint closed sets are two disjoint open sets, each containing one of the closed sets.
e. (of a subgroup) having the property that the same set of elements results when all the elements of the subgroup are operated on consistently on the left and consistently on the right by any element of the group; invariant.
 
(And that’s just the short list.)
I am not ‘normal’. There are many writers who would claim the same, but I think that when you’re standing in the shower, home alone, and hear a strange noise and create a whole scenario with an axe-murderer and what you might do in the event, and your imagination takes over until you simply must investigate like those idiots that die in the b-movie horror flicks… Then I think I have every right to face the truth that I’ll never be ‘normal’.
 
🙂 Thank goodness!
 
I firmly believe that normal is boring. And I think many of you are with me; considering the success of the Harry Potter franchise. The entertainment industry is built upon the average wanting to be special. 🙂 Hip, hip hooray! for variety. Who was it that said, “Variety is the spice of life”?
 
So, what are some bad words you try to avoid? Some advice in keeping the monster words at bay? I love to hear from you guys!
 
Happy Hump Day!
 
 

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