Amanda Lewis

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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 ūüôā

 

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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! ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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. ūüôā 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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! ūüôā
 
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\ňąp…ôr-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

‚Äā‚Äā/ňąn…Ērm…ôl/ 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’.
 
ūüôā 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. ūüôā 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!
 
 

Writing in the Ether: determination

my little girl

I have decided to make Mondays all about writing… A subject some of you might not be interested in, but let’s face it; I am.

Monday is the day a week begins (obviously) and I feel better making this blog a vehicle for my goals. In that vein I wish to make each Monday a fresh start, it doesn’t matter how much (or how little)¬†work I got done last week, it only matters that this week I have a clean slate. On Monday I can forgive myself for all the mistakes I’ve made and focus in on what I can do.

This week is chapter 1. Easily the hardest chapter in any book, because it is where you capture the audience’s attention and bring them into your world, be it fiction, biography, how-to, whatever. Nevermind how apt it is that I am beginning chapter 1 this Monday; the first ‘Writing Monday’ on my blog.

Now, as to the title.

I know that with these first blog posts I am only writing for my friends and family, but since everyone knows the old adage, “if it’s on the internet, it’s there forever” I know hope that my audience will grow and some people may go through the backlog of these posts looking¬†for other beads of wisdom (haha I laugh at myself for writing that: but sue me; I am and always will be an optimist).

As one can see, I have doubt. I think all new writers (anybody beginning a new career really)¬†have doubts; will I be successful? can I make a living at this? how will it change me? et all… But I think the trick is to keep your head up and ignore (for the most part) the doubtful voice in your head that whispers words like “I can’t” or “I don’t”.

I’ll impart a story that illustrates (at least for me) determination.

¬†My¬†mom, (my daughter) Llyra and me¬†all went to the mall this past autumn (November)¬†for some semi-early christmas shopping. And Llyra¬†got all upset as we were driving, crying hard and¬†we didn’t know what was wrong until we stopped in the parking lot & she impromptu vomited all down her front & inside her shirt. It was a lot and it smelled awful. So I carried her (30 lbs & 2 years old) sausage-style (back to floor, chest to ceiling)¬†into the mall food court where the bathroom was (which is not a short walk) & halfway there she got so heavy that I wanted to stop to just breathe and give my arms a rest (all her weight was on my forearms). But I didn’t. I just kept saying to myself, “One more step, just one more step. Only a little father,”¬†because I had to get my poor little girl to that bathroom as fast as possible. All the while she stared up at me, quiet, trusting that Mommy would take care of it.
 
I know that I’ll never forget that incident, because it showed me that I have strength and determination. Willpower enough to handle whatever happens with calm dignity and swift action. (I pity anyone who gets in the way of a parent¬†trying to take care of¬†their child.)
 
A lot of my life parallels, my daughter shows me my own capabilities all the time and those capabilities are what I need to succeed, with her and with what I’ve chosen to do with my life.
 
So, is there anyone who’s helped you on your path? Or shown you something about yourself that you didn’t know before? Tell me your story of determination.
So leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.
 
Happy Magical Monday ūüôā
 

On Writing and My Life (my thoughts)

If you read the image then you might have an idea as to what this post is about. On the other hand I’m being presumptuous… oh well.

I’ve been reading Kristen Lamb’s Blog for a while so I decided to get one of her recomended reads “On Writing” by Stephen King. An amazingly candid book that alternately makes me laugh out loud and stop to think about my own life. So, in that vein, I’ve decided to make this very first post all about what made me want to be an author.

In truth, the writing bug hit me in my teens (when my writing was anything but shining) soon after¬†I actually derived pleasure from¬†devouring a ‘required reading’ school book; “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg (I think). We had to read the book and then watch the movie and compare them (the movie of which won an Oscar). Needless to say; I hated¬† (nope) despised (*sigh*). Disliked (there we go)¬†the movie for it’s total lack of depth. The book however, carried out an amazing roller-coaster ride I haven’t forgotten 10 years (EEEP! am I that old?) later.

So I ditched the idea of reading a book first and then watching the movie because that first experience ruined it for me. So instead of caving when the first Harry Potter movie came out, I waited (ummm yep something like) 10 years for the movies to be completely finished before I even picked up one book. I like being amazed. Movies are a quick fix of amazement (the rather large collection sitting in our living room can attest to that). We all have our favorites. My 2-year-old loves anything cartoon (but prefers cgi to trad. cell amimation any day), my husband loves roaring action (fun stuff), mind-numbing comedies (gag me) and other totally guy stuff, and I prefer movies with a point or a meaningful ending.

But I’m getting off topic (sortof).

The movies are really a large part of why I got back into writing. It was not something I stuck with in the 10-year interim that was the shiftless, lost years of my life. The time when the majority of my biggest mistakes were committed and my greatest memories were realized.

The worst of my mistakes was listening to what everyone else wanted for me so much so¬†that I convinced myself it’s what I wanted too. But in the end I failed everything I tried to force myself into. The things I’ve been really happy and successful with are the things I’ve chosen for myself.

ūüôā Call me sadistic but I’m really quite happy with the looks I’m getting now when I tell people that I’m writing a book. Too many people know “the look”; the smile leaves their eyes, the mouth slowly follows suit, a small, “oh” slips softly past before they can censor it and they end up almost sneering at you before they quickly paste a big (fake this time) smile on and politely¬†say “well that’s nice” or “what are you writing?”. But you can tell that they don’t really care, not because they’re mean, but because they’ve already decided that you’re akin to the rock with the crawly things underneath; interesting but totally uncharted territory.

Even with the looks and the husband eye rolling and my mother-in-law clapping her hand over my mouth trying to stifle all the writer talk, it’s still better than working a dead-end job that wanted to be priority #1 and realizing that if I placed it in that spot I’d never have left. It’s frightening to picture yourself 20 or 30 years in the future never having acomplished anything¬†with your life. And a perfectly logical (albiet childish I know) response to run screaming in the opposite direction.

Thus the kick-start to my current situation in a nutshell. I am a wife, a mother and a writer (in the order of appearance :).) and happy for it.

I’d love to hear¬†about anybody’s ‘kick-start’ or epiphany.

Happy friday. TGIF

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