Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Infinite Takes On The Same Theme

***beautiful mermaid pics used to be in this post but due to the recent lawsuits for using photos on blogs I took them down.***

My newest story is about a mermaid.
There, I said it.
For months I've been keeping it hush-hush in fear that everyone else would suddenly start writing about mermaids. What a stupid fear. That's like saying only one writer ever thought of writing about wizards, or fairies, or, yup, wait for it ...vampires.

Fact is, one theme or idea can be interpreted an infinite amount of ways. Just because I'm writing a story about merfolk (yes there are hot mermen involved) doesn't mean anyone else would ever come remotely close to writing the same story I'm writing. I can even post pictures here that inspire me and relate to my story in some way, but I guarantee no one could guess HOW or WHAT those photos mean.

Does my mermaid live in Alaska?
Or are those hunks of quartz rock?
Can she only come out of the water during a full moon?

Does she fall in love with a well-dressed human?
Do they love to dance?
Or do I just love Josephine Wall (the artist) and felt the need to include her amazing work in my post?

This one could summarize my whole story.

I don't know.
What's your interpretation of it?

That's the thing. Story tellers create their own worlds, rules, characters, plots, arcs, etc. We can take one concept and run a gazillion different directions with it.

I know one writer/blog friend who is also writing about mermaids. We discovered that fact because we're NaNo buddies. Are our stories similar? No, not in the slightest. Do I feel threatened that her story might get published before mine? I hope it does! Maybe she'll help create the buzz about aquafolk so there will be a demand from publishers when I try to pitch mine. (We both can only hope.)

No matter what creatures, or themes, or places we write about, we should never be worried about someone else doing it too. The details of your story and the depths of your imagination will never be exactly like someone else. I'd never reveal ALL my secrets and the incredible details of my newest characters, but I'm no longer afraid to share a glimpse into their fantastic world.

What about you? Are you the type that shouts from the mountaintops about what you're writing, or do you keep it hidden away in the secret depths of the ocean?

While I'm at my parents house on Thanksgiving, I will dig out the photos of me from when I was two and had an obsession with SeaWees. Yes, folks, my love of underwater people started at a very early age. Little Karen with mermaids photo to be posted soon!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've Started Spiraling

Years ago I remember someone (can't remember who for the life of me) on a television show or movie saying, "Let's not start spiraling." They meant don't let this spiral downward into negativity or make this conversation worse. For some reason that line stuck with me and I've used it a few times when a friend or family member started going to an ugly place that I didn't feel needed visiting.

Newsflash! I've started spiraling. Actually I've been spiraling for a couple weeks now, but I'm really starting to feel the pull--and push--of this whirlwind and I've got to tell you, spiraling is not a bad thing.

My newest story goes to some dark places. Some of my characters say and do things I'd never even think of, but I wrote their scenes so obviously I DID think of them. When I go back and reread scenes I wrote last week my eyes bulge and I gasp a little as if I'm reading about this shocking behavior for the first time. I know I wrote it. I was there. It's not like I mentally checked out while I typed, but I'm still a little astounded at what I've created.

However, where there is darkness, light must eventually shine. Ah, the law of yin and yang. Especially in my stories because I do have that magical fairytale mentality. Many times I wonder if I should stop spiraling downward into the dangerous, racy, and kind of wicked world of several of my new characters. Maybe I should keep it light and happy and safe. I ride the spiral upward back to a place of rainbows, sunrises, and happy thoughts. Then the shady ones tug at my hands and feet and pull me back under.

I start to see a seesaw effect of light and dark in my story and it makes me squeal with delight. It keeps me on my toes, it keeps me intrigued, it explores very different worlds, reasoning, lifestyles, emotions, and mentalities. If I'm having this much fun writing it then maybe, hopefully, someday readers might have fun seesawing and spiraling through my story too.

What about you? Do you let yourself and your writing spiral out of control every now and then?

Monday, November 9, 2009


Yesterday I took a breather from my new WIP and watched BECOMING JANE (a film inspired by the early life of author Jane Austen.) Sigh.

I laughed. I cried. I hit the rewind button several times so I could hear the brilliant dialogue. Most of my tears were because my heart ached for Jane and Tom. Some of my tears were because I worried my life would turn out like Jane's. Not the part where she writes several of the greatest novels in literature. No, that aspect of her life makes her one of my idols. I'm talking about the final scene where she finishes reading Pride and Prejudice, then folds her hands over her novel. The camera zooms in on the fact that she isn't wearing a wedding band.

Yup, that part almost sent me running for the Riesling.

In my Men Of Our Dreams post, I mentioned my fears about my fictitious crushes interfering with my real love life (or lack thereof). Now comes the next big smack in the face. Am I missing out on having an exciting "real life" because I spend hours upon hours alone writing about imaginary people, places, and plots? Perhaps.

However, one of my favorite parts of the movie put that worry into perspective.

In the scene I'm referring to, Lady Gresham (stuffy old broad) is attempting to get Jane and Mr. Wisley to spend quality time together. Suddenly Jane rushes over to a bench--ignoring her unwelcomed guests--and starts making notes in a notebook. I will quote the characters directly because it's much more brilliant that way.
Lady Gresham: What is she doing?
Mr. Wisley: Writing.
Lady Gresham: Can anything be done about it?
We all know the answer. No. Nothing can be done about it. Not if you're a real writer.

Inspiration does not always strike at the most appropriate or convenient times. Writers may have to decline social invitations, lose sleep, skip meals, and miss out on time with friends and family. Sometimes we can't ignore our ideas, or not write them down just because we have company. Or a job. Or chores to do. Many writers give up certainty and security in exchange for a great deal of uncertainty and solitude. Why?

This next quote hit very close to home.
Jane: You live so quietly, and yet your novels are filled with romance, danger, and terror.
Mrs. Radcliffe (the Authoress): Everything my life is not...Of what do you wish to write?
Jane: Of the heart.
Mrs. Radcliffe: Do you know it?
Jane Austen: Not all of it.
Mrs. Radcliffe: In time, you will. But even if that fails, that's what the imagination is for.
Real life beckons, enticing me with possibilities of who I might meet, things I could do, places I should visit. Instead, I quietly curl up on my couch and dive back into creating my latest novel. It may never be published. It may never be read by anyone but a few people close to me, and most likely won't ever make me wealthy or famous. Yet I grab my laptop and happily write anyway. Why? Because I'm a writer, and nothing can be done about it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I'm in heaven. Again.

I visited once before back in December. I stayed there until April because it was so beautiful, exciting, ever-changing, and addictive. Then I had to leave. Reality called and I had obligations like a writers conference, editing, revisions, networking, beta reading, and a pesky day job.

For months I've been worried I'd never get to visit heaven again. See, I didn't pay attention to how I got there. It wasn't planned, I didn't follow a map, and it wasn't where or what I thought it would be. I stumbled upon it by accident. (If there are such things as accidents--fatalists would say it's all destiny).

My heaven was writing a novel. Sleepless nights, endless cups of coffee, very little food, and being inspired by song lyrics that sent me rushing to my computer to write that next scene. I found joy in creating fantastical puzzle pieces of people, places, events, and conversations--even though I wasn't sure if the pieces would ever fit together.

At the time it wasn't about the end result, it was about getting the next scene, idea, or line out of my head and onto my computer screen. I'd never finish a novel! But gosh, what fun these imaginary people had while keeping me awake at night. Then somehow--maybe by divine or magical intervention--all those puzzle pieces snapped together and told a complete tale.

Surely it was a fluke. Afterward I read many blogs and websites about outlines, plotting tools, character development exercises, etc. If I had read all the "how to" advice before I wrote my first book, I believe it would have never been written. Knowing what I know now, I'd never expect to be able to create a bunch of puzzle pieces and have them mysteriously align again.

Oh, but wait. Here I am writing a new tale, with no outlines or method to my madness. Sparks keep flying and I keep typing while I marvel at how any of this stuff ever finds it's way into my mind. This quote sums it up nicely...

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." E.L. Doctorow

Maybe this story won't ever snap itself into completion like the last one. Maybe it will. Maybe my journey isn't guided by headlights. Instead, it's bursting through the darkness like colorful fireworks. I don't know what color, or shape, or where the next explosion will be. All I know is each one lights up my world, and I am loving every boom, ooh, and ah.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Getting To Know You--And Me

My last post, Got Questions?, gave fellow bloggers the chance to ask me questions. I'm hopped up on antibiotics and cold meds today, so forgive the lack of creativity and/or spelling and grammar errors. My head feels like it's filled with clouds and cobwebs. Okay, on we go...

Melissa: My characters are Elements because of the air, earth, fire, water concepts, but they are not the mythical Elementals like gnomes, undines, etc. More astrological and nature based. They look and act like real human beings, but they're gifted in lots of cool ways.
I am so jealous of your photographic memory. I can barely remember what I ate for dinner last night.

Susan: Come on down! You’re the next contestant on…just kidding. I’m a bit of a game show fan myself. And yes I am currently working on another project about Merfolk--along with some other underwater creatures. I’m very excited about my new aqua crew.

I like it here (Florida) very much. I love having the beaches and bay on either side of me. I don’t think I’d ever move back to Baltimore. There is too much of the world I still want to see and experience. My job is okay, but I’d much rather be writing and traveling the world! You should visit Panama sometime. You could practice your Spanish and it’s an amazing country.

Natalie: A wired jaw huh? You’ve given me an idea for my new diet! Dancing. Yes, when I was little I thought for sure I‘d be a professional dancer at Disney World or on Broadway. It never happened, but I did take many years of classes and went to a high school for the arts and majored in dance. The studio where I currently take classes is awesome and many times throughout the year we have guest choreographers from shows like So You Think You Can Dance.

Becca- I’m so sorry I made your Q eyes cry. Yes, I will send you the rest of my story so you can see how it ends.

- Yes, I’ve already written a good bit of book 2 of The Kindrily, and a tiny bit of book 3. I have LOTS of ideas for my star-written crew. That’s so neat about your voice. Ever thought of doing voice overs for movies or cartoons? I always thought that would be a fun career.

Lady Glam: My favorite food? That’s a tough one because I love so many. Chocolate and peanut butter are at the very top of the list and yes, I eat both of them more often than I should. Though I do love cashews too!

Andrew: Welcome! Thanks for saying hello. The Kindrily was definitely an obsession. Eating and sleeping took a back burner while I wrote it. Editing and revising took another few months, but I slowly learned to balance real life with my writing life. There is no rhyme or reason to when and how much I write. When ideas hit me I write. 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, however long it takes. I’m not one of those “sit and write an hour a day” kind of people. I’ve never been that disciplined.
London is one of my top places I’d like to visit. I’m a bit envious that you’ve lived there.

Tira: Your question ties in nicely with my last comment. My favorite place so far is either Hawaii or Panama. I loved them both. Places Id love to go: England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, Greece, Egypt, the list goes on and on. India is on my list too. I have a dear friend who lives there and I’d love to go visit her. I assume you love it since you’ve been so many times.

Ellie: Ooooh my favorite white wine is Bukettraube, from South Africa. The smell alone is pure heaven. I’m by no means a wine connoisseur, but I ordered this wine at JIKO restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and it is by far the best I’ve ever had. I’d order it by the case if I could afford it.

Sara: Thank you so much for my award!

Georgina: Your question was my favorite! I met my M N M’s (aka my uber talented, beautiful-inside-and-out, extraordinary league of ladies) via the web. Megan started a blog called Word Stringers and invited all writers to join. At first quite a few people did, but over time most members fell away and we realized the four of us were the main people posting, commenting, and supporting each other. I swear I have come to love those gals like they’re my sisters (and I don’t have any sisters so it’s a nice addition to the family!) We still occasionally post to our private blog just for fun, but mainly we email back and forth all day. My “reply all” button has been working overtime since the day we all banned together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sigh. I have heard the rumors about Michael but I choose to ignore them. Plus Reid is still my number 1 pick for future husband. ;)

Thanks to everyone who participated in my little getting to know you session. I loved learning fun facts about all of you.

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