Expression Excavation

Where I’m at Wednesday January 29, 2014

I have a confession. Once I am finished with chapter 20 of The Omphalos of Delphi, I will stop working on it momentarily. I am working on another project, getting it ready to go to the editor. It will take about a month for me to run through my manuscript, fix grammatical errors, and reread for continuity. After that, I will resume The Omphalos. I am continuing the “where I’m at”, but only for the writers’ benefit. A much needed break will help my mind wander. 😉
Take care.

*cattle+market+on+the+south+side+of+Smithfield;+men+herd+pigs+and+sheep

Expression Excavation:

It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above. All the pens in the centre of the large area, and as many temporary pens as could be crowded into the vacant space, were filled with sheep; tied up to posts by the gutter side were long lines of beasts and oxen, three or four deep. Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a mass; the whistling of drovers, the barking dogs, the bellowing and plunging of the oxen, the bleating of sheep, the grunting and squeaking of pigs, the cries of hawkers, the shouts, oaths, and quarrelling on all sides; the ringing of bells and roar of voices, that issued from every public-house; the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping and yelling; the hideous and discordant dim that resounded from every corner of the market; and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly running to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng; rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene, which quite confounded the senses.”

*                                               —Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist

 

Did you read that? Wow!! Dickens has such a way with details. You are catapulted into the busy Smithfield live-cattle market during the 1800s. The very first thing I can envision is the stench—“ankle-deep, with filth and mire”. I am sure a person could smell the market blocks away. Then Dickens tantalizes our senses by the sights, describing the fog, the animals, and the various types of people within the center. The sounds of whistling, barking, bellowing, bleating, grunting, squeaking, cries, shouts, quarrelling, ringing, and roar become overwhelming. He finishes off the paragraph by suffocating the reader—feeling as though they are being compressed by a crowd. Personally, I would flee from such a place.
Being a writer or painter, you dream with your eyes open. We try to figure out the mystery of “how to add the natural elements into our work”.
Like many of us, I started at an early age. Around sixth grade, I wrote several short, macabre stories of haunted places or mysterious glowing eyes, but then my writing matured into poetry and novels.
As a child, my time was consumed with the natural world of plants, animals, and insects. One of my most favorite things to do was to sit quietly and listen. Some of the best moments or most entertaining things happened: squabbling birds chased each other; wind blew through the trees, causing a noisy surge; ants collectively worked without a clue that a giant looms overhead.
Today, I still love to do this. I like to be alert of the world around me, and not just the manmade world called “city”, but the real, natural world.
During the wintertime, hawks migrate to Phoenix. They come down from the mountains and forests to enjoy the warmer temperatures. On countless occasions, I have noticed people walk around oblivious to the scenes of large birds soaring above.
Be aware of your surroundings. Or, if you are writing about a place you’ve never been to—research the terrain, city, and life. In studying Greenland, I engorged my mind with several videos on YouTube to add the feel of the cold, landscape, and native peoples.

*

Charles Dickens grew up under such conditions. He is a master of imagery because it was the world he observed.
I will give another vivid illustration:

 

In half a quarter of a mile’s length of Whitechapel, at one time, there shall be six hundred newly slaughtered oxen hanging up, and seven hundred sheep but, the more the merrier proof of prosperity. Hard by Snow Hill and Warwick Lane, you shall see the little children, inured to sights of brutality from their birth, trotting along the alleys, mingled with troops of horribly busy pigs, up to their ankles in blood but it makes the young rascals hardy. Into the imperfect sewers of this overgrown city, you shall have the immense mass of corruption, engendered by these practices, lazily thrown out of sight, to rise, in poisonous gases, into your house at night, when your sleeping children will most readily absorb them, and to find its languid way, at last, into the river that you drink.”

*                        —Charles Dickens Household Words article in March 1851

I love how period piece movies make the 1800s overly romantic. The Aristocratic societies with castles and beautiful clothing seem intoxicating; however, when you read Charles Dickens, the perspective changes from the dreamy image into a putrid, sad tale. Throughout his stories the characters seem colorfully real besieged by hardship.

*

Write Tangibly:

If you can’t make it real to yourself, it won’t be real to the readers either.

Pet Peeves

Where I’m at Wednesday January 22, 2014

I am finally finished with chapter 18. YES!! *Happy dance* Now, onto chapter 20.

I’m getting anxious to finish. Even though there is a lot to get through, the excitement builds. The next Diadem is crazy—a hideous beast lingers. The encounter will end well, but in the frightful moment of the creature ransacking the fields, I plan to introduce a new character, Aengus. He will add a bit of humor.

Oh, how I’d love to tell everyone my stories. I would enjoy revealing the journey, trials, and outcome of each person involved. If you have read The Sphere of Archimedes, and are anxiously waiting for the next book in the series; imagine how I feel. I want to hurry, so you can see what has been plaguing my mind for four years.

See you next week.

Take care my friends

*

Words have power, use them!

*

Pet Peeves

*

Apparently, whoever wrote this quote has a pet peeve against colorless words. He/she even goes as far as to insult the writer. I am not offended, because I totally agree with them.
I loathe being promised a trip to an unknown area or planet; only to be disappointed that the literary descriptions are bland. Tell me the mysteries—show me weird creatures, or bizarre peoples. I expect it.
If you are bold enough to drop your readers in the African wilderness—tell us what to envision besides “hot” and “dry”. Be daring to imagine deeper meanings. Close your eyes and picture it perfectly, and then tell the readers as though you are painting it on canvas.
Have you ever read: Dune by Frank Herbert? Herbert takes us on a vivid trip to uncharted territories, political conflicts, and adventure. Describing details of various planets, the intricate bloodlines of the House Atreides, and the race to control all Spice production, the imagery keeps readers enthralled. The characters’ strange customs and hideous monsters are inconceivable. It is so descriptive that we question if the author was truly there.

OH YEAH! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

*
If you are writing a book or novella and it’s your first draft—don’t
sweat it
. You will need to go back and refine your manuscript once it is finished. I usually advise (as do others) step away from the finished manuscript for a short while. Give your mind a break. Then go back and insert all those details in chapter by chapter. Make your words cascade with power. Dig deeper into each character’s being by building them into real, fallible people. Make the readers hate the antagonist with a profound detest.
Show me the beautiful, hostile, or outlandish world. What sets it apart from Earth? Treat your audience as if they were blind. It is your task to describe colors, sights, sounds, texture, and sensations.

Don’t Tell. . . Show

Where I’m at Wednesday January 15, 2014

OK…lots of juggling going on. So, I finished chapters 17 & 18, but they needed to be broken into two chapters each. Technically, I am writing chapters 18 and 20 now. Another change is that I am no longer going to Copenhagen. After researching, my characters will charter an aircraft from Reykjavik, Iceland to London, England.

I don’t regret the work it took to research Copenhagen. I may utilize it in the future either for this series, or another book.

This is a minor change on what may be the finalized product. I try not to get too attached to the direction—it’s part of being a writer. I know the key points, where my characters are going, and how it’ll all end. I like to create some realism along the way. Going to Copenhagen was an unrealistic journey, which would have caused my characters to double-back.

Thank you for the likes and/or follows. Feel free to comment, ask questions, or tell me about your projects.

See you next week,

Take care.

*Stormy weather on a city street

*

Have you ever heard the statement: “Don’t tell—show”?

It means that even though it is easier, (and can become habitual) telling a story over the details is not interesting. Don’t flatten your story by indulging us with the ability to read it, but cause our other humanely-senses to tingle.

Life is meant to drink!

I like to envision what our hero/heroin feels, smells, sees, and hears. I’m not saying that you need to gush with endless descriptions. But be more concise with your choice of words.

Sometimes, you don’t need to elaborate actions with words. Dig deeper…pause…and create a scene in your head. Tell us what you see, and then reword it to sound stronger.

For example:

                                          “He ran in from outside.”

                         “Winded, he burst through the front door.”

 

You get the idea that he ran by suggesting words “winded” and “burst”. Plus, it is more powerful and suggests urgency. If you took each sentence in your story as seriously—by the end—it’ll be magnificent!

Good luck my friends.

Writer’s Block

Jack's a popsicle

*

 

Writer’s Block:

You’ve got the best idea ever!! The story has wonderful characters, interesting plot twists, and a climax that will WOW everyone. Then you sit down to type it out—nothing. Hours go by—days—weeks—you start to sweat, and still the only thing you can produce is updating your Facebook status. Panic has set in. If you are a serious author, you keep trying. Unfortunately, this is the point where many wannabes give-up.
WRITER’S BLOCK is something we’ve all suffered through. I don’t know what causes it, the Ins & Outs, and “the whys” (I’m not sure  I’d want to know). But, I will tell you how I avoid the “writer’s deathtrap”.
At times, I don’t FEEL like writing. I’ve lost interest. My brain gets tired of imagining far-off places, I most likely never will see. I get sick of fictional characters taking up my thought processes. The reading, rereading, and editing gets cumbersome. Some days I hate it.  
My writers’ group has a worksheet that pushes you to write 9 minutes a day; however, I cannot dedicate those minute moments to writing without losing my creativity. If I wrote daily, my story wouldn’t flow; it would be flat. I have to step away from it, for as long as it takes to get ideas.
It helps to keep my mind busy on other tasks. Exercising, reading, or household chores takes me away from the tediousness of my story structure. Some of the best thoughts came to me when I was at work. I’d be running around in my crazy, management job and BLAMO an awesome idea would pop into my head. At that point, I immediately grabbed the nearest piece of paper or on occasion my palm, and scribbled down the thoughts. Do whatever you can to preserve that moment, idea, or train of thought.
Trust me, the instant you stop stressing about your story, the creativity will flow. Until then, preoccupy your time with research, meeting other authors, and/or joining a writing group. Stay focused on the backbone of your story—make an outline. The most important advice to give is: “Don’t give up!”
Did you know that 97% of writers do not finish their books?

 

                   Will you be part of the 3%?

 

                             Let’s hope so.

 

                                 Trust me, you’ll feel great after writing it.  

Criticism

Where I’m at Wednesday

I hope you had a great night bringing in the New Year. I surely did.

Always with the new comes uncertainty. I am guilty of over romanticizing or having high expectations each New Year, but by the  end, I am just grateful to survive.

When reflecting on the past year, I try to remember the good times, but I cannot ignore the bad. Everything is a lesson. Even though it is easier to recall bad situations than the good, I must try to stay positive—think positively.

Someone sent me an idea. For every good, positive thing that happens throughout the year, write it in on a piece of paper, and place it in a jar. Then at the end of the year, open and read each note. This may be the first New Year’s resolution that I can make into a tradition.

Okay, down to business. Where I’m at on the Omphalos: finishing chapter 17, and in the process of rewriting chapter 18. I started writing them simultaneously—taking breaks in between each sentence or paragraph to work on the other. I don’t think I can keep it up, but it’s coming along nicely.

Happy New Year to all my friends, family, and followers!

Take care.

*New year

*

Criticism

Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” –Aristotle  

*

Criticism isn’t easy to hear or read. It feels like a reflection of failure. But is that always the case? I don’t think so. As a writer, you must grow tougher skin—especially if you have sent out query letters and gotten rejection letters in return. When negative reviews come in, it isn’t easy to bear.

I can imagine how long you’ve worked on your manuscript—writing it to completion, polishing the edits, and finalizing it into brilliance. Keep in mind that critics are lurking; however, not all are meant to harm you.

Ask yourself:  Is there truth in their criticism? If so, then maybe they aren’t intending to hurt your feelings, but give you “constructive criticism”. Try to see a positive side no matter how much it hurt.

Granted, some people deliver criticism tactfully, but others are blunt.

*

Why do people criticize?

*

Some people show an honest concern. They don’t know they are being critical. In their minds, they’re being helpful. Try not to take their critique as bashing, which may cause you to lash out. Look for the positive, “constructive” criticism—they may be right.

Other people are mean spirited. Let’s face it, the world is a cruel place and jerks reside amongst us. They blurt out whatever hurts the most to tear you down. Either they are jealous, ignorant, or downright mean; try not to take their cruelty to heart. Let their harsh words glide off you like water on a duck’s back. Please, remain silent and do not fire-back—it’ll make you look bad.

*

Flipping the negativity:

*

People are going to say things that aren’t nice—whether intentional or not—they think it’s their way of expressing an opinion. Try to step away for a moment to compose yourself. Don’t react right away, or better—not at all. Look for truth in their criticism. If you can’t find anything of value, disregard it, smile, and go on.

*

Take for example Amy’s Bakery. Being I’m from Arizona, the uproar caused from Gordon Ramsay’s televised show astounded everyone. People flocked in droves to see the infamous character of Amy’s Bakery. But was she all bad? I don’t think so, and here’s why:

A lot of people don’t know how to take criticism—whether it’s constructive or mean-spirited. It is the tell-tale signs that they personally have faced many painful incidences, and to them criticism means malicious, spiteful, and hateful. They prepare for a fight, even though a conflict isn’t ensuing. If they could realize that some criticism isn’t said to tear them down, but instead to build them up—then everything might turn out differently.

Apparently, it all started with a customer’s comments made on Reddit. She responded with harsher words, and so the controversy ensued. Sometimes, it is difficult to deal with criticism. Some of us want to respond. What could have changed the outcome is to ignore the harsh comment(s), learn from it, and try to look for something positive instead of negative.  Instead of lashing out against a customer with an opinion, she should have asked what could she do to better their product or service.

I know what it’s like dealing with the public. At times, it is most unbearable. I contemplated walking out on SO many occasions, but my regular customers made it worth staying for.

There is also a reality with serving the public—you need them!

If your livelihood depends on customers, and you lash-out at everyone, then eventually you aren’t going to have customers left. No one will buy what you’re selling; no matter how good or discounted it may be.