Character Inspirations

About a month or so ago, right in the middle of some revisions from hell, I got stuck. I think what drove me crazy was the fact that I knew exactly what I needed to fix. I just didn’t know how to do it. Or anything I’d write sounded awful as I read it back, over and over, until I scrapped most of my new words and started again. My characters needed more, well, everything. Layers, depth, warmth. You name it, my characters lacked it.

Then, while “researching” online as we all do, I came across Polyvore. That’s when I felt it. A flutter of excitement starting in my chest, spreading out until I couldn’t scroll through the options fast enough. The reason I became stuck in the first place was because I couldn’t figure out my heroine’s next step. On this website, I took a minute to revisit Alyssa. I guess it was kind of like filling out those character questionnaires before starting your story.

Back to Work - Alyssa

Only this time, I woke up with my character in the morning. Decided how she might dress. How would she style her hair. What colours would she choose?

I know this all seems really superficial, but it’s not. For example, below you’ll find a character sketch I created for Alyssa and Max’s first run in after years apart. Every choice I made helped me piece together Alyssa bit by bit.

Her blouse and skirt are sexy but at the same time modest. She’s still a little uneasy in her new life, but the structured clothes make her feel like she’s in control. Even though she’s panicking on the inside.

So then I thought, “Hm. I can do this with all my characters, even the secondary ones.”

Next came Emma…and then Elaine.

It’s surprising where inspiration hides from you sometimes. I hope you can always find yours.

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Procrastination

I’m almost ready. I’m going to do it. Well, maybe I’ll review it one more time.20130408-094026.jpg

I’ve been stuck in this endless loop for months now and I’m having trouble finding the courage to leap off the treadmill.

A few months ago I received a request for a partial (first three chapters) plus my synopsis from my dream publisher/line.
But I can’t seem to pull the trigger. I guess a part of me feels, if I never send it in I can’t get rejected. I know I’m being ridiculous. Rejection is about 98% of the game. But there’s something about this particular submission that’s different.

Enough is enough though, I’ve changed my story so many times I’ve lost count. The funniest (or most frustrating) part is that although the story has improved from my original draft, through the endless changes I’ve made to setting, character development and plot, my story has come full circle and I’m pretty much back to my original story arc.

So I’m setting a date. Monday, April 15 2013. See that…bolded, underlined AND italicized. Now you know I mean business. I’m submitting my work no matter what. Fingers crossed.

 

Bucket-O-Dreams

I recently read an article where someone implied we should get rid of the term “Bucket List”. Apparently it’s overused and no longer trendy.

I don’t get that. How can a list of goals and dreams to achieve before you die go out of style? Who decides this stuff?

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Not only do I have a list but I had to break mine down into categories…and I’m proud of that!

I have places I want to visit. Beautiful, peaceful, exciting, breathtaking and exotic locations that I’ve only dreamt about.

I want to sleep in a bungalow on the water in Bora Bora, and roll the dice in Las Vegas – to be honest, I would have loved to elope in Vegas but I’m about eight years too late on that one! A pub crawl in Dublin, Ireland, visit castles in Scotland. Can’t forget to hike up avolcano in Hawaii (this is seriously the only reason I’d attempt hiking of any kind). What about seeing Alaska’s Northern Lights, or eating a croissant and a macaroon at Pierre Herme Patisserie (Bakery) in Paris, and theGreat Barrier Reef in Australia and although I’m not exciting enough to do these two justice, maybe one day Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I want to experience silly and fun things with my kids. The first is a biggie for me. One day, when they’re old enough to remember it, I’m going to take them toWalt Disney World. Sure, I’ll tell them it’s all for them, but I’m pretty sure my husband and I will find a way to enjoy ourselves too because we’ve never been either. But I want to do other things that I think will hold just as much magic. I want to catch fireflies with them. I want to bring them horseback riding.

I’d love to take a dip in a natural hot spring with my husband, drive through a redwood (you can actually do this!) and ride a streetcar in San Francisco.

I want to try street food trucks all over the USA. Pulled pork and tacos and desserts, the list is endless. Some goals are not as fancy but still fun! I’ve never eaten at Carl’s Junior, Jack in the Box, White Castle or In-and-Out!

Finish compiling my notebook with all of my favorite family’s recipes (photos included) and then share them with the rest of our family so we don’t lose all the wonderful and special traditions they brought back from Italy.

Lastly, if I work hard enough, I hope to be a published author one day. This one is just as farfetched as the rest, but no less impossible. I think all dreams start off on equal footing. It’s our job to find a way to make them happen. It all depends how bad you want them to come true.

I’d love for you to add to my list. You can never have too many dreams.

Bucket-O-Dreams.

Scene Setting and My Sort-Of Green Thumb

Every once in a while something happens that triggers a memory of my late father. It’s usually the oddest things.

This time it’s the plant that’s shrivelling on my windowsill. It’s been sitting there since last year when my mom gave it to me. I have no idea why. We both know I’m horrible with plants. But she did and I even kept it going for a little while. But then we left on vacation and I forgot all about it. I came home to a gnarled little twig. Poor thing.

Just to add insult to injury, I kept forgetting to throw it away. It sat on my windowsill for a month before I noticed something unusual happening. A leaf had sprung from the wreckage I’d left behind. The twisted branch I had neglected for so long had decided to come back. To try again. Resilient little bugger.

I started watering it again after I noticed the change and now every time I look at it I can hear him. “You know if you add some more earth to the pot you can save that thing.”

It came over me quick. My chest tightened with the memory and I was there again. With him in his garden. So much green everywhere around us, the sun bounced off the plants and I had to squint for a moment to fight off the glare. Tomato plants taller than me and a fig tree that might as well have held gold on its branches as far as I was concerned. Near the end the tree had grown so large that it took my dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all working together to drag the pot inside every fall to protect it from our harsh winters.

He’d explain things to me that I hadn’t learned anywhere else. Taught me what the air smelled like right before a rainstorm. Crisp and damp and heavy with the impending downpour. I still love that smell. He showed me how the plants knew that the rain was coming just like the animals sensed it. How the trees knew to protect themselves, their leaves turning over so the rain and wind wouldn’t cause damage.

Now, I don’t know how much of this is scientific truth. But I do know that my father grew up around nature and every time he’s ever told me something, I opened my eyes to the world around me in a way I had never noticed before.

I honestly believe that if I am in any way capable of describing a scene when I’m writing it’s due in part to him. He taught me to understand scents, sights, sounds, textures and tastes in a way that made me feel grounded in the moment. In tune with the elements around me.

Maybe I’ll add the earth. Well, probably not. What fun would that be…