Monday, February 20, 2012

Monthly Mash-up

I first heard of mash-ups from Kristen Lamb, and I think it's a great idea. (Not least of all because it's an easy blog post to put together since I surf the net way too much.)

So today I'd like to share a few websites I've stumbled across that have inspired me:

This one gave me chills. A fantastic reminder on what our priorities in life really are.
The top 5 regrets people express on their deathbeds

Britt Michaelian shares inspirational tweets on Twitter as @MamaBritt. I really love this blog post from her:
How Inspiration Influences Your Success
The post has some useful practical tips on how to practice inspiration.

I bookmarked this sweet, humorous post at the beginning of the year, and would now like to dedicate it to the many, many wonderful wise women who inspire me (and yes, that includes YOU).
Barbara Scully's Wise Women

And finally, one from Kristen Lamb herself, with great tips for Publishers on how they can avoid a serious collision with the future:
Bracing for impact: The future of big publishing in the new paradigm
I love the idea of ordering your print book, going off for a coffee (or shoe shopping) then coming back to fetch your book. Sure beats my fancy local book store (with its own glossy coffee shop) which never has any of the books I want in stock!

What websites have you found that you'd like to share?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What I learned from The Vampire Diaries

Aside from the comeback of mood rings, and the fact that there are even scarier things around than vampires, most of what I've learned from the addictive CW television series, The Vampire Diaries, is writing-related.

It's been a year since I blogged about what we writers could learn from The Vampire Diaries over on The Minxes blog, and there is still so much more I'd like to share with you. So pull up a comfy sofa and a glass of your favourite drink, and get ready.

First, here's a re-cap of the posts I've already done:

The first posts were about the earliest lightbulb moments I had while watching Series 1. You can read An Awakening - Part One here, and Part Two here.

My next blog post was on Motivation - the importance of ensuring that the actions and decisions of each and every character are well motivated.

Then came Character Arcs - using examples from The Vampire Diaries to show how characters can change and grow.

Next was a post on Acting out of Character - the importance of keeping your characters consistent, as well as examples of when it's okay to have your characters act out of character. I'd still love ideas on just why the PTA mom absconded to Vegas. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Finally, I blogged about my personal revelation in Innovation. That was back in March last year, and it really helped formulate my writing style for the rest of the year. I stopped over-thinking what editors and agents might want from me, and just wrote, and the immense change it has brought about in my own writing has been phenomenal.

In my next post I'll be looking at POV. Yes, POV exists even in an omniscient TV series. Want to find out how? Check back here next week. Same time, same place, and I guarantee next time there'll be eye candy too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Writers' Excuse Book - 101 excuses you've heard before

I've heard a lot of excuses from wannabe writers about why they don't write. There's not enough time. Life is too hectic. The day job is too demanding. I need to do house-work. I don't have space. I'm too young. I'm too old.

The excuses are usually followed by 'when'. I'll write when I have more time. I'll write when the kids start school. I'll write when the kids leave school. I'll write when the house alterations are done, or when I have my own desk.

If you're really looking for all 101 excuses, you'll have to find another blog. I'm bored already.

The thing is, excuses are not the real problem. They're just symptoms.

It's like when you're stressed at work but won't admit it, so instead you get headaches, stomach aches, the common cold. And no matter how many antibiotic prescriptions you get, you still stay sick. Why? Because you're not dealing with the core issue, which is whatever is causing your stress.

Do you really want to be permanently sick, or tired, or depressed? Or do you want to be successful?
You can't have both.

Do you want to be a writer or an aspiring writer? We move from being the latter to being the former jthe moment we stop with the excuses and start with the writing.

Ane here's how we can do it: right here, right now I want us to stop everything and take a moment to examine WHY you're making excuses. What are we afraid of?

Take your time. I'll wait.

So any ideas yet? And don't give me that 'fear of failure' or 'fear of success' nonsense. That's an easy answer. I want you to dig deeper.

Are you afraid people will laugh at you? Are you afraid of pissing off your family by taking time for yourself?
They won't. Because they love you and they want you to succeed every bit as much as you do. [And if they don't, they're not people you want to know anyhow]

Are you avoiding your mansucript because you think it'll bite you? Or because you think your story sucks? (Of course it sucks - because you haven't actually written it!)

In the interests of transparency, I'll admit that my usual excuse is that I'm too tired. And usually by the time I sit down to write, I am. Because by that time I've wasted precious time doing everything else BUT writing. Why? Probably because laziness is one of my worst qualities, and I'm afrid of work. And until I actually get back into writing, I forget that it feels less like work and more like fun.

Okay, so now we've worked out what excuses you're making. And we understand why we're making them. And I bet anything we're now sitting there looking at our excuses and thinking "That's just daft?"

I hope so, because now we can get back to doing what we love: writing.

PS: On Friday I blogged over at The Minxes about my new guru Kristen Lamb. She has even more butt-kicking blog posts along these lines, which you can read here and here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The art of being selfish

Those Victorians have a lot to answer for. Their determination that every member of society should walk the 'straight and narrow path' (while a noble attempt to raise us all to the moral high ground) has left most of us in the western world with a damaged psyche.

Strong words, I know. After all, why shouldn't we have higher morals and strive for a better world?
Well, of course we should.

But not at the expense of our own selves.

More than a hundred years after Queen Victoria died, we still feel guilty if we put ourselves ahead of others.

I'm here to tell you right here and now that this guilt is CRAP. Yes, I just swore. That's how strongly I feel about this.

We can't look after others if we don't first look after ourselves. We can't give strength to others, if we aren't first strong in ourselves. You can't give financial aid to others, unless we first pay our own bills.

And we can't teach our children how to be whole, confident, successful individuals if we give up our own selves, our hobbies and our passions, to serve them. I have two daughters. The best lesson I can teach them is that they need to give me space to be who I am.

Yes, it's selfish. But how else am I going to teach my daughters to reach for their dreams if I don't reach for mine?

I spend quality time with them. But when I close my door and sit down at my laptop to write, that's when I get quality time with ME. They have to respect that. I have to respect that. Because if I don't, then I'm teaching them it's okay to let other people trample over my dreams. I would be teaching them that I am not as worthy of my own time as they are. And in turn, I'm showing them by example not to value themsleves, because I don't value myself.

It's been a hard lesson for me to learn, but I've learned it. I'm selfish, and I'm not ashamed to say it out loud.

We are the generation that can break those ties to our Victotian ancestors. We can let go the ropes that moor us to the earth, and we can soar. And continuing the analogy, we are the generation that can reach the stars, and enable those who follow to fly even further, beyond our wildest dreams.

Being selfish isn't bad. It's a beginning. Because once we have selfishly built ourselves up, we can build up others. We can raise our entire community and society to that high ground the Victorians so valued, a place where all of our dreams can come true. (Who knows, maybe even the dream of world peace might come true?)

So what are you teaching your children about following their dreams? Do you want them to do what you do, or only what you say? Show versus tell?
Do your children respect your ME time? Do you?