Saturday, February 27, 2010

Golden Advice -- A little help from my friends

Here it is, folks, the end of the golden advice. Make new friends, keep the old, some are silver, the others are gold. I'm sure that if you surround yourself with talented people that success will come your way. Open up to this. Let it fill your heart.

I'm going to SHOUT OUT a few friends. My friend Katherine Grace Bond has a new agent, Sara Crowe! Yay! Katherine is also a Jack Straw Author. My friend Louise Spiegler is also a Jack Straw Author. My critique partners, Louise [The Jewel and the Key], my friend Conrad Wesselhoeft [Adios, Nirvana], and the amazing Holly Cupala [Tell Me a Secret], all have books coming out this year. Janet Lee Carey has two of the most gripping fantasy sequels ever coming out for two of her series -- The Dragons of Noor is one. I'm saying that the wonderful Chris Eboch has stuff brewing. My friend Stasia Kehoe has a fab fab fab blog you might read. The wonderful Watsons always have great stuff cooking: Richard Jesse Watson, Jesse Watson, Benjamin Watson, Faith Pray (also a Watson), Susi Watson, who has no blog, boo. Did I get to Allyson Schrier, Lois Brandt, Kevan Atteberry, Vijaya Bodach, Cathy Benson, Jen Heger...? It's amazing that I have not spontaneously combusted from the brilliant light of all this talent.

Anyway, I cannot stress the support that I have experienced from these and many other writers and artists. One of the great privileges of my life is to know these multi-faceted folks. Knowing them all makes me feel like one of the wealthiest people on the planet. I'm about to make a big move across country, back to Texas, my hometown stomping ground. But I have to say, I piece of my heart is planted in the Northwest...

My doodle this week, "Home."

This week takes us back to 1967 and St. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Oh, Gonna try with a little help from my friends

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Golden Advice -- Avoid Stumbling

Hi, folks, this week the golden advice is all about avoiding stumbling. This is my version of the story of the Cult of the Golden Cow.

Once, way back, there was this nation, and they knew the heart of the Universe, the living God, had a plan for them. But it was taking God a long time to get back to them. The messenger who was going to bring the good news was up on some mountain doing his thing and wasn't giving this poor nation the time of day. This messenger was gone for 40 days. Ugh.

So with no immediate direction, someone in this nation got the big idea to pour a bunch of gold into a mold, and make it into a big golden cow. Making the shape wasn't the bad thing, but when it was put out for all to see and everyone began calling it God. That was a problem.

Right then the God messenger showed up, and he had a serious to-do-list from the heart of the universe that included a "No Golden Cow" clause or the "Do not make stuff and then worship it" clause. Yeah, that sucked for them. If they only could have waited.

This story resonates with me. The whole Golden Cow thing, I mean you get this vision from the heart of the Universe of what you are supposed to do. Perhaps, you are supposed to write a book that is important. Maybe, you've even written it. And here's the rub, the messengers are not getting back to you.

In the words of Douglas Adams, "DON'T PANIC!"

Just chill. Don't go do other stuff because you are afraid it will not work out. Fear is the enemy. You can't control when the good news will come. All you can do is remember what the vision is, and do that. Don't waver. Don't give up. Avoid golden cows. Avoid stumbling. Doing something else and ditching your true purpose is not going to help you. It will just be a time suck and keep you from doing useful things.

This is what you have to do: Wait.

I know how hard that is. I have been waiting so long that sometimes it feels like my heart will break from the weight (hahaha) of it. Hope deferred does make the heart sick. But hope is something you need to cling to, because of this, hope is not going to disappoint you. Hope is the anchor of your soul.

Whatever you are waiting for, keep in there. I will be back next week with more inspiration.

This week, I offer a photo instead of a doodle, "The Signs Are Everywhere."

Quote of the week:

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Golden Advice -- Conflict resolution

I'm back with more golden advice this week. I'm busy this week so this entry will be really short. This week, the golden rule -- to do unto to others as you would have them do to you -- is analogous to conflict resolution. The journey to resolution begins with your main character and how they are damaged.

In novels, missing the mark is important. You must crack that hero, send in flaws, and befuddle him or her with contradictions. I think it so important that we understand what makes our characters weak. How are they sinners? What are their fatal flaws?

If you understand this, your book is already better. An effective hero's journey for the main character involves that character becoming self aware of personal flaws. Then the main character must learn to respond to those around in him in light of the self discovery. Developing a empathic character is important. Creating a character who must change is absolutely necessary for meaningful stories.

I hope these little thoughts get you moving with your story. See you next week.

Here is the doodle for the week: "Window"

The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles. Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Golden Advice -- Good Pacing

Hi, folks, this is the second in a series of creative analogies that I hope you will find golden on your creative journey.

The week the Golden Mean or Golden Section or Golden Ratio is a line segment divided like this: the total length a + b is to the longer segment a as a is to the shorter segment b.

The idea is one segment is twice the length of the other segment.

In terms of storytelling the Golden Mean is like good pacing. :) It's esthetically pleasing. It adds interest and depth. It brings the magic of thirds to your work. It's a good guideline for creating meaningful art, but like any kind of advice, this is a guideline not something set in stone.

A book has three parts: a beginning middle and end. Again, how can the Golden Mean Guide us. Two-thirds of the book is the beginning and the middle --the build-up, one third is the end. The third act should be the whamdoozie. This is a natural rhythm that writers gravitate toward. Me too.

Scenes to me have three major parts. One part is the setting, one part is the dialogue, and the third part is the reflection from the narrator or character or both. If a scene is weighted with dialogue, say 80%, has no setting, and the minimun of reflection, it usually won't seem to flow.

Think about this when you want to have a chapter with two scenes. One scene should take up a third of the chapter and the other scene takes the other two thirds. If you have three scenes in a chapter, each scene takes a third of the chapter, but the most dramatic scene doesn't go in the middle. I like to weight the end of the chapter with that third dramatic scene, but sometimes I put it at the front. I very rarely stick the dramatic scene smack in the middle. My story sense tell me that is a very hard sell.

I hope my thoughts have sparked something in you. I hope you look at your work today and are able to solve a problem or two with pacing. It's often not the content of you story that is the problem,it's the way you synthesized the elements.

Good luck! Seize the day!

This week's doodle, "How fast I write".

Quote for the week:

Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson