Sunday, February 24, 2013

Things I've Learned

My journey as a writer started a short 3 years ago when a friend taught me that writers aren't superheroes, but real people just like me. That was the 1st time I really considered taking the crazy story ideas I'd come up with in my dreams and shaping them into a novel of my own. 

Not having a creative writing education, I had no idea where to start. So I took the standard 5 paragraph structure used in writing my term papers in college for my political science degree (you know what I'm talking about: the introductory 1st paragraph that includes the thesis statement, followed by the middle 3 paragraph body, and ending with the last paragraph conclusion) and began writing my first novel.

Go ahead and laugh, you know you want to. *sheepish grin*

I knew no other way. It never occurred to me that they have manuals that tell you all about plotting a novel at the bookstore. *shrug* I'm sure you won't be surprised to find out that about 150 pages in, I got lost. I mean, I knew where I wanted my story to end, but things like story arc and multi-POVs bogged me down. So I started looking for help. Now, almost 3 years and several re-writes later, I have a collection of items I will never again attempt to writer a novel without. They are:

1) Timeline- documenting events from well before my book begins all the way through the end of the trilogy I have planned.  Go HERE to download a free timeline template from Microsoft.

2) Outline- very detailed for each plot line, character, and each of the three books

3) Character Sketch- detailing everything from hair color to odd mannerisms or habits for my character

4) Setting Sketch- detailing each of the different countries and cities in my novel

5) Map- detailing my entire made up world. There isn't a moutnain or a tree that doesn't have its place.

6) List of Terms- if you have a made up language of any sort, even if you don't get too detailed with it, you really need this one. It is easy to forget and contradict yourself without this to refer back to.

7) List of Characters- not only does this act as a quick reference guide, but it also keeps you aware of the astronomical number of characters you can create if not careful, especially when writing an epic fantasy.

If there is something on this list you haven't considered using, I would challenge you to give it a try. It can make your life so much easier and better organized. I know it has mine. I am hoping that with these at my disposal, the next novel won't take me so long to write. (Not holding my breath, though. I am not known for brevity.) *blushes*

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you use these 7 items in your writing? Which do you not use and why?

Do these make anyone else laugh? You can buy them HERE...I may or may not have my own box on the way!! *cheesy grin*

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Disillusionment Plot

Recently, some naive assumptions I've held were shattered. I tend toward a rather optimistic view of people and situations, so this definitely isn't the first time I've been so disillusioned. I can say, however, that the hollow feeling in the bottom of my stomach caused by these little disappointments doesn't get any easier to take. I'm not going to get into any kind of explanation. That would be giving the experience more importance than it's worth. What I'd like to do, instead, is use it as a theme for this blog post.

Today's topic is the Disillusionment Plot.

This type of plot occurs when your protagonist starts off with a set of ideals, but by the end of the story has abandoned these ideals.

My main female character, Ailith, experiences this type of plot. At the beginning of her story she is chosen by her god to be the high queen of a magical race of people. She sets out, sure of her success, to find her king and enlist his aide against the forces of dark. Along the way, however, her decisions cost the lives of innocents and those she loves. She ends her part in the story being rescued by the king she betrayed rather than helping him, convinced that the god chose wrong in making her high queen, and wallowing in self-pity for herself and her losses.

Though my disillusionment was different than Ailith's, we both shared the disappointment of shattered naivete. How about you? Have you believed the best of someone or a situation only to be disappointed? Or like Ailith, did you set out sure you'd be successful in an endeavor only to end completely disappointed in the outcome because of your own actions or decisions? Do you have a character that has also experienced this journey in one of your stories? Are you or your character like the penguin above, surprised to find that you're not as special as you thought?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For the Love of Blogging-Day 4

Welcome to day 4 of For the Love of Blogging, a Valentine blogging challenge hosted by Oklahoma Women Bloggers.

Thursday: For the love of...LOVE! Share the greatest love story you know. It could be yours, your parents, or from a 90s chick flick starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.

My junior year of college my husband and I worked for OK County. Though we parked in the same lot, shared friends, and had even been at some of the same social gatherings, we never were formerly introduced and never spoke for the first 4 years I worked there.

One day, I parked and noticed him pulling into his spot. I smiled, waved, and continued the several block walk to work. I wore a blue mini dress that caught his eye and unbeknownst to me, he became curious. (It didn't hurt that my backside rocked that minidress back then!!) *grin* When he got to his office, he called our mutual friend and my boss, Joe, and asked if Joe had noticed a girl with brown hair in a blue dress. The hub thought Joe knew me and that I worked on Joe's floor but wasn't sure. The whole day, 8AM to 5PM, Joe kept his eye out for a girl in a blue dress with brown hair. Toward the end of the day, I asked Joe a question (our desks faced each other), he looked up and the light bulb came on. He called the hub and said, "Do you mean Sabrina?" He described me and the hub confirmed that it was in fact me he was talking about. Joe laughed. "She's been sitting across from me all day."

So thanks to a blue dress and Joe finally opening his eyes, we are together over 7 years later. I thank God that He finally had us notice each other.

For the Love of Blogging-Day 3

Today marks the 3rd day of Oklahoma Women Bloggers Valentine blogging challenge, For the Love of Blogging.

Wednesday: For the love of...FRIENDS! Who is your bestie? Who do you have a regular girls night out with? Who's your oldest friend? Your dearest friend? Your newest friend?

This one is so hard, because I have a small group of ladies that could each one be called my bestie. Like any good bestie, they are there when I need to vent, cry, laugh, act stupid, or am just bored. So I think I'll name this revered group over naming one individual: Kendra Farr, Melanie Sokol, Angela Archer, & Erin York.

Regular girls night? Kendra Farr

Oldest friend? Brandy Wilhelm & Jamae McKee, both of who welcomed me to a new town and new school. We also just happened to live right next to each other until the end of 9th grade. Jamae and I were even grounded from each other at one time for fighting over the trampoline.

Dearest friend? Kendra Farr who I met my very first class in college. It was friends at first sight!

Newest friend? Kathy Wickham, the best work out friend a girl could ask for. She keeps me accountable.

Was it as hard for anyone else to pick just one bestie? What can I say? I have GREAT friends! And I love them so much!

Monday, February 11, 2013

For the Love of Blogging-1st Day

This week I'll be participating in the Oklahoma Women Blogger's Valentine challenge, For the Love of Blogging which will consist of a different bloggy challenge each day this week.

Monday: For the love of … MUSIC. What music speaks to you? Do you and yours have a special song? Is there a ballad that takes you back to your prom circa 1988 with Def Leppard screeching in your head? (Or is that just me?)

When the hub and I first started dating, one of our fave things was to roll the windows down and sing Party for Two by Shania Twain and Billy Currington at the top of our lungs. Unfortunately, his truck was a new one with one of those console cup holders in the middle. I would be sitting on my side of the truck with my arm flying out the window and the hub would turn on the blinker on my side which blinked in the side mirror, then he'd pull the mirror in and out like it was waving to me. It still cracks me up to this day. Every time either a Shania or a Billy Currington song comes on the radio in the truck, he'll 'wave' at me. It always makes me giggle like a little girl. *sappy sigh* I love my husband!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

For the Love of Blogging-2nd Day

Today is the 2nd day of the For the Love of Blogging Valentine Blogging Challenge put on by those fabulous ladies over at Oklahoma Women Bloggers. 

Tuesday: For the love of...Knick knacks? Do you collect anything that you just love? Do you have a special shelf of things that your loved ones have passed on? Is there a little this or that which holds special memories for you?

I love tea cups, tea saucers, and tea pots. I don't have cupboards full of these because I cannot stand clutter, but I have a few select pieces that make me happy. Several years ago, my Gram gave me a mini pot, cup, and saucer that she acquired on one of her travels across the states which I will always treasure. I admired it and even played with it on occasion as a little girl and I still cannot believe I now own it. Thanks, Gram. I love you.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Simple Moments

This morning as we readied ourselves for church, we listened to music as is our usual routine. My 6 year old began belting out the words to a song and I joined him. I lifted him up to the counter to comb his hair and he wrapped his little arms around my neck. Though we were running a bit behind, I picked him up and we danced and sang around the bathroom, simply enjoying each other's presence. I tried to remember when I had last ignored the clock to simply bask in such a precious moment. As the song ended and we returned to getting ready for our day, I started thinking of all the simple pleasures I haven't paid as much attention to lately.

Driving with the windows down as the sunlight warms my skin and the wind whips through my hair. Watching birds build a nest. Calling my Gram just to say hi. Watching my son's expressive face as he tells a story. Pointing out shapes in the clouds. Telling korny jokes with my son and rolling with laughter as my husband smiles and rolls his eyes.  Closing my eyes and letting the notes of instrumental music take my imagination on a magical journey. Catch snowflakes on my tongue. Dance in the rain. Splash in a puddle.

As writers we can get so caught up in writing our story, promoting ourselves, or networking that we forget to simply stop and cherish the moments that made us want to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write.
All writers should have a spot like this to just sit, look, and listen.

How long has it been since you sat, snuggled in a warm blanket, and watched snowflakes float lazily through the air to make piles on the ground or stood at the window and listened to the drum of rain drops hitting the grass? How long since you sat on the porch and listened to the rustle of leaves as a gentle breeze blows through or gloried in the innocent laughter of a child?

If you're like me, maybe you've let your busy life distract you from what's important. I challenge you to take a moment and do something simple. You never know when it'll inspire you to the next great story, help you get over writer's block, remind you of the power of God, or simply help you remember to enjoy the small things that make life so precious.

Happy writing and happy living!
I hope you enjoy this. It's one of my favorite things to do in the spring and autumn. What do you hear?

Friday, February 1, 2013

"One Hundred" Flash Fiction Contest

The fabulous Darci Cole is celebrating that she reached 100 followers by holding a little flash fiction contest for those of her followers who are writers. Since I love these sorts of things, I am excited to post my entry! Congrats, Darci!

Based on the photo below, you must write an excerpt. Here are the requirements...

1) Genre is your choice, must be between 300-500 words.
2) Must contain the number 100/one hundred.
3) Must be posted on a blog (borrow one if you don't have your own).
4) The direct link must be posted in the comments of THIS POST no later than 11:59pm on Friday February first (2-1-13), Mountain Time.

So here's my entry at 306 words...

by Sabrina A. Fish

A path stretched before her bare toes. An honor guard of one hundred majestic trees stood at attention to either side, their limbs creating a canopy over her head that welcomed her to take her first step down the path. A light mist hung among the branches giving the path a dream-like quality that put her at ease. A gentle breeze swirled through the mist, playing a soft tune among the branches and leaves.

At the end of the path, a warm glow beckoned her forward. Promising her relief, but relief from what? She searched her mind wondering how she came to this place. Was it a dream? She couldn't remember lying down to sleep. Her heart pounded in her chest as she realized she couldn't remember anything.

The trees loomed above her, their reaching branches no longer welcoming. The swirling mist surrounded her, threatening to suffocate her. The music became an eerie moan. She stepped back.The glow at the end of the path grew brighter, drawing her gaze, allowing her to breathe once again. She stepped toward it, a sudden urge to bask in its warmth pulling her feet forward.

Eyes glued to the light, she walked faster. She could taste the warmth like the slide of hot cocoa into her stomach on a cold night. She quickened her pace. The light grew brighter. It’s heat the caressing warmth of a crackling fire reaching for her from a cozy hearth. She started to jog. The shadow of a man, arms opened wide, appeared. He stood with his back to the light. Trees flew by as she started to run. The last of her anxiety and amnesia vanished as welcoming arms enveloped her. 

She remembered.

Her name was Terra and the pain she had known the last days of her life was gone. She was home.