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Alejandro Sanz

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get bored. I get bored with doing the same thing over and over again, just like a get bored with listening to the same type of music over and over again. So the other day, while I was listening to the same songs for the thousandth time, I decided I needed a change. Not just a new artist kind of change, but an entirely new view type of change. The result? I came across Spanish pop singer Alejandro Sanz. Now, my Spanish skills are minimal at best, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the unique sound of his voice and inflections within it. The visual wasn’t too bad either. I normally am not a fan of tattoos, but on the right guy…:) Anyway, music is a universal language for a reason. Instruments, chords, keys are the same in all of them. Also, living in the most connected age in history makes it easy for someone like to me to go and look up the lyrics to his music in English so I have some clue what is being said.

But I’m really enjoying this. A whole ‘nother world of artists has been opened up to me. People I can learn something from in more than one way. First I have the message of the lyrics, then there are the way things are phrased. I have heard many times that English isn’t as easy to write in because it’s not as “flexible” as other languages. On top of that, it gives me a chance to brush up on my high school and college Spanish. Something that is very rusty. All this is very important to me, especially when it comes to my writing. I think it’s easy for writers, especially those who speak only one language, to write from that one view. But, if I have a bi-lingual character whose upbringing was mixed, or a character that embraces their ancestors culture, knowing things like the pop artists and at least bits and pieces of the language can really help in creating an authentic character. Not some stereo-type that no one connects to. Right now I’m working on a story in which on of my main characters is Hispanic. So right now I’m trying to create his personality and find out who he is. I think exposing myself more to this culture will really help me shape who him.

So tell me, what do you to when you need a change of perspective when creating a character? Let me know in the comments below.

Now enjoy this video of Alejandro Sanz while I find my pencil. 😉

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Nothing

Nothing

Every breath I take filled with emotionless air.
Suffocating in nothingness for too many years.
Unable to hurt, to cry, to love.
Not even a sliver of guilt
When you tell me I don’t care.
So fed up with pretending,
The facade is slowly breaking.
Nothing left to give, Nothing left to take.
Will you stay beside me if I finally let you see?
Or, will you leave if I take down my defenses
In order for you to glimpse,
The nothing that is me.

Cairo Caravan

So a little over a week ago I attended the “Cairo Caravan,” an annual belly dancing event that takes place on the Queen Mary. Belly dancers (beginners to professionals) come from all over the world to attend this three day event. It’s really a fabulous experience to watch how many different ways people express themselves through the art of belly dance and it’s even more exciting to feel the support even the least experienced receives. Vendors also litter the place, along with drummers. After we performed my sister and I joined a drum circle that had gathered outside for an impromptu dance. Anyway, it was an exciting day and I thought I’d share the youtube video that was posted of our tribal troupe. 🙂

As writers, we make decisions everyday from what scene we’re going to work on for the day to what elements  we’re going to keep or throw out. But sometimes, trying to figure out what should stay and what should go is more gray than black and white. When I first sit down to start a story I ask myself a few simple questions: what is this story about? What challenges will my hero/heroine face? How do I get there? Answering these questions is the easy part. I have a clear plan I want to follow. It’s when I actually start writing I run into trouble. Suddenly my mind goes into overdrive and ideas spring forth one after another and before I realize it, I have too many elements for one story to hold. The best is when I couldn’t think of anything before and end up with an overload of ideas after I start. Now the question becomes what ideas are going to enhance my story and bring out the themes and subplots and which scenes/ideas are just weighing it down? How do I decide?

I am facing this question right now with my story Love, Death and Other Things. I’m not even twenty-thousand words in and I feel like there are too many things weighing it down. Car crash, heart-ache, rape, break-up and I’m not even finished. For me, it’s too early to tell what should stay and what should go, but I already have an idea that not everything is going to work. It almost feels like I wanted to write a great story, so in the interest of writing the best story I took every jaw-dropping, heart-stopping moment I could think of and wrote it in. The verdict of what goes and what will stay won’t happen until I finish the story and flesh out my main characters internal plot. That’s thousands of words and one revision from where I’m at now. In other  words, I won’t be able to actually start cutting out pieces for at least a few more weeks…if not months. But that’s okay. It’s fine if I don’t have the answers right now. Sometimes its better to wait and get to know the characters and story better before making any unnecessary changes.

I’ve read many blogs from authors who have begun cutting too soon and make more work for themselves later because they write  more scenes that don’t work and then end up re-typing the original idea. I’m not saying waiting is always better, but sometimes, if you don’t wait, instead of having too much in your story there is too little, which is like starting all over again.

How do you deal with too many ideas in one story? How do you decide what stay and what should go?

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for another road trip Wednesday hosted by the girls over at YAHighway. Today’s question is:

How do you reward yourself when you meet your writing goals?

I actually have no good answer for this. I don’t reward myself with a certain amount of television, ice-cream, or chocolate. I kind of do what I do with working out, bask in the satisfaction of completing the task by doing absolutely nothing. This may explain why I don’t finish projects faster, but I think that has more to do with me being overly critical of myself and writing ability. Maybe I could develop an award system. Maybe, every time I meet a goal, I could…take the next work day off and spend it doing whatever I wanted. Perhaps I’ll take a hike in the mountains 30 minutes from my house, or I could go lounge on the beach 45 minutes away. Or, I could go to the Zoo since I do have a year pass and spend the day hanging out with my favorite animal, the tigers, alongside my favorite niece and nephew. I don’t know. There are so many options and only one day to do them. This is another reason why I may have problems hitting my goals. I’ve never been the greatest decision maker. Even deciding where to eat is a never ending back and forth with me and myself. Sometimes I want everything and sometimes nothing sounds good. I think my no award system works pretty well for me. Sometimes nothing is the best thing.

What about you? How do you reward yourself when you meet a goal?

Unfortunately my laptop is still not charging and it’s $45 to get it diagnosed, so until I get it down to the computer guy, my pencil will remained lost. That’s okay though, I’m still finishing up the pictures to my children’s book. Hopefully when I finish I’ll know what’s wrong with my computer. Til then I hope you all find your pencils.

As writers we pride ourselves on being able to pick out spelling mistakes and grammar no no’s. We train ourselves to spot any offending apostrophe or semicolon and fix it.  But along the way we lose our ability to let any mistake go.  At some point along the road to becoming a professional writer, we develop an odd case of OCD–one that only applies to the written word. Suddenly any memo, letter or e-mail that comes across our eyes isn’t safe and we compulsively correct it as we crack snide remarks about people who spell words like “see” and “you”  “c” “u” and shake our heads at the end of literacy all together.

I actually read a post by a mother in which she states her child will always have to write in complete sentences with correct punctuation and grammar, even if her son/daughter is texting; and she is not alone in her extremism. I have read countless writing blogs wherein the author abhors any misused punctuation or misspelled words. Some can’t even tolerate the use of “fake” words. So this is my post to all  the writers out there frantically scouring their WIPs for all the errors they’ve made or words they may have made up.

RELAX.

Somewhere along our path to becoming a writer, we have forgotten the most important thing. Language is a living thing. (This includes writing). We do not use the same words now as we did back in the 1400s and the words we do, don’t mean the same thing. I mean, look at the history of the word gay, it wasn’t that long ago when it had nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Some of the words we use today were made up by writers. Shakespeare has been credited with creating an obscene amount, including milk.

The fact is, if we don’t make mistakes, if we don’t allow the trends of the time to influence our writing at all, we aren’t participating in language. It’s alive, it’s going to be messy, but as long as there are enough periods and commas, it’s readable. I’m not saying we should ditch the rules altogether, but one error isn’t going to make or break a Manuscript. Besides, writing shouldn’t be about the best rule follower, it should be about capturing the life of language. And your MS will reflect a single moment in the life and evolution of the English language. So as a writer I will  embrace every LOL, LMAO, ROFL, Ain’t, double negative and out of place punctuation mark I make and change the one’s I catch. Because I’m a writer.

What about you? Have you become an OCD Grammar Nazi? If so do you think this has helped or hindered your writing?

I’m off now to cry over my poor laptop which has fallen out of commission today. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter if I find my pencil or not, as all my stories are trapped inside it’s locked depths.

Road trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies over at YA Highway. Today’s question is:

If you got to choose a celebrity narrator for the audio book of your WIP or your favorite novel, who would it be and why?

I honestly have no idea. My main WIP is about the Angel of Death who is kind of the dark and brooding sort, so I might have to go with….Robby Benson. For those of you who may not be familiar with Benson he is the voice of the Beast in Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast. His portrayal of the beast, through voice alone, really captures the overall tone I’d like to set for my story. I can imagine Azreal speaking in a deep low growl, full of self-loathing and despair, while he asserts his dominance over others. I believe Benson would be able to take the complexities of the story and character and bring them to life through his voice alone.

My other WIP, which I’ve titled Love, Death and Other Stuff, is a YA collection of poems sprinkled through a single story about a seventeen year old girl transitioning from high school to the real world. If I had to choose a celebrity to narrate this WIP, I would probably choose…Anne Hathaway who has surprised me with her diversity as an actress. The innocence in Anne’s voice, coupled with her age and maturity would bring a nice balance to my WIP. Overall I think she would do an excellent job, even though I wasn’t as meticulous in choosing her as I was in choosing Benson.

Don’t tell my WIP’s but I do have a favorite. Shhh. 🙂

Now I’m off to find my pencil. Unfortunately I still haven’t figured out how to get my WIP’s to write themselves so I need to find it in order to get anything done.

Hope everyone has a great day and let me know, which celebrity would narrate your WIP?