Dogs are more trouble than they're worth

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Animal control showed up on my doorstep on Saturday night at 7:30. Of course, my husband had just left for 'boy's night out." So I was on my own. The man told me that my dog had bit my neighbor's 13 year old son, and he was going to have to put her under quarantine for 10 days to make sure she doesn't have rabies (even though she's had her shots.) I was instantly confused, as we have an 8 ft. wooden fence surrounding our backyard and she's never out of it without her leash.
With both of my boys crying, and me trying to hold back tears, he loaded her up and took her away.
We found out later that the boy jumped into our backyard to retrive a ball and she nailed him. If he'd have been a burglar, we'd have bought her a t-bone steak.
But it wasn't.
It will cost us $150 to get her out of the pound, $200 for the ticket, and restitution to our neighbor--even though we've told him to stay out of our yard before.
It doesn't seem fair.
We've had quite a few people say we should put her down, but I just can't. She's so good with my kids. Granted, she's leary of anyone that comes near our yard uninvited, but if I introduce them, she's fine.
Anybody want to loan us the money to get our dog back?

I hate buying underwear.

Friday, October 24, 2008
I hate buying underwear. I hate even being in that section of the store. You know--the section filled with bras, panties, and an assortment of lingerie.
Buying underwear is definitely a "do it yourself" project. My husband won't even look in the direction for fear of being labeled a "pervert." But my three-year old son doesn't care. Poor kid has no idea what a bra is. So he's holding them up, making a study of them, bringing me handfulls which I have to put back, and playing "hide and seek" behind the racks.
Completely flustered, I grab a few likely bras and cross through two sections of clothing, where I try to hide the cup size from any would be perverts (I'm starting to see why my husband refuses to come with me.)
Taking a firm grip on my three-year old's hand, I head to the changing rooms. I triple check the lock to make sure it's closed and then strip down to my skin. Of course, the usual questions come from my son. "What's that?" "Mommy, are those your boobs?"
"Shhhh!" I say. I grab my cell phone and hand it to him. "Here, play with this."
He busies himself with the phone while I prepare to try on another of the bras. He seems pretty enraptured by the phone, and I'm pleased with my cleverness.
Reaching for the third and final bra, I realize he's being awful quiet. I look at the little built in bench. Empty. I glance down just in time to see his little foot disappear under the door. Frantically, I call, "Come back here."
"Mommy," he teases me.
Grabbing my shirt, I yank it on and and furiously work the buttons, not really caring if they align right or not. I jerk open the door just as he opens the door to another changing room.
"Oh my goodness!" A woman cries.
He smiles, as he always does when he knows he's in trouble, and shuts the door. Mortified, I grab my son and steer him back into the changing room. I'm tempted to tie him up with my purse straps, but I suppress the urge.
Changing back into my own clothes, I abandon the bras in a heap and leave the store faster than any shoplifter.
I'm not sure I'll ever go back.
I think I'll the rest of my bra's online.

The Hero and the Crown

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I just reread Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown. Truly a classic. This is one of those books I want to own. I couldn't help compare the voice of 1984 to the voice of fantasy writers now. There were a lot of flashbacks in the first half of the book. Some show versus tell. Also, it took forever for us to actually here the main character's name. Things that would never pass now. But I loved the main character, Aerin.
A new discovery was Chosen by Ted Dekker. I thought the beginning could have been done better, but after that the story is wonderfully done. A definite read.
So, what are you reading?

Question about a

Monday, October 20, 2008
At the conference I went to last month, one of the presenters (James Dashner) recommended a site called I checked it out, and it looks like you have to pay a membership fee to access their articles. Does anyone have any experience with this site? I looked it over and it had some interesting articles, but I couldn't read more than the first paragraph.
Another website or service he spoke of was Twitter (kinda like Facebook or MySpace--I think I'll stick with Facebook).
I thought it might be fun to see if anyone else has any experiences to share about these sites or any others they like to visit.
If you want any of his other marketing tips, I'll include them below.
--smooze bookstore employees (they'll recommend you book that way).
--school visits (contact school reading specialist)
--check out websites that post high income schools and go there (His viewpoint. No mine.)

I also found another fun blog. Check it out:

My agent sent the signed agreement today! I take the happy when it comes my way!


8 Master Archetypes

Thursday, October 16, 2008
8 Master Archetypes for females

1. The Boss (male version is The Chief)—motivation is control, success, career

· Virtues
o Confident
o Dynamic
o Competative

· Flaws
o Blunt
o Workaholic
o Arrogant
o Aggressive

Examples: Martha Stewart, Oprah, Murphy Brown

2. The Seductress—motivated by finding security for herself

· Virtues
· Clever
· Strong
· Assertive
· Flaws
o Cynical
o Insecure
o Manipulative

Examples: Evita, Jessica Rabbit, Scarlet O’Hara
Villain=Black Widow

3. Spunky kid—motivated by finding their own niche

· Virtues
· reliable
· loyal
· tolerant

· Flaws
o sarcastic
o self depreciating
o skeptical

Examples: Bridget Jones, Lois Lane, Mimi from The Drew Carey Show.

4. Free Spirit—motivated by following her heart

· Virtues
· sincere
· upbeat
· imaginative

· Flaws
o impulsive
o meddling
o undisciplined

Examples: Lucy from I Love Lucy, Emma, Phoebe from Friends (hippies or ditz)
Villain=Lunatic (they live in a different world and you threaten it—extreme environmentalists)

5. The Waif—motivated to be loved. Mistreated, damsel in distress.

· Virtues
· pure
· trusting
· kind
· enduring—bending willow

· Flaws
o Impressionable—too trusting
o passive
o insecure—low self esteem

Examples: Rose from Titanic starts as a waif and changes to a spunky kid
Villain=Parasite (latches onto someone)

6. The Librarian—motivated by intellect and knowledge

· Virtues
· efficient
· curious
· dependable

· Flaws
o rigid
o repressed
o perfectionist
o sulky

Examples: Scully from the X-files
Villain=Evil Genius/Schemer

7. The Crusader—motivated by a cause.

· Virtues
· tenacious
· principled
· persuasive—especially in recruiting others to cause

· Flaws
o Self righteous
o judgmental
o rash

Examples: Mulan, Buffy, Xena

8. The Nurturer—motivated by love

· Virtues
· selfless
· optimistic
· capable

· Flaws
o idealistic
o uncompromising—strong moral code
o martyer—no life because she lives for others

Examples: June Cleaver, Marry Poppins
Villain=Smotherer, Matriarch

8 Master Archetypes

Monday, October 13, 2008
My favorite presenter was Tami Cowden, author of Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines—which I plan on buying. I went to both her workshop on Dynamic Heroes and Dynamic Heroines (I’ll do heroines later). Fabulous information. Here’s my notes (with some of my own thoughts mixed in), enjoy!

Dynamic Heroes

Archetypes (reaccuring symbol, model, or pattern) are created by the character’s motivations and actions (the two can be conflicted).

· Core Archetype—character remains the same throughout story
· Evolving archetype—begins as one/transforms to another
· Layered—more than one archetype
o World views and attitudes—not actions of 2 archetypes
o Ie: MacGyver—warrior and professor, Rhett Butler—chief and bad boy.

Tips for creating realistic archetypes:

1. Goals must be both tangible and intangible (ie—Hero wants to save the farm because it’s been in the family for 4 generations=intangible. Hero wants to save the farm because he needs a place to live=tangible).
2. Villains should never think of themselves as evil. Their actions seem right to them.
3. Character=views and motivations

8 Archetypes identified:

1. The Chief (alpha hero)-powerful. Motivated by the need to control.

· Virtues
--goal oriented
--decisive (follows through)

· Flaws:
--married to careers
--not family guys (unloving)
--stubborn (always right)

--ie-Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, Nicholas Cage in Family Life


2. The Bad Boy—sons of Chiefs. Motivated by rebellion (in control of others, but not themselves).

· Virtues
--street smart (savvy)
--can do the right thing, but are resentful/spiteful about it

· Flaws

--ie Founding Fathers, Rebels, Dr. House, Wolverine

--Villain=Disfavored son.

3. Charmer—motivation=Do as little as possible to get what they want.

· Virtues:

· Flaws

ie. McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy, Cary Grant, Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men, Magnum PI


4. The Best Friend (often side kicks)—motivation is to fit in and family.

· Virtues

· Flaws
--complacent/lacking ambition
--people run all over them

Ie—George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, George in Grey’s Anatomy, Sam in LOR

Villain=Traitor. Someone’s moving on and leaving them behind.

5. The Lost Soul—motivation is to become part of the family of man

· Virtues

· Flaws:
--overly sentimental
--tortured by past/disfigured/traumatized/Dark past they are trying to recover from

Ie—Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, Dexter, Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Monk.

Villain=The outcast.

6. The Professor—motivated by knowledge/truth.

· Virtues

· Flaws
--insular—don’t feel emotion
--Inhibited—don’t express emotions

Ie-Spock, Gil Grissom, Dr Reed in Criminal Minds

Villain=evil genius

7. The Swashbuckler—Motivated by adventure

· Virtues

· Flaws
--unreliable/chases fun

Ie—Hans Solo, Layne Frost (bull rider), Austin Powers, Jack Sparrow


8. The Warrior—motivated by their cause

· Virtues

· Flaws
--self righteous

Ie—Luke and Anakin (sp?) Skywalker, Maximus, Superman, Spiderman


So what's your opinion? Are there really 8 Master Archetypes? Can you think of more?

Whew! Awesome stuff though. Gives you some idea of where your characters fit and what flaws you can give them to be more realistic. It’s kinda fun to go through this and place all your characters.

Well, I'm back to my antibiotics and nasal steroids (will I have hairy nostrils and a muscular nose now? Imagine my nose as the Arnold Swartzenegger of noses. Perish the thought!)

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

I just discovered Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising. This book is awesome. Fabulous from begining to end. I highly recommend it. In fact, I might recommend it for my local book club. There were no sex scenes or swear words.
Read this book.
Why are you still here?
Go read the book!

Abram's Daughters, The Fall of Ile-Rien, Invader

Thursday, October 9, 2008
I've been reading some interesting books lately and I wanted to share them. It's always nice to know which books are worth the time and effort, and which to leave on the shelf.
The first was a series by Beverly Lewis entitled Abram's Daughters. This is a fascinating look into the Amish community and the Amish people. I thought the author handled the subject very well. Because of the setting, it felt more like a historical romance. Lewis does a good job of characterization and dialogue. The first book was my favorite. By the end, I found myself skipping descriptions in order to find out what happens to the main characters. There's a lot of time devoted to minor characters, which I find annoying. I was also really ready for the main character, Leah, to grow a backbone and fight for what she wanted instead of being so danged mousy. But I think it's worth a read. There wasn't any swearing or inappropriate scenes (the characters are, after all, Amish ;) ).

Another great book is the trilogy, The Fall of Ile-Rien by Martha Wells. Though I must warn you, it took me 50 pages to get over feeling lost and confused. After I finally figured out the the two main characters are from different planets and cultures, (one very much like Britain around WWI, the other more like the ancient Athenians) I finally started to get into it. The storytelling is great and the concept fairly origional. It doesn't follow the 'normal' formula for writing either. The characters are very real, with flaws and quirks that even lead me to dislike them for a while. While the villans were believable and even to be pitied. Wells does not, however, write emotions or romance well. I found myself wanting more emotions from the characters. Also, the characters jump around from one world to the other a lot, and she went overboard on the description--especially in the third book. All in all, I really enjoyed it. It doesn't have any inappropriate sex scenes, but it does use the occasional swear word. I'd guess less than 10 per book, but they were 'bad' ones. I think it was worth it.

The third set of books was Invader by CJ Cherryh. . . Maybe hard sci-fi just isn't for me. I couldn't get into the book.

20 Things I've Learned by James Dasher

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Okay. So I've been a slacker about posting my notes, but I've repented and am striving to do better. Below follows, almost word for word, the handout James gave us. (Be forewarned, I'm not going to do a big edit on this. It's too long. So if you cannot abide a misplaced modifier, move on).

Differentiate your characters.
  • know their background
  • Think of something horrible that happened in their past
  • Something that makes them happy when they remember it
  • Give them a dirty secret
  • Make sure all your main characters don't sound exactly the same

Plot--at least a little

  • I challenge you to know how it bends before you begin. It will give you a destination to work toward. This doesn't mean you have to be stagnant. You can change whatever you want, whenever you want but start with a path.

Use all five senses in description

  • Don't forget smells

Avoid one-dimensional villains

  • create empathy for them
  • make the reader feel somewhat guilty for hating the villain

Try to eliminate as much of these as possible:

  • That (Bad=He knew that he needed to kill her. Good=He knew he needed to kill her.)
  • Was xx-ing (Bad=He was standing in the road. Good=He stood in the road.)
  • Would (Bad=Every few seconds, a blade would pop our of the robot's chest. Good=Every few seconds, a blade popped out of the robot's chest.)
  • Seem (Bad=Everything about him seemed to be hard and cold. Good=Everything about him was hard and cold)
  • Same words close together (word echos).

Semicolons. I love semicolons! (This is where James and I differ. For the most part, I like unadorned sentences.)

  • Okay= His back struck a hard metal wall. He slid along it until he hit the corner of the room.
  • Better=His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room.

Chapter structure can do wonders

  • Short, but not too short. My rule of thumb: 1500-2500
  • Intriguing endings but don't pull cheap tricks.
  • Bad=She opened the door and gasped
  • Good=She opened the door and gasped. There lying in a pool of dark liquid, sat a lumpy bag with her name scrawled across the front.

First lines. You must have an awesome first line and first page.

Set writing goals and track yourself. Be nerdy about it.

Dialogue. Read it out loud. Have writing groups read it. Make sure it sounds natural and true to each individual character. Use dialects if it makes sense. Maybe a character has a quirky word or phrase or way of speaking. But no matter what, your dialogue must be strong

Take your time. Develop things. Describe things. Give lots of internal thoughts. Envelop the reader in a journey, not just a step by step narrative.

Be original in your similes and metaphors, and use lots of them. As you go through the day, look for things that make an impression, writ them down, the use them in your writing.

Read like crazy--don't let writing lessen your reading time, AT ALL. I've learned more from reading Stephen King than any class or workshop I've ever taken.

Do research or people will catch your mistakes.

Story. It's all about story. Make it compelling, make it exciting, make it terrifying, make it full of conflict. Have your characters suffer sacrifices before they win. Have surprises and plot twists. The writing will come and should always improve. But first and foremost, make sure it's an awesome story.

BE creative in how your mysteries evolve. Even simple events and revelations can be tweaked to turn into a mini mysteries that intrigue the reader.

Avoid cliches like the plague (get it?). Don't write a book about a farm boys in a fantasy land trying to obtain a magical object to save the kingdom. If not exactly an original idea, at least put a new twist on it.

Rewrite. It takes work. A first draft is not publishable. Neither is the second. Probably not the third. Devote yourself to working hard on the revisions.

Make your characters strong. Act, instead of react. However, they do need flaws. Have them do things that makes the reader temporarily dislike them.

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