Nancy: The Long Road Home…and a Challenge

My happy place.

My happy (if unproductive) place.

I’ve done it. I’ve survived an intense 5-month-long stint at the day job that took me away from writing, home, and pretty much everything in life outside of work. With all of that behind me, I’ve had time to catch up on some sleep, re-read some favorite books (salve on the psychic wounds), and start relearning the daily rhythm of life.

The next logical step should be a triumphant return to writing. Pent-up story should be rushing through my veins. My characters should be whispering in my ear, telling me their deepest, darkest secrets, enticing me them to get them onto paper. Right?

Turns out, none of that’s as easy as it sounds. My story brain is stuck in neutral and I just can’t get it engaged.

In addition to rest and reading, I’ve also watched story in form of favorite shows and some movies, old and new. I’ve  set up a jigsaw puzzle by the back window of the house so I can look out over the forest behind us in all its springtime glory. But while I usually hear characters’ voices while I fit together the puzzle pieces, lately I just hear silence. Or worse. Continue reading

Jilly: Is It Better To Be Brave Than Kind?

Is It Better To Be Brave Than Kind?Women prefer bravery, courage and a willingness to take risks rather than kindness and altruism in their partners.

Do you agree?

The above statement is a direct quote from an academic paper about online dating, written by Professor Khalid Khan of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Sameer Chaudhry of the University of North Texas, published in the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine. I read about the paper in an article online this week and thought it sounded like story gold, so I took a closer look.

The paper’s stated objective is: to determine, for people seeking a date online, what activities and behaviours have an effect on the chances of converting electronic communication into a face-to-face meeting.

Or to paraphrase, how to win at online dating.

And since success at the preliminary stages of online dating is all about establishing a character Continue reading

Michaeline: David Bowie and Motif (also: Artistic Licenses)

Persian carpet with various repeating motifs, such as horses and stars in square forms. It's tattered on the edges, and very, very old. Reminds me of the line from the Bowie/Queen song, Under Pressure. Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn.

Motifs add interest and rhythm to a work of art, and subtly point out what the important themes are. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

David Bowie knew a lot about motif. It’s one of the things that made him a great musician, and it also made him an excellent comedian. He knew the power of the call-back, the reminder of what went before.

I’ve found two clips of him with US late night show host Conan O’Brien. (“David Bowie – Late Night with Conan O’Brien 18 June 2002” [anecdote starts about 3:10]) We start out with a very charming story of how his baby daughter discovered the moon for the first time. He repeats the word “moon,” and he says it in different voices as the context changes. And then he starts talking about something else, but Conan brings it back to the moon, and David catches the ball and joins in, like a sort of harmony. At one point, they are both pointing at the stage ceiling, howling, “Moon! Moon!”

Many people claimed that David Bowie didn’t repeat himself, but he did. He was just smart enough to change the dynamics. It didn’t get boring because Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Let’s Dance!

International_Dance_DayHappy (almost) Friday.

I’ve spent the afternoon listening to the soundtrack and brainstorming ideas for my contemporary romance that has been sitting fallow for weeks.  Thought I’d take a break and put all that creative energy to use with some Random Word Improv.

Care to join me?

Whether you wrote a lot, a little, or none at all this week, a few minutes of Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  Feel free to put on your own soundtrack to get you in the mood.

All right, let’s get started.  Continue reading

Michille: Love Between the Covers

Love Between the CoversLove Between the Covers is a documentary film about the romance community. I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the film along with a Q&A with Laurie Kahn, the film’s director. For three years, the crew followed the lives of five published romance authors and one unpublished one and explored topics including the romance community, writing methods, publishing, industry change, and, of course, why the heck is it so popular, yet largely ignored. The big question of “How can a billion dollar industry by women, for women, about women, get so little respect?” was not answered, but was acknowledged and addressed by several of the interviewees. I can’t remember which author said something like, “we pay the bills for the whole fiction industry.” Continue reading

Elizabeth: What Have You Been Reading?

CarpeLibrumAlthough my eReading app is packed with free books (courtesy of those daily Book Bub emails) and my to-be-read pile has grown to epic-proportions, it has been quite a while since I’ve had time to sit down and read.

Last week I decided to change that, and not just because I was on a business trip and needed something to do.

A New Author

I started out reading Penny Reid’s Neanderthal Seeks Human on my iPhone while I was trapped in the airport waiting for a delayed flight.  Those who know me know that I’m not particularly a fan of eBooks, but in this case, having no physical book handy, I made an exception.

Those of you who are paying attention may also recall that I mentioned I had started Continue reading

Justine: Fiction Fundamentals…Writing Great Characters

bunch of charactersWelcome to Part 3 of Fiction Fundamentals. When I approached the topic of writing great characters, I didn’t realize how much information you, New Writer, should know about what really makes them sizzle until I went back and looked at the pages of notes I’d collected and the long list of bookmarks in my browser. I’ve been absorbing this for over three years, between classes at McDaniel, blog posts I’ve read, conference lectures I’ve attended, and web classes I’ve taken.

Rather than write a 10K word blog post (because really, I could, there’s so much great info about writing good characters), I’m going to Continue reading