Writing and Beyond 2019 Here We Go

 

Here’s a part of my desk because the rest is a little messy 😀

 

These are the first words I write for 2019.

It’s been a pretty relaxed day, I have done nothing but the things that I want to do, and I am glad! It’s been a while since I’ve had a day like today. The holidays are over although the holiday cheer is still around us, our fridge is full of delicious leftovers from last night, and we’ve begun to cook our first meal of the year: stir-fry.

I’ve got a few hours before this wondrous day is over and wake up to tomorrow–a work day, a necessary day because without them days like today would feel the same.

Instead of writing yet another list of resolutions and expectations for 2019.

I’d like to focus on the year ahead by inviting more positivity in. It goes without saying that 2018 was tough on all levels everywhere in addition to whatever else we’ve got going on. So my focus for this year will be to turn out all the negativity that often plagues us, all of those doubts that seem to invite themselves into our most personal spaces and turn them into positives. Shit happens. Life continues. We have to accept that we don’t have control of everything. Some things are out of our control. There are other things that keep us from letting go and moving forward. I want this year to be the best I can make it not just for me but for those around me as well.

What does this have to do with writing? A lot. Being positive helps us, motivates us, helps others, clears our head and opens our eyes and minds to what’s really there. Let’s us take one step further into a direction we’d made a conscious choice to take.

 

.Rosario

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So long December (writing updates)

December is nearly gone! November, I can’t even remember it flew by me so quickly. I participated in NaNoWriMo as I have been doing in the last two years and I WON this year. Finally.

So what was it? I finished a rough first draft of short stories that would be a companion to my main writing project. I am so in love with these characters and this world that I’m writing and since I had a lot of material to work with—why not? Writing these short stories was–I wouldn’t say it was easy because I definitely had moments where I didn’t know what would happen next, but it was familiar and really gave me a chance to explore the lives of these characters in the time before the events of my main wip. Events that I have been recounting in my head for me to know and thread the main story from there but that I hadn’t really written down fully.

I am a quasi-plotter/pantser, which is an approach that has so far worked for my writing.  I plot a little and leave room for the story to grow and the characters to take me wherever they need to go. Sounds cryptic, but it’s worked. It’s a perfect balance between knowing what you want from the story and its characters while also being flexible and letting the story breathe and lead you where it wants to go. Which sometimes is not where you, as the writer had planned, but somehow works in the end.

For these stories, I knew these characters (I’ve been writing about them for a few years now) but there was so much, I didn’t know and was definitely not expecting to write. So 50,000 words of a new story done. I’m not entirely sure when I’ll begin revising it, but at least the words are on the page. Revising it will be pending until after the holidays for sure.

My main wip is done. It has been revised, and lots of parts have been rewritten and read and critiqued and revised and… well there’s been a lot of that. While I wrote the short stories, I took some time away from it. During this time not only did I write something new, related but new, but I had some time to refresh.

How is it that we can’t often bring ourselves to refresh all on our own?

It was hard to do. I wanted to keep working on it in any way that I could ALL while working on my new project. I’m sure it’s possible, and many authors out there are often managing multiple projects, but this writer is just learning the ways. I did manage to revise and put some final touches before leaving it completely alone.

Last year I had wanted to do the same. In fact that had been my plan: to revise AND write something new. It didn’t happen because I was still in the middle of learning how to revise. I tried several techniques until I found one that worked for me. That took time of course so I decided to focus on one project instead. At the time I felt a lot of pressure because I thought that as a beginning writer I had to have stories coming out of drawers ready to submit to places.

Over the past year, I’d like to say that I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned more about what works for me and my writing, what doesn’t and how the key is to be flexible. Every writing project is going to demand something different. Every new job is new people, new environment, new tasks, and procedures. So this year,  I knew that it was necessary to take some time from the main wip and just let it all settle.

Not winning NaNo in the previous years taught me how time constraints and word counts are not for everyone–it taught me to value my work and it’s quality, to take one step at a time—learn to walk before you take giant leaps. Winning NaNo taught me the importance of consistency, commitment to your work, getting the story out, moving proficiently from point A to point B but also moving from point B all the way to point F and back to point A etc. The important thing was to write the story in whatever order it came. Not sure whether my NaNo project will ever see the light of day, I hope it does, but I mostly wrote it because I wanted to know what happened before the events of my main story. I’ve been wanting to write these stories for a really long time and now I’m glad that I did.

Now it’s time to move on to the next step which brings me closer to….starts with a ‘q’ ends with a ‘y’.

 

.Rosario

Review: Mary Queen of Scots

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It is inevitable to notice how much contrast there was in in the lives of Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I.  How much women in their time fought for the power to be heard. If you’re wondering how these rival queens are related here’s the quick guide. Mary Queen of Scots’ grandmother was Margaret, Queen of Scots who was also King Henry VIII’s older sister and as we know Queen Elizabeth I’s father was King Henry VIII. So that is how these two queens are related, they are cousins. Their rivalry over England’s throne is one that we know from the many Elizabeth biopics that exist, it is based on Elizabeth’s parentage (remember her mother was Anne Boleyn).

The movie started off and moves rather quickly rightfully so as historically these events happened over several years, so the movie proceeds by marking important events in Mary’s life in the span of two hours. You do have to follow closely as the narrative moves very quickly; however, it does not bombard you with information about the plot which lets the characters carry the story through until the end. There are a few spots where the audience is expected to assume Elizabeth’s romantic relationship with Lord Dudley, Elizabeth’s royal advisor and his motives, Mary’s half-brother and his involvement with England, but most notably there is not a clear marker of how much time has passed.

Director Josie Rourke covered a lot of ground by marking the important life passages in Mary’s life which mirrored those of the roles women were expected to fulfill at the time but which resonate even today. Saoirse Ronan (Mary) is radiant on screen, this is one of her best performances yet. She transcends the audience into Mary’s struggle to prove herself among the men who undermine her authority when she proves time and time again that she is the boss, that she knows what she wants. Margot Robbie’s (Elizabeth I) performance is suitably quiet yet strong. We’re so used to seeing films about Queen Elizabeth I and her reign or her lovers, but this is not that film. This one is particularly about Queen Mary and her fight to a throne that was rightfully hers. You can expect the men to grotesquely enjoy weaving lies and plots to have these two women against each other. Why? Why else if not to be king. Because there is nothing more attractive than watching men moving two monarchs across like game pieces to gain power themselves. They will build them up only to bring them down.

This is a great approach to a different perspective that we don’t normally see in film. We’re so tired of seeing Elizabeth I  biopics what about everyone else? There are so many other stories this one waited too long to be told but it was desperately needed.

Mary Queen of Scots premieres Friday, Dec. 07.

A Writer’s Care Package

Hello there *waves from couch*. It’s that time of year you guys, the holidays are practically here. I can’t believe November is almost over if you’re doing NaNoWriMo week 3 is about to start and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Oh my! The days start to run together and you’re trying to do all the things. We jam our schedules so much with this thing and that thing. But don’t forget why you write.

No matter where you are writing from just remember even just a smidge of time writing or thinking about xyz plot line or character arcs will be time well spent among all the craziness that comes with the holiday rush. Whether you’re doing NaNo week 3 or working steadily at your own pace this too will pass. There’s a whole other world out there that IS necessary for your creativity.

So here’s a little virtual writer’s care package from me to you.

Variety: Fun writer-ly things like washi tape to label binders and folders, sticky notes to keep track of stuff, pencil bag with your favorite pens (I have a favorite pen but I don’t believe it gives me any *magical* writing powers), tea bags, a soy scented candle (that one is coffee+vanilla+orange), warm socks (mine have a corgi with glasses), a book or Kindle (pictured in book sleeve), A card with a motivational quote, warm gloves, a thumb splint (no one ever tells you that you WILL have some sort of thumb/wrist/hand soreness from suddenly writing too much), a hand roller massager thing which doesn’t need an explanation lol, rolls of film or your own version of a hobby that is not reading/writing), and licorice which I like a lot!

Revising, Rewriting, and Editing

In the past few months I have been diligently revising, editing and rewriting my story through a series of drafts. There is still work that needs to be done. Each time I sit down to work I make a commitment to make it better. Each time I reread a chapter I discover how much I know about the story, how I can put it on the page and how to improve what’s already there. Nothing is perfect, but I am trying my best to make it as ready as I can before querying.

So what is revising? What does it mean to edit? What does it mean to rewrite? How do I know what to rewrite? These are some questions that I asked myself when I was first drafting. Editing focuses on a sentence level on spelling, grammar, punctuation and word choice. Revising has a lot to do with focus what’s on the page vs. what needs to be on the page, organization of the events in the story, and dialogue. But most important revising has a lot to do with asking questions. I will admit I’m not that great with grammar so editing really tries me. But when it comes to revising that’s where the story comes alive. I like revising.

Here are some of the questions that I ask when I’m revising:

  • What does this character need in order to accomplish their goal? (in scene, chapter, their character arc)
  • What is the objective in this chapter? Is it clear?
  • How does it sound? (when read out loud)
  • Do I really need this character to do this?
  • Does this make sense?
  • What do I need to clarify this part?

Addressing these questions as well as others that might come up often involves moving paragraphs around, removing paragraphs completely, extending ideas–dialogue, or cutting back on how much information is given. This is the part where rewriting happens and the story grows.

Rewriting is pretty self explanatory. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to rewrite your entire novel. Not unless you feel that’s what needs to be done. Sometimes you just need to rewrite the parts on a surface level, other times it’s rewriting  a whole paragraph so that it makes more sense.

All of this takes time, patience and a love for your story and craft of writing. It’s not easy but stick to it and you’ll discover so much about the story you’re telling.

-Rosario

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Venom

 

venom-movie poster

Let’s start with how this is the closest comic to movie Marvel film to date. Last night I was part of a group who got to see an advanced screening of the movie out this Friday, October 5, and I will say that the general consensus was that Sony and Marvel stayed close to the comic for the first big anti-hero movie we’ve seen. I am a true believer that not every story needs a hero and sometimes the villain wins. While I am an absolute supporter of all of Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed previous performances I walked in with an open mind and super excited to see all of them in one movie. They did not fail. All three brought forth their best in the most professional way that I know also brings out the best in every scene with anyone they work with. Anyone.

As an audience member, I enjoyed the funny parts which were earned. Lately, previous Marvel films have really pushed comedic moments and they come across forced and overwhelming, I’m looking at you Avengers. That is not the case for Venom. While it’s an anti-hero movie, there is an exact balance between the tension the characters require as well as the release that the story needs. All tension and no release is not good on the page or on film. Which brings me to the following: as a writer, I appreciated that every scene and dialogue in this movie is earned. There were no unnecessary scenes that we often see in superhero films (I’m looking at you Superman, Batman, and others).

There is no comparison needed between this movie and a previous characterization of Venom in the Spiderman 3 (2007) movie. Because I’d like to point out just like other people, other critics, and other writers make it known when it’s convenient for them and that I will throw back at you that that characterization exists in a far-long gone Marvel universe that is irrelevant to the one in the Venom movie.

Tom Hardy’s performance brings charisma and character to Eddie Brock who stumbles upon Venom in a heroic way. Eddie’s relationship with Annie (Michelle Williams) is one of the most modern and solely independent characterizations of real relationships I’ve seen in a Marvel film. Their chemistry on-screen is genuine and through their characters truly show us that actions have consequences that hurt for the people involved. Which again doesn’t typically happen in these types of films. Riz Ahmed’s performance as Dr. Carlton Drake is amazing. He takes you scene by scene building up to his villainous stride.

Like all origin movies, it is going to feel like there is too much to take in quickly because that’s how these types of stories are supposed to feel like in the beginning. There is no other way to convey to the audience in an origin story all the important bits as well as the stuff that makes them care for the character without making them feel this way. All of these things take time and in this movie, they achieve it in less time than most. Which speaks to the timely pacing that exists and moves the story forward. I was fully engaged in the story.

Don’t miss out and get your tickets today.

You definitely want to check out Venom this Friday, October 5th.

North Texas SCBWI

Last weekend I attended the North Texas SCBWI Conference and here’s what I learned.

 

Conferences are important to attend. You not only get to meet and chat with other writers who are at different stages in their writing journey, but there are craft and industry workshops that are super helpful.

You can sign up for critiques. Many conferences offer critiques with other writers, already published authors, agents and editors. It’s a great opportunity to have your work seen and read.

Attend the workshops that interest you. You might be sitting at a very social table or have lost track of time and decide to walk into the popular workshop everyone’s heading to. While it’s nice that you want to be social and hang out with others don’t forget that you’re there for you. Attend the workshops that interest you not anyone else.

Take Notes. Don’t forget to bring a notebook and some pens just in case there are none available at the conference and take some notes. You want to be able to go back to the notes for future reference, you’re there to learn. Also often times, speakers give out their direct email or contact information, discount codes, as well as dates to other workshops and webinars. Be prepared.

Be Social. While you might be shy, I mean what writer isn’t, right? It’s crucial to actually talk to other people. Be friendly, reach out, and make friends. It’s a breath of fresh air to learn about others journey and their works.

Network. Exchange social media, keep in touch, do a writing meet up, get coffee…keep in touch.

 

Now I know most of the conferences out there are not free. There is a cost to setting up a big event where a lot of people are coming; however, I can’t stress how important it is to at least attend one. It is so worth it if you’re serious about writing.

Book Blitz- Kissed Off by Tellulah Darling

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About the Book:

Kissed Off by Tellulah Darling

Genre: YA romantic comedy/adventure

She’s hell-bent on revenge. 

He’s desperate for adventure.

Now the only question is: does this count as a date?

Sixteen-year-old Reiko Mori’s family has clashed with the Markows in a clandestine search for the famed Lover’s Kiss Ruby, ever since their ancestors killed each other over it centuries ago in Japan.

Now, after pulling off a successful museum heist, Reiko’s finally going to be the one who finds the jewel.

Even better? She’s just arranged a study date with hot-but-sheltered sculptor Levi Green to work on their English project. Things are looking good.

Until a mysterious third party attacks Reiko and Levi, intent on stealing her clues to the ruby.

Until Reiko discovers the Lover’s Kiss is actually in Europe, an ocean away.

And until goofy, affable Levi Green turns out to be Levi Markow, mortal enemy number one.

Plan B it is: reluctantly team up with Levi to find the priceless gem before the shadowy and deadly group on the jewel’s trail finds it first.

And if history is gonna repeat itself with the kissing, running, and screwing over, see which one of them comes out on top.

Links:

Amazon

Itunes

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

KissedOff-Tellulah Darling

The Excerpt:
Levi rubbed his arm, his expression wary. “Reiko Mori, I presume.”
“‘I presume?’” Reiko dropped into a fighter’s crouch. “You’re missing the British accent.”
Levi put his hands up in a pathetic imitation of defensive position. Her cat could have
landed a punch through those gaps.
“And you’re missing the reality where we aren’t about to have an MMA showdown.”
Reiko smirked but lowered her hands. “Because I’d wipe the floor with your ass.”
“Says Hit-Girl masquerading as the resident shy chick all these years. Nice James Bond alter ego you got going on.”
“I am shy.” She grabbed a dishtowel and whipped it at his head. It fluttered to the counter, far short of its mark.
Levi snorted.
“Being around my sworn enemies tends to knock it out of me. Besides, you’re one to talk, Artsy Boy. Had everyone fooled.” Including stupid me. She pushed him backwards out of the kitchen, shoving him again and again until his back hit the wall next to the front door.
Levi fended off her next blow. The sweep of his arm knocking her hands away left behind a familiar faint hint of rubbing alcohol. She’d watched him use it to remove clay from his hands at school many times. Could she be more pathetically tuned into this guy?
Levi held out his hand, palm up. “Hand over the locket, sweetheart. The real one this time.”
Sweetheart?” She pulled herself up to her full height. “Could you be more stereotypical bad guy?”
“He could have a mustachio to twirl,” Aviva said, from her avid spectator spot hanging over the bannister.
“True,” Reiko said.
Levi rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m not the one blowing kisses before screwing people over. That a move passed down through the generations with you chicks? Think that adds weight to my family being the wronged party here, Mata Hari.”
“Mata…? Argh!” She snatched up the poker.
“Go ahead, brain me.” Levi turned out his pockets in a huff. “No ruby. Just lint. I’d hate you to pointlessly commit murder except, oh yeah. You Moris are bloodthirsty!”
“Better a bloodthirsty Mori than a cowardly, backstabbing Markow!” Reiko jabbed the poker at him.
Levi grabbed the other end, the two of them engaged in a furious tug-of-war for possession. He let go suddenly, sending Reiko staggering back a few steps
Reiko flung open the door and pointed outside. With the poker. “Get. Out.”
Levi held his ground for a minute but must have decided she meant business because he grabbed his shoes. “This isn’t over.”
“You’ll get the locket over my dead body, Lion Cub.”
“Great! Can’t wait to pry it out of your cold, rigor-mortised hands,” he snapped, and stomped out of the house, slamming the door behind him.
“Shit,” said Aviva, “this is really gonna put a crimp in your dating plans.”
~Available Now~

Release + Review – A Nordic King – Karina Halle

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You guys this is the book you want to come home to and read endlessly. I was looking for a story that would take me away and let me fall in love with its characters and feel them falling for each other. Let me tell you this is that book. Not everything is what you’d expect King Aksel to be and Aurora is a strong and determined woman who will stand her ground. I liked that the characters leaped off the page within every scene. Their relationship is magical, ALL THE FEELS. It is a standalone, royal romance and I wish there was more. It’s got everything, a twist that takes you on an emotional ride. A love that gradually intensifies. Aksel and Aurora are everything. This is my first Karina Halle novel and you bet I am going to be reading more of her books. A NORDIC KING is available now on Amazon 

 

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SYNOPSIS: When I first applied for the job I thought it would be like all the others: working as a nanny for an aristocratic family.

Then I got the job and found out how wrong I was.

Now I’m the new nanny for two adorable little girls who happen to be princesses.

Their father is the widowed King of Denmark.

And my new home? The royal palace in Copenhagen.

Adjusting to my new life isn’t easy but the hardest part hasn’t been the girls who still grieve over the loss of their mother.

It’s their father.

Cold, mysterious and moody, with an icy stare that seems to penetrate your soul, King Aksel may have hired me to take care of his daughters but he wants as little to do with me as possible.

Yet the longer I share these palace walls with this man, the more that I’m drawn to him. His chiseled face and sexual swagger are only part of the package. It’s in the long, intense glances at the dinner table, the way we’ll brush up against each other in the halls, the rare glimpses of the man deep inside, like the sun passing through clouds.

But no matter how I feel about him, we can never be together.

You think it’s bad enough being in love with your boss?

Try falling in love with a king.

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2HaEWBb