Archive for March 2010

A new addition to my sidebar

So Sarah sent me this book a while back called Writing Begins with the Breath. She said she thought of me when she read it, and sure enough, it's just my style. Contemplative, touchy-feely, zen stuff. I recommend it for anyone who's having trouble finding his center as a writer. I've thought about passing it along, but I'm not ready to give it up yet.

I'm reading it again, thinking how much I admire Laraine Herring's wisdom, and it occurs to me she might have a blog. I look it up and sure enough, she has one. Don't know why I didn't think of it before. I've added her link over there on my sidebar, and I hope you'll go look around. She's a creative writing teacher as well as a writer and has lots of good things to say.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

My personal definition of success

So all that talk about the plotter and the pantser in the previous post was not an endorsement of either style over the other. It was more about evaluating these boxes I put myself in to see if I actually belong there. I didn't used to do that to myself. Lately I've come to realize that boxing myself in was an attempt to gain some control over my life. My rigidity had limited success for a limited time, but when it stopped working I just kept it because I didn't know what else to do.

The rigidity carried over into writing. I had it in my head that linear writing was the goal. Since it's easier to give advice on how to plot a novel than how to write the way you want, the writing sites are full of that linear advice. Notecards, outlines, software, exercises. Real writers write every day, I'm sure you've all heard that at one time or another.

Well I've spent a couple of years giving up on rules. Now my only rule is: Do what feels right, not what the world has told me I must do. It takes practice to learn how to tell the difference between the inner voice and the outer, but I think I'm getting pretty good at it. And as a result, I'm not afraid to write anymore, which is a big deal. See, ever since I got an agent I've felt out of sorts. You'd think it would be a freeing situation, not having to worry about every little thing, but I found I was worrying approximately six and a half times as much. I think I've licked it, though, and now I write without fear. I put absolutely no pressure on myself in the way of word counts or time frames. It's nice to have a goal as a guide, but if I don't reach the goal I merely set up a new one rather than dwelling on how I missed the old one.

Today I found myself thinking, "This book could be somebody's favorite someday." I really believe it has that potential, if I continue the way I'm going. It's a cozy feeling. I have that reader in mind while I'm writing, that future woman/man/teenager who will cherish this book for at least a little while. I write for the one reader who will fall in love with my characters, and hold that love in her heart for years to come. Connecting with that one reader is my personal definition of success.

And, of course, a million more like her wouldn't hurt.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

The plotter and the pantser

I think I finally figured out what kind of writer I am. 'Bout damn time. We have two general camps in Writerland, right? The folks who like to outline (the plotter), and the folks who like to write by the seat of their pants (the pantser). Rarely does a writer fall to the extreme right or left--plotting every aspect in advance or starting a story with no idea where it'll go. Most everyone has a mix, falls on the graph somewhere on one side or the other of the vague middle. And I don't think you really know who you are as a writer until you get this figured out.

I spent a long time knowing which I wanted to be. I wanted to be a plotter. I like the idea of controlling every aspect, having a template to work from. You'll notice I said I like the idea. In reality I hated working off that template. It never felt right, but I kept trying to fit myself into it. That's why I've had so much trouble writing this book, the biggest reason I considered giving up writing last year. I had made myself a template in the form of a tossed-off NaNoWriMo book, and I subconsciously suffocated.

So here's what I've learned about myself as a writer. I need:

  • only a vague idea of what I want to happen in the story;

  • to solidify the story through the characters;

  • flexibility to try iffy directions without fear of "wasting" my words;

  • and above all, to take my time.

None of these things mesh with the strict plotter I've always wanted to be. The plotters I know are like construction workers, building things. I'm more of an archaeologist uncovering things.

I may post more on this, but I've run out of time today. I'm taking the kids to the zoo and it's time to get ready. Why don't you tell me what kind of writer you are? Where do you fall on the scale of plotter/pantser?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

SheWrites gave me a little traffic bump

Imagine my surprise when visited my stats and saw a big bump in my hits over the weekend. It's been a long time since that happened, so of course I thought it was a mistake or a persistent spammer.

I was glad to find out it was a legitimate bump! Woo! My blog was featured on this group I belong to on SheWrites. Welcome to all the new visitors! Feel free to comment or subscribe to my feed. New posts aren't as frequent as they used to be due to my working my butt off to get this book done, but of course you wouldn't know that if you're new! Forget I said anything.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my boy's story. I let him read the g-rated comments (lookin' at you, Knyt ;) and he was just thrilled he was such a hit. It also fluffed his feathers when the SheWrites reviewer mentioned his story specifically, saying she laughed so hard she woke the dog. I can't link to the review because it's a private group, but the reviewer is mystery writer Lauren Carr.

Full disclosure: After I posted the story he told me the "I could use a wetnap" part came from Spongebob. *sigh*

I'll admit I haven't been very active on SheWrites, but I've always thought I should be. If anybody wants to connect on SheWrites (which accepts men, too!), click that badge in my sidebar and I'll see you there.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

I could use a WetNap.

Here's a story dictated to me by my son, Jonah. He's eight.
Stupid Creatures

By Jonah

It’s about three kids. Jupiter is 13, Alex is 12, and Mary is 5. They have super powers. They have to fight gigantic stupid worms. And electric monsters that hit them in the face. And dragons who like picking their wings with their toenails. And ice monsters that like freezing their butts off.

And they have a pet bird named Carl Manbirdy. They have to find the Stone of Dreams. Oh yeah, and plant monsters and rock monsters and lava monsters. What do they do with those monsters? Sometimes, play cards.

First they meet dinosaurs playing hockey and have to play hockey with them to get through the rink. Then Alex slips and fall on one of the dinosaurs’ tail. Then the dinosaur goes crazy and tries to eat Alex alive. And then Jupiter and Mary run over and step on someone else’s tail on accident. So then all the dinosaurs go crazy and try to eat them alive. They grabbed one of the stick thingies and they hit the big round thingy into the big hoopy thing. So they get a score, the dinosaurs run after them and they throw their stick thingies at them and the net falls down and they get away.

Then they get to the lava monsters, who are allergic to pizza sauce. The lava monsters hate each other, and they use pizza sauce to kill each other. Then the kids grab the bucket and hit them all in the face with the pizza sauce and the lava monsters’ faces puff up like a cupcake. So they fall over and say, “I could use a WetNap.”
Friday, March 12, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius
Tag :

Key action

This entire post was written while using my new keyboard for the first time, so it might be a bit boring. You’ve been warned.

So I’m working with a new keyboard, a real splurge. It’s a Microsoft Wireless Keyboard 3000 with a matching wireless mouse, and it has a great keystroke action. A huge improvement from the old Dell keyboard that came with my desktop machine. The coolest thing about this keyboard is that it has a tiny USB receiver which snaps into the bottom of the mouse so I don’t lose it. The keyboard is really light, so I can carry it around to use on any computer I want. Right now I have the keyboard on my lap while the laptop sits on the couch next to me.

And you might be wondering why the heck I would need a keyboard on the couch when I have a frickin’ laptop, right? Well I’m only trying it out on the couch, I doubt I’ll use it here on a regular basis. I’ll be using it mostly at the computer desk while writing. Using a laptop on a table can be ergonomically terrible, and I was developing pain in my arms and wrists and shoulders and back and neck…does that just about cover the entire torso?

Since I realized what was causing all this discomfort, I plugged in to the desktop’s keyboard and mouse, and while it helped with the discomfort, that stupid keyboard is a nightmare for a typist of any speed. The profile of the keys is a mile high, and they depress only if they are hit square in the middle, so that means I’m typing along, thinking I hit the keys and when I look up I see I’m missing every fourth letter. So I slow down and still end up having to backspace constantly to fill in missing letters. When I started shopping on the Internet the best one looked to be the Logitech Wave, with its gently rolling plane, but when I went to Staples to try it out the key action just wasn’t perfect. The one I ended up with has key action pretty much like my laptop, only maybe a little clickier, which is actually kind of nice.

The only bad thing about my purchase is that I chose a neoprene wrist rest, and the off-gassing is TERRIBLE. I doubt I’ll be able to use it. It needs to sit out in the sun and bake out all those noxious fumes.

But the keyboard, yeah, it’s great.

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

I gots me some cool peeps

I know I've been a little scarce around here, but the good news is that very few people are coming on purpose to look for new content. Whew. The bad news is that I've been oh so lazy in showing my gratitude for good things which have come my way in the past little while. I have the best budz on the webz, and I think I'm a little spoiled because not everybody could possibly be this lucky.

Case in point:

The only one like it in the State of Oklahoma

Yellowcat sent me this t-shirt as a prize for her little movie-lines contest. Now I have the only t-shirt from Bubba's in Oklahoma, it's safe to assume, and I wear it with pride. (Yes, I know it's backwards. Too lazy to flip it.) Thanks, Holly!

And another confirmation my blog friends are indeed flesh-and-bone people:

Another thing the rest of Oklahoma does not own....YET!

I helped Ian on three of these books. I was a beta on Mustang Sally and Troubleshooters (my fave) and helped him in the Amazon book contest process on Deep Six, and though I didn't work on The Archmage, he knew I'd like to have a complete set. He threw The Archmage in for kicks. These will be worth something someday, guaranteed. They're signed and everything. A very sweet thing to do. Thanks, Ian!

And these aren't the only things I've received from you guys. I've gotten snail mail from several of you, and books, and cds, and I just love getting these little pieces of my Internet friends. So now I'm thinking maybe I should have a contest and give something from my world as the prize. I'm going to really have to think about what it could be.I write, of course, and I can sketch, sort of. I don't work, so no t-shirts. I have a daughter who makes her own greeting cards and a son who draws the coolest action scenes ever. I have several writing books I could pass along. Have I mentioned anything on the blog that made you say, "If only I had one of those"?

And what could the contest be? Oh dear.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

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