Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Waiting Game

When I was in grade school, I had a teacher who always said a quote that has stuck with me to this day:

"Patience is a virtue... (big pause) that I definitely do not have."
-Sister Pam

Now this was usually said when my class was acting up during art class or religion class or whatever subject she taught that year. I think it was supposed to be a warning that we needed to sit down and shut up before she went crazy, but coming from a lady who told a bunch of six-year-olds that if we didn't hold onto the railing on the stairs we would trip and smash our head open like pumpkins on Halloween, it wasn't the clearest warning she ever gave. 

Even this picture makes me nervous
Still, it always stuck with me. Mainly because I followed in that lovably crazy nun's footsteps when it comes to patience. I really can't stand waiting. So when I sent my first submission for a short story out, I forced myself to forget about it for the month that it would take for a response. It's only a month, right?
Needless to say, I checked my e-mail every day, hoping for a response, until the 31st day when I got a rejection letter. Bummer. It's okay. Move on.
I chose the next place to submit and sent it. That was a week ago. Their response time? THREE MONTHS!
I'm pretty sure I'm going to go nuts.
Then again, I don't have to deal with 19 screaming second graders, so I guess I'm better off than Sister Pam.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Character development while people watching

I've heard many writers say that inspiration strikes them at any moment. The tiniest thing might be ignored by most people but inspire a brilliant novel for a writer.

That slide looks sinister.

At the same time, writers can use inspiration from the world around them to develop an existing idea. For example, I take the train into work every morning from New Jersey to NYC New Jersey Transit is awful. Avoid travelling on it at all costs.  and at least three days a week I get in with no delays. Unfortunately, yesterday was one of the two mandatory days a week that NJ Transit decides to screw up, just to mess with the daily commuters.

I was stuck at one station with no way to get out for 45 minutes with a dead iPod and dying phone. Luckily I had a book with me, but I was almost done and I wanted to save it for the return trip. So I started to look around me and notice how my fellow passengers were reacting to this situation. There was the sleeping man, who I'm pretty sure never noticed we were stopped anyway. There was the girl on the phone with NJ Transit angrily demanding that they send a bus to transport us all at least to Newark. There was the couple who were chatting about their childrens' sports schedules and which one would be home in time to pick them up (Spoiler: they were on NJ Transit, so neither probably got home on time).

So I started thinking. What would the characters in my current WIP do? I had to dismiss the fact that my MC and a major character wouldn't be allowed on trains and several other characters wouldn't need them for transportation anyway, but I started going through them one by one and I learned a lot about my characters. I also had a blast with my imagination.

The result was a brand new scene and several characters that I had to rethink.  Both of which are going to add to my story and are helping me brush past a bit of writer's block in my editing. 

Have you ever imagined your characters in real situations, whether to pass the time or to help get through a tough spot in your story?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't go changin'

If you believe in astrology, then, as a Virgo, I should be obsessed with planning and organizing things. I'm not sure what else being a Virgo entails, but that part always stuck to me, mainly because I am so not. After college, I hit some weird personality shift and I did become obsessed with organizing my personal space (room, work desk, etc) but other than that? Nope.

I am what is known in the writing world as a "pantser." As in I write by-the-seat-of-my-pants(er). I originally embraced this and wrote some stories. Granted I was about 10-years-old and had no idea what a pantser was or even that I could grow up to become an author or that I could write anything over ten pages long. The point is that I did it. Then some years pass and I decide I'm going to write a novel. It was awful and I am the first to admit that it should never see the light of day, but it prompted me to join an online critique group.

I totally recommend this for anyone who wants to get serious about writing. I have learned so much and am a much better writer because of it. However, with all of the different personalities, there are bound to be different opinions on the best way to write. Everyone seemed to have such well thought out novels that I said, "Huh. I must be doing something wrong." Right at that point, one of the people on the forum posted a blog about how she plans her novels out with the different steps in novel writing. It was a great post and I decided from that point I would plan out my novels so I knew where I was going when I actually started to write.

Dear Lord, was that the wrong move for me. I would plan out a novel and then never write it. What started out as this great idea turned into something so mundane and boring for me and I just over analyzed EVERYTHING. It was awful. So, on my most recent WIP, I said "Eff this, I'm going to be a pantser again." It's turning out to be so much more work than if I had planned it out, but you know what?

I LOVE IT! And I'm pretty sure my story is better because of it.

My point isn't that planning a story out is wrong. It's not, for some people. But for me it is. You know how adults tell children that everyone is different or special in their own way (or at least they should)? Well writers are kind of like that. Every one will have different advice. Most of it is probably good advice, but it's not always the RIGHT advice.

And there's your challenge. Weed through the tons of advice out there and find what's right for you. You'll know it when you feel it.

Or don't. Whatever works for you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hello. My name is Lisa Rose, and I am a huge nerd.


That's the sound that's going through my brain right now. Honestely, if I wasn't at work (ON MY LUNCH BREAK, CHILL) I would be jumping up and down in excitement over

Now before you go over there and say "Wait a minute, there's nothing there. Why are you so excited about a purple background, a few owls, and the words coming soon?"

Well, maybe this picture will explain things:

Seriously. I have  been a Harry Potter fan for half of my life. Literally, half. How many things can you say that you have loved for over 10 years without any dwindling passion? 2 for me, but I am not going to get into my Indiana Jones obsession now. I'll save that for later.

Anyway, when the final book came out I was happy. JK Rowling ended it perfectly, in my opinion. But I was also crushed. What do I have to look forward to out of my favorite fantasy franchise? Oh right, the movies! Phew.

Now, with less than a month to go until the final half of the final movie is released, I started to have that feeling that I hate more than any other feeling ever: The "Now What?" feeling. Until today.

I was browsing the internet and thanks to a certain Dark Lord's twitter I found the tag #pottermore. I'm sorry, what? Pottermore... potter more... MORE POTTER?!?!?!?! I easily found the site he referred to:  That's when the SQUEEEEEEE started. True to JK Rowling's nature, she hasn't released any information (that I can find) about what the site is all about, although I'm sure she knows exactly what is going to be on it and has been planning for years. And you know what?  I'm not mad about it.  I, like my fellow Potterheads, are just curious and eager to find out what this site is all about and hopefully be able to rejoin the lovely world of Hogwarts once again.

Although I'm still holding out for my Hogwarts acceptance letter...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Welcome to the dark side, little bro

You are never too old to discover the magic of reading.

I love to read. I mean, I LOVE it. I always have. By the time I was eleven years old I had read every single Nancy Drew Mystery in my public library system. I say system because my town has two libraries and I devoured the books in both.

I. Loved. Nancy. Drew.

Unfortunately, my siblings did not share my enthusiasm for the written word. Luckily I was bigger and stronger at the time so they kept their puny little mouths shut. It took a few years, but my younger sister finally succumbed to my teachings, though she wasn't as into Nance and her powder blue convertible as I was. I'd take it. My brother... Well at this point I'd considered him a lost cause.

Then something magical happened.

One month and twenty four days shy of his seventeenth birthday, I come into my family's house and see my brother on the couch. At first I was confused. Where were the sounds of idiotic cartoons, fighting men, or other typical boy television? Why was it silent?

"Are you in trouble?" I immediately asked.


I just stared at him as I noticed what was in his hand. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Aka, a book.  A BOOK! HE WAS VOLUNTARILY READING A BOOK!

I tried to ask him what made him read it but I promptly got shushed before he went outside and posted up in my favorite reading spot on the deck (one that I claimed over a decade ago, thank you very much). 

It must have been a fluke, right? Just some weird mood that he was in.

Lo and behold, a few days later he comes into my room with a question that brought tears to my eyes: "Hey, can I borrow the second Harry Potter?"

Yes, Grasshopper. Yes you may.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Morsel

I'm going to try and start the week off right (hopefully regularly) with a snippet of whatever I'm working on at the time.  I know it'll help me get motivated and I hope you all enjoy it!

From: Arietie
Stage: Editing, phase 1
Chapter: 2 (ish)

“Do you think it knows we’re here?”  Tina’s feet touched the ground and they crawled under the bed.  Evan whined.  

Annette pressed her finger to her lips as she listened to Mrs. Welsh’s footsteps move toward the door.  The lock clicked open and the door creaked.

“Hello, Sarah.”  A smooth, velvety voice floated into the room.  “How are you.”

“Oh, just fine, Donovan.  How are you?  And your sister?”

“Wonderful.  I heard you received some visitors today.  Children.  My daughter was wondering if they’d like to play with her.  You know how shy she is.”

Mrs. Welsh chuckled.  “Yes, well I don’t know where your information came from but it’s just me here.”  She was an expert liar.  Annette felt her anxiety, but the old woman’s voice was steady.  It occurred to Annette that they might not be the first Arieties to use the Welsh home for a safe house.
"Are you sure?"
"I think I would know if there were children running around my house."
"I suppose."  He paused.  Annette could barely feel any emotion from him.  He wasn't angry, more amused than anything.  Like Mrs. Welsh's refusal to admit their existance was only an obstacle in a mind game that he would have to overcome.
“You wouldn’t mind if I used your bathroom, would you?”  Donovan said after a moment.  “We are having plumbing issues.”

Mrs. Welsh paused, indecisive.  Don’t invite him in!  Annette wanted to scream.  If they could just keep him out they would still be safe.  What was Mrs. Welsh waiting for?  Annette wanted to run out there and slam the door herself.  Instead, she heard the door creak open further.

"Of course.  Please come in."  Mrs. Welsh said.

Annette felt her heart stop as the vampire entered the house.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Love Unexpected (except when it's not what I expect)

Confused?  I understand, but bear with me.

Reading a book is an investment of time.  As a writer, I want my readers to come away from the story feeling like they didn't waste their time, but enjoyed the time they spent with me.  Which is why I hate HATE when books trick me.

I don't mean when there's unexpected twists that I never would have figured out because they're that clever.  I love those!  In C.S. Harris' Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery Series, she tosses in twists that have to do with either the mystery or, more often, the characters lives.  And they're awesome!  I'm talking about when you read a murder mystery about a crime that seems to have been a staged suicide, spend several hundred pages trying to solve this murder, and find out that it's all just a suicide anyway.  What was the point of that?

I'm not going to say what the book was, because I disliked it that much, but I'm sure people who enjoyed it would say something like "It's all about the journey of the characters!"  To which I respond, "No.  No it's not."  Here's why:

Number 1: There are no character-oriented sub-plots that are resolved at the end of the book.  That's not entirely true.  The subplot of a character that doesn't even matter until 3/4 of the way in is resolved, but who cares?  The MC's relationship isn't figured out, it's left ambiguous.  The villain isn't really punished, the supporting characters don't get their happy ending, hell the MC doesn't even go back to playing goalie on his hockey team for good even though he whines about how great it was for half the book.  Nothing. Is. Resolved.

Number Two: If it's about character development, don't put it under mysteries in the bookstore/library.  Don't call it a "__________ ____ Mystery."  Because it's not a mystery.  It's a waste of my time.

Have you ever read a book that just made you feel like you would get the same enjoyment out of watching paint dry?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Well hi there.  Some of you may know me as Rose, some as Lisa, some as Lisa Rose, some as Strat, okay I'll stop there because I promised myself this post would be more than just nicknames.  Basically, this is my blog.  For those of you who don't know me, I'm an aspiring writer, working in NYC, living in Jersey (do not get me started on those god-awful television shows about my state)

Thank you so much for that, MTV

Aside from that, I'm just trying to figure out where the heck my life is going.  Ever heard of a quarter-life-crisis?  Right here.  Don't laugh, it seriously freaks me out some days.  

As for this blog, well, I just submitted my first short shory for publication (yeeeeeeee) and I said to myself: "Self, what a great time to start up that blog you've been thinking of starting."  What a great idea, Self!  So here we are.  I hope you enjoy me and my inner ramblings, and I am going to apologize in advance if anyone on here works for/actually likes NJ Transit.  (But really, you can't keep the trains running without delay for one week?  It's called a schedule.  Your trains run on a track.  There's only two directions they can go.  How do you mess that up?)