Thursday, September 16, 2010

Creating Motivation

As a new writer, I find it hard to find to write. I got to school full time and I also work part time, plus I'm involved in a fraternity. This makes things complicated. When I write, it seems to happen during a boring class or sporadically at work. I know at this rate, I'll never finish my book, SOOOO I've brainstormed some ideas for creating motivation.

1. Have a special notebook that's just for writing.

One thing I'm going to try is to set aside a lovely notebook that I'm going to use solely for my writing endeavors. This should be a pretty notebook (or handsome, if you prefer). It should be something you want to look at, and therefore different from your school/work notebooks. I chose a pretty one from Staples. (It was on sale, too!)

It has a pretty design on the front that I'm going to color in.

2. Make a schedule.

My next tip is to make a schedule. I'm a schedule freak, so before the school year begins, I've got Excel spreadsheets everywhere. They have my school, work, and fraternity schedules on them, and I post them in important places. By my desk, by the door, on the fridge. Wherever. So if I've scheduled all the other important stuff in my life, why not writing? Set aside a special time of day, however much time you have (anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more), to do your writing. Treat it like it HAS to be done, like homework or laundry. (Not that I'm very dilligent about either of those things...) You get the picture.

And in case you DON'T get the picture, I've provided one.

3. Have goals.

Goals are extremely important for every big project you undertake. Set goals for yourself. They can be small, daily goals. "I will write 500 words today." Or they can be long term goals. "I will finish my book by June." Whatever works for you. Set your goals, and stick to them. Which brings me to my next strategy...

Not these kinds of goals.

4. Rewards!

When you meet a goal or an important milestone in your story, reward yourself! You deserve it. You could buy some frozen yogurt, (I'm on a serious froyo kick right now.) get yourself a new outfit, or buy that videogame you've been eyeing. The thing about rewards, though, is that you can't reward yourself if you don't meet the goals. It's tempting, I know. Sometimes I'm like, "Well, I didn't get this done, but darn it, I'm an adult. I can buy froyo if I want to." (Sometimes I forget I'm an adult. :/ ) But behavior like this does NOT help me get things accomplished. You need willpower. Lots of it. If you're like me, and finding willpower is like trying to find your mother in an antique store*, you need someone to hold you accountable. Friend, spouse, mother. These people are all good at nagging, which is needed.

Froyo! It's amazing. Try it. :D

*She just wanders off. I can't help it.

5. Write it down.

My most important tip to help you create motivation and stick to it is to write it alllll down. Write it on a post-it. Write it on your fridge. On your roommate's face. Whatever you need to do. Writing down your goals, schedules, and rewards gives them a sense of permanancy. Somehow, it makes them seem more binding than if they're just in your head. Like how, in my head, I'm married to Alexander Skarsgard, but the state doesn't recognize it as legal and binding because 1) I'm kind of crazy and 2) it's not written down.

He's saying, "We don't need a marriage license, baby."

Anyway, I hope you found some usefullness in all that blabbering. I'm going to return to the real world and try to do my job because there's a patron staring at me like I'm supposed to help him or something. People are so needy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: CINDERS by Michelle Davidson Argyle

Title: Cinders
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pub. Date: June 23, 2010
Format: Paperback, 182 pages
Rating: 4/5

Back Cover:
Cinderella's happily-ever-after isn't turning out the way she expected.

With her fairy godmother imprisoned in the castle and a mysterious stranger haunting her dreams, Cinderella is on her own to discover true love untainted by magic.

What I Thought:
In a world where Disney has turned princesses into beautiful young women, striving to find their prince while singing to animals, Michelle Davidson Argyle's novella is refreshing. Argyle's protagonist is Cinderella, but not Disney's version.

Last semester I took a class on folklore, and we spent half the semester covering the Cinderella fairy tale (which is 510A in the Aarne-Thompson fairy tale index, in case you were wondering. I know you were.), so I thought I was burnt out on all things Cinderella. Until I saw this book. A friend read it and let me borrow it (That would be Amanda. You can find her review here.), and I LOVED the idea.

Cinders is all about how Cinderella's dream-come-true has gone all kinds of wrong. Argyle takes the tale and turns it on its head. She gives you more Cinderella. You see her thoughts, dreams, and worries as she confronts the idea that what she wished for may not be what she wants. She expands the fairy tale and gives you characters with names and personalities, instead of epithets and stereotypes. One of my favorite things about the book is that Cinderella is not her real name. It's a nickname that she prefers because she loves the way it makes her feel.

Another great thing about Cinders is all the elements from the fairy tale that come up in the story. For example, Cinderella's shoes are FUR, not glass. (If you're confused by this, go here and read footnote 40.) Another element that worked wonderfully: MAGIC. Argyle's take on magic is not that it's a cure-all for every little problem. It's a powerful element that has consequences. Magic serves as a way for Cinderella to make choices and live life.

Cinders, at 182 pages, is a novella. Not many novellas get published these days because most of them just don't work. Cinders works as a novella. I didn't find it to be too short or too vague. Argyle has all the details and plot necessary to make a wonderful story.

The only thing I didn't care too much for was the ending, but that was just a personal preference. I get disappointed every time endings don't go the way I wanted them to. HOWEVER, I understand why the ending is the way it is. It's necessary, and it's true to the way fairy tales used to be written.

All in all, I loved Cinders. It broke my heart, but in a good way.

You can visit Michelle Davidson Arygle's website here, and you can purchase Cinders from Amazon (in paperback and Kindle edition) and from Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are you there, readers? It's me, Katie.


*crickets chirping*

Well, if any of you are still around, I have an announcement.

*more crickets*

Ahem...well then, I thought you should know that I am officially back from my unofficial summer hiatus! Summer is a pretty busy time for me, so I didn't get a chance to blog. I had to work 25-30 hours a week at this horrible green and orange grocery store (that shall remain nameless). I had to make sure the boyfriend got enough attention (because we live in different cities during the school year...okay, I might have needed the attention). Plus, I traveled to Ohio three times. Yes, you heard me, THREE. In case you're wondering it was 1400 miles there and back each time.

So, dear, probably non-existent readers, I am back. School has begun. I have even less free time, but a better internet connection (which somehow makes all the difference). Also, I can blog at work because I have a cushy desk job (that is not at a horrible nameless grocery store).

If you feel like sticking around, you'll get to see me make SOME progress on my WIP. (I actually started it, guys! I typed words! I sound silly, but it was exciting!) You'll get an interesting recount of my week in New York City with Amanda Johnson. You will also get book reviews! Lots of book reviews! Plentiful in quantity and hopefully quality!

I hope you decide to stick around. :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Are you sure it's Friday?

First, I'm sorry I haven't posted the review. It'll appear next week sometime, maybe Tuesday since that's Dead Day. To make up for it, I'll also be posting the review of The Luxe's sequel, Rumors ('cause I just finished it last night!).

Second, is it just me, or does it not even feel like a weekend right now? It's Friday afternoon, and all that's on my mind is homework. Lots of homework. Here's what I have to do:

  • 8-10 page research paper over the use of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale in Mercedes Lackey's The Fire Rose
  • 5-7 page research paper over any topic I want having to do with Shakespeare
  • 3 500-word reading responses
  • Chapter 12 online workbook for Spanish
On top of all that, my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota, is throwing a benefit ball tomorrow, and I'm in charge of set-up and decorations. Woo!

As far as writing goes, I'm starting on character sheets. Today during my Shakespeare class I started the character sheet for my MC, and I got her physical description done. :) I'm hoping during my downtime during finals week I can more accomplished.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writer Moment

I had a total writer moment last night, and I thought I'd share it with you. I pictured my MC. I saw her. Plain as day. I freaked out, guys. You would have, too. She is fierce!

Right now I'm too busy with school (Finals start next week!) to really get down to writing, but character sheets will begin soon! I'm really excited to get to know this girl.

Yesterday I finished reading The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, and I started the sequel, Rumors. I really liked it, so expect a review soon. Sorry this post is so short. Life is seriously getting in the way of blogging. :/

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Back Cover:

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her archnemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West--a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

What I Thought:

I had been meaning to read this book for years. Seriously, years. I was in high school the first time I saw anyone reading it, and the idea intrigued me. Four years later, I spot a used copy on my local bookstore's shelf for only four dollars. Naturally, I snatched it right up. I even took the time to read L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz before I opened Wicked. I wanted to be well-informed about Baum's Oz when I read Maguire's take on it.

The story starts off wonderfully, but the time the book spends at Shiz University is probably my favorite part of the book. At this point, Maguire makes it apparent just how complex Elphaba is. He sets out her principles, her values, and her morals through her years at Shiz. He makes her character easy to relate to, even if she is a fictional, green-skinned resident of Oz. Maguire also takes this time as an opportunity to point out all the political problems in Oz and what Elphaba's take on them is, from religion to Animal rights.

My least favorite part of the book is the last half or so, when Elphaba moves out to the Vinkus. It's such a strange and slow part. When I got to this part, I had to make myself keep reading, but it wasn't a complete deal breaker.

What kills Wicked for me is the characterization of Glinda and Elphaba. Glinda was so affected by what happened to Doctor Dillamond that she changed her name from Galinda to Glinda, which was the way he pronounced it. She became more serious and cared less about silliness and her society friends, but by the end of the book, she's content to be a high society lady in frilly dresses. What happened to her changes? Elphaba's actions at the end contradict everything Maguire has done with her throughout the entire book. Her strong-willed and calm character resorts to stalking a little girl. Yes, she always had conspiracy theories, but this one is just blown up out of proportion. Elphaba is a logical person, but when Dorothy comes calling, she just goes crazy on her. In my opinion, it's inconsistent with her character, and I was irritated by it. It killed the book for me, and that made me sad.

Rating: 3/5

Title: Wicked
Author: Gregory Maguire
MMP: 538
Publisher: Harper

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hello, my name is Katie, and I am a writer.

For a long time, I've resisted the idea of writing. I have always been content to be the reader. It's not that I haven't tried writing; I have, and I've given up many times. Now, I'm admitting it. I'm "coming out" as a writer. I have plans for a novel, and I will write said novel. Eventually.

Although I'm giving writing a shot, being a published author is not my career goal. I aspire to be an editor or literary agent. I like the idea of reading things before other people and helping decide what gets published. I want to work in publishing, but I would like to be published as well.

I knew I wanted to be an editor when I first got involved with fan fiction. It sounds silly, but you'd be surprised at what a strong community can be provided by the readers and writers of fan fiction. I started lurking around websites reading Harry Potter fan fiction, mostly at MuggleNet Fan Fiction (which is a wonderful site full of wonderful people and stories). I noticed some of the poorly written stories were difficult to read because of their mistakes. Then I heard about beta readers. I thought, "Hey, I could be a beta reader!" I knew I wasn't up to writing, but I could definitely proof others' writing.

So, I began beta reading stories for people, and I loved it. Then, I got a little braver and considered writing one. It didn't make it past a few paragraphs. I thought it was crap. I didn't have anywhere for it to go. I just shoved it aside.

The summer after I graduated high school I tried to write once more. This time I wanted to do original fiction. I had an idea for the book. The main character was semi-autobiographical. The story contained elements of magic. There would be romance. I made character sheets with detailed descriptions of my characters. I wrote the first chapter and the beginning of the second. I let a few close friends and family read the first chapter. My sister and friends raved about it (though I'm sure they were being too kind), and then my mother brought me down. I asked her what she thought, and she laughed and said it was a funny story and basically told me it was cute that I was trying to write.

I went off to college and gave up any notion of writing. I became an English major and set my sights on a publishing career. I read books constantly, wrote tons of papers, and slept a lot. Typical English major stuff. Now, almost two years later, I have decided to try again. I'm not going to resist it anymore. I have my dear friend Amanda to thank for this. She is a writer and has been for some time; she's written one novel and is currently working on her second one. She is the one who pushed me to give it another shot.

We were in my car one night, bouncing some ideas off each other, and one good one came up. She said, "If you don't write it, I will." (She had been insisting for some time that I was a closeted writer. Lol.) I said, "Okay, I'll try it; I've got some ideas." Then I sat down in my Shakespeare class, and I started taking down story notes about characters and the world in which the story is set, and suddenly, the story just transformed. A whole new plot line emerged, and it was much more awesome and detailed than the first one, and I was super excited about getting it down on paper.

Then I knew I was a writer.