Tag Archives: ideas

Metacognition: Taking my own advice

The beginning of Black Moon has been action packed, twisty and fun to write, until I got to the end of Chapter One. I did what I wanted and started with a bang that was natural and unforced. Got my characters going, but also started establishing the “New World” for this book. I was so excited. Then the action stopped and my characters, who did not end well from the last book, had to interact. It was awkward and tough for the characters, and I thought it was going to kill me.

My thinking shoes

Running shoes, how could you forsake me!

Trying to get through this, I cycled through my usual activities to get my mind to expand and be inspired on what should happen. Exercise left me just as confused as to how to try and push them through this stage. Walking let me figure out stuff for the next chapters, but nada on the troubled Chapter One. Visualizing it while driving with the windows down and in the shower left me refreshed and clean, respectively, but no closer to a solution.  My usual suspects had let me down. I was ready to give up, skip the ending of the chapter and pick up again with Chapter Two.

Then I taught my class about Multiple Intelligences, metacognition, in other words, “knowing about knowing”. In class they were taking two of the tests that would pinpoint each of their specific learning styles. Letting them know how useful it is in and out of school, I shared that I am a kinesthetic learner and gave some examples of tactics and strategies I use to think clearer and remember more (see some from the above paragraph). But I warned them, don’t get locked into only your specific strategy, all of us have each of the different styles within us, and can use some from each category. You are not only one branch that is just your strongest. There are choices.

Then it hit me. That’s exactly what I was doing. I was so reliant upon my kinesthetic tactics working for me, I was only thinking about them. There was a whole world of other ideas out there I was neglecting. So at lunch I sat down with my “Secret Weapon” ™ and used a different tactic. I talked through where I was, where I wanted to go, and the problem with my characters at this time. During the course of the conversation and explanation, things clicked into place. Auditory learning to the rescue!

Now, Chapter One of Black Moon is completed with action and character growth. New problems are already peeking around corners and the characters are trying to figure out how to treat each other after the ending of the first book. Chapter Two is underway and moving along swimmingly. Here’s to using all the tools in our basket, not just our favorites.

Advertisements

Short Work

I’m continuing with my revisions upon revisions. I’m really happy with the changes and tightening of language that has formed from the process. Even gave a semi pitch to a friend who is anti-Sci-fi yesterday. She thought the story sounded interesting. For her to listen to a story about something taking place on a deep space station, that’s saying something. It made me smile. To reach my goal for this summer, I can’t wait to get this cleanly into the hands of my Beta readers then hopefully agents and publishers.

But now, I’m thinking of other projects to churn the waters. Getting noticed cold turkey is not impossible, but it is hard. I need stir things up and venture to the world beyond the safety of my inner circle.

So, a short story is cooking. It is a story of Earth far in the future. A time when Earth is tenuously unified but barely making it. Huge structures of alien material have appeared all over the planet, both on land and in the air, just hanging there. What could these structures hold? Who brought them? What is their purpose? Why at these locations?

The story will be from the POV of the commander of a battalion of soldiers stationed outside one of these structures. They have been waiting months, just stationed in this desolate area, waiting for the structure to do something. And then it does…

Hoping to get this one polished as well and shop it for some shorter format publications.

We're the top of the chain, right?


Running

People are often told to “write what you know”, but what if you don’t happen to know a vampire to inspire the meal being made of your heroine or a werewolf to watch for your hunting scene. As writers, we have to delve into our own psyche and pull out what’s hiding there under the covers and shake it until it forms the scene we need. And yet, often, we need something to pry that blanket up to see what’s underneath.

People are always searching for those ideas. That muse. That inspiration. That jolt of lightning from the sky.  It is that moment that makes the words flow and time stream past in a series of scenes and adventures. It gives our characters depth and insight and often a sense of humor. I have taught my students over and over again that people think and learn differently, thus they get their ideas from different places. And so begins the search for the elusive insight.

I know one person who gets scene ideas from going to the mall and jotting down character ideas and interactions from the real life he witnesses there. Agatha Christie said “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” My husband, like many others, finds his morning shower to be that spark of inspiration hidden in the water cascading down. The flow of ideas linked to the flow of water.  This has worked, on occasion, for me, but not often enough to keep me happy.

Nope, I find my insight comes best when I am running. I learned a long time ago that I am a kinesthetic learner. If my feet are moving, my brain is too. This requires pacing as I outline or tapping something while I draft. I find even driving at least gives me the feeling of moving enough to get ideas to form more clearly. However, all of this pales when stacked up against the motivation and ideas that I get while I run. Something about the feel of the ground moving underneath me, the change of scenery, and the increase in my blood flow allows my brain to connect ideas I didn’t even realize I needed to connect.  Movies start to play out in my mind of the scenes and characters and what they’ve decided to do. Now if I could just have a running notebook.

This phenomenon just happened to me.  As I am in the middle of revising the first book, drafting the second and outlining the third, I was wondering about connections.  For weeks

My thinking shoes

My thinking shoes

I couldn’t figure out why I had decided to include something in the first scene that never came back through the entire rest of the book. I tried to cut it several times, only to come back that it insisting it needed to be in there. It was important even if I didn’t yet understand why.

Then, at the start of my second mile, playing out that scene again in my head, it came to me. It makes perfect sense. I was looking at it all wrong. The characters have now shown me why, and it will make for a great moment in the second and third books. I can’t wait to start writing that section.

I guess a good pair of running shoes will be of utmost importance in my writing arsenal.


Journey to Space

What’s there to say on how I ended up in Sci-Fi Paranormal Romance?

I have been interested in writing for a long time, but never had the courage to share any of it. I first tried my hand at long format fiction (a whole thirty pages) when I was in sixth grade, even did the illustrations myself. It was a rousing tale of a hard alliterative detective and was bad beyond words. But it was there and got me thinking. This was fun. Creating ideas and stories that no one else would ever write just the way I did. Something in this world that was truly unique to me.

Over my high school and college days, my writing came in spurts of ideas, but ended before I would cross the finish line. Never convinced that it was worth the paper, I would stop and chuck it, before anyone else could discover it and crush it.

But I would read anything and everything. As I read, I kept saying, “I want to be able to do that,” and, the common cry of most writers, “Hey, that was my idea three stories ago.” But confidence wasn’t there, and that’s what it takes to finish a manuscript. Well, that and the fortitude of the gods.

One idea, however, wouldn’t leave me. An idea so far from my original detective story, it was unrecognizable. Thoughts of vampires and deep space stations and action and horror and what ifs kept circling over and over, year after year. But who was I to write such a story? Come on, even Hollywood kept getting these stories wrong, and they were getting big bucks to get it wrong every time.

Then one day driving in the car, I pitched it to my husband, and, wouldn’t you know, he liked it. And through his support and patience, my current project, Black Sun, was born a strange mixture of Paranormal and Sci-fi and Romance gone horribly wrong. It has been several years in the making, and it’s getting great feedback from beta readers and critique groups alike.

Last year I completed the first draft. Then I followed Ray Bradbury’s advice for 6 months and put it away. Currently, I have dusted it off and am revising it within an inch of its life. While drowning book one in red ink, I am also outlining and drafting books two and three in what I plan on being a series.

Thus writing is the perpetual motion machine, always moving forward as to never become stale or buried.