Friday, October 30, 2009

What makes YOU read a book? What's your reading style?

It's the obvious question for a writer to ask: What influences your decision to read a book? The cover, the first page, the writer's reputation, your level of boredom? What is it? Perhaps the recommendation of a friend, or a book reviewer that you trust? Do you feel obligated to read a book if you know the writer personally?

The questions go on and on.

Here's an easier question: What do you like to have on hand when you sit down to read a book? A cup of tea? Cocoa? Coffee? A cookie? Fudge? Spaghetti?

Do you like to read outside or in? Do you avoid reading on sunny days in order to spend time outside? Do your dogs sit on your feet or in your lap when you read? How do you keep your kids from interrupting you, after all in their eyes you aren't doing anything at all!

Do you like to savor books slowly, or read them straight through, all at once? I'm a straight through reader, when left to my own devices I'll read straight through the night.

I want to hear from you. Write me a note. Tell me about your reading habits. Ask your friends to write me. With your permission I'll post your reading habits on my blog, website and facebook page. Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so why not write about it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sarah Simas Interview

Check out - Sarah Simas interviewed me for her blog. Leave a comment, and then go on to read more. Sarah's got some great interviews on her site.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writing to Type

Isn't the English language wonderful? I'm talking "Type" as in personality type, not type as in keyboarding.

A friend of mine recently reminded me that we have different personality types. What he said was something along the lines of "I'm and thinking person who happens to also feel, you (meaning me) are a feeling person who happens to think." True, but I was still insulted. There is nothing wrong with my thinking process thank you very much.

But here's the truth of the matter. My friend, who I'll call Mr. Spock, makes decisions based mostly on his thought process with very little regard to how he feels about something. Like the original Spock, he's ruled by logic. That doesn't mean his logic is always correct, nor does it mean his decisions always work out for him. But I think, all in all, he does pretty well.

I, on the other hand, make decisions based on how I feel about things. Sometimes it's just an intuitive thing. A hunch. Like when my husband and I (and kids) were camping on our friend's lawn while house hunting one summer I had a "feeling" that we were wearing out our welcome. My husband (another thinker) thought I was overreacting. Turns out I was right. (Good thing I'd insisted we move on.) There weren't any outward signs, and certainly our friends didn't say anything, but there signals of some kind and I picked up on them.

I have to say that my decisions don't always work out that well for me . Such as my current decision to work in the high school to supplement our income... Let's just say that the aggravation is not worth the money. I'm staying because my thinking husband doesn't agree with my assessment. For him, any extra money is better than no extra money. I'm sure he thinks I'll eventually adapt.

So what does this have to do with writing? Here's the deal. You can use your observation of personality types to help develop characters. There are lots of ways to analyze personality and many of them can be helpful when developing character, and for me - the feeler who thinks - often times my observation of how people act and what motivates them, works very well in conjunction with the charts.

If I remember correctly I'm currently an ENFJ - although I was born a INFP. I trained myself to act like an extrovert in my mid-twenties and eventually it became ingrained. I actually AM an E now. And I can expect other ENFJs to behave in similar ways to the ways I behave. But here's the good part, I remember what it's like to be shy. I was a card carrying, hide your head in your momma's skirt, so timid it was painful, avoid all social situations and God forbid a boy talks to you, introvert. As painful as it is to remember those days it comes in very handy when I'm in the midst of character development.

So what if you're an E (for extrovert, in case I haven't made that clear), you've never been an I and you've got a character who does a great impersonation of a turtle? Use your imagination. How do the shy people in your community act? See that surly guy at the elementary school open house? You stay away from him because most of his sentences consist of curt one word answers, and you're sure he thinks you're an idiot. Here's a news flash. He's an I for Introvert. He's surly because he feels so out of place that his teeth ache. He's been ready to leave since he got there, and he's gaging how long he has to stay so that he doesn't seem rude. He's wishing one of his buddies had a child in the same grade as his.

Here's another tidbit about that guy; his wife is an E. A warm and friendly smiler, who knows everyone in the room and wants to talk to everybody. The entire town wonders why in the world she married surly guy. What they don't realize is that when he's with her he can relax. She puts him at ease. Knows what he's thinking so he doesn't have to talk a lot. She sees the qualities in him that only his close friends know about because in public situations he's too shy to be himself.

See how easy that was. Two quick character sketches in less than five minutes. You have my permission to use either one, or both.

How about T (Thinker) vs F (Feeler)? I can tell you that my Thinking friend takes a long time to respond to serious questions. He can answer "what do you want for lunch?" quick as anything. But ask him if you should change jobs and it could be days before he gets back to you. When he does answer, it's with a well reasoned, point by point presentation on the pros and cons of the situation. Sometimes he takes so long thinking about something, I think he's forgotten about it. But he hasn't. Spock just wants to look at the situation from all sides before commenting.

How do I deal with the issue of a friend wondering if they should change jobs? I ask questions, now hold your breath because this is a revelation; I ask questions about my friend's feelings. And within about three minutes I've already formed my opinion based on those feelings. I'm not saying I never change my mind faced with further facts, but most of my major decisions are made that quickly.

Before you call your mother and tell her I'm a idiot, let me say this: my feelings about things are based on observation over time. So although it may seem like I'm making snap decisions, in reality I have a lifetime of experience with how feeling translates in the real world. Does your boss make you miserable? Yes. Is your boss likely to change? No. Do I believe that we should spend our short lives working for people who make us miserable? No. There's your answer, find another job. (Oh, and in case you're running off to tell your mother I'm an complete imbecile, I do realize that finding a job in the current climate is not easy, and it may take a while. But I still think you should be looking.)

Looking at the above scenario I can already see a number of story lines developing. One heck of a romantic suspense about a thinking cop who takes her time making decisions, that tend to be correct. This cop becomes embroiled with a feeling private eye, who makes snap decisions that get them both in trouble. They drive each other crazy until the bitter end when they succumb to their mutual attraction while caught in a certain death situation. You fill in the details.

And let me know when it's published, I want to read it.

Oh the pressure.

Why is it that given the opportunity to get some publicity and spread my name around by guest blogging, I can't think of a darn thing to say? I started writing about voice, and what it is about other author's that makes me keep picking up their books. Boring! Boring, boring, boring.

Not even I want to read that post. Heck, I didn't even want to write it. It put me right into doze mode.

This is how bad it is - I had to stop in the middle of this blog and get myself a cup of tea.

Surely there is something interesting to be said about writing. Something that hasn't been said a million and one times before? If you know what it is tell me, because obviously I can't figure out what it is.

On a more humorous note, some of you may know that I'm impersonating an educator at a high school this year, overseeing the study hall. This position has it's ups and downs. One really big up is that when everyone is on task it's permissible for me to work on my writing. Such as now. The down side is there are a couple of hours during the day when the immaturity of the students makes it insufferable in here. - Why is it that certain teenage boys think it's acceptable to fashion shivs out of paper clips and use stick pins to impale people? - But onto the fun part...

A little while ago a group of the nicer seniors came to see me. I don't know, seven or eight of them. (Realize that we have a tiny school the entire graduation class is only maybe 40 kids.) Each of these seniors came to me with an add/drop slip. On this slip they each requested to add my 2nd period class and drop the advanced math class they were enrolled in. These eight kids comprise maybe ninety percent of that math class. The reason for the switch: Can't understand the teacher.

It might be helpful for you to know that the math teacher is well liked and has played a practical joke or two of his own. I've yet to hear what he has to say about the matter. Actually, I can't wait, I'm sure he'll rise to the occasion. But what makes me smile the most is the fact that the seniors included me.

It's not just students that want to fit in. I'm in the unique position of being neither a teacher or a typical aid. I don't really have a peer group here, and my schedule is such - booked solid except for a twenty minute lunch break each day - that I have very little contact with adults. Being included by a group of students was a break from the isolation, and that it was for a joke makes it even better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Cold Kentucky Rain

Don't ask me why Elvis is in my head this morning. I woke up with Cold Kentucky Rain playing on my internal music channel (the one in my brain). I'd be surprised if it was a song from the DH's wake up FM channel - it's not his style. But however it got there - it's sticking. I even started singing it in the classroom.

Doesn't even phase my students. I don't think anything that came out of my mouth would surprise them, either because they are already so world weary that nothing startles them, or because they expect me to be a little nutty. I don't mind if they think I'm nutty, I do, however, hope they grow out of their boredom with life.

What is it about high school, and high school-ers, that inspires such apathy? Well, come to think of it, if I was stuck in close proximity to my age group all day, every day I might get tired of it too. Not that there aren't people I'd be delighted to associate with on a daily basis. But I'd want to chose and my choices wouldn't be based on age. So perhaps they just need to suffer through and hopefully learn to deal with people in a constructive way.

As for me, I'll model cheerfulness for today and continue driving teens crazy by singing at work. It's not fair really, as I can always write the irritants of my life into a novel and despense justice in that way. It gives me an advantage.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pumping Up the Volume

Thank the universe for rainy Saturdays! I'm another five pages into California Schemin'. It's time for me to really start producing. And I mean a lot more than I have been. It should be possible. I've settled into my current job at the high school. School is now routine for my kids. Our foreign exchange student has become one of the family. Life is rolling along so it's time to write.

I've learned that it's possible to write when the kids and husband are home if I slap on the headphones and then ignore the music as much as possible. It's a lot easier to ignore the music than my family. Now if I could only get them to ignore me.

My publisher recently announced a deadline of November 15 for submissions. I'm not positive that means I need to have the next Bree done by then but there's the niggling thought in the back of my head that says I can be replaced. I mean anyone can be replaced, right? A better writer could certainly come along!

With that in mind I've set a goal to have a finished draft done by that date. I've been working on two books at once, so the new goal means I have to choose between them. I've had a lot of requests for more of Bree, so that's where I'm going to focus. And if I can get California Schemin' done by December then I should be able to finish Tank and Maggie Meet the Mob by February. Two books a year being my business plan.

If I'm lucky enough to get either of those published you can bet your booties I'll get smarter about writing during the down time between acceptance and release date! No more wasting time. (Yeah, right!)

Playing on the ipod? Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood.