FANGIRL FRIDAY: A Little Not So Light Reading

I’ve amassed plenty of writing resources, be it digital or physical. In preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve curated an initial selection, keeping in mind some aspects I want to focus on in my writing project.

I’ve been a long time fan of K.M. Weiland. She’s an amazing author who’s active on social media and her website, Helping Writers Become Authors, is a treasure trove of information from story structure to character arcs. I recommend any of her books. I bought Outlining Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel Workbook years ago and last year purchased the software version of the workbook, as well.

I’ve been reading up on Deep Point of View. It’s a technique I’d already been doing, was eager to learn more about, but had no idea there was a name for it, as what I’d been doing is a sub-category of the more widely known Third Person Point of View. I read some articles by other writers on the subject, but still had questions. I decided to google “K.M. Weiland Deep Point of View” and wasn’t surprised that she had written on the topic. Reading through her explanations, examples, as well as the exchanges she has with writers in the comments section, was like I’d been sitting in a writing masterclass. Such a great writer and teacher.

Word choice for maximum impact can be a challenge, at times, especially if you find that you’re starting to sound repetitive as the story rolls on. Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi wrote the immensely popular The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. I’m looking forward to adding more of their books to my collection soon. In the meantime, their website, Writers Helping Writers, is another writing resource gold mine.

Sometimes you need answers in real time. If a Google search turns up empty, I’ve discovered a game changer in research and it’s currently the primary reason I’m even on Facebook anymore. I can’t believe I never knew about these groups before, but once I started following along in a few writing groups I’m in, some fellow writers suggested the following groups, all of which I’m now a member of and I’m thoroughly fascinated by each post I read, and the comment threads that follow. I even had some of my own questions answered already in the short time I’ve been a member in these groups, and it’s remarkable and encouraging to know that my people are out there and they get me!

The members are comprised of writers and professionals in their respective fields that volunteer their time to help ensure scenes and situations are accurately depicted in our writing. You have to apply for membership and answer some questions prior to being approved, in order for them to weed out spammers and such. Here are just a few of the groups and the descriptions as written on their respective pages:

Trauma Fiction – Trauma Fiction is your resource for finding medical, trauma and illness information for your characters, plot and scenarios. Hosted by Emergency Medical Technician veteran, author Elizabeth Otto.

Legal Fiction – Legal Fiction is your resource for finding information about attorneys, the law, and the courtroom for your characters, plot, and scenarios. Hosted by attorney/author/editor at Twitching Pen Editing Jennifer Severino.

Cops and Writers – This group is dedicated to answering authors and screenwriters police related questions. Police procedure, equipment, police culture, and investigations are all fair game.

Authors Fire/Rescue – The Group is set up to help those write realistic fire/rescue and arson scenes.

I know there are so many more writing groups out there, especially on different platforms such as tumblr, reddit, and Discord, but with the high rate of activity I’m already getting with these ones, it’s better if I ease into these new communities.

I’ve gained insight into improving my writing, that’s always an ongoing process. There are such impassioned discussions, truly helpful approaches to tackling sensitive topics, and a dynamic group of talented people with common interests. You know how much I love infotainment.

What resources do you turn to when writing? Have you had a chance to immerse yourself in these various group threads? If you haven’t heard of these resources yet, do check them out and join in the conversation.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: For Your MCU Viewing Pleasure

I’d been so busy with everything under the sun the last couple of months that I didn’t give the time and love that WandaVision so richly deserved. It’s okay, though, because it’s still within the spoiler zone, so a more in-depth discussion of how that story unfolded will come in a future Fangirl Friday post.

For now, without going too much into it, I want to share how excited I was to see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their respective roles in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The long awaited first episode in this 6-episode run is ready to stream at the time of this writing on Disney+.

One thing I can freely discuss and praise is the diverse cast of characters in this premiere episode. I’m not just talking about ethnicity, but also the character traits, quirks, and flaws that each person brings to the story.

For those already anticipating the buddy-cop dynamic between Sam and Bucky, all I can say is that if the trailer was any indicator, we’re in for a real treat. Just the recall to their shared scenes in the movies were some much needed tension release from the heavier storylines.

I wish I could into further detail but I’d rather people watched it first so I don’t give anything away. As for the streaming platform, say what you will about the recent controversies with Disney, they’ve been putting out a lot of outstanding programming, of late, and I can only hope that it’ll keep getting better from here on out.

Be sure to catch The Falcon and the Winter Soldier each Friday, streaming today, March 19 with the final episode streaming on April 23. Before the year’s over (is that enough time to be out of the spoiler zone? lol), more discussions and story element breakdown to follow.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Planning by the Seat of Your Pants

With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up fast, I thought I’d try to go into the event with eyes a little more open than last time. If there’s anything I learned from this last week in writing, it’s that any and everything can and will happen to throw you off course. That’s life. It doesn’t mean you have to pack it up and call it a day.

Make the most of your off-road experience. After all, side quests are arguably more satisfying than the main storyline in games. Why shouldn’t it be the same in your writing journey?

It’s true. It’s about the journey, not the destination. What’s the point if we can’t enjoy the ride?

Take, for instance, a short story competition I learned about in the wake of my missed deadline faux pas. With the deadline being what would be 4pm my time today, it wasn’t feasible for me to rush a 1000 word short story with everything I had going on with my darling X-23, Izzybear.

Add to the fact that I had two ideas I wanted to run with and only one entry was allowed, I decided to flesh the story out further and give it the TLC it deserves and over the course of the week, I developed a plot more rich in texture. It goes to show that not all plans laid are best.

If I had stuck to the original plan, I would’ve had a piece that I wasn’t fully satisfied with and only submitted for the sake of meeting the deadline. However, isn’t it preferred to put your best foot forward the first time? It’s hard to get past a wrong first impression. The fact that I like the way the story is now versus what I had come up with on the fly a few days ago further supports the advice of taking a step back to really see what you’ve got. It doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring my main goals. It doesn’t mean that my detour is a distraction or is less important. It’s a matter of perspective and looking at the bigger picture.

I read about an author sharing something she called an editorial calendar. The premise is simple and straightforward but you then realize how the simple things are so profoundly helpful in organizing your writing life. Take a calendar and map out all deadlines and writing tasks. Simple, right? The fact that you can then strategize your day around everything else you need to get done, you facepalm at how the methodology makes perfect sense.

As you might have gathered by now, I’m not saying to stick to plans hardcore. In my life, it’s been virtually impossible. Heck, I’m perfectly content doing a crossword puzzle in pencil. Nobody can be that certain of everything all the time. Also, if you tell me not to do something, the six year-old me perks up and says, in the words of Barney Stinson, “Challenge accepted.” The result? Such wonderful and potentially life-altering changes. And this can happen when plotting a story differently from your original idea. Or, you can decide to write poetry instead of prose. Maybe, you make the choice to scrap the idea and go in a completely different direction. Graphic novel? Limerick? Screenplay? There are no wrong answers here. Who wants a boring journey, anyway?

I guess what I’m saying is make a plan. Sure. But as I’ve said before, nothing needs to be set in stone because the universe will just laugh at you while tossing the odd molotov cocktail in your general direction. So, while I’m still a work in progress, I’ve transformed myself into FlexiGal, a person of ordinary means with an extraordinary passion to do some good in the world. I roll with the punches–and dodge the ones I know will land hard.

Easy peasy.

How do I know? As I write this, I’ve had to step away from the laptop at least a dozen or so times. I’m currently typing with a stuffed toy–a golden retriever pup, for those curious–sitting atop my noggin like a fascinator at a pet-themed Royal Ascot. X-23 has me chasing her again while intermittently sneaking in some cheese and crackers. The cheese to cracker ratio is obscene. I have only myself to blame. My favorite cheese is the Kerrygold Dubliner. I had her try some one day and I’ve never quite had any cheesy snacks to myself since. Anyway, I think she might be attempting a reenactment of a Doc McStuffins version of the Wolverine v. Sabertooth battle scene from X-Men and these were all we had to work with. Given the theme of today’s post, I fully appreciate her effort and 100% approve.

So, make a plan. Or not. Stick to it. Or don’t. Either way, take those twists and turns, but keep going. Every moment you experience becomes a part of you and when you reach your destination, you’re so much better for it. A better person, a better writer. And that’s a huge LEVEL UP, in my book.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: WWFBD?

We’ve all been there. Well, most of us, anyway. We take the time to plan ahead, we think we’ve got all our bases covered, then that thing called life gets in the way and derails everything we had already set in place. Not in stone, but queued up in the hopes that things would go smoothly. I can hear Ron Howard’s voice now, deadpan, “Things, in fact, did not go smoothly.”

I’m sure my daily routine, such as it is, would go off without a hitch, if there were more hours in a day. Like 48, maybe? You know, sleep for 12 of them, but not all in a row–unless required. Then we can space work and leisure time more appropriately and our day wouldn’t be wasted on commuting, and so forth.

Oh, sure, you’re gonna tell me that with many people working from home now, they already save so much time in their day. They have it easier. Let me tell you, as someone who was forced to work remotely even before the pandemic, it’s no picnic. Because of the pandemic, our sanctuaries were transformed to a catch-all: office, school, playground, home?, prison.

Essentially our homes turned into the junk-drawers of life. Amidst this disarray, there still hovers the many deadlines we’ve either been given or have given ourselves. And since we have nowhere to go for a reprieve, the walls tend to feel like they’re closing in and it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we just need to take a day, you know?

I have to ask myself, therefore, echoing the acronym of a title this week, “What would Ferris Bueller do?” For every attempt at working on my writing, be it blog posts or upcoming submissions, there would be one distraction after another. I have admitted to procrastination in the past, but it was never intentional. Yes, these distractions and delays are partially due to procrastination, but that’s because of fear, self-loathing and self-sabotage, not laziness. Come on, people. I put the “tortured” in tortured artist.

There are two amazingly wonderful and awesome kids in our household, both under 12 and on opposite ends of the autism spectrum. Personally, I think they’re the smartest ones under this roof. The adults here can hardly keep up. I’ve mentioned my nephew a couple times already, but it’s my niece that has captured my attention this week. Literally. My sweet Izzybear is a cunning 9 year-old, non-verbal, and very expressive. I lovingly call her X-23 and have the war stories to go with it.

Since they were born, I’ve always put their health and happiness ahead of my own, so even when pressed against a deadline, I could not and would not pass up an opportunity to spend time with them because I had already missed so much when we lived apart for five years. Seeing the world through their eyes is beautiful and humbling. They inspire me as a writer and as a human being. So, when the kids need me, I drop what I’m doing, if I can, and try not to think about the million things I should be doing and focus on being the best I can be for them.

The other night there were internet issues, and I got my post out later than usual. As long as it came out on the day that’s in the post title, I’ve learned to let some things go. I’m not there yet where I have weeks and weeks worth of posts already pre-written and scheduled for upload. I don’t give myself grief anymore for the small stuff. I know just how menacing and sadistic stress can be on a person. Stress, more than those who cause the stress, has been my antagonist these past few years. It’s a work in progress but I’m learning how to slay the beast.

I think Ferris would take a step back and be present in the moment. I’d been neglecting that bit of mindfulness right along with the whole self-care thing, so it’s all very new to me.

My plans have been altered, not thwarted. And I say this with a deadline just days away. However, what makes this different from previous times my life went off course is that I’m okay with this detour and I still know where I’m headed. We all need to take a day, sometimes. A day to refresh, a day to recharge, a day to completely veg out and do nothing. Whatever you need to help you keep on keepin’ on.

I can think of at least five things I need to do this weekend, but I can hear my niece giggling not too far away, because she knows as soon as I finish typing this up, we’re in for another night of dancing/tag/Simon Says/conga line through the kitchen madness, and I’m here for it.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.

FANGIRL FRIDAY: Rewind, Remix, Recycle, Reuse, Reduce?

I’ve been feeding my insomniac self by watching midnight movies and shows, rather than having a midnight snack. Despite ratings, despite warnings, depending on who’s talking, I watched Terminator: Dark Fate and Bad Boys For Life on back to back evenings. Then, I recently caught myself up on the final season of Lethal Weapon and saw a commercial for a new Punky Brewster series. This semi-FLASHBACK FANGIRL FRIDAY post maybe hit me with the nostalgia bug finding some connection to characters I knew and loved, but I started to wonder if that’s all there was anymore.

In a recent article about a possible Criminal Minds revival, it got me excited. I’d recently binged the final season and already miss the characters. The article explained that a revival involved original cast and crew members, though no actors had yet to be attached to the project at the time of announcement, whereas a reboot could have completely different characters or a redo of a previous iteration with new actors. Revivals, reboots, reunion specials, series based on the big screen, movies inspired by the small screen. Different versions. Different perspectives. Same enjoyment?

What keeps us coming back to these types of stories? Is it the formula? Is it the familiarity? Is the market so saturated that we go with what’s comfortable? As a writer, this is something I think about a lot and it scares me as much as it motivates me to want to share my stories with the world.

As for the fangirl in me, I do enjoy these types of shows and movies–when they work. There’s a fine line between beating a dead horse and realizing the horse ain’t dead and you need to let it live its best life. When it came to Terminator: Dark Fate I think I wanted more. I loved Terminator 2: Judgment Day and remembered watching it in the theatre (*sniff* remember movie theatres?) and leaving so empowered. Linda Hamilton‘s portrayal of Sarah Connor is iconic. This (final?) instalment that reunited her with Arnold Schwarzenegger should’ve been awesome, but it ended up being too campy and dare I say, felt like the production was banking on their names to lure us in. I mean, it worked. I was lured, but I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I wanted to.

Bad Boys For Life, on the other hand, answered a question I’m sure every fan had asked. I wonder what Mike and Marcus are up to these days? Yes there were cheesy moments, but the chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence is undeniable that it’s like they fell right back in step with each other–or maybe they’ve been fighting crime on the streets of Miami this whole time. Who knows? Maybe it was the storyline in Dark Fate or what I perceived as forced acting between Hamilton and Schwarzenegger, but I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in their lives as I did our Boys from Miami.

Maybe that’s why I don’t want to always hedge my bets on these types of offerings. Expectations are too high and sometimes we’re left with disappointment. It’s also perhaps a good reason why I’m such a fan of shows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision. They’re expanding on storyverses that I’ve grown to love and are giving us new characters and storylines that can satisfy our late night binge watching hunger. You can be certain that I’m all in for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier when it comes out next month.

How about you? Are you into revivals, reboots, redos, and/or continuations, or are you a one and done type of viewer? Whatever it is, there’s definitely something for everyone. Enjoy your midnight visual snacking.

Stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time,

T out.