02 February 2015

Jordan Takes Over: Questions Answered!

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Has it been a month already? It felt more like a short nap...

If you stopped in for my post last month, you'll remember I asked everyone what they wanted me to write about. Well, most of you ganged up and asked for some flash fiction and well, I'm not entirely sure how to take that. One the one hand, that shows that you really just want to know more about me, which is great. But I'm not actually the writer here, so I get the feeling that you're trying to give my only post back to Sarah, and that's just not fair. Do you know what happens to people who try and cross me? Do you??

Well, since I don't know what you actually want, I'll think about it. Maybe. If I can come up with something really good to tell you about, I'll do it. But you've been warned...

Anyway, there were a few random questions/suggestions, so I'd like to answer those because I said that I would. Here goes...

L. Diane Wolfe said: "Writers being stupid - go for it."

Don't mind if I do! Of course I could go on about this for days, but I'll keep it brief. Writers are stupid all the time. You fight your characters, try to make them do things that make absolutely no sense. You're stubborn and take forever to realize when things aren't working (I'm not talking about anyone specific here, I swear...). And worst of all! You ignore inspiration when your muse gives it to you! Do you think we're just sitting around all the time waiting around for you? We've got other things to do, too, and if you're not going to take advantage of our inspiration, well, I don't even know what to tell you.

Was that harsh? Uh...sorry? Next question!

Tammy Theriault said: "Hey Jordan! Let's see you write on your theory that women are from Venus and men are from Mars."

Best question ever! Do I think men and women are from different planets? Absolutely. Holy crap. Ok, I get the feeling that everyone thinks I hate women, which is just not true at all. I just have really bad examples in my life. There's my mom, first of all. Not the greatest influence there. And all the other girls I know are teenagers and don't you even try to pretend that teenage girls aren't the worst people on the entire planet. They're all moody and just completely insane. No thanks. But I think the more important question here is, how do I get on the first spaceship to Mars??

And finally! Huntress said: "Inspiration is one topic I need. I vote for that."

That's a tricky one. I could talk about this forever, but I don't think even I could hold your attention for that long. I would say seek out inspiration wherever you can. It's not going to be the same for everyone. Find what speaks to you and then use it as much as you can. My thing is music, for example, and I know a lot of writers use music to inspire them. So if you have a particular song that gets you writing, well, LISTEN TO IT. Several times, until you've squeezed every drop of inspiration you can get out of it.

Hey, if you have more questions, throw them at me! If not, then maybe I'll think about this flash fiction nonsense...


30 January 2015

Some Random Stuff...

I couldn't quite figure out what to blog about today, but I had a lot of little things on my mind, so I figured I'd just go with that! Time for a list!
  • I’m making cupcakes this weekend to bring to my sister’s house for the Super Bowl. I was contemplating making an actual cake, but you know, cupcakes are kinda my thing. Pictures sometime next week!
  • I’m already behind on my reading goal for this year, having just finished my first book. Why do I always want to read 100 books every year? I never even come close! I’m going to try to read a few shorter books or ones I know I can fly through to try to catch up.
  • Speaking of books, I got the new Anne Rice book for Christmas, but it’s been so long since I’ve read the Vampire Chronicles that I feel like I should reread them before diving into the new one. But that would take FOREVER. There’s always Wikipedia, right?
  • I’m pretty certain that I’m going to do some kind of blogfest for my fourth blog anniversary! I think I’ve got a fun idea and will most likely do a giveaway (probably an Amazon gift card). It’s not until May, though, so I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
  • Have you signed up for the A to Z Challenge yet?? I actually have a theme planned for this year! I just have to work on planning my posts out. I’d really like to have most of them written before April begins. Then I could just spend the whole month looking at other blogs!
  • I’m hoping to get lots and lots of writing done tonight. At least 2,000 words. It would be great if I could actually write this scene that I’ve been thinking about instead of keeping it buzzing around in my head. 
That's it, I think. Or I could just keep going forever. Have a good weekend, everyone!!

28 January 2015

When Things Have to Change

Sometimes when you can't quite figure out how to fix a story, eventually you will come to realize that things have to change. Maybe a certain element just isn't working. Maybe the characters aren't doing what you want them to, or even doing things that don't feel right for them. Whatever the reason, change can be scary. You've already put a lot of effort into writing your piece and you know editing and changing things is going to be even harder. You might even be stubborn, thinking that your story is perfect or that you can somehow salvage those parts that aren't working. But if something isn't working, then it never will, no matter how many times you stomp your foot and insist you got it right the first time.

The first step is simply knowing that something has to change. If something feels off to you, then it will most likely feel off to a reader. But that certainly doesn't mean that you will be able to catch everything that isn't working--you may need a beta reader to do this for you. Or you may just need to step away from your work for a while, then go back and read it over. Things may seem different with a different perspective.

For me, at least, I knew the last third of my book wasn't working. I had never really pictured it going in a different direction, so it was hard to finally accept that big changes needed to be made. I was fine with small changes--cutting a scene here or there, even if I liked it. But actually changing what happens? That never really occurred to me. I always just thought if something didn't feel right, I could just find a way to write it better. But even if the words are perfect, if they don't fit where you put them, it still isn't going to work.

Accepting that things have to change is a little bit harder than simply knowing. You have to let go of whatever isn't working, understand that making these changes will ultimately make the story better. You can consider all of your options at this point. It might even be exciting at first. I know most writers probably like the thrill of writing the first draft over the grueling process of editing. Once you accept that things need to be changed, it's a bit like starting over. You can write these parts from scratch, consider making changes that you never would have thought possible when you first started writing.

Perhaps the hardest part is knowing how to change things. When you cut a scene, what should you replace it with? What should your characters be doing instead of what they did that didn't feel right in your first draft? The answers might not come to you right away. You may have to think about it for a long time before things start to make sense. But hopefully once they do, you'll know that making these changes in the first place was the only solution. Your writing will get better and the story will make more sense. And maybe next time having to make those big changes won't feel so scary, since you know eventually it will all work out.

Have you ever had to make big changes to a story? Was it exciting or terrifying? 

26 January 2015

Don't Save Everything for the End

Something awesome happened on Friday night. I wrote some words! Real, actual words! I didn't just keep them bottled up in my head! Ok, so it was only 1,218 words, to be exact. But seeing as how I haven't written anything besides a blog post since August, I will definitely take it. Hopefully this means I'll be able to start writing more and more. 

Since I'm working on rewriting the last third of my book, I've been thinking a lot about the order in which things happen. How much of what happens at the end really needs to wait that long? Do we save certain moments just because we want a satisfying ending? But if the reader has to wait that long, will it even be satisfying at all? 

Every story is going to be different. If you're writing a mystery, for example, then you probably don't want to reveal who the killer is until the end. Every story is going to have its own appropriate climax and you'll most likely know how it will all turn out. 

But what if there's more to your ending than the actual ending? Are you saving too much for the end and leaving the reader bored along the way?

For me, at least, I knew something felt off about the end. Not just in the main plot, but in the subplots as well. It was like I wanted to end each part of the story by punching the reader in the face. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but you really want to consider all of the options. If you're saving everything until the very last moment, then what is happening in the meantime? Is it enough to hold the reader's attention? 

Maybe the solution is to push things back. The first thing I realized I had to do involved one of the subplots. I had it end with a "holy crap," punch-you-in-the-face sort of moment. But honestly, the more I thought about it, the more forced it felt. I had a character reveal something in a fit of rage and it just felt like I was putting it there to be dramatic and it honestly didn't even fit his character. So I decided to push it back. Have him reveal this information earlier in the story and in a calm, natural way that feels realistic. Not only does this make the subplot more interesting earlier on, but it also left things open for me to end it in a different way. And this new ending feels more realistic for the characters and just less cliched in general. So I think it's going to work a lot better than the original. 

As far as the main plot goes, my aha moment was realizing that I could take something from the very last chapter, throw it like a grenade into an earlier part in the story and watch it blow everything up. It was such a scary realization because I never thought of the story going this way but once I started to figure it out, it just felt so right. It also kind of takes some of the pressure off the last chapter now so that I can make that feel more natural as well. 

I think my problem was that I was always forcing things to happen, particularly toward the end of the story. But if you keep your mind open and allow yourself to rearrange things and imagine different outcomes then your story might turn out for the better. I think it's better to leave your reader a trail of breadcrumbs leading up to the ending, or you may be forcing everything into the end and just hoping that they believe it. 

What are your thoughts on endings? Should they punch the reader in the face? Have you ever taken something from the end and moved it back? 

23 January 2015

Fast Five Friday: 5 TV Character Crushes

This is my first time taking part in the Fast Five Friday blog hop, created by the gals over at Cover Girls! This week they've asked us to share our 5 TV Character Crushes. I was super excited to do this, until I realized that I really don't have 5 crushes. I had maybe 2, and even that felt like a stretch. Ok, so I'm weird, right? I don't know if it's possible to be partially asexual, but if it is, I am. I just don't look at a guy and think, hey, he's hot. My brain doesn't work that way.

But anyway, I'll cut to the chase before I ramble off anymore. So I decided to use the term "crush" very loosely, to also include characters who I absolutely adore and if they're not on screen I want to throw a hissy fit. So yeah, a few gay guys snuck in...what do you want from me??

1. Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds

2. Jim Harper from The Newsroom

3. Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who & Torchwood

4. Connor Walsh from How to Get Away with Murder

5. Patrick from Looking 

21 January 2015

This World Bites by Loni Townsend

Today I'm hosting author Loni Townsend, in honor of her new release, This World Bites. She's sharing her experiences with the horrible yet inevitable task of killing your darlings. I'm learning a thing or two about that lately as well. Take it away, Loni! 

Killing Darlings for the Sake of Success

I want to start with a huge thank you to Sarah for letting me on her blog today. I know she's decided to scrap the last ten chapters of her story, and I totally relate to how daunting that is. 

This World Bites had a different ending than what I actually released. A few people even got to read it. It turns out, not everyone appreciates my twisted sense of humor, and it made some people downright angry with me. Some people loved it (thank you, Elizabeth), but even so, I decided not to risk tanking a possibly good rating on the very last page.

Of course, I can't tell you what the original ending was, because it would ... well, give away the ending. But after you read This World Bites, if you want to know how the story originally ended, hit me up. 

Will it pay off? Possibly. I think more people will be okay with this ending. Is it better? Eh... That's a matter of opinion. I still giggle to myself when I read the original. 

It's hard to let go of those tidbits we love. But sometimes, what's best for the author isn't what's best for the story. 

Have you ever had to cut something that you just didn't want to let go? Did you regret the decision afterward? Do you think your story is better because of it?

It’s her first day on a new world and Cera’s already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, has been bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks.

Everyone tells her there’s no cure, but Cera isn’t one to be deterred. She’s willing to face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael. But she’s not the only one hunting for something.

Something is hunting her.

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.

People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being a ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.
Find her on her blog or social media.
Contact info:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads

19 January 2015

Don't Fight the Inspiration

Writers crave inspiration. We seek it out from music, books, and anything else that may inspire us. We sit around waiting for it to strike for what feels like forever, usually whining about writer's block and absent muses. But when that inspiration finally hits, do you use it to its full advantage? Do you write every possible second you can before it fades away? Or do you let it slip through your fingers?

One of the things I always do before I write out a scene is picture it several times in my head before I write down a single word. It helps me picture exactly how the scene is going to go, and I can make changes if things don't feel right before I even start writing. If a particular story is occupying my brain, it's pretty much all I can think about. I'll picture different scenes while trying to read, taking a shower, or even when I'm trying to fall asleep (believe me, that's when the best inspiration hits). My problem is that I don't always use this inspiration to its full advantage. So it feels like I'm fighting it.

I'm sure everyone has their own reasons for not writing even when they're feeling inspired. Maybe the images are in your head, but the words aren't materializing as easy. Maybe you have too many ideas and can't focus on just one. Maybe you just don't have time to write. Or maybe you're scared to.

I know, it sounds weird, but I think it's my problem so I figure I can't be the only one. Whether its a story idea that you've been working on for years, or one you just came up with, sometimes making the commitment to write is easier said than done. The story you've been working on forever may seem too daunting and exhausting, and you feel like you'll never figure it out. And maybe that new idea seems fresh and exciting, but who knows what will happen once you commit to it? Either way, those ideas feel safer in your head, so you don't write anything. And if you're like me, if you don't give in to the ideas, eventually they start fading away.

It sounds crazy, right? Shouldn't we be milking the inspiration for all it's worth? Why is it so difficult to actually start writing? Fear is a big factor, but I also think it's about self-indulgence. Just thinking about those ideas can be entertaining, and you don't have to worry about getting all the words right. It's just for you, so why should it matter? What you have to realize is that writing can be self-indulgent, too. If you like an idea enough, why not write it down? If nothing else, at least you would be able to read it. Having those pictures in your head be words on the page can be motivating as well. You'll want to write more. And if you think it's good enough, if you keep working on it, hopefully you'll want someone else to read it, too.

No matter what your reason is, don't fight the inspiration. Give in to it. Any chance you have to write is a chance you should take.