"Welcome to Japan, folks. The local time is . . . tomorrow."
- from 30 Minutes Over Tokyo, The Simpsons, Season 10

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reading as a Writer

This is cross-posted from the Absolute Write message board.

When I choose a book to read, I'll look for things like genre, type of main character (shapeshifter, spy, pirate, etc.), whether it's an author/series I've read before, and point of view.

While I'm reading a book for the first time, I hope to be engaged by the characters, their situation, and the world they inhabit that I don't notice little details. Afterwards though, I like to page through the book and/or think about what I read, sometimes even reread passages to get a feel for how the author handled things like chapter length, opening hook, major turning points, character backstory and description, whether each chapter ends with a hook or not, etc.. These are also the same things that can pull me out of a story while I'm reading it.

Some other things that can pull me out of a story are unbelievable character actions/reactions to a situation, especially when it contradicts with the character's backstory, too much and too closely repeating one or two details about the main character while not including other details about him/her, really short or really long chapters, especially when the really long chapters don't have any scene breaks, and when every chapter has to end with a hook.

Some of these things will make me not enjoy a book as much as I could have, while others will annoy me so much that it'll just take me a really long time to finish reading the book.

As a writer, I just try to incorporate the things I like into my fiction while avoiding the things I don't like. When I get stuck, or what to know how an author pulled off one of these techniques well, I try to analyze their work to see how they did it so I can try the same in my own writing. I think that's why it's important for authors to read non-fiction books about writing techniques and fiction books to see practical applications of that technique.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Holidays

Well, it's December 1st already. I can barely believe it.

Pretty soon Christmas will be here, then the New Year, then my second baby will be born.

Just this last week my husband and I were wrapping Christmas presents and I was commenting how my belly wasn't so big the last time I was pregnant and wrapping presents, when my baby was due in April and not February. I needed my husband to help cut the wrapping paper just because my belly was so big I couldn't reach the other side, and even leaning over as far as I could, I could only reach about the middle of the paper.

Something about wrapping presents just reminded us how close we are to having our second baby. When I got really sick with morning sickness this past summer, it seemed like it would never end. Now I'm 29 weeks along. It's kind of exciting because my son was born at 37 1/2 weeks, so we'll see how close this one makes it to 40 weeks.

I didn't get much work done for NaNo this year. In fact, it was my worst year. But on the non-writing front, I made a lot of headway in cleaning my house. It's not perfect, but better than it's probably ever looked. Plus, my husband hung our stockings last night.

We also had Thanksgiving dinner for my husband's family at our place (which was the main reason to get all the cleaning done). Seeing all the tables and chairs crammed into the living room reminded me of holidays at my grandma's where there are so many people you can't see the floor. What can I say, I like the holidays. I'm just glad Thanksgiving's over and someone else is hosting Christmas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Japanese Schools, Part 2

And here's the follow up.

I taught in Iwadeyama in Miyagi Prefecture, which is a pretty small farming community in north central Japan. So that had all the small town politics you could imagine.

I also taught in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is comparable to many American cities. Not too small, but not too big either, like Tokyo or Osaka. Yamaguchi's on the southern tip of Honshu. And Yamaguchi city has a population of about 140,000, which is the smallest of all Prefectural capitals. It's also pretty close to Fukuoka (a major shopping center), Shimonoseki (which has an amazing fireworks display in August), and Hiroshima.

Another thing I wanted to mention was that nearly all schools require a school uniform. From The first week in October to the first week in June they wear their winter uniform, which is a long sleeve shirt or a jacket and skirt for girls and pants for boys. In June, they switch to their summer uniform which is a short sleeve shirt. There's also a lot of variations on uniforms, like a lot of different styles.

High school students tend to wear really short skirts too. Like when I taught in Miyagi, it was very fashionable for the high school girls to wear their skirt hiked up so high that it barely covered their butt (like it'd be maybe an inch below their shirt) and showed off the gym shorts they wore underneath. I saw at least three different color gym shorts, so my guess was a different color for each grade, but I didn't teach at that school, so I'm not sure.

Also, they typically don't have locker/changing rooms, and when they need to change into their gym uniform (which is the same for boys and girls), they usually just change in the classroom (boys and girls). The junior high school I taught at in Miyagi was kind of unique in that it had "locker rooms" for the students, a separate boys' and girls' one for each class. But, they weren't like the ones in America because if you looked out the window from the teachers' lounge you could see them. So the rule was just don't look out the window. But from an American standpoint, it seemed rather open and not at all private to me, but I would take that to having to change in hue classroom. But then, as you could probably guess from the fashionable high school uniforms, they typically wore at least their gym shorts under their regular school uniform.

Likewise, they rarely had lockers in the classrooms and didn't have any in the hallways, so most students would keep their book bag next to their desk with them. Which can be kind of annoying when you have thirty-some students crammed into a room that should only fit twenty or so. You just have to be careful not to trip over someone else's bag.

Another thing is that Japan doesn't have indoor heating, except in Hokaido. So the individual classrooms will have a space heater. So if you sit next to the heater in winter, you will be quite toasty. But if you sit on the opposite side of the room, then you'll be pretty cold. So some students, mainly girls because of their skirts, will take a blanket to school with them to cover their legs during the day.

And getting back to the school uniforms before I forget again. Not all schools require a uniform. My husband taught at a junior high school where they didn't require one, but most of the students chose to wear school uniforms anyway. Though instead of everyone wearing the same uniform, he said it looked like friends went shopping together to pick out matching uniforms. So there was a wide variety of school uniforms there, but groups of students tended to wear the same one. Except a couple students didn't wear a uniform at al.

And, since often times the uniforms are all the same, the only/main way girls can express themselves is by their hairstyle. So you can see a lot more elaborate hairstyles in Japan than you can see in the US. This might mostly be a junior high school thing though. But if you ever want to change your hairstyle, you can only do it over one of the breaks.

As far as I know, the breaks include Golden Week (a week long in May and corresponds with the Emperor's birthday), summer break (which I think is around July/August and lasts a month), and winter break (which is also a month long and is in December/January). Then there's a break at the end of the year, for about a month, that's in March. Their school year goes from the beginning of April to the beginning of March.

Also, I wanted to add that their breaks usually correspond with the end of a term. And at least for summer break they are usually given homework to do. But I'm not sure about winter break.

That's about all I can think of for now.

Japanese Schools, Part 1

So once again in response to topics over at the NaNo message boards, I have some more stuff that might be of interest here. If nothing else, I get to talk more about my experiences in Japan.

So this first post are my answers in response to another user's questions, which is why some of the info may seem a little disjointed.

I was never a student in Japan, but I taught ESL there for about a year, so hopefully I can help answer some questions.

I only taught Monday through Friday, but there were a lot of other activities that took place on Saturdays. Like Sports Day and Culture Festival.

I worked from 8 am to 4 pm. During that time, there were six classes. I think the first was around 8:20 am. There was lunch. And at the end of the day, all the students had to help clean their classroom. Then most students had an extracurricular activity that started around 3. At my school, busses left at 3 then would come back to pick up kids after their activities and leave at 4.

Also, students don't change classes, but the teachers do. So the kids will always have the same classroom and same classmates for the year. And they eat lunch in their classroom.

Elementary school is six years, or US equivalent of grades 1 to 6. Junior high school is three years, or US grades 7 to 9. And high school is three years, or US grades 10 to 12. Each grade starts at 1 for each school. So a junior in America would be a year 2 high school student in Japan. Usually there are more than one classes per grade, so they are usually called 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc. depending on how many students there are in each grade. Also, this class number is posted outside the classroom.

Because Japan is very homogenous, non-Japanes people tend to stick out. A lot. I don't know how it is for a foreign student to go there, but as a foreigner in general it can take a lot to get used to, especially if you're used to someplace with a lot of diversity, Like the US.

Foreigners, or at least Americans, are expected to be very outgoing, be loud, and have very animated features while talking. So, as a foreigner, if you say, "Ohaiyo gozaimasu," you're expected to say it loud enough that the entire room can hear you, even if a Japanese person could just say it in a normal voice or even quietly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vampire Questionnaire

This was originally posted over at the NaNo message board, but I thought it would be useful to post here as well.

This doesn't cover everything there is to know about my vampires, but it's a pretty good start.

1. Are your vampires "alive" or "dead?"

My vampires are very much dead. The world allows for "living vampires," but I haven't dealt with them yet.

2. Can your vampires eat or drink? How about sleep?

They can't eat or drink except blood. They don't need to sleep, but they need rest because their minds are still active and resting/sleeping allows their minds to process everything, same as it does for humans.

3. It's pretty standard that sunlight and vampires go hand in hand. Is sunlight fatal to your vampires? Does it just bother them? DO THEY SPARKLE IN IT?

Sunlight is not fatal to my vamps, it just weakens their vampire powers/abilities. Most newer camps tend to stay indoors during the day just because the sun bothers their eyes and because they're pretty weak. But the older and/or more powerful vampires don't have as much of an issues with the sun because they have enough extra vampire power to make the sun's effects not seem like a weakness.

4. More myths! Do your vampires have to be invited in to a private residence? Do they have shadows? How about reflections? Are they harmed by Christian objects like crosses or holy water?

They don't have to be invited in. They do have shadows and reflections. And they can be harmed by any religious symbol, Christian or otherwise, so long as the person wielding the religious symbol knows that the vampire is in fact a vampire, believes in vampires, and believes that holding out a religious symbol will actually protect him/her from the vampire. It's possible to kill a vampire with a religious symbol, just not that likely because most people don't have that high of a belief in all three categories for it to be effective.

5. Blood. All vampires need it. Do your vampires drink human blood or animal blood? Can they drink both?

Yes, vampires can drink both human and animal blood and survive. But their preferred blood source is that of other supernaturals (like shapeshifters, witches, etc.).

6. IT'S A BIRD! IT'S A PLANE...NO, IT'S A FLYING VAMPIRE! ...Can your vampires fly or levitate? Do they have any other "special" powers? Are the super fast? Super strong? Telekinetic?

Most newly created vampires are nothing more than ghouls, who only care about getting their next meal. They barely even have a human consciousness. If they survive long enough they can eventually become more vampire-like. I don't know what their abilities are like because I haven't really worked with them much, but they are faster and stronger than humans. Plus they're dead, so not much can hurt them.

My strongest vampire is stronger and faster than other vampires, can "melt" into her surroundings, and has the power of her Beast (which I don't really know what that is yet either). And these are while the sun's at it's brightest. She also has some other abilities that I have written down but can't think of at the moment.

7. Speaking of dhampirs, does your novel have any? Oh, and for those of you that don't know, dhampirs are half human, half vampire.

No. Even though they could potentially exist in the world.

8. Okay, I gotta know. Can your vampires reproduce? Are they fertile? Can they "mate" with humans?

No. With the exception of "living vampires," but then I don't think those are really vampires to begin with.

9. Hey, you're almost done! Anyway, what do your vampires look like? Any defining characteristics? Are they more Count Orlok than Lestat?

The main characteristic of my vampires is that they all have ruby/blood red eyes. Also, they have a severe allergy to wood, so they tend to avoid things like toothpicks, wooden chopsticks, stakes, and pretty much anything else that contains wood.

10. Yay, last question! How were your vampires made? Virus? Evil warlock? Can they bite people and turn them into vampires?

The original vampire was created by the Angel of Death. He figured since the other gods were creating their own supernaturals that he should be able to create his own. So the Angel of Death created the first vampire, who changed his wife into the second vampire. Then the first vampire got cocky and wanted a priestess for his mistress even though she was married and had kids. But he changed her into a vampire anyway. When she changed her children into vampires, because she didn't want to spend eternity without them, the first two vampires tried to kill her. She killed them instead. Now she's the most powerful vampire. And her kids are responsible for making all the other vampires, except for one (my MC).

In order to become a vampire, you have to die (usually quite violently too), and loose over half your blood in the process. This is from a vampire trying to feed on you and/or kill you. Then either that same vampire or another vampire has to give you enough of their blood to make up for the blood you just lost. Since this severly weakens the vampire who gives you their blood, most are against actually doing this. Yes, my vampires would rather just let you die than turn a dying human into a vampire themselves.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Back to Revisions

I'm like doing a posting marathon today or something, but these are just a couple things I wanted to add. And having a distracted toddler long enough to post some stuff isn't an everyday occurrence.

So here's another one cross-posted from the Den of Shadows message board.

I'm getting back to revising my sci fi/urban fantasy. It's going to be difficult starting out because I'm switching two scenes around. That doesn't seem all that hard, but then I have to make all the scenes in-between and around those two scenes flow together. Plus I need to delete a character (which makes him happy since he'll be alive to hopefully come back in another book), and I'm hoping to give his important scenes to one of the antagonists (and the guy I'm deleting was a semi-love interest).

In my head it all sounds like a really good idea and a way to make a much stronger opening and story in general. But then the outline I had for my first draft also sounded pretty good in my head. So we'll see what happens. And we'll see how much I can get done before November.

Additional comments.

I'm just excited to be working on this story again. I've been wishy-washy with it all summer and now that it's almost time for NaNo, I'm gonna see if I can get it done before then. Or at least get a significant way through this set of revisions.

But then I have a pretty good motivational treat this time around.

Mature Themes and Writing YA

These two posts are both cross-posted from the NaNoWriMo message board, with some addition comments.

The thread is about mature themes/topics in YA books and what readers can handle versus what writers can/should write. It's a long debate, especially with books like The Hunger Games trilogy where many readers, parents, and librarians were outraged at the violence of the trilogy, especially in Mocking Jay. I haven't read the books yet, but they're on my list. But then you have other books that have teen sex, drugs use, drinking, any number of things that some adults don't want/thinks teens to/should be exposed to.

Actually, I think the thread started as a rant, but as someone who writes YA, this interests me beyond the level of a rant.

So here's my first post.

Granted I'm no longer in the YA age range, but I still love reading and writing YA. I read YA a lot more now then when I was actually in high school just because the YA market has become it's own entry since then. Before I would have to look for books in the adult section and hoped they had younger characters or just deal with it.

But now YA has exploded as a market, and in some cases it's more popular than the adult market in the same genre. So it seems like a lot of authors are crossing over, meaning they're writing the same genre, but now for both markets.

The only problem I have is that it seems that some of these authors need a formula in order to write YA. Like the last book I read, it seemed like the author made a checklist of all these things that are in YA books, and therefore she needed to use them in her own writing.

Her philosophy seemed to be:
Every teen drinks, unless the parental units are around.
Teens do drugs, like pot and cocaine.
Every teen has sex.
If you can't have sex, you'll masturbate.
Even if the character's in a steady relationship, there still needs to be a love interest that's the new student at school.

That's all I can think of for now, but it just really annoyed me.

I think as an older person trying to write YA I'm more sensitive to some of the stuff that older YA writers feel like they have to include. Mainly because when I was in high school, not everyone was drinking or smoking or doing illegal drugs or even having sex. And sometimes I feel that older YA writers feel like they have to include these things otherwise they won't be true to the YA market, when instead it feels like they're writing stereotypes of teens.

And my second.

When I was in high school I didn't want to read about characters swearing, drinking, having sex, etc because I didn't do any of those things. So a lot of the fiction I wrote at the time was anti-swearing/drugs/sex and it seemed like I went out of my way to avoid those topics in my writing.

But now, ten years later, I've learned a lot about writing, creating characters, and life in general. Now I don't have a problem writing about some high schoolers going to a party and drinking. I don't try to write how evil acohol is, even though I don't drink myself and would prefer my son didn't drink until he's 21. At the same time, I don't write it that every character drinks, has sex, does drugs, etc. It's not who I am now and it wasn't who I was in high school, so I think it's important to show that not everyone does these things, but I think it's more important to be true to the character.

Just like some people experience more "mature themes" at a younger age, some characters can and should experience those same things at a younger age. But just because some teens drink, smoke, do drugs, and have sex, that doesn't mean all teens do or that all teens should in writing either.

Finally, some additional comments.

Do I think that writing YA makes me obligated to write about teen sex/smoking/drug use/drinking/swearing? No. Just because it seems likes it's becoming the norm to write "edgy" YA doesn't mean I need to. That's like saying just be use I write adult fiction about a character in a romantic relationship, I need to include explicit sex scenes. (But that's a topic for a later blog post.)

Some people mention (not necessarily on that thread, but this is just what I've picked up around the blogosphere) that if you include sex/drinking/swearing, etc. you should be obligated to educate your readers on it. Like at another message board I go to, someone said if your teens are having sex, they need to have "safe" sex (which was suggested to them by their agent/editor). I have nothing wrong with that, but birth control still isn't 100% effective. You can extrapolate this into saying if your characters drink and drive, they need to get into an accident or get pulled over by the cops or something.

But other people say that the only obligation you have to your readers is to tell them a good story. You don't need to preach to them about the horrors of teen sex/drugs/drinking or anything else--whether that's your view or not.

To me, telling a good story is being true to my characters. Some of them drink, others don't. Some of them have sex, others don't. Just because I think writing young adult should be true to the young adult experience. Not every teen drinks. Not every teen smokes. Not every teen has sex. So why should all of my teen characters drink, smoke, have sex, etc.?

Inspiration and Procrastination

This is cross-posted from the Den of Shadows message board.

If I can't focus on my writing for lack of ideas/inspiration I usually read (if I'm in a reading mood), or do a Google image search. Like lately I've had a couple ideas for different stories but nothing too solid, so I've done a couple image searches because looking at pictures helps inspire me. The downside is that it can be a huge time-suck too. So it's just a matter of finding the balance.

Reading is probably a better idea for inspiration because I think it serves double duty by helping you analyze others' writing too. But I have a hard time finding what I want to read or something that will interest me.

My problem now is that I have two stories I want to work on, but I want to keep one for NaNo and the other is a short story I want to finish before NaNo, and I have to work around my toddler's schedule. Which leaves me to write early in the morning before he gets up, during nap time, or after everyone goes to bed at night, and I just haven't found what time works best for me yet. (Part of that's also an excuse to procrastinate.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo and Pregnancy 2

Here's another pregnancy related topic from the NaNo message board. This was posted on October 10 in the thread Anything and Everything About Giving Birth.

1. My delivery was painful, but I opted for the no drugs option. I don't know about nation-wide, but in my city (southern Minnesota) about 80% of women get an epidural, which is a shot in the spine to numb everything from the waist down. Lucky for me, the whole labor and delivery thing lasted only a couple hours.

2. I read that it's possible to know the gender as early as 12 weeks. However, most places do a 20 week ultrasound where you can learn the gender then. I haven't heard of anyone actually learning the gender before the 20 week ultrasound. 20 weeks is about 5 months.

3. Gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and eclampsia that I know of. (Note that this used to be called toxemia because they thought it came from a toxin.) These are all part of the same thing, just to different degrees. It starts with gestational hypertension, which is increased blood pressure while pregnant. That's what I had. And for the first part of my pregnancy my blood pressure was normal, then in the last couple months it started going up and up and up to where they had to induce me because that's the only way my blood pressure would go back down. Usually when the mother-to-be has this, shell give birth early. How early depends on how severe it is. I was induced two and a half weeks early, but I know someone who had pre-eclampsia and was induced a month early. Some symptoms include sudden swelling of hands, legs, feet, and especially the face. More severe symptoms are blurred vision and headaches (I think), and seizures. Actually, I suppose I don't know if this is fatal or not, but I do know that the doctors take it pretty seriously. Even thought I felt fine, I couldn't have the lights on, the shades drawn, or even the tv on, or a radio while Ii was in the hospital e they thought any of those things could lead to a seizure. And I had the mildest form of this possible. I also had to have bumper pads on my bed in case I did have a seizure.

4. Since I was induced, I knew the labor would be coming. I was annoyed that they wouldn't let me get up and walk around. I felt fine, but because of the IV and the magnesium drip I was on, they wouldn't let me get out of bed. I was glad mine was very short.

NaNoWriMo and Pregnancy 1

For some reason there's a lot of threads on pregnancy over at the NaNoWriMo message board. That or I'm just more aware of all the pregnancy topics being that I'm over halfway through my second pregnancy. Either way, rather than repeating myself or just because I want to keep that information available here for other people, I'm going to cross-post my responses here. Since some of them are pretty long, I'll probably take a couple blog posts to do it.

This one was posted on October 18 in response to the thread Not knowing you're pregnant/pre-eclampsia.

The first thing with pre-eclampsia is that it starts with elevated blood pressure. For me, it didn't get above normal until I was around 30 weeks along or so. But even then, that wasn't enough to say I had pre-eclampsia.

From what I understand, a lot of women who don't know they're pregnant are on the heavier side to begin with. And the heavier your are, the less weight you're likely to put on while pregnant. And I'm pretty sure that some heavier people already have blood problems to begin with, so its not that uncommon for them to have higher blood pressure.

But having high blood pressure isn't enough to have pre-eclampsia. It's a symptom, but not the only one.

Other symptoms of pre-eclampsia include having headaches, seeing spots or having blurry vision, and swelling of your face, hands, and feet. So I'd imagine if someone came in with these symptoms, that a doctor might think to check if the woman is pregnant, but that also depends on what other conditions might share these symptoms.

Also, note that I'm not a doctor or any other type of medical personnel, just a woman who had gestational hypertension with my first pregnancy.

To determine if it's more than hypertension (high blood pressure), you have to do a protein test. For this test, they give you a large container where you have to keep all your urine for 24 hours (you also need to store the container in your fridge so the urine doesn't go bad). If you don't collect all the urine, then you have to start all over, so it's highly recommended you do it right the first time around. Once you have all the urine collected, you take it to the lab and they test it for proteins. There's something about pre-eclampsia that makes it so you can't properly process protein and that shows up in your urine. It also doesn't matter if you eat a lot of meat (have a high protein diet) or are vegetation and eat a low protein diet (like I do). (I asked about this, because I thought it might interfere with my results, but it doesn't.)

My protein test came up as negative for pre-eclampsia, but they still had me keep track of the other symptoms. I also didn't realize how much of a blimp I had become (like how swollen my face, hands, feet, and legs were) until after I had given birth and look at the birth pictures. My sister said I looked like a football player with how swollen I was.

If there is swelling, they'll suggest you go on bed rest and try to put your feet up whenever you sit down. For me, my "bed rest" was to lay down for six hours a day (in addition to sleeping at night) and this could be broken up into two hours, three times a day. They also suggested that I sleep with my feet up, which meant putting a pillow under my feet, which is a little uncomfortable when you can only sleep on your side. (Sleeping on your side only is for any pregnant woman more than 18 weeks along.)

Though just because the swelling goes down doesn't mean your blood pressure will go down. I was able to get some of the swelling down in my legs and feet, but my blood pressure still went up.

As to the differences between pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, I'm not really sure what they are. Eclampsia is more severe, but even with gestational hypertension, they still treated me as though I had eclampsia when I was in the hospital to give birth.

Actually, I think one of the biggest symptoms of eclampsia is the seizures. When I was in the hospital, they wouldn't let me watch tv, listen to music, open the window, or even turn on the lights brighter than a low lamp because they thought any of those things could give me a seizure, thus making it so I had eclampsia. They even put bumper pads on my bed and added an extra pad over the mattress to make it extra soft in case I did have a seizure.

With me, they had to induce labor because my blood pressure wasn't going down and they figured the only way it would go back down to a healthy level would be to get the baby out of my body. I was about 37 and a half weeks along. (But then 36 - 37 weeks is near-term, 38 - 40 weeks is term, and 41 - 42 weeks is post term.) I don't remember exactly what my blood pressure was, but whenever I told health care professionals what it was, they were pretty shocked/horrified by how high it was.

I don't know if there's really a length of time in which it goes from pre-eclampsia to eclampsia. I think it just depends on the woman and what are symptoms are.

I only had gestational hypertension and was induced about two and a half weeks early. I know know who had pre-eclampsia or maybe eclampsia (I didn't talk to her that much, only that when I said I only had gestational hypertension she was like oh, well that's nothing, which was kind of insulting to me because what I went through wasn't "nothing") who was induced a month early. He baby even had to spend time in an incubator whereas mine didn't.

If this were to go untreated, I don't know how long the baby could survive. But I'd imagine that a doctor or someone might get the idea to see if this woman is pregnant or not, be able to do a pregnancy test/ultrasound, and then get the woman induced if they were that afraid of her having eclampsia.

Depending on how good the hospital is (like how week equipped they are, whether they're in a large city or a small town, and whether they specialize in babies or not) depends on how long a child can survive. Like I heard about a baby surviving (I don't know how long) when it was born around 22 weeks, but it was connected to an incubator and various medical things to keep it alive. But that never would have happened at the hospital was in, because it's just smaller and not equipped to deal with a situation like that. Also, this story happened at one of the children's hospitals in the Twin Cities, which specializes in infants and children.

And if the induction doesn't work for a woman, depending on how severe the pre-eclampsia/eclampsia is, she may need to have an emergency C-section.

I don't know if I actually answered your question, but I hope you find something useful in my long post.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Point of View

This is cross-posted form the Romance Divas message board.

I write in both first person and third person. For me, it depends on what I want to convey in the story. If I want to show multiple character's viewpoints, I usually write in third. But if I want to limit my story to just one viewpoint, then I'll write in first.

For example, one of the young adult stories I'm working on is a romance and I wanted to include the heroine's, the hero's and the villain's points of view because I thought that would create more suspense for the story. Plus, I wouldn't have to rely on my heroine to resort to out-of-character ways for her to figure out if the hero is into her or not. Plus, my heroine has a supernatural ability that allows her to pass through the waking/real world and the dreamscape without realizing it and it sort of makes her crazy because she looses her grip on what's real and what's only a dram. But since I didn't want to confuse the reader with what's real and what's not, I can switch to another point of view, to someone who isn't going crazy.

In another young adult story I'm working on, my main character is completely obsessed over this guy. From her point of view, he's perfect. But I switch to other characters' points of view to show that he isn't as perfect as she makes him out to be, and that he could be a potential villain.

But the futuristic urban fantasy novel I'm working on is entirely in first person. My narrator thinks she knows about the world, but there's a lot of stuff that she doesn't know. So I can use her ignorance to show the world I've created to both her and the readers. Also, I felt if I told her story from multiple points of view that I would give away too much of the plot and take out that suspense element (which is the opposite of my young adult romance I mentioned above).

I also got started writing in first person because I had a difficult time with head hopping and never knowing whose point of view I was supposed to be in. By writing in first person, I could only write what this one character can see, hear, smell, touch, feel, do, etc. and I think it's helped me improve my writing. I'm equally comfortable writing and reading either third person or first person stories.

One of the other factors I keep in mind before deciding which point of view to write in is what genre I'm writing in. Most romances tend to be written in third person from the hero's and heroine's points of view, while urban fantasy tends to be written in first person. But then paranormal romance can be written in either, chick-lit is usually written in first, and science fiction romance can be in either, same with paranormal YA and mysteries.

I think the only point of view mesh up I don't particularly care for is multiple first person, where there are multiple point-of-view characters, but every one is narrated in first person. To me this creates what I call a campfire effect where everyone is sitting around a campfire, including the villain, recounting what happened to them. It annoys me because it just doesn't seem believable to me. But then I'm reading a story now that's in multiple first that doesn't bother me too much. The main problem I have is that all the characters' voices sound the same or at least very similar so it can be difficult to keep the different characters apart and tell which character's point of view I'm actually in. But then, I envy the author who can do multiple first really well because they manage to give each point-of-view character a distinct voice.


In case you haven't noticed, I finally figured out how to post while using my iPad.

Friday, September 17, 2010

When Beginnings Don't Work

This is cross-posted from this thread at Absolute Write.

I'm just getting back into editing one of my favorite manuscripts again just because I've been agonizing over the beginning. My beta reader suggested giving it a more action-y opening, so I wrote a new scene and tacked it on at the beginning. But the problem was just that, it felt tacked on. My original opening was also rather info dump-y, so I cut back on a lot of tha. But it still didn't feel very engaging to me. I mean, I like the scene and I like the characters, but that's because I already know who they are. I couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong with the opening, or how to it, so I stopped working on it for a while.

Then I read Kristen's blog post about killer openings and wondered if my opening was suffering from a similar problem. So I read her other posts on beginner mistakes, unsuccessful openings, and why she passed on sample pages. And I started really thinking about my opening and exactly what kind of problems I and my beta reader were having with it.

Anyway, I have a more action-y opening now, and one that I think will be more enticing to readers. All I did was take the last scene from chapter two and move it to the first scene in chapter one. I'll have to rearrange some of my earlier scenes around to make it fit, but I'm much happier with my beginning now. Plus, by switching these opening scenes around, I've added to my main character's motivation (which was another thing I was struggling with). And I actually want to work on it for a change, rather than just going, yeah, I really need to finish that.

I guess I'm just trying to say that I like agent blogs that talk about the rules and I like reading threads on message boards that talk about the rules. Because even thought I've been writing for a while now, and I even minored in creative writing at college, I'm still learning. I usually don't pay attention to the rules while I write, but reading other people's blogs and message board posts helps me understand why something I did didn't work so that I can fix it into something that does work.


Reading this thread at the Absolute Write Water Cooler reminds me of one of my creative writing classes in college where my husband said he didn't like what I wrote and thought it could have been a lot better, then proceeded to list all the things he didn't like about it and why. Then all the girls in our class were like, but you're her husband, aren't you only supposed to say nice things about her? And my husband was like, not if I actually want her to improve her writing.

I almost always show my writing to my husband first just because I know he won't sugar-coat anything. He's not afraid to tell me what sucks, what doesn't work for him, where I'm being lazy and not writing at my best, or where my MC is being too passive. He's also not afraid to tell me what he likes.

I can always go to him for brainstorming. And he's not afraid to tell me if something's really stupid. Though there've been time when he'll later tell me this really cool idea and I'll have to remind him that he thought it was stupid when I first mentioned it. Of course, he doesn't think it's stupid now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What I'm Working On

Well, I've been trying to revise my vampire novel (my '06 Nano), and it's starting to bite me in the butt. When I started, I did the chapters that were easiest to revise, which were chapters 1 and 2, and then chapters 20 to 25 (the ending). All I have left is chapters 10 to 12, and am having difficulties remembering when different events and character revelations happened. Really, I should just read through the first nine chapters, or at least the chapter summaries I wrote, to figure out how to revise the remaining three chapters.

Other than that, I'm also finishing up my '08 Nano, which is about werewolves. It's been a while since I worked on that one, but it doesn't seem as difficult to write as I thought it would. So that's at least a good thing, since I wrote the first two acts and never got to act three when I stopped working on it. (I'm still not sure why I did that.)

The writing's going good and I'm excited to be working on something again rather than sitting in the funk I had been in when I couldn't figure out what to work on. I knew I wanted to work on something, I just had no idea what. And I went through idea after idea, trying to work on something, but nothing really clicked. I'm past all that, and I'm feeling much better.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lack of Internet Equals Lack of Posts

As the title says, I am without internet. Unless, of course, I get creative and go place like coffee shops (which I haven't yet), the library (which the internet sometimes works for me), or out at my church (where I am now). Though of course, getting creative can be a bit of a challenge with a ten-month-old.


I've been trying to figure out a story to work on and revise and submit and all that. And I've finally settled on the young adult vampire story I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2006. I've worked on this story on and off for the last three years. It's good because I have more notes on revising the thing than I know what to do with. But at the same time, there's things that in one revision pass I deleted, then in another revision pass, I decided I wanted them put back in. So it's a bit of a challenge, and yet this time around it's been easier to revise than any of the other times I've attempted to do so.

I also came to the realization, which could account for this revision pass being easier than the others (both for this story and for others I've attempted to revise), that I way overthink things. Of course, back when I was in tae kwon do, my instructors kept trying to drill that into my head. So we'll see how well I listen this time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Teen Writing, Part 1

Mostly cross-posted from the Den of Shadows message board.

These are two posts by SF writer John Scalzi about writing as a teen/teen writing. The first is his initial post and the second is a follow up. I encourage anyone who is a teen writer now or was a teen writer to read his posts. I don't know from other peoples' experience, but, at least from my own, the blog posts are spot on.

I agree with pretty much everything he said. At some point when I have more time and/or remember, I might write a full blog post on why I agree with what he said and my own experience just because I think it'd be too long to write here.

But, yeah, I can say that when I was a teen and even some of the stuff I wrote for my first couple of creative writing classes in college I thought was the greatest stuff in the world. One was a short story called "Internet Alien" and the other was a short story that was rewritten/expanded into a novel chapter called "Angel Love, Demon Love". At the time I thought these two stories were the pinnacle of my writing. Then I got older/smarter.

At times I think about going back and fixing up "Internet Alien", but there's something I still like about it, flaws and all. But I would like to go back to Angel Love, Demon Love and turn that into at a novel.