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Archive for January, 2015

Writing Experiment

I believe I mentioned it once on my blog that I tried an experiment with writing where I wrote down the exciting bits first and then thought to weave the story together later, preferably right after I wrote all the exciting bits. I had gotten the idea from a writer’s group I had joined at the library, one that went defunct. One of the members said that’s what he did and I thought it interesting and worth a try.

It’s been some months, probably more like a year, since I wrote those pages, thirty-eight in all (but at single space, 10 size font) and now I’ve decided to put it all together. So far it’s going alright. I found, when I read it, before I started bridging the gaps, that it read quite exciting and there was a story there, just no ending and, more importantly, no clear plot. That’s going to be a problem. I had, and still have, a story line, but I never thought deep enough to figure out where the story would go. I am so very much hoping it’ll come to me as I write.

When I initially wrote the pages, I didn’t save them, just printed them out. This, I told myself, would force me to think about the story more as I retyped it. So far I’ve found combining sections not hard at all, but then I’m not at the crucial part – how is it all going to end. I have all my characters. I have the suspense part: who  put the strange stones in the locker and why. I don’t have a clear picture of the bad guys and how will good trump evil? Stay tuned and that includes me.

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Think of the idyllic summer before high school. Swimming. Palling around your friends. Worrying about ninth grade. Now think of the opposite. Jason, Charlie, and Corndog swim in a creek that’s sometimes orange, sometime sludgy, and always nasty. They play in a dump, the best dump ever according to Jason, which is laced with toxins. They wander around the abandoned industry buildings littering the town.

Jason’s father died at his job at Mareno Chem, melted into a puddle of human goo. He wants revenge. Charlie’s father still works there, but for how long? Corndog carries strange bumps on his back and stores mutated animals in his bedroom, his museum. Poor kids in an industrial town that is fading away. They all want revenge, but revenge comes with a price.

Horror or real life? While it reads like the former, pollution is an ugly reality. This book would be a great addition to any class learning about pollution, a step up from the eco-mystery Who Really Killed Cock Robin. Guys will relate to the three boys in this book.

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Third POV

I’ve put up a story for critique. It’s written in third person from the point of view of the main character. As written originally, other character’s point of view cropped up, but mostly it was from the main character, Katherine’s. I never thought much of it as it worked for me, but it didn’t work for others. They insisted that if I wanted other people’s point of view, I had to make a new chapter or separate it so the reader knows the thoughts are coming from another person.

I have to admit I got grumpy with those remarks, but since several people mentioned it, I guessed it had to change, so I’ve been editing and now if a character other than the main one thought something, I wrote it from Katherine’s point of view and how she picked up on what the person was thinking. After major editing I read several young adult books and they had third person point of views from several characters too. Well, how ’bout that, I thought. No wonder I didn’t see anything wrong with the way I initially wrote it.

Thinking it over, and I have to still mull it over in my head, I suppose that perhaps that since I made it mostly from Katherine’s pov and stuck in someone else’s view point here and there, that may have confused people. Like I said, I still have to think about that and think how my editing might change the story. I don’t think it will though.

One person thought I should make the story in the first person. That probably got me the most upset, not that I gave indication of it. I wrote a nice thank you for editing back. She meant well and maybe it would, but the story didn’t come to me in first person, it came to me in third person. I have written in first person before as that’s the way the character wanted it and no, I’m not crazy, that’s just how it is with me and writing.

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I, Pawnee Kitty that is, am working on the new travel book. Not that the last one is published and in the hands of my mother, but more on that later.  2015’s region is Peru. In doing research I’ve been going through several travel guides. This is to get some background info and to refresh my memory as it has been about ten years since I’ve traveled there. I checked out the Lonely Planet Guide, the Rough Guide to Peru and another one. Going through I was gobsmacked to find errors, huge errors in my opinion, in regards to the history. The Rough Guide said Juan Pizarro was Francisco Pizarro’s son (he’s his brother) and made it seem Manco Inca died in the battle at Sacsaywamam (he didn’t, he managed to escape).

What else may be false in that book? A good thing I’ve been going through several books for my information. If I’d only been using the Rough Guide I’d be giving my readers the wrong info.  People using the book, the Rough Guide, not Pawnee’s travels on Peru, will be passing on the wrong information to friends and fellow travelers. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am and I probably won’t be using the series for future projects, which is a real pity because I did like the Rough Guides to Music. I’d ordered them for the library because they contained biographies of groups in the genres (rap, hip-hop, jazz) that the kids liked.

From now on I will be make sure to double check my resources. I should write the book company too.

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Memory Maps

Last time I wrote on how I want to write and illustrate my own picture book. With that in mind, I’ve been looking for a book on how to do this, preferably one I can first check out of the library and if it’s just what I need and can use and learn from, I can purchase a copy. I haven’t had much luck on that, finding one that is.

I did find one book that included interesting tidbits and exercises. Can’t remember the name and haven’t found it again, but I’ll look some more. In it, an illustrator gave an exercise on memory maps. You take a place where you lived and you create a map, but instead of putting living room, dining room, you put in your memories. How cool is that, I thought. My mind started whirring away with possibilities.

In her map she had most rooms small except her bedroom.  In her childhood bedroom she’d drawn items she recalled from back then. My first map came out pretty true as to the locations of the rooms, but I wrote down the memories. I figured that’d be easier and faster than trying to draw the scenes.

My first memory map came from our  home in Fort Monmouth, on Pinebrook Rd. It was a two story townhome, second from the end. On the front yard area I wrote that I remembered that once it snowed about a foot high and it was so hard I could stand on it and not sink. Of course back then I was five years and small and skinny and didn’t hardly weight anything. Inside I wrote in the stairs area that I remembered letting the Slinky go down the steps.

In my map I made it more literal than it should be, that is, made the rooms all nice and neat and in their proper order, but I don’t think it has to be that way especially since I couldn’t fit in all my memories. I never got to write about how Mom would watch TV while she ironed and sometimes she watched those Japanese monster movies, those cheesy Godzilla knockoffs. Or how we made a gingerbread house one Christmas or that I remember the song Westminster Cathedral was always playing on the radio. For some reason that’s the only song I do remember from there.

Memory maps are a great way to start a memoir or autobiography. Try it. You’ll be amazed at what you remember.

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One of my writing goals is to create a picture book. I say create because it’s not enough I want to write one, I want to illustrate it too. That’s probably the kiss of death of death right there, but, hey, that’s why I’m working through drawing books.

I know that in the real world, the author writes the story and the publisher chooses an illustrator. The two, author and illustrator may never meet, but they make beautiful music together.  Of course there are incredible author/illustrators out there too like Rosemary Wells, Eric Carle, and Jan Brett, and more. I can’t draw like they can, but that’s not going to stop me.

I’ve written several Christmas stories I think would make great picture books, but the one I’m really working on is a wordless picture book of a dream my Mom had. In her dream Pawnee Kitty, yes my Pawnee Kitty, and some friends went to the beach and had an incredible adventure. In the end the moon blew up, but that won’t be in my story. Anyway I’m pretty sure she said everyone had a good time.

Two days later I’d worked out the plot of the story following my Mom’s dream: Pawnee Kitty and company go to the beach. Some time after that I had the great idea to tie her dream to a state park, Hunting Island. This will work great with my idea to write a picture book on nature because there aren’t that many out there, and my goal to help combat nature deficit with my writing. Next I started working on a mock book, planning the pages. Not easy work. It turned out I didn’t have enough to fill the pages, but that’s what so great about these mock books. You get paper, fold it once or twice, stable it together or tape it like I did and then you draw. Or if you’re me, you draw and tape the pictures into the booklet. Whatever works.

About a month later I drove to Hunting Island to take pictures for reference. Later I had to explain why I had so many shots of waves coming in. Going there gave me ideas of what more to include and what I had to change, like the parking lot. I had drawn a regular rectangular parking lot, but in Hunting Island, parking is a few slots here, a few slots there all along the road by the beach and lighthouse, all well under the trees and in the shade. It’s pretty neat. What wasn’t neat was the flat tire I had to deal with in Beaufort.

I haven’t gotten very far with finishing the story as yet, I misplaced it in my move and never thought to look in the most logical place. Now it’s safe and I’m going through drawing books to improve my drawing.

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