Prayer to the Academic God from Hell

Dear Academic Gods,

I’m on my knees before an altar of textbooks and highlighted journal articles about Socrates and Plato.  My fingers are worn to the bone with typing, editing, and (shudder) making citations.  Paper cuts mare my skin in a bloody sort of hieroglyphics.  I’ve bended, molded and created a noose, err necklace out of paperclips. A bruise the size of Africa has formed on my forehead from repeated beatings on my desk.

Why – oh dear academic God – Why do your papers feels as if I am having my life sucked out of me with a straw? Can’t you please be more fun?

I beg of you oh wise deity, let some creativity into your life.  Let the sun trickle into the words, let themes and hypothesizes dance with life. Let’s make music instead of quoting statistics.

I beg of you dear academic God – Give me ten minutes to scribble down fiction, let me get lost in my world of characters, plots, twists, and arcs.  I need this — don’t you see?  I need to know in what wicked ways my heroine will make my heroes life hell.  Though I fear now, it will not be a blade that strikes him, or the past holding him back, no, it won’t even be saving his true love from a pit of deranged lizards.  No – I fear he will die without knowing his love, he’ll wither away from adventure and intrigue, he shall die a gruesome and terrible fate, a dusty drowning of literature, and writing essays on mindless dribble. I can see his body now, all hunched over his desk, dust from centuries lying stagnant in his hair.  Despair and sorrow on his face, because his story could not be told.

And, what of my heroine?  If I don’t write her story, she may be forced to marry the evil Duke of Grammar, and then I’d really be screwed.  Without my interference, her life will be destroyed.  Without the tippity-tap of my fingers on the keys, telling her story, she’ll die.  You, Academic God, will be to blame for these two innocent deaths.  If I hadn’t been trying to appease you to earn an A – they would have lived.  They would have loved.

Oh dear God of academics – don’t be so serious.  Let me tell you a story instead of barfing up the words of my predecessors.  Let me play make believe with the words, and still relay the facts.  Please – just give me a moment’s reprieve to write a little and then I will return.  I will be a good little student if only you’ll let me write for a few hours.

Love your ever dying student – Michelle

Novella Update –

Word count to date:  2165

School Essay word count – 5248

The win goes to school this week.  Maybe next week my characters will win a victory. If not it’ll be a battle to the death.  Writing on my novella will triumph!

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Could There Really be Rules in Love?

I enjoy browsing through bookstores for engaging books. The more obscure the title the better. Recently, I found a book, The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, which I just had to purchase.

“Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right” screamed buy me. Having a romantic side and being a romance writer I was curious to see what information could be found inside the dusty treasure. And with the guarantee of time-tested secrets-what did I have to lose for .25 cents. (I’ve found my Mr. Right, but I’m always on the hunt for more knowledge about love).

I read the book and found some pearls. Actions for real life, and then I thought why can’t I use this information to help me with my own heroine’s ‘problems’ during writing?

I picked Rules 1-5 this week to demonstrate.

Rule #1.  Be a “Creature Unlike Any Other”.

Looks really don’t matter, when you intrigue your audience with a heroine’s confidence and intelligence. She has to be unique, confident, alluring, kind and optimistic. Wait-she’s perfect you’re thinking, well…not exactly be-but she has to act like she is. Inside she can have the consistency of hot chocolate, but as long as she conquers her fears and acts as if things are smooth, we’ll root for her happy ending.

Rule #2. Don’t Talk to a Man First.

This rule is tough because books are all about conflict and conversation. The hero has to go to the heroine first can be tricky, but I get the whole ‘he likes to be the hunter-not be the hunted’ line so making him approach her is a good sign he’s interested. No matter how independent women are today, men should take the lead (in this aspect). 😉

Rule #3. Don’t Stare at Men or Talk Too Much.

Chemistry is found in the first eye contact, but too much gawking and the hero knows the heroine is really into him. The intrigue of guessing her level of interest will help build sexual tension in the story. Alas, the heroine must speak over 50% of the story, but make what she says matter!

Rule #4. Don’t Meet Him Halfway or go Dutch on a Date.

This rule is all about giving him a challenge. And makes for great conflict in the story! Making the hero work hard for her attention is good for him. He likes the chase because remember he is the hunter.

Rule #5. Don’t Call Him and Rarely Return his Calls.

Now this rule in writing is difficult. She has to be in touch with the hero most of the time and rarely are they separated once the main incident is shown to the reader. I take this rule for keeping him interest by not giving him too much too soon in the novel.

Next week I’ll dive into comparing Rules 6-10. In the meantime, I’d like to hear if you think these rules really would help in your writing…or in your personal life.

And if you’ve stumbled across any great books, please share because I’d love to read them! Until then, have a great week!

Eeny, Meeny, Miney…Mo?

How do you pick your characters names?

The childhood rhyme for selecting a name is fun, but most of us use a broader more elaborate search for our quest. Although…if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Okay, in all seriousness how do you pick names for your novel?

Sometimes names are already in mind. Yeah! I love when this happens.

Brainstorming is also a good way to think of some names. After a selection is scribbled a name will pop out and Bam! The story becomes real and the words flow like diet Coke.  Or whatever your favorite beverage is.

Baby name books I find are a good investment. That way when a name is used it can be crossed out or marked in a way so it’s not used again. You can find them easily at thrift shops or local bookstores in used sections for a decent price. And the geek in me loves to know the origin and meaning of a name.

As a historical writer I like to stay with factual names during the times in which I write. I ‘try’. The census is a great place to check for names in a specific location and time. With the internet it’s super easy and free in most cases.

Along the way I’ve learned never use names of people you know. Yes, no matter how much you wish to kill off your college roommate or hook up with your co-worker it’s not a good idea to use their real name.  Go ahead and use them for your muse, but remember, change the name.

Names should be unique and not start with all the same sound or letter. Although if you’re like my mother (as I fear I am becoming!) siblings tend to have the same letter or sound. Try not to do this for reader ease.  Mary, Matt and Marianne are too confusing on one page.

And make sure your name fits your character. Sounds weird?

Once ½ through a ms I found my hero start to lag and become hard to write.

Why was he being difficult?

My heroine, Everly, was funny and strong and putting him through the ringer.  Duke, yes I named him after John Wayne, was an egotistical special ops guy who hated to compromise in any situation. So what was wrong? The chemistry was hot, the story good, great dialogue, but something was missing. Then like a smack on the forehead I realized this man was not a Duke, perhaps because I envisioned cowboy John and this man was dark, foreign and mysterious. I needed a new name. A quick look online and I found Santos. I applied the new name and Wow! The story, my new named hero with his latest attitude, all fell into place and I wrote ten thousand words in hours.

Has that ever happened to you? And how do you choose a name?