Fan Fiction? Bad? Hmm…

Happy Middle-of-the-Week-Day! Hope this post finds you all well, open to possibilities and looking forward to great things!

The other day I happened on Janice Hardy’s awesome blog: The Other Side of the Story. Novice and more experienced writers will find a slew of excellent articles designed to help with any/every aspect of writing, submitting and marketing one can conceive. And tips are easily applicable, even if you’re not sitting keyboard-side.

As I browsed through the responses to a post, I noticed a comment that resonated with some of my current writing struggles. I emailed the commenter, who replied.  She touted herself as ‘bad me’ for writing fan fiction. As my response to her grew, I realized I had a blog post on my hands. So, this one is for my newest online writer-friend—almost—exactly as I wrote it in the body of the email (before I copied and pasted it into the blogging software ;)):

“No such thing as ‘bad’ associated with fanfic, and I’ve already done what you want to do from yours–launch an original piece. I started with a very popular, very dramatic/high-stakes two-part episode of a very popular TV series. What was great about that is I didn’t have to generate the story. The work was done for me, lol, and it gave me a great forum to start learning how to get description, dialogue, etc, on virtual paper. I also got some nice feedback from readers/fans, who felt the original characters I’d introduced into the story line were woven into it well.

So, sixty pages later, I was done, but one line from one of the show’s characters kept nagging me: how did my character meet up with the show’s (and her) hero?

My original story took off from there. I borrowed one character and what should have been one chapter became a short (but full-length) romance around him and my heroine. From there came flashbacks that wound up being NO MATTER WHY, my debut novel with The Wild Rose Press. Its sequel, NO MATTER WHAT, should have been the ‘bridge/transition story’ between NMWhy and my (original) fanfic. Since I realized the character arc for my heroine was done, my fanfic (a highly polished first draft) is now slated as the springboard for a related ‘prequel’ story showcasing minor characters introduced in NMWhat. A completely original part 3—and completion of the trilogy—is in the works (and my current problem-child wip, lol).

As per the fanfic, two very cool things came of that:

(1) I started getting positive reader feedback (especially from the webmaster) and a small following. I even got my own page on that particular fanfic site. There were at least 700 entries posted and I became one of the eight she chose to showcase and make more discoverable. Talk about a confidence boost!

(2) One of my climactic scenes–totally original–took second place in the first contest I entered. The judge’s feedback was ridiculously simple: “Go forth and publish.” Gave me the guts to go ahead and write the query for NMWhy.

So you see, writer-friend, never judge your writing efforts, no matter what form they take. As your writing journey takes shape, you’ll find where each stop on that expedition fits in the grander scheme of God’s plan for you as a writer!”

Your turn! Please take a moment to share some of the unexpected turns and twists your writing journey has taken. Do you judge yourself, or try to follow the flow of your learning experience and see where it leads?

Thanks so much to all of you for stopping in, and thanks, EP, for inspiring this post.

Happy creating,

Joanna

Best Compilation for a Writer Yet–and More!

Happy Thursday, friends; summer is upon us and so are the Wimbledon’s Tennis Championships! (I’ve got A LOT of papers to file–an entire school year’s worth, lol.) Nothing like plopping the laptop onto my desk and following the matches and my fave players while I grind through the tedious job of sorting through notes, reports, etc. I’m planning to go paperless on the reports next year.

I’ve been having issues with getting those next few wips off the ground, so today, I decided to share some pretty awesome resources that have been helping me in the brainstorming and story structure departments. Hope some/all of these will be of some help to you too! 🙂

This compilation by Margo Berendsen was so awesome, it needed a ‘pointing to’ all its own. Packed with tips and reference articles on writing and especially revision, I may be combing through this over the course of the next few weeks!  Thanks Margo!

21 Ways to Make Your Plot More Compelling

  Plotting Simplified–Eddie Jones–the BEST $0.99 you’ll ever spend. (Read my thoughts on this packed little gem here.)

  Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells–Dianna Love and Mary Buckham. This one seems particularly geared to those who like compiling lists and character sketches at every imaginable level. You’ll gain excellent insight into characters and conflict, with examples from three very popular movies included for every checklist!

  Yesterday, I picked up Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel; currently working my way through her thoughts and exercises for reviving and revising that first draft or even seeing one through. I’m liking her style and approach: formal exercises via a bit of an informal approach–feel more my style at this point.

I’d love to know if you’re familiar with these resources. If so, how have you utilized them in any way? Did you find them helpful? If so, how?

As always, I thank you for stopping in, and taking the time to SHARE, assuming you care to do so!

Have a wonderful day,

Joanna

Plot Problems? Simplify!

Happy Friday, everyone. Spring is here and this girl is very happy. Not that my little part of the east coast had much of a winter, but I’m thrilled to see trees budding/flowering and crocuses and daffodils in full bloom. Yep, they’re early this year–what’s can I do but fully enjoy nature’s beauty while it makes my heart sing?

Came across a couple of great books recently: I’ll be sharing them over the course of the next few Fridays or Saturdays (just to keep y’all guessin’ ;))

For those (like myself) who have a hard time with getting all those story flashes to fall into place, a tiny little read—and best $0.99 spent on a book so far:

Eddie Jones Plotting Simplified: Story Structure Tips For The Break-Out Novelist (Writing With Excellence) (Kindle Edition)

Picked up this little jewel a week ago–yes, price was a swaying factor, as was the title: Plotting Simplified. This tiny write-up was exactly what this writer needed: a short, condensed version of how to put together a plot. Mr. Jones used excellent phrases that really spoke to me, giving me perspective and insight I didn’t have before. (i.e., He touted the inciting incidence as the ‘great disturbance’–never occurred to me the worst thing that could happen to story’s lead character could also be the best.)

I loved, too, that this book was SHORT. Took me about 90 concentrated minutes to read/take detailed notes from beginning to end. Now I feel prepared to fill in some blanks and work out plotting issues I’ve had with one particular story I need to finish a trilogy.

I held back on that fifth star for only one reason: I would have liked a little more detail for putting together Act III.

No Kindle, you say? No problem! Download the app to your computer just as I did! (All are free!) You can also download the the pertinent app to your I-Phone, I-Pad, android device–you know “there’s an app for that” too.  You’ll also have the option of reading your book in Kindle’s cloud–very cool. (Thumbs up.)

Looking forward to other how-to books by this author. Learn more about him at his website!

Here’s to a great weekend to all!

Joanna

What Do You Do for Someone Else…

that you don’t do for yourself?

Hi everyone, and welcome to a shortened work week for many. The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway and the NY Giants are looking to claim the NFC championship and secure their place in SuperBowl 46. Yes, I’m psyched and plan on having a lot of fun with sports this week!

Okay, back to what I can do if it’s for someone else. Y’all know me. I get sidetracked.

So I’m horrid about getting somewhere early. (To me, on time and early interchangeable terms.). Case in point: most days, my son gets a ride to school from a neighbor and I’m on standby.

On those few days I drive, I’m usually in the car by 7:10. (The high-schoolers start their day at 7:30 AM. On paper, I’m due in at ~8:20.) I then head to my school-of-the-morning to get in some quality paperwork time. When I don’t drive him in, I’ll dilly-dally at home and mosey in to work at about 8:30, which is a huge improvement for me. (I used to skitter in at 8:55 then scramble to grab materials and kids by 9:00). By 8:30 though, too many people are around and I can’t settle down knowing I’ll be servicing kids within the half hour. I know my behavior is a form of procrastination, but I’ve yet to figure out how to get myself to do for me without needing that external push of doing it for someone else.

Same goes for REALLY cleaning certain areas of my home. How often do I walk by a pile and keep going? Why is it that as soon as I know someone is coming over I suddenly know what to do with the mess (besides stuff it in a bag and hide it, lol)? I was like that with assignments in high school and college too: that Last-Minute-Lucy in me could throw together a great paper with a day or two to go. That month before? Couldn’t look at it.

I now turn to you: what are your thoughts on these topics? What and/or why do you do for someone else and not for you? Why do you think the brain comes up with a solution in those final moments? What is it about pressure that creates a plan?

Thanks for your input! I’m looking forward to being able to take on some of your thoughts for myself!

Have a great day and ttys,

Joanna

Ten Year Wake-Up Call–Or Not? (Part 2)

Last time I talked aboutSeptember 11, 2001and how ten years elapsed since the day that date gained the dubious status of “a day that will live in infamy,” much likeDecember 7, 1941.

I shared how time passes, how I barely notice and how that decade mark tends to wake me up a bit to how quickly time really flies. (Sorry folks. A cliché is cliché for a reason. It resonates.)  Of course, my topic ran away with itself, so I opted to explore a point separately. I want to talk about prioritizing and ‘making time.’

IMHO, life today is so crazy because ‘priority’ is a term that applies to pretty much everything in one’s home and work lives. My kids want me at the ready and all my schoolwork, housework and everything else needs to be done yesterday. Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but the point ties into when I worked at my first hospital.

By my third year there, I was a senior therapist and supervising most of the occupational therapists that treated the rehabilitation-bed patients. I worked in a teaching hospital, on a unit whose beds were being increased faster than staff was hired. One day, I went to my director one on behalf of a very burnt-out group of young women. She told me we needed to work on ‘time management.’ I very respectfully told her we’d already done that to the very limits of human capability given the workload we had. In short—and I told my director this: “We have no time left to manage.” Despite the realities, we had to get creative and learn how to ‘make’ more time in a day.

That brings me to my biggest life lesson on the subject, one I still let life get in the way of routinely, I guess. (Hey, the day-to-day gets in the way.) I had a cousin who was my mom’s godson. Every now and again we’d chat. He was always pleasant and I always enjoyed talking to him. As Italians tend to do, we visited him in his new home after he married and had his first son.

He moved to a new home. My mom kept getting on my case that we had to go see it (it’s an Italian thing and since my mother doesn’t do highways her only daughter gets assigned designated driver). Every time I ran into this cousin he too, reminded me to bring my mom over for a visit.

Never managed to scare out that time. By the ten year mark, he and his family had moved into a third home. Now my mom was really on my case to visit. So was he—as always in a fun way—when I called to give condolences after his mother-in-law passed away from cancer. His also shared that his father (my dad’s first cousin) had been diagnosed with a terminal illness as well. He hung up, laughing as he said, “I’m not talking to you anymore. It’s too depressing.”

I’m sure we had other conversations but I consider that one our  last real one.  While at a sporting tournament with his teenage son my cousin started getting terrible headaches and vomiting. A visit to the doctor led to one with an oncologist. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died nine months to the day he got diagnosed.

In ten years I never made the time to visit him in his new home.

Ten years.

That’s a huge chunk of time.

Italians are big on dovere—duty. When someone dies, you show up at that person’s family’s home in a show of sympathy and support. My cousin passed away in the early morning hours of the Tuesday following Labor Day. That night, I managed to get to his house. Amazing how I was able to make getting to his house a priority then.

And I still let life get in the way of making time for the things that really matter.

Hope you do better at that than I do.

Joanna

Worth the Time: Awesome Blog Reads

Happy Friday, writers, readers and friends! Are you geared up for fall with October in full force? (I’m still working on getting my fall decor out. A year just flies!)

Keeping things simple today and sharing some of the great posts I happened across this week and last. (As always, I’m catching up.) Hope any and/or all of these posts speak to you as they did to me. And if you liked what you read, take a moment and click a share button (where applicable) or give a shout-out at one of your own social media platforms. I promise, that blog author will be nothing but grateful! Finally, if you comment here on what you liked, I’ll do my best to find more of the same or related posts.

Here goes:

Mash-up articles for Friday: 10/07

Meredith Bell: What Do You Have a Knack For?

Scott Hunter’s Blog: The Pathway to Effectiveness

Scott Hunter’s Blog: The Real Meaning of Cause and Effect

Because this is so appropriate for a Friday: YA Author Julie Musil’s Friday Night Rewind

Real-life Romance finds its way into Jane Richardson’s Edinburgh Fog

For those wanting to go it alone in the self-pub world: Keeping up with e-book technology by Jenn Talty

Jami Gold answers this very valid question: So Why Do Guest Posts?

Merry Farmer sings the Praises of the Unlikely Hero

Looking to guest post? Jon Konrath may want your write up!

Christine Warner: Reasons to Slow Down (Just a Little Bit)

Why Read Bad Fiction? Mark Landen has a few good reasons!

Feel free to add any of your own. Have a great weekend!

Joanna

Two Quick Things (Including a winner!)

Happy Saturday everyone! Tired of clouds outside and hoping the sun makes its way through and has its way for more than a few hours.

1. Yesterday, I posted in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge and let all of you know I’m hoping to do so on a regular basis. FORGOT to ask you all to give me a hand at getting my blog more visibility by taking a minute to show some love and comment on any photos I post!

2. Winner! Winner! Winner! Christine Warner left a comment and gets her choice of a critique or a digital copy of No Matter Why! (Thanks so much to all of you who took the time to comment.)

I’ll be posting Monday and Wednesday (and photo) Friday of next week!

Thanks so much and see y’all then,

Joanna