Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alphabet Breakdown?!

You may be wondering how I could dare to enter into motherhood when it appears that I do not know my own ABC's! I promise I know them well and I fully recognize that I am committing a major A to Z Challenge faux pas this week by stalling my posts, but I will be filling in the blanks very soon. 

I am currently posting this from my phone, in a hotel room, where my hubby and I have escaped for what we believe to be our "last hurrah!" So many people have showered us with the doom and gloom talk about how much our life is going to change an how difficult it will be to have any alone time once our baby shows up that we decided (even though I'll be 36weeks pregnant on Friday!) that we'd fly the coop in my husband's last work vacation before baby so that we could detach ourselves from all responsibilities one last time! 

I had planned on scheduling my posts ahead when I knew this was coming, but, instead I'll have to post backwards when I get back home. I apologize to those of you who have been loyally checking in with me - this whole baby-prep thing has taken up a lot of my free time in the last couple of weeks than I anticipated. However, I have been loving doing the work for my A to Z Challenge theme: Writers on Writing and look forward to a complete alphabet's-worth of posts by the month's end!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K: Writers on Writing - Robert Kirkman

Today's Writer on Writing - Robert Kirkman


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About the Writer
Image source

Robert Kirkman is a writer of comic books and television.  He is best known for his zombie apocalypse work that has been successful in both of those mediums (as well as others!), The Walking Dead , but he also writes the long-running series Invincible (one of my husband's favorite books of all time!), all-ages Super Dinosaur, Thief of Thieves and Clone as well as Witch Doctor, Guarding the Globe and The Astounding Wolf-Man.  He was recently made a partner at Image Comics (my favorite comic book publishing house) and has a major impact on the industry at this time.

To keep up with a lot of the work Kirkman is involved in, stay tuned to the home of his creator-owned work, Skybound, or follow him on Twitter @RobertKirkman.


My Thoughts About Kirkman's Murderous Ways

There are times when writing can be especially brutal. The first stage of brutality for me is always the editing stage, but another, perhaps even more tangible one, is when it is not our words that are on the chopping block, but, instead, our beloved characters. As the writer of a series that takes place in a zombie apocalypse, Robert Kirkman is all too familiar with this aspect of writing and, I dare say, quite comfortable with it! In an interview with Rolling Stone Kirkman was asked about how he dealt with being on set when one of his characters was killed off on The Walking Dead:


"It's a very emotional thing, and I kind of feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was in the writers' room going, 'This death is important!' There was an argument about this person dying, and I argued for it! Now I'm surrounded by all of these people who wish this wasn't happening right now! But, yeah, sometimes it's a little awkward. Having to remove someone from the family is absolutely terrible."


And while he may admit to it being terrible and awkward here, he knows what needs to be done in a story to keep it fresh. In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) just about a month ago, a redditor asked Kirkman how much the popularity of a character influences his decision to keep him/her alive. He gives an interesting rule of thumb, 

"In my opinion, I feel like characters ripen like fruit. So while I wouldn't say the more popular a character is the more likely they are to die, they do have to reach a certain level of popularity before they've 'earned' the death. No character is too popular to die."


Of course, even rules of thumb can fall victim to the spontaneous whim of a writer looking for drama. In the same AMA, Kirkman was asked directly to describe his process of getting rid of a character,

"It's different for every character. Sometimes it's something I've planned and built to for many issues. Other times it's just me thinking 'it's been a while since something really interesting happened' and killing a character on the fly. It's a lot of fun having the freedom to shape the story however I want."


Kirkman is brutal, but he is not alone. Writing is so powerful when it can rock us emotionally and there is little that can do that as effectively as the death of a character we have come to love, or even hate. I first experienced this kind of power as an avid fan of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer which was created and written by another brutal man, Joss Whedon. I couldn't believe the heartlessness of his writing, but, after awhile I began to recognize that this is exactly what kept me coming back for more.

As a writer, personally, I know that killing my darlings, in this most literal sense, is something I still have to work toward. Though I keep writing about the act here as one of brutality I know that it is actually one of bravery. I become so attached to my beloveds and their story lines, I fear what will happen to my tales without them - will they survive? Can they? The point is to build a world and a cast of characters so strong that one heart-wrenching death will not shatter your entire creation. The real work is to know, as Kirkman put it, when a death is important and to not pass up on the opportunity to share that with your readers.

How difficult is it for you to kill your characters?

Do you have a procedure to determine when it is best to kill a character? 



Back to the A to Z Party!

Thank you for stopping by Rivera Runs Through It today, but please don't stop now! Head on over to the rest of the A to Z bloggers to see what they are up to today:
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/


And remember the A to Z Bloggers that have signed up for The 1st Official A to Z SU Party (What is a StumbleUpon Party?) would love it if you could give them some StumbleUpon love when you visit their blogs!




 

My A to Z Challenge Weekly Book Giveaway! WEEK 2

I am also be hosting one book giveaway per week during the month of April. You will have all week (until midnight Monday) to enter to win the book of the week and you may enter more than once (with certain entry options). This week's book is an Advanced Reader Copy of The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.
 
You may enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter widget below:
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

I: Writers on Writing - Washington Irving

Today's Writer on Writing -Washington Irving


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About the Writer

Washington Irving is best known for his stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. He was an early 19th century American author, historian, essayist, biographer and diplomat. It is said that Irving perfected the short story and was credited as the first American Man of Letters, and the first to earn his living solely by his pen.

His influence on the literary world and American culture stretches beyond the two works he is most known for. To further explore this, I recommend a read through Irving's Wikipedia page



My Thoughts About Irving's Quote

While I could not locate any documented interviews with Washington Irving and his feelings on writing, there were numerous quotes attributed him that gave me a sense of what level of importance he placed upon this work he spent so much of his life doing. My favorite, of course, is the one I have selected to highlight for the day,

“For my part, I love to give myself up to the illusion of poetry. A hero of fiction that never existed is just as valuable to me as a hero of history that existed a thousand years ago.” 


As I read this aloud to my husband I was struck by its simplest truth. For my part, as a reader, what is the difference between a fictional character and the story of some great man that lived in a world and time so far removed from me it might as well have been an invention of another's mind? Of course, I perceive an extra value in any story that has been deemed to be "based on a true story," however, the lessons learned and the heroism displayed by the characters of fiction has moved me just as much. In fact, I may even be able to argue that they have been able to move me even more because I had the ability to take full ownership of their trials and tribulations in the sense that fiction allows me to believe that their journey could have just as easily have been mine if their fictional, fantastical world came to life around me. 

The beautiful thing about this quote is the realization of the impact of our creations. Our characters are real. Our characters can teach. Our readers hold them close and wrap themselves in their stories in ways we may not have always intended. Once we share them with the world, that is where their lives begin and flourish, to be interpreted by the masses in whichever way they see fit.

Can you think of a hero of fiction whose journey has impacted you as strongly (maybe even more so) than a historical figure?

Does Irving's quote make you feel any more pressure about the characters you create? 



Back to the A to Z Party!

Thank you for stopping by Rivera Runs Through It today, but please don't stop now! Head on over to the rest of the A to Z bloggers to see what they are up to today:
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/


And remember the A to Z Bloggers that have signed up for The 1st Official A to Z SU Party (What is a StumbleUpon Party?) would love it if you could give them some StumbleUpon love when you visit their blogs!




 

My A to Z Challenge Weekly Book Giveaway! WEEK 2

I am also be hosting one book giveaway per week during the month of April. You will have all week (until midnight Monday) to enter to win the book of the week and you may enter more than once (with certain entry options). This week's book is an Advanced Reader Copy of The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.
 
You may enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter widget below:
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H: Writers on Writing - Joe Hill

Today's Writer on Writing - Joe Hill 



Joe Hill Quote



Image Source
About the Writer

Joe Hill is the author of three novels, a collection of short stories and two graphic novels. I am in the midst of reading his graphic novel series Locke & Key, which I adore. He won the Eisner Award in 2011 for "Best Writer." Second to his writing, Joe Hill is known for being part of one pretty well-known writing family: Joe Hill is the son of Tabitha and Stephen King, and his younger brother, Owen King, is an author as well.

Joe Hill Fiction is the name of Hill's website, but he also has a tumblr page called Joe Hill's Thrills and can be found on twitter @joe_hill.



My Thoughts About Hill's Statement

When you know who Joe Hill is, or, rather, who his father is, and you hear him say that,

"Every writer who is any good is the child of another writer."


as he did in an interview with Vulture along with his novelist brother, Owen King, you may come to believe that he is being quite arrogant. You might even become slightly offended if you find yourself as the first in a family of non-writers. However, his statement is not limited to familial ties, he says,

"They may not be the child of another writer by blood, but literally the child of another writer. Our dad [Stephen King] is the child of Richard Matheson, and has talked about that in very concrete terms. Jim Harrison is the child of Ernest Hemingway. Tobias Wolff, too."

 
Finally, he quotes a fellow author, Michael Chabon,  to place this all into a perspective that rings true to nearly anyone who has spent time weaving tales,

"Michael Chabon says all fiction is fan fiction — that every writer, when they set out to write a book, sort of has these other books in their head that they adore, and they want their book to make people feel that way."


We want to make people feel that way. It is not about rewriting the great story. It is not about replicating what has already been done, or living in someone else's writing shadow. Writing is all about sharing the wonderful feelings we once had when reading someone else's work. It is all about recognizing our own book love and a belief in one's own ability to, perhaps (if we are lucky), pay it forward.  

Who do you credit as your writing parents?

If your actual parents are writers, how has that influenced you as a writer? 



Back to the A to Z Party!

Thank you for stopping by Rivera Runs Through It today, but please don't stop now! Head on over to the rest of the A to Z bloggers to see what they are up to today:
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/


And remember the A to Z Bloggers that have signed up for The 1st Official A to Z SU Party (What is a StumbleUpon Party?) would love it if you could give them some StumbleUpon love when you visit their blogs!




 

My A to Z Challenge Weekly Book Giveaway! WEEK 2

I am also be hosting one book giveaway per week during the month of April. You will have all week (until midnight Monday) to enter to win the book of the week and you may enter more than once (with certain entry options). This week's book is an Advanced Reader Copy of The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.
 
You may enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G: Writers On Writing - Neil Gaiman

Today's Writer on Writing - Neil Gaiman 

created using Recite


About the Writer

Neil Gaiman is a best selling author who simply astounds me. He writes books for readers of all ages, he writes poetry, comics, and screenplays for television, movies and even the stage. In addition, I find him to be an excellent orator - I am often torn when reading his books over whether I should grab the print, or download the audiobook on which he is a narrator! There is a complete list of Neil Gaiman's works on his website, NeilGaiman.com.

On Gaiman's tumblr page he shares his latest projects as well as answering fan questions on writing. He is also pretty active on twitter @NeilHimself.


My Thoughts About Gaiman's Words of Wisdom

Image source
Today's quote came from a response Gaiman gave to one of his fans on his Tumblr page. A girl named Grace wrote to Gaiman asking what she should do since her parents did not approve of her melancholic suspense writing. He began by getting straight to the point:

"Let’s see, firstly, you are the only person who gets to decide what kind of things you write. Not your friends, your lovers, your parents, your children. You. Other people do not even get to vote."


On a similar point, another fan named Janet wrote to Gaiman about giving up writing after being turned down for entry into a creative writing program.  He responded in his Journal in a post called On Writing:

 "For the record, I've never been involved in a creative writing program. In my case, that was mostly because I knew I wanted to be a writer, and had enough hubris to know that I'd rather make my mistakes on the job. It was also because I had a vague suspicion that people in authority might suggest that I should write respectable but dull fiction, and then I'd be forced to kill them, and it would all end in tears or in prison."


 Ultimately, Gaiman suggests that we need to go to the right places for our writing advice and input,

"If it's input you need, find a helpful bunch of likeminded people, either in real life or on the web."


And, if, in the end, you still find yourself facing a rejection slip after you have written exactly what you wanted to write, with just the right kind of input, Gaiman has some great advice for dealing with that as well:

"The best reaction to a rejection slip is a sort of wild-eyed madness, an evil grin, and sitting yourself in front of the keyboard muttering 'Okay, you bastards. Try rejecting this!' and then writing something so unbelievably brilliant that all other writers will disembowel themselves with their pens upon reading it, because there's nothing left to write. Because the rejection slips will arrive. And, if the books are published, then you can pretty much guarantee that bad reviews will be as well. And you'll need to learn how to shrug and keep going."


The fact is, writing is not an easy calling and it does take a secret kind of confidence in your own ideas to move forward in the face of all things working against you as you try to create (Gaiman says we must "have the sort of crazed ego that doesn't allow for failure"). When Grace wrote to Gaiman about her parents' reservations about her writing choices, she was already facing the first wall to be placed in front of us each time we write: questions about our imagination's inclinations. When Janet wrote to Gaiman about her rejection from the creative writing program, she was facing the wall of professionalism - where those "people in authority" make us question whether or not we belong in their club.

In the end, these are the puzzle pieces that make writers so insecure, but those who battle through, those who continue to come to the blank page day after day to write their words, whether they publish them or not, have a secret (a secret they are sometimes even keeping from themselves): they are powerful, they are creators, they are confident in their art and they know what they make is a choice to be proud of.

What kinds of walls have you faced in your writing?

What advice would you give to either of these aspiring writers who wrote to Neil Gaiman? 



Back to the A to Z Party!

Thank you for stopping by Rivera Runs Through It today, but please don't stop now! Head on over to the rest of the A to Z bloggers to see what they are up to today:
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/


And remember the A to Z Bloggers that have signed up for The 1st Official A to Z SU Party (What is a StumbleUpon Party?) would love it if you could give them some StumbleUpon love when you visit their blogs!




 

My A to Z Challenge Weekly Book Giveaway! WEEK 2

I am also be hosting one book giveaway per week during the month of April. You will have all week (until midnight Monday) to enter to win the book of the week and you may enter more than once (with certain entry options). This week's book is an Advanced Reader Copy of The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.
 
You may enter the giveaway by using the Rafflecopter widget below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway