Thursday, July 24, 2014

Once Upon A Time

Me and my Alexander
Once upon a time a blogger gave birth to a boy. While it was not the first time in history that such a thing had taken place, it was the first time for this particular blogger. She was swept away in the beauty and miraculousness of the situation. She spent hours simply staring at her little miracle wondering exactly how she had been so blessed. She spent her days talking and reading to her little one. She dressed him in all types of various outfits and costumes. She sang to him and cried with him. She lost sleep over him.  She prayed for him and consoled him. She had days when she felt like a champion and days when she felt like a failure. She forgot about everything else in the world around her. She didn't blog, she didn't write and, except for the picture books she read aloud to her son daily, she didn't read. From the outside it began to look as though she had lost herself completely, or that she had abandoned all of her passions in order to transform into the form known solely as "Mommy."

However, this perception couldn't be further from the truth. As the days and weeks went by, as this new mommy completed her postpartum recovery and as she sat for two days in a hospital after a surgery due to an infection run wild in her system, she began to dream of writing again. Little by little this mommy wanted to be a blogger again, she wanted to be a writer again and she wanted to read again - this time not only for herself, but also for her little boy. She decided it was time to break free from her maternal cocoon to be something similar to what she once was, but greater. When she felt healthy enough and when she found some private moment, she stole away to dig out her old passions.

Then her computer died.

This only gave her more time to consider her decision. Was it selfish of her to want to return to her passions so soon? She decided it was not. She decided that part of being a great mom is ensuring that her life still had personal fulfillment. She decided that if she needed to buy a new a computer, even at this very expensive time of her life, it was worth the investment. Luckily, it did not come to that in the end. Her computer was wiped clean and presented to her like a new machine for her to begin again.

Beginnings are so exciting. When a story lover hears or reads the words, "Once upon a time," the hairs on the back of their neck stand on end with anticipation. When the lights dim in a theater around a movie lover, their hands clench the arm rests as they prepare for the film reel to spin. When a person hears the first cries of their first born child, their life transforms instantaneously. And when a writer sits before a blank page or screen their heart skips a beat and their fingers tremble.


It is time for me to begin again. For those of you who have hung around waiting for my return, I thank you and hope you are not disappointed by whatever happens next (I am still unsure of what kind of monumental impact this child will have upon my writing - he has shaken every part of my body and soul in ways I could have never anticipated!). For those of you who are beginning this journey with me here and now - welcome! 

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


created using Recite



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:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I: Writers on Writing - Washington Irving

Today's Writer on Writing -Washington Irving


Created using Chisel





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:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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