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Every year, I have specific things I do around my birthday. Some happened once and then evolved into my personal traditions.
I take stock in my life. Yeah that’s a heavy one.
This includes thinking of friends and family and evaluating who makes my life better by being in it. I reach out to anyone I lost touch with or haven’t heard from in a while and genuinely want in my life.
The other biggie is looking through old photo albums to remember who I’ve been over the years. That parts of me I lost and miss and the parts that grew in their place. I try to figure out how much of the current me I like and how much of the old me I’d like to bring back. Not that it’s always possible to do so. But it’s good to keep a ledger.
This photo album search also resurrects some wonderful and some sorrow-filling memories. It’s a cathartic thing. In the end, I usually am happy with who I am and who I’ve been and I learn to appreciate myself more.
And lastly, and easiest, I consider what goals I had for that year. Did I meet them? Did I do what I set out to do with that year of my life?
And those are my little birthday traditions.
What do you do to mark another year passing?
I can’t believe it snowed last night.
We never got around to fall here in CT.
We had this long-winded Indian summer that flared through all of September and most of October. Last week, it started dropping into the 60s and 50s.
Last night, snow on our lawn.
Mind you the trees never committed to fall foliage. Instead, we got these brownish-orange leaves and other muted colors. Barely a shade of red anywhere. No real orange. Tentative yellow at best.
And now snow.
I thought the whole point of living in New England was the four seasons.
If mother nature is going to hoard fall, I might as well move back to San Diego. At least there I could walk the beach on my birthday in November.
I started reading this after my return from Asia. Wanted to work on my self-editing abilities because they always can use more honing.
Renni Browne and Dave King have a great approach to self-editing and divide the book into 12 chapters tackling major areas that writers need to focus on.
Some of the topics I was familiar with such as: voice, showing and telling, point of view, see how it sounds. Still reading their view on these topics helped cement not just what wasn’t working but why it wasn’t working.
And I’m a why person. Just telling me what doesn’t stick unless I know why. Browne and King seem to know this and make sure to explain the why.
There were a few topics completely new to me such as: proportion, easy beats, and sophistication. I learned a ton there.
What I loved most about this book was that each chapter included a cute cartoon drawing to poke fun at the topic. It was a great break from the reading and also made each self-editing lesson stick in my memory.
The book includes many before and after examples from actual clients they worked with to show you exactly how to do what they taught in the chapter. The end of each chapter includes a key points section and also practice examples for the reader to take on (btw answers are given in the back of the book.)
This book was a fabulous learning tool for self-editing. Teaching you what you don’t know you don’t know. Probably one of the top 3 books I’ve read on editing.
Thanks to Renni Browne and Dave King for improving my writing.
You can pick up a copy here on Amazon.
Linds, John and I went to Amici’s Italian Grill in Middletown last week. One of my best CT dinners to date.
We started with drinks. I had my standard rum and diet coke. Linds got the Almond Joy Martini. It’s her favorite.
We also shared the stuffed mushrooms, which were so good I forgot to take a picture. 4 ginormous mushroom caps stuffed with yumminess.
The bread btw is like garlic bread and you smear the cooked garlic clove on it.
For entrees, Linds got the spaghetti bolognese:
I had a bite. It was meaty and delicious.
I got the caprino chicken
and John got this veal dish that is inpronouncible.
John’s veal and pepper dish was a hearty masterpiece. The veal was tender and tasty.
For dessert, I got the special but they ran out of blondie and made it with chocolate brownie. Think moisty chewy brownie. So delish. I even let Linds and John have a taste.
This is one of Linds and Jonh’s favorite restaurants in CT. I’m so glad they shared it with me. I definitely want to go back again!
A must see movie of 2011.
It proves how humor can help you through the bleakest of situations.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is brilliant as the 27-year-old who goes to the doctor for a back ache and finds out he has a rare type of cancer. His performance is Oscar necessary. From the emotionally distant “I’m fine” to the epic meltdown in the car, his acting is completely genuine and endearingly beautiful.
Seth Rogen is a dream casting as the best friend who tries to help and sometimes succeeds. He provides the perfect foil to Gordon-Levitt.
Bryce Dallas Howard channels a self absorbed artist–a character you enjoy hating.
Angelica Houston is convincing as the smothering mother who desperately wants to help but pushes too much.
Anna Kendrick delivers as the awkward PhD student therapist who desperately wants to help. I wanted to hug her.
Stellar cast, stellar script, stellar movie.
And despite the weightiness of the topic, I giggled, guffawed, and nearly sprayed soda during many scenes in the movie. Of course, there was a tear jerker moment, but all in all it was a well executed, wonderful spin on a serious topic.
Made me want to buy the book.
- It is completely possible and very painful to get a blister on top of a blister
- For international travel, Cathay Pacific is luxury squared in the sky; Continental Airlines is ghetto unfabulous
- Chinese airlines are hell on the ground, but decent after takeoff
- My ambitious planning is almost always derailed. Pick 1-2 things a day to accomplish and maybe you might succeed
- Dehydration sucks. Gatorade helps
- Trip Advisor has a 95% success rate. But even God can’t help you when you check into one of their 5% failures
- Getting sick on vacay stinks. Never drink from your travel companion’s water bottle. Even at the Great Wall when you run out of water
- Enjoy the little successes throughout the trip, because inevitably a big tsunami of badness is coming your way. Hold onto your travel buddy and ride it out
Many thanks to Kourtney for inviting me to post and to discuss a bit of my writing process and my new book, The Vendetta, out now from Etopia Press. There are many, many ways to reveal character in writing, but one I like to explore—maybe because I am particularly drawn to exotic, luxurious locations in my stories—is SETTING.
Things we say about our characters:
“They just took over the page.”
“They surprised me when they…”
“I didn’t want to leave them when I was done writing.”
Things we say about our settings:
Erm…well. What do we say about our settings?
Setting is the most under-appreciated as a tool in a writer’s kit for delivering on character. “Oh, that’s just description,” we say, and we cast setting out with all that other wordy stuff in favor of an action sequence or an exchange of dialog. In all cases, however, we want our readers to connect emotionally with the characters. Setting, I think, knows all and reveals all about character. Setting concerns where the story takes place, but that “where” is only important as it relates directly to the story. And, as we know, the story is what happens to the characters.
mood, appearance, motivation, backstory, inner conflict, plot conflict
These are some of the elements of character, but how do we get them onto the page? How do we show a character’s mental landscape so the reader can react to what that character does?
1. It was a dark and stormy night… Setting the mood.
By mood I don’t just mean the tone of the scene, I mean the emotional state of the POV character. Is she grumpy, love-struck, embarrassed, weepy, determined, or something else? Is there a place you can put her that conveys this emotion? And what comes first, the mood or the setting. Can a dark castle intensify the character’s sense of apprehension? Does a beach scene relax your character, make her happy?
In this example from my recent release, The Vendetta, I am trying to convey my main character’s mood of isolation, but also a touch of wonder from her about her current situation:
He took her hand, sending a frisson of electricity up her arm. “Come into the living room. I’ll be back in just a second.”
Lisa followed him into the cavernous space. He disappeared into the other bedroom while she went over to the bank of floor to ceiling picture windows that faced the looming mountain. On the slopes she could see the tiny yellow headlights of the Caterpillar tractors that groomed the runs for the next day’s skiers. Nestled below, the ski village’s lights sparkled with nightlife. “Wow,” she whispered. “What a winter wonderland.”
2. The beard on his chin was as white as the snow. Appearance—working the metaphor.
There’s some debate in the fiction-writing realm about how much to describe the physical characteristics of your story people. Often there are genre expectations for more or less description, but in all cases the author needs to provide enough description so the reader can picture the character. Setting can help invoke what the character looks like by providing ample scope for figurative language, which is a literary umbrella-term covering such devices as simile (comparison using like or as), metaphor (direct comparison), hyperbole (exaggeration), and a few others.
Here my main character in The Vendetta confronts her desire for the romance character and likens his features to the surrounding buildings (using both simile and metaphor).
Her stomach did that now-familiar flip. God, she had to stop being so unreasonably happy to see this man. The irritating schoolgirl giddiness firmed her determination to find out more about him and to keep him at arm’s length.
He seemed perfectly suited to the location among the splendor of Rome’s architecture, as if he were a Roman god. His features, carved and beautiful, gave nothing away. If she dared admit it to herself, she desired him more than she’d desired any other man.
3. The butler did it… Motivation—why, why, why?
Real people do things for a reason, so it follows that story people do too. Where the story takes place can reveal something about why the character takes action (or not). In addition, setting carries powerful emotional imagery, giving the reader clues about the character’s motives. This imagery can be as simple as dark versus light or as subtle as the kitchen versus the car.
In this final example, the setting conveys the turbulence of Lisa’s inner thoughts as the reader gets a glimpse of WHY she needs to protect herself from this man she finds so attractive.
Pellets of ice smacked hard against the window, driven by the force of the wind. Deep, new snow had buried the winter wonderland she’d marveled at last night. She pressed her hand to the cold pane.
She spent a few moments wondering if she would inevitably succumb to Nick’s deep voice and sultry eyes if she saw him again. She pressed her fingers to her lips, remembering the wild taste of him…Shaking off the thought, she stared out at the swirling white landscape. The truth was, she had always found it difficult to protect her pitiful, vulnerable heart when a man whispered how much he wanted her.
How do you use setting in your stories? Do you think it’s a good way to convey character, or can it bring on too many cliches? What is the best way to describe a character?
When she’s not spending ridiculous amounts of time at the computer dreaming up interesting characters and spicy conflicts for her fiction writing, Kecia Adams loves to ride her bike really fast and shop for shoes. The Vendetta, her first contemporary romance with Etopia Press, is available at your favorite e-book retailer, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can find out more about Kecia and her writing at
website & blog: www.keciaadams.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/KeciaAdamsAuthor
In The Vendetta, vengeance intersects the international world of fine art when ski town barista Lisa Schumacher serves up espresso—with a dollop of passion—for Italian businessman Nick Carnavale. Lured to Rome by family ties, Lisa must race to find a mysterious missing painting in time to convince Nick that love, and life, is worth more than his revenge.
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