Why Do I Put Myself Through This?

Last night, I took the rough draft of my novel synopsis to my critique group where it got thoroughly shredded. 021

I expected it.

As I write this post,  The Whites Stripes, Catch Hell Blues comes on my iTunes playlist. And, I quote: “If your lookin’ for hot water, don’t act shocked when you get burned a little bit. If you really want some hot water, I can help you find it.”

Yeah, at critique group, and definitely don’t go if you can’t take the hot water.

I laugh because it’s exactly what I was looking for, but I still question why I put myself through this. I can think of a few:

Because I enjoy having others scrutinize and disassemble my work (yeah, no, not really, well maybe, hmmm . . . )

Because conflict is my friend (and I like my friend).

Because “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche -or, in this case, what doesn’t kill your story, makes it stronger.

Because, and this is in the case of my synopsis, I want to enter a contest and the stupid thing is required (at least they reduced it to 3-4 pages instead of 8).

And, most importantly,

Because I want my work to be as good as it can be for the reader.

599075_398594130238481_1470735836_nSo here’s my question. Do you put yourself through the ringer for certain things? What are they and how many hoops do you jump through?

See you next week, probably battered and bruised, but that synopsis is going to get written. ~ RG

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Enter the World of the Djen – Author/Character Interview

I am so excited!

This is my very first guest post and I’m so happy my first blog guest is my critique partner and friend, Lisa Fender. Her debut novel, Fable – Book I of the Lorn Prophecies is slated to launch April/May of this year. I’m ecstatic for her! I’ve been critiquing her work for the past two years and know exactly how much this means to her.

Not only did Lisa answer my questions about her book and writing, she brought Jack Snow, one of her characters with her. Jack is the long-time friend of her protagonist Stevie Barrett, and one of my personal favorites.

So, let’s jump into the world of the Djen, the inhabitants of Djenrye, a parallel dimension to our own.

I’ll start with some questions for you, Lisa.

RG – Lisa, I know you’ve been working on this book for four years and you’re looking forward to seeing it in print.  What has been the most rewarding thing for you as you’ve gone through the process of writing and revising?

Lisa – Seeing the book actually become a wonderfully written novel! When I first wrote the rough-draft I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn’t fix it. I had to take classes, hire a writing coach, and once I realized what was missing, (creative writing skills) the book became something I wanted to read!

Lisa and Tanya

Lisa & Toni

RG – You’ve been working with a co-author, who is also your sister, Toni Burns. How has that been and do you feel the two of you are closer for working together?

Lisa – It has been a great experience! We are now closer than ever. For some reason we are in sync with each other. We are always in each other’s head. But, to try and do it alone, well I am at a blank. I’m so glad she loves the story as much as I!

RG – Fable – Book I of the Lorn Prophecies, is the first in the series. How many books are planned?

Lisa – That is a question I don’t know if I can answer. Originally there was going to be 3, a trilogy. But, we decided to add short stories about Djenrye in between releases of the novels. And, we have discussed there being 5 novels, so that’s a lot of books…we’ll see.

RG – Okay, Lisa, give us a blurb about Fable . . . Jack, put your hand down, it’s still Lisa’s turn.  Where was I–oh, I think the readers will be fascinated by the world you’ve created.

Lisa – At eighteen, Stevie Barrett, discovers that she has powers, visions, and is from another dimension parallel to this world. Most startling yet, she is destined to save both worlds from total destruction. Her nemesis seeks to control the five ancient Orbs (Orteh, in the Djen tongue) that maintain the Earth’s balance—the spheres she is meant to protect—but to do so, he must drain her blood and powers. Stevie’s challenge is to embrace her birthright as the last surviving Guardian of the Orbs, learn to use her abilities, and accept exile from the only home she has ever known, if she is to save herself and everyone she loves.

Okay, Jack. Now it’s your turn.

RG – How old are you, Jack, and how long have you known Stevie Barrett?

Jack – Old enough to know better and young enough not to care. (Glare from Lisa) Okay, okay, eighteen. I’ve known Stevie since we were kids. Maybe, twelve or thirteen years? But, she didn’t succumb to my manly charms until about eight years ago. (Lisa shakes her head)

RG – I know you were pretty put out about the appearance of Colton in Stevie’s life. How’s that working for you?

Jack – Seriously? Like I have anything to worry about from a warrior god from another dimension who is my best friend’s soul mate…okay, never mind. We’ll always have Golden.

RG – Are you ever serious?

Jack – Like a heart attack. Hey Stevie’s still my bud, and Alyssa’s still my…well, that’s turning out to be another story all together.

RG – What’s the first thing you thought when you found out your friend isn’t human? That’s got to be a mind blower.

Jack – You aren’t kiddin! But hey, having a superhero friend is pretty intense. A cool kinda intense.

RG – These Djen guys are pretty serious and dangerous. Are you afraid for your life?

Jack – Nah. I’m mean, look at me…

(Jack winks at RG)

RG –  (rolls eyes) You and Detective Wood play a big part in Stevie and Colton’s quest to find the missing Orteh (orb). How does is make you feel to be included in the search?

Jack – Included? Why wouldn’t they include me? I’m Colton’s co-warrior and Wood’s IT guy.

RG – Okay, final question. Now that you know Stevie is spoken for, is there a new love in your life?

Jack – I don’t know if I’d say L…O…V…E. But, well, have you met that cute nimble little gymnast Stevie and I hang out with? Anyone who can do a back bend like Alyssa…I’m just sayin.

(Lisa sighs, RG raises eyebrows)

Jack – What?

RG – Thank you Lisa and Jack for visiting with me today.

Lisa – Thanks for having us, Robin! Wouldn’t miss it!

Jack – Anytime doll-face. And if you need any help fighting off warriors from another dimension, give me a call (Lisa punches Jack in the arm). Hey! I’m just sayin…

Fable – Book I of the Lorn Prophecies by Lisa Fender, with Toni Burns will be available soon. I will post the launch date as soon as that’s decided. You can follow Lisa and Toni at the links listed below.

http://www.facebook.com/FableBookI

http://www.lisafender.com/

https://twitter.com/LisaFender1

https://twitter.com/ToniBurnsMe

RG Calkins

http://rgcalkins-author.com

https://www.facebook.com/RGCalkins.Author

https://twitter.com/RGCalkinswrites

As 2012 Winds Down

Thank you

It’s almost the end of 2012. At twelve a.m. Tuesday morning, in your particular time zone, people all over your country and all over the world will yell, scream, whisper, murmur and even silently welcome in 2013, the New Year. There will be fireworks, champagne, handshakes, hugs, and kisses.

Before all that happens, I want to be thankful for a few things.

First–my family. Thankful for all of them and their love and support. Thankful that my son has taken a leap of faith to start a new job that will allow him to explore his creativity and allow for friends and family. Thankful that my daughter has decided to give her school experience another chance and that she’s made good friends that will help her endure. I feel that the new year will be really good for both of them and I hope they go into it with positive determination and attitudes.

Second–my friends. Old and new. Those close and far away. The ones I know face-to-face and those I only know virtually. You all rock! Thank ty friendsyou for your support, your friendship, for holding me in your thoughts and prayers. Blessings to all of you in the new year. May it bring health, happiness, love, and prosperity to each and everyone of you.

Third–the random things.

Thank you to the postal clerk who helped me on Christmas Eve. I don’t know your name, but thank you from the bottom of my heart. When I discovered my daughter’s Christmas package was returned because the customs slip came off, this man made sure that it got back into the system that night. I hope his Christmas was great and that his new year is better.

To all those people in the drive through at Starbuck’s–you know who you are–the ones that buy coffee and sometimes more for the person behind you. Not just you, but all the people who practice random acts of kindness every day, those of you who make someone else smile and feel happy, even if it’s for a moment. That moment, or day, or week, or however long it lasts, is so beneficial. I hope in the new year that you see that paid forward, or continue the practice, or  that it is reciprocated on you.

Thank you to my critique partners (Lisa, Janet), critique group (RMFW-Tues/Thurs), and writing group (GWWG). You are the reason I get better, gratitudethe reason I’m published, and one of  the reasons I keep writing. Also, all of the writing friends (too many to name) I’ve met through contacts and various social media. I hope the new year sees you finish a manuscript, getting published, and having success. And, to Jessica Coleman of Darker Times Fiction for publishing my short stories. Best wishes to all of you.

Thank you to the many (again, too many to name) who are keeping me in mind every time you hear of a job I might be qualified for, and those (Jeremy, Mindy, Bill) who hold a position for me in your busy season should I not find that permanent position.

I’m sure there are other people that I need to thank. My daughter’s flat mates, my son’s friends, and the fact there is now enough snow for my husband to enjoy his skiing. And I thank God for seeing me through this far.

For all of you, everyone who reads this, I wish you a healthy, happy, loving, prosperous, and outstanding New Year! Blessings to each and everyone of you in 2013!

RGTY


Farewell, but not Goodbye

Recently I bid a fond farewell to my friend and writer’s coach, Janet Roots. She is returning to the land of her birth, England and will be near my daughter, who is in Wales. This is not goodbye as we plan to keep in touch through the ether.

I met Janet when I attended a MeetUp.com group she started called the Golden Wannabe Writer’s Group in Golden, Colorado. I had just started jotting down ideas for a book when the invite popped up in my e-mail. I had other such invites, but none had felt as right as this one, so I attended the first meeting. That was in June of 2010 and I stuck with this group right up to our last meeting with Janet.

Over the almost two and a half years I’ve known her she has encouraged me, mentored me, taught me the writing craft (still learning), introduced me to my first critique partner, and became my friend. I’ve met some wonderful people through the group, some of which have become good friends and all of whom make me a better writer.

As I said before, this is not goodbye. Our little group wants to stay in touch. To do so, we created a Facebook group and we’ll meet once a month at our regular haunt, Bean Fosters. When Janet is settled in England, we will Skype her into our meetings. We hope to still offer the support each of us needs to reach our goals, whether they be to write and get published, to write for ourselves, or to find out if writing is our thing.

I’ve made other acquaintances in the UK. Some are my daughter’s new friends and others are fellow writers whom I’ve met through blogging, Twitter, and Facebook. I hope to be able to visit in the near future and meet them face-to-face.

Until then,
I wish Janet all the best and I’ll be in touch!

To Kill, or not To Kill

I have a dilemma.

I know that sometimes “you must kill your darlings.” And, I’m not the squeamish sort, but I’m having a really hard time deciding whether or not to do away with one of my characters. The problem is, I find reasons for him to be there. I can also see him “not there,” at least not physically in the scenes.

This issue has been rumbling in my head for a couple of weeks now. Why is this so hard?

Help!

I’ve put this question to a few of my literary friends. It’s a mixed bag of answers, mostly the pros and cons are even. It feels a little like a tug-of-war.

Keep him…….no, don’t keep him….ugh! That flag in the middle doesn’t budge.

I’m going to have to sleep on this one more night. Tomorrow, I have a big decision to make and make it I must. I’m at a point where the rewrite won’t be horrendous if I do it now.

Tune in next Tuesday to find out. Did he face the gallows, or get a reprieve?

Hmmm, there’s also a lovely butcher knife in my kitchen dr….

Bwahahahahahahahahahah

If at first…try, try again.

Hello,

I’m back.

The heading on this post is something my parents always told us growing up. I’m not sure where the quote is from…actually (after looking it up) The proverb has been traced back to ‘Teacher’s Manual’ (1840) by American educator Thomas H. Palmer and ‘The Children of the New Forest’ (1847) by English novelist Frederick Maryat (1792-1848). “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

The past month has been full of good news, bad news and all sorts of business.

Prior to my last post, my friend and critique partner’s father died. Right after that, my daughter graduated from University of Wyoming with a BFA in Theatre & Dance, Technical Theatre-concentration, Lighting Design. About four days after that, she found out that she was accepted to The Royal Welsh College of Drama & Music, into their MA program for Theatre Design.

Up until recently, I was working two jobs. It was as if I had no time to do anything other than work and sleep. My writing suffered from this as well as life in general. Last Thursday, my temporary contract ran out with one of the jobs. So, I’m down to one job, with a weird schedule, and it’s seasonal to boot. I’m looking for something permanent, full-time, because I’m not being supported by my writing yet and one paycheck in the household doesn’t cut it.

I attended the memorial and life celebration of John Wright, my friend Lisa’s father. Complete with clown noses to remember his love of performing that role. He has a beautiful family that will carry on his legacy.

Last Wednesday, another dear friend, Ava, lost a parent. Her mother gave up her struggle with age and is now singing arias with the angels. We will miss you Lucille ‘Loretta’ Ruby Curry. You were a class act and a dear lady. I attended her beautiful  memorial and celebration of life. The reception featured a slide show with music from operas and musicals that she performed in, in New York, Denver, and Central City.

Now my life will consist of looking for that permanent job, finding scholarships and grants to help fund my daughter’s tuition, getting her ready to leave home to study in the UK, and last, but certainly not least, writing.

Yes, I’m determined to get this first novel revised and ready. To flesh out the other two, whose ideas and scenes are waiting patiently in notebooks to be typed in. Today is the first time I’ve set down to simply write, in a while. Yea!

I’m also asking for the support of family and friends. I need feedback, I need encouragement, I need support and to know that someone out there wants to read my work. I can’t tell you how writing makes me feel. Just know that this is something that makes me really happy. To weave a tale in my head and put it on paper. To have characters take on a life of their own and start telling me where they want to go. To have a manuscript that is complete, although it needs revision, is the biggest high.

Now, to take all the hand edited pages and apply them to the pages in my computer. Also, work on a suggestion from my writing coach that will help with my revisions.

I’m going to write now. You my ask yourself, “Isn’t that what she’s been doing on this blog?” Well, yes, but it’s not my book.

Until next time…

The Importance of Being Ernest

I want to say, that it is very important to have a critique partner or group. That person or persons can put things into perspective that you, as your own worst critic and editor, may not see or catch. Just sitting at Starbuck’s and discussing the plot of your book can bring that AHA! moment or the subtlest of changes that help the flow of your prose.

Make sure that you establish ground rules, even if they are unspoken/unwritten. When my critique partner and I met for the first time, we barely knew each other. We each brought something to read, but we also found out a little about each other and what we wanted to get out of the “business” of our meetings. We would not demoralize, humiliate, be hypercritical or mean. We would be honest and supportive, offering suggestions and constructive criticism. I would liken it to a couple who are courting, everything is tentative at first, but as the relationship grows, a more open dialog is established. Pretty soon, you each know how to approach critique with your partner.

I am truly blessed with a critique partner, who is becoming a good friend as well. I also belong to a writing group where learning craft is the focus, but we manage to throw in a little critiquing from time to time, and the people in it are honest and constructive, never destructive. That is key!

So, cheers to Lisa and the Golden Wannabe Writers Group! They are awesome!

Regards,
Robin

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