Flying by the Seat of my Pants: Are You a Pantser or Plotter?

I am such a pantser!

A total pantser. Not a plotter do I want to be.  Pantser-vs-Planner

I don’t go around plotting the de-pantsing of the waistline challenged. No, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I write of the writer who writes with no plot in mind. Well, at least not a by-the-numbers plot, anyway.

Of course I have a beginning and an end in mind, but I prefer the meandering path that my characters tend to take me on. At times, I do have to rein them in, because they can get a little crazy (although, that’s not always a bad thing), and get them back on a more direct path.

About two weeks ago, my characters grabbed me by the belt loops and yanked really hard. They were so excited about a little plot  twist they wanted to show me. Yeah, it was good, so I jotted it down for when I get to that point in my book. When will I get there you ask? I’ll know it when I do. That’s what being a pantser is all about.

I don’t get out the note cards, or dry erase board, or cover my wall in Post It notes (I do have a dry erase board covered in sticky notes and a couple of note cards), or hang poster boards with my story written from beginning to end. That’s just not my style. I listen to my characters, let them have their say, sometimes let them have their way. I hope for the best. That a good story will emerge from the chaos in my head. But, if it doesn’t, I will take a step back and do a little off-the-cuff plotting to connect the dots and then continue on my writerly ramble.

I love my plotter friends, don’t misunderstand. Neither method is right or wrong. It’s all in the way our brains work. I get a kick out of reading the plot board in my critique partners office. It works for her. The notes on my aforementioned board say things like check out this band, your character ________ says, __________, this would be a good blog title, remember this quote.

Very random stuff.

At some point in my novel, I will go back and look at it chapter by chapter. See if the characters have led me into any gaping holes. It’ll be looked at by my critique groups and beta readers. Then it will go on to an editor who will most definitely find the error of my comma usage (and probably other grammar infractions). In the mean time, I’m happily pantsing my way through this story and thoroughly enjoying the ride.

For those of you who are writers, what’s your style and why? For those who have other goals in life, how do you approach them. Are you a pantser? Or, are you a plotter?

Hang on to your belt loops and your story boards!

RGPantserquote-Bradbury

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Science Fiction/Science Fact

I know that Mother’s Day was a month ago, but since then, I’ve been thinking about technology.

How many of you remember The Jetson’s?

Star Trek is easier because they’re still squeezing out movies based on the science fiction of Gene Roddenberry.

I know the comparisons have been made before, but I want to tell you how this has affected me.

My daughter is in the UK going to school. My parents are in another state. Until recently, contact has been by phone, e-mail, text, or other means of written, faceless communication.

This Mother’s Day was unique. I Facetimed with both my daughter, my mother, and my sister. Not simultaneously, as there is a time difference you know.

Skype

Skype

iPad/Phone - Facetime

iPad/Phone – Facetime

Before I left the house to meet my son for lunch and Iron Man III (which was awesome, by the way), I Facetimed with my daughter. I love this program. It’s made the world a whole lot smaller. I can see my daughter, who is over 3,000 miles away, in real time. I have to mention Skype as well, can’t forget that.

While my son and I were having lunch, my sister called. “Do you have Facetime? I’m taking my iPad to Mom & Dad’s and we could Facetime. I’ll be there in five. I’ll text you.” She said all this without a breath and barely paused for me to say “Yes, but I’m at a restaurant, I’ll have to get a Wi-Fi connection.” FYI, this is at the mall, need I say more.

While I’m connecting, this text comes. “It’s not working.”

By now my son is laughing.

I text back. “Connecting, give me a sec.”

Less than a second later. “Still not working.” Another nanosecond, my phone rings. “It’s not working.”

“I’m trying to connect, you need to give me time. I will contact you.”

“Okay.” Click

I get the box telling me I’m connected do I agree to the terms of use? Just as I click ‘I agree,’ the phone vibrates in my hand.

“It’s still not working.” My sister is not known for patience.

I calmly connect to Facetime and wait for her to respond. My son chuckling the whole time.

“You got it to work! That’s so awesome. What did you do?”

“I got a Wi-Fi connection, like I said.”

This zips right past her and she’s shoving her iPad in my parents’ faces.

My parents are in their mid-eighties. My mother seemed to think the pad was one of those photo frames and kept pointing at us, obscuring the camera. My dad, who has always been fascinated with technology, takes it and keeps turning it this way and that. All that aside, it was nice to be able to see them while we talked. I hope we do the same thing for Father’s Day.

We still still flock to movies and watch shows that are considered science fiction even though we have much of the technology in our hands. Is it me, or do these forms of entertainment have a more present day feel to them? As if you could step on the Starship Enterprise and feel right at home.

On another note, I have to mention the other science fictionyfact (yep, I made that up) that Jean-Luc Picard was often shown with . . .

Kindle/Nook/Reader

Kindle/Nook/Reader

Gives a whole new meaning to having your nose in a book.

How has Facetime/Skype made your world a little smaller? How do you feel about that?

You have the Com, ~ RG

I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT!

This Saturday, June 15th, I will have an author interview with Lisa Fender and Toni Burns, co-authors of Fable, Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy. Don’t miss this stop on their blog tour!

To Rhyme, or not to Rhyme-Do you have poetic tendencies?

I’ve been having a bout of poetry lately. It may not be a real illness, but my brain wants to rhyme, or not, and it happens at odd times. I’ve taken to carrying a notebook around in case something pops in my head while I’m doing laundry.

I’m not prepared to share any of my latest regurgitations at this time. However, I will–in the future. I like to let my poetry stew a little, then I go back and look at it again. I’ll take it to one of my critique groups. When I feel it’s ready to be viewed by the public, you’ll see it.

poe

Poe is one of my favorite poets. I like his stories too. Yes, creepy. Yes, weird. Yes, I’m demented. Maybe that’s why my latest issue has been on the dark side. Get ready-bwahahahaha.

What I’d really like to know is if any of you have poetic tendencies?

I would love to see a haiku or a few rhyming couplets or free verse posted in comments.

Come on. You can do it.

Serious or silly.

If you do, I will too ~ RG

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

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!

I’m Watching You

I have been all over the page lately. My brain on overdrive.

Maybe it’s the change in weather.

Maybe it’s the month.

Maybe it’s just that my imagination feeling rather hyper.

The way my brain feels.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little review piece to further send the synapses into acceleration.

Anyone know John Reeves? No? Well, you should.

He’s the hero of an action/thriller series by Kirkus MacGowen. The book I’m going to talk about in this post is Wrath, the second book in the series. The first one is The Fall of Billy Hitchings if you want to read them in order.

Wrath picks up with John Reeves return to his hometown where he’s dealing with a little bad family blood, working with an accountant and wannabe, although inept, private detective, and a vengeful, psychopathic, serial killer.

Wrath is a visceral read. It makes you feel the action and some of it doesn’t feel that great if you’re a little squeamish. I found myself drawn in with most of my senses, the descriptions acutely visual.

The one issue I had with it was I wanted a little more John Reeves. This book dealt with his relationship to his ‘estranged’ brother and I felt there was enough of the brother, but not quite enough of John. If you read both books, you’ll see what I mean.

However, that one issue doesn’t keep me from giving Mr. MacGowen’s book a huge thumbs up. I’m looking forward to reading the next John Reeves adventure.

The psychotic in this novel got my appetite ready for the Halloween season. The next two reviews are witchy in nature. Although both have a little vamp and ‘other’ supernatural in the mix.

First is A Discovery of Witches, a supernatural tale woven by Deborah Harkness.

Diana is reluctant to embrace her witch heritage, but when the historian of alchemy stumbles on a ancient manuscript that only       opens for her, the supernatural world around her closes in.

Deborah Harkness creates a rich world of witches, vampires and daemons in this book, the first of three. I did not want to put this                    down. It kept me engrossed and pulled me from England to France to New York and then into time itself where it left me, anxiously waiting for more.

I guess I have to get the next book, huh?

Next is The Forever Girl: Sophia’s Journey by Rebecca Hamilton.

This was an intriguing read about a young Wiccan who discovers that she’s a descendant of elemental witches and a forever girl. I’m not going to go into all that because I want you to read and find out for yourself.

There is mystery aplenty in Ms. Hamilton’s first book of the series. Cruors (vampiric beings), Strigoi (shifters), and many more paranormal beings. There’s also an unsolved murder or two.

This is more of a YA or New Adult read, but I enjoyed it immensely. I did have one issue. The ending. I wish it had left me with a stronger feeling that there is more to come. It did and it didn’t, so I would be okay if it was a stand alone or a series. Since it’s billed as Book #1, then it needs to be a little more leading.

That’s it for book reviews. I would like to throw in a theatrical review even thought the musical is ending this week.

I recently saw a production of Three Penny Opera at the Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden, Colorado. I just want to say Bravo! Also, if you love the arts in any way, shape, or form, check out your local theatre productions. The big stage is not the only place to see excellent theatre. Support the little guy.

Well, I succeeded in throwing my head into a more frenetic tail spin. Anyone have something they’d like to recommend?

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