Monday, May 13, 2013

The muse came back


This is the most awesome news since --

Well, since ever.

After a way-too-long hiatus, Jack Bauer is returning to the small screen. And this, my dear bloggy friends, is BIG news. At least to me.

You see, I am a huge - and I do mean HUGE - Kiefer Sutherland/24/Jack Bauer fan. Kiefer has owned my heart since Lost Boys, a movie that pretty much defines my youth since I watched it every. single. weekend. I'm not kidding.

But then came Jack Bauer. Rugged. Kick ass. Take no crap Jack Bauer. Oh yeah, and he's hot.

Cue: world change.

Not only did I see a different, even more awesome side of Kiefer, but my writing...advanced. It was after watching the first season of 24 that I finally understood the twists and turns that make a great thriller. I could identify with the "ticking time clock" so necessary in thriller fiction, the rationale of killing off main characters, even when it hurts. 24 took TV risks, pushed boundaries. Sure there were some cheesy moments, but 24 fueled my creative well.

When the show was cancelled in 2010 after admittedly a weak season 8, it left a Monday-night void that not even The Voice and The Following could fill - and I luvs me some Adam Levine and Kevin Bacon. I tried to watch Touch, but Kiefer seemed awkward in the role of loving, caring Dad (I kept waiting for him to yell or threaten torture or something crazy) and as I suspected, the show was cancelled after just two seasons.

 I've been filling my TV dance card with some fairly amazing shows lately - Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, Revenge, Hannibal, The Killing, Broadchurch, Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Not to mention Dexter and True Blood return to TV next month. I have no trouble admitting that I'd drop them ALL for a new season of 24.

Thankfully, having a PVR means I don't have to.

I can't wait for the new season of 24! Welcome back, Jack, even if it is a limited run. And of course, thanks for being this week's Muse Avatar. Though you never really went away, I'm looking forward to kicking some serious ass with you in the very near future.

Anyone else anxiously awaiting the return of Jack Bauer?

- Dawn


Total words last week: 5,858
Total words to date for 2013: 81,662

Total pounds lost for week: 1
Total pounds lost to date for 2013: 27 

Books read last week: 1
Total books read to date for 2013: 8

Movies watched last week: 1
Movies watched to date in 2013: 7

Monday, May 6, 2013

I choose Usher!

If only Usher was a writing coach!

Okay, I admit, before this season of The Voice, I pretty much watched the show for Adam Levine. Sure, I liked the singing and the fun coach banter, but there was something a little creepy about Cee Lo Green, and it didn't take me long to get tired of X-Tina's ample bosom.

Enter Shakira - whom I have loved since Hips Don't Lie.

And Usher.

Aside from being some serious eye candy competition for Adam, Usher is my dream coach. No, seriously. Just watching his mentoring style makes me want to drop everything and be a singer - just for the chance to work with him. (Don't worry, I won't be gracing The Voice stage any time soon - I kind of suck at singing.)

Up until this season, the mentoring on The Voice has consisted primarily of some minor vocal corrections. Don't get me wrong, those tips have helped further the careers of some awesome talent. But Usher goes beyond the minor and strives for excellence. He's taken his team into the boxing ring for breath training and performance endurance, held a mirror up to force one girl to see her own inner beauty, and waltzed with one contestant to help her voice dance. He's laughed, complimented, and chastized. He's tough. Damn tough.

As he should be.

One of my writing mentors, Steve Berry, once said to me, "Nobody ever got to be a better writer by being told how good they are."

Wise words that are applicable to pretty much any vocation.

Practice your craft.

Strive for your personal best.

And never settle for anything less.

Yeah, Usher you can be MY coach any time. This week, please be my muse avatar. As the statistics show, I'm in need of a little push. And if I'm slacking, I honestly don't mind if you want to take a few rounds out of me in the boxing ring. No really. I even have my own gloves.

Happy Monday! Go be great.

- Dawn


Total words last week: 3,000
Total words to date for 2013: 75,804

Total pounds lost for week: +1
Total pounds lost to date for 2013: 26 (Back to the gym this week!)

Books read last week: 0
Total books read to date for 2013: 7

Movies watched last week: 1
Movies watched to date in 2013: 6

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guest Post: Jessica Bell talks about adverbs and cliches

I'm pleased to kick off the month with a guest post from the amazing Jessica Bell.

In addition to writing beautiful poetry, mesmerizing fiction, and stunning song lyrics (for songs she actually sings and has recorded), Jessica has created a new series of help aides for writers - the "in a Nutshell" pocket guides. The first in the series, Show and Tell in a Nutshell tackled the difficult balance of showing vs telling - a common issue for amateur and seasoned writers alike. Jessica's easy-to-understand examples are supported with beautiful prose that clearly demonstrates the benefit of showing - her words almost leap off the page.

Now, in the second book of the series, Jessica looks at two other common areas of difficulty for writers - adverbs and cliches. Whether you write fantasy or romance, thriller or erotica, this pocket guide should be on your bookshelf - right next to your dictionary and thesaurus. It's that vital. Please welcome the talented Jessica Bell to talk about her latest non-fiction work, Adverbs and Cliches In a Nutshell.

Too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? I've got just the fix for you.

by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.
“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.” ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights
Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo

Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook