What is “Diversity?”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually think of skin color/ethnicity/sexual orientation when I hear the word “Diverse.” What I DO think about are things like genre, country of origin, is it original or trope-ful, target audience, etc. Apparently that’s not what most people think of, however, because they start talking about the ‘other’ things…i.e. color, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. So here are my two cents, I expect most of you will disagree with me and (PSA) I’m not particularly sorry about it. I hope you have your own opinions. I will continue to adore you whether or not you agree with me. Moving on:

  1. I’m all for proper representation of minorities…white women are becoming a minority (at least where I’m from) so don’t roll your eyes at my white protagonist.
  2. I have no problem with most people’s sexual orientations. Yes, I said most because there are some orientations that I just can’t figure out or wrap my mind around. However, I don’t want to always read about something I’m not a part of just because it makes me ‘more diverse’
  3. I do believe that reading across genres and age levels is part of reading diversely.
    1. I do NOT believe that reading in one genre and age level will allow you to be properly diversified.
  4. If you don’t think about country of origin for the story and/or characters then the diversity falls a bit flat (in my opinion)
  5. If a character is NOT specified as being white, don’t complain about “all those white chicks/characters” in literature. Guess what…I know a lot of ethnic people (male and female) with blond or red hair. Welcome to the age of discount drug store hair dyes and cheap(ish) eye color changing contacts.

Ok, this has been slightly rambly and soap boxy…but I did try to keep that to a minimum. What do you think about all this? Am I wrong? (I’m not…but you’re probably not wrong either).

Villainy is Afoot

Writer’s Quote Wednesday is a fabulously fun and (sometimes) frantic bit that Colleen over at Silver Threadings has been fronting for a long time now. To see the post put up in her honor today (Ronovan, no one was fooled dear. Sorry.) check out this Mark Twain quote post, which is a fabulous little bit about character.

supervillains

That, ladies and gentlemen, is also what I want to talk about today. However, instead of discussing the type of character one shows through ones words, or the type of character a character seems to be through their language, I want to talk about the flip side of any good character…the villain. (bum, bum, BAAA).

hook

Hook, in Once Upon a Time anyway, works through his story and slowly becomes a hero.

I know I may have mentioned this once, or twice, before but I am often more drawn to the villain of a story. I can identify more with them, I can understand their convoluted reasoning, wants, and deepest (if not darkest) desires. There is a part buried deep within us that has those moments, those gut wrenching, knee-jerking, heart twisting villainous thoughts…and most of us choose not to go with those thoughts. However, those of us who are writers can use them to infuse our antagonists with real zeal and lifelike qualities…like an action figure of Darth Vader or Thanos.

Remember that the villain does not usually start out evil and bent on revenge...there is something that pushes them to it. Whether it be slight, imagined, or a huge cosmic twist, something happened and villains cry for help too.

Remember that the villain does not usually start out evil and bent on revenge…there is something that pushes them to it. Whether it be slight, imagined, or a huge cosmic twist, something happened and villains cry for help too.

The idea of hero and villain is very fluid and that is something I adore. Hook did save Peter a few times, after all, and the Beast becomes a prince with Belle’s love. Because they are seen. Because people try…seeing them as evil alone leaves them that way.

Loki may have a villainous agenda, but he honestly sees himself as working toward the good of his people, of his family, and of himself.

Loki may have a villainous agenda, but he honestly sees himself as working toward the good of his people, of his family, and of himself.

Villains are even more difficult to make believable than heroes. Heroes can have that ‘too good to be true’ quality about them and still be beloved (*ahem* Captain America *ahem*). Villains won’t be believable like that.

While I never believed that Draco was completely ruthless, the point here is that villains with no soft spots are unbelievable. They fall flat, no matter how horrid they are .

While I never believed that Draco was completely ruthless, the point here is that villains with no soft spots are unbelievable. They fall flat, no matter how horrid they are .

Oh, but we do!

Oh, but we do!

Alan Rickman, the amazing man who brought total life to Severus Snape, is a grand example. As he says, you are not supposed to like Snape. However, the baggage he slowly unpacks has us all feeling for someone we thought was the bad guy. And maybe he is in some places, but really he is just trying to do what he can to save the world his love tried to protect. The romance in the villainy has people the world over seeing the word “Always” in a new and different light.

If you want to see how your villain(s) stack up, check out the Better Novel Project’s post about it here and the One Year Adventure Novel’s post on writing good villains here.

Villainess1-400x600

Every villain has motive, these 39 give us a great place to leap from when discovering the catalyst for our characters.

So what do amazingly well done, interesting, sometimes even beloved villains look like? Well, let me show you a few:

The Joker is a multi-dimensional, insane, murderous villain...who loves and who, in some twisted way, sees Batman as his best friend as well as biggest foe.

The Joker is a multi-dimensional, insane, murderous villain…who loves and who, in some twisted way, sees Batman as his best friend as well as biggest foe.

Dr. Harleen Frances Quinze, Harley Quinn, a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who helped the Joker escape and had her license revoked when it was discovered. She escaped her cell during an earthquake  and became the fun loving Harley Quinn. Joker's sidekick and love. Their love caused a lot of horrific things...like Harley being sent off in a rocket! Complex emotions are difficult for us all...

Dr. Harleen Frances Quinze, Harley Quinn, a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who helped the Joker escape and had her license revoked when it was discovered. She escaped her cell during an earthquake and became the fun loving Harley Quinn. Joker’s sidekick and love. Their love caused a lot of horrific things…like Harley being sent off in a rocket! Complex emotions are difficult for us all…

stopme

Not only is this a great question for anyone pushing to obtain their dreams…it is the basic principle for villains. Pick out the nemesis and find a way to get around them.

Do you have a favorite quote about villains? Who is YOUR favorite villain? Do you adore a villain or two that other people can’t understand? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Have perfectly multi-faceted day everyone! Happy quoting.

Author Interview – Jean Lamb

Welcome everyone to another week of Friday Interviews! This week we welcome life-long author, Jean Lamb. Thank you for stopping by Jean.

Jean Lamb

Let’s get right to the questions!

  • What name do you write under? Is this a pseudonym? Do you use more than one name when you write?

I write under the name of Jean Lamb, which is the name I usually go by. It’s not a pseudonym, though I have multiple series planned in multiple genres, so I may well use pseudonyms when I begin those. For instance, I have a Western saga series planned called The Western Wheel, which will cover the events in Sabado, Kansas, over a period of 60 years (each book is five years apart and it begins in 1850).

  • Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.

I wrote really bad stories as a child, and what is worse, sent some of them out. I suspect the editors suspected my age, and were fairly gentle. I even made up a truly bad musical in junior high that I somehow inveigled the other kids in the neighborhood to participate in (no singing, just running around with occasional swordfights, punctuated by Plot Expositions).

  • What genre(s) do you write in, and why?

Right now I write in fantasy and romance. My next book, Phoenix in Shadow, is a combination of both. It’s not strictly a romantic fantasy, but a fantasy with a romance. I also have SF, historical mystery, and western saga books planned to write.

Due to release sometime in January 2016

Due to release sometime in January 2016

  • What genres are your favorites to read? Why?

I grew up on SF and fantasy, as well as sneak-reading my mom’s James Bond books (how I learned where Vladivostok was when in sixth grade, and why I didn’t tell the teacher how I’d learned it). Now I read a lot more SF, fantasy, mystery, historical, biographies, nonfiction (including some WWII books. Ok, I read everything).

That sounds like quite the eclectic list! I applaud you for it!

  • Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.

The one that I wrote—Ravin Gambrell. He shows that there is life and courage after a devastating personal loss of house, family, and face. He also shows that there should be a limit to revenge. Eventually.

deadmanshand

The one I didn’t write—Professor Severus Snape. My husband is a chemistry teacher, you see, and I hear about what some of the students and what they get up to. He shows that love is everlasting even for the not-so-beautiful people, and that a person can do the right thing even when everyone else hates you.

I agree that Snape is amazing, and one of my top 5 characters from the series as well! He was played perfectly in the movies, in my opinion anyway.

 

  • There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?

Oh, yes—but only if I was part of the process. Many things can change, as long as the spirit of the story remains. This is weird, but I obsess over my last line; if I know my last line, then the rest of the book eventually lines up, even though I wander around a lot. The movie would have to make enough sense for that last line to work.

  • How do you handle writer’s block?

Morning pages. Even if you spend them whining, the process makes you sit down and write something. I disagree with Julia Cameron that they have to be handwritten, however. I can type forever, but handwriting bothers my wrist a great deal and I become nearly illegible. Typed morning pages allow me to salvage anything interesting for actual works in progress.

Of course, I try not to play Bejeweled until I have some writing done. I don’t have Candy Crush on my phone, either—as a recovering Tetris addict, I know what timesuckers those cute little games can be.

I am a game addict as well, so I try really REALLY hard not to ….oh look, someone sent me a request.

  • What inspires you?

Music! I have a variety of synesthesia where sound creates physical sensation/texture, which makes it easy for me to choreograph almost any kind of music. Even though my joints are not as limber as they use to be, getting up and dancing gets my blood flowing and my thoughts moving.

Art! Beauty of any kind moves me; whether it’s landscape in the beautiful Klamath Basin where I live, or the panoramic forests on my screensaver, or even the blossoms on the geranium hanging outside, color and light help me to live.

Love! A strong marriage of over 40 years and two children make me feel connected to others, as well as many friends who live here or on the Internet. I know the rhythms of love, both when they work and when they go wrong. And I know that supporting them, and asking for their support, helps make my life complete.

  • How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?

I cheerfully point out what I write, where they can find my work, and mention that they can read the first three chapters for free before buying. I really hope I have hooked them by then. I still have a day job, though that will end at the end of this year. When I have the time I need, my motto will be “2k a day before I play”.

 A Brilliant Marriage

  • Finally, tell us where to go to find you

My books are on Amazon, of course, just look for Jean Lamb. I have one book on B&N, though alas it has not sold very well there. I have the gmail address jeanlambwriter@gmail.com, which I am very bad about checking, and I am also on Facebook.

hatchling finished

Thank you for sharing your awesome answers with us today Jean! Good luck with your books, and the 2k motto 😉

Remember, if you are someone in the business of books (even if you aren’t an author) and would like to be included in an interview just let me know! I look forward to hearing from you all. Come back soon!

Peppy Goals

There are ten days left in this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo and I have at least 2,000 words a day to write if I want to finish on time. I could be upset, I could be depressed, I could do the usual and completely forsake writing for a week in order to crochet and watch movies before futilely racing to write in the final hours of posting time. Not This Time!

This time I won’t do any of that. Maybe it’s because I’m another year older and, ostensibly, wiser. Perhaps it stems from the fact that we moved in the middle of November last year and my final NaNo word count was so pitiful that I’ve attempted to block it from my mind. Or possibly, and most probably, is that I don’t want to teach my daughter to give up…especially on something you love. So today’s pep is really this…if you love it, if you really want it, achieve it. As Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) says in Sister Act 2: “If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but singing, than you should be a singer.” I say, if you wake up in the middle of the night and you can’t think of anything except what happens to your plotline next, you should be a writer.

Now that the semi-pep talk is over…wait, one more thing…Sister Mary Clarence also says “If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention.” (If you haven’t watched the movie…WATCH THE MOVIE)

Now then, I’m all out of the almost-pep so now that its over, here are my goals for this week:

1) Write at least two articles for Yahoo! Contributors Network

2) Work my fingers off and my brain gooey to get the rest of my word count, and beyond, for Camp

3) Practice drawing some more dragons and ships…I’ve drawn exactly one full dragon so far.

I’ve named him Bill the Ner…he doesn’t much look like what I imagine my dragons to be, but he’s family 😀

4) Use my daughter’s snuggle times as actual down times. I’ve been trying to research and write…even just on my phone…during these times and I’m not getting much extra done but I am missing out on snuggles. So instead of binging on Netflix and not writing at night, I’ll binge on My Little Pony and Tinkerbell during the nap time portion of the day. It might work.

5) write this week’s short story BEFORE I post it on Sunday.

What are your goals for the week? Campers, how are your word counts coming along? Do you have any tips, advice, or comments for me…please leave them! I love to hear from you all!

 

 

5 Things I’ve learned about Writing

Being a writer has always been part of who I am. I don’t really remember a time in which I did not create different characters and scenarios…whether or not I wrote them down. Over all of that time (29 years, give or take my infancy and toddler years, in which I’m sure I made all sorts of fabulous stories that no one could understand) I have learned five things about writing.

 

 

(original picture courtesy of http://forthesomedaybook.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/sermon-sapling-epiphany-8a-in-the-palm-of-gods-hand/)

 

1)      The more you write, the more you CAN write! Keep it up…there is no excuse for not doing what you love to do.

2)      The more you ignore the myth of ‘your muse’ and trudge through without him/her, the more they are likely to visit you. Mythological beings are rather testy about being left out of the equation 😉

3)      Inspiration is really just something that lies waiting in your subconscious, or soul (whichever seems more true/poetic to your life), looking for a trigger and an opening. Much like the ‘muse’ inspiration happens more the more you trudge on without it.

4)      Writing may often be a one woman/man, lonely gig, but I am never truly alone with my work. Ideas, characters, and those people whom I bug with ideas at 3 am are always there to keep me company…whether they like it or not!

5)      No matter how useless you feel spelling and punctuation are, it can mean life or death for some characters, and more so for your complete work. So tread lightly and edit with a fine tooth comb.

Aside

Characters

Tomorrow is “National Reading Day” in the U.S.A., a day for pre-k thru 3rd graders to (hopefully) happily read and develop the literacy foundation they’ll need throughout school and life. (http://national-reading-day.org)

Thinking about the books I loved in elementary school made me realize something I had never really thought about before.

When you think about great classic books, especially children’s books, you remember the general setting, the tone, and of course, the main characters. Everyone remembers Peter Pan from Neverland had a friend named Tinkerbell. We all know that the Red Queen chased Alice through Wonderland. And who could forget that Aslan welcomed the Pevensie children into Narnia…well, eventually. However, does anyone remember the minor characters? Do you have a favorite?

I know that some of my absolute favorite characters are those who seem to slip in and out of the storyline, almost undetected but for a swift pun or stunning swordplay before they once again fade out of the limelight. For example, Nana and the mermaids of Neverland, a myriad of talking animals throughout children’s stories (Reepacheep, the Beavers, DorMouse, Mock Turtle, etc.), and perhaps even the Woodsman of fairy tale lore can be called a minor character who plays a major role.

Some characters have been given the dubious honor of being both a major and minor character in literature. For example, Mr. Tumnus the Fawn plays a great role in the beginning of the Lucy’s adventure into Narnia, but then fades out of the story for a while. The Mad Hatter comes and goes and, though he continues throughout the Wonderland narratives, he does not always have much of a role to play.

I must confess that the Mad Hatter is my favorite character from the Lewis Carroll’s works, and the subsequent television and film adaptations. Who is your favorite “minor character”?

May your imagination never cease to amaze, may your life follow your dreams, and may you have a Blessed Day!

Unfinished Stories

I was glancing through my four current notebooks earlier, searching for any already written, yet sadly overlooked, blog pieces. What I found was row after row, page after page, entry after entry of short blurbs and pithy conversations that may one day find their way into being part of a story, but are currently just “hangin’ out.”

The problem is, how do I decide which story to write, which conversation to finish? Each one lives in me, every scene plays out in my subconscious mind. I don’t have time for them though. No time for lemurs or llamas, college crushes, or even heartwarming stories of giving. My dragons clamor for attention, their grumbles and fairy alliances effectively silencing other, softer voices.

But those softer voices fight their way to the forefront at odd times. A bit of random people watching, stray pieces of sentences, or a new commercial sending me into a quick frenzy of scribbles, leaving partial scenes and half-formed conversations in my wake.

I never seem to get far with a new work though. My babies, my sweet dragons, have me well in hand. There may be no other stories until theirs is finished. Unless, of course, I figure out a way to turn them each into a blog post….

Until then, go on an adventure, write a story, read someone new, and above all else, Have a BLESSED day!

Spell Check can be WRONG

Sometimes, spell check is WRONG!!

Have you ever noticed that you can be bopping along, just minding your own business as your fingers fly across the keyboard and then suddenly…a red line underneath your heroin’s name, which is clearly NOT miss spelled.  Then a blue line, they don’t want you to separate those two words for emphasis. OR the punctuation suddenly changes on you for no good reason whatsoever. Yes, sometimes spell check can be dead wrong!

I know that for a first draft, just getting the words out while the muse is inspiring you is the really important thing…but when I’m typing and all of the sudden my computer forgets that those names are ALL for characters I’ve been writing about for the past four years, and therefore have saved to the program, it gets a little frustrating. Do you have times like this, when your story is interrupted by nasty colored lines and a snarky programmed paperclip? Just remember, you CAN ignore them!

 

Until next time: May the lines always be hidden, and your names always spelled to your liking! Have a Blessed Day!