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Archive for the ‘Spite’ Category

Jaime Reed wrote an interesting blog about teen female protagonists.  The letter filled with stereotypes found in lead characters was like a check list of “what not to do” in writing YA fiction.  Reed discussed how they are catty, self-centered, and have one dimensional friends.  She dissects the first person’s inner monologue for being hypocritical in her judgment of gal pals and the stereotypical description of the token gay BFF.  While I nodded my head with her pointed observation and rolled my eyes at the obvious flaws of those characters, I started to question where this left my WIP.  Is the lead character I love about to be filleted “Kill Bill style” because she is just like everyone else and I didn’t even know it?

It is common for artists to feel insecure.  Anytime you create something with your heart that other people can have an opinion, you are vulnerable.  While I have discussed my growing thick skin, I haven’t had the comfort of a professional acknowledging my work to put some of those fears to rest…yet.  So of course I assume, even though Ms. Reed and I have never met, she is talking about me.  My lead has girlfriends she isn’t close with.  She struggles with boyfriends.  She can even be called “snarky” at times.  But have I created a cliché?  Isn’t this common in teenagers?  Correction, isn’t this common for all women?  I’ve had conversations with friends in their thirties with all of these traits in one interaction.  Does that make us all cliché?  Don’t we all make poor choices in relationships at certain times and isn’t that the part that makes us human?  Relatable?  Real?

We all have our pet peeves in novels.  I know of a very successful novel where I promised to throw up if I read the sentence “he was an Adonis” one more time.  I hope my work has something different to it and hasn’t fallen into this trap of “typical teen.”  I took deep thought in trying to make the character realistic with strengths and flaws.  They were built on my own successes and short comings from back then and in my adulthood.

The irony is when I was a teenager, my mother would shake her head and tell me how no matter how hard I tried, whatever mischief I created, I was a normal teenager.  “This is just what teenagers do,” she said.  I screamed she didn’t understand, told her she was outdated while I wore a homemade shirt with the words “Fuck You” written across the chest in splatter paints (oh, the 90’s.)  I look back and laugh for how cliché of a teen I actually was.

Is Ms. Reed right about authors relying too heavily on stereotypes?  Or are they writing in fact and it’s people in general who are cliché?  It’s easy to make arguments for both (depending if I spent the day standing in the line at the DMV.)  It comes down to the reader.  Maybe they want something familiar or reminiscent of their youth.  Maybe they want to be surprised, but then discount it with being unbelievable.  In the end, it’s up to the skill and experience of the author to find the delicate thin line in between.  (I hope I have.)

To make this blog funny, I’ve added a photo from my teen years.  (Please remember it’s the 90’s before you judge.)  Here I am with purple-ish hair, a Pink Floyd tee-shirt, and best of all–long john’s under my shorts.  Too bad the camera doesn’t show the Doc Martin boots on my feet.  You can see grunge was in full effect.  Go ahead…judge and laugh.  Please, laugh your ass off.

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There are many consistent daydreams playing in my head throughout the day.  Sandwiched between Mikel Jollett asking me out for a beer to talk music and handing out $1000 dollars of lottery winnings randomly for good deeds done, is my dream of being a published author.  I’ve always known for the momentous accomplishment of having my name on a jacket cover, there would be a kick ass party.

Due to years of party planning, it’s required my release party have a theme.  When it was my first book about a girl who could tell when people were lying, the party revolved around a truth or dare theme.  Dirty secrets and crazy stunts throughout the night would leave guests naked in all sorts of ways.  It also involved taking place in my high school gymnasium, inviting back old boyfriends, and decorating the joint with a hint of “ha!” flare.  Although I’ve matured, gotten past my pettiness, and now understand everyone is a potential book buyer, my desire to have a theme mirroring the book is still in full effect.

While visiting Portland a couple nights ago for yet another business trip, I saw the perfect addition to my book release party.  In SPITE, the main character sings karaoke so I always wanted to have that entertainment at the party.  Is there anything more fun than watching people drink and pretend they are rock stars?  Who doesn’t love that?  At a club called Dante’s I saw the perfect way to do it—the only way to do it—using a live band!  With a real band as backup, you truly get to be a rock star one song at a time.  Instead of a prompter lighting up to help with timing through slurred words, there was a real drum beat with backup singers attempting to harmonize with the singer’s screeching.  My favorite part was a guy who stood off to the side with the main purpose of coming out to sing the words to help the lead get back on track if she was really tanking.  (And trust me, she was.) 

Well-stocked bar?  Check.  Buffet of great appetizers?  Check.  Lead on a rockin’ band?  Check. (Shannon, I’m lookin’ at you.)  I only have to take care of some last things; details like getting an agent, selling to a publisher, and actually getting to release.  Pffttt…how hard can that be? 

BTW, if you are an agent or know of an agent who would love attend this party, I just need one little favor first (as noted in the above.)  

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Music has always played an important part in my life.  My most vivid memories involve music.  When I was ten years-old, I snuck out of bed in the middle of the night to watch a Men At Work concert on MTV.  (I’d still do it today if they played music on MTV.)  In fifth grade, I experienced my first live concert, which was Cyndi Lauper (still a totally kick ass concert memory.)  Half her head was shaved in a criss-cross pattern like a pie crust top while the other side flowed with fire engine red locks.  Even though it was at a fairground reeking of cow shit, it was the most glamorous thing I’d ever seen.

In high school, my melancholy moods were accompanied by The Smiths’ “Strangeways, Here We Come,” and Depeche Mode’s “Blasphemous Rumors.”  My first boyfriend played in a band and I’d sit in some dive studio on a garage sale couch to watch for hours.  I never complained about the springs stabbing my ass through the cushions or the fact the place reeked of “boy.”  There was also a time I watched a band play in a storage unit.  Cramped and claustrophobic, but you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face if you tried. 

In college, I found a security position for concerts, rubbing down bodies for weapons, alcohol, and cameras.  Needless to say, we had a pretty good stash at the end of the night of cameras and drinks.  Although my hands were filthy with the grime of fake leather, that shitty job guarding bathrooms let me see some cool shows, briefly talk to Perry Ferrell, and watch Ozzy Osbourne take a leak outside the back door. 

Now as an adult, the last couple years have blown my mind with concerts.  I’ve talked to people I idolize for using their awesome talent.  It never fails after I see a show; I can’t listen to anything else.  The leftover energy fuels me forward.  Their performance, their passion, their emotion powers me to continue even when I’m tired.  Maybe it’s a concert honeymoon phase.  Regardless of the reason, it’s magical.

Every night when I write, there are ear buds in my ears with a shuffle of my favorite bands*.  It’s no surprise each of my books contain music.  My current WIP (work in progress), Spite, is about a girl writing a song to revenge a wrong from high school.  To be honest, my books probably always will have an element of music running through them.   Music has always meant something special.  It brings comfort in times when I desperately need it.  I wonder if it’s this way for many writers?  I’ve seen blog posts about the soundtracks going along with books.  Kody Keplinger had one for “The Duff.”  A single song inspired her to write the book.   Tawna Fenske regularly listens while she writes and has four blogs with music being a subject.  Is there a connection for artists to other artists?  Do we feed off their creativity to build on our own?

What do you think?  Do you write and listen to music?  Does your music influence your writing?  In what way?  Or heck, just list off some of your favorite songs/groups.  I’m always looking for new music. 

*Right now I’m listening to Toad the Wet Sprocket.

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I hate to admit it, but I decided to write a novel out of spite.  Well, maybe a better word is jealousy. 

Facebook was the instigator with getting me connected with everyone from the past.  This was a torture saved for monumental years for a high school reunion at 5, 10, 20 etc.  Curiosity got the best of me and I joined after the prodding of a friend telling me how fun it was.  It only took a couple pushes before I walked to the ledge and jumped off.  At first, I looked for old friends that I had seen after high school, but didn’t keep in touch with after moving to Oregon.  Then I made that fateful decision to look for the ex-boyfriends.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a short list and quick to search through.  But I came across one, the first one.  With jealousy, I read he was doing the career he’d aways dreamed of.  It wasn’t the success he’d had (I’d always wished him well), it was his belief he could do it.

The excuses I told myself when I thought about writing a large piece of work were negated by Stephanie Meyers’  (author of Twilight) website.  Her biography talked about having three small children and she was still able to complete a 130,000 manuscript.  And so it began.  I gave up television and wrote each night after putting the kids to bed. 

The feeling of accomplishment when I reached the final word of the book was amazing.  It was amazing!  My goal was to finish, to have a complete work and I did it.  But then I wanted more.  I thought it would be difficult to get a book published, but I was sooo wrong.  It’s more than difficult…it’s on the brink of impossible. 

My 2010 resolution is to find an agent.  Spite got me to reach the goal of writer and now something new will have to move me forward to published author.

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