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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman poster with 5 versions of WW

courtesy of DC Entertainment

When I was a kid, Wonder Woman was my favorite superhero (still is). I wasn’t a comic book reader, but I adored the live-action show with Lynda Carter, and my old vinyl record that had a couple of audio episodes.

I marveled at how well she could run in that asinine costume, which by today’s standards would be downright staid. But even more, I loved that she was stronger than the men, highly intelligent, and feminine.

Costume aside, what girl wouldn’t want bullet-deflecting bracelets, a magic tiara/boomerang, a lasso that forces anyone in its snare to tell the truth, earrings that let you breathe in outer space, and an invisible jet? Add incredible beauty, superhuman strength and speed, telepathy, and the ability to speak any language, and, hey, where do I sign up?

And now Wonder Woman—and every girl/woman she inspired—gets her own feature film starring Gal Gadot as Diana.

Anyone else counting down the days to June 2nd?

Why I read

Image of woman using laptop inside giant book

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
~ Stephen King

You can find amazing things between the covers—actual or virtual—of a book.

I’ve been a book lover since I first sounded out the words detailing Spot the dog’s adventures. As an only child with lots of time on my hands, reading offered adventure, romance, education, and thrills during long, boring summers (and pretty much any other time of year).

I became one of those awkward teenagers whose friends made fun of her for knowing weird, “big” words—though not necessarily how to pronounce them—like gauche and risqué. By age sixteen, I had solved dozens of mysteries with Nancy Drew, visited exotic places full of intrigue with Mary Stewart’s independent heroines, run with spies, chased down terrorists, lived in worlds of pure fantasy, and traveled in time.

Not that I spent every moment buried in a book. I’ve always loved to travel, explore, hang out with friends, and be active in the real world. But reading was by far my favorite way to fill downtime. During the summers in junior high and high school—before I could drive—I would burn through 10-14 books a week.

Thank you library.

I can still read like that, but I rarely do. There are too many other things I want and need to do.

And yet, as a writer, it’s imperative that I continue to read for more than research or obligation. Not only because I still love stories, and they soothe me, but because they refill my creative well.

As a reward for finishing the first draft of Blind Ambition (Book 2 in my Men of Steele series)—insert happy dance here!—I bought Joanna Bourne’s latest book, Rogue Spy. [If you love history, romance, intrigue, spies, danger, daring and exciting characters, and twisty plots all wrapped in prose so beautiful it makes you want to cry, you must check out her books. I wrote more about her here.]

Twenty percent of the way in, I was struck with the need to take notes for the book I’m working on next. Something about the way the hero viewed his world—through the eyes of a painter and a spy—got me thinking about how my own hero must see his world—as a photographer and a sniper.

I know this stuff. I’ve studied it. But sometimes seeing it done well is better than reading a craft book, attending a lecture, or taking a class on the topic. These are lessons I already know, but reading a good book can inspire me to see my own work in a different light, and apply those lessons in a new way.

The only way to become a better writer is to write. Absolutely. But writers also need to read. Reading is what fed my passion to write in the first place. It’s where I acquired my intuitive sense of story structure and narrative and character.

Reading inspires me as a writer the way a painter might be inspired by walking through a museum.

Reading a really good book also just makes me happy. 🙂

That’s why I read. What about you?

Inspiration for writing and life

512px-Inspire_Sunburst_Italian_AlpsOver the years, I’ve been collecting quotes that inspire me when I’m low, or need a reminder that it’s not supposed to be easy, or when I’m rooted in fear. I’m sharing some of them with you in hopes that one of them will inspire or help you when you need it.

You can fix a bad page. You can’t fix a blank one.
– Nora Roberts

It’s never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.
– Nancy Thayer

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
– E.E. Cummings

Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien (Gandalf’s poem in LOTR)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyhow.
– Earl Nightingale

Don’t wait!
– Gwen Hernandez (Don’t wait blog post 5/15/12) [Yes, I’m shameless. :-)]

I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.
– Ray Bradbury

I dwell in possibility.
– Emily Dickenson

When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “one word at a time.”
– Stephen King

Never let fear decide your fate.
– AWOLNation, lyrics from “Kill Your Heroes”


Image credit: By User:Nauticashades/w:User:Nauticashades. (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

How to lose your muse in 10 days

Did your muse go on vacation?

Did your muse go on vacation?

1. Don’t write regularly.

2. See #1.

Seriously, that’s it. In my experience, your muse doesn’t show up for work unless you do.

All the other stuff about setting aside the time, figuring out your goals, avoiding distractions…those are just tactics for getting your body in front of the keyboard. To write regularly.

Only you can decide what “regularly” means. For me, it’s almost every day. I try to write every weekday and at least review or do something with my story on one day over the weekend.

When I’m struggling with my manuscript, a bit of time away from it can be good, but if I spend days thinking and plotting and agonizing over it, I usually get zip. If I’m writing almost every day, I get into that zone where everything I do brings me ideas. Driving, sleeping, running, walking the dog, watching a movie.

If I’m stuck, I make a note of what’s bothering me and keep writing. I have to stay immersed in the world of those characters if I want them to talk to me.

Something about my current manuscript wasn’t working for me this week, so I revisited the characters’ GMC, did a quick pass of early revisions to align the story with my new understanding of the characters, and started toying with the next scene.

I still felt blocked, but I have (finally) learned to trust that staying in it—keeping my momentum—is the only way I’ll ever get the book written.

And this morning—unfortunately at 4 a.m., but I’ll take it—I was rewarded. I woke with not just one, but four ideas for how to strengthen the story. And I understand why I was blocked: I wasn’t being true to the characters and how they’d react in the situation I have them. (Which, I’ve found, is almost always the problem.)

Your muse wants to work on your story, but if she senses that you’re not committed, she’ll take a vacay to warmer climes.

The only way to get her back is to write.

Bubble brain

I think the human brain is fascinating. As a writer who wants plot ideas on demand, it can also be frustrating.

Recently I read an article that said our brains don’t work as well under stress. (Duh, right?) We can’t force the ideas, they’re more likely to come when our conscious mind is occupied with other things. Like driving, showering, jogging, walking the dog.

My own–admittedly non-scientific–observation has borne this out. I can stare at the screen for hours and get zip, but tie on my running shoes and within minutes something’s likely to bubble up. Good for my story and my hips!

But my brain sends up more than story ideas. While I was walking the dog today, the names of all the blooming flowers kept popping into my head as I glanced at them. I’m not much of a gardener or flower aficionado, but even the names of more obscure plants–that if you’d asked me outright I wouldn’t have been able to conjure–bubbled to the surface like air under water.

Now if I could harness that ability, turn on the bubbles whenever I needed them, that would be like gold. I can only take so many showers, run so many miles, and drive around for so long before I have to get back in front of the keyboard and stare at the screen again.

Any thoughts on how to get the bubbles going?