Sunday, October 28, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #27

Off-camera from today’s excerpt, Neal has performed a song he wrote for Sandy and Sophie’s wedding [Sandy is a guy]. He’s made a couple mistakes as he played his acoustic guitar Lucita but has recovered. He goes back to his seat beside April, complaining that he messed up, and April soothes him with a kiss. The ceremony continues.
For context, Neal had a one-night-stand with Sophie that he can’t quite forget, and being here at a wedding reminds him of his first love Laurie, who died before he told her exactly how he felt; both things combine to make him a bit morose. He cares a lot for April but leaving the past behind is not his strong point.
Sandy previously commented to Neal that it finally sank in how different things would be once he was married, and Neal told him not much would change. The whole scene is in Neal's POV.
Sophie said her vows first. There went his last chance. Neal sighed silently. She wouldn’t break those promises. Sophie slid the ring onto Sandy’s finger. And there went just a bit of friendship. How weird; things did seem different now.
 Come join the fun every week at the SSS website. You sign up to post six sentences of your own work, then blog hop all around the world reading a lot of touching, funny and surprising excerpts.
Thanks for visiting mine today. It’s always appreciated. I apologize for not responding to everybody last week, but I did read your comments. I’ll do better this week J

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #26

In today’s excerpt, Neal’s been called up to the front of the crowd gathered for Sandy and Sophie’s wedding to perform a song as a gift to the couple. He’s nervous about playing in front of his best friend (Sandy, who taught him to play drums) and the A-list celebrities in the crowd. Neal’s also dealing with unresolved feelings for Sophie. He’s seated himself on the keyboard bench with his acoustic guitar, named Lucita, and addresses himself to the bride and groom.

“You guys defy description in either English or Spanish, so this will fall short, but here goes. I wrote the lyrics and Eric helped with the music. He also helped me record this properly for ya.”
“Aww, so sweet.” Sophie’s purry voice was just loud enough to hear.
He adjusted himself on the bench, adjusted Lucita, and paid close attention to how he moved his fingers on the opening chord.

 If you’re not familiar with Six Sentence Sunday, it’s a bloghop, and a pretty friendly group participates. You post six sentences of your writing then hop from blog to blog, sharing encouragement and the occasional critique comments. It’s a fun, informative and reliable way to meet other writers. Complete rules and a sign up form are at the site here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #25

Am taking care of my extremely arthritic pet bunny Smokey and shuttling him to the vet's every day this week for treatment, so never thought to officially sign up for this week's SSS--sorry about that. But here it is anyway.
Still at Sandy and Sophie's wedding. Lucita is Neal’s acoustic guitar, named to honor B.B. King’s Lucille. Aaron is Neal’s guitar tech. Part way through the wedding ceremony, Lennie, who’s in the same band as Neal but for much longer, does a flawless keyboard rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings”. That doesn’t help Neal’s nerves. The guests are mostly celebrities on a level with people like U2, Ringo, Mickey Hart, and Bon Jovi.
The entire scene is in Neal’s POV.

Aaron crept up in the aisle beside Neal, holding Lucita. “You’ll be terrific, you can play this in your sleep.”
“Yeah, but it’s a fitful sleep.”
Neal’s heart pounded when he heard his name announced. He tried not to glance at Sophie on his way to the front of the tent, then settled himself on the keyboard bench. Lucita would be perfectly tuned, but he checked anyway.

  Sorry this all is so short. Visit the SSS website to read excerpts from other great writers, and maybe sign up yourself come Tuesday. Thanks for visiting my blog today. I hope to be back on something like a normal schedule in the next few days :D

Monday, October 8, 2012

WIP blog hop: Cloverpuff interviews Neal

A neat idea from Critique Circle - the Character Blog Hop. 
Hello everybody! I'm Cloverpuff, the dimension-hopping rabbit. I'll be popping by your novels this week, asking your characters these questions:

What's your name? Ha! A rabbit! Man, I haven’t touched acid in a long time so it must be the tequila!

[Cloverpuff thumps her really big back feet, shaking the floor.] If you don’t mind, kindly stick to answering my questions.

Oh, a mean one too. All right. I’m Neal Rodríguez. I’m using my mother’s maiden name now.

What were you doing when I came in? Practicing acoustic guitar. Learning drums seemed easier but guitar exercises are more fun.

If I told you you had to do some spring cleaning right away, what would you throw out? The first eighteen years of my life. No, wait, there was some good stuff in there. There’s a couple more recent memories that need to go.

Look deep into my eyes... Do you have any secrets you'd like to confess? Why should I confess anything to a rabbit?
Madre de Dios, settle down. All right. I want to kill Tony. Everybody in the band thinks I’ve changed my mind about that but I haven’t.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Ha! That’s complicated. Let’s just say I’d change my aversion to Japanese food.

And what do you like most about yourself? That I’m alive. There was a time when I didn’t know if I’d see the sun rise. There was a time I didn’t want to see it rise. So right now, I love almost everything.

Is there anyone you really, really hate? Come on, you can tell me! Oh it’s no secret. Tony. My hatred for him redefines the term.

Imagine it's a typical Saturday afternoon. What are you doing? I don’t do typical. I could be practicing guitar, dueling drums with Sandy, writing songs, trying to make sense out of a business meeting for the charity me and Sandy started, doing a public program for the charity, spending quality time with my girlfriend, laying half-dead in a dark room with a migraine, and if the band is getting ready to record or tour, that opens up another bunch of possibilities.

What's your strongest childhood memory? It can be good or bad. Huh. It’s a tie between the time I realized my mother had disappeared for good, and the first time I got laid.

Well, thank you for your time! Before I head on back to my dimension, can you complete this sentence for me? If I could be a domestic appliance, any appliance, I'd be a... Damn. Since I quit all the serious stuff except tequila, I drink a lot of coffee and can’t make it right no matter what I do. So I’d be some kind of coffee machine that does everything, including knowing how much coffee to use. Or maybe a mixing console, does that count? I’d love to have music physically running through my innards like that.

Now I'll hop on over to ... Kelly Walker Writes and Storm Clouds over Tivara.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday #24

 [apparently this failed to post as scheduled earlier this morning. sorry about that]

From Neal’s POV. Sophie and Sandy now stand before the minister and the ceremony is about to start. Neal gets sarcastic because he can’t forget the one-night-stand he and Sophie had, and also because he misses Laurie, his first true and deep love who died a few years earlier.  
Look at them, both in gleaming white like frigging angels. The moon must be up to watch the harmonic convergence. God probably pulled up a cloud to watch. No, there couldn’t be any clouds today. These two even made God stand. Shit. 

 Six Sentence Sunday is a totally fun blog hop. You sign up here and post a few sentences from your own work, and come Sunday, spend a while traveling all around the globe -- and the universe! -- reading and commenting on excerpts from some pretty talented people. It's writer candy :D

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Backstory isn't frosting on the cake, it's flour and eggs

You may have heard the suggestion to fully explore your character's backstory in order to make them believable in your novel or short story. Things like how many friends they had and places their family lived while growing up, what subjects they struggled with in school, how they responded to typical child or teenage challenges; or, what un-typical things did they get into? Why is that kind of stuff important, anyway?

Image by hylaszg/
I think it's not just important, it's essential. Some characters show up like Athena from Zeus' head, fully formed. Others, not so much. For my own characters, I have a bunch of scenes written from Neal's Point Of View. Those are great for exploring his evolving adult personality but don't help me understand how he got to be the way he is.

And it gets worse. At the start of the novel, Neal's been part of a street gang for years but wishes he could get out. There's a rule against leaving, and breaking it means being used as target practice for semi-automatic rifles, so he stays put. When he's offered an opportunity to get away from the gang, he decides to risk it partly because the person he's met promises to help him look for his mother who abandoned him at age ten.

I make a point of Neal needing to know why she left him, and he meets up with her late in the story. But I never figured out details of the answer! It was kind of like, She was forced to leave him behind and has missed him ever since. Well, duh. I can't spend 20 chapters building up the search for her without having a better response than that!

Plus, I never figured out what exactly happened after she left him, because by then, her husband is dead so Neal finds himself an orphan at age ten.

I suppose normal writers would want to know what happened to him! Me, I think I got caught up in the "romantic" notion of him becoming a bad boy right then by having nobody to turn to but the gang. It's complicated by the fact that by the time he leaves the gang, he's got his own kids who he leaves behind.

I'm betting you just said "What? He's bothered by his mother abandoning him but he does the same thing?"

Exactly. ...embarrassed emoticon... Big problem.

I reconcile that two ways. First, in a very macho gang culture (especially I think back in the 80s) kids and women are possessions. It's a bragging point for Neal that he's got three regular women and four kids when he's only 18 himself (the numbers are tweakable but the point is valid). He doesn't live with them or even see them every day. He doesn't have the emotional attachment to them other people would.

Second, his mother left him to fend for himself in some ways, and he managed. The gang took care of him. His own kids still have their mothers so they'd be fine if Neal took off. Those two points need to be shown in the story but that's doable.

I took these problems to the Critique Circle community because helping each other is what we do there. J

Image by bluehor/
Posters helped me see that I was worrying about certain things that didn't need to be worried about. Join a group, find people you click with, because they will help you with stick situations! (I'm plugging CC here because it's awesome. Everything you need in a writers community is there) Thanks, CCers!!

Without working through some of the details of what happened to Neal as a ten-year-old, his later actions (and his mother's) fall like a cake that didn't have the right ingredients or wasn't mixed properly. That tiny bit of baking powder or those egg whites? Yeah. They're essential.