Friday, August 31, 2007

Ensemble Casts



Have you ever noticed how some of the best stories (or story lines) in the big or small screen occur when dynamic ensemble casts are involved? Here are two of my favorites ensembles casts:

[Pictured are the casts of Grey's Anatomy and Firefly/Serenity]

An ensemble provides an array of personalities and POVs to explore, and creates more complex character interaction and plots. Although one or two characters are normally the focus (Meredith Grey in the case of Grey's Anatomy and Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly) different individuals may take turns being in the forefront of the plot.

In writing novels, the drawback to an ensemble cast is that the novel needs to have a greater word length in order to capture all the story lines in any level of detail. A picture IS worth a thousand words, and having six individuals involved in a discussion on screen can easily be taken in and interpretted. Trying to describe a scene among six individuals in prose is quite a feat. Ensemble casts don't always translate as well--or as easily--into print.

I'm curious:

If you're a writer, do you tend to lean toward ensemble casts in your books, or do you stick with one or two main characters?

If you're a reader, what sort of story do you prefer? One with multiple characters and more complex interaction, or a focus on one or two main characters through whom the story is related?

Do you have any favorite books involving an ensemble group of characters you'd recommend?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Congrats "Flick"

OK, I just gotta share.

Just heard from my critique-buddy Flick, currently living it up on a yacht in Greece (*sigh*) who emailed to tell me she has sold one of her novels. I'm so psyched.

OK, she won the 'Who's Gonna Get Published First' contest. And I lost. But I'm still psyched.

Congrats Flick!

Here's hoping it's the first of many...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sometimes the Dragon Wins

More of my favorite quotes. These have a book or writing related theme.

All stories teach us something, and promise us something, whether they're true or invented, legend or fact.
- Stewart O'Nan

Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for theappropriation of their contents.
- Arthur Schopenhauer

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
- Muriel Rukeyser

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
-Steven Wright

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES

Check out my sister blog--The Toasted Scimitar--for a review of Linnea Sinclair's latest Science Fiction Romance, THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, due out on November 27, 2007.

http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 13, 2007

Spoilers: The Struggle Between Too Little and Too Much

Some thoughts after reactivating the Draxian Trilogy blog:


How much do I share about the story without spoiling the plot for future readers?


A thin line, that.


There is so much for the reader to discover in this story about the characters, their world and their journey that I think it best left to the future read. On the other hand, I'd hope to spur a potential readership with intriguing clues that generate interest in the myths and theories that comprise the backstory.


Some of my fellow bloggers who are already published authors post excerpts from their novels that ended up on the cutting room floor. I don't have that luxury (yet) but I do have enough drafts stored on my hard drive that I can offer you plenty of extricated scenes; ones that I'm quite confident an editor or agent will never see.


Hopefully, it will be enough to give my site visitors a taste of my style and voice without spoilers and without ruining the experience of discovering the world of Draxis.

Thoughts?

Buehler? Buehler? Anybody? Anybody? :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thoughts on a Pen Name

To pseudonym...or not to pseudonym. That is the question.


My name is quite common. In fact, I've Googled other authors with the same name, except none of them appear to be Science Fiction/Futuristic/Paranormal Romance writers. And while it's also fairly easy to live with, I don't know if it would help to sell books. It's a bit flat and ordinary, ya know?


I'm curious to know any opinions or comments on this topic. I'd love to hear from some of my published fellow bloggers who do, or do not, use a pseudonym. Did you give this a lot of thought prior to publishing? Did your agent or editor have input? If so, did your particular genre play into the selection?


I wouldn't want a pen name that's too blatant. Laurie Starbuck? Laurie Lightsaber? Laurie Planethopper. Uh no, don't think so.


I was kicking around Laurie J. Oneida. Why? Well, I once did some geneology research and Oneida was the name of the county some of my ancestors lived in after they immigrated from Scotland and England. I don't remember the other details right now, but the name Oneida surfaced more than once in connection with my family tree. It ties to my roots and I like that. I also like the word association of Oneida to silver to computer circuitry. (OK, a bit of a stretch, but that's how my mind works.)


What are your thoughts?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Snippets From Work

Since my livelihood has this annoying habit of intruding into my writing time ::: smirk ::: I sometimes have to be quick and creative. So often my Muse comes to call while I'm on the clock, and I have this brilliant stroke of genius...but I have ten items on my Must Do Yesterday! list and a meeting with the boss in three minutes. I don't have time to jot it all down now, and I won't be home for hours. By then...*poof* It's gone. So I email myself little snippets to try to jog my memory to recreate the scene later.

Here are a few of my inspired shorthand gems. Pretend it's a word puzzle. See if you can figure out what my cryptic messages mean. (And good luck!) Hint: At least one of these is a famous quote. LOL


Sh ddnt hr ftsps on tl

Th flg flyg ovhd ws bl nt grn

Gv m a tl shp & a st t str hr by

If u cl mltng n2 a pl of lqd survng


[I'll post answers later.] ;)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sometimes the Dragon Wins

...or Some of my Favorite Quotes


I'll make this an ongoing article. Quotes can have such a boost to motivation and the determination to succeed. So often the right quote at just the right time has pulled me out of the doldrums of self-doubt and moved me forward toward my goal at warp speed. It seems many of the most inspiring quotes can be applied to the writer's personal journey to publication. (Or maybe it's just something I'm obsessed with.) Here are just a few to kick off this series. Click on the "Favorite Quotes" label to pull up a list of these articles at any time.


Sometimes the Dragon Wins

(C) Me and a friend?

This may be an original. It was inspired by a greeting card. You may have seen it. The monstrous dragon staring down at the tiny knight who's holding up a very ineffective shield. The verbage? No guts, no glory. Amen. Back in the days when I was a reserve police officer, a fellow female officer and I came up with this quote. It was a reminder that the good guys don't always overcome the bad forces out there all of the time. It applies to writing as well, because in order to have a good story, you need to have struggle and conflict. Things don't always go well for the protagonists, because the antogonists must have their day too, just like in real life. What separates a great protag from an ineffective one is overcoming great difficulty, testing his/her courage to the limit. The moral, for protags and writers alike? Never give up.


The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

--Winston Churchill

Very profound when you think about it. This World War II era quote was long before the days of PCs, Microsoft and other world-changing products that built dynasties and garnered fortunes to rival many third world country economies. These were products of the imagination, of asking "What if..." and pure determination to make the dream a reality. Much like writing, that. :) And think of the leaps and bounds made by NASA, the Hubble telescope, and the scientific world in the last decade because of the power of human thought and imagination. The empires of the future Churchill foresaw were indeed mind empires.


Creation is an act of sheer will!

Not sure how to credit this. It was a direct quote by the John Hammond character in the original Jurassic Park film. But it so applies to writing! So often it's mind (and tons of determination) over matter. Where there's a will, there's a way.


Look for more Favorite Quotes in future articles.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Crash Proofing

If you're a writer, like I am, then you have a huge investment of time in your craft. As I discovered recently, after a near disaster with my hard drive, there are some simple ways of protecting that investment.

Here's some idea to help you avoid losing hours (or even days, months or years) of hard work. Crashes happen. It's not a matter of if, but when. And with their demise goes all your hard work...unless you've taken steps to crash proof. Yes, there are external hard drives or backup systems, but there are also much more unlikely catastrophies such as fires, major floods, natural calamities or burglaries that can not only rob you of your computer, but also any available backup storage systems on the premises.

Here are three quick and easy ways to crash proof your work, no matter WHAT happens to your computer or work space.


1. Google gmail

If you have a blogspot, you already have a Gmail account. If not, it costs nothing to get one. Gmail comes with huge amounts of storage built into your mail system. Simple g-mail updated drafts of your WIP(s) to yourself regularly. In case of catastrophic event, they can be accessed from anywhere that has internet capability.

2. Thumb drives

The carry-your-babies-with-you solution. Thumb drives have become quite inexpensive and easy to use. Just plug into a USB port on your computer, back up your latest work and then store outside your home. I keep two in my purse, one in my car. Other places to store them could be a safe deposit box (not very convenient unless you make frequent trips to your bank), a trusted relative's or friend's house, or at work, depending on your situation. Another advantage to this option is that you can work on your novel anywhere and anytime you have access to a computer with a USB port.

3. Post to a Website (such as Critique Circle)

Use caution here. Be sure it's a reputable website with privacy in place so that only you can access your work. I recommend CritiqueCircle because it's a site I'm familiar with. CC gives the added advantage of having my critiques stored along with my work.

I'm sure there are many other solutions, but these three worked the best for me. Whatever you do, please do use one or more methods of crash proofing your work. A WIP is a terrible thing to waste.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Critique Circle: Where I Am When I'm Not Blogging

I discovered Critique Circle a year and a half ago upon recommendation of a fellow writer. It's been a wonderful tool for improving my writing and communicating with other writers. There's nothing more motivational then talking to your peers.

I have a 'core group' of about 16 critters who I work with on a regular basis, but I've probably exchanged crits with upwards of 50 or 60 members in the seventeen months I've been a member. I call writing without feedback "writing in a vacuum". I think we have a tendency toward tunnel vision if we don't get input from others. Sometimes things don't translate from mind to paper as clearly as they should. Other times, something may be stated in twenty words that should only take five or six to keep it crisp and concise. Sometimes scenes fall flat. Or emotions that should be turned up to high volume are too muffled. My crit partners have helped me in all these areas.

If you'd like to investigate Critique Circle, here's the site address:
http://www.critiquecircle.com

Have fun. :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

R E L A U N C H

...of the Draxian Trilogy blog begins today, August 1, 2007.

Look forward to a future BLOG PARTY to celebrate, probably sometime in September.

I have some great writer-related prizes to give out. :)

Draxis World Building