chasingthecrazies

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Life Besides Writing March 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 3:47 pm

I spend many hours a day, like most people penning a novel, staring at a computer screen.  Hammering out my next setting or character.  But many times, when the creative juices aren’t flowing, I need to get out and get away from what I affectionately call “the words” for a while.

One of my favorite things to do is work on a project near and dear to my heart called “The Cinderella Affair.”  This program allows high school juniors and seniors in need come to a two-day boutique where they are allowed to select one prom dress for FREE!  We are not talking about thrift store-type dresses but all out, sparkle and bling dresses that cost anywhere in the range of $100-$500.

The idea began in 2002 with two women and their daughters who watched as neighbors and friends struggled to put the money together to send their daughter to prom.  Back then, tickets alone for the prom cost $50 per person.  Now they go for about $100 per ticket.  So think about that cost on top of a dress, shoes, accessories, not to mention a corsage and dinner.  We are now well into $400-$500. This program takes away a huge part of that burden by allowing girls to select an amazing dress as well as shoes and accessories for FREE!

To date, the program, now in its eleventh year, has given away close to 4,000 dresses.  To qualify, girls do not have to show proof of need.  The only requirements are that they be a junior or senior in high school and have valid school id – it’s that simple.

The project takes a lot of work to organize and actually pull off with close to 200 volunteers dedicated to making each girl find a fairytale dress. It’s all worth it though when both mother and daughter are in tears after finding the “perfect” dress they know will make the night even more special.

This event not only adds an important service to the community but reminds us that when we come together to support a greater need, amazing things can happen.  And who knows, one day the event may find its way into one of my manuscripts.  Stranger things have happened!

www.cinderellaaffair.org

Amy

 

First 50 March 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 11:06 pm

When I begin to write, it is purely stream of consciousness. I wish I could be as organized as other writers and have an outline.  A three act structure to work from and build my story upon, but for me that never works.  My characters form themselves as I write. I just simply follow their every whim and decision.

My point is that sometimes, my characters don’t want to get to the rising action by page 50.  They want to unfold naturally and teach you about who they are, where they’ve been and how they got to the current place in their existence. That’s all well in good perhaps in general fiction but it doesn’t work in the YA genre.  That 14- 25 mind wants you to get them there fast.  Build your character, build your setting and throw conflict at them all in the first 50.

So when you’ve got a story you love, and characters who are fleshed out, but a rising conflict that doesn’t happen until page 70, what do you do?

Use a critique group is my resounding answer.  They can tell you where you can cut, where you need to tighten your wording and where a certain scene just doesn’t work. I’ve been agonizing the last week about what scenes I am going to cut, what characterization I am going to lose and how I am going get to my conflict by page 50 – without the help of my group, I would have never gotten to a point where I could cut.

I’m not big into the writing clichés like “kill your darlings”  but I truly understand by what is meant by that idea.  Not until you can fully embrace constructive criticism and the crucial edit, can you truly have an MS you are proud of.

Amy

 

Passing along the writing gene March 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — chasingthecrazies @ 12:36 am

I was late coming to the table with this writing idea.  Admittedly it was because I got caught up in other things in my life -marriage, children, work.

I have always written in some form or another through my high school and college years and well into adulthood as I worked in public relations and advertising.  I never took a gamble on writing fiction though until I hit middle age (I hate that term – couldn’t we just call it the brilliant years or something much more flattering?)

My daughter, on the other hand, has been bitten by the writing bug already.  In school she is required to journal every day about a salient topic and  in reading class she must write short stories based on ideas selected by the teacher.  She groaned and moaned about it at first until she realized she enjoyed it and had a knack for creating great characters.

So my question is this. Is it possible to inherit a gene for writing or is it more of an environmental influence?  Is there something in my darling daughter’s chemical make up that allows her to write well? Or does she see me writing and understands how much joy it brings me so she takes it on as a passion of her own?

I don’t think the answer really matters.  I just hope her passion isn’t fleeting because being an excellent writer can serve you well in so many aspects of your life. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure out that fact.

Amy

 

 
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