Monday, July 21, 2014

Championing Your Story plus Transformers Review

Today's post is over at the IWSG. It's offering tips to help you be your best champion for your stories. I'd love to see you over there.

A quick Transformer's Review:
Yep, I dragged myself out into the cold Aussie winter and checked out Transformers 4. It's a true giggle-fest and all for the wrong reasons.

Sounds and music: awesome

Acting: Hmmm

Dialogue: So bad that I laughed in places I wasn't supposed to laugh.

Special effects: the destruction of anything and everything was impressive. Big thumbs up. However there were some dodgy green screen effects that could've used some attention.

Character development: none

Plot: holier than a holy thing on a holy day.

Final word: Switch off your brain and go see it. Despite its massive flaws, I had a good time. Probably because I expected little except things-go-boom and that's exactly what I got.

Seen any good (or bad) movies recently? Don't forget to pop on over to the IWSG.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dealing with Inevitable Setbacks #IWSG

Big news: I worked out how to open and close a door. Pretty awesome, huh? Okay, so I'm not talking about a regular door. I'm talking about a door on a skyship hovering above the clouds many years from now. Sound slightly more awesome now?

As some of you know, I've been working on a Mystery Project. I can now tell you I'm diving head first into the indie games industry. It's both exciting and challenging all at once. As I've mentioned in a previous post, the learning curve is massive, even though I have a background in 3D animation.

I had hoped to show you some polished screenshots by now, but I hit a monstrous setback. Testing revealed I needed to change my processes. That meant tossing most of what I'd done so far, setting aside everything I'd learned and focusing on a whole new way of achieving my goals—like opening doors. Sigh.

When faced with setbacks like this, it's easy to wallow and whine, to think it's all too hard. The same goes for when we're faced with massive rewrites to fix our manuscripts. Or when we're faced with the possibility that we can't go any further with that particular story and it's time to put it in a drawer to clear the way for a new story.

I'm a firm believer that no writing is wasted writing. No art is wasted art. No learning is wasted learning. While initially I did feel like I'd gone backwards with my indie games project, I soon realised I'd only go backwards if I gave up.

What setbacks have you had to face lately? How have you overcome them?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month.

To join the group or find out more, click here.

Picture: One of my unfinished corridors. No texture on anything except the door so far. But the door does open. Woot!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Then and Now

Today The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock are hosting the 'Then and Now' bloghop. It's about whether or not our favourite films from when we were kids have stood the test of time. I chose two. One that didn't lose it's shine and one that did.

The NeverEnding Story
Going to the movies was one of my favourite pastimes as a kid. I almost always went with my friends, but occasionally I'd go with my mum, especially if the movie was considered a kid's movie, which we secretly loved. At that time, anything kiddy was out and anything slightly geekish was even more out. The NeverEnding Story was both kiddy and geeky. So this was the first movie I ever went to see on my own.

I loved it. I suspect I loved it more because, being all adult-like, I saw it on my own. Then I went to a very un-adult birthday party where us kids played games like digging for chocolate in a pile of flour while our hands were tied behind our back. The topic of the movie came up at the party. My best friend piped up, jumping with excitement, 'I want to see that movie!' Holy Geek, Batman! It was suddenly okay to be odd. Yep, I loved that movie.

Now that I'm well and truly settled in my geekiness, the movie doesn't have the same magic it once did. I still love kid's movies, but this one leans slightly toward trying too hard. Perhaps it's the feeling I get of being told a message. The sets are still magical, the general storyline still great, but it has lost some of its lustre.

The Dark Crystal
A similar style of movie as The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal is another fantasy meant for a young audience. The difference is, this one was as glorious then as it is now. It has story, humour, a feast for the eyes with lush hand-built sets, nail-biting conflicts and memorable characters. And it was done using puppets (I refuse to call them muppets). What can I say? Best animated* film of all time.

What movies have stood the test of time for you? Which movies haven't?

*Okay, so it's not technically animated, but what would you call a puppet movie?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Overcoming the Sense of Failure as a Writer #IWSG

The deep dark certainty we've somehow failed as writers is a common ailment we all get at some point in our writing career. It's part of who we are and why we write in the first place. But just because it's as common as a wart doesn't mean we have to put up with it. There are a number of ways to overcome that horrible sense of having failed as a writer. The first and most important way is:

Don't see it as failure.
You know that tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth rejection letter you're holding in your shaking hands? That isn't failure. Instead it's another stone that's been turned on a beach full of possibilities. You know that paragraph/chapter/story that's refusing to write? That isn't failure either. It's a challenge to accept, a chance to rethink, a puzzle to solve.

Mistakes and mess happen, especially when we're writing a first draft. Even when we've reached a tenth draft. The process of writing is a long, slow and messy one. We have to dig in and get our hands dirty to find a treasure. The first try is bound to turn up a wonky throw-away. It's okay, though. We can tweak, adjust, and fix until that baby shines. Or we can toss it and start over. It's just part of the process and doesn't somehow make us failures as writers.

Make failure work for you.
Say you've failed to achieve a goal. A wholesome wallow can be good for the soul. So do your wallowing, maybe eat some chocolate. But don't let the dark depths drown you. Stand up, dust yourself off and get to business. I don't mean blindly charge forward, gritting your teeth in determination until the next fall. I mean, get to the business of dissecting the failure. Ask yourself where you might've tripped up so you don't trip on the same pebble again. Learn where your weaknesses lurk. Then actively work toward strengthening those areas.

Do the same for your successes. Don't simply celebrate and move on. Analyse why you might've succeeded. Why was this time different? You might be tempted to think you were simply lucky. While luck can have a small amount to do with success, it's never the whole story, nor even the main story. If you spend the time to uncover the cogs turning behind your successes, then you'll be more likely to make success happen again.

There's so much more to writing than sticking to schedules and following the rules. We are complex creatures who feed on creativity and wild extremes of emotion. Writing helps us make sense of the chaos. So the only time we fail is when we quit writing.

What are some mistakes you've learned from?

Photo: A photo I took a few years ago in a cave on the south coast of Australia.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month. 

To join the group or find out more, click here

Monday, June 2, 2014

4 Ways to Sift Through Writing Advice

There's a plethora of writing advice out there in bookstores, on the internet, at writing conferences, in critique groups, within the circle of family and friends. We are surrounded by well-intentioned people with opinions on how we should write. Some of the advice is sound, some of it contradictory, some baffling and some seems to make sense but you're not so sure a few months later. To find out how you can sift through all that information to know which advice to follow, click on over to the IWSG website where my post is today.

I'd also like to share Carol Kilgore's exciting cover reveal. I love this cover!

Coming September 2014

You can connect with Carol and her books here:
blog . website . facebook . twitter . goodreads . amazon

Congrats to Mark Noce who has a fabulous short story, "Meet Me at the Waterfront" on Every Day Fiction. It's well worth the read so pop on over.

Last week I forgot to mention the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Milestone. I don't know how I forgot. The IWSG Facebook group hit the amazing milestone of one thousand members! We're up to 1081 now! Big thanks to everyone who have made this possible.

Just a reminder about the IWSG Facebook Guidelines:

1. Since the focus of IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

2. You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSG'ers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges, with the rest of the group. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some lurk for a long time, before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

3. News and Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly. 

After all this exciting news, don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website! I'd love to see you over there.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How I found the Write Path

Today's post is brought to you via the special blogfest, How I Found the Write Path, hosted by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo. The Prompt: Write a letter to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. Details here.

Dear Younger Self,

You know how you hope you'll make a huge success of yourself, buy a mansion with an ocean view from your earnings as a bestselling author, and won't be able to walk down the street without being accosted by fans begging for your autograph? Good news: You can still walk down the street without getting mobbed by fans. Go you! Bad news: You didn't become an author until much, much later in life. Why? Because you quit. Dumbest thing you ever did.

Writing in dribbles--a couple of paragraphs a month or a handful of pages here and there--will mean it'll take you nine years to finish your first novel. Seriously, girl? You want to take nine years to write a book? Waiting for inspiration is one of your first mistakes, though not your biggest.

Your biggest mistake, apart from quitting, was having a totally skewed idea of what it takes to get published. You didn't do the research, you didn't put in the hours, and you gave up before you hit any kind of momentum. Surprise, surprise, there's a business side to writing if you want to get published. It's not easy for a dreamer like you, but neither is it impossible. Remember that.

Here's what you're getting right:
You are reading a lot. That's the best thing you can do so keep reading. Don't turn your nose at different genres. Read anything you can get your hands on. Even non-fiction. You'll notice a difference in your writing when you expand your exposure to a variety of styles and story types.

You are currently fearless when it comes to writing. Hold onto that fearlessness. You'll need it when you start reading How-To books on the craft or sharing your work with others outside your family. That's when you'll start to think you are doing it all wrong and the first doubts will come nipping at your ankles. Continue to write what you love, not what you think other people will love.

Here's what you could improve on:
Write every day. Don't be afraid to draw up a writing schedule. It might seem regimental to your creative self, but you'll revel in it. Same goes with outlining. Get over the fantasy that outlining is somehow less organic and creative, and give it a go already. You'll thank me later. Write more short stories to hone your skills. Attend more workshops. Find a critique group and enjoy the support and encouragement of other writers. Only other writers can truly understand what it's like to be a writer.

One last piece of advice: Write down your ideas. No matter how certain you'll remember those ideas, trust me when I say, you won't.

And, whatever you do, don't quit, you big goose!

Lynda R Young
Author of speculative short stories and YA novels.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When the Project becomes the Mountain #IWSG #b3d

Since today is the first Wednesday of the month, it's IWSG Day. Time to post about our writing insecurities or encourage others. Normally I go the encouragement route, but for today, I thought I'd visit the scary side: an insecurity I'm currently harbouring. Eek.

It's about my Mystery Project, the one I've called my non-writing project, only it does include writing. A different kind of writing. And a bunch of other stuff that's sending me slightly insane.

So what's this Mystery Project all about? Well, I can say there are no ducks involved, or any mysterious elixirs brewed under a full moon. I'm not ready to say exactly what it is, but it does involve 3D art and animation.

As some of you know, I was a 3D animator and graphic designer in another life. My program of choice for the art was 3ds Max. It's one of the industry standards for professional work. However, it costs around six grand. That was fine when a company provided the program. Alas, I no longer have access to it. That means learning a whole new 3D program. Double eek!

I'd heard good things about Blender. It's a free 3D package which can be used for commercial work. Anyone can download it and have a play. While it lacks some of the nifty time-saving features of 3ds Max, it still does everything I need. And the images I can generate from this package have the potential to be spectacular.

So I set myself up with Blender, just one of the new programs I'm going to have to learn for my Mystery Project.

A screen shot of me fumbling around in Blender. All this for a pipe!
Insert insecurities: It's been a few years since I'd dabbled in 3D so I soon realised how rusty I'd become. Turns out the keyboard shortcuts in Blender are completely different to 3ds Max. But I still remember the Max shortcuts (three deadpan cheers for muscle memory), which means I'm moving meshes when I want to pan the scene, or doing who-knows-what when I want to change the view, among other things. I feel like a noob all over again, taking hours to create objects rather than mere minutes.

Am I taking on more than I can handle? This is a question I'm asking myself on a daily basis. I'm still excited about the project. Ultimately it will even help my writing. So that's a major plus. Over time I'll get the hang of it—already, I've started to speed up—but in the meanwhile, I need to remember to take baby steps and celebrate the little victories.

What daunting tasks have you taken on? How did you find the reserves to complete those tasks?

#IWSG #b3d