Monday, January 16, 2012

No good ideas today? Fry up a batch of bacon!

Other people get great ideas in the shower. I get mine frying bacon.

I don't know why. Maybe it's the mesmerizing sizzle. Maybe it's the fact that I'm just a captive audience for so many minutes - watching, flipping and adjusting the slices so they don't scorch - in a peaceful kitchen so early in the morning.

And it's not brain surgery.

So there I stand, sipping coffee, and I can hear the kids giggling downstairs and the dog causing trouble in the other room but here in the kitchen it's nice and quiet.

I start thinking.

My new book will take place in the Bible belt. Wouldn't it be interesting to have a character in my latest book who quoted Scripture constantly?

Should I include "The Cheshire Cat" in my "Great Smiles in Art" presentation that I'm giving to the third graders this week? It's not technically art ... but I bet they'd love it.

I wonder if I could have a book launch party at a real newspaper?

Should I be making cinnamon rolls to go with this bacon?

You get the idea - Pretty soon, I'm pretty motivated for the day. I don't make bacon every morning, of course. But now I'm thinking, maybe I should.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jim, James, John ... help! I'm suffering from character drift!

So I failed miserably at NaNoWriMo this year - you know, National Novel Writing Month. I barely even made a dent in a new project. But I did do something right - I ordered the book "No Plot? No Problem" by Chris Baty, the original founder of the annual program.

It's a great book - it's funny, motivating, filled with lots of tips and writing tricks. And through it, I found out that I'm not only one who suffers from a little something that Chris refers to as "character drift."

Maybe you suffer from it, too. It occurs when a character starts off as a Tim, then becomes Tom, and finally ends up as Jim. For me, I've found it happens not so much with first names, but with last.

With my latest project, poor Betsy McMichaels in chapters one, two and three became Betsy McWilliams in chapters eight and nine. Of course, as long as you know you do it, it's easy enough to watch for - now I keep a list of my characters posted - easy to see and check.

You know, I should have known I had a tendency toward character drift. After all, in ninth grade science, I was assigned a semester report on codeine and ended up doing a big report on cocaine.

I still got the credit, but it just wasn't the same. The teacher looked at me like I was high on both.