April 14, 2014

Adventures in Genre-Hopping: Research

I want to dive into the genre of Time Travel. I love Doctor Who and Back to the Future, so this genre is exciting to me. Nothing is off-limits! I can travel back to ancient times, or I can go back to the 1990s. I'm not sure which would be scarier to write about, to be honest.

So, I'm thinking the first step would be research. I've gathered a bunch of different books and movies. Here are the titles I've gone through so far:

Back to the Future movies (my all-time favorite movie trilogy ever!)
Somewhere in Time (an older time travel romance with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour)
The Time Traveler's Wife
Groundhog Day (If you haven't seen this comedy, it's one of my favorites)
Terminator series (which I had never seen before, but my sister was kind enough to get special versions of the entire series for me!)

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (very science heavy)
Timebound by Rysa Walker (young adult)
Remembrance by Michelle Madow (this was more of a reincarnation story)
Tempest by Julie Cross  (YA with multiple time streams--this plot could get messy in the sequels, but I'm intrigued!)
Nick of Time by Ted Bell (AWESOME middle grade adventure story with pirates and nazis!)

I'm open to suggestions. What are your favorites?

So there are different theories about time travel... difference approaches. 

In Back to the Future, Marty changes the past and immediately starts to notice changes in items he brought with him from the present/future. This is an open loop--anything he does can change history

In The Time Traveler's Wife, no matter what anyone does, the future is the future. There's nothing they can do to prevent things from happening. This is a closed loop.

Terminator did a mix of both, which I thought was really creative. It's closed loop at first, and everything Sarah Connor does eventually leads to the future she's familiar with.... until she changes things. Sarah deliberately changes the future and I LOVE that she was able to do that. A great alternative.

But I really (really, really) loved the way Pathfinder kind of took these two approaches and just tore them apart. The characters would receive a message from the future and change what they were going to do to prevent, say, a bar fight. The bar fight never happens. Then they sit and discuss whether or not they need to go back in time and warn themselves not to get in the bar fight. 
Well.... the fight never actually happened, so there's nothing to warn us about. Right?
They get into these deep philosophical conversations about reality and destiny, but it's all completely hilarious because the characters are just as confused as the reader. I'd just like to say that Orson Scott Card is a master of science fiction.

I'm not sure I can pull that off. Card has been doing scifi forEVER and he knows this stuff inside and out. The thought of tackling this level of time travel theory is really intimidating. 

But when it comes to open loop or closed loop, I'm DEFINITELY for open loop. What's the point in time travel if you can't change anything? I believe that people have the ability to do things for themselves, to change their destiny, and make their own paths. So, I think I'll write something closer to Back to the Future, rather than Time Traveler's Wife. (I just hated the sense of helplessness.)

I also liked Timebound. Not only did Walker explore one of the creepiest men in history, she made her character give up everything when she went back in time. As in: If I go back in time, my boyfriend won't know who I am when I come back home. I loved this! If you're going to time travel, that's a huge amount of power and responsibility. There needs to be a lot of risk and sacrifice.

So that's where I am right now. 

What should I read next?

April 6, 2014

Writing a New Novel (in a New Genre)

Have you ever wondered what goes into publishing a book?

Right now, I'm in the middle of the revision process for The Ten Lost Princesses (Ivy Thorn #2.5). But I'm already collecting ideas and inspiration for my next big series. I thought it might be fun to share the journey on the blog.

Time Travel, anyone?

That's right. If you haven't heard yet, my next series of novels will be time travel!

So how does a writer start writing in a new genre?

That's what this blog series is going to be about. I don't know where this is going to lead me. Hopefully I'll learn a lot, but you'll hear about everything--successes and failures.

Wish me luck!

December 15, 2013

5 Things YA Parents Say (But My Parents Never Did)

You've probably noticed an on-going trend in Young Adult fiction. YA (especially anything that's paranormal/scifi/fantasy, etc) has an odd tendency to have absent or complacent parents. (And, kinda like Disney movies, you frequently see single parents in YA.) As I writer, I get it. You need the parents to not get in the way of the story. (We can't be bothered by petty things like good parenting!)

So here are 5 Things YA Parents Say (But MY Parents Never Did)

1) "I'm okay with anything, sweetheart. Be back home by... oh, whenever you feel like it."

  Um. Yeah. My parents set a curfew. And sometimes they forgot how late that curfew was (because I was a good girl and came home early) and so my parents made my curfew even earlier than it was before! And breaking curfew meant not leaving the house again for a very long time.

2) "You've been acting out. I'm going to punish you by leaving you home by yourself (like I always do) and you'd BETTER NOT leave."

Seeing as my parents were pretty protective, I was rarely left at home without one of them there, even when I was a teenager. But you'd better believe that if I was being punished, my parents were right there, making sure I was wallowing in my misery.

3) "You mean you're dating that perfectly-chiseled heartthrob? Are you being safe?"

First of all, ew. No, mom. You can't date my boyfriend.

I kept my parents out of my dating life as much as possible, but when that couldn't be avoided, they NEVER commented on how hot the guy was. (Thankfully.)

Also, my parents never assumed I was having sex (especially not RIGHT after finding out that I was dating someone). So I got to avoid that lovely little question.

4) "I'm going to be at work for a few (hours, days, months). You can take care of yourself, right?"

No. More like: "I have to go to the post office. If you're hungry, there's leftover chicken, sandwich meat, granola bars, and cereal. Please don't use the stove; I don't want the house to burn down. But hang in there and I'll come home and make dinner. I have my cell phone. Call me if you have any problems. The number for the doctor is on the fridge. Do you know what to do if there's an earthquake?" and on and on.

5) "Your grades are slipping. You're grounded!" (see #2)
Yes. Well done, parents. Your daughter is going through some major life events (possibly with an immortal or alien or something) and, of all things, you notice her grades. And instead of finding out WHY, you just ground her. *applause*

Of course, my grades NEVER slipped, so I have no idea what my parents would have said. But I did hear, "We don't care if you make an "A" or a "D", just as long as you're doing the best you can."

I had awesome parents.

It's just a shame they'd make boring fiction.

November 19, 2013

The Woman Who Must Be Everything

I'm a mother. I'm a writer, a homemaker, a Christian, and a homeschooler. I'm expected to keep the house clean and the kids alive. (And I need to look gorgeous while doing it. This includes all the hygiene and grooming and exercising.) I cook meals, change diapers, write novels, teach Sunday school, take my kids on field trips...but not all at once.
I WANTED to plant a garden this Fall.
There are a lot of expectations for me, not just as a mother, but also because I've taken on a number of other roles. I put most of these expectations on myself. I choose to be a mother and a Christian. These things are important to me and I would never give these roles up for anything. The writing and homemaking: also important. I feel homeschool is good for my family right now. All of this is time-consuming, but I CHOSE this. And I can DO this.

But not all at once.

It seems like there's always someone with a cleaner house. There's always someone who teaches these awesome lessons with visuals and related activities and crafts. And then I look at the woman who can cook healthy, delicious meals on a budget.

I can do those things. Honest. Just not at the same time.

See, I've realized that I work in phases. I'll be a good homemaker for a few months days, and then the house falls to pot while I focus on my writing. When I run 5 days a week, my writing stalls out. When I'm focused on buying lots of fruits & veggies and working them into meals (that my kids will actually eat), the running takes a back seat. I see where I'm lacking and jump in, head-first, to fix it.

the "Homemade Gifts" Christmas project
Huge time suck, but a creative outlet
And this is SO frustrating.

Seriously. It'll be late at night and the kids are in bed. There's too much on my to-do list and I'm exhausted. And I find myself asking why I can't have a clean home and cook healthy meals and homeschool my kindergartner, take care of my other two kids and serve in church, be a good mom, exercise every day and write novels.

And then I laugh at myself. Because that's not realistic. AT ALL. I mean, just reading over that list, it's crazy, right?

Homeschool schedule
 (that was tweaked a few times after this was taken)
Why would anyone expect one person to do all that? (And I'm the only person who puts this pressure on me. It's not coming from anyone else.) What kind of world do we live in where a person feels guilty about not being superhuman?

Oh, yeah. I have books.
So I've decided to do the best I can. I mean, that's what I've BEEN doing, technically. But now it'll be okay to not be great at everything. There needs to be a balance. There needs to be moderation in all these things. (What a concept!)

My potty training techniques
are highly sophisticated.
So, whatever you're struggling with, you should know that you're not alone. (Because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who feels like this.) There has to be a better way. And I'm going to find it.

  Here's to moderation.

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