Always Surprised

Surprised?

Surprised? (Photo credit: SaZeOd)

Other writers can relate, I know.  To that moment when your book turns on you.  And changes itself without your permission.

In my first novel in the “For the Love of Music” series, that definitely happened.  One character left during the rough draft  unexpected to ever surface again.  But then he returned in the second draft and never left my side.

In the very first book I ever wrote (unpublished and still unedited it, darn it all!), something similar happened.  A character I intended to kill off for the better of the book didn’t die.  Instead, his brother jumped in the way and took the bullet.  Stupid keyboard.  I kept trying to type the correct name, but the other name came out instead.  Time after time after time.  Grr.  My favorite character ever died, thanks to you, you stupid, stupid keyboard.

And a book I began crafting when I was about 17 did that to me last night.  I had a beautiful ending in mind.  I knew where the story would go as I continued roughing the first draft.  But, darn it all, the ending took a turn and surprised me.  Now, a different book doesn’t exist at all.

And then two books talked me out of including them in the “For the Love of Music” series.  They begged me to make them stand alone books instead.  And I finally agreed.  Just to get them to shut up, sure, but, we’re probably all better off that way.  At they are still around somewhere, so we didn’t really lose anything.  Right?

And, yet another surprise, my novels also talked me into writing a different one altogether than was suggested before.  NaNoWriMo will produce another rough draft of one of the books from “For the Love of Music” series.  Not “Little Miss Priss,” but a different one whose idea was birthed this week.

You books need to stop conspiring against me, at least for a week or two.  Maybe wait until after NaNoWriMo?  But, no, no.  That won’t happen.  That would be too easy, wouldn’t it?

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NaNoWriMo Day 25: Random Words

English: Cover of Dictionary of Foreign Words ...

English: Cover of Dictionary of Foreign Words by O. S. Melnychuk, 1974 edition. Українська: Обкладинка – «Словник іншомовних слів» О. С. Мельничука, 1974 р. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, I do mean it literally.  Tonight, I felt like looking up foreign translations for random words I love.  We’ll go with a writing theme.  Enjoy.

  • Writer=scríbhneoir (Gaelic)
  • Novel=roman (Croatian)
  • Pen=ploma (Catalan)
  • Research=navorsing (Afrikaans)
  • Notebook=bllok shënimesh (Albanian)
  • Word=slovo (Czech)
  • Fiction=fiktion (Danish)
  • Creativity=kreativiteit, productiviteit (Dutch)
  • Imagination=imahinasyon (Filipino)
  • Daydream=devaneio (Galician)
  • Future=Zukunft (German)
  • Story=favola (Italian)
  • Storyteller=storïwr (Welsh)
  • Book=kitabu (Swahili)
  • Hope=upam (Slovenian)
  • Time=masa (Malay)

Well, I hope you’ve found this slightly entertaining/educational.  I’m going to bed now, and expect to dream of foreign words flying across my pages.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 20: The Joy of Research

Gibson EH-150 LapSteel (c.1937) EH-150/E-150 L...

Gibson EH-150 LapSteel (c.1937) EH-150/E-150 LapSteel (1935-1943) – Gibson Lapsteel Model Descriptions. Vintage Guitars Info. Two more guitars available for sale —- References —- (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so maybe I’m crazy (no comments!), but I love research. I mean, I don’t love it as much as I love writing, of course, but I wouldn’t love writing nearly as much if it weren’t for the joy of discovery as I research for my novels and articles.  Even when I research topics that don’t thrill me (such as guns from the 1830s for my historical fiction), I still get that tingling thrill that only comes with new knowledge.  And the weirder and less relevant the fact, the more fun it is.  I know, I know, counter-intuitive here, but, who cares?  These random bits of nonsense make research fascinating and fabulous.

Tonight, I thought I’d share some of those random and mostly disconnected facts that I’ve learned over the years of my researching.  Perhaps you’ll find them as fascinating and useful as I have.  Or not.  But whatever.  At least you’ll have learned something!

  1. Kangaroos can hop up to 35 miles per hour.  Apparently a bunch of scientists got together and tested the animals by putting them on very large treadmills.  As they increased the speed, the animals simply lengthened the distance of their hops to keep up with the machines.
  2. Wombats poop in cubes.  Aborigines used to use these cubes for a sort of dice game.  Gross, but amusing.
  3. The purple-necked rock wallaby actually has the ability to dye the fur of its neck and face, through its own secretions, to various shades of pink and purple…and, apparently, it’s just for the heck of it.  The people doing a study on these fascinating little critters couldn’t discern a logical reason for them doing so.  I mean, unless you call vanity “logical.” 😉
  4. The revolvers we so often connect with cowboys weren’t in common use until after Samuel Colt‘s creation of the Colt Paterson in the early 1830s and patenting of it in 1836.  He was the first one to use mechanization to make his repeaters.  Before these guns, the multi-shot weapons available were rather dangerous to use, and often cost their shooters their hands.
  5. Violins and string basses were electric before guitars.  Lloyd Loar, an engineer at Gibson guitars developed electronic pickups for these instruments four years before the first electric guitar (using similar technology) was commercially advertised in 1928 by a different company.
  6. Specific woods that make better sounding musical instruments are called “tonewood.”  Some of these woods include spruce, cedar, mahogany, maple and rosewood.
  7. While the Missouri Territory became a state in 1821, the unorganized territory bordering that to the West was often also called Missouri Territory for several more years (into the 1830s).  Oregon Country was to the West of this unofficially named Missouri Territory, and Mexico was to the South.  At that time, Mexico included the land that we now call Texas, parts of Colorado, Oklahoma, part of Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Utah and Nevada.
  8. The Indian Removal Act was signed in 1830 by President Andrew Jackson.  However, the Trail of Tears, as the path West became known as for Native Americans, didn’t see massive migration westward until 5 years later.  This heinous treatment of the Native Americans resulted in a few wars, and thousands of deaths, especially among Seminoles and the soldiers fighting them.

I have learned hundreds, if not thousands, of other things, but I think I’ll call it quits for the night.  It was a long day, and I’m tired.  Of course, I still expect to write a few more words tonight, yet, too.

What about you?  Do you love research, too?  What are some of the weirdest or most fascinating things you have learned while researching books/articles you’re writing?

NaNoWriMo Day 10: Wide-Eyed Abandon and A Little Writing Game For You (Complete with Prize!)

My imagination loves to run wide-eyed with abandon through the fields of wonder.  This is why I love writing.  I take that freedom to extremes sometimes, making it all the more fun.  I’ve explored castles in ancient times, played with dragons, swum with sharks, visited other worlds, disappeared into swamps…all in my head, of course.

But, admittedly, sometimes I get stuck.  So, I invented a little game that helps with that.  And, I thought tonight, I would challenge you to play that game, and would reward the “best” entry with a free e-copy of my book “Nobody’s Girl,” which will be released by the end of November.  You have until then to complete the contest and submit your entry to my email address: juanitamillhouse@yahoo.com.  Subject heading should read “Writing Game.”

The rules are simple.  Begin the story at Photograph 1, and somehow lead it to Photograph 2.  Do this in 500 words or less.  Be as ridiculous, humorous, dramatic or as straight-laced as you like.  The prize will go to the most creative entry, and will be announced on December 1.  That’s it.  Enjoy!

Photograph 1

Photograph 1

Photograph 2

Photograph 2

NaNoWriMo Day 8: A Little More Author Humor

Laughter...

Laughter… (Photo credit: leodelrosa…)

Found these great author comics tonight (and, yes, I’m wimping out on the post today.  Is there such a thing as writer’s exhaustion?  If so…I think I’ve got it!).  For the sake of copyright issues, I’ll just let you click on the links.  Enjoy!

Ugh…this is too familiar: A Cautionary Tale for Writers

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieohi/2214736178/in/set-444070

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieohi/2211583613/in/set-444070

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieohi/2179303898/in/set-444070

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieohi/2050016281/in/set-444070

http://www.flickr.com/photos/debbieohi/1579954481/in/set-444070

And an exceptionally relevant one: If Cinderella Were a Writer…

All right.  I’m going to go do something unheard of during NaNoWriMo…READ ANOTHER AUTHOR’S WORK!  Good night everybody!

NaNoWriMo Day 4: A Little Humor For Writers…

Careful...

 

Okay, so it’s way past my bedtime, but I thought I’d toss these jokes up before I hit the hay.  That being said, be forewarned: I think everything is funny at this time of night, and that means these might not even be jokes…

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Three guys are sitting at a bar.
#1: “…Yeah, I make $75,000 a year after taxes.”
#2: “What do you do for a living?”
#1: “I’m a stockbroker. How much do you make?
#2: “I should clear $60,000 this year.”
#1: “What do you do?”
#2: “I’m an architect.”
The third guy has been sitting there quietly, staring into his beer, when the others turn to him.
#2: “Hey, how much do you make per year?”
#3: “I guess about $13,000.”
#1: “Oh yeah? What kind of stories do you write?”

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A hungry African lion came across two men. One was sitting under a tree and reading a book; the other was typing away on his typewriter. The lion pounced on the man reading the book and devoured him. Even the king of the jungle knows that readers digest and writers cramp.

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There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define “Great” he said, “I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!” 

He now works for Microsoft, writing error messages.

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How many drafts does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero’s mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn’t change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.

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Good night, folks.  Keep pressing on, fellow NaNosWriMo’ers!