Nov 22, 2012

My first Blog Hop!

Thank you Leisa for tagging me to participate in a blog hop! Let's start answering questions, shall we?

What is the working title of your book?
My working title is called Shed a Little Light, and to me it represents a hope that we all need once in a while.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
 It actually came as an idea for the NaNoWriMo challenge. I didn't know what to write, but somehow I got the idea of four people with life issues, and it sounded so warm and inviting, that I knew that I was on the right track.
What genre does your book fall under?
 I thought it would be best to describe it as a hot chocolate for the wounded soul. Once I heard my first character talking in my head, I knew that this was the genre I would choose

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
If I had that possibility to choose, the three male characters would be: Dominic Cooper as the James, Ryan Gosling as David, and Colin Firth as Michael. The female characters would be: Amy Adams as Andrea and Michelle Trachenberg as Emma.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Two women and two men, who have never seen each other before become intricately connected by an unlikely man at their favorite cafe, where they came to realize they are not alone in their problems, and that someone is always there to help them.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
As a start I plan to publish it myself, in three parts via PayPal. If it goes well, I might consider turning to the agency.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Since this is the NaNoWriMo challenge, there are still a few days left for me to finish it, and I am almost close to finishing it.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Most likely all the books by Cecelia Ahern, because she so beautifully paints the magic of life, that is a pleasure to read it over and over and over again.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Through the first week of the NaNoWriMo challenge I realized that the biggest inspiration comes from my own past, so this is in a way a healing process for me as well, only split between four people. And it is my wish for other people who read the book, to find some relief for themselves as well.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This is a story that is based on 95 percent of the truth; it is a way for a young woman to learn to face her demons and hopefully help others along the way.
I am tagging the following people for the Blog Hop:

Nov 6, 2012

When you find your flock...

or how NaNoWriMo has helped me to improve my social status.

To say that I was a shy kid would be an understatement. Seriously; I was too shy. For many, many years I've been chronically in need for company that fits my needs, and as I got older the things got more difficult.

When you're a kid you usually go to a park and play hide and seek, play catch and other delightful activities with other kids involved, that allows your mother to sit and socialize with other, oftentimes tired, mothers. So that's a win-win situation. You're happy, they're happy too. And then when she calls you over to go home you refuse, because you're having waaaay too much fun. That's what, as I said, usually happens. In my case the story is completely different.
The last I can remember feeling good and safe around kids my age, and having fun with them, was somewhere between last years of kindergarten and then the first grade of elementary school. I was carefree, I didn't take too much notice on the way I looked and I was confident in general. I even remember having friends at that time. I've had no problem coming up to them and just joining their games.

Then the things changed for the worse. I've switched schools because we've moved to another home, far away from my great school and an awesome first-grade teacher. I was lost and I started gaining weight from being unable to cope with such a change. And what do other kids do when seeing a fat kid? They pick on them. A lot. They've been picking on me throughout my elementary school, and switching classes only partially helped. The provoking still remained.

I must admit, however, that the kids only reacted to the way I felt about myself. I am not saying that all the other kids/people who are overweight have the same lack of confidence, in fact I knew, and still know, a lot of them who never paid too much attention on the fact that they're overweight and that didn't stop them for having lots of friends.

But not me. I couldn't ignore it and neither did my classmates. The result of that noticing of my weight issue also had a huge impact on my social life in the way that I was never invited to parties. Because I wasn't allowed to stay until midnight. So fat people just don't know how to have fun, right? I was relieved once my 8 years of elementary school were over and then I went to high school.

Much the same problem here as well, I was too aware of my physical unattractiveness and now my classmates thought of more vicious words to humiliate me. Ok so yes, I've tried to attend parties, but now young adults of my age were really interested in getting wasted and stoned. I didn't fit there, so the reaction was: you're fat and you're not a troublemaker. You have no business here.
Then I went to college and the story repeated itself once again. I tried find something else, some activity that can help me to spend time with a group of people, with whom I feel connected with. Right, you'd think that would happen. Not in this life.

The first bigger step towards changing my mindset was through the Neuro Linguistic Programming, when I started searching through layers and layers of my soul in a safe and gentle way. I started paying attention to myself, the way I looked, the way I stand, the way I feel. Things started slightly moving forward. I started my Russian language courses and met a few girls there who I felt good around at the time, but there was still not so much to talk about because they were also focused on getting drunk every Friday and Saturday.

I remember telling my brother how tired I am of this situation, and how I've used up all the ideas of where to go and what to do, to feel accepted within the group. Enter NaNoWriMo. I went to meet the people and the moment I stepped into that bookstore/cafe I felt like I've finally came home. It was everything I wanted! Young, beautiful people enjoying things that I also enjoy doing! Of course, the still hurting part of me whispered: what are you doing here?!
They will not pay any attention to you and you know that!! But I've silenced it and was right to do so! I've had so much fun that I never thought it was possible! I felt like I was a part of the group, that I was being accepted for who I am!! I finally got to talk and talk and laugh so hard at the cafe and I seriously didn't want it to end!!! I was so energized, so positive, so happy!! I can't believe that I've actually got to this point, to dare and do something that makes me feel so happy, and being rewarded with acceptance from the moment i stepped over the threshold.

I guess that for a lot of you out there this may seem like a normal thing. But to me it means so much more! I am being accepted around people my age, and they are interested in what I have to say! And that, for me, it's huge! So yes, NaNoWriMo has indeed changed the course of my life.

Oct 20, 2012

Mike O'Doone - part 3

Hello everybody, as promised here is my story part 3! This is getting exciting and I still don't know where it will end up. The bits and pieces slowly reveal themselves to me and I'm enjoying the process of writing it
It was already around 1 o'clock in the morning when Mike finished with his dinner. At first he thought that a meatloaf and bread would be enough to satisfy his growling stomach, but it still kept complaining.
“Do you still have some of that apple pie left?”
“I must say, you have quite a big stomach for the man of your size.”
“I've seen stranger things than the size of my stomach. You didn't answer my question.”
“Would two big slices be enough for you?”
“We'll see.”
The waiter disappeared behind the door and once again Mike was left alone. This time the fireplace was emitting very little heat, and if someone was still sitting in the dining room...and Mike knew that someone was there...they easily remained unseen. Mike tried to push his eyes to scan the darkness and just as he was getting better at it a sound of opening door made him forget all about the possible danger. He just remembered how hungry he was.
The smell of dough and hot, almost melted apples with cinnamon and sugar topping was incredibly inviting. He put the first slice in his mouth and felt it almost melt on his tongue.
“Compliments to the cook.”
“My wife will be pleased. I must ask you to hurry up, though. It's dangerous to be out on these streets when it's so late. You wouldn't want to be caught by the patrol, right?”
“Good point. How much do I owe you for dinner?”
“It's on the house.”
For the moment Mike thought to take that offer but then changed his mind.
“I prefer to keep my relationships as clean as possible. How much?”
The old man gave him the bill and Mike payed it without blinking. Then he said his goodbyes and stepped out on the cold. The weather made his lungs freeze but for some reason he welcomed it. It felt comforting, clearing his mind, making it a blank sheet of paper. He felt the key in his pocket and pushed it inside the keyhole. It didn't resist. Closing the door he lit the candle that stood on a little table that he found in the attic and brought it downstairs with him. He illuminated the room as much as he could.
“Home sweet home...” He whispered. 

As soon as Mike left the the pub, a shadowy creature that caught Mike's attention stood up and approached the bar.
“He's asking too much questions. He is a threat.”
“And what do we do with threats?” Smiled the waiter.
“We eliminate them!” He said and they both roared with laughter. Mike O' better be prepared.

Oct 10, 2012

English (Russian) vs. my mother's tongue

Here's another curious question that most people who know me can't really get; why on God's Earth do I write in English and Russian language when I am perfectly capable, and definitely successful since the early age, of writing in my native language?! much as can write in my native language, the reason why I'm drawn to English and Russian is because they have nuances of one particular word. What I mean is, you take a word in English (or Russian) and look it up in some reference book, such as Thesaurus and you can see all the other soft and fine possibilities that can be used instead of that word. And it is well known that changing a word can change and set a completely different mood to the story.
Croatian doesn't have that many words that could mean the same, and it's not tactile, whereas Russian and English are. And so...when I want to describe a particular scene in Croatian most of the times it sounds unnatural; unconvincing. But when I write in English I know exactly what 'nuance' of the word I must use to get the wanted impact on the story. And besides, although nor English nor Russian are my native language I consider them to be so.

Do you write in a language different to your own?

Oct 2, 2012

Mike O'Doone - part 2

The weather outside was cold and Mike was glad that the pub was just a few footsteps away from his new home. In fact, it was both a blessing and a practicality, since his new home didn't have a kitchen. He opened the heavy door of a house painted in soft pink color. A bit unusual color for the pub, Mike thought. But hey, as long as he can get something to eat he couldn't care less if the pub was coated in gold.
As soon as he opened the door he was washed with a smell of freshly homemade bread and meat loaf. Wooden walls covered the entire interior, a few big chandeliers were placed on the ceiling in even distance, casting a heavy, dimmed light across the room. A big fireplace leaned against the wall on the right was turned on, giving Mike pleasant chills all over his body. He needed this pleasant warmth. There were only a few people inside, sitting around the biggest round, heavy wooden table and whispering beneath their breaths. Mike looked at them and his stomach turned over. There was something so scary about them, but he couldn't decide what exactly. They looked as any other person he met on his way here. Deciding not to give it any more thought he went to the middle of the room where the waiter was cleaning big, heavy ales of beer behind the bar. Mike sat down and the waiter nodded at him.
"What can I help you with, sir?"
"Well this ale of beer seems appealing. And whatever you're cooking at the back...I'll take some of it as well."
"A man with a sense of pleasure and taste. We don't get many of them around."
"Well I'm here to stay. You'll get used to it."
The waiter nodded and went to the kitchen. Mike slightly turned his head over his shoulder just to meet with a steady gaze of a man whose eyes were shaded with his cowboy-like hat. Mike shuddered despite the pleasant heat radiating from the fireplace. The waiter came in carrying a tray of meat loaf and a double-sized ale of dark beer.
"Anything else?"
Mike waved his head in negation. This was just enough. Just as he was about to take the first bite he heard a stool behind him scratch the floor. The man who stared at him just a moment ago stood up and worked his way towards him. He was much taller than Mike, with much more muscles.
"What is your business here, stranger?"
"I keep my business to myself. I'd prefer it to remain that way."
The man growled in rage and grabbed Mike's collar, lifting him up from the stool and pressing him against the wall.
"You don't know what you're getting yourself into, here. You better watch your back everywhere you go."
Mike closed his eyes and stopped breathing because the odor coming from the man's mouth was unbearable.
"Beau, leave the man alone. He just came here to eat."
"He's moved into the old house, didn't you know that?"
"Of course I knew that! Everybody knows it for days now. But I'm telling you, let him eat his dinner in peace."
Beau reluctantly removed his hands off of his collar and went back to his buddies at the table. Mike got back on his seat and started eating his dinner.
"You'll have to forgive him, his wife passed away recently. He means no harm."
"That's not what it sounds like." Mike muttered.
"He's just barking. He won't bite. But I would like to give you a friendly advice; don't ask too many questions. They're not welcome here."
Mike looked at his plate. Suddenly the place seemed hostile. But he had his own agenda in this town and, by god, he will see it through!

Sep 30, 2012

Mike O'Doone - part 1

As promised, my goal is to sharpen my location writing skills, since I believe the location itself could have a great impact on the story, no matter its length. The image I'll describe can be found here. It is the street in my hometown. Shall I begin? All right...sit back and relax...

Part 1

When Mike O'Doone first stepped into this house it was nothing more than a cottage in a pretty bad shape. Concrete was falling off of the walls. He huffed and put the large iron key into the lock. It wouldn't budge. He tried several times and then, in rage, pushed the door with his shoulder. It loudly cracked open. Carefully he stepped inside, not knowing what he could expect; a wild animal running out after months and years of living inside, perhaps? Or the evidence that someone lived here before, maybe. But none of that happened. He stepped into the middle of the house. He looked to his left and right but nothing could be seen. It was too dark.
He approached the wooden window and tried to open it but, again, it was stuck. It was obvious that no on lived in this place since the old owner died fifty years ago. With another nudge Mike managed to open the window and the weak afternoon light found its way into the room. Now it was very clear that there were no walls. Mike felt like he moved into a big ballroom. But what happened? Were the walls torn down? Or is it possible that they weren't even in construction plans? What an odd thing, Mike thought. Then he saw a small staircase leading onto the second floor. He carefully made his way up the stairs, cringing every time he heard a crack. He turned to the right. The door stood in front of him and he pushed them gently. They opened easily.
It was a small room with a big balcony and a window with a view of the house on the other side of the street. The local pub. The balcony was in an excellent shape, although the color pretty much faded away. He went back to the hallway and opened the door on the left. He saw a small cabin and a simple basin next to it. He looked for the switch but couldn't find any. Obviously the previous owner didn't feel the need to install electricity.
He closed the door and looked at the ceiling. He saw a set of small windows at the top of the roof, but there were no doors or staircases leading to them. He scratched his head and headed downstairs, deciding that he will have to make inquiries at the local library. There was something very unusual about this place. And he will take the time to bring it back to his original function: as a pleasant place to live.
But right now there was only one burning question he needed to look at immediately. He took the key and locked the front door, even at the risk of not being able to open it up again, and marched straight to the pub. It was time to gather information. What place could be better than the local pub with a mouthy owner.

Part two comes soon. In the meantime I look forward to some feedback from you. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Jul 28, 2012

The best thing about location

Motivated by some of the posts on the Linkedin about location, I've decided to share my outlook on it, and how it affects my writing.

I use it as a way to clearly describe what I see, to use the best of it, to make the story more convincing. Of course, a convincing dialogue is what makes the story interesting, but sometimes the perfect location is often ignored, and it is a shame considering how much improvement it can bring to the story.
How many times have you walked outside, and I don't mean only some far away places, and find yourself stopped at your tracks, because you felt that the certain building or, indeed, the whole street makes you feel something deep inside of you? A certain emotion or a nudge?

I looooooove writing. It is my life. And so many times I've come to this situation where I've felt it but I couldn't decipher what it means. The nudge and the emotions were there, and I've missed it because it was gone in an instant. And so many times I failed to make the best of it, to even capture the location that could have possibly meant something so meaningful to the story. For that reason I have decided to take my camera everywhere I go. You never know what can motivate you. And sometimes at first you don't feel anything about what you're photographing, but when you come home and you look at the picture everything seems so clear to you! The ideas just come pouring out of your mind.

The good idea that comes to me, in order to work on my description and details, and I will work on it next time, is going to the center of a relatively small, peaceful street, standing somewhere in the middle of it, or somewhere on the side, and taking picture of it. And then, taking time, going door to door and describing what it looks like, and who might be behind it.

And now a question for you. How do you use the location to your favor?

Jul 7, 2012

Let's continue playing...

...with the 2nd version of the story. I must point out that the last post was not premeditated. It came as a result of seeing the picture, which is the point, of course. Here is a modified photo of a previous one. Let's see where it takes me.

Version 2:

The house stood in front of him. It was nothing like he remembered. No, wait. He couldn't have remembered it. He's heard about it from his room-mate, but he's never seen it before. It was a plain, wooden house. Actually, a cottage could cover it better. Surrounded with thick woods, the house was barely visible even when the sun was in the middle of the sky. The lavender bush that once was so lovely, so deep and rich in color, was now a sun-burned gathering of straws. There was life in the house but that life was cold and almost dead.
The people who lived there knew nothing of his presence. They were probably inside. Mother was making lunch, a child, a baby girl, was playing on her blanket, and a grandmother was reading a book. Men were not around. He knew that would be the case. All the men have gone long before he even heard his room-mate's story.
"Sometimes I feel like the destiny had her fingers in it. My grandfather went to war and never came back. My father was seduced by another woman. Me...I had a passion for gambling and easy girls, and that is what brought me here. There are no men left in this house. If someone's put a spell over it...well...the spell is too powerful. But dear friend....maybe you can break it. Maybe you can remove whatever the curse is placed upon it." His room-mate breathed shallowly, lying on his prison bed. He had only hours to live.
At his death bed he promised he would look his family up and try to bring back life to the house. And now, as he stood there, fighting all his internal feelings that he should run away. Perhaps it was only the determination of woman who lived there, to take care of the house, that chased away all men who came into their lives. But he will not give in. He will break the chain of unfortunate events. He will bring back harmony. And first of all, he will do all that he can to bring the lavender bush back to life. 
Clenching his fists as if looking for support he stepped in front of the door and knocked softly. And then he waited....

Jul 5, 2012

Playing with the plot....

....or how the picture can trigger your mind. I've already written about how I'm kinaesthetic 90 percent of the time. But sometimes this type doesn't work for me. Sitting in front of a computer sometimes just won't do. And a blank page can't  exactly motivate my fingers to write, so I need an incentive. That's when pictures/photos come in really handy. Depending on the content of the picture a story can go in various directions. And the content of the picture can set the perfect mood that you've been looking for. So I want to try and play a little with a photo I've took with my iPad in my back yard. I'll play with two various possibilities of the story.

Option 1:

Lilly stepped on her front porch. She breathed in deeply with her eyes closed. Lavender. The smell of this particularly beautiful lavender bush, that grew just in front of her porch, filled her nostrils and immediately took her back to her childhood. She was only a little girl then, but she remembered every detail of that most important day of her life. The sun that burned the grass beneath her bare feet. The wind that played with the flowers in her hair. And the smell....the smell was so intense, so deep inside of her that she felt as if it is a part of her blood. There was only one person who could make this fragile plant grow into a powerful evidence that nature can never be tamed.
"Grandpa! You're back!" She threw herself in his arms and he picked her up and spun her around. Back then she was a wee little girl.
"Of course I'm back! I've promised, haven't I?"
"You have."
She looked at a clean spot on the ground. Grandpa seemed to be watering it.
"What is this, grandpa?"
"This is lavender seed. One day it will grow into a big beauty, just like yourself."
"How long will it take the seed to grow?"
"A few years."
"Why so long?"
"Because nature doesn't rush. Only humans do. Nature takes her time and waits for the perfect conditions before it reveals her magic to whoever wants to see it."
"I want to see it."
"I know you do. But there is something very special about this plant, my dear child."
"Is there?"
"Oh time you will understand everything. Now, let's go inside. But you must promise me that you will water this plant every evening, and protect it from all the bad conditions."
"I promise, grandpa."
That night grandpa fell asleep and never woke up. For years she tried to unravel the secret of the plant but she couldn't. She sat in front of the ground and whispering to the little seed, begging it to say whatever it was keeping from her, and then one day she gave up. She thought that, in the end, grandpa was just playing with her, nurturing her imagination, keeping it alive.
But now, in her mid thirties, beautiful just as he promised her, with a bucket full of water and preparing to water the beloved plant a realization hit her. Every time she thought of the plant, every time she tended to it, she felt grandpa's loving presence. And she understood why. By seeding the plant with so much love, a huge part of his heart and soul merged with it, growing with it. And every time she looked at the plant she immediately thought of her grandpa. In that way he was alive for her. He was present in her every day, and enjoyed her children playing under the shades of lavender flowers.

What are your thoughts on this? How does the picture affect you? Option 2 comes in two days.

Jul 1, 2012

Pen&Paper Vs. Computer

From time to time people who are getting to know me and my passion for writing ask a very simple question. Do you prefer writing by hand or in Word processor? But the answer is never simple for me, because they each bring me something unique!

I like pens. I really do. I've got all sorts of them and I keep buying them until I find the one who is just perfect. If you've found one let me know :) And I really, really, and I mean really, loooooove papers and notebooks. All those sizes, from the smallest to the biggest, colorful, even mysterious prints...they're just waiting for me to open them and discover their lines, which I then fill with text. It's a wonderful experience. I could spend hours in a bookstore and take each notebook in my hand, turn it in my hands until I get to know it by heart. Yeah, I love notebooks *blush*. 

But what I love even more about them is the effect they're providing while I'm writing. My mind spills ideas at the speed of light and I'm not a fast writer. So the lines and the pen guide my words from the first one to the next, forcing my brain to focus on the particular line or the word. That way I can control what I write, and I can revise in an instant if that particular piece of writing is good, or if it needs some tweaking. I am not complaining, I love the feeling of slowing down, and focusing on what's right in front of me, rather than fast forwarding to the end or the middle of my writing. I am being in the moment. 

And then we have the Word, a genius idea that someone's came up with. I couldn't imagine writing without it. It is so easy to use. It is entertaining as well - I can change the background color to my liking, depending on the mood I'm in. And, let's not ignore this, there are no lead or ink stains on your hand once you stop writing :D Tony Buzan said that a blank paper, and here I mean completely blank paper, without the lines, is excellent for the free flow of ideas. And since I've finished a fast typing course I can put my ideas and words out there really quickly. Which, rarely, calls for a quick grammar check to make sure my fingers aren't too quick for the grammatically correct words. 

And, of course, the biggest advantage of the Word is that I can easily jump in between lines and words, and detract and add whatever I want. But, of course, I can't use it when I'm at the airport waiting for my plane or at a public transport. That's when a pocket-sized notebook comes in very handy. 

Are you a classic or a Word type? 

Jun 28, 2012

Where do the ideas come from?

As the amazing Agatha Christie would point out in one of her books...they come from the author's head, obviously. But how is it that sometimes you look for them and it feels to you like you're looking for the needle hidden in a haystack, whereas other times you just can't get them on paper soon enough, before they run away. I think I may have found the answer to that question, but I am in no way suggesting that that is true for the majority of you. I do know, however, that it works for me. It always has.

I've been studying Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) for 6 years and learned so many wonderful things about how the mind and body are connected. One of these things, and indeed one of the first things we've learned, is that every person has their way of processing the world around himself/herself.

For example, a person can be extremely sensitive to words someone is saying. They are more likely to carefully listen to a song's lyrrics, than the person who is not auditive. Or, for example, when buying a piece of clothing this person is likely to say something like: this clothing just calls me/speaks to me! And if the music in the store is not to their liking they will probably change the location, so that they would feel more comfortable.

Kinaesthetic person processes the daily data mainly through touch. If we take the clothing example, kinaesthetic person would often say: the fabric fits my body perfectly. Or, this cotton is so pleasant to the touch.

People who process the data visually will pay more attention to the textures and colors of the fabric when buying clothes. They take notice of every detail and would often use it in conversations, to describe something that made them feel good or bad.

Every person has one of these types as a predominant one, and they process daily information through it. So, why am I telling you this? What does it have to do with writing?

Take me for an example. If I'm trying to write something and I am not finding inspiration; I am nervous. I am usually incredibly kinaesthetic. I learn through touch or by doing things myself. Then I'm visual, I can do better when I see how it's already done. And, if all else fails, I lean on my auditive sensors to understand what's going on.

And sometimes it happens that the predominant type gets blocked. If you overly use your car it will break down quickly. Same goes here. Also, if you don't use other two types, they get rusty. So if I'm sitting at my computer and stare at the blank page in front of me, I know I'm having a kinaesthetical meltdown.

But I know I have two other systems/types that have served me well and then I go out and instead of taking my iPod with me - I just go somewhere where there are a lot of people. And then I, that's not called spying. That's called overhearing bits and pieces of information that you can tweak a little to fit in your story. Or you can go and sit on a bench in your favorite park or any other place that brings emotions within you and then just watch - there might be a certain movement of a person that triggers an idea within you. Write it down and maybe it turns out to be just what you wanted or needed.

It's certainly worth a shot to live with all your types. It can only bring out the best results.

Jan 7, 2012

Demystifying dialogues continues

Have you ever "lost" your dialogue? By lost I mean writing a line, and then starting to thoroughy write about the character's emotions that followed that particular line. And by the time you've done it you have no idea what to write in reply, although it was so clear when it was in your head?
Yeah, I've been there before but then I found a way to change it.

Every day I decide what I want to write: the scenery accompanied with emotions or the dialogues. So if I choose the dialogues I take my notebook and I write only dialogues, no matter how much ideas come to me about the accompanying emotions. Why? Because, first, the dialogues come in the moment that is so valuable that I can't risk losing them.

Second, when I transfer my writing to computer I will have all the time in the world to express the emotions behind each line. That way the dialogues stay intact, and they're brilliant and alive.

That's it for today, and in the meantime buy/find a notebook that will make you want to write in it whenever you see it. And have fun with it. Because writing is fun!