Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nobody Ever Says ‘I Like Long Walks on the Beach’ Anymore

What do you think about this idea…

Posting as a Guest Poster on your own blog because you’re writing something from your character’s point of view?

I was actually thinking of doing it this morning. What do you think? Would it be a good way to work out some character development? Maybe even get a few hundred words written for the book? Or is it kind of weird because there’s no such thing as method writing? Or is there? Well even if there is, I wouldn’t be taking part.

See, in MS2 my main character, Donna McCarthy (subject to change), is a blogger who writes about her dating life and all the stuff going on around her. It’s a lot like my blog, except, you know, without me actually having to ever date a rodeo clown. And thank god for that because clowns freak me the fuck out.

But I digress.

Donna is a single gal and her primary focus online is to talk about her wacky dates. Most of them end up being tragically sad and never move past a first date. But then I was thinking why not let her post about dating without her having to go on a date. She could just talk about how irritating the online dating world can be. “Donna” – remember, fictional character – would post her own randomness and lunacy over here.

I’d use the same title that’s on this blog post of course.

Because even though I’m not online dating I can pretty much guarantee that under Interests you’re not going to see answers like sunsets, romantic hand holding over candle light, slow saxophone solos, mullets, or any of the other answers you had on your Cosmo quiz in 1993.

Which is also pretty likely the last year I actually bought Cosmo.

Everyone always says to write what you know.  And what the heck do I know about the online dating scene other than what I hear from people? How can I go and write a character that lives in the dating scene of 2012 when I’m not a part of it?

All of these questions beg me to ask another - Do I need to toss this MS altogether?

Has my inspiration and love for this story and the characters fizzled out completely? Or is it just time to put it in a drawer for the next six months and start dedicating time to developing the next MS so I can approach Donna and the rest of them with renewed interest later?

I’ve been struggling with moving the plot forward now that I’ve got a fresh concept for the ending in mind and I’m feeling less than enthusiastic to work on it. Even less so than when I got to the love/hate part while working on Ripple the Twine. I put editing on my calendar but didn’t do much. Yes I do admit there was a lot going on with Ripple promotion in late July. But I look at the half bleeding MS2 now that all that is over and think, meh.

I even finished painting my baseboard trim in the master bath today to avoid working on the edits and re-writes. That’s got to be a sign, right? But what kind of sign is the question – that I’m done for a while or that I’m phoning it in like a pansy?

Ugh, Writers. Always overanalyzing everything until all we see is a jumbled word cloud of chaos.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There Are Just Some Things You Shouldn’t Blog

So we watched The Social Network last night.  Meh.  I know I’m late to the party.  Not that being on the tail end of some things is new for me in recent years.  Especially movies.  Because I am still living the Facebook life I guess it seemed a little forced since it’s so soon after it all happened.

I mean, is Facebook, twitter, get-back-to-me-in-15-seconds-or-I’ve-already-moved-on the world we live in now?  By that of course I mean, with all the purging thoughts going out online is it like more time has gone by than actually has and as a society we feel that 2003 was already EONS ago?  Because nine years really isn't all that long ago.  Really.

I found it way too hard to follow at times although I knew the basic story.  We all did.  Didn’t we?  We’re all on Facebook aren’t we?  I mean the thing did kind of take over the world.  Literally. 

But the movie is never as good as the Facebook is it?  Wait, what?  There’s an actual book Called The Accidental Billionaires that the movie was based on and not just Facebook?  Oh, sorry.  I just assumed.

It had everything of course – mystery, suspense, romance (kinda), hipsters in hoodies, slick guys in suits, musicians as actors, people so cool even you haven't heard of them yet, dark shadowy filming, I think I even saw an explosion and Bruce Willis hovering in the background somewhere.  Wait, what?  I didn't?  Oh, sorry.  I just assumed.

I will say that it was great to see Michael Cera in the lead role, he never smiles and I like the shaky just-on-the-verge-of-tears tone in his pre-pubescent voice.  Wait, what?  Michael Cera is twenty-four and that wasn’t him in the movie, it was Jesse Eisenberg?  Oh, sorry.  I just assumed.

Anyway, watching the movie got me thinking about blogging and the stuff we put out there for the world to feast their eyes on.  I’m pretty much happy to share just about everything – yes I slept with that person, yes I smoked weed (read: smoke if given the chance), no I’m not at all sure what really happened that night and I still don't regret it because I learned not to do that ever again, etc. – but not everyone is comfortable with sharing details of the past.

So I had this entirely different post written up, one asking a very pointed question.  It mentioned a bunch of people.  But even though I have no issue with being that outright forward other people might not understand why I’d do it.  So I deleted the names and then I deleted the entire letter.  And then I wrote this instead.  Your welcome.

Because if I learned anything about watching the movie last night it was that sometimes you say things online and, not only is there no take-back but, it will cost you millions of dollars to make it right before you have the chance to make a movie about it that will make you even richer and more popular.

That was the moral I was supposed to take away from The Social Network right?

Monday, July 16, 2012


Last week started my cavalcade of editing content and structure of my second manuscript.  Yea.  Can you feel the enthusiasm?  No?  Yeah well neither can I.  This is the part of the process where I hate my characters, hate my story, and I’ve considered using the 206 page piece of crap as kindling in my fireplace.  And yeah, it is July in Arizona.  So you know it has to be pretty bad.

Well, maybe not bad per se, just boring.  So very boring I would actually rather work out, vacuum, or format this post to have a different font every other word, than sit down to edit anything having to do with Donna or her pathetic life. 

Basically, fuck this manuscript.  The title is awful and doesn’t fit the content.  My characters are thin and no one is going to give a crap about their stupid little problems.  Geographically I’m being a fraud because I set it in Boston (of course) but I’m not set in Boston anymore.  Plot, scene, structure, character development – all crap.  Crap, crap, CRAP!

Then I remember to breathe.

Because I’ve been through this once before.

The problem isn’t necessarily with the writing; the problem is with my head.

I know I can write it to be a more fully developed story.  I also know it isn’t winning a Pulitzer but that the writing is better than Fifty Shades of Grey.  Or so I’ve been told.  I’m not intending on reading it to find out just how good or bad the grammar and spelling really are; I trust the horrified posts from my fellow writers and plan to stay clear.  But some rumors about it are likely to be true.  For example, the content.

Which means that single book is like a time bomb for writers like me.

Writers who celebrate the joys in subtle cuteness.

If you read Ripple the Twine you know I’m not one for sex scenes.  I mean I have Sara and Ben flirting mercilessly with each other, bantering, kissing, making out in public places, but the part where they jump in the sack?  Well let’s just say I appreciate the art of the ‘fade-into-the-flickering-candle-light’ device that most daytime soap operas use to cut away at that point.

I’m not all Victorian about it or anything but the chance you’ll see the following words in my books (when referring to something other than construction of course) is pretty slim:
-      Nail
-      Caulk
-      Hammer
-      Heaving
-      Throbbing
-      Nipple (Yes I’m serious, this is a plumbing term)

Wow, I could seriously write the sexual innuendo book if I felt like it.  Thing is though, I don’t feel like it.  I’ve been relying on my imagination to fill in blanks like that my whole life.  I really don’t get when fiction lost the ‘show not tell’ concept.  I don’t want to hear exactly how they did it.  Book porn (ahem, sorry, I mean the genre of Erotica) has never been my thing.  To write or read.  To me it’s so much hotter to imagine what the two of them might be doing.  So that’s how I write.

If I can show the tension sparking between them then your mind is going to do a better job of knowing what happens next.  Me telling you is kind of a letdown.  At least that’s how it works for me.  Because everyone’s idea of what happens after the kiss is so vastly different that I don’t want to read the version of it that someone else decides, these characters are living in my head (every time I open a book).

But now, with the emergence of the already mentioned Fifty, mark my words, sex is going to take a front seat in television, movies, books and any other media deemed appropriate to share a nipple or a caulk. 

And here I am writing cuteness.

But, and this is a huge but, I refuse to change what I embrace writing.  Because, even though being a sellout is something I can wrap my head around, I still have my limits as to just how far I’m willing to sell out.  Which means in the eyes of the larger public these days I’m bor-ing.  Go ahead, ask me if I care?  You’re right, I don’t.

So when I sit down to do rewrites on my cute little girlie story the only thing I’m reading for is if the writing is boring – did Donna seriously just try to tell us what she ate for breakfast?  Because, no.  Well, at least not in that much detail please.  That kind of stuff is fine for Facebook but not for a real book.  Because on Facebook it really holds no bearing if people ignore it.  In a real book situation being ignored is about as career-ending as it gets.

And I’m just in the infancy of mine, looking for an Agent and working on only my second MS, so ending it isn’t in the plans.  I’ll clean up and clear out all references of bacon and eggs that aren’t truly integral to showing what Donna is about.

I only hope I can connect with an Agent who understands that, when reading and writing, sometimes a girl likes her hammer to be nothing more than a hammer.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

by Jenn Flynn-Shon

Remember those papers we all had to write back in elementary school?  I didn’t have to write it for every class, every year, but sometimes it seemed that way.  The teacher was all but telling us that they might have partied a little too hard over their summer vacation and that’s why they came to school on day one with no real purpose or direction; without a real lesson plan.

But it was cool, none of us were all that happy about being there so our motivation level was just as low.  It didn’t even matter that we wore brand new outfits and snazzy new shoes for the occasion.  It was still school.  Was it just me or did no one want to go back to school at the end of summer?  Then right off the bat the teacher wants us to recount all the fun things we did and wanted to still be doing.  Hello, unfair tease…

Those days are gone now of course; lost to the past where responsibilities didn’t exist and all of us should have been smarter to open our eyes and relish it.  But that old “youth is wasted on the young” clichĂ© is true.  For the most part, my only responsibilities included stuff relating to school.  Paying bills and other grown-up problems weren’t anything I had to deal with until high school.

Ah, yes.  Sometimes I miss those days of high school where I had to set myself free.  Skipping was a class I took regularly sophomore year and on.  And I was excellent at it; absolutely no doubt I got an A in that class.  There were times I spent entire days in that class, not just single class times.  Another true thing, said by Brian Setzer – “Can't learn nothin' in school they don’t teach you on the street.”

But now I’m all grown-up, most of the time, and this summer I would have all kinds of stuff to report back to the teacher.  It may have even got me to go to school to tell them – I moved into a new house, spent a bunch of money making it a better place to live, and splashed in the pool just about every day.  In other words – BORing.  No teacher enjoyed the boring papers, the ones where the kid recapped exactly what they did every day in full detail.  They wanted something they could enjoy reading.  Something more exciting.

So in the spirit of entertaining my teachers back in the old days, here’s my summer vacation recap.  And let me preface this by saying that my teachers back in the old days likely weren’t all that entertained by my stories because I hadn’t yet developed sarcasm and I never included pictures.  But as an adult now, you can all but count on me to try to rectify that problem.

Summer Isn’t Even Over, How Are You Writing Your Summer Vacation Essay Now?

Yes that’s a great question!  But for me summer ended as June came to a close.  July and August I’m spending writing (blogs, manuscript #2, guest posts, interviews, etc.) so my new school year started on July first.  That doesn’t matter though, there was plenty already packed into summer this year.  I have already:
Dealt with a mortgage closing on a short sale.
Painted 1500 square feet of walls, ceilings & cabinetry.
Moved in and set up my office (remember that, because I do…heehee).
Drained my bank account replacing broken pool equipment and buying tools.

And in reference to the tools, most of what we’ve bought so far has been for gardening and the like.  Matt is in heaven having an outdoor space to work in and I can’t wait to see how he brings the entire yard together.  One of the things that I practically insisted on though was a spot for our grill that didn’t interfere with the pool or wind up under the outdoor patio roof.

We found about 100 leftover bricks had been piled up over by the pool equipment and I knew they had to get used somewhere.  Now for those who have known me a long time you’ll recall we purchased another house, the Labor of Love, a long time ago.  Quick backstory to fully understand the brick debacle…

Right after we bought the house in Springfield we discovered the lot was just a wee bit improperly graded.  Like, about a foot below the neighbor’s backyard which was nothing more than a parking lot of asphalt.  Hey, they needed somewhere to conduct their chop shop duties so I can’t really fault them.  One day that summer it rained.  It rained like no one has ever seen rain before and our backyard turned into Niagra Falls.

Water flooded in at an alarming rate and next thing we knew it was overflowing right down our bulkhead and directly into the basement.  We had about four inches of water in our basement and a non-functioning sump pump.  Oh where was Mike Holmes when we needed him?  (Canada, yeah, I know)  The next morning, after Matt spent a healthy number of hours the night before bailing out the basement with a five gallon Home Depot Homer bucket, we went to the Depot and purchased a bunch of drainage stuff.

Back at the homestead our Saturday was spent digging out a twenty foot hand-dug trench that spanned from just under the deck out into the wooded area beside the house.  We installed a French drain type system, complete with sock over the drain pipe.  For the next handful of years that we “lived” there we never got another drop of water in our basement but we definitely didn’t install it correctly (no gravel surrounding the pipe, just dirt) so I’m sure that means at some point the thing will fail.  Sorry to whoever ended up in that place.

But you’re probably asking what all this drain digging and flooding have to do with left over bricks right?  Well, when we dug the trench we discovered, yup you guessed it, about 100 leftover bricks that were just buried in the backyard.  My guess is they were leftover after building the foundation and became part of the backfill.  After digging them all up they became my patio.

Now here’s the kicker of course, that was another thing I had no clue how to install.  Again, sorry about that.  But it sure looked good at the time.  Not that we ever put a chair out there.  Details…

It may have sloped a foot downward over a 13' run but damn it, the place was all ours and we were gonna grill!

These days however I’m a little savvy and have more time to figure out how to do it right.  Plus I can afford cable now so there’s a hell of a lot of DIY Network being watched in this place.  Again, Mike Holmes is like my personal hero.

So when I discovered the leftover bricks this time (without even having to dig a drainage ditch!) I knew just what to do and where I wanted to put them.

As you can kind of see behind the chairs and on the left there is a big patch of empty gravel space right next to the patio, garage and walkway.

So I grabbed Matt and between the 2 of us we collected the bricks then broke up the clay soil and dug out a level patch of gravel and dirt.  Not easy stuff to move and we started it on a day over 100 degrees.  Maybe not the smartest plan so we stopped early.  But yesterday we finally got rain here, the temperatures dipped into the upper seventies and we had a somewhat muggy but cloudy day for the whole day.  Our day started at Lowes picking up the tools we needed using our $10 off coupon (score!).

We dry fit the brick to decide on a pattern and to make sure we’d have enough.

We staked out the area with stakes meant for our beach shelter and ran a level line of string with some old present wrapping ribbon.  Sometimes you just use what’s on hand and wing it right?  This is the spot dug out, filed with gravel then topped with play sand and leveled so water slopes away from the walkway.

While Matt ran back to Home Depot for filler sand I laid in every single brick by hand, by feel, and gave them a little tap with the rubber mallet.  All 108 of them.  After every 6-8 bricks I tossed the level on just to ensure they were installing correctly.

Yes we went a little shy of the line all the way around, that was to accommodate for backfilling with dirt and bringing the gravel and sand right up to the edge of the patio.  Matt poured the sand and we both took turns sweeping in and tamping down to ensure all the cracks were filled to the top with no obvious gaps.  Then we brought back dirt and gravel and topped the edge bricks with sand.

We finished just as the sky was clearing out a little bit and the sun was setting into a beautiful sunset.  Most of the bricks dried out nicely overnight and I walked out to see this beautiful piece of effort this morning.

It is going to be the perfect spot to house our grill.  Just as soon as our budget allows us to go out and get one.

So this is how I spent my summer, capped off with the Fourth of July holiday and a bit of manual labor.

And just like those teachers who came to school exhausted and under motivated to get back to their jobs, I’m taking 2 Tylenol and lying down on the sofa to edit today.