Friday, March 30, 2012

A Life Full of Love, Laughter, and Salt & Pepper Shakers

This week has been a difficult one.

On Tuesday at 12pm, my great-grandmother, Margaret Ramsey Plummer, passed away - one month and a day shy of her 90th birthday. 

Margaret Ramsey Plummer
April 28th, 1922 - March 27th, 2012

It has definitely been quite an emotional week for me. And the funeral will be tough to get through tomorrow. But the one thing I believe we have to keep reminding ourselves is that she had almost 90 years on this earth.

Can you imagine?

90 years of births, family weddings, birthday celebrations, holiday gatherings, family reunions, and watching her closest friends and family pass on. Not to mention the 90 years of history she’s witnessed. While we’ll be sad tomorrow as she’s being put in her final resting place, we’ll be honoring and celebrating a life well lived. A life full of happiness, joy, love, and….salt and pepper shakers (she had a collection of over 1,200 sets).

My great-grandmother with her children: Rev. Robert Plummer (my grandfather) and Betty Holland

So unfortunately today there will not be a mash-up of the best in writing posts.

Instead, not that you’d need to be told to, but I’d like to remind and encourage everyone to love your family to the fullest each and every day, and to remind them of that as often as you can.

I’ll return on Monday with a new Song of the Week. In the mean time, please check out Wednesday’s post, How a Scene Can Turn on a Word – Comedy or Tragedy?, and enter for a chance to win one of 5 prizes (4 are awesome writing craft/plotting books!).  The comments will close at 8pm EST on Tuesday night and a winner will be announced bright and early on Wednesday morning.

Happy Writing!!!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writerly Wednesday: How a Scene Can Turn on a Word - Comedy or Tragedy?

It goes without saying, but Woody Allen is a master story-teller. Sure some of his movies can move a little slow, but there’s no denying the complexity of emotion in each one. While I have a few favorite movies of his, there is one that spoke loudly enough to make me start thinking. One that actually had two storylines: one comedic, and one dramatic:

In Melinda and Melinda, the story opens with a small group of writers at writers. Their conversation revolves around tragedy vs. comedy: Are our lives naturally comedic, or dramatic? As with any eclectic group of writers, you’re going to have two arguments to that question: 

Comedy writer: “The essence of life isn’t funny, it’s tragic…there’s nothing intrinsically funny about the terrible facts of human existence.”

Tragedy writer: “If the underlying reality of our being is tragic, my plays would make more than yours at the box office because my stories would resonate more profoundly with the human sow.”

Comedy writer:  “It’s exactly because tragedy hits on the truly painful essence of life that people run to my comedies for escape. Tragedy confronts. Comedy escapes.”

So now the argument is: is there a deeper reality in comedy than tragedy? Thus begins the proposal of a simple story: a distraught woman knocks on a door and disrupts a dinner party. And from there we’re taken on two different journeys, both starring the same protagonist (Radha Mitchell, though originally Allen wanted Winona Ryder).

It’d take too long to take you through both of the stories, but here’s a quick breakdown:

Tragedy: Melinda is a psychologically troubled woman who had it all at one point in time: a doctor-husband, two children, and a wonderful home in suburbia. But she becomes entangled with a photographer, falls in love with him, and all she had is now shattered. She can no longer see her children and that pushed her into a mental institution. By the time she interrupts the dinner party, hosted by one her college friends whose husband is trying to woo a play producer into granting him an important role, she’s come out of the institution and is still trying to get her life together, but unfortunately isn’t able to do so.

Comedy: Melinda is a woman who fell in love with another man who led her on and caused her break up her marriage. She’s also an art historian living across the hall of a couple hosting a dinner party (Amanda Peet is a movie director trying to woo a financial backer, and Will Ferrell is her out of work actor-husband). She knocks on their door after taking 28 sleeping pills. Of course Amanda Peet’s character doesn’t want her dinner party wrecked so she insists everyone continue eating before the food gets cold. Then Melinda states she needs to throw up, and the response by Will Ferrell’s character is “No, no, no. Not on the carpet. That’s new carpet.” Yes, very comedic, and eventually she gains the attention of the out-of-work-actor-husband, spends a little time with him, and his reactions to her dating another man brings the comedy to the story.

Woody Allen’s pretty brilliant, huh?

Now this got me thinking: What if we took a similar set up, wrote it out, and left it in a place where a single word could turn the scene into the beginning of a tragedy, or a comedy?

So I’d like for you to decide not only the ‘turning word’ in this opening scene, but the following sentences to show exactly how this particular scene is either tragedy or comedy:

The sounds of life and laughter coming from the apartment caused her to hesitate. But the silent silky darkness of the hallway pushed her to knock on the door regardless. So what if they were having a good time in there? She needed help and there were no other signs of life in the building.

A dark haired woman answered the door. “Laurel?”

“I-I’m sorry to interrupt, but I didn’t know what else to do.” She pushed her way through the door, past her neighbor, Emily. The sounds coming from the dining room magnified in her head.

“What’s wrong?” Emily asked, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. She guided her into the kitchen.

“I haven’t been feeling well lately,” Laurel mumbled.

She grabbed the…..

Contest Info:

Show your craft. Show your creativity. Show how you can turn this scene into tragedy or comedy.

Good Luck and Happy Writing!!!

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    This Week in Favs….

    Playing on the Zune: Abraham’s Daughter by Arcade Fire from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond

    My apologies for not having the one-sentence breakdowns again this week. Been away all night at the urgent care with a sick hubby. :0(  Enjoy this week’s links and:


    Social Media, Author Websites, Platform & Marketing

    “Everything Else I Know about Social Media I Also Learned from the Bloggess” by A. Victoria Mixon

    “Twitter Tips Part 1: How to Get Followed Back” by Annie Neugebauer

    “A Simple and Discreet Way to Transform Your Blog Readers into Customers” by Stanford on Pushing Social

    “Goodreads and Other Genuine Publicity Thoughts” by Crystal Patriarche on Writer Unboxed

    “5 Ways to Get More Traffic with Content Marketing” by Sonia Simone on Copyblogger

    “Stealth Marketing” by Jan Dunlap on WordServe Watercooler

    “How Can Modern Writers Become & Stay Visible” by Jody Hedlund

    “What Is an Author’s Marketing Responsibility with a Traditional Publisher?” by Jane Friedman

    “Understanding Author Platform Part 1 – Making Platform our Art” by Kristen Lamb on Warrior Writers

    “Are You Hiding Behind a Wall on Your Blog?” by Roni Loren

    “6 Benefits of Blogging” by Lynda R. Young

    “The Lazy Blogger’s Guide to Effective Blog SEO” by Stanford on Pushing Social

    On the Craft

    “Farewell Chapters” by Juliette Wade

    “Three Storytelling Lessons from John Carter” by Daniel Swensen on SurlyMuse

    “I Can’t Kill the Editor” by James L. Rubart on Novel Rocket

    “#Writing 50,000 Inimitable Smiles by Margie Lawson” on More Cowbell

    “Want to be More Creative? Stop Focusing” by Patrick Ross on The Artist’s Road

    “Believability & Bending the Law” by Julie Musil

    “Guest Author Karen Walters: What’s in a Name? How Do You Name Your Characters” on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

    “Ten Things You Should Know About Endings,” “Ten Things You Should Know About Setting,” “Ten Things You Should Know About Writing Screenplays” by Chuck Wendig on Terribleminds

    “Ten Questions to Ask When Beginning a Book” by Cheryl Reif

    “Should You Write the Whole Book?” by Rachelle Gardner

    “The Learning Curve That Keeps on Curving” by Larry Brooks on Storyfix

    “How to Find Your Writing Muse” by Mooderino on Moody Writing

    “Voice – The Key to Literary Magic Part 1” by Kristen Lamb on Warrior Writers

    “How to Plot Without Plotting” by Ava Jae on Writability

    “Advanced ‘Write Tight’” by Laura Drake on Writers in the Storm blog

    “Four Commandments to Writing Funny” by Joe Bunting on The Write Practice

    “Blocking in Dialogue” by Nicole Steinhaus on YA Stands

    “Top Ten (Okay Eleven) Things You Should Know About Your Book: Part One” by Faith Hunter on Magical Words

    “Worse Than a Prologue?” by Stina Lindenblatt on Seeing Creative

    “Why the First Draft is Usually Awful (And Why it’s Ok) by Ava Jae on Writability

    “Do You Know the Two Ingredients in a Perfect Ending?” by K.M. Weiland on Wordplay

    “What If Our Story Idea Has Already Been Done?” by Jami Gold

    “Seven Simple Tips for Writing Great Dialogue” by Ali Luke on Aliventures

    “How to Read Your Way to Better Writing” by Susan Bearman on Write it Sideways

    “Writing Tools: Cool Finds” by Cheryl Reif

    “The Secret Plot” by Lydia Sharp on The Sharp Angle

    Writerly Inspiration

    “Failure…Use it! On Management of Goals and Plans for Writers” by Yelena Casale on Christine Fonseca’s blog

    “Writers Block” by The Plot Whisperer

    “Seeking Inspiration” by Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens

    “Listen to the Book” by James Scott Bell on The Kill Zone

    “After the First Book Doesn’t Sign or Sell” by Savannah J. Foley on Pub(lishing) Crawl

    “Trust Your Instincts” by Anna Elliott on Writer Unboxed

    On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

    “Using Google Search Terms for Fun and Education” by Jami Gold

    “The Exciting Future for Writers” by Elizabeth S. CraIg on Mystery Writing is Murder

    “Agents Want to Know – Part 1” by Lynette Labelle

    “One Step Back, Two Steps Forward” by Erin Bowman on Pub(lising) Crawl

    “How I Lost My Fear of Elevators and Learned to Pitch” by Kathryn Lilley on The Kill Zone

    “Scott’s Approach to Pitching – The Things I Learn About You” by Scott Eagan

    “What’s a Typical Advance” by Rachelle Gardner

    “You’re Agented? Cool! But Can She Sell You?” by Lynn Price on Behler blog

    “Hitting the New York Times Bestselling List” by Kat Martin on Writers in the Storm blog

    “Going All the Way: Should You Write the Whole Trilogy Before Your Query?” by Janice Hardy on The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy

    “3 Tips to Prepare Content for New Technologies” by Mary Keeley on Books & Such Literary Agency blog

    “Why We Need to Put Our Books to Bed” by Jody Hedlund

    This week on the blog:

    BONUS – A new Simon’s Cat Cartoon!! 

    Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Writerly Wednesday: A No-Go Contest, Alligators, and Another Contest

    Where in the world did the month of March go?!? Is it just me or is 2012 starting off a bit too fast for you?

    So, today’s a bit more of a mid-month check-up here on Muse, Rant, Rave. For starters, I held a Playlist Plotting contest on the blog last week, complete with a special guest judge, Lisa Gail Green of Paranormal Point of View, but unfortunately, there were no entries. *insert sad face* But no worries! That just means there will be MORE prizes for next week’s contest, How a Scene Can Turn on a Word: Comedy or Tragedy?, where we’ll have another special guest judge, Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse. *insert happy face*

    Prizes up for grabs during next week’s contest:

    And the best way you can obtain one of these goodies to put your brain for just a little bit.

    Now….moving onto those alligators - or rather the subject of being in the water with 'em.

    Yeah, this is what it feels like when you try to make split time between the following during the week:
    • Fresh entries into your current WIP
    • Edits to polish up another WIP so it’ll be query-ready by the end of the summer
    • Complete 2 lectures AND their homework assignments for Margie Lawson Deep Editing course
    • Read a book you’ve been waiting 6 months for
    • Pull 40 non-stop hours at the day job
    • Cook dinner at least 5 nights a week
    • Try to be sociable on Twitter
    • Try to be sociable 3 times a week on your blog
    • Spend time with the significant other
    • Watch your favorites teams play in the ACC & NCAA tournaments
    • Spend time with your family

    Exhausting right? So yeah, it’s called being eyeballs deep in alligators…and that’s a scary concept. And I know I’m not alone as I saw a posting on FB by a fellow author/blogger wondering how in the world can writers find that balance?!? Yes it’s difficult. Yes it can feel lonely because your mind is on everything else you gotta do before bedtime. Yes you feel as though you’re being pulled in twenty different directions at once. And yes you want to murder someone from time to time because they interrupted your writing time or your lecture time or your reading time - which will make you look like this:

    Thus is the life of a writer sometimes, eh?

    So once again we’ve gotta tell ourselves to:


    And that’s exactly what I plan to do the entire month of April. I’ll be celebrating 11 months into the blogging world next month, and I will be taking a break so that I can start my one year bloggiversary off bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (cliché, I know).

    And guess what? It’s COMPLETELY okay to take a break sometimes. I had a mini-conversation with S.P. Sipal of Harry Potter for Writers last week on Twitter about this. We’re in this for the long haul, and as such we have *got* to take breaks – whether a week, a month, or three – to shut ourselves out of the social world in order to step back, gain a fresh perspective, get back on track, catch up, or to quite simply rest a little. Maybe we’ll return with a better idea of how to keep away from those alligators, or maybe we’ll return and throw ourselves back into the swamp. But regardless, that break can and should be taken for both your sanity and that of your Muse (or your spouse, take your pick). I’m going to be buckling down, yet again, with another Margie Lawson course (Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist), so hopefully without the added pressure I’ll be able to safely get myself out of that swamp and hit the ground running away from it when I return in May.

    But until then, I’ve got a great contest cookin’ for next week so that I can say I ended this absolutely insane month of March with a BANG!

    Are you also eyeballs deep in alligators? What is your plan for giving everything it’s equal amount of attention during the week? What about social media? How do you manage your time and energy on social media so that you’re not either buried over your head with it or barely dipping your big toe in the pond? TIPS ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED WITH OPEN ARMS! Please share.

    PS: Print this out and post it in your writing and/or work space. If for nothing than a good laugh, it'll actually help a little. Enjoy! 

    Full Size Image Here

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    This Week in Favs…

    Playing on the Zune:  Kids by MGMT

    My apologies, but this week I didn’t do one-sentence sum-ups for each link (still traveling for work). Enjoy and remember to dial for help if you find yourself buried under too many tabs! ;0)

    Social Media and Author Websites

    “Everything I Know about Social Media I Learned from the Bloggess” by A. Victoria Mixon, Editor

    “How to Get Your First 1,000 Blog Readers” by Stanford on Pushing Social

    “Is a ‘Niche’ or a ‘Non-Niche’ Blog Right For You?” by Sarah Baughman on Write It Sideways

    “Reblogging Etiquette” by Marcy Kennedy on Girls with Pens

    “What The Bachelor Can Teach You About Hooking an Audience” by Kerry Jones on Copyblogger

    “7 Quirky Ways to Beat Blogger’s Block and Write Your Best Post Ever” by Stanford on Pushing Social

    “3 Ways to Keep Social Media from Taking Control of Writing Time” by Jody Hedlund

    “10+ Sure-Fire Ways to Find Blog Post Ideas” by Cheryl Reif

    “Social Media: Some Tips on the When, Why and How” by Kalayna on Magical Words

    “7 Ways to Blogging Will Help You Overcome a Social Media Crisis” by Melissa Agnes on Pushing Social

    “The 10 Commandments of Landing Pages that Work” by Steven Lowe on Copyblogger

    “The 5 Most Common Author Website Mistakes” guest post by Thomas Umstattd, Jr. on Rachelle Gardner’s blog

    “Deadly Doses – Politics, Religion and Our Author Platform” by Kristen Lamb

    On the Craft

    “Do or Do Not. There is No Try: Clarifying What Your Characters Do” by Janice Hardy

    “Write Tip: 8 Key Elements for Capturing The Star Wars Feel in Your Story” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

    “Protecting Our Writing Time” by Elizabeth S. Craig on Mystery Writing is Murder

    “Story Structure With a Hole In It” by Joe Bunting on The Write Practice

    “On My Writerly Bookshelf” by Stina Lindenblatt on Seeing Creative

    “Writing Advice for the New Novelist (Revisited)” by Todd R. Moody on The Verge

    “What Do We Mean By ‘Strong Female Characters?’” by Marcy Kennedy

    “Writing the Other Scene” on Moody Writing

    “Six Ways to Lose Readers Fast” by Daniel Swensen on Surly Muse

    “Crafting Memorable Scenes in Fiction” by Martina Boone on Adventures in YA & Children’s Publishing

    “Writing Action Sequences: A Process of Layering and Research” by Juliette Wade on TalkToYoUniverse

    “Writing Lessons Learned from A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN” by Julie Musil

    “The Right Way to Expand a Too-Short Piece of Writing” by Ali Luke on Aliventures

    “The Big O” by Keith Cronin on Writer Unboxed

    “The Point When Everything Changes” by Susan Dennard on Pub(lishing) Crawl

    “How to Start a Story The Stephen King Way” on Moody Writing

    “Writing a Novel: A Drama Told in Three Acts, With a Prologue and Epilogue” by Sophia Masson on Writer Unboxed

    “6 Writing Outline Templates and 3 Reasons to Use Them” by Shannon on Duolit

    “What is More Dramatic Than a Fight? by Tiffany Lawson Inman on Jenny Hansen’s blog, Cowbell

    “How to be a Writer” by Ava Jae on Writability

    Writerly Inspiration

    “My Favorite Writing Advice: Feeling In Over Your Head” by Shelli Johnson

    “Making Sacrifices as a Writer” by Michelle Davidson Argyle on The Innocent Flower

    “25 Things You Should Know About Creativity” by Chuck Wendig on Terribleminds

    “How to Boost Your Writing Confidence so You CAN Hit Publish” by James Chartrand on Write to Done

    “Know Your Own Writing Journey & Go at Your Own Pace” by Jody Hedlund

    “A Lesson in ‘Don’t Write to the Trend’” by Roni Loren

    On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

    “Taming the Revision Beast” by Becca Puglisi on National Novel Editing Month Blog

    “Do Authors Have a Right to be Paid?” by Rachelle Gardner

    “What Makes a Book a Bestseller?” by Ava Jae on Writability

    “How to Handle Criticism” by Lynda R. Young on W.I.P. It: A Writer’s Journey

    “The Elephant in the Publishing World” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View

    “How to Position Your Book To Go Viral” by Larry Brooks on Storyfix

    “Market Mania: Why a Book Flies Off the Shelves” by Nephele Tempest on Writing and Rambling 

    “Who Cares about Quality Writing Anymore?” by Jami Gold

    “Jockeying for Position in the Muddy Publishing Future” by James Scott Bell on The Kill Zone

    “Does Publishing Support the Writer-Artist?”

    “Is Taking the Hard Road a ‘Waste'?’” by Jami Gold

    This week on the blog:


    Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Writerly Wednesday: Lesson Learned from ‘Across the Universe’…and a Playlist Plotting Contest

    Welcome to the first of two contests that I’m holding this month. Both contests are based off the lessons that can be extracted from two particular movies.

    Today’s movie: Across the Universe

    Plot per IMBD: “The music of the Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.”

    First we’ll start with a quick introduction: Hi, my name is Melinda Collins and I am a perfectionist with OCD tendencies who is a die-hard Beatles fanatic. There, I said it! Not like it’s a secret or anything, but I do believe this is the first time I’m letting my geek flag fly on this blog. *smile* I could write ten pages and go on for days on the genius of this particular film and how it snuck in references to original Fab Four and characters from their songs that only true fans might know…but alas I will only limit myself to this one particular bullet point that relates to the writer:

    Playlist Plotting

    First I’ll show you how this was completed for this particular film, then we’ll talk about the contest this particular lesson entails (Note: not every song pushed the plot forward. Some songs were filler-fun-type moments that movies are allowed to do sometimes):  

    There are 6 characters the plot follows throughout the movie. I’m going to list them below and color-code their storylines (similar to Margie Lawson’s EDITS system that I’m currently in class learning about) so you can see how they’re intertwined with one another. I’m also listing the particular songs their names were pulled from (and a play on these characters and their actions within these songs is part of the super-cool fun of the movie):

    Jude (from “Hey Jude”) *In the clips, notice how much he looks like a younger Paul McCartney
    Lucy (from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”)
    Max (from “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”)
    Sadie (from “Sexy Sadie”)
    Jojo (from “Get Back”) 
    Prudence (from “Dear Prudence)
     *Note: The song titles are links to the song/clip from the movie. Enjoy!

    • “Girl” Jude opens the movie with a shot towards the end of the story in which he believes something has happened to the woman he’s fallen in love with…then flashback to the beginning of his journey
    • “Hold Me Tight”Jude’s girlfriend in Liverpool and Lucy (in the US) sing this particular song to their men who are about to leave them both. Jude to the US with the Merchant Navy, Lucy’s boyfriend, Daniel, into the Army
    • “All My Loving”Jude’s serenade to his girlfriend on his last night, telling her that he’ll write her every day and stay true to her (with a clip of Lucy writing a letter to Daniel)
    • “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”Enter Prudence: a cheerleader singing about a football player she can’t have as he’s dating the head cheerleader. We then see her walk off the field and hitchhike it out of Ohio
    • “Help From My Friends”Jude’s true purpose comes to light as he jumps ship in New Jersey and hitchhikes to Princeton University in search of his father, an American G.I., whom he’s never met, and who never knew about him. Shortly after finding him, he runs into Max, the trouble-maker on the Princeton Campus. The two of them hit it off. They hang out with Max’s buds, drinking and playing pool (Geek Alert: the scene of the boys running and goofing off in the courtyard is parallel to the Beatles doing the same in ‘A Hard Days’ Night’)
    • “It Won’t Be Long” Lucy gets a letter in the mail from her boyfriend – he’s coming home in a week!
    • “I’ve Just Seen a Face” Jude meets Lucy (Max’s sister) when he comes home with Max for Thanksgiving. He’s instantly taken with her: “She’s the girl for me…I’m falling, oh yes I’m falling, and she keeps calling me back again.” He then goes to NYC with Max who has decided to drop out of Princeton and move to NYC.
    • “Let It Be” – Flash of the riots in Detroit, where Jojo, a guitarist, is from, and Daniel’s mother is visited by two US soldiers: Daniels’s dead, he was killed in Vietnam before he could get home. The song follows along his funeral and that of a young boy in Detroit who died in the riots.
    • “Come Together”Jojo leaves Detroit and journeys to NYC where he meets Sadie, the landlord of Jude & Max, and an aspiring singer, and auditions to join to her band. Jude becomes a freelance artist and Max becomes a taxi driver (Geek alert: When Max meets Sadie, she says, “You look clean cut but then again you could’ve just hammered your grandmother in the head” <—for those of you unfamiliar, the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” talks about him doing just that!).
    • “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” Lucy ventures to NYC to visit Max before goes off to college. Her first night there is spent watching Sadie sing this song with her band and walking the streets of NYC talking with Jude.
    • “If I Fell”Lucy spends more time with Jude – they’re out at the river one day and he draws a portrait of her on the concrete wall of an abandoned building. This is where she begins to fall in love with him.
    • “I Want You/She’s So Heavy”Max received a letter in the mail drafting him into the Army for the Vietnam War. He reports to his meeting with Uncle Sam (“I Want You”) and he’s officially drafted (“She’s So Heavy”) after a beautiful visual of him and other draftees carrying Lady Liberty across a field similar to the backdrop of Vietnam (AKA: defending the freedoms of our citizens can be a heavy weight to carry on your shoulders).
    • “Dear Prudence”Prudence has a crush on Jojo, but once again she’s crushing on a man she can’t have as he’s now with Sadie. The group sing to her to cheer her up, then they take her to the streets of NYC to join a walking protest of the war. After this, she disappears from the story for a bit.
    • “I Am the Walrus” Sadie signs with a record label and the roommates attend a book function for a drug guru, Doctor Robert (Bono), drink punch laced with LSD (yes, they just had to include that reference), and end up miles from home (riding on a bus similar to the one from Magical Mystery Tour), stranded outside the compound of a psychonautic, Dr. Frank Geary.
    • “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!”The group is reunited with Prudence who has joined the circus, led by Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard), as a circus performer.
    • “Because”A fun underwater-type scene that segues into Max leaving for Vietnam.
    • “Something”Jude reflects on his love for Lucy after seeing her being flirted with by an activist, Paco, (because the war has hit close to home for Lucy, she’s joined an anti-war activist group, ‘Students for a Democratic Republic’ (SDR), and spends a lot a time working at their headquarters). This puts a strain on their relationship as he believes Paco to be seducing Lucy.
    • “Oh! Darling”Against her better judgment, Sadie agrees with her new manager and drops her band, thus the break-up of her and Jojo in the middle of a performance one night.
    • “Strawberry Fields Forever” Jude’s feelings towards the time Lucy’s spending with SDR affects his artwork. He paints a beautiful picture of a strawberry (the one on the movie poster) and the parallels between the strawberries and the war are brought to light as Max joins in on the song from the other side of the world (awesome visual association that’s in the video clip: strawberries, red, grenades/bombs, blood)
    • “Revolution” Jude storms into the DSR headquarters and throws the hypocrisy of their actions into their faces when Lucy’s there one night – these leads to their break-up and the next song
    • “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”Jojo sings on stage and Sadie feels the loss of the band she left behind. Jude breaks down when he comes home to find that Lucy has packed her things and left him.
    • “Across the Universe/Helter Skelter” – Police begin arresting protesters at an anti-war demonstration at Columbia University. Jude tries to help Lucy but he ends up being beaten by the police and arrested himself. It comes to light that he’s been in the US illegally. His father comes to see him in jail (Lucy called him) and tries to convince immigration that Jude’s his son, but since he has no proof by having left Jude’s mother while she was pregnant, Jude is then deported back Liverpool.
    • “Happiness is a Warm Gun”Max is wounded in the war. He’s now psychologically scarred and becomes dependent on morphine (Salma Hayek sings the background vocals and plays the nurse in this scene): “I need a fix ‘cause I’m going down…”
    •  “Blackbird” Lucy leaves the SDR after walking in on Paco making bombs (“I thought it was the other side who dropped bombs.”), one of which explodes, kills Paco, and destroys the SDR offices.
    • “A Day in the Life”No lyrics in this one, but it’s there in the background as Jude picks up the newspaper in Liverpool and the headline reads: “American Anti-War Radicals Kills in Homemade Bomb Blast.” All he can picture is Lucy when she was arrested at Columbia University and then falls into a small depression believing she is dead.
    • “Hey Jude” Jude learns from Max that Lucy is still alive and he’s encouraged to come to the US and get his girl.
    • “Don’t Let Me Down”Jojo and Sadie reconcile their differences and get together for a rooftop concert (same as the one the Beatles did in the documentary, Let it Be). It is here that Max arranges for Lucy to arrive so she and Jude can be reunited, but because the concert didn’t have a permit, the cops shut it down (Jude hides from them so he can use the microphone for his own message) and she can’t get into the building by the time she hears Jude’s voice singing:
    • “All You Need is Love” – The police allow the band to go back to the rooftop and sing/play the song with Jude (Prudence is with them on the keyboard). Lucy appears on the rooftop of the building next to theirs and she and Jude gaze at one another as the song ends and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is played to begin the credit roll.

    Okay, now I know that’s a lot, but do you see how the songs – and the characters within some of them – inspired this original masterpiece? Playlist Plotting reminds me of Jami Gold’s post last week where it was discussed in the comments how we writers can take characters, books, plots, etc. and use them as inspiration for an original plot and/or unique character of our own.

    This movie did just that on an amplified level…and we can all learn from that!

    Now for the contest:

    • Your mission: Create a plot using Playlist Plotting. OR you can take one you already have and create the perfect playlist to amplify your story.
    •  Judging: This contest will be judged by the wonderfully talented and awesome, Lisa Gail Green from Paranormal Point of View
      • Be creative because this is exactly what she’s looking for – have fun with this and use the music to inspire the feelings of your characters:
        • Kudos and extra credit to you if you’re able to use a single artist/band’s catalogue
    • Rules/Limitations: Across the Universe used 29 songs in its Playlist Plotting…BUT we’re going to limit this with
      • 10 songs, 10 plot points, 10 opportunities for you to make your story sing *smile*
      • Put your Playlist Plotting creativity in the comments
      • Commenting closes at 8pm EST on Tuesday, March 20th
      • The winners will be announced on Wednesday, March 21st
    • Prizes: There will be two winners:

    Remember, be creative! And if you really want to be challenged, try using a single artist/band’s song catalogue when creating your Plotting Playlist. Good luck!

    Happy Plotting!!!

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Song of the Week: Across the Universe by The Beatles

    Good Monday, everyone!!

    This week’s song choice was chosen mostly due to the contest that I’ll be having on the blog this week: ‘Lessons Learned from ‘Across the Universe’….and a Playlist Plotting Contest’

    Here’s a preview of what we’re looking for with this contest (more details will be provided in the post on where this idea stemmed from):

    • Your mission: Create a plot using Playlist Plotting. OR you can take one you already have and create the perfect playlist to amplify your story.
    • Judging: This contest will be judged by the wonderfully talented and awesome, Lisa Gail Green from Paranormal Point of View
    • Rules/Limitations: Across the Universe used 29 songs in its Playlist Plotting…BUT we’re going to limit this with
      • 10 songs, 10 plot points, 10 opportunities for you to make your story sing *smile*
      • Put your Playlist Plotting creativity in the comments
      • Commenting closes at 8pm EST on Tuesday, March 20th
      • The winners will be announced on Wednesday, March 21st
    • Prizes: There will be two winners:

    Start thinking about the music that inspires your writing every day and be sure to come back on Wednesday to learn about Playlist Plotting and enter the contest!

    And how here’s this week’s song. Enjoy!

    Across the Universe Lyrics
    Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
    Words are flowing out like
    Endless rain into a paper cup
    They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe

    Pools of sorrow waves of joy
    Are drifting through my opened mind
    Possessing and caressing me

    Jai Guru Deva, om
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world

    Images of broken light which
    Dance before me like a million eyes
    They call me on and on across the universe

    Thoughts meander like a
    Restless wind inside a letter box
    They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

    Jai Guru Deva, om
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world

    Sounds of laughter, shades of life
    Are ringing through my opened ears
    Inciting and inviting me

    Limitless undying love, which
    Shines around me like a million suns
    It calls me on and on across the universe

    Jai Guru Deva, om
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Nothing's gonna change my world
    Jai Guru Deva
    Jai Guru Deva
    Jai Guru Deva
    Jai Guru Deva

    Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!


    Friday, March 9, 2012

    This Week in Favs…..

    Playing on the Zune:  Blow Me Away by Breaking Benjamin

    Social Media and Author Websites

    “6 Reasons Authors Should Love Timeline” by Marcy Kennedy & Lisa Hall-Wilson on Girls with Pens <—Some seriously good advice on how to utilize the new ‘Timeline’ feature on Facebook! A Must Read!

    “The 10-Minute Technique to Becoming a More Productive Writer” by Georgina Laidlaw on Copyblogger <—Tips and thoughts on how to become more productive.

    “Pinterest: 13 Things Writers Should Know” by Rachelle Gardner <—If you haven’t checked out Pinterest yet, then this may entice you to give it a try.

    “Ten Tips for Authors Using Pinterest” by Rachelle Gardner on Books & Such Literacy Agency blog <—Additional tips on how to make Pinterst work for the writer.

    “The WRITERS WORTH Site is ALIVE!” by Lyn Midnight <—Fun new blog for writers – Writers Worth – go check it out!

    “21 Warning Signs You’re Becoming a Social Media Snob” by Jonathan Morrow on Copyblogger <—Ugh… nobody likes a snob! Here’s how to spot the warning signs.

    On the Craft

    “Creating a Memorable Character (Part 1 of 3)” and “Creating a Memorable Character (Part 2 of 3)” and “Building a Memorable Character (Part 3 of 3) by Anna Solivers on If You Wish to Be a Writer, Write <—Awesome tips on making those lovable characters of yours memorable for the reader. Must Reads!

    “What Makes You Keep Reading?” by Ava Jae by Writability <—This is what happens when you read John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars: An amazing post on how to keep your readers glued to the page emerges!

    “Ten Crazy Ways to Improve Your Writing” by Jeff Bennington on The Writing Bomb <—Interesting take on how to improve your prose!

    “Flip the Script: Tell, Don’t Show” by Jael McHenry on Writer Unboxed <—Oh, now that’s a bit new. Changing your view and learning the exceptions to the ‘showing’ rule.

    “Writing Exercised for Writer’s Block” by Tabitha Olson on Writer Musings <—Great exercises to do when you’re feeling blocked!

    “Plots and Hooks, Think Symphony” by Catherine Stine on Seeing Creative <—A great breakdown on plotting and how hooks are ‘musically mood-oriented.’

    “9 Tips for Writing Comedy” by Lynda R. Young on W.I.P. It: A Writer’s Journey <—A list of tips learned from Oliver Phommavanh at an author’s festival. Thanks for sharing Lynda!

    “The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook” by K.M. Weiland on Workplay <—Awesome follow up to “The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 1: Why Should Authors Care?”

    “Chapter One: 11/22/63 by Stephen King” by Mooderino on Moody Writing <—A look at the first chapter in Stephen King’s latest work and how it worked at capturing the reader’s attention.

    “What Makes a Character Unique?” by Jami Gold <—In a world with fan fiction, what constitutes the creation of an original character vs. taking a well-known character and only changing their name and occupation.

    “And the Pace is On: Understanding and Controlling Pace” by Janice Hardy <—How to maintain one of the most important things that keeps a reader – well, reading.

    “3 Simple Storytelling Methods that Can Do Your Selling For You” by Ben Settle on Copyblogger <—The main types of plots that truly do the selling for the author. 

    “Time Management for Writers” by Merry Farmer <—How to build in some writing time each and every day (yes, this means you must sacrifice something, but it’s worth it!).

    “3 Ways to Find the Perfect Opening for Your Story” by Jody Hedlund <—3 tips for gripping your readers within those first few precious pages.

    “Reader to Writer: Hey Dude, Clear it Up!” by Bill Polm on Write to Done <—Ensuring that you’re making your writing crystal clear for the reader.

    “Twelve Writer Woes and the Books to Cure Them” by Roni Loren <—Hehe… I’m so glad I’m not the only writing book whore out there! ;0)

    “Your Character’s Language” by Jane Lebak on <—The important of learning how to speak like your character.

    “Three Things You Must Have in Your Novel’s First Paragraph” by C.S. Lakin on Live Write Thrive <—Three specific needs you must have in that crucial opening paragraph.

    “25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice” by Chuck Wendig on Terribleminds <—Ah, yes… word choice is SUPER important, writers! Another great ‘spot-on’ post from Chuck!  A Must Read!

    “Making an Em Dash for it: How Do You Actually Use Them?” by Janice Hardy <—An explanation and examples of how you should be using the em dash.

    “Entertainment vs. Truth” by Donald Maass on Writer Unboxed <—Which are you, an entertainer or a truth-teller?

    The Most Underestimated Key to Success from The Matrix” by Marcy Kennedy <—Incredible post on how to get around a mental block.

    Writerly Inspiration

    “Failure – The Key Ingredient to the Successful Writing Career” by Kristen Lamb <—I love this post! “If we aren’t failing, then aren’t doing anything interesting.” –Kristen Lamb  :0) A Must-Read!

    “The Unexpected Way I Found to Increase My Productivity” by Michelle Davidson Argyle on The Innocent Flower <—A list of tasks you should do everyday for 3 weeks…and your productivity will increase because you’ll be happier. :0)

    “25 Inspiration Sources for the Discouraged Writer” by Cheryl Reif <—Need a dose of inspiration? Go to one of these find it.

    “You Don’t Have to Be a Star” by James Scott Bell on The Kill Zone <—Have I mentioned lately how much I enjoy reading Mr. Bell’s stories? Each and every one is simply inspiring, and I never fail to learn something new.  A Must-Read!

    “Unchangeable Things” by Zeke Pipher on Rachelle Gardner’s blog <—Remembering that it’s the things in like that are ‘unchangeable’ you should be counting on, regardless of what happens in this writing life.

    “How to Write Like You Can’t Fail” by Lynda R. Young <—Awesome post with the tips we all know and love (though with a fresh outlook).

    “Nine Writing Milestones to Celebrate (and Aim For)” by Ali Luke on Aliventures <—No matter how small or large the accomplishment, you should definitely take the time to celebrate, especially these particular milestones.

    On Editing, Critiquing, Querying, Publishing and more…

    “The Best Advice for Your Urban Fantasy You’ll Ever Read” by Mark Landen <—If you take the fantasy and paranormal out of your story, would it still work? Great read on how fantastical elements should really bring sparkle to the story, not be the entire base of it.

    “Query Letters: Constants and Not So Constants” by Mary Lindsey on <—Awesome tips on writing that query letter – there are a few things in here that used to be considered a big fat NO…but maybe not so much anymore.

    “What an Editor Wants In An Author” guest post by Susan Litman, Senior Editor, Harlequin Special Edition, on Babbles from Scott Eagan’s <—What they want from us! A Must-Read!

    “Mixing Magics” by Cathy Clamp, guest post on Janice Hardy’s blog <—How to blend multiple fantastical elements into your novel without one stepping on the others’ toes.

    “7 Tips for Self- Editing Your Novel” by Melissa K. Norris on Wordserve Water Cooler <—Breakin’ it down so you don’t feel so overwhelmed during the editing phase.

    “How to Think Like an Editor” by Jeanne Kisacky on Writer Unboxed <—Love these insights! A Must-Read!

    “A Little Humor” by Lisa Gail Green on Paranormal Point of View <—3 funny videos on self-pubbing that’ll make you giggle so hard you just might get the you’re-so-insane look from your family. *smile*

    “When Does Fan Fiction Cross an Ethical Line?” by Jami Gold <—Great post this week from Jami Gold that begs the question: Is it ethical to publish and profit from fan fiction? Great discussion an debate going on in the comments! A Must Read!

    “Unconventional Guide to Publishing (AKA: How to Know More Than 99% of Humanity About Publishing)” by Matt Gartland <—A study of David Fugate’s The Unconventional Guide to Publishing.

    “Why Should Writers Care About Indie Bookstores?” by Therese Walsh on Writer Unboxed <—A look at what an author gets out of a relationship with an indie bookstore.

    “My Decision to Self Publish” by Laura Pauling <—One writer’s journey into making the decision to self publish.

    “Queries from an Agency’s POV” and “What Makes a Good Fiction Query” by Michelle Ule on Books & Such Literary Agency blog <—Parts 1 and 2 of a 3-piece series on queries from Books & Such. Great tips for every writer within these two posts!

    “On Publishing: 6 Aspects of Writing YA that Surprised Me” by Carrie Ryan on Magical Words <—6 important lessons from the publishing world from a YA author.

    “Is There a Self-Publishing Bubble?” by Nathan Bransford <—In other words, get used to the increase in self-publishing, it’s going to be around for a while.

    “Ergonomics for Writerly Folk” by Therese Walsh on Writer Unboxed <—Seriously, it is VERY important that pay attention to ergonomics, especially since we each sit in front of the computer screen for hours at a time. A Must Read!

    This week on the blog:

    Happy Reading and Writing, everyone!!!

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