My Nameless New Friend

Have you ever been minding your own business, dragging the garbage to the curb, loading the dishwasher, folding the laundry, when, all of a sudden, the character you’ve been waiting to meet taps you on the shoulder?

BidI had such a moment. After auditioning all the existing characters for the lead role in the last book of my trilogy, I decided that none of them quite measured up. Their character arcs have closed. They’d said all they had to say and I was beginning to understand that I needed a new main character for the final story.

But that character had not made his entrance yet.

Today, as I was driving to the store, I caught a glimpse of a candidate for that spot in my mind’s eye. He was out hunting with his father, Rigel. He’s awfully young, not even twenty, but strong, like his dad. One word kept circling around him:

Fearless.

“Are you reckless?” I ask him as I ease into the slow lane to accommodate my distracted state of mind.

“Maybe.” His lips twitch and tease, and dare me to ask more.

“… Are you angry?”

“How would you feel if your mom could read your mind whenever she wanted to?”

Ouch. 

“Good point,” I reply, then add, “You’re kind of a hotshot, aren’t you?”

He looks at me with mischievous eyes. “Kinda.”Image courtesy of Aleksandra P. @ stock.xchng

“That could get you into trouble.”

“So?”

“I like you. Wanna be in my book?”

“Hell, yeah. When can we start?”

Soon, my nameless new friend, I think to myself. Only a few more holidays to go …

Happy New Year to all my blogging buddies! Have you met any new characters this year?

Images courtesy of  Marija Jure and Aleksandra P. @ stock.xchng

Liebster Award-Holiday Edition

Liebster Award 12-12As I was casting about ideas on what to post for your reading pleasure, all the while frantically wrapping presents, baking cookies, and packing my suitcase for another cross-country trek, I was honored to discover that the lovely and talented Vikki at the View Outside has presented this blog with the coveted Liebster Award. Thanks, Vikki!

Me? How sweet! But what about Christmas?

So I’ve decided to combine the holidays and this honor to unveil the first and only Liebster Award-Holiday Edition. Now these awards come with rules—yes I know, so confining—but here at A Scenic Route, we like to twist things around a bit, so expect a surprise or two.

Here are the Official Rules:

1. When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

2. Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!)

3. You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees.

4. You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!

5. You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)

Sleigh HollyIn keeping with the Holiday Liebster theme, here are eleven things I like most about Christmas:

  1. The smell of fresh pine in my house
  2. Christmas music, all kinds from Mannheim Steamroller to Vince Guaraldi to Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  3. Mulled wine: the taste, the aroma, and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you drink it
  4. Cozy sweaters
  5. Cars driving around decorated with wreaths and antlers
  6. Wrapping presents!
  7. Random acts of kindness
  8. Gingerbread houses
  9. Streets lined with twinkling white lights
  10. Jingle bells
  11. Sitting around the fireplace with the people I care about most in all the world

SnowmenNow I am to answer the questions Vikki asked:

  1. Are you a punctual person or are you usually late? I come early and bring a book to read while I’m waiting.
  2. How many hours a week do you spend watching TV? Now come on, be honest! Honestly, we turned off the cable a few years ago. I know, blasphemy! We just rent movies a few times a month.
  3. What do you wear in bed? Umm, pajamas. It’s cold outside!
  4. In a heated argument do you walk away or keep at it until you’ve had the final word? I walk away before the argument starts. I usually know how people feel about stuff before they start talking, and no one ever listens to me anyway.
  5. How many times a day do you look in a mirror? Come on, you can tell us. To put my contact lenses in and my make up on. Then I never look back.
  6. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Pet the cat.
  7. Do you consider yourself lucky?  Yes. When I met my husband I knew I was the luckiest girl in the world.
  8. Do you fear death? Of course. But what I fear more is not leaving a mark on the world before I die.
  9. What are your top 3 pet peeves? Impatient people, rude people, presumptuous people
  10. What character in The Wizard of Oz are you most like? The Wizard! I’m the man—or rather, the woman— behind the curtain.
  11. How many pairs of shoes do you own? At least thirty. And that’s not counting boots! But I love them all equally.

Pine AngelMy eleven questions are going to be holiday themed too.

  1. What is your favorite holiday gift of all time?
  2. Which is your favorite holiday special: Charlie Brown’s Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life?
  3. What is your beverage of choice: Eggnog, mulled wine, or hot chocolate?
  4. What is your favorite holiday song?
  5. Who are you going to kiss under the mistletoe this year?
  6. What was your best holiday bonus from a job?
  7. What is your best holiday memory?
  8. What was the kindest holiday gesture ever made by a stranger?
  9. What’s on your wish list this year?
  10. If you could spend your holiday anywhere in the world just by snapping your fingers, where would you be?
  11. Who would you take with you?

Gingerbread BowAs for my nominees, I’m making a list, checking it twice, and all these bloggers have been especially nice:

Armchairauthor at Ink

Peter Cruikshank-It Is What It Is?

Virginia at Poeta Officium

Rabia Gale-Writer At Play

Anushka Dhanapala at Finding My Creature

T. F. Walsh

Jamie Ayres

Tangent Shell

Melissa Maygrove

Katherine Checkley at The Intrinsic Writer

But wait, you say,  that’s only ten nominees? That’s because the last spot is reserved for you, loyal followers. You are all deserving of this very special holiday Liebster Award, so if you’d like to participate, pull this one out from under the tree and take it home for your very own.

Whew! That was longer than the Twelve Days of Christmas! So, how about you? What do you like most about the holidays?

(Images courtesy of Renate Kalloch @ stock.xchng)

Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest

11.19 Cavanaugh Blogfest LIVEIt is my great pleasure to be a part of the raucous party known as the Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest and raise a virtual toast to the enigmatic but influential writer who has made the blogosphere a better place to be. While the self-proclaimed Ninja seems to be everywhere at once, he remains an enigma to us all. It is time to fuel the rumors and postulate on the man behind the myth!

This blogfest comes with prompts to keep us from waxing on endlessly, so let’s get to them:

  1. What does Alex look like? He is a broad-shouldered god with dark wavy hair, towering in his leather boots, wearing a cloak embroidered with a Floyd Rose Tremolo.
  2.  Who could play Alex in a documentary? Christian Bale – rugged, cerebral, and blessed with a mellifluous command of the English language-would be perfect!
  3. Who does Alex remind you of? Since Alex is the rock star of the blogosphere, Matthew Bellamy of Muse, with his hot licks and prowess with women would be someone that Alex reminds me of.
  4. Write a flash fiction using all these prompts: ( Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar)

Apocalypse AvertedImage courtesy of Rodrigo Tambem

Drowning in a river of insecurity, a forsaken writer tapped out her final post.

“Help me, IWSG! The writing community has scorned me!”

Alex J. Cavanaugh, hunched over his guitar, engrossed in strumming the last minor seventh of his requiem to the end of the world, heard her cry. Since his Cosbolt was in the shop, the Ninja engaged his trusty blog hop companions. “A writer is in need! Encourage her!”

The blogosphere heard his entreaties. The hapless writer nearly spilled her Michelob over the keyboard when she saw all the comments awaiting moderation.

“Keep going!” “First draft always stinks.”

Before you could say CassaStar, she was back at her keyboard, finishing the novel that would take the world by storm.

How about you? Has there been one person who makes the blogosphere a happier, saner place for you to visit?

Thanks Mark Koopmans, Morgan Shamy, David Powers King, and Stephen Tremp for hosting and thanks, Alex J. Cavanaugh, for all the kind words of encouragement and inspiration! You Rock!

Image courtesy of Rodrigo Tambem @ Stock.xchng

IWSG: Driving A Story Off A Cliff

InsecureWritersSupportGroupHere we are at the first Wednesday of the month and it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to pull our virtual chairs into a circle and discuss our anxieties. If you want to be a part of our great group, and join Alex J. Cavanaugh in commiserating about all the trials we Insecure Writers endure, click on this linky and join us! I’ve been posting with this fabulous group for almost a year now, and knowing that I am not alone in my insecurities and fears has made a huge difference on how I view this writing obsession of mine.

This month I was certain I would be posting an uplifting story about how winning NaNoWriMo has boosted my self-confidence, how much fun I had writing my story, and how I feel so much more a part of the tribe of writers.

Well, that lasted for about a day.

Then my Inner Editor, who’d I’d sent on a month-long imaginary shopping spree to spruce up her already stunning wardrobe, returned. It didn’t take her long to unpack all the designer duds out of her matching luggage and to add her latest acquisitions to a shoe collection that rivals that of the infamous Imelda Marcos.

She settles in quickly and makes a cup of coffee, black because extra calories do nothing for the hips.

“What have you got for me?” she says. Her desktop is one of those glass ones that only the high-powered executives with nothing to do except schedule meetings have, with only a phone, an expensive pen, and a vase of flowers on it.

I hand her my newly minted first draft manuscript, and she proceeds to look it over.Red Lipstick

“I see that  you wrote yourself in again,” she says as she flips through the first few pages. Her coral-colored lips, the latest Chanel shade, are pursed as she points out the first of what are certainly many strategic missteps on my road to literary abandon.

“Umm … yes,” I reply. “I needed to get into my protagonist’s head,” I add helpfully.

“Have you ever met an adverb you didn’t like?” She turns another page.

“Rarely,” I say and clap my hand over my mouth as I realize I’ve released yet another adverb.

“And what’s this?” She taps a perfectly manicured coral fingernail on the title of a chapter. “A Side Trip to Exalta City?”

“It’s a tour. Of the city where part of the story takes place.”

She pulls out her red pen, a Cross limited edition. “Does it move the story forward?”

“No, I suppose not. But I needed to see what things looked like,” I try to explain. “I might be a discovery writer.”

She frowns, looks annoyed, and goes to the next chapter. “You know, some people write their novels according to a plan. Scenes, character arcs, plotting …”

“So did I!” I reply (defensively.) “I just got sidetracked a lot.”

Question Mark-Red“I can see that. What’s with all this squid? This is a fantasy novel, isn’t it? Why is there squid on the menu for dinner, lunch, and breakfast?”

“Oh that.” I blush. “It was a dare.”

“A dare?”

“To see if I could figure out a way to include a squid in my story.”

“Tell me,” she says and tries to wrinkle her botox-enhanced forehead. “Why is it that you routinely insist on driving a perfectly good story off a cliff?”

I chew my unfashionably un-coral-colored lip. “Because it’s fun?”

“Aha.” She twirls her red pen between her elegant fingers. “Some Nano novels actually do find publishers. Did you ever consider that writing something this bad will never get you published?”

“Well, I was hoping you could help me whip this into shape.”

“Perhaps …” She pulls out her reading glasses, Christian Dior, and begins to pay attention. I dare say she looks interested in what she’s reading.

“Anything worth keeping?” I ask.Exclamation Point -Red

“Who’s this Lyra woman? I haven’t read about her in your outline.”

“She was a surprise.”

“Any other surprises?”

“A few. Some were good though. I think … ”

She smirks. “I’ll be the judge of that.” She pats the comfy chair, and motions me to get the blanket.

“You’re not going to quit are you? Is this story worth saving?”

She smiles a perfunctory smile, the kind the doctor has when he tells you that you’re getting older, and to expect a new ache now and then. “That’s why you pay me the big imaginary paycheck isn’t it?”

I’m so glad the Inner Editor and I have this worked out.

How about you, Insecure Writers? Has your Inner Editor gotten his or her hands on your Nano yet? Do you write from an outline? Do you prefer coral or ruby-red lipstick?Red Lipstick

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Images courtesy of  Jordan McCullough @ Big Stock, Jean Scheijen, and ‘Widiwidi’ @ Stock.xchng

Playlist: Swan Song

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I’m looking over the devastation for the spoils of my achievement. Obviously, 78k or so words of new draft now resides on my hard drive, triple backed up and awaiting revision. But what else have I brought back with me?Image courtesy of Tijmen van Dobbenburg @ stock.xchng

There’s the golden paperclip I won in a word war.

And a playlist. This is what I turn to when I want to remember the joy of creating this story. My list was actually much, much longer than this, but I’ve gathered the most essential songs to showcase the music I chose to accompany the imminent end of civilization as we know it-lots of instrumentals, electronics, and angst.

Click here to enjoy it hassle-free on YouTube.

Playlist-Swansong

Image courtesy of Gregorius GP Buir @ Big StockImage courtesy of Gregorius GP Buir @ Big Stock

Do you bring home souvenirs from your writing journeys? If so, what are they?

(Images courtesy of Tijmen van Dobbenburg @ stock.xchng and  Gregorius GP Buir @ Big Stock)