Monday, November 29, 2010

So much llama drama

I'm heartbroken because I will be out of town and one of my favorite authors is speaking locally.  If you have a kid in your house under 10, then you are probably familiar with Llama Llama Misses Mama, LLama Llama Red Pajama and my personal favorite, LLama Llama Mad at Mama. Anna Dewdney will be at Copperfield's in Petaluma this Wednesday.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama

Decision Points

There was a fun article in the Sunday newspaper's Parade magazine about the teenage brain. Why is there so much drama in the adolescent life? The article went on to explain that many parts of the brain are still developing, particularly the ability to organize and understand or project future consequences of one's actions. There was a picture of a terrified woman accompanying the article: apparently 100% of adults knew right away that the emotion the woman was portraying was fear, but only 50% of teens got it right. 

So, teens are still learning their emotions. No shock to anyone who has been a teen or lives with teens.

In working on one of my stories today, the heroine is moody. Is it because she was recently dumped her boyfriend, or because she is a teen? She's a drama queen, this character named Meg, so she's very upset about her loss and on some level is enjoying wallowing in her misery.

With each character, with each event, there is a challenge to make each character a type - logically extend their personality types to every situation. Later, will Meg react dramatically to a failing grade, or if she doesn't get into the school of her dreams? Will she be hysterical if she doesn't get the editor job of the school newspaper? Meg, in order to be real for me, has to at some point not act according to her script, and let her mask down.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Five Tibetan Rites

The hero of one of my novels - a young adult realistic adventure - practices the Five Tibetan Rites every morning as a means of keeping fit. While the claim that these yoga-like postures are actually Tibetan has been widely and soundly disputed, I wanted B. to have a form of discipline and exercise that matches his elusive and somewhat sketchy background.

The tough part about writing a YA hero is that he's got to have a loveable fault. It reminds me of a job interview. Occasionally, one may be asked, "What is one of your weaknesses?" Of course, the only correct answer is "devotion to accomplishing my work efficiently, on-time and with laudable results." In other words, my only weakness is working so hard that you, my new boss, will look great and love me for it.

YA heroes are often of the same mold. They are so good that there is a bad outcome (think Edward Cullen leaving Bella to save her) only for those same qualities to end up being redemptive.  We love these types of heroes.

I'm struggling to give this guy a not entirely likable personality. He's in it for himself - and the Five Tibetan Rites are the beginning of his journey. He wakes up, devotes himself to his physical health, and then renews his quest every day. Can these qualities be redemptive? That is the question I'm exploring.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Focus (My new focus)

Yesterday, I overheard one of the parents dropped off his daughter for her ballet class with this word, "Focus!"

I had to laugh because it's a ballet class for 3-4 year old girls. The beauty of this age is that when kids see something they are interested in, like - oh I don't know a Disney mermaid costume - they can become very singleminded. Intense. Obsessive.

Still, it was a good reminder to me that when you want to be good at something, you've got to focus on it. You've got to practice. You've to be present for it.

So it goes with writing. When I have blogged in the past, I've used the posts as a sort of warm-up for my daily writing on my novel. Going forward, I'll be experimenting with posts about or from or related to the current writing that I'm doing.

Currently, I have three projects: two young adult novels and one picture book, so I'll be sure to make it clear which is which as I'm writing.