Friday, December 16, 2011

Introducing.... Jackson David!

Character Profiles are something that many authors use to get to know their characters better personally. They help the writer connect to the characters as well as helping the writer make the characters seem more human. (They also can take a very long time to put together!) Though this is usually something of a private journey, for the sake of my stories and my continued progress I will share them with you on this website. And just to help myself (and you) a little more, I'll be writing them in order of importance. Which means the number one most important character gets his life sprawled out for you today here!

Name: Jackson Avery David.
Age: 20
Birthday: May 8th
Height: 5'11"
Home: Greenville, South Carolina
Current address: college campus
Family: one younger sister, Karen, and a mother, Carol. Father, deceased.
Health: Completely healthy
Ethnic background: Caucasian, of English decent.

Lifestyle. (from the perspective of the character)
Nickname: Jack. My sister loves this show on tv and it drives me nuts because the main character's older brother is named Jackson and he's a total idiot. So I go by Jack.
Occupation: Well, right now I work right now on the stage crew, but I'm studying to be an artist and would like to some day work with some kind of animation. My mom wants me to be a teacher or something, but that's one thing I could never do. She's good at it, but I'd never have the patience.
Religion: I was raised in a Baptist church but sometimes Baptist churches take things too far. I follow what the Bible says, nothing else.
Political affiliations: I vote Republican, but never pay much attention to all that political stuff.
Education: I'm in college now. I spent all of elementary and high school in the same school, Grace Christian Academy, where my mom works.
Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina
Children: None yet, but someday after I'm married. I like kids.
Pets: Three dogs, but they are all staying with my mom while I go to school and live on campus.
Hobbies: I like to read...comic books... and I like to draw and I really enjoy playing board games and stuff. I collect stuff from....comic books. (Don't judge!)

Board games.
Leather jackets.
Making people laugh.
Watching people have fun.
Doing something to make someone smile, even when they don't know it was me.
Birthday cake.
BBQ anything!
Friendly banter.
Someone to talk to.
Having lots of friends.
A cappella music.
New Country music.
Holding someone's hand and feeling them squeeze my hand back.
Long car rides.
Catching up with old friends.
Falling asleep in class and not getting caught.

Stuck up people.
Clingy friends.
Seeing someone hurt or upset.
Ranch dressing.
Rock music.
Driving at night.
Being made fun of or seeing someone else getting made fun of.
Not getting a good grade on something I put a lot of work into.
Fruit pies.
Long lectures.
History class.
Writing English papers.
Seeing a girl cry.
Being so far away from my family.

Short Bio.
I was born the first child of Carol and Jackson David. I was brought home to the same house where we live now. I don't remember much about  my childhood. But I do remember when I was three my parents brought home my younger sister, Karen. As soon as I could start school my parents put me in Grace Christian Academy where my mother taught first grade. The "school" was little more than twenty kids studying in the empty classrooms of Grace Baptist Church Monday through Friday and cleaning the church for service on Saturday afternoons. But my parents enjoyed being part of running it and I didn't mind being the only student in the fifth grade. I made my way up through the grades until I was about fifteen. That's when my dad got sick. Blinding headaches would keep him in bead for days at a time and they only got progressively worse and made him progressively weaker. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. Finally one doctor took special interest in our case. After several extensive tests, he diagnosed a rare form of aggressive brain cancer. He was only with us another year. I was seventeen when he passed away. You can't imagine how hard that was for all of us, but especially my mom and sister. They were devastated. My sister and I stopped going to school for a while to mourn him, and mom got a substitute. We drove up to Michigan and spent two weeks with my mom's parents.

When we got back, mom went back to work and Karen went back to school, but there was no way I could move on. No, they hadn't moved on either, but they were dealing with it and getting on with their own lives. I couldn't do that. I dropped out of school and stayed around the house, taking care of the chores, getting a job to help with the hospital bills left. This went on for about a year. Mom let me deal with dad's death in that way for as long as she could, but finally she took me aside and told me I had to at least finish school. So I went back, finished out my senior year, graduating at nineteen. All my classmates were really supportive, but it was still hard. By graduation though, things had gotten easier. Mom was even able to convince me to go to the local Christian university. So that's where I am now. I don't like living there because it's harder to help my mom, but she insisted it's what was best. It was cheaper too so I couldn't argue. I guess we'll just see how this year turns out. I might stay, I might drop out. Who knows.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Unexpected Inspiration

Disney movies inspire me. Don't ask me why. Usually they have nothing to do with my actual story. But put on Beauty and the Beast or Mulan and I'm glued to the computer with my fingers to the keys! I discovered today that Disney music does the same thing. I played a CD of Classic Disney music today while I was doing laundry, and two songs in I was opening my computer with three new ideas to write out for my book. It was a great feeling, being totally inspired to work on something that has been giving me trouble for over a year now!

I just love that feeling. Wish it would happen more often. Then maybe I'd actually get something done! Well, today, other than the three ideas I got jotted down and outlined in the book, I also would like to share the potential book cover. A friend of mine so kindly drew it for me about a year ago when I started the project and I just love it!

I know the style is a bit, well, animated. Haha. But I love it because it includes all of the most important characters, keeps the two main characters front and center, and also manages to capture the individual personalities of each character. And the artist hadn't even read the whole book! Only pieces of it. So I was thoroughly impressed. Whether or not I'll use this cover when it comes time to publish the book, I don't know. But so far, it's my first choice.

Another thing I'd like to share with you all. This week I will be working on Character Profiles. I've found that when writing a book, it is easier to understand each character (as the author) and gauge how they would react in different situations if you've taken the time to dive a little into their personal lives. So I'll be working on those and will share them with you as they are completed. But for tonight, it's back to rewriting the outline and the first few chapters. So, Ride like the wind, Bullseye!

See you all tomorrow! =)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not Pregnant?

No, Frank. I'm not pregnant. There is no possible way I could be pregnant. Thanks for asking. =_=

It really gets to me when people assume something of you without bothering to ask about the truth. Saturday I discovered at my (soon to be former) workplace a coworker has been spreading the rumor that I am with child. Where did he get this? 1) I had stomach flu a while back which he decided was a cover-up for morning sickness. 2) I'm a generally chubby person who happened to have put on a couple pounds in the last few months and he associated that with swelling for the fetus he assumed was inside me.

Now, if he'd simply come and asked me if I was pregnant it wouldn't have bothered me as much. After all, he doesn't know me outside work or whether or not pregnancy is a possibility in my life. (It's not.) He could have come and mentioned something to break the ice, insinuate what he meant. (Which he did, later on.) If he had just asked, I could have told him that no, I was not nor could I soon become a new mother. But instead of just asking, he went and told the whole building! Talk about frustrating and humiliating to have to dispel that rumor. Suffice to say I didn't get much else done yesterday. Worked two different "real life" jobs then came home and cleaned. Then totally collapsed! I was out before my head hit the pillow.

Fortunately, I did get a lot of mental planning done for my lovely little Conflict, and rest assured will be working plenty on it in the next coming week. Hopefully without the distractions of more moronic rumors.

Have any of you ever had a rumor spread about you? Not fun, huh? Tell me about it! =)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fridays with Fabulous Franny

((Hello everybody! Today I would like to introduce to you a character of mine. She is the main focus of my side project and has been itching to be featured here! Her name is Franny Byrd, an overweight, middle aged mother of two with a rather unique way of viewing the world. Her charm and wit surprise even me! I do hope you'll enjoy this little tidbit she's written up for you about the holidays.))

I love Christmas! The food, the family, the gift exchange, I love it all. The decorations and the lights. (Green is so very "my color.") I don't even mind getting up at five in the morning to start cooking for a Christmas Dinner! Christmas has got to be my favorite holiday of the year. But there's a catch. Christmas shopping! I swear, it's like one day someone looked down at Christmas and decided that this season was just too happy. So to fix it, they made shopping malls and traffic jams!

Really though, Christmas shopping has got to be one of the worst things one has to do during the winter season. Skipping over the trouble of fitting behind the wheel of a car you share with a rather short-legged sixteen year old, since that's an entire story in and of itself, just the shopping alone is hard enough. First, you get to the store and because you weren't part of the mob that camped out the night before, you're forced to park in a spot so far away from the mall you wonder if it's not supposed to be for the Pup and Kitty PetPet Beauty Salon just a few feet away. Then you have to journey through that sea of cars, walking for what feels like days until you reach the nearest store. But hey, a little exercise never hurt anyone right? Look on the bright side....right? Once we get to the building, we do a little (or a lot) more walking all around the mall just to find the store we wanted to go to in the first place! By the time I get to the store I forgot what I was supposed to be looking for because ten minutes ago I'd started looking for a bench just so I can catch my breath!

Second wind caught, there is then the trouble of having to drag along my bouncing six year old who likes to think he knows better than his own mother about who would like what for Christmas. He'll go from shelf to shelf, grabbing the thing he'd most like to have for himself, then holding it up proudly and announcing "Dad would love this!" Oh, I'm sure he would. He'd just love a new video game or plastic Star Wars helmet barely big enough for his fist to fit in. But by that time I'm too tired to remember what my own husband actually would want and too out of mind to remember I wrote it down on the back of a receipt somewhere in my bag.

Plastic helmet in hand, we trudge through the endless sea of people, looking for someone, anyone, who could help us to find the price. Of course, though, we find no one. All the clerks want to help the nice pretty, thin customers, not the old fat ladies with bouncing ten year olds. Our only choice is to wait in the mile long customer service line. And so we wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Half way through the line my son has run off somewhere to play with something or other and I've begun a conversation with the woman behind me. "Oh yes, it's so much trouble trying to get the weight off. It's my son's fault you know," I tell her, unable to stop what my daughter refers to as my "TMI mouth." (Sadly, sometimes I have to agree with her.) "Yes, you see, I gained it all while I was pregnant, and now it just won't come off no matter what I do!" The young lady, so very patient, nods and smiles.

"Oh my, that's terrible. How old is your baby?"

"Uh..." Oh dear, I hadn't thought she'd ask that. Now that I think about it, the story sounds so terribly ridiculous! But she asked. I can't lie to her. Especially not when my son has apparently found something interesting and is running towards me. "He's...uh...ten..." I just see the ladies eyes widen (along with the eyes of three other ladies in the line). With a (only half) pretend look of horror I turn to my son. "What? Timmy's caught in a well? Okay! Let's go!"

Once we've made it successfully out of the store without any further embarrassment, it's only a matter of moments before I realize I'm still clutching tightly to that stupid, ugly plastic helmet. Blaring sirens have started screaming at everyone that a thief has just left the building and would they kindly please all caught her before she does something truly stupid! I run back to the store, trying desperately to explain, then am forced to explain the whole story to the young security guard, who keeps asking me to repeat myself because he can't hear my story over my little boy's screaming. "Moooom!! I need that!! That's Dad's Christmas present!!! What am I going to give to Dad now?" Flustered and frustrated and wanting to forget the whole thing ever happened, I agree to pay for the helmet, if only to make my son stop crying! We leave the store with all eyes on "the fat lady and her screaming brat."

We make it out to the car in mostly one piece, and I quickly shove my child into the back seat and hurry to get myself behind the wheel. The parking lot is even fuller than before (something I never would have thought possible!). Flustered and embarrassed and trying to get out of there in a hurry, I back up out of my spot THUNK! and right into another parked car!

Horrified I rush out to check the damage the ugly little pink think did to my car. Then for the next several minutes I panic over the large pink paint smudge on my beautiful brown SUV. Then my wits return to me and I realize that the tiny sports car that dared to mark my baby happens to also have a rather large dent in its fender. Panicking all over again, I call my husband. In tears I relay the entire story of the day to him, including my morning cup of cold coffee and the trouble I had reaching my feet over my belly to tie my shoes! Bless his heart, he sits and listens to the whole thing. (Or at least I like to think so. Though in reality he was probably checking email until the part about the car.) He tells me to go back into the store. Back into that wretched store! And give them the license plate number so the owner of the car can come and meet the delinquent who backed into it.

After sitting there for an hour waiting for no one to show up, we finally give up and return to our own car, only to find the Pepto-Bismol car is gone, exposing a sign at the front of the space that says "Reserved for PetPet Customers Only."

Utterly frustrated and humiliated, my son and I drive home. Waiting to meet me at the door is my dear, sweet husband with a handful of flowers and an invitation to the nicest restaurant in town, just to cheer me up. (Just what I need. More food) But I love eating out, so I squeeze into my nicest dress (holding my breath and swearing to only eat one piece of bread) and leave my daughter to babysit my son, praying all the while she doesn't burn my house down! We arrive at the restaurant and to my pleasant surprise he remembered to make reservations! Huzzah! We are seated, given water, and left to go over our menus. In the hushed murmur of elegant crowd, I happen to overhear the conversation of a very snobby sounding gentleman seated in the booth behind me. His eerily feminine voice relays to his dining partner "Then this crazy weirdo backed right into my brand new car! Poor Fifi was horrified!" I grab my husband's arm.

"Let's go!" He gives me a weird look and asks me why. "No questions! Just run!"

After a long day of Christmas cheer, I'm ready to go home. I had to pay twice what it was worth for that dumb helmet. My husband didn't get his fancy steak. And my daughter (though she kept the house un-singed)  managed to tear apart the entire place "looking" for her brother! Safe to say I'll be doing the rest of my Christmas shopping online.

Ho. Ho. Ho. Everybody! Happy shopping!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chaos Theory

I like my work space to be nice and neat. If you ask my mother (who's seen the current state of my desk and the general clutter of my bedroom) she'll tell you differently. But it's a fact. Even my "clutter" is rather organized, in its own way. I like things to be organized and cleaned. Not always put away or white glove sparkling, but clean. Working in a mess completely stresses me out! So it's safe to say that the messy, unkept state of my stories does well to stress me out more often than not. I don't like chaos (unless we're talking about Loki from the Thor movie. In which case I say "Send him my way! Hubba hubba!") and this mountain I've begun to tackle is nothing short of chaotic.

For example, at one point several months ago I took all of my notebooks and filed them into boxes. Stories from before three years ago went in one pile. Stories from the last three years went in another. They were put up in the top of my closet and all but forgotten about. This morning, in an effort to start on this immense project, I dusted off the old boxes and started pulling out the most recent notebooks and files. To my horror, the notebooks I thought had been exclusively for one story or another ended up holding ideas for thirty or so other projects, some from as far back as middle school! In one notebook alone I had loose papers full names and character profiles that I couldn't put to story ideas stuck between pages of writing that fit somewhere in the middle of a castle fairytale and a pirate horror. On pages further in I found sketches of costumes for a super hero and the layout of a house which had become the setting of a story I'd just recently started. This conglomeration of bits and pieces ended up belonging to a total of nine different stories. And all in just one fifty page college rule notebook! Notebook after folder after binder after notebook, each only got worse. I finally had to give myself a break. There was no way I was going to be able to go through all of it quickly.

As luck would have it, though. I did find one story in it's complete set. Ideas and sketches and all. This is the story I'll be working on to start with. It's one of the most recent projects I've put upon myself, entitled "Conflict." Though it's been forced through the processes of being completely rewritten three times now, I think it's still got a lot of potential. (And everyone says "third time's the charm" right?) Based on the story of my first year in college, the book follows Jackson, a sardonic young man with a haunted past, and Ginger, his quirky but spirited best friend, as they journey through their own first year in university. Together the pair wade through the uncharted waters of a budding romance, struggle with self growth and discovery, and deal with the pain of losing a first love. All the while waging the never ending battle against homework and picky English professors. It's a cute love story with a lot of witty humor and sarcastic charm, curtsy of my own best friend and constant inspiration, my mother. It's a story that she and several others have urged me to finish quickly, so this is the book that I will start on first.

Just for a quick overview, though I do have to completely start over (again) there is a lot of the story already written that I can still use. So it's safe to say once I've gone through and edited out everything I don't want or can't use, I'll be left with about three solid chapters. After that, it'll be an uphill battle trying to roll this sucker along, but I'm convinced that between the long talks with my mother for dialog inspiration and the fun of actually writing something that makes me laugh too the whole thing will turn out okay, if not (hopefully) better. Haha.

And so today, as I'm now off to continue my search for usable material in my Conflict, I leave you with this. Though in life sometimes things might seem a little crazy and hard to handle, if you step back and give yourself a little breathing room, when you come back to it with fresh eyes odds are you'll be able to see the silver lining a little more easily. I know I did.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Small Beginnings

When I started out seriously writing, back in the sixth grade, I was satisfied to work a little on one story at a time, writing until the inspiration drained and then moving onto the next big idea. A meager existence! In the years since then I've dedicated myself to never give up on a story, even if the inspiration has seemed to have been drained. Never give up on a good idea.

Problem is, now I find myself facing a mountain of stories! Ideas with a beginning but no end, an end but no middle, or a middle but no beginning. I've tried to tackle the mountain as a whole, and all that has proven to accomplish is getting myself buried in an avalanche of notebooks and journals and loose-leaf pages of scribbles and doodles. Digging one's self out of such an avalanche is not a pleasant experience, my friend. Not in the least.

So now you know my predicament, I propose a solution. I currently stand at the open mouth of twenty stories, each ready to devour me with their unique character perspectives and individual personalities. With this blog I will tackle each story individually, documenting the progress and the failures and the general stand-stills that each author faces. It will be a long journey, but well worth the efforts at it's end. I do hope you'll join me on this trek, and I look forward to rediscovering my passion for the written word with each and every one of you.

Onward, Ho!