Writing Humor – Studio C Style

I’ve watched all the Studio C skits and have many favorites. But some of the ones I love best have to do with writing.

Firstly, here’s one of the first Studio C’s I ever saw:

Then there is this fantasy skits:

When your characters don’t listen:

And this recent skit reminded me of authors’ treatment of characters:

And the truth about fairy tales:

And…the truth behind bestseller lists:

So, do you enjoy Studo C? Which one of these is your favorite?

Why I Love Hamilton (and would I recommend it?)

So, I mentioned this Broadway musical called Hamilton last week…was it only last week? It’s only be a few weeks since I first started listening to it, but already it seems forever. Anyway, I absolutely love this musical. The characters. The emotion. The music…

Overview:

Hamilton is a rap/hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. I know, how on earth does rap/hip-hop go with the story of a founding father? My mother looked at me really weird when I told her that. Then she stay up until 2:00 a.m., listening to the whole thing in one sitting once my sister and I got her started on it.

Not that I normally listen to this kind of music anyway. But really, this musical is a mix of about every kind of music I can think of: instrumental, electronic, rap…which I never thought I cared for, but it’s not rock music and it’s not weird and whispery. It’s more like a chant with rhythm than anything else.

However, I will say that Hamilton is not for everyone. I would consider it a PG-13 type of musical. There’s some crudeness and inferences, and there is some language…though if one listens to the ‘clean version’ (I know, that makes sound as if the original is awful) most of it is cut out.

Pros:

1. The music. The songs are very catchy and I enjoy them.

2. The characters and emotion and theme and story. The way the story is told… The way the characters are shown as flawed and yet the songs make you care for them… The way the themes run through the whole musical, from Hamilton’s non-stop action to Burr’s ‘wait for it’.

3. You learn quite a bit of history. For example, I now know that John Jay wrote 5 of the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote 29, and Alexander Hamilton wrote the other 51!

4. Hamilton was a writer, so writing is mentioned in some of the songs, ‘how do you write like you’re running out of time…’ Love those parts!

Cons:

1. Some insinuation and crudeness

2. Some language

3. The lyrics will run through your head all night

Recommendation

I’m not excusing (or apologizing) for the cons of this musical. I don’t like them, but it’s like watching some movies. Each family has their own standard of how much they will allow in a movie or music or book for it to be acceptable. I will leave it to you to decide if you want plunge into this musical or not. For myself, I would recommend it if your standards accept it. Again, that sounds horrible, as if only someone with loose standards would listen to it. That is not what I’m saying…this isn’t coming out right. Do you get what I’m saying?

Pictures because I can and love them

These photos are all from Pinterest

Well, what about you? Have you listened to Hamilton? If you have, what do you think? If you haven’t, do you think this is something you will listen to?

Dragons and My First Podcast Interview!!!

Hey guys, guess what?!?! A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Daniel Thomson for The Very Serious Writing Show podcast (my all time favorite writing show or podcast of any kind, I might add). And we talked about dragons, brainstorming all kinds of ideas about how to make dragons different.

Anyway, it was great fun and we came up with quite a few cool ideas. (And a few really weird ones. Don’t judge, with brainstorming what you get is what you get. *smirks*) Also, do you know how weird it is to hear oneself talking in an interview weeks after the event? But I’ll stop rambling and just post the link. You can click here to go to itunes and listen to me and Daniel chat, or you can find the podcast on Soundcloud.

Reading, Writing…Guns

So, so, so, so…where to start? I think I’m going to stop saying it’s been an insane week and just leave it for granted that I’ve been busy unless I say otherwise.

Monday was Memorial Day. At home we didn’t do too much: hamburgers for supper and then a movie. *clears throat* Ok, we watched HOME again. Seriously, that movie is so cute.

Some of us did go out that day though. Since a Memorial Day parade goes past our church, the church does an outreach: inflatables, free food, and sharing the Gospel. Myself and four of my siblings volunteered to help. The neatest part was the drive there, with the mist hovering over fields and rising from still pools in the rising dawn… I love mist. It appears in some form or another in almost all my stories.

Or all my stories. Probably all of them. But I digress.

My sister and I ran a bouncy house during the outreach. Once we got organized, I ended up going inside the bouncy house and clearing out the kids ever minute and a half (they wouldn’t all listen otherwise and besides, even if I have practice ordering younger brothers about, I don’t want to yell at kids I don’t know. *smirks*) But the best part of the day was after the outreach and lunch was over and the inflatables were blown back up for all of us mature adults.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the obstacle course and the large slide, even though I burned my elbow on the latter. But, as much as I enjoyed playing, watching the young men in their jumping competitions was just as exciting. You can see a collage of the videos my sister took here.

Then, Wednesday, I killed a character. As my brother grinningly (yep, I don’t care about that red line, auto-correct) informed me when I told him earlier in the week of my intentions, my character ‘had a deadline. A literal deadline.’ I’m still not sure if I ought to laugh or slap him. A bit late for the slapping though. I suppose.

But, though I’d been agonizing over if I’d be able to write the emotions of the death scene well, I ended up being very pleased with the results. Though the death was sad, I was (partly) over my own emotion on the subject. Instead I just sat, my fist pressed to my lips, staring at the blank screen and wondering how on earth I could put to words what I was picturing in my mind. But I did, eventually. And I’m very happy with those three chapters.

And, as my reward, Wednesday evening I had fun with…this:

Before I explain, have I ever told you all about the Greek class I’m part of? Welllll…

*grins sheepishly*

It’s not really a class. More of a Greek club, aka, meeting place for six people who talk on about anything but Greek. The two men sit to my left and talk of politics and guns. The three women are on my left and, with one who used to be a nurse and the other who works in an ambulance…well, you can guess where that conversation goes. Two conversations are normally going on one time, I might add, so I sit in the middle, not talking too much since everyone else has so much to say, and switch my focus from one group to the other as the mood takes me. Oh, and I do sometimes translate a Greek sentence or two while listening and gathering material for stories. Anyway…yes. Greek class, um, club.

But four of the six of us like guns, so we have a shooting evening about once a year. This was my first time joining it, but it was great fun. Especially shooting the piece pictured above. An AR-15, with a 30 round magazine (I got to shoot two magazines). And then the senses; the difference between the sharp crack of the gun while wearing those small foamy earplugs and the muted roar with a double set of earplugs. The sharp smell of gun smoke. The thud of the recoil against your shoulder or in your hand. The smooth pull of the trigger. The flash of fire at the end of the barrel as night drew on. We wrapped up the evening with picking up dozens of casings and then shooting some milk jugs full of water. Now that…that was fun.

*rubs hands together*

*grins*

Oh, and I can’t forget the books.

I went though my shelf and four boxes of books; around 368 books, give or take a handful. (Yes, I counted.) I do this every few months to refresh my memory of what I have. What is put away. Get new books out on my shelf.

Anyhow, I’ve done this before. But this time…this time, I cataloged all of them. Half my books on my shelf. The others in boxes with their titles written down in a document, along with what box they are in. It took me several hours, but I’m very pleased with the results. And my books. Not, you understand, that my 360+ books in any way impedes my desire to purchase more book on my list of books to-buy, which is almost as long as my books to-read.

And my to-read list isn’t getting any shorter even though I’m reading about six books at one time. Or is it seven?

Anyhow, this week has been a jumble. Reading. Writing. Trying to plan a movie . Reading. Killing a character and tormenting his best friend. *evil laugh* *sniffs* *chuckles gleefully again* Not wanting to make a movie. Knitting hats. Books. Reading. Wondering if I can get away with making the movie next year. Guns. More writing. Butchering chickens. And did I mention trying to read? The operative word there is try, in that I have been trying to read a lot more than I’ve been finding time to read…partly because I’ve a stack of books a mile high and partly because they look so interesting.

Besides, it’s research, right? Nonfiction gives me idea. Fiction gives me more ideas as well as examples of good writing (or what not to do in writing, as the case may be).

What about you, my fellow pilgrims? How many books do you own? How many do you like to read at a time? What are you reading? And, most importantly, are you finding time to read?

Pilgrims and Progress

Good day, my fellow pilgrims. Can I call you pilgrims?

Why?

You just had to ask, didn’t you?

Very well. I want to call you something. You’re not a bunch of nameless faces, after all and I’d rather say something other than ‘hey guys’. Besides the term ‘pilgrim’ is fitting, if I say so myself.

*coughs* I do say so. *coughs*

A pilgrim travels, just as we are all traveling. There’s journey involved in writing a book. Or reading one. Or the pilgrimage of life as we pass as strangers and witnesses in a strange land until we reach our final and glorious home in heaven.

*inhales deeply* That was…deep. Also, there’s this song that I like which fits very well.

All right, pilgrims, on to lighter topics.

Who here has seen the trailer for the 2017 Beauty and the Beast, taken screenshots of practically the whole thing, and then made collages of them? *raises hand guiltily* Why does release date have to be nearly ten months away?

Once this movies comes out, I’m seriously going to have to make some new collages for Rose of Prophecy.

But I did say progress in the title of this post, and it’s true.

For starters, I finished the second draft of Scarlet Rose yesterday!

*internal cheering*

This is the first book in my futuristic trilogy called – you guessed it – Scarlet Rose! There’s plenty of work to be done on this book which is very much in progress. The main problems is I’ve so many secondary characters and subplots that they’re drowning out the main character in my story. And yet I don’t want to get rid of anything. *sighs* The troubles of a writer. But better too much than too little, right? Or not. I’m still not sure on that quarter.

Nextly (yes, I made the word up. And I like it. I think I will keep it) I was looking forward to the Rooglewood fairy-tale novella contest which was to be announced in June, only to discover this past week that it has been postponed until next year. While a little disappointed, I have to admit I was also relieved. Selfish, I know. But now I’ve more time to focus on my own novellas.

Speaking of which, Song of the Sword is progressing well. I’ve been getting beta reader feedback and am focusing on clarifying various points which are confusing. And I’ve been planning my launch which is in two months! Where did the time fly? And I’m hoping to have review copies of Song of the Sword ready by the beginning of July! But I’ve got everything written down and the various tasks I need to do deadline out.

And no, it’s not because I’m super organized. Well, actually, I may be super organized. But I can’t relax unless I’ve everything laid out and know what I need to get done and by what time.

I’ve also been preparing a street team. And a Facebook page for said street team. And cool blog buttons. And promotional pictures. You’ll get to see them in a week or two, so keep your eyes open!

Life has been buzzing along at a rapid pace and summer’s heat struck with a vengeance this week. The relation between life and myself can be summed up accurately by this gif…with life, of course, being the cat who’s completely relaxed and without a care in the world:

On that note, anyone seen HOME yet? Because it’s adorable. And such a different take on a common story line of aliens invading earth…

What do you think, pilgrims? Do you accept the title I’ve given you? Also how do you prefer to write: starting with too much information and clipping, or having too little and being forced to add more? How are you dealing with summer’s heat? And, most importantly, what do you think of ‘nextly’ becoming an official word?

Music and the Muse

How does one write while living in a small house, surrounded by noisy siblings?

Well, for one, I’ve long discovered that one doesn’t need quiet surroundings to write. Quiet helps, of course, but it’s also a rare commodity at my house.

Also, the myth I heard while younger, that one must ‘sit down and edit or read or write for fifteen minutes before getting focused enough to produce good writing has never given me any problems. I don’t deny that editing or getting into the spirit of a novel before settling down to write might help, but since I write in fifteen to thirty minute chunks quite often, this course of action doesn’t really work. I just tell myself it’s time to write and force my mind to switch its focus to writing.

I’ve two main places I write where I will be the least distracted. The first is in the least (but not infrequently) visited room of our house; the laundry room/storage room/Dad’s office. The other is at my own desk in my room, where at least my brothers normally leave me in peace. Of course, I still have two little sisters running back and forth quite often. I’ve become fairly proficient in the art of ignoring surrounding commotion and am not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

But my main help to writing, besides the sheer determination to focus on the screen instead of looking out the window, is music. Sometimes I play it on my computer, sometimes I wear headphones. I love headphones. I also love music. It’s come to the point that it is sometimes hard for me to write without music.

I quite often don’t even care what I’m listening too, as long as there aren’t lyrics and it is melodious. This can result in me suddenly wondering what on earth I am listening to when I’m on a YouTube list and I suddenly come back to awareness of the music part way though a weird track or song.

Though I have my own music I listen too, including Narnia, Thor, Epic, and Lord of the Rings soundtracks, there are also a few YouTube mixes I really like. This one is my favorite.

I also enjoy a select number of music videos, some of which carry wonderful story possibilities. I do not listen to these while writing; I’d not be able to focus on my story if I did. But this is my current favorite. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it, and the number would probably be too embarrassing to admit if I did. Suffice it to say I love Proof of Your Love, by For King and Country. It’s different, but very powerful.

What about you? Do you listen to music as you write? Do you have any favorite songs, music videos, or mixes?

Songkeeper

I had the privilege of being on Gillian Adams’s launch team for the second book in her Songkeeper trilogy, Songkeeper. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, Orphan Song and couldn’t wait to read the second book. It didn’t disappoint.

Songkeeper was absolutely wonderful; better even than the first book if at all possible, and much more heartrending. This is not simply a ‘middle book’ in which the story is only preparing for the climax of the third book. It does build up, of course, but it is also a gripping and exciting story in it’s own right.

Things I loved:

Characters – 5/5: They are so fresh and original. Amos, Ky, Birdie, Gundhrold, Sym, Inali, Migdon…there’s nothing 2D about them. And the way Gillian has made her characters so human is amazing. Even the minor characters aren’t completely bad or completely good, but are a perfect bend of complexity.

Setting – 5/5: The settings are so vivid and so…different. I absolutely love them!

Plot – 5/5: Exciting, gripping; even when the story switched between characters I hardly cared because both story lines were so interesting. It was very well paced.

Theme – 5/5: Very well done. Though powerful, the theme is also subtle.

Dialogue – 5/5: I had to include this simply so I could give examples of some of my favorite lines. Amos’s insults, for example, are the best I’ve ever read. Take his line about the griffin, Gundhrold. “Why did the sand-blasted catbird have to be so seaswoggling logical? It was downright infuriating.”  And this confrontation between the two as they are forced to travel together. “Gundhrold’s head lowered until his massive beak was only inches away from Amos’s nose. “I am a son of the desert. This was once my home – the home of all my kind. I know every crag, every slope, every crick and hollow-”     Amos rolled his eyes. “Every blatherin’ speck o’ sand?”

Everything else – 5/5: Seriously, I love this book. And I’m a picky reader with a habit of correcting things as I write. But this book is very well written. There are some dark scenes at the end, but they are well handled and very necessary to the story.

The one thing I don’t like:

The fact I’ll likely have to wait a year for the next book. I want find out what happens to my favorite characters (which happens to be all of them, but there is one in particular that needs immediate attention…)!

Songkeeper comes out April 15th! You can preorder it here. And if you don’t have Orphan’s Song, make sure to check that out too!