Sunday, June 27, 2010

Naming My Main Character...Let The Bloodletting Begin!

For the past several days, I've been on a mission. My objective - to name my main character. The names of my lesser characters had come quite easily. My main character is stubborn and his name just wasn't surfacing without a lot of blood loss. I've written about 25% of the story calling him various versions of Tom, Dick or Harry. But nothing fit him quite right. Every time I thought I had the perfect name, I'd plug it into the story and he would say "sorry, try again." I found myself lost at the corner of Impasse Drive without a road map.

The storyline had pretty much drawn to a halt because I couldn't picture him in my head. Yeah, I know what color hair and eyes he has, how tall he is, and what his personality is like. But I was missing that one element that could tie all those traits together and make him whole. His Name!

What magical process did I use to find his name? Being a mother of three, I approached the situation much like I did when picking names for my kids. I consulted baby name websites and made a list of my favorites. I even tried the random name generator, hoping it would magically give me the perfect name. In the end, I was still frustrated because picking his name out of 50,000 names was like finding a needle in a haystack. Impossible!

The answer finally started to unfold yesterday when I had a little alone time in my car. Summer has been a non-stop kid's party (for the kids anyway) and it was the first time I had been 100% alone for longer than a few minutes since school let out. I was listening to the radio and heard the DJ mention a name. "Hmmm, that might work," I thought to myself. I couldn't wait to get home and see what it looked like in print. Unfortunately, it just wasn't a good match for him. But the process of writing that name down ultimately lead me to writing down similar names and finally discovering his name. My main character is now 100% whole!

It's no secret that I am new to writing. To say I don't understand the craft is by far an understatement! Someday, I may be experienced enough to finish writing the story and worry about naming MC John Doe during the editing process. For now, I'm satisfied I took the time to hash out his name. I feel his character will be stronger for it. Let the writing begin!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Above all...write for the love of it!

(Sorry, no #Fridayflash today.)

Writing for the love of it...interesting thought. Let's explore that for a minute. I am a new writer. I am not new to writing...I've been writing, one thing or another, my whole life. But I am new to calling myself a writer and actually committing to a relationship with said writing.

It's always been my dream to write a novel. I never really knew what I wanted to write that novel about until recently. It was one of those celestial moments where the light broke through the clouds and illuminated me. I was reading a YA book at the time and I suddenly knew that's what I wanted to write.

That was a very scary moment for me because I had no idea how to go about writing a novel. But I was determined. I started surfing...well, okay not actually in the ocean but on the internet. What I found out was there's a ton of information out there. The problem was wading through it all to find out what’s good advice and what's not.

At that time, I had the good fortune of reconnecting with a friend, Michelle Sussman, that I've know since grade school. (I'm going to toot her horn here because she is an amazing writer and has a great blog, Reading and Writing By Candlelight. You can also follow her on twitter (@michellesussman). Michelle gave me, and continues to give, a lot of great advice.) I told her I was nervous because I didn't know all the rules of writing. She advised me to just start writing. After all, the story would not write itself! She also suggested finding a local critique group.

Upon her urging, I recently joined SCBWI, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and will attend my first local meeting on Saturday. Before the meeting, I will attend the Critique Group Meet and Greet so I can be matched up with a critique group. It's all very exciting and very scary at the same time! And let me tell you, it's all happening really fast!

How does this all tie into writing for the love of it? When you love someone (or something) you will do pretty much anything for that person. You do whatever you can to spend time with that person. That’s the lesson. Find a way and make it happen. Don't spend your time saying you wish you could be a writer or you wish you had more time for writing. To borrow from Nike...Just Do It!

Close your eyes and jump in with both feet into the Ocean of Writing. The water's not nearly as cold and scary as it seems once you're in it. There are never enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. That's just life. But if writing is one thing you desire, then surely you can squeeze in a few minutes here and there. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules! No one says you have to write every day. If you can't, don't beat yourself up about it. Allow writing to become a part of your life in whatever way it fits in.

When I sit down to write, there is no place in the world I would rather be than right there tapping on my keyboard. I have a busy family life so time is definitely something that is in short supply in my life. I write whenever I can...waiting at soccer practice, in the waiting room at kid's orthodontist appointment, late at night when everyone is asleep (my favorite time). I get my best ideas while in the shower. I think because it's the only other quiet time I get besides late at night.

Enjoy whatever time your life allows you to spend writing. Find a local writer's group or critique group to help you further your learning. Twitter is a great place to meet up with other people who love writing. (Follow me @kfentonwhite) Above all...write because you love it!

(While you're out surfing the internet, check out the new website YA Flash Death Match that Michelle has launched with fellow aspiring YA author Karly Kirkpatrick. They will be hosting contests for YA writers and awarding awesome prizes!)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm the WOW! Women on Writing Fan of the Week!

I'm extremely honored this week to be the WOW! Women on Writing Fan of the Week. You can check it out by clicking here. If you don't follow WOW!, you should check them out. They have a great Facebook page as well as a super cool website.

As I new writer, I'm busy collecting favorite writing websites and useful writing info. I have posted a few links to groups I reference in my Fan of the Week article. They are listed on the right side of my blog under "Favorite Links". Check back often as I will be updating my favorite links weekly.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my #fridayflash posts. Tell me what you think. I'm always open to feedback and new ideas.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Spy Who Loved Me #FridayFlash

I slid my freshly pedicured toes into my slingback Jimmy Choo's. They were the perfect compliment to the sexy little black Versace dress I was wearing, which by the way costs more than my mini-van is currently worth. The babysitter would be here any minute. Click, click, click. I made my way down the wood hallway and poked my head into my six year old twins room. With a kiss on their messy tow heads, I had tucked them safely in bed about an hour ago. I'd be back before they even knew I was gone.

Downstairs, I heard Melissa letting herself in the front door. “Looking good Mrs. H!” she called out to me as I carefully took the stairs in my 4 ½ inch heels. “Where's Mr. H tonight?” she asked. Melissa had been our faithful babysitter for the past two years. I relied on her a lot when “Mr. H” was out of town on business, which happened to be pretty much every other week lately.

“Jonathan is in Sweden this weekend at a conference. If he calls, remind him I had the Mentor Program's Charity Ball tonight. The twins are already asleep.”

“I'll take care of everything for you,” she reassured me.

“Thank you. I shouldn't be home too late.” I said as I locked the door behind me.

I only had to drive a few miles to meet the limo that would take me to the gala. But this was an entirely different gala from the one I had mentioned to Melissa. I was living a lie. My husband, my children, my neighbors...they all thought I was a stay at home mom involved with charity work. The true story is when the sun goes down and the stars come out, my work is just beginning.

My eyes adjusted to the dimly lit interior of the limo as my boss filled me in on tonight's activities. I had the best job I never had. Expensive clothes, insane shoes, a limo...what more could a girl ask for?

“You might need this.” he said as he handed me a small black clutch containing a tiny handgun, a lock picking kit disguised as a small manicure kit, and a blank flash drive. I pulled on the elbow length black satin gloves to cover my fingerprints. Finally, he presented me with a large diamond necklace containing a microphone and earrings that allowed my comrades to communicate with me.

I was transformed into an elite socialite from Russia. It helped that I had been a Russian foreign language teacher before I became a stay-at-home mom...before I became a spy. I could play the part and speak the language very well.

The limo driver opened my door and I stepped out onto the red carpet outside a multi-million dollar mansion. I glided up the stone stairway that was sprinkled with party-goers.

I thought of Jonathan and how he would have enjoyed this. I wondered how his conference in Sweden was going. Jonathan's job as product developer at Wexley Corporation took him to exotic locations around the world. But he was always happy to return home to his family. I couldn't ask for a more perfect husband and father. I felt guilty living this double life. But my country needed me. I was a secret agent. A real life Jane Bond.

Tonight an American spy was passing off top secret government intelligence information to an unidentified Russian Operative. And I was going to intercept it. Yeah, that's me. Soccer mom by day. Defender of America by night.

I made my way past the throngs of guests wearing overpriced designer gowns, tuxes and bad hairpieces. Speaking of hairpieces...I brought my hand up to check my own hair. Confident that my fiery red wig was perfect, I continued on my way across the room, mixing and mingling with the guests. I quickly spotted the American spy, watching as he made his way into the bathroom. The transfer would occur there. Everything was right on schedule. I hesitated for just a second to allow him to exit the bathroom, then slid unnoticed inside and locked the door.

“I am in the nest.” I said quietly into my necklace.

“Roger that, Robin. Grab the egg and let's fly this coop.” Larry's smooth voice whispered in my ear. He was our operations guy. He made sure nothing went wrong.

I took the manicure case out of my clutch and went to work on the locked towel cabinet. The door popped open and I quickly swapped out the flash drives. Closing the cabinet, I stood up and flushed the toilet for good effect. I swiftly opened the door to make my escape.

As I stepped through the doorway, I ran right into someone making their way into the bathroom.

“Prastite.” he said in perfect Russian as we tangoed in the doorway.

“Izvinite.” I replied as our eyes locked.

I was swept away in their familiar ocean of blue. I felt my knees weaken a little as I recognized the rest of his face in disguise. His blond hair was professionally covered with a dark hairpiece. Even his eyebrows had been darkened to match. A thin beard and mustache covered his cleanly shaven face that I had kissed goodbye yesterday as he left for the airport. The look on his face gave away that he was as shocked to see me as I was him.

“Robin, do you have the egg, over?” Larry's voice said quietly in my ear.

At that moment, I knew my future was hanging by a thread. I could say nothing and allow him to escape. No one would know he had been here. But I knew our lives would never be the same. I thought about the twins at home sleeping peacefully in their beds. There was only one thing to do. The right thing.

“Copy that. Mayday! Hawk in the nest.” I said remorsefully.

Jonathan looked at me one last time before he turned around and bolted for the cover of the mingling crowd. His eyes reflected mine. Sorrow. Guilt. Anguish. Regret. Love.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You Don't Want to Miss This Contest!

P.J. Hoover, an amazing author from the great state of Texas (hee hee I can say that because I live there too), has a contest that you won't want to miss! She's giving away ARC of Linger by Maggie Stiefvater and Matched by Allie Condie. I would love to get my hands (and my eyes)on both of those! The contest runs through midnight on June 16. Don't miss out! Click the link below to visit her blog for all the details.

P.J. Hoover's Linger and Matched ARC Giveaway