Thursday, July 26, 2012

They are Men, Manly Men!

But they aren’t men in tights*. Nope they are the men of Sherwood Ltd. and Camilla’s gotten herself all wrapped up with them. Okay, just the one, but her taste in men is slowly improving...

Last night I stayed up till midnight to finish reading the last book of the Camilla Randall Mysteries Set; Sherwood Ltd. by Anne R Allen. I loved it! But here's a more detailed review. *grin*

It starts off with Camilla being penniless, it seems to be something that plagues Camilla a lot. And of course, shortly thereafter, her ability to attract danger rears up its ugly head; again. Her ex-husband, Jonathan, has disappeared with no hope of retrieving the money that should have been hers from him. Desperate, she crashes at her friend Planet’s SF Apartment while he’s away and meets an intriguing English Man in the alley below.

But is Peter Sherwood, a Peter Pan or a Robin Hood? It’s hard to tell, but what’s clear is that Camilla starts falling for him, even though she knows how bad her luck is with guys. But, he gives her an offer she can't refuse and thus her journey to England begins. Upon landing Camilla has hopes for a bright future, until she reaches her destination.

And so begins a complex unraveling of what is truly going on at Sherwood ltd., where nothing is as it seems. But, somehow, thing are unraveled and the story ends; perfectly.
But what intrigues me most is the fact that this book and the second one, Ghost Writers in the Sky, were inspired by events in Anne’s own life. Just goes to show that if you work hard and find your creativity, you can turn what might be a mediocre event into an extraordinary story.

Which reminds me...

The first place my husband (then boyfriend) and I rented together turnout to have been the sight of a triple Murder suicide. And we’re not talking a decade earlier, we’re talking the people who lived there before us. The rental company didn’t tell us, my husband found out with his awesome internet hunting skills (back when Google was in Beta). The event explained why the front hall stairs, and front bedroom/office/closet (it was 5’ x 10’ if that) had brand new carpet and why the back bedroom’s wood floors were painted maroon.

Nothing spooky happened to us, though the downstairs neighbors kept asking if we heard or saw things. Living there gave us street cred too. An important thing when you’re two young white people living in a somewhat Hispanic neighbor hood, with the projects two blocks away.

I suspect if I wanted to, I could turn that into a good story. Obviously something would have to happen, but that’d be the fun of using my imagination. Of course, now that it's out there and you want to run with it – feel free. I won’t make you pay me 50% for the idea. *wink*

:} Cathryn Leigh

*Robin Hood: Men In Tights – directed by Mel Brooks. Delightful film, and I got to see it twice in the movie theater.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unearthing Magic is Like...

...the title of my NaNovel of 2012. No, really it is. *grin*

I was sitting outside, eating my lunch trying to come up with titles when, *BAM* it hit me like a punch from a Batman comic. I didn’t even have another contender on the page, and I’ve got the feeling that this will stick. After all my there will be a few things ‘unearthed’ during the course of the novel. The most symbolic of which will be the main protagonist’s digging deep into herself to find the strength to do what needs to be done.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Remember how I mentionedthe Board last week? I’ve since figured out how to make a reasonably portable one. I went to Staples this past week and I bought myself the items listed below for about $27.56 plus Tax.
  • 11”x14” (expands to 33” x 14”) Grid Project Board - $4.99
  • 10 Pack of Zebra #2, 0.77mm, mechanical pencils (w/eraser) - $4.29
  • Pentel R.S.V.P. Colors, 8 pack, M (i.e. 8 colored pens for coding) - $6.29
  • 12 pack of 3” x 3” Canary Yellow Post-it Notes (probably way more than I need) - $11.99

One I got home, I pulled out my sharpie (normally used to label my kids lunches) and created the masterpiece you see below. Acts 1 2 (in two parts) and 3 with a block for title and logline and a color code key.
(It was hard not to get a glare and those grid-lines really do disappear, a bit too easily) 

Portability wasn’t a problem. I just made sure I mended everything that I had in the purple peace bag (two skirts for my daughter) and voila! It amazingly fit (just) and of course into the bag went “Save the Cat” as well as my working notebook for Trabia (now with the immensely better name of ‘Unearthing Magic’).

Now I’m working on filling it up with post-its. The first one I put on the board – The title and logline (that’s what I dedicated the box in the top left for). A logline that’s even gone through some revision based upon feedback. Okay, so I didn’t approach strangers, but my Maryland NaNo Facebook group gave wonderful feedback (as did Charley and Miriam).

Thanks to them I’m now plotting out *cue movie trailer voice*

Unearthing Magic
- In a kingdom where magic is suppressed, a farm girl discovers her powers. Honing them under the protection of two foreign princes, she sets out to help defeat the vengeful magi threatening their world.

I’ll be writing from the perspective of the farm girl and the two foreign princes. It’s going to be fun! Next week, if you like, I can post up a picture of how I’ve filled it in the past week.

At some point, I should probably get some reading done, don’t you think? Miriam is waiting for my comments on Destroying and I’ve got the third Camilla Randall Mystery to tackle!

:} Cathryn Leigh

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Loglines, Beats and the Board!

I’ve read three more chapters in “Save the Cat”, but before I get to them I’m going back to loglines. After all having one might make writing the story easier, since it lays out the plot. The funny thing is I’ve been working on my Phoenix Trilogy in parallel with my NaNovel2012, which we’ll call Trabia. I know it needs a better name, and according to Blake I should get one before I write the story, but I like working titles. Besides it’s short enough for simple file names. *grins*

Right so back to Loglines ... (no not lines made of logs... I wish it were that simple!)

Here’s what I got for My Phoenixes:
Sarah’s Phoenix: An independent young woman is ported to an old world society and must choose between stoking the hearth fire, or wearing pants to help her love stop a war.
Phoenix Rising: An independent woman wearing pants must prove her worthiness to her love’s superiors, if a war-mongering General doesn’t kill them first.
Phoenix Triumphant: Ready to settle down with her love, an independent woman is called upon to rescue the Princess in a covert operations, in the hopes of uniting two kingdoms.

And here’s what I got for Trabia. I wish it was one, but I’m waffling on what it will be. (Rough sketch by me of a young Magi's learning tools: Pouch, Mirror, Key and Book)

1.  A hardworking girl on the verge of womanhood discovers she’s a magi in the land of non-magi.
2.  A late blooming magi becomes the only hope of stopping a powerful magi’s undead army.
3.  A young Prince sets out to implore the help of his aunt, only to find her unexpected daughter instead.
4.  A young girl and her cousins must hone her skills, physical and magical, so that she can help defeat a powerful magi trying to take over the world
5.  Three teens must learn their weaknesses and strength to help thwart an evil magi trying to take over the world.

Unfortunately, I need to pin down my loglines (according to Blake) before I start on the beat sheet, which he suggests is best done on The Board – the Board being a story board broken into four lines (see below) with 40 scene cards split between them. I might be able to start doing that with my Phoenixes, once I figure out what kind of portable board I want to use.

Portable is key, because I work at my desk at home, on my lunch break at work and in libraries (loving the one I’m currently at – outside seating!).  However, the other key thing is that the scenes that you put on the board should be movable too, yet also able to stay where you put them. (And apparently if I had an iPhone, there’s an app for that) *eyeroll* (or I can buy the software)

And there you have it, my quest for this week – find a Board I can use for my plotting. So if you have any thoughts (Notepad and sticky notes maybe?) I’d appreciate them. Or even better, I’d LOVE, to hear your thoughts on my loglines. *grins*  Thanks.

:} Cathryn Leigh

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sarah Saves the Cat! I Think...

As mentioned in my last blog post, I was going to read Save the Cat! (The Last Book OnScreenwriting that You’ll Ever Need), which is by Blake Snyder. No, I’m not writing a screen play. Just because the book is about making movies doesn’t mean there isn’t something that can be taken away and used for books.

For instance, Catherine Ryan Hyde did a guest post on Anne R. Allen’s Blog on what can happen to a book when it’s turned into a screenplay. Reading Blake Snyder’s book explains why some of that happens. I’m not sure a lot of books follow his fifteen beat plot. But, apparently that’s what makes a movie successful. After all the audience wants their entertainment in short time frame.

Not to mention I’ve seen the book pop up on other blogs, or maybe it’s just that Roni Loren (steamy romance novelist) has mentioned it, a lot. So I ordered the book, it was delivered and I’ve read through chapter four. And what all has Blake been talking about in chapters 1 through 4? I’ll tell you, using My Phoenixes for my examples. *grins*

Chapter One is about the logline – that one line that you use to get people interested in your story. He suggests walking up to strangers and pitching your idea, but, I’m not quite sure I’m up to that sort of thing, so I’ll pitch it here. Unfortunately, it’s for the trilogy and focused on Sarah. If you have suggestions to improve it, I’ll gladly take them. 
  • Logline: A war weary independent young woman finds herself in a medieval world helping her future husband save it from a warmongering General

Chapter Two is about Movie types – not necessarily genres, because each type can be made into any genre. What Blake is talking about are story lines. In a condensed format like a movie, you’re pretty much going to have one (I’m beginning to see how I could apply this to a short story). In a novel I suspect you might have more than one of his 10 types. I pined my trilogy down to three
  • Phoenixes Blake Types: Dude with a Problem (there’s a war to avert), Buddy Love (the romance), and Institutionalized (the sacrifice of one for many, military mind set).

Chapter Three is whom the story is about and the Primal urges that connect it with the audience. In addition, there is an emphasis on growth of the protagonist. Someone once told me that Hasón was too perfect. They might be right. He has no growing to do, while Sarah has loads.
  • It’s about a Guy Who:  Sarah’s a war weary, independent young woman. Hasón’s a staunch commander who follows his gut. Wholwaski is a conniving war mongering General.
  • It’s Primal Elements Are:  Survival, Protection of Loved Ones, and Fear of Death

Chapter Four is about Blake Snyder’s beats. One story, split into Three Acts, that are broken down into a total of fifteen “beats”. Each one to be placed in the script at specific point for maximum effect. Let me summarize them in my words, as best I can.
  1. Opening Image: Shows us where the hero begins, his life before the story happens
  2. Theme Stated:  Someone states something that clues us into what the story’s theme is
  3. Set-Up:  Where we meet everyone in the A Story, showing what needs fixing in the hero’s life
  4. Catalyst:  The thing that turns the Hero’s world upside down and starts him on his journey
  5. Debate:  The answer to the question of – can the hero handle what he’s been tasked with and how?
  6. Break Into Two:  The hero takes the action that leads from his life onto the path of his new life
  7. B Story:  It’s a break from what’s been going on and introduces new people to the hero
  8. Fun and Games:  Slightly lighter in tone than the rest, it’s the fun part – the part that trailers take their clips from...
  9. Midpoint:  Halfway through, the hero gets a small, or false full, victory though sometimes it can be a down as well as an up
  10. Bad Guys Close In:  Everything begins to align against the hero as the bad guys close in for a win
  11. All is Lost:  There is a whiff of death, be it metaphorical or actual, where it seems the hero has lost
  12. Dark Night of the Soul:  This is how the losing affects the hero, how it manifests itself
  13. Break Into Three:  But now the Hero has a solution taken from both the A story and B story
  14. Finale:  The hero wins and his old world has  now completely transformed into his new world
  15. Final Image:  A mirror image of the opening image, showing us how far the character has come

Art by Gabriel Morrison
I tried beating out Sarah’s Phoenix and found myself mixing it with Phoenix Rising – clearly a novel can have a lot more going on in it than a movie can – that’s why books are so often better. It’s also helped me realize that the story revolves very much around Sarah – after all it’s all from her viewpoint right now. But, I’m going to change that and Hasón is going to become less than perfect so the two of them can grow together.

At least that’s what I’m hoping.

But, for NaNo2012, I’ve decided to pick on ‘Lori and her Boys’. You’ll be hearing more about them as the march towards November continues!

:} Cathryn Leigh