Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Blessing in the Skies

An idiom is an expression that means something other than the literal meanings of its individual words.

Using incorrect idioms is a quick way to annoy someone, as I'm sure you were annoyed by the title of this post right off the bat. This title is annoying and yet charming to me. It has a nice sentiment, if completely wrong from the original, "Blessing in disguise."

A few days ago I found this on the interwebs, and after my left eye stopped twitching, I found this absolutely hysterical:

I hole-hardedly agree, but allow me to play doubles advocate here for a moment. For all intensive purposes I think you are wrong. In an age where false morals are a diamond dozen, true virtues are a blessing in the skies. We often put our false morality on a petal stool like a bunch of pre-Madonnas, but you all seem to be taking something very valuable for granite. So I ask of you to mustard up all the strength you can because it is a doggy dog world out there. Although there is some merit to what you are saying it seems like you have a huge ship on your shoulder. In your argument you seem to throw everything in but the kids Nsync, and even though you are having a feel day with this I am here to bring you back into reality. I have a sick sense when it comes to these types of things. It is almost spooky, because I cannot turn a blonde eye to these glaring flaws in your rhetoric. I have zero taller ants when it comes to people spouting out hate in the name of moral righteousness. You just need to remember what comes around is all around, and when supply and command fails you will be the first to go. Make my words, when you get down to brass stacks it doesn't take rocket appliances to get two birds stoned at once. It's clear who makes the pants in this relationship, and sometimes you just have to swallow your prize and accept the facts. You might have to come to this conclusion through denial and error but I swear on my mother's mating name that when you put the petal to the medal you will pass with flying carpets like it’s a peach of cake.

Google brings up Reddit user /u/noconverse, so they will get the source credit today.

Let's get down to brass tax: using idioms in your writing is controversial. It depends entirely on what you are writing. Idioms make me think of work. In the business atmosphere, they are a great way to add color and comedy to eye-roll situations. They improve nonfiction dialogue by allowing the characters to seem more real. This rings especially true if you are writing a period piece. People use idioms constantly in every day life, such as, "sick as a dog" and "hold your horses." However, by using idioms you are isolating those that do not use your idioms. Imagine, say, that your work is published overseas (let's keep our collective fingers crossed) and the idioms in your novel do not translate. There is nothing similar. Obviously, we expect the translator knows what to do in those situations, but my point stands.  

When writing fiction, idioms make you seem unimaginative. They date you. Depending on how common your idioms are, the older you sound. To say in your writing that something was "selling like hotcakes," you confuse anyone that has never heard the phrase. And you sound like a grandpa. Which again, if you are writing a period piece, is all fine and good. But what if the idiom you used wasn't around until 10 years after your "period piece"? We live in the days of the internet, people, someone will research that and find out.

In Harry Potter,  J.K. Rowling went out of her way to give nothing in the text to date the characters. By removing media and everyday current items (1997?) from her writing, she gave her writing the opportunity to hold true and relevant as the years pass. You don't read it and think, "My, the 90's were a weird time!"
There is no 90's slang, "As if!"
There are no advertisements for Tommy Hilfiger.

Using idioms in your writing is a delicate practice. You should consider whether they are necessary or if you can be more meaningful by using a different technique.

I stand firmly on creating your own expressions. By creating your own metaphors and similes, instead of using aged idioms, you make your writing timeless and unique.

Next up I'll talk overuse of words, like how I used "idiom" 14 times in this post.

All my love,
L.B.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Food Daydream #1 Burrata: An Affair to Remember

I decided to break up my VIPs (Very Important Posts, obviously) with something else. Something more exciting. I have two main passions in my life and neither one is chocolate.

That's right. You heard me. 

Those that may be familiar with my posts know that I am more than obsessed with cheese. It's a love affair. Burrata has been my lover since I first met him back in January. Burrata is the King of all Cheeses. Burrata is mozzarella inception. Cheese INSIDE of cheese!

It is stringy, fresh mozzarella with a mozzarella cream inside. When you slice into it, the inside breaks apart like a poached egg yolk and ooozes mozzarella cream onto whatever you had on your plate that was lucky: I'd start with arugula drizzled with olive oil, or fresh bruschetta. Or just bread. It doesn't require anything else. Everything else is just a perk. If I was brave enough, I would eat burrata like an apple, and let the cream dribble down my chin and stain my shirt...



OKAY. You get the picture. This is why I've named this style of post: Food DayDreams.

Why, you ask, am I writing about food when I am an aspiring author?

Because my dear, dear friends, why not? You get my two passions in one blog. Act more appreciative.

So I thought I'd get this show on the road with Burrata (as you may have guessed). Does it get any better than that? OooOOOoooozzing cheese inside of cheese?

Well, as it turns out, yes, it does. 

Enter: The Burrata Grilled Cheese


I ate this at a well-known pub around the corner from my office and my head exploded. Nothing could have prepared me. When I was finished, for the first time in my life, I was *cheesed* out, and refused to eat cheese for the rest of the week.

So, because not everyone has a pub nearby serving fancy cheeses, I brought you a recipe:

Ingredients

2 slices of thick cut bread (It's vitally important that this is thick sliced bread)
1 container of burrata* 
3 tbsp pesto
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature

Instructions

1. Turn on the heat on medium low on your stove
2. Place a large pan over the heat.
3. Lightly butter the outside of two slices of thick, crusty bread.
4. Place the bread down in the pan butter side down.
5. Lightly spread the pesto on each bread slice that is facing up.
6. Drain and pat dry Burrata. Don't even think about popping that ball, or I'll hunt you down like the dog you are*. Set it on top of the pesto, delicately, and place the other piece of bread on top.
7. When lightly browned, flip the sandwich over. Cook until brown on the opposite side and the cheese is melted. (The cream inside the burrata may still be chilly, but you don't wan't to mess with this art.)
8. Take off the stove and slice in half. 
9. Marvel at the magnificence in front of you.
10. Take a bite and try your hardest to stop the string of cheese pulling from the sandwich to your mouth. 
11. Cry tears of joy.

Serves especially well with tomato soup or if you're feeling fancy, tomato basil bisque.


After this, I highly recommend an alka seltzer and a nap.


All my love,

L.B.

*Update: Turns out my local actually chops up the burrata and mixes it together, then they put it on the bread. It doesn't taste that way, so I'm sorry for calling you dogs.


 *Google search where to purchase Burrata near you. 
                   

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Frustrating World of Queries

Is there anything more anxiety inducing than pitching your novel?

You write your summary (which you are most likely not talented at doing, since you are *great* at writing books and the pitch is a completely different technique), you give yourself a biography and you tap out an email. Pause here while you give yourself a pep-talk, re-read the query to check for spelling errors (and you will inevitably miss one, regardless), followed by a miniature heart attack after you press send.

If you think that's the hard part, you sweet, naïve thing...

Next the anxiety builds. You can't look at your email without a panic attack while the emails load. You wait months and check your email 35 times a day, reproducing the effect to the point where now you're pretty sure that you have high blood pressure from the mix of fear and excitement, and the stress is making you physically sick.

This novel is the love of your life, your heart, your project that you've spent months researching and pouring yourself into, and it can be so easily swept under the rug by a poor sentence. Or five. But you keep doing it. Over and over again, because if you don't keep chasing this dream, no one else is going to do for you and you are just dust in the wind (or some other more suitable cliché).

Okay. Fine. No one likes reading in second person. I'll switch.

I wrote a quick one for a Twitter Pitch trend. Less than 140 words isn't exactly my forte, but I'm getting better with practice and sheer resolve. What I wrote:

"A young girl who talks to animals, an orphan, and an astrologist cat must fulfill their destiny in an epic war."

I was less than enthusiastic about it, but I gave it a shot. Then after about three hours of incessant Twitter checking, I deleted it. I wasn't proud of it. I don't think that it shows the true nature of the novel, as the short pitches rarely do.

For me, the trouble arises because the query is a different technique. It's marketing; not story-telling.
Additionally, I'm finding with RTS that there are two very important plots that are happening simultaneously. When those two plots finally converge about a hundred pages in, the rest of the story can build, but they are each their own story.

So which plot do I tell? The girl who learns she can speak to animals? Or the faeries that are slowly being driven to extinction? The backbone of the book is the girl. She is the protagonist of the series. However, the faeries are the main plot of this novel.

So now what? If you don't have a great query, does that imply that you do not have a great novel?
No. Not in the slightest. It does mean that there is plenty more work to be done.

Have any of you had similar experiences? I'd love to hear your version!

I'd love to hear suggestions from the successful query-ers as well! How did you overcome the obstacle?

All my love,
L.B.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why I Love Sad Movies


Ernest Hemmingway's birthday seemed like the perfect time to discuss something very important: Sadness.

My favorite movies tend to be very sad movies. My favorite movie is Moulin Rouge. I love everything about it: The songs, the actors, the costumes, and the SONGS! (I assume you've seen it).

But aside from that, I love Titanic.

I love Romeo and Juliet.

I loved Armageddon.

"But why must everything be so sad? WHY must one enjoy the drama and sadness of movies? ISN'T THAT DEPRESSING?!" - People ask.


No. It isn't. I love the dramas. I love unrequited love and tragic endings, because sometimes, I really want to cry. I have feelings in my life that I have zero desire to indulge in. These feelings in the form of a movie, give me a free release from my crushing emotions. Why not indulge them through the most beautiful love stories ever written? Rather than mope through my own pathetic 1st world problems, why not set myself in a world I could never imagine? Where a ship is breaking apart and I have only a few hours? Or just a few moments, before I succumb to a sickness that I've had the luxury to never experience in our day in age? Cry, when there are just a few more hours before the asteroid hits?


A part of me thinks that our part of the future is so screwed up because we never truly have to experience anything. Our anxiety builds and builds, until we flip out and fill ourselves with prescription drugs to correct what was never wrong ( I was reminded by the Irishman that this is very, very in-line with Americans, but rarely anywhere else. I told him to shut up. I'm the writer and I have a point):
We need to have sadness, joy, anger, fear and LOVE in order have a true understanding of happiness. Every emotion, blended in the perfect combination creates happiness:




Then, just when it seems awful that we have to deal with our pain and tears, something beautiful happens: A group returns to each other after years of being apart. A couple that has been in love for years and never had the right timing, finally come together. A child and a parent are reunited. That's a different cry.

Sad movies are beautiful, because they allow you to let go of the unnecessary emotion you carry throughout the day. They give you a free release. They actually MAKE you happy, because they release the heavy feeling you've carried.

Happy tears, on the other hand, should never be underestimated. They, are relieving, beautiful tears that restore your faith in the world.

Tears of sadness, free you of your emotions.

Tears of joy, cleanse your soul.

All my love,
L.B.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Pain of Editing


My God. 

As I go through my main-book-squeeze (RTS), I genuinely believe I have written better and more eloquently than I actually have. I imagine how the movie version goes in my head, and then I'm shocked and disappointed as I realize how very different the MS is:
-Why is that comma there?
-WHO thought the run-on sentence was a good idea?
-Why did I write "just" four times in that paragraph?
-Why did you write a scene of bright flowers when in the story it's winter? Idiot. (Yes, is in this sentence I'm yelling at myself in second person.)

It's a series of face palms and frustration as I sit and wonder, "If the comma doesn't work there, where on EARTH should it go? That sentence can't not HAVE a comma!"
And then, I realize my double entendre and my forehead hits my keys. I shut down the document and run to the comfort and safety of Twitter.

But that's not the best solution, is it? The best solution is sucking it up. Pulling yourself together. Being brave enough to acknowledge your own mistakes and research how to fix them. That's the key: Learning from your mistakes.
And reading. Reading is everything. Reading other authors and noticing their subtle cadences. The feelings they have inflicted on you as you are torn apart by tragedies. The excitement and anxiety of blood-pumping thrillers. How they bring out your laughter through ridiculous, silly or moronic characters. The eagerness felt by that final sentence of the chapter that forces you to read on. Finding the emotions that YOU want to instill in the reader. How do you want them to feel? How was it edited to inflict that emotion? 

Writing to me is weaving emotions. I want to envision the beautiful places in my head. I want to feel what the character feels through the catching of their breath, their heart pounding in the chest. The fear and panic found in dark silence.

Editing, on the other hand, is anti-emotion. It's the cold, calculating,"Dangling participle" and "Comma Splice." It's 'their, there, they're'. It's the frustrating past and present tense that somehow magically switches back and forth, alternating each paragraph . . . Or maybe, that last part is just me. Every painful piece of the editing process falls back on grammar, but that's what editors are for, right? Right?

Now stop distracting me. I need to stop blogging and get back to editing this beast before my editor has a conniption fit on me. #WhatAreDeadlines ?

All my love,
L.B.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The First Post

I thought a lot about what I wanted my first post to be about. It was going to blow everyone's mind, that much I knew. But when it came down to it I couldn't think of anything "mind blowing" to share. What I did come up with was a short story about me, but then realized that was better suited to the "About Me" page (AKA: Once upon a time...). So then I was back to square one. Great.

So instead, I figured I'd share some more stuff about myself, who I am and who I aspire to be:

I love Indian food. It's my favorite food, but every single time I eat it I gorge myself until I can't move and regret it for the next three days.

If I had to choose something I could not live without, I would choose cheese. Always.

If I were an animal, I would be a fox: I consider myself playful, enthusiastic and strategic. It would also be my Patronus.

Weaving intricate plots is a favorite past time.

When I took a few months away from writing fiction in college (in order to write absurdly long papers), I began to have panic attacks. I later realized this was because I did not have a creative outlet.

I have an addiction to lavender oil.

My favorite color is red.

My favorite books are Harry Potter, followed quickly by Jane Eyre.

I am inspired by the world building of JK Rowling and the romantic plots (and subplots) of Jane Austen (not to be confused with Jane Eyre above).

My favorite part about the city are the sky scrapers, but more than anything, I miss the stars.

I aspire to be a great author. I aspire to inspire.

I hope to see you all on this journey of mine through the publishing world.

All my love,
L.B.