Friday, July 29, 2011
I love photography. The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is so true. How many of us could come up with an amazing story just based on this image? Who are these two people? Are they people? What is the second person carrying? Why are they in the forest in the middle of the night wearing robes?
I have written several scenes for my books by just looking at a picture. If I'm having a difficult time writing a certain event, I'll search for pictures I think will fit the scene I'm trying to write. Once I find the image then all of a sudden I can feel the moment I'm trying to write, the smell, the atmosphere, the sounds. It all just comes together.
As for the above picture, the two men, a father and son, have just come from the City of Ash where they have kidnapped the ten year old Priestess who is set to rule at the next full moon. It is prophesied that the girl will turn rivers to blood and sticks to bones, bathing the world in darkness and confusion. The seventeen-year-old son doesn't understand why his father, who is the protector of the ancient scrolls containing the prophesy, has taken such great caution in binding the girl whom the boy carries. She's a child afterall. But he understands soon enough when he unzips the bag and thinks his last and only thought, "I should've tripled the cords on her wrists."
What do you see?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 4:51 PM
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Other great things said:
When my daughter was four, she said the meal prayer and blessed that her mommy would stop saying the A-word, B-word, C-word, D-word, E-word, F-word, G-word, and so on. I had no idea I was so foul mouthed!
My two year old son has a recent habit of punching his fist into the air and yelling "Crotches!" (He has a ten-year-old brother.)
When my oldest boy was six, my husband and I took him to Wal-Mart to go grocery shopping. When we were in line at the checkout, there just happened to be a Native American and a cowboy standing in line in front of us. My son asked, very loudly I might add, "Isn't the cowboy worried the Indian will scalp him?"
When my daughter was in the hospital recently, she was given a small stuffed pink elephant. She immediately named it "Horny" and took it everywhere with her. I tried to encourage other names like Pinky, or Tusky, but she insisted upon Horny. When the nurses would ask, "What's your elephant's name?" She'd answer, "It's Horny."
Kids are awesome, and I've learned so much from them. What are some funny things your kids have said?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:36 PM
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
For someone who's not the most tech savvy, this sounded like a good deal, but then I read everyone's comments and am now rethinking my position. I was surprised how much of a controversy this started! I sure learned a lot about the epublishing business and how strongly a lot of writers feel about literary agents joining the publishing side of the business.
What do you think?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 1:08 PM
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Basically the article, written by the author Elizabeth Sims, gives eight tips on writing your first chapter. They are really good and made me rethink my beginning.
How do you guys feel about your chapter one? I'm 3/4 done with my current WIP, but I always find myself coming back to the first chapter. I've already rewritten it several times. Grrrrr....
For me, I feel a lot of pressure to make sure that first chapter is brilliant. It's sort of like the beginning hill of a roller coaster--it's got to be exciting or the rider will think they accidentally got in line for Pete's Dragon (this was my four-year-old sons favorite ride).
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:28 PM
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:19 PM
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Here's my dilemma. What do I pack? Specifically furniture. Do I haul everything I own across the country only to haul it back in two years or do I spend money and buy used stuff? Anyone ever have to do a big move like this?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 1:32 PM
Friday, July 15, 2011
I took advantage of this moment and thought about the main characters in my current project. Specifically, what do they need to go through before they reach their full potential? I actually felt sorry for them because I knew it was going to be tough. I knew they were going to experience a lot of heartache, but I have to give them these challenges, otherwise they will never become the strong people I know they can be.
This got me thinking in another direction. Do you ever feel that we are all just characters in a book and there's an "author" guiding us down a specific path with specific challenges? I've felt like this at different points in my life, very recently in fact. During the "trial" I want to take the author's pen and cram it, but afterwords, when I can see how much I learned and grew from the hardship, I am humbled and grateful.
Maybe the Author knows what He's doing after all.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 1:28 PM
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Tell me ten things in the query process that can make you want to reject something immediately.
ZUCKERBROT: When I get an e-mail that says, "Dear Agent..." and I can see that I'm one of seventy agents who got it.
KLEINMAN: Bad punctuation, bad spelling, and passive voice.
BARER: Is it wrong of me to say that handwritten letters make me uncomfortable? Does that make me ageist?
LAZAR: Writers who will have a lawyer send you something "on their behalf." It's ridiculous, and you also can't get a sense of the author's voice, which is what the letter's all about.
ZUCKERBROT: When people talk about whom they would cast in the movie version of the book. I received three of those this week!
BARER: Anything that says something like, "This is going to be an enormous best-seller, and Oprah's going to love it, and it will make you millions of dollars."
KLEINMAN: Desperation is always good. "I've been living in a garage for the past sixty years. Nobody will publish my book. You have to help me."
BARER: I love it when they tell me why nobody else has taken it on—when they tell me why it's been so unsuccessful.
ZUCKERBROT: Or they've come close and they will include an explanation of who else has rejected it and why. "Julie Barer and Jeff Kleinman said..."
LAZAR: If they're writing a children's book, they'll often say, "My children love this book."
BARER: Right! I don't care if your children, your mother, or your spouse love it. All of that means nothing to me.
KLEINMAN: When it's totally the wrong genre. When they send me a mystery or a western or poetry or a screenplay.
BARER: Don't lie. Don't say, "I read Kevin Wilson's short story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and I loved it so much that I thought you'd be great for my book." Because guess what? That book isn't coming out until next April. You just read that I sold that book, and you suck. You're a liar! That kind of thing happens because everybody subscribes to Publishers Marketplace, and nothing against Publishers Marketplace—I live for it, it's a very useful tool for me—but I think for writers it perpetuates this hugely obsessive cycle of compare and despair.
Tell me some common problems that you see in the work of beginning writers.
ZUCKERBROT: In a lot of cases, the story just sort of wanders off. You can say, "Well, there's great dialogue. There's great this or that." But if there's no real story anchoring it, who really cares, at the end of the day? You can have great characters, you can have interesting ideas, but there needs to be some narrative momentum, some narrative thrust.
LAZAR: I would say to start the story where the story starts. So often, the story doesn't actually start until page five. Sometimes it doesn't start until page fifty, but page five can be just as bad. As a reader, you just don't get that far.
KLEINMAN: The big problem I see is that people don't spend enough time with their books before they send them to agents. People are way too focused on getting published and not focused enough on really working on their craft.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 1:20 PM
Monday, July 11, 2011
Does anyone out there know why this occurs?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 4:10 PM
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Creating an effective plot is like assembling a puzzle. Imagine the pieces at the bottom of the ocean. Your job is to gather the pieces, but there's some risk there. How far do you wade into the water before you drown? Nobody wants a story that clings to the safety of the coast. However, if you go too far, you risk killing your story altogether.
Part of the exercises we've been doing the last couple of weeks - sharing what scares us, frightening encounters, awkward moments with forty-year-old men - have all d been part of thickening your plot. These stories are what will make your plot interesting and will help your characters come alive. Not only that, but your story will seem original...unless of course you all have the same story of a girl who abused some dudes jiblets.
You'll have to call dibs if you want it. :)
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:22 PM
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
So my last post was very enlightening. Apparently I molested a forty-year-old man. Poor guy. I wonder if he needed counseling. :)
Another great blogger, ebysswriter, is hosting a writing contest. Get over there now and check it out: http://ebysswriter.blogspot.com/ I know you guys have awesome stuff to submit so go do it!
Lastly, any of you on Twitter? I realized I needed some new Twitter friends when someone asked if we'd all like to swap nude photo's of each other. My Twitter address is @rachelmcclellan. What's yours?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 3:24 PM
Friday, July 1, 2011
Several years ago I went to get a massage, but my usual lady was on vacation. "We have another masseuse available - would you like to see him?" the front clerk asked me. "Him?" I thought. I'd never been to a dude before, but I didn't think it would be a big deal so I agreed.
The dude looked to be in his forties (I was in my early twenties), was short and stout, and sort of looked like George on Seinfeld. I relaxed and hopped on the massage table that was lower than normal (he's short, remember?).
The massage started out as any other. I honestly didn't notice a difference between a man or woman...until he told me to roll over onto my stomach. I rolled over, my arms at my side, palms up. He leaned over and proceeded to rub my back, when I realized there was something strange and soft resting on my palm. It took me all of a second to realize what it was, but when I did I held real still, frozen in a disgusted state of shock. Clothed man jiblets. On my hand.
What do I do now?
I decided not to move; he didn't seem to notice and I didn't want to embarrass him, or move and cause him any sort of "excitement". Several minutes later he moved onto another area never saying a word. Neither did I.
Later I told my husband about the awkward moment, and he insisted that the dude knew exactly where his jiblets were. I prefer to think that he didn't know. My stomach swims just thinking about it.
So what is an awkward or embarrassing moment you've had?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 7:09 PM