Tag Archives: writing tips

Mac’s Gig: The Formation of a Transgender Character

Caysee needed a sidekick.  And I had a deep desire to make this a story about friendship as much as freedom.   I wanted the message to get across that friendships are imperative; they deepen our life experience and keep our souls renewed.   Mac originated from these premises.

But he had to have his own story, his own motivations.   As I let the storyline and Caysee’s character guide me, Mac showed up and his past along with him.  I wrestled with the idea.  I knew that by keeping true to his original appearance I would perhaps also be creating a provoking manuscript, one that opens up entirely different kinds of conversations, and I wasn’t certain I wanted to pursue them.  I thought about some other way for him to have the kind of conflict that would drive him out of the house, or get him on the street.   I could not make him fit any other shape than the one that I presented.  I felt I had to be true to his essence in the way it teased itself out of the ether.

I purposefully didn’t do any research about transgender issues other than an occasional light peruse of headline stories.  I wanted to sniff out a reasonable reaction to the sort of prison in which Mac was living.  Most importantly, I wanted the character and struggle to be composed entirely on my imaginings, with as little influence from the real world as possible. This approach felt right and authentic to me.

Upon reflection, I’ve observed that Mac’s story can serve to inspire.  How many others, identity aside, find themselves in circumstances less than optimum?  How many of us understand the impossibility of thriving when our environment keeps us focused solely upon the task of surviving?  It could be a job or a relationship and maybe we inadvertently put ourselves in the situation, but I’m willing to bet that there are others out there who will be able to draw strength from Mac’s need to be staunch about where he could give up his sense of self and where he couldn’t, as well as his need to find an atmosphere that provided him opportunities to be free to express himself.  At least that is my desire.

When I made the decision to become a writer several years ago, I did so with the goal of always challenging people to think, myself included.  It doesn’t matter that a reader necessarily agrees with my point of view, I am content if I have caused another to at least consider an optional idea.  Even if there is disparity in the final analysis, we are all better for at least having weighed the other side of a thought. My hope is that Mac’s character, and the book as a whole, have achieved this endeavor.

Thank you for reading…

Frankie

‘Caysee Rides: A Story of Freedom, and Friendship’ is available for FREE on Amazon’s KDP Select  for three more days.

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Waiting…In the Meantime

I am (not so) patiently waiting for my book cover artist to finish his magic so I can finally publish “Caysee Rides:  A Story of Freedom and Friendship” as an e-book.    Caysee makes her way from a ruined Chicago to the Pacific Rim where education and freedom offer a better life.  Riding a modern day Underground Railroad, fourteen year old Caysee also discovers that friendship is as valuable as freedom.  Look for a sample chapter on this site next week and the full release by the end of March.

In the meantime, I’ll be submitting a couple of works to writing contests.   I can’t encourage you enough as a writer to consider entering a competition or two.   The challenge does wonders to sharpen one’s writing skills, and what better accolades to the back of your book cover than “Winner of such-and-such award”?

I’m also doing quite a bit of writing on the economic/political scene in the US, borne of my own original research.  If that’s of interest to you, click here.

Here’s to creativity, patience, and maybe a winning poem or two.  As for me, I am grateful to call myself a writer.

Yours,

Frankie

 


Moving On…

This…..

cayseenotes

I was finally able to take this down after having it taped to my kitchen/garage door for this past year and a half!  They are my notes from my newest release, “Caysee Rides, A Story of Freedom and Friendship,” a work spurred by my sister’s comment of “Do you know how hard it is to find teenage books with strong female characters?”

Caysee Rides is an adventurous tale of just such a young female who is stuck in an area where she has few choices as a fourteen year old orphan.  An escape to a more free area of the former US is planned at the same time Caysee meets an unlikely friend who has his own desire for liberty, and a history that makes Caysee’s orphan status seem mild.   The story blends modern technology, current political/social trends, and transgender issues for a read that is satisfying but challenges the reader to think as well.   Working on final editing and awaiting patiently for my talented book cover artist to render something spectacular.   I am officially aiming for an ebook release date of February 1st.    (By the way, I strongly suggest investing in a good cover artist. This is a place where an author can’t afford to pinch pennies.   I simply placed an ad on my local Craigslist, asking for samples of their work in a response.  This was a quick way to get a good feel for a person’s ability and talent, and I could weed through their work and find what suited my needs.  Follow your instincts!  And don’t make a final decision without a meeting or two.   In my very limited experience, I’ve found that giving them complete freedom over the book cover allows for more creativity than giving them some predisposed ideas.   Things can always be tweaked but I find its better to leave them with the ability to openly interpret the text and apply that to the cover without my influence.  I feel as if I get a more objective work that way.)

So what’s next?   Replacing the notes for “Caysee Rides” are notes for “Twenty First Century Treatise”  a nonfiction work that examines the impact of nature’s laws upon human civilization.  For example, nature always strives for balance and I demonstrate that our societal structures, bound as they are to nature’s laws, seek balance as well. Originally perceived as a book, I will be releasing this work one chapter at a time per month beginning in January….look for the Introduction as well as a first chapter with a provocative angle at economics in just a few weeks.   This work has been ‘percolating’ for some six years now, I look forward to sharing it; my hope, as always, is that I give us some talking points with which we can better our future.

Other things going on:  A winter solstice children’s book, aiming for release for next holiday season.   I’ve managed to get a great artist to team with me on this project, I know it will go places.  I also have another web site that gets regular posts from me, The Unseen Revolution.  It is solely dedicated to American economics and politics from the perspective of the Financialization Revolution.  I invite you to peruse the site here if those kinds of issues float yer boat, so to speak.   Annnnnd, finally, the beginnings of another full-fledged manuscript.   A teenage boy is forced to hide a crucial secret from his parents, discovery of it would tear his family apart, how does Brandon resolve the conflict?  Brandon’s Diary tackles modern social issues with an empathetic voice, stay tuned for its projected release date.

It’s quite satisfying ending the year at the same time as ending a project to which I’ve dedicated two years of my life.  It’s more satisfying to have fresh ideas to work with, new challenges to meet, and an entire year to meet them with.   Here’s to writing kids!  The road is long, the work is heartbreaking, the success is always worth it.    May 2016 greet you with new ideas and creative energy…

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

 

 


Writer’s Resource

Here’s to a good start to everyone’s week.

I’ve been obviously occupied with current events lately and realized I need to balance my posts out a little better. The energy it takes to dig and find something new to create is being rerouted to edit a manuscript that I really hope is out by the end of the year, although I thought it’d be out by the beginning of summer…such is the life, right?  Current events however, provide plenty of thought provoking ideas which are not as difficult to filter through the keyboard.

In an effort to level out my own blog, I wanted to pass on a great blog site that’s quite resourceful for us writers:  Writing and Illustrating.   The authoress consistently features children’s book illustrators, agents who are seeking scripts, and useful writing tips.  I hope you find it as enriching as I do.

Go write something today!  And I challenge you to take a minute to see if there’s an imbalance somewhere in your writing choices.  As I’ve just discovered, sometimes we can focus on one thing too much without noticing.

Yours,

Frankie


In the Beginning…

in the beginning

Taken 09/04/2015 sunrise over Lassen Peak.

Oh to watch the Sun rise!

To welcome the new day with him.

Me with my coffee, he with his light,

Enjoy the silent morning together

in each other’s confidence.

Without words, yet with mutual understanding,

We together agree:

This!  This is where life meets its purpose!

At the beginning of each day,

At the start of the gate,

At the commencement of exercise.

“Anything of importance,”

He reminds me with solemn quiet,

“Is accomplished with the first ray of light

and the initial commitment of will.”

Oh to watch the Sun rise!


Planking and Editing: Discipline Through Exercise

Who knew that planking and editing have their similarities?

I didn’t, at least not until I added the former to my exercise regime.   After four babies wreaked havoc on my lower lumbar system, I’m always on the lookout for anything to keep my back muscles strong.  Enter planking, that horrible exercise invented by the devil himself (after he thought up wall sits).  If anyone has been able to do a plank for a full two minutes their very first time, they have my undying respect (as it is, three weeks in, I am up to a minute thirty).  Planking is work, it’s grueling, but it’s definitely effective.   Within just a few days I noticed a sense of overall physical strength and – bonus! – the arms I inherited from my grandma have never looked better.

If planking was invented by the devil, then I’m pretty sure editing was invented by his archangel.  Editing is work, it’s grueling, but it’s definitely effective. The discipline involved is not unlike the focus it takes to keep upright on arms and toes for one hundred twenty seconds. It takes focus.  It takes a will of mind that can only be activated by one’s own choosing.  Think of those beautiful passages, full of poetic prose, close to your writer’s heart because, damn, who have you ever read that compares the sunrise to the opening of a sunflower with color descriptions that would make Robert Frost cry?  During the editing process, its those precious paragraphs that must be excised.  Taken out.  Highlight, ctrl x. They don’t belong no matter how many minutes you spent finding the terms for differing shades of yellow and orange.  This is the kind of discipline editing requires (similar to planking) where focus is paramount for a successful outcome, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.   That lean, streamlined, strong manuscript you submit to your publisher is the reward – not to mention the overall strength you’ll acquire as a writer (bonus!).

Editing is one of those things that we don’t necessarily dream about when first committing to a writing career.  We envision our name on the best seller list or at the bottom of a book cover.  We are excited to get that story out of our heads, give it life, and make it breath for our readers. But few of us realize the discipline involved with the editing process until the first work is done and we begin to cut, paste, and delete. It’s tempting to be generous to ourselves and our cherished prose, but we must enforce strict self-control in order to achieve the strongest possible outcome.

Have a great week kids, write something, and here’s to discipline – on and off the page.

Yours, Frankie


What’s Your Element?

One of my favorite things to do is watch someone in their element, doing what they love most to do.

I had a dog whose element was swimming.  She would swim for up to an hour at a time.  On a few occasions I worried that she’d cross the small lake we frequented, come out on the other side and wonder where I was!  She was happy though, oblivious to the family she left on the shore, and content to paddle along without any direction in mind. I couldn’t help but marvel as I watched her in her element, doing what she obviously enjoyed most.

I have a son whose element is on the gridiron.  Since he was eight, something happened whenever he put on his pads andcamp2 helmet and stepped on the green field. The gentle boy with a wont to please disappeared; replaced by a fierce competitor that took this mother a couple of years to get to know.  He’s a junior in high school this fall, playing starting defense and his passion has only increased.  Over the years I’ve watched him discipline himself to go on early morning runs, hit the gym in the off season and during summer break, and absorb the stories of his heroes on “A Football Life.”  Tonight we kickoff the season with the traditional scrimmage and as I sit in the stands and watch him play, I’ll do so knowing he’s happy to finally be competing, content in the challenge to do his best and lead his team. Completely in his element.

For some of us, writing is our element.  Tucked away from the world in order to create an imaginary world for others, we spend countless moments absorbed in a thesaurus or staring out the window in search of just the right words and phrase.  As grueling and demanding as the process of editing is, we find immense satisfaction in the activity of creating the perfect sentence (I am thankful to live in the computer age. There’s something seductive about highlighting a group of words, capturing them with my mouse, and moving them. Poof!  Magically the sentence I struggled with now reads and flows with elegance.  It’s like Lego’s with words!).  We writers are never happier than when we are agonizing over vocabulary or the structure of our next work, because we are in our element.

But what if you aren’t in your element?  What if you aren’t doing what you love to do and what you are passionate about? Then I challenge you to make a change. Life’s too short kids!

Yours,

Frankie


Inspiration from Competition

One of my sisters planted a seed in my mind and its grown to become a full-fledged entity to deal with:  Why don’t you enter  a writing contest?

I’d never thought of it before.   My focus has been on magazine submissions, building my web presence (many thanks to you readers for tuning in), and working on my latest manuscript. When I began to investigate what opportunities were out there, my competitive drive took over and I find myself happily grooming a couple of works for submission.   I’m enjoying the process and as I prepare to send off my first entry, I would plant the same seed in your mind:  Why not enter your best work in a writing contest?   You’ll be challenged in ways unimaginable but fruitful.  You’ll be inspired in the face of competition.

Here a few contests I am eyeing, but there are hundreds out there.

Manchester Writing Competition – Deadline for entries is September 15, 2015.

The Gift of Freedom (A Room of Her Own Foundation for Women: Artists and Writers) – Deadline for entries is November 2, 2015

2015 RRofihe Trophy ‘no fee’ short story competition – Deadline is October 15, 2015

Best of luck, and here’s to creating some winning work.

Yours, Frankie


The “Art” of Multi – Tasking: We Can’t Even

Talk and drive, walk and chew gum, or carry on two conversations at once – we are familiar with the idea that while we can participate in two things at once, we suffer from the inability to do both of them well since our brains aren’t wired to multi-task.

These examples deal with superficial activities that we participate in every day, however, I challenge us to look at the idea of multi-tasking at a deeper level, at the level of creativity.

Take this real-life example:  as a writer, I am grateful to not be “working” at the moment and the difference in creative production compared to when I was working is tangible.   BUT there are bills to pay, student loans primarily, so my leisurely days of writing are now interrupted with tweaking resumes and scouring craigslist.  As I’ve focused on job hunting these past few weeks, I’ve definitely noticed my creative outlet is stifled. I can’t apply my emotional energy and investments into writing when I necessarily must funnel those elements into resumes and interviews.   We can only do one thing at a time.

My second son recently graduated high school.  He barely made the grades to do so, but I didn’t push him too much about tunagradmeit.   He is a highly creative individual, and although he wasn’t reading class assigned prose, he was (still is) reading Thich Nhat Hahn and Eckhart Tolle.  He didn’t participate in prom and loathed school assemblies, he sought instead a form of spirituality through the third eye and wrote rap lyrics about a higher calling in life.  His energy and time were vested in creativity, school took a secondary seat and this mother was unwilling to bridle his ventures into the mysterious for the sake of a four-point-oh.  We can only do one thing at a time.

Think about it in terms of living with an addict, of any kind.   I lived with an alcoholic for several months and I’ll never forget that my energy and creative flow were robbed in order to deal with the addiction and its fallout.   Writing came to a near stop and the ideas kept their distance, knowing they would be thrown away in the face of having to survive the consequences of walking on egg shells.  We can only do one thing at a time.

If you’re frustrated in your writing.  If you’re anxious over the slow pace of your manuscript.  Give yourself a break and examine your life at the moment:  is there something else taking up your emotional energy and drying up the creative outlet as a result?   Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Acknowledge that we aren’t able to multi-task at the emotional level where writing is grounded if our attention is called to other places. And then, be mindful.  Stay open to the creative tap so that when those creative moments do come up (they can’t help themselves, can they?  it is a curse we live with as writers) at least get them down in shorthand form on your iPhone note app so that you have the thing for later. Keep track of your progress, it will help you find the time.   My personal ‘game’ is to keep a running total of the number of words I write each day.   Some days my goal consists of a mere five hundred new words added to a working script, some days I can afford to increase the goal to two thousand.  The idea is to keep the work cooking and maintain the creativity spout on at least a drip output level.   Some is always better than none.

A writer’s life is not an easy road.  Creativity takes time, investment and an unoccupied mind, yet a thousand other details compete for our attention.   May we find a balance between the two and may we give ourselves a generous amount of grace in the process:  We can only do one thing at a time.

Write on, kids.

Frankie


J K Rowling, Professor Dumbledore, and A Writer’s Family

Did you catch the big fuss this week about a comment someone made concerning Professor Dumbledore?

J K Rowling has gone on the record long ago about her beloved Professor and that she always just thought of him as gay. A fan this past week asked her about it, saying “I can’t see him that way.”    Rowling’s response is widely heralded as brilliant: “Maybe because gay people look just like…people?”

I loved that she didn’t feel the need to defend her character.  She simply responded with a logical observation and remained steadfast in her creation of Professor Dumbledore.  What an excellent example to us writers.

After all, we writers invest untold quantities of energy into our creations and as I wrote not long ago we become bonded to our characters.   It can’t be helped, our days and nights are fixed upon them as if they were our compass, guiding us through their story, leaving a trail of crumbs for us to follow and use for inspiration. And if Albus Brian Wulfric Percival Dumbledore presented himself to his creator as gay, then that was that.  Who is J K Rowling to question him?

harrypotterrainbow

I understand it more than most perhaps.  I am nearing the end of a manuscript (only a week or so of tears and toiling and laboring left, wahoooo!) and one of my heroines is transgender.   I simply could not imagine her/him any other way.  There was no questioning or wondering.  She arose out of the ether as a counterpart to the main character and behold!  this is who she is.  And just like she wouldn’t let her mother change her, she wouldn’t let me change her either.  He stood steadfast in the knowledge of who he is and who am I to challenge that?  I couldn’t, nor would I want to.  I love him just the way he is and if caught in a pinch, he can defend himself much better than I can.

Ms. Rowling’s response is an example to all writers:  there’s no need to defend our characters, they speak for themselves, our job is to merely give them the voice.

Here’s to our characters kids!  May we be as loyal to them as they are to us…

Frankie

P.S.  Coming beginning Summer 2015 on e-book format:  Caysee and Mac Ride the Train:  A Story of Friendship, and Freedom by Frankie Wallace