Monday, December 20, 2010

Double-dare you!

Come on in.
The water's fine.

I have a writing challenge for you, but first a gush of gratitude for two of my critique partners.

Some of you will recall I started a YA novel last year with a mermaid theme and then found out from an agent that another book was coming out with some similar elements. I brainstormed ways to eliminate any similarities and started a rewrite. Then I saw more mermaid books and felt uneasy, so I shelved the work for now. I need a new surge of hope, and these gifts are nudging me back to the sea.

Are they not the coolest? Julie made the bluesy ornament, and Rilla found the notebook in Spain. I love the edginess in these images. And I'm feeling the deep calling.


Meanwhile, I'm playing around with writing a novel (or at least a scene) in verse! This is thanks to Valerie Geary and her Scene-in-Verse Blogfest, which I now double-dare you to sign up for.

This is turning out to be so much fun. I'm not overthinking this, just trying out the verse format with a vague idea stemming from a photo of a woods in winter. For now, it's an exercise, and I can feel the writing muscles stretching and getting stronger.
If you're not sure what a novel in verse is check out the excellent books by Lisa Schroeder. We're not talking rhyme or even set meter, it's more a rhythm of words in the storytelling. Here's an example from Lisa's I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME:
Sleep doesn't come.
Night after night
I thrash around
like a fish
caught in a net
trying to escape.
And I cry
for what I've done
and who I've lost.

Please, click the link in this post or the fest button on the upper right of this blog to check out what Valerie is hosting. I've picked a photo of my own that I'm using as a springboard, but you can use any of the ones she posted for inspiration. The scenes will be posted Dec. 29.

Come on and play!


Finally, Shelley said I should post a picture of my decorated tree--the one I squeezed into the front seat of my Miata. So here's a circus acrobat wishing you high-flying joy.

The almost finished tree, and the old wax angel my mother-in-law gave me long ago. It's my favorite. Peace and best wishes for a happy holiday.


Angela Ackerman said...

It's so frustrating when books begin to appear on the market like something you've written. This has happened to me more than once! Still, remember that great writing will always win out. If you believe in your book, give it all you've got and you'll have no regrets.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Robyn Campbell said...

I agree with Angela. Great writing shines. And sparkles. It gets noticed, Pat. So, if you're pondering, go with your gut. It has never let you down yet has it?

The ornament is so lovely. The notebook too. Hmmm, I wonder if it's fate. Hmmm...

Love your tree and that beautiful old wax angel. She's got a lotta character, like you. :)

Merry Christmas my friend. I loves ya, bunches. (((hugs)))

Stephanie Thornton said...

Can the world have too many mermaids? I doubt it! I love that notebook from Spain- very edgy mermaid.

I hope your inspiration continues- I'm a huge advocate for writing what you love. It definitely shows in the writing.

Happy holidays!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Angela: I believe, I believe! ;)
Seriously, that is part of the problem, when doubt creeps in. Thanks for the support. That helps so much.

@Robyn: Fate, hmmmm. That can be tricksy. But I appreciate your trust in me, my friend. I'll try to be like the angel.

@Stephanie: Of course not! The ocean is huge. :D You really got me smiling.

Donna said...

Love the edgy mermaids. Love the tree. Good luck on vers'ing. said...

Lyrical writing is lovely to read and fun to try to write. A tale about a mermaid would seem to lend itself to verse.

Kathryn Magendie said...

These images are gorgeous! I love love the ornmaments.

Good idea to think and rework your novel. I had something similar happen years back - I wrote a short story I thought was going to be kind of unique and my critique group at the time asked if I'd read Lovely Bones - nope, never heard of it - I looked for it in the bookstore, and went DOH! Our first paragraphs were so similar and the books "theme" similar enough that I had to put away the story. I revisited it later and changed it, but still keeping it a short story. I wrote something else instead and that became TG!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

That must have been incredibly disappointing for you. It's definitely a fear of mine that has given me stomach-twisting anxiety.

But I hope you haven't given up on your story for good. You might just find there is a place for it on the shelves yet. Those are gorgeous gifts from your critique partners! How incredibly kind!

Best wishes for an amazing holiday and for a fabulous 2011!

Sangu Mandanna said...

Oh those are awesome! I love the edginess of those images too - it completely inspires you to think about mermaids differently.

I know how you must have felt. When I started writing my previous novel, which was then called ECHOES, I suddenly started seeing the word everywhere. Books called 'Something and the Echo'. A song called 'Echo'. Fortunately I didn't see similar themes or concepts, but it still drove me mad!

Valerie Geary said...

You are full of awesomeness! I love the mermaids! Thank you for spreading the word about the blogfest and for participating and for telling people you're having fun. Because it is fun. I swear! :D Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

storyqueen said...

Even if you tried to write the exact book as someone else, it would be so very different because of your voice as a writer.

Query the mermaids. Seriously. I mean, how many times as a mortal girl fallen for a vampire in YA fiction? How many times have there been starcrossed lovers?

It's not just the tale that lives on in our hearts and minds, it's the telling of it.

Lecture over.

Love the tree!


VR Barkowski said...

You do have awesome CPs! The ornament and notebook are STUNNING. Both mermaid themed? Definitely. Alike? Nope, each is totally unique. Hmm, something to think about.

Your tree is stunning. Wishing you peace, joy, and the happiest of holidays!

Liza said...

Well, gee. I'd rather be reading about multiple mermaids then besiged with vampires. As other have said, great writing will win out.

Blessing this holiday Tricia. Wishing you writing success in 2011. word verificatino is Dersiona. Wouldn't that be a great name for a mermaid?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Donna: I'm having a ton o' fun with the versing.

@laraine: I've always enjoyed writing haiku and other verse, so this is natural for me to try. Surprising, I never have before.

@Kathryn: Thanks! Wow, it's fascinating to hear what happened to other writers along these same lines. I feel better, knowing that it will work out, maybe not as planned but somehow.

@Carolina: It was like a kick in the gut. I was sad and then too anxious to "fix" it, but I think I've done the right thing by stepping back and taking a deep breath. And happy holidays and a great new year to you, too!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Sangu: These images do inspire me. My mermaids are different--very--and now, perhaps, I can go forward, remembering how different they are.
I hear you on titles, too. My title is also too much like another mermaid book. Sigh. I'll find my place. Especially with the help of writerly friends.

@Valerie: I'm having the greatest time playing around with the verse format. I hope people join us in the fun. :D

@Shelley: I love your lectures, Teach! "It's the telling of it," yes, I've got to put my storytelling hat back on. Come to think of it, I should have such a hat, really!

@Viva: Aren't those mermaids fabulous? Thank you. I so love them. Happiest of holidays to you, too.

@Liza: Dersiona! Now, I will have to find a place for her. :D Have a wonderful holiday.

Phoenix said...

Heh. The same thing happens in Hollywood - you write a script, and it gets shelved because there are too many like it. That must be so frustrating.

I am fascinated by mermaids - not just the Disney cute ones, but the vicious ones, such as in the original Peter Pan.

"Come on in, the water's fine" - indeed.


Wishing you some very happy holidays, Tricia!

Unknown said...

I've noticed there're a lot of mermaid books coming out. Move over angels.

Good luck on the novel in verse. I already know I can't write one. They are hard to do.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Phoenix: Yes, it's a problem for writers of all kinds, and it's frustrating, but I'll keep trying.
I wish you a holiday of peace and wonder, Tracy.

@Stina: There's a barge full of 'em, I'm afraid. But maybe there's still a place for my mermaids, which are of a different stripe.
I'm sure the verse novel is a challenge, but I'm having fun trying! Happy holidays to you and yours.

Linda Kage said...

You shouldn't stop writing a story because of other people or even other books that are out there on the market. You should write for you. And if there is a story inside you that wants out, I say, let that sucker out.

Worry about seeking publication or not seeking publication later. I heard only 20% of your work sells, so maybe you have to finish the mermaid story in order to write the next story, that WILL be a seller. It still wouldn't be a waste of your time to finish this because you'll learn more about writing just by completing it.

Then again, if it's good, it's good and someone will buy it no matter what the market is like!

Of course, if you don't feel the story is going anywhere, then that's another matter entirely.

Good luck whatever you do. And happy holidays.

Anonymous said...

Great pictures.

I think there's room for more mermaid books. Whatever decision you make or genre you take on, your skills and imagination will take you places.

Happy holidays.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@LindaK: 'Let that sucker out.' That has a kick to it! :)

@Medeia: Thank you. I'll scoot myself in and make room, right?
Happy holidays to you, too.

Jan Morrison said...

Mermaids rock - keep on keepin' on. Everything has been invented but not the way you'll do it. I'm giving you a big shot of can-do for the holidays - use it!
have a great time see you in 2011!