Monday, July 26, 2010

What's in a Name?

Our latest discussion in the HWG was about naming our fictional characters. I am a big fan of baby naming books and grabbing names that I hear out in the real world. Much like I grab tidbits of conversations or incidents that happen to use in stories.

I have to admit, I tend not to use trendy names, mostly timeless ones. Victoria is one of my YA characters, her cousin's name is Cameo. Lucy is my leading lady in Date with a Dead Guy, her leading man is Jad (short for Jaidev).

Kathryn Dean once gave me a critique on a chapter from The Bookstore Lady's Secret Life (also known at Take the Money and Run). Her main focus was on the name I had chosen for one particular character. The character's name was Jewish and I'm not. She starts off as an evil person which Kathryn was afraid could make me look anti-Semetic. Okay, I gave into that one even though the character had her own issues and perfectly good reasons for being nasty. (For the record, in the end she turned out to be a good person once her troubles were behind her.)

Another person who gave me a critique on the same book told me that one character's name was too close to a popular actor's name. It was, but the thought had never crossed my mind. Funny part was, he was the nasty woman's husband!

We did an interesting exercise in our HWG meeting yesterday. Richard gave us slips of paper with names on them and we had to make a character description and a bit of a plot around them. The first name I got was Robert. Robert Redford. That was where my imagination took me and stalled. I traded names and got Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Manley...stuck again. I didn't get any writing done until everyone else read their pieces. What did I end up with? Another Stereotype.

"Elizabeth had been groomed from the time she was a baby to be perfect. Her hair and makeup were flawless before she left the house each day for her job at Theodore, Eugene and Finch. Daddy always wanted her to be a lawyer. Mother tried to steer her into acting. Becoming a lawyer for actors was her version of middle ground.
On a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive, Elizabeth is taken hostage by Bill, a former client. He drives her across the country and she learns that perfect isn't always good enough."

And so ends our lesson on naming characters. I have a new story to write!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Bucket List

I celebrated my birthday this weekend surrounded by family and friends. Last night, I sat up late watching The Bucket List and crying my eyes out at the end. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson were amazing. If you are not familiar with it, the movie is about two men dying from cancer. The Bucket List is the list of things they want to do before the die.

What possessed me to watch something so morbid on my birthday?

Actually, I found it very uplifting and inspiring.

I have my own Bucket List. Most of it is not written down anywhere but on my heart. At the top of my list, is selling my paintings and publishing my novels. Last night before the movie, I did some painting. I am going to be part of a large show put on my the Orangeville Art Group in October and need to complete 5 paintings. So far, I have 4 and 1 nearly done. I finished two last night, fuelled by a glass of wine and birthday cake! That alone gave me a sense of accomplishment and peace. The same feeling I get when I write a novel and send it to my friends to edit.

Each thing I do is one more entry on my Bucket List that I can cross off. I
One less thing that I won't look back on with regret.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perspective

Over the past week I have been shocked by the resignation of two members of two different groups I belong to. One was a long-time member who is disillusioned by the changes in a group he has been with for years. The second was a recent member who was insulted in outrageous fashion. Both are people that I highly admire and respect. Now they are gone.

Life is such a matter of perspective. The whole glass half-empty/half-full thing.
Monday was a glass half-empty day for me. Everything that could go wrong, definitely did:
The cat sprayed in the front entrance (ruining my 15 year old son's favourite fedora), then vomited all over the floor. On top of grocery shopping and floor and wall washing, a brand new bottle of fuschia nail polish broke all over my tiled kitchen floor. That was all before I went to work at noon. Work was ridiculously busy and nothing but problems. I came home to find out about the two resignations - at the same time. Then took the kids to a 2 hour karate class.

Looking back, however, I had missed all the blessings in the day.
We went shopping for a new hat for my son. He found one he liked even better for 1/3 of the price of the old one. The new bottle of nail polish was also on sale. I stopped at my friend's work for my youngest son to use the bathroom and she treated me to a cold drink. Not to mention that she usually doesn't work at that time and I hadn't seen her in a month. Work was filled with a lot of laughter when I told them all my woes and we laughed about what could possibly top off my day. Nothing seemed as bad as finding the soaked hat and vomit on the floor and I got to spend time with friends.

The best part of the day was coming home later and printing off a copy of my new YA manuscript called The Mural for my friend to edit. It was a reminder that no matter how bad things get, there is always a silver lining somewhere. Even if you have to strain to see it.