Reading Meaning

This past Saturday, I spent six straight hours finishing revisions for Chapter 11 of my first novel. Maybe total burnout had struck my brain, I don’t know, but afterward, I thought about what I wrote, focusing in on the possible meaning behind the repetition of a specific line.

For a tiny bit of background (no spoilers, I promise, which is why I’m not telling you any settings), I can say that the first scene, taking place in Chapter 10, involves the protagonist, Kara, speaking with another character, Roland. In this scene, Kara, who’s been charged with saving the life of every person on planet Earth, is having a “down” moment in which she has zero confidence in herself. Roland is attempting to talk her up.

“You’re not a failure, Kara,” Roland counters.

“I’ve always been a failure,” I counter back. “There’s never been a question about that.”

About to counter again, he stops himself and squints. “You know, maybe we do have something in common.”

If he mentions having an affinity for pronouncing the word ‘supposedly’ as ‘supposebly,’ then I will be seriously shocked.

“You’re stubborn, like me.”

Of course not; I’m too unique.

I part from a view of his gorgeous blues as my tone ensnares a healthy dose of reality. “I’m not like you.” My exhausted head droops as I finish, “I’m not like anyone.”

The second scene takes place in Chapter 11, as Kara confronts the antagonist of the novel, who is kind of attracted to her.

“What is your name?”

Turning from him, I cough out a laugh. “You’re about to murder everyone on the planet and you ask me my name as if it’s important?”

“Please,” he begs.

He begs?

Gazing up into his eyes, I see something that may resemble affection, like he’s actually come to care about me. But how can someone about to do something so unspeakably horrific have any sense of caring in him? I’d accuse him of being heartless for committing to destroy my world, but that would be a lie. My world is already gone, stolen from me years ago. Besides, I’m not sure that I have any caring left in me either. I mean, I never did wanna save the human race anyway; I only wanted to save myself.

“Please,” he softly repeats.

Maybe we do have something in common.

“Kara,” I exhale.

Maybe he’s devoid of the same thing I’m missing…

“It’s a true honor to meet you, Kara…”

…a need…

“…a pleasure.”

…something real.

If you didn’t catch the specific line that’s repeated in the two scenes, it’s, “Maybe we do have something in common.” Now, at the time I wrote it into Chapter 11, I didn’t realize I was repeating the line; that wasn’t my intention. When I did realize it, however, and I looked back at Chapter 10 to make sure I was remembering correctly and not just suffering from post-revisions severe brain fry, I began thinking about why that line is repeated.

What I came up with is that Roland is a good guy; he has a good heart. In that Chapter 10 scene, he’s seeing the best in Kara and trying to encourage her to see the same. But Kara rejects this because of the low opinion she has of herself. When Kara is speaking with the antagonist in Chapter 11, she thinks of him as heartless and uncaring. This is when Kara poses the same thought for the antagonist that Roland attempted to pose with her. She sees herself as heartless and uncaring so thinks that she has something in common with the antagonist. In other words, despite having good qualities, Kara only sees the worst in herself, which is why she believes she shares a common trait with the antagonist but not Roland.

This is also why I really like that little exchange at the end of the Chapter 11 excerpt, after she tells him her name, in which Kara’s thoughts align with the antagonist’s words. It’s like the two of them are on the same wavelength.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on my writings and analyzing my writings. Maybe I don’t intend to put meaning into every line or every action, but sometimes it accidentally sneaks in there somehow. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think I’m some type of genius by any standard, even the lowest ones, but part of the fun of reading and writing is analyzing what’s been read or written. I like seeing meaning in things, especially when I know it wasn’t consciously put there. This makes me believe that maybe there’s more to our thoughts and our creations than even we know.

Can you read the meaning in your own writing? Give it a try. You may surprise yourself. 😉

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A Giraffe, A Canadian, And Shakira All Walk In To A Bar…

Three things:

1. Am I the only person on this planet who would take a picture of a giraffe sitting outside of a children’s orthodontist office?
Dysart and McDowell orthodontist office IMG_20170816_170348

2. Do you love Canadians? So do I. And like me, you can show your love for a Canadian by following the blog of this up-and-coming writer who happens to live in Canada. I plan to move there someday, you know, when I seriously need the free healthcare (America is so behind the curve on that). Miss Brittney Stevenson has only recently begun blogging, but what we know of her thus far is that she has a nice blogging style, loves the color purple as well as The Color Purple, and she has totally wonderful taste in music. Check out her blog by clicking this sentence.

3. Speaking of music, is this Shakira song just so freakin’ awesome or what?

Oh, I should finish that joke (up there in the title) with a bad punch line. Okay, umm, how about this?… A giraffe, a Canadian, and Shakira all walk in to a bar. The Canadian notices the giraffe seems sad as he struggles to curl his mouth down to his drink. Shakira, also noticing the giraffe seems sad, asks, “Long day?” “No,” the giraffe replies, “just a long neck.”

Just Win (The Super Bowl), Baby

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post concerning my Oakland Raiders and the fact that they stunk so much that I was hoping for them to get even one, lone win that season. It’s amazing how quickly the Raiders have turned around, last season becoming a post-season team for the first time in 13 years, and this season, being looked at by many as a Super Bowl contender. This represents quite the change for the Raiders, who for many years were the joke of the NFL.

So what happened? They put in the work.

And by that I mean that the Raiders are a well-managed team now. Their GM, Reggie McKenzie, has done a much better job in recent years of signing free agents and drafting new players out of college. Add to that the spectacular job head coach Jack Del Rio has done in instilling confidence in the team as well as a winning attitude, and it’s not hard to see that luck had nothing to do with the Raiders’ return to excellence.

Leading this return is a QB, Derek Carr, who would rather give all the glory to God and to his teammates and coaches than to himself. He’s a humble young man, and I’d have no one else in that QB spot. Carr’s exactly the type of man who I want to see on this team, and that’s saying a lot since there was a time when the Raiders were the bad boys of football and proud of it.

Derek Carr, as he’s willing to admit, was wild in his college years. That is, until someone special to him said, “You’re not the person I thought you were.” Coming from the right woman at the right time, those words were exactly what Carr needed to hear to turn his life around. He straightened himself up and began walking on the path of Jesus with that special lady who would become his wife. Today, Carr will tell you that he’s had many experiences that have convinced him that God is working in his life. In fact, if you want to hear him for yourself, please follow this link to a recent podcast interview in which he explained his faith, how he came to it, and how he uses it to help others. That portion of the interview begins at the 12:48 mark.

This is the man I’m thankful is leading my Oakland Raiders. I love him. He’s a wonderful young man with a great attitude and a strong dedication to his belief, to his wife, to his kids, and to making the Raiders a Super Bowl-winning team. I may not be a man of faith, but I’m grateful that he is. Carr has had such a positive impact on the Raiders organization and the fans, the Raider Nation, as well. And who knows? Maybe in a couple of years, when the Raiders move to Las Vegas, we’ll find out that Carr is exactly the angel that Sin City needs. I wouldn’t bet on Vegas changing one bit, but then again, faith doesn’t rely on luck. 🙂

Oakland Raiders - Derek Carr

Picture Prompts With K.J. Chapman

If you love picture prompts, be sure to check in with author K.J. Chapman. On her blog, other than her bountiful supply of book reviews and updates on her exciting writings, can be found the occasional picture prompt that serves to stir the imagination and spark your creative juices.

A recent picture prompt that I participated in can be found here. You’ll see my contribution in the comments section. (K.J. called my writing “brilliant.” Please go over there to witness that.) Although, now that I think about it, I believe I was supposed to post my prompt writing in my own blog and then link back to her blog, so I guess I did it wrong. But hey, if I didn’t do something wrong, I wouldn’t be me. Haha!

Anyway, give that picture prompt and other prompts a look. Draw some inspiration and write, write, write! Who knows? Something you write from a prompt may end up in your own novel.

Speaking of novels, be sure to check out K.J.’s own novels: EVO Nation, EVO Shift, and Thrown to the Blue. Currently, she’s prepping the thrilling-sounding EVO Ghost for inevitable publication and working on an interesting idea known as Zombie Playlist. Also, she was kind enough to loan me her name for a key character in the last book of my own work-in-progress trilogy (Kay’leigh turned out to be an awesome character, by the way. Thank you!).

So, what are you waiting for? Get to a picture prompt and get to some writing! Don’t make me have to put on my Ah-nold Schwarzenegger voice and exclaim, “Naaaoooowwww!”

My OCD Hates Me Right Now

As I’m revising the first chapter of my first book (yet again), I can’t help but to feel that this chapter needs to be later in the book. Don’t get me wrong, Chapter 1 should be Chapter 1, but the way I wrote the book, the first three chapters are all introduction. The first chapter introduces the protagonist, Kara, the second chapter introduces a second important character, and the third chapter introduces another important character. I did this as a way to bring characters into play and give them a proper set-up and establish how they interact with each other. However, and this is kind of a feeling I got a few months ago when I went back and read the beginning of Chapter 4, I really think that the story actually starts moving in Chapter 4.

This is why my OCD hates me right now. It knows that Chapter 1 represents the beginning of the journey so should be first, but I know that the story may be better served with a start at Chapter 4. Given this, my OCD and I have come to a compromise.

My OCD still hates me; it’s just compromising.

What I’m thinking of doing is pulling a George Lucas. If anyone isn’t familiar with the Star Wars creator, here’s what he did: He released the fourth part of the Star Wars story as the first movie and later, about 15 years or so after giving us the fifth and sixth parts, went back to writing, directing, and releasing the first part of the story. Essentially, he gave us the story out of order, and I feel like I want to do the same thing. I mean, hey, it worked for George, so why can’t it also work for me in my quest to create a billion-dollar franchise that will become such a strong attachment for the most dedicated fans to the franchise that they will eventually hate me for any little thing I do to alter the originals or add to the story in any way?

So, in honor of George and his Star Wars saga, I’m moving Chapter 1 of my first book to after Chapters 4, 5, and 6. I’m not changing the chapter number; I’m simply moving it. In the table of contents, Chapter 4 will be first and Chapter 1 will be fourth. Why? I’m doing this to preserve the intended order in which to read the story. If a reader chooses to run straight through, starting with Chapter 4, that’s fine. If another reader – if I ever, by some miracle, happen to have more than one reader – chooses to flip to Chapter 1, bounce over to Chapter 2, and hop to Chapter 3 before skipping all the way back to Chapter 4, they’re welcome to do that.

Oh, speaking of Chapters 2 and 3, I found other places where they could fit nice and snug-like. The order I’m playing with, now, is as follows: 4, 5, 6, 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 2, 11, 12, 3, 13, 14, 15, and 16.

Yes, my OCD is screaming its head off at me right now. It’s saying things like, “People will think you can’t count!” What my OCD voice doesn’t know, though, is that my inability to count is overshadowed by my inability to care. Although, I think that may be the ‘Murica voice in me talking.

I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.

No, Darth Vader, Now The Circle Is Complete

After four years of work, yesterday, I completed the first draft of my third book, the last in the trilogy.

No applause? Okay, I’ll keep going.

Anyway, I can’t really say that I feel a monstrous sense of relief or that I feel any different. I mean, yeah, I snagged a Pizza Hut pizza (pepperoni and olives with a totally yummy honey barbeque drizzle) and had a nice salad, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a helping of cherry cordial ice cream on the side while watching one of my favorite movies, Battle: Los Angeles (hey, when I party, I really party), but other than the constant prayer to any god who would listen to my pleas of holding back my inevitable tummy ache (so worth it, by the way), I simply didn’t feel anything that I would describe as “different.”

Maybe it’s because I feel like I still have a lot of work ahead of me. First of all, I have to look back at the synopses that I wrote and make any needed changes to them so that they accurately reflect the contents of my novels. I know the third novel went on a kind of different track than what I was predicting when I originally wrote the synopsis for it. Secondly, I want to get to revising each of my books, especially the first one, as I’ve learned so much more about writing since I finished it a couple of years ago. That’s going to be a huge task considering that my three novels total out to just a smidgen over 276,000 words. Finally, I’d like to begin sending out query letters, preferably after the first book has been revised, so I can see about attracting an agent to my work.

That’s the plan anyway, and we all know how plans go, don’t we? That’s why I tend to stick with my protagonist’s super-duper-simple, two-step plan for tackling anything – Step one: Start shit. Step two: See what happens.

I guess we’ll see what happens. 🙂

Friend

Sometimes I hear people say, “Depression is a disease.”

This is normally said either by normal people or by people who have been convinced by normal people that what they have is wrong.

But I’ve learned to be grateful for the wrong I have and the wrong I am.

If I didn’t fall into depression, I wouldn’t be able to write what I write, not only in poetry but in my novels as well. I wouldn’t be able to feel what my depressed characters feel.

If I didn’t fall into depression, I wouldn’t know what it is that other depressed people feel, and for that, I’m grateful; I’m grateful to know.

If I didn’t fall, I wouldn’t come to realize that falling again and again is good practice for rising back up again and again.

So yes, I’m grateful for what I go through. I’m grateful that I am wrong. I’m grateful to have been blessed with this depression that allows me a unique, outside perspective of normal.

You hear that, Sadness? I’m glad to be with you, whenever you need someone, whenever you need me. While other people push you away and make you be alone and make you feel bad for being what you are, I’m glad to be with you.

I’m glad to be your friend.

I am here.

The Power Rangers Breakfast Club? (No Spoilers …Almost)

Don’t worry; I’ll throw out a warning before the spoilers.

Anyway, I liked the new Power Rangers film, I really did; however, there was something oddly familiar about it. I wonder what that was…

The Power Rangers Breakfast Club

Look, I’m all for inspiration, but this is just a blatant copy. I much would’ve preferred if the Rangers had their own identities rather than this movie standing as a sort-of Breakfast Club remake, only with 100% more Megazord. The Rangers even had their version of the emotional confession scene in which the characters confess their secrets to each other. It was uncanny. At that moment, I said to myself, “This really is like The Breakfast Club, just without the character depth and natural conflict.”

Again, I like the film (I am a fan and did watch the original Mighty Morphin series back in 1993); I was simply disappointed by the writers taking a bit of a lazy route, especially when I found a couple of scenes in the film (revolving around Zordon and Jason, and Rita as well) to show a lot of potential for what the movie as a whole could have been.

Other than that, there’s really not much to say about this film. It’s Power Rangers. If you enjoy the show, you’ll enjoy the movie. It’s simply what it is: a feature-length version of the Mighty Morphin pilot episode that copies The Breakfast Club, with a touch of Chronicle.

SPOILER ALERT!

Okay, now I have to talk freely about the film because I want to share something that I feel could have been written into one of the scenes. I’m speaking of the scene in which Billy drowns. When the Rangers pulled him out of the water and had him lying on the dock while they panicked over him, I wondered why none of the Rangers performed CPR on Billy. Of course, that gave me an idea for an exchange of dialogue that I felt should have occurred at that moment…

Zack: Give him CPR!
Jason: I don’t know CPR! Does anyone know CPR?!
Kimberly: No!
Trini: No!
Zack: I don’t know CPR! Does Billy know CPR?!
Jason [staring in disbelief]: He’s kind of the one that needs it.

GhostBlade

Recently, I discovered this amazing web comic called GhostBlade by a Chinese computer graphics artist who calls himself WLOP. Upon first glance at a single panel, I was blown away by how much it resembled a painting. The style has a magnificent flair to it that if I knew anything about art, I’m sure I’d be able to describe.

whisper

The story is that of a conflict between the human race and the feather race (angels).

light

Characters are introduced and weaved into the narrative in a natural way.

miaow

And locations can have a fantastic energy and originality to them.

heaven-eye

There are, so far, seven chapters (0-6) and a prequel chapter, each made up of multiple panels. While there isn’t very much of this comic to read at the moment – I caught up on everything available within a couple of hours – what’s there is of a quality that has me excited to see more. If you need a bit more convincing, or would like a taste of how the comic is drawn, check out the below trailer. Then take a peek at the comic itself. Trust me; you won’t regret it.

Oh, and you can also check out some GhostBlade art at DeviantArt and get a look at some behind the scenes videos at WLOP’s YouTube channel.