UtopYA Con – Part Deux

Howdy reader/writer peeps!

I just wanted to pop in for a wee announcement from Nashvegas. Some of you may remember, or even attended, the virgin voyage of UtopYA Con last July. Well, things are ramping up for 2013! That’s right, UtopYA Con is back for another round! WOOT!! And if the most recent feedback, inquiries, and general buzz (and awesomeness) is any indication, next June will ROCK – YOUR – SOCKS. Please feel free to check out the website for more information on the Black Friday sale and newly listed Exhibitor information.
UtopYA Con 2012, our local nod to all things YA and it’s all around awesome, was stocked full of local and not-so-local authors, writers, and fans. If you’re an author looking to network or boost your presence, this is an awesome way to get your name out there. I know, from personal experience, that UtopYA is a great way for readers to find new authors to love and fan-girl over. And you just never know who you’ll see in attendance in June…(wink wink). If you are a HUGE fan of the young adult genre, then there is NO reason you shouldn’t join in the party.
UtopYA is not your average Con. Please read this post I did earlier this year to catch a glimpse of how wonderful it is. It was nothing short of amazing and I cannot WAIT for June.
The best part? It doesn’t matter if you are self published, independently published, or even pubbed by the big boys! All are welcome and encouraged to come. And the second best thing? Well, maybe a tie for best. UtopYA Con is once again at the Scarritt-Bennett Center (aka: Hogwarts Lite) for 2013. If you’ve been there, you know how wonderful this campus is. If you haven’t, just check out the pics on their website and you will see just how beautiful Scarritt-Bennett is.
Hope to see y’all there for this ‘heavenly’ event! *cough, cough* Yeah, I’m lame, but you love that about me.
If you attended the last UtopYA, please feel free to chime in on the comments below. What did you love about it? Who did you discover at UtopYA? What author did you meet that you secretly (or blatantly) adore (or stalk) while at UtopYA? Who would you love to see at UtopYA Con 2013?

Just in case you forgot

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
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When the going gets tough–

Today is the first day I’ve been able to really catch up on emails and social network stuffs in quite some time. Since August 25th, really. While checking my updates for the website, I noticed that my first official D.B. Graves post was done on 8/25/12. This was also the day my life forever changed.

As a writer, we draw from personal experiences to feed our stories. Whether it’s with raw emotions, actual places we’ve visited, or just silly or ridiculous occurrences that simply add to the authenticity of a character, our own experiences have an impact. What my latest experiences will bring to my writing I have yet to discover.

I generally don’t talk too much about my personal life. Sure, I’ll post tid-bits about my son because some things are universal, like parenthood. What many people don’t know, unless you really know ME, is that I’m a huge ‘mama’s girl.’

My mother is the one person on this earth that I call my ‘best friend.’ I have good friends and close friends, but only one BEST friend. That spot is reserved for my mama. Always will be.

Before you get the wrong idea from this post, my mother has not passed, but she is very ill. On August 25th, I learned just how ill she was. Now, I won’t get into any sorted details, but it’s not great. Mama has spent years sugar-coating how bad things are. Since I live in another state, and rarely get to see her, I wasn’t aware of the facts. Now I am.

In the last several weeks, I’ve experienced a broad spectrum of emotions. Sadness. Fear. Hurt. Anger. Weakness. Anxiety. Panic. Strength. Disquiet. Frustration. ALL over the board. I’ve had to make decisions that I didn’t want to make. Disappoint people I didn’t want to disappoint. I’ve called people out on their BS and put my trust in others that some may not find trustworthy. I’ve had to see my mama at her very worst and not shed a tear, to keep my wall of strength up so she had something to believe in. I’ve had to look my mother in the eye, while she lay in a hospital bed hooked up to IV antibiotics, and tell her I can’t help her, that I can’t give her what she wants. All while not shedding a tear, but speaking from a place of love and protection. Those who haven’t had to do this don’t know how truly difficult it is.

I’m sure my recent experiences will likely translate into my writing in some form, but what really shocked me was the self discovery. Before hopping on a plane earlier this month, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand. The plan changed while in CA, but in a good way. My mother is getting the help she needs and will one day (hopefully) be healthy enough to move closer to me.

But this journey showed me just how strong I am as a person, a daughter. I didn’t know if I’d be able to take on what was expected of me. But I did. I AM. And I will continue to do so. Was it how I was raised? Part of my DNA? Who knows? What I do know is, no matter what happens, there’s a well of strength buried deep inside. I am a fighter. I will do what must be done. May not always like it, but I will do it.

The same can be said as the writer’s journey. There are many times where self doubt plague us, where giving up is the easiest way to end the pain. But we don’t. Not because we are super human or even psychotic. It’s because we must do what needs to be done. Writing is in our blood. It’s what makes us who we are. So there IS no giving up, there IS no easy way out, there IS no backing down because the enormity of the task is too great. The writing MUST be done so we DO it. We must believe in ourselves and hold onto the strength buried deep inside. There is no easy road if the goal is worth achieving.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” -Frank A. Clark


We all have to grow up eventually

Peanut butter jelly time!

Welcome! So this is my new WordPress powered site. What do you think? It’s all official and such. Did you see the “DB Graves” in the url? Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m registered. 😀

I will still hold on to my Blogger blog doflotchy so no worries. At least for now. This here site will be more focused on my ‘big girl panties’ stuff and writing. Like the title says, we all grow up eventually! I s’pose that means I have to as well.

Playing with characters and voice

There’s been a common theme in blogs posts I’ve seen lately. That theme being Voice. The ‘how-to” and “what is it” of writing, crafting, finding the all important Voice. This got me thinkin’. How do I find, use, write, craft Voice?

Bear with me as I get a wee bit fragmented.

I’m sure you’ve surmised by now that I haven’t had any real writerly training. Not sure if you can count high school English as that was a looooong time ago. Not gonna tell you HOW long. HA! Anyway, I HAVE read loads of bits on finding Voice and how to make the best of it and all that jazz. The problem is, I learn by doing. Yeah, I’m one of those people who have to DO IT to get it. I can read instructions till I’m blue in the face, but until I do it, I’m lost.

So how does a learn-by-doing lass learn how to craft Voice? Depends. I firmly believe that an Authorial Voice will just happen. It’s like finding the perfect pair of jeans. You’ll try different styles on, but either the hips are too snug, the hem too long, the thighs too loose, blah blah blah… until you scream in the changing room. But once you find that elusive pair of jeans, it’s like the clouds part and angels begin to sing. Everything just….fits.

Now, a character’s Voice… That’s a little trickier. Characters have to feel real, speak real, laugh real, sigh real, burp real. I may have thrown that last bit in there, but hey, if your characters DO burp, it has to be real!My compadre Alisha has a great post on doing character studies here. Check it out! She’s awesome. And I’ve tried the character studies and/or profile worksheets. They work for me on the technical stuff like hobbies and physical traits, but I cannot (for the life of me) glean any sort of TRUE personality from a worksheet. It feels too stale and flat to me.

So I reach back into my theater roots and create my character’s Voice by ACTING them out. Yup, you read right. I get all Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino up in here! The basics are exactly the same: Who, What, Where, Why and How. Thank you, Mrs. Jordan, for beating these into us during class. The difference is in the implementation. Sure, you write out the basics (just like a character worksheet) but instead of the character coming alive first on paper, the character comes alive in YOU. They don’t just SPEAK through you, they ARE you.

How to achieve this sort of multiple personality disorder loveliness? Preferably alone. Writers are known for being a little off-kilter, but no reason to confirm it for anyone. *wink* Seriously, grab a scene from the mini-movie already running in your head from your new bright-shiny WIP and get into character! The scene is there so pick your character, whether it’s the MC, the best friend, the love interest, the postman, and roll with it!

The best way for me to Voice-out a character is to ‘play act’ them during the scene. Speak the lines, use the gestures, roll the eyes, flip the hair, frown with them, smile with them, cry with them! DO IT! I’ve found this to be the best way, for me, to get a real feel for my characters and HOW they act and react. Does that gesture feel right with that dialogue? Yes or no? While speaking in their Voice, does my character have a tendency to do certain things? Like rub their chin, pick at their fingernails, chew the inside of their lip? Yes? Write it down! That is your character. Does your character place emphasis on certain words while speaking? Do they have an accent? Do they pace when frustrated?

If you’ve truly gotten into your character, all of these things will happen, because that is who they are. It will come natural. And when you’ve found the first Voice, the others will follow suit. Once you’ve established how character A says something, character B will have a natural reaction. It’s a lot like reading your MS out loud, but with the action in there as well. And many times you’ll find that certain actions during the dialogue will solve random issues you have in your writing. Do your CP’s mention something feeling awkward during the dialogue, like John Smith’s chronic collar-popping? Act it out in your character’s Voice. Does it feel natural? Yes? Maybe tone it down a notch. No? Ax it.

Scared to try it? Don’t be! You already have voices in your head, right? Well, now give those voices legs, arms, movement and swagger. Let them LIVE through you.

Still nervous? Try a dark room. Then you won’t feel so “in the spotlight.”

Besides, if anyone asks what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks you’re doing, you can honestly say you’re REHEARSING. And dramatics (aka theater folk) have a worse wrap than us writers. *snortle*

Now go get your schizophrenic on!