A friend sent me this article/essay on the Varga girl. I thought I’d share it here. When I started this blog, I posted that we’re all divas, we all have awesomeness inside, too often untapped, waiting for us to just freaking recognize ourselves.

Because all of us women have inside us a Varga girl just like this. All of us are the fox. You may be muzzled, or careless, or restrained. You may have once sprayed your scent unwisely. You may feel used up by pups. You may be coarse and ragged where others are silky and round.

Doesn’t matter.

You are still the fox. Not so much for trickery or deception but for shenaniganism—for a keenness to chase and be chased, to pounce and be pounced.

You are still the fox.

Just for fun… find your fox today.  Maybe just for a minute, maybe no one else will see her.  But, find her.

No, I’m not referring to Dickens or even Bronte.  I’m talking Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, MacGyver(!), even The Love Boat.  This awesome site, that I’m sure CBS operates, has episodes from classic tv.  And not just one or two.  It has the entire three seasons of Star Trek.  Good stuff, friends.  Happy holidays!

These picture posts are becoming commonplace.  Next thing you know, I’ll be uploading illustrations I’ve made in photoshop, like how to connect your printer.

Yes, that was an awesome segue, thank you.  For Material Girl Monday, I’m going to talk to you about some of the tools I use to make my brand of magic.  So, picture the first:


That’s my big comfy chair.  I’ve been alternately drawing and describing homes and writing character sketches (the big binder on the bottom, with the sheet protectors, the legal pad, the top notebook, and for good measure GMC) and line editing (another black binder and old reliable, a large notebook with ginormous rings and hardcovers on both front and back that my daughter wrote on).   I will probably keep that notebook forever, because that’s where I wrote my first novel.  The words may have gone on a document, but all of the ideas were fleshed out in that notebook.  So, tool of the trade?  Paper. Fancy journal, legal pad, graph paper, steno notebook–whatever makes you feel good.  We’re writers, and if you want to be a smart writer, you will write everything down somewhere.  Might as well make it a central place.  And believe me when I tell you, when that paper is full of your story, of your imagination, your muse at work… you’ll know why you write, if only for a moment.

Pens, pencils, highlighters–you know the deal.  You need colored ones for line edits.  You need highlighters for… well, I’ve used them to highlight places on my map, to analyze a book I love into how much a favorite writer spent on dialogue, exposition, narrative, description, and to mark things I need to change.  It may be the technical age, but in the end, your work will be on paper.

A binder, preferably one-and-a-half inch, sheet protectors, and a hole punch.  When I wrote that first story in that notebook I love, I came to hate it (the notebook, not the story–not for that or not then) because there was no organization.  It was just everywhere, as if my brain had vomited it out.  Believe me, learn from what limited experience I do have, organize your work in a binder in a way that makes sense to you.  If you are using a map, a blueprint–protect it from little girls who like to draw on things.  And those blargs of character sketches and what-if-this-happened brainstorms and writing out your turning points and GMC, hole punch it and put them there, too.  This way, if you need to put it with something you write three months later, you’ll be able to do so.

I highly recommend the big comfy chair.  The pink laptop from Barbie isn’t really a necessity.

Picture the second:


An All-in-One Printer.  First of all, they’re just not that expensive anymore.  I saw mine on sale for somewhere in the sixties a few days ago.  You don’t want to buy the cheap printer, then, when you’re imaginary agent becomes you’re real agent and wants to fax you an imaginary real contract, you don’t have to be a total noob and say, “I don’t have a fax machine.  Can you mail it?”  Second, copies are your friend.  This one makes copies just like a normal copier.  It even feeds several pages through.  Trust me, spend the extra thirty bucks and buy one of these.  (Oh, and my black ink cartridge at Walmart?  $16 bucks.)

I got this brain flash last week.  Well, it was more of a brain shimmer, but you get my point.  Homes, and there are several in my current WIP (work in progress for those not in the know), are extremely important in this work.  They have symbolic meaning to nearly every character.  So, what they look like, knowing those places–pretty important.  I picked up some graph paper this weekend and started drawing… you know, I’m going into this on Wendesday, so I’ll leave it at that.

But this Material Girl recommend is so highly recommended, I just bought it.  Like just now, when I was looking for something similar to what I had in my head and this is it.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Room and Furniture Layout Kit

I found myself without a material girl post for today, so I decided to go to my Amazon wishlist. Too much time spent on Halloween costumes and planning for Christmas, I suppose, has left the spotlight, and the finances, decidedly off of me.

But, my trusty wishlist didn’t let me down. Behold, the external hard drive. USB connection (means it’s easy to hook up), requires no external power source (powered by your computer, one less plug for you to have to find a spot for), Google software for searching the files (who doesn’t love Google?), good for Mac or PC.

If you have ever lost the last quarter of something you’re working on because you didn’t get around to backing it up or burnt it to a cd only to find out the cd is corrupted, then you need this baby.

I’m gonna get one…

I don’t think I can actually describe how much I love these.  I wish I could.  Books.  Books.  That float.  On my wall.  Just waiting for me.  Pinch me.

I’m so getting some of these.  Seriously, time me.

I bought this book when it first came out because I loved Stephen King and I’d always thought about writing in a wistful sort of way.    King packs in a lot of practical advice and truth about writing in this book.  For instance, if you don’t read, forget being a writer.  Which, yes, makes sense but even so.  I wonder how many people want to write a book, be a published author, who really don’t consider diving into a book one of the true pleasures in life?

I do disagree with his assessment that if you have to plan, outline–whatever, that you’re not doing it right.  (I’m paraphrasing here, so forgive me.)  Everyone’s creative process is different, and we should protect and nurture our own way of storytelling.

One of the best assets of King is his voice, his ability to put his readers at ease, to settle in with him and enjoy a good, scary tale.  He brings that voice to this book and so, while it’s full of extremely smart advice and information, you still feel like you’re just sitting down to learn with one of the masters at his craft.

I was reading Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (of Wicked fame).  I don’t know what it is about these stories of his, but he manages to take a story that we know so well, it’s part of our psyche, turn it into something completely different, and yet… the same.  The stories suck you in, and it’s not Snow White you’re reading about, it’s Bianca de Nevada, and her father, and the dwarves–Heartless and Mute, Mute, Mute, to name a couple–and the Borgias (real dead people, Lucrezia being cast as the evil stepmother/witch, jealous of “Snow White’s” beauty).

Anyway, all I can say is: if Gregory Maguire wrote it, you should read it.  Right now.

I know, it’s the newest “thing.” Maybe not the newest, but doesn’t everyone have one? I’ll admit, before I got mine, I’d see those commercials, with the people clipping them on and dancing like somehow this teeny musicmaker would inspire anyone to become so free of inhibitions, they’d just dance through the streets (and dance well!). And yet, I thought, “How often would I really use it? I don’t exercise, if I can help it. So what’s the point?

I use my ipod shuffle daily. And, honestly, the clip-on feature is probably my favorite part. It keeps it safe and out of the way, sure. But it also makes one feel a little like you want to tap your chest and say, “Picard to Enterprise.” It doesn’t need batteries, because the dock charges it and it plays a very long time before needing it.

But, you know what? Forget all of that. Because, if you’re like me, and you use music to connect to your story or set the mood for a scene or if you just use it to drown out the calls of, “Mom! Where’s the ketchup?” when you’re in the throes of a killer sex scene–then this? Your new best friend.

You load it up in Itunes, a free program you can get here if you’re one of the five people in the world who doesn’t already have it. Itunes will automatically update the software for you, which makes it ahead of any other mp3 player I know of. And, technically, if you’re writing, and sending out submisions, even if you’re getting all rejections, you can write it off on your taxes. Not a tax professional, I am not giving tax advice. Consult one before telling the IRS, “Lori says it’s okay!”

But, and yes, I’m finally to the main point, as I mentioned, it can pull you into your story. Finished a book and decide your ready to edit six months later (who does that, huh?), use your books “theme music” to pull you back into the story. Trying to write for an hour while everyone else is watching TV, create an audio barrier between you and the rest of the world. Need to just let the story jumble around inside your head, pop on your headphones and do something else: clean, exercise, stare at the ceiling. The feelings the music evokes will feed your muse. It’s like crack for your creativity. Except not at all illegal or deadly.

Buy one. NOW.

I bought GMC by Debra Dixon. It’s genius, I’d heard, and it’s true. It’s like having someone explain brain surgery in a book you can read in a day or two, and you finish and say, “Duh.”

Before I go on, I’d like to point out that used copies can go for more then $40 on Amazon. I love Amazon, nothing against Amazon, but you can purchase the book from the publisher for $19.95. Worth every dime, btw.

If you really want to know how useful it is, just google GMC and Dixon. You’ll find thousands of hits. That’s how widely accepted, adopted, and appreciated her work is.

The GMC one sentence checker (my name, I can’t remember THE name) works perfectly. Character wants GOAL because MOTIVATION, but CONFLICT. It really is that simple. I know–duh, right? It’s full of these nuggets, like an external goal can be experienced by the five senses. Well, that makes it easier. Now I know revenge isn’t an external goal. It’s internal, because internal goals are about emotion.

However, once you have your “Duh,” moment, this hits: “I am so screwed.” Or it does if you’ve written a word. I always knew I was a little vague on my goals. I think I even started out with goals, but… maybe I didn’t like what having those goals said about my characters, so I… got vague. Either way, I think I figured out why my first act was so slow… pointless?

But, I’m making my charts, and I think I can fix it. Maybe. Doesn’t matter, not for this–my point is buy the book!