Saturday, March 15, 2014

A love letter to Veronica Mars


It's been far too long, again, since I last updated this blog. Apparently being a grown up is far more time consuming that I'd ever imagined. Between working, commuting, cleaning, cooking...well guys, it's a bitch. I have had some time to squeeze in some writing, but it's been a slow process. Alas.

Today what I want to talk about is Veronica Mars. If you know much about me, then you may know that I am a die-hard Veronica Mars fan. I discovered it the summer after the first season aired. I was 17 and absolutely floored by Kristen Bell as Veronica. She was smart, witty, tough. Everything I, a quiet wallflower, wished I could be.

I binge-watched the first season over the course of two days on a trip to my Nana's house. Then I rewatched it over the next several weeks. By the time season 2 premiered I was telling anyone and everyone how awesome Veronica was.

When the show got cancelled in 2007 I was devastated. I did everything I could to try and get it back – sent Mars Bars and postcards to the WB, wrote lengthy emails. But it was gone.

I was especially perturbed as Rob Thomas, the series creator, left so much of the show unresolved in that last episode. I couldn't even bring myself to rewatch the third season. I bought it the day it came out on DVD, and then left it shrink-wrapped on my shelf for nearly seven years.

For years the question of a movie rattled around the web. It seemed Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas couldn't get through an interview without it being mentioned. I would chase th
ese crumbs like a hungry mouse. But nothing came of it...until last year when they announced the Kickstarter Campaign.

Let me tell you people, it was a dark week for me. I was in Canada waiting for my Fiancé visa so I could return to the UK, and I was terrified it was going to be rejected. I was in a tailspin of bad what ifs. I also hadn't seen my (now) husband in weeks, which was difficult. But when I found out about that campaign I was walking on air. I pledged immediately, and then pledged more when they opened up reward shipping options to Canada and the UK. I would have given every penny I had, if I had that many pennies, but I didn't. I still wish I could have afforded a ticket to one of the premieres. At least I got a cool T-shirt (which I've never seen as it got shipped to Canada and I'm in the UK now, but I'll get it soon!).

And now, after a year of eagerly waiting, the Veronica Mars movie is out! I drove 65 miles from my work to Bristol last night to catch it on the big screen and it was amazing. The theatre was close to full and it was so great to get to experience it alongside other fans. It was hard at first to get use to how much all the characters had aged/changed, but it was also exciting. Jason Dohring as Logan...wow.

I'm so happy this film got made. And I so hope that they make enough money to spur a sequel, and another sequel, and maybe a series on Netflix. But even if that doesn't happen, I can finally say that Veronica Mars has ended on a high note. I can go back and watch the whole series, and then the movie, and feel satisfied and happy. This is what I've wanted most for the past seven years. But as a bonus, they're releasing a novel in the next few weeks, so the story of Veronica and her pals in Neptune will continue.

As someone who loves good stories, Veronic Mars ticked every box. Imaginative plots, unparalleled wit, and an epic love story make it one of the best TV shows of my lifetime. Now it's one of my favourite movies, and this afternoon, I'm going to watch it again! And maybe again tomorrow. Then I might go back and rewatch the whole series (even though I just finished doing that a couple weeks ago). In between all this I promise to do some writing, after all – what's more inspiring to a writer than a really great story?

If you haven't seen Veronica Mars, I wholly suggest watching it now – whether you start from the beginning of the series (which I recommend) or even just check out the movie (which stands alone from the series enough for newbies). 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Greatest Weakness as a Writer

I probably have a million weaknesses when it comes to writing. I'm sure all writers do, and those who say they don't are probably lying to you, or themselves. It's not an easy task, writing. It's a gruelling yet exhilarating process. Even if you're writing a silly romance novel, it's part of you. Those are your words, no one else's. And they matter to you. So much that you obsesses over them, bite your nails over them. And the very idea of someone else reading them - terrifying.

But I'm getting off track here. What I'm trying to say is that writing makes you aware, painfully aware, of just how crap you are. Of course, it also makes you aware of just how brilliant you are. And when I'm writing, my weaknesses show like a flashing red light, reminding me that witty and charming dialogue is nice enough, but plots need thickening and characters need kicking in the ass.

I'm too good to my characters. I don't like to make them suffer. This isn't my greatest weakness though, albeit it is one of them.

No my greatest weakness is that I believe in love. I mean like I BELIEVE IN IT. Maybe it's because I married the first man I ever fell in love with, or maybe it's because I'm a victim of a happy childhood. My parents were loving and happy and their relationship was amazing. Had my mom not passed away, I have no doubt that they would have been together until they were withered and old - but blissfully happy.

Either way, in my head falling in love once means falling in love forever. True love never ends and happy endings are oh so real. Maybe I'm deluded. Maybe I'm living on another planet. But love is powerful and I, well I love it.

Why does this make me weak? Because when I'm writing a love story, and let's face it, I'm always writing a love story, I can never really bring myself to break my characters' hearts. I can't break apart people who are in love. It seems so so wrong.

Case in point, the novel I'm working on right now. My protagonist is falling in love with the completely wrong guy. These two are NOT supposed to end up together. If they do it will be all sorts of weird and scandalous. But I can't seem to pull her out of it. It'd be better for her, better for him, better for their families, and better for a whole bloody country if they are not together.

But my word, she loves him. And love is supposed to be forever damn it!

It's a nightmare.

The good news is that the book isn't done, no where near it, and maybe just maybe I'll find away to make them part ways. Maybe there's another, better guy waiting for her. Someone who won't complicate her life so heinously. Maybe the story will evolve and it will right itself and end perfectly. I mean, just look at Starkissed. When I started that one (SPOILER ALERT) Sydney was meant for Colin...destined for him...and look how that turned out.

But until then I'm spinning around in circles trying to write myself out of this love story, and I have no idea how.

So there it is people, my greatest weakness as a writer. I believe in never ending, life shattering, heart stopping love. Of course, this could be my greatest strength as well. I mean what's better than a book with a proper 'they lived happily ever after' ending?

Now I've confessed mine, it's time to confess yours. Writers out there, what is your greatest weakness?





Sunday, January 12, 2014

Newsletter!

Hello lovely people,

Today I just wanted to drop a quick line to tell you that I've started a newsletter to make it even easier for you to keep up to date with whats going on in Brynnaland. I promise no spam, just a one in a while check-in that will include news, freebies, previews, and contests! If you'd like to register you can use the tab above, or this link:

http://eepurl.com/LPHXL

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! Stay tuned for new posts in the week!

Brynna


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Procrastination and Writing Rituals

I used to be the worst of procrastinators. When it came to doing homework in High School I would pretty much do anything but what I was supposed to be doing. On Friday afternoons, Monday just seemed so far away. Why would I do my homework then and get it out of the way when I could miserably spend my Sunday night scrambling to do it instead? And during the week, well I can't tell you how many mornings I spent frantically trying to finish my homework sat on the hallway floor in front of my locker, minutes before class was set to begin. It was ridiculous. People would be standing over me, trying to get in their lockers and I'd be trying to find quotes from Animal Farm to put on my English worksheet.

If ever did manage to force myself to sit down and get something done, something else would always seem far more important. Like cleaning my room. How on earth could I possibly write an essay when my room was in shambles? Not that my room ever seemed to be in anything but shambles. Nonetheless, I would get up out of my chair and start putting the place back together. I'd see my floor for the first time in weeks, unearth old plates from meals far gone by, and things I'd deemed lost forever would suddenly reappear. It wasn't until my room was spick and span that I'd return to my chair, slump forward and finally start what I'd set out to do an hour earlier.

I've long since abandoned the majority of my procrastinator ways. Somewhere between High School and University I realized something astounding. Life is much more fun when you don't have stuff like homework hanging over your head. Honestly, it's amazing how good it feels to know you can sit down to watch a movie and not have to worry about a pile of dishes, or having to go pay some bills. When I'm at work I do all the bits I hate first. It makes the day go by so much smoother.

As good as I am now at getting stuff dealt with, one niggling thing has remained from my high school days. Remember how I said I used to clean my room instead of doing my work? Well now I can't do anything productive writing wise unless my office is clean. A silly habit born of procrastination has morphed into a writing ritual that I simply can't shake off. Whenever I decide to sit down and start typing out a new chapter or maybe edit something, my creativity is stifled by the clutter on my desk. So I have to get up and tidy the thing, and then work my way through the rest of the room until it's all nice and pretty.

So tell me. Are you a big procrastinator? Have you managed to kick the habit like me? And you writers out there, are there any rituals you just have to complete before you can get anything done?





Saturday, January 4, 2014

8 Tips on How to Proofread Your Own Work


While to many it may seem like an arduous and thankless task, I love proofreading. It may be an unexpected thing to find joy in, but nonetheless I have a strange and powerful attraction to the art of finding errors in other people's writing. It goes all the way back to high school, when we used to trade papers with the other students in class to 'proofread' our essays or what not. I had a red pen and I loved to use it.  I so enjoyed it that I flirted with the idea of becoming a teacher, solely so I could mark up my students' work. It didn't seem like a good enough reason in the end.

My proofreading joy is not a vindictive one, don't worry. I don't revel in making other people feel less because they've used the incorrect spelling of 'their'. In fact I make similar, silly mistakes in my own writing all the time. It happens. For me, I love proofreading because it's like a game. Like a puzzle that needs to be solved. And in the end I make someone else's writing stronger, which I find really rewarding. It's why I'm a big fan of editing for others as well.

I learned how to properly proofread in university during my BA. I had an excellent publishing instructor who taught me all the ins and outs of the proofreading game. She gave us these work sheets every week that I'd devour like puzzles out of a Sudoku book. Her lessons have stuck with me to this day.

If you've previously read my blog, you probably know that after I finished my BA, I moved to the UK to do a Master's in Publishing. Here I undertook even further training in proofreading and even received a distinction on my proofreading exam. 

So you could say I'm pretty well trained in proofreading, although nothing is better than real world practice - which I've been getting over the past year as a freelance proofreader and editor. I also do quite a bit of editing and proofreading in my day job. But as much as I enjoy it, and as well as I do it, I'm not the best at proofreading my own work. Chances are, you aren't either. When you've created something, you're too close to it to see the minute flaws. I know some amazing writers who are fantastic proofreaders as well, but they have the same issue. They can't pick up mistakes in their own writing.

Proofreading is important, and I highly advocate hiring someone to look over your work before you put it out there.  After all, you want to present your work to the world in its best possible form. And not only that, but proofreading may mean the difference between someone choosing to buy your book or not. I've seen people reject books because of glaring proofreading errors.

When I published Starkissed I couldn't afford to hire a proofreader, so I did it myself, to the tune of over 7 read-throughs. That's a lot of time people – days worth.  And even with all that work, errors still slipped through. I won't be doing that again with my next book!

As you can see, I understand that it's not always possible to hire someone to do the proofreading or editing for you. So, if that's the case, I'd like to help you out by passing on a few tips on how to proofread that I've found highly useful in my proofreading endeavors – both when looking over my own work and that of others.

8 Tips for Proofreading

1. Print it out – Don't just stare at the screen when proofreading. By printing your pages out, you'll give yourself a brand new view of the work, and you'll likely pick up errors you'd never have seen on screen.  Make sure when you print, that you've selected a serif font, such as Times New Roman instead of something sans serif, like Arial. Your eyes will be able to read this easier in print. As well, give yourself plenty of space for marking your copy by at least 1.5 spacing the lines, if not double spacing.

2. Learn proofreading marks – Proofreading marks are wonderful tools that are sadly being lost as more and more people edit on screen with track changes. But when you're working with a pen and paper, they are incredibly useful. It's all well and good to go through your manuscript and simply circle and underline the problems you find, but after 200 pages you might find yourself wondering exactly why something is circled. Proofreading marks are specific and dead useful. I suggest picking up a copy of The Copy Editor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn. It was one of the texts we used in my undergrad and I found it to be a fantastic tool in learning marks. The Chicago Manual of Style also has a great list of marks. As well, there are some great resources online that can teach you. 

3. Read aloud – Take it slow and read every single word out loud as you go through your manuscript. You'll be amazed at how hearing your words out loud can help you pick up on things you're eyes simply aren't seeing. It's particularly useful for finding missing words and places where punctuation is lacking.  

4. Read one line at a time – Whenever I read Harry Potter, I know what's coming and before I've even finished a sentence, my eyes start skimming the paragraph below in excitement. The same will probably happen when you read your own work. You know what's coming and thus your eyes may leap and bound across the page. To stop this from happening, cover the rest of the page with a sheet of paper, or at least use a ruler, and move it down with each line that you complete. It will stop your eyes from jumping all over the place and will force you to focus on what's right in front of you.

5. Get a style guide The Chicago Manual of Style is a beast. It's heavy and thick and the pages are thin and plenty. But it is packed full of useful information and most likely will answer the majority of your questions – whether they're about capitalization or titles or whether or not to spell out numbers. It's my preferred style guide and I've found it to be my best friend when editing and proofreading. It's not the only style guide out there, of course, there are plenty if you search online. However, The Chicago Manual of Style is widely used and trusted – particularly in North America.

6. Make your own style guide – This is something you can do through all stages of the creation of your manuscript – from writing to editing to proofreading. Every time you make style choice, or look something up in a style guide – make a note of it. If you're writing in British English, or American English – put that in. If you're using a serial comma (which I highly recommend), make a note of it too. If you're spelling a certain word a certain way, put that in.  It will be useful for consistency later when you find that half your words are spelt one way, and half the other. Consistency is important and if you've written out 'twenty-five' in chapter two, but then in chapter five have put '25' – it shows a lack of consistency, which is sloppy.  All you need to do is open a second document alongside your manuscript and make notes as you go along. It will save you tons of time in the long run. And bonus, when you're writing your next manuscript, you can use it use it all over again. That way you won't have to spend more time deciding whether or not to capitalize Your Highness or not (The Chicago Manual of Style says yes).

7. Take your time – While you may be on a roll and it may seem just fine to blaze through all of your proofreading in a single day, I don't advocate it. You need to take breaks and let your brain recharge. You'll start to overload and all the sentences will start blurring together, which will make you miss things. When I proofread I generally work for two hours, then take a short break, and go back. And once I've completed a pass of a manuscript, I abandon it for a few days before I do the next pass. That way when you're completing the second pass, the words aren't as fresh in your mind and it gives you a bit of distance so you can reread without knowing exactly what's coming next. This, of course, is easier when it's someone else's work, as it's not as familiar as your own. Still, let yourself have the time. Your brain will appreciate it.

8. Do it again – Proofreading takes time. Good proofreading takes quite a bit of it. When I proofread for others, I do two passes. One on paper and one on screen. To complete both passes it takes me an average of 12-16 hours for a novel of 200-300 pages (without the addition of breaks). If the novel needs a lot of work, understandably it will likely take more time. Don't short change yourself on time when proofreading. At the minimum give your manuscript two looks over, and more if you can manage it. The beauty of printing your work out for the first pass is that it will force you to do a second pass when inputting your changes on screen. But make sure when you're inputting those changes, that you're going through the manuscript with a close eye all over again. Don't just skip ahead to the next error you've already marked.

I hope these tips are of great use to you writers out there. As I said previously, I really advocate hiring someone to do your proofreading. It's incredibly difficult to proofread your own work and an outside eye can be so valuable at this stage, especially if you hire someone who is practiced at proofreading and knows what to look for.

If you'd like more information on my proofreading services, pop over to www.gabrielsonpublishing.com or email me at either brynnagabrielson@gmail.com, or gabrielsonpublishing@gmail.com.