Tag Archives: Casey Wyatt

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Should Writers Have Opinions?

Hey there fellow scribblers! Casey here.

Once upon a time, in the dark days before the Internet, writers used to be inaccessible Titans of Storytelling. There was a mystique, a veil of awe, that separated the reader from their beloved authors. Many times, a faceless (unless there was an author photo) God who churned out books we love and who solely existed to bring us readers joy.

An intrepid fan could contact a writer via their publishers, snail mail or by attending a convention, book signing or other public appearance. Even then, the hallowed author of your favorite books/series/universe was somewhat of a celebrity, often rendering you speechless. After all, chances were good that you’d approach the table, state your name so they could personalize your book, then you’d mumble something lame like – “I really love your books”, then move on**.

** quick aside – as a writer, we don’t think that’s lame at all. We appreciate knowing that readers enjoy our books.

Rarely did a reader learn or probably even try to discover the author’s political, religious or any beliefs at all. Nor as a reader, did we necessarily care – we just wanted them behind a keyboard churning out another book.

Ahh, how times have changed. Right?

Today, with multiple forms of social media, your friendly neighborhood author is just a mouse click away. The veil of mystique is shattered which begs the question – should author’s have opinions? How much is too much sharing?

Heck, do we even use our own names?

No doubt about it, there’s a fine line here between being yourself as a person and being a persona as a writer.

Some writers love to let it all hang out and are very vocal in their beliefs (example – Orson Scott Card). His very vocal views on homosexuality led to a firestorm that in all likelihood alienated fans. I know it made me think twice about him.

Other’s let the world know just enough about them to be enjoyable but don’t cross the TMI line (example – our dear friend Kristan Higgins). Since we Scribes know Kristan – we can say, yes, she is that down to earth, enjoys her man candy and loves her family. An ordinary person and a generous author with both her time and advice.

Does this mean writer’s shouldn’t have opinions? Are we not allowed to air our beliefs? Well, of course we’re allowed to have opinions and, hey, it’s a free country, right?Rooster Crowing

But again, it’s a fine line when it comes to what you say in public. So before you rant on Facebook or engage in a heated twitter battle, know the potential repercussions.

I like to apply the old adage – think before you speak (or type). And do unto others is also sound advice.

Put yourself on the other side of the fence – think of yourself as a reader too. Ask yourself:

  • Does learning that your favorite author has a total opposite view than you change how you see them?
  • Would you stop buying their books if they expressed/ranted about XYZ?
  • Do you really want to know XXX level of detail?

For me personally, as a writer, I’d rather walk on the positive side and keep my personal views to myself, especially in the political arena. During the last election, I un-friended people on Facebook (fellow writers) because of too much political ranting.

And when I apply the reader test to myself, I find I’d rather hear about when the next book is coming out and what my favorite author has planned next. It’s not that I don’t think writers should have opinions, but I’d rather save it for face to face conversations or private correspondence.

I say –  be polite, accessible but leave a little of that old mystique.  Let the reader enjoy your books without too much information ruining their good time.

What do you think? Do you like to let it all hang out? Have you ever faced repercussions? Or have you found a happy medium?

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Pin it, Baby!

Hey everyone! Casey here.

PinterestOkay, I’m a bit late to the Pinterest party. For the last few years, I’ve actively avoided joining anymore social media sites that would siphon away from my writing time.

It all started out innocently enough.  While I was updating the appearance of my blog, I re-checked some of WordPress’ settings and noticed a Pinterest option.  In order to take advantage of the option I needed an account.

It was easy enough to create one. Then I made the mistake of looking around.

And – whammo – I was hooked. Because now that I had an account, I should add some boards because what if someone found me and I had nothing there? I would look pretty lame.

And where else could I post my cool Oogles the Owl photo collection?

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Oh, and while I was doing that, I figured I might as well start trying out the little red Pinterest button found on many websites too. So off I went, messing around with my favorites sites to see who had the red button.

Hear that sucking noise?

That was my writing time going down the drain. But the end result – I created some pretty cool boards (see them here) and I’ve been enjoying my friends’ boards (who are years ahead of me).

Honestly, Pinterest reminds me of a giant, web-based scrapbook. The only thing missing is fancy borders, colored backgrounds, and 3-D doo-dads.

The big question I have, what is Pinterest for? How does everyone use it?

As a photo album? For inspiration? To drool over food porn (or hunky men)?

If you’re on Pinterest, please share. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Magical Yarn

Happy Friday, all. Casey here.

As promised, we’ve updated our look. After three years it was time for a change. Please let us know what you think of our make-over.

Now, onto today’s blog.

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I had a realization the other day. It’s 2014. Twenty-freakin’-fourteen!

IMG_1781Well, duh. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that by now. And, despite my seeming disbelief, I know it too.

But it did make think about how much my life has changed in the last few years. Ten years ago, in 2004, I had mostly given up writing.

When I say mostly, what I mean is – I was not actually clacking away at a keyboard. Instead, I was berating myself for being a loser because I couldn’t complete a story. I had a few half-finished or sort of done, but awful, manuscripts hidden in binders under my bed (and yes, they were literally under there, collecting dust bunnies.)

I was paralyzed with doubt and indecision. I was totally clueless about what to do. Should I start another book? No. Because I already had too many incomplete drafts. So, I did nothing and worried. Because that is always so much more productive (not really).

My solution: teach myself to knit and crochet. Yup. Had nothing to do with writing but it was another life-long goal of mine. It all started when I six years old and my great aunts tried to teach me to crochet.

Total disaster. I couldn’t hold the yarn right. Couldn’t make a chain, let allow an actual stitch. I just didn’t get it. No matter how hard they tried to implant their skills into my brain, I sucked at it.

I was a loser/failure <cue sad trombone sound>

I had another chance to learn crochet  in Girl Scouts. Still a disaster but I did manage to make a curly worm bookmark (very lumpy and it didn’t twist properly). It’s now tucked away in my hope chest.

For years and years, not knowing how to crochet ate away at my sub-conscience. Why couldn’t I figure it out? Is there something wrong with me? Ummm. Kind of like my ability to finish a book (that didn’t suck).

I hate not being able to do things. The last straw: when I couldn’t finish drafting yet another novel to my satisfaction, I decided I was going to succeed at something. Damn it.

2004 was the year I went to Michael’s, bought a skein of Red Heart yarn (bright red) and two books – “I Taught Myself to Knit” and “I Taught Myself to Crochet” – and, by golly, that is exactly what I did. I learned!! I made stuff. It didn’t suck once I got the hang of it.

As soon as I mastered the basics, I decided I was knitting in the round. I wanted gloves. So I made them (apparently most beginners don’t go for gloves, but whatever).

Needless, to say, friends and family were inundated with crocheted and knitted “gifts” from me. Yet, the entire time, a little voice in my head nagged at me to get writing.

Eventually, the little voice won out. But not for another five years.

You know what? It doesn’t matter. In the end, I finished a book (Ascension), then another (Mystic Ink), then sold it. Then wrote more and sold more. I credit the little voice. But I also believe that by pushing my boundaries and trusting myself to learn a brand new skill, it gave me the confidence to consider myself a “real” writer and get busy.

And, yes, I still knit and crochet. This is my latest sock:

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Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yarn is magic. No, that’s probably not the answer. But listening to the little voices in your head, yeah, that must be it!

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Thinking Random Thoughts

Happy Friday! Casey here.

So here it is, the day before I’m scheduled to blog and I’m twiddling my thumbs. Normally, I’d be panicked. I like to get blogs done on Sunday night. But with Downton Abbey and Sherlock premiering in the US – what sane fan can think of blogging? Not me.

Blame the Monday holiday. Or maybe the fact that on Tuesday, hubby came home sick and promptly infected me. Thanks dear.

Or it could be that, while I’m in the final throes of Lachlan’s Curse (should be subtitled - Why, oh, Why Isn’t This Book Done Yet?) I can’t summon any ideas other than those related to the book. I did take comfort in reading Chuck Wendig’s blog post - It Takes the Time it Takes. Thank you, sir. I needed that!

Instead, I will leave you with my thoughts in pictures.

I am so glad you’re back. Don’t make me wait another two years.

Sherlock

I miss you, O’Brien.

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Got an ARC from Jess, can’t wait to dig in.

Jesse Hayworth Winter at Mustang Ranch

Can’t wait to meet you.

Doctor Who 8

But you’re still my favorite Doctor.

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And finally, when the heck is spring coming?!!

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Let’s Roll the Magic Story Cubes

Happy Friday, friends. Casey here.

Writers are often asked – “What inspires you?” In the past, I’ve shuddered at the question largely because, to non-writers, we seem to have some kind of magical powers. That the universe has blessed us with a special gift that enables us to come up with more ideas than everyone else.

Rory's Story CubesWell, surprise. We don’t have magic powers or a special gift from the gods. Most of the writers I know don’t suffer from a lack of ideas. In fact, we often have too many ideas zipping around in our heads. Why is that? I’ll get to that in a second.

For me, I have loads of ideas for stories. Tons of them. Sadly, most will never see the light of day. There isn’t enough time to fully explore them all. And not all of the ideas are good ones. So, the stories that do get written are the ones that stay with me. The ones where the characters rap me on the noggin’ and say, “Tell my story. Or else.”

So back to the earlier question – why do writers seem more inspired than the average bear?

Here’s my theory – everyone, and I do mean, everyone, has ideas all the time. Most people are afflicted with “adulthood.” They’ve repressed their childlike sense of wonder. There are too many reasons to list why this happens (life happens: family, kids, work, or they have loads of doubt or maybe they don’t care – take your pick).

One of the things I had to learn was to not ignore ideas. To seize them no matter how crazy they sounded. To not over-think them or talk myself out pursuing the idea. Hey, it’s okay to let your imagination run herd. Just do it!!

With that said, while I have no problem with coming up with an overall plot, I can get stumped with actual circumstance (i.e. scenes). And I’m always worried that I might repeat myself and rehash the same ideas over and over. And, really, who wants to do that? Not me!

Then one day, Chuck Wendig (Terrible Minds)  ran a blog post about Christmas gifts for writers. One of the gifts was Rory’s Story Cubes. Designed to be a game for kids, it’s basically a set of dice with pictures. You roll them, then make up a story. And the best part, anyone can play. Anyone (yes, even us jaded adults).

How fun does that sound??

I think it sounded pretty cool. So when I happened upon a set in Newbury Comics, I ponied up the $9.99 and brought them home. And if you don’t want to have physical dice, yes, there’s an app for that. Rory’s and other story dice apps are available at iTunes, Amazon and Google Play (just search under – story dice).

My plan is to use them whenever I find myself trying to spice up a scene or re-work a plot point.  So, while writers don’t invoke magic powers, we can roll story dice and see what comes up.

Who wants to play?

I’m rolling four dice . . . and go! Tell a story that connects each dice, starting with Once Upon a Time  or In a Land Faraway or whatever floats your boat. . .

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(In case you can’t see the images – frowny face, bridge over water, sheep, alien).

Have fun! 

Super Powered Thoughts

Yay! It’s Friday. Casey here.

So this past weekend, while eagerly awaiting Downton Abbey to begin, I saw the obligatory Viking River Cruises advertisement (that PBS airs before the show) and it got me thinking about travel. Where would I like to go? What would I visit first?

And hey, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to speak the local language? Which led to a different line of thought about having super powers. Like the kind in comic books, not the more serious, real world issue of global super power nations. Sorry, this isn’t that kind of post.

Anyway, while I like the idea of adventure, I’m also a total wimp. Hence the thought about super powers. I know this is totally nerdy, but if I could have a super power (and I have given this a lot of thought over the years – yes, it’s true), I’d want to understand every language in the universe. Not just hear it, but be a fluent speaker, read it, write it, and understand all the local customs too.

Yes, that probably takes the fun out of visiting new locales, but I can’t help it. It’s the anthropology major in me to want to understand a culture not just muddle around lost.

What? Too nerdy? I don’t care. Other people can have flying or x-ray vision.

How about you? Take the poll and share your views.

Friday Favorites – 5 Fabulous Book/Film Adaptations

Happy 1st Friday of 2014. Casey here!

While I’m STILL finishing Lachlan’s Curse, I thought I’d share some of my favorite book/movie adaptations. In all cases, I’ve read the books and seen the movies. This is by no means my only favorites nor are they necessarily blockbusters (i.e. JK Rowling, Jane Austen or Tolkien).

I’ll be first in line for Dangerous Curves Ahead: The Movie!

If you’ve never read the books or seen the movies, give these a try.

1. The 13th Warrior - based on the book - Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton. Not for the faint of heart if you don’t like warrior violence but the payoff in the end is spectacular. This movie was highly rated at the time it came out and yet didn’t really spark at the box office. The director, John McTiernan has publicly stated the theatrical version was not what he wanted. I say – whatever!! It’s still a fun action flick loosely based on Crichton’s book (which is a take-off of Beowulf). The final battle sequence has the best “speech” I’ve ever seen. Obviously, I favor the movie version.

2. The Namesake - book by  Jhumpa Lahiri. Both the book and film offer an honest glimpse into family life and what it’s like to grow up in two different cultures (American vs. Indian). Don’t miss this one if you enjoy quiet stories about families and want to learn more about a different culture.

3. Stardust - book by Neil Gaiman. Set in the fantasy world, a love-struck hero embarks on a mission to locate a shooting star hoping to impress a girl. Instead, he tangles with witches, flying pirates, vengeful princes and a falling star with a mind of her own. I’d argue that the movie version is actually better than the book. The ending is a million times more logical and the cast knocks it out of the park. If you’ve read the book, then you know what I mean.

4. The Prestige - book by Christopher Priest. Wow. The movie’s story (about a grudge match between two magicians) is a head rush and really not much like the book at all. Again, another situation where I think the film ending was better (and more coherent). This is also a film where you should watch it more than once to get all the nuances. (Also starring the hunktastic Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale!).

5. Little Women (1994 version) – Okay, I know there are other theatrical versions, but this is my personal favorite. I love the cast, the setting, well, everything about this movie. While it is not an exact adaptation of the book, it still rocks the story of Jo March and her sisters (and a young, handsome Christian Bale doesn’t hurt).

So there you have it. Back to writing I go!

How about you? What are your favorite books turned into films?