Plagiarism

June 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , )

Plagiarism sort of fascinates me.  Mostly because I am a reader, I think.  And as a reader I absorb.

I absorb thoughts, ideas, fairy tales, story lines, dialogue… and sometimes when I’m writing I find that I can’t remember if what I’m writing came from a dream I had, a book I read, or a an actual idea that I am actually formulating as my ink pours from my pen.

I am re-reading The Mortal Instruments series, and with a re-read comes more review reading, more research, because I no longer fear a spoiler.  So long after the scandal, I discovered this morning that Cassandra Clare was accused of plagiarism on a fan fiction site for a Harry Potter spin-off series about Draco.  Not only accused, but her account was cancelled because of it.

I’m not defending plagiarism, it’s not ok.  The idea that someone would purposely just copy someone else’s work turns my stomach.

But what if it is purely accidental?

What if you have internalized a work so completely in your youth that as an adult an idea, dialogue, plot points, come to you so wholly formed and you recall that it was inspired by something, but not necessarily who or where the inspiration came from?

I can see that happening to me.  I read so much as a child and I cannot remember it all, but I do have to say that I don’t think a single idea I’ve ever had could actually be attributed to myself.  They aren’t my ideas.  They are the ideas of those who came before me.  They are the ideas that came from authors I loved, and characters who became my friends.

I distinctly remember writing a story once, I was maybe seventeen at the time, and I was so in love with it.  I thought, man, I’m good – this story is fantastic.  I re-read it, I worked on it avidly.  Then I realized, about a month later, that it wasn’t mine.  I was re-writing The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.  Perhaps slightly in my own words, but the essence of it was entirely hers and I was forced to throw it away.

It was the first time I became doubtful that I would ever publish anything.  Until then, I had been completely convinced that no matter what happened in my life, I would at least become an author in some capacity.  It was in my veins since the first time I picked up a book and could decode the letters that made words and sentences.  I had been writing stories and ‘books’ since I could manage to scrawl out a readable letter with my number two pencil.  But right then, as a teenager, I realized my biggest fear – that perhaps I didn’t have any words of my own.  Perhaps they all came from elsewhere.

That is when I realized what the biggest challenge would be for me to become an author – writing something original.  How do you sort through all that you’ve read, all that you love, and find something that doesn’t already belong to someone in some way?

Because of this, my novella doesn’t have much in the way of plot points.  The characters came to me, yes.  I can write their essence, yes.  But ultimately, I am terrified of plot points.  I feel like they’ve all been written before.  But people, people are always capable of being their own.  Characters are easier to write than plots, because I’m surrounded by characters – they live in my head.  Plots, on the other hand, only live in books that have already been written.  Real life doesn’t seem to consist of plots so I can’t rely on life to deliver inspiration that hasn’t already been had by someone.

Logical fallacies, of course.  But that’s how I feel.

And I can’t help but wonder if Cassandra Clare felt the same way from time to time.

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Log Off and Smell the Lattes

April 2, 2014 at 9:48 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

DSC03062The phrase used to be ‘stop and smell the roses,’ I don’t know that it’s an entirely accurate turn of phrase anymore.

I am a busy lady with lots of activities, but mostly I’m busy on the internet.  I have my personal accounts, and most things started out as hobbies, but somewhere along the way all my hobbies turned into jobs – and most these jobs include manning facebook, twitter, pinterest, and a whole host of other social media.  Not just for me and my writing career, but for my art company, bookstores, and, well, everyone.

Because I do all this from an actual computer, because I don’t have what I call a ‘fancy’ phone or any kind of ‘spectacular device’ (smartphone, ipads, and whatever other twenty-first century gadgets the world has at their fingertips these days), when I go on vacation, or even a business trip, I get a true break from everything.

I had a book signing in Dallas this past weekend.  Which means from the time I got into my car to drive the four hour trek to the time I pulled back into my driveway 72 hours later, I was on internet silence.  No facebook to log into. I didn’t have a chance to or even a reminder to tweet anything.  My blog became an afterthought; and everything of the cyberspace variety went 100% on the back burner so that I could spend all my time with the real world – or ink and paper when I didn’t want to look beyond my nose.

And guess what?

It was marvelous.

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Click the photo to see all the pictures from the HPB Preston Village book signing.

My afternoon at my signing was completely focused on my customers, my business partner, and the beautiful friends that came to visit and support me.  I’ve seen many authors sit behind author tables and have no clue how to interact.  Instead they spend precious moments when they could be chatting with fans, typing on smartphones or figuring out how to take credit cards.  Being able to accept credit cards sure does make things simple for people – but my tech-free weekend kept all transactions cash only, and I have to say, it was nice.

Afterward, a group of us went off to a new restaurant in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas called Smoke.  I highly recommend eating there for anyone who hasn’t tried it.  The food was excellent, the service was great, and the place had a pretty stellar vibe.  (By the way, the creme brule is to die for – and the best part is the candied ginger. )  Part of that vibe, I must say, was enhanced by the fact that we spent little to no time on our phones!

P1010467 Instead, we discussed future events for Aoristos and myself, as well as books (both published and not yet published).  To the right, my lovely friend Miss Golightly is taking a brief gander at the Follies Past by Melanie Ker while we wait for our dinner.  (I’m still reading, but there will be a review posted soon!  Austen fans, stay tuned!)

Time and time again I have gone to dinner with the far less considerate only to sit at a table and watch people facebook and text all their friends who aren’t present.  It’s something I’ve never appreciated.  So, although having  a smart phone would make many of my events have a more solid online presence, I am not inclined to purchase one until I absolutely have to.  I’m less interested in an online presence and more interested in being present.  The online part can happen before and after, in my opinion.

After being stuffed to the gills with the most amazing barbecue I’ve had in a long time, I finished the day at my aunt and uncle’s house.  It’s practically a bed and breakfast it is so cozy and relaxing.  Homemade lattes were made, there was some time in the garden, and then afterward the kiddo and I slept here…

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Clearly, this is after I mussed up the pillows.  P1010517

FYI, there’s a manlier room down the hall…

It was the best sleep I’ve had in a good long while.  Probably helpful that my eyes hadn’t spent any evening time looking at a computer screen.  (Not to mention, I was physically exhausted.)

Bright and early, and well rested, the next morning… I stepped out of my room to something that is nothing short of heaven to my soul:

P1010502Yes, that’s a coffee bar right outside the guest bedroom.  Complete with bottled water for the Keurig, International Delight creamers (in hazelnut and french vanilla), sugar packets, and real mugs!

After helping myself to coffee, I took my journal and Melanie Kerr’s book and headed to the room one door down…

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It was a beautiful morning.  I did what I do every morning, sans computer screen blinking at me.  That lack of a computer screen makes all the difference.  And although computers are useful, and I adore my jobs and the freedom I have to raise my daughter while working mostly from home; once in awhile I need to remember that just because I’m sitting, doesn’t mean I need to be sitting with technology.

Log off… smell the lattes… breathe, relax, enjoy.

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The Secret Keeper and Storytellers

December 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

secret-keeperTitle:The Secret Keeper

Author: Kate Morton

Publisher: Atria Books

Genre: Fiction/ Historical Fiction

Length: 484 pages

I broke my Kate Morton rule.  I read TWO Kate Morton novels in a 12 month period.  And it was wonderful.

Forget my previously mentioned warnings to space out her books as long as it takes her to write them.  This was a perfect winter read, she sucked me in – as always – and I found myself thinking it was her best piece since The Forgotten Garden.  Don’t I say that every time?

I don’t just love Kate Morton as a reader, I find her inspiring as a writer.  When everyone else is diving into NaNoWrMo – something I signed up for, but just really don’t get – I dive into Kate Morton and find that’s the push I need to get my own stories out of my head.  (Same goes for Stephen King, that man really pushes my buttons and moves me to write.)

Semi side note: Is it just me or is NaNoWrMo distracting as all get out.  I write 2k words a day on average – granted, not all usable, obviously – but every time I open an email for NaNoWrMo I find myself reading and sifting through a bunch of stuff and not getting ANY writing done at all.  It’s fake motivation for me.  It’s a complete and utter distraction.  Like going to a pep rally.  I’m more excited for a football game when I’m at the football game, but if you push me through the noise of a pep rally I just don’t feel like going anymore.  SO counter productive.

You really want to be motivated to write? Read a good book.  Read a really good book.  Find someone who just moves you and you can’t help but think – I want to do that.  Not exactly that, mind you, I want to write my own stuff.  But I want to get a story out that moves people the way I’ve just been moved.  Or excites people the way I’ve just been excited.  The best motivation for a storyteller, I think, is to hear/read a good story.

Kate Morton’s stories are always good.  No, not good, GREAT.  She weaves through time with the skill of a T.A.R.D.I.S. and the hearts of a TimeLord.   She is always a master of her chosen histories and reveals stories with an onion layer effect that always makes me giddy.  The best moment of every one of her books is the, “I knew it!” moment.  I love that she feeds you all the details but somehow leaves you thinking she might just surprise you – even though you don’t want to be surprised because you need to be right about this one detail that has dropped bread crumbs all over the story but hasn’t outright made itself obvious.

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Click to read another blogger’s review.

Even more than that, though, is Morton’s uncanny ability in every novel to write a character that feels so overly familiar to me.  Or, if not familiar, someone I want to be familiar.  The Secret Keeper had a lot of familiar faces from my real world.

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