Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Confession About My EBook...

So my new EBook 'The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Ballet Dancers' is supposed to help writers who want to write a story that includes a ballet dancer (or two or more) get it right - and it will.

I love ballet and wanted more than anything to be a dancer for most of my growing up years. Although I knew due to my height (lack of, that is), my less than ideal hip sockets that didn't allow me to execute the ideal 180 degree flat turn out and my propensity for bulking up in the muscle department too easily ("you have the ideal body for a body builder" is NOT what a dancer wants to hear) wouldn't allow me into the professional ballet arena I was still determined to dance - which I did. I was lucky to do as much as I did in professional circles. Ballet class was something I couldn't NOT do regularly and so I kept in touch with my first love and met many wonderful dancers who did have the goods (lucky, lucky... no - I'm not jealous - much - anymore...!)

So I know what I'm talking about. My book is full of great material - from living it, from observation and research - and will be one of the best resources people can find for writing about classical ballet dancers.

So what's my big confession? It never occurred to me to write about dancers myself! Not fiction anyway. My dance-related writing is limited to workshop notes for adult beginners, children's dance programs, a few short articles, vague scribblings for a screenplay and a couple of poems. No short story. No novel.

Not yet anyway.

But I have some ideas - now... after all this thinking about ballet and writing down the stuff that I know, that I've seen, that I've felt and that I've discovered. It's fascinating!

And now I'm also confused.

Why do novels with ballet and ballet dancers tend to be so trashy? There's so much to work with.... but perhaps I'm answering my own question. If you don't really know the world your writing in then you're bound to write something with far less potential than if you really knew your subjects - even when that means you're putting them into a novel and making it all up. (Well, OK - not ALL - that's what leads to mediocre writing and having readers drop their books out of their sleeping hands, never to be picked up again.)

The ballet (and ballet-lovers) community seem to have quite a difficult time recommending books to each other on this beloved subject. Apart from a few exceptions (which I will be researching in the near future and posting results on, on my website in the 'Writing About Ballet Dancers' section) the general advice is 'stick with the biographies'. They're accurate (as far as ballet goes anyway) and the stories are usually far more compelling than any novel.

It seems, as far as ballet stories go, that truth is stranger - and more entertaining - than fiction.

That doesn't help me though. I, admittedly, am not a huge biography reader. I've probably read more dancer biographies than any other but even so it's not my first choice. I like fiction - fantasy fiction in particular - and the number of fantasy novels I'm aware of that have ballet dancers in them are.... drumroll.... ONE. I can only think of one!

Again, I don't really understand why.

Writing this EBook forced me to look at the specifics of a dancers life from a writers point of view - for the first time. Till then ballet was it's own form of communication and storytelling through movement and novels were a separate thing. For the first time I've put the two forms together very specifically and realized yet another reason I love ballet - the stories. And not just the straightforward 'program-notes' versions either. I'm talking about the subtle language of gesture, music interpretation and character that dancers work so hard at communicating through movement. It's rich ground to explore.

So why is it that barely anyone has done it?

The Red Shoes - the movie - is credited with inspiring a whole generation of girls to dance but I don't think it was just the prettiness of Moira Shearer or her glamorous clothes that captured the imagination. The underlying story of the Red Shoes fairytale underpins and echoes the main character's story. The ballet piece in the movie is a reflection of what's happening in their lives and it's haunting.

And ballet is FULL of stories like that! Each one holds it's own today precisely because it relates to the human experience. Talk about tailor made material!

So I have ideas. Two specifically. One is a novelette at least and the other is begging for a poetic approach. I'm intrigued.

I guess, in a way, you could say I've inspired myself. Who'd have thunk?

What Genre Would That Be Again?

In updating my 'About Me' page I realized I should put something about the sorts of stories I write. It's not that's it's hard to define so much as explain in a concise way that people understand on first hearing. It's not just that everything is so different (and that my first EBook is non-fiction!)

For example: My novel-in-progress 'Deadwood'.

During NaNoWriMo last year I hard a lot of trouble trying to find what genre to classify my story and ended up in the 'Other' category because it fit there best - which doesn't tell you anything of course! Apparently a few people were having similar issues with theirs and we got to chatting on the forums. It was suggested that perhaps I was leaning toward the Magic Realism category (not that there was a box to check for that) and it made a vague sort of sense.

My story is set in the present-day world in a fictional-but-could-be-real town and most everything that happens 'could' happen - except for the premise in which a dead body of a girl is brought back to life... I couldn't classify it as 'mystery' because it isn't all about the clues and the detectives. I couldn't classify it as romance, despite having a central relationship and I couldn't define it as 'literary fiction' because it's not primarily a character study. Adventure? Not really a journey-across-terrain kind of book or a combat/discovery sort of book either. I couldn't classify it as suspense, though it definitely has some of that, or thriller, or horror, though it's definitely not for the faint of heart. Fiction? Yes, but not the sort you might pull off the 'fiction' shelves at B&N. Yet I couldn't classify it as fantasy either because there just isn't much focus on on the fantastic or paranormal. Any 'happenings' may or may not be real. That part is left up to the reader (to some extent anyway). That said, there's a whole lot going on with an element of weird - all to the tune of a ticking clock...

Magic-realism almost fits. It might be happy next to 'Like Water For Chocolate, but only if it had a Dean Koontz novel on the other side. I don't think it would sit comfortably next to 'Love In the Time Of Cholera' at all!

So I've decided 'Deadwood' is 'fantastic-suspense' as it's more likely to end up on a fantasy shelf than any other.

But really, who cares right now? I should just write the story as it wants to be told. And that's all. Category-shmategory. Perhaps there'll be a new one by then anyway.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

EBook Countdown!

Wonderful news!

The EBook I've been working so hard on 'The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Ballet Dancers' has been accepted by Holly Lisle (professional author and creator of the 'Write It Right' series) and I only have a few minor notes to address before it's completely final. She's pleased enough that she's given me a release date: May 19th.
Woo hoo!
Then it will be available for only $9.00 from Holly's shop. (link to come)

So who is Holly Lisle? She's a professional author, with approximately 30 published books to date, who believes in paying forward to help writers realize their publishing dreams just like she was helped when she started. She's extremely generous in sharing her knowledge and expertise - most of it for free! Her newsletter is worth every word and I highly recommend signing up for it. Though it's free I would happily pay a subscription for this - I haven't found such a useful and fresh writing tool of encouragement and advice anywhere else.

I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to work with her this way. To have her approval on my writing is both wonderful and a great way to boost me into writing more books of my own that have a good chance of getting published. And I'm working to 'pay it forward' to others myself in thanks (as well as helping to advertise her own books - she's not just nice, she also writes a damn good read. Her suspense novels keep me up all night turning the pages!). My own 'pay it forward' right now is to share what I'm learning about the Organic Writing Process and to help all those out there like me who get stumped as soon as they write any notes about their book or attempt to do any plotting. Writers like us DO finish books and DO get published but I haven't found many resources aimed at showing newbies how to work with their curious brains. I can help with that and, for now, will devote every few posts to a mini-article about organic writing. As soon as the writing settles down a little I may even do a newsletter, but for now keep checking the blog. I hope I can help you find your way through some of those wild and thorny organic writer issues to keep you writing and get your own books completed.

Stay tuned for more updates. I might even link you to a sneak peek of the book as soon as I'm done with the rewrites...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who, What, Where, When, How, Why & Wherefore Am I Doing This Blog?

Ah - the nitty gritty - may this be enough to chew on without getting stuck in your throat...

Who: The Ink Gypsy - aka Gypsy Thornton: organic writer, mama, other-half, creative-all-rounder - you'll learn more about me in the blogs to come...

What: Blog (duh!) about my writing adventures and the challenge of finishing those novels and of getting them published (one day...) all the while using an organic process...

Where: You can read my blog right here in my site! I'm so stoked I cracked this nut! Took a little brain bashing at first but then I looked over my shoulder and presto! The solution! Not perfect, I know, but a lot better than having to link, link, link...

When: As often as possible - i.e. every two or three days - weekly at the very least! (A lot can happen in a week)

How: Um - I'll have to wait till the baby is asleep of course and then I'll tap into the magic of the www and pixelate my latest thoughts, aha moments, triumphs, despairs, discoveries and whatever else I think is interesting - and especially share what I figure out about organic writing that's useful to the serious writer (not the I'll-just-write-when-I-feel-like-it writer)

Why: I'm taking my writing seriously (my stories and my ideas as opposed to just my words written in some pseudo-sensical order) for the first time in my life. No more giving it all away to other people's projects without credit, no more only working my butt off for little magazines for free, no more story doctoring for others rather than telling my own.. well, not primarily anyway. Time to try and put my name on the spine of a book, my name on the opening credits.. Sound selfish? Hows about this then:

No more putting my own dreams aside to instead (and only) help others with theirs - my goal is to inspire others in their dreams as they see me reaching for mine (especially my son).

Wherefore: Do people really use this word anymore? OK so the purpose of this blog then: As stated above to be an example to my son, to finally pursue my own dreams and to bring you with me as I figure out my writing process and what works for an organic writer.

Figured out my theme yet? It's ORGANIC WRITING and how you (and I) can realistically use this wild-like writing method successfully (i.e. produce excellent novels and works that get published!)

Yep - I'm one of those - I can plot till the cows come home, go out to pasture again, become leather boots and then some but when it comes time to write that beautifully-and-wonderfully-layered story the spark has sputtered and died. Even a two word 'reminder' or half-sentence of a scene can kill it for me!

Instead I have to turn on my Imagination Station, follow the movie in my head and write what I see. But as common as this seems to be, there doesn't appear to be much in the way of resources for this type of writer. So my plan is too look at what I'm doing, see what works and what doesn't and share what I've found out so you can try it too (if you're lost in the writing wilds of plot vs no plot).

I love how to's, tutorials, step-by-step instructions, collecting, note-taking, filing all my discoveries into books and boxes BUT I can't write this way. Whatsupwithat?!?

I don't know - yet. But I will. And I'll let you know too. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Almost There

Nearly finished getting my pages organized and formatted for the website!

(she says - ha!)

Now I just need to finish the revisions on my ebook (just... sheesh!) and figure out that a nice looking header I can live with for a while...

Google pages: great because I can get a website up and running all by myself. (Yay)
Google pages: not so great because it's REALLY limited in the customizing department!

I just know people have done more with them than it first appears is possible though. There are some very creative work-arounds out there I'm seeing. I just have to figure out how to do them myself (just! HA! and SHEESH! both!!).

I got me some research to do...

Oh yeah - and what about all this writing I'm supposed to be doing now? Yeah... you really can get suckered into spending all your time trying to get that 'little something going so you can write' - turns out the 'little something' takes just as much, if not more, effort than actually writing!

Nove, novel - wherefore art though my novel?
Fear not fair prose (yes I'm very optimistic) I will rescue thee from the dust of the 'to do' pile and once again frolic (a.k.a. type pages of nonsense in the hope that within is a spark of genius...) into the early hours of the morning in thy sweet (always good to butter 'em up) company...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Do Not Panic!!!!!!!!!!!

do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic -

OK - now I have that out of my system here's the new Ink Gypsy blog for the new Ink Gypsy website! Woo hoo! Got some stuff to figure out yet though... like how to put it inside my site instead of just linking to it....

So much to learn - OK back to the mantra for today:

- this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test - do not panic - this is a test....