roh morgon

~writing and finding balance

Imagine walking barefoot on an I-beam at the top of a skyscraper undergoing construction. You’re walking out to the end, your attention fixed to that point where steel stops and sky starts.

You place one foot at a time on the cold metal, not daring to look away. Your entire focus is on that steel lifeline beneath your feet.  Electric fear raises the hairs on your skin and you hope neither dust nor dew turns the next step into a slip. 

The world floats in your peripheral vision, but you don’t dare look. The infinite sky expands above you — its weight presses down and around your fragile body.  The earth waits below, the city’s concrete and asphalt promising instant death. But sky and earth are not the source of your fear. 

It’s not falling that fuels the fear, either, though that seems the most obvious. 

It’s your balance, or lack thereof. Your balance is what determines whether you careen off the edge or reach your goal. You hope you’ve trained and schooled enough to maintain an even keel, instilled enough discipline in yourself to keep walking and not lose sight of the end.

But maintaining that focus is difficult – and exhausting. One moment you’re sweating and your foot trembles as it seeks a stable grip. The next is filled with elation at your success, giving you a boost of confidence that you are going to make it.

Something flies by and your eyes are drawn to it against your will. Your body wobbles and you take a sharp breath and stop.

But you can’t stop when you’re walking an I-beam, because to stop is to risk becoming frozen by fear – the fear of starting again and taking the next step. And so you stand there, the world spinning at your feet, and try to summon the courage to begin again. You will your leg to move, to relax the deathgrip your foot has on the steel and seek a new resting spot ahead. And it does, and the other foot follows, and you are once again on your way.

The end is in sight and you drive on toward it. You become aware of voices below, some shouting encouragement, others screaming that you’ll fall. But you can’t give them your attention, because you must keep it on the steel beneath your feet.

The end of the beam becomes everything. You hope that when you reach it, wings will sprout from your back and you can launch into a welcoming sky – a sky that will open up a whole new world and way of living.

The life of a writer seeking to become published is like walking that I-beam. Work and family vie for attention, and it must be given. The trick is to find the balance between the demands of others and the demands of self.

Balance.

How do you find it?

roh morgon @ Friday, 14 January 2011 10:43 am
Comments (6)
category: writing
tags: ,

~big day – my Critique This WIP interview and a new website

Wow – today is a monumental day in roh’s world.

First of all, I’m beyond excited to reveal my new website, courtesy of my son and a friend of his, Tony Brock, a very talented web developer. Tony did an awesome job with the site – visit www.rohmorgon.com and let me know what you think.

But the really thrilling news (at least for me!) is that Critique This WIP is featuring an interview with me this week as part of their Author Interview series! Critique This WIP is a group of writers who blog about the writing world. In their words:

We are a group of five women, brought together by one common goal—publication. Obviously, we each write some form of romance, whether it be paranormal, contemporary, or romantic suspense. Like all writers, our lives revolve around our stories (even if that pesky little thing called life gets in the way sometimes).
CritiqueThisWIP is our blog–a place for us to share our thoughts, tips, and feelings about writing.
Together, we make up Critique This, and together we critique our way to publication.

Stop by their site and check it out. They’ve done a number of Author Interviews and I’m jazzed to be included in their series.

And as a reminder, the Monster Mash is happening all week (monsters love to party!). Be sure to visit all the guests and see who they’ve brought to the Mash!

That’s it for now, so…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

roh morgon @ Monday, 25 October 2010 9:52 pm
Comments (7)

~contests and welcome to a new blogger!

First of all, I want to mention a couple of contests that are going on right now.

Today is the last day for the 100 Followers Contest over at  Critique This WIP. Prizes are chapter critiques by the gang over there – click on the link now to enter!

Roni, of Fiction Groupie, and Julie, of  Diary of an Unpublished Wanna-Be Writer, are hosting Roni and Julie’s Totally Epic Summer Contest.  They’ve been interviewing authors and agents all week, and are offering a variety of fabulous prizes, including books, critiques, and query opportunities. Hurry on over there to enter – contest deadline is Sunday, August 8.

And now, to introduce you to a new blogger!

Melanie Smith is a member of the Fresno Sci-Fi & Fantasy Writers and a dear friend of mine. She’s also an editor and a word-crafter par excellence!

Mellie’ new blog is called Thursday-ish. Why? In her words:

“Why Thursday, you ask? Monday and Tuesday are very busy for me.  Wednesday is too finely balanced in the middle of the week, and Friday is busy again, with my mind on other things. Thursday, though, is like an eddy of time in my busy life.  It’s the day I’m most likely to spend with a friend, or painting a watercolor, or writing.  I’m not all that good at deadlines, however, so I’m only promising Thursday-ISH.  It might be later, or I may feel perfectly balanced and write something brilliant on Wednesday.  One never knows…”

So join me in welcoming her, and hop on over to see what she says about her love affair…with words.

roh morgon @ Friday, 6 August 2010 8:11 pm
Comments (4)

~characters that shine and Character Contest #1

REMINDER – Character Contest #1 ends TOMORROW (Saturday July 17) at midnight! Don’t miss out on a chance to win cool book stuff!

~~~~~~~~~

Characters. They literally make or break a story. You can have plot up the bazoo, but if you don’t have characters that entrap the readers, that suck them in and make their hearts race, you have nothing but black marks on a page.

I just finished critiquing nine stories ranging in length from 3,000 to 14,000 words (more than half of them were 10k+). These stories will be published by the Fresno Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers in our first annual anthology this fall.

So I’ve been paying extra attention to character development lately, not only in our anthology stories, but others as well.

Some stories contain dynamic characters that screech up to the reader, slam open the door, and say, “Jump in!” Then they careen down the road at madcap speed, the reader hanging on for dear life, giggling or sobbing at every turn.

In others, sedate characters stroll by, politely asking the reader if they’d like to go for a walk as they pass. The journey can be pleasant and relaxing, or a boring sedative to fall asleep with.

And sometimes the characters are confined by the writer to a park bench, only watching the events unfold around them and not even noticing when the reader asks to join them. Emotionless, unable to interact with their environment, their apathy quickly drives the reader away.

So how do you turn those wallflowers at the prom into the dancing stars that everyone admires and wants to be with? What can you do to turn them from a drab grey to vivid splashes of red, blue, and yellow?

Let ’em speak. Give them a voice. Allow them to cringe in pain, to frown in annoyance, to grin and shout their joy. Every word, every gesture, should be used to lure the reader in and ensnare them in the web of the story. And if it’s done right – if the writer has given their characters the freedom to express themselves – the reader will be thrilled to be caught up in the silken threads of another world, far beyond the reach of their own reality.

I’d like to hear from other writers how you bring your characters to life and what advice you might have to offer for those that are learning the craft.

roh morgon @ Friday, 16 July 2010 3:52 pm
Comments (0)

~what are agents really looking for?

Check out this post by Veronica Roth over at GotYA on agent responses to queries at the Backspace Writers Conference.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 2 June 2010 11:41 am
Comments (1)

~how ‘real’ are your characters?

There has been discussion recently among several of my friends from the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) about characters – character development, character-driven vs. plot-driven stories, etc.

Characters are what inspire me to write. Each of my stories started when I woke up one morning with the image or words of a character in my head. Were they the result, or aftermath, of dreams? I don’t know, because I rarely remember my dreams.

The beings I’ve written about each began as a blurry presence that solidified as I turned my attention to them. And once I opened the door in my mind to their existence, they came through, bringing their personalities, fears, needs, and quirks with them. Physical appearances came later, generally not until I actually began writing their stories.

The stories they’ve shown me played as movies in my head, revealed one scene at a time. Often I got glimpses of future scenes, but I was never quite sure where they would fall until they hit the page.  The endings were a little different. Once the story was rolling – once the character felt confident that I was telling it the way they wanted – only then they would show me the ending.

Watcher, my first story, was interesting to write. As Sunny showed me her life and I began to get a sense of her loneliness, she guided me to one of the most important scenes in her story – the first time she saw Nicolas. It wasn’t until he stepped into the story that I knew the ending.  And that was also when I realized there would be a sequel as well.

The sequel, Runner, is a work-in-progress and is only half-complete. The ending for it is fuzzy – I know the general direction the story is heading, but these two characters have a habit of throwing surprises at me as I write.  The beginning of Runner is proof – I had no warning that Sandy was about to step into the story, let alone be such a pivotal character, until she literally stepped in front of Sunny’s car.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at how I refer to my characters – as though they are living, breathing, real beings with opinions and a say-so in the matter. But that is how I see them. To me, the only way a writer can make the reader believe a character is real, to bond with a character and care about them, is if the writer accepts them as real.

Their reality is just on another plane of existence. Whether that plane of existence is entirely in my mind, or is indeed another dimension full of cracks that its inhabitants slip through, is not something I care to dwell on. As long as my characters keep showing me their stories, I’ll keep writing them down.

And I’m betting that I’m not the first writer who halfway expects one of their characters to someday step around a corner – in this plane of existence – and say, “Hello.”

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 11 May 2010 10:43 am
Comments (3)

The San Francisco Writers Conference

I recently attended the San Francisco Writers Conference (http://www.sfwriters.org) held February 12 – 14. Let me say just one word about this conference – AMAZING!

Well, actually  I have a few more words than that to describe this fantastic gathering of editors, agents, writers and other folks within the publishing community. A lot more.

Let me start with saying I met some fascinating and talented people during the course of the conference. The variety of interests, backgrounds, and works of these professionals is astounding to this newcomer. It was like stepping into a bookstore – even though some had similar titles or maybe even similar areas of focus, each one was unique and full of surprises.

People are like books. They are walking stories filled with the scenes and chapters that make up their lives. Some fit in specific genres, others are crossovers, or slipstream, or whatever you may want to call it. And you never know what’s inside until you crack open the cover.

One person I met was a former military pilot. That’s all they said about their time in the military. But as conversations developed with this person, I started listening to the variety of places they’d been in, and realized this was no ordinary pilot. Moreover, it wasn’t what they said, but what they didn’t say, that made me realize the special ops background of this person. Talk about a rich palette of landscapes and experiences to draw from! But I also understood that it wasn’t all fun and adventure. You don’t walk away from that business without haunting memories of loss and regret. I felt fortunate to have met this person and wish them all the best (out of respect for them, I’ve used the genderless ‘they’ intentionally).

And that is really what the primary purpose of this conference is – to meet people, to network, to make connections. Agents and publishers come to these conferences to see old friends and find new talent. You are given opportunities to ask questions, have your writing reviewed, and even submit your work to professionals who normally don’t accept unsolicited material.

The seminars and workshops that take place throughout the day are filled with information on both the technical aspects of writing and how to navigate the rough waters of getting published. I gained insights from every one that I attended and regretted missing many of the others.

The conference schedule was quite impressive. There were five to six workshops every hour, along with other activities, beginning at 9:00am and ending at 7:00pm (or later). Many of the presenters only speak at one or two conferences per year, but this particular one seems to be favorite.

The Larson-Pomada Literary Agency ( http://www.larsen-pomada.com/lp/index.cfm ), is California’s oldest, and is the primary sponsor and host of the SF Writers Conference. Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada put San Francisco on the publishing map when they moved from New York and established their agency over 40 years ago. Thanks to their efforts, San Francisco is the second largest publishing center in the country (New York is the first for those who are new to the biz).

So if you truly want to get published, then you need to make a point of attending writers’ conferences. They are held throughout the year and I strongly encourage you to invest in your writing career and attend one or more. Who knows – you may meet the person who can open the door that will allow you to see your book sitting on a shelf in your local bookstore.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 24 February 2010 6:19 am
Comments (1)