Archive for the 'Charlene’s Posts' Category

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 by Charlene Teglia
You can’t have everything

“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” Stephen Wright



As we close up Genreality and begin a new year, it seems like a good time to discuss the myth of having it all. As comedian Stephen Wright points out, you really can’t have everything. But this doesn’t stop us from (self-defeatingly) trying.


Planning for a new year or for a successful project begins with resource management. How much time and energy do you have to work with? What outside resources can you rely on to free up more time and energy for the project at hand? Nobody has infinite resources, and while it’s easy for me to envy writers who have older kids and aren’t trying to juggle a career around diapers, they have plenty of demands on their time, too.


Ways to outsource tasks on your list can be as simple as deciding the yard really only needs to be mowed twice a month instead of four times, or hiring somebody to clean, or getting a family member to babysit on a regular basis. Whittle down to the things you really do have to do and can’t put off or offload.


Another approach is to look at ways to create more energy. It’s true that working out leads to feeling more energetic but to get there you have to fight the tired glued to the couch feeling and begin. Same for eating right; in the long run it’ll lead to more energy. In the short term it means investing in the time to make better nutrition choices and maybe cook more. It’s the same old boring advice, but the best way to get the most out of your time is to get enough rest, eat right, and exercise.


How do you do that? Add walking to your daily routine whenever possible. Park further away from the store when you shop, walk to the day job, or just take a walk a couple of times a week. Lift weights; I’ve been doing the 12 Second Sequence workout on and off for years, and it really does get great results in 2 20 minute workouts a week. In November and December I really was so busy I could only do it once a week, but I stuck to that 20 minute commitment and it paid off.


Which brings me to; it’s always better to do a little consistently than to do nothing or to try to do too much and set yourself back. Do a little exercise. Eat one apple instead of a second slice of pizza. Write one page while your toddler plays with an older sibling. Decide if raked leaves are really worth while, and if so, can somebody else rake them?


Your life is lived one day at a time so getting the life you want in 2013 comes down to planning your days and your weeks to make it happen. You can’t have everything. But you can choose the things that matter most.

My new year is starting off with a new book in stores, The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance. I’m glad I chose to write the story, I’m happy to have contributed here with my merry cohorts, and I hope we all enjoy more of what we want and value most in the new year to come. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
The season of light

The season of light comes with full fat eggnog and cookies so obviously it isn’t light in the dietary sense. It’s light against the darkness, the promise of spring’s return, the celebration of the end of winter even when we’re in the icy heart of it. And in the icy heart of winter, I want my butter-laden cookies and high-caloric eggnog latte, thankyouverymuch. Along with that I want light entertainment, so here’s a roundup for you of free and low cost holiday cheer.

1. PG Wodehouse’s Another Christmas Carol. Read aloud for you, click and listen to Part 1, then Part 2.

2. Play games on Norad Santa’s countdown village while you wait for the sleigh to take flight on their famous tracker. I especially like the connect-the-Christmas-tree-lights game and Christmas Tetris.

3. In the Seattle area there’s the Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, with tickets for sale (and if you’re an early bird there were several free nights). Check out the botanical gardens nearest you for similar displays.

4. Watch holiday favorites like Die Hard, Scrooged, It’s a Wonderful Life.

5. One of my personal favorites, the Christmas stories of Connie Willis. All Seated on the Ground and Miracle and other Stories are available as ebooks and will lighten your spirits with alien invasions, carols, and even a spine-tingling Epiphany.

Storytelling is one of the oldest and truest ways we’ve kept hope alive in the dark, and it’s good to remember in this season of light that telling stories and listening to them is the human spirit beating in the icy heart of winter.

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
Feed My Frankenstein

Aren’t you glad you stopped by Genreality? Now you’re singing along with Alice Cooper so your day is already better. You’re welcome. But what does this have to do with writing? Just what the song says, you have to feed your imagination.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the grind of words, words, words, produce, produce, produce. But all of those words spring from someplace. You can argue philosophy all day long about where and how inspiration works, but there’s no arguing what happens when you forget to feed the process. For those coming to the end of the NaNoWriMo sprint, the piled up words are a mighty accomplishment. Still, it pays to think like a farmer and invest in the next crop of your imagination. Time to fertilize.

What feeds your imagination? The answers vary wildly and there are no wrong answers. A good place to start is by making a list and seeing what jumps out. A list of movies to watch, books to read, a fun coffee mug to drink from, a nifty pen for your desk, a tempting notebook you love the color or texture of. Look around you and see what catches your attention. That’s the thing calling to your imagination.

Maybe you suddenly want to read about dinosaurs or go to a natural history museum or wander through a science center playing with levers and pulleys. And before you know it, the technical story problem you’d been wrestling with has a solution. Maybe you find yourself obsessed with maps and realize a map of your world would help you write the next book in the series. Just the process of drawing your places or people can make the story’s shape gel.

Maybe you suddenly have an overwhelming urge to bury yourself in shape and color and the next day you visualize the setting for your fantasy world in vivid detail.

The words come from the recombining of multiple elements. Sensory details, historical details, geological or engineering details. Feed your imagination a varied diet of art, history, music, new flavorful foods, science journals, stellar photography. Dabble in wordless creative efforts; draw, paint, sculpt, play an instrument. Take a walk. Play with a child.

Feed your Frankenstein and the monster of a new story, poem, song, novel will be ready to catch lightning and come alive in words, words, words.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
Dream Projects, Defining Your Dream

Dream projects. This strikes me a little like the “book of the heart” discussion that erupts periodically with people trying to define what it means. And really that’s the creamy caramel center of a writing life; you have to define it for yourself, and redefine it as things change. What is success to you? What is a dream project to you? Are you allowed to have more than one dream and to change your mind?

I’ve had a lot of writing dreams and a lot of them have come true. First I dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing MY book for sale. That happened. And then there were more books, and books in libraries that anybody could borrow. There was the dream of seeing my work translated into foreign languages and hearing from readers around the world. That dream came true and is still coming true as more editions happen and more readers tell me that they’ve discovered me in Russia, in Thailand, in Germany. The dream of writing for more than one publisher, of qualifying for membership in SFWA, I could go on and on. Everything I’ve written has been a dream project in its own way.

I still have dreams. Dreams of finishing projects that time, energy and other commitments have pushed off. Dreams of more books, new books. New definitions of success. Just this month I came up with an entirely new idea for a whole series of projects that represent an enormous dream, not necessarily because it would be award-worthy or wildly lucrative or a great shot at bestsellerdom, but because it would further a passion of mine.

There is plenty of room for all kinds of dreams in the writing life, in every life. “We are such things as dreams are made of”, so why not dream a lot? Nobody gets to judge your dreams but you.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
Happy Halloween! Twas the night before NaNo

Happy Halloween! I’m late posting this, but on the eve of NaNoWriMo, for all those of you who think you can’t write a book, it’s too hard, it takes too long, here is a book I wrote with my children today. The oldest came up with the main character, the middle came up with the plot and the title, I wrote it up, and the oldest illustrated it. Behold, a book. No, it isn’t 50,000 words, but as Lawrence Block said, “If you’re blocked, lower your sights.” Maybe you can’t write 50,000 words in November. But you can write 50. Or maybe 500, or 5,000, and that’s more than you have right now. If a 7 year old can do it, you can do it.

Holloween Story

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
Tao of cats for writers

Since the internet is for cats, a writer’s guide to wisdom. Or peace with cat hair.

1. The cat typing left on your screen is a gift. It’s a new word for your SF or fantasy novel.
2. The cat snoozing on your keyboard is also a gift. It means you should take a few minutes to imagine the scene you are about to write and what conflict your character faces that is equal to moving a sleeping cat.
3. The cat who drapes all over your arms, inhibiting typing, is a gift. Of warmth. You’ll be grateful in December.
4. The cat who sits on your red-ink-marked hard copy is a gift. You are being reminded to take time to think through how to make these changes smoothly. Also the size of the project is being hidden so you only have to think about the first step.
5. The cat who knocked your phone off the charger is a gift. You were not in a good frame of mind to talk to anybody what with the edits, the weights on your arms and the new SF word.
6. The yowling at your feet will be followed by claw pitons up your calf, breaking your concentration from the work to return you to the Now and the Meow. This is a gift. Sitting for too long in one position is bad for your muscles and your circulatory system.
7. The purring in your lap is a gift. Have your characters had any warm and soothing moments in their headlong rush through conflicts?
8. The cat walking on you in the middle of the night is a gift. You are now awake and able to write down the idea that just came to you.

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
Writing prompts

Sometimes the mind and the page are equally blank. And at times like those, a writer’s best friend is a writing prompt. So here are ten ways to jumpstart your creative process:

1. Choose an image that grabs your attention. Write about it. Who or what is in the picture and why? Tell the story.

2. Make a list of words you like. Pick one or a handful. Write a poem or a paragraph using it (or them).

3. Write down potential story titles. Pick one. Write the story that goes with it.

4. Make a list of things that could happen in your current story. Pick one and write it.

5. Pick a topic you feel passionately about, for or against. Write about it.

6. Read poetry. Write flash-fiction about a character in the poem. (Ex: Prufrock walks on the beach and is actually taunted by mermaids.)

7. Write a scene from the point of view of a different character in your story, or a short story written by somebody else.

8. Go outside. Pay attention to everything you can detect by your senses. Write a poem or a paragraph about what you just observed.

9. Do a Jackson Pollack. Throw words out and arrange them in interesting patterns. It might not be art, but it might make you see your story or your topic differently. Wordles are also good for this.

10. Go look at your bank account and your current stack of bills. If that isn’t a good writing prompt, go back to #1 and start over.