Leave my belly ring alone, please

A friend of mine recently told me I was too old for my belly ring. To that I say—PFFFFF! Or some other choice words. I have also been to told to stop wearing mini skirts, tone down the red lipstick, buy a house, start a family. So many things I’m supposed to give up and start doing any day now… Don’t you love how everyone else likes to tell YOU what you should be doing with YOUR life?

The same goes for writing. When I first started on my journey I heard so many rules about what I couldn’t do or HAD to do. YA can only be 1st person, YA can’t have too much sex, no swearing, can’t have a cliffhanger ending, can’t be more than XX many words…on and on. And true, there are some general rules about writing you need to learn. Proper grammar, sentence structure, basic plot outlines—you do need to master the basics to create a sucesful novel. But as far as content, POV, events, cliffhanger endings, character names…I do what I want! I repeat, I do what I want! And you should too…

It’s your life, your work. Follow the rules you must to survive and break all the rest!

What are your favorite rules to break? Writing or otherwise?

Bye Bye, Prince Charming. Hello Dark Knight.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about boys…

I was never interested in Prince Charming. He always seemed a bit of a yawn to me. While he was off hunting foxes, perfecting his Waltz and negotiating which princess he should marry, Knight in Shining Armor was rescuing said princess from a dragon. I’m not talking about the White Knight competing for some fair maiden’s hand in a tourney somewhere, mind you—I’m talking about Dark Knight.

Dark Knight was a rogue; uncouth, a scoundrel, scruffy a road weary. He was a vigilante who broke all the rules but fought for justice. He did what needed to be done, but he was nothing if not honorable. He stole maidens’ virtue, but gave them a piece of his heart and a promise. Sigh…

I don’t think I’m alone in my love of the Dark Knight. He’s been branding women’s hearts for a long while:

The wild frontiersman turned outlaw Hawkeye (Nathaniel) stealing Cora Monro’s noble heart in Last of the Mohicans. Aragorn, a fallen royal heir, waging his love of the Elvish Princess Arwen against his duty to Middle Earth (LOTR). Robin Hood and the fair Maid Marion, Lancelot and Guinevere…You get the idea.

I’ve noticed the rise of a new Dark Night in recent days—the anti-hero. He’s fiercely loyal, loves deeply, has a tortured soul, and a dark past. But this modern day Knight walks the line between villain and hero. He’s an outlaw, his integrity falters, his convictions waver but he still fights for his brand of justice. Oh, and did I mention they’re dangerously sexy?

Some that come to mind…

Bruce Wayne/ Batman, I’ll cite Christian Bale’s Batman here since he’s THE Dark Knight.
Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy
Dexter in Darkly Dreaming Dexter and the Dexter TV series.
Jericho Barrons, Fever Series (Karen Marie Moning)
James Bond (Ok, he’s been shaking not stirring since Ian Fleming brought him to life in ’53, but he’s certainly enjoying modern popularity)

What ever happened to the boy we can take home to mama? Maybe it boils down to good girls just love bad boys!

What do you think? Prince Charming or Dark Knight? Who’s your favorite?

Writing Pet Peeves…

Because it’s Monday, and Monday’s were made for cranky griping, I present my pet peeves in writing.

1) Unnecessary over use of the adverb. Especially “incredulously.” I don’t know why but if a book has this one more than once I have to resist the urge to throw it.

2) Perfect protagonists. Give me a flaw please! Give me many actually. I love a protagonist you’re not quite sure if you should route for.

3) Head jumping without clear breaks. I like to write and read from multiple POVs but please give me a chapter break or section break indicating we’ve switched from Jack to Jill.

4) Morals-of-the-story in anything meant for a reader over 10.

What are your writing pet peeves?

Resolutions in Writing

Welcome to the official site of Amanda J. Clay, author of the young adult novel, Rebel Song.

It’s been one of my goals for a long time to try this blogging thing… What better way to start a blogging goal than blogging about goals!?

Like so many people, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I want out of 2015. Now that we’re one month in, it’s time to do a gut check.

Did you know that less than 10 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them? If you’re much of a gym rat, you probably already know this. Walk into the gym on January 2 and there won’t be an inch of free workout space. By March (Hell, maybe even Feb.) it’s pretty much back to normal. So why does nearly everyone keep making a set of promises to themselves they have no intention of keeping year after year? I actually think most have every intention of keeping and exceeding their resolutions. The problem is their sustainability plan.

I actually hate the word resolution. Alright, I don’t HATE the word but I do find it to be a misleading ideal to which very few measure up. Resolutions are these all-encompassing, all-or-nothing Holy Grails mocking you from the top of Mt. Olympus. You accomplish them or you don’t. You climb that mountain or you fail. Black and white.Additionally, they often focus on what we DON’T want to do, rather than what we DO want to accomplish, filling you with negativity from the start. (I WON’T eat DoubleDouble cheeseburgers for breakfast, rather than I WILL eat more veggies.) That’s why I prefer the term “goals.” Goals are measurable, specific, obtainable and digestible in tiny bites. As my fitness coach says, “resolutions gets broken, goals get accomplished.”

For example, here are some of my 2015 goals compared to resolutions.

Resolution: To improve my running.
Goal: To complete a 5k, 10k and half marathon.

Resolution: Become more fluent in Spanish.
Goal: Complete one Fluenz training module per month.

Resolution: Be more philanthropic.
Goal: Volunteer at the food bank twice per month.

So how does this idea apply to writing? Your “resolution” may have been to write a book this year. That is in fact a goal—but mind you it’s a ginormous one. Writing a book is a lifetime goal for some (or if you’re James Patterson something you do before breakfast). Regardless of whether it’s your first attempt or your 100th, it’s important to set the small goals that will add up to that great Holy Grail at the end of this treacherous trek into Mordor I call writing.

Some small, obtainable writing goals I’m trying out to help me finish my next novel are:

– Write 500 words per day—even when the muse is on vacation. (honestly, sometimes my first draft sentences come out like “The dog was happy. The end.”)
– Read for 30 minutes, four days per week (You can’t be a writer if you ain’t a reader!)
– Spend one evening/afternoon/morning per week doing something that churns my creativity (running outside, hiking, listening to music, sitting at the park with mimosas watching the world go by)

You get the idea.

What are your goals for the year—writing, reading or otherwise