It's been said that there's a fine line between research and plagiarism. Whoever said that was right.
I've never intentionally stolen any plots or characters, although I'll admit to reusing a few names. But it's insane how close two characters can be, by pure coincidence. I'll take the grandmother from Moana. She's the village crazy lady, always staring at the ocean, but then her outlandish stories turn out to be true. I've had the same concept for a character since 2015, and I just saw Moana yesterday. They are in no way related or based off each other, and yet they're so similar they might be sisters. (Good thing my character isn't rambling about some sort of magical rock or Disney might sue me!)
I'm not ashamed or afraid of characters who turn out just like other characters. Great minds think alike, after all. But every once in a while, I'll unintentionally recreate more than a character. Take the story of a young anthropomorphic animal, destined to become the ruler of their herd, when something terrible happens. They end up growing up with two friends before someone convinces them to return and take their place as leader. I'm actually not describing The Lion King, that was the first novel I ever finished. I'd finalized the plot for my book when I was probably 7; I didn't see The Lion King until I was 10. (And that's one of many reasons it will never see the light of publication.)
But do I manage to frighten myself. My most recent heart-stopper was none other than Rowan McNeil. When I decided against his playing the bagpipes (they're not really an indoor instrument), I scoured the internet for a Celtic instrument that would pair itself nicely with Caitriona's shepherdess flute. The fiddle would have done nicely, but add that to his wanderlust, love for storytelling, and facial hair, and you practically have Pa Ingalls. So I decided Rowan would play the timpan, which is kind of like a fiddle, but not.
Have you ever invented a plot, or a character, only to find out they've already been done? I'd love to hear your story in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
A week without Wi-Fi is a typical teenager's worst nightmare. No social media, no YouTube, no Netflix. And yet that's the very dilemma I've found myself faced with. And quite honestly, it's been an adventure.
Our Wi-Fi went out on Sunday evening. The nutjobs building a house next door to us accidently cut our phone line, Frontier can't get out to fix it until next Monday, we're stuck in the Dark Ages. To make matters worse, I'd just moved my manuscript to Google Docs because it has a better search-and-replace function--a necessary item when you're changing accents. So I found myself out of a job.
The first day went down without a hitch. I worked on Where I Stand (which, fortunately, was not subject to the whims of internet connection) and did laundry all day. I also watched part of The Two Towers as part of my rite of passage into American teenage culture. (It's pretty good, actually. I like it better than the book!)
I've started thinking, though--with a few minor exceptions, I've adjusted just fine to life without Wi-Fi. In fact, I enjoy it. I don't like not being able to research, or keep up with you wonderful readers, but it's been peaceful. I don't have to worry about who's posting what on Facebook or the latest dilemma on Quora. I've been able to spend more time with my sister.
I've heard of people who shut down their electricity every evening and call it family time. It sounds like a good idea, but what if we were to turn off our Wi-Fi every evening? We can keep our air conditioning and lights, we can even microwave some popcorn and watch a family movie. Or we can play a board game, or a card game, or go for a walk as a family. Heck, I have good memories of family tickle-fights!
What's your favorite way to spend time with your family? Does it involve using Wi-Fi or turning it off? Share your ideas in the comments below; I'd love to hear them! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful week!
My dad has been saying "God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good," before God's Not Dead made it cool. But it was true back then, and it's true now.
It's too often that we get caught up in all the bad things going on. News media makes this easier than ever. There's trouble in the Middle East, there's trouble in Europe, there's a killing here and a terrorist attack there. There's never a lack of bad news, and we weren't designed to handle all of it. We often forget that God's still out there, and that God's still good no matter what's going on.
Let's take my new laptop for an example. I wanted to replace my six-year-old HP Pavilion, and so I looked around and decided I wanted a 13-inch Dell Inspiron 2-in-1. They ran for about $600. No problem. I'd save up my money and maybe have it by October. Sometime in mid-May, my mom decided she had to return something at Kohl's. Our Kohl's is right next to Office Depot, and since I was in a computer-shopping mood, I decided to check and see if they had my Inspiron.
I wasn't optimistic. It was sure to be expensive, if they had it. I'd already looked at Sam's Club and Walmart; they didn't carry it. But I looked anyway, and I found it. On sale. I snapped up the $250 savings and bought my new companion the next day. And then I named her Faye.
I have a habit of naming things; I suppose it comes from creating so many characters. But Faye is a special name. Faye is a misspelling of the Spanish word Fe, which means "faith." It describes perfectly what we need to have optimism.
Whenever I see Faye, or type on her, or remember that I'm crazy enough to name a laptop, I remember that we need to have faith in God's goodness. We need to have faith that, even when we can't even find a store that carries what we need, God's about to give it to us on sale. That when everything's going downhill, things are about to look up.
God's goodness in the midst of trial is one thing I'm trying to get across in Where I Stand, the sequel I'm working on to Where the Clouds Catch Fire. I have one scene in mind (that I haven't gotten around writing yet) where everything seems to be going wrong for Alynn. Lukas challenges her to find one thing to be grateful for, and when she struggles, he reminds her that the sun is shining. That God's still smiling, and that everything's going to work out in the end.
When has God come through for you? I'd love to hear it in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
It takes a lot to get me to cry, unless it's over something stupid. Clothes, humans, food, weather, something as petty as a to-do list that keeps falling from its proper place, if I'm in the right frame of mind I'll just start crying. But snap my collarbone in half? Nothing. Best friend moves away? No tears. I'm one of the most stoic people I know. My dad cries during movies when I don't.
The closest I get to crying while reading/watching movies (with the exception of The Shack) is saying that “I wanted to cry.” And that takes a lot. One such novel is Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury.
Like Dandelion Dust is the plight of adoptive parents Molly and Jack Campbell, who receive notice that their almost-five-year-old son Joey's adoption was incomplete. There's a good reason for that: Joey's biological father, Rip Porter, was imprisoned for domestic violence before his wife Wendy knew she was pregnant. When Joey was born, Wendy forged Rip's signature to keep her baby safe. But now, Rip wants him back.
Distraught, Jack and Molly try everything they can—even attend church, which Molly's sister has been begging them to do. But when Rip starts to return to his old violent ways and time starts running out before they lose custody permanently, the Campbells must do something drastic. There's nothing else they can do, so why don't they disappear—like dandelion dust?
As an adopted child, this book hits almost too close to home. There's a struggle for every adopted child—who are my real parents? Is there a certain spark between biological parents and children that we don't have? What if my birth parents try to take me back?
Fortunately for my sister and I, that's never going to happen. But all too often, adoptions fall through. I know a family to which this happened, and I've been told it was just as traumatic as having a child die. (This family's story has a happy ending, though; they later found and adopted another child.)
The book is wonderful. It accurately portrays adoption, and the love that parents feel for a child (adopted or otherwise). And it talks about what it really means to be a parent. It talks about what it means to really to love a child, even if that means giving them up so they can have a better life. And I especially loved the strong Christian themes throughout. If you watch the movie (which is available in its entirety on YouTube) you won't find these themes, so I highly recommend reading this book.
Do you know anyone (besides me) who's adopted? If you do, give them a hug and tell them it's from M.J. Piazza (and please, direct them to my website!) God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
With everything that goes into writing a novel, you'd be surprised at what is nearly universally depicted as the hardest part—with the exception, of course, of having the courage to actually sit down and stick to it.
You'd think it would be research, trying to figure out obscure facts like how Vikings cooked pancakes or what their hair looked like. Or maybe character development. After all, it's not every day one creates a multifaceted person out of thin air. Or is it deciding how they look, or what they sound like, or where they live?
It's writing out their accents.
I got pretty slammed recently by Irish people berating the “Lucky Charms” accent I used while writing Where the Clouds Catch Fire. Ye know what I'm speaking of, the wee accent that's used by all on St. Patty's Day, nivver mind how right it is. Och, an' the Scottish accent's worse, as ye're tryin' to describe a brogue wi' apostrophes an' contractions. Never mind the Norse accent—it's simply a crisper version o' “Normal English” with a few apostrophes fir desired effect.
I wonder how many countries I offended in the above paragraph?
Of course, I didn't mean any offense. I'm a Texan. I've never been to Pennsylvania, much less the British Isles or Norway. And all the YouTube “tutorials” about how to speak with Irish or Scottish accents are complete rubbish. Most people don't even know there's a difference between the two. I didn't.
It's sentence structure and the like that the best accents use. Aye, and there are a few misspelled words here and there, but you needn't use too many. Even the Queen's court don't speak perfect English. You needn't bother spelling out everything, or faith, it gets too confusing.
Coupled with sentences like “Her Scottish brogue was as thick as a plaid blanket” or “He replied with a crisp Norse accent,” this words splendidly well. It's easier to follow and, in all actuality, more realistic. But it does mean one thing for me.
I'm going to have to go back through all 156 pages of Where the Clouds Catch Fire and fix all the dialect now. Or I might decide it's too much work and my primarily-American audience doesn't give a crap. I'm not sure yet.
What's your suggestion? Should I take a deep breath and make my book better, or stick with the Lucky Charms accent? Let me know in the comments below. God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.