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TWIST AND BOUNCE: How a story got twisted

25 Sep

I’m kind of mad at my fellow Chick Tracey because she already came up with the idea to cheat and use TWIST and BOUNCE in one post. *stamps around pouting*

Okay, so I’m not really mad. It just shows we’re brilliant (or that we put things off–in my case, WAY off)!

OLIVIA TWISTED debuts in less than two months! *Cue freaking out*

This month, I thought I’d share some of the ways I twisted the original characters of OLIVER TWIST to make it a contemporary story, giving you a little insight to the world of OLIVIA TWISTED.

CHARACTERS

Olivia (Liv) Westfield (Oliver Twist)
Olivia, like Oliver, is an orphan. While Oliver lived his young life in a workhouse, Olivia is raised in the foster care system. Like Oliver, she yearns for love and, regardless of a rough life, is still innocent at heart. But though Oliver never really did anything illegal on his own, Olivia made some wrong choices. Sometimes making the wrong choices helps guide a person to making the right ones later.

Z (The Artful Dodger)
I think I might’ve had a tiny crush on the Artful Dodger when I was a little kid and saw the movie Oliver! Just a tiny one, mind you, before I realized he probably should take a bath. So maybe that influenced my decision to make Z the hot bad boy who rides a Ducati. But I always liked how the Artful Dodger took Oliver in hand and was a friend to him (albeit a friend with underhanded motives). I thought this was the perfect opportunity to brew a romance with Liv (I like brewing things, you know). His internal turmoil begins when he starts thinking about someone else besides himself for once in his life.

Nancy (Fagin/Nancy)
Oh, poor Nancy from the original story—what a horrible hand she was dealt in life. Seriously. But I really liked her and the way she fought against everything to help Oliver, even though it led to her demise. I made her the “mom” of the Monroe Street gang because I always thought she deserved better. Though sometimes her decisions are a little messed up (hello, Bill Sykes).

Bill Sykes (Bill Sikes)
Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you: Bill Sykes. Yes, Bill is the leader of the hackers (and, cough cough, other homes of ill-repute). He was evil in Oliver Twist. He is evil in my story. Evil can be so much fun (*rubs hands together evilly*)!

Sam (Charley Bates)
Yes, I could’ve named her Charley after the Artful Dodger’s sidekick. But Sam is the type not to do anything because someone told her to. She was Sam to me from the very beginning, and her character is quite happy with that name. Sam is the fun-loving friend and partner of Z’s who befriends Olivia right off the bat. Sam is much closer to Olivia than Charley was to Oliver, though, like Z, her motives aren’t always well intentioned.

BOUNCE over to my website at www.vivibarnes.com to see more on how I twisted the classic. Then BOUNCE over to www.oliviatwisted.com to check out the new trailer for Olivia Twisted, which debuted this past week on www.Hypable.com (there’s still a couple days left to enter to win a signed book and swag)!

Dizzy yet? 😉

Add OLIVIA TWISTED to your Goodreads shelf.

Pre-order OLIVIA TWISTED from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million

OliviaTwistedCover

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TWIST and BOUNCE to Progress

5 Sep

Attention, OK-Mart shoppers: this month I’m offering a BOGO. Blog One power word, Get One free! Like that multi-tasking TWIST?

Once again this fall, I’ve undertaken a Writer’s Digest online class to force me at gunpoint inspire me to make progress on my historical novel. So August had me twisting to churn out 15,000 words. And by TWIST I mean writhing and squirming on the floor from the pain of an inescapable deadline.

To make it, I had to say ‘no’ to volunteering more at my daughter’s school, which was very hard for me to do. I also put my son in full-day preschool, which was even harder. I thought I would be overridden by guilt. Instead, I was energized and motivated by such a generous gift to myself, a gift that my inner artist deeply appreciates and is returning in kind.

LA InterchangeStill, I struggle with my internal antagonists: insecurity, indecision, imperfection. Once I get going in a scene or section of a scene, I’m happy in the process of actual, you know, writing. To me, crafting dialogue is the icing on the Brussels sprouts. But it takes a lot out of me to get there or decide the exact events within a given scene. I get stalled, even overwhelmed, by the infinite possibilities. It’s like Frost’s The Road Less Traveled but on the twisted East LA Interchange. It’s hard to see where each road will take me, if it will connect to my other roads, and even how to find the right on ramp.

All roads diverged at a point of plot,
And sorry I could not travel each
And be one writer, long I thought
And looked down one longer than I ought
To where it bent in the story line…

This is where the BOUNCE comes in. When I encounter an interchange or detour, my natural inclination is to pull off at the next exit for a Diet Coke and Snickers, maybe catch a movie, flip through my Facebook, alphabetize the cereal boxes in my pantry–anything to avoid driving.  However, I am retraining myself to bounce through it instead.

Taking on a buoyant attitude of BOUNCE propels me from a defeatist all-or-nothing something-is-wrong-with-me mentality to a resilient something-or-something-else whatever-gets-me-to-the-next-sentence outlook. Once through a stressful trouble spot, I can relax again. Even if I’m not exactly sure where I’m going, I took a road to keep traveling. And that has made all the difference.

TWIST! Change it up

24 Aug
John Talbot; Ottawa, Canada (Crystal DNA at the National Arts Center) CC 2.0

John Talbot; Ottawa, Canada (Crystal DNA at the National Arts Center) CC 2.0

Once again, I have taken on too much.  Sound familiar?  I have a hard time saying “no” to Really Interesting and Cool Stuff, even when I don’t have the bandwidth.  It’s literally in my DNA.  The thing is, when you’re creative, you can’t just do the Stuff That Must Be Done and ignore all the Really Interesting And Cool Stuff that happens along in life. Denying the experience of those cool and interesting things = souldeath.  And I, for one, am not interested in souldeath, despite some of the really cool zombie movies that are out there these days.

Speaking of zombie movies, I saw one recently that I absolutely love: Warm Bodies.  I’ve never been a zombie fan, but this movie made me one.  How? Simply put, some of the best scriptwriting I’ve seen in a long time.  Somehow, the writer managed to create a story that was all at once cleverly funny, awkwardly romantic, sweetly heroic and brain-eating(ly?) gory.  And, by the way, it had a rockin’ soundtrack.

Probably my favorite scene is when a group of zombies, on their way to SAVE the planet, is walking down the highway – in slo-mo – to Rock You Like A Hurricane by the Scorpions.  Hilarious.  Brilliant. And, you are totally cheering them on.

So, how did the screenwriter(s) do this?  Took something that was “good” and gave it a twist.

Zombie eating brains = good.

Zombie developing crush on a human = twist.

Zombies, zoned-out and wandering around an airport = good.

Zombie who collects and listens to 80’s vinyl  = twist.

See how that works?  Another example is Vivi,’s book: Olivia Twisted, coming out this November (warning: shameless friend-promotion.) She wrote a modern take on the classic Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.  But instead of just making the same story happen in a contemporary setting, instead of making the youths pickpockets, she made them hackers.  Great twist, right?  Oh, and the protag is a girl, but you probably knew that already.

The best part about TWISTing your creative work is: it’s fun!  And, definitely helps prevent souldeath.  This month, as I’ve written, I’ve tried to remember to throw in some twists that really up the interest.

What are you working on that’s good, but would be great if you gave it a TWIST!?

August Power Word: TWIST!

4 Aug
Unexpected twists in plots and life are good; they provide the best opportunities to grow by reacting in a new way.

Unexpected twists in plots and life are good; they provide helpful opportunities to react in new ways, changing us.

This month the Muse challenges you to TWIST! Interesting characters, in books as in life, never travel forward in straight lines. They face obstacles and conflicts. They make detours and even u-turns. Just when they solve one problem, another bigger problem arises, making them feel like they’re just moving in circles.

But with each iteration around your problems (or those of your fictional characters), heightened stakes come with heightened potential for growth. What first presents itself as an unfortunate turn of events might actually be the very thing that propels you closer to your goal.

So embrace the TWIST! Combine things in new ways like Chick Vivi, whose debut young adult novel, Olivia Twisted, comes out this fall. Or stretch yourself like Chick Eva, who’s tackling her final exams for health and nutrition school.

Whatever you’re facing, imagine yourself as the heroine or hero in your own story. Persevere through challenges and even losses, knowing that you’re becoming more fascinating and more dynamic with each TWIST.

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