Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Moving Up to a Whole New Level of Crazy

I have some awesome news to share. :)

My husband got a new job on Friday—in Idaho Falls! So exciting and so overwhelming. What was I thinking? Moving everything to a new home 1000 miles away? In the coldest part of the year?! Needless to say, I'm feeling just a smidge insane right now.

To remove some of the pressure I seem to enjoy heaping upon myself, I'll be unplugging until we're all settled in up there. I'm not really sure how long it'll be before we have the internet set up, but I'm hoping it'll be sometime in the first week of January. What am I going to do if I can't obsessively check my email and Statcounter? I'm trying not to think about it. ;)

I'm going to miss all of you! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, and any other holidays I may've missed!

Here are some awesome Christmas lights to get you in the spirit! See you all in the new year!


Amazing Grace Techno - Computer Controlled Christmas Lights from Richard Holdman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I've Been Hit!

I was tagged by Michelle Gregory at beautiful chaos to answer this writerly questionnaire. Since I'm it, I get to tag whoever I want. >:) Stay tuned. I'll announce the lucky taggees at the end.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I wrote is an experimental short story I’m working on, but haven’t finished, called Pancakes. That title is awesome. ;) It has a lot of meaning for the story. Really.

The first thing I wrote that I still have is an awful poem I wrote in high school. Even the title is awful, so I'll spare you. I thought it was hilarious at the time, and my English teacher thought it was genius enough to include in the school poetry journal, but it was a total joke—intentionally.

2. Write poetry?

Not anymore. :)

3. Angsty poetry?

No.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

I guess that would be YA speculative fiction—scifi, fantasy. And there’s always a romantic element in there.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

The protagonist in my newest WIP—he’s a huge jerk.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?

I don’t know if it’s the best, but my favorite is Embrol. :)

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?

The one at the end of the sequel to Embrol, and that’s all I’m saying.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

I don’t know that I get writer’s block. It’s more of a brain deadness, like when I’m super tired or stressed out.

9. Write fan fiction?

No.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

I used to think typing was the only way for me, but lately I’ve found some advantages to writing by hand. #1 advantage: I can’t click off my spiral bound notebook to obsessively check my email and Statcounter. :)

11. Do you save everything you write?

Yes. Every crappy word. And the good stuff too—though my opinion of what belongs in that category changes frequently.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

I don’t have any abandoned ideas yet, but I think a lot about an idea before putting anything into writing. Are they still abandoned if I never write them down?

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Embrol. Love the story. Love the characters.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

Embrol, but it’s the only one anyone has ever read, so I don’t know if that counts. :)

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Yes on the romance—love a good love story. You’ll have to ask my betas if it’s angsty. I don’t know. I guess by definition there is an angsty angle to Embrol, but it’s not a result of normal teenage stuff. Does that count?

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Um, the moon? Is that giving too much away? :)

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I have three in the works, though I only actually work on one at a time. The voices get all screwed up in my head if I try to work on more than one simultaneously.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

No.

19. What are your five favorite words?

Totally (totally overuse this one :). Awesome (obviously). Coalesce. Festoon. Ephemeral.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Olivia—main character in Embrol.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

People I know. Bits and pieces from characters I see in movies and on TV. People-watching.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

There is a dream that I had that I put in Embrol, but that’s only because it fit so perfectly. The story isn’t really based on it.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

Yes and no. I definitely think there should be a solid sense of closure, but I don’t like endings where absolutely everything is resolved perfectly, all tied up with pretty ribbons and bows. It’s too unrealistic for me. Or maybe I just like to make my characters suffer, and I have to get in one last little jab before it’s all over. :)

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Concerned? I think obsessed is a better description. It’s ridiculous. If I don’t fix something I know is wrong, it will annoy me until it’s corrected.

25. Does music help you write?

When I’m writing new stuff, it helps, as long as it’s the right music. I need silence when I’m revising, though.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

This is my newest opening from Embrol.

------
Three seconds. That’s how long it took for my life to end.

Well, it was an end of sorts. And it may’ve taken longer. My recollection of that day is fuzzy, at best. I suppose it depends on which point was the actual end. Some might say it was the first or second or third time I died. For me, it was the moment I saw that truck barreling toward us. A girl really should have better memories of her eighteenth birthday.
------
 
Aaaaand...
 
Tere Kirkland at The Lesser Key
Rebecca Knight at Rebecca Knight: Writer in Progress
Tricia J. O'Brien at Talespinning
 
...you're it! *runs away laughing hysterically* Have fun! :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bloggy Award Time--See, I'm not a Total Slacker

I'm so late in posting these, but I have a few awards to be thankful for. :)


First off, thank you to Dawn Simon at Plotting and Scheming - My Writing Life for the Best Blog Award! If she hadn't given me the award, she'd be on the list of nominees, so be sure to check out her blog.
The rules:

1. To accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.

2. Pass the award to other bloggers that you have recently discovered and think are great! Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And the nominees are:

Teressa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle

L.T. Elliot at Dreams of Quill and Ink

Anissa at Anissa Off the Record

Melissa at Chasing the Dream



Second, Julie Dao at Silver Lining gave me the Kreativ Blogger award. I'm going to be lazy on this one and refer you to my previous post with all the rules and seven facts about me. Thanks, Julie!






Lastly, from Suzy Hayze at Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness, I recieved the Honest Scrap award. Thanks, Suzy!

The rules:

1. List ten honest things about yourself.

2. Pass it on to seven other bloggers.

Here are ten honest things about me:

1. When I eat goldfish crackers, I like to pop them in half with my teeth, so I have two little fishies before chewing. Doesn't always work, but I still do this every time.

2. "Dork", "Nerd", and "Weirdo" are all terms of endearment at my house.

3. Other than my tennis shoes, every pair of shoes I own adds at least two inches to my height.

4. Going along with #3, my husband calls me a hobbit on a regular basis, and it's not because I have hairy feet. Yes, we have strange ways of showing our love around here.

5. I refuse to use internet/texting acronyms like LOL. It doesn't bother me if other people use them, but there's a part of me that feels like I'm giving in to some sort of evil peer pressure by using them.

6. I love to read. Not just books, although that is what I prefer. If I’m bored, anything will do, including shampoo bottles. It’s kind of fun trying to figure out the correct pronunciation of all the chemicals in the ingredients list.

7. One of my favorite lines from a movie is, “Your mother went to college,” delivered by Kipp in Napoleon Dynamite. I would try to describe the scene, but without experiencing it for yourself, you can’t truly appreciate just how hilarious it is. If you haven’t seen the movie, you wouldn’t understand. If you’ve seen it and still don’t understand, well, there really is no point in trying to explain.

8. The whole concept of using time travel to fix past mistakes makes no sense to me. Let’s take, for instance, the movie Terminator, followed by Terminator II and Terminator III, and now The Sarah Conner Chronicles TV series.

The basic plot is that in the future the world has been taken over by cyborgs, which stemmed from an artificial intelligence program that man created. One of the cyborgs is changed into a ‘good guy’ and sent back to the past to protect John Conner, the man who is the leader of the resistance in the future. Thanks to the cyborg’s presence, John Conner and his mother, Sarah, discover the cause of the future war, so they try to stop the creation of the source of the cyborgs, which in turn would cause the cyborgs to cease to exist, thus making it impossible for the time-traveling cyborg to go into the past in the first place. Ultimately, this would eliminate all of the events that led up to the destruction of the artificial intelligence. So, essentially, nothing would've been changed.

Are you following this?

9. When it comes to sports, dance or pretty much anything that requires even a small amount of coordination, I can confidently say that I’m very, very bad at it. In addition to that, I am continually running into things. I hit my arms on doorknobs, stub my toes on a regular basis, and hit my head on open cupboard doors (this is more of a height issue, but still relevant), just to name a few.

10. I totally cheated and stole some of these from a previous tagged post.

And the lucky nominees are:

Dawn Simon at Plotting and Scheming - My Writing Life

Michelle Gregory at beautiful chaos

Stephanie L. McGee at Chronicles of a Novice Writer

Natalie Murphy at The Sound of Rain

Julie Dao at Silver Lining

Stephanie Thornton at Hatshepsut: The Writing of a Novel

MG Higgins at MG Higgins

Thanks for reading everyone! Have a fabulous Monday!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Beefing up the Bad Guy

Susan R. Mills at A Walk In My Shoes did a series of posts a while back based on what she learned from Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction. I have since purchased the book and learned a lot from it, but the topic that had the most impact on me was discussed in this post on Susan's blog. It's all about the bad guys.

In my novel, Embrol, the antagonist is super evil, and I know why he's evil, but his true motivation never comes up to give the reader some insight into his character. As a result, I think he's coming across as very one-dimensional. Plus, he isn't even mentioned until page 120, almost half way through the story, and we don't meet him until page 178. It's not that there isn't any tension before this--my hero and heroine have some serious issues to work through--but since reading Susan's post, his role in the story has been screaming for my attention, despite my best efforts to ignore it. He deserves a stronger presence, and I think the story will be better overall with some idea of why he is the way he is.

So, what does this mean? Well, rewrites of course. Seems like that's what it always means.

I've figured out a way to work the antagonist into the first ten pages, but his presence that early in the story changes pretty much everything. Sure, it would probably be easier to just shove this one in a drawer and work on something different, and I can't say I'm super excited about starting over from scratch, but I love these characters too much and I'm determined to make this story the best is can be. I want to see it on the bookstore shelf someday.

The worst part--I still have three queries out. Is it totally messed up that I'm hoping for rejections? Or maybe my query will just get lost in their slush piles for a few months until the new version is ready? Argh.

Anyway.

How evil are your antagonists? Do you give them the same depth as your other characters, some motivation for their badness? Or are they just bad because the bad guys are supposed to be bad?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Little Help, Please

Up until this last school year, my ten-year-old daughter has enjoyed reading, though she was always most interested in the books with great pictures. She's very artistic, so that makes perfect sense. Problem is, now I can't get her to read anything. It's all boring.

So, since my son finally started to love reading because of Harry Potter, I was hoping if I could find the right book—or better yet, series—for her, maybe I could get her hooked on reading too. Thus far, I have tried Princess Academy, Little House on the Prairie, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Spiderwick Chronicles, Pendragon, Dragon Rider, Percy Jackson, and those are just the ones I can think of right now.

When I was her age, I remember loving books like Sixth Grade Secrets, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Bridge to Terabithia, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and Runaway Ralph. She just turns up her nose at anything I suggest. Mom is so not cool.

Any suggestions? Something middle grade? Or even something on the younger end of YA? If you're not sure about the appropriateness of the content, I'll be reading any YA books before she does. I'm mean like that. She says she likes fantasy, and she doesn't care if the main character is a boy or a girl. Thanks, all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Start at the Very Beginning

In The Sound of Music, Maria sang, “Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” A very good place, indeed. The question is, when is the very beginning and how do you know?

My novel, EMBROL, has had many beginnings. Way too many, and none of them have worked. I’ve wanted them to work, have rewritten, revised, and manipulated them trying to make them work. I’ve even talked myself into believing they were working, but they were all wrong. Why were they all wrong? Because I wasn’t starting at the very beginning, at the inciting incident.

The inciting incident is the moment when the main character’s life is changed so dramatically it yanks her out of her safe, happy world (literally or figuratively) and forces her on some type of journey (physical, emotional, or a combination of the two) to try to regain that safe happiness, though that goal may change as the character grows and develops throughout the story.

I thought my readers needed time to bond with my main character. That way, they would truly feel for her when her world fell to pieces. As a result, I had all this superfluous backstory that was really bogging down my first chapter.

So, even though I love those first scenes, I hit the delete button, setting them free. Well, maybe I banished them to the word graveyard on my hard drive instead, because I can’t really set them free. What if I need them later? Yeah, that hasn’t happened yet. Still, I save everything.

Now, with only a few paragraphs (versus several pages) of set up, my first pages get straight to the major turning point in my main character’s life, hopefully pulling the reader into the story right away, accomplishing what my previous beginnings have not. And of course, the changes I’ve made have triggered other changes later in the story. It’s a vicious cycle, but that’s another post.

So, how do you know where to start your story? Do you think the reader needs time to bond with the character or is it best to get right into the action?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Shiny and New

I've wanted to update my blog for a while, but I haven't been really keen on the idea of using a template that other people might be (definitely are) using. I like to be unique. What can I say?

So, I finally gave in and set it up with a free template. Now it looks more professional. So boring. It's still a little chaotic and crazy there at the top, so everything's cool. And I changed things up a bit to make it my own. It felt a little sad having all those great swirlies and ink blobby things (pulling out all of my technical jargon for this one) and then the title was just plain block letters. All fixed now, though. :)

It may not be perfect, but I like it. Someday, I'll own Adobe CS4 (or whatever the latest version is when I'm rich and famous) and then I can learn how to make these fabulous templates myself. Until then, I guess I'll be happy with something less than one-of-a-kind. *sigh*

I think I've worked out all the kinks, but let me know if you have any commenting issues. There's an email link above under "Contact" if there's a problem. See, now it's all fancy. ;)

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's Your Motivation?

This is a repost from May. I feel like such a cheater. :)

I’m not one who will tell you I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first held a pencil. In fact, when I was a kid, I wanted to work for Disney as an animator when I grew up (along with a long list of other things, but we won’t get into that—this post is going to be long enough as it is).

I’ve always enjoyed writing—except for my sophomore year in high school when my English teacher tried to suck all the joy out of it with the accursed 3-prong essay—but until I started this blog, the only voluntary writing I did was in my journal and a children’s book I wrote about five years ago. That’s still sitting in the darkest corner of my documents folder, waiting for me to do illustrations for it. As you can see, I’m very motivated to finish those.

My mother always kept a journal and encouraged me and my siblings to keep one as well. Since her passing, I’ve been very grateful to have a record of her life from her perspective, and it’s motivated me to keep up to date on mine. But the stuff I write in my journal is not something I want to share with the world or even something that anyone else would be interested in reading. So, how did I go from writing in a journal to thinking I'm capable of writing a novel other people will want to read?

Well, there’s a bit of arrogance behind the answer to that question. Whenever I attempt to do something new, it usually starts with the thought, “If so-n-so can do it, I should be able to do it too. Probably better.” This is usually not the case, but a little delusion never hurt anyone, right?

I’m also very interested in learning new things, and that often plays a role in my decision to try something new, but the main focus is usually the challenge to do something as well as or better than someone else. I’m constantly comparing myself to others. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but it also motivates me to do better.

Last fall (2008), I read a book that I’m sure many of you have read, and upon finishing it, I thought, “If this got published, surely I can write something good enough to publish.” It was a nice thought, but I’ve learned since then that some people are just lucky, and even if I could write the perfect novel (subjective, I know) there is still a good possibility I'll never get published or even find an agent.

I’ve also learned that my writing was terrible then (and not necessarily great now, but better, I hope), and I was seriously delusional about a lot of things about the publishing industry. But even knowing what I know now, I’m still motivated to write and share the stories that are floating around in my head. I think maybe I’ve finally discovered the thing I can be truly passionate about it. Miracles do happen. Now, if I could just make some money doing it. :)

So, tell me. What motivates you to write? Why do you block out the real world to delve into imaginary places? Is it something you feel compelled to do or just a creative outlet?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hey, Little Sis! You're Going to Die When You Read This...

Yes, Miss Amanda, I'm talking to you (and everyone else). :)

Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is giving away an autographed copy of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Go on. Check it out. You know you want to. :)

Since we're on the subject of Twilight, I have to post a link to some really awesome Twilight products. The felted womb will forever be my favorite.

Also, for all my wonderful regular readers, sorry my posts have been so sporadic lately. For the month of December, I shall be posting thrice per week--Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Yes, I said thrice. I'm so cool.

I will do my durnedest to stick to that schedule, with everything returning to some version of normal (whatever that is) after the first of the year.

And I know I have a couple of awards out there that I haven't posted about yet. I haven't forgotten about you. I'm just a slacker. I will try to take care of those in the next week or so. Thanks, all! My bloggy friends are the coolest!

Happy middle-o-the-week, everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Crazy Lady, Reporting for Blog Duty

I have nothing productive to contribute to the blogosphere today, so I thought I'd let you in on all the wonderful things I learned while I was unplugged.

1. I do my best thinking in the bathtub. Not really sure why.

2. Being unplugged actually increases my desire to read blogs. So, maybe I peeked at a few... ;)

3. The first 3/4 of my first chapter is unnecessary, so guess what? I'm rewriting it. Again. I know you're all super shocked. :P

4. Querying + Other Stress = Ultra Super Neurotic Crazy Lady --No, I'm not exaggerating. All the sane people in my family keep shaking their heads and refuse to look me in the eye, so it must be true. ;)

5. Since my husband has implored me to hold off on all things writerly until after the holidays, I have this overwhelming urge to write. All kinds of unexpected ideas have been popping into my head. Why do you suppose that is?

6. And I can't leave out NaNo. Poor neglected NaNo. Yes, today is the last day. Unfortunately, unless I can come up with another 41,000 words before midnight, I'm not a winner. Bummer. Maybe there's some correlation between this one and #5. Hmm.

So, my question for today is: Where do you do your best thinking?

Happy Monday, everyone! Good to be back!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Maybe it's True...

Agent Janet Reid* posted this quote on Saturday—almost as if she was reading my mind and knew exactly what I needed to hear, right at that very moment. Spooky.

Don't let the judgment of any editor (or agent) poison the intense, intimate, and necessary relationship that you have with your own work. Keep the two things scrupulously separate. The self that writes may need to be a delicate and protected creature, but the self that submits to magazines (and agents) ought to be as tough as a rhino's butt.

Christian Wiman, editor, Poetry
"Poets & Writers" May/June 2009


The fact that Janet Reid may have mind reading capabilities doesn't do much to dispel the myth that literary agents are superhuman ninjas. Great quote, though. ;)

Also, I will be unplugging for the rest of the week. Have a fabulous Thanksgiving, everyone!

*For the record, I've never queried Janet Reid. She doesn't rep what I write.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What I got from New Moon

I'm not a huge Twilight fan. Nevertheless, I did drag my husband with me to see New Moon yesterday morning. Read whatever you want into that.

Here's what I got from the movie:

1. It was definitely better than Twilight, though not as funny. Yes, I realize neither was supposed to be funny.

2. I was a little surprised by the variety of people there. An older man (close to my grandfather's age) was sitting in front of us, alone. Since we went in the morning, we didn't have the screaming girls like I've heard about from several people that went to evening and midnight showings. There were several men with their wives/girlfriends/whatevers, and all seemed to groan (and I'm guessing, roll their eyes) at all the same points as my husband.

3. And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Victoria's (Rachelle Lefevre) hair! ;) I want her hair. So jealous!

4. I've never claimed a team before and never thought I would. After reading the books, at least through Eclipse, I felt like Bella should be with Edward, but would've been okay if she ended up with Jacob. But after seeing New Moon, I'm pretty firmly on Team Jacob. Sorry, but there was absolutely nothing appealing to me about Edward in that movie.

Anyone else see it? Any thoughts you'd like to add?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Not Hot All The Time. Really.

Since I'm too brain dead to come up with my own idea for a blog post, I'm borrowing a page from Tere's playbook and giving you a little bit of info about the setting of my book. It's mostly just pictures, but I said I was brain dead, so you can't expect much from me right now.

As some of you already know, my novel, Embrol, takes place in Arizona--most of it in the Phoenix area. I'm not really sure why I picked Arizona, especially since I've been wanting to move north (way north) for years. I would love to have seasons--not just hot and less hot. :) Despite my desire to get out, there are some things I would miss.

We have the most incredible sunsets.



This one's my favorite. At first, I was annoyed that those water spots on the lens showed up in the shot, but then I started thinking it had kind of a cosmic look to it, so now I love it. It works for my sci fi theme. ;) Click on the photo for a larger view.



We don't get hurricanes or tornados, but we get some pretty insane storms. A few years ago, a miroburst hit our area. It lifted our trampoline from our backyard, carried it over half an acre (over our house and both our vehicles) and dropped it in our front yard, where it basically exploded. Plus, I was drenched within seconds of stepping outside.

Rarely does it sprinkle here, and the rain doesn't often last long, but when we get it, we get a lot. This picture doesn't really show how much we get, but it's the only one I have. I wish I'd thought to take a pic of our 4-wheel drive Tahoe stuck in the river wash when the concrete culvert was washed away by a storm. The whole body of the truck was resting on the ground, front and back tires either buried in the mud or completely underwater. We had to wait until the next day, when most of the water had drained away, and dig it out. Fun times! Still, I love the rain, and I love when it's cloudy all day long--even better when it lasts for several days in a row. Makes me smile. :)





My characters have to go further north to see snow, but these pics are proof that it does get cold enough in the valley to snow, though rarely. I can only remember a couple of times in my whole life, and it's never cold enough for it to stick, but it has happened.

This is the view of the Superstition Mountains from my front door. The snow was completely melted after only a couple of days.







That's it. Very exciting, I know.

So, where do your stories take place, and how do you choose your settings?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaNos and Partials and Crits, Oh My!

Not much to say about NaNo except that it has turned into NaNoNoWriNoMo. Say that five times fast. :) It's not NaNo's fault the story isn't working. I have too many non-writerly distractions right now. I'll get back to it later, after the craziness that is my life dies down. This is the kind of craziness that goes away, so I'm not just procrastinating. Seriously. Okay, so maybe a teensy bit. Don't tell.

In the good news arena, I got my first partial request this week. I'm trying not to get too worked up about it, but it is my first, off the first batch sent out with my shiny new query, so yeah. I can't help it. I'm totally freaking out. :) Woohoo!

And my friend and uber awesome crit buddy, Tere Kirkland, is in need of fresh beta eyes (preferably, still attached to living people) for her very cool YA Paranormal, EVANGELINE. If you're interested, head on over and give her a holler. You might as well follow while you're over there. Then you can say you were one of the first. :)

Sorry I've been so absent lately. I'm still trying to check in when I can, but my life really is all kinds of crazy right now. I hope you're all doing well, and I'd love to hear about your progress or good news or whatever you'd like to share.

Happy Wednesday! :D

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

They Lurk in the Shadows

Upon realizing that literary agents are just regular people, my youngest daughter (8 years old) informed me she thought agents dressed in all black, like ninjas, and hid in the shadows, waiting to attack publishers who won't give their people book deals.

I seriously don't know where she comes up with this stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Had a Fabulous Post Planned for Today...

But I'm feeling too burnt out to write it. Maybe tomorrow.

Just wanted to share that someone found my blog by googling "Perfect Rears". So I tried it, and my blog came up first in the list. I feel so special. :)

Have any special searches directed new visitors to your blog?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dude, Your Baby is UG-LY!

Okay, so no one would ever really say that. Would they?

This post isn’t really about babies. Not the real kind, anyway. On Monday, I expressed my love for critiques. But where there is the receiving of critiques, there must also be the giving, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I love giving a critique almost as much as I love getting one. Critiquing the writing of others is awesome for recognizing things you do wrong in your own writing, because a lot of us make the same mistakes. It also helps us look at our own work with a more critical eye. BUT… when it comes to hitting the send button on the email, I always think, “Oh no. What if this makes her hate me?” Especially if it’s a particularly thorough critique, where there’s lots of red on the screen. It kind of feels like I’m sending them an email saying:

“Dude, your baby is UG-LY! But here’s how I (self-proclaimed baby beauty expert) think you can make her prettier.”

How do you feel about critiquing others’ work? Do you worry they’ll take offense? Or do you just figure one good shredding deserves another, and they should just suck it up?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WIP Wednesday - NaNo Complications

It's been a while since I've done one of these.

As many of you know, I've been working on my final round (haha) of revisions for like forever now, but for some reason, I just haven't been able to get motivated to get them done. So, last week I unplugged for NaNo, and suddenly, working on my revisions was very appealing—so appealing that I finally finished them. Woot! I even got a few queries sent out. Forward progress! Yea!

But that meant I didn't start on my NaNo project until Friday, so I'm a little behind on that. Even with as little time as I've spent on it, I've learned a few things about my writing process and why the just sit down and write methods that NaNo requires may not be the best methods for me.

I was surprised to find that I can make myself sit and pound out 3000 words in just a couple of hours and not stress too much about word choice. I've been able to convince myself that things like that can be fixed in revisions. Problem is, I've been writing scenes to get a better feel for my characters and their personalities, and I'm finding that I probably won't be keeping those scenes, or they need to change dramatically to fit the storyline.

Plus, after about 8000 words, I hit a wall. It seemed like everything that was happening was so boring, even though the potential was there for some really intense scenes. And my POV character was coming across as a huge jerk. So, I decided to do a little experiment.

I took one of the scenes that was bothering me and rewrote it from another character's perspective. It worked beautifully, creating so much more tension. Now I've decided to do alternating POV's, switching with each chapter.

So, what? Writer's do that all the time. What's so experimental about that?

Well, first, it's all in first person, so it's been challenging trying to keep the two voices seperate. Second, this other character has a huge secret that is going to be difficult keeping hidden if he's narrating.

So, basically, I've just made things much more complicated for myself when I'm already behind. But I feel like I can move forward again, so maybe it's not so bad. However it turns out, it will be a learning experience, if nothing else.

What about all of you? Any progress or anything to report? Just need to vent? NaNo is my worst nightmare because... ;D

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can't Leave You Guys Alone for a Second!

So, I unplugged last week only to come back and find everyone had publishing deals.

Okay, so maybe not everyone, but it was a busy week! Congratulations to Christine Fonseca, and Lisa and Laura Roecker! You ladies rock! There was one more, but apparently that news has been put on hold temporarily. Guess we'll come back to that later. :)

And don't miss Lisa and Laura's Kindle Giveaway! Contest ends Friday, November 13th, at midnight, so go now. Hurry! Check out their blog while you're there. Very funny stuff over there.



Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Critiques Are Like Crack

I hope that title doesn't offend anyone. :) Everybody cool? Moving on.

I'm totally addicted to critiques. I love getting feedback on my writing. All feedback. Good, bad, ugly, whatever. Sure, sometimes, critiques make me feel like crap, but they're so awesome for showing me all the areas in which I'm sucking*. Then my mind starts churning, and I get all excited, because I know I'm becoming a better writer as a result. And therein lies** the high. ;) Just say no to crack, kids. That stuff is bad news. But critiques? They're all good.

So, what about you? How do you feel about critiques? Love? Hate? A little of both?

*This post reminded me of this commercial. It's definitely sucking. I love it! :) Critiques kind of feel like this, right?



**Does anyone know if that sentence is grammatically correct? (Ignore the conjunction starting the sentence. I did that on purpose.) MS Word is telling me it should be lays. The whole lay/lie business can be very confusing, but that sounds totally wrong to me (which could be because it's kind of cliche phrasing), and it just makes me think of potato chips.

Monday, November 2, 2009

And the Winner of the Super Stupendous Halloween Spooktacular is...


Yea, Amy!! Send me an email with your mailing address, and I'll get you your fabulous prizes. :) Thanks to everyone who entered.

Also, with NaNo this month, the holidays coming up, and some other stuff I don't really want to get into here, my online presence will be a bit scarce for a while. This week I'll be unplugging completely—except to check my email, of course. I'd be lost without that to check obsessively. I can't give up everything. ;D And then for the next couple of months I'll probably only be posting once or twice a week.

I'll still be checking in on everyones' blogs at least once a week, but I'll be lurking more and commenting less. As much as I hate to take a break, this is something I've been needing to do for a while.

Good luck to everyone doing NaNo, and for those who aren't, good luck on your goals and projects! See you all next week! :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Contest Ends at Midnight

Just a reminder that the Super Stupendous Halloween Spooktacular book giveaway ends tonight at midnight. There's still time to enter.

Also, Kidlit.com has an awesome contest going on. Submit your query for a chance to win a partial critique. That constest ends tonight at midnight too. Head on over and check it out before it's too late.

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Totally Random Friday—Again

Just a few things on this lovely Friday.

1. This is my 100th post! WooHoo! Technically it's the 121st, but since I moved all the posts about my kids to the family blog, this is now the official 100th post. ;)

2. Don't forget about the contest. It ends tomorrow at midnight. Winner will be announced Monday, November 2nd.

3. NaNo starts in a couple of days, and I finally got over there and created an account. Click here and be my buddy. My username is stabby. :)

4. My family blog will officially be private sometime this weekend, so if you want to be invited, please leave a comment with your email address here.

5. I recently rediscovered this song, and it is all kinds of awesome. Do yourself a favor and have a listen. :)


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Have a safe and fun Halloween!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Contest Update, a Cool Halloween Pic, and HQTP3—Candy

I've decided to add one more book to the Super Stupendous Halloween Spooktacular book giveaway. Woohoo! So, in addition to The Shifter, The Hollow, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, (and awesome office supplies) the lucky winner will receive...

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan



I loved this book. You can read my semi-review here. If you haven't entered, there's still time. Contest ends Oct. 31st at midnight PST.

And in good Halloweeny contest spirit, Tere Kirkland has submitted a photo of herself and all her minions and earned herself TEN additional entries. She's the cute blue FEMA fairy with the fabulous red wig. Thanks, Tere!



Now for HQTP3(Part 1 and Part 2)—There are certain candies you can only find at Halloween time. I love mallow pumpkins (correction: these are actually called mellowcreme pumpkins) and candy corn. My husband is always on the lookout for Mary Janes, and he'll buy however many bags they have if he finds them. We have to get stocked up for the year. ;)

So, what's your favorite Halloween candy?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Kill Them Off Already

In keeping with the Halloween theme, I just wanted to mention something I've been contemplating over the last few days...

Do you ever just want to kill off all the characters in your novel? You rub your hands together and laugh maniacally while you plan the demise of every last one of them? Is that just me?

Sorry for the short post today. I'm trying to finish up Halloween costumes and get my revisions done before NaNo, hence the murderous thoughts. :D Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HQTP2—Scary Books

Despite my fascination with horror movies, I've never been a big reader of horror. I remember reading the Twilight Series (from the 80's—sorry, no sparkly vampires), and I really liked Vicious Circle by Imogen Howe from that series. I've also read a lot of Christopher Pike books, but it's been years, like since jr. high, so I have no idea if any of those were actually good or scary. ;D

So, what about you? Do you like reading horror? If so, what's your favorite book in that genre? And who's your favorite horror author?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Quiz Time—Part One (HQTP1) Scary Movies

I LOVE movies that freak me out. Looking back, I think the movie that started it all was Watcher in the Woods. I used to watch it over and over. I even watched it again a few months back, and though it wasn't as scary as I remembered, I still loved it.

The most memorable scary movie for me will always be Pet Semetary. I haven't seen it in two decades, but that little kid with the scalpel still freaks me out. Guard your ankles, people! He might be hiding under your bed. Yikes! ;)

So, I want to know. Do you like scary movies? If so, what's the movie that hooked you? And what's the scariest movie you've ever seen? If not, was there a movie that was so scary you just don't watch them anymore?

Friday, October 23, 2009

NaNo NaNo

Makes me think of Mork and Mindy. :D

Who’s participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Raise your hand. *raises hand halfway and braces for flying stones*

I know I told a few of you I wouldn’t be participating, but I think I’ve decided to give it a try, for a few reasons.

1. I would love to be able to turn off my internal editor (aka Little Miss Perfect) and just write. What better way to learn than trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days?

2. My current WIP is a sequel to my finished first novel, and what’s the point of writing it if I never get the first one published? I know at least one of my betas will be upset by this, but I think it will be good for me to pull myself away from the world of Olivia and Jack and work on something else for a while. (Sorry, Little Sis)

3. I’ve had what I think is a pretty good idea simmering for a while now, and I’m excited to get going on it.

So, are you participating? Why or why not?

Also...

My contest is still running to win free books and stuff. Be sure to CHECK IT OUT, if you haven't yet.

And I'm totally loving this version of this song, so I have to share. :D

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Put in My Place by an 8-Year-Old

This is a conversation I had with my youngest daughter this past weekend.

“What day is it today?” she asked.

“Saturday.” I smiled and shouted WooHoo! in my head. “Which means school starts again in less than two days.” (They’d been off for two weeks for Fall Break.)

She gave me her best I’m-eight-so-I-know-everything expression, complete with a flat stare. “You’re just glad we won’t be home with you anymore. Then you can be all alone.”

Maybe a little. “No. I just need my schedule to feel normal again.”

“No, Mommy. You need to feel like your schedule is normal again. Your schedule isn’t alive, so it can’t feel anything.”

Seriously?! Holy crap. I’ve created a monster. Maybe I’ll make her one of my critters. ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Branch Stabbed into My Arm like Vampire Fangs on a Moonlit Night

As a general rule, I don’t like similes. A writer that doesn’t like similes? Is that possible?

Sometimes, they work beautifully, creating incredible imagery and pulling me deeper into a character’s experience. Unfortunately, more often than not, they pull me out of whatever story I’m reading. Not because they don’t apply to the description, but because it’s something obscure that most people have never experienced, so I have to really think about it to visualize it or imagine how it would feel. Or, because it’s so off-the-wall, I actually find myself laughing at how ridiculous it sounds.

Like the title of this post, for example. No one has really experienced a vampire bite, and I don’t write vampire stories, so to put it into my writing would create an image that has nothing to do with the storyline, thus pulling the reader out of the story. Make sense? By the way, I totally came up with that awesome simile all on my own, but I’ve seen similar similes ;) in published books.

Let me just say, it's not my intention to offend anyone. I apologize in advance if you think my comments are evil because you love similes like the example I’ve given. We’re all entitled to our own opinions. That’s what makes the world go ‘round, right? Just because I like to pretend I’m right all the time, doesn’t mean I am. (I can’t believe I just typed that. ;D)

Maybe it’s just me, and I’m just not a simile kind of girl. :)

I admit, I have a few in my novel, but it takes quite a bit of contemplation before I’ll put one in my writing. I need to be sure it’s going to add something of value to the description and not disrupt the flow.

So, how to do all of you feel about similes? Do you think they provide valuable imagery that can’t be accomplished any other way, or do you find they detract from a story? Or is it all in the execution?

Just for fun, you can click here for a list of totally outrageous, but hilarious, similes taken from several Washington Post contests.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Super Stupendous Halloween Spooktacular—or FREE BOOKS and STUFF!!!

I ♥ Halloween. It’s my favorite time of year. We finally get some cooler weather around here, and I love dressing my kidlets up and taking them Trick-or-Treating.

So, what better time to have a contest?

Here’s what the lucky winner will receive:

Brand new hardcover copy of THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy



THE HOLLOW by Jessica Verday



Update: Since it's Halloween, I decided we needed to add some SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK by Alvin Schwartz :)



And The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan



Plus other writerly goodies—pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Aren’t office supplies awesome?

Here’s how to enter:

+1 leave a comment

+4 if you’re already a follower
+3 for becoming a follower

+2 for posting a link in your sidebar (leave a comment with a link)
+5 for blogging or twittering about and linking to the contest (leave a comment with a link)

And in keeping with the Halloween spirit, I want to see all of your best (or worst :D) Halloween costumes.

So…

+10 for posting a photo of yourself on your blog, or elsewhere online, showing off your best Halloween apparel (leave me a comment with a link) Or, if you’d like, I can post them here. Send me an email. :)

Ends Halloween (Oct 31) at midnight PST. The winner will be announced Monday, November 2nd.

Happy haunting! :D

Monday, October 19, 2009

REVIEW: THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy

From the back of the book:

Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers' League apprentices, Nya's skill is flawed: She can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she'd be used as a human weapon against her own people.


Rumors of another war make Nya's life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she's faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive?

I've said this before, but I'm gonna say it again, dang it! I'm not very good at writing reviews. It feels like a book report, which feels like homework, and the idea of homework turns my brain to mush, even though I've been out of school for like... Well, we don't need numbers for everything. ;P But I read it, and I liked it, so here's my two cents, in all its awkward glory:

I was super excited when I won an ARC of THE SHIFTER (in case you couldn’t tell from all the previous posts about it). I first heard about it on agent Kristin Nelson’s blog. I liked the premise and the original title (UK title), THE PAIN MERCHANTS, sounded very cool, so I planned to purchase it when it came out.

But you can’t beat free, and it’s an ARC too! Woohoo! I did purchase a copy as well. More on that at the end. :)

First off, I have to point out that the book starts out with chickens. If you’ve read Janice Hardy’s blog or The Healing Wars blog, you know she has a thing for chickens. I think it’s awesome she found a way to work it into her book. It works perfectly too.

Chickens and all, the tension starts on the first page and keeps up a nice, steady build until the end. Nya is relatable and real, and I found myself rooting for her as she was forced to choose between using her ability to help or to hurt, in order to protect the people she loves.

While the story touches on some serious issues like poverty and discrimination, it’s geared toward a younger audience, so it was a relatively light, easy read. I breezed through it in less than a week, just reading for an hour or so each night. My kids (ages 8, 9, and 11) are excited about it, and I feel very comfortable with them reading it.

Unlike other books I’ve read recently, I didn’t find myself going into editor mode as I read. Yes, there were a few obvious typos, but I’m assuming those were caught and fixed before the final printing. I did notice a couple of similes that tripped me up, but I’m starting to think I might have simile issues. I’ll be discussing that topic further on Wednesday.

Altogether, it was a great read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Now, for the reason I purchased a book I already have an ARC of. Tune in tomorrow for the first official contest on my blog! I have my 100th post coming up and the best holiday of the year (that would be Halloween) is next week, so it’s time to celebrate! :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Have You Ever Noticed...

The word WEIRD is spelled weird? MS Word auto corrects it so I always forget the "I before E except after C" thing doesn't apply, and it makes me crazy. I'm constantly misspelling it.

That is all. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Little Miss Perfect Rears Her Snooty Head

I was going to do an evil post today about similes, but I decided Friday needs to be a positive day, so I’ll save the evil for Monday. :)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perfectionism. I know that a lot of us crazy writers suffer from this disease. I definitely haven’t been spared.

It can be a good thing, and it pushes us to want to learn how to make our writing better and always put out our best work.

BUT…

Most of the time, I think it’s more a hindrance than a help. Often, it keeps the words from flowing, because for some reason, I think I can do it perfect the first time. We all know this is impossible, but Little Miss Perfect refuses to accept it. She knows everything. Everything. She thinks she’s so smart. She’s kind of stuck up, actually, and most of the time, I don’t like her very much.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. I see typos and misspelled words all over the place. What’s the difference between others’ mistakes and my mistakes? When other people do it, I can let it go. Oh, must be a typo. No biggie. Or, She was in a hurry, because she’s really nice and tries to visit all the blogs she follows and leave thoughtful comments. All is forgiven.

If I make a mistake, my throat feels like it’s going to close up, and my mouse wielding hand is just itching to delete and fix it. It makes me crazy I can’t edit my comments. That’s part of the reason I don’t comment much, because it takes me so long to leave a comment. Everything I do must be proofread to perfection.

The main thing that makes me so crazy is I can’t let it go. Some of you probably noticed and were too nice to say anything, but my post from Monday had a typo in the title and a misspelled word in the body of the post. Nothing serious, but it’s going to bother me for a while. Even though it’s all fixed now. Neurotic? Yes. Can it be helped? I don’t know. I’m guessing, unlikely.

So, now for the positive point of this post. In the midst of striving for perfection, we often forget our best qualities and focus on the things we’re doing wrong. And we ALL have good, no, excellent qualities. Each and every one of us.

I know this is hard, but all humility and insecurity are being thrown to the wind today. Say goodbye.

Goodbye, humility. Goodbye, insecurity. I’m sure you’ll both find your way back soon.

I want to know what makes you awesome. It doesn’t have to be about writing. Whatever you want to share. Anything to give yourself a little boost before the weekend. :D

Don’t slink away and try to hide in the bloggy shadows. No one will boo your awesomeness here. :) I’ll give you a starter phrase:

I am awesome because…

Example:

I am awesome, because I make all of my kids’ Halloween costumes, so they get to be whatever they want. (I have to make up for all the time I spend writing/crafting/being generally distracted somehow.) Oh, and I think they’re the best dressed kids, every Halloween. :D That’s mine.

Now it’s your turn. Aaaand go!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Undertones with a Nutty Finish

Thank you, Tere, for inspiring this post with your comment yesterday. :)

First off, the point of this post is not just to tell you a cutesy story about my daughter. Number one, I don’t think it’s cutesy so much as hilarious, and two, this does relate to writing. Sort of. :)

My youngest is a very unique individual. She often lives in a world of her own making, and some of the things that come out of her mouth have me really wondering what is going on her head. A lot of times, though, she has me rolling on the floor, literally. She’s given me quite a bit of writing material for my family blog.

My favorite story, ever, is from when she was four years old. She stayed home with her dad while I took the older two to the bus stop. She was curled up next to him in bed, when the phone—at the opposite corner of the bed—rang. My husband got up and crawled across the bed to answer it.

“I see your nuts, Daddy,” a tiny voice said behind him.

As you can imagine, my husband was horrified. I was, when he told me.

What if this was the end of the story? What would you think of me? Boo! What is she teaching her children? My kids are very sheltered, I assure you. And that's not the end.

This is how the story could have ended:

My husband, in the throws of what threatened to be a very serious heart attack, turned around and said, “What did you say?”

Eyes wide, terrified by her father’s tone, she immediately burst into tears and didn’t stop crying until Mom got home.

All that build up, and then she just cried? How lame is that?

Now, as emotional as she is, this ending is not that unlikely. Fortunately, she was in a good mood that morning and this is not how it ended.

Here’s the whole story with the real ending:

When my youngest was four years old, she stayed home with her dad while I took the older two to the bus stop. She was curled up next to him in bed, when the phone—at the opposite corner of the bed—rang. My husband got up and crawled across the bed to answer it.

“I see your nuts, Daddy,” a tiny voice said behind him.

In the throws of what threatened to be a very serious heart attack, he turned around and said, “What did you say?”

She pointed to a can of cashews on the nightstand. “I see your nuts, Daddy.”

Now, isn’t the second ending SO. MUCH. BETTER? I was laughing about that one for weeks.

Okay, so the point is, the ending can make or break a story. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of the story is, if the ending falls flat, you’re only going to upset or annoy your reader. The first ending probably left you feeling let down. Maybe even hoping I never bore with another anecdote about my children again. I don’t know. Maybe the real ending had the same result, but let’s pretend for the sake of this post, that it didn’t. ;)

So, what do you think? What is essential to a good ending? Anything that drives you crazy in an ending and makes you want to throw the book across the room?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tapped Out

As I stare at the wall with a blank expression, drool sliding down my chin, I realize I have no idea what to post on today. My idea well has run dry.

Surely you can think of something to go on and on about, I tell myself. But no. There’s nothing there. My brain is empty. Or almost empty. All I can think about are my revisions and getting those done. That’s a good thing, right?

Any suggestions? What do you do when you’re feeling like your idea well has run dry? Any failsafe brainstorming tricks that get you back on track quick? Sometimes, staring at the wall with a blank expression does work. For me anyway. Just not today. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Showing Off Her Nunchuck Skills

A while back, I posted a review of Elana Johnson's awesome new ebook, From the Query to the Call. I found out later that anyone who purchases that ebook, gets a query shredding from the Query Ninja herself, Miss ElanaJ.

So, I took my query that had already been through the wringer with some awesome help from Suzanne Palmieri and great advice over on Beth Revis's blog, and sent it over to Elana. She applied her ninja skills and helped me polish it up. Now it's all shiny and sparkly. That's what ninjas do, right? Make things shiny and sparkly? ;D

Head on over and check it out, if you'd like. I'd love to hear what you think.

Happy Tuesday!!

BTW: I know it's nunchaku, not nunchuck. My reasoning is long and boring. I'll spare you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Feeling Lucky--Good Thing or Bad Thing?

Guess what?

I won another contest. Over on Christine Fonseca's blog. I know. Totally crazy. Seriously, I never win anything, ever. So, I want to know what this all means. I'm not normally a superstitious person, but now I'm wondering if this is a sign. :)

Okay, only kind of, but something weird is going on. My husband says it means I should start sending out queries. I still have about 100 pages left on my revisions. I know I said something a while back about a goal, but sometimes the real life things must take precedence over the make-believe things. So sad.

This last revision is just a final once over, checking punctuation and making sure all my changes flow. Although, I did completely rewrite the beginning of chapter two last night. I'm starting to think if I don't get this baby out there, I'm never going to be able to cut the apron strings. There will always be something needing improvement. Always.

It's so close to ready. I'm just hoping my luck will hold for another few days. If it's not gone already. ;)

So, what do you all think? Do you have periods of time when you feel luckier than others? How much do you think luck plays into querying and getting requests and offers for representation? Or do you think it's all just a matter of skill? You know, like bo staff skills and ninja skills. ;D

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Totally Random Friday

A few things today, in no particular order.

1. I still haven't received my ARC of Janice Hardy's THE SHIFTER. Boohoo. :^( Dang slow postal service. Maybe this afternoon? I'm about ready to go buy a copy and then maybe use it for a contest. Hmm. We'll see. I have a 40% off coupon for Borders that I have to use anyway...

2. Christine Fonseca has created a new blog called Growing Up Gifted. She's just getting started, but there's already great info there about gifted children. If you even think you might have a gifted child, it's worth checking out. Great insight there about how the gifted mind works.


3. Like forever ago, Stina Lindenblatt gave me the Premios Dardos award. Thank you, Stina. I'm supposed to pass it on to five other people, but I'm having a hard time narrowing it down. So, happy Friday! You're all winners!! Woohoo! :D


4. Susan R. Mills (formerly Lazy Writer) has a great post up today on her blog, A Walk in My Shoes, about marketing ourselves as authors. Definitely worth checking out.

5. Tere Kirkland (formerly TereLiz) of the The Lesser Key has a great contest going on. You could win a copy of Jessica Verday's new novel THE HOLLOW.

6. I'm often inspired by other bloggers for my posts, but today someone was inspired by me. :) I know. I can't believe it either. Yesterday, we talked about whether you should wait to query your first novel until the second novel is done. Roni at Fiction Groupie has a great post today expanding on that. And she has some very good reasons to wait.

7. In an effort to keep my personal life personal and protect my kiddos, I'm making my family blog private. If you're interested in having access to that blog, leave your email address here, and if I know you, I'll invite you. :)

8. I came across this video, and I thinks it's just incredible and had to share. These amazing little girls are 6, 7, and 8 years old.



Happy Friday, all! Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Want Me to Put My Baby Where?

In a drawer? A closed drawer? And then you want me to leave it there?! The horror!!

No, I’m not insane. Not yet, anyway. ;)

I’m sure most of us have heard it. I know agent Janet Reid has blogged about it, and other agents probably have too. However, I’m not ready to give in just yet.

What am I rambling about?

I’m rambling about taking my precious first novel and putting it in a drawer, or on a shelf, or some undisclosed file on my hard drive to sit while I write novel number two. We, novel one and I, have become quite close over the last year, and I’m afraid I can’t do that. I want this baby to get out into the world, so it can grow up to be a published novel.

I understand the logic. The idea is that after you finish number two or three or four, you’ll go back and realize everything that was wrong with number one. But I’m rationalizing (possibly deluding myself) that since my novel in its current state is so different from the original version, it doesn’t really count as a first novel.

Seriously, if I posted some of the stuff from the original version, I would never be able to show my face on the blogosphere again. You’d all be reaching for the red hot poker to alleviate the suffering your eyes would be forced to endure just reading it. What? You think that’s a little dramatic? Well, you’ll never know till you read it, which you won’t, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Now, I’m not saying that the agents are wrong. I’m just saying that maybe they’re not always right. Besides, I can’t give up without trying.

So, how do you feel about this? Not whether my novel is ready, but the idea in general. Should a first time novelist banish her first born to his room until the other kids have had a chance to play?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

But She has a Good Personality

I don’t know how it works for anyone else, but when I’m reading a book, I form an image of a character rather quickly. And that image can be based on any number of things. Usually there is some description in the book, but more often than not, what I’m picturing in my head is based on a character’s personality, attitude, or even the things that they say and how they say them. Physical descriptors like eye color, hair color, height, or the shape of a character’s face, are just there to tweak that image, if they have any impact at all.

Are you confused yet?

Okay, this is how it works for me, and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. When I read a book, I liken the characters to people I know. This is where the personality traits come in. If a character reminds me of someone I know, that’s how I’m going to picture him, regardless of how the author describes that character. Sometimes this will cause a little hiccup for me if I’m reading and come to a physical descriptor that doesn’t match that image, but I’ve gotten used to it. Usually, I’ll just ignore the descriptor.

What?! But that’s not what the author intended for you to picture! Um, I don’t care. They’ll get over it, I’m sure. I know it wouldn’t bother me, if I was the author. (That’s has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)

Can you keep a secret? I have a character in my book that has no physical description whatsoever and no one has ever noticed it. Not one single critter or beta reader. Can you guess why?

The why is actually pretty simple—they can relate the character to someone in their own life. And I think that makes that character more personal to them. Okay, so I don’t know any of this for certain, and maybe my critters and beta readers are just being nice, but it makes sense to me.

Let’s take Edward from TWILIGHT as an example, only because most of us have read it, and there’s a movie to see what he really looks like. Well, sort of. Just bear with me, folks.

When I read TWILIGHT and all the descriptions of Edward’s beauty and blah, blah, blah, I didn't picture Robert Pattinson or anyone resembling Robert Pattinson. But Stephenie Meyer said on her website that she could picture him as Edward. She would be the expert on what he looks like, after all. Besides that, thousands of screaming girls have solidified his “hotness”, so who cares what I think, right?

So, what does this tell us?

Different people have different ideas of beauty, and different ideas of ugliness, to be fair. So why would I put a long, drawn out description of how beautiful a character is, complete with head-to-toe details, when I know that not everyone is going to have the same idea of beautiful? Why not just put in a few key descriptors, give him the hottest personality ever, and leave the rest to the imagination?

See, this rambling mess led to a point. I knew I’d get there eventually.

So, what do you all think? Do we need a super detailed description of a character to create an image, or is it better to let that image form based on the character’s, um, character?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Feeling Sorry for Myself

Remember last week when I said I won an ARC of Janice Hardy's THE SHIFTER? Yeah, well. Since I was so neglectful in checking back to see who the winner was, it didn't get sent until last week, and therefore, I haven't received it yet. And it was released today. It's totally my fault for not checking, but I still feel like having a pity party for myself. Poor me. :^(

So, is it still considered an "advance reader copy" if I get it after the release date?

More Description? Can’t I Just Draw You a Picture?

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, know that I like to analyze the crap out of everything. So, it’s only logical that I’ve determined what I deem to be my biggest weakness when it comes to writing.

I love to write dialogue, but I think that’s because dialogue is relatively easy for me. But description? Just the thought makes all my creative functions shut down. Writing description requires me to think, and where’s the fun in that?

It’s my opinion that if you’re setting is relatively commonplace—a bedroom, a kitchen, a park, whatever—it doesn’t need to be described in detail, or even at all, unless it’s vital to the storyline. Most people can conjure up some image without a description. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but this is how I rationalize my minimalist approach to setting description. :)

Besides, my novel is already 10,000 words too long, according to all the word count Nazis out there, so more description would only add to that. So, I use that rationalization too.

To be honest, when I’m reading, if I can conjure up an image without it, sometimes I’ll just skip the description. I like to read about the characters, not the setting. Just my personal preference.

So, I’m wondering. What’s your take on this? Do you love to write beautiful setting descriptions? Do you think it’s an integral part of every scene, or do you think it’s unnecessary sometimes?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Those Who Think They Know Everything Annoy Those of Us Who Do

Nothing pulls a reader out of a story like inaccurate facts. Or, even worse, coming to a scene and thinking, “That totally would never happen that way.”

We’ve all heard it before. Write what you know. It’s definitely true. No one wants to read a story by someone who doesn’t have their facts straight, but new knowledge is always easy to attain, especially with the internet. With a few clicks on the keyboard, a writer can find all there is to know about just about any subject.

But there are certain things that can only be learned through life experience. Now, I think that writers as a whole are a more empathetic group than most. We have to really get inside our characters’ heads and see everything through their eyes, but without having similar experiences in our own lives that we can compare them to, how can we put that emotional aspect in our writing?

A book about the basics of cattle ranching might be interesting to some, and written by someone who’s actually worked on a cattle ranch would be much more informative, but it would read like a textbook to me. I want strong characters, and turmoil in those characters’ lives. And I want to know how they react to that turmoil.

Rancher Bob is about to lose everything to the nasty new banker. I know, totally cliché, but it’s early on a Monday. So, we could go over all the technical aspects of that situation—posted notices about foreclosure, lawyer involvement, all the things Bob does to try to keep the ranch—but without getting Bob’s emotional reactions, and all the anger, frustration, and despair involved in a situation like that, the story, in my opinion, would be pretty boring.

And that is what I interpret write what you know to mean. It’s drawing on your own life experience to make your characters believable and their experiences believable. And being able to give the reader something to connect to in that character, to keep them reading. That’s the ultimate goal, right? To have our words read and appreciated, and our characters loved by others as much as we love them?

So, I’m wondering. What do you all think? Should write what you know be taken to mean just factual knowledge, or is there more to it than that?

Note: I got the title of this post from a t-shirt my husband has. It’s my favorite. :) I'm thinking about making a badge...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Fringe Funnies

No time for a real post today. I don't know why, but with my kids getting a two week break at the end of each quarter, it always feels like the end of the school year. And we always have a gazillion things going on.

In lieu of a post, here are a few short, funny clips from Fringe, so if you haven't seen it, you can see why it's so awesome. I LOVE this show, and I'm so excited that it's started again. Just to forewarn you, there is a possibility this will just solidify any notions you may have that I'm a total dork. :)

Happy Friday!






Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's My Blog, and I'll ??? if I Want To...

There's been quite a bit of buzz around the blogosphere lately about what's appropriate content for a writer's blog.

Should it be all writing, all the time? Or is it okay to sprinkle in some personal stuff?

And what about rejection? Is it okay to post about your rejections and how they have helped you become a better writer? Or does that make you look unpublishable? It's my opinion that this subject (posting about your rejections) is simply a matter of how you approach it. But I know there are some agent opinions floating around out there, too, about how these kinds of posts can cast a writer in a bad light.

And platform. Should you choose a theme and stick with it? Should a writer blog only for selfless reasons? Or is it okay to blog simply to tell the world what's going on in your mind? I know I'm guilty of this, but I figure if people don't want to read about it, they'll stop reading. Don't get me wrong. I love my readers, every single one of them, but I can't expect anyone to be interested in all the same things I'm interested in. Some of the stuff I like is boring. I'm okay with that.

So, I'm wondering. What's your take on this? How should a writer handle his/her blog? What's appropriate, and what isn't? And why do you blog? Also, if you have any other thoughts on any of the other questions in this post, I would love to hear what you think.

I know my blog is all over the place, but please don't let that affect your opinion. You don't need to worry about hurting my feelings. :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a Happy Wednesday!!

For a few reasons.

1. I've been a contest junkie for as long as I can remember, but I've never won anything. Ever. So, I was so excited when I clicked over to YA Highway and realized I won the ARC of THE SHIFTER in their contest! I'm like a week late in noticing, but still--I WON! Yea! I've been interested in this one since I first read about it on agent Kristin Nelson's blog. Can't wait until I have in my hands. :)

2. Yesterday was the last day of triple digit temperatures here in Arizona--at least in our area. We're officially into Fall, even if it's still over 90. Baby steps.

3. Today was crazy hair day at my kids school. And though I'm a little annoyed that the colored "spiking" gel was pretty much useless for anything but color, I still think it turned out pretty good. I got some of that got2b spiking glue. That stuff is awesome, and just like glue. Weird. Now my oldest wants to put permanent blue or pink streaks in her hair. I'll have to think on that one. :) Here's a pic, if you're interested.

Hope you're all having a fabulous Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Teaser - The Dreaded Opening

Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. Sheesh! Is she posting about her flippin' opening again!? Sorry, kids. I had another post planned, but I didn't have time to write it, so maybe tomorrow? We'll see.

After my experience with the Secret Agent contest and a few more awesome critiques, I think my opening is a lot better, if not perfect yet. I've beefed it up quite a bit, making it twice as long but, hopefully, less confusing and telling than it was before.

All honest comments are welcome. I always have my seven stages to fall back on. :)

Thanks for reading! Happy Tuesday!

*****

Removed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why I Unplugged

Last week we took a little trip to Utah and Idaho to visit family. We also visited Yellowstone National Park while we were up that way, so we were in five different states over the course of six days. Pure craziness, but we had a blast.

I'm still recovering from the 16 1/2 hour overnight drive home and have nothing intelligent to say. My eyes are sliding closed as I type this. So, I will leave you with some photos I took of the landscape and hot springs in Yellowstone. They turned out a lot better than I thought they would, especially since I forgot my good camera at home.

Enjoy!