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?


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?


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?


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.
Tere Kirkland at The Lesser Key
Rebecca Knight at Rebecca Knight: Writer in Progress
Tricia J. O'Brien at Talespinning'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.


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!