Friday, March 26, 2010

Yes. More Contests. You Guys Tired of These Posts? Keep 'Em Coming?

I've been sort of offline (mostly lurking) this week, trying to be good and get some words down. I got a little bit done, but not nearly enough. Next week, I will be unplugging completely, so I won't be posting or commenting or reading. {:-( Except for the First Page Blogfest next Friday. There's still time to sign up and join in the fun. My 4,107th version of my opening will be up. Okay, so maybe there aren't that many versions, but I really have lost count of how many times I've rewritten it.

Now for the good stuff. :D

1. Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction is having a writing contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers and she's giving away a ton of cool stuff! HURRY! This one ends today! (March 26th)

2. Karen at Novels During Naptime is having a fun Spring giveaway to celebrate reaching 101 Followers. She's giving away some very cute office supplies! I don't know about you, but I LOVE office supplies. Ends April 17th. Be sure to let her know I sent you. :)

3. Jennifer at Unedited is giving away THREE $10 gift cards for Amazon to celebrate her birthday and reaching 300 followers. Ends March 29th.

4. Frankie Diane at Frankie Writes is having a contest to celebrate reaching 400 followers and she's giving away personalized, signed copy of The Body Finder plus other fabulous goodies! Be sure to let her know I sent you. Ends March 30th.

5. Several of the contests I blogged about last week are still going, so be sure to check those out if you haven't yet.


6. Fun giveaway by Summer at And This Time, Concentrate... to celebrate completing her novel. Ends March 31st.

That's it. Have a great week, everyone! See you all next Friday! :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dude, Your Baby is UG-LY!

Originally posted November 12, 2009.

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

This post isn’t really about babies. Not the real kind, anyway. On Tuesday, 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?


And don't forget about Beta Club today. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

They Lurk in the Shadows

Originally posted November 17, 2009.

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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Critiques Are Like Crack

Originally posted November 9, 2009.

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, March 22, 2010

Motivational Monday—Sort Of

This is a repost from July 31, 2009.

Warm Fuzzy Preserves - Anybody Know Where I Can Buy Some?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to store some confidence and good feelings for all the crappy days? When you're feeling down, just pop open a jar of warm fuzzy preserves and you're good to go? It's amazing how fleeting those feelings can be.

Several rejections on my query [July 2009], combined with a whole slew of other things that have been weighing down on me lately, got me thinking about how quickly we can lose the confidence that’s so necessary in this business. It amazes me how one day I can read something I’ve written and think it’s total crap but go back to it a week later and think it’s brilliant. And, of course, that works in the reverse as well, probably more frequently. Unfortunately.

It’s difficult to maintain confidence in your own work, especially with the abundance of exceptional work already out there. I often find myself comparing my work to others', even though there should be no comparison. Other than the technical aspect, my writing should be my own and whatever so-n-so does over there, should have no bearing on whether my work is good enough. Yet, even knowing that, I tend to hold myself to unreasonable standards, which only contribute to those am I good enough feelings.

Negativity is effortless for me. I wish I could be the kind of person that always looks on the bright side of things. I try, I really do, but some days, the dark, self-destructive thoughts just overpower everything else. Fortunately, I’m blessed to have a loving and supportive family and an undeniable faith in something greater than myself that give me a safe place to fall when I’m feeling the worst. And being able to express myself creatively has provided me with an outlet for those dark thoughts that would otherwise stay locked inside.

Whether it’s through drawing, painting, or writing, the act of creating something has a way of pulling me out of those dark places. Maybe it’s the pride of knowing I made something beautiful, in my mind at least. Maybe it’s that little feeling of power that I’m capable of creation. Whatever it is, creativity is my most effective tool for bringing me back to reality, even if it means I’m totally immersed in some imaginary world.

And of course, I couldn’t do it without all the amazing friends I’ve made through blogging. You guys are all so supportive and totally awesome!

So, do you ever have those days where you feel like nothing you do will ever be good enough? And what do you do to combat it? Is losing yourself in your work enough or do you find you have to step away and come back when you feel like you can have a more objective perspective?

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Contests and a Big Huge Thank You

Before I start listing the plethora of contests going on right now, I want to say thanks to everyone who participated in The Beta Club yesterday. Your comments were super helpful and much appreciated. And thank you to Roni for hosting The Beta Club on her blog, Fiction Groupie. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, what are you waiting for? Go now. It's all awesomeness over there. :)

Also, I will be semi-unplugging for the next two weeks due to spring break and needing to get some words done on my rewrite. I'll still be reading and posting—even if they are cheater reposts—but I probably won't be commenting as much.

Now for the fun stuff. :)

1. Kelly at Kelly's Compositions is having a contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers. Enter for a chance to win Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas, a black leather journal, and a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card. Hurry! This one ENDS TODAY! Make sure you sign up for the first page blogfest while you're over there. If you're new to her blog, be sure to mention I sent you. :)

2. Laurel at Laurel's Leaves is having a contest to celebrate making 111 blog friends. Submit a dialogue-driven scene for a chance to win a critique or books on writing. Contest ends April 4th at midnight EDT.

3. Beth Revis at writing it out is having a contest to celebrate her fabulous book deal! Check it out for a chance to win a whole slew of prizes. Contest ends April 3rd.

4. Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is giving away a signed copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. Contest ends March 25th. Comment on this post to get an extra entry.

5. There's a great giveaway going on over at All-Consuming Books: Reviews by Tiger. Enter for a chance to win Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Tangled by Carolyn Mackler.

6. Courtney at Southern Princess is having a HUGE contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers. She's giving away The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Devoured by Amanda Marrone, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (SIGNED!!), UNBOUND by Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Jeaniene Frost & Vicki Petersson, Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Here There Be Dragons by James Owen, and DragonSpell by Donita K. Paul. PLUS Dooney & Burke Purse, Baerksgard Travel Wallet, Twizzlers 4 lb box, and a few surprises! You don't to miss this one! Ends March 31st.

7. Steph at Steph Bowe's Hey! Teenager of the Year is having a Massive Book Giveaway. The more followers she gets, the more winners there will be! Contest ends April 30th.

If you're having a contest, and I missed you, let me know, and I'll add you to the list. Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aw. She's Growing Up...

Important stuff first. My first 750 words are up on Fiction Groupie for Beta Club if you want to check it out. Any feedback would be awesome and appreciated. :)

Now for the real post.

I have always been and probably always will be a pantser—for the first draft anyway. I love not knowing exactly where things are headed in my story. It keeps me motivated and moving forward. But this rewrite has been much more challenging. Even though I've added/removed a few characters, changed a lot of the plot and rearranged the scenes a bit, overall, I know what needs to happen. For some reason though, I haven't been able to keep it straight in my head, and I find myself wanting to jump forward so I don't forget something important.

So I finally broke down and did it. I made an outline. My very first one. I know. I'm so proud of myself. :D I don't remember where I first saw this method, but it worked very well for me. I just made a list of everything I knew needed to happen, wrote each event on a Post-it and then arranged them like a puzzle on my shiny new whiteboard. (Did I mention I LOVE whiteboards?) It was actually kind of fun.

Doesn't it look pretty? I still have four key scenes that I'm not sure about where they will fit best, but the beauty of this method is I can rearrange things whenever I want. Feels much less restricting than how I've thought of outlining in the past.

So what about you? Do you outline, or are you a devoted pantser?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Tere Kirkland at The Lesser Key tagged me. According to the rules, all I have to do is complete each sentence and tag three people. So here goes:

I like new office supplies--pens, pencils, clean paper, notebooks. :)
I like Dove chocolate with almonds. Yummy!
I like hardcover books with pretty covers.
I like taking things apart to see how they work.
I like learning new things.
I like drawing, painting, scrapbooking, writing--anything creative.
I like sleeping in.
I like revising. Wish I was doing that right now instead of drafting.
I like when a scene falls perfectly into place after I've been struggling with it for days.
I like my characters--probably too much.
I like giving and receiving critiques. Feedback is always awesome!
•I like free blog posts like this one. :) Thanks, Tere!

I love the feeling of a shiny, new idea.

Today was not very productive. (Tuesday)

I hate daylight savings time. Seriously, whose crack-smokin' idea was this? I feel like I've been living with a borrowed hour since we moved here and then I was forced to pay it back against my will. And I paid it in sleep. Score one for Arizona. Best reaction from my daughter: "When you wake us up in the morning, what time will it be in the real world?" :)
I hate peanut butter candy, especially Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I know this makes me a freak, but I can't stand the taste or the texture. Not really a big fan of peanut butter all around.
I hate popping open those biscuit tubes. Makes me all anxious.
I hate being sick.
I hate doing dishes.
I hate the lack of good Mexican food restaurants in Idaho.
I hate buying something and finding out I could've gotten it somewhere else for less money. Even if it's only a few bucks difference.
I hate that we barely got any rain in AZ in 2009, but as soon as I moved away, it started raining like crazy. It rained for three days straight in January and I missed it. :(

I (secretly) like being alone. It's the only time I can think. :)

I love thunderstorms.

I tag:

Rebecca Knight
Elizabeth Mueller
Susan Fields

Don't forget about The Beta Club tomorrow. Mine's going up for shredding. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Truth Revealed

This is the second part to the Bold Faced Liar "Creative Writer" Award I posted on Friday. Did you guess right?

1. When I was sixteen, I was rollerblading at The Wedge, a skate park in Scottsdale, AZ. I lost my balance and hit a half wall, breaking my knee. I had to have surgery to repair it. Very painful. False. When I was sixteen, I did lose my balance while rollerblading and hit a half wall at The Wedge, but I didn't break my knee. Though from how much it swelled, you would've thought it was broken.

2. I love to cheat at cards. I rarely lose. False. I never cheat at cards, and I hate playing with people who do. And I tend to get a little obsessive about how the cards are dealt. You're messing with chance if it's not done the same way every time. The part about rarely losing, though, is true. My husband hates playing cards with me.

3. I have this pasted to my bedroom wall. Everyone needs a vampire to watch over them at night. False. Even if I wanted this on my wall, which I don't, my husband would never agree. Though it might be fun to put it up just to see his reaction. :)

4. The idea of dying an old maid terrified me, so I took the first opportunity that presented itself and got married at 19. False. My plan was to finish school, travel a little, and then get married at 23. I've since discovered that plans don't work for me. I did get married at 19, but I changed my mind at least four times before the big day. Poor guy. I did go through with it, because I knew it was right for me. I just wanted the timing to be more in line with my plan, dangit! In case you're wondering--best decision I ever made. We've been happily married for almost 15 years. Okay. Now I feel old. Next subject, please!

5. I posted yesterday (Thursday) about writing 3000 words on Wednesday with the hopes of not jinxing myself, only to spike a fever of 101 degrees shortly after hitting the publish button. I spent the rest of the day in bed. True! I will never post about my word count again! Just kidding. My husband had been sick for over a week, so I knew it was coming. The timing couldn't have been better though. :)

6. When I was a kid, I spent every summer on the swim team and scored several blue ribbons. False. Though I did spend every summer on the swim team, I never got first place. Usually just the honorable mentions they give out so everyone gets something. I've never been good at anything sports related.

7. I took five years of German in high school and college, earning all A’s. I now speak fluent German, even fooling some of the locals into believing I was German when I visited Germany three years ago. False. I almost took it in college, but the only classes were at 7:30 in the morning, so that idea disappeared pretty quickly. But I did take German for three years in high school, and I was pretty good at it. I got all A's, but not necessarily because I deserved them. My teacher loved me.

At the end of my junior year, I had a B in that class, because I never did any of my homework. Such a slacker. So I went to my teacher and asked if there was any extra credit I could do to bring my grade up to an A. Had to maintain that 4.0 at all costs. He told me to study hard, and if I got an A on the final, he'd give me an A in the class. So I studied hard and got a B on the final. He still gave me an A in the class.

I wish I'd retained more of it, but I still remember a little, though not even close to enough to visit Germany and actually speak to anyone. Except maybe to ask someone their name and where the bathroom is. Oh, and I can recite the entire Pledge of Allegiance in German, because that's useful when visiting a foreign country. And the only time I've been out of the US is our family trips to Mexico when I was a kid. Maybe someday. :) 

Thanks for playing, everyone! This was fun!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Motivational Monday—I'm Not a Dreamer

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.

--T.E. Lawrence

Sometimes, I feel like all of this is for nothing. I spend hours upon hours pouring words onto paper with the hope that someday someone will find my work worthy of publication. But behind that hope is fear. Fear that I’m wasting my time. Fear that it’s only arrogance that has gotten me this far. Who am I to say that I could ever be good enough?

Yet here I am—still writing, still striving to hone my craft. We’re all still here, and that's what separates us from those that merely dream.

I like to think I’m not a dreamer. I’m a doer. Though I may never reach the end of this road, I’m not just sitting on a rock watching others pass me by. I’m walking there beside them or behind them and learning everything I can. I’m finding my way step by step and maybe someday I’ll get there. Maybe someday I’ll be one of those “dangerous [wo]men” who “make it possible”. Maybe. For now, I’m enjoying the journey.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Award Friday

I am the worst at doing these award posts. Some of these I've had for a long time. I'm sorry I took so long to do a post about them. I just get so nervous picking people to pass them on to. I'm always afraid I'll leave someone out. And I'm sure there is someone out there who slipped through and didn't make it on this list. If you've given me an award and I missed you, please let me know.

Sunshine Award

Thanks to Stina Lindenblatt and Julie the Wife.

Rules to Accept the Award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award to 5 bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
6. Share 5 things about yourself

I pass this one on to:

Ali Cross
C.K. Bryant
Elizabeth Mueller
Angie at Notes from the Writing Chair
Jackee at Winded Words

Stylish Award

Thanks to Kristin Rae and Michelle Gregory.

Rules to Accept the Award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award to 5 bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
6. Share 5 things about yourself.

I pass this on to:

Sarah at Falen Formulates Fiction
Heather at See Heather Write
Nicole at One Significant Moment at a Time
Karen at Novels During Naptime
Christine at Christine's Journey

From Me to You Award

Thanks to Natalie Bahm and Susan Fields.


1. Tell seven things about yourself.
2. Pass it on.
I pass this one to:

Shrinky at Shrink Wrapped Scream
Julie at A Day in the Wife

I’m cheating and lumping all the “things about myself” for these three awards into one, so here it is. 5-7 things about myself:

1. I recently discovered that sometime in the last fourteen years I grew an inch and a half, and I am now a very tall 5’ 3”. I still need a step stool for a lot of things.

2. I am a master at procrastinating housework. Like loading the dishwasher. It takes maybe ten minutes, but I will put it off until the sink is overflowing.

3. I’ve gone back to school four different times, for four different degrees, but never finished. Maybe someday. :)

4. I love to eat lemons with salt. Bad for my teeth, but so yummy.

5. My very first car was a Buick Skyhawk with dolphins painted on the side, purchased with my own money, though the dolphins were a surprise from my dad.

6. The first piece of writing I ever got “published” was a poem I wrote in 10th grade titled “Down Yonder”. It was written as a joke and it was so very, very awful, but my English teacher loved it and put it in the annual school anthology. She also loved three-prong essays, so there you go. :)

7. The thing that excites me the most about living in Idaho is that I can grow bulb flowers here. I love tulips and hyacinths.

Silver Lining Award

Thanks to Tere Kirkland of the Lesser Key.

Just one rule: Pass the Silver Lining to 5 bloggers.

I pass this on to:

Michelle Gregory
Kristin at Kristin Creative
Susan Fields
Shannon at Book Dreaming
Patti Nielson

Quillfeather Award

Thank you, Nicole Ducleroir.

This award comes with the instructions to share with you how I like my eggs.

I like my eggs boiled and cut up on a piece of buttered toast with salt, like an open-faced egg sandwich. I know. I'm boring.
I pass this on to:

Stina Lindenblatt
Natalie Bahm

Bold Faced Liar "Creative Writer" Award

Thanks to Christine Danek and Jackee at Winded Words.

Here are the rules :

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link to them.
2. Add the award to your blog
3. Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and One Truth.
4. Nominate six creative liars… I mean writers and post links to them.
5. Let your nominees know that they have been nominated.

I pass this on to:

Alex at My Muse is a Zombie
Tere at The Lesser Key
Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published
Aubrie at Flutey Words...
Courtney at Southern Princess
Roxy at A Woman's Write

Here's my list. Only one is true. Can you guess which one?

1. When I was sixteen, I was rollerblading at The Wedge, a skate park in Scottsdale, AZ. I lost my balance and hit a half wall, breaking my knee. I had to have surgery to repair it. Very painful.

2. I love to cheat at cards. I rarely lose.

3. I have this pasted to my bedroom wall. Everyone needs a vampire to watch over them at night.

4. The idea of dying an old maid terrified me, so I took the first opportunity that presented itself and got married at 19.

5. I posted yesterday about writing 3000 words on Wednesday with the hopes of not jinxing myself, only to spike a fever of 101 degrees shortly after hitting the publish button. I spent the rest of the day in bed.

6. When I was a kid, I spent every summer on the swim team and scored several blue ribbons.

7. I took five years of German in high school and college, earning all A’s. I now speak fluent German, even fooling some of the locals into believing I was German when I visited Germany three years ago.

Whew! That's it. If I've passed an award on to you, feel free to pass it on or just ignore it. It won't hurt my feelings, either way.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Beta Club

Similar to MSFV's Secret Agent contest, Roni at Fiction Groupie is hosting a crit session every Tuesday and Thursday. Brave souls have offered up the openings of their precious manuscripts for some serious shredding. All with the hope of making their writing as shiny as possible. It can be brutal to be on the receiving end, but ultimately (when you can finally see through your tears ;)), it's so worth it.

Everyone is welcome to participate. Feel free to offer up any advice you think might be helpful. And if you're new to critiquing, this is a great way to get an idea of what goes into a critique and what to expect when you eventually get one. Because every good writer knows, you just can't be your best without those awesome critters.

Up today, is the very awesome Tere Kirkland. Good luck, Tere!

And I want to apologize for being a little absent lately around the blogosphere. I haven't been commenting as much as I would like, but that's because I've been COOKIN' on my manuscript. I wrote over 3000 words yesterday! Insane, I know. I hope I'm not jinxing myself by posting about it. ;) So, I'm not completely absent, just lurking a little more while the words are flowing so freely.

Happy Thursday, everyone! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oodles of Contests and a Blogfest

It's contest time again, er, still. :)

1. Elana Johnson is doing a huge SIGNED book giveaway over on her blog to celebrate reaching 700 followers. Contest ends March 14th.

2. Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins are having a Fantabulous Followers Giveaway over on their blog, Shooting Stars, with prizes including a 40-page submission and critique by fabulous agent Suzie Townsend of FinePrintLit! Contest ends March 14th.

3. Chimera Critiques is giving away a $20.00 gift certificate to either Barnes & Nobles or Books-A-Million, winner’s choice. Plus an in-depth critique by all of their staff members on your first Chapter. Contest ends April 10th.

4. Check out Ali Cross's blog for details on how to win an Office Box and a signed copy of WRONG NUMBER by Rachelle J. Christensen. Ali's also running a preliminary contest to win some cool stuff. Be sure to check it out. Both contests end March 15th.

5. Nicole Ducleroir at One Significant Moment at a Time is having her 100+ Significant Followers Giveaway. You could win THE WRITER'S BUMP ANTHOLOGY, VOLUME ONE plus a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card! Enter before March 15th.

6. Tricia J. O'Brien at Tailspinning is giving away a personalized signed copy of MY LIFE WITH THE LINCOLNS by Gayle Brandeis. HURRY! This one ends today at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

7. Noelle Nolan at Noelle Nolan: A Life Rewritten is holding a contest for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Contest ends when she reaches 150 followers.

8. Sara at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler is having an awesome giveaway with FIVE fabulous prizes! If you follow because of me, make sure you tell her I sent you. I get more entries. :) Contest ends March 22nd.

9. Guinevere at This is Not My Day Job is having a 101 followers contest. Enter to win two cool books or a Hobo bag. Contest ends March 13th.

10. Guide to Literary Agents is having another Dear Lucky Agent contest. Enter the first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of urban fantasy or paranormal romance (adult or YA - both accepted) to win a 10 or 20 page crit of your work by the agent judge plus a one-year submission to Contest judged by agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe. Ends March 14th.

Blogfest: Kelly Lyman at Kelly's Compositions is holding a First Page Blogfest! Blogfest to be held April 2nd. Click over to add your name to the Mr. Linky. :)


11. Lady Glamis at The Innocent Flower is doing a fun giveaway of children's picture book, A NEW JOB FOR DILLY by Rena Jones. Hurry over! Looks like the contest is running for today only.

That's it! I know it's a ton, but lots of fun opportunities out there this week. If you're having a contest and I missed it, let me know and I'll add it to the list.

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Color Are Your Reader's Glasses?

We’ve all heard the phrase about seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. If you haven’t, you’ve been in your writing cave too long. It’s time to come out. :)

I know it may sound cliché, but I think we all see the world through our own special glasses, colored by our experiences. Whether this makes the lenses blue, green, orange, brown, or pink, we all have our own realities.

I recently changed over my vehicle registration from Arizona to Idaho. In Arizona, you only get one license plate and it goes on the back of your vehicle. In Idaho, you get two—front and back. Since I’ve never had a front plate, I had no bracket, so I headed down to the local auto parts store to purchase one. They didn’t have one that would fit my truck, but the clerk there was nice enough to give me directions to a local junk yard that would have what I needed. Everyone is SO nice here—like going out of their way to be nice kind of nice. Very strange for me. Anyway.

These are the clerks exact directions (as I remember them, anyway): He pointed to the nearest road, “You turn down this road here, and it’s quite a ways down, almost to the end, but they always have the best prices so it should be worth the drive.”

So I’m thinking it’s going to be a fifteen or twenty minute drive. Keep in mind, the Phoenix metro area is over eighty miles east to west and over fifty north to south. I’m used to driving long distances to get places. That’s not even considering that our house there was seven miles from civilization anyway. Here though, the closest store is half a mile from my house, and the entire town couldn’t be more than ten miles east to west. I’m not so sure about north to south, though it couldn’t be that much bigger.

Still, the clerk made it sound like it was SO far. Besides, they have little towns scattered everywhere, and he didn’t specify that it was actually in Idaho Falls, so it was possible that it was farther out. Yeah, well, it wasn’t. I turned the corner, drove two miles and there it was. Two miles. Not even a five minute drive. Like I said, it’s all about perspective.

This got me thinking about how a reader may perceive something in my writing. I’m notorious for being vague about distances and sizes. I’ve been trying to be more specific, but it’s difficult to slip the info in there without it coming across as boring. Besides, I have to wonder if half the stuff is even something my narrator would notice or care enough about to know the exact measurement.

To be honest, my descriptions in general are pretty vague. I’m working on that. That’s my major weak point that I was dying to use that BUT for yesterday. What? Motivational Monday is over. I’m free to be negative again for six more days. :)

So what do you all think? Is it important to be specific about everything in our writing? Or is it okay to be vague sometimes?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Motivational Monday—Embracing Success

What’s that supposed to mean, you say, embracing success? Of course I’d embrace success.

Yeah, well, I’m not talking about success in terms of getting an agent and publication. I’m talking about success in our writing. Yes, on some level it’s the same thing, but not for today. Don’t argue with me. :)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to focus on the negative aspects of my writing abilities—knowing exactly what my weakest points are. And if someone compliments me on one of my stronger points (deep down, I know I have strong points), my brain automatically writes off the compliment with a “She’s just being nice” or “She had to come up with something positive to say, so I wouldn’t smear all her critique marks with my tears”.

Focusing on the negative to try to improve is not always a bad thing, but it’s so easy to get bogged down in it. I just got a very helpful, very complimentary critique back. Probably the most complimentary I’ve ever received, and I know that I’ve improved considerably over the last year and a half, BUT—there’s always a BUT—it was almost like I couldn’t see the positive remarks.

My lovely negative brain tells me, “Sure, you did okay over there, Abby, but look at these red marks! And these are things you knew needed to be fixed, even if it was only subconsciously. How could you not get it right the first time?!”

Even when I’m able to accept the positive, there’s always that little nagging voice telling me I could do better. And we need that little voice, or our writing will never improve. For today though, we’re going to tell it to Shut up! and leave us alone so we can be happy with our successes.

So, I want to know what your strengths are. What areas of your writing are you particularly proud of? Or, if you’re not a writer, you can tell us something else about yourself that you’re proud of. No fair qualifying it with a “but it could be better” or “but this is where I need to improve”. And don’t try to tell me you don’t have strengths. We all have strengths, even if we’re blinded to them sometimes.

Okay. To get things started, I’ll go first. I’m good at writing dialogue. It comes very naturally to me. And I really want to put a BUT here, but I won’t. :)

Now it’s your turn. No chickening out. You’ll be happy you did it. You can even list two or three strengths if you’re feeling particularly awesome today. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Think My Brain is Overflowing

I’ve never had a problem with homonyms—there, their, they’re; your, you’re; no, know. In fact, it really makes me crazy when they’re used incorrectly. Lately though, it’s as if this information has just fallen out of my head.

I’ve counted three times in the last week that I’ve used the wrong word. If I go back and read what I’ve written, I know it’s wrong, but still, there it is, just as I typed it. It’s like my subconscious is rebelling against all the rules I’ve set up.

And I am one to follow the rules—obsessively. Well, except when I don’t feel like it. Like how I started that sentence back there with a conjunction. I try to give the rebellious side a little room to breathe. Apparently, it’s not enough.

I wonder what vital writerly knowledge I’ll be losing next.

Does anyone else do this? Consciously, you know the correct way to use or spell a word, but for some reason your fingers just won’t type it that way?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Makes the Best Crit Partner?

There's a post over on The Literary Lab today about having friends critique your work. The gist of it is that you shouldn't have friends (writer or otherwise) critique your work, because the feedback you get is not going to be as honest as what you need to make your writing the best it can be. I agree with this to a point.

Obviously, close friends and family who are not writers, or maybe they are writers but you were friends before your writing came into the relationship—either way, those people, as a general rule, are not going to tell you what's wrong with your writing. In those cases, the personal relationship would be too important to alienate you, the writer, by truly being critical of your work. I think this holds true for most relationship in the blogosphere as well. You just don't know if saying something critical is going to hurt someone's feelings, or if they're going to take it the wrong way.

However, I think it's possible to have a close, friendly relationship with other writers and still get solid, honest feedback on your work. I have a couple of writer friends that I met online and we swapped manuscripts and did critiques for eachother. In the process, they've actually become what I consider my good friends, but that doesn't have a negative affect on our critiquing relationship. If anything, I think it makes it more honest, because I know what they want out of the crit, and if there's something HUGE in their manuscripts that needs fixed, I tell them. Granted, I will most likely preface it with a "Please don't hate, but...", but I always try to be as honest as possible. Even if I think it might initially be painful to hear, because I want them to succeed as much as I want to succeed.

So what do you all think? Is it possible to be friends with the writers you go to for critiques? Or do you think keeping it strictly professional is essential?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WIP Wednesday

First, the important stuff. :) Last week I posted about a contest over on The Bookshelf Muse blog—enter the first two lines of your novel for a chance to win a 2, 5, or 10 page critique. Winners were announced on Monday and I won first place! And this is after getting second place in a similar contest on YA Highway in January. So, I think I finally have my hook set and solid. Now, if I could just get the rest of the story to fall in line, I’ll be perfect. ;)

In other news, I actually have some progress to report. Over the last few weeks I’ve managed to glue all my random scenes together into what is now the first 36 pages of my story. Plus, I added an additional 5000 words. Not as much as I would’ve liked, but progress is progress, right?

I read somewhere recently that people who are very busy are more likely to find time to write. I can’t remember where I saw it, but I’m finding that it’s so true. Never before have I had so much free time, and never before have I found so many ways to procrastinate. I should have no problem churning out 1000 words per day minimum. Just last night I sat down and pounded out 500 words in about 10 minutes. Granted, I’d been thinking about that part of the scene for an hour while I cleaned the kitchen, but 1000 words a day is not an unrealistic goal.

So that’s what I’m challenging myself with. That should give me close 30,000 more words by the end of the month, and 60,000 if I push myself to double that. That would put me very close to done, and done is something I’m definitely ready to be. I’m getting anxious to work on another project I have brewing.

What about all of you? Do you find that you seek out more writing time when you’re busy? Or does endless amounts of free time sound like writer’s heaven?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday

I have a confession to make.

I read a lot of one-star and two-star reviews on Amazon.

Okay, so it’s not so I can laugh at the author, but I still feel a little guilty about it. I always read the book first, so I'm supporting the author by purchasing the book (especially if it's a debut author), and so my experience isn’t tainted by someone else’s opinion. Then I read the reviews to see if other readers caught the same things I did—which is the case about 99% of the time. Oftentimes, the same issues pop up in review after review.

Why would I subject myself to so much negativity?

I agree there are some reviews that are unnecessarily mean, but many are well thought out and very well written. The best reviews weigh the good against the bad—showing what’s working and what’s not. Sometimes, they even point out things I’d glossed over and ignored because the same things are happening in my work. This was especially true when I was first starting out. Yes, I know not everyone is going to love my story and no matter how perfect I get it, it will never be good enough for some people, but it does force me to look at my work more critically and decide if the things I thought no one else would notice are worth changing.

Ultimately, for me, it’s just another tool to help me improve my writing.

As to whether I would read negative reviews of my own book if that ever became a possibility—I don’t know. Probably not.

What about you? Anything to add? Anything to confess? :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Motivational Monday—Embracing Failure

This post was inspired by this article by Rebecca Brown. Some of you have probably already seen it. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and take the time to read it. It’s worth every second.

And along the same lines is this post from Rebecca Knight. Very inspiring!

A writer’s life is filled with what can be construed as failures. Sometimes it feels like no matter what we do, nothing will ever be good enough—for our crit buddies, for an agent, for an editor, for ourselves.

As many of you know, I’ve been seriously devoted to this writing thing for the last year and a half. And when I started, I thought I was pretty good. Boy, was I delusional. I’m so glad I didn’t get published then.

Sure, the seemingly instant success of authors like Stephenie Meyer is appealing, but I don’t think I would be happy if I’d gotten published that way. Okay, the money would’ve been nice, but it would make me insane to know my work that was out there for the whole world to see was not the best I could’ve produced.

I cringe now just thinking about my first draft. Even after revising it a gazillion times, I can’t believe I actually thought it was good enough to query. Having said that, I don’t think I ever would’ve gotten to this point without those rejections. Every rejection—even the form rejections—led me to look at my manuscript with a more critical eye, eventually leading to my acceptance that it needed to be rewritten.

So even though they seemed devastating at the time, those failures have helped me become a better writer. A year from now, I’ll most likely look back at what I think is so much better now, and it won’t be good enough, but I’m sure there will be more failures along the way to get me there.

What about you? Do you embrace your failures?

We Have a Winner!

To be as fair as possible, I totalled everyone's entries and assigned numbers accordingly. Then I let the Random Number Generator pick for me. And the winner is

Southern Princess

Click on the contact button above and shoot me an email with your mailing address, and I'll get you your prizes. Thanks everyone for playing and for celebrating with me!