Friday, April 30, 2010

Blog Chain: Character Variety

It’s blog chain time. :) This round was started by Sandra. She asked:

Have you ever created a character different from yourself in some significant way, such as (but not limited to) different gender, race, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation? If so, what, if any, research did you do to portray these differences? Was this character a main character, secondary character, or walk-on? Did these differences have an impact on the story?

I’m relatively new to writing, so I feel kind of lame answering this. I started my first novel just over a year and a half ago, and the protag is a white female like me, so nothing significantly different there. There are male characters in the story, but since it’s told in first person, we never get the story from their point of view.

I tried to write something different last November for NaNoWriMo, and I started a story with a teenage boy protag. For “research”, I read books with male POVs and grilled my husband—since he was a teenage boy once upon a time. ;) That story fizzled out plotwise, but I think toward the end there I was starting to understand how the teenage boy’s mind works. I’ll probably go back to it when I’m done with my current WIP.

As far as writing a character from a different race, ethnic group, etc., I feel like I’m still getting my feet wet on this whole writing business. Someday, I’d like to tackle something like that, but for now, I’m not sure I could do it justice or make it sound authentic.

What about all of you? Are your characters significantly different from you?

Be sure to check out Shaun’s post from yesterday (there’s still time to enter his giveaway of The Deathday Letter ARC while you’re over there), and Rebecca is up on Sunday. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Holy Frijoles, There Are a Lot of Blogfests Going On! And Some Contests Too...

On the contest front:

1. Don't miss Steph Bowe's contest. It ends Friday, and if she reaches 1000 followers, she's giving away SIX prizes. She's super close, so go now!

2. Palindrome is having a contest, but you must be a follower by May 1st to participate. Check out the details here.

3. Shaun Hutchinson is giving away an ARC of his novel THE DEATHDAY LETTER. Drawing to be held on May 1st. He's also up today in the blog chain, so be sure to check out his post. :)

4. Sarahjayne Smythe at Writing in the Wilderness is giving away awesome gift cards to celebrate reaching 150 followers. Ends April 30th.

5. Awesome contest over at GotYA. Enter to win a 30-page critique from Taylor Martindale of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Ends April 30th.

6. Rachel Bateman is giving away signed copies of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan, AS YOU WISH by Jackson Pierce, and THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer Hubbard. Ends April 30th.

7. Stina and Steena are having a joint contest to win some cool stuff, including gift cards! Ends May 3rd.

8. Terresa Wellborn at The Chocolate Chip Waffle is having a fun contest to win some cute hair bows. Ends May 3rd.

I know there are more, but this post is getting SO long. These are the ones that I know of that are ending soon. I'll do another post next week with more.

And look at all these blogfests:

1. Lilah Pierce is hosting the Last Line Blogfest on Saturday, May 1st. If you haven't signed up yet, there's still time.

2. Charity Bradford is hosting the Baking Blogfest on Saturday, May 1st. Post your favorite cooking scene. :)

3. Raquel Byrnes is hosting the Primal Scream Blogfest on Wednesday, May 5th. Post your most heart pumping scene.

4. Andrew Rosenberg (Iapetus999) is hosting the Bad Girl Blogfest on Friday, May 7th.

5. Mia is hosting the Deleted Scene Blogfest on Monday, May 10th.

6. The Alliterative Allomorph is hosting the Internal Conflict Blogfest on Wednesday, May 12th.

7. Critique This is hosting the Flirt Fest Blogfest on Sunday, May 16th.

8. Roni at Fiction Groupie is hosting the Let's Talk Blogfest on Tuesday, May 18th. This is your chance to show off your awesome dialogue skills. :)

9. Katie M. Stout is hosting the Man, I Love College Blogfest on Wednesday, May 19th.

10. Bryan is hosting the Logline/Hook Line Blogfest on Saturday, May 22nd.

11. Amalia is hosting the Dream Sequence Blogfest on Friday, June 4th.

Did I miss any? If you want me to add something, let me know in the comments or email me using the Contact link above. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WIP Wednesday—I'm a Quitter

I'm plugging back in early. If you want to know why, see this post. The current WIP and I need some time apart. I'm not quitting for good. Just taking a little break because I'm very close to taking a match to the whole project.

For the most part, unplugging was actually very productive. In the first eight days, I added 19,000 words to my WIP. (4200 of those words were all in one day!) Overall, not as much as I was hoping for, but I generally have pretty unrealistic expectations of myself. So the first week went well. The next five days? I whined about those yesterday, so I won't get into again. Just know that they were less productive than the first eight days. Though I will say that my total word count for the whole stretch was 20,541. This number makes me smile. :)

My conclusion? Unplugging for a week is good, but anything beyond that turns me into a crazy lady. I need my blogging outlet and to feel like I'm not all alone in this. I missed you guys!

What do you think? Unplugging—good or bad? Any progress to report? Any fabulous news to share?

Contest/blogfest linky post tomorrow. If you're having a contest or blogfest you'd like me to include, let me know. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I'm writing this post just to write something, since I've barely been able to to squeeze out 1500 words over the last five days. And I literally had to force those out. Did I mention that they all suck too?

This isn't writer's block. This is scene block. I'm at the turning point in my story where it starts to build toward the climax, but I can't seem to figure out how to end this stupid scene. And how this scene ends determines the rest of the story, so I can't even skip ahead and work on something else.

I've restarted four times, but I'm still not happy with it. Of those 1500 words I mentioned earlier, I probably won't be keeping any of them, and it isn't a matter of word choice or not liking the writing. It just doesn't feel right. I can't tell if I'm just brain dead and burnout from how much effort I've been putting into this over the last couple of weeks or if something is seriously off in my plot.

Normally, I can discuss it with my husband and figure it out, but for some reason, I can't seem to articulate the problem. I don't even want to work on revising what I already have written, which I normally love to do. This is getting serious, people!

I'm considering plugging back in (this post doesn't count) and ignoring the beast for a week or two, and then trying again. But I want to be done. :( Done, done, done! (Yes, I'm stomping my foot like a toddler.)

The most annoying thing? I thought I had the plot solid, but I change one little thing... Argh!


So, how are all of you doing? :) Anything exciting happen while I was away? You all got book deals, didn't you? That always happens!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Interrupt This Unplugging...

...for some neurotic ranting.

So the unplugging is going awesome. The words are flowing, and I feel like I have a good chance of finishing this rewrite by the end of the month. If you're my friend on Facebook, you already know this, since I've been feeling the need to brag share my progress. :) I'll put up a full report here when I'm officially plugged back in.

That being said, why is it that every time I go online to do a tiny bit of research or just give my brain a five-minute break, I keep finding all these similarities to my story floating around out there? I'm turning into a neurotic freak (more than usual), hyper-analyzing every little thing my characters do, or every step forward in the plot. Is this fresh enough? Is it riddled with cliches or overdone? Am I just wasting my time?

It's like the unfinished novel gremlins are just dying to get their grubby little hands on my baby. I think they sit next to me while I sleep and whisper insecurities in my ear, just hoping I'll let this thing go. If I still have all my hair (and it's not all gray) by the time I'm ready to query this baby, it'll be a miracle.

That is all. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Must. Stop. Blogging.

Okay, so not forever.

My goal is to be done with my rewrite by the end of the month, and I still have so much to do. (I'm not going to tell you how much. I'm afraid I'll jinx myself.) I've been working on this thing for months, so what's my problem?


There are SO many—blogging, email, youtube, blogging, Facebook, um, did I mention blogging? I have to take a break so I can get my story done. I want to have all my revisions done by the time the kids are out of school—at least to the point where I've sent my baby off to beta readers—so I've got to get cracking on this thing.

So, I'm unplugging for the rest of the month. And I'm only going to check my email twice a day. It's making me anxious just thinking about it, but it must be done. Must!

I'll be back for my blog chain post on April 30th. And I'll be posting the end of my first chapter for the Last Line Blogfest on May 1st. After that, I'll be back to a more regular blogging schedule, though I may need to cut back on the number of posts I do per week. We'll see.

Until then, I will miss you all, but I'll be so glad to get this story out of my head.

See you all in a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blog Chain—Who Do You Write For?

I’m so excited to be joining this blog chain. :) Michelle McLean started this round. She asked:

Do you write for the market or for yourself? Why? Are there times you do both? Or times when you've written something specifically because it was "hot" at the moment? If so, how did it turn out?

I hate to admit this, but when I first started writing seriously—as in an actual novel and not just journaling—it was for the market. I read a ridiculously popular book and thought I should be able to come up with something at least that good. Yeah, well. Writing is harder than it looks. But you all know that. :)

When I say I wrote for the market, I don’t think it was in the sense that most think of it. I wasn’t jumping on the vampire bandwagon or anything like that. In fact, I discarded any ideas I knew were already out there—at least when it came to plot or concept. And I get a little freaked whenever I come across anything that’s similar to my story. But that’s another post.

In terms of writing for the market, I focused on the main thing I thought was selling YA books—the love story angle, which I don’t think will ever go out of style. My first draft was very heavy in this area. Sorry first betas. :) That aspect is still a very important part of my current draft, but the plot is much more developed, and it’s a pretty original concept—I think. I haven’t read close to everything that’s out there.

The thing is, I may be writing for the market, but this is what I love to write, and I was very lucky to stumble upon the genre that was best for me on my first try. I’ve since tried more obscure ventures, but I always come back to the YA (sci-fi specifically) and everything I write has a love story angle.

So I guess it’s a mixture of both writing for the market and writing for myself. Ultimately, though, if I want to be published someday, I think it’s necessary to write for the market, at least on some level.

What about all of you? Do you write for the market or for yourself? Why?

Be sure to check out the very cool Kat Harris’s take on this, and don't miss the marvelous Margie Gelbwasser’s post tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WIP Wed... Wait. Um, Tuesday?

Since I've been invited to join a super cool blog chain, I'll be posting for that tomorrow. But I wanted to share something I discovered to help me with my procrastination issues. Now maybe I'm a little slow and all of you are already doing this. Feel free to shake your heads and walk away. :)

For the last WIP report I posted, I set a goal to write 1000 words a day. Which of course didn't happen, because I'm too distracted and not very good at following through on my goals in general. So over the last week I set some restrictions for myself to make sure I get my writing done first thing in the morning, and I started a log. Being such a numbers freak, you'd think I could've come up with this idea sooner. Apparently not. Always before, I just kept a rough idea of my progress in my head.

My log is very simple. Everyday, when I'm done writing, I write down my total word count. Then I subtract the previous day's total to figure out how many new words I wrote. It's a little ridiculous how excited I get over those numbers, especially when they're over 2000, but it's working, so that's all that matters.

Since my last WIP post, I've added close to 13,000 words--most of them in the last week. :)

What about you? Do you keep a log? Am I the last one to figure this out?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Motivational Monday—Know Your Potential

“The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by, and this you will become.”
~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

It's so easy to slip into the mindset that nothing you do will ever be good enough. I know I do it all the time. So remember this quote when you're feeling inadequate. You are only as awesome as you think you are. And I think ;) we all have the potential to be pretty dang awesome in our own unique ways. :)

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Baby's in the Drawer. Now What?

I blogged before about putting my first born in a drawer. Horrific thought, right?

Well, I’ve since eaten my words on that one, so maybe I shouldn’t even mention this, but I’ve also heard that until you write a million words, you shouldn’t even try to get published. So does that include everything I’ve written? In my whole life? Or is that just since I decided I’m awesome enough to write a full-length novel that other people will actually want to read?

What do you all think? Should that first novel be put aside as just a practice run? Do you really need to write a million words before you should even consider querying?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Like, Totally Radical Words, Man

All my life, my name has been Abby. Not Abigail, just Abby. And up until about ten years ago, this was a pretty uncommon name. In my high school (3200+ students), there was only me and one other Abby. Which I secretly liked, by the way. 

Used to be, whenever I’d say my name over the phone, I’d have to repeat it several times and eventually spell it slowly for whoever was on the other end. So I started saying, “You know, like Dear Abby,” and then the light bulb would go on for them, and we could continue with whatever the phone call was actually about.

Well, a while back, I called a restaurant to order some take-out wings. A young girl answered the phone. When I told her my name, she asked me to repeat it, to which I replied, “Abby. You know, like Dear Abby.”

There was a long pause and then, “Um, who?”

My thought? Holy crap. I’m officially old.

Okay, so the point isn’t that I’m getting old. Even though I’ll be thirty-four one month from today. Ick.

This got me thinking about the language I use in my story. I could go out and research all the slang that’s popular today. would be a great resource. ;) Take those and pack them into my story with a bunch of pop culture references, and I should be totally hip with all the teens, right?

Maybe not. Trendy language has never been my thing, even when I was a teen. And if I could somehow pull it off, it would be totally outdated in a few years, which, to me, is pointless to write. I think it’s very possible to pull off a strong teen voice without it, maybe even stronger (and less annoying) than if I included a bunch of slang.

So what to do you all think? Does trendy language have a place in modern literature? Do you think slang is necessary to create a strong teen voice in YA literature?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Like a Gazillion Contests and a Blogfest

First, I want to say thanks to Laurel at Laurel's Leaves and Sarah McClung at The Babbling Flow of a Fledgling Scribbler. I recently won prizes on both of their blogs. :) Thanks, ladies!

Now for the contests. These really stacked up while I was unplugged, so there are a TON, but some really cool prizes are being given away so be sure to check them all out.

And I think my spacebar is going out on my keyboard (ACK!) so I hope it doesn't crap out on me before I'm finished. Otherwise, things might get a little difficult to read. ;)

1. Christine Danek at Christine's Journey is having a contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers and she's giving away a copy of Hooked by Les Edgerton, a $10 gift card for B&N or Amazon, plus some other really cool stuff. If you're a new follower over there, be sure to let her know I sent you. HURRY! THIS ONE ENDS TODAY.

2. Hilary Wagner is having a contest to celebrate reaching 300 followers and the prizes include a critique or a phone call from her agent, Marietta Zacker! But that's not all. Be sure to check it out. HURRY! ENDS THURSDAY, APRIL 8TH.

3. Danyelle Leafty is giving away a copy of The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy. HURRY! ENDS THURSDAY, APRIL 8TH.

4. Talli Roland is giving away some cool stuff, including an Amazon gift card, to celebrate reaching 112 followers. Ends Monday, April 12th.

5. Jackee at Winded Words is having a Wonderful Won-hundred Followers Party and giving away a gift basket. Ends Saturday, April 10th.

6. And don't miss Lisa and Laura's Totally Epic 500 Follower Contest. They're giving away a ton of awesome prizes, but you have to pick a side. :) Go check it out.

7. Roxy at a woman's write is giving away a $50 Nordstrom's gift card and two $25 B&N cards to celebrate her blogging buddies. Tons of ways to earn extra entries. Ends Friday, April 16th.

8. Susan Fields is having a contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers. She's giving away three gift cards ($30, $20, and $10) to either Barnes & Noble or Borders (your choice). Ends April 24th.

9. Beth Revis is giving away a SIGNED copy of Inside Out by Maria Snyder, plus cool bookmarks. Ends April 10th.

10. The First Novels Club is also giving away a SIGNED copy of Inside Out by Maria Snyder. Ends April 12th.

11. Don't miss Stepanie Thornton's Motherload Contest. She's giving away three books and a Roman coin! Ends April 11th.

12. Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe is having a contest to celebrate signing with an agent. Congrats Shannon! She's giving away six book to SIX WINNERS! Be sure to check it out. Ends Saturday, April 10th.

13. Nisa at Wordplay, Swordplay is giving away a cool prize package. Winner announced April 12th.

14. Lady Glamis at The Innocent Flower is having a short story contest. Prizes include manuscript critiques and gift cards. Ends June 1st.

Blogfest: Lilah Pierce is hosting the Last Line Blogfest on May 1st. And don't let the name fool you. It doesn't have to be the last line of your story. It can be the last line of any scene or chapter and you can include a few lines that come before. Be sure to check it out.

Wow. That's a lot.

And Karen's contest at Novel's During Naptime is still going, so be sure to enter if you haven't, and if you're hosting a contest and I missed you, let me and I'll add you to the list.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Think I'm Addicted to Post-its

I am a pantser. Or so I thought. And I don't know if this would work for a first draft for me, but it's working great for my rewrite, and I'll definitely give it a try at the start of my next project.

So first there was this.

Then, over spring break when I was away from my computer, I had some quiet time to think about my story. The 20-hour drive there and 17-hour drive home also gave me some good thinking time. Well, when the kids weren't fighting anyway. :) Plus, Staples sent me my rewards certificate, and based on a recommendation from my awesome friend and crit buddy, Tere Kirkland, I used it to buy this.

It has tabbed dividers and an elastic strap that holds it closed, which helps everything stay tucked inside. I had a green pen too, but I think I left in AZ. :( I love green pens.

Before I left home, I wrote down everything from my whiteboard outline on some Post-it Page Markers and tucked it into the nifty pocket in my notebook, along with a pad of lined Post-its. Isn't that pocket so cool?

While the kids swam at Grandma's (yes, the water was freezing, but it was 90 degrees outside), I used the page markers to divide up the pages and jotted down some quick notes about what I wanted to happen in each scene, plus anything else that came to me--dialogue between the characters, emotions I want to come through. The lined Post-its are awesome for adding in notes when the pages are full or just when I have multiple ideas for a scene. Then it's out of my head and I can think clearer.

It's nice too, because as I'm writing, if I have an idea for a future scene I can jot it down in there and continue with what I was working on before. This method would work great without using an outline too. Just write random scene ideas in no particular order and mark the pages with Post-its. Then when you're ready to write that particular scene, you have all your ideas there.

Doing this has helped me see the end of the story much clearer. I'm still not set on the details, but I have a few versions written down in my notebook. :) This also helped clear my head so I could figure out the purpose of one of my new secondary characters. His presence was a little pointless before, but now his role is key to the story.

So now I'm anxious to write some new words. I spent yesterday cleaning my house and doing recovery laundry from the trip so I could get some words down today without any distractions. Then I woke up to this.

Five fresh inches of snow and school cancelled. So I don't know how much I'll get done today, but hopefully this info has been helpful to some of you.

Have any of you done anything similar to this? Any of you pantsers out there willing to give it a try? Any recommendations?

*I'm still working my way through the First Page Blogfest posts. If I haven't gotten to yours yet, I will soon. I'm determined to read all of them. :)*

Monday, April 5, 2010

Motivational...What? But it's Monday--And This Monday Sucks!

I'm back! Missed all of you. :)

I've been trying to come up with something inspirational to say but my brain is too distracted this morning. I've been dealing with CRAP all morning--literally. This last week while I was unplugged, we went to AZ to visit family, get the rest of our stuff we didn't have room for in the moving truck, and get our wandering dog, Terk. So, what's Terk's first present to me for driving 1000 miles to get him and another 1000 miles to bring his stinky butt home? I'm sure you can guess by now, so I won't go into the details, but he's a Great Dane and he was in an empty garage, so why not get it EVERYWHERE?

And somehow, our mop stayed in AZ, which up until now hasn't been a bad thing. Making the kids mop the kitchen floor on their hands and knees builds character. But Abby mopping the disgusting mess off the garage floor on her hands and knees only builds murderous thoughts. Ultimately, that would just lead to more mess, though...

So, anyway. Not feeling terribly motivated this morning. Actually, the negativity I'm radiating is epic--you know the kind where you want to spread the sunshine to everyone around you? It's been a fabulous morning. :-S I'll stop now and spare you any more of my special brand of "sunshine".

On a more postive note, thanks to everyone for your kind words about my first page on Friday. I tried to read and comment on a few others that were posted but Blogger and my phone hate each other and after Blogger ate my comment for the third time (same comment typed three times on a teeny tiny keypad), I gave up. So I will be going around and reading those today in between doing laundry and cleaning my kitchen so I have a nice clean slate to work with tomorrow. I got some awesomeness done over my "vacation", and I'm super anxious to start writing again and don't want any housework distractions. I'll fill you in on all the details of that tomorrow. I'm sure it'll just be more of me patting myself on the back, but it's outlining stuff, so it might be helpful to some of my fellow pantsers out there.

And to all my new followers, I've been slacking last few weeks, but I will be coming around to check out your blogs soon. I try to follow everyone who's following me, so if you're not new a follower (within the last month) and I'm not following you, let me know. And if you haven't set up your email for your Blogger profile, please do so. I'm trying to respond to comments that way and if your email isn't set up, I can't email you. :) And if you need more convincing of why this is a good idea, read this post.

For now, I will say, I hope you're all having a better Monday than me. If you need something motivational, be sure to check out these posts by Ali Cross.

And if you feel like griping about something in the comments, feel free. You know what they say--Misery LOVES company. :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

First Page Blogfest

It's blogfest time! This is the first page of my novel, Embrol. Be sure to follow the link below to Kelly Lyman's blog and check out the other posts. :)


1 The End

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

Well, it was an end of sorts. And it might’ve taken longer. 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.

The day started gray—beautiful and dark. A rare occurrence in Mesa, Arizona, and my absolute favorite kind of day. Okay, so it actually started with a stomach ache, but I did my best to ignore the lump in my gut as I walked to my locker after second period. I always had that something-isn’t-right feeling on the days I officially became a year older, but something about this year was different, though I couldn’t figure out what.

“How’s my favorite redhead on this lovely December morning?” Trevor hooked his arm around my neck and gave me his cheesiest grin. Fat drops began to fall from the sky, drumming the metal roof and muffling the chatter of the students filling the outdoor locker area.

I popped two more antacids in my mouth and slammed my locker shut, catching the tip of my finger. “Dang it! Lovely December morning?” I said, sucking on my finger. “What are you? Forty?”

“Not cool, Livy. You make me promise to be nice and when I do, all I get is crap from you?”

“Yeah. Nice for one day. That’s it. Not a complete personality change. I love you just the way you are.” Those words came out more from habit than anything else, but I regretted them as soon as they left my lips.

“Heh. That was way easier than I thought it would be.” His hand curled around my upper arm, and he let out a high-pitched whistle that made me wish I didn’t have ears. About a million heads swung toward us.

If only I could melt into the concrete on demand.


That's it! :) Check out the others here.