Friday, August 27, 2010

Blog Chain: Challenges and Rewards

Blog chain time again already! This chain was started by Eric, who likes to ask hard questions. Just kidding. Eric's awesome! If you haven't checked out his blog yet, you should head over there now. He asked:

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a writer? What is your greatest reward from writing?

I've been thinking about this one a lot, trying to narrow it down (lots of challenges in this business), and I'd have to say the most challenging thing for me is sitting down and making myself write. I know that makes it sound like I don't enjoy writing. I love writing and making up stories. Regardless of what I'm doing, I'm constantly distracted with thoughts about plot points or characters or whatever I'm working on. But when I sit down with the intention of writing, I always seem to find a million other things to do besides work on my novel. And sometimes, I feel guilty for writing, at least when I first get started, because there are always fifty other things I need to take care of, like laundry, dishes, going to the grocery store, and... It's a long list.

When I do write, though, that's the reward. I love when I finish a scene and I can say I did it. Even better when I can look back at it after a few days later and still love it, or love it even more. The best is when I hate it after I first finish it, but let it sit for a week and go back to find that it's actually pretty good, even if it needs a little tweaking. And I guess, the ultimate reward is typing The End, and knowing that even though it's not technically finished, it's all out of my head and ready to get shiny.

So what about all of you? What do you find the most challenging about writing? What do you find the most rewarding?

Be sure to check out yesterday's post about Shaun's challenging Ch Ch Changes, and don't miss Cole's post tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010


My kidlets are gone this week, so I'm unplugging, and hopefully, I'll be able to resist my many technological distractions and get my last few scenes written. Then next week school starts, and I start my new job as lunch lady at the high school—awesome for novel research, right? It's only part time, but it's been a long time since I had a job that required my attendance five days a week, so I'm sure there will be some adjustment. Other than my blog chain posts, it might be a while before I get back to a regular schedule.

But I will be back. I'll find a way. I can never stay away for long. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spiders are Cool, But...

Many of you know from previous posts that I have a strange fascination with spiders and creepy crawlies in general. So, when my neighbors told me that the house we're living in had hobo spider issues in the basement, I wasn't too concerned. Until last night.

Everyone told me, Hobo's are a lot like brown recluses. They don't climb walls. They're floor spiders. Yeah, well, that's not true. They do climb walls. Even really smooth walls. Particularly the wall right above the head of my bed. But just the hugest hobos ever. So no big deal, right?

Maybe not, except that it was the third huge one I found before going to bed last night. And then this beauty crawled out from under my keyboard this morning. The one that decided to perch above my bed last night was even bigger than this. 'Tis the season, I suppose. Um, yea?

So now I think I have a permanent case of the heeby jeebies.

I wouldn't be so creeped out, except these things like to hide in your clothes and shoes, and give really nasty, festering bites. I won't post pics here, because they really are gross, but if you're curious, just google hobo spider bites, or you can go here. The pics on that site are NOT for those with weak stomachs. You have been warned.

So, how is summer treating all of you? Any exciting critter encounters? :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog Chain: What's Up? and a Snippet

It's blog chain time again! And I'm a slacker and almost forgot I was supposed to post today. :O My excuse? Um... I spent my life savings on school supplies today and was totally traumatized? Does that count? ;)

This chain was started by the fabulous Cole. She asked:

Are you querying? Gearing up to go on submission? Writing? Revising? I'd love to hear what's new with you. And if you'd like to share a snippet of your WIP, even better!
Technically, I'm drafting and revising, because the two are pretty much inseparable for me. And though I haven't written anything new in MSWord for several weeks, I do have a notebook I've been doing some scene mapping in. (I know! Me, outlining! Craziness! :)) I have the ending all mapped out, so once the kids go to Arizona on Saturday for a whole week, I think I can get the rest written. I'm so excited to be so close to finishing this draft. I'm dying to be querying this baby, and for me, revising is the easy part. Ask me about that in a few months and we'll see if my feelings about revising have changed. ;)
Now for my WIP snippet. I had a hard time finding something I hadn't posted yet that didn't give too much away and wasn't a million words long, but I think this scene is okay.
This is the end of chapter two of Embrol. If you're interested, you can read the first chapter here.
Just needs a little setup...
After a car accident, Olivia finds herself in a dream. Or maybe she's dead and now she's in Hell. Kole, demented bad guy, seems determined to convince her of the latter. She makes several failed attempts to wake up, but it isn’t until her mother's voice comes to her and tells her to focus on finding him that Olivia is finally able to escape. This is what happens next. (I hope that’s not too confusing. :))


There was a tangible shift, and a warm breeze stirred my hair. A sweet, floral scent wafted up around me as I fell to the ground, leaves rustling around me. I stretched, surprised to find the bindings gone and the ache in my shoulders and back all but a dull memory. My fingers curled around the soft foliage beneath me. I smiled at my success, opening my eyes to stare up at a deep purple sky, illuminated by two moons. One was large and blue, the color of the Arizona sky at noon. The other overlapped it, dark red and much smaller—maybe a third the size of the first, similar to Earth’s moon.

Tall, blue stalks topped with strange, seven-petal flowers surrounded me. The light from the moons filtered through the translucent petals, casting shadows in a myriad of shades. Careful to keep the pressure off my broken arm, though that pain had faded as well, I rose to my feet and brushed my dress down, surprised to find it clean and unwrinkled.

The field of flowers stretched in every direction, but from this angle they reflected the light, giving the illusion I stood, waist deep, in the middle of a glistening sea. At the edge of the field, I could just make out what looked like three identical dome-shaped hills surrounded by odd-shaped trees.

Between me and the hills, something moved—a tall figure slowly making his way through the field. My brain screamed at me to run, but something held me there, nudging me forward, toward him. I resisted, taking small steps, searching for some way to escape. He stood well over six feet with broad shoulders and thick arms. At a distance, his features were barely distinguishable in the dim light, but the unruly curls covering his head shone like spun gold in the moonlight. As he came closer, he smiled, and his eyes caught the light. Familiar blue eyes. My angel.

“You’re here,” I whispered when he was close enough to hear.

He stopped directly in front me and lifted his hand. All thoughts of Kole and the preceding nightmare faded as warmth trickled into me from his fingertips, slightly rough but gentle on my face. I laid my hand over his, pressing his palm to my cheek. Heat and an almost overwhelming sense of fullness radiated from his touch. The world seemed brighter, though it was still night. Absently, I realized my broken arm moved freely, all traces of pain gone.

He leaned down and rested his forehead on mine. “Of course I’m here,” he said. “Just as I promised.”

Promised? Before I could ask what he meant, he raised his other hand to hold my face and pressed his lips firmly to mine. The heat from his touch held nothing next to the fire from that kiss. It was brief, only a few seconds, but my heart fluttered and my knees threatened to give out as he released my lips and lowered his hands to my shoulders.

I opened my mouth to protest the kiss, to tell him he had no right, but there was something so perfect about that moment, I couldn’t form the words.

“Olivia? You okay?” He wore the tiniest hint of a smile on his full lips, his eyes warm and inviting.

I could lose myself in those… I forced my gaze back to the flowers. “What is this place?”

“Hielos.” He said the strange word slowly. Hee-lohs. “Our home. You know that.”

I do? I studied the world around me. It felt familiar, like I should know it, but I was sure I’d never been here before. When my gaze returned to his face, he was watching me so intently, I couldn’t think. I said the first thing that popped into my head. “Is this Heaven?”

He laughed. “You’re messing with me, right…? Okay. I’ll play. No, it’s not Heaven, but sometimes, it feels that way, especially when you’re here.” His arms wrapped around me, pulling me tight to his chest. He smelled of spearmint and soap, and something I couldn’t put a name to—something deliciously unique to him. I took a deep breath, wishing I could bottle that scent and carry it with me always. He kissed the top of my head. “I wish you could stay.”

I wanted to stay, more than anything else, though I didn’t understand why. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“You must go back.” He stepped away from me, his hands sliding down my arms to wrap his fingers around mine. “Time is running out.”

Memories of Kole and pain came rushing back. My fingers tightened on his, and I shook my head. “Please, I want to stay here with you.”

“You must go back.”

Tears sprang to my eyes. “I can’t.”

He smiled and leaned down, brushing my hair back to whisper in my ear. “It’s time, Olivia. Wake up.”

Thanks for reading! So, what's up with you? Where are you in your writing process?

Be sure to check out what's up with Shaun. And I'm the last link in the chain this round, but Eric starts the new chain tomorrow. I'm sure he'll have something awesome to ask us. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Pain of Being a Pantser

Writing to see what happens next can be very exciting. Some of my best work has come when I've really let go, not allowing myself to be tied down by outlines and other writerly restrictions. But there's a dark and painful side to that way of life. A tad melodramatic? Maybe. But it's still risky to write with no direction.

Nothing life threatening, mind you, but what if you run out of fuel before you reach your destination? Or maybe you didn't check road closures before you left and you ended up turning around and going back to the beginning more than once because the ways were blocked? It hurts when that happens.

Yesterday, I had to cut 3400 words from my ms because things were wandering off into boring territory. Not really my favorite scene, but it took time to write those words, and my time is very precious right now. And those were the words that pushed my word count over 60,000 and my page count over 200. I finally felt like I was in the home stretch. *sigh*

So far, I've cut over 11,000 words from this draft. And I'm sure I'll be cutting more before I'm done. These are the days I wish I was an outliner.

What about all of you? Pantser? Outliner? Do you find yourself cutting large chunks of text because things aren't headed in the right direction?

And since it's Friday, I leave you with this. Because it's awesome. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Contests! Contests! Contests!

Check out Roni and Julie's Totally Epic Summer Giveaway for a chance to win one of these incredible prizes:

•Hannah Moskowitz's Break
•Lisa Desrocher's Personal Demons (ARC)
•A query or first five pages critique from Fine Print Lit's intern, Gemma Cooper
•A query or first five pages critique from Janet Reid's assistant, Meredith Barnes
•A query or first five pages critique from agent Suzie Townsend
•A query or first five pages critique from editor Brendan Deneen

You have until August 8th to enter.

Sara McClung over at Babbling Flow has extended her ARC giveaway to August 11th and she's opened it up internationally, so anyone can enter. She's giving away these ARC's:

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Torment by Lauren Kate

And Shannon Whitney Messenger is giving away an ARC of Torment by Lauren Kate! Contest ends Saturday, August 14th.

Good luck! :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Winners!!

AKA The Post In Which I End Every Sentence With An Exclamation Point!!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered my 200 followers contest!
And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...

The winner of these awesome prizes... Jackee!

And the winners of one fabulous red glowy pen each are...


Emails are on their way!

Congrats, all! And thanks again to all my awesome followers! You all are the coolest! :)