Monday, December 7, 2009

Not DIY--but PSA

Hello everyone. I know, I know--I promised some DIY posts and you'll be getting them. But this week, I felt it especially important to make a Public Service Announcement that could very well save lives. It is this:

The Cardio Cinema may be hazardous to your health.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Cardio Cinema, let me explain. It is a special movie theater in a gym. The lights are low, the movie is loud and intense--and you are on the exercise equipment of your choice.

If, like me, you are an unbelievable klutz...it can be a lethal combination.

Let me set a scene for you. Let me clarify that by doing so, I am in no way admitting to a similar situation in which I developed bruises all over my body.

I repeat, I admit nothing.

Let's say someone entered the Cardio Cinema, prepared for some jogging time on the treadmill. A dark, intense movie is in full swing--"Mission Impossible" perhaps, maybe near the end when they're on the train and it's very dark.

This person may find an empty treadmill and finally, through the aid of a cell phone light, find that stupid "Quick Start" button. Success! They are jogging, they are enjoying a good movie, they don't even have to think about the fact that they're exercising.

Quickly, they become so engrossed in the movie, there is no attention paid to the exercise equipment. The left foot may wander to the unmoving edge of the treadmill, where it is puzzled when it is no longer moving. The right foot meanwhile is still trying to keep the body upright so it moves twice as fast while screaming, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?"

Even in this precarious state, the rebelling eyes are still desperately watching Tom Cruise to see if he gets decapitated by the helicopter blade--after all, he seems to be in more danger than them... right?

WRONG.

What happens then, you may ask. Well, I suppose they could fall on their stomachs and get flung off the back of the treadmill, just as the scene moves to a lighted interior train car. Yes, the timing is perfect for everyone behind them to gasp and stare.

Desperate to avoid someone calling 911, this person may jump to their feet as though this was a planned stunt to go along with the movie. A little wave of the hand will surely settle everyone down as they climb back on the treadmill and quietly whisper, "Ow, ow, ow, ow!" under their breath until everyone's eyes return the the movie screen.

Yes, it could happen.

So, let me caution you. If you are going to use a Cardio Cinema, choose a well lit movie and keep your eyes on your feet.

Thank you for your time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Plans, Plans, and More Plans

Alright, so here's the 411. (Yes, I've been dying to use that in a post since the beginning of blogging.) It was recently decided that I am hosting family for Christmas at my house. This is exciting and happy news... and also makes it necessary for me to finish the guest floor of my house. Three bedrooms, a bathroom and a family room--by Christmas.

So, in light of this new happy and stressful information, I will be cutting my blogging down to a maximum of once a week until after Christmas. I think if I don't, I will have zero minutes to work on writing, and I am desperate to work on Insomnia.

I think I will start doing a weekly post that includes some DIY tips as well as some fun mixed in. I will be reading your blogs, but I might not be commenting as much for a bit.

/update


if you know what that means, you deserve a cookie. :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

She's ALIVE! / Writers = Villains Post


Yes, I'm back. Other than a bad cough I can't seem to kick, I'm feeling much improved. May I give you one piece of advice about H1N1? Don't get it. All those silly people wearing masks didn't feel so silly last week. It. Stinks.

The End.

Now, time for the long awaited post about Villains/Writers.

















Think writers don't have anything in common with James Bond Villains? Think again. Villains are writers with slightly stranger habits. Stroking white persian cats while plotting total world domination, for example. Although, I do know a few writers who do exactly that.

Writers spend all their time trying to figure out how to make their characters lives harder. Sounds like a villain, no? What more can be thrown at them? Having the parents murdered, the wife run over by a train and the daughter stolen by robot ninjas isn't enough--writers must do more. They strive for complication on all levels.

Writers make nothing easy. (Ask any one of them who is simply waiting for a query response and you'll see what I mean.)

They strive constantly for control of every aspect of an entire world. They want to know what everyone is doing, when they're doing it, what they're feeling and who they're feeling it with. They want to make sure they have absolute control of every aspect at their fingertips. Can anyone say "Big Brother"?

The similarities are clear, the only difference I can think up is that writers (if at times begrudgingly) usually allow their characters to have a happy ending. Oh! and most writers don't end up dead or in prison at the end of their books--I think.

So what do you think? What James Bond Villain are you the most like?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 Things I Learned This Week---Thanks To H1N1 aka Swine Flu

I am sick, so I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled posts for this list. Why? Because I'm on a serious amount of NyQuil and it sounded like a good idea at the time.

10 Things I Learned This Week---Thanks To H1N1 aka Swine Flu

1 - The sinuses are a great and under-utilized storage space. Seriously, the amount of crap I am currently carrying around in my head would easily fill two of what my husband calls my "unnecessarily large" purses.

2 - Lungs, when filled with gunk, don't work as well for other purposes.

3 - Fevers must have been thought up during God's day off. Some under-noticed assistant let the power go to his head and now we all have to pay for it.

4 - When anyone in the family gets sick, Mom gets sick.

5 - Dad locks himself in garage and avoids all contact with everyone until the danger has passed. Thus making him the most intelligent and least liked person in the family.

6 - Sick kids make the best cuddlers.

7 - IF you manage to get your night-time coughing under control, someone else in the family will start coughing loud enough to keep you awake.

8 - My house doesn't contain enough blankets or chicken noodle soup.

9 - The amount of hugs necessary in a given day is inversely proportional to how healthy my kids feel.

10 - Some women have that whole sexy, raspy thing going on when they're sick---I do not. I sound like Kermit---as a bass---it's not pretty.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Giveaway Results!

Thanks to everyone who participated! We ended up with 56 entries! Methinks this means I'll have to do another giveaway soon. :)

And now...

without further ado...

the winner is...

Emily!

Go check out her Kiddie Lit Book Blog.

Send me an e-mail with your address lady :) Congratulations! You'll love it!

Tomorrow I'll be posting the follow-up to this post comparing Literary Agents to Secret Agents. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The First Giveaway EVER!!! (Bom, bom, bom)

That's right folks, I'm about to make blog history. (For this blog, anyway.) This is my first giveaway--hold your applause til the end please, I don't want you to get tired.

One of my fellow Utah writer buddies, James Dashner, has a book that came out last week. I don't know if you've heard of him, but he's kind of a big deal--I'm sure he'd agree. His book is called THE MAZE RUNNER.

I just finished it yesterday and it does not disappoint. The plot is fast-paced and keeps you asking questions. He describes it as something like: Lord of the Flies meets Ender's Game. I think that is a perfect comparison.

It is also geared toward boys--as 99% of the characters are male--but it is the kind of story that many girls will be able to get caught up in it as well. I loved it! Thanks James!

I have an ARC, so being the supportive person I am, I purchased a hard cover one, had Dashner sign it and it's up for grabs on the blog. *Drumroll*

Taking my cue from a few giveaways James did on his blog - here are the rules.

1 - Sign up to follow me on twitter, facebook, blog and then leave a comment telling me you did it. Each is worth one entry to the drawing. If you are already following--you are, of course, supremely cool--and you still get the entries, IF you comment and tell me. :)

2 - If you advertise this giveaway on your blog = 1 entry. If you tweet about it = 1 entry. Just make sure to tell me in the comments.

3 - If you've read this or another book that you loved recently. Tell us what it was and what you liked about it. = 1 entry.

4 - You can do all of the above, all of the above you can do, and above are all that you can do. *This is my nod to Nathan Bransford for being hilarious--carry on*

This contest will be open until Sunday night at 9pm Eastern Time. Yes, I'm in Utah. But sometimes I pretend I'm in New York. If you have a problem with that = NEGATIVE 1 entry. ;)

Let the games begin! (By the way, if you clicked on the link in my blog to my blog, then I may or may not be laughing at you right now.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Literary Agents are like Secret Agents















On first appearance, one may not think that literary agents and secret agents have much in common.

One would be wrong.

Literary Agents (hereafter referred to as LA because--well because my hands are tired) have many traits that are shared with our favorite secret agent--Bond, James Bond.

Just as Bond likes to keep his identity a secret, LA try to go incognito as often as possible. When out in public, they don't want to be 'made' unless they're ready to announce it themselves.

Similar to Mr. Bond, LAs are always up for a good martini--shaken, not stirred.

Bond seeks hidden (or stolen) treasures. LAs frequently have to attend large gatherings of people and non-chalantly look for that elusive diamond in the rough--although most would prefer the diamond to be polished to perfection.

And the final similarity.

Bond has his damsel in distress to save. LAs have their aspiring authors. Not all of us are as pretty, but maybe we have more lights on upstairs. What? I said maybe.

So, you've seen the evidence. What do you think? Does being a Literary Agent take them one step closer to wearing tuxedos or formal gowns and packing a Beretta?

I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

To Hibernate or Not to Hibernate. That is the Question.














In my family, on your birthday, you get to pretty much do whatever you want. And so, I am choosing to go into hibernation.

I've done this because, well, my body really wants to. In fact, this happens every year at this time. The first day my heater turns on, it's like it pumps some kind of sedative into the air. I get so very sleepy. Does anyone else have this problem?

I've started compiling and I feel I have some fairly substantial evidence that humans used to hibernate. I know science says no, but I think it should be revisited. Let me share my extremely scientific list with you:

1 - The whole sleepy when it's cold outside thing.

2 - Think about it: when do we have the big eating holidays? The winter--coincidence? I think not.

3 - Most people I know put on an extra layer of fat during the holidays, if we hibernated that would be gone by spring.

4 - Summer is when all the fun stuff happens.



I think you'll agree, it's pretty much irrefutable.

The good news is that while I wait for the scientists to get their acts together, I can begin my hibernation. How? You ask. Well, because they are currently preparing to do human hibernation trials.

The other upside is that it should make the "waiting on my agents who've requested phase" go by much faster. I mean this stuff is designed for space travel. It is the ultimate sci-fi writer's distraction technique.

So, I'll see you in the Spring!

P.S. Anyone mind if we reschedule Christmas?


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

La Da Da Dee Da


One of my fav blogger buddies, Karen, tagged me the other day. You should go check her out, she's adorable. I have a mission...if I choose to accept it. ;)

I'm supposed to list 7 of my favorite songs. This is rough. I will try my very best to keep it at 7 but I could easily add 70 to my list and still not be satisfied.

1 - Amber by 311 - it just makes me happy to listen to.

2 - If I Had a Million Dollars by Barenaked Ladies "But not a real green dress, that's cruel"... need I say more?

3 - Open My Eyes by Buckcherry - I always love ballads by harder groups, it reminds me that even bad boys sometimes have a soft side.

4 - Addicted by Kelly Clarkson - I've never heard an unhealthier love song.

5 - Crushcrushcrush by Paramore - I don't care what they sing, I love it.

6 - Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol - I love their sound.

7 - My Happy Ending by Avril Lavigne - She's snarkiness personified. :)


*phew* that was hard. Okay, for my tagg-ies. You are officially assigned this task. And if you don't know these guys and their blogs, you should.

Natalie Bahm
Ray Veen
Jessie Oliveros
Terresa Wellborn
Kasie West
Candice Kennington
Patti Nielson

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Hero


I have to take a minute to brag about my 7-year-old. His name is William and as you can see, he's adorable. (And yes, he does have shorts on LOL, the team shirts were one size fits all)


On top of all that cuteness, he's the toughest little kid I know. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a year and a half ago. He went from being slightly phobic of needles to having to take at least 4 shots a day overnight. Not even counting all the times we prick him to test his blood glucose levels.


He's handled it all like a champ. Now he volunteers for extra shots if he wants to have a snack or treat. He's learned to sense when he's high or low and knows what to do about it. Every year, he spends a few minutes with his school class the first week telling them about Diabetes and what it's like. He tests his blood sugar and shows them all how it's done. They're all very impressed.


On Saturday, we participated in Step Out for a Cure--the walk to raise money for Diabetes research. The picture above is from the finish line after the 2.5 mile walk. For the second year in a row, William's team has been in the top 5 fund-raising teams in the state. William alone raised $1400 this year.


I just wanted to take a minute and say how amazing he is. He's my hero.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why Agents Are Cool

One of the most common questions asked by aspiring authors is "Do I need an agent to get published?"

Most agents will tell you no. You don't need an agent to get published. Does this mean you shouldn't get one? Not necessarily.

Today, I wanted to share some things I appreciate about agents. Some of the good things that tend to get overlooked.

1- Say it with me--commission. That's right. This is an entire industry that doesn't make a dime unless new books get published. They not only want to make their clients successful, they need to make their clients successful to survive. Here's the crazy part. They choose to do this. They love books and the industry enough that they are willing to deal with this unpredictable lifestyle.

2 - Two Words = Slush + Pile, need I say more?

3 - Revisions - not all agents are willing to help fine tune their clients manuscripts, but most are. I'm not talking about major overhauls, but most agents I've spoken with have a knack for finding that golden piece of advice that will take our books from pretty good to awesome.

4 - They are the bad guys, so we don't have to be - Agents have to be willing to get down and dirty and fight for what their clients need to be successful. They deal with any problems with the publisher so you don't have to call your editor crying on a daily basis.

So anyway, I've been thinking a lot lately about agents (an obvious side-effect of querying) and was inspired by Nathan Bransford's Writer Appreciation Week. I think agents deserve a little appreciation as well. Leave a comment about something you appreciate about agents. We could all do with some positivity. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Love Smart People

I've made a discovery. Without warning, and clearly without knowledge, I've been surrounded by smart people. I don't know why they've chosen me--but I like it.

They are always there, to give advice, to help with decision making--it's like my own personal extra brain to help with my thinking process.

I ask them questions, and they answer. And their answers make sense. And the topics vary, everything from book questions to what color to paint my house. They know everything...

It's spooky.

My suggestion to all of you, find the smart people. Charm them into helping you. Or you could just do what I did--look like you seriously need help.

If you need it, they will come.

And also, thank you to my own personal smart people. You know who you are. ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Beginnings

I don't know a single writer that got the beginning right on their first try. Personally, I've written 7--that's right--SEVEN different beginnings for Oracle. I'm still on my first for Insomnia--but I'm seriously considering a new one.

Beginnings have so many jobs. They have to:

1 - Hook the reader
~ It can be with emotion, attitude, action, voice, whatever works! Know the in's and out's of your genre intimately.

2 - Establish a bond between the reader and the MC (Main Character)
~ Some relatable emotions: sympathy, likability, inner conflict, empathy

3 - Establish the tone of the story
~ Make it clear who your genre and audience are, keep it consistent

4 - Introduce conflict
~ Who and Why are the first questions that have to be answered. Your reader won't care where they are until they decide if they care about your characters.

5 - Compel the reader to KEEP READING
~ If your reader doesn't feel the NEED to do this, they might not continue--then it doesn't matter what else you do.


That is a serious amount to expect from the first chapter, it's no wonder they are so hard to write--but guess what. The first chapter probably isn't enough. You probably need to do that in the first page or two if you want to really grab that reader.

Another crucial part to a beginning is the promise. Every conflict expects a resolution. You are promising to resolve it in one way or another. It is important we keep that promise for the reader.

One of the hardest things about beginnings is deciding when to begin. Here are a few tips I've learned lately:

~ Make a Timeline
*** When does the story start chronologically? When does it start emotionally? How does it end? Try different things, different openings. The first beginning you write will almost never be the one you actually use. Always remember: Start Late/End Early. Allowing the reader to enter when the action does and leave when the action does keeps up the momentum.

~ Don't use Gimmicks or Crutches
*** A reader will see through action that is unessential to the story. Dreams, withholding information the Main Character knows, throwing in a shocking scene that otherwise has no point--these are almost always cheating. The story itself should hook the reader. The fact that they are reading your book means they are instilling a certain amount of trust in you to write it correctly. Don't cheat them, or that trust will be gone.

~ To Prologue, or Not to Prologue
*** How do you know if you need it? Nathan Bransford did a great post on this awhile back in which he said if the story was complete without it, then you should take it out. Prologues that are there to set the mood are unnecessary. Make the story set the mood. If a prologue is necessary then it should be short, self-contained, and comprehensible.

~ Trust Your Instincts (For me, this was the hardest one to learn)
*** Ultimately, this is your story. Only you know the right way to tell it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Editing Checklists


I'm back. I love vacations. Insomnia is flying along and I pulled almost no hair out when thinking about the requests I'm waiting on. Today I thought I'd talk a little more about editing.

Ever spend so much time editing that you begin to question your sanity?

Never fear, the checklist is here!

Final Editing Checklist (You should know the answers to every question before you can call your ms done.)

~ Is the voice passive or active
~ Is there a hook at the end of EVERY chapter/scene?
~ Is the setting full and complete without being superfluously descriptive.
~ Does the setting contribute to the story? Does it fit?
~ Does it tell or show?
~ Does it have illogical or unexplained POV shifting?
~ Does every character have a motivation? Do you know what they are?
~ Is the timeline consistent throughout?
~ Does the conflict use tension to propel the reader through the story?
~ Is there a balance of the Big 3? (Action, dialogue, and narrative)
~ Do you have a natural flow to the story?
~ Does anything push (or crash through) the boundaries of believability within your story?


These really help me when it comes to finding which point to focus on in my next edit. If you aren't comfortable with all of these areas--chances are you aren't done.

Now--who needs ice cream?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Too--Many--Hats

As writers we wear many hats. We have the writer hat, the editor hat, the revising hat, the rewriting hat, the cheerleader hat, the critique hat, the driving-myself-crazy-can't-I-leave-well enough-alone hat... and these are just that hats we wear for our careers. This doesn't include the countless family hats we also wear.

Sometimes our closet gets so cluttered with hats we can't find the right one. We get confused and lose pieces of our identities.

That's when we know it's time to step back, breathe deep, and take a break.

For me, that is this weekend. :)

So while I'm visiting the beaches of Southern Cali, I wanted to leave you with this thought? Do you still know where all your hats are and how to use them? If so, you might end up fabulous--like this guy, Sam Tsui.




Yep--that is all one person. Isn't he awesome? We can do great things with our hats, if we can just manage to use them all correctly.

Have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Self-Editing

I thought I'd do a couple of posts about things I've learned over the past year. Some of these will be thoughts I'm revisiting--others will be fresh, new and sparkly.

Because I spent the summer in full-on-edit-mode, I wanted to start there. Here is a basic editing checklist that works for me.

The Basic Editing Checklist
1 - page numbering and blank pages
2 - spelling and gramar errors
3 - avoid cliches like the plague (hahaha!)
4 - too many adverbs or adjectives (use SPARINGLY at most)
5 - tense consistency and subject/verb agreement
6 - find and replace your over-used words (really, just, some, that, then)
7 - weed out repetitions (including names that sound alike or change halfway through)
8 - look for POV breaks and page balances (balanced white space)
9 - take out any unnecessary (or over-creative) dialogue tags
10 - find someone to give you brutally honest feedback (several someones is better)

Four Self-Editing Tips
1 - Start with the basic editing checklist
2 - Have someone else read it (No, your Mom doesn't count)
3 - Always print off a hard copy and edit from there at least once
4 - Step back and work on something else for awhile then look at it with fresh eyes.

Do You Know Your Vices?

~ Figure out where you are weakest (characterization, plot, continuity, description balance, etc) and strengthen it.
~ Polish until it shines.
~ Trim the fat.- unnecessary characters, descriptions and loose ends- cut anything that doesn't advance the story, even if it's your favorite part!
~ Expand on what's left - dig deeper for all characters, make sure you understand them inside and out and bring them to life on the page.- add active, powerful scenes--pull the emotions out of your reader

What Now?
1 - Decide if you need to change hats again (writer hat, editor hat, re-writer hat)
2 - If needed, keep working -- make it even better!
3 - Time to celebrate and submit! Don't let your work sit on a shelf unless that was your only goal.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keep Improving

One of the first things I learned at the first conference I attended was this: good writers keep improving. Every published author that I spoke to at that conference had something to say about it.

One best-selling author said every book in his series gets better. "If you can get through the first one, you'll love the rest."

Another kept trying to convince me to buy her latest book instead of starting at the beginning.

Consistently, every one of them thought their most recent work was better than their first.

I think this is the most important rule of writing. Keep learning. Keep improving. It is a major challenge to strive to make each paragraph better than the last--but that is why we do re-writes and edits. I know that by the time I finish a book, I've improved my skill from when I started it. So I go back and make it all as shiny as the end.

Writers improve in different ways. Some challenge themselves and do writing exercises. Others read--a LOT. Still others have read every book on writing ever printed. I do a combination of the three, and I think it works for me.

What do you do? How do you improve?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Go Read This!

One of my favorite, octopus wrapped agents, Janet Reid, posted today about being aware on blogs and twitter. She discusses how writers aren't invisible and will be googled by both agents and editors on their road to publication. Great post! Go check it out!

Also, happy Labor Day Weekend! :D *does holiday dance*

Friday, September 4, 2009

10 Things I Learned This Week



















1 - The motion depicted in this image hurts. Don't try it at home.

2 - When querying/waiting on submissions it is necessary to have many cheerleaders in the wings and a gallon of ice cream in the freezer.

3 - Cool people who love orange do get cool agents sometimes. (CONGRATS NATALIE! :D )

4 - Window insulation can also be used to replace skin when necessary.

5 - Clicking refresh on your e-mail browser does not encourage people to write you e-mails faster.

6 - Candles make everything better.

7 - I know a lot of VERY cool people... yes, I'm talking about you.

8 - Four-year-olds just "get it" sometimes.

9 - The best feeling in the world is hearing your first teenage fan gush about your book.

10 - I love feeling appreciated. (Thanks Nathan!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Evolution of a Story


I'm feeling much better. Thanks everyone for the well-wishes. :) I really appreciated it. I am now up to 4 requests in a little over a week, so I'm very excited. *squeal*

Today, I wanted to write a little about how stories evolve. I don't know about everyone else, but my first draft looks NOTHING like my final. If it weren't for a few similar names, it could literally be a different book--a different genre even.

I thought I'd dig through my archives and find my original rough draft and post a scene from it... then post a similar one from my final. I've already posted my opening here so I think I'll do something else.

Okay, I found similar scenes that show some of Lexi's history and explain a little about why she hates her telekinesis.

ROUGH DRAFT VERSION

The combination of events that had brought Lexi to Oracle flashed through her head once again. Her parents’ deaths, the funeral, the unexpected move across the country… ghosts of the past haunted her. Lexi stared at the ceiling once more, but she was no longer seeing it. She became lost in the memories that invaded her dreams and transformed them into nightmares. Her trance continued up until the moment she saw the light fixture on the ceiling above her head begin to swinging wildly. Lexi’s eyes went wide and she bolted up from the bed wringing her hands together. Seeing the fixture shaking was like a bucket of ice water hitting her. She shook her head to clear it, her heart pounding in her ears.

“No Lexi,” she murmured.

She knew it did no good to wallow in her self-pity. To be honest it always got her in trouble. It didn’t change anything and generally only caused problems. The times she let her emotions be in charge were the times she would slip up, and lose control. Then the bad things would happen. Lexi was terrified of making those things happen.

Lexi had known for a long time that she was different. When she concentrated hard, got angry or upset, she could make things move with her mind. At first it was just a small vibration in an object, harmless. Lexi had even thought it was fun. Fun! Lexi scoffed, shaking her head, the irony was biting. There was nothing fun about it.

It had been almost a year since Lexi had let her mind do something like she had today. Not since she had first arrived in Oracle. It was the first day of her freshman year and she’d been getting ready for school. It had been similar to what had just happened. She was distracted from worrying about school, and the memories of her Parent’s accident had come flooding through her head.

“Ugh!” Lexi moaned and covered her eyes with her hands just thinking about it. Of course no one had seen her, but she’d managed to knock her dresser over. Moving to a new school is rarely a good experience. The fact that she had slipped and used her telekinetic abilities that morning had made her jumpy all day.


FINAL VERSION

She turned back to Aya, her expression dubious. “Are you saying? What—that he’s right? You healed me?”

“Yes.”

“How long have I been out?”

“Not long, it’s evening.”

Lexi raised one eyebrow. “It’s the same day?”

“Yes.”

“Sure, okay.” Lexi nodded after a long pause, and rubbed her fingers on her knees. “And did you use a normal wand or bring in a fairy to do the trick?”

Aya’s smile wavered for a moment, and her eyes hardened slightly.

“This is the least of the things that I’ll ask you to believe. You aren’t new to the incredible. Why are you fighting it?”

Lexi looked away. “I—I don’t know what you mean.”

Aya frowned. “Yes, you do.” Her statement left no room to argue, but Lexi shook her head. With a sigh, Aya moved closer to the bed, staring at her intently.

At first, Lexi felt only uncomfortable under her gaze. Then an intense pressure began building behind her forehead. It wasn’t painful, but she didn’t like it.

“Stop that, what are you doing?” Lexi leaned back into the pillows, but she couldn’t turn away. Her voice sounded small behind the rushing vacuum inside her head.

The memory crashed over her, pulling her under and tying her up with its motion. Her secret expanded on the wall for everyone to see.

╦ ╦ ╦

A young girl with dark curls sat on a pink, ruffled bedspread. Her pajamas were blue with pink bows. She bounced in place, unable to control her excitement. A blonde girl sat across from her.

“Just tell me. What’s so exciting?”

Lexi took a deep breath, but couldn’t contain her grin. “I’ve wanted to tell someone for so long, but I couldn’t. You’re the only one I really want to tell, Jo.”

Jo giggled, “All right, so tell me.”

“I—well, I can move things.” Her voice was so soft, it was barely audible.

“What do you mean, silly? Of course, you can move things.”

“But I can move things without touching them—just, you know, by thinking it.”

Jo looked at her for a moment, before laughing again. “Be serious!”

Lexi's brow furrowed. "No, I am serious. I’ll show you." She focused on a delicate glass ballerina on Jo's dresser. Jo laughed, but followed Lexi's gaze. The figurine lifted a couple of inches and hovered gracefully in the air.

Jo’s piercing scream tore through the room and Lexi jumped backward, her concentration broken. She’d expected Jo to be surprised, but not scared. The tiny ballerina fell back to the dresser and shattered.

She looked at Jo and blinked. Jo backed into a corner of the room and stared at Lexi in horror.

“Jo?” Lexi whispered, her eyes wide. Her feet moved forward of their own volition, but she stopped when her friend’s face went pale and she recoiled farther into the corner. Watching her felt like a bucket of ice water had been dumped down Lexi’s spine. As if through a haze, she watched Jo’s fingernails scratched at the walls around her, frantically searching for a way out.

Her best friend, her only friend, was desperate to escape her.

Lexi backed away, shaking her head, dazed. Scrambling for her backpack, she ran from the house. Her feet bare, and her pajamas damp with her tears.

╦ ╦ ╦

Lexi’s vacant eyes stared at the wall. It had been blank for a few minutes, but she couldn’t seem to drag them away. Her cheeks and shirt were wet with the tears that wouldn’t stop. They carved paths through the dirt on her face.

“I’m sorry.” Aya’s words pulled Lexi’s gaze from the wall. Aya’s face was a mixture of regret and pity. It was the pity that set her gut on fire.

“So you can just pull out anyone’s memories and display them for the world to see? That’s super.” Lexi’s voice bubbled fury as she rubbed her cheeks dry with the back of her hand. She refused to look at Cam, but could feel his eyes on her and was horrified. She felt weak. She hated feeling weak.

“Don’t do that to me again--ever.”

HMM...My Thoughts

I think the final scene is much more powerful, and although it kind of cheats--it isn't technically a flashback. :P

In the first draft--man those were some serious blocks of text--and loads of telling.

Lexi's voice is much clearer throughout the final draft... you can probably see that difference here.

Anyway, so how about your books? Can you see how the story evolved from beginning to end? Can you see how your writing evolved? What was the most important thing you learned through the process?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Infected

Hey, remember the other day how I was trying to distract myself? Yeah, remind me never to hope for distraction ever again--EVER.

I started feeling horrible the night before last and spent yesterday at the doctor's office. Apparently, I managed to get an inner and outer ear infection, a sinus infection, and it is spreading down my throat.

I feel like death.

...but, I'm barely thinking about my queries and submissions. ;) What have you all been up to this week?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Distractions

So, today is an update and a distraction.

First - the update: I've had two requests since I posted yesterday. Both from awesome agencies. *squeals*

Second - the distraction: I got a hilarious e-mail that I HAVE to post because I was laughing so hard when I read it that I actually snorted... and I'm not a snorter.

Random Thoughts of the Day:
~ I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

~More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

~ Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

~ I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?

~ I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

~The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me, and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.

~ There is a great need for a sarcasm font.

~ How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

~ I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

~ I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

~ The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

~ I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

~ Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantrontest is absolutely petrifying.

~ Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

~ How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

~ I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

~ Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's Gas as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm....Goonies"

~ What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow eachother?

~ While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.

~ MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

~ Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

~ Bad decisions make good stories.

~ If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.

~ Can we all just agree to ignore Blu-Rays or whatever else comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

~ There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

~ I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

~ "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

~ While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.

~ I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

~ Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...

~ Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is..

~ Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what to do with it.

~ A little boy asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the heck do I respond to that?

~ I wonder if cops ever get ticked at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

~ Was learning cursive really necessary?

~ LOL has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Race Is On!

Or maybe it's the waiting... the waiting is on.

Yes, folks, that's right--I started querying this weekend. Most I sent out yesterday, but I did a few of my favorites agents that I've built relationships with on friday.

I can't decide whether I want to pull my hair out or jump for joy. Finally, Oracle is ready. Finally I can feel REALLY good about sending it out.

Now, I just need someone to request it.................

In order to distract myself during this time of intense discomfort, I am going to provide you with the lyrics of an old song that jumped into my head when I saw the above picture. It is clever. It is fun. It is country. (What? I told you my tastes were eclectic)

Let's see if I can remember it.

The Race Is On by Sawyer Brown

Chorus:
Now the race is on
and here comes pride in the backstretch
Heartaches goin' to the inside
My tears are holdin' back
They're tryin' not to fall
My hearts out of the runnin'
True love's scratched for another's sake
The race is on and it looks like heartaches
and the winner loses all

Okay, that's all I can remember... but it is such a fun song (the lyrics are quite misleading). It makes me want to dance. Let me see if I can find the video and we can have a blog dance party to distract me! :P



Okay... wow. I guess I forgot this was from the 80's. I love their outfits though, a couple of those outfits look like the lead singer raided MC Hammer's wardrobe. Hehe... anyway, time to dance! :D

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One Reason I Love Ice Cream

I like variety. I love having a different thing every time I go to a restaurant. My DVD collection includes everything from SpongeBob and Mary Poppins to The Sixth Sense and What Lies Beneath. My MP3 player proudly lists songs by Def Leppard, Barenaked Ladies, Nickelback and Buckcherry alongside songs by Neil Diamond, Fergie, Paramore and Andrea Bocelli. And yes, I also have country, rap and heavy metal.

I don't like to be tied down to one particular area. I rebel against everyone's insistance that I MUST get steak when at a steak house. I literally have NEVER had a favorite flavor of ice cream. There are too many wonderful options. Why force me to narrow it to just one? What kind of cruel injustice is that? (Stick with me, we're almost to the point.)

This is why I love writing YA. It is the big, comfy, genre melting pot. This is a place where I can feel completely comfortable throwing a vampire, an alien, a cyborg and a zombie in the same book. I can have it all. I don't have to choose, and I don't want to.

I love the unique and fascinating ideas this environment invites. I love hearing about fellow writers who have crazy good ideas and don't have to worry about what genre it will fit into.

So out with catagories, I say!

Give me your robot, your werewolf,
Your huddled fairies yearning to fly free.
The rotting mummies of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, genre-rejected to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden keyboard.

Yes, I'm tired and there is every chance my brain was replaced by fluffy cellulose this weekend--want to make something of it?

Now, PLAY BALL!


Monday, August 17, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering...

(For the purposes of this post, please be aware, cellulose = insulation. NO, I didn't know that before this weekend. YES, I am going green, I don't care if you think it's trendy.Now, back to our program.)

In case you were wondering, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth, or go fishing. I am currently in my attic--buried in cellulose.

This is not my favorite place to be.

There is no cause for alarm. I have several reasons to be certain I will make it through this.

1 - Cellulose must be edible, because I haven't died yet.

2 - I was able to chew through a stray internet wire and by rigging it to the fillings in my teeth I am able to get rudimentary versions of my e-mails printed on my brain. Convenient? yes. Comfortable? no.

3 - My next door neighbor kindly plays music in his jeep loud enough that it rattles my windows and I can, as they say, "Get jiggy wid' it." (Don't knock it. Until you've seen a woman covered in cellulose dancing--you haven't lived.)

4 - One corner of my roof is leaking, by carefully placing my head against the wall--in between two rusty nails, of course--I am able to get a little water. It tastes like tar, but it's wet.

5 - I am confident this time alone will give me plenty of time to brainstorm and outline my next 12 novels. When I get out of here (after MANY showers) I'm going to burn that keyboard up!

6 - I'm reasonably sure that this will get me an agent. Why? Who doesn't want to represent a writer who is handy, charismatic (HEY! No laughing! I am totally enjoying my own company!) and could go on Survivor?

Until I make it out, feel free to comment.

Oh, and pray for rain.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Exercise in Creativity

So, today... I decided to do something fun and see if I could find some actors/actresses that look like my characters in my head (from Oracle). It was SO fun! I thought I'd share them on here and see what you guys think of my choices.

I even ended up finding a song that fit each of their characters too. Seriously, I'm so in their heads right now. I am going to do some crazy editing and writing as soon as I finish this post.


This first one is actress Sarah Bolger. Who looks so much like Lexi it scares me. Isn't she so cute?

For those of you that don't know, Lexi is a 16-year-old telekinetic--and she hates it. She's funny, sarcastic and vulnerable--she hates that too.




This is Paramore's music video for "That's What You Get." This is freaky on multiple levels. First, because the couple in the video look like the two actors I picked for Lexi and Cam... Second, because it is so Lexi's attitude. :) Enjoy!





Now, on to Cam. As you can see, Cam is...yummy.












He's my 17-year-old bad boy. He can't run from his past and even though Lexi makes him want things to be different, he's not sure they can be.




Meet Kevin Zeger, I've never seen him before today, but I'm telling you... he is Cam. The second I saw the picture above I flipped. He's exactly what I have in my head.













This is the song that reminds me of Cam. Nickelback's "Savin' Me"
Not only do I LOVE it... but it's the freakin' coolest music video I've ever seen. I could seriously write an entire series just on the idea in that 5 minute video. The things he keeps seeing above people's heads are numbers counting down. Check it out! :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Strange Characters


I started reading a book about building believable characters. It's really interesting. It goes into a lot of detail about how you should know your characters as well as you know yourself.


I thought it would be a fun exercise to name some weird facts about ourselves that others might not know. Just to make the point of exactly how well we know ourselves.


In the comments--put in at least one thing that isn't commonly known about you. Here are a few of mine.


~ I was fifteen when I got my first kiss--and then I got 12 in one night. A wacky friend lined up every guy at my birthday party and he pinned my arms and walked me down the line. I was too shocked to respond at the time-- but he got an earful the next day.


~ I was pulled over 8 times before I ever got a ticket--this all happened before I turned 17. Did I mention that I'm kind of a speed demon?


~ I never had to study in school, everything came easy to me--but I often planned study parties with my friends, because I knew they needed to study and I wanted to feel normal.


~ I once received an invitation to a high school dance via a toilet seat that was left on the floor of my room.


~ I was very shy when I was younger and by the time I went to high school I felt pinned in by that stereotype. So, I convinced my mom to let me change schools so I could get a fresh start. When I graduated I was known as one of the most outgoing girls in school.


~ I have one of the craziest car accident stories ever. (ask Kasie West)


~ My sister is one of those people whose lives should be made into a book or movie--but I'm pretty sure she'd kill me if I did.


~ My mom is a ridiculously strong woman--but also one of the funniest people I've ever met. When I was a teenager she used to tell all my friends stories about how she had a magical gorilla toe that made all the men want her.... no, I'm not kidding.


Enough about me, what about you? What are your strange facts? Do you think you could fill out a similar sheet about your protagonist?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Evolution of a Query Letter

One of the most difficult things writers have to face is the dreaded query letter. Most hate it--some have nightmares over it. Whatever your response is, take deep breaths and try to avoid the straight jacket. Take my advice, it is not comfy.

I thought I might show you a progression of one of my query letters. You can see both the evolution of the story and the query through these.

Draft #1

Nine-year-old LEXI PARKER watched her best friend’s expression change from laughter to terror in under a second. Jo’s deafening screams tore through the small room. She backed away until she was cornered, then her fingers and hands scraped the walls around her, looking for a way out. Lexi’s best friend, her only friend, was desperate to escape her.

When Lexi witnessed the reaction her telekinetic abilities incited in her closest friend, she vowed never to let anyone else know about her so-called talent. Six years later, this fifteen-year-old has alienated herself from potential friends and even her family in her desperation to keep it a secret.

When a random thunderstorm transports her to another world, Lexi finds that abilities like hers are anything but obscure. After all this time, she must learn to accept herself as she is, not as the freak she believes herself to be.

This new world, SOLARA, is embroiled in an endless war. As they hover on the brink of defeat, they request Lexi’s help to find others like her on Earth to help strengthen their ranks. In exchange for her assistance they offer to train her and let her stay with them in the first place she has ever felt normal.

As they near the completion of their task, the man who killed her parents, METUS, returns to hunt her down and finish his assignment to murder her family. Lexi must assist her new friends in finishing their quest before Metus can find them. For every darkness, there is light, and at the end of the day she will finally discover just how unique she is.

ORACLE is a completed 75,000 word young adult urban science fiction. It is set primarily in a small town in Arizona. I have outlined four more novels to follow this one in a series, but it also has the ability to stand alone.

Yes, that's right... you read nine-years-old and YA in the same query letter... now you've officially seen it all.

Draft #2

When fifteen-year-old, Lexi Parker witnessed the horrified reaction her telekinetic abilities incited in her closest friend, she vowed never to let anyone else in ORACLE know about her so-called talent. She has alienated herself from potential friends and even her family in her desperation to keep her secret.

When a random desert thunderstorm transports her to another world, Lexi finds that abilities like hers are anything but obscure. After all this time, she must learn to accept herself as she is, not as the freak she believes herself to be.

This new world, Solara, is embroiled in an endless war with the Munin. As they hover on the brink of defeat, they request Lexi’s help to find others like her on Earth to help strengthen their ranks. In exchange for her assistance they offer to train her and let her stay with them in the first place she has ever felt normal.

As they near the completion of their task, the man who killed Lexi’s parents, Metus, returns to hunt her down and finish his assignment to murder her family. He is a Munin, enemy of the Solarians. Lexi must assist her new friends in finishing their quest before Metus can find them. For every darkness, there is light, and at the end of the day she will finally discover just how unique she is.

ORACLE is a completed 75,000 word young adult urban science fiction. It is set primarily in the small town in Arizona. I have outlined four more novels to follow this one in a series, but it also has the ability to stand alone.

Not bad, but it could still use some tightening and more voice. It garnered one request.

Draft #3

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. This story is science fiction for people who don’t necessarily like science fiction—it is extremely character driven. In marketing terms—visualize X-Men meets Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

Lexi Parker is telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem.

Nope, that would be too simple for this fifteen-year-old. When a random desert thunderstorm sends Lexi to the world of Solara, she realizes her abilities aren’t so rare and freakish after all. Her power comes in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange and beautiful world, such as:

~ Explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens
~ Watching her new friend pack a bag the same way Mary Poppins does
~ Drying her hands on a mini hurricane that invades her bathroom

She makes a deal with the Solarians—if they help her get home, she will help them find others with abilities like hers on Earth. After all this, Lexi is more than happy for life to get back to “normal”—then again, normal has never been Lexi’s strong suit. She never imagined what awaited her back in Oracle, Arizona would be far worse than anything she’d seen on Solara.

~ Getting knocked to the ground by a flying ottoman
~ Breaking a boy out of jail
~ Seeing lifeless eyes looking out from a friend’s face

All that—and she still can’t beat her sister at a game of Cups.

Maybe Lexi should’ve just stayed in Solara—but, it’s too late now. She must quickly learn to accept her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever survive again.

Still not perfect, but it was good enough to receive 8 requests. And, yes, I queried too early. It wasn't ready yet.

Draft 4

Lexi Porter is sixteen-years-old, she’s telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem. When a random desert thunderstorm sends her and a teenage escaped convict, Cam, to the world of Solara, life gets much more complicated.

Her powers come in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange world. To start, she doesn’t appreciate having her worst memories displayed on the wall like a freakin’ movie, or explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens. But hey, at least they left a mini hurricane in her bathroom so she had something to dry her hands.

Maybe it isn’t all bad. At least her abilities aren’t as rare and freakish as she’d always thought.

She makes a deal with the Solarians—if they help her get home, she’ll help them find others with similar abilities on Earth. She’s even willing to put up with Cam. He might drive her nuts, but at least he’s fun to look at.

Lexi never imagined what awaited her back in Oracle, Arizona would be far worse than anything on Solara. But when she sees lifeless eyes in the face of a friend, she must decide what she’s willing to fight for.

Maybe she should’ve just stayed in Solara—it’s too late now. She must quickly learn to embrace her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever live to use them.

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. It is complete at 66,000 words.

This time it evolved because my story changed. I did several massive rewrites and needed to change my query to match it. This one has too much going on and doesn't focus enough on the love interest that I added.

Draft #5

Lexi Porter is sixteen-years-old, she’s telekinetic, and she hates it. Now, if only that was her worst problem. When a random desert thunderstorm sends her and a teenage escaped convict, Cam, to the world of Solara, life gets much more complicated.

Her powers come in a distant second on the weirdness scale compared to her experiences in this strange world. To start, she doesn’t appreciate having her worst memories displayed on the wall like a freakin’ movie, or explaining that she isn’t a spy to a council of aliens. But hey, at least they left a mini hurricane in her bathroom so she had something to dry her hands.

On top of all that, Cam seems determined to drive her nuts. Lexi knows he isn’t what he seems. He’s full of contradictions and impossible to understand. As far as she’s seen, Cam only has one redeeming quality—he’s fun to look at. (fixed per AmandaJ, thanks! )

So, her abilities aren’t as rare and freakish as she’d always thought. Maybe it isn’t all bad—at least that’s what she thinks until the Solarians tell her that anyone like her on Earth is in danger. They offer to train Lexi, but she must quickly learn to embrace her own abilities and figure out how to use them. If she doesn’t, the powerful murderer stalking her kind will insure that no one on Earth who develops these powers will ever live to use them.

I understand that you’re interested in young adult fiction. I’d like you to consider ORACLE, my young adult novel with a science fiction twist. It is complete at 66,000 words.

This is my most recent version. I still don't think it's perfect... I will probably do some fine tuning before I send it out. What do you think? Does this help you guys at all? Someone told me that it might be useful to post these and I know I always love seeing what other writers do with their query letters. By the way, if you read all the way down here... you get a cookie. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Taking a Personal Day

I tend to focus on writing and don't generally get into too many "personal" things on my blog. Today, I read an agent's blog that absolutely touched my soul--in order to explain why, I have to tell you a little more about myself. If I hear snoring in the back... I'll be terribly put out. :P

I have two wonderful children, and each has been incredibly difficult to get. I've suffered through years of infertility, miscarriages, toxemia and premature birth. If it weren't for medical miracles, I'd be childless.

Almost two years ago, my husband and I decided to try for one more. This is my second marriage, and we don't have any biological children together. It was something we really wanted to share, but it was a difficult decision. After my last was born, my doctor told me that he didn't recommend that I have any more children. I nearly suffered a stroke and the baby was delivered 7 weeks early. He is fine and healthy now, but it was a difficult time.

We've been trying for two years and have had no success. Again there are drugs and more drugs that are supposed to be helping--but to no avail. We've gotten that beloved + on a pregnancy test once, but it ended in miscarriage shortly after.

We're now in a tough spot. The doctor is ready to wash her hands of us. She told us that she wants to refer us for In-Vitro and she said we may just want to consider adoption.

It's a hard place to be. Adoption, surrogacy, In-Vitro... they are all so expensive. We're lucky enough to have two children and we are coming to terms with the fact that this may have to be it. We are incredibly lucky to have them, we just really felt there was supposed to be another...

It is because of these experiences that I am in awe of Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.

How wonderful that there are people like her in the world. I feel lucky, as a writer, to know there are agents around with such big hearts.

If you get a chance, pop on over to Kristin Nelson's blog and give Sara the recognition she deserves. It is the selfless acts of courage like this one, that still make this world an incredible place to be.

From the heart of a mother, Thank you Sara.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Blog Bling!!


Today I have new bling from Amber Lynae! You gotta love the bling. It's almost like she's seen my handwriting.

Here are the rules for those of you who don't already know them:
1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
Here are the 5 bloggy friends that you should go over and read right now..... well you should finish reading my post and comment first, then go read them.
~ Karen Amanda Hooper - for having awesome ideas and the guts to cut a TON of words from her MS and handling it like a trooper. :)
~ Lady Glamis - For giving all kinds of great advice and looking fab while doing it. :)
~ Natalie Whipple - For being so freakin' hilarious that it should break some kind of moral code.
~ Stephanie Faris - For being a posting maniac with a smokin' hot blog.
~ Jamie Theler - For being the best "boot camp" moderator ever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Writing Tips 101

I thought I would do a few posts about writing tips that have helped me.

This week I want to focus on: Writing What You Know

What does this mean to you? For me, not much. I'm not sure whether that reflects on how much I know, so I'll deny it either way. At first, I thought it meant what I do every day. As a stay-at-home mom... does that mean I have to write about kids or laundry?

No, it doesn't.

Okay, so what else do I know? Besides the intimate workings of Jack Bauer's life or the plot of every episode of Friends? (I tried writing about these things, it's not allowed... my lawyer is still trying to get me out of that mess. :P )

Write What You Know means two things. First, it means write what is familiar and comfortable to you as a writer. Write what you enjoy reading. As a person that never really grew up--I knew YA was the place for me. Other women love romance, I avoid it at all costs (Still, it is an insidious thing, before I knew it there was a kissing scene in my book... ewww).

The point is, write where you are comfortable and know your audience. Write the book you want to read.

The second meaning of Write What You Know is: Know What You Write. Research is a writer's best friend... (besides Microsoft Word, right Shanti?) If you don't know something that you want to write, learn it. If you want to write about something that doesn't exist, create it. (Not literally, the fire department frowns upon the creation of miniature civilizations in your basement. Don't ask how I know. I mean, you might get away with it if those civilizations aren't based on a volatile gas--butane, methane, acetylene for starters could be considered bad choices... The fire department has a lot of rules, let's just leave it at that.)

The point is, know your world--inside and out. Follow these tips, it will make your life as a writer significantly easier and you'll save a lot of expenses in lawyer fees and damages.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What's in a name?

How do you come up with your character names? Is it something you just innately know or do you struggle with it? Mine seems to be half and half. Some are just a given - Lexi and Cam. Others take much time, consideration, and several find-and-replace-tool uses in Microsoft Word - Gwen, Aislynn and Aidan.

Some of my characters are from another planet, so I made up strange but still semi-pronouncable names for them - Torgan, Aya, Sarai, Kellin.

So I wanted to play a little game today. Where/How do you get your names and what do they mean? Parents.com has a cool little search tool where you can look up name meanings.

Here are a few of mine that I found intriguing. Keep in mind, I looked none of these up before using them.

Lexi - means Defender/Protector (how awesome is that for a heroine? eek!)

Cam - means Crooked Nose--I'm sure I can find some way to make that fit. ;)

Gwen - means Blessed--the most optimistic character, perfect.

Lincoln - means Lake Colony...yeah, I don't know how this fits...but I just love the name, so I don't care :P

Just for kicks, I'm going to check some of the weird alien names. :P

Torgan, Aya, Kellin & Metus - nothing

Sarai - means Princess in Hebrew... fascinating!


For those Insomnia fans out there...

Parker - means Keeper of the Park, LOL

Mia - means Admirable

Andy - means Manly, hahaha--honestly, my Andy would get a kick out of that.

Anyway, this was way too much fun for me... tell me about your character names and their meanings! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When you get rejected...

It stinks. We all know it, but it's part of the job and so we just have to get used to it. I have, and because of that I can see how awesome some of my rejections really have been.

I got an awesome one awhile back that said something like this:
"You have this amazing energetic voice in your query and your emails, but it didn't translate to the novel as well as I'd hoped.

It's the one thing that can't be taught or coached: voice.

Now you just need to work on the other parts. I'm not sure how you feel about critique groups or writing partners but they can be hugely helpful about some things.

Stephen King said the first million words are practice. That sounds daunting, but it's really not. All you have to do is keep writing. You've got the right stuff to be a writer...it's just not quite ready yet.

There's a 24 hour flaming dog poop delivery service here in New York: 1-800-RJCTHIS! They know where I live...
"

Recently, I got another one that looked like this:

"Thank you so much for your patience while I reviewed your work. I appreciated the opportunity to review ORACLE and think you have a lot of talent. The premise was interesting, unique, but I couldn't connect with your protagonist and so I didn't feel part of the story. It was a personal issue and I do not really have any recommendations for change. Since this is such a personal business, it's integral that an agent really be behind a work 100% and that's just not the case here for me and ORACLE. I do wish you the best of luck with your writing and know that you will find an agent who can represent your work with the enthusiasm it deserves.
"


Anyway, they may be rejections, but these are the kind of things that keep me going and working. Thank you to all the agents who take the time to give positive feedback and encouragement. We appreciate it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do you know when it's done?

As writers, I think one of the most asked questions is, "How do I know when it's done?"

I used to ask this all the time and I decided that maybe as writers we will never really feel done.

Guess what, I think I was wrong.

That's right, mark it on your calendars. This only happens about once every ten years.

Okay, more like ten minutes, but who's counting? ;)

I think I've found my last revisions on Oracle. It isn't even the same book it was when I typed "The End" last December. It has changed so much and gotten so much stronger. At some points I felt there were always going to be things that bothered me about it, but I've pin-pointed and resolved them one at a time.

Now, for the first time, I'm confident this rewrite is going to resolve the last loose end that will truly tighten the story. It's a massive relief to feel like I can finally put it aside and feel finished.

Don't get me wrong... I know that if I get an agent/editor that I will probably have to do more revisions and I'm fine with that. I just know that this will make it as good as I am currently capable of getting it--and I'm pumped!

Here is the semi-new opening. I probably won't be changing much here. Let me know what you think. Are you hooked?

Chapter 1: Weapon

Why was the fool girl out in the desert with a monsoon coming anyway? Cam shook his head and crouched further down beside the prison van. The wind buffeted his orange uniform around his body. The weight he’d lost in prison made everything loose on him.

He watched Alexis Porter shade her eyes, trying to see through the other window. He was intensely grateful that the van didn’t have any windows in the back. It insured she wouldn’t see the guards inside, his guards, lying unconscious in the prisoner area. They wouldn’t remain that way forever. He needed to make his move soon.

She shrugged, seeming to determine the van was empty—exactly as he’d hoped. Her long, dark curls whipped wildly in the turbulent air. Climbing back on her bike, it took all her weight to push down one pedal, straining against the rising wind. In the waves of blowing sand, she’d only gone about twenty feet before he started having difficulty making out her retreating form.

He took a few deep breaths. When he cornered her she’d be automatically wary. His uniform alone would raise serious suspicion. There was nothing he could do about that now. He’d play his part. The girl was here and he’d come for her.

When he felt confident she wouldn’t turn around—Cam ran after her.