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? 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'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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm back!

[For those of you who don't recognize the reference to Terminator, may I recommend you do some pop-culture research? ;) ]

Finally! It has been a long, exhausting summer! I have so much cool info that I've learned and would love to share. So I think I'll just jump right in.

New important (and very cool) things I'm learned from self-editing books:

1 - Muses don't write books...writers write books.
I've heard many writers claim that they aren't getting anywhere because their Muse hasn't really been speaking to them. I know that sense of inspiration, but it doesn't write the books, we do. The one thing that I've found to be foolproof in drawing out that hermetic Muse, is sitting down and writing. You write down one too many lines leading the story in the wrong direction... and suddenly you'll have the Muse stomping her feet on your keyboard.

2 - Know when to take a break.
As wonderful and dedicated as it is to have and follow a daily writing minimum... it can sometimes be detrimental to the story. If you, for example, are suddenly feeling the urge to kill off the main character and you're only one-third through the story--take a break. If your villain wants to go pick out drapes for the evil lair, unless your villain is pure evil masquerading as Martha Stewart--take a break.

It is important to note that taking a break is not necessarily a break from writing altogether. It can also be a move to a different project for a little while. Let the ideas ruminate and you'll be surprised what brilliance you stumble upon when you come back to it later.

3 - Doubt first, ponder later.
Everyone has opinions. It is the given right of man and woman. The choice we have is what to do with others' opinions of our work. My advice is this, doubt first...ponder later.

Here is an example: Let's say you are making homemade pizza. You have pepperoni, sauce, cheese... everything you need to make it delicious. Then someone approaches you and says, "You know what would make that pizza better? Tuna fish. Leave off the pepperoni and put on tuna fish instead. Would you immediately do it? Of course not, it sounds absurd. Who would put tuna fish on pizza when they could have pepperoni?

Before you even considered it, you would want the idea to prove itself to you. You would want your reasoning within your own mind to agree with the logic of the suggestion. You don't just go around throwing out perfectly good pepperoni just because someone told you to.

This is how I recommend you approach every piece of advice about your work. Doubt it, make it prove itself to you, ponder it and all it's ramifications. Often, it might be correct, but never assume it is. No one else can write your story the way you can. Make sure you are committed to every change you make. Don't stubbornly stick to your guns, but don't give away the farm either. (haha... gotta love cliches in a post about writing, but I can't put them in my book! They have to come out somewhere!)

That's all for today. I hope you got something out of it.

By the way, tuna pizza is divine... but I argued with my husband for a full month before I tried it. ;)