Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hola! Did ya miss me? Did ya?


This picture is the epitome of my vacation. Taken from my Mom's balcony on the cruise ship. It was absolutely stunning, inspiring, magnificent, incredible, fill-in-your-cool-adjective-here and also.... SUCH A BLAST! :D

The biggest downside was being woken up every morning by our Austrailian Cruise Director (I'm pretty sure he was really from Kentucky) who told me to "drop my sausages and my hot cakes" and go to some activity that I usually felt like sleeping through. I also didn't appreciate him telling me to have a "Cracker Jack Day." I will choose the kind of day I plan to have, thank you very much, and I can tell you with absolute certainty... I will NEVER choose to have a "Cracker Jack" one.

The fam and I are busy gathering the rest of the pictures together and I will post again later this week with some more pictures. I came back with a killer cold, so that is all for today, but I can't wait to make the rounds of my blogroll buddies a little later today! Talk to you soon!

And also... feel absolutely free to have whatever kind of day you want. Be it cracker jack, fabulous, or downright miserable. You pick! I don't mind. ;)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vacay Vacay Vacay!

Can you tell that I'm going on vacation? LOL So, yeah... Take care of each other. :P See ya later folks, and don't forget me! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Writers - A Volatile Persuasion

Upon first sight, writers appear frazzled, distracted and jumpy. This would be very inconsistent with the image of a writer at work on their current project. Suddenly, they are focused and determined. Nothing short of their hair catching on fire and a cat using their back as a scratching post will drag their attention from their life altering purpose: to form words into sentences.

Yes, writers are animals based on contradiction. Within one conversation this breed may both complain about the characters keeping them awake at night, and state that other characters aren't talking enough and they just don't know what they'll do in the next chapter if these ungrateful creations don't start voicing some opinions--and soon.

You may also find them complaining about the many things that keep them so very busy--and in the next sentence exclaim how excited they are that they just figured out how to use Twitter, started a new blog and decided that Facebook needed to be updated a minimum of twice per hour.

Some will stick book after book away on a shelf without ever submitting them to anyone, while still others will submit every sentence they can get to sit still on a paper to any man, woman or dog that might be walking past. They will then request and expect immediate positive feedback. If the feedback is not given or if it is not positive, the consequences may be dire. (may Rover rest in peace.)

With careful observation, you may come to see a direct correlation between the size of the ego and how long they survive in the business. It appears at least a moderate ego is necessary to continue through rejection after rejection but also, if the ego appears too big it is another problem altogether. In this situation it is very probable they will give up on the industry and become a hermit in the mountains, self-publishing every word they write, from the 700,000 word epic to the grocery list.

There also is often a great incongruence between the way writers respond to positive and negative feedback. One negative comment and many writers spend hours considering placing their laptop in the microwave or possibly just becoming a mute and forgoing all forms of communication from this point forward. However, to elicit such a dramatic response from positive feedback it takes approximately 7,482.3 positive comments that will bring about dancing in the streets and unbridled revelry for at least several minutes.

The absolute best approach when trying to strike up a conversation with a writer is to become or claim to be an agent or an editor. They will immediately snap out of their frazzled state and become the most attentive listener on record. This tactic has been abused in the past, as writers have been abundantly willing to throw gobs of money at anyone that says they are an agent, or know an agent, or have a cousin whose ex-wife's, uncle's, brother-in-law's, nephew's, cousin's, best friend is an agent. (You know who you are Ted)

Please do not take advantage of these poor writers like this,

~ they hear voices in their heads (and none of them are polite!)

~ they find themselves inexplicably typing at all hours of the day

~ they consider it a success if they have both a shower and find a comb before it's time to go to sleep

~ and they are responsible for reliably completing entire worlds, complete with governments, religions, people, rules, and relationships.

In fact, no wonder we look so frazzled... Excuse me, I have to go rethink becoming a mute for the fourteenth time today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Revisit - Agents - A rambunctious breed

I'm going to revisit this post I wrote a couple months ago because I plan to do a similar one on Writers tomorrow. :) Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Agents are a fascinating breed. They have stringent dietary requirements which call for them to consume extensive amounts of caffeine and a healthy abundance of ghastly query letters daily.

They may look like the rest of us, but they should not be approached in the wild. When cornered they turn skittish and look for an escape. Becoming particularly apprehensive when any acronyms are used, such as WIP or MC. Oddly, they seem to be calmed by the use of SASE.

In order to tame one of these wild beasts, one must first approach from a distance. Writing down all of the reasons why this creature should accept your offering. Many of these approaches are dismissed with a quick glance, as agents are finicky but generally know when they like something. You may do research to decide what type of offering might most satisfy their cravings, but you will find that each one is very different. The only ingredient they will agree that you must have is something they refer to as voice. I looked all over my pantry--I can't find it.

If you are able to interest one of these creatures in what you offer, they will ask to see more. Here is the most puzzling part about their kind. If they truly like what you have written for them, they will agree to work with you--then they will take your offering and dissect it like a frog in a science lab. Then, you must happily thank them for it.

How do you get one of these critters to feel that primal attraction for your offering?

You tell me, because I've been trying to figure that out all month and I don't think I'm any closer to having the answer.

~~~~~~~

LOL that was a fun stress reliever. Please don't take it as anything else, I have the utmost respect for agents. Particularly those that visit(or live in) the blogosphere. Writers, laugh while you may--tomorrow is devoted to you. Muahahaha! --ahem, maybe I've had too many four leaf clover cookies, I'm feeling punchy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Are We Confident or Delusional?

Like all writers, I sometimes question my sanity at following this troublesome, tiresome, grueling, frustrating, disheartenting... and yet somehow still amazingly fantastic career. As though in response to this question, I found the most amazing blog post this week. It was by author JA Konrath on his Newbie Guide to Publishing blog. It was about the difference between confident writers and delusional writers. He was kind enough to give me permission to post it. (Thanks Joe!) So, without further ado...

Confident or Delusional

Kissinger was wrong. Power isn't the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Confidence is.

Confident people attract others. They get things done, spending more time doing and less time worrying. Confidence fosters charisma, inspires allegiance, and demands attention.

All writers need to be confident. We must believe our work is worthy, that our efforts aren't in vain.

But what are the differences between confidence, and its ugly step-sister, delusion?

Confident writers know they'll be published, if they keep at it.
Delusion writers think they'll be rich and famous.

Confident writers work to get the words right.
Delusional writers think they got the words right the first time.

Confident writers expect to be periodically rejected.
Delusional writers are shocked every time someone fails to recognize their brilliance.

Confident writers take suggestion.
Delusional writers believe their words are written in stone.

Confident writers work even when it's hard.
Delusional writers believe they need to be inspired first.

Confident writers know this is a job.
Delusional writers think this is a vacation.

Confident writers know there's a never-ending learning curve.
Delusional writers believe they've learned all they need to know.

Confident writers know when to move on, and learn from their failures and successes.
Delusional writers keep doing the same things, over and over, hoping for different outcomes.

Confident writers know luck plays a big part.
Delusional writers think there's a conspiracy against them.

Confident writers get published.
Delusion writers don't get published very often, and if they do it's not for very long.

Confident writers work within the system, even though the system is flawed.
Delusional writers work outside of the system, even though they long to work within the system.

Confident writers understand their limitations.
Delusional writers don't believe in limitations.

Confident writers understand sacrifice.
Delusional writers demand everything on their terms.

Confident writers believe in persistence.
Delusional writers believe in talent.

Confident writers believe they owe the world.
Delusional writers believe the world owes them.

Are you confident or delusional?

Chances are high the delusional people will believe they're confident, since self-awareness is in short supply in the writing community.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Have you been published by an impartial third party?

Confident writers eventually get traditionally published. Period.

Do you seek out and apply editing advice?

Confident writers know their words can always be made stronger.

At what point do you abandon a project and begin a new one?

Confident writers move on, but first they try to figure out what didn't work, and why.

Would you rather be paid or be praised?

Confident writers know the best form of praise is a royalty check.

Do you help other writers?

Confident writers know it's about what you put in, not what you get out.

Do you understand your failures?

Confident writers don't have failures. They have learning experiences that make them stronger.

Will you be successful?

Confident writers know success is beyond their control. But they keep writing anyway, and will continue to even if success never happens.

It's not about the destination. It's about the journey.

You must believe in yourself.

But first you have to prove yourself worthy of that belief.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Distraction

If you haven't noticed my word count on my WIP has remained at the same spot for the last week, well then I envy you. I am constantly aware that I haven't had any time to write and the characters yelling in my head are pretty darn unhappy about it.

The worst part is that I have some brand new guy in there that apparently wants his story told as soon as the rest of them and he is incredibly impatient. Where did he even come from anyway? Someone needs to educate him of the newbie rules--but it can't be me, I'm obviously too busy.

Getting ready for a cruise and dealing with some minor family issues are occupying all of my time. Hopefully these people I share my head with will be more understanding when I am finally on the plane and have about 5 hours of uninterrrupted writing time. Until then they need to hush... I'm getting a headache. ;)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

#Queryfail Day

Thursday was the beginning of the end of my resistance to Twitter. I had avoided being sucked in to one more distraction on the Internet but that was all before #queryfail day.

#queryfail day was the brainchild of brilliant agent Colleen Lindsay. She gathered a group of agents and editors to post some of the lines that made them give the big R to queries.

Some of my favorite creative ideas were:

~the non-fiction proposal for a how-to book for potholders made from cat hair... yes, you read correct... complete with samples. The worst part of this, according to the agent, was that they didn't enclose enough postage to return the... uh... samples to the author.

~the query describing LOTR meets the Notebook, okay, take a moment and picture it...

~the query outlining a romance between a man... and his truck. (this one struck close to home with me ;) LOL )

Now the more common mistakes:

~calling the agent = To Whom It May Concern or Dear Sir/Madam

~typos in the query letter

~not mentioning the plot of the book in the query

~no contact information

It was hilarious, entertaining and enlightening. So, as a writer in the midst of the process of querying, I wanted to say a big thank you to the agents/editors that took the time to participate. Hopefully the process will reap better query letters coming your way in the near future. :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Life, the Universe & Everything - part 2


Yes, my friends, it is that time again. I'm bringing another episode of conference recap!! (Please feel free to read that last part with your best movie announcer imitation) Alright now, let's get started!

Worldbuilding 101

~Worlds must obey their own rules and these rules must be consistent!

~ If you break a rule within your world, it must be for an extremely good reason and it must make sense.

~ Don't forget to understand all aspects of your world. You should know the sociological rules, the political rules, the religious rules. Understand it all, BUT that does not mean you should include all of it in your book. Your characters are used to their world and anything the reader learns should be shown to them, not told to them.

~ You must have a system that functions--unless the point of the book is to fix a broken system

~ Immerse the reader in the world, but don't overload them with insignificant details. Anything you teach the reader should have a purpose behind it. If they don't NEED to know it, leave it out.

~ Provide a comfortable transition for your audience into your world. Start with things that are common between their world and ours and expand from there.

~ At the absolute upper limit, you should never have more than 20% of your story be devoted to world building. Must have a minimum of 80% plot. More, if possible.

~ Don't be intimidated to explore a new world, but if there are aspects that don't work then don't keep them. Make the world work for the character and story, not the character and story work for the world.

~ Start with the story--worldbuilding will just become a part of what goes on around it.

Podcasting for Writers

~ This is the next new marketing venue for new and existing authors

~ Outline your podcast like you would your book, know where you are going with it.

~ Can perform digital interviews across the world using skype

~ You can read excerpts from your book, but if you read the entire book you will forfeit your audio rights.

~ It can, sometimes, be worth it to forfeit your audio rights in order to gain a following IF you have exhausted every other avenue.

~ 20-30 providers for free podcasts - people go and search for writers and then they start learning your name.

~ heavier on men than women, so it can be a great opportunity for female authors

~ A fun website to learn about podcasting is www.writingexcuses.com

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Twitter stuff - LOL

To anyone who follows twitter, get on there now and search for #queryfail. It is AMAZING. A group of agents and editors going through their queries and stating the reasons they fail each one. I haven't laughed so hard in a week.

SO FUNNY! Go check it out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Life, the Universe & Everything

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a weekend at a Writer's Conference. It was literally the coolest thing I've done since deciding to start writing. I really don't think I can condense everything I learned there down into one post, so I think I will focus on conference posts for a couple of days. :)

As an overview--I met some of the coolest people. These Utah authors are down to earth, kind, patient and hilarious. They have great insights and don't mind sharing them. I was lucky enough to hang out with a few of the very cool ones all day on Saturday and on and off through the weekend. It was a blast!

Now... for session one of Conference re-cap--

YA/MG writing:

Pitfalls:
~ Show the audience what to think, do not tell them.
~ It is tempting to be preachy when dealing with these genre's. Do not do it! Kids can see right through it and the book will hit the floor before you finish the paragraph.

Most Vocabulary in YA is considered to be conversational but between two intelligent people.

Every character in your book should have a reason to be there. They all need motivations and rarely will you have a group of people that all agree on what their goal is. Some will do it for one reason some for another. Some are just along for the ride or because someone they like is doing it. Know their motivations and make them stay true to their cause. Dynamic characters are not robots, they will do the expected and the unexpected. Keep them human.


Suspense: Every genre has suspense. If not, there is no story to tell. Even day to day life has peaks of suspense... ask any author who is waiting for a response from an agent and they will agree with me. ;)

- Never withhold information from the reader that the viewpoint characters know
- Before you can build suspense, you have to make the readers care about the characters and what happens to them

Always enter a scene that is already in progress... never have your characters standing around waiting for something to happen, unless that waiting adds to the suspense.

Brandon Mull says: Keep your readers curious, that will keep them interested. You must follow a wave pattern with your suspense. It is all about tension and release in waves. Too much tension and it stresses the reader out and they put the book down, too much release and the reader gets bored and stops caring. It is an art, not a science--go with your gut.

I hope that made sense... let me know if this information is interesting and helpful to you and I will keep it up next week.

End Recap Session One. :P