Monday, December 20, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog To Bring You An Important Message



Sorry folks, but I'm going to have to put the Top 10 Extravaganza on hold for a couple weeks. I had unexpected surgery on my ankle last week and recovery hasn't been going as well as I'd hoped.

So, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I'll be back the second week of next year with a couple more lists and a giveaway! See you then and I wish you all a happy holiday season!

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 Things I've Learned About Character Development

Today's Top 10 list is about character development because if you don't have compelling, real characters...you don't have anything.

So, let's get started.



10 Things I've Learned About Character Development

1. No character, no matter how major or minor, is complete without a few flaws.
2. People are varied, characters should be too.
3. A stagnant character is a boring character.
4. If a character is sympathetic in spite of major flaws, the combination can be truly compelling.
5. Little details are every bit as important as big ones.
6. Villains are strongest when they are the hero of their own story.
7. Cardboard characters belong in the trash, fill them out or throw them away.
8. People have little things--sayings, movements, twitches--that are unique to them. Characters should too.
9. Don't be afraid to make your characters suffer. It's your job.
10. Worksheets of character details can be amazingly helpful in keeping track and staying true to the character you've created.

That's it! Hope you find it helpful. Another list to come on Monday. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

10 Things I've Learned About Starting

Okay! On to list number two. Let's start at the very beginning. It seems a very good place to start. :)







Top 10 Things I've Learned About Starting

1. There is no wrong place to start
2. Most of the time, the first scene you write, won't end up being the first scene in the book.
3. Every writer has their own method to prepare. Find yours and get to work.
4. Don't stop and rework the beginning, come back to it later.
5. If you do stop, you're likely to get stuck in the dreaded first chapter rut. Move past it and skip ahead. Allow your story to gather some momentum.
6. On a first draft, no momentum is bad momentum.
7. Most problems can be fixed with revisions.
8. Set a writing schedule and stick to it.
9. Motivators (chocolate, positive feedback, your fave t.v. shows, etc.) are there for a reason. Use them to keep you going.
10. Beginnings can suck, but if you keep going you'll eventually hit your stride.

As a person who truly struggles with beginnings, you may notice a theme here... just do it. Starting a new project tomorrow, or next week, or next year won't make it any easier.

Friday's list will be on character development. Stop on by.

Monday, December 13, 2010

10 Things I've Learned About Writing

It's mid-December now, which means I'm closing in on the 2 year mark for this blog. *cue streamers, confetti and mariachi band*

In honor of this occasion, I'm doing a few top ten lists of things I've learned in the last two years. Today, we're starting with the basics of writing. So, here it is, today's top ten list.

10 Things I've Learned About Writing

1. Commas are not willy-nilly objects.
2. There is a correct time and place for a semi-colon...whether I like it or not.
3. A little well-balanced white space is a beautiful thing.
4. Starting with the MC waking up is not a new and original concept.
5. Four words to live by: Arrive Late/Leave Early
6. Main characters should not be boring, whiny or ridiculous.
7. Readers are smart, don't underestimate them.
8. If one of your viewpoint characters is so minor they're more background than anything else--you may have a problem.
9. Just because half the world thinks writing about vampires and werewolves is a fantastic idea, it doesn't mean you have to.
10. Write what interests you and you can make it interesting. If you aren't intrigued by an idea, your audience won't be either.

More Top 10 Lists to come, stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ready For The Run


I spent last weekend in Las Vegas. My little sister participated in the Las Vegas 1/2 marathon. It was incredible. They closed down the strip and there were nearly 30,000 runners.

Some of them looked determined, ready for the long haul. Others were talking to themselves, trying to remember it would be worth it, trying to just limp through the last 1/4 mile.

It really struck me how much the road to publishing is like a marathon. For a very few writers, it's a short 5K and everything seems to fall into place. For others, it's 13.1 miles for the half marathon and they feel like giving up more than once. For even more, it's the 26.2 mile full marathon. They feel like they can't handle it. They'll never get there. At times, it might even feel like deciding to try for that finish line was the worst decision they've ever made.

But you should see the look of triumph on their faces when they cross that finish line, and they realize that every step was worth it.

I can't wait to get there. Can you?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Falling Down



There are so many parts about the publishing industry that knock you down and make you want to stay there. From the plot issues that keep us awake at night, to that first critique (not the one from your mom) that makes you want to hide under your bedcovers for days.

This is not an easy industry. This is not an easy profession. And we choose it anyway--we get back up.

We are not the kind to give up. We are strong and we persevere. Whether the words to be written are as daunting as your first synopsis or as exciting as the long awaited--The End. Every step of this journey takes effort and a super-human amount of patience.

I wanted to take today, not long before Thanksgiving, and say thank you to all my fellow writers. Thank you for not giving up, even when your stack of rejection letters and the Ben & Jerrys in the freezer are telling you it's the best idea.

Thank you for writing the books (published or not) that I love to read.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Ordinary Family



Ah, November, why must you keep me so busy?

I've found a new love. We've only spent a few hours together, but I'm smitten. So smitten, in fact, that I make time to watch it on Hulu every week. For those of you who haven't had a chance to check out No Ordinary Family on abc, (for shame!) let me tell you what you're missing.

This is a family friendly show that starts with your typical family. Everyone is too busy, all drifting apart and no one is really happy...until they try to go on a family vacation, get in a plane crash in some remote rain forest, and end up with super powers.

Here is what makes it awesome. The super powers don't solve all their problems, in fact, they cause a whole bucketload of new ones. The main thing that the super powers give them is something in common with each other that they can't really tell anyone else. It brings the family closer and I love the dynamic. As they learn to use their powers, they learn to rely on each other in new ways.

It's witty, and interesting and as a YA writer, I'm pretty picky about the way teens are portrayed on TV. These teens are great. Very true to life, well acted and awesome.

Anyway, if you can't tell, I like it. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 29, 2010

In Honor of Halloween Weekend...


Isn't that the freakiest pumpkin ever? I love it. It kind of cracks me up, but inspires my semi-evil maniacal laugh at the same time. Muahaha! Muahahahahahaahaha!

Ahem.

In honor of our official scariest holiday of the year, and one of my favorites, I thought I'd share one of the more freaky and intense scenes from my WIP. Enjoy!

Here is a rough bit of background info so you can understand what's going on, since this happens in chapter 4.

Sixteen-year-old Parker spends every night trapped in the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with that day, and it's killing him. He sees what they see, feels what they feel, but he's awake and his body can't take many more nights without real sleep. Mia is his only chance at a normal life because for some reason, he can sleep inside her dreams. (p.s. Finn is his best friend)


The woman at the checkout counter had pale green eyes. They looked sad even as she smiled and told me to have a nice day. Her nametag said Agnes and she’d decorated it with stickers of small blue flowers.

I’d never messed up by meeting the wrong person’s eyes twice in one day—then again, I’d never considered Finn to be the wrong person before. Did it really matter whose dreams I watched if they weren’t Mia’s? I frowned as I loaded the groceries Mom asked me to pick up in the back of my car. Probably not.

Agnes's dream started slow, the room smelled of cleaning supplies and I could hear children’s voices coming from a room down the hall. The TV was showing a game show, but Agnes never turned to watch it. She kept dusting the same tables over again, even though the room was spotless.

This dream was different. The detail was clear, which usually indicated a memory, but there were little items that overlapped. The same coasters were filling five separate places on the oak end table. The game show had different contestants every time I looked at it—-but each was as clear as the last. This dream was several memories overlapping each other.

The front door opened and a thick man with a shirt and tie came in the living room. The emotion coming from Agnes shifted so suddenly I felt dizzy. Pure fear filled my body from my toes to my eyebrows. The sounds of the children down the hall silenced and I heard a door shut.

“Hi, dear.” Agnes smiled and hid the feather duster behind her back. From my position, I could see the feathers twitching as her hands trembled.

He grunted and plopped into the recliner closest to the TV.

She handed him the remote and put the feather duster in the closet. Within seconds she was back with a beer from the fridge.

He grabbed it and nodded without even a glance in her direction. “What’s for dinner?”

“Meat loaf.” She answered and backed toward the kitchen. “It will be ready in a few minutes.”

Her fear was still there, but she seemed a little more confident. I slumped onto the carpet and leaned against the wood paneling on the wall. She might feel better, but I didn't. There was no question that he’d hit her before. It was impossible to miss the signs. She never turned her back on him.

Agnes set the table and called for the kids to come to the kitchen. Two blonde children came down the hall. The little boy was quieter than any child I’d ever seen. He couldn’t have been more than five-years-old. His sister was maybe a year or two older, and she kept moving back and forth in front of her brother. It took me a moment to realize she was placing herself between her brother and her dad.

The kids sat at the table and Agnes brought a plate to her husband in his recliner. The family ate in silence, everyone at the table stared at their plates. Agnes reached over to refill the milk in her son’s cup. He lifted it, but lost his grip.

The glass fell to the table as if in slow motion. Panic shot through the room like a lightning bolt. The little girl was back from the kitchen with a towel before I could blink.

Agnes hurried to clean it up, but the moment her husband glanced back at her, she sent the kids to their room. I could hear soft sniffles coming down the hallway as she continued to wipe up the mess with shaking fingers.

“I’m sorry, Ray.”

He sighed and pushed pause on his DVR remote. When he stood, I stepped in his way. I didn’t want to see this. Please, no.

But Ray was an aspect of the dream, and I was just a Watcher. He walked right through me and I felt nothing. I knelt on the floor, wishing I’d met the eyes of anyone but this poor woman.

“All I ask is that things be clean.” His voice rumbled low and her fear spiked as she backed away from him. He grabbed her shoulder and shoved her against the wall.
She shrank down to the floor.

“I know. It was an accident. I’m so sorry.”

He reached under her chin and lifted her to her feet. “Don’t you want me to be happy?”

She nodded, as choking sounds came from her throat and he threw her back to the ground. Everything ached and I felt the will to fight seep out of my body, the same way it had fled from Agnes.

“Don’t do it again.” He walked back to his recliner and pushed play on his remote.

Agnes whispered, “I won’t,” and wiped her tears from her cheeks as she got unsteadily to her feet. There was a gash on the top of her ear that was bleeding and I could see the print of her husband’s hand against her throat. She pulled her thin brown hair out of its bun and tried to arrange it to hide her neck and ear before she took the plates down the hall to her kids’ bedroom.

As the dream faded, I clenched my hands against my forehead. I couldn’t cope with this anymore. People had dark, disturbing secrets and every time I invaded their minds it drained a little piece of me. I could feel the darkness from other people’s nightmares squirming into my brain. How long before it changed who I was—-my idea of what was normal?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Look At Me! I'm Growing!

So, I just finished another round of edits on INSOMNIA, and I feel like I'm really close to being done. I'm also preparing to start a new project for NaNo tentatively titled: BION. I have to say, I'm excited. I know they say it's all about just writing, writing, and writing some more, but I'm not one to believe anything they say. They are untrustworthy scoundrels--possibly the villains in a future book.

Turns out this time, they were right. With each new step in the process, I'm amazed at how much easier it is than the last time I did it. Now, granted, the overall process doesn't get much easier because I'm also learning new and better ways to improve my work--and those are still new to me--but I'm so much happier with my results every time.

Is anyone else going through a similar experience. Can I get a hip-hip-hooray for improvement!?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hello, My Name Is Jenn, And I Am A NaNoWriMo Virgin

I've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. My reasons are threefold.

1. It sounds interesting.

2. My weakness (as far as time goes) is my first draft. I have a tendency to think I suck every other page and give up writing for life--or at least for the rest of the day. Hopefully, Nano could help me overcome this.

3. I'm letting INSOMNIA stew for a month or two before I dive in for one last round of edits <--translates to I may or may not need a distraction so I don't start querying before it's ready.

So, my fellow friends of the writerly community... have you done NaNo? Are you doing it this year? Do you think my expectations will be fulfilled? How do you like your eggs in the morning? etc.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pacing--Part Deux

Yesterday we discussed why pacing is important. Today I wanted to discuss how to pick up the pace. I write in YA, primarily Horror or Dark Paranormal--whichever you prefer to call it.

I wanted to drag my reader through the book. There are several tools I used to do this.

1 - Keep it short--my goal for INSOMNIA was 55-60K and it's currently at 61K. If you are trying to drag your reader through, keep it short enough that it doesn't exhaust them.

2 - Keep the tension high--I have a secret, I'm kind of evil. The things I do to my MC.... Let's just say, if he was real then I deserve a special kind of hell.

3 - Release tension appropriately--If you don't release a little tension sometimes (through comic relief or revelations, whatever), then it can exhaust your reader too. Just don't release too much or it can slow the pace as well.

4 - Spread things out--revelations, mysteries, action scenes, compounding pressure on protag, if you lump them all together then you end up with boring spots in between and your pace fizzles.

5 - Trim, trim, trim--cut unnecessary dialogue, use shorter sentences appropriately, use active verbs.

6 - Set the mood--if your mood is relaxed and chill and your pace is flying, everyone feels a little dizzy. Make sure the mood and pace fit together and they will strengthen each other. (setting and style can help with this)

7 - One sentence paragraphs--these can be really powerful, IF used appropriately. If you have too many of them or the sentence doesn't pack any punch, they lose their flavor.

8 - Short chapters with a good hook at the end--If you can hook your reader into wanting to read more, AND they know your chapters aren't overly long, then they are more likely to keep reading. There are good ways and bad ways to do this.

For example:
Wrong way - I walked through the living room to head upstairs, but a creak from the kitchen sent a chill through my soul. <--hook : next chapter--> My daughter stood on her tip toes trying to get a drink from the top shelf of the fridge.

Right way - I walked through the living room to head upstairs, but a creak from the kitchen sent a chill through my soul. The only weapon I could find was an umbrella. When I peeked around the corner, I saw him. A large man in a suit the color of shadow. The stranger leaned back in a chair and puffed on the biggest cigar I'd ever seen. When he turned his eyes on me, I choked back a gasp and he chuckled.
"So, you comin' in?" <--hook : does it really matter what the next chapter is? As long as "the stranger" doesn't turn out to be your Uncle Sal, then you're golden.


The point is. You don't want to leave your reader feeling cheated. Let the twists and turns in your story hook them. They'll love every minute of it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Do You Handle Pacing?

I am spending a lot of time these days editing INSOMNIA. As a YA horror/suspense/dark paranormal/mocha shake, the pacing is crucial.

I thought I'd take a few minutes this week and write a couple of posts about pacing. Today, our topic is:

Dear Pacing,

Why do you matter?

Much Love, Jenn

Pacing replied with the following.

Dear Jenn,

How rude!

Regards, Pacing

Obviously, I'm going about this the wrong way. Pacing is the speed of a book. It is the rate at which the story flows and it includes things like level of tension, risk to characters, and length of chapters. For me, it ranks up at the same level as character development in importance.

Not everyone feels the same, but even though different genres will need different pacing, it's still important, whether you right hard sci-fi or chick lit.

Different books require different pacing. A romantic comedy is going to take faster pacing than an epic fantasy and slower than a thriller.

In a thriller, or suspense, you want to drag the reader (at times kicking and screaming) through the book. There are several ways to accomplish this, (some I seriously consider to be cheating) which I'm going to post about on Friday.

What kind of pacing do you strive for and why do you think it's a good fit for your genre?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reasons I Think HOUSE Is Doing It Right

I love House. I don't think they've always made the right decisions and to be honest I was quite skeptical coming into the current season. Why? Because it's the first time in seven seasons when the main character, Dr. Gregory House, is in a real relationship.

We've all seen it before. We love a show and we just really want two of the people to get together... but when they finally do, the show loses all it's sizzle. The chemistry they were fighting against was the only thing interesting about the show and now it's gone. We cry into our popcorn buckets and find something else to watch.

Where many others fail. For some reason, House seems to be succeeding. It fascinates me, because his nature alone, makes him horrible in relationships and everyone around him knows it. He's manipulative, selfish, and insulting--truly one of the most flawed characters on t.v. Because of these traits, I was afraid they would have to change him to make the relationship work, and in a way, they did--but they did it masterfully. (in my opinion, anyway)

The creators took these traits and instead of getting rid of them, they twisted them around so he now seems to be using them to keep his relationship going. For me, it really works. We get to see House being his normal, terrible self, AND he gets to be in a relationship. In some ways, it's made the show more interesting.

Anyone else watch it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

10 Ways To Know Your WIP Is In Trouble

I woke up this morning to a very...interesting note that I decided was crucial enough to write down in the middle of the night. This morning, not so much.

I decided to have a little fun and include it in a list of 10 ways to know your WIP is in trouble. :) Enjoy!


1 - You wake up to a crucial note that reads as follows: IMPORTANT! Add suspense with tooth floss! (Yes, that's exactly what my note said this morning. No, I don't have a clue.)


2 - You keep getting your protagonist and antagonist mixed up


3 - Your love interest decides to run off with your villain because your hero is boring.


4 - You realize your MC and side kick have had the same conversation about five times.


5 - An entire section of your book is written from the POV of a character you could drop and literally no one would notice.


6 - You are going on 60K and can't seem to find a suitable place to end your first chapter.


7 - You'd rather read the phone book than work on your own.


8 - Your blog posts are infinitely more interesting than your plot.


9 - Even your Mom can't stand your MC.


10 - You can't edit out your -ly words because it would cut your word count in half.



Hehe, I don't know about you guys, but I've had at least half of these problems. No, I won't tell you which half. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Carolyn V.! I love this girl, she's so cute and totally deserves it. Yay!

In case you were wondering, I finally decided on the mystery book. It is *drumroll please*

"Characters & Viewpoint" by Orson Scott Card. It's one of my favorite writing books.

She will also be getting the aforementioned "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief"

Congrats, Carolyn and thanks for participating!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Finished INSOMNIA + *Giveaway*!

This week I got to type those beloved letters of all writerdom: The End

Before I start my favorite part of the writing process, edits and revisions, I wanted to take a day to celebrate (Also because it's my birthday on Saturday!! Yay!! It's a good week for Jenn!!).

So, I'm giving away a copy of a book my sons and I read together this summer: "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" + another book that I haven't decided on yet. It's almost October, we'll call it the "Mystery Book" ooh!

I'm going to keep this simple. All you have to do to enter is:

1 - comment and be a follower (1 point)

Simple, right?! Now, if you want extra points, you can advertise this contest somewhere: twitter, facebook, your blog, your kids t-shirt, wherever. Just make sure you let me know you did it.

Now, just for fun, I'm posting the current first page of INSOMNIA. Keep in mind, it's still a little rough, but let me know if it intrigues you. Most of the questions are answered in the first chapter, but not the first page. So having questions is a good thing. :) This contest ends next Monday at midnight PST and I'll announce the winner on Tuesday, October 5th.

Okay so, here is the excerpt.


Chapter 1: Dreamlife


I was thirteen when I learned about rage. When I first felt the hatred and adrenaline that can trump fear just enough to turn a normal man into a murderer; the thrill that comes from ending my enemy’s ability to hurt me, and the sickness that follows after. The transformation that insures you will never be the same person again.

I was no murderer, but one night in March, my Dreamer was.

For a week after, I stayed home from school sick. Faking it was unnecessary, turns out that throwing up constantly is pretty convincing. Even awake, the visions from the dream haunted me: a blood-stained knife, red slices through her white shirt that formed a perfect triangle, the girl’s screams.

The emotions of the killer bothered me the most—fury, triumph, and then despair. I didn’t want to feel it. I hated my ability.

I consoled myself with the knowledge that it wasn’t real. It was only a dream. People could dream anything and it was all over when they woke up. It worked, I felt better for a while—until I saw the picture of the victim on the news. Most dreams stay in the mind, but some refuse to remain in that prison.

Since then, I’ve gotten much better at telling the difference.


~~~


That's where the first page ends. What do you think? Intrigued or totally confused? Do tell.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mr. Monster Review

Tomorrow is the release day for "Mr. Monster", the sequel to "I Am Not a Serial Killer" by Dan Wells so I thought I'd take today and do a quick review for you guys.

If you haven't read the first book, "I Am Not a Serial Killer", then you should. It is fascinating and the character development is flawless.

The series is about John Wayne Cleaver, a teenage sociopath who has made rules for himself to avoid becoming a serial killer. I loved the first one so much that I couldn't wait for the second one. I bought the U.K. version at a writers conference I attended with Dan Wells in the spring. When he signed it he wrote, "Jenn, I apologize in advance for the cat. Dan Wells."

I was forewarned.

This was an incredibly difficult book (emotionally) for me to read. It explores darkness of both situation and character as John struggles with keeping his sociopathic tendencies in check and searches for a murderer at the same time.

Dan made me care about the characters so intensely that there were times I was afraid to turn the page and keep reading. John's conflicts are so real and devastating that it was painful. Dan writes John with such power that it is impossible not to empathize with this character even though I know for a fact that he would be incapable of empathizing with me.

This is the first book I've ever read that I considered putting down simply because I was afraid of where the main character was heading. I'm glad I didn't. If I hadn't felt such despair in the middle then the triumph at the end would have been feeble in comparison. On top of that, the ending managed to fulfill all promises I was hoping for as well as add a few more surprises that I didn't know I wanted.

I'm into dark books and this is one of the darkest, but I loved it and I plan to read it again.

As this is an official review, I feel I must give it stars--13 out of 13 and cat lovers beware.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Anyone Else Feeling Stalked?














At first, I thought it was flattering to have people pay so much attention to me. They seemed to be interested in everything about me. I tried not to blush and answered some of their questions--not all, of course, a girl has to maintain some of her mystery.

Then it became constant. My e-mail barraged by an assault of every kind. The questions got more personal, more invasive.

Am I happy with my local service provider? Do I feel I have a right to inheritance money from a distant duke relative I was perviously unaware of? Am I in need of legal assistance? Do I have a drinking problem?

Now it's downright offensive. No! I don't need hot girls now or Viagra. I don't even need Vicodin, (although my supply is admittedly running low).

It's gotten to the point I've had to relegate these stalkers to an entirely different part of my computer. Their own virtual prison, if you will. I've hired security from a little country called SPAM. You may not have heard of it. It's so top secret they don't even put themselves on the map.

Are they perfect? No. Just today I had to call them to pick up some loser who dared to question if I made enough money (I'm a writer, is there really any question?). But, do they make my life so much better? Absolutely.

In honor of Friday. I wanted to take a minute to honor my SPAM filter. It makes trudging through e-mail considerably less daunting.

Anyone else have some every day convenience we should be grateful for today? Have a happy weekend my bloggies!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I Did This Summer...













I'm sure we've all heard the rumors. I've died, I'm in rehab, I've run off with Josh Duhamel. I'm here to assure you, all are false. Even (sadly) the last one.

It may come as a surprise to you, but the truth is much more exciting. This summer, I've been lying on the beach in a tropical resort (a.k.a. digging sprinkler trenches in my back yard), having lotion rubbed on my back by cabana boys (a.k.a. getting licked in the ear by my dog when I passed out from sunstroke), and arranging tropical flowers in a butterfly garden to help focus my Chi (a.k.a. attempting to landscape my own yard with 42 tons of topsoil and 10 tons of rocks).

My summer was swank.

Needless to say, I'm feeling refreshed and focused (a.k.a. frazzled and hysterical).

During my time to reflect, I've made some changes in my life. I've updated my look (a.k.a dyed half of my hair purple--no, I'm not kidding. It seemed like a good idea at the time). Spent more time getting to know myself and those I love (learned an inordinate amount of information about my children's video games). And spent more time exploring my interests (Bachelor Pad, where have you been all my life?).

In short, it was a fantastic summer--but I missed all of you, my writing peeps. How do I love thee, let me count the ways... except not, because math isn't my strong suit. Let's just call it a lot, shall we?

I've also decided that all my creative juices are flowing into my WIP (Insomnia) at the moment. Yes, you can see from the word count on the right that it's getting all kinds of juicy.

So, I have decided to take a cue from the '60's and go for free and easy on my blog for the rest of the year. I'll be posting around 2-3 times per week, but I have no schedule and it won't necessarily be about writing. I know it is shocking, but I have other interests *pause for gasp*. For example: movies, games, t.v. shows, books, martial arts, unagi, experimental surgery, etc. See, I have an interest in most of those things. I'll probably be incorporating my interests into my blog posts regularly. Stay tuned, and also... HI! I MISSED YOU!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Help! My House Is Eating Me Alive!














So, I'm not going to be around much this summer because my house is eating up every single inch of me, chewing me up and spitting me back out again.

I envy the Wicked Witch of the East. She had it easy.

We're working on installing a sprinkler system, landscaping and a new deck. After that is done, we'll be putting in a concrete slab and a hot tub. That is where I plan to die because after all of this work, I don't think I'll get out of the hot tub ever again.

Have you seen the movie "The Money Pit"? If not, you should see it. My house is just like that only, we're doing all the work ourselves and we may not live to see the end.

I miss you guys! I'll pop back in whenever I get a chance to pull myself out of the maze of trenches we currently call a yard.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trying Out This Whole Unplugged Thing

I'm getting down to the last 1/4 of my work-in-progress so I'm trying the unplugged thing for the next two weeks. Try not to miss me too much. ;)

My post on the 80's last week got me thinking, so when I come back I'll be posting on "Inappropriate Song Lyrics That Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time."

Dwell on that...we'll discuss later.

Friday, May 14, 2010

10 Reasons to Wish You Didn't Grow Up in the 80's
















10 Reasons to Wish You Didn’t Grow Up in the 80’s

1. Fighting the occasional intense urge to put on more than one pair of socks.

2. Resisting the instinct that headbanging makes any song cooler.

3. The sad knowledge that you shouldn’t ever wear your hair that high again.

4. Ignoring the desire to tie your shirt in some kind of knot any time the temperature goes over 65 degrees.

5. Understanding that minus all the hair and plus all the wrinkles, those Hairband idols are significantly less hot.

6. The realization that nearly every celebrity you looked up to back then was high as a kite 99.9% of the time.

7. The follow-up realization that most of them are now in AA or dead—neither state being remotely as entertaining.

8. You still wonder what happened to spandex.

9. The self-loathing that comes from still loving those power ballads even though you comprehend just how cheesy they actually are.

10. Being unable to discern between good hair days and bad hair days.


I decided I needed to make this list when I realized I suffer from all of the above, especially the last one. The other day, I decided my hair sucked and was boring so I cut myself bangs. Yes…bangs…with naturally curly hair.

Someone kill me now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Three Act Structure

Before I start, I wanted to post a link. I'm a little late joining in, but I wanted to post a link to Do the Write Thing for Nashville. If you haven't heard about it, it's a group of amazing authors getting together to help raise funds to help with the horrible flood damage in Nashville. Check it out. It's a great cause with great people.















Today I want to talk about three act structure. The diagram above shows a pretty basic format for a three act structure. I'd probably label the middle hills "try/fail" instead of "crises" but you get the general idea. I hadn't heard about this until about a year ago. I was using it, but I never really knew what it was called. We see it all the time--in plays, movies, tv shows, books. It's everywhere. Why? Because it works.

Aristotle was the one who original divided drama into the three act structure--beginning, middle, and end. As part of the three act structure, there are generally five main plot points--beginning, inciting incident, plot points one and two, and ending.

Almost boring, right? Yes, but we can apply this very simple format to nearly every form of entertainment around us. Try it some time... No, not right now, finish the post first. Sheesh--rude. :P

I've heard the three act structure described in many ways. One I think I heard on Writing Excuses, was as follows:

Act 1: Get your characters stuck in a tree.
Act 2: Throw rocks at them.
Act 3: Get them down.

I love this one. It's much more visual than the other descriptions I've read, and I'm a VERY visual person.

The question I found myself asking is, why does this format work? I think part of the reason it works so well is because it is used so widely. People go into any form of entertainment with certain expectations. Those expectations are set by everything else they have seen before. If the entertainment doesn't meet those expectations they naturally feel disappointed.

How do you feel when a plot fizzles at the climax. Or there isn't a viable resolution. When they don't have enough tension to hold your interest. If it isn't all there, we're bothered because it wasn't what we were expecting.

One aspect of this structure that I think is crucial is the try/fail cycle. If your MC overcomes their obstacles on the first try, it just doesn't work. In life, few things go perfect on the first try. Your tension is gone, your story is over and you haven't hit the half way mark yet.

Try/fail cycles are where your characters adapt and grow. Stagnant characters are boring. Give them a chance to get interesting.

How about you? Do you follow the three act structure? How many try/fail cycles do your characters have? Is there any part you struggle with?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Giveaway Winner

Before I announce the winner, I wanted to tell the story of the signed copy I'm about to give away.

I've had the pleasure of meeting Dan Wells several times. The first time I met him he read a section from "I Am Not A Serial Killer" and I was hooked. I went home that night and ordered it from the U.K. because it wasn't available in the U.S. yet.

It was totally worth it.

When I saw him at a conference last month, I had him sign my copy, a copy for the giveaway, and a copy of the sequel - "Mr. Monster." We got chatting and even though I'd told him not to personalize the giveaway copy, he started writing my name before I could stop him. So he scribbled it out and wrote, "Please scribble on this page." above his signature. :)

He's just as funny in the book.

Now, on to the results.

Thanks to everyone who entered in the Spreading the Awesome giveaway. It was an astonishing turnout with 141 Awesome Entries!!
I, of course, used a random number generator and the winner of this very unique copy is:

Michelle McLean

Yay! Congratulations, Michelle! E-mail me your info and I'll send you the book. :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

How Do You Drag Emotion From Your Reader?

There is a direct correlation between how much stress/relief you provide a reader during your story and how passionate they feel about it after it's over (more on that next week). How passionate your reader is about your work will determine how many people they tell about it.

So how do you make them feel those peaks of stress and valleys of relief? Well, the first thing we have to do is make our characters compelling and relatable( <--Blogger tells me this isn't a word, but Webster says it is... I'm going with the dictionary on this one, sorry B). If our readers don't care about the characters, then why would they care what happens to them?

Another important aspect, is to make sure the conflicts are both central to the story and that they incite a change in the characters. Characters that are evolving = much more intriguing.

We can also make the stakes huge--to the characters. Every story can't be about saving the world, but if our main characters feel like the stakes put their own lives, happiness, future, etc. in jeopardy--it will be just as moving.

Another way to bring emotion out in the reader is to make the scenery itself, match or conflict with the emotions (mostly with really powerful emotional scenes) within the scene. A peaceful emotion within a peaceful scene makes the reader feel one way, but a peaceful emotion within chaos makes them feel something different. Just don't stick a powerful emotion in a lame scene with no power--Go Big or Go Home. ;)

I discovered this last tip with my first book, ORACLE. There are a couple of scenes where Lexi is feeling seriously messed up--utter inner turmoil. In one scene, the world around her is also in chaos. In another, she's curled up in a tire swing in the backyard on a quiet night trying to hold perfectly still so no one will find her.

Which one got a bigger response from my readers? The tire swing, every single time.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this a lot lately because my current WIP is somewhat draining on my readers. I need to pull appropriate emotions at appropriate times. What do you guys do to pull that perfect response from your readers? What aspects of a book make it the most powerful for you?

P.S. If you haven't yet, don't forget to enter my giveaway by tonight! :) Because, really, who doesn't like winning stuff?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One of THOSE Days

I woke up this morning wondering when my story became my nemesis? I'm beginning to think that the connection between a writer and his/her story is more like a relationship than anything.

At the beginning, everything is rosy and sweet. You both think the world of each other and together there is nothing you can't do.

A few weeks pass and the writer might start thinking the story isn't all that great after all and the story might start thinking they should have held out for a better writer. But you both keep quiet, because you still hold out hope.

After a few more weeks/months the writer wants to kill off the MC, let the antagonist win and run off with his/her leading love interest. The story is trying to figure out which circuit inside the computer it would need to tweak to send an electric shock through the keyboard.

This is where I am today.

*sigh* I kind of want to wring my story's neck.

Story, please look better to me tomorrow.

P.S. If you want to win a book in which the story at least attempted to behave itself, check out my giveaway. I'll still be accepting entries until this Friday night. ;)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spreading the Awesome - Dan Wells - Giveaway

The marvelous Elana Johnson came up with the idea to do this Spreading the Awesome Blogfest featuring 60 of our favorite, amazing authors. I knew I had to take part because, let's face it, Elana's a genius and I am pretty fond of basking in her general brilliance. :)

I decided right away that I really wanted to do a debut author because supporting debut authors just oozes the awesome. With that criteria (and the idea of oozing) in mind, I immediately thought of Dan Wells. His book, "I Am Not A Serial Killer," is one of my all time favorites. It's described as a "sickly-disturbing, darkly-comic thriller." His protagonist, John Cleaver, is fifteen, a mortician, and a sociopath--but he is NOT a serial killer...at least not yet.

Here are a couple of my favorite lines from the book to give you a little flavor.


"This was it. This was what I'd never felt before - an emotional connection to another human being. I'd tried kindness, I'd tried love, I'd tried friendship; I'd tried talking and sharing and watching - and nothing had ever worked. Until now. Until fear. I felt her fear in every inch of my body like an electric hum, and I was alive for the first time, and I needed more right then or the craving would eat me alive."

"I felt like one of Max's video games, fumbling with unfamiliar controls and watching as my character on the screen ran helplessly in circles."

" 'You're weird, man,' said Max, taking another bite of his sandwich. 'That's all there is to say. Someday you're going to kill a whole bunch of people - probably more than ten, because you're such an over-achiever - and then they're going to have me on TV and ask if I saw this coming , and I'm going to say 'Hell, yes! That guy was seriously screwed up'.' "


John knows he's a sociopath and feels like fate wants him to become a serial killer, but he doesn't want to succumb. He spends much of the story trying to avoid what he considers to be his destiny by making a set of rules to keep him from the wrong path. When he's good, it's because he chooses to be good, and he's bad because he chooses to be bad. He takes on that massive responsibility, and I love that.

One of my favorite things about this book is that I've never seen a better juxtaposition of good vs. evil. There are times when reading it that you're not really certain whether the protagonist or the antagonist is actually the bad guy. It is dark and intense, but I heartily recommend it.

On top of all this awesomeness, Dan is part of the podcast Writing Excuses, along with Brandon Sanderson and Howard Tayler. If you are a writer and you haven't checked this out--I am saddened on your behalf. Do it.... well, not now, but after you've finished this wonderful blogfest. ;)

SO... I'm doing a giveaway! Yay! I am giving away a signed copy of "I Am Not A Serial Killer" that comes complete with a unique story about the signature. :) I will post that little anecdote when I announce the winner. The contest is open until Friday, May 7th at Midnight EST, and I'll announce the winners on Monday, May 10th. Anyone is welcome to enter, and there are three ways to earn entries.

1 - Follow me or already be a follower (here or on twitter, both count).

2 - Tweet about the contest or link to it in a blog post (again, both count).

3 - Comment on this post (this one is required for any entries to count because in spite of what rumors you may have heard, I am not psychic--or really all that organized--and I need you to update me on your entries.)

Hooray for Spreading the Awesome! The next stop on your blog tour is Stephanie Thornton. She's going to be highlighting author Kate Quinn. :) Let the fun continue.

~~~~~
Okay, and we're closed to entries. I'll be posting the winner on Monday! :D Yay! Good luck everyone.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Horror Excerpt

Today I thought I'd do an excerpt from the YA Dark Urban Paranormal (aka Horror) novel that I'm working on.

As I said yesterday, there is an essence of good vs. evil in horror. It creates both the internal and the external conflict of this story. Some basic background here.

Parker is a 16-year-old boy who sees other people's dreams when he goes to sleep at night and it's killing him--literally. That is, until he meets Mia and his brain can finally enter REM sleep inside her dreams. The sweet sleep is more addictive than any drug and he finds himself stalking her in order to get his fix.

This scene is after he's already got her extremely freaked out. She receives a threatening e-mail and assumes it's from Parker. This is her dream that night.

~~~

I’d watched Mia’s dreams, and now her nightmares. I didn’t care what anyone said—I knew her. I cared about her way more than I should and if she kept looking at me like a monster it was going to rip me in two.

The scene changed and we were at school. It was dark and there was a thunderstorm outside. Mia ran to the wall and flipped the light switch, nothing happened. This was a typical nightmare scenario, but for some reason my muscles tensed. It was like they knew this dream wasn’t going to get any better.

A low, devious chuckle came from the end of the hall and then footsteps. I squinted in that direction as Mia froze, both of us trying to make out who it was. The figure stayed in shadow and I couldn’t discern any features at all.

The footsteps moved faster and a primal growl filled the air. It made my hair stand on end, but Mia sprinted down the hall in the opposite direction from the figure. I was jerked along with her, the jolting movements totally disorienting. Finally, I got my feet under me and ran beside her and the jerking stopped.

The hall seemed to go on forever, the pursuer coming closer with every breath. Mia pushed until she was panting and clutching her side. My heart pounded in my ears from the exertion. Finally we got to the end, but instead of the doors that led out to the back parking lot, it was just another wall of lockers—a dead end.
Mia looked around for something to defend herself with, but there was nothing. She tried to open a locker, any place to hide, but they were all locked.

The footsteps slowed, and again the chilling laugh echoed around us.

“Please—leave me alone,” Mia whimpered.

“You know I can’t do that.” The voice from the shadows was distorted and gravelly. “I told you in my love letter.”

“Threatening someone isn’t love,” Mia spat out the words like they disgusted her.

“Maybe you don’t know what real love is.”

The monster was just feet away now and still I couldn’t really see him until he lit a match. I choked as I watched myself lift up a torch and light it. The sneer on my face and cold light in my eyes looked inhuman. Mia cowered away from the flames as the monster-me walked closer.

I didn’t want to see what she thought I was capable of, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away. Standing in the corner, I shook as the monster-me reached out and touched her face. She cringed and he grabbed her hair, smashing her head into the locker. Mia screamed and blood ran down the side of her face.

“You’ll learn to love me—and no one else.” The voice was mine now, not the gravelly distortion of before. I felt sick.

Mia whispered something too low to hear, and the monster-me brought the torch near her face. She froze, wide-eyed unable to move with the flames so close. After seeing the nightmare of her parents deaths, I knew why.

I watched as I—he grabbed a strand of her hair and touched it to the fire. She squeaked as the flame leapt up almost reaching her head before the monster-me squished it between two fingers. He laughed—he was enjoying this.

I knew I had to stop him—me, but I doubted I could. Apparently, I could affect the dreamer—but I knew from experience I couldn’t affect the dream.

Monster-me opened a locker and pulled a metal stand out. He placed the torch in it, tilted at an angle that placed it far too close to Mia’s face. Her entire body was shaking so hard the locker behind her made a strange rattling noise that echoed through the hall. The monster grabbed the hair on the back of her head with one hand and crushed her face to his. His other hand wandered freely over her body, as she squeaked in protest.

No matter what he did, she couldn’t seem to move. Her eyes locked on the flame that was inches from her face in paralyzed fear.

I felt the same. I knew it was irrational, that it was only a nightmare—but I’d never experienced anything so terrifying in my life. It was like my worst fear was playing out before my eyes. The fear that I’d become this monster. That somehow it was within me, aching to get to the surface.

Monster-me rammed Mia’s head into the locker again, growling, “Kiss me back, or I’ll make you wish you had.”

Mia didn’t blink, she didn’t lift her eyes from the flame, but she was still in there—striving to fight back. I could almost see her stubborn streak flare as she opened her mouth and brought both lips inward until there was only a thin strip of pink showing. I was so relieved I almost laughed. She was still herself, just paralyzed in fear.

The monster roared. It was a sound of pure fury unlike anything I’d ever heard before. He rammed Mia’s head against the locker again. Ruby blood started dripping down on the floor. He did it again—again—again. Her eyes were still open, but they started to look unfocused as the dream began to blur.

“Stop!” I felt my real voice tear lose from my throat. “Stop hurting her!”

Nothing changed, no one heard. I kept yelling until my throat was raw. I pounded my hands against the locker behind me until they bled, but it made no sound. I crouched further into the corner, quivering and sobbing as I watched myself beat Mia to a bloody pulp. Her face was unrecognizable except for her violet eyes. They weren’t looking at the flame anymore. It almost seemed like they were staring straight at me. Then with one more bone shattering smash against the locker, they closed and I was finally released from my own private hell.

~~

Okay, so that's one of the most violent scenes in the book, but (in the way of horror) it's far less scary than some others. It's difficult in such a small section of the book, but did it achieve any physiological reaction from you?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Be Afraid - Horror Post

Thanks to everyone that expressed interest in a post about Horror. It seems like quite a few of you think of slasher movies when you consider the genre of Horror. I used to think the same way, and I think that's probably why the genre has kind of disbanded with all of it's parts joining other genres.

Horror and slasher are not the same thing. In actuality, Horror is essentially a study of morality. It always deals with good vs. evil as well as life vs. death. Generally it has an aspect of the supernatural, although it doesn't necessarily have to.

Another defining characteristic of Horror is that it tries to achieve a very specific physiological reaction from the audience. A shiver down the spine, a rapid pulse, an inability to sit in dark places again for days--weeks--months. There is a kind of catharsis involved with movies/books of this nature that is a large part of the draw.

What I love about Horror is the ability to deal safely with things that are not, in reality,
safe.

One interesting thing about me (and my lovely friend, Suzette Saxton shares this attribute) is that both of us like writing darker Horror-tinged topics and scenes... but neither of us can watch scary movies. We have a theory about why that is. We think it has to do with the fact that with books your mind controls what it visualizes and it sticks within an area you can handle. With writing, we know how it's going to end and that helps make the darkness a little less scary as well.

So really, maybe I'm on a power trip. The idea of something I'm writing eliciting a physiological reaction from my reader makes me want to purr.

What do you think? If you write dark, what do you love about it? If you don't, did this definition of Horror surprise you? Do tell.

Tomorrow I will post some darker scenes from my current WIP, Insomnia. :) Also, on Monday, I'll be participating in Elana Johnson's "Spread the Awesome" blogfest and I'll be highlighting debut-author and Horror-master Dan Wells. I'll also be giving away a signed copy of his book "I'm Not a Serial Killer." One of my all time faves.

It is full of awesome.

Be there, or be...scared? ;)

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Happened to Horror, Anyway?

Since my WIP is, in fact, borderline horror--I've spent a lot of time lately wondering what happened to the horror genre as a whole. I mean, you don't see that section in bookstores anymore. I don't even think I've seen it in a movie store in a long time. So what's up? Where did it go?

The answer is...it didn't go away, it kind of dispersed. It was absorbed into a whole bucketload of other genres. I mean, I'm pretty sure my WIP would be classified as Dark Urban Paranormal right now, but horror has been absorbed into many other catagories - Dark Fantasy, Suspense/Thriller, Dark Sci-Fi.

It got me thinking. How many of you would consider there to be aspects of horror in your books? Do you have a light and fluffy mind, or are you (like me) all kinds of dark and twisty? If many of you are twisty like me, I think I'll do a post about what horror is really all about. We shall see.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Going to a Conference, Talk Amongst Yourselves

I'm spending the next few days at the LDS Storymakers Conference, so I'll be um... learning stuff. :)

In the meantime, chat amongst yourselves. I'll give you some topics. Can you believe what happened with Morgan on Chuck? Jack on Lost? or Jack on 24 for that matter? What about Rachel and Finn on Glee? Can you believe they sent Tim home on American Idol? Did Idol Gives Back make you cry too?

Discuss. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What Kind of Writer Are You?

I've been thinking a lot lately about what kind of writer I am. I think there are two types of writers. Starters : who excel at the first draft writing phase, and Finishers: those that excel at editing/revising etc.



I have come to accept that I am a finisher. I trudge and drag my feet through the first draft phase, but once I get to type the words "The End" that's when I really enjoy myself. I love adding/polishing/finishing more than the actual writing. I've gotten the impression lately that I may or may not be a little weird.



No, seriously, it's possible.



Many of my writer buddies are hard-core starters. They live off the rush of the first draft and dread revision. So, now I'm wondering about everyone else. What are you? Which phase do you thrive in?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thoughts on Earthquakes

Be forewarned, this post has nothing to do with writing. Today I'm kicking it retro and trying something educational. Bear with me.

Some of you may know I live in Utah and that we had a minor 4.9 earthquake yesterday. No, I didn't feel it and I'm really nowhere near where it happened, but let me tell you something about Utah. The mountains are gorgeous and most of the cities are built right against them. That means the majority of us live on or pretty darn close to a fault line.

I did some research last night because it feels like there have been an inordinate amount of natural disasters occuring lately. First all the earthquakes and now the Icelandic volcano. It made me wonder what was triggering all of it.

I figured out there are basically three groups of thought out there when it comes to the recent seismic activity.

1 - People (mostly scientists, but pfft...what do they know) who say there isn't an increase, we're just paying more attention now.

2 - People who believe it has some form of religious significance.

3 - People who think it is being caused by either spies or aliens--no, I'm not kidding.

Here is the only confirmed truth I found in my research. No matter what is causing it or whether it has, indeed, increased or not--it's never a bad idea to be prepared.

So, take a few minutes and check out this website on earthquake preparedness. I had a talk with my kids about it this morning, and I'm glad I did. Hopefully, we'll never need the tips we talked about, but if so--I feel better knowing the we all know what to do.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Las Vegas Learning

My vacation was a blast. I've never been to Vegas and not had a great time. :) not to mention interesting...very interesting.

A wise person once said (Yes, I am calling them this because I can't remember who said it. You want to make something of it?......I didn't think so), "The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to be believable."

That statement is the essence of tourists in Las Vegas. Here is a list of 5 things I learned about people/the way of things in Sin City. I'm going to preface this list by saying that you shouldn't write any of these people into your books because they just simply aren't believable enough.

1 - Austrailian male rugby players love the Bellagio fountains. How do I know this? Because they told me. Loudly. Multiple times. In fact, according to them, they had been standing in the same spot, watching the fountains for nearly 24 hours. Now, a person wise to the ways of good ole' LV knows that the fountains aren't on all day long. But let me ask you, if you were confronted with a large group of burly men, all wearing viking helmets and rugby uniforms...would you correct them? I think not.

2 - Most people think the many spectacles in Vegas are there to increase tourism. This isn't true. The blinding lights/signs/Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty replicas/etc. are there for a completely different reason. It's so the locals can wallpaper the ground with pictures of naked women and guarantee that children will never look down. Tricksy little hobbitses, aren't they?

3 - Normal rules of attire don't apply in Las Vegas. In one city block, I witnessed a woman in shorts and a bikini top, another woman in a tank top and bikini bottoms, a man in a bikini, a clown in a bikini and a monkey wearing a top hat--and a bikini. One thing is clear, sanity is not required to enter Las Vegas, but a bikini is.

4 - People are overly emotional in Las Vegas. In the couple of days I was staying in the city, I witnessed: eight people weeping in the street, six people arguing in the street, three people singing in the street, random people shouting out things like "Las Vegas, WooHoo!" in the street regularly (that may or may not have been me), as well as a pirate painted gold from head to toe arguing with his golden parrot.

5 - The rules of natural selection don't apply in Vegas. I figured this out because I witnessed drunk people do very stupid things - marry someone they can only refer to as 'that one guy', place bets on anything that moves, dance through a water fountain created by a broken fire hydrant, talk to horses, and try to convince a man dressed up like Captain Jack Sparrow that he was, in fact, Johnny Depp. All of these things were legal. The one thing people aren't allowed to do while drunk? Drive. Do you see where I'm going with this? Idiocy breeds in Las Vegas. It may be in the water. I'm not sure. But if I didn't find it so extremely entertaining, I might suggest we assign one lonely desert road for drunk drivers in go karts only... a few cacti up your tailpipe might help reinforce natural selection once again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Me? Yes, You. Couldn't Be. Then Who?

I'm back! My vacation was wonderful. In the interest in promoting the activity of people watching (after all being observant is a necessary characteristic of any good writer) I'll be doing a post on Wednesday that will detail the many--many things I learned about people in good old Las Vegas.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

For today, I want to direct you to my very FIRST EVER blog interview! Yes, the lovely Dorothy Dreyer somehow confused me with someone important and asked me to do an interview. (Don't tell her she intended to interview someone else, it will be our little secret. ;) )

So go stop by my interview and tell me what you think. I had a fun time with it and my odd personality may or may not have shown up in full force... I promise nothing.

I'm happy to be back. See you on Wednesday! :)

Also, go check out Sarah Wylie's blog with what could possibly be the Best. Contest. Ever. ;)

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth

First, let me say that telling the truth is much less fun than lying. Most of my lies had an element of truth to them, which makes them more believable and makes your responses that much more entertaining.

Here are the truths. :)

1. I'm a licensed cosmetologist. I used to own/run a salon/day spa and it was a serious amount of fun.
~~~ This was a lie. I did own a salon/day spa, but I'm not a cosmetologist. I just managed it.

2. I moved all over when I was younger. I've lived in Las Vegas, Ohio, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington, Arizona and Nebraska.
~~~ I've lived in all of the above except for Colorado, California, Arizona or Nebraska. Yes, that leaves the first four, although my parents live in Colorado so I've spent a serious amount of time there.

3. When I was in high school, my boyfriend's mom thought I was a bad influence on him and banned him from seeing me. I waited for over two years without dating him (or anyone else), or talking on the phone, seeing him at parties, anything--before I finally broke it off.
~~~ This is funny, because it is all true except for the length of time I waited. It was one year, not two. She thought I was a bad influence...primarily because I was a year older, from what I understand... which makes me the source of all evil, just sayin'.

4. When I was sixteen I got in a very bad car accident. While in shock, they had me fill out an accident report. The officer told me to draw a picture on it. So, I did. I put a lovely house and a smiley sun...no picture of the actual accident, but then... he wasn't specific about that point. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to like my picture.
~~~ This one is the truth. Yes, yes it is. That's how I roll. In fact, in the same accident, I also apparently yelled at the paramedic for strapping me to a board and not giving me a pillow/convinced the policeman that my mom would actually kill me when she found out (he didn't let her see me when she got to the hospital)/ and believed that I'd lost the ability to understand English (everyone else in the accident was Norwegian--no I'm not kidding).

5. I'm phobic of heights, but I've decided not to let it rule my life. Every year I try to do something to get over it. Rapelling, bungee jumping, skydiving, those free fall things--I've done it all to prove I'm stronger than my fear.
~~~I'm totally phobic of heights and I've done some of these things to overcome it. Everything except skydiving. Mostly because I'm not a fan of death.

6. I have five official birthday songs that I sing when it's someone's birthday. I figure why go with one when five will do it with style. Of course, by the time I'm done with the fifth one, the person has usually hung up the phone or fallen asleep, but I'm pretty sure they still appreciate me.
~~~ I have four current birthday songs, not five. Yes, I give the present of torture for your birthday. Want to be my friend?


See? Less fun than lying. Maybe I should lie a little in all of my blog posts. That sounds entertaining. You are officially warned.

P.S. I'm unplugging for the next week and a half. I'm going to Vegas for a big vacay with the extended family. You are hereby ordered to miss me immensely. :) Have a great Spring Break everyone!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

The awesome Mary Campbell from Writer's Butt Does Not Apply to Me gave me this awesome award a couple of weeks ago, so I'm excited to entertain you with my sweet little lies today. :) Thanks Mary!

I'm going to list five lies and one truth, let's see who can see through my skills of illusion! Muahaha...haa...ha...*ahem*

1. I'm a licensed cosmetologist. I used to own/run a salon/day spa and it was a serious amount of fun.

2. I moved all over when I was younger. I've lived in Las Vegas, Ohio, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington, Arizona and Nebraska.

3. When I was in high school, my boyfriend's mom thought I was a bad influence on him and banned him from seeing me. I waited for over two years without dating him (or anyone else), or talking on the phone, seeing him at parties, anything--before I finally broke it off.

4. When I was sixteen I got in a very bad car accident. While in shock, they had me fill out an accident report. The officer told me to draw a picture on it. So, I did. I put a lovely house and a smiley sun...no picture of the actual accident, but then... he wasn't specific about that point. Surprisingly, he didn't seem to like my picture.

5. I'm phobic of heights, but I've decided not to let it rule my life. Every year I try to do something to get over it. Rapelling, bungee jumping, skydiving, those free fall things--I've done it all to prove I'm stronger than my fear.

6. I have five official birthday songs that I sing when it's someone's birthday. I figure why go with one when five will do it with style. Of course, by the time I'm done with the fifth one, the person has usually hung up the phone or fallen asleep, but I'm pretty sure they still appreciate me.

Okay, that's it. :) Leave your choice for the truth in the comments. This will be fun.

This award has been passed around a lot, so I'm only giving it to one person and that's Tahereh for being ridiculously, unreasonably hilarious. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't You Wish You Could Read Minds?

There is a scene in ORACLE that is really fun and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Cam is able to read minds, and finds it quite entertaining. In this particular scene, he convinces Lexi to let him teach her to block someone from reading her mind. The chemistry between them is what makes the scene, but I've been thinking about how awesome it would be to have that ability...

Especially in the publishing industry.

Can you imagine how much easier it would be to write a query if you could read the agent/editors mind and know exactly what they wanted from you? What about alpha readers? How awesome would it be to read their minds and know exactly what they wish would happen next, or with readers in general--to know whether they saw that big plot twist coming a mile ahead and what exactly tipped them off?

Yes, it would be handy indeed, at least I think so. What about you? If you could read minds, what would you do with it?

Here is the scene from ORACLE that inspired this wildly speculative post. Enjoy!

~~~~~~

“I was hoping I could help you with that.” Cam leaned closer and continued. “Remember when I mentioned training? What if I taught you to block people—so they couldn’t read your mind?”

“You can do that?”

“I haven’t been trying to hide my abilities my whole life. I’ve been training. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty good at blocking.”

“And you want to teach me?” Lexi couldn’t keep the suspicion from her voice.

“Yes.”

“How?”

“I would try to read your mind then teach you how to block me.”

“Ah, there’s the catch.” Lexi laughed. “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Cam held still for a moment then shrugged. “Okay, it’s your call. I just figured you’d rather have me trying to read your mind when you know I am—and learn to block me. But it’s fine with me if you don’t learn. Then I can read it whenever I want.”

He grinned as Lexi’s mouth fell open and he stood to leave. “It’s been pretty entertaining so far.”

She jumped up and grabbed his arm as he started walking.

“Fine.” The word barely escaped through her clenched teeth.

He looked down at her hand on his arm, and then raised one eyebrow. She jerked her hand away and sulked back to her seat.

“How do we start?”

“Okay, I’m going to try to read your mind—and you’re going to try to feel me probing. Don’t try to stop me this time. Just try to notice me, get used to how it feels.”

“I’ve never noticed it when anyone has done it before.” Lexi grumbled.

“You weren’t trying.” Cam said, moving his chair directly across from hers so when he sat their knees were touching. She fidgeted in her seat. The way her heart raced when he got this close was irritating. “Are you ready?”

“No,” she said quickly. After clearing her mind with a few deep breaths, she nodded.

She tried to pay attention, but she had no idea what it was supposed to feel like. Cam was staring her down. It was getting dark outside now and she could actually see stars reflecting in his eyes. It was kind of weird, but pretty.

Cam laughed, and sat back.

“What?”

“Are you trying at all?” He shook his head with a grin, and then leaned forward and whispered. “Men don’t consider ‘pretty’ a compliment, just so you know.”

She could feel the heat rising up her neck. “Whatever, I’ll remember that when I meet one,” she muttered, but he ignored her.

“It should feel like tiny jabs at your thoughts. Almost like they are shifting back and forth in your head—it’s slight, but you can notice it if you try. Here.” He leaned forward and took her hands in his. “Maybe this will help.”

Lexi tipped her head to one side. “Seriously? How does that help?”

“It just does, now come on.”

Shrugging, she tried to keep her focus away from the tingles running up her arms. She let her mind wander over their time in Solara, starting with her arrival. When the scene with Cam and his knife flashed through her head, she finally felt his probing. He flinched, both physically and within her mind. It felt like a push on her thoughts, like someone was trying to shove them away. After the first one, she started to feel smaller and smaller pushes. It was very subtle, but she could feel it.

Letting her mind wander further, she grew more sensitive to the probing sensation. She thought through her time in the healing center, and to the Council Room, then Cam joining her in the hallway and how cute he’d looked—how she didn’t even recognize him.

A small smile curved the corner of Cam’s mouth and a wave of embarrassment washed over her. Reaching for the probe in her mind, she mentally pushed it as hard as she could.

Cam jerked back so hard his chair teetered back on two legs.

“Hey! Whoa!” he shouted as he tried to stabilize himself. Lexi grabbed his shirt and pulled him back upright.

“Thanks,” he said as he stared at her for a moment. He looked shocked.

“Was that—did I do that?”

“Yep.” He nodded. “You’re a natural. How did you know what to do?”

“I don’t know, it was instinct—I think.”

“Well, you were a little too forceful, but it worked. With some practice you’ll be able to move the probes to an alternate thought. They won’t even know you’re doing it. You can even feed someone false memories if you really get good—that trick has saved my life more than once.”

Lexi didn’t know how to respond to that, so she changed the subject.

“So you weren’t supposed to go flying backward though?”

“No, I’ve never seen that happen before. I think you’re so good at it because you’ve been protecting your secrets for so long. It really is instinctive to you.” The look that crossed his face was almost sad before he continued. “Again?”

“Sure, I’ll try to go easier on you.” Lexi smirked.

“Yeah, I’d appreciate that.” This time he leaned backward and crossed his arms over his chest. He looked around and for a minute she thought he’d changed his mind. Then she felt the slight prodding in her head. She took it and redirected it like he’d said, but it was much harder than she expected. She had no control over what thought took its place.

First, she jumped to her memory with Jo. She quickly pushed that aside and it came to rest on their tube ride in Solara. Cam’s red face flashed through her mind, and, with a grin, she pushed that aside too. Then it was the image that had been haunting her since yesterday—the picture of Etos followed by the memory of the crash. She lost all control.

The memory washed over her more vividly than ever before. It was like being there again. The mangled metal, the heat from the flames that consumed thirty feet below. By the end she was panting and sweating. She blinked a few times before she could focus on Cam. She was surprised to find him pale and shaking.

“I don’t understand—why was it so—real?”

“Because you pulled it forward intentionally, even though you didn’t choose that memory—you usually don’t try to think about it.” His voice sounded so small, Lexi didn’t know what to say. She felt bad for making him experience it. No one should have to see that.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

Cam shook his head and stood up. “No, it’s fine.” He tried to smile, but it fell short.

“It’s late. We’ll practice again another day.” Cam backed away from her toward the backdoor. “Goodnight, Twitchy.” Then he was gone.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Think I'm In Love

Today I'm doing an absolutely random post. Don't worry...by the end I'm sure I'll figure out a way to relate it back to writing or something else useful. I will. Just you wait.

This week I've discovered my new favorite YouTube personality. His name is MysteryGuitarMan a.k.a. Joe.

Also, I love him.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, he is cute, but that's not the basis of my love. My love is based on his pure, unadulterated, awesomeness. If you have yet to be exposed to the to coolness that is the MysteryGuitarMan. This must be remedied--and it must be remedied now.

Here is one of my favorite videos of his. Yes, it combines cool music, cool video, and an iflip. Seriously, does it get any better than that?




Oh yeah, and the lesson to be learned here? Um... is that it is healthy to um... expose yourself--to stuff. See? Don't you feel educated?

If not, how about some classical music? That's educational, right?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are You Feeling Lucky, Punk?

I've heard a lot of people talk about how much luck is involved in getting published. Some people say it's very little luck if you work very hard. Others are of the opinion that if you have the right contacts then luck isn't necessary. And there are many who think it is mostly luck.

What do you, my lovely/intelligent/awesome bloggy friends think? What percentage do you think is luck vs. skill vs. who you know?

Your public demands to know!!!

Also------- Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Life as a Teenage Zombie

A couple of months ago I was messing around with this idea. It has blossomed a lot since then, but I wrote a few paragraphs from the main character's POV. She's a zombie and her name is Charity, at least for now. She hates it and keeps accusing me of "branding her for life".

I feel like zombies are an under-represented segment of the population and I'm all about ending that.

Anyway, when I wrote this section up, I got two responses.

"Eww, yucky."
and
"Haha! That's gross! I love it!"

I thought I needed to get a few more opinions, so read about Charity the teenage zombie and tell me what your impression is.

~~~

Being a zombie sucks rocks. I'm sure the whole feasting on human flesh thing wouldn't be so bad eventually--and man would I love to see those snobby cheerleaders run when they saw me coming. Talk about zombie vengeance at it's best. But Mom and Dad wouldn't let me anyway. It'd be breaking "the zombie rules" and what's worse than being a teenage zombie? Being a grounded teenage zombie, that's what. I'm pretty sure we can't pretend much longer though, I'm starting to give new meaning to the words: bad hair day.

I think the worst part is that my brain hasn't decayed yet. I still remember what it was like to be human. They have it so easy. No worrying about pieces of your nose falling off when you're talking to a hot guy. Not that I get to talk to them, that's another thing--the fear of hot guys screaming and running can really damage a girl's ego, not to mention her social life. Which brings up yet another human advantage--no death breath.

Even hanging out at the mall is no fun. I mean really, I have too much respect for beautiful shoes to put my squishy feet in them.

~~~

So there is a little bit of the girl who's been hanging out in my head lately. What do you think?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Important Things--Like Confidence...And Socks

Have you noticed how much confidence kids have? Let me tell you about a conversation I had with my 7-year-old son the other day. We'll call him Guillermo (what? It makes me feel exotic).

Guillermo - I don't know if you know this, but I'm an incredible dancer.

Me - I know, I've seen you dance, you're very good.

Guillermo - Yeah, but that was last week. I'm pretty much a professional now.

Me - Oh yeah? How did you go from being very good to a professional in a week?

Guillermo - I decided to try some new things, and I did, and now I'm a professional.

Me - I know you're awesome, but I think the definition of professional means you get paid for doing it.

Guillermo - (pauses to think) Well--then you should start paying me.

So, here is my question. How do we go from having that kind of abounding confidence in ourselves and our abilities as children, to doubting every move we make as adults? I know many talented writers that question themselves and whether they can really do it on a daily basis. Many even let their insecurities get in the way of them finishing their projects...or worse, make them quit.

I want all of us to take the next week and be a little more childish. No, I don't mean you should start pulling each others hair and throwing spit wads. I mean that we should try and push our insecurities aside and believe in ourselves a little more.

When we do, we may just end up looking as awesome as this kid.



Oh! And about the socks. One of our blogger buddies, Tristi Pinkston, has a book coming out next week, and in conjunction with that, she is doing Operation Sock Hop in which she's asking people to donate socks to those in need. Go check it out and give, because there is nothing more important than making sure everyone can have toasty tootsies. ;)