Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to WorldCon in Style - Part II

And today we continue with more WorldCon tips! If you missed the first set, it is a tragedy and you must be chased by rabid dogs through the street--or you can just read up on it here. Now, we'll continue with our program.

Tip #7 - If a publisher has a GO. We met James Frenkel, Senior Editor at Tor, within seconds of walking into the party and we spent the next two hours chatting with him. We also met the very awesome and entertaining, Eddie Schneider, a literary agent at Jabberwocky. If you are looking for an agent and you haven't queried it! He's fantastic.
Hanging out with agent Eddie Schneider and a
fun new friend with a PhD in Physics is definitely picture worthy.

Tip #8 - Although, it is very cool to attend the Masquerade. It's also okay to be fashionably late...especially if you wear some unbelievably awesome corsets. Also...if you ever need a corset, you should buy it from the freaktastic ladies of Damsel In This Dress. Michelle (the owner) is amazing and SO fun. Everyone should have a corset...this may even apply to men. I haven't seen one in a corset yet, so I'm reserving judgment.
Dude, need I say more?

Tip #9 - If you have done the work to get yourself into a corset(not an easy task, but totally worth it), wear it to as many balls, parties, local gas stations, etc. as possible. Because who doesn't like to feel this fancy?
Also, making the "Blue Steel" face from Zoolander = never a bad idea.

Tip #10 - Stop by Friday to learn of the amazing coolness that is the BWB (Brothers Without Banners) and why you REALLY need to know them.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to WorldCon in Style

My amazing time at WorldCon took a week of recovery, and it will also require a week of blogging to really show how incredible it was. So, that's what I shall do.

Brace yourselves.

Tip #1 - the first thing you need at WorldCon is some uber cool roommates to share it with. I nailed that one, as you can see here.

Cool Roommates - CHECK!
Tip #2 - Packing appropriately...this I didn't do. And it was a sad day for all. How do I know I messed this up? A few clues: If you pack 5 pairs of shoes and only use the absolutely most comfortable ones -- Fail. If you show up at the hotel and the bell hop asks if you have a dead body in your bag -- Fail. If you start searching through your bag and all you can find are workout clothes and maternity pants (you know, in case you find a pants-less, pregnant woman) --EPIC Fail.

Tip #3 - Remember there are parties EVERY night, even the night before it starts and the night it ends. Do not miss these. If you miss things like your new friends dancing in the hotel fountain, you will regret it. Just trust me on this one.

Parties - where you hang out and talk books with cool new friends like these.

Tip #4 - If you have George R.R. Martin AND the throne from the HBO set of Game of Thrones in one room, the stars have aligned. Don't waste the opportunity.
The suspenders and the hat make the man, do they not? 

Tip #5 - The panels are interesting and roaming the halls and networking is very awesome, but the parties are nothing short of incredible. Whether you are partying it up with the Klingon's (watch out for the outline of the headless body on the floor), dancing to "Apple Bottom Jeans" with a room full of strangers, or chatting it up with the fantastic editors at Tor or Pyr. The parties are where it's at. There is no doubt about it.

Tip #6 - Stop by Wednesday for more tips and pictures, two words - Harry Potter & Corset. Don't miss it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Interesting Characters

I've been thinking a lot lately about building believable characters. It's really interesting. It goes into a lot of detail about how you should know your characters as well as you know yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

After RENOvation comes Recuperation...

Today, I plan to catch up on a little sleep and a few errands that have been waiting while I was at WorldCon. I'll be doing a big post on Monday to show you all the fantasticness that is WorldCon, but until'll just have to wait.

I thought I'd do a quick recommend for a new critique partner matching site called Ladies Who Critique. I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without my crit partners, so if you are in need of one, go check it out! Here are some main points about it you should know:

- is a completely free, critique partner match-making service, where writers can find the perfect partner/ beta reader.
- Think but for female writers! Writers can search others profiles, create their own, try as many times as they like to find 'the one'.
- Writers can search for other writers in their genre, and find someone with the right kind of experience.
- We will start with 5-10 genres, and expand to cover each and every genre possible.
- It's completely free for everyone!

It is up and running now and I like their layout and genre divisions. If you find someone on there, let me know! I'm not currently looking for a new crit partner, but I'd love to know about your experiences with it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Book Sold in Italy! Sono così felice!

Yay! I finally get to tell you that INSOMNIA sold in Italy!! I'm so excited! Did I mention that I love Europe? Like so so much! I'm a big fan. Here is my official Publisher's Marketplace announcement:

Italian rights to J.R. Johansson's INSOMNIA, to Newton Compton, by Luigi Bernabo Associates on behalf of Taryn Fagerness Agency and Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Did I mention that Taryn and Kathleen are amazing? Because they really are! So, yay! Newton Compton is very cool and their covers are gorgeous. 

Can you tell that I'm excited!? Let me say it in one of my new favorite languages!

Sono eccitataOggi, festeggiamo!

Or -- I'm excited! Today, we celebrate! And if Google translate is getting this all wrong, then to my new Italian friends, I say - Perdonami :) 


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

McDonald's Giveth & McDonald's Taketh Away

Good ole' MickeyD's taught me a very good lesson about writing this week. I know what you're thinking...if we're learning writing lessons from a fast food restaurant, what's the world coming to?

Touche' my friends, touche'. Just let me tell my story, and then decide whether or not the lesson is worthwhile.

The other morning, I stopped by my local McDonald's for a fruit parfait. As Backpack from Dora would say, "Mmm mmm mmm Delicioso!" Or something multi-cultural like that.

As I pulled into the drive-thru. They did the customary greeting where they try to convince you to buy more food than you really need in an effort to make all of America more spherical. Usually, I can resist these pretty well. But on this day, it was snowy and cold...and they played to my weakness. The conversation went a little something like this.

MD's - "Welcome to McDonalds! Would you like to try a steaming cup of our gourmet hot chocolate today?"

me - *long pause while I dream of hot chocolate*

MD's - Um...can I help you?

me - Yes, actually, I would love a gourmet hot chocolate.

MD's - A hot chocolate?

me - Yes, and a fruit parfait. (I know, I'm a health nut...what can I say? ^ insert sarcasm here^)

MD's - What kind of hot chocolate did you say?

me - *long pause of utter confusion* Um... gourmet?

MD's - *long pause while they look up the definition of gourmet* I'm afraid we don't have any hot chocolate.

me - *whimpers* You don't? Why not?

MD's - I guess we're cleaning it or something.

me - *cries*

Yes, folks, that's how it went down. What can we learn from this excursion? We can learn that we shouldn't lead our readers to believe they will receive something and then never give it to them. We must meet the expectations we set for the reader. Otherwise we leave them crying and questioning the meaning of life in the McDonald's drive-thru... or, um... disappointed at the end of the book (assuming they finish it at all).

So? Was it a good lesson? Or am I just desperate to give meaning to my disheartening drive-thru experience.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recycling is Good + Yay! WorldCon!

So, I'm getting ready to leave for WorldCon tomorrow morning and I'm PUMPED! So, in honor of cool things that I like...and also because I'm busy. I'll be recycling some posts from way back on my blog that I find entertaining in retrospect. Most of them were not fun at the time, but I can look back and find them fun now. Look at me! I'm growing!

Ahem, so without further ado...

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

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

This is not my favorite place to be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until I make it out, feel free to comment.

Oh, and pray for rain.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So, I'm In Love...

This week I was introduced to The Guild. As you can see from this picture, I do not know what I was doing without them in my life. Seriously. Love.

First, I stumbled across a link to this Bollywood music video they made about online gaming...No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it's hilarious.

Which had me laughing so hard I snorted diet coke out my nose, and it was worth it. I particularly like when he beats up 'Real Life' with his ninja moves and wizard skillz.

Then I found this one entitled, "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar." Need I say more? It's even better.

Seriously? I know some of you must have seen these before. How could you let me down so by not bringing them into my life sooner? Tsk, tsk. So, by the time I watched the second one, I was hooked and started watching their actual episodes. Which are short, sweet and ROFLOL funny.

Check these out and start your weekend with a laugh. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dialog - Check!

Right now, I'm editing and trying to wrap some things up before I leave for WorldCon next week! (Can I get a Woohoo?!!) So, I'm going to keep this short and sweet today.

When I'm editing, I like to go through my dialog and make sure every line is necessary and either teaches or evokes emotion for the reader. I try to make sure it accomplishes whatever I need it to accomplish.

The dialog shouldn't repeat something that has already been stated in narrative and vice versa. I try to keep it as snappy and dynamic as possible, and make sure that each line really fits the character and sounds like something they would really say.

What do you watch for when editing dialogue? What do you struggle with the most?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where's the Love?

I've been thinking a lot lately about tension within writing. There are many different kinds...but what I want to work on at the moment is romantic tension.

I know I'm a girl and all that jazz and I should love that ooey-gooey kissy stuff, and I like to read it, but I'm more of a jaw-dropping, blood-pumping, scared-stiff kind of girl when it comes to what I enjoy writing. However, I recognize that the romantic tension can be every bit as gripping as the scary bits. Thus, I'm setting some of my focus on that part of the whole process.

While I've been doing my research, I came across this very awesome post by Roni Loren. It was so brilliant I had to share it with you. So enjoy the following tips for making your steamy scenes as heart melting as possible. 

To build tension:
Make the attraction that each feels for the other obvious to the reader.
--The characters are hyper aware of all the little details of the person when he/she is around. Use all the senses not just sight.

No conflict=no tension
--Make sure there are good reasons why these two can't be together--internal and external. Bella and Edward can't get together because, well, he may kill her.

Use internal dialogue
--The hero may be clenching his hands at his sides, but tell us why. The urge to reach out and touch the heroine's hair is overwhelming him.

Always on each other's mind
--If your hero and heroine aren't together in a scene, then have their thoughts go to the other so that we know he/she can't get the other off his/her mind.

Patience, grasshopper
--Don't relieve the tension too quickly. Frustration must build and build. There's a reason why the first love scene doesn't usually happen until 2/3 the way through a book.

Here we go, wait, not so fast
--Give your characters a taste of what they could have, then make them stop. This is the famous device on sitcoms where they start to kiss, but then someone burst in to interrupt. It doesn't have to be that obvious. One of the characters could be the one to stop (usually for some internal reason related to the conflict between them.)

It's addictive
--Once you do let the two get together the first time (be that a kiss or full out lovin'), leave them wanting more. Instead of satisfying their need/curiosity/etc., they want each other even more. Now they know what they could have if not for all that pesky conflict. Damn those mean authors who put so much in their way.

When all looks like it's going to work out, pull them apart again.
--Romantic comedy movies do this all the time. The characters seem to resolve some conflict and get together. Oh but wait, there's more! Some conflict wedges between them again.
--Don't resolve the relationship until very near the end. Otherwise, the reader will lose interest.

Thanks, Roni! :) What about you? Any other tips you'd like to add?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cool Things on the Internet

So, today let me tell you about some cool things I've seen on the internet this week!

This post showed me the very cool Kimberly Sabatini (KimmiePoppins on twitter) discussing what she's learned from her editorial revisions.

And here you can find some seriously creeptastic Mary Poppins dolls.

This is an amazing post by C.J. Redwine on what happens when you don't sell, and what happens when you do. Anyone who ever has been or ever will be on submission should absolutely read this.

And here is a weird glasses you could buy to drink red wine...or grape juice, if you will, out of.

Seriously! How useful am I today?! It's official. I deserve a break.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Sometimes, my brain is useful. It works hard. I put it on a task and I'm rewarded with great concepts, cool story arcs, and interesting dialog--pretty much on command. Other times I ask and it replies with only this:


And that is all. At times like this, I say, come on now. I know you can do this. Find me some information on brain chemistry... and five minutes later I find myself staring at this:

Which, as you can see, involves an entirely different kind of chemistry.

So, after twenty minutes of drooling, I close my window and open a shiny new Google search. I snap my fingers and give my brain a thorough talking to. Finding out information about obsession is crucial to the plot. Now stay on task!

Five minutes later, I find myself here:

Obsession? Maybe... The kind I was looking for? No----comment.

Hummmanahummmanahummmana... ahem.

Focus, yes...focus. New fresh Google screen. Brain, let's try something foreign. How about the temperature of water in near-drownings in Scandinavia? That's a nice, safe region. Or perhaps info on the volcano in Iceland? These are all important subjects. Let's look there.

Scandinavian - check...oh well. I give up. Apparently, my brain has no ability to focus today. So enjoy this eye candy on me.

Anything that seems to keep you distracted when you should be working?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tales from Dork-dom

I have something to confess. I'm kind of a dork. I like to play video games and recently discovered my love for D&D. My skin and the sun are like oil and water. When combined, they make me look like an overcooked lobster. If I didn't wear contacts, my glasses would look like the bottoms of old glass Coke bottles. I can do math problems in my head that would make an accountant blush, and I have a love for all things Stargate that is, frankly, bordering on obsession.

Except Stargate Universe. We don't talk about Stargate Universe in my house...


So, I don't know why it would surprise me that I've passed my beloved nerdiness along to my sons. But it did. My oldest son has picked up my knack for math but he pulls it off as more cute than dorky. (Disclaimer: do NOT accuse me of being biased, this is my blog, I'm allowed!)

The other day, my house peaked out on the nerd level. My older son was spinning my younger one on a chair in the office. He went faster and faster until my younger one yelled--

"Help! Too fast! I'm breaking a hole in space/time!"

Yeah, he's 6. It's dorkiness is spreading.

How about you? Any nerdish tendencies you'd like to confess on this lovely Monday morning? I promise, we won't judge you too much...or at least we won't mock you until you cry. Or at least not out loud...okay, nevermind.

I promise nothing.