Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Editing Side-Effects

I'm editing. This means a few things to me.

It means I am staying up too late. My brain doesn't fully kick in until about noon. I have accepted this. I'm much more of a night owl than a morning person, but I have kids that have to get up and go to school. Which means I am a staying up too late and getting up too early person. You can tell I'm editing by the dark circles under my eyes, the inability to stop yawning in the mornings, and the self-imposed naptime schedule.

It means I keep munchies handy for quick snacks, but usually never remember to eat them. Thus, it means my kids get super excited to have said munchies laying around the house all vulnerable and exposed. I guess it works well for both of us.

It also means that I'm hyper-critical of everything I'm doing. I don't just edit my book, I edit my life. When I'm in edit-mode, I find more efficient ways to keep the dishes in the kitchen done, better plans to keep the car clean, and add new labels to my email inbox.

Am I crazy? Do other people do this too? It makes me wonder. Also, if you haven't entered to win my Giveaway, you can do so now. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Giveaway Celebration

Over the weekend, I hit 3000 twitter followers which was really fun, so I decided to have a celebration are cool.

Also, I really like to give stuff away. :)

So, for this giveaway, I'm going to offer up two prizes and two winners. It will be available international! Mostly because I'm a huge fan of other countries. *blows kisses to Germany & Italy* Yay!

Each winner can choose any book (up to $15) from The Book Depository. Entries will be accepted until next Sunday night -- September 2nd. The winners will be announced in my post next Monday, September 3rd.

What do you have to celebrate this week?

Also...let the games begin!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Look! It's Me!

Today I'm posting over on the Lucky 13s about the Plot Discovery Road Trip. Do you drive through your first draft with a road map? Just drive where the road takes you? Or somewhere in between? Stop by and chat with the 2013 Children's & YA Debuts about it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Confession...My Kryptonite

Many writers struggle with action scenes. Some have a hard time with pacing or plot structure.

My weakness is the scenes with all the kissy-kissy.

It's not that I don't like it. My stony heart goes all pitter-patter over the romance just like most readers. For some reason though, it's my least favorite scene to write. I'd rather write a bloody brawl or a scary graveyard scene than a smoochie scene any day of the week.

But I recognize this and I've worked very hard on it. I finally feel like I can write a good make-out session with the best of them, but it's still isn't easy for me.

So now you know, kissing is my kryptonite. What is yours?

Friday, August 17, 2012


School starts next week. WriteOnCon just ended. My kids had stomach flu all week. And I have edits I need to finish up by Monday.

So, rather than try to pull together a post with a brain that is not altogether available right now, I'm going to let other people be brilliant on my behalf. I love it when the people of the internets do that for me! :)

*Genius post from Paper Lantern Lit on The Art of the First Page.

*Some awesome writing tips from myself and the other Lucky 13s + tons of giveaways on our Back to Basics WriteOnCon post.

* This inspirational post on The Essential Invisible Thing by Editor Molly O'Neill over at WOC

* This fantastic ProPanel from WOC including: Agents Sarah LaPolla & Katie Grimm and Editors Alison Weiss & Sara Sargent

* In fact, I'm noticing a pattern here...just go check out all of WriteOnCon. It's so, so good. I promise you won't regret it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WriteOnCon - Are You In?

Have you heard about WriteOnCon? If not, you are missing out.

It's a free online writers conference taking place right now. You can read more about it in this article from Publishers Weekly. It started yesterday, but you can read transcripts and posts of everything that happened yesterday and you're not too late to join in on the fun for day 2!

If you've attended conferences before, you know how great they can be. If you haven't, what better place to check one out than from home and for free? I got to participate behind the scenes this year (you might spot me in the welcome video, with some tips or as part of a giveaway), and it was so much fun. It's free after all, so when you get a minute, pop on over and check it out!

Casual = very good. And most other conferences really frown on you attending in your pajamas.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics & Dreaming your Dream

I've loved watching the Olympics these last couple of weeks. There is something breathtaking about seeing people chase their dreams.

It's written plainly on their faces: the absolute joy of success, the heart-breaking agony of failure. These people have invested everything they have in this one sprint, this one swim, this one moment.

This is commitment.

It takes a kind of madness, a desperation, to chase a dream in such a way. It's a madness I respect. I hope some piece of it lives in me.

Watching these Olympians inspires me. I want to be like them, to strive to improve with every book, every chapter, every sentence. I try to get better every day. Some days I get one step closer to that gold medal, some days I take a step back...but the dream remains. And I chase it every day.

What dreams do you reach for? What inspires you to get there?

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Time in the Cardio Cinema...P.S.A.

It is time for Gym Horror Stories - Part Deux...or um, another warning to help you live a happier life. Yeah, that.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement from me to you. It could very well save your life. Pay attention: 

The Cardio Cinema may be hazardous to your health.

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

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

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

I repeat, I admit nothing.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Yes, it could happen.

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

Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It Bears Repeating... P.S.A.

About once a year, I face embarrassment--yea, even dishonor--to share two stories.

I do this for you, dear bloggy-friend. I couldn't stand for you to suffer the way I have. And so, I warn you and hopefully prevent your inevitable humiliation.

Either that, or I like it when people shoot water out of their nose with laughter.

I admit nothing.

Without further ado -- my public service announcement:

There is something sinister going on at Gold's Gym. Not to worry, it isn't just any Gold's Gym--it isn't even my Gold's Gym--it is a nearby Gold's Gym that has gone over to the dark side.

Trust me, we're talking wicked voodoo magic here. It's the only possible explanation for the events that have occurred in this particular gym location...or at least the only one I'm willing to admit.

First let me tell you of the unfortunate incident that occurred one Friday in February.

It was a cold, wet day. I was in a different part of town than I usually roam, but I went about my routine as usual. I swam my laps, then stretched in the hot tub and sauna--exactly as I do several times a week in my own gym to no ill effect. Nothing out of the ordinary occurred. After a few minutes in the steam room, I grabbed my towel and walked into the locker room.

As usual, I'd forgotten which locker I had placed my bag in. I paced back and forth, trying to remember where I'd been standing, but somehow...everything seemed different. Finally, I remembered it had been locker 13. Yes, locker 13--ominous, no? That was when it hit me...

I was surrounded by men.

Men in towels, with jaws hanging wide open.

Yes, I'd been walking around in the men's locker room for over a minute.

Naturally, I handled the situation with grace and dignity. I threw my towel over my head, screamed, "Aaahhh, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" and ran out of the locker room.

As I stood, panting by the pool, I couldn't help but hear the outburst of laughter from the men who'd witnessed my unfortunate incident.

Now you've heard the evidence, you decide. Were there sinister machinations at work? Or was I just silly enough not to realize that the locker rooms were swapped from their locations at my normal gym?

One word of warning. Your responses may or may not determine whether I give you a cookie.

P.S. Drop by on Friday for another mishap...erm, WARNING...about an experience I had on a different gym excursion. Pure proof that something dark is happening here because it was at the SAME GYM LOCATION! *buh buh buum!*

Friday, August 3, 2012

How to Drag Emotion From Your Readers

There is a direct correlation between how much stress/relief you provide a reader during your story and the emotion they feel about it after it's over. 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 way back when 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, what do you guys do to pull that perfect response from your readers? As a reader, what aspects of a book make it the most powerful for you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brain Vacation

I'm on a brain vacation. This doesn't mean I've stopped thinking--at least I hope not. It means I'm taking two weeks off from writing (while my in-laws are visiting from Finland). My brain is begging for a little relaxation time and I'm giving in.

After the vacation, I get to dive back into work on Book II tentatively titled, WHEN INSOMNIACS ATTACK...

We're still toying with it.

Anyway, as part of my brain vacation, I'm reading. And boy am I enjoying it. So, I thought I'd dedicate this mid-week post to book suggestions. What is your latest escapist delight? What made you read until the wee hours of the morning and left you wishing for more after the last page?

Here, I'll start. I recently read SURRENDER by Elana Johnson and loved it. Now it's your turn.

Go! :)