Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Talking About Your Writing

I may have talked about this before on the blog, but if so it was long ago and I don't remember it.  So chances are, neither do you.  How do ya like that logic?

Talking about your writing.  Do you do it?  What do you say?  And how on earth do you fend off that horrendous question, "Are you published?" 

Just thinking of the question makes me feel all jittery and inadequate.  But WHY?  WHY do these words strike fear into the heart of un-pubbed/un-repped writers everywhere?


This Thanksgiving I took a stand.  I talked about my writing.  I talked about both of my books.  And I liked it.  I met someone who works in a bookstore, because I was willing to open myself up and talk about it.  I met another person who works at a small publishing house.  I got to talk to an old friend who wants to write a book, even has an outline, but doesn't know where to start.

I made a bunch of connections over the holidays with people I would have never imagined just because I was willing to risk the dreaded question.  "Are you published?"  And yes, I got it every single time the conversation swung to writing.  But I slid over it with ease, "I'm currently revising my second novel, and looking for an agent."

Everyone would smile and nod and say how great that was.  How they couldn't wait to read my stories.  And those feelings of inadequacy because I don't have a book on shelves yet slowly faded to the background.  Now I've got a connection to a bookstore in another city for signings once I do have a book.  Plus a new writing buddy to pass along the things I've learned.

So much good can come from putting yourself out there and talking about your work. 

I'm here to challenge you.  Talk about your WIP to someone today.  Someone removed from your writing circle.  Then come report how great it felt.  It's kinda like writing a goal on paper...to make it seem more serious.  I share my dreams with people to remind myself that it is achievable.  It's hard, sure, but we can do it.  We've all already done something more than most -- we wrote the book.  The rest is cakes and pies.

Do you normally talk about your writing, or is it something you keep to yourself?

Monday, November 29, 2010


As promised, the insanity that is me when I get excited about something - captured on video.  Yes, I speak of my trip to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one.  Along for the ride were my sister and brother-in-law, who are just as crazy as me...which makes for lots of fun when you're sitting in line for over three hours.

We went to the 10:45pm showing on Friday night and the crowds were still insane. The line went all the way down the theater hallway, wrapped back around and went out into the atrium area.  In the end they had to make our line about four rows deep.  Nuts.

So, want proof of my randomness and propensity to giggle at everything?  Here it is...

And then I thought I'd try to interview Super BIL...

Gotta love the awesome people you meet at these kind of shows...

And of course, with any making of a movie you're going to have some bloopers...

There were a lot more videos made, but you get the idea.

Doesn't that make you want to go to a movie with me?  lol  My sister calls me her personal entertainment system.  :)  I hope you all enjoyed a dose of my insanity.  We had a crazy good time, and the movie was awesome.

And Emma Watson?  OMG  She rocked this movie, let me tell ya.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays.  Much more insanity ensued on black Friday for the fearsome duo of my sister and me.  Unfortunately (or perhaps more fortunately) no videos were taken.  :)

Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

This week on the YAHighway, another episode of best book of the month!

What's the best book you read in November?

For me, if you only count new books that I read (which were few, admittedly) I'd say Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

You can see my recommendation here.

What's the best book you read this month, lovelies?  I'm looking to expand that TBR pile that's getting monstrously out of control.  ;)

While we're at it, I thought I should let you know... I'm taking the rest of the week off from the blog.  *gasp of horror*  I know!  How dare I?  The nerve!

Seriously though, I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

On Monday I promise to have a super hilarious post about my adventure to the premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  You don't want to miss this, trust me.

And if anybody has a suggestion for a good book for a 16yo boy, let me know. (For my brother for Christmas) lol  I'm stumped.  He has read all the Harry Potters and the Percy Jackson series.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First Drafts and Their Weaknesses

I had planned a post for you guys for yesterday, and then thought I could do it today.  Unfortunately my slacker sister hasn't emailed me the videos yet.

We had the best time waiting in line for the showing of Deathly Hallows.  We met some great people and made a bunch of hilarious videos.  I'll corner her and force her to email them to me on Thanksgiving if I have to.  So look for that post on Monday next week.

For today, lets talk first drafts. 

Setting is something I struggle with in my writing.  In my first drafts you can pretty much guarantee that you're only going to get a vague impression of what the setting is like.  It's not that I don't see the setting in my mind, it's just that I don't want to over do it.  So in the interest of not going overboard, I do too little.

I think it is always easier to add than it is to cut from scenes.

What about you guys? 

I also find that in my first drafts I rush scenes.  Hold on to your hat because we are going places, people! lol  My manuscripts grow exponentially in revisions.

All the NaNo talk has had me thinking about first drafts and the way they differ from person to person.  Everyone has their own processes, strengths, and weaknesses.

So what about you?  What are you first draft weaknesses?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ah, fun.

I'm home with Super Spawn today who is very sick, so no real post.  Sorry, guys.  Hopefully he'll be better and I'll be back tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday! It's here!

It is finally Friday the 19th!  You all know what that means...it means it's the official release date of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1.  It means early this morning thousands were standing in line, and sitting in theaters across the country to get the first glimpse at the much anticipated movie.

Alas, I was not one of them.

Having a Super Spawn tends to mean I'm home in the wee hours of the morning.  Okay, so it means I'm always home in the wee hours of the morning.  lol

But lose no faith my fellow HP lovers!  I'll be seeing the movie tonight!

Seriously, I came to work bedecked in my Ravenclaw shirt.  Can't wait to show my boss...she's gonna make fun of me.  Love it.

If you've seen it, all I want to know is this:  Was it amazing?

NO SPOILERS!  lol  I don't want to know about anything they left out or added or changed.  I'm avoiding Facebook and Twitter until I see it because I want my first impression of the movie to be without bias.

Yes, I'm that serious about Harry Potter movies.  Don't hate.

I hope you all have wonderful weekends.  I've got a lot of revising and beta reading to do this weekend.  Plus that chili cookoff that we're gonna ROCK!  'Til Monday, my friends!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Super Spawn and the Deathly Hallows

I have no book review for you this week.

Excuses:  Super Spawn has been sick.  Deathly Hallows comes out Friday and I just HAD to re-read the book before I could see it.  I'm in revising heaven with the most awesome critique partner ever, and the best WIP I've ever written and just. can't. put it down.

But now I feel inclined to write a little ditty about Super Spawn and the Deathly Hallows because that sounds SO intriguing.  lol

It has been such an awesome week.  I'm going to take a moment to thank Susan for her enthusiastic support and friendship, not to mention her stellar critiques.

Also, I'd like to thank everyone who commented on yesterdays post.  It's something that I wouldn't ever wish on a person, and I hope one day something I say can help someone either get out, or deal with the after effects of the situation.

You are all wonderful, and thank you so much for the support and kind words.  Really.  It means a lot.

Okay, get over here!  Group hug!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's topic is in celebration of Kirsten Hubbard's LIKE MANDARIN ARC contest going on over at the YA Highway!

For our topic we're supposed to tell about a time we did something completely crazy.

My answer for this is more serious than fun.  It was a defining moment in my life, the moment I stepped forward and actually stood up for myself for the very first time.  And no, I'm not exaggerating. 

It was September first of 2007, and Super Spawn was just over two months old.  My marriage was failing, and every dream I ever had was shattering right before my eyes. 

You see, I was in an abusive marriage.  Not physical abuse...not the kind that leaves visible marks.  The kind that cuts you on the inside and makes you believe you're worthless.  There were so many problems...more than I could ever dare list here.

But on that day, on September 1, 2007, I took control.  I came home from my best friend's baby shower to a husband who had gotten so drunk he had passed out on the couch and I couldn't wake him.

Instead of calling 911, I packed my bags.  I got the baby's things, I got in my car, and I drove to my mom's.

It was the craziest and scariest thing I ever did, and led to one of the most terrifying parts of my life, but I am so glad I did it.  SO glad I found the strength to take that step.

Emotional abuse is scary, and the wounds left behind may take longer to heal than a busted lip, but they do heal.  And they make you stronger. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's in the details

So, I'm re-reading Deathly Hallows in preparation for the movie this Friday.  I do this every time -- cram the book in one last time so it's fresh in my memory.  That way when they screw things up in the movie, I can still explain to my sister what's going on. (She hasn't read the books. She's one of those Twilight lovers -- and I try to explain how much more amazing HP is, but she doesn't listen.)

Anyway, back on topic.

Reading again, right.  Okay, so as we said in the comments yesterday -- reading this series, any of the books really, leaves me in awe of the amount of planning JKR did.  The way she wove those books together was masterful.

What I'm trying to grasp from this reading is how to effectively plan a series.  Did she sit down and plot out all seven books at the onset?  My gut says no.  She could have, but I don't know.

Either way, how do you handle such a massive undertaking?  Did she sit down to write the second book and go, "Hold on!  Let me go back to book one and see what I can pull in here to make the story richer."

How many of you have written, or are writing, series books?  Two, three, more?  What do you do to make sure details are carried from one book to the next?  Do you intentionally leave clues in the first book to feed the second, or do ideas stem from what you wrote and blossom in the later editions?

My current WIP is heading the way of two or three books, and though they've been in the back of my mind stewing on plot and characterization, I haven't sat down and really planned anything.  I've got a few  notes scribbled here and there, but that's all.

Tell me, lovelies, what do you do?  Or what would you do if you found your WIP couldn't be told in just one book?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Do you know what day it is?

We interrupt this blog post for an announcement that will shock the nation, send old men into hiding, and make young children cry (with glee). 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one releases this Friday.  I repeat, this Friday!

Who has their tickets?  Me, me, I do!!  Unfortunately, I don't get to go to the midnight showing *shakes fist at sky* as I have a Super Spawn that must be attended to.  But I will be going Friday night...to the IMAX showing.  HOORAY!!!!!

So, for today's post I want to know:  Which Harry Potter book has influenced you the most, either as a writer or a reader, and how?

For me, it was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  It was, admittedly, the first book I read in the series.  I had seen the movies, and loved them, but never picked the books up.  When I picked this one up, my life was changed forever.  Seriously.  No melodrama intended.  I fell in love all over again with the art of words.  It drew me back to where I had been a few years before, back before a major life catastrophe.  It was like finding a long lost friend.

So much happens in OOTP, and Harry is forced to deal with more than ever before.  There's the betrayal he feels from Dumbledor, Ron and Hermione, there's always drama at Hogwarts, Voldemort is back, and then the unthinkable happens: JKR kills one of her lovelies.

I cried and cried and cried.  I cry every time I read it, and every time I watch the movie.  (It's my favorite movie out of all of them so far, so I watch it a lot.)

I'm not exaggerating at all when I say Harry Potter helped me find myself.  Because he did.  I've read the books over and over and over again through the years, and I'll never stop.  He reminded me of my love for reading, my love for words, and eventually he led me back to writing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Welcome Discovery

You know, I've posted several times about revisions and how painful they can be.  The thought of facing the monumental task of whipping Emerald in shape was daunting to say the least.  I do believe I did a lot of cringing. (And procrastinating)

Then I started the new WIP.

The perfect ending hasn't come to me yet, so I decided while I wait to revise.  I've been writing, revising, writing a little more, revising some more, etc lately. 

And there has been no cringing.

Yes, there are more -ly words than I will ever admit to, sentence fragments, missing commas, and all sorts of wording errors and omissions.  Yet I still don't cringe.

I realized -- I've fallen in love.  I am so head-over-heels for this story I don't think anything about it could make me cringe.  I love revising it!  I love fixing all the adverb-filled sentences and making them stronger because I AM IN LOVE.

Love Wallpaper

Forgive me for being slow on the uptake, but I didn't know this was possible!  The first book I ever sat down and wrote was in high school -- never even went back and read it.  The second book I wrote -- well, tried to write -- is stuffed in a drawer, too painful to gaze upon.  Then came Emerald.  The first book I ever loved enough to go through the painful revisions.  I never loved the revision process though.

Now to have this WIP, and to have so much love for it that I'm looking forward to revisions?  I'm a little bit in shock.  I don't quite know how to handle it.  Well, except to plant butt in chair and go for it.

What about you guys?  Ever experienced the love so deep you can't wait to revise it over and over and over again?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Recommendation - Writing Down the Bones

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
By Natalie Goldberg

 down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: NOOKbook Cover

Blurb from Goodreads: "Wherein we discover that many of the "rules" for good writing and good sex are the same: Keep your hand moving, lose control, and don't think. Goldberg brings a touch of both Zen and well... *eroticism* to her writing practice, the latter in exercises and anecdotes designed to ease you into your body, your whole spirit, while you create, the former in being where you are, working with what you have, and writing from the moment."  

This book was originally published in 1986 (When I was two!), but I read the updated edition from 2006.  Some of the things Goldberg discusses in the book have been nullified by laptops and computers in general, but the message is still there.

Here's what I think -- if you haven't read this book, go buy it for yourself today.  Right this minute.  It'll be the best thing you ever did for yourself as a writer. Goldberg's book isn't so much about the craft of writing as it is about life as a writer.   It's about routines and schedules, goals and deadlines.  It's about keeping faith in yourself.

I loved, LOVED, this book.  It's the best writing book I've ever read, hands down.  It's inspirational and uplifting, plus there are some tips and ideas in there to get the words flowing I'd never thought of before.In fact, it's probably something I'll lend out quite frequently.And happy veterans day to my US readers!  

Hope you get to enjoy a day off from the desk job.  Super Spawn and I are going to the fair! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Welcome to another YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday!

Today's topic: What's your favorite literary cliché?

 It was a dark and stormy night.  The wind ripped through the trees, and the rain pounded on the ground in a deafening roar.  Stephan ran through the musical rain with the smell of grass dancing on the air.  Something was after him -- a predator, a beast.  The night was so dark it was like Stephen had been lowered into a vat of shiny, black ink.  As he ran, his fear increased, his heart dancing in his chest.  Then he was falling through the air, limbs flailing for purchase on something solid.

When he woke, he was in bed.  Stephan yawned and stretched, not remembering what had brought him out of such a deep sleep.

Hehe.  Can you find all the cliches?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Checking In

How are all those NaNoWriMo's out there doing?  Everybody hitting their word count?

For those not doing NaNo this year, how are the WIP's?  Revising?  Editing?  Finishing up that painful first draft?

My WIP is going well, the first chapter has been handed off to an alpha reader, and I'm hard at work trying to shape the ending.  Urgh, the ending.  My lovely characters always seem to get particularly prickly toward the ending of my first drafts.  They think it's funny to snicker and pass secrets amongst themselves instead of moving the story forward.  They know where it's going, I know where it's going, but they're like a pack  of three-year-olds who have decided they don't want to do something.

Sometimes I tell them, "You are as bad as Super Spawn!  Get off your butt!"  But they just laugh at me.  It's a game.

I've got one chapter left to finish up the WIP, and get the ending where I want it.  One chapter.  And my characters turn toddler.  *headdesk*

Do you guys have these kinds of problems?  I had lunch with a writer friend (who writes adult fiction) on Saturday and we talked about this.  She said it's the same for her, the endings are always the hardest to write.  So I wanna know what you think, lovelies.  Weigh in!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

The store shelves are caked with red and green glittery things, and the mornings are crisp and cold.  All little boys and girls are prepping their lists for the wonder that is Santa Claus. Turkeys are baking in ovens, and small towns prep for the biggest event of the year.

The Chili Cook-off.

What?  Did you think I meant Christmas?  Thanksgiving?  Hehe.

Every year my dad holds a giant chili cook-off with the grand prize of bragging rights for a whole year.  Judges (like real judges who preside over court rooms) come from the surrounding counties to sit on our panel.  They carefully taste (and re-taste if necessary) each chili concoction to choose the best of the county.

Now, it's not all about the chili.  There's also the spirit award, and let me tell you -- we've GOT some spirit.  My sister, brother-in-law, and I are teamed up this year.  I've designed our table to assure we win the grand spirit award, and my brother-in-law and sister have been concocting the world's greatest chili.

I decided our theme this year was Witches Brew...so not only will we have a simmering cauldron, but our ingredients will read:  brains, heart, eye of bat, tail of newt, and so forth.  I've got labels to replace the can labels with and everything. 

Oh yes, the spirit award is in the BAG.

Okay, so what's the point?  What does this have to do with a blog about writing?

The inspiration for everything I write comes from my surroundings.  The people, the things they say, the yearly events we partake in.  Those tiny details are what really make a story shine.

When I read a book about a small town I expect to really feel like the characters are in a small town.  Too often the town is not only small by size but by personality as well.

I'm from a tiny town.  There was one caution light in my little county until I went to high school.  Football is the epicenter of our world, but not college -- high school.  We have festivals pretty much every month, and parades with the smallest excuse.  Chili cook-offs are anticipated all year.  The guys ride around in huge four-wheel-drive trucks with elaborate boxes in the back for their dogs.

There's nothing small about a small town other than the numbers.  It's a close-knit community and a way of life with a huge personality.

The small details are what will make your writing sing.  Don't forget to slow down sometimes and enjoy them, listen to them, and use them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fun - Picture Books

Super Spawn loves to read.  Hurrah!

The tricky part is getting him to read something that isn't Thomas the Train or CARS.

So this week when his school had their Scholastic Book Fair, I got excited.  (Duh.  We all would.  lol)

Every day as we came and went from the school I eyed the books.  On Wednesday afternoon I finally took the time to stop and look around.  We made a deal.  Super Spawn could pick a book, and I could pick a book.  This way he got his favorite characters, and I got to search for a new author and/or illustrator to add to our shelves.

*insert squeals of delight here*

I adore picture books.

We wound up with another train book, and this jewel...

Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk

Library Mouse: A Friend's Tale

The blurb from Scholastic: "Sam is a mouse who lives in a library and loves to make up and write his own stories. When he leaves his stories in different parts of the library, humans find the stories and want to know who the writer is."

Cutest. Story. Ever.

One of my all time favorite bedtime stories is Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field.  The version we have is in a compilation book and the illustrations are...gosh...they're breathtaking.  I could stare at the pages for hours.  Combine that with Field's beautiful words...even Super Spawn lays quietly for the story.  (and that's AMAZING)

Do you guys have any favorite picture books you can recommend?  And anyone with little ones have any debut authors/illustrators you're in love with?  I'm always looking for new books to entice him with that are not full of TV/Movie characters.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and we  answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

Today's Topic: If you were made supreme ruler of the publishing world, what would be your first ruling?

Muahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!  The thought of being supreme ruler of anything sends vibrations of excitement through me.

I like to be the boss.  Why do you think I write?  When I write I get to play supreme ruler of the universe!  This job is right up my alley.

But supreme ruler of the publishing world?  Oh boy.  What wouldn't I do?!

First, I'd create the biggest library in THE WHOLE WORLD.

And I'd sit in the middle of it in a squishy armchair and read.

I'd hold story time for young and old alike, and we'd talk about the books we read and the meanings behind the words.

Hmm...maybe I should have been a Lit. teacher.

Does it have to do with publishing?  Meh, not really.  Does it sound AWESOME anyway?  YEP!

control, alt de feet ya i win

What about you guys?  What would you do as your first ruling of supreme ruler of the publishing world?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Outlines, and how I use them

** Quick side note.  Look at the new badge for my blog the lovely Susan gave me!  It's to the right -->   Don't you love it?  I love it!  The little mouse is precious.  Thank you, Susan!!!**

No big surprise here -- I'm not an outliner.  (And I realize outliner is not a word, spellchecker.  Thankyouverymuch.)

Well, I don't outline for the first (usually) half of the story anyway.  I just write it.  Let the words flow and all.

Until I hit The Wall.

Sports, NBA, Cleveland Cavaliers, Ben Wallace, Brick Wall, Danny 
Ferry, Mike Brown, Basketball 

It's inevitable.  At some point in any story I'm writing, I'll hit The Wall.

I don't always see it coming.  I'll be cruising along, loving my characters and the direction then BAM!  How the heck do I get out of this?!  

Ah, the joys of writing.

That's when I pull out the note cards and sticky notes and get to planning.  First thing I do is decide where the story is going to end.  Then I look at where I am and where I need to be for the big-picture.

Okay, at this point I'm still OMG HOW DO I GET THERE?!

So I sit on it.  It could take a day, or it could take a week, but eventually it'll come to me.  I'll see the window through the curtains, down the stairwell to the left.  Then I go scene by scene -- what needs to happen and how to reach the ending.

The best part?  While I'm waiting for that epiphany, I'm revising.  Then the grand moment arrives, I write my little heart out to the ending, and I've got a descent draft ready to go to my alpha reader.

Is this the easiest way to write a novel?  No, probably not.  Is this the way for most people to write a novel?  I'm gonna guess no again.  

Is this the only way I can get words on the page?  Yep! 

If you outline, how do you do it?  Scene by scene or a general story arch?  And if you don't outline, do you ever hit that wall?  How do you work your way around it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's a *headdesk* kind of day

I was planning a picture post for you guys.  Then everything went haywire.  So I have no pictures.


In their place I give you.... VIDEO CUTENESS!!  After I made the vlog for you guys last week, the only thing Super Spawn wants to do is record himself.  So, here are a couple doses of cuteness for you today...

On a sorta side note -- is anyone else out there dealing with food allergies?  I believe I've mentioned before that Super Spawn is allergic to nuts.  Well, I was worried that with Halloween he'd feel a bit upset when I removed all the unsafe candy from his bucket. 

Boy was I surprised when that only turned out to be a handful worth!  Most of the candy he got was totally safe for him to eat.  YAY for a safe Halloween!!