Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Fun

I've seen some funny things over the web this week, and a few things that make me squeeee! So, today will be a mismash of things I found interesting.

Must share- I cannot WAIT for Kierstin White's PARANORMALCY to come out...and LOOK! It's a countdown!

And the Agency Gatekeeper posted this hilarity, which I feel needs to be shared with all.

You should also check out agent Nathan Bransford's Query System Experiment. He posted 5 random queries which were voted on, and then a 30 page sample of the stories to be voted on as well. It was to determine if the querying system is effective in choosing stories that sell based on such a short word count.

There was also an interesting post on DGLM's blog about writing manuals and if they really are effective. I, personally, only ventured into the writing manual section once I had a completed manuscript. The books I've used have been on structure and expectations of agents and publishers in general. There are a lot of interesting comments on the post as well.

Was there anything epically awesome that I missed this week? If so, please share!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Recommendation - A Great and Terrible Beauty

A Great and Terrible Beauty
By Libba Bray

Book Blurb from Libba Bray's website: "It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?"

This is an entrancing story that leads you along like a puppet on a string. For most of the book we're left wondering- what the heck is going on? Gemma keeps having visions, the strange man in a black cloak keeps appearing, and we have no answers for a long time.

The book sends a good message, that everything you do is a choice. Every choice you make effects your life and those around you. I think it's awesome when a book can pull a message into the story that way, without being preachy. Libba also does an excellent job letting us into the heads of her characters, sharing their fears and struggles. It really endears the characters to you, and even when they go a little nuts, you're still pulling for them.

It's a great book to read for an escape from the norm. I've already started the next in the series, Rebel Angels.

Road Trip Wednesday

It's Road Trip Wednesday on the YA Highway, and you know what that means!

This week's topic:
What's the best book you've read this month?

I have two that stand out in my mind, but forced to choose one...I'd say above all The Hunger Games. If you haven't read it, go get it. Beg, borrow, steal...well, don't steal it but definitely borrow it if you can't buy it.

You can read my recommendation Here if you haven't already.

This is the kind of book that sticks with you for days, makes you stay up way too late reading, and wish all day at work that you could just finish it and find out what happens!

I love books like that. I still find myself pondering what will happen in the last installment Mockingjay. Can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tipsy Tuesday

Okay, so maybe not that kind of tipsy. Unless you've got a chilled moscato hanging out over there. Then it's game ON! I jest, I jest. Or do I?

Enough circles. On this Tipsy Tuesday I bring you tips for query submissions I have gathered across the array of agent blogs I follow.

  1. Personalize the letter. No, Ms. Agent Lady doesn't enjoy being addressed as Dear Sir. Be sure to use the agent's name, spelled correctly.
  2. Never ever, ever, ever, ever CC a gajillion agents on a single query email. They know. It's really an insult--like saying they're not worth your time.
  3. No matter how great the urge-- do NOT send gifts along with a paper query. It's creepy.
  4. Do your research. Sending an agent a query for a genre they don't represent is wasting both your time. Most agents list things they represent on their website and/or on sites like query tracker and publishers marketplace.
  5. Don't send attachments to emails, unless the agent specifically asks for it! It will be deleted for fear of viruses.

Now, some not so serious mommy tips.

  1. Never let Super-Spawn nap until nearly 5pm, he will never go to sleep at night.
  2. Of course cake is a healthy food! Grandma says so!
  3. Repeating Mama over and over and over and over is a tactic to make you cave. DO NOT GIVE IN!
  4. Puppy dog eyes and pouty lips work, even if you don't want them to.
  5. They really are cute when they sleep, it's the waking hours you have to worry about.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Book Recommendation - Graceling

By Kristin Cashore

Here's the cover blurb: "In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king."

I was blown away by this book. Sucked right into Katsa's journey and struggles in a way I haven't experienced in a long time. This book isn't as intense as The Hunger Games, but it has a magic all of its own. It's a love story and a story of acceptance, of coming to peace with yourself.

It was an excellent read with astonishing world building. Kristin gives you just enough description to form the world in your mind without overloading you, which I love. I don't like to be overwhelmed with descriptions.

Verdict: Read it, you won't regret it.

Flashback Friday

It's Flashback Friday over on the GotYA Blog, and they've invited everyone to participate!

This week's topic is: Movies that Shaped Our Generation

Now, my generation may be a little different than yours or theirs (Hey, I'm 25, Twilight is not shaping my generation).

The Princess Bride
- So epically wonderful ::sigh:: We used to watch this in the Drama classroom between our rehearsals when I was in high school. It just doesn't get any better.

The Little Mermaid- Okay, so maybe it didn't shape the boys, but it certainly did the girls of my generation. I used to watch this movie every day, over and over again. And my mom still has the original VHS version with one of the original covers that were recalled because of an artist being...uhm...less than appropriate.

Silence of the Lambs- That movie still scares me.

And last, but certainly not least...

Scary Movie- Hahahaha. Yes, remember how funny it was when the first one came out? Epic.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Epic Awesomeness

So, I heard this song on the radio today at lunch and nearly peed myself I laughed so hard.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hey, you! With the keyboard and the mouse...


I need a nice kick this week it seems. Reading a ton is great, but it really knocks out a lot of my writing time. Yes, reading is important, but not if I don't write as well. I get so wrapped up in these worlds I can't make myself put them down, so I fly through a book every two days and nary a thousand words added to my manuscript in a week!

For shame!

So, today is about inspiration to kick it into high gear.

"Believe in yourself and in your own voice, because there will be
times in this business when you will be the only one who does. Take
heart from the knowledge that an author with a strong voice will
often have trouble at the start of his or her career because strong,
distinctive voices sometimes make editors nervous. But in the end,
only the strong survive."- Jayne Ann Krentz

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you've got to put up with the rain."- Dolly Parton

"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."- Albert Einstein

“You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job.”- Nora Roberts

"If we don't risk it all, we may as well not write at all."- Anne Stuart

I do hope that I have provided you with a bit of inspiration. I know I'm feeling better myself. Now, off to brave the neverland of my very own creation where nothing can stop me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Revisions, oh sweet revisions.

My dearest revisions... are from Hell. Just kidding, sort of.

Having a critique partner (or two) who can give you feedback on the huge gaping holes in your manuscript is a beautiful thing. Until you go to make the changes. lol Really am kidding about the last part.

Revising can be an extremely rewarding, albeit painful process, that is necessary to every single work out there. I don't care if your name is Rowling, Meyer, or Brown--you still need a good critique buddy. When you're writing you get so close to the story, you scrutinize every word until your eyes bleed, and you think it is perfect. Pft. Trust me, it ain't perfect, sweetheart. In your personal revision, while you will certainly fix some major flaws, you lack the viewpoint to see the bigger problems. I mean, standing next to the Mississippi River it may seem like every other river out there, but we all know it's not.

If you're like me you open and read these notes post haste, ready to take on your creation and give it new life. As you read the comments you may think things like, "Well, duh, I should have seen that!" Don't worry, we all do it.

It's fun and painful all at once. Rest assured that when you're done your novel will shine like never before. Now all that's left is to put the laborious hours in, hacking away at the computer, eyes crossing in concentration.

Happy trails!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Recommendation - Catching Fire

Catching Fire
By Suzanne Collins

I found the book vastly enjoyable, and once again I was guessing at every turn. I absolutely love Suzanne Collins writing style, she pulls you right down into the action with Katniss and Peeta. Every second you can't wait to find out what happens next, and who will live to the end. Completely enthralling.

I will say, the ending was a shock.  I am looking forward to the final book in the series Mockingjay which is due out in August.

Is it August yet? No? Dang.

(Am now totally addicted to this series and want more.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Muse Strikes

"...if novelists wrote only when they were inspired it would take a hundred years to string together a novel. If you're really going to finish one, you're not only going to have to spend quite a lot of time writing and revising when you don't feel like it, you're going to have to spend quite a lot of time writing when you would rather be lighting your toes on fire." ~Nathan Bransford

Oh, Nathan, how I love thee. This is so, so true. I cannot tell you the number of times I have whined to my sister something that sounds like, "All I've done today is edit until my eyes bleed." Yeah, sometimes it's painful.

Other times, my muse strikes, usually with the stapler. I'm left reeling and giddy at all the changes I need to make and can't wait to get to them all. Or a new idea that I simply can't contain and fly through the first pages with ease. But those are the exceptions, not the norm.

No matter how much you love your dear characters, one day you'll find yourself wishing you could kill the whole lot of them off. Don't. Step away from the computer! When I start feeling this way I know I need a break, so I'll work on a different project for a day, week-- however long I need. When I come back my muse is nice and refreshed and ready for another go in the ring. She thrives on new ideas, creating, not necessarily the commas and semicolons.

All of this ties back into yesterday's post. Just write. Even when you don't feel like it, hate your characters, wish you could do anything else....just write. Write through the fear, the sadness, the hopelessness and tomorrow all will look better.

Why do you write?

I write for love. Well, and because I have 846,513,518,478 thoughts running through my head at any given moment and writing helps quiet them. My words have helped me through some very tough times in life, they're a constant comfort and companion. I cherish each of them. That's why I write, to share that love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

It's Road Trip Wednesday again over on the YA Highway!

This Week's Topic:
What's the best writing advice you've ever received?

This is easy. Drum roll please....

Just write.

Yep. Best. Advice. Ever.

Really though, you have a story in you and you know it wants to come out. You dream of being a writer/author, imagining holding your precious book in your hands, neatly bound with astonishing cover art. (Sigh.) The only way to make your dream come true is to just sit down and do it. Nobody's promising it'll be easy. In fact, I'll promise you it won't be. But do you want to know a secret? You'll have fun. Lots of fun, and countless enjoyable hours spent with the characters you love.

So, do it! Pick up the pen, open up your computer, whatever it takes, and just write. Worry about the rest later.

Book Recommendation - The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins

Oh my freaking goodness. I don't even know where to start on this one. First of all, it was amazing. And I don't take that label lightly.

Katniss is a protagonist I can love. Right from the start I'm connected to her in her struggle to survive and keep her sister fed. It's something I would have done for my own sister if life had called for it. The games themselves are treated like our Olympics with huge parties and celebrations. But the truth is, they're sending these kids for slaughter and everyone knows it. It's slightly horrific to read about children murdering each other. Yet I kept reading.

There are so many twists and turns through the story you feel like you're on a roller coaster, unable to breathe with the wind pounding your face. I really love that the ending remains a surprise. I could never have guessed where it was going, even though I was trying. Suzanne made sure to keep us on our toes.

Bottom line: Read it. Even through the horror of the games, this is one of the best books I've ever read.

I can't wait to read Catching Fire, in fact I may go pick it up at lunch.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Memoriam

This post is dedicated to my brother who would have turned 20 today.

Nothing says it better than his own words:

The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still. ~Robby

In Loving Memory of
Robby 4/13/90-10/5/09

Monday, April 12, 2010

Book Recommendation - Wings

By Aprilynne Pike

I read Wings over the weekend and really enjoyed it.  This is more of a soft story. The coming of age and, well, learning you're a faerie.

"Laurel discovers she is a faerie, sent among humans to protect the gateway to Avalon. Thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to each world. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.
" Aprilynne's Website

Most of the book is about Laurel's discoveries about herself and who she really is.  And, trust me, they are mesmerizing enough to keep the pages turning. It will leave you satisfied and looking forward to Spells, the next book in the series.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Frazzled Mom Brain

I had this whole post planned for today about managing writing as a parent. Complete with pictures of my Super Spawn in his Superman shirt. Then I forgot my SD card. Darn you frazzled mom brain!! I shake my fist at you!
Okay, now that's out of my system.

So, for today, I'm going to give you my list of resources. Blogs, websites, and general tips that I've learned along the way. A few of my favorites...

Blogs by Agents:

Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency

Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Nathan Bransford

Neverending Page Turner

Janet Reid

Writers/Authors with excellent info:

YA Highway

Kate Hart

Kaitlin Ward

Write or Die

Wonderings, Wanderings, and Writing

Tips from me (because I'm cool like that):

1. Join Twitter- Yeah, yeah, cry all you want. I didn't wanna do it either but it is seriously useful. Follow agents, publishers, writers, bloggers, will get loads and loads of helpful info!

2. Join a group- I write young adult, so I joined YALitchat (see link on the right). There are all kinds of groups for getting your pages critiqued to finding crit partners (Hi Susan!) to getting your query in shape. So run, don't walk, and join.

3. Get a website- Everything I've heard and read says start building your online presence NOW. Don't wait for a book release date, by then it's a little late to be building an audience. You want to meet people you can pass ARCs to for reviews and people anxiously awaiting that fresh new hardback (sigh...I love hardback books). These people will be the ones that go tell their friends to read, which is how books sell.

Well my lovelies, that's all for today. I will be back on Monday, hopefully with the pictures, and lots more words for my WIP. Be safe and enjoy the sun!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Math Time!

I see you cringing over there, but don't worry, I'm doing all the formulating.

Last night I was writing and thinking. When I am doing my Write or Die sprints I write an average of 300 words every 10 minutes. Naturally that led to me wondering how long it takes me to actually write a whole book. I'm not talking dream it up, plotting, editing, any of that. Just words to page, write or die style. So I did the math!

I average 300 words every 10 minutes. My goal for WIP is 60,000 words.

60,000 divided by 300 = 200 - So I have 200, 300 word sessions in a 60k novel.

200 multiplied by 10 = 2,000 - That's 2k minutes invested.

2,000 divided by 60 = 33.33 - A total of 33.33 hours to push a 60k word book out.

That just seems crazy to me! I know you've got hours to add in on the formulating, planning, thinking, dreaming, editing, revising, etc, etc, etc.

But still! 33.33 hours is not that long when you think about it. It makes the ending of my WIP seem much, much closer and more achievable for some reason.

Am I the only one that looks at things this way? Please tell me I'm not too crazy.

I<3 Math.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One more time

You're going to get tired of me today if I keep this up. But, I saw a comment on Twitter by Jaime_Reed with a link to epic hilarity.

Really, it's a must share titled "How to Write a Nicholas Sparks Movie"


Publishing Positives

It's Road Trip Wednesday over on the YA Highway, and today's topic is to discuss something positive about publishing. It's all part of No Whining Week. You can wine, just don't whine.

So, here we are, my positive takes on publishing!

First, they make books, and I love books. That may seem silly, but really, I adore the feel and smell of a brand new book. Hardcover especially. There's something about the crisp pages that takes me away into a world of bliss before I ever read a word.

Second, they make sure I have good books to read. Notice I specified GOOD. They edit, fix, fill, and otherwise make better all of their stories before going to print. So I know when I got to the bookstore I'm getting a quality story that isn't going to drive my internal grammar Nazi crazy as I read. Usually.

Third, they make dreams come true. Dreams like mine, of one day having the story you've labored over for so long reaching the minds of people you've never met before. It's like magic.

Finally, the whole publishing community is just that- a community. Writers, agents, editors, publishers all seem to band together to make the world a better place. As a superhero, I dig that.


Feeling like a genius this morning. How do you like the new layout? I'm in love. I even managed to get the linky-do at the top to work. Don't laugh at me, I like making words up. Just had to share my excitement.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Super Thrilled

You may, or may not, have noticed that I added a new Write or Die widget. It's at the top right if you didn't. I'm making my goal and progress public to inspire me to keep hard at work.

I am so uber excited about this new project. It's a totally intense story about a sixteen year old demon slayer on a mission to infiltrate the White House and save her nephew. The entire book is going to take place over the span of a few hours. It got me thinking though, how do people write stories that aren't at least part fantasy? I just don't think I could do it. My imagination tends to run wild at every turn dreaming up crazy creatures and events. But hey, more power to ya if you can do it. I've accepted the fact that I'll forever be the fantasy chick, and I'm cool with that.

On another note, I've been using the Write or Die website to force myself to do some crazy writing. Boy does it work! Every time my mind starts wandering it snaps me back to reality and forces me to trudge on for fear of evil retribution. Which, I still don't know what the retribution is, I've never failed to meet the goal. See...totally works.

I'll admit, I don't always have much time to write, so my book isn't going to explode into finality in a month. But, this helps me stay focused and on target in the small amounts of time I do have.

What do you use to stay productive? I need something to whip me into shape, or I'll stay on twitter and blogs all day long.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book Recommendation - The Dead Tossed Waves

The Dead-Tossed Waves
By Carrie Ryan

You know a book is good when you finish it in one day. I picked the book up Saturday, when I took my little man to the book store, thinking I could read it this week. Then I started reading it yesterday and couldn't put it down until it was done.

Every single page forces you to keep reading, the tension building, never giving you a moment of peace. As a writer it's something I hear often- make sure there's tension on every page. Man does Carrie knock a home run with that one! I thought The Forest of Hands and Teeth was tense but she took it to a whole new level.

The protagonist, Gabry, is incredibly likable and a character you can really relate to. Her fear feels like my fear, I can't imagine what I would do in her position, how I would act. The story starts out so peacefully, with some romantic tension, you don't even see it coming when all hell breaks loose. Quite literally.

Again- I'm not a zombie person, don't like scary stories- but this book is so much more than that. It's about Gabry's struggle trying to fit in, her fear, her love, her growth. I'm telling you now, read it. Carrie Ryan is an amazing storyteller with a nac for drawing you right into the thick of it with her characters.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Book Recommendation - The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
By Carrie Ryan

Oh. My. God.

I was hooked from the start with this book. First of all because it came highly recommended, and secondly because of the premise. An apocalyptic world filled with zombies. What's not to love? The zombies, they seriously scare me. I think I'll hear the moans and see them moving in shadows for the next decade at least. I'm a chicken.

Still, zombies and all, I couldn't put this book down. It kept me up well past my self-imposed bedtime, and hungering for more all day at work. I finished it in two days despite my work, child, writing, editing...and that says something.

At times Mary, the protagonist, is extremely selfish and utterly self-absorbed, but I still love her. Even when I hate her for the things she says or does, I'm wishing I could hug her and say it'll all be okay.
All in all, it's an excellently written book with a fresh voice and twist on the world. I'd totally recommend reading it, and will be hitting the book store this weekend to pick up its sequel The Dead Tossed Waves.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sorta Random

I saw this banner at the mall over the weekend. I keep reflecting on the passage it had written across the black background, and decided to share. It read:

If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world. (Chinese proverb)

Naturally I immediately scribbled it down, and took a quick picture. It is oddly reminiscent of my novel, Emerald's Keeper. The whole basis of my story is the light within people, their goodness, being taken away. That leads my mind to wonder, well what if every person had that light and there was no darkness? Would there truly be peace in the world? Is it even possible to be completely good- as in never even a stray malicious thought- and maintain your free will? I don't think so. In my book Mandy learns that those purely good and purely evil have no free will, and decides we mere mortals are truly blessed to have the freedom to be both good and evil. And if it were possible to have only light in the world, would it upset the precarious balance of our existence? It does for Mandy.

Yes, this is really how my brain works on a daily basis. It's the philosopher in me.