Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fun -- Writing Style Q&A

This has been saved in my blogger dashboard for, oh I don't know, EVER.  I don't even remember where I found it at this point, but I think it'd be fun to share.  I'm going to answer all the questions and then pass it on to you guys!

I want to know: How do you write? 


1. Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”?

Mostly a pantser.  I don't usually know where the story is going until I'm there. Now, I will sit down and think out a very basic plot line and character arc, but I'm not an outliner.  I have notes, usually about a sentence for what each chapter/scene will be about.  Then I have notes on motivations for each character.  That's all though, the rest I learn along the way, and nothing is set in stone.


2. Detailed character sketches or the character builds itself?

My characters always build themselves. And usually that happens before I ever start writing the novel.  One day a new character will just show up in my head to chat.  (That makes me sound like a crazy person!)  I may jot down some notes about motivation, but that's about it.

3. Do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing? Or is that something you discover only after you're in the thick?

Yes.  Always, always, always.  They may develop or evolve as I write, but I always start out knowing what they want, why, and what is keeping them from it.

4. Books on plotting?


I don't know if I've read books on plotting exactly...I've read a lot of craft books, but not just "This is How to Plot".  I've read Donald Maass's books, some style books, first pages books, etc.

5. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?

I've got the itch.  I think about it, wish for it, and crave the solitude of my words all day long.  Then when I finally sit down to write it's like THANK GOODNESS, FINALLY!!!  lol


6. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?

Short bursts. I never have hours to just sit and write. I'm not even sure I could handle sitting still for hours at a time to just write.  I'd have to jump up every few minutes to do something I'm so used to the short bursts method.  lol  But with a full time job and a Super Spawn (who's always in the middle of everything, as you witnessed) the only time I have to write is done in short bursts.  It works for me.


7. Are you a morning or afternoon writer?

Time doesn't really matter.  Probably more of an afternoon/evening writer, but I write in the morning sometimes too.  Just depends on the day.

8. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?

Well, I need noise.  I write in restaurants a lot...a whole lot.  See, I write on my lunch break every day, so if I want to eat, I write in a restaurant.  That tends to be when my best ideas come.  I also write with music once in a while, but it's either something like Brahms, Bach, or Celtic instrumental music.


9. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)

I wrote 3/4 of Emerald's Keeper longhand before I got my fabulous netbook. It was pretty arduous.  Now I use my netbook all the time (I even carry it in my purse).

10. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One?

No, never.  I tried that with my WIP, but then my imagination went wild, and it'll have a much cooler ending now.  :) 

11. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?

No.  I mean, I'm going to strive to write the most original stories I can no matter what the market says.  If I see something identical to what I'm writing on the shelves, yeah, that might make me change it up, but I'll never write to trends.  (I know, I know.  Never say never.  But really...I'm not a trendy type person.)

12. Editing – love it or hate it?

Meh.  I love what editing does for a novel, but it's not the most fun thing in the world to do.  lol  I like that last round of edits where you feel everything clicking into place.  Best feeling ever.


There you have it!  Now you know pretty much everything about my writing process.  Your turn!  Answer in the comments, or post it on your blog and leave a link in the comments for me.


Come on, it's fun!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Welcome to YAHighway's weekly road trip around the blogosphere!

This week's topic:

What's the best book you read in October?

Well, I'm heartily embarrassed to admit I didn't read a single dad-blame book in the whole month!  *insert gasps of horror here*  I know!  But October was my very own OctoWriMo in which I battered out a first draft of my new WIP.

Writing is a good excuse for not reading, right?  (And I actually did read one book, but it's tomorrow's post.  So you have to wait.)

To make up for it, I'm going to give you a special treat!  A Vlog so you can "meet me" in person!  I was going to do a vlog for the conference post (and even went so far as to make one) but chickened out and didn't post it.  So, here you are...Holly Live!  (Sort of.  Okay, not really, but it's as close as you'll get on a blog.)  Please forgive me for the wet hair and PJ's lol  I decided to squeeze it in just before Super Spawn's bedtime.

(PS I'm reading Lauren Olliver's BEFORE I FALL, not If I Fall like I say in the video.  Oops.  Guess that's what I get trying to make a video with a three-year-old nearby!)

video

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maybe a little random

**Edited to add:  You must go over to Susan's blog today for her Big Announcement!  Plus, she's giving away lots of cool prizes!!**

Okay, so if you've been following this blog for a while you know I get random sometimes.  Welcome to another episode of Holly Randomized!

On my drive down to the conference I heard this song as I was breezing through radio stations, and it caught my attention.  First because of the happy, bouncy music, but then the words grabbed me.

Lyrics:
...
How did we stay so long together?
When everybody, everybody said we never would
And just when I, I start to think they're right
That love has died...

There you go making my heart beat again,
Heart beat again,
Heart beat again
There you go making me feel like a kid
Won't you do it and do it one time?
There you go pulling me right back in,
Right back in,
Right back in
And I know-oo I'm never letting this go-ooo

I'm stuck on you
Whutooo whutooo
Stuck like glue
You and me baby we're stuck like glue
Whutooo whutooo
Stuck like glue
You and me baby we're stuck like glue

Some days I don't feel like trying
Some days you know I wanna just give up
When it doesn't matter who's right, fight about it all night
Had enough
You give me that look
"I'm sorry baby let's make up"
You do that thing that makes me laugh
And just like that...

There you go making my heart beat again,
Heart beat again,
Heart beat again
There you go making me feel like a kid
Won't you do it and do it one time
There you go pulling me right back in,
Right back in,
Right back in
And I know-oo I'm never letting this go-ooo
...



So what does this have to do with anything?  Leave it to me to think of the most abstract meaning.  It totally reminds me of my relationship with writing!  When I start to feel down, feel like my writing is the worst it could possibly be, something happens that makes my heart beat again.  It reminds me how much I LOVE writing.  I remember how great it makes me feel, and it's all better again.


Some days you want to just give up, then you have this great idea -- maybe a really stellar paragraph or a shiny new idea -- and your heart pitter-patters again with that excitement, that love.


I'm right, aren't I?  :D


Here's the music video, the band is Sugarland and the song's title is "Stuck Like Glue."




Monday, October 25, 2010

The Conference Experience

Hundreds of writers, a plethora of agents, editors, and publishers, plus workshops on everything from your first page to marketing plans.  There's only one place you get all of this awesome stirred up together -- conferences!


Well, the conference started at 7am Saturday!  Oy.  So, we had a genre meet and greet which was super fun.  I didn't get to meet any YA writers, but I met a bunch of awesome MG writers.

The first session that morning was on engaging the YA reader (which wound up more geared to MG).  I missed about the first half of it though because I wound up with the very first pitch appointment that morning!  That was pretty darn lucky.  Well, I hated to miss a big chunk of the YA talk, but I was very happy to get to meet the agent before she had been stuck in that room all day long.

Now, the pitch was a source of much angst for me.  It's intimidating!  And as much helpful information as I found out there from agents and the like, I didn't find much from fellow writers.  So, I thought I'd include what happened in my pitch for you guys.  Take from it what you will, maybe it'll help someone not be so nervous about the process.

It wasn't until about two minutes before I walked in that I got nervous.  The nerves only lasted briefly though, I was fine once I got to talking with the agent.  This is how it went for the most part:

Agent:  So, what are you here for today?

Me:  I wrote a YA novel called Emerald's Keeper.

Agent:  Tell me about it.

Me:  In Emerald's Keeper the world is getting darker, light-consuming creatures feed on the pure of heart, and fourteen-year-old Mandy is the only one that can stop them, but she has to find the strength to let go.

Agent:  Oh, really?  What does she have to let go of?

And so it went!  She asked questions, I answered.  She asked about the main plot, themes, subplots and the like.  Once we were done she said she liked my premise very much and asked that I send some pages.  Just that easy!  There was even a little time left to chit chat on a more personal level.  You know, just asking, "How was your flight?" or whatever.

I can honestly say if I ever do another pitch, I won't be nervous.

Another great thing about conferences?  So, maybe I'm a little anti-social in person, I'm a writer, I think it's a pre-requisite.  lol  At lunch I found an empty table and pulled out my nook, thankful for a little time to rest my brain.  A few minutes later a lady came and sat beside me (who I assumed was another writer).  We chit chatted a bit and she asked what I write.  I told her, and asked what she did.

She was an agent.  Guess I should have studied the faculty list better!  But then we talked a little more and she slid me her card and asked that I send her my materials.  How freaking cool, right?!  A minute later an agent that reps screenwriters came and joined us and I got to be included in their shop talk.

I also got to attend a session on marketing.  It was pretty good, I learned what a press kit is, and what goes in it.  They also talked about blogging and being on twitter as important steps.  (check, check)  Something that worried me a bit though was that the lady teaching the class suggested putting a press kit together to hand agents you have pitch sessions with.  Eep!  Not sure that would be a very good idea.  I almost said so, but I didn't want to challenge her during her own session so I held my tongue.

I got the impression that a good portion of the people there were doing self publishing, so maybe having printed press kits would be a good idea in that situation.  I don't know, I'm not a marketing genius by any means.

The last session I went to was on narrative drive.  It was really interesting the way he took parts of three different books and showed us on a sentence-by-sentence basis how the writer moved the plot forward and kept the reader hooked.  He also said this that struck a chord with me: No matter what you write, these four words need to drive it: tell me a story.

So simple, yet so true.

That's really it!  I mean, other than my tire blowing out on the way home it was an excellent trip.  But I figure for all the good something bad had to balance it out.  ;)

There you have it, my friends!  If you get the chance to go to a conference, even a small local one, do it.  It's so worth it!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Checking In

Stopping in to say the conference is going great!

I'm at lunch chatting with a couple agents and eating some great food!  Seriously, the vegetarian lasagna is amazing.

Anyway, we're going to have a lot to talk about on Monday!!

I'm really looking forward to this afternoon's workshops and the speakers tonight.  Plus, if lunch was this good I bet the banquet tonight is going to be great!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finally!

It's here!  Friday!  Woo!

Today, I leave for The Conference.  I'm ready to go with my log line, a couple copies of my first pages and synopsis (just in case, not to hand anybody unless they specifically ask for it), and a pair of gorgeous heels.

What?  You don't wear gorgeous heels to conferences?  Well, neither do I usually, but these are so gorgeous I simply must wear them.  Plus, there's this whole banquet thing I'm supposed to wear a dress to. 

I'm excited, and nervous, and excited all over again. Hopefully I won't suddenly freak out when I walk into my pitch appointment -- that would suck.  I'm going to try to keep my cool.  Agents are people just like us.  Maybe I should pretend I'm talking to you guys...that might help.  :)  I'm rambling in all my excitement.

There's a whole session on YA, a session on marketing, and some really great speakers I'm looking forward to.  Maybe I'll learn something new to share with you.  (Plus I get a whole weekend in a hotel room by myself.  Nothing but chocolates and my WIP to keep me company.  *sigh*)

Anyway, I'll take some pictures for you guys, and will give a full report on Monday.

Wish me luck!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rule Breaker


I am a rule breaker.  I've probably broken every writing rule known to man in the course of drafting my stories.

And you know what?

I don't care.

I find it perfectly and spectacularly awesome that I can, amazingly, use astonishingly high amounts of -ly words in nearly every sentence.  Really.

I love that I can allow myself to write without worry of run on sentences, or dangling modifiers.

Every time I see a missing comma it makes me smile.

My tense may change every other sentence, but that's okay because my character is being genuine.

It's the first draft, and I'm allowed to break the rules!

logo No Rules

Will I go back and fix them?  Yes.

Giving myself the artistic license to write whatever I feel allows me to be authentic to my voice -- to the character's voice.  I can go back and refine it later.

It's what works for me.  I allow myself to use "just" every other word if necessary, along with "so", "like", and "maybe".

Whatever works to get the words on the page.

What about you?  Do you allow yourself to break the rules, or do you stress over every single word?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Today on the YA Highway we're talking comp titles.

What's a comp title?  Well, it's a book and or author that are similar to your manuscript either by style or subject matter.

Okay, so picking comp a title is kinda hard.  When I was looking for comps for EMERALD'S KEEPER, I dragged my sister to the bookstore and made her sit with me and go through stacks and stacks of YA books.  True story.  We were there for hours reading, and I left with the tallest tower of novels ever.  ;)

In the end, my sister and I decided my style of writing and imagery best compared to Aprilynne Pike's WINGS, and Holly Black's TITHE.  (Ha, even the covers are similar!)


tithewings-aprilynne-pike



Two, fairly different, yet still similar titles.

I foresee another trip to the bookstore to find comp titles for my WIP.  I've never read a story quite like this one before, so it should be a fun hunt.

What are  your comp titles?  How did you pick them?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This is for YOU

This post is for YOU.  Yes, you.  The one reading with the eyes, and the face, and the hair.  This blog post is for you.

It's to tell you that I think you are a really great writer.  It's to tell you not to give up.

I want you to know that I believe in you, and that even if your writing is hard right now, you'll make it through.

You can do it.  Whatever it may be.  And if you need a friend to lean on, I'm here.

For real. 

Sometimes we all need a little inspiration.  We need to know someone, no matter how removed, is in our corner cheering us on.  So, my lovelies, I want you to know I'm here.

I feel like as a blogger, writer, mom, and person I can offer more than just snippets of my thoughts every day.  I've met some pretty awesome people through blogs and online forums in my life, and I want to give back some of the love.

So, I want you to know, if you're having a rough day and need a bit of encouragement, send me an email.  Post a comment.  Whatever.  I'll respond.  And whatever the issue may be, you can know for sure someone is rooting for you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Plans this week

So, pardon me if I'm a little haywire this week.  Conference week is finally here and I'm bursting at the seams with excitement!

My sister thinks I'm crazy, but one of the things I'm most excited about are the meals.  But here's why:  They're genre meals.  The tables are labeled with a genre, so writers who write the same kind of material can sit together and chat!

I don't know why it makes me so excited, but it does!  lol  Well, I guess it's probably because I've never met another YA writer in real life...only on the internet!  I can't wait!

Anyway, I've pretty much finished the first draft of my WIP, tentatively titled Because She Says So.  The ending is still up in the air.  I just haven't figured out the perfect way to handle the ending yet.  But it will come to me in time.

So my plans this week include:

1. Blogging about random stuff  :)  Aren't you excited?
2. Packing for the conference
3. Finishing a super secret project (I haven't forgotten you guys!)
4. Reading my draft and noting where more needs to be added.  It's a really skeleton story right now, I've got to add the meat to it.  :)
5. Freaking out about going to a conference all alone.  Okay, actually I'm really excited about the having a weekend alone part, but the driving for hours all alone is intimidating.

Then, you know, the normal stuff like work, eat, sleep, etc.  Should be a fun week!

What are you guys up to this week?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Publishing Pulse

I got an email today (which I get every day) about the publishing community.  Who's hot, who's not, and what's upcoming kind of stuff.

Today it included the AAP sales for August.  Oooh, aaaah. 

THE E-BOOKS ARE COMING, THE E-BOOKS ARE COMING!!!  SHUTTER YOUR WINDOWS AND LOCK YOUR DOORS, THE E-BOOKS ARE COMING!!!

Sorry, couldn't resist.  There was a 172.4% increase in e-book sales!  That's huge.  But, selling only $39 million (psh, only) it doesn't even come close to touching the $77.8 million for children's/YA hardcover sales or the $83.8 for adult hardcovers.  It is still a significant increase though.  And I think it's an increase that will only continue.

I'll admit -- I'm an e-book buyer.  Does that mean I'll never buy hard-copy books again?  Heck no!  But the things I'm buying on a whim, yeah, they're gonna come from my Nook.

What do you guys think of this?  Does it scare you?  Or do you think it's just another way to get books into readers hands?

The chart from the AAP is below.

AAP Sales:


CATEGORY
SALES
PERCENT CHANGE
E-books
$39 million
172.4%
University press paperbacks
$10.1 million
15.7%
Professional books
$102.7 million
14.5%
Higher education
$969.7 million
11.8%
University press hardcovers
$6.1 million
10.2%
Downloaded audiobooks
$6.3 million
  4.6%



Religious books
$58.1 million
 -0.4%
K-12 /El-Hi
$629.6 million
 -4.9%
Children's/YA hardcover
$77.8 million
 -8%
Children's/YA paperback
$58.9 million
-15.1%
Adult paperback
$124.9 million
-18.3%
Adult mass market
$54.9 million
 -21.9%
Physical audiobooks
$9.9 million
 -23.4%
Adult hardcover
$83.8 million
 -24.4%

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What Book Review?

Hope you weren't expecting a review today.  (Again.)  I've been averaging about 2,500 words a day on the WIP, so I've had zero reading time.  It'll probably be more of the same next week.

But I'll make it up to you, I promise.  Come November I'll hop back on the review bandwagon.

So for today we have another #amwriting Thursday.

Something I've noticed about my writing over the last week is that the further I get in a story, the sorter my scenes get.  I guess it's because the pace of the story is flying now, we're at the climax and everything is short and concise so it doesn't get bogged down.

Do you all do that?  I'm sure when I go back through for revisions they'll get longer and more fleshed out.  Still. 

As a reader do short (not overly so, like 2-3 pages short) scenes bother you?

I'm really interested to see what you all have to say.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Apparently I missed the memo that the topic was changed for this week.  So here's my compulsion to have blogs written in advance version of RTW for the week!  HA!







 
 
This week's topic:  

Who did you want to be like in high school?



I honestly don't think there was one person I wanted to be like in high school.  A lot was going on in those days, and most of it was hard to deal with.

Now that I think of it though, I most wanted to be like me.

When I was young I was terribly shy.  Scared to talk to people.  I had a huge fear of being disliked, and failure, to the point that I had panic attacks over my grades and meeting new people.  A lot of my anxiety came from home and the expectations there.  Mostly though, it was because I expected so much of myself.

I longed to be let out of my cage.  To say the things I thought without censoring them.  I was tired of always being nice.

I hid within myself, and only really started to open up my senior year some.  Thanks to drama club, and the best drama teacher a girl could ever ask for.

Sometimes even now I struggle with that desire to be me without holding back.  I'm better, but that fear still lingers.

What about you?  Who did you most want to be like in high school?  Hop over to YAHighway and see all the answers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tipsy Tuesday - Tracking Queries

I had a brainwave this morning.  How many writers out there have a proficient way to track their queries?  Do you know how to use excel?  Do you pay for one of those tracking services?

I'm really curious.  For my day job I do accounting type things, so I use excel every single day.  It was a natural choice to turn to for my tracking spreadsheet.  But what do other writers use?

For today, I give you -- my spreadsheet, and the basic tools to create your own.


And here's a quick rundown of how to make this jewel:

The title -- merge the cells together using the little a symbol with arrows on either side.  Highlight the cells you want to merge and click it.  Bold and increase your font.

Column titles -- these work for me, you may want more or different ones.  I just made them bold

Body -- fill in all your vital info.  I like to have everything I need to query right there in one place.  Email address, agent name, guidelines -- you won't have to go re-hunting if you have a spreadsheet like this.  One thing I do on the submission guidelines column is wrap the text.  Highlight the cells and click "format" then "cells".  Then click "alignment" and there's a little box at the bottom that says "wrap text".  This way your spreadsheet doesn't wind up 50 pages wide.

That's basically it!  You can get fancy with the borders and colors if you want, but with this you'll never query an agent twice, and will always know what is outstanding.

Helpful?  If you have more questions about excel, don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stuck Like Chuck

What do you do when you get stuck on a scene?

This weekend I learned something about myself.  If I were a full time writer, my house would be immaculate.  Seriously.  It would seem my defense mechanism for being stuck on a scene is to clean something.

I spent most of the weekend at home, outside of grabbing some groceries and getting my haircut.  (The haircut was an experience from HELL.  Why must my hair stylist have moved away and left me?  I mean, I'd followed her from salon to salon for years.  *wails*  Okay, I'll stop now.)

I sat at home for hours on Saturday with the intention of writing my little heart out.  So naturally I spent hours updating my website instead.  lol  But it's new and improved and live now!  Go look at it and let me know what you think!  www.hddodson.com  I was trying to build a wordpress site and, yeah, I'm just not smart enough to do that.

Back on topic, Holly!

So, once I finished my website I wrote.  And then I pulled out all our winter clothes and boxed up Super Spawn's stuff that's too small for charity.  Then I wrote some more.  Then I did laundry.  Then I wrote some more.  Then I washed all the sheets.  Then I wrote some more.  Then I reorganized my desk.  Then I wrote some more.  Are you seeing a pattern here?

It went like that all day Sunday too!  I'd finish a scene, or get to a point in the scene where I wasn't sure how to move forward and I'd go clean something.  It always works though.  I always come back to the WIP with enough gusto to get me through another scene before I have to find something else to clean.

What do you do?  What's your stuck-scene coping mechanism?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday, Friday

Thank goodness it's Friday!

Super Spawn went to school dressed up as a fireman today.  He was so stinking cute!  Their school has a new theme every week, and this week's theme was fire safety.  So they've already had a visit from the local fire station, learned to dial 911, and to stop drop and roll. 

Today they're having a fireman parade, so they all came dressed as firemen! 

I adore his new preschool. 

Anyway, I've made good on my writing goal all week this week!  I'm so proud of myself!

I've also been working on gathering things to revamp my main website.  So if you travel over there, it's just a very generic setting right now without any real information.  I plan to get that back up and running this weekend.

In other news, make sure you tell Susan a big CONGRATS for some exciting happenings this week!!!  (I'll let her share said happenings if she wishes.)


What's going on for you guys this weekend?  I'm still gearing up for my conference and pitch session.  It's only two weeks away!

                                                          

Thursday, October 7, 2010

#amwriting Thursday

Admittedly, I haven't read a book to review for you this week.  I've set a lofty writing goal for myself and am determined to meet it.


I'm writing at least 1,800 words a day on my WIP.  That's a LOT for me.  My time is very limited between the day job and being a single mom, but I'm making it happen. 


Why?  Well, my WIP is so exciting and so fresh I just can't wait to finish it!  So, I set a goal -- finish it by the end of October.  The only way to accomplish that is by writing about 1,800 words a day...I did the math.

It's kind of like my own NaNoWriMo in October!  With an idea I started months ago.

*shrugs*  I'm excited, and that's what counts.

What are some of your writing goals right now?  Sometimes making them public knowledge is a push to actually do the work and get it done.  So let's hear it! 

Writing, editing, reading -- what are your goals?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

It's Road Trip Wednesday, and you know what that means! Jump on the YA Highway and join us for a blog trip around the YA author haunts.

This week's topic:

You're packing for a month on a deserted island. What, as a reader and writer, must be in your backpack?


Because this says as a reader and writer, I'm going to skip the basics (food, water, etc) and assume they are being provided. Cheating? Yes. More fun? Totally.

  1. I'm gonna need a laptop with a solar powered battery (They make those, right?)
  2. One of those cell phone wifi hubs
  3. My Nook
  4. My debit card (to pay for whatever I buy online)
  5. A nice, thick notebook
  6. A fresh pack of pens
  7. Post-it notes
  8. Sunglasses
  9. A big blanket to lay on
I'm thinking that's a pretty good list! I can write as much as I want, read as much as I want, order more supplies, keep up my blogging and networking, email agents (and a rescue chopper), and not have to worry about squinting or getting sandy.

Yep, I'm set.

What would you bring?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Moment of Silence

A year ago today my world turned upside down.

In a freak accident, under circumstances that could never be replicated, my nineteen-year-old brother was killed.


Mandy, the main character in Emerald's Keeper, relays the sense of loss best:

"The loss had left her empty, like a shell of her normal self. None of it seemed real. The shock of losing him so suddenly made it all like a dream -- hazy around the edges, slowly being washed away by the ebb and flow of time. Her mind was consumed with thoughts, memories, and emotions all vying for her attention. It seemed like a lifetime ago, yet in the same breath, it had just happened.

Mandy’s thoughts snatched her back to the hospital where she looked frantically around for her mother. She would never forget Mom’s eyes, full of grief.

Mandy lost her breath all over again. Her heart felt like it was clawing itself to pieces, and her mind screamed in refusal to accept the truth. The familiar pain in her stomach threatened to overcome her as she fell to the sand.

Tears glistened on her face as her mind made her relive that horrible day moment by moment, breath by breath, in excruciating detail. She put the heel of her hands over her eyes and pressed hard in an attempt to stop the flow of tears. To block the memory. The tightness in her chest constricted and threatened not to let go."

I miss him more than words could ever express. I wrote this scene shortly after he died. His death really changed the shape of the story -- of my life -- forever. What started as a for-fun-fanfic turned into something so much more because of him.

Here's a poem I wrote for him. Don't laugh, I'm no poet. I just couldn't keep it inside.

I have a story in me,
And it's because of you.
My sight, my way, my passion,
You brought it all to view.
A clearer light has never shone,
These words I wrote, they flew.
Without you there to guide me,
I'd never see it through.
My brother, though I miss you,
We'll meet again some day.
Until then I'll leave you, with these words I say:
Forever in my heart, forever in my mind, forever in my words.

Monday, October 4, 2010

JK Rowling on Oprah

So did you guys watch the interview of JK Rowling on Oprah last week? I watched it online once I got home from work.

Seriously, I cried.

I never realized how many parallels there were between my life and Rowling's. She was a single mother, escaped from a bad marriage with a tiny baby. There wasn't always enough money.

Then there was an idea -- a spark that set a flood loose in her mind. And so came Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Six months into writing, Jo lost her mother. In the interview she says that her mother's death is reflected on every page of the Harry Potter series.

I found the interview so incredibly inspiring.

I'm a single mother who escaped an awful marriage with a two-month-old baby. I moved in with my mother because I couldn't afford to support us on my own.

Then there was an idea. A light bulb came on. I started writing Emerald's Keeper long-hand in a $0.10 spiral notebook.

My younger brother died a month after I started writing. And on every page of Emerald the way his death affected me is reflected.

It's so hard sometimes to be positive in the face of so many challenges. But thanks to Jo's interview I feel a new sense of invigoration. Determination.

She reminded me that through hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.

So I'll keep my chin high and one day, someday, everything will look a lot brighter.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Inspiration for a Friday

Well, I was trying a new feature to post for today, but I'm not thinking it's going to work.


Here's what I want to know: What keeps you going? What inspires you to hit send one more time for yet another query? What keeps you writing when the going gets tough?

I'm preparing myself...the rejections are bound to come. That's just part of being a writer.

But I want to make the best of it. I don't want to let it get me down.

What are your tips, tricks, and ideas?

I'm planning to dive head-first into my next WIP. That alone is inspiring.