Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Fives (16) - Line Up!

I didn't think to do these at home last night (woops) so I'm going from my Nook library and what I can find online. Hope I don't screw any of them up.  Anyway, all of them have something in common -- they make you immediately curious about the situation and are full of voice.

1) From THE GODDESS TEST - "I spent my eighteenth birthday driving from New York City to Eden, Michigan, so my mother could die in the town where she was born." 

2) From DELIRIUM - "It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure."

3) From IF I STAY - "Everyone thinks it was because of the snow."

4) From THE HUNGER GAMES - "When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."

5) From HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE (of course) - "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

What about you, what are your favorites?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Again With the Mommy Thing, Plus a Blog Award

Sorry, but I'm bursting with Mommy pride this week.  Just look at this cuteness!!

We don't start lessons for at least another week, and I don't know how I'll contain him until then.  lol  He's so enthusiastic about the violin -- and he's so, so careful and thoughtful with it.  It's quite the cutest thing I've ever seen.  (Although, my folder and notebook of revision stuff beside him isn't so cute.  Heh.)

This was the first time I let him hold the violin and the bow together.  :)  If you're wondering...that's a 1/10 violin.  They actually come even smaller!  It's crazyness.

Okay, I'm done being THAT mom now.  I promise not to bombard you with pictures again any time soon.  Or, well, until he starts lessons or something.  Hehe.

On the writing side of things -- I was given an award by Brit over at Pages and Stardust!  Thank you, Brit! 

I'm supposed to pass it on to five other bloggers with less than 200 followers, so here we go:  (It's always so hard to pick just a few.  I feel like I'm cheating you guys out.)
and last, but most definitely not least Yahog Chi!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Brain Hurts

My head is full to the point of bursting this morning.  You ever have those days?  So many thoughts swirl around up there at the same time, you're surprised they don't leak out your ears. 

Yeah.  That's me today.

Just a warning -- this is nothing about writing this morning.  It's purely mommy pride. 

Along with the revisions I've been working on, I've also been trying to figure out what kind of music lessons Super Spawn should start for a while now.

My gut reaction was piano, but kiddo has other ideas.

We've been watching lots of videos (thank you YouTube) of kids playing instruments and getting lessons to give him an idea of what it's like.  Well, something clicked.  We were watching a little girl play piano when Super Spawn points to the side of the screen and says, "WHAT is that?"

I click the video and explain to him that it's a little boy playing a violin.  It was a five-year-old playing in a huge concert hall.  So Super Spawn announces, "I'm going to play that.  I want a violin.  That's going to be me."  Then he shoved a t-shirt under his chin and held his little hands out and pretended to play.

And he has asked me every other minute since if I've bought him a violin yet.  lol

I played piano when I was a kid, so I'm not too sure what to expect from a violin, but I'm going to let him try.  :)  I'm excited that he's so enthusiastic.  Any words of wisdom for me out there?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fun With Betas

I have awesome writer friends -- a bunch of them, in fact.  One conversation I had with Erinn this past weekend really highlighted all the attributes of my splendiferous group.  Read on, and prepare to giggle with us... (Or at us, you know, whatever.)

We were talking about an awesome MS we've both beta'd and this happened...

Me: I told her to get to work on book 2 lol
Erinn:  ME TOO!
Me: hahaha I wanna know what happens!
Are the {Characters} good or bad?!  I can't decide!
Erinn:  I KNOW!!!
It's awesome.
Me: It is.
Very awesome.
I kinda want to email her and make her tell me...because I'm impatient like that.
Erinn:  Do it, she'll love it.
Me:  Actually, I kinda want to blog about this exchange... lol
Erinn:  Do that too.
Me:  A "This is how you know you've got awesome writer friends" post
Me:  1 - You get texts throughout the day ranging from freaked out to excited because of Agent's tweets.
2 - You have awesome debates over IM about the awesome MS you both beta'd.
3 - Then you talk about what an awesome blog post it'll make. lmao
Erinn:  NICE
Me:  4 - You realize how many times you just used the word awesome.
Erinn:  5- You're sort of ashamed your vocab sucks so bad, because you know you're supposed to be a writer.
6- You say fuck it because anyone who uses big words sucks anyway and the word awesome is awesome.
Yep, totally blogging this.
Erinn:  Nice
Me:  Do you wish to be named in the post or no?
Why yes, yes we do.
There you have it.  A typical conversation with one of my AWESOME writer friends.  I <3 my writer buddies.  They're all super awesome.

Having someone to share all of these moments with, all the ups and downs and nerves and triumphs and upsets is, well...  Awesome.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Fives -- Winner, winner!

Time to join the gang over at Paper Hangover for another Friday Fives!  This week's topic: 

1) WriteOnCon is having a spectacular contest right now -- you could win $1000 and consideration for representation by Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management!

2) Writer's Digest is having both a short story and poetry competition right now.

And that's all I know about, so I look forward to seeing what everyone else has to offer!

Have you heard of any other contests?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Patience: It ain't easy

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very good at waiting patiently for things.  I'm the kind of person that when an idea lightening bolt strikes, the words must be written rightthissecond.

And revisions?  I pump through the work with more zest than a lemon.  (Ha, I crack myself up.)

If I start reading a book I expect to finish it within two days no matter what.  (Why do I do this to myself?  I don't know.  I'm insane I guess.)  I'm the same way at my day job too -- if I'm handed a project, it is completed with lightening speed.

I just don't wait around for anything.  I mean, I do my share of procrastination, but I'm also not going to let it get in the way of my (either perceived or pre-set) goals.  I'm a doer.  If I'm not doing something, working on something, I'm pacing the floor or pulling out my hair.

I'm not good at patience.

Except when I'm forced to be.  And I have been forced to lately for a whole host of different reasons.  To be honest, it has been really good for me.

Just an example -- those revisions I lost when my jump drive died, I had set them aside for about a week when I lost it all because something hadn't felt right with them.  I had decided to force a little more patience into my life and let them sit and stew to decide what the problem was.  Then the work was lost, and I was almost...glad.  I let it simmer a little longer and BANG!  Answer. 

If I had pushed through that feeling of doubt, which I normally would cast it off as just another writerly emotion, I'd still be trudging through a revision I hated deep down.  And why the heck would I do that?

So, all this to say:  Yay for patience.  I'm getting there -- reminding myself every day (or every hour when necessary) that patience is the key.  It's not easy, but it's something we've all got to come to terms with in every aspect of our lives I do suppose.  I'm working on it.

What about you all?  Are you naturally patient, or do you struggle with it like I do?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - It's a love/hate thing

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
Who are your favorite literary villains?

To me, the best literary villains are those who choose to be bad people (I'm using the term people lightly, not all villains are necessarily people, I know.).  Not the ones who are just bad for bad's sake -- the ones who are bad with intent.  They know the difference, and it would have been just as easy for them to stay on the straight and narrow, but they opted not to.  I think it makes them much more realistic, and much scarier.

For this reason, Voldemort tops my list of favorites.  He's a prime example of a villain who didn't have to be bad.  He was given a chance by Dumbledore when he went to Hogwarts -- he had the option of being a great student and going on to be a great, and good, wizard but he chose not to.

Another example would be Cruella DeVille. (Does she count as a literary villain?  I know I read a book, but I can't remember if it was a book first...)  I mean, killing puppies to make a coat out of their skin... That's pretty awful, and is purely a selfish choice.  She used to freak me out as a kid.  lol 

What about you?  Who are some of your favorite villains?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

About Killing Your Darlings

I don't guess the advice ever really sank in for me.  I mean, I never had a problem cutting text -- even huge chunks if I knew it'd improve the story.

Now it's different though.  I'm working on another revision and I'm having to cut some of my very favorite lines.  It hurts.  No, it more than hurts, it's eating away at my soul.  (Or maybe I just enjoy being dramatic.  You know.  It's more fun that way.)

I guess I've finally discovered the real meaning of the advice to kill your darlings.  My book *will* wind up stronger because of these cuts, and I have no delusions about that, but I still find myself trying to find places to slide the clever little turns of phrase in elsewhere when they just need to DIE.

DIE, DARLINGS, DIE!!!  *jabs them with red pen leaving blood stains on the page*

Ehm.  Getting carried away now.

My point is, I've learned that not everything I write can be considered my darling -- because some of those words?  Well, I don't like them a bit, and they're fun to rip through.  Then there are the ones that sting as you drag a line through their perfect letters.  Those are the darlings.  I have to keep reminding myself it's okay to kill them.  My story will be better for it.

How do you handle killing darlings? 

Monday, July 18, 2011

So it Ends

Well, the world has officially experienced its very last Harry Potter movie premier.  It's exciting and heartbreaking all at the same time.  But we've already talked about what HP has meant to us, so we'll skip that today.

I actually saw the movie twice this weekend.  Friday I went with my sister and family, then Saturday I took Super Spawn and he was SO stinking cute, I thought I'd share a couple of pics with you.

He's my little Ron Weasley.  :)  And totally a Gryffindor personality.  He was so good in the movie, and he LOVED it.  I was worried all the fighting might scare him, but he was so into it!  In fact, he even cheered at the end. 

If you can't tell, I love that he loves HP.  It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.  <3

Tell me, did you see the movie this weekend?  What'd you think?  I was very pleased, I thought they did a phenomenal job.  It was good enough I cried through the 2nd half of the movie BOTH times I saw it.  lol

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Fives -- Hangouts

It's that time again over on Paper Hangover...

1) Blogs - Does that count as a writing community?  I think so.  I've met most of my writing friends and beta readers through my blog.  *waves*  <3 you guys!

2) YALitChat - I've been a part of YALitChat for a long time now, and I've always found great support over on those boards.  I also met my fab critique partner over there.  :D

3) Absolute Write - An invaluable depth of information on every aspect of writing can be found in these forums.

4) Query Tracker - Between the comments on the individual agent's pages and the forum where everything from critiques to success stories are shared, you can learn a lot about agents, writing, and the publishing process.  I probably spend way to much time there actually.  lol

5) I don't actually have a fifth.  Hmm...drawing a blank.  I know I'm forgetting something.

What are your favorite writing communities?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beta Anxiety

I tend to warn people before I ever agree to critique their work: I'm a heavy-handed commenter.  Just because you see a bunch of track changes marks should not scare you.  I comment on the good as well as what could use work.

But it's inevitable -- the moment I hit send on that email containing my notes and the marked up MS, I start to worry.  Not about the comments I made so much as the way they will be received.

I always, always try my hardest to put comments nicely, helpfully.  I would never intentionally be rude or overbearing to someone I'm working with -- ever.  Then that niggling doubt in the back of my mind creeps forward and harasses me again. "She's going to hate you.  You've scared her off for good this time."

Then I bite my fingernails until the writer comes back after reading my notes.  And it always turns out fine.

Still, I'm the anxious beta.  It gets better the more I work with my steady betas -- I know they expect my plethora of comments, and I know it won't overwhelm them.  But it doesn't seem to matter, every time I send another file off that anxiety trickles back in.

What about you guys?  Do you have beta anxiety?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Oh, my bad!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What's the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you've made?
Well this should be entertaining.
This was a few years back, right about the time I finished my very first manuscript.  Oh, yeah.  You know where this is going.
I have a friend locally who writes as well.  She writes adult fantasy, and we like to get together and write on occasion.  So, we planned to go to a local writers conference.  My friend was already a member of the writers group putting the conference on -- so she nabbed us a couple of pitch sessions with agents.  Awesome, right?
--insert freakout--
The agent was lovely and sweet and funny and easy to talk to, but I realized about the time I walked into that room that I wasn't close to ready for this.  I mean, I had spent the few months prior scouring the internet and trying to learn everything I could, but -- yeah.  Not. Ready.
Things turned out alright -- the agent liked my concept and requested to read pages.  I went home and, lesson learned, truly immersed myself into the world of publishing.    
Yes, the agent ultimately rejected that MS.  Of course.  But some good came from it -- number one, I realized what I needed to do if I was serious about going after publication.  And two, I made a personal contact with one of the nicest agents in the industry.  That agent will forever have my respect for treating newbie me so kindly.

I still cringe when I think about it though.  ;)
What about you?  Made any cringe-worthy mistakes?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What does Harry Potter mean to you?

I know not everyone here is a Potter Head, but I know some of you are.  My sister and I recently had a very heated discussion over why Harry Potter is important to me, and I had a tough time putting it to words.  So, lucky you gets to read it.  :P

Harry Potter has been a part of my life for about the last 10 years, like many people.  I read the books, I saw the movies, I enjoyed them.  The books inspire me, they transport me away from the worries of life and into a whole new world in a way another book has never done.  I feel as invested in the lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione as I do anyone's.

But the biggest impact Harry Potter made on me was through J. K. Rowling and her rags to riches story.  I've shared before some of the similar experiences I've had in my life, and nothing inspires to keep going more than to know that she pulled through it all.  Heck, she did way more than pull through.

The thing is, Harry Potter is more to me than a story.  It's what inspired me to gather up my courage and write a book.  It's what inspires me to continue writing books.  When I get down in the dumps, it's Harry I turn to.  (I know I'm a little crazy.  I accept that.) 

At the end of the day though, my sister still shrugged and said, "Meh, I still don't get it.  It's just a movie."

Which is when I bashed her head into a wall.  Not really.  But I may have daydreamed about it.  Because it's way more than "just a movie" to me.  Harry Potter is a symbol of all the struggles I've been through in my life, and of all the hope I have for my future.

What about you?  What does Harry Potter mean to you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crying Over Spilled Milk

Or lost words, as it were.

So between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon of last week I wrote about 5k words as a restart for my wip.  A much stronger, much more exciting beginning to the story that has been plaguing me.  (Which, up to now I'd only been adding 200-500 words at a time, so this was a huge breakthrough.)

Imagine my surprise when I went to continue the story Friday night and my jump drive was dead.

Many tears, and a trip to the computer store later, nothing can be retrieved.

Now, I'm a big fan of backup copies of everything -- so almost everything on there was backed up.  Except my latest revisions I've been working on and, you guessed it, that brand new 5k words.

It's not as bad as it could have been, but it still sucks.  So instead of adding to the story eating at my brain this weekend, I rewrote about 3k of it.

Think of this as your friendly reminder to back your files up.  I've switched my backup service over to SugarSync, which can detect when I make changes to a document, and will back it up as soon as I hit save.  Yeah, Holly's not losing any more work.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Fives -- Look it up!

This week on Paper Hangover our topic is...

1)  Google -- of course.  I Google for pictures, for any quick information I need, etc.  I'm sure everyone uses Google.  ;)

2)  The book store.  -- Ever walked into a book store and asked one of the booksellers something like, "I'm looking for information on life in the early 1900's, can you point me in the right direction?"  I have.  And they always help.

3)  Facebook --  I know that may sound weird, but here's the thing: I've got a very wide range of friends on my Facebook, from lawyers to pharmacists to mechanics to English teachers.  So, generally speaking, I can post a question and have an answer by the end of the day from someone who knows what they're talking about.

4)  Wikipedia -- Man, I could get lost on that site for hours.  There's so much interesting stuff to be discovered!

5)  Coffee -- What?  Coffee doesn't count as a resource?  But...  But I'd die without my coffee!  Plus, with a cup of coffee in my hand is when I do my best brainstorming.  :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When to work, and when NOT to work

Some days I wake up gung-ho ready to get to work on whatever project I'm dealing with at the time.  And then sometimes, not so much.

We all have those days, right?  You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or worse, something happens to spin your morning straight into the dumpster.  Yeah.  Gotta love those mornings.  (Note the sarcasm.)

But something I've noticed over the past couple of years is that my mood affects my writing in a huge way.  If I'm in a bright, bubbly kind of mood, my writing is going to be full of humor.  It's going to be snappy dialogue and quick paced.  Whereas if I'm having one of those days, the words are harder to push out.  Everything takes on a dark tone and my characters are full of snarky remarks.  Which is fine if that's where the character needs to be at the moment, but odds are -- they don't. (My characters tend to be pretty light and sometimes even funny, so, you can tell it's off.)

I know something I struggle with is feeling obligated to work on one of my projects every single day for several hours.  Some people can do that, and that's awesome and fantastic for them, but for the most part, I cannot.  (In fact, I usually get an hour of good work out at the most.  Unless we're talking revision work.)  I work best when I'm happy, not angry, not stressed, just content.  So I have learned (through trial and error) to take a break from the structured writing time when I'm just not feeling it.  Because if I force it, it's not going to help the story at all.  The tone will be off, the character won't resonate -- it'll have to be rewritten anyway.

What about you guys?  Do you find you need to follow your moods with your writing, or am I a special bird? lol

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Picture This

The topic on the YA Highway this week is:

Share some images that inspire your WIP(s). 

I have two projects I'm in love with right now, so I'll include pictures for each.  I haven't told many about my newest WIP, so you'll get a tiny taste of what it could be about.  :)

My new WIP, which I'm calling (right now) Once Before a Time:

Happily Never After:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Recommendation -- Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

So, I read a book over the weekend.  Two actually, but one of them was mine so it doesn't count.  ;)

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
By Donald Maass

Writing the Breakout Novel 
Workbook: Hands-On Help for Making Your Novel Stand Out and Succeed

In essence, what this book does is ask the hard questions on character development, plot, structure, pacing, etc.  And Maass gives examples from recognizable books to drive his points home.

I worked through this entire workbook this weekend, and let me tell you -- it's one of the best investments I've made in my writing.  Yes, I'm serious.

The questions through this workbook helped me look at my story in an entirely different way.  It made me turn my thinking around and consider aspects I'd never even thought to consider.  Which, can we say awesome?  It was awesome.

I have pages and pages of notes to use to work through my revisions because of this awesome book -- and they're not even huge changes, but they're changes that'll bring a big punch to the story.  I highly recommend everyone snatch a copy of this.  I'll be using it on all of my novels from now on.

Have any of you used the workbook before?  How'd you like it?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Fives -- It was a dark and stormy night...

Ah, cliches.  Fun aren't they?  These little landmines are super easy to fall into, but they can create quite a mess to be cleaned up.  I don't even know if everyone would consider these cliches really, but hey, it's my list so I'll make it what I want.  :P

1) Opening with a dream.  -  Er... Been there, done that.  I think if done right, this can be a powerful beginning to a novel.

2) The prologue -  They get a bad rap, but I will hold to the fact that they can also significantly impact a novel in a good way.

3) The shy girl who takes a stand and turns her life around and winds up in all-out butt kicking awesomeness.

4) The bad boy.  I will always love the bad boy.

5) Fairy tales -  I don't care how many fairy tales are written or rewritten, loved or hated, my heart belongs to that happily ever after.

What are your favorites?