Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The day Super Spawn has been anxiously awaiting for about two months now is FINALLY here!  lol  My cute little kiddo is dressing up as Jack Sparrow tonight (complete with authentic dreads and pirate medallion lol).  He has been planning this costume since the beginning of September...seriously.

Oh, and this post is a 100% rambly about me kind of post, so fair warning.  :)

We spent the day yesterday baking (I had to make 2 dozen cupcakes AND 2 dozen sugar cookies for school!  Not to mention all the cupcakes and brownies for us to decorate. Gah! lol) and making fun concoctions for our annual Halloween get together.

Pinterest totally gets the credit for these. :)

Tonight we'll be having chili and hotdogs and trick-or-treating with some great friends.  I can't wait.

Do you guys have any Halloween traditions?  What will you be doing tonight?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Fives -- A World Away

1.  Of course this would have to be Harry Potter, because -- it's Harry Potter.  I mean, you guys know me well enough to know OF COURSE I want to live in the magical world.  :D

2.  Perhaps the world of Once Upon A Marigold would be fun -- I mean, as long as I wasn't the one on the evil witch's bad side.  

3.  For the most part, I would not want to live in the worlds Juliette Marillier creates (even though they rank among my all-time favorites).  Let's face it, they're kinda evil.  Except maybe Wildwood Dancing...which that's really all about the choices you make.  Sorta.  No?  Well...still...I can't have a list without one of her books at least.  

4.  I'm realizing most of the books I read are either set in the real world or in REALLY SCARY other worlds.  Hmm...

5.  Dr. Seuss.  Maybe I could live in Oh the Places You'll Go...

Can you guys name five book worlds you'd like to live in?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WIP Reveal

I know I've been kinda secretive about my WIP, and...well...I'm not sure why.  Maybe because I love it so much.  :)  One of those times where you're scared to show someone a photo of your baby because OMG what if they think it's ugly?!  (Plus, secrets are kinda fun.)

But, I'm bucking up.  Mostly because it's getting too hard to be secretive with another project in the works that I'm bursting with excitement about.  Ha.

Therefore, I'd like you to meet TATE'S HELL, my YA thriller.

What's it about?  Well...

A legendary waterfall in the swamps of Florida isn't supposed to exist, but Delia Ray and her friends find it.  People aren't supposed to become possessed, but Delia watches in horror as her friends lose control of their own minds and bodies.  Riddles that mean the difference between life and death aren't meant to be solved, but that's the challenge Delia faces if she wants to escape. 

This isn't a query or anything, just a little blurb I came up with that I think is a fun way to describe the story.  What do you think?

Source: None via Holly on Pinterest

I lovelovelove this story, and I'm excited to share it with you.  Remember that post about the Legendary Forest?  Yeah.  This is my own personal twisty tale woven around that legend.  :)  Maybe one day I'll get to share it with you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Building a World

So, something that has happened in my new project is leading me down a path of a whole bunch of world building.  Now, I've written my share of fantasy, but usually my stories have a firm basis in the real world even if there are crazy fantastical things happening to them.

With this new story, which I'm calling OLEA (Oh-lee), the world building is going a little further.  It's set in a sort-of alternative future, where an event in our history going very differently changed the shape of the world they live in.  (And not in a little way, like in HUGE ways.)

Since I was home with a sick kiddo yesterday, and got zero time to write, I pulled out my box of drawing supplies and decided to try my hand at creating the images in my head on paper.

Well, I kinda suck at drawing.  I mean, I took some classes back in the day, but...yeah.  An artist I am not.  (No matter how much I'd like to be. lol)  Proof:

The dress is *supposed* to look like a flower -- the top being the stem.  See?  Yeah, not very good, but now I have at least got a good visual for writing.  :)  I've also started drawing out the layout of their city, and as plants play a really big roll in this story, I've started sketching some of those too.

Now, I think you all know by now I'm a big fan of pinterest and photo inspiration, but this is the first time I've set out to create my own images of what my world is like.  Have any of you done this before?  Do you find it helpful?  I'd love to hear what you think.

By the way, this is the NaNo project, not the WIP I keep mentioning.  :)  In case you're curious.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Paper Hangover Today...

Sometimes I Fail, so You get a Recommendation!

So, obviously I fail today.  Because it's 1pm and I'm just now realizing I was in charge of the Teen Scene post today.  Sorry, guys!  I'll blame it on the sick kid I'm home with.  ;)

In spite of my obvious lack of teen topic, I thought I'd share a book I read with you guys.  It's an ARC from Simon Pulse, the novel will be released January 3, 2012.
By Lucas Klauss

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Successful Weekend

So...I finished another round of revisions Saturday on my WIP.  What did I learn?  That with five hours of uninterrupted time a day I could rule the world.  For real.

It was lovely, Super Spawn went to the movies with grandpa and the house was so deliciously quiet.  I sat at the dining room table and worked and worked and worked.  It was the most focused I've been in a long time, and it was so nice.

In fact, as backward as it seems, it's exactly what I needed to recharge my writing batteries. 

Now I'm kinda in this weird limbo place where the WIP is waiting for more feedback and I really, really want to write something.  But I was going to do NaNo so I should wait.  But I really, really want to write.  ;)

So maybe I'll just write and not count the words toward my NaNo goal.  lol  I mean, if the muse is there, why tell her to hold on, right?  Write!

I'd love to hear how all of your projects are coming.  Who all is doing NaNo this year?  I personally feel a little insane for attempting it since I just did this a month ago, but hey, whatever.  Nobody ever accused me of being normal.  ;)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Little Inspiration

I'm not quite sure why this week has seemed particularly dreary (maybe it's the gray skies that won't let go around here), but I'm feeling the need for a pick-me-up.  So I give you, quotes of inspiration thanks to Pinterest.  I hope you find them as uplifting and encouraging as I do.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday -- Why do You do it?

This week's topic over at the YAHighway is:

What's your numero-uno reason for writing?

Honestly?  I write because I have to.  

I'm sitting here trying to pinpoint just when in my life I haven't been writing *something* (even if not a novel), and I guess the only time I wasn't was...when I couldn't write.

I've always had these words swirling around in my head.  Before I wrote novels, I wrote a lot of really bad poetry, and I journaled like it was nobody's business.  Nothing felt better than ending the day by spilling all of my thoughts and emotions out on the page, and I guess that's just it.

I write because I need to, because I want to, and because I love it. 

If I didn't write, I'd be missing a piece of my heart...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Confession Time

I have a confession to make:  I'm scared.

Yep.  Scared.  I said it.

I'm scared that my WIP isn't good enough.  I'm scared that no book I write will ever be good enough. (For me, that is. I am my own toughest critic.)  I'm scared that even if it is, I'll screw it up somehow.  I'm scared that I won't ever reach my dreams.  I'm scared that I'll get discouraged.  Scared I'll give up.  And scared that if I do, Super Spawn will never reach for his dreams.

But you know what else?  I'm not going to let fear stop me or define me.

I've been struggling with my WIP because of the fear, but I also realized something yesterday.  Maybe it's okay to be scared, as long as you don't let it take over, don't let it dampen your love for the craft.  The fear is only as strong as I allow it to be.  All it takes to put it back in its little box is me deciding to shove it away and not allowing it to sink its claws in.

Easier said than done, I know.  I just feel like I need to be honest with you guys.  I always try to put on a positive face and think positive thoughts and SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS FOR EVERYONE!!!

But the truth is, we all struggle with fear, and so I wanted to let any of you out there feeling the same way know I'm right there with you.  I know talking to my writer friends and hearing them express the same feelings always puts things in perspective. 

This whole blogging thing is about sharing a journey I'm on, and I feel sure plenty of you experience the same things, the same fears I do.  Blogs are a great source of inspiration for me, and when I get stuck in a rut, you all are the first ones I turn to for those inspiring words you post every day.  That's all I want to be for you all, and I hope you know that.

Do any of you deal with this kind of fear?  What do you do when it tries to get the best of you?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Links Galore

So today I'm going to join in on the fun of the 7x7 award that is circling which is supposed to highlight some of my past blog posts. I hope you'll enjoy the links I've included! :)

Most Beautiful: I think I have to choose Behind the Mask

Most Helpful: I'd say my Using Analytics - An Overview was a pretty helpful post.  Lots of diagrams and general awesomesauce.

Most Popular: Well, the post with the most pageviews (according to my Google Stats) is Frazzled Mom Brain.  That kinda makes me giggle.  The next most popular, aside from contest posts, is from the Query Letter Blogfest that Alicia, Erinn, Pam, Quita, and I hosted together.  You can read the query I used for Happily Never After there.  :)

Most Controversial: Have I ever written a controversial post?  Maybe Adverbs count.

Most Successful: Define successful.  lol  This is HARD!  Maybe my Outlining Your Novel Part 1 and Part 2 series of posts.

Most Underrated: Blerg, I don't know.  I really like this post, Sometimes it Doesn't, which was very sincere and has an important message.

Most Prideworthy:  I'm really proud of my post, This is for YOU.  It stands true to this day, and I hope you all know that writing this blog is about so much more than splattering my randomness on the internet.

Whew!  That was tough, but that's a pretty cool compilation of blog posts (many of which I had forgotten about).  Thank you, Miss Cole for sharing the meme with me!

Now I expect you all to go complete this meme as well, because I want to know what kind of awesome posts I've missed on your blogs!  ;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Fives -- I had strange taste

Admittedly, I had wide-ranging (and somewhat strange) reading tastes as a kid.  (We're gonna go with stuff I read in elementary school here.)  Want proof?  Here you go:

1.  One Last Wish (series) by Lurlene McDaniel -- I read every one of these books, plus anything else she published.  I think I was eight when her first book landed in my hands (about a year after we lost my sister) and seeing as her books are about dealing with death, I was hooked.  For total honesty -- I still have them all tucked neatly in a trunk in storage. 

2.  The Boxcar Children by

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Character Development

So, number one on my revision list for my WIP is character development.  Not necessarily for the main character either, though she'll get her share of attention.

Right now, I'm focusing on my supporting characters and how to bring their personalities to life without bogging the story down.

That's a tall order to fill, and probably one of the most important.

What did I do?  Well, I made a spreadsheet of course.  ;)

I'm not sure if you can see that very well, but it's a quick-reference sheet of sorts. I have physical traits, age, interests, and the GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) for each character listed for easy reference. So when I'm revising, I have my bullet list of what I'm looking to add/change, and my one-page spreadsheet on characters. That way if I hit a spot and go, hmm, would Blair really say this here? I can glance at the list and know my Yale-bound mathlete probably would not.

And it's funny how the smallest changes can have such a large impact on the sound and overall presentation of a character.  It's not even necessarily about what they say so much as how they say it sometimes.  :)

What do you do to help define characters?  Any tips you'd like to share with me? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - A Winding Road

This week's topic over at the YAHighway is:

What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

Well I'd say my road trip has been fairly twisty, with lots of hills and valleys, but a very fun ride.

I started writing my first novel (well, not the first, first, but the first one I took seriously) in August of 2009.  The next year was full of excitement and learning.  This was the first novel I ever *finished* writing, and I even started dipping my toes into the blogging world in early 2010.

Along with meeting some fantastic writer friends, I learned about the industry, and even got to meet a real live agent at a conference.  In October 2010 I wrote yet another book (much faster and cleaner than the first) and polished it until it shined.

Then I took a dive into the querying world, which I know I haven't said much at all about.  I started querying Happily Never After on February 28th, and with success!  But that's where my first real traffic jam hit.  I got a lot of requests, and had some dream-worthy agents reading my material, but none of them loved it enough.  Which is fine, and I totally respect that.

But that's where my journey detoured from what I expected.  The detour I wound up on though?  Not so bad!  I've written another book that I love, I've learned even more about my craft and the industry.

And just around the corner?  Who knows.  Could be another hill to climb, could be another detour, but whatever it is I'll just keep trucking on.  I mean, what's more fun than road tripping with the music blaring and great friends beside you?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Teen Brain

My post on The Teen Brain is over on Paper Hangover today!  Go check it out!

On another note, I did a blog update this morning and redirected everything to my domain name -- if you find something isn't working, please let me know!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Beta Returns

Just for fun, I thought I'd share with you the range of emotion I experienced last night as I checked my email to find my crit notes from my Super Awesome Beta.

Now, I opened my email unsuspecting, thinking maybe there'd be some spam, but that's about it.  Then my eyes sorta bugged out: 

Holy spamoley that was fast!  And suddenly my brain morphs into OMGSHEHATEDIT mode, and I looked more like this: 

Once I got my wits about me enough to open the email, things started to look up. AKA the time where my brain goes ohthankGODshemightstilltalktome.  (My brain is very dramatic, but you all know this by now. lol)   So that looked more like this: 

Then I got really brave and opened the file to see the in-line comments.  That's when I got a

Lots of work still to do, my friends, but I know I'm headed in the right direction now!  EEEEE!!

Tell me, do you go through the same sorts of thoughts and emotions when you get feedback? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fives -- It's the little things 

1. Pinterest - Pictures are my first go-to when I need a bit of inspiration, and there's no better way to find, categorize, or store them than Pinterest.  One intriguing image and my mind starts whirling, slinging questions, spinning plots, and I'm off on a new adventure.

2.  Get Out - Getting out of the house for a while, even if I just move my computer to the nearest coffee shop, can open my brainwaves up like nothing else.  New scenery, chattering people, and strong coffee are just the ticket.

3.  Super Spawn - I know I'm sorta biased, but I think my kiddo is just about the smartest kid out there.  He is incredibly perceptive, and I find a lot of my inspiration comes from questions he asks, or things he says.  If I'm stuck at a plot point, usually it's his sweet little face that utters something that smashes everything into place, and helps me realize what I'm doing wrong. 

4.  Friends - Seriously, my writer friends/beta readers/Goddesses of Brainstorming are irreplaceable.  I can fire off an email with a question, and in quick syncopation my inbox bings with answers and ideas.  Or if I'm having trouble thinking through (yet another) plot point, a chat with one of them will bring everything into focus.  (I love you guys!)

5.  Books - I think this one is kinda DUH, but reading a really great book gets my blood roaring and my heart pumping, ready to take on the challenge of becoming even a tenth as good as whoever the author is at writing.  ;)

What about you all?  What five things inspire your writing?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Newton's Third Law of...Writing?

My brain goes in some of the weirdest directions sometimes.  I've been thinking this week about all the lovely and shiny ideas I've had for stories over the last year, and how many of them tanked within the first 1,000 words on the page.

I've come to a conclusion:  For every good idea, there is an equal and opposite bad idea.

Looks familiar, doesn't it?  It should.  It's Newton's Third Law of Motion, which I've thoroughly corrupted for my own purposes.

I'm a nerd, I know.  I embrace that side of myself fully.

But it's true, not every idea can be a good one.  Not every idea can have a stellar concept, a breathtaking plot, and three-dimensional characters.  Can you imagine if they did?  I'd never leave my computer again!

Letting ideas or characters or whatever shiny bit of story it was that sprung to mind go can be sad-making.  I've still got one idea from a while back I'm clinging desperately to, hoping I'll be able to find a plot to fit it at some point.  But at some point you have to allow yourself to step back and say, "This idea isn't as great as I first thought, and that's okay.  It's time to move on."

Because some ideas turn out to be a brassy copper instead of that shiny gold color we were looking for.  Newton said that's how it had to be.  Blame him.  ;)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Poem By Me

Today is the second anniversary of my younger brother's death.  I've written a poem I'd like to share with you all in memory of him:

Scars of Our Hearts

Silence surrounds in place of your laughter
A hint of longing forever after
Where tears will fall and fall again
This life with you we once began

Though you're with us nevermore
Days exist just like before
But different where the shadow bends
Around our heads and lifts our chins

We must go on through all the strife
And truth be told it's what you'd like
All we do, we do for you
For this life you never knew

Let's laugh, let's cry, let's say again
That too soon you met your end
Then once more the dust we'll gather
And mesh and press our hearts together.

-Holly Dodson 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Open Forum

Today I thought we'd have a little fun.  My brain is groggy thanks to allergies and cooler weather, so let's do a Q&A session!  You ask, I'll answer.  Whatever you want to know -- it can be about writing, about my processes, general stuff, whatever suits your fancy.

I'll answer in the comments, or if it's a long answer question, I'll make a blog post out of it.

 So, let's hear it, what questions are running through your mind this morning?

Disclaimer:  If you ask me things like, "What's Super Spawn's real name," I won't answer.  :)  Not that I don't want to but, you know, privacy issues and all. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dueling Projects

Over the weekend, after finishing a round of revisions, I sent my WIP off for its very first beta read.   *cue scary music*  Just kidding.  Nothing scary about a good critique.  ;)

I have, however, been struck by the Shiny New Idea fairy.  Fun times.  This is where the inspiration struck (thanks to Pinterest, my new favorite source)

Isn't she lovely?

Anyway, I've always been a one story at a time kind of girl.  Finish a project, then pick up another.  But this girl, this story, is refusing to wait.

So here's my question:  Is it wise to revise one story and write another at the same time?  Granted, it wouldn't be at the same very time, I'd write while WIP is out with betas and revise when it returned.  Do any of you work on multiple projects at once?

It seems wise to go ahead and learn now, because one day if I'm under deadline the reality is that I'll probably have a couple projects going at once.  Right?  I mean, that is the end goal.

What do you guys think?  Too risky, or a smart move?