Friday, July 31, 2009

For The Visually Astute

Okay, so I got a DM on Twitter yesterday from a girl who said it takes a long time to leave a comment on my blog.

What? I had no idea.

Why didn't you all tell me?

Dudes, I feel like I've been walking around with spinach in my teeth or something! Come on! Throw a girl a bone!

Anyway, then Heather emailed to say that she couldn't follow me because the widget doesn't load. I've known this for months. I didn't know what to do. If you've been paying attention, I took that widget off for a few days and put up my Facebook one.

Then I switched back. Still didn't work.

Anyway, Heather-the-Super-Sleuth told me my blog was loading live feeds. Yeah, I didn't know what that meant either. But she did. So she helped me understand and I deleted a bunch of them.


The follow box comes up and you can see the tiny heads!

Success is mine!

(I think. Is it loading for you? Can you see the tiny heads? Does the site load faster? Bones, people. I need bones.)

Then I checked it again later last night. It wasn't working. So Carolyn, who is the queen of technology, told me to reload the template. So I did that.

Thus, this new look that is a bit on the lame side. I'm going to be adding in my Facebook and Twitter stuff, my Wicked Awesome Bloggers list and other stuff a few at a time and see if it affects the other widgets. I don't know how I'm going to survive though. I get to all of your blogs by clicking on my WAB links. I can already feel the withdrawls...or the stress of finding you in my dashboard list.

Oh, and if you've been trying to follow me and haven't been able to, I apologize! It should be working now.

The visually astute might have noticed my shiny new header. Made it myself. *grins*

Anyway, that is all.

Oh, wait! I was gonna call for schweet new blogs to follow today. Sort of like a Follow Friday for blogging. So what blogs do you follow that you absolutely adore? I wanna follow them too, so leave their blog address in a comment, 'kay? Okay.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Worth of Writing

So I had something else planned for today. Then I read Nathan Bransford's blog yesterday about the possibility of being crazy.

Um, anyone who knows me wouldn't hesitate to use this word to describe me. In fact, I have a T-shirt that says "crazy doesn't even begin to cover it". Really, I do.

But his post was more along the lines of this crazy dream of getting a book published. I definitely feel this kind of crazy. I've spent hours writing. Even more hours researching the business. Even more social networking. Critiquing. Editing. The whole nine yards.

Is it worth it?

Reading through the comments on Nathan's post, I see how other people endure their crazy moments. I've had a few things conspire against me recently, and I've had to make some priorities in my life.

While cleaning the garage: Is this worth keeping?

When my girl kidlet wants a popsicle and I want to say no: Is it worth the fight?

When the guy in front of me is going five under the speed limit: Is he worth passing? Do I even have room? Why is he only going 30??!!

But seriously. Sometimes I find myself in front of the computer late at night. The fan is on, cuz I like the white noise. The house is asleep. I've played my Bejeweled Blitz. I've read my blogs. I am calm.

And I'm writing. I've never asked myself if I'm crazy for aspiring to be a writer. I already know I'm crazy on many levels.

But every now and then, this question enter my mind: Is it worth it?

What do you think? Why is writing, and aspiring to become a published author, worth it? Whatever "it" may be.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WiP Wednesday - Stats

This week, I give you stats.

# of hours I spent playing tennis - 5

# of hours I spent cleaning my garage - 10

# of loads of laundry - 5

# of times I squished myself into a swimming suit - 3

# of times I went to lunch - 2 (and it's only Wed! I l-o-v-e going to lunch. I already have a lunch date for Friday. Woot!)

# of homegrown tomatoes I ate - 15

# of times I got in my burning hot car yesterday to either pick my kids up or take them to something - 12 (srsly)

# of words written in the past 8 days - 7,152

# of pages edited in the same time - 22

# of pages done for crit group - 51

# of queries sent - 1

# of times "# of" appears in this post - 13

What have you been up to?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

4 Out Of 5 Bejeweled Blitz Games Agree...

Yeah, I know. I told you I was going to ressurrect the Teaser Tuesday... Um, not so much. Next week, friends. Next week.

Instead, I give you...

Bejeweled Blitz Magic 8 Ball!

Ooooh, shiny.

This is courtesy of H.L. Dyer. She uses her score on Bejeweled Blitz as sort of a predicter. You know, whatever you'd ask a Magic 8 Ball, you can ask BB. Just pick a score and play!

Okay, so I'm not like the BB Goddess or anything, but I can usually get a score between 30 - 85 K, give or take a few thousand. Sometimes I get 6500. Whatever.

My question (yes or no only): Will I get good news this week?

So I picked the score of 50,000. If I got above 50K, the answer was yes. Below, no. Now, since I have quite a severe addiction to BB, I only gave myself 5 minutes. That's 5 games. Best 3 out of 5 you could say.


4 out of 5 Bejeweled Blitz games think I'm going to get good news this week! It could be anything, like the starting date for school has been postponed a month...or that my garage has mysteriously cleaned itself...or something.

Does anyone have a Magic 8 Ball they want to confirm this with? Thx.

Do any of you do stuff like this to pass the time? Or any other quirks you feel like sharing about yourself? Lay them on me, I'm ready.

Monday, July 27, 2009

If You've Got Five Minutes...

You're gonna love this. Trust me. It's five minutes and worth every single second. You might wanna even watch it twice. I could preform it for you by now. I won't. I can't sing.

This is how I feel when I'm in a Writing Rut. (I'm not saying I am. It just reminded me of it. But I could be...) It seems like I have certain words and phrases and descriptions I use over and over again--like Pachelbel and the same chords in every song.

Do you do this? How do you make each story distinct with the words you use? I try to listen to the characters, but sometimes I find myself always using, say, something like this, "She held the XXX in front of her like a shield." And it's never something that could actually, yanno, shield anything. It's like her history paper. Or the pants that boy is bringing over. Or something. (Don't try to make sense of the pants. Really. Maybe I'll post it for Teaser Tuesday. That's right. It's being resurrected. Prepare yourselves.)

Anyway, back to Pachelbel and repetition in your stories. With all the letters and words and sentences and different ways to put them together, do you ever find yourself writing in a rut? If so, how do you get out?

By the way, I do this (the rut thing) with dinner too. My boy kidlet will sometimes say, "Sloppy joes...again?" and I give him the laser eye and he mumbles, "Sorry," and eats his stinking sloppy joe. Again.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Ultimate Rejection

Yeah, so I'm addicted to reality TV. It's not like I'm ashamed about it or anything. Maybe there should be a Reality TV Anonymous or something. I'd be, like, the president. Anyway, in the summer, I love So You Think You Can Dance (What? You're not watching?? Go Kayla!) and The Next Food Network Star. A couple more things (More to Love) are starting and they all look a bit on the lame side (More to Love).

But my husband DVR'ed this one called Dating In The Dark.

That's right. Three guys. Three girls. They move into this hugene house together, the guys with the guys and the girls with the girls. You wanna sneak peek, dontya? I know you do. Click on that link up there. You have to watch a 30-second commercial before you get the teaser, but it is SOOO worth it. Trust me.

They can't see each other, like at all. They go on dates in "the darkroom" and get to know each other without the distraction of being able to see. Cuz, really, who needs that getting in the way?

Anyway, so I watched it. At the end of the show, they stand in the darkroom and get to see the other person they've been dating all this time. Then they have to decide if they want to see that person outside of the house (or the darkroom). If so, they go out onto this balcony to wait and see if the other one shows up.

Talk about brutal. Bru. Tal.

If the other one doesn't show up, what kind of holy-brown-cows-you're-a-loser rejection is that? I mean, they've spent all this time with you and then they find out what you look like, and hasta la vista?


On this first episode, it happened once. And the guy had to stand there and watch this girl that he liked walk away from him because of how he looked.

I almost started crying for him. Talk about the ultimate rejection. That's like ripping the band-aid off super slow and then reattaching it with super glue and peeling off each layer of skin until only bare bone is showing.

So since I've been getting a few rejections, I've related his romance rejection pain to my writing rejection pain. And you know? I think I'll take my quiet, private email over standing on the balcony with a camera in my face as I watch the other person walk away.

Of course, I'd rather not be rejected at all, but you know, it's part of the game, right? So Carolyn had this on the QT blog a week or two ago.

And I realized that most, if not all, of my rejections are coming in the blue part of the pyramid. And so I cling to hope, that there is one agent out there that my book will "fit" with.

What about you guys? How are you surviving the Rejection Rapids? Do you have the uber-supportive spouse? The cyberfriend who can make it all better? The crit group that keeps you going? Or are you, like, Iron Man or something?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Made of Wait

Dude, waiting is part of the process.

I know! Shut up! It's still hard!

Only because you need a distraction.

*snort* Sure, because all the blogs I've read, the Facebook updates, the hours of playing Bejeweled Blitz, and/or the multitude of Guitar Hero songs aren't distracting enough.

Hey, you tried cooking the other night...

Shut up! No one needs to know about that chicken! You know poultry hates me!

The ribs were good.

Crock pot. And you're not helping.

*sighs with loads of exasperation* Go read a book or something.

Read a book?! Read a book??!! That's your suggestion???!!!

I said 'or something'. And right now I could give you more specifics on what that something could be.

No thanks. Why don't you stop badgering me?

Why don't you enjoy the wait?




Yeah, I didn't even give you an intro. I just launched you right into the conversation I've been having with myself for days. Nay, weeks. (Did you like being inside my head? Did it freak you out? It's my brain, and I'm a little freaked out. sengihnampakgigi)

And I always end up at that question. I really hate my Rational Self sometimes. Really, really, really hate her.

But seriously. I'm suffering in the Publishing Waiting Room, and it's nowhere near as nice as that one. No, it's all white walls and bare light bulbs hanging from single wires.

I have the toolkit I blogged about a while ago. It's empty. Not working. What else have you guys got to help me through the waiting? How can I learn to enjoy the wait? Ideas? I'll take anything at this point.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WiP Wednesday

...or What I Have Learned About My Life, Writing, and the Universe.

The titles are synonymous. Take your pick. *wink*

Okay, since I love word math so much:

Freezing Camping last week + Dirty Laundry + Girl Kidlet with a Hacking Cough = No Writerly Progress.

But I did learn a few things. Oh, yes. My brain never turns off, so even whilst (I love that word) searching for black bears, I can stew on other things.

Things I Have Learned About My Life, Writing, and the Universe:

1. The night sky in Wyoming is spectacular. Chalk one up for the universe. Seriously. If you think you've seen stars, you're wrong. Good thing I had to get up and go to the bathroom in subarctic weather or I might have missed that glowing yellow crescent. Universe - 1.

2. 33 degrees is really cold to be sleeping in a tent with "star-gazing" capabilities (meaning the top was see-through mesh). Another point for the universe.

3. Small things like seeing a bald eagle thrill me. This one goes in the "my life" box. Who knew seeing an elk or a marmot would make me so happy? I just wish the moose would've come out of hiding. Doesn't he realize we got up at 5:30 AM just to find him? I guess that one could go to the universe too.

Status: Universe - 3, Writing - 0, My Life - 1

4. The hours spent in a cramped car can count as character research. Trust me on this...yeah, just trust me. Writing - 1.

5. Lame jokes are really lame. And that can be a character quirk. Also, the more one tells lame jokes, the funnier said person becomes until finally, the other people are laughing. Which, of course, is the goal of the lame-joke-teller. Are you following this? Probably not. Le sigh. Writing - 1, Universe - 1.

6. I do not like talk radio, like, at all. My Life - 10,000.

Status: Universe - 4, Writing - 2, My Life - 10,001

7. Rejections don't hurt as much if you have to wait days to receive them. It's almost like you knew they were lurking in the inbox so you were mentally prepared. Or something. Writing - 1, My Life - 1.

8. Watching a buffalo herd move in the mist is awesome. Hearing them snort and seeing their breath in the cold morning air is kewl. Watching them swim across a river is wicked. Universe - 1. My Life - 1.

9. Putting a 10-year-old boy in charge of Entertainment for the trip means you will have zero Entertainment for the trip. Just FYI. My Life - 1. Writing (for those of you with 10-year-old male MC's) - 5000.

Status: Universe - 5, Writing - 5003, My Life - 10,004

10. There's no place like home with family, dirty dishes, unpaid bills, and overgrown backyards. My Life - Priceless

Question: What have you learned this week? Not how many words you wrote, or how many pages you edited or anything like that. What have you learned this week? About yourself, your writing, or the universe?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Assuming An Alternate Identity - The Professional

I'm pretty sure I've spilled this secret before: When I first started blogging, I didn't want anyone to know. I wasn't confident that what I had to say, people wanted to read. Well, I'm still not entirely sure about that, but yeah. I love blogging, and reading blogs, and just saying the word blog. And so here I am.

Back then, I certainly didn't think of myself as a "professional."

I do now.

Part of that has come through time and experience as I've participated in writing groups, forums, research and just personal writing growth. Wow. That last one sounds soooo impressive. Ha ha!

Anyway, then I started writing for the QueryTracker blog. I sort of went through the same thing. I'm no expert, ran through my head time and again.

And you know what?

I was wrong.

I swear I'm not bragging, but I am an expert in some things. So here's my question for today: Do you think of yourself as an expert--a professional? What has helped you make the transition from "I love to write" to "I am an author"?

I'm curious because I received an email from someone last week while I was out of town. In it, she said, "We're not professionals." and that struck me as wrong on so many levels. I think to make it in this crazy business, you need to don the suit of professionalism, put out the vibe of Expert, you know? If you don't view yourself as a writing professional, why should anyone else?

What do you guys think? Can you assume an alternate identity of a professional--at least until you really feel like one?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Funniest Story Ev. Er.

Okay, so I went out of town last week. That's not the funny part. No, really, stick with me and you'll be horse laughing for days. Well, I was, and I realize that not everyone laughs as much as I do. I do the hyena thing. Seriously. It's not pretty. Well, sometimes...okay, on to the story.

It's my mom. So I was staying with her before my freezing cold jaunt where-I-almost-died-it-was-so-freezing-cold to Yellowstone National Park.

She paints gourds. Don't know what that is? It's basically like this. It's pretty cool; my mom is talented.

And, uh...funny.

So she collects stuff to use in decorating said gourds. Feathers. Pine needles. Even deer antlers. No, I'm not to the funny part yet.

One of the things she uses is porcupine quills. She has bought them on e-bay before. I guess that just shows that you really can buy anything on e-bay.

Anyway, so we're standing in her studio and she's showing me some of her pieces. And she gets out this Altoids tin and opens and proceeds to tell me that she has obtained these porcupine quills and they are au natural. Like she plucked them from the dead carcass of a porcupine herself.

Yup, you read that right. Go ahead. Read it again if you need to. There is the word "carcass" in there.

Now, you might think this sad fellow had perished in the wilderness near her home. Um, not so much. More like it was ran over.

That's right, folks. My dear mother plucked porcupine quills from road kill!

I could not stop laughing.

And it gets better. She didn't just do this once. Oh, no. She got home and "sterilized" the quills she'd taken from the desecrated corpse. I don't know what all that entails, but I could see like, follicles on the tips. Sterilized? I think not.

Anyway, so the second day, she's putzing around her art studio, and she can't stop thinking about the dead porcupine. So she goes back and gets some more quills!

She's insane. And my dad, dear soul that he is, stood guard for her on the highway so she could pluck more quills from the beast! She said it really stunk the second day.

Um, ya think?

By this time, I was doubled over in laughter. She didn't help matters when she shook the Altoids tin with the non-sterilzed quills in it and said, "This is like, $50 worth of quills!" like it's crack or something and she's really saved a lot by kneeling next to road kill with a pair of tweezers and leather gloves.

I'm still laughing as I type this. My mom is crazy. Love her, but yeah.

So seriously, someone somewhere has to work this quirk into a book. Like the crazy cat lady, my mom is the crazy gourd lady and she plucks quills from dead animals on the side of the road. I think I've said I use real people and my observations of real life in my writing. Yeah, I have. Click here if you're so inclined.

What real life situations or stories have you managed to work into a novel? Character quirks? Anything really. Maybe you just have a funny story you wanna share. I need another good laugh.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Associating With Greatness

Okay, since the whole Michael Jackson funeral/spectacle last week, I've been thinking. I know it's a dangerous pasttime similar to skydiving, but hey, sometimes I like to live on the edge.

And I was watching the funeral from my couch, in my pajamas cuz I had it DVR'ed. And there was this woman who had flown all the way from Brooklyn or somewhere in New York just to stand on the street like three blocks away.

This stunned me. I was like, For real?

But why?

I mean, I grew up in the eighties, so I get the adoration of MJ. We (meaning me and my sister) choreographed moves to some of his songs, and who didn't learn Thriller? So I get tuning in to see the funeral, but I stayed in the comfort of my own home. I don't get flying across the country just to stand on the street.

Here comes the thinking part.

And I've finally concluded that it all has to do with Associating Oneself with Greatness. Think about it. Wouldn't you want to associate with Michael Jackson (as perhaps messed up as he was) or Oprah or say, Holly Root or Rachelle Gardner or Jessica Faust or Kristin Nelson or Nathan Bransford?

I would.

And why?

Because we believe they're great.

Enter more thinkage, and a few MJ lyrics.

Heal the world

Make it a better place

So that's my thing. I want to make the world a better place. With my books, my blog, my life. I used to listen to my favorite Michael Jackson song, Man In The Mirror, everyday on the way to school. It helped me to realize that I couldn't change those kids, their life circumstances or make the right choices for them.

But I could--and can--change myself. What I say. Do. Think. React to. Ignore. All of it.

So I've associated myself with greatness. Pat, Heather, Suzy, Carolyn and Mary are the kewlest critmates, blogging buddies and downright best friends ever. They are the epitome of what it's like to live your life intending to make the world a better place.

Christine, Lisa, Laura, Michelle, and Katie make my world a better place with their constant encouragement and uplifting emails. Thanks, guys.

I love hanging out in the QueryTracker forum. I think the people there make the world a better place. I also love going to my Writing Throwdown forum and reading the support people show each other there. That is a small slice of the world that is made better--and most of those people are you guys, the Mindless Musing blog readers. So thanks.

I'll be gone to Yellowstone the rest of this week, enjoying the beauty of this world. I could write a bunch of posts and set them to autopost, but I like to discuss with all of you, so I'm not going to do that.

I'd like to open the blog this week for you to talk about greatness. Who out there has influenced you? Made your life better? Made your world a better place to live? I want to associate with those people. All of them.

I want to be great. And to do that, I must Associate With Greatness.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Superior Scribblers

Hey, that could be the new title of my blog! I like the alliteration stuff, what can I say?

Ahem, anyway, I was graciously awarded the Superior Scribbler award by Nichole and Ali. Now Ali I know in real life; we get together every couple of weeks to make each other cry. That's called a critique group, in case you didn't know. They're totally different in real life, too. None of this online stuff where you can wipe the tears and no one knows. Oh no. This real-life critique group slashes you open and watches you bleed, then they laugh and feed you yummy treats. Good times.

And Nichole lives right here in my own city and we haven't met. She's married to the brother of one of my good friends from work, though, so it's almost like meeting. And we like to follow each other around to local hotspots without the other knowing, so that's like meeting too. Right?

Yeah, sure, let's go with that.

Anyway, they both gave me the Superior Scribbler award!

This one has rules, and you should know how I feel about Rules, I think. I usually don't follow Rules very well; in fact, I wrote an entire book about a girl who breaks Rules like it's the latest fashion. So yeah.

But this time, I did. So there. Here they are:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award. (Nichole and Ali, in case you missed in amidst my rambling about real-life people and bleeding and yummy treats.)

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Okay, so I did all that. You wanna know who I've chosen for the Superior Scribbler?? Do you? Okay, okay. Remember that I could only pick five. I think you're all fantastic and deserving of an award. I chose the people who have made a huge impact on me as an author.

Suzette Saxton
H.L. Dyer
Carolyn Kaufman
Mary Lindsey
Christine Fonseca

Thanks to everyone who supports me and provides encouragement here on the blog. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Authentic Online Personalities

Okay, I'm going in deep again today. I know it's Friday and some of you might not be able to handle it, but take a big swig of your favorite beverage (Ginger ale for me) and you'll be fine.

Online Personalities. Yes, capitalized. The question is coming at the beginning of this post. Here it is: Are you yourself online?

A couple of days ago, I met up with Suzy, Michelle, (me) Tess and Natalie. That's me in with the red flower in my hair, so you can match faces with names.

I've been reading most of their blogs for a while now. I've met Suz lots of times; we go way back. But I was nervous to meet the others. Why? you might ask. Because you never really know if someone is who they say they are when you only know them online.

Let me say that again: You never really know if someone is who they say they are when you only know them online.

You know this is true. Think of all the Dateline's you seen about child predators. Why would we think because we're authors and bloggers that it's any different? It's not. Some people put out personal information about themselves and their family. You might feel like you know them.

You don't.

So rewind. I was nervous, and I was late because my girl kidlet had tumbling class. When I got there, the party was in full swing. And I was thrilled to report that each and every one of them ARE who they seem to be online. So I relaxed and had a good time. I hope they did too!

So I want you to think about the "you" you're putting out there.

What would people be able to say about you? Are you being your authentic self online? Do you think it's important to be able to "trust" your online friends?

I totally do.

In fact, I participate in online critique groups with people I've never met. And I've learned that these kinds of groups don't form overnight, because you never really know a person until you've given them a few months to prove consistent and trustworthy behavior.

What do you think? Am I way off-base here? What's the status of your online friendships? How fast did they develop? Do you trust those people you've never met?

Here's the question of the day again: Are you yourself online? If someone met you in real life, would they be able to say, "You're exactly like how you write on your blog!"

I hope people can say that about me. (Suz, Tess, Michelle, Natalie?) I aim to be myself in any and every situation.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Problem Is...

I have problems. Lots and lots of problems. I'm sure several of you could name a few for me. Right? Um, yeah, let's not do that, 'kay? Okay.

But think about your life. You have problems too, right? (Please just say yes, even if you're life is, like, 100% perfect.) I mean, maybe your nose is too big, or your hair is flat today or you don't have air conditioning or your kid just wrecked your car or something. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say we all have problems. Some are bigger than others, sure. Some are more public than others. Some people have more than others. But we all have them.

Problems. Lots and lots of problems.

I swear this has to do with writing, bear with me.

The other night I was chatting with one of my dearest friends. We were talking about our WiP's and she asked me what the main problem in mine was.

This was me:




I almost made up an excuse to leave for a minute so I could think without pressure. But I didn't. I did realize that I had no freaking clue what the main problem of the novel was. To be fair to myself, I haven't actually written the novel yet. (Yeah, see, that's what we were talking about. Our writer's blockage and I was venting that I didn't know where to go next in the WiP, and I couldn't write it because of that, yada, yada, yada, she asked what the main problem was.) So in this unwritten novel that I couldn't write, I didn't know the main problem.

And that's a huge problem.

So, here's my question for you: What's the main problem for the protag in your novel? Is it easy for you to pin down? Can you tell me in one sentence without a panic face and an almost-excuse-to-leave-this-blog on your tongue?

BTW, after some discussion, I did pin down my main problem. And I've been able to write again. I still have problems, but yeah. Who doesn't? sengihnampakgigi

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday

Okay, so I've taken a few weeks off of reporting on the WiP. So sue me. I think I've voiced my strong feelings about this topic in the past. Um, yeah.

I don't always feel like that, for the record. It just happened to get to me and well, you had to be the sounding box for that. So thanks!

I'm feeling better about the whole WiP thing. It's not haunting me anymore. Thankfully.

So here's the low-down:

1. I finished revisions on Control Issues and sent it out to agents. Bring on the waiting! I actually love waiting. It's one of my favorite things to do. I also like watching Cialis commercials, going to the gym and being annihilated on the tennis court. Oooh! Did you see the Roddick/Federer match on Sunday? Brilliant. Bloody brilliant. Hey, I just turned British!


2. I have been attempting to write on my WiP. I think I've probably done a couple thousand words over the past few weeks. Not stellar, but it's something. And anything is better than nothing, at least that's what I tell myself. Over and over.

3. I finished writing the e-book, From the Query to the Call. And after much research (*shudders*), I have decided to pay someone smarter than me to get it into publishable e-book format. I designed the layout, the colors, the fonts, made my own 3D cover, everything. But even I am not a genius. Shocking, I know. *wink, wink*

I wrote the thing, solicited shamelessly for examples and permission from my query-writing friends, and really did everything I could do. If I wanted to compile the document with HTML codes that would preserve all my bookmarks, links, and clickables, I'd be 95 before it was done. And I can pay $20 and have it done in like, no time at all.

So who's smarter? The girl who is determined to do it herself (and would have to buy a $295 program to do it) or the one who's willing to give some small piece of control to someone else? Well, for a control-freak like me, it might be the determined girl. But I really think I'll be better off in the long run if I just shell out the $20. My kids will thank me, I'm sure.

I did make my own cover. This is the flat one, the one that's on the inside title page of the book. You like? It's okay if you don't. After the number of rejections I've received, I don't have feelings anymore.

How have you been doing on your writing ambitions? Lay it on me. Lay it on thick.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where Do Your Blogger Buddies Come From?

Okay, I've been on the Interwebs for a while now. I "know" lots of you. I read your blogs. You read mine. We comment, discuss, trade emails. I see some of you lurking around other people's blogs, like you know them better/longer/whatever. I see some of their blogs in the sidebars of your blogs.

And me, being the nosy one, I want to know: Where did you meet them? Trolling? A specific website? A sidebar link on another blog? A forum link? A crit group? WHERE?

Oh, and how did you find this blog?

Just wondering. I find the whole thing interesting, because some of you talk more intimately with each other like there's some behind-the-scenes stuff going on. And I know there is, cuz I do it too with a few of you. So yeah. Spill.

You can imagine it to be a "Remember this bridge? This is where I first asked you out." type of thing if you want. Like, "Remember the first time you read The Innocent Flower? *sigh* That's a great blog." and let me know how you "met" your blogging buddies.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Character Quirks - Let's Make a List

Since being at camp with ten teenage girls, I've been thinking about labels. As I thought about each girl, there wasn't one thing I could label them with. I know, I know, sometimes labels are damaging and stereotypical and all that.

But think about yourself. When you were a teen, could you label yourself? What was it you did? What were you passionate about? What defined you? Made you...not vanilla?

Me: Band geek extraordinairre. I am band. Really (like you need convincing of that). It's what I did.

And I actually think it's more dangerous to NOT have something to label yourself with. What do you do if you're just...nothing?

You're boring.

And in writing, we don't want to read or write about someone who's boring.

Enter character quirks. Through all the reading and writing I've done, I've come to the conclusion that all characters that make it into print have at least one thing that is unique about them.

Be it a perfume maker (The Hollow), a teen restaurant owner (Tantalize), or a boy who breaks everything he touches (Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians), the characters have things that make them unique, gives them something they own, something that defines them.

I have a short list of things I've given to my characters (the list is short, mostly because I realized that my characters were pretty vanilla), and I'd love to know what you've done for yours.

  • Track star
  • One who listens to police scanners
  • Someone who doesn't talk much
  • Can wait forever, at least it feels like forever
  • Fixes cars
  • Installs stereo systems
  • Ballet dancer
  • A cutter

As I was typing this, I really struggled to give even one label to some my characters. I realized with a panic-heart that I haven't really done that good of a job making my characters unique and definable.

What say you? Do characters need something unique about them to set them apart from the crowd out there? What have you labeled your characters with?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I've Updated my Website

It's true. I've added some stuff on my website, including the first five pages of the novel I finished in April--thanks to my Throwdown buddies and all their support. Thanks guys!

Don't know about the Throwdown?? It's sort of grown stale lately, but I'm going to renew myself because I've got another novel I have to have ready for my critique group and I'm only 17,000 words in.

Click this graphic Kate made to find out more and join us!

I also put a section on the website about an e-book I'm in the throes of finishing. Check it out for more information. You know you want to.

And Happy Fourth of July! I think this is my favorite holiday. Have a great weekend.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Show Me Your Angry Face!

Okay, I'm gonna spill. Are you guys ready for this? I feel like I need one of those Monday Night Wrestling voices. You know the kind. Arrrrre youuuu rrrrrready? Imagine a deep voice with thousands of cheering fans and grown men in spandex. Are you there? Then you're ready for this confession.

*whispers* I'm less than stellar at emotional writing.

Enter Christine, the topic-starter for this chain, and one of the best critique buddies on the planet. We started a crit group in January. She read one of my novels. What'd she say?

You guessed it: "You suck at emotional writing."

Well, not in those exact words. *wink, wink*

But she was right. She made me look at a whole new side of writing--the emotions.

Not just the where, what, who, when, and how of where the characters were and what they were doing. But the WHY. And then the HOW WOULD THEY FEEL HERE?

She'd say things like, "This section is good, but the emotions are off."


How does one fix that? By being authentic. I write YA, so I had to dig down to the repressed memories of junior high and high school. And let me tell you, those memories are repressed for a reason, people. Sure, it's easy for Christine, she works with those kids all the time.

For me? Not so much.

So what I did: I treated EMOTION as another sense. Just like we want to use all five senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch) in our writing to make it bloom and come alive, I added a Sixth Sense. And it's not dead people. (hahaha!)

It's Emotion. I use it like a spice, just like I use smell and sound and taste. I sprinkle it in throughout my writing to make sure all the senses are addressed. I believe this really gives the writing more depth, more layers, more authenticity.

I mean, after all, we want our readers to FEEL SOMETHING when they read our stuff, right? Sometimes we can do that just by our awesome narrative and dialog. Sometimes, though, we need to sprinkle in a smell to really set the scene. Or a taste to really ground them in the story. Or the emotion to make sure they stay awake until 3 AM turning pages.
I believe Emotion is the most powerful sense and shouldn't be skipped over. I think you know when you have enough. When you read it and feel a little zing go through you as if you just experienced the scene with the character in every way (meaning through sight, sound, taste, smell, tough and emotion). And if you don't know, give it to Christine! Ha ha! She'll tell you if you suck, trust me. *wink, wink, wink*

Michelle posted before me in this chain, and Annie will be up tomorrow.

How would you answer Christine's questions? Here they are: How do you add emotional depth to your stories? How do you know when you have enough emotional content? How do you keep it authentic?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Finding Your Character's Voice

How do you find your character's voice? You've heard it all over town, the voice in writing is like, uber-important. So how do you find yours?

I know some authors who stew and stew before penning a single word. Others produce draft after draft of outlines. I seriously don't know how they do that. I can't even produce a single draft of an outline. Still others make notes, outline and stew all before writing. I've seen character sheets and talked about character bibles before. I've read blog after blog where these people contribute all this "behind the scenes" writing to the success of their actual writing.

Le sigh.

I wish I was one of them.

Sadly, I am not. I don't do any of those things.

So how do I find my character's voice?

Simply put: I write.

It comes. Sometimes if the character is fully formed in my mind, I know exactly what they'll say, how they'd react to almost anything, the whole nine yards. But if I don't stew and make notes, how is the character fully formed in my mind? Yeah, wouldn't you like to get inside my head. *snarfage*

Well, sometimes--and don't tell anyone--I base my characters on actual, living, breathing people. Bam! Fully formed characters ready to talk and walk and be put through major drama in printed form.

If I don't have a fully formed character in my head, I still write. Usually their character, their "voice" comes through, especially when I write dialog. This sometimes happens in the beginning (in Control Issues, I "knew" Vi when I wrote the second chapter--the scene in the courtroom). Sometimes this doesn't happen until later. Then I have to go back and make sure that the earlier writing is in line with the correct character, the correct "voice".

Some might argue that I should take more time up front to work out these "kinks". Yeah, argue that if you want. But I am the unconventional writer. I don't do no stinking character sheets. I write to find my characters, my stories, my voice.

How do you find your character's voice? (And there's nothing wrong with doing character sheets. Don't hit me with mean comments! I love character sheets...for someone else.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Wednesday Wave

I know I'm a day late and all that. But Christine threw out a topic for a short story writing exercise in June, and I didn't have time to post mine. So here it is.

Her topic: Waves

My story:

The day he met her, his hair fell in inky waves across his forehead. It shone in the weak autumn sunlight as he flagged down a cab. He caught her staring, and raised his hand in a half-wave before realizing that she was a complete stranger. For a moment, the way she watched him felt familiar. Then the cab was there and the driver was yelling at him to get in already.

Time passed. His hair went through an auburn stage. Then blond. Then back to the midnight black that came from a bottle. He'd forgotten what color his hair really was the next time he saw her.

This time, she wore a skirt that slapped at her legs in the winter wind. Her hair fell to her shoulder in gentle waves the color of ripe wheat. He inhaled, almost smelling the grainy scent from his childhood. Almost as fast as a blink, the bus crossed between them and he was left standing on 72nd Street, waving at an empty space.

He crunched numbers in a tall building overlooking the Hudson River. Christmas came. He spent most of that cold day at his desk, the white lights on the tree in the office dark. He watched the waves lap the shore of the river, and he thought of the woman.

Before he left that Christmas day, he booked a single ticket to Kansas for New Year's Eve. The wheat wouldn't be waving, but he knew it was time. With any luck, his father wouldn't be waving a gun in his face as part of the welcoming committee.

He didn't expect to find the woman in another state. But there she was, sitting in the airport with a black leather carryon, her wheat-colored hair pulled loosely into a ponytail. Her eyes mirrored his surprise, a deep blue, the color of the summer Kansas sky.

"Robert Flagstone," she said, a smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.

He didn't know her. But she had haunted him these past few months. "I'm sorry, I don't know who you are."

"Yes, you do," she replied, the grin now taking over her face.

And that was it. She wouldn't give her name, despite his repeated requests. He offered her a ride, but she would only go if he could produce her name.

He couldn't, so he climbed into his rental car alone, flustered and wondering how this woman knew him and he didn't know her. He drove through town, noticing how the holiday flags lining the street whipped and waved in the cruel wind.

Halfway home, he realized who she was. A wave of repressed memories flooded his mind. He pulled the car next to the "Wild Waves" hair salon. With shaking fingers he scrolled through the numbers on his iPhone.

There she was.

"Nora," he whispered, "Flagstone."

When she answered, he asked, "How long has it been this time?"

"Five months, dear."

He couldn't answer. He knew he didn't have to.

"Your parents are waiting," Nora continued. "You seem to know the way."

Robert nodded to himself. He ran a hand through the waves of his inky hair, remembering the familiarity of that first sighting in the fall. He considered going back in time to make that meeting turn out the right way.

But the time travel was the reason he lost his memories in the first place.


So did you wave it up this month? If not, I'm sure you still can. Let me know if you do! Oh, and let me know if you saw that one coming. I know I didn't as I was writing it.

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