Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leave A Comment, Win A Book

Okay, so you have to check out Beth Revis's blog. She's doing a contest to win either Tantalize or Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Go to Beth's blog for the contest, not here (and it ends today!) Although you're more than welcome to leave a comment here too. I like comments. And I have a copy of Tantalize...hmm, maybe that could be my contest for March...

I really liked Tantalize. If you haven't read it, it's a fantabulous YA fantasy with a twist of lime. Yeah, it's about girl who runs a restaurant. Add a little vampire, and you've got the makings of a nice main dish.

And isn't that cover beautiful? I love it. In fact, I saw this cover on someone's blog and that's why I bought the book and read it. Yes, I'm just that superficial.

And the cover to Eternal is uber-awesome. I l-o-v-e the angel wing. And the font is simply fabulous.

I haven't read Eternal yet, but it's on my list. If it's anything like Tantalize (it's a companion, not a sequel, so it won't be totally the same), I know it will be wonderful.

Friday, February 27, 2009

You Tell Me

So I need a ranting session. I know, I know, I usually subject my friends to this kind of stuff, not the blogosphere. But I needed something to post for today, so this is it.

I think it's a well-known fact that I *heart* Miss Snark's First Victim. I entered the Drop the Needle thingy going on over there. Here's mine. Feel free to tell me what you think (here or over there). Suckage? Dude, you'd read this? Worth sitting down and pontificating on what the freaking ending should be? (Yeah, it's one of those WiP's.)

If you haven't joined the festivities over there yet, you should. It's a fun time for all.

Also on my mind as of late is the trend in young adult fiction. As a lover of YA stuff, I find myself constantly throwing books in the trash. That's right. Books. In the TRASH. When did young adult novels become R, or even X-rated? I mean, teenagers can't get into the movies, but they can read all about it. I'm not a fan of that, which has me reconsidering my love of YA stuff. What say you?

Let's see...what else? What's a blog post without a mention of American Idol? My severe addiction to reality TV has not been addressed on the blog. (I do try to hide some of my indiscretions. kenyit) But it's bad. Maybe even worse than my insane addiction to the Internet. Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and of course, American Idol.

I'm shouting out for Adam Lambert. Love the guy, even though he does wear eyeliner and that's not usually the way I roll. I'm also pulling for Danny Gokey and Alexis Grace. Who do you like?

[rapid topic switch]

I've also noticed that a lot of people post pictures with their blog entries. Hmm...I do not do this so much. I wonder why that is. (Laziness? Undoubtedly.) So I'm wondering, do I need to put pictures with my posts? I mean, I like pictures and all that, and I almost always comment on them. Maybe I'm just picture-challenged. I can never find one that fits perfectly, certainly not like some other people I've seen. Maybe that's it. Fear of being picture-inferior. Thoughts on the whole picture thing? Or just my insecurities? (Man, who knew this ranting stuff would be like therapy?)

Whatev. You tell me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You're Torturing Me Blog Chain!

Okay, so it's blog chain time. I've really enjoyed following the chain of carnage wrath blog responses.

Leah started this massacre. (Major congrats on her recent signage with Rosemary Stimola!) Before me was Abi and after me is Terri.

So here's the question: What do you do to amp up the conflict? What pins do you stick in the little voodoo dolls? How do you torture your characters?

Hmm...torture. The poor things.

When I first started writing, this was really hard for me. Thus, my first novel had absolutely no conflict. It was boring. I didn't want to hurt the people I'd created. I liked them too much.

As an avid reader, I realized that all fiction has to have conflict to make it interesting. I attended conferences where authors and experts spoke on getting your character in something so deep they could never get out.

I rewrote my book.

It still didn't have enough conflict. Sure, more "bad things" happened, but still I didn't feel like my MC was in this life-or-death-oh-my-freaking-heck-what-do-I-do-now? moment.

That's where I needed her to be.

So I toyed with some more ideas that could bring her to the point of no return. That's how I envision good conflict to be. Like in that movie, Back to the Future 3, where they've got that broken down windmill and once the DeLorean-turned-time-machine passes that point, there is no turning back. Yeah, like that. You've got to bring your character to that point. And beyond! (Man, it's movie Thursday today. Major kudos if you can name that last one.)

I rewrote said novel again. I'm still not sure I've tortured the girl enough, so I shelved her. Take that! How's that for torture? How do you like me now? Yeah, don't mess with me, fictional people. I might just kill you all. Or at least file you away quietly on my hard drive. Where no one will ever find you...mwa, ha, ha!

But seriously.

I've broken down "torture" into several categories. Not everyone fits the box, mind you. (That could be their conflict!) And a lot of things are just personal issues people have to deal with.

Here are some things that have happened to various characters in various stories in various stages of completion. (Side note: I don't do these things to my characters on purpose. They just sort of happen. I really do feel bad about it...most of the time.)

1. Put her in a car she can't drive. She can't shift. Failed Driver's Ed three times. Is terrified of driving at all, let alone with the magical mafia trailing her. (Personal Issues)

2. Made one of her bestest friends a spy. Who only reveals himself when she's all alone and her only help is half a world away. (Betrayal)

3. Made her boyfriend her brother. Yeah, that one was gross. But it caused a lot of conflict. (Disgusting/Personal Issues/Betrayal)

4. Took memories that would have really been useful. Like really, really good to know. (She became a traitor cuz she couldn't remember anything...What? You're not my bff? The humanity!)

5. Killed the only witness to a crime my MC was accused of committing. (Murder)

6. Had my MC kill her friend in a bout of uncontrolled anger. Nasty, that was. (Murder, Personal Issues)

7. Then there's the standard stuff--bombs, long-lost fathers coming back, finding out your lover is really your enemy, losing your job/most loved pet/something else you can't live without, getting trapped in a realm where you don't belong, the list goes on and on.

But I find that the most conflict falls under murder, betrayal, traitorous acts, and/or personal issues the MC has. That's why it's important to know your characters. What will hurt them the most? Their loved one kissing another girl? The death of Fluffy the giant anteater? What will cause the most pain, put them in the worst situation? Wait. That's another post for another day. Or another chain. Or did we do that one already?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday

Okay, so my friend Kate did this last week on her blog. It was awesome.

So here I am, throwing in my WiP towel.

I vowed February would be a writing month. I spent December and January editing, and everyone knows what kind of Edit Brain you get when you spend that much time to perfect something you can't see, don't know quite what to do with, etc. Yeah, major case of Edit Brain (I totally stole that term from Lisa and Laura on the QT forum. Gotta give the creds to them).

So February was writing month. No. Matter. What.

I started a novel during NaNo. It's sitting at 77,000 words right now--already 15,ooo over what I wanted. I knew I needed to change a lot before I could write more. But February is writing month, I said to myself. So this is what I wrote.



Then I highlighted those words in yellow and...stared at the blank computer screen. Hey, I got in four words, right?

So I wrote a short story. Then I decided that my NaNo novel voices just weren't ready to talk yet. Luckily, a couple other voices were drowning them out.

I got out a notebook, one of those 6-inch by 9-inch jobbies. I love them because they fit in my purse. I decorated the cover with some fancy paper and ribbon (cuz I'm just that crafty--and I have major distraction issues. Don't worry, I'm in therapy) and bought a box of my favorite pens. The pen has to be blue. And thick, none of this fine tip garbage for me.

And I wrote.

I love writing by hand. It feels so free. I don't have to worry about word counts. If I write one sentence, the little box next to "writing" gets checked off. I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to know what comes next. I can just breathe, relax, and write.

So that's what I've been doing. I almost have the entire 100-page notebook filled. Both sides. I'm happy to say that I might, just might, be able to finish this book. That sounds weird, but usually, I get stuck at the end. (Freak, beginnings and middles are sometimes sticky, too.) But since I've been writing so slow, I can see further ahead. I think I know what the climax will be already.

If only I could figure out who the "real" bad guy is. It keeps shifting. But that's another post for another day.

Where are you in your WiP? And it doesn't have to be writing. One of my bestest friends is almost done with the remodel on her house. That's her WiP.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Mindless Musings

Yeah, like I could pass up the triple alliteration there. Problem is...I don't have anything to blog about today. I really, really wanted to have something, but I just don't. So does that mean my musings today are not mindless, but mindful? Perhaps.

Here's what I've been thinking about:

8:00 AM - 10:30 AM: How much I hate cleaning. But three loads of laundry washed and dried, three bathrooms scrubbed, a 800-square foot kitchen floor mopped, and High School Musical 3 watched later, and I'm done. For a little while.

11:06 AM: Trip to the bank. Thinkage in the car on my current WiP. Still don't know who the "real" bad guy is. Wait! This is Work In Progress Wednesday stuff. The jury will please disregard.

11:24 AM: Post office. Yes, I braved both the bank and the post office in one trip. But that's not the amazing thing. What is amazing? No line at the PO. No, I still don't know who the "real" bad guy is.

11:43 AM: Trip to Sonic. Love those slushies. stewage on WiP. Onion rings...yum...

1:01 PM: Put daughter down for a nap. Break out the notebook. Write. Who needs to know who the "real" bad guy is? Not I, said the lazy cat. So the little red hen wrote, and wrote, and wrote...

1:23 PM: Put daughter down for a nap. Again. More little red henning.

2:56 PM: Son comes home from school. Put the lid on the pen. Hand = hurtage. Don't ask about the "real" bad guy.

4:00 PM: Started making dinner. Hey, miracles happen. But not in the "real" bad guy department.

5:17 PM: Husband comes home. This is early. Yay!

5:59 PM: Play Pizza Palace on Webkinz. Need a diversion from thinking about who the "real" bad guy is.

6:30 PM: Check blogger for blogs I need to read. More diversions. All "real" bad guys can kiss my...

6:51 PM: Typing this list. Oh, I did check facebook in between. Yeah, that's ripe for diversions. As is blogging. The "real" bad guy isn't going away. I just wish I knew who he was.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Contest Closed - And How You Know When You're A Loozr

Yeah, the contest is closed. It wasn't a huge success. And I realized I am the biggest loozr on the planet. And not because I've lost some weight and am killing the contest at work. Slaying, people. Anyway, it's because I'm the only one who cheats with Google.

I Google everything. Everything. I was watching Heroes this week (yes, I love it, no matter how many stupid things they do. I still love it. I mean, the superpowers? Awesome. Even breathing under water. How cool would that be??) and I liked the kid who could breathe underwater. He was cute. He reminded me of one of my MC's. So naturally, I wanted a picture. So next time I need to get inside said MC's head, I can see him first.

So what do I do?


"Alex from Heroes"

Yeah, that was productive. I didn't know the character's last name and I didn't know the actor's name (that's what I was looking for).

Since I DVR Heroes, I knew the name of the episode. Not only am I an expert Googler, but I have serious skillz at investigative research.

So I tried again.

"Alex from Heroes Building 26" I know who he is. If you wanna know...try Googling it. senyumkenyit

I so would've Googled to find the answers to the contest. So...cheater? Or loozr? I guess I'm good either way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Contest - What's the Next Line?

Okay, peeps. I've enjoyed doing little contests here on the blog. This month's is all about the tunes you listen to.

1. For the five songs below, you must provide the line immediately following the snippet I have posted. Title and artist is not necessary, but may get you bonus points. (No, it really doesn't.)

2. Submit your answers in a comment on THIS POST.

3. I will hide all comments until the contest ends. Gotta be fair. Once comments become live, qualifying comments will be randomly assigned a number. The winning number will be announced sometime Friday night.

4. The contest runs from now until Friday, February 20 at 12 Noon. Winner gets...

So here are the songs. These are some of my faves, not that that matters, just yanno, random fact. Oooh! Maybe I'll have a random fact contest next month! *How well do you know ElanaJ?* Hmm...

Song 1:
"I'm more than a bird, more than a plane,
More than some pretty face beside a train."

Song 2:
So why does your pride make you run and hide
Are you that afraid of me?

Song 3:
He took me to the future in the flux thing
And I saw everything

Song 4:
You can change your life (If you wanna)
You can change your clothes (If you wanna)

Song 5:
I know that they say
That some things are better left unsaid

Now, I'm going to take a leaf from my friend Leah's book and combine them all into a music montage/meme thing. You can check out the inspiration here. Mine's not the first line, but still.

I'm more than a bird, more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside the train
So why does your pride make you run and hide
Are you that afraid of me?

He took me to the future in the flux thing
And I saw everything

You can change your life (If you wanna)
You can change your clothes (If you wanna)
I know that they say
That some things are better left unsaid

Well, that didn't really work out. Anyway, you need to type up the next line of each of the five songs above (hey! you can make your own poem!) and post it in a comment.

Good luck!

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Good Day - My DH is Funnier Than Me

I love my DH (darling hubby). He is awesome. And he's hilarious, which sorta makes me a little jealous and not at all jealous at the same time. Because I love to laugh, and I'm glad I have someone who makes me guffaw on a daily basis.

Here's some of my favorite stuff about him.

1. He thinks the television (producers, actors, directors, I'm not really sure) industry has a commercial conspiracy against him. Personally. Because all the stations go to commercial at the same time. He loathes commercials. I'm not sure that's a strong enough word for how he feels about commercials. But a commercial conspiracy? Whatev.

2. He can make up lyrics to any song at any time in any situation. He plays the guitar and sings to his class at the end of every school year. Last year he did "One More Minute" by Weird Al Yankovic. He changes the words to education stuff. Here's a snippet:
I'd rather rip out my intestine with a pen
Than have you in my room ever again
I'd rather staple my fingers in the floor
Again, and again, and again, and again, and again
Oh, can't you see what I'm trying to say kiddies

I'd rather have my brain fried by your questions
Shove a ruler under a toenail or two
I'd rather clean out the upstairs faculty bathroom with my tongue
Than more minute...with you.

Yes, I'd rather dive naked on a huge pile of thumbtacks
Or stick my nostrils together with Elmer's glue
I'd rather dive into a garbage can filled with last week's leftovers from the lunchroom
Than more minute...with you.
And you should have seen him perform it. It was hil-freaking-arious.

3. We can perform an episode of Seinfeld before it airs. He always gets the best lines and I'm left laughing while trying to say mine. It's totally not fair.

4. He always says he can learn to do anything in three days. Watching Michael Phelps swim in the Olympics. "Give me three days," DH says. Dancing with the Stars, the quickstep. "Three days, I could do that." He's sorta like that dad on My Big Fat Greek Wedding who challenges everyone to tell him a word and he'll show you how it came from the Greeks. Yeah, that's my DH. He almost dares us to give him something he can't do in three days. The convo goes something like this:
Son: Fly an airplane.
DH: Done that.
Daughter (she's 4): Um...waddle like a penguin.
DH: Three days.
Son: Win the Australian Open.
DH: Give me something hard.
So I say: Write a book.
He rolls eyes eyes, scoffs, and says, "Please. I could do that in one day."
I spewed Ginger Ale that day.

It was a good day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blog Chainerificness - Life, What's With That?

So it's time for the blog chain again. Since I started last time, this round I get to go last. Phew. Being at the front of the chain causes me major stressage. Major. I'm a thinker...yeah, I almost typed that with a straight face! sengihnampakgigi

Okay, so Terri started this chain. She'll be doing a wrap-up in the next day or two. Abi posted before me. Terri thought her question was too close to mine, but I found it totally and completely and entirely different. So I'm gonna answer it.

Here's what she asked: Have you ever had anything cause you to step back from writing? If so, what was the cause and how long did it take you to get back into the swing of things? If not, do you have any advice for other writers about not letting life get in the way of writing?

That's like a lotta questions. Since I'm a baby stepper, I have to break it down.

So, have I ever had anything cause me to step back from writing? Well, I've only been at this for about a year, so "life" hasn't gotten in the way yet. The thing that gets in my way? Me, Myself and I.

And here's why I can blame everything on myself.

I have the posh life. I teach elementary school 20 hours a week. I have a three-day weekend every single weekend. I have nearly 3 months off in the summer, and a good 2 weeks at Christmas. On working days, I have the hours between 3-5 PM and 9-11 PM to write. Do I? Sometimes. I usually do pretty well at night after my kids have gone to bed. But after school? Um, yeah, I'm usually on the Internet. Doing research. Yeah...research. Or something.

So when I step back from writing it's because I've gotten in my own way. Deep, I know. I have to relax, forget about the rejections, get out of the Pool of Writing Funk, and just breathe. Let myself go. Write.

This can take a couple of minutes of stern self-lecturing. Or a day of IM-ing with my sister. Or a week of wallowing in the pool until my skin is all wrinkly and about to fall off. Or a trip to the virtual couch of my wiser and long-suffering writing buddies. The point, though, is that I always come back. Recently, I've realized that I don't have to be so gung-ho about writing. That I can have my own permission to relax. That it's okay to take a break. Writing will still be there. Waiting.

My advice for getting yourself back into writing? Um, just do it? Yeah, that sounds good. Or maybe because I'm worth it. Or maybe just keep going and going and going...

Okay, okay, enough slogans.

Happy Friday the 13th! Watch out for those black cats and ladders...oh, and cracks. Yeah, those are definitely dangerous. kenyit

Thursday, February 12, 2009

You Know You're A Writer When...

...your latest google search is "inhalant withdrawals." write down the name of the clerk bagging your groceries so you can use it in a novel. talk about your characters like they exist in the flesh. ignore bodily functions so you can write. lose track of what month it is. What? It's February already? No wai! (kids: wai. boy kid: and i need valentine's for school tomorrow. girl kid: i want valentine's, too! mom: i swear we just had i hate valentine's day. mom, as she grabs her car keys to go buy that last of the lame valentine's: sigh.) know that a Thesaurus is not a dinosaur and you actually use it. All. The. Time. set your dashboard weather widget to a different city just so you can record the temperature there. get excited about using a cool word in your writing. Blog posts count right? I used "conducive" this month. I'm all a twitter.

What have you got? What weird, wonky, quirky things do you do as a writer that would cause someone to shake their head sadly? Lay it on me. I need to know I'm not the only one out there doing these things.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Biggest Loser Update

...or should I say, how does one become the person who can't make it through a day without two bottles of diet Coke? And I don't mean the little ones. I mean the ginormous ones, one stop short of a two-liter.

Yeah, someone on my team, that's who. They lose their point for no soda every day. So while I'm suffering on the body ball, barely able to walk, eating salad for every meal, and having absolutely no sweets, they are drinking two bottles of diet Coke every. Day. Argh.

But I've lost 15 pounds. No, that is not a typo. Fif-teen. It's torture. I hate it. But I'm totally gonna be the biggest loser at work. And that's a good thing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My 50 Books for 2009

So I'm lame. I've read one book so far this year. Hey, there's nothing like a challenge. In my mathematician mind, I know I have to read about 4 books per month to make the 50 this year. So I'm already 3 behind.

In case you have no idea, what I'm talking about, I'm taking on the challenge to read 50 books in 2009. Here are some already on my list, in no particular order. I'll add to it as I discover more "must-reads" and new books that aren't out yet.

1. The Final Warning by James Patterson

2. The Quantum Prophecy--The Awakening by Michael Carroll

3. Revenge of the Witch (The Last Apprentice) by Joseph Delaney and Patrick Arrasmith

4. Marked by P.C and Kristen Cast

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

7. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

8. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

9. Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

10. The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld

11. Paper Towns by John Greene

12. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson

13. Pillage by Obert Skye

Books that aren't out yet, but I will be buying and reading:

1. The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brenaman (out June 2)

2. The Hollow by Jessica Verday (out October 6)

3. Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4) by Richelle Mead (out August 25)

Oooh, I ended that list on 13. And it's Friday the 13th this week. Hmm...a sign? Perhaps. What other books need to be on my list?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Show vs. Tell Courtesy of the Screenwriting Guild – and Facebook – and an old high school friend

I like to think of myself as a student of writing. I often tell my writing buddies that I've learned more about writing this year than I thought a person could know about writing. And I've just learned something else. (Including how to use the word "writing" four times in two sentences.)

I was chatting on Facebook the other night--no surprise there--with a friend of mine from high school. As if that's not scary enough, he said something that made me pause and think. T-man is wise beyond his years, even if he doesn't know it. And he's younger than me, and that's even more terrifying. I have an awesome picture of us at a dance where I'm kicking this fake glass thing with T-man, so we go way back. And that picture will never surface, so don't even ask.

So we were chatting about writing and he said he's written some screenplays. I was impressed, because I don't know the first thing about screenwriting. He said, "You can't say, 'He was mad.' You can only write what a camera can see or a microphone can hear."

I was like, "Wow. That sounds hard." Then I realized that that's exactly what I should be doing in my fiction writing. It's the old "show vs. tell" mantra. So yesterday I opened a little snippet of my writing to send to my critique group. I noticed how many things I had in just six pages that a camera wouldn't be able to see and a microphone wouldn't be able to hear.

*head desk*

But I'm all about applying what I learn, so I'll go through my stuff to make it more showy. Does that mean I'll cut every thumping heart? Probably not, because I'm all about emotion in writing, too. But it was a good reminder of what I should be doing in my writing.

And on a bonus side note: I've finally realized the power of Facebook. I still don't know what to do with the vampire clans, and I haven't found scrabble yet, but at least I've gleaned something from my Internet addiction. Silver lining, baby. Silver lining.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why I Listen to my Novel - Out Loud

Okay, so I was reading through my manuscript after running the spell checker. I wear headphones and listen to the computer read in that horrible robot-jerky voice as I follow along. This is why I do this, even though it takes a lot of time. And I want to cut off my ears like Van Gogh did. Those computer voices just aren't conducive for listening to 85,000 words. Seriously.

"A five-year-old Tyson and a three-year-old me played in the water, dipping our feet and slashing each other."

LOL! That should be "...sPlashing each other."

"Thy blood stained the cobbled stones."

Um, that should be "ThE blood..." Not only did it slip into first person, but all of a sudden I was speaking in this formal voice. "Thy mother has spokeneth. Go cleaneth your roometh." gelakguling

"As the feeling came back into my legs and feet, I torched a long coat hanging in the corner of the closet."

Man, this girl has some serious anger issues. Hee, hee. That should be "...I toUched a long coat..."

So you see, the spell checker can't find everything. And that robotic voice is good for something. Maybe.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's My Blogiversary!

So I started blogging about writing in February 2008. I don't know the exact date, because I backdated some things I wanted posted at the beginning. Lame, I know. So I'm planning to celebrate the entire month!

I have a fun contest coming up since the last one was so stellar--and Mary refused to take the prize. So I still have it! Well...I did go buy a book, but I can get another gift card. Or maybe another cool prize. What are cool prizes? I don't even know what writers/the general public would like to win. Sadly, I'm not an agent or an editor or I'd give you all publishing contracts with fat advances and/or a pair of tickets to Wimbledon! Maybe in the far, distant future...

Anyway, Happy Blogiversary to me!

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