Wednesday, December 23, 2009

See You on the Other Side!

Thank you all for such an amazing year :). I feel so blessed to have gotten to know more about each of you, visit your blogs, and hear your comments. YOU GUYS ROCK! This blog wouldn't be possible without you!

I'll be taking a break from blogging* until the New Year, so I will see you then (*if I can stay away--no promises!)

May you all be blessed and keep safe and warm. Happy Holidays and have a great New Year!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Cheer!

Happy Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, folks!

I hope you had a great Chanukah, my Jewish friends!

Happy almost Kwanzaa to those who celebrate!

For all you non-religious folk, happy party-going and vacationing from work (wooot!!!!) :). The vacation part is my favorite part, too! (Well, that and the baked goods.)

*I feel like I'm missing some holidays here, so please feel free if you celebrate something else during this season :). I like learning.

In celebration of the holidays fast approaching, I thought I'd forfit a fancy or informative blog post today, and instead provide you with some Christmas/holiday cheer!

"Santa Claus wears a Red Suit, He must be a communist. And a beard and long hair, Must be a pacifist. What's in that pipe that he's smoking?"

--Arlo Guthrie

"Dear Lord, I've been asked, nay commanded, to thank Thee for the Christmas turkey before us... a turkey which was no doubt a lively, intelligent bird... a social being... capable of actual affection... nuzzling its young with almost human- like compassion. Anyway, it's dead and we're gonna eat it. Please give our respects to its family... "

--Berke Breathed

"Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year."

--Victor Borge

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall."

--Larry Wilde

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I feel very blessed by you all this year, and want to thank you for being a part of this blog :). You guys are all what make it work, and make this a joy to do, every day, every week.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

(Also, "Let's be naughty and save Santa the trip" --Gary Allan) ;)

Monday, December 21, 2009

The winners and deciders of my fate are.......

Lisa & Laura!

Congratulations on sealing my fate, ladies!

You have destined me to spend the day as a literary character and document the hilarity with photo evidence to be posted on this blog! I love and hate you right now, so yeah. Good times!

Thank you all for your great suggestions on what kind of Deal With the Universe I should make in exchange for a book deal.

Now, all I have to do is actually get the book deal, and it will fun times had by all ;).

In the meantime, I promised many of you that if this *deal* won, I'd let you guys pick the literary character I have to dress up as.

So, just for funsies, YOU TELL ME! What character do you want to see me humilia... uh, I mean... dressed up as when/if I get my book deal?

I can't wait to hear what you have in store for me! ;)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: LOST MISSION by Athol Dickson

Agent Rachelle Gardner recently asked her blog followers if anyone would be willing to read and review one of her client's new books. Even though I usually don't read Christian fiction, I thought this might be a great opportunity to branch out.

Disclaimer: This book was totally free, and I'm either keeping it, or donating it to someone, so yeah. Take that as you will :).

Disclaimer for my Disclaimer: Considering this book was free, I didn't feel bad about potentially disliking it and took a risk on something I usually wouldn't buy.

LOST MISSION by Athol Dickson surprised me. I've been reading a lot of faced-paced YA lately, so I'm used to prose being concise and action-packed. LOST MISSION was different. It was contemplative and wasn't afraid to build the characterization and tension layer by layer.

The book is an epic tale taking place over two centuries, chock full of magical realism and cleverly interwoven storylines. It takes place in California, and follows the story of an 18th century Spanish friar on a mission to save the native people, blending together with the modern day story of Lupe, a woman on a mission from God to cross the border illegally in order to save the gringos.

The story is about the testing of faith, the subtle lures of hypocrisy, and the question of when it's okay to break the law to follow a higher calling. The story is challenging to the reader--thought provoking. It took me a while to read it because I kept dropping it down into my lap and staring off into the distance, thinking about the questions it raised about morality. "What would I do? What is right in this situation?"

I think what I appreciated the most (even though I'm a Christian), is that Dickson didn't preach. He told a real story, and let the character's lives and emotions speak for themselves. I actually started dog-earing pages toward the end of the book because the writing was so powerful. Two of my favorite quotes:

"He heaved raw prayers up from his belly like a retching dog."

"We walk upon our past; with every step we drive it deeper."

Needless to say, I loved it.

My one warning is that when I began the book, it was a very slow starter. Dickson jumps through time and from character to character building the story and the world from the ground up. It takes time to get started, and I think if I'd borrowed the book or bought it for myself, I might have put it down in those first 30 pages.

I'm glad I didn't.

I've already recommended this book to two family members, and I recommend it to you. No matter your belief system, if you like your morals challenged, or just love a richly told story, LOST MISSION will not disappoint :).

Has anyone else read this book? Thoughts? Comments?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deal With the Universe Contest: VOTE NOW!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for (at least since last week's post on Making a Deal With the Universe):

I've selected the best, funniest, most terrifying blog reader suggestions for YOU to vote on!

Yes, you, Gentle Readers, get to decide my fate, when/if I get a book deal. I have to pay the Universe back somehow, right, and I might as well pay in tears.

You will also decide which of these four* lucky commenters will win a copy of Jessica Verday's THE HOLLOW :)!

Now, without further ado, here are your finalists:

Scott suggested posting the worst picture of me ever taken! (And trust me, I've got some doosies. My childhood was... awkward.)

Lisa & Laura suggested that I spend the entire day as a character from a book (i.e. Frodo), and document it with pictures for all to enjoy. (I promise not to cheat and be someone boring!)

CHKB suggested that I eat something revolting on video for all to enjoy. (I'm thinking haggis sounds like the worst thing ever, but please feel free to make suggestions!)

Shannon Messenger suggested karaokeing to "My Humps" and, of course, videotaping it. (You managed to find a song even more embarrasingly wrong than "Bootylicious! :) Well played!)

Please vote for one of these clever folks in the comments! Voting will be closed by Sunday night, and then a winner announced Monday :).


(*Okay, I know I originally said I'd pick three to vote on, but there were just so many awesome ones. I couldn't decide. So, I cheated. Hey, it's my contest. Back off, already!)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Author Interview: Lisa Dale

I have a special treat for you today: An interview with contemporary romance author, Lisa Dale!

I recently read her book, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, loved it, and thought I'd ask her to share her journey to publication with us.

She graciously agreed!

Becca: Can you please tell us about your road to publication? How did you meet your agent?

Lisa: I met my agent while I was working at another literary agency; she and I sat on a panel together at a conference in Toronto. At the time, I hadn't really had any ideas about writing books in the near future. Then, later on while I was in school getting my MFA and was working on my first book Simple Wishes, I got to thinking of her again and thought she would like it.

She didn't accept the book right away--she asked for some pretty significant revisions. Her critique was dead on, and I find myself thankful for her excellent editorial advice again and again. Once we sent Simple Wishes out, we got the first offer in less then two weeks and a second offer just a few days after that. I always thought I'd be the type who would take the news with cool aplomb, but instead I screamed like a little kid on the Fourth of July!

Becca: I would definitely have screamed, too :)! Did you ever think about giving up along the way? If so, what kept you going?

Lisa: Oh yes. A hundred times. A thousand. Sometimes I still flirt with the idea (a writer's life is never easy), but the fact is I know I never ever will quit. Writing is a fundamental instinct. I'm ALWAYS writing. So what keeps me going is mostly the fact that there are no other options that will work for me. When there's no plan B, plan A can't be allowed to fail.

Becca: I love that philosophy!

I'm a fan of your blog, and follow you on Twitter as well. Can you tell us about what you did to promote the launch of your book? How much social networking do you do? Any advice for newbie authors on building a readership?

Lisa: Promoting my second book, It Happened One Night, has proven to be a bit easier than promoting the first book, Simple Wishes. I'd say I do middle of the road social networking. Some do more than me, others do much less.

My favorite social networking tool is easily Twitter because it's so easy to meet new people who are into the same things. Twitter-folk are there because they want to talk to and meet new people (strangers), while Facebookers tend to be a bit more private. There are lots of people who tell me "I don't get Twitter," and all I can say is that I didn't either, at first. But there is something special about it as a networking tool, and the advice I would give to people who don't get it is "Start getting it." Read up. Learn. Push yourself. There's a reason everyone is saying how awesome Twitter is.

Becca: That’s so true. I didn’t get Twitter at first, either, but now I’m officially addicted :). Can you tell us what it's like to work with an editor and go through the revisions process? Is there anything that surprised you when you first sold Simple Wishes that you'd wish you'd known as a newbie?

Lisa: Revisions take a lot of patience and humility--when you work with an editor it's no longer about writing to please yourself. It's about writing to meet another person's requests. That's kind of a hurdle to get around. As to the second part of your question--what surprised me--I wasn't prepared for how nervous I would be to learn that the book would come out. I was excited, sure. But I was also scared out of my mind. With the second book the jitters calmed down a bit and I had a lot more fun.

Becca: I’d never thought about being nervous when your book is actually coming out! I’m loving the insight here ;).

That's fascinating that you worked in a literary agency before getting published. Did anything in that experience give you a leg up when you first reached out to your agent? Any query advice for us?

Lisa: Well, I don't want to overstate my role at the agency--I was an intern then a junior agent. Actually, I wasn't really able to write well while I was working at the agency because I was so overwhelmed by technique, rules, marketing, etc. It wasn't until I left that I could "hear" the sound of my own writing voice again.

As for query advice, the best advice I can give is to just be quietly confident in your query letters. If you know your stuff, it will show without your needing to flaunt your knowledge. The biggest mistake I've seen in the eight or ten thousand query letters I've read is "trying too hard."

Becca: Did you find writing It Happened One Night easier or more difficult than your first book? What's it like working under a deadline for a publisher?

Lisa: I have a feeling that every book is going to prove difficult in its own unique way--and that's how I like it. If I started getting too good at what I was doing--if the stories came too easily--I'd probably suspect myself of relying too much on formula and losing my passion for what I'm doing. As for working under deadline, it hasn't proved to be a problem--knock on wood!

Becca: Good point! Sometimes the effort is what makes it fun, as well.

Lastly, if you could go back in time and give Past Lisa any advice, what would it be? Are there any pearls of wisdom you've gained through experience that you'd want to share with yourself?

Lisa: I love that you said "Past Lisa." I say "Past Lisa" and "Future Lisa" to myself all the time. :-) If I could go back and tell myself something, it would be to stay positive and also to go more slowly. To listen harder to the quietest part of my own voice and to hold on to that whisper even when everything else in life gets loud. It's easy to get distracted and sidetracked--but then again, I don't know. Maybe that's part of it, too--all the detours on the way to finding the right path.

So much for my sage wisdom. Obviously, I'm still learning as I go!

A big THANK YOU to Lisa Dale for sharing her insight with us :).

Please go check out her books, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and SIMPLE WISHES, or visit her at

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hug an Agent: It's the Law!

Why, you ask?

Because it's Unofficial Official Agent Appreciation Day, of course!

It all started with that crazy trendsetter Kody Keplinger, and spiralled out into the blogs of bajillions of agented authors.

The love in these posts warms the cockles of my wee heart :). (Okay, I'm actually not sure what the "cockles" are, but you get my drift.) As others have said, it's kinda like writer porn to read about how much these dudes appreciate their agents!

Just check out the impressive list of sites gathered up by authors Lisa & Laura, as well as author Elana J! My awesome author friend Christine Fonseca also has blissful agent love to share :).

So, check it out! Share the love!

And hug an agent today!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Writers' Forums & Things To Come!


... or else.

(don't those newsies look like they want to beat you up?)

Anyway, I have exciting news for all of you fellow wanna-be authors out there :). There's a *new* and exciting place to hear about publishing news, interact with a cool agent, and get query critiques!

This week, beloved agent Nathan Bransford added FORUMS to his agent website and blog. Yes, now we can cyber stalk him in style, and on his own turf, too! (Restraining order sold separately.)

I went over there today to start helping out w/ the queries, and there are some cool and talented people there already. Go! Sign up! Strangely enough, my user name is RebeccaKnight. Let's hang out :).

In other news, I'll be posting and interview I did with author Lisa Dale on Monday! I read and loved her most recent book, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (women's fiction/contemporary romance), and now have her debut, SIMPLE WISHES on my Christmas list.

Also, don't forget to enter your ideas for my Deal With the Universe contest by midnight this Friday! I'll pick my favorite three and let you guys vote on what I'll have to do *when* (fingers crossed) I get my first book deal.

Any news to share on your end? :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

Tuesday already??

Well, that can only mean one thing. Yes, it's time to tell the truth and confess, in homage to Lisa & Laura's blog.

So, here goes!

1) When I posted yesterday asking you to come up with an appropriate Deal With the Universe for a CONTEST, I said there was a "Mystery Prize" because I hadn't come up with one yet. Now, I know, and it's AWESOME.

I'll be giving away my once-read, lovingly used copy of THE HOLLOW by Jessica Verday! Make sure to comment on yesterday's post by this Friday for your chance to win!

2) I don't send out Christmas cards. Ever. I don't like a lot of pressure/expectations around Christmas because it makes me crazy. So, I just hug my relatives instead, and email other folks :). And, I don't even feel guilty. MWAHAHAHAHA.

3) My childhood nicknames were Big Bird and Chewbacca because I was always the tallest kid in class. I was 5'5" tall when I was nine... Yeah.

4) I've been wearing crocs and socks all week long. I swear, it looks cute the way I do it ;). I also know Lisa & Laura won't believe me.

5) I watch The Biggest Loser like dudes watch football. Talk to me during the commercial break, or be ignored.

6) Pizza is my greatest weakness! It's like my delicious, salted meat covered Kryptonite. If you ever want to kidnap me, leave some pizza in the back of a panel van, and I'll probably falling for it.

So, what do you guys have to confess this week?

Don't forget to join the running for THE HOLLOW!

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Would You Do For a Book Deal?

There's a new craze sweeping the blogosphere! What is it you ask?

Why, bargaining with the Universe for a book deal, of course!

Yes, everyone's doing it these days. Just take writer Kiersten White who just dyed her hair purple to pay the Universe back for helping her sell her book, PARANORMALCY.

Or else check out Carrie Kei Heim Binas who is pondering wheelin' and dealin' with the Universe. If she gets an agent, she's posting a video of herself dancing to delight the Universe with her potential humiliation. AND if her books sells in a decent amount of time after that? She's getting a tattoo.

Well, now I can't let other people have all the fun without me! So, I need your help, gentle readers. What do you think would be a proper deal to strike with the Universe in exchange for a book deal?

Off the top of my head, I'm thinking:

--Karaoke to something like "Bootilicious" and film it

--Eat lutefisk

--Flash a librarian

So, you can see why I need your help!

Please leave your ideas for what I should promise the Universe in the comments, and I'll pick three finalists next week for YOU to vote on :D. The winning idea wins not only my public (potential) humiliation, but also wins a mystery prize! (Well, and my undying gratitude when I get that dang book deal.)

So, what's it going to be guys?

I'll be taking entries until Friday at midnight!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Business Cards For Writers: Will Write 4 Food!

Yesterday, I read a post that got me thinking. Is it a good idea for a querying writer to have business cards?

Check out this post on writer business card "dos" and "don'ts by editor Maria Schneider. She says that when she's reading queries from authors she often keeps their business cards even if she rejects them.

Why, you ask? Because she likes to network :), and business cards make a professional statement. Also, they're incredibly handy to have if you're at a writer's conference, a local bookstore, or anywhere else where you'll be networking with individuals in the publishing industry.

What do you guys think? Have you made or considered making business cards for yourselves?

Any "Dos" or "Don'ts" that you've encountered?

*See business card made of chocolate above for a definite "Do" ;).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blog Chain: Oh, the Humanity

Or "In-Jokes with Myself: Crappy Writing from the Yesteryear!"

Shaun picked the topic for this round of the Blog Chain, and yes, decided it would be fun to torture us (as well as our blog readers) with this question:

What is the silliest thing from a book or short story you've written, and why? It can be a line or a paragraph or a whole page. Anything that you look back at and go, "Say what?"

Really, Shaun? Are you sure you want to know?

Some things YOU CAN'T UNSEE, if you know what I mean. You go there at your own peril!

Don't say you weren't warned!!!!!

As soon as I discovered the topic, I went digging around in my old "writing" folders and dug out this steaming... uh... gem to share with you guys ;).

I wrote this poem when my husband was playing video games one Saturday, sheerly to amuse myself because I was crazy bored. I was an only child, so I'm really good at entertaining myself when the need arises. I was thinking about that video on where Strongbad is trying to teach everyone how to draw a dragon, and his brother Strongmad (who is not the sharpest tool in the shed) is just carving DAGRON into a table instead of drawing :D. If you don't know about Trogdor, Strongbad, or Homestar Runner, you should totally go procrastinate and head over to that website :D. It's hours of fun!

Okay, enough backstory! Enjoy:


Oh, Dagron Great, what shall thy namesake be?
A crusty serpent that caused the Welsh to flee
their homes and burnt them to the ground?
Or hydra fierce with heads horn-crowned?

Oh, Dagron, should I name thee after great angelic hosts?
Name thee cherubim, give thee wings to fly among the ghosts?
Dagron Great, none do your countenance match:
Your noble reek, your scales' sheen, your claws that snatch.

What shall I name thee, then, Dagron Great--
Oh, wise creature, christened late?
If I cannot do this task, I will take my leave.
So to save disgrace, I shall call you "Steve."


I can't say I didn't warn you!

Any gems from the past you'd like to share? :D

Don't forget to check out the hilarious Cole who posted ahead of me, and the fabulous Amanda, posting tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Contest & Ways to Give this Year!

That time is approaching, my friends!

Time for Christmas decorating, picking out that perfect book for grandma, and of course, awesome contests!

There is a contest happening at The Enchanted Inkpot that would make even the biggest scrooge giggle with delight. Seriously. This is one major contest. They are giving away over 20 books in three huge prize packages!

The Enchanted Inkpot are a group of young adult and middle grade writers who brought you books like SILVER PHOENIX (Cindy Pon), FAERY REBELS: SPELL HUNTER (R. J. Anderson), and ASH (Malinda Lo), to only name a few. Go check out the contest, and good luck!

Also, this is a great time of year to think about ways you can give back to your community, or do something kind for people across the globe.

Fabulous blogger JennyMac posted a list of ways you can help out, including a huge list of stuff you can do for FREE! Please check it out. It is such a blessing to give a bit of time or a donation to someone in need.

So, get yourselves over to those blogs and enjoy the goodness!

Any blog contests or lists you're checking out this month? :) Please share!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Blog Chain: Balancing Your Life

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."

We all strive to do something meaninful with our lives--to live to the fullest--but how do we live our dreams and still find time to do the dishes?

Amanda picked the topic for this round of the Blog Chain:

How do you prioritize? How do you balance paying attention to your writing, critiquing for friends, spending time with your family and earning a living?

This is a topic that I've been struggling with over the past couple of months, so this seems like perfect timing :). Maintaining balance is such a problem sometimes, and figuring out where writing lies on our priorities can be nothing short of frustrating.

First, I found I had to lay out what my priorities are. After all, how can I decide what's most important if I'm not even sure what all my priorities are?

My priorities include (in no particular order):

* Spending time with my husband
* Writing
* Cleaning up the house once in a while
* Spending time w/ my family
* Spending time w/ my friends
* Critiquing/beta reading for writer pals
* Working a full time job
* Exercising
* Watching TV (hehe. Well, it's true)

I was finding myself getting more and more stressed out as I tried to juggle all of these things, and finally realized I'd left something important off my priority list. Taking care of myself!

As a Christian, I know I struggle with feeling selfish if I'm thinking of myself or doing something "only for me." However, the truth is, we can't give to others all the time if we're burnt out. It just doesn't work that way! In order to do our best work and give joyfully to our friends, families, and spouses, we have to take care of ourselves first. Once we're recharged, we'll have more to give, and we'll be happier while we do it.

I'm still trying to work out how to fit everything into a day, but I've started doing things like meditating, taking bubble baths, and exercising more often to make sure I relieve stress and stay healthy. It's definitely made a difference, and I feel like I have more to give to my writing, as well as to those I love.

We also have to realize that it's okay if we're not superheroes. If the carpet doesn't get vacuumed for a couple of weeks, no one will call the police. It's gonna be alright! We can't do everything.

Everyone has different priorities, and that is both normal and healthy. If you can't see family one weekend because you need to take care of yourself, go for it. If you need to take a weekend off from writing to spend time with your friends, go for it! Do what's best for you to keep yourself in balance.

I'm still getting there day by day :).

What do you guys do to achieve balance in your own lives? Is it difficult for you? Easy?

Please check out Michelle's answer before me, too! I'm the last link in the chain, so please go to Amanda's post (linked above) to read everyone's contribution :).

I hope everyone had a great holiday!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


You all have been such a blessing to me this year :). Thank you for all of your support and general awesomeness on this blog!

I hope you're all having a great holiday and are at this very moment napping in front of the television with your pants unbuttoned ;).

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, and I'll see you Monday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For

*picture courtesy of CakeWrecks.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of my American friends!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I wanted to keep with tradition and mention things that I'm thankful for. Without further ado, I present to you:

Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For:

10) Sweet, sweet books. This year I realized that I can read a book or two a week, and that I'm okay w/ spending money to feed my habit. I *may* have gotten smarter, too, but the jury's still out. Still, what a wonderful year for reading new books!

9) Agent and Editor blogs! Without wonderful blogs from people like Moonrat, Rachelle Gardner, Kristin Nelson, and many others in my sidebar, I would still be wandering around without a clue. Love and thanks!

8) Writers forums like! Seriously. I can't recommend this site enough if you're looking for help with your query, or just the support and comaraderie of a group of seriously cool writers.

7) Addictive and hilarious blogs like The Rejectionist who makes the slings and arrows of the publishing industry funny again, while still warning us not to Anger the Assistant.

6) Control + F. I love you, Ctrl + F. You saved me so many times while I was revising and editing my manuscript :). You helped me change a character's name without going crazy, as well as replacing words I use way, way too much. You've got my back, Ctrl + F, and for that I am eternally grateful.

5) White wine and bubble baths, because they are the perfect solution to a hectic day. After a bubble bath with a glass of white wine and a favorite book, I feel recharged and ready to write. So much awesomeness.

4) The Biggest Loser for being a reality TV show that tries to help people instead of just being a trainwreck, and for making me want to get in shape. The Biggest Loser coerced me into getting onto my exercise bike last night, and for that, I am grateful. Plus, Jillian Michaels scares me straight. Holy crap, lady...

3) My AMAZING blog followers and friends! You guys have made my year amazing by sticking with me as I blogged this year and commenting along. Your comments and the conversations we have make this blog at least three times as cool as it would be without you. You guys rock! :)

2) My critique buddies and beta readers! Without you guys and your dedication, my book would suck :). Blessings to everyone who's helped me get LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS polished and shiny. You are amazing people, and I value your criticism more than chocolate!

1) Finally... the last thing I'm thankful for ..... is that no one gave me that Coiled Poo Turkey Cake today (pictured above.) For those of you who don't know what CakeWrecks is, go check out the link at the top of this post and laugh until it hurts. It's the best.

Happy holidays, and have a great weekend!

What are you thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

To Buy or Not To Buy: HEAT WAVE by Richard Castle

I've been a fangirl of ABC's show CASTLE since last season :). For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a witty/fun show about a mystery writer working with (and getting in the way of) the NYPD as "research" for his next best seller.

And now, the most interesting part (besides Nathan Fillion), is that the show actually produced a book from the fictitious Richard Castle, based on the one he "wrote" last season!

It even comes complete with famous author blurbs jealously exclaiming Castle's brilliance in his latest novel. They really went for it... and it's hilarious.

My question for you is: Would you ever buy a book based on a TV show?

I've never bought any kind of adaptation novel, but think I may have to shell out for this bit of entertainment :).

What are your thoughts?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Online Plaforms: Why They Work!

Today, I'd like to share a real-life story of how an online presence/platform can lead to book sales!

On Friday, I wandered into Borders on my lunchbreak, not intending to buy anything, but just hanging out in the warmth with my husband, killing some time (we work together, which rocks.)

He stops at the bathroom, and Lo and Behold I'm near the Romance section. I have read the occasional Paranormal Romance, so I'm tooling around when I think "Wait a minute. Don't I know someone whose book came out recently? Lisa Dale? Doesn't she write romance?"

I scan the shelves and sure enough! There she is, sandwiched between Claudia Dain and Jacquie DAlassandro: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, by Lisa Dale.

I peer in closer and think "Hey, I think I saw the book trailer for this, and it looked pretty good." I pick it up and begin to thumb through it.

Phrases like "An author to keep an eye on" and "A haunting debut" pop out from her book blurbs. At this point, I'm totally excited. I feel like I know this person from my interactions with her online--I follow her blog and Twitter account, and am emotionally invested in her being successful.

She seems very cool, so I am overwhelmed with the sudden
need to pay it forward and support her. My credit card pops out of my wallet like a pop tart from a toaster!

My husband is back by my side rolling his eyes, because I swore I wasn't going to buy anything, and here I am clutching a book and grinning. Oh, well!

I sat in the tub that night, reading through a contemporary romance (something I never thought I'd buy), and LOVING IT. I'm not done yet, but so far the book is very emotionally real, the characters full of depth, and the tension is high. I've already put Lisa's first book, SIMPLE WISHES, on my Christmas list for Santa. It's made of awesome.

My point? I swear, there is one :)!

After finally putting the book down, I went to find out how I'd first heard of Lisa and why the heck I knew about this book in the first place. It turns out, she'd started following my Twitter account (@twoheadknight), and I'd followed her back (@LisaDaleBooks.) She send me a really nice message at first, we tweeted a tiny bit, and then I followed a link to her blog. Her blog is awesome, so I stuck around, saw the book trailer, and the rest is history!

Isn't it amazing how such a small thing like following someone on Twitter can lead to a book sale? And a book sale to someone who doesn't normally even read in her genre?

I can honestly say, too, that I felt emotionally invested when I saw her book there because she'd made such a cool impression online. I cheered when I saw the book and snapped some pictures, either to send to her as a "yay, I bought your book" or to post here. Hooray! It feels great to support authors, and even better to get a good read out of it.

So, brush off your blogs and your Twitter accounts, people!

It definitely pays off to put yourself out there :).

My question to you:

Have you bought a book based on something you've heard online or because of an author's blog/tweet?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Publishing Debate: Harlequin Horizons

Or as I like to call it, Poo Storm 2009!

There's been a lot of drama in the publishing world this week surrounding Harlequin's announcement that they are opening their own vanity press, called Harlequin Horizons, and offering it to rejectees from their slush pile.

There was helpful info posted on the Writer Beware blog summing up the announcement and potential controversy, then the agents began posting fervently, keeping us in the loop!

Agent Kristen Nelson first asked if this was "Exploitation or Empowerment", then clued us in yesterday that the RWA had laid down some smack, letting everyone know that Harlequin was no longer recognized as a real publishing house because of this recent move. Yesterday, she filled us in on a letter from Donna Hayes, the Harlequin CEO, announcing that they were removing the Harlequin name from the vanity press due to all the hoopla from their authors (no kidding,) and that they thought the RWA were being jerks.

Janet Reid, the Query Shark herself, was also in the middle of the action, announcing the first signs of the approaching poo storm, revealing how pissed off she is that Harlequin seems to be preying on newbie authors, and then further endearing herself to authors everywhere by telling Donna Hayes to stop blowing smoke and basically either fix it or go take a long walk off a short pier.

Rachelle Gardner chimed in today with a rant on the quality of literature (which I totally agree with), and asking her readers their thoughts on vanity publishing as the wave of the future.

Even sci fi author John Scalzi threw his hat in the ring, discussing RWA, the MWA and SFWA all stepping in to chastise Harlequin.

Needless to say, this whole thing has made me feel like I'm taking crazy pills. I mean, seriously, Harlequin? I don't even want to know what their poor authors must be thinking.

So, my question for you is: What do you think of all this?

Exploitative or smart business move?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Books for Christmas!

You'll never guess what I got you :D.

Okay, guess! You'll never get it.

It's... A SWEATER!

Okay, just kidding. It's a book.

How'd you know??


Mysterious editor Moonrat is on a mission! She's on a mission to get everyone to buy books as Christmas gifts, and save the publishing industry. I'm all for it!

She has helpful book-buying lists on her blog to help you with your shopping endeavors.

My questions for you are threefold:

1) Are you going to jump on the bandwagon and buy books for the family?

2) What kind of book do you get a non-reading family member? Palin's memoir ;)? *rim shot*

3) What recommendations do you have for various age groups/genres? What books do you LOVE and think would make great gifts?

And since I'm asking you, I might as well start things off with a list of good books:

For Kids:

--Bruce Coville's JEREMY THATCHER, DRAGON HATCHER, THE MONSTER'S RING, and GOBLINS IN THE CASTLE. These are some of my all time favorite books, and I'll still pick them up from time to time and read them :). You can't go wrong w/ Bruce Coville!

For Young Adults:

--Cindy Pon's SILVER PHOENIX (My Review Here), Kristin Cashore's GRACELING (one of my new all-time favorite books!)

For Adult Fantasy readers:

--Barry Hughart's BRIDGE OF BIRDS (a tale of ancient China that never was), Raymond E. Feist's MAGICIAN (awesome sword & sorcery), and Susanna Clarke's JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL (one of the oddest, most delightful things I've ever read.)

For Adult Sci-Fi readers:

--Orson Scott Card's ENDERS GAME (one of my favorite books ever), Dan Simmons' HYPERION (gorgeous writing/fascinating plot), and Joan Slonczewski's A DOOR INTO OCEAN (My Review Here).

For Adult Paranormal Romance readers:

--Kerry A. Jones' CAST IN STONE (My Review Here), and Lori Handeland's BLUE MOON (it's got sexy Native Americans and werewolves!)

Now it's your turn: I'd love to hear what you'd recommend :)!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

It's that time again, folks! Time to Tell the Truth Lisa & Laura style, and 'fess up.

My weekly confession:

1) I do lunges in the bathroom at work. And sometimes countertop pushups. And sometimes dance a little. Too embarrassed to squeeze a little exercise in at my desk, I will try to bust something out in between washing my hands and leaving.

2) Bruno from Dancing With the Stars terrifies me. He's like the show's pervy uncle, only he's not just showing up drunk and handsy at Christmas time, he's there all season, making every celebrity uncomfortable in turns. When Len says a dance was "delicious" I say "awww" because it does it in an adorable old man way. When Bruno says it, I shudder automatically. It's all in the delivery.

3) I read trashy romance novels on my iPhone because no one can tell what they are :). If someone asks I might just lie and say Proust. Mwahahahahaha!

4) I love surprises to a ridiculous degree. My husband knows this and will tell me to close my eyes before showing me a) cool TV shows he's recorded, b) yummy snacks, c) funny stuff he found on the Internet. It makes me squee with joy every time, because surprises are the best!

5) I look forward to "Lunch Weekly" all week long. If you don't get Publishers Lunch yet (the free industry newsletter you can subscribe to here), go sign up immediately! You'll get publishing news all week, and once a week (like today), they send an update showing new book deals for the week, including debut authors :). GO DEBS!

So, what about you? Anything to confess this week? ;)

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's Wrong With Naked?

Today, I embarked on an adventure. I let a stranger touch my naked body. WHAT?! you say? Okay, it's nothing seedy. I got my first massage!

Now, I mention this because I'm a shy person. I don't get "naked." I get nervous in a bathing suit, people. But today, I said "What the hell" and stripped down in the name of relaxation.

It was awesome.

As I was lying there, getting more and more comfortable in a situation that terrified me not long ago, I started thinking about our writing lives.

Aren't we daring to get naked when we put our work out there? Doesn't it feel like putting it all out there and waiting nervously to see if anyone will laugh? Or point? Or ooh and ahh ;)?

It's a leap of faith that leaves us at our most exposed. After all, once the book is out there, there's no getting it back. It's out there for good. Hangin' in the wind.

As I was lying under the sheet tonight, I realized I was strangely comfortable, and glad I took the leap of faith. The massage was a great experience--and would have been VERY different if I'd chickened out and kept my pants on.

So, what do you guys think? Are you ready to get naked? Book-wise, I mean? ;)

Are you ready to take that leap of faith and leave yourself exposed?

Friday, November 13, 2009

What I've Learned This Week

As a couple of you know, I've been at home from work healing up from an illness for the past week, and have been taking some to relax (Feeling much better now, btw!)

Over the course of this relaxation, I learned a few things:

1) Netflix is the best invention ever. Sanitation? Not that important. The wheel? PAH! Let's see "the wheel" get me instantly streaming dating reality tv shows. Yeah, that's what I thought. I love you, Netflix.

2) Taking an icy beverage with you into the shower is fun! Seriously, try it. It feels so wrong, yet so right. Pure home alone awesomeness.

3) GRACELING, by Kristin Gashore, is one of my new favorite novels! It's fresh traditional fantasy, if that makes any sense, and I LOVED this book. It's been awhile since a novel made me as happy as Hunger Games, and this one did it :). If you love Fantasy, I highly recommend it.

4) My internet friends are the best. I mean, okay, I already pretty much knew this. But I love you guys! I got a couple of emails from my writing buddies just checking in, and it completely made my week.

5) Agents are hilarious. I tentatively got back online today and almost fainted when I saw how behind I am on reading blogs, but came across a few gems as I was surfing. This post from Janet Reid (the Query Shark) made me laugh out loud. I missed this stuff, man.

6) The odds of getting published are awesome if you are an awesome writer! Yes, if you don't totally suck, the odds go from 1/100,000 to something much more manageable. Just take Lisa & Laura (ooh, and go enter their Kindle contest before it's too late!) and Christine Fonseca who got publishing contracts (YAAAY!), and Elana Johnson, who just got an agent! WOOT!

Just like the picture of the afro duck above, this week has been a very pleasant surprise.

How are you guys doing? Anything you've learned? ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday!

This past week I actually took some time off both from blogging and writing to recharge my batteries :).

It felt great, and now I feel like I'm ready to really nail my edits and finish Legacy of the Empress once and for all.

At this point, it's a lot of minor word adjustments, killing the last bits of passive voice, and fixing places where I repeat words. So, wish me luck this week, and good luck to you!

How have your week's been so far? Any progress?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Blog Chain: Dramarama!

Okay, so this blog chain is actually a wee bit FUBAR because of me this time around. Heh. Oops! I apologize that this chain is a little loopified.

This time around, Christine chose the topic:

How do you create a wonderfully dramatic story? Are there any questions you ask yourself, or specific things you keep in mind to ensure that you have the level of tension necessary to propell the story forward?

Fantastic topic!

One question that never fails me is "What is the worst thing that could possibly happen?" Usually we ask this to reassure ourselves that we're okay, but when I ask it, my characters cringe inside my head. They know I'm gunning for them.

The question is really "What's the worst thing that could possibly happen to my characters right now?" followed by "and will it work?"

Sometimes you can't do the worst thing. You can't kill everyone off in the first chapter, for example, because then your story would be very short. And boring. And sort of pointless. However, you can put the characters into an impossible situation where they might be killed at any moment! The conflict in your story rises automatically.

Show no mercy. Life isn't merciful after all. But I also can't forget that I'm trying to tell a good story which means it has to be satisfying. "Satisfying" can mean different things to different people, but nothing can be senseless or without purpose in your story. Every bad or crazy thing must happen for a reason. Even unpleasant or cliffhanger endings were purposefully crafted.

So, in summary I suppose I ask myself three things while writing:

1) What's the worst thing that could happen?
2) Does it work?
3) Is it satisfying or purposeful?

Also, if you're in a jam, I've heard people swear that all you need to do when you're stuck is shoot a character. It doesn't work for me, but it might for you! :) Let the bodies hit the floor, and have fun.

So, what say you? How do you create drama in your stories?

Please check out Amanda before me, and Sandra tomorrow!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm baaaaack!

Mwahahahahaahah *cough* mwah ha... uh, yeah.

Hi :).

I'm back from my week of being unplugged, feeling refreshed, and ready to do some writing.

Sometimes there is nothing like a little distance to remind you that, yes, there is a world outside of The Internet (It's not just a rumor! I've seen it with my own eyes!) Daylight is actually kind of nice. If you haven't been out in a while, you should check it out.

Of course, I couldn't stay away for long ;).

Now, I feel so behind the times. I mean, several of you are probably thousands of words into your NaNo projects, others are querying, and others are much further along on their WIPs. How are you guys doing? Anything exciting happen while I was gone?

It's good to be back in the action :).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Writer In Progress: Unplugged!

No, I'm not going to play accoustic guitar for you, so don't panic ;).

I am unplugging from my blog this week to take some personal time, regroup, recharge, and relax. Best of luck on all of your works in progress, and good luck to you NaNo Particpators! Go kick some serious butt this week to the tune of 10,000 words!

Please feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comments, and have a great week! :)

I'll be back before you know it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Everyone's Got a Story

Have you ever people watched? Just sat and stared at strangers and imagined what their life is like?

Today being the day before Halloween at work, I got to do a lot of awesome people watching :). I realized as I was watching a lady from the call center walk by as a Klingon that there might just be some great story material here!

1) The lady in accounting who is mean all year long, and then does the best decorating and puts out the most candy on Halloween.

2) The shy guy who puts on a mask and runs around scaring the HR ladies because he feels free when he's in disguise.

3) The loud guy pretending to be Billy Mays while everyone raises and eyebrow and says "Whoa, dude. Too soon."

4) The tiny Spiderman grabbing a candy out of the dish, dropping it on the floor, and then unable to pick it up because his foam muscles make it hard to move his arms. Awwww. Little help there, Spidey? :)

The great thing about people is that everyone has a story. People have eccentricities you just can't make up, and some have that kind of golden heart that make you want to be a better person. There are heroes, villians, adorable babies dressed up like chickens--the whole gamut!

So next time you're stuck on a character trait, go to Walmart or sit on a park bench to people watch. Just remember to take your notebook with you!

*Halloween costume picks coming soon ;).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday: Halloween Costume!

This week, my only work in progress is my Halloween costume (okay, okay.. and some editing.)

I'm going this year as Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica! It will be awesome. SO SAY WE ALL!

I have a short blonde wig, pants, boots, bottom tank top, and the beginnings of a huge "Top Gun" beer stein that I'll be carrying around. I'm going to be authentic down to the anger issues (well, as authentic as one can be on a budget.)

The funny thing is, I'm not even going anywhere. I'm going to work this way, and then answering the door and traumatizing young children all night long. I just wouldn't feel right doing it without a costume. This is definitely one of my all time favorite holidays.

So, I ask you, gentle readers:

What are you being/doing for Halloween??

Bonus points for showing us pictures of your costume!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

I'm stealing this idea, once again, from fabulous bloggers, Lisa & Laura! They entertain me beyond belief all week long, and I think this idea of confessing things on Tuesday is both morbidly fascinating, and a great idea.

So here goes!

My weekly confession:

1) I'm adding Fear of Surgery While Awake to my list of irrational phobias. A friend told me today about a surgery where they gave her a spinal anesthetic and then just went to town. WHILE SHE WAS AWAKE. She said she could feel "pressure." I almost screamed just hearing about it.

2) This Baby Readiness Quiz from JennyMac's blog made me sterile. I've always wanted kids, but after reading that, I'm considering buying a few more cats and calling it good :).

3) Whenever my mom is reading over my novel and says "EW! This part is gross. What is wrong with you?" I know I've done something right. It's my goal in life to have portions of my books disturb people. Is that wrong? I think then you know you've written something powerful, and that is awesome.

4) I am becoming addicted to Stat Counter. You can see where people are from who visit your blog, what keywords they used to find you, etc. It's hours of fun! :D I love the funky google searches that lead to me. Recently, it's been the great Star Wars--is it Fantasy? debate that brought people my way. Who knew?

5) I am becoming addicted to the blog Secret Office Confessions! It's British, it's about the goings-on in a publishing house, and it's like a cross between The Office and Bridget Jones. One word: Fabulous! I can't get enough of the drama. Fingers crossed that it's all true :).

6) I'm starting to feel very smug now that I've learned how to create fancypants Hyperlinks! Can you tell? This is my smug face.

So how about you?

Anything you'd like to get off your chest? ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog Chain: Facing Your Fears!

It's blog chain time again!

The devious Kat started us off this round with the following topic:

What are the primary fears that drive your characters? Do they battle aliens of gangsters or monsters? Or do they battle unreconciled issues in their lives? Which do you prefer writing about? What do you fear?

Wow! Love the topic, and not just because it's almost Halloween... Mwahahaha!

In my book, Legacy of the Empress, my characters have issues. Astrid, my heroine, spent the last ten years of her childhood locked away in a tower room. Her mother imprisoned her when she was eight after murdering her courtiers and usurping the throne using dark magic (what a bitch, right?). When Astrid escapes and finds the magic consuming the land and its people, she fears two things:

1) Being locked up again
2) Her mother killing more innocents before she can stop her.

Torin, the boy who joins her quest to find an ancient Empress and defeat the dark magic, has his own set of fears:

1) Living an unremarkable life
2) Letting Astrid down.

He longs to be something more, a hero, and sees himself as Astrid's protector on her journey. When he is weakened (no spoilers!), he struggles with feeling useless--a burden instead of a warrior.

I prefer writing about internal fears because those are the ones that haunt us the longest. We all have them: those tapes in our heads that tell us things we wish we didn't believe, but struggle with on a daily basis. We long to realize these fears and rise above them, to change the tapes to say what we want them to say. Instead of hearing "I'm not good enough," we want to hear "I'm good enough the way that I am!" It takes a journey to get there, though, and we're afraid of failing ourselves the most of all.

I read this quote the other day, and it really spoke to me:

"Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are."– Don Miguel Ruiz

We want to change, to better ourselves, but that requires a journey, and sometimes, a painful sacrifice. That conflict makes for some great storytelling, don't you think? :)

As for myself, some of my greatest fears include:

1) Losing loved ones before I'm ready to
2) Sliding down mountains (a weird phobia)
3) Living a fearful life and dying with regrets

The first one I can't control, the second is odd and means I don't like skiing, and the third is up to me. Regrets are for pussies! I can choose to follow my dreams, even if it means risking failure, and dammit all, I'm going to!

What about you? What fears do you characters face? What fears do you face in your everyday life?

Please check out the remarkable Cole answered before me, and the fearless Kate answers tomorrow! Don't miss it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Query Letter Etiquette Translated

... into dating scenarios!

If you haven't seen this post yet, you should TOTALLY go check it out :).



I'll wait here.

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Work In Progress Thursday!

Okay, okay. I know I'm late for Work In Progress Wednesday, but I don't care.

Know why?

Despite having kind of a crazy week, I've actually made progress! AWESOME progress!

Here is a list of progressy goodness for you to feast your eyes upon:

1) I edited a lot of LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS. There's still a ways to go, but I'm okay with that. I want it to be so shiny when I send it out to agents that at least one of them goes temporarily blind.

2) I finished a short story that I've been ignoring for far too long. You know what I'm talking about. That short story I swore I'd finish and polish 100 times but never got around to touching. Well, baby, I finished that mofo!

3) I wrote a whole other short story! BOOSH! I've read it several times, and I'm still proud of it. Now it's percolating before I edit it again.

How have your weeks been going? :)

Thank you for all of the support along my journey, blog readers and friends! I hope this little community here has been a support for all of you as well.

I'd love to hear what projects you have going on!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Them's the Breaks!

So, in case you didn't know, there's a reason all of those great writers were alcoholics.

Check out this post over at author Nicola Morgan's blog. In the post (and later the comments) are real stories of authors out there sorely dissapointed after being published. It got me thinking.

We writers have big dreams, don't we? :) We have Never Say Die attitudes, enormous goals, and lofty expectations. Well, what happens if when we meet those goals, we're not met at Barnes N' Noble with fanfare and hugs?

What if no one cares at all?

Not even our moms... ? :(

Will we still consider ourselves successful? Will reaching our goal of *sparkle* PUBLICATION *sparkle* still be enough?

And if not enough, what the hell are we gonna do about it?

As Nathan Bransford pointed out today, writers are sensitive, emotional freakazoids. We know this about ourselves, and we embrace it :). However, this means we have to not only think about what we're going to do if our books tank, but cope with that idea before it happens. Expect the worst, but hope for the best!

After all, what is the fun of inflating your expectations so much that you're disappointed after you've achieved your dream? THAT'S depressing, people: not the other way around! If someone expected Disneyland to be full of real giant mice dancing about in human clothing, they'd be disappointed, too. And it's freaking DISNEYLAND.

We have to make sure we are prepared emotionally, ready to deal with whatever comes our way.

What are you going to do if you face disappointment?

A) Give up and go get your real estate license?

B) Whine about it on your blog?

C) Get hugs from friends/family and then get back to Kicking Ass? :)

I'm on board for Option C.

Writing is not only a dream for me, it's my favorite passtime. I'm proud to do it, kudos or not! I fully expect the road to be difficult, but I remember one thing: God does not play dice with the universe (I <3 you, Einstein). If it's going to happen, it will happen. I just have to be ready for it when the time comes.

What about you?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Paragraphs & Premise: Starting Your Novel

This past week, Agent Extraordinaire Nathan Bransford wrapped up a First Paragraph Contest on his blog!

He received over 2100 aspiring authors' first paragraphs, read them all, went blind, got Lasik, came back, and chose the top few paragraphs that really spoke to him, and finally, one glorious winner.

The best part of the contest, is that today he told us why he chose the paragraphs he did, and why they jumped out at him from the contest Slush Pile. Go check it out! Not only can you read the paragraphs from the finalists, but you get Nathan's commentary free of charge on why they were so awesome. Also, if you go back to the Original Post, (and like a challenge), you can read each and every one of the entries he received to see what works for you in a first paragraph and what doesn't.

What a great opportunity for us to learn a) what the slush is REALLY like (only this slush comes soley from smarty pants blog readers who have a leg up), and b) what makes a truly great opening. I learned a lot from reading what other people did about my own preferences and how to make my opening even sharper.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, last week I was one of two runners-up in the Guide to Literary Agents' Blog "Worst Storyline Ever Contest." LOL! I know, I know. I'm the best at being the worst. I'll take it ;)!

The best part is, you can check out the hilarious story premise that took the cake, as well as the fantastic finalists.

Go on over. You know you want to!

What makes a good premise or start to a book in your minds? Are there any books on your shelf that grabbed you? What made them special?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Maybe the Publishing Industry Isn't So Doomed!

If you're like me, you probably get an icy tingle down your spine every time someone mentions that THIS IS THE END OF PUBLISHING AS WE KNOW IT and that BOOKS ARE DOOMED.

I like books. I like the publishing industry. I would like to get to know the publishing industry better, if only it would return my calls (j/k).

After all, it's only my life long ambition to make my living as a writer! :P I have a vested interest.

So, when I saw this Huffington Post article this week, it made me smile.

Finally, someone defending the publishing industry in an intelligent fashion!

Take a look, guys--I'd love to hear what you think.

Steve Ross, former CEO of Harper Collins, makes some great points about e-book pricing I hadn't considered. What's to be done? It sounds like there's a reason there's a debate going on over Amazon's low low $9.99 price point, aside from E-BOOKS SIGNALLING THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL MANKIND. It's actually quite fascinating. I'm excited to see what happens!

It's nice to read a more optimistic (and I think perhaps, realistic) view point once in a while :).

What do you guys think? Doomed? Or just trying to adjust?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You Tell Me: Why NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is upon us once again.

Only 16 more days to get in your present shopping! Or... whatever it is one does before NaNo. NaNo tree? Manuscript carving? I've got nothin.

I've never participated in this great event, but almost all of my writer and blogger friends have and call themselves addicted. I'm not entirely sure why.

Is it a jump start to a new project? An exercise to get the juices flowing for a month and recharge? A way to crank out a for reals novel?

You tell me: Why do you love NaNoWriMo or Why are you participating for the first time?

As a curious bystander, I want to know what all the fuss is about! :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blog Chain Time: Character Journeys

It's that time again! BLOG CHAIN TIME! :)

Sandra starts us off this round by asking this question:

What kind of journeys do your characters make? What effects do they have on the characters and the plot? Also, if you wish, please tell us about one of your personal journeys and how it changed you.

Please check out the awesome Cole who answered before me, and make sure to stop by and read Kate's answer tomorrow!

This is a really interesting set of questions, and some that would definitely take more than one post to go in depth on. The journey of a novel's characters is one of the most important things to me both as a reader and a writer. Everyone is shaped by profound events in their lives, and watching those changes occur is what makes a story interesting. How will the characters react to different situations? Will they make good choices? Will they stay true to their values? Will they crack under the strain? These questions create delicious tension!

I like to torture my characters :).

Like Kat said in the comments on Cole's post, the more shizna that people go through, the greater their triumph when they come out the other side. My family (like many others) has gone through some serious poo during my lifetime. I've learned that there are certain ways that people react to horrible circumstances: they can choose to thrive or choose to give up. I've felt the victory of going through the darkness, coming out the other side and thriving my ass off.

The thing is, no matter how well people triumph over evil or adversity, there are always scars.
I want my characters to suffer and see what choices they make, but I also don't want it to be 100% happily ever after. Everyone has to make sacrifices, and everyone has memories that change them and linger throughout their lives. It's what makes us human, and I think, what makes a character's redemption beautiful.

The ways people deal with the pain of living just makes the joys that much sweeter, and the characters' lives that much richer.

How do you think about your character's journeys, as either a reader or a writer?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taking Care of Yourself

As writers, we are very driven people. Passionate. Some may say obsessive.

I've heard a lot of writers describe the writing process as "writing because I have to" or "the story idea has to come out or it drives me crazy."

We write for hours whenever we can, but most of us also have day jobs. And families. And chores.

How do we deal with all of the passion but at the same time balance it with the stresses of every day living?

I'm currently trying to figure that out.

I've been sick for the past few weeks, and it just got worse last week. I've been having stomach pains, nausea, fatigue, and finally dragged myself to the doctor. The diagnoses? I'm way too stressed out, and it's making me ill. The solution? A acid reducer the size of a hockey puck daily, and learning to relax.

Easier said than done, right? ;) I think every writer deals with the same difficulty in leading a balanced life.

However, an interesting thing happened to me at that appointment. When the doctor was frowning over her clipboard at me and telling me that I seriously need to take a chill pill, I felt a weird calm creeping over me. Okay, well, first I felt a wee bit embarrassed, because heh, I'm giving myself an ulcer (oops), but then I felt calm.

Before, every time I thought "I need to take a night off from writing to recover from my day" or "I should exercise/read for a while/sit quietly and drink tea" I immediately felt guilty. Guilty that I'm not as dedicated as other writers because I already write less often than they do. Guilty that I wasn't getting my novel done more quickly. Guilty that I was being "lazy" if I wanted to relax for a little while. Then, when I finally did crash, I'd just lie in front of the TV like I was in a coma. There was no balance. And I felt like crap.

The doctor telling me I needed to relax was as powerful as a prescription for anti-guilt pills. In that moment, I gave myself permission to relax.

Over the past few days, I've been trying to take a half hour to an hour each day to be quiet and spend some time for myself, drinking tea and reading, reading my Bible, or taking a hot bath. Afterwards, I can write or do chores or whatever, but I have the freedom to spend time taking care of myself.

I also try to look at one beautiful thing a day, eat slowly, and walk slowly. Did you guys know that the leaves are changing right now? :) Have you noticed how absolutely gorgeous that is? I have. I realize that I missed paying attention to these things.

I wanted to write about my experience today, because I'm sure I'm not alone. Do you guys give yourselves permission to relax? Do you balance your time by allowing yourself some room to be still and recharge?

Or do you need to take a look at your schedule today and carve out a half hour for a bubble bath or a walk outside?

Do you take care of yourselves?

How can we be the best artists we can be if we don't take the time to be still once in a while?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone's had a good week!

Here are some things that bring me joy to send you off to your weekend in style:

All hail Brain Frog... All Hail Brain Frog...

These are not the hammer.

Integrity has no need of rules. Or baths. ~Albert Catmus

Do you think this is really happening in William Shatner's head all of the time? It would explain quite a bit.

This is what happens when your mustache is so large it begins to think for itself.
Happy Friday, Everyone! :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sick Day Unplugged

Hi, Blog Friends,

I'll be unplugging for the next couple of days to recover from some icky sickness.

In the meantime, if you're short on awesome blog reading material (ha!), please check out my list of helpful publishing blogs on the bottom right. There's great stuff in there!

I hope you're all having good weeks, and I'll see you soon :).


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Write a Synopsis: Helpful Tips!

Writers are crazy, but what makes us even *crazier* is the thought of writing a synopsis.

"It took me 95,000 words to tell my story, and now you want me to boil it down to 500??!"

Well, yeah. Basically.

No pressure, right? :P

Luckily for us, there are those wiser than we are to give us a helping hand!

Chuck over at the The Guide to Literary Agents blog posted some great tips on writing a good synopsis of your story.

Search wikipedia for movies and read what the wikinerds had to say! How did they sum up the movie? How did they describe the main character and conflict? It's one of the best ideas I've heard in a long time for finding examples of tight story outlines. Hats off to you, Chuck!

Author Anne Mini also had a very detailed post about questions you should ask yourself while writing your synopsis. Go check it out! It's extremely thorough and will whip your synopsis' butt into shape!

I also read a neat trick somewhere (I forget where, so please clue me in if you know, and I'll give credit) that if you're stuck on how to begin, follow these simple steps:

1) Sum your book up in one sentence. That's all you get! Think about what you'd tell someone if they asked you what your book is about, but you only had ten seconds to spit it out.

2) Now that you've sweated some blood and have your sentence synopsis nailed down, summarize your book in a single paragraph! This should feel much easier now that you've boiled it down to a sentence. Focus on the barest most essential pieces of the main conflict. What's at stake? Who is the MC? Why do we care?

3) Expand your paragraph into a one-page description! Some agents prefer a single page synopsis to the garden variety 2 page synopsis. This should feel like a walk in the park compared to what you've already accomplished. Stop and have a glass of wine. You're almost there!

4) Expand to 2 pages! Ahhhhhh. It's like unbuttoning your pants after a big meal. Finally, some room to breathe! The daunting task suddenly doesn't seem so daunting any more.

Hey, you've now got a 2 page synopsis :). Go send some queries, and good luck!

Does anyone else have any tips for writing a great synopsis? What works for you and what doesn't?