Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Description: Is More Just...More?

There was a really interesting discussion on querytracker.net recently about how much character description is too much. What really surprised me was the vast differences in opinion. Some said it depended on the genre, some LOVE tons of rich description of facial features, clothing, mannerisms, while some truly enjoyed the mystery of not knowing anything and imagining their favorite actor as the hero (Christian Bale, anyone? ;) ).

What do you think?

I know several people who stopped reading the series The Wheel of Time simply because of the increasingly long clothing descriptions, but some that are attracted to fantasy just for that type of rich detail.

What adds more to your overall experience? Mystery? Or the number of freckles on the heroine's nose?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Celebrating Critical Mothers

I did the unthinkable recently and gave my mother a copy of my manuscript (LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS) and asked her to read it and tell me what she thought. There is a running gag out there among literary agents and writers alike that it doesn't count if your mother or spouse love your book, because they are going to love it no matter what.

However, I know better. Maybe I'm an exception, maybe I've been cursed/blessed, but for whatever reason, my mother has always been honest with me about my writing.

So I handed it over, all 308 pages of it in a big, black binder and waited in white-knucked anticipation.

All I could think for weeks was whether or not she'd gotten to the part with the cannibalism. Or the part with the sexy nakedness. Or the part where... well, you get the picture.

Isn't it funny how we write this stuff, hoping to have it published and shown to thousands and thousands of people, and yet we get extra nervous about our family seeing it?

The verdict finally came in this weekend.

Instead of saying she loved it and she wanted my autograph, Mom told me she had "opinions," and then let me have it. Luckily, "it" was a slew of very helpful suggestions and a list of the parts that just weren't working for her. No, the end didn't explain everything satisfactorily, and no, she wasn't sad when the supposed-to-be-sad bit occured. No, she didn't like how fill-in-the-blank went down. And here are ways I can make it better.

Needless to say, although I was a tiny bit disappointed that I hadn't written a perfect book despite my best efforts, I was THRILLED that she would be so honest with me and give me the tough feedback I needed.

Thanks to my mom and my awesome husband, I am having Re-Write Week and feeling very encouraged and excited about my new-and-improved novel. I feel so blessed that I have a mom who trusts me enough to know I won't go crazy on her if she tells me the truth.

Critical moms truly are gangsta as hell.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Top 10 Ways to Cope with Rejection

Recently, I read this great post on literary agent Nathan Bransford's blog where he asked his readers how they deal with rejection while trying to find an agent. Needless to say you have to have a pretty thick skin to go into this business. Are we all just a bunch of masochists? Probably.

However, I was fascinated by reading how others cope, and wanted to share my Top 10 Ways To Cope with Rejection:

10) Save your rejections in a drawer so later you can roll around in them laughing gleefully and tossing them into the air like Scrooge McDuck once you are published.

9) Keep writing! Use that sadness to add depth to that scene where the hero's puppy gets lukemia.

8) Kill some Nazis/Pirates/Aliens! Nothing makes you feel better like induging in your favorite First Person Shooter, drinking a six pack of Mt. Dew, and dabbing your tears away with cheeto-stained fingers.

7) Read your feedback. If the agent took time to leave you some, it's a victory, and a tool for later success.

6) Blog about it. Hey, at least you're writing, right?

5) Send out more queries! Nothing beats the Rejection Blues like putting some more irons in the fire. It's a numbers game, so whatever you do, keep going!

4) Work out! Writing all day probably means sitting all day, so use that extra fuel to go for a walk.

3) If number 4 isn't your style, then eat chocolate. Lots of delicious chocolate. Just don't stain all those new queries you're addressing!

2) Two words: Tears. Beers. (Courtesy of David)

1) AAAAAAND, the all time best way to cope??

Remember that every rejection you get means you are one step closer to finding that agent that is meant for you and your work :). I believe in God's plan, and this number one keeps me going.

Link to Nathan's fabulous post:

Have a great weekend, and please feel free to share your favorite ways to cope in the comments!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is There a Feminism Backlash?

So my husband and I watched Twilight this weekend so we could make fun of it, and played a drinking game that involved taking a swig of beer every time Bella flips her hair, every time Edward tells her he's "dangerous," and every time he tells her to go away and then obsessively stalks her. I'd hoped the movie would be in the "so bad it's funny" catagory, but..... yeaaaaaah. It was just one of those things.

The movie did make my husband bring up an interesting point. Since this movie/book series has gotten a lot of criticism for being anti-femenist, we wondered, is this part of a cultural backlash against feminism as a whole? These things have happened before, after all.

I read another book lately, Kushiel's Dart, which is also fairly anti-feminist with a softish courtesan as the main character. She doesn't fight even though she's in the middle of a war, and she's actually a masochist. The theme of the book is summed up in the quote "that which yields is not weak," and the story relishes the idea that being pliable is a good thing for a woman. I enjoyed it, but I felt myself frustrated by her weakness throughout the story.

Is this a backlash trend we're seeing? We know this happened in the '80s when there was a very conservative cultural movement as a backlash to the free love of the '70s. Is this our generation's backlash? Are we tired of warrior princesses and power suits, and are looking for a good man to take care of us again?

What the hell?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book in a Nutshell Contest!

The Knight Agency is having a contest called "Book in a Nutshell," which is exactly what it sounds like. They would like to see your book condensed into a deliciously chewy three sentence nugget, using 150 words or less. Up for the challenge? Brevity can be the biggest challenge of all, as many of us know.

The details are listed on their blog, http://knightagency.blogspot.com/, posted 3/24/09. Best of luck to everyone!

They are looking for the top 20 entries, who will then be checked out by their very own agents. Can there be a better prize than that? I've already queried them, so we'll see how it goes :). Woot!

Friday, March 20, 2009


I am currently trying to pass the time waiting for the last episode ever of the best show I've ever put into my eyes... BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. I am going to miss it so much that I'm freaking out!

I think this show turned me into a rabid obsess-y (is that a word?) because of the excellent writing. If I could capture even half the tension that oozes out of this show on any given night in my novel, I'd consider myself a rockstar!

That being said, any other BSG fansters out there waiting eagerly for the show tonight? Any Cylon-themed parties or other BSG farewell debauchery going down? I'm getting ready to drink a ton of beer and anxiously watch EBay for the last of the props that are being auctioned off from the show. Did I mention I'm a huge geek? I just can't help myself!

We will miss you, Battlestar Galactica. Best show ever, aside from Firefly.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Christian Fiction: A Necessary Evil?

In reading agents' websites and blogs, I've noticed that there are a few that represent Christian fiction, or specifically call out that they hate it. My question is....why do we need a separate catagory for "Christian fiction?" If you're a Christian and you write fiction, can't you just write what you want? Can't Christians read what they want, too, and then decide whether or not it matches their world view? What's so great about this section of the bookstore?

For example, I love classics like BRAVE NEW WORLD by Huxley because I feel like they show me something about humanity. Why, then, am I pressured as a follower of Christ to only read "Christian fiction"? Will reading about all the sex and drugs in this book make me a bad person? Or will looking into a dystopian future help me grasp something about the world that I can apply to my life?

I have to admit, I am a little bitter over the fact that some have looked down on me for choosing to listen to "secular" music like AC/DC or read secular books with riskier themes just because it doesn't have the Christian label. However, doesn't it seem like most books or music made just for the Christian market tend to be far crappier than the secular counterparts? Is it just a way to get a captive audience for a less-than-competitive product?

What do you guys think? Christian fiction; cop-out or lifesaver?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Progress update!

Hello, All,

This is my first attempt at blogging so.... be gentle.

I feel like I should tell you a little about myself and what I hope to accomplish with this blog. I've just finished my first novel, and am trying to join the wonderful world of The Published Author. However, now I have a new and daunting task: I have to make more novels!

My goals with this blog are to keep myself accountable by blogging about how the writing's going, and also give you writers who are on the same path a look at how another of your kind works, lives, and keeps from slipping into the abyss of "no one will ever publish me, maybe I should just dig ditches for a living."

My finished novel is a 92,000 word quest fantasy called LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS about an 18 year old girl imprisoned in her mother’s castle for over a decade. She escapes using a book of magic, and realizing the dark magic that corrupted her family is spreading throughout the kingdoms of her land, journeys to find an imprisoned Empress who banished the same dark power centuries before. As she faces the darkness in herself, she realizes that saving the land she loves may ultimately mean watching it burn.

The novel I'm working on now currently doesn't have a name, but is more of a post-apocalyptic fantasy involving a city with mile-high buildings, giant plague rats, and zombies. Right now, I've only got an outline and 13 pages, but hey, you have to start somewhere.

I would love for this to be a forum where writers, new and published, can get together to share tips, questions, theories, etc. This is a blog for all of us--go for it!

I'd love to hear from you.

After all, if we writers love anything in this world, it's procrastination.