Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Just Threw Up in My Mouth a Little....

Or, Anti-Gay Protestors have gone a weeee bit too far..


In case you didn't know, there's a movement happening where the so-called "National Organization for Marriage" (NOM) is hittin' the open road this summer trying to drum up hate against them gays.  Because, you know, two people who've been together 30 years and want to share healthcare benefits = THE END OF MARRIAGE AS WE KNOW IT!

However, one of their rallies took a turn for the uber-dark recently when this sign above was whipped out by a NOM supporter.  So far the group hasn't done anything to say "Come on, guys, we don't really want to kill gays... knock it off!" 

Seriously, NOM?  Seriously.

As a Christian (and a person), this pretty much makes me want to barf.

Would you please join me in signing a petition to have NOM renounce this kind of bigoted and alarming behavior at their rallies?  To do so, Click Here and fill out your info to join in!

Because really, can't we all agree that we don't want to murder those who are different than we are? :) 

I think we can. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where I've Been and Where I'm Going

Hi, guys!

Sorry I've been silent on this blog for so long :).  I've been working stuff out in my own life and needed some time away.

Recently, I've come to realize a lot of what I'm doing is burning me out, emotionally and physically.  I'm the kind of person who goes completely gung-ho, 100% whenver I have a goal.  My family always told me that if I wasn't striving to be the absolute best I could be, I was wasting my gifts and potential.  This made me think that if I wasn't writing constantly, constantly trying to get published, and constantly stuffing my brain full of publishing industry news and information, then I didn't deserve to call myself a writer.

This got to be an awful lot of pressure and burned me out like a lightbulb.

My top priorities in life are hanging out with my husband, and then trying to find a way to use the gifts God gave me :).  However, when priority #2 got in the way of priority #1, I'd feel guilty for not doing more of #2. 

The major problem with that is that then I'm guilty when I'm choosing to hang out with my husband instead of sending a query, or guilty when I'm taking some time to paint or draw (something else I enjoy) instead of working on my novel.  Why should I feel guilty for using other gifts or being with the people I love?

It took me a while to realize... I shouldn't :).  There is no reason I shouldn't be doing what makes me happy!  Sometimes that's writing, sometimes it's painting, sometimes it's learning Spanish or making jewelry, and sometimes it's playing zombie video games with the man I married.

I've had to figure out how to cut myself some slack.  Just because I'm painting tonight instead of writing, doesn't mean I'm not pursuing a writing career.  And just because that career might take a while to get started, doesn't mean I'm not a writer.  I'm using my gifts, but giving myself permission to live my life in my own time.

Have any of you ever struggled with this?  How do you prioritize?  How do you keep from burning out on the things you love?

From now on, I'll be updating this blog, but it may be more of a mish-mash of creative pursuits, instead of 100% writing-related ;).  I also will probably only update weekly for a time. 

Thanks all for reading, for being awesome writing friends and supporters, and for being a part of this phase of my journey.  You rock!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Makes You Put a Book Down?

Recently, I bought a book that I was extremely excited about. I'd see pictures of it at various book events, posters, read interviews with the author, and got all twitchy waiting to lay my paws on it and have a good read.
It's now several months later, and I'm less than halfway through.
It seems that every time I try to read this book before bed my eyes close and I fall asleep before I can get past a page or two. Other books have beeen known to keep me up for all hours, so.... what the heck, book?? Why are you making this so difficult?!
When do you finally decide to throw in the towel on a book you're just not that into?
What finally puts you over the edge? What moves the book from bedside table only to be covered in cobwebs, forgotten in a corner?
For me, the usual culprits are these:
1) Unbelievable dialogue. And I don't mean in the sense of "Whoa! That dialogue is so amazing, it's UNBELIEVABLE!" Rather, dialogue that is just so silly or unreal that it takes me out of the story and makes me cock an eyebrow.
2) Characters repeatedly doing something stupid. No, you idiot! You can't save the world if you keep wandering off by yourself, losing the Sword of Awesomeness, and putting yourself foot-first into traps a cub scout could spot. Also, the female lead likes you. Pull your head out of your ass, already!
3) The writer loves the sound of their own keyboard. Every clickity clack is PURE POETRY and absolutely cannot be cut from the manuscript. Descriptions are long, usually unnecessar, and always snooze-inducing.
However, this book had none of these usual suspects :(. I'm just (and I hate to say it) ... bored.
What do you do when this happens to you?
Do you give the author the benefit of the doubt, or do you pitch it in the Good Will pile at page 10?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Agent Query Contest!!

Hi, All,

Sorry I've been a little on the spotty side with my blogging lately :). I've had a lot of home improvement projects in "real life" (pffffft) that have been taking my time away from my favorite place: The Internet.

However, today I logged on to querytracker.net and saw This Little Gem. There is a contest running with agent Kathleen Ortiz, where everyone, that's right everyone who enters will receive feedback on their submission.

This is an excellent opportunity, so be brave and go enter! :) Go, go, go!

What are you waiting for? I'm going, too!

Good luck everyone, and happy querying!

Update: Apparently the contest filled up after 2 mins :(. Popular, no? I didn't make it unfortunately. I'll keep my eyes peeled for other opportunities, and let you guys know! :D

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Living a Satisfying Life

When is it enough?

Your achievements?

Your goals?

Your possessions?

Your pay raise?

When have you achieved enough to lean back and say "I'm in a good place"? When can you really feel satisfied with what your life is like?

I've been asking myself these questions lately, and have realized a few things:

1) I'm incredibly hard on myself

2) I'm not sure who I'm trying to impress

3) I have enough money

4) I have too much house and could probably downgrade

5) Even though I'm not a published author yet, my life is still complete :)

6) Everything else from now on is just for fun

7) I'm free to enjoy the journey and take as long as I want!

What does it take for you to be satisfied with where you currently are? Are you having fun on your current journey? If not, why not? Why are you doing what you're doing? Who are you trying to impress, if you're not doing it for yourself :)?

What do you guys think?

Have you ever thought about this, and realized you're fine right where you are, and the rest is just for fun?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Link Roundup a go go!

I was browing my favorite blogs today, and found this amazing link roundup from everyone's favorite Editor, Moonrat!

I read and was totally entertained, especially by the list of Top 10 Most Harful Books To New Writers: check it out!

What about you guys? :D Are there any books that you feel didn't help you when you began writing?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

Here are my sad-but-true truths this week ;):

1) I started wearing flip flops to work. It's against the company dress code, but I don't really interact with a lot of people on a given day so I decided to see if I could get away with it. So far, no one has noticed. I feel like a rebel. I assume that one day my "flippity floppity" noises on the way to my aisle will give me away.

2) Sometimes I seriously consider raising chickens in my backyard. I would give them names like Baron Von Cluckenstein and eat lots of awesome, fresh eggs. So far the thought of constructing my own chicken house and cleaning chicken poo has stopped me. I already have a litterbox to scoop, after all.

3) I used a torch to burn the weeds in the cracks of my patio. Because weeding is just too hard. Also? Fire = pretty!

I probably couldn't do this any more if I had chickens back there...

4) My pens, pencils, and silverware all have to be parrel to one another and facing away from me. I frequently reach across the table to straighten my husband's fork if it's too askew. Does this make me crazy?

5) I've been falling asleep reading books on my iphone and then waking up spooning my iphone under my covers. Enough said.

What about you, my lovely blog friends? :D What are your truths this week?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Picture Week: Chip Away at It!

Something I've come to realize that I'd like to share with you guys is that if you do just a tiny bit each day... it really, really adds up :). Rocket science, I know, but seriously--how often do we think about that?

More often than not, I'll beat myself up over not having done as much as I thought I should have. Oh no! I only wrote 500 words and I wanted to write 1000. Oh no! I only wrote 1000 words and I wanted to write 2000.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The truth is, if I write 250 words a day, but I do it consistently, I'll get a lot further than guilting myself out and avoiding writing altogether, for fear of meeting our old friend Failure.

If I write more, then yay! :) If not, then at least I chipped away at it.

How do you guys set about reaching your goals? Are you a quick writer, or do you chip away?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Big Picture: Eyes on YOU!

Today I want to mention something that I've had to learn the hard way, in honor of Big Picture Week:

Keep your eyes on your own damn paper.

What I mean by this, is don't be tempted to look to the right or the left, comparing yourself to what someone else is doing.

During your journey as a writer, you will meet the following people:

  • The person who can write 80,000 words in 3 weeks
  • The person who only has a first, second, and third draft
  • The person who found an agent in the check out line
  • The person who found an editor through their church
  • The person who works 40 hours a week, writes 12 hours a day, babysits orphans, makes gourmet 5-course meals for their five kids and spouse, and still manages to look fabulous. Oh, and blog ;).

Tell you what--you CANNOT compare your journey to the journeys of others.

Why not, you ask? Let me put it to you this way.

Are you the same as anyone else you know?

Have you lived the same life?

Dreamed exactly the same dreams?

Worked the same jobs?

Loved the same people?

Written the same words?

Your life is completely different than anyone else's on earth :). And that's exciting! You don't have to be anyone else, compare yourself to anyone else, or worry about anyone else's successes. Your dreams and goals are your own.

So, keep your eyes on your own paper, take your own journey, no matter how short or how long, and enjoy the heck out of it while you're at it. You'll be glad you did ;).

What do you guys think?

Have there been times when you've compared yourselves to others?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Big Picture Week: What's Your Goal?

I have a question for you all today, kicking off a little something different here on the blog: BIG PICTURE WEEK :).

What is your Big Goal in life?

We're all striving for something, but sometimes we can lose our focus. It's good to stop and reflect--what is our main goal?

What is it you really, truly want out of this life? Out of your writing? Your art?

Do you want:

  • Money
  • Fame
  • Personal pride
  • Security
  • Love
  • Something that's just "yours"?
  • Something else entirely?

What do you want? Why do you do what you do?

I've been asking myself this question a lot lately, and figured out that for myself, I want to be able to do what I want and work for myself. I don't want to be rich, I don't want to be famous, I don't even need to see my name on a book spine (although that would be amazing!!). I just want to do my favorite things and make just enough money to eat and live in relative security. I want to be free to be an artist :).

I want to write, paint, create things, and I will do what it takes to do these things as much as possible.

What is it you really want? Why do you do what you do?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kicking Ass Every Day

Even when you don't feel like it any more...

Today, the lovely Moonrat over at the Editorial Ass blog made some excellent points about perserverance and how you must never surrender, even when your creative efforts are weighing you down.

Please, go read it, because is it pure awesomesauce :). Moonrat--thank you for being eloquent and for encouraging us to keep kicking ass, even when it gets difficult. We love you!

Here's wishing everyone a great weekend--never give up! Never surrender!

We can do it if we constantly encourage one another and believe in ourselves :).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's Rantin' Time!

I'm not sure why, but I sort of hate the world today.

It's been a long, long week at work, and I'm feeling like having a bit of a rant to help lift some of the black clouds currently floating over my head.

Either that, or spread the doom clouds until they blot out the sun. BWAHAHAHAHA! *ahem* Sorry, about that..

So, our topic for today is going to be PET PEEVES. Everyone has them. That thing that people do that makes you just want to punch them in the throat.

A few of mine? Well! I'm so glad you asked!

*Disclaimer--if any of these apply to you, please note that you are the single exception :). Blog follower love!

Top 10 Pet Peeves:

1) People who mispronounce simple words! It's lib-rar-y, not LIBARRY, frustrated with an R and not FUSTRATED, and prob-ab-ly, not PROBALY! Seriously, people. It's not that hard.

2) Close talkers! What is up with those people who corner me at the water cooler and insist on talking in my face from a mere 3" away? Are they trying to read my mind by being closer? Are they trying to pick my pockets? Do they not realize that their coffee/cigarette breath is melting off my eyebrows?

3) The phrase "Well, at least you still have a job!" I think this is the new version of "Sounds like somebody's got a case of the MONDAYS!" Just..... stop it.

4) Office thermostats! When it's 90 degrees outside, it's inevitably 90 degrees inside, because the heat was left on from the previous day. Then, when I wear short sleeves to compensate for office hotness, it's 40 degrees outside, and 40 degrees inside because they fixed the previously problem and now the air conditioning is on a timer. A pox on you, office thermostats! Why must you mock me??

5) People who I've never seen before telling me their life story! Note: this does not apply to lovely, lovely internet people :). I love you all. This has to do with me standing in line to buy a soda at the grocery store, and having someone tell me all about their sister-in-law's tumor with the teeth growing out of it. OMG, have we met??? NO?? Then why are you telling me these things?!

6) The price of delicious, life-giving energy drinks! When I get mad, all I want to do is buy a Monster and get caffeinated like a crazy jungle monkey. However, energy drinks are always like $2.50. This enrages me further. I do not have exact change past 1.00! I carry plastic! PLASTIC!

7) Being mauled by boy scouts! In my town, it's Boy Scout Season, which means scouts are staking out the doors of every local establishment and pressuring me to buy cookies from them when I leave. Just let me get to my car, boy scouts! Why can't you go door to door like I used to when I was a kid? Then I can just pretend I'm not home. If I want your cookies, I will find you.

8) People who ask me how to spell something while sitting in front of a computer! Seriously, you can't just use spell check? Or google? Or dictionary.com? Nothing?? Sure, I could spell it for you, but it feels ... somehow... like you're just being lazy.

9) Red Lobster commercials! I recently became allergice to tasty, tasty shellfish, and now everytime All-You-Can-Eat-Shrimp comes on the TV, I feel like crying or else trying to dip random food into hot, melty, butter to compensate. It's just not the same...

10) Plumber's crack at work! Can you really not feel the draft, there, buddy? How about you, lady-bending-over-the-copier? Somehow, I don't think naked asscrack is an official part of the dress code.

I realized today while fuming over petty details of my everyday life that our characters probably do the same thing :). Do you guys give your characters pet peeves?

If so, what are they? If not, why not?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

El Cinco De Mayo Feliz!

Happy Cinco De Mayo!!

Remember the five rules of this holiday:

1) Drink five margaritas

2) Wear sombreros (or lampshades)

3) Drink five glasses of water

4) Eat five handfuls of chips

5) Take six alka seltzers tomorrow!

(I just made those rules up... can you tell?)


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

It's that time, guys--time to 'fess up and divulge this week's dirty (or not so dirty) secrets!

My truths this Tuesday?

1) I love using power tools! I started making jewelry this past week for my new Etsy shop and decided it would be an easy task to make my own square wooden beads. I used a gigantic power saw my husband has to cut up a tiny ass dowell into beads, and then drilled holes in them with another giant, whirring death machine.

It was awesome. I even bought a handsaw yesterday and felt very cool walking out of the store with it. Yeah, that's right. I saw things, baby! Spraying wood shavings everywhere is way more fun than it should be.

2) I'm addicted to Friday Night Lights. And even worse, am suddenly into football because of it. Now, as a geeky sort, I haven't taken in a lot of ball games. There's just something about this dang show, though, that makes me want to shout "FULL EYES, CLEAR HEARTS, CAN'T LOSE!" and go roll around in the mud with a pigskin.

Also, this show has shown me that Texans are crazy. Sorry, Texas.

3) I talk to plants. I started a garden and am nervously watching over it like an overbearing mother and have recently began speaking encouraging words to my plants at night when my husband's not within earshot. Our neighbors also have a garden on the other side of the fence, so I never know when they're only inches away. I'm sure they think I'm nuts. They may be right.

Go ahead, confess ;). What are your truths this Tuesday?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Creativity breeds ... more creativity!

I'm baaaaaaack! :)

I've been unplugged for the past couple o' weeks as you guys know, but now I'm back and (hopefully) better than ever. I missed you! How've you been?

While I was taking some leisure time, I actually discovered something interesting. I tried some other hobbies I've been wanting to experiment with for a while, and found that not only do I like other things besides writing... but that doing other things helps my writing!

I tried three things in past few weeks:

1) Growing a veggie garden

2) Acrylic painting

3) Making jewelry

I discovered that I really like putting my hands into a task and just going for it. Something strange happens when I'm stringing beads or up to my elbows in dirt--my mind is free to wander. My brain relaxes and goes to places it wouldn't if I were trying to force it by staring at a computer screen.

I think sometimes the best thing we can do for our writing is do something else.

Wash the dishes, make a spicerack, walk the dog! Let your brain wander while doing something else you enjoy, and your writing will benefit from it.

What do you guys think? Do you have any other hobbies or tasks that you enjoy that help your brain relax? What happens in those quiet moments?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Blog Chain: Gender Bender!

Sandra starts our blog chain off this round. She asked:

Have you ever created a character different from yourself in some significant way, such as (but not limited to) different gender, race, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation? If so, what, if any, research did you do to portray these differences?

Was this character a main character, secondary character, or walk-on? Did these differences have an impact on the story?

Gotta love these questions!

In my first novel, LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, one of my two main characters is a dude--Torin. Writing his dialogue and character was very natural about 90% of the time. HOWEVER, there were definitely moments where I'd stare at what I'd just written and think "Something's.... off." These were usually the moments where, unbeknownst to me, I'd made Torin react to a situation like a lady. Poor Torin..

In these scenerios, I turned to my Resident Man Expert, or RME for short (my husband.) I'd force him to read a scene, or even just shout "What would a dude do in 'blank' situation??" Once I found out that instead of crying, a dude would actually punch the ground. Hence the scene feeling .. awkward. Once I had Torin punching stuff dry-eyed everything made a lot more sense, and the other character's reactions felt much more natural. Thank you, RME!

In HOLLOW LAND (the novel I'm currently working on), I have a few east asian characters as well as a Jewish female lead. This is definiely going to require not only a trip or two to the library but also for me to consult with some non-whitey whites. The good thing is, not only am I friendly with several nice Indian folks at work whose brains I can pick, but there is something wonderful we have now, called The Internet. I've started following a few blogs from the countries my characters originate from to get a feel for the culture. I'm hoping I can eventually get some beta readers of the same religion/culture to help me out and make sure I'm not being a dork about some detail or another.

If I had any advice for you guys, it's to be brave :). Don't be afraid to write a certain character just because they are outside your immediate frame of reference. Learning new things is what makes this fun! Go for it, and get excited to learn about other cultures, sexual orientations, and even how the other sexes think.

What do you guys think? Have you ever written outside your comfort zone? How did it turn out?

Don't miss Shannon's answer coming up tomorrow!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: The Marriage Project

*Disclaimer! I received this review copy for free and am totally keeping it. Mwahahahah...

Hi, guys!

I'm taking a break from my blogging break to tell you about a fun book I just finished reading: The Marriage Project: 21 Days to More Love and Laughter. This is a Christian look at how to make your marriage.. well... cooler, in 21 days.

Now, usually I don't use the word "fun" about Christian non-fiction books or any books on improving your relationships. I don't like it when books imply that my marriage isn't awesome, interprets the Bible for me, or tells me that I need to change in any way shape or form. After all, I Know Everything And Am Always Right. Please. I need advice like I need to go on a diet. Oh... wait.

This books surprised me in the best possible way :). The author, Kathi Lipp sounds like a woman I want to have a beer with. She doesn't preach, but simply gives us a head's up on what she and her husband did to bring back the fun and flirting into their marriage. The book is laced with humor and personal stories, giving details on how she and her husband are making their marriage (the second marriage for both of them) work while raising a handful of surly teens. If she can make that work in any possible universe, I'm all for listening.

The best thing about this book is it's super practical. It has little projects that you do with your spouse (or on your own if they're not into it), that get you in the habit of thinking well about one another. On one day you may write a list of why you respect your husband, and he may write a list of reasons he loves you. On another day, you are encouraged to flirt with your spouse via email or "sext" (hehehe). On another day, you may let him watch Rambo: Revenge of the Forest Ninjas while you snuggle on the couch. It's basically making a habit to hang out with one another, be a little sexy, and do nice things without being asked.

Oh, and another thing? The lady encourages good Christian couples to get freaky. That endeared me to her right away :). Being intimate with your spouse really is something that often gets sidelined, but is so necessary to keep you close. One of your weekly "projects" is getting busy. Sometimes, planning it can be even more fun...

One other thing I enjoyed about Kathi's book is that she gets the differences between men and women without going all Medieval on our asses. Men feel loved when they are respected, and women want to hear that they are loved. Men show love a lot of times through action--he may clean the gutters to show you he cares--while women use words and affection. He may be tapping his foot waiting for you to notice that when he's balancing the checkbook, he's really saying "I love you," and you may be waiting to hear the words and getting pissed off. It helps to take a step back and realize the differences. Then, you can better appreciate one another.

I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a fun way to reconnect with your husband, wife, or significant other. I feel like my marriage pretty much rocks, but I still found helpful things in this book that made me look at my husband in a new way. Check it out--it's funny and low pressure. I'd love to hear about it if you decide to do The Marriage Project yourselves!

I'll be back blogging regularly on 5/3/10 :). I miss you guys--have a great week!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Talk Amongst Yourselves...

Welcome, to Coffee Talk! I'm your host Linda Richman, and I'll be taking over this lovely little blog for Becca today.

She's recovering in Boca Roton for a bit. All of this blogging, writing, working--oy, faggehtabowtit! Let's just say she's more than a little meshuggina, already, and needs some time off. I should be so lucky!

Anywho, last night I was watching the exquisite Ms. Streisand in Funny Girl, and it reminded me of how we all have to be proud of ourselves when reaching for our dreams.. of how we can't let anyone rain on our parades... of how...... oh, Barbra... oh.... *sob!!*

Okay, I'm getting a little verklempt! Please... talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Boilerplate contracts are neither boilers, nor plates. Discuss...

And, I'm okay. Whew! I'm sorry. She does that to me every time..

So, anyway, believe in yourselves, believe in Barbra, and hang out here if you'd like while Becca's away. Talk, have some coffee--no big whoop.

Your favorite shiksa will be back blogging away on Monday, May 3rd. Until then, talk amongst yourselves.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

5 Things Writers Can Learn From Doctor Who

I just finished watching the first season of the new Doctor Who series, and I have to say... I'm in love :).

Not just with the Doctor himself (though, that is also true), but with the whole shebang! It was truly love at first episode.

I tried to analyze why this show enthralled me so much when other shows are constantly disappointing, and came up with a few pearls of wisdom that can help us in our writing as well.

Top 5 Lessons For Writers From Doctor Who:

1) Keep the mystery alive! No one likes a 2 Dimensional protagonist, antagonist, sidekick, you name it. Make sure there is a little mystery in your characters to keep us intrigued. The main character in "Doctor Who" is known simply as The Doctor, and his background unravels piece by piece, keeping us wanting more. The man doesn't even have a name, and we love it!

2) Don't be afraid to get silly! Change things up once in a while by throwing a little humor into your dark, dramatic scenes. What do people do when things get tense? COPE. And they usually do it with a little bit of weirdness, nervous laughter, etc. Don't be afraid to mix up your drama with a splash of humor.

3) Work your villains! So what if your main villains look like a pepper grinder had a baby with R2-D2? Make them scary by adding some motivation--make us feel for the evil pepper grinders, and they'll be all the more terrifying because they remind us of ourselves.

4) Be a tease! Hold out on your audience until the last possible second. Make us beg for a little romance to blossom and then withold it. Make us believe that one character is really truly dead until we give up all possible hope, then wait a little bit longer still before revealing they're okay. We'll thank you for the suspense and come back for more!

5) Don't be afraid to rock a good thing! Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction series ever, and is still going strong. Is there something you're fantastic at writing? Are you amazing at dialogue? Is your worldbuilding extraordinary? Don't be afraid to squeeze every last ounce of that mojo out onto the paper. Keep a good thing going!

What about you guys? Does anyone else love Doctor Who and have any lessons to add?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chasing the Market: Who Do You Write For?

It's time for another Blog Chain, and this time we have some new members! Make sure to follow all the links in the chain to read everyone's responses ;).

This time around, Michelle asked:

Do you write for the market or for yourself? Why? Are there times you do both? Or times when you've written something specifically because it was "hot" at the moment? If so, how did it turn out?

This is a question I think every writer should ask themselves at least once. Do you want to try to chase a trend? Why or why not?

When I thought about this, I came to a two conclusions:

1) Publishing is SLOW. Mud pit, prehistoric, glacial kind of slow. Slow like a sleep deprived snail covered in molasses. This means that by the time you spot a trend, write a book about said trend, and send it to agents... that trend will have been over for two years. Everyone will be saying "ugh, that is SO 2010!" when they read your manuscript.

2) If I try to write something I don't LOVE, it's going to suck. Could I really spend six months to a year writing about something I'm not fully, passionately, head-over-heels about? No. Could I face rejection on a manuscript I'm not in love with? No. Is it worth my time? Yeah... not so much.

I think the most important thing in this business is to enjoy the journey while keeping your hopes practical. Don't waste your own time. If you're not loving what you're doing, then what's the point? It's not about the destination, as corny as that sounds, because let's face it. We might not get where we want to. Will it still be worth it to us? Only if we're doing it out of love, and not chasing after trends ;).

What do you guys think? How would you answer this question?

Stay tuned for Shannen's answer next! (Link coming soon..)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

In case you were wondering, yes my post yesterday was an April Fools prank ;). BWAHAHAHA!

*Ahem* Moving on...

It's Good Friday today, and I'm getting into the Easter spirit :).

I found some quotes I'd like to share. I think each of us, religious or not, can find the beauty in the simple idea of starting over, of new life, and celebrating the idea of something eternal living in each of us.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!

It is the hour to rend thy chains,The blossom time of souls. ~Katherine Lee Bates

On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer. ~Douglas Horton

Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life. ~S.D. Gordon

The stars shall fade away, the sun himselfGrow dim with age, and Nature sink in years;But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,Unhurt amid the war of elements,The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds. ~Joseph Addison

Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals. ~Charles M. Crowe

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The E-Pocalypse is Nigh! Amazon Vs. Everyone

Amazon's up to their tricks again, stoking the fires in the publishing world by making another risky e-book pricing decision.

Just last week, they'd threatened to remove the Buy buttons again if publishers didn't rethink the agency pricing model and make certain concessions. If you remember, when MacMillan took a stand about e-book pricing against Amazon a few weeks back, Amazon removed the buy buttons from all of MacMillan's titles, not just the e-books. It was a problem for several MacMillan authors and turned many readers against Amazon.

Well, just this week, it was announced that Amazon plans to lower prices to $5.99 on several new release titles. As you can imagine, publishers are less than thrilled, seeing this as just another way Amazon's looking to gain a monopoly on the industry and devaluing books as a whole.

What do you guys think? Are cheap e-books what the public wants? Or are they a larger problem for the future?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday!

I feel like I haven't done a progress report like this in forever, because I've been revising for ages, and recently, querying :).

I feel like I've learned a ton writing my first novel, Legacy of the Empress, and now that I'm ready to dive back into my second (Hollow Land), I know what to change and what to avoid.

I'm about 5500 words into my novel right now, and I realized, I had a lot of backstory and needed to start with more action. However, to start with action, I needed to fill in some holes in the brief outline I'd created. My husband and I sat down last night and brainstormed like you wouldn't believe. I feel incredibly confident now that I know where the story is headed, and now that I have someone else who thinks my plot is solid, too.

Here are some tips I've picked up from this experience:

1) If you find a plot hole in your outline--PLUG IT. I've learned from experience that it's better to brainstorm various options now then put it off until later and get stuck and have to do a big re-write. Last night, when I came to a sticky spot, my husband and I threw out crazy ideas while I took notes until something stuck. Don't be afraid to experiment :).

2) Get a partner to help with your outline. Get someone you trust and show them your outline, then talk about it step by step. They'll be able to tell you up front if parts of your plot seem wonky, weak, or missing entirely. You can go into your first draft with a boost of confidence that you're at least working with a solid foundation.

3) Take notes! If you have an idea about what feelings you want a scene to evoke or how you want your characters to react to it, note it briefly in your outline. Trust me, this will help later on when you're writing it.

4) Remember that nothing's set in stone. You can change anything you'd like at any time :). An outline isn't a ball and chain, it's a key to freedom! Now, you don't have to be afraid of getting "blocked" because you don't know where you're going, but you're also free to let the story take on a mind of it's own. Use the outline as a tool--don't let it use you!

So, what about you guys? Are there any projects that you're working on? :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tagged: A Special Tell the Truth Tuesday!

I was Tagged by my friend and fellow blogger Abby Annis! Per the rules, I have to complete the following sentences, and then tag three people in return:

I like comfortable clothing

I like eating corn and mushrooms straight from the can

I like collecting shot glasses from different countries

I like Indian sarees and wish I could rock one without getting strange looks

I like tiny oragami

I like 80s my little ponies. I had one w/ an innertube shaped like a frog! It floated in my bath tub and was completely awesome

I like shower crayons

I like unsweetened black tea

I like reading books on my phone

I like petting my cat and staring off into space (it's very relaxing)

I like climbing my stairs on all fours

I like combing my hair now that it's long. I feel like the little mermaid with her dinglehopper.

I love the cool people I've met from writing and blogging!

Today was a long day at work, but fairly relaxed. I'll take it.

I hate it when characters in books assume stupid things and act like morons based purely on assumptions. Communication, people!

I hate unrealistic dialogue in movies

I hate parachute pants, especially if they have neon designs on them

I hate rat tail hairstyles

I hate aspertame

I hate drinking out of glasses that are uncomfortably wide for my hand

I hate filing (so. much.), but I love being organized

I hate dusting and vacuuming

I (secretly) like *whispers* Enya... don't tell!!

I love rack of lamb. Sorry, lambs! Why must you be so delicious???

So, now it's your turn! I want to get to know some of the newer followers on my blog, so here are my picks:

Ampara Ortiz

Darlyn Herradura

Lydia Kang

Cool blogs, you guys! :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blog Chain: Dialogue Rules!

It's blog chain day!
This time around, we're going to do some talking about... well... talking :).
The chatty Kate asked:
Do you enjoy writing dialogue? Do you use a lot of dialogue in your writing (for our purposes "a lot" will be defined as more than a smidge and yet not so much that the quotes key on your computer is completely worn out.)? Do you have example(s) of dialogue you especially enjoyed from something you've read? Do you have example(s) of dialogue from your own writing? What about these examples makes them special?
Great questions!
I'm going to follow the thought train of the kick-ass Cole and talk about my undying and passionate love for Joss Whedon. Have any of you guys seen the show Firefly? If you haven't, seriously, go get it! It's one of the best shows I've ever put into my eye holes. Two words: Space cowboys.
However, it's not just the space cowboy goodness that makes this show one of my favorites. What is it, you ask? The dialogue! Joss is the king of witty repartee.
Here are some of my favorite exchanges from the show:
Kaylee: "Well, we're headed for help... right?"

Zoe: "Captain will come up with a plan."

Kaylee: "That's good. Right?"

Zoe: "Possibly you're not recalling some of his previous plans."
Mal: "Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. Whaddya suppose that makes us?"

Zoe: "Big damn heroes, sir."

Mal: "Ain't we just!"
Mal: "I would appreciate it if one person on this boat would not assume I'm an evil, lecherous hump."

Zoe: "No one's saying that, sir."

Wash: "Yeah, we're pretty much just giving each other significant glances and laughing incessantly."
What I love about this dialogue is that it is jam-packed with voice, and each little scenario gives us not only something to snicker at, but lets us get a glimpse at the character.
Great dialogue is the epitome of showing instead of telling.
Instead of describing someone as "sassy," you can have him/her sassing someone before our very eyes. Much more effective, don't you think?
I personally love dialogue, but I also don't overuse it. There is a place for everything. As a wise man once said, in all things moderation is key.
So, what do you guys think? Do you love dialogue? Why or why not?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Memory Lane: It Sucks to be Young!

For those of us who write YA stories, or even just have characters who are kids, I ask you...

Do you ever think about what you don't miss about being a kid?

I think a lot of the time as adults we remember the fun things like sleepovers, first kisses, and snap bracelets (those things were BOSS!), but are we really staying true to character in our writing if we don't round out the picture?

Let's indulge in some anti-nostalgia to get in touch with our inner child!

Top 10 Things that I DON'T Miss About Being a Kid:

10) Massive pimples before major events! Before prom when I was 16 years old, I got the biggest zit of my life on the end of my nose. Can you say, Rudolph the Reindeer? I covered it in about an inch of coverup, but yeah, my nose was officially misshapen for The Big Night. I do not miss zits.

9) Parental control of the TV! I'm not saying that I hate Jessica Parker or anything, but what kid really wants to be watching Murder She Wrote? 60 Minutes? Crossfire? Bonanza? (Sorry, Hoss, and Little Joe. You're boring.)

8) Bedtime/Curfew! When I was young, I had a 9 p.m. bedtime, which means that no matter how badly I wanted to stay up for The X Files, I wasn't allowed. Also, I live in the northwest, so during the summer it's light until about 11 p.m. I would lie in bed with the sunlight streaming in through my curtains, listening to the sounds of kids without bedtimes shrieking with laughter down the block. Not. Cool.

7) No money! Oh, I'm sorry, you wanted the new CoolNameBrandThingyMcStuff? Get a job. I once saved up months and months and months for a toy only to realize when I finally had enough money for it... that I'd outgrown it and no longer wanted it.

6) Homework! At least at my job I don't have to take anything home. Remember staying up late desperately trying to read the last of the book you'd been neglecting so you could finish that project that's due tomorrow? Yikes. Stress levels are on Defcon 1! I literally still have nightmares where I'll be in a panic over some research paper I forgot to write.

5) Stuff marketed for kids/teens is gross. I bought a shirt at the store 20 Below which was geared toward teens with no money--everything is $20 or less! The stitching came out in the first wash cycle and that was that. Also, anyone here remember Crystal Pepsi? I was reminded of that today, and thought "Why the hell would they make a pepsi that is only cool because it's clear... and then sell it in school vending machines INSIDE A CAN. The teens who buy it don't have glassware, people. They're at SCHOOL. We can't see the coolness. Also, now it tastes funny. Brilliant.

4) No one listens to you. "What's that, little Sally? You saw Old Man Jenkins shoplifting down at the store and then he blamed it on your friends? Well, that can't be possible! Old Man Jenkins is an adult. Stop making up stories--you're grounded!"

3) No car. Oh, you'd like to go on a date? You want to go to the mall? You forgot your coat at school? Well, I sure hope it's within walking distance, otherwise tough luck. Otherwise, you'll be taking the bus.

2) Other kids are jerks. Are you overweight? Too tall? Too short? Too skinny? Hair too curly? Have braces? Wear glasses? Walk funny? Too smart? Too average? Use big words? Use small words? Laugh too much? Act too quiet? Big boobs? No boobs? ...Well, you're pretty much screwed.

1) Feeling sorry for yourself. Everything seems worse when you have more hormones coursing through you at light speed and no control over the things that seem most important.

So, what about you guys? What do you not miss about being a kid? :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of queries, I shall fear no rejections..."


It's that time again, my lovely readers: Time to step into the confessional! That's right--it's Tell the Truth Tuesday!

Here are my truths for this week:

1) I straight up forgot to blog yesterday. And I feel bad for neglecting you! Seriously, I take one "unplugged" week, and it goes straight to my head. Unbelievable :P.

2) I spent at least an hour last night thinking of my "signature style" at the prompting of a YA book. I'm reading an ARC of Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy, and there is much talk about picking a style that is distinctly "you" to help you feel comfortable in your own skin. I decided my signature style is "Casual, fun, and romantic." Yes, I actually picked adjectives and then wished I was a part of The Cinderella Society :). I hope Kay Cassidy lets me join!

3) I kiss my cat on the lips. I totally know how wrong it is, and that it makes me a borderline Crazy Cat Lady, but look at this face!

It totally started when he was a kitten, because awww, and now I still do it. And am ashamed.

4) I had a wardrobe malfunction today. I am lucky enough to wear jeans to work. However, my beloved jeans started getting a hole in an area you don't want to have a hole showing (inner upper thigh), so I patched it until I could go shopping. Today, the patch decided to not only come unstuck (it was the iron-on kind), but to krinkle up and try to eject itself from the thigh-hole while I was walking. Through Human Resources. *facepalm*

So not only did I have a huge hole in my pants today, but I also had a patch making a break for it. Dress for success, anyone? Yeaaaah.

5) I love really bad sci fi cover art. Like this:
Hehehehe. Seriously, I could look at that all day.

What truths do you guys have to confess this week?

*Note: To those of you wonderful people who have recently given me blog awards or tagged me, I do love you, but have gotten woefully behind in... well... life, so I haven't posted these yet. I'll be trying to share the love this week :). Thank you all!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Facing Your Fears!

*First posted October 26, 2009

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?

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?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How Do You Know When You're Successful?

*Originally posted August 10, 2009.

The irony of this poster is that writers ONLY get paid when they believe in the power of their dreams. Heheheh.

I've been thinking today about goals.

Many writers (and normal people) find it difficult to be satisfied in life unless they know when they'll be able to say "I'm successful." Many of us also find it hard to get started if we don't have something to aim for, and become saddened if we're not sure if we've arrived.

We have to ask ourselves some questions to determine what we want, and how we'll know when we've got it. If we don't, we'll either be too overwhelmed to begin chasing our dreams, or too unrealistic about what will really make us happy. Unrealistic expectations, even ones you put on yourself, SUCK.

So, let me pose a few questions that every writer should probably ask themselves:

1) Why am I writing?

2) How long do I want to do this, even if I never get any credit or money from my work?

3) How much rejection can I take?

4) How much time do I want to spend on my goals, versus with my family, friends, and pillow?

5) What do I want to achieve Big Picture?

6) Will I be satisfied when I get there?

7) Am I satisfied if I never get there?

8) What steps do I have to take to achieve that Big Picture thing?

9) Which one needs to be achieved first?

10) What is my support system?

11) How will I feel if I never achieve this? Is it worth trying anyway?

Here are the answers I've given myself, and what keeps me going (in case it's helpful):

1) Why am I writing? It's my favorite thing to do, and I'm happy when I'm doing it. I'm unhappy when I stop.

2) How long do I want to do this, even if I never get any credit or money from my work? For as long as I possibly can.

3) How much rejection can I take? As much as I need to (be honest here, folks, or you're in for a world of hurt.)

4) How much time do I want to spend on my goals, versus with my family, friends, and pillow? I need to have a balance. I won't be happy meeting my writing goals at the expense of my husband, family, and sweet, sweet sleep. This means I have to make more realistic smaller goals to get to my big goals.

5) What do I want to achieve Big Picture? I want to make enough money to be able to write as a full time job and not starve. This means making about 20-30k. That will be great. Also, I want a Hugo Award.

6) Will I be satisfied when I get there? OH YAH. I don't want to be rich, I just want to have the freedom to write more. And have a rocket statue.

7) Am I satisfied if I never get there? Yes, because no matter what I'll achieve my goal of writing as long as possible. I just won't get to do as much of it per day. Also, maybe I'll get an award after I'm dead. Whatever works.

8) What steps do I have to take to achieve that Big Picture thing? I have to get an agent, have my manuscript sell, promote the crap out of my book, lather, rinse, repeat as many times as possible.

9) Which one needs to be achieved first? I need to find an agent.

10) What is my support system? The awesome people who read my blog (I heart you!), my crit buddies, and my wonderful husband.

11) How will I feel if I never achieve this? Is it worth trying anyway? It will be lame, but I'll still be okay. It is absolutely worth chasing for my entire life. I'll have a blast trying.

The key to getting started and keeping going without driving yourself nuts is creating reasonable goals, and then realizing you'll be satisfied if you meet them or not.

But you have to be willing to keep going as long as it takes. If you're not, then this isn't the business for you and you need to go do something sensible like run a petshop. If so, then chase it with all you've got, and above all enjoy the ride!

*My husband just said he wants me to win two Hugos so we can make bookends. Damn! The pressure! ;)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to Write a Synopsis: Helpful Tips!

*First posted October 6, 2009.

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?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Deja vu... Again!

This week I'll be taking some "unplugged" time, which means I won't be blogging or commenting on others blogs :). I'll miss you guys, but sometimes it's good to take some time off and refresh.

To keep you occupied and off the streets this week, I'll be reposting the Best of Writer In Progress--those posts that you found helpful/cool/bizarre in the past. Enjoy!

I'll see you on the other side ;). Now, to kick things off...


*originally posted August 12, 2009

Kill Your Darlings!
The voices in my head yelled this phrase while I was editing last night.
Me: Hmm, this sentence has lots of adjectives and a simile that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Sure is pretty, though!
Voices: KILL! Kiiiiiiill!
Me: I love comparing things to hands and fingers, but I've already done it a couple of times. Maybe it's getting old?
Voices: Cut the fingers off!
Me: Wow, this description of the trees is beautifully written, but I think I said the same thing a paragraph back.
Voices: Burn the forest down! Fire is PRETTY!
Me: Oh, no. No, I love that dialogue. What does my crit buddy mean by "it doesn't make sense in context?" Noooo!
Voices: Do it! Duct tape his mouth, and throw him in the river!
Needless to say, although frightened and queasy, I acquiesced to the voices' demands and Killed My Darlings.
It was tough. Tougher than in a lot of my other edits because this time I'm down to the nitty gritty and am forced to make brutal decisions. It's down to the wire.
Garrote wire?
No! Shut up, Voices!
Aaaanyway, this week I've slashed and hacked through about 40 pages, and I have 56 more to go. Wish me luck!
Any progress to report this week? How's it going?Were you forced to commit murder most foul to any favorite words?
"Kill your darlings."--William Faulkner.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

5 Things Writers Can Learn From Cats

This is my cat, Fawkes (named after the phoenix from Harry Potter (yes, I know I'm a huge geek)).
In this picture, he's on my lap indulging in what looks like an amazing back nap.

What does this have to do with writing you ask?

I'm so glad you asked! :)

Here are 5 Things Writers Can Learn From Their Cats:

1) Enjoy the journey. Fawkes will get incredibly excited when I wave one of his toys around, but when I actually toss it to him, he sniffs it for two seconds, and sits on it. Yeah. For him, it's all about the anticipation. Lesson: Don't get so focused on your end goals, that you forget to enjoy yourself along the way!
2) Don't get your back up over the small stuff. My cat will sit patiently on the couch as my husband and I blare heavy metal, play Rock Band, or sodder things in his near vacinity. He's relaxed about the small things that would spook many a lesser creature. Lesson: Chill out! Let go of the small annoyances and save your anxiety for when it really matters (Ex: lightning storms, or when someone turns the vacuum on.)
3) Waiting is an opportunity. When he's in between dinner time and when I turn on the sink for him to drink from (I'm cat whipped), he doesn't get restless or bitch and moan about how long everything takes. What does he do? Something awesome! He chases twist ties, bites things he shouldn't be biting, and, of course, naps. Sweet, sweet naps. Lesson: When the waiting seems endless, treat it as an opportunity and spend time on the things you enjoy!
4) Be an astute observer. Have you ever noticed how cats will often sit up at full attention and stare at something for minutes on end? And then eventually you realize it's a dust mite, or a single dot of paper on the floor? Lesson: As writers, we can't miss the opportunities to be observers of life. We are the ones who take the seemingly insignificant and make it beautiful.
5) Napping is mandatory. Enough said. Lesson: Seriously. We all need to take time for ourselves. Cut yourself some slack once in a while and take some time to relax :).
What do you think? Are there any lessons I missed?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

That's a lovely shade of blue you're wearing

There are so many things I wanted to blog about today, but my husband surprised me and is taking me on a date to see Avatar again in the theaters--YAY!

So, I'm shirking my duties and watching a 3D movie instead :D.

However, I do have a burning question for all of you: If you could trade in your crappy human body for an awesome, 15 foot tall, blue cat body.... would you?

Inquiring minds need to know!

(I totally would. I mean, come ON.)

Have a good night!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blog Chain: Kicking Ass By Choice!

It's that time again: Blog Chain time!

This round, Eric started us off by asking the question

Do you create characters that are larger-than-life or are your characters more like the average Joe?

Hmmm. Good question!

I'm sick of what I like to call, The Superman Problem.

Superman is as awesome as it gets--he doesn't even break a sweat fighting supervillains. Nothing can stop him except for a tiny green rock, and let's face it, kryptonite has been less than successful at taking him down. He can fly, has super speed, is impervious to bullets, can hurl a planet at you if you piss him off, and has even turned back time to save Lois Lane.

What's the problem then, you ask? Well, as I see it, why do I care if Superman's in trouble? He's just going to kick some ass and save the day. Like always. Because he's Superman. He's almost perfect.

He's not flawed enough to be interesting!

Spiderman on the other hand, is behind on the rent, flunking History class, and his girlfriend thinks he stood her up, all because of that damn Doc Oc! Now, this is a superhero I can care about! :)

When I'm creating my characters, I don't want them to be Superman, so I try to make them as real as possible... even if they have super human abilities. I want my characters to be flawed and relatable.

However, there is one more problem to avoid in the other direction. I call this, the Twilight Problem.

Here is an example:

Girl: "Oh, I am just a normal, average, run-of-the-mill boring, not very attractive person just bumbling through high school. OMG!!!! Who is that tall, dark, AMAZING stranger who has come into my life?!"

Stranger: "I am special, and for some reason am paying attention to you, normal person."

Girl: "SQUEE!! Now my normal, average, boring life has become interesting due to someone cool talking to me!"

Stranger: "Um... yeah. I guess. I'm now going to sparkle and brood. Also, have adventures that maybe you can be a part of. Maybe."

Girl: "I can't wait!!!!"

In this scenario, the main character is normal... but also doesn't choose to do anything special or have any cool adventures on her own. She waits for someone awesome to come and make choices for her. Hooray. Oh, wait. THAT SUCKS.

I want my chracters to be realistic, relatable, but also to CHOOSE awesomeness and adventure :). I want my heroines and heroes to say to themselves, "Self, let's take our talents and our courage to go save the world!"

I guess my answer is, I want normal characters to choose to become larger than life.

I want to be larger than life in real life. Doesn't everyone? We can choose to make the most of what we're given, or we can wait for some sparkly person to come along and do it for us. I, personally, chose action.

What do you guys think? Superman, Twilight, or a Happy Ass-Kicking Medium?

Please check out the Courageous Cole's answer before me, and the Karate-kicking Kate's answer tomorrow!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Learning is Fun!

Today, I came across a fascinating post on Pub Rants about the difficulties in negotiating e-rights. Check it out!

If you're anything like me, you've been wondering what the heck is going on as far as the author's concerned with the rise of e-books. How are royalties going to be paid? How do publishers decide what's fair in this Brave New World?

Everything is in a state of change, and I love learning all I can about the turning tides :). How will it all shake out??

Also, yesterday I loved the answers I got to the question "what was your favorite childhood book?" I love getting peaks at people's personalities with stuff like that.

But I have to ask... what happened to the Q&A, yo? I feel like the nerdy girl all alone at the dance, picking egg salad out of my braces and swaying sadly to Boyz II Men. Why you got to leave me hangin?

I mean, maybe it's just my dayquil/nyquil/tylenol cocktail talking here, but throw a girl a bone!

Don't worry about me, though. I'll just sit here, drinking the liquor of my own tears and asking myself questions, like "why does no one love me?" and "how much chocolate can I fit in my mouth?"

Have a great weekend, guys!

And if you'd like, please answer me this: What is the best thing you've recently read and why did you love it? :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Q&A Time!

I cought the plague that was going around the office this week (hooraaaay!! I WIN at LIFE!), so instead of blogging about wise and clever things tonight, I thought maybe we'd have a Q&A session instead.

So, step up, don't be shy!

What questions would you like me to answer? I'll answer anything and everything (at least with some kind of sarcasm if nothing else). New followers--please don't be afraid to chime in. Welcome!

Also, I have a question for YOU:

What was your favorite book growing up and why? :)

See you tomorrow for answers to your fabulous questions!

Oh, what was my favorite childhood book, you ask?

PETER PAN, of course!

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

I'm now nearing the big 3-0 in age, and am beginning to see signs that I am, indeed, getting old.

Main signs I've noticed:

1) I broke my toe in a mosh pit when I was 14. Recently, I've noticed it aching. But not, just at any ol' time. Yes, it aches when it rains. I'm that person.

"A storm's a-brewin'! I can feel it mah old bones!"

2) I judge young people by their haircuts and fashion choices. I frequently roll my eyes at boys with emo hair and say "that kid looks like Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias. If only he knew."

"Cut your damn hair, you crazy kids!"

3) I no longer like any of the bands I liked in high school, and have progressed to heavy metal. I've started to say things like "bands were so much better in the '80s. That's when people had talent and didn't just lip synch!" Apparently, I've forgotten about Milly Vanilly.

4) I had to go buy reading glasses. Yes, no longer are contacts enough! I can no longer properly focus my eyes under my own steam. I have to admit, I'm not too broken up about it because my reading glasses are sexy and magenta. But, STILL.

5) I can no longer enjoy cheap booze, shoes, or clothing. I know the difference now. There is no going back. I'll miss you, Zima, Target, and $.99 flip flops!

My last confession?

I love being an adult! I feel like I'm entering the very best years of my life (i.e. everything after college.). WOOT!

What are your truths this Tuesday? ;)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Introducing THAW!

Today we have a special treat: the first excerpt of Fiona Robyn's free novel, THAW, which she's publishing on her blog.

As you know, there's nothing better than supporting authors, especially when it involves free stories! Please check it out below. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments :)!

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow here.


These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.

I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for', before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.

Continue reading tomorrow here...

Fiona Robyn

Thanks, Fiona, for sharing THAW with us!