Friday, February 26, 2010

Who Wants Cake?

This Sunday is my BIRTHDAY!

In honor of this glorious event, I'd like to party like Bilbo Baggins, and present presents to all of you, my esteemed guests :).

Please enjoy some of my favorite things:

Fully committed geeks!

Epic facepalms!

Wolverine with corndogs for claws!

(Yes, I made this. No, I'm not ashamed. Okay, maybe a little.)

Starbuck being awesome!

Babies eating kittens!

Hilarious heavy metal fashion!

Neil Patrick Harris!

Adorable baby hedgehogs!


I hope you all have a great weekend! :D Party on!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Long Wait

I found this quote today while reading agent Rachelle Gardner's blog, and wanted to share it:

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” – Barbara Kingsolver

Easier said than done, Babs, but a good principle nonetheless.

It got me thinking about how we deal with the wait while we work to achieve our dreams?

Are we idiots for waiting? Why don[t we give up and do something smart like go to dental school?

I thought about the idea of being content with your life even if you aren't exactly where you want to be, and these Bible verses came to mind:

2Co 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
2Co 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

That last line really grabs me, and I think it applies to all writers whether they're Christian or not--the principle is the same.

When we are tired of waiting, when we're weary of being rejected, when revisions are piling up and we don't think we can do it anymore... when we face these things that would overwhelm normal people and yet manage to keep the dream alive, aren't we strong?

I think we are :).

We have the power of our dreams behind us, and for me, I feel the power of having a purpose in my life pushing me forward, spurring me on. We know what we want, which is more than a lot of people can say! We know what we need to do to get it, and we know that it takes time. We are strong because we know we can never give up.

We're strong because we won't, not for any amount of money. How many people can say the same?

We're strong because we have each other. We all get it, and we know the journey is difficult, but oh, so worth it. We're strong because we support one another in communities like this!

So, I ask you: What makes you feel strong when you are weak?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tell the Truth Tuesday!

Here are my true confessions this week, for your viewing pleasure:

1) My husband is an Olympics widower. I am endlessly fascinated by all things Olympics, and catch watch ANY sport during both summer and winter olympics, much to my husband's dismay. He'll come into the room to hear me shouting "WHAT?! Only 95.5 meters! What the hell kind of ski jump is that, Norway!" then shake his head and walk away.

2) I have started sleeping with my iPhone. Okay, not like that, but just as disconcerting. I've been keeping my iPhone next to my bed at night so when I first open my eyes I can press it to my face lovingly and check my email. Yes, I'm querying again--how did you know?

3) I love tiny things. The other day, I was feeling down, so I bought myself some tiny fuzzy animals for my desk at work. It's an inch high giraffe, lemur, and snake, and they run a tiny lemonade stand. This delights me. I spend money on stuff like this more often than I'd care to admit.

4) I am an accidental book thief. If you lend me a book, you will never see it again. I always have good intentions, but once borrowed, I cannot for the life of me remember to return it. I still have a book one of my pastors lent me when I was 14. I worry there might be a special circle of Hell for people who steal religious books from a pastor.

5) I've had a beer in the shower. When my husband was out of town, I started doing very bachelorettey things, such using the bathroom with the door open and eating waffles for dinner. Drinking a beer in the shower was the highlight. I have no regrets.

So, fess up, guys!

What would you like to confess this Tuesday?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Eating My Words: Cupcakes RULE!

My apologies for dropping off the face of the earth last week. Sometimes, as much as I hate to admit it, real life gets in the way of blogging. :) I'm back now, and possibly better than ever!

A while back, I mentioned on this blog that I've never met a cupcake that I liked. I've often wondered if it's because they usually come in a hideous configuration like THIS, or if it's because there are delicious cupcakes out there far, far away from me, and I'm missing out.

Well, the lovely Lizzy Mason offered to hook me up with a good cupcake recipe, and sent me THE COMPLETE MAGNOLIA BAKERY COOKBOOK.

Lizzy, it's official: I love both you AND cupcakes!

I finally dared to make one of the recipes this past weekend using this mixer from the 1970s (seriously) passed down to me by my mother. This thing is like a cross between a dust buster and a bucking bronco and only has three speeds: Off, Fast, and KILL. My husband had also run off with the big mixing bowl to use in one of his many projects, so I had to use a tiny bowl and rotate out ingredients.

Despite these challenges, I managed to actually make a batch of Magnolia's black bottom cupcakes, which are fluffy and chocolatey on the bottom half, and have a rich cream cheese top half (YUM!).

My one criticism of the book, which contains a ton of delicious receipes I'm dying to try, is that there are no pictures. As you can see here, my cupcakes were less than beautiful because I had no clue how the cream cheese was supposed to be spooned on to the top. However, they were chocolatey-creamcheesetastic, so I'm not complaining too much!

So, now I'm a believer. If you love cupcakes, I'd recommend the recipes in THE COMPLETE MAGNOLIA BAKERY COOKBOOK. If a novice like me can do it, anyone can!

*disclaimer--this book was sent to me for free as previously mentioned. FTC, you should really try some cupcakes.

Has anyone else used any good cookbooks lately? Any recommendations for the baking-challenged?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Giving It Up*

*No, not that, you naughty readers, you!

I was thinking today, this first day of Lent, what if we were to give something up for 40 days that was truly holding us back? Not something silly like coffee or chocolate, but something truly harmful.

What if we gave up Self Doubt?

What could we accomplish?

Not being Catholic, I nonetheless thought it was an interesting question.

My question to you is, what is holding you back from achieving your dreams, or even trying?

What would you like to give up?

Check out this related post from agent Rachelle Gardener today, and tell me your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blog Chain: Meeting Your Characters!

It's blog chain time again!

This round's topic is brought to you by the character-driven Cole who asked:

How do you get inside your character's world?

Apparently, Cole actually stalks her characters, google maps their haunts, etc, to get to know them. This got me thinking about my own process.

How the hell did I first meet my characters?
How did I know what they looked like? How they thought? What their strengths and weaknesses are?

To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure. They just sort of showed up in my brain like strangers knocking on my door. For example, in my head I have a picture of Astrid and a picture of Torin from LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS in mind from the start. I don't know where they came from, but I knew that Astrid was an 18 year old girl with long dark hair and deep blue eyes, and Torin was a 19 year old boy with dark hair that stuck up in weird angles.

This is seriously the first I knew about them, and I had to figure it out from there. It really was like I saw strangers in a cafe, thought they were interesting, and then tried to get to know them from afar. The first thing I do is try to google for images that are close to what I have in my brain. I feel like if I can give my characters a physical form (at least in my own head), I'll be able to hold onto them long enough to figure out what makes them tick.

So, I googled.

For Astrid, I came up with this picture of Kate Beckinsale, only in my head she's younger, and has longer hair. For Torin, a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal was the closest I could find. From there, I spent time with them in my head and felt out how they talked, if they were quiet or loud or shy or obnoxious, and then checked in with them at random intervals throughout the story to see how they would react to different situations. For each scene I thought "what is driving them?" and then basic questions like "what would Torin do? How would he feel here?"

Being a woman writing a male character, I also had times where I checked in with my Resident Man Expert: AKA, my husband. For example, I had Torin crying over something and it didn't feel right. I asked my Resident Man Expert what a guy would do in that situation. His answer? Punch something! That explains why crying doesn't seem like a good choice here :)! Torin wouldn't cry, dangit, he'd punch the rock until his knuckles bled! (needless to say, my R.M.E. was extremely helpful. I highly recommend getting one if you don't have one already, or a Resident Lady Expert if you are a dude.)

I admit it's kind of weird that my characters show up in my head before I get to know them. I'm not sure how this works. For my new WIP, HOLLOW LAND, I knew that the main character had short, dyed fire engine red hair... but when I tried to name her she basically told me her name was Davida, and the name I'd chosen for her was nickname. Then she told me she's Jewish. Jewish? Great! Now, I'm going to have to research!

Sometimes these characters turn out to be more high maintenance than I bargained for, but who am I to complain? They are who they are.

Okay, now I'm worried that this post makes me sound insane.

How the heck do YOU come up with your characters? How do you get into their heads? Do you meet them first like I do and then let them unfold, or do you have a system I need to know about?

Don't miss the fabulous Kate tomorrow!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Results Are In.....

My BOOK LOVE CONTEST was a ton of fun, but now it's that time...

Time to declare a winner (or three)!

Since I am nothing if not scientific, I put the names and points for everyone who entered into a random number generator hat, and made my lovely assistant husband pull out the winners!

So, without further ado... our winners aaaaaare:

Crystal in First Place!

Crystal, even though you just joined my blog today (yay!), I put you in the hat, and you won a $25 gift card to your book retailer of choice, and your choice of either chocolate, coffee, or a fancy bookmark :). Please email me at rebeccaknightbooks(at)gmail(dot)com with your preferences and address!

Lisa and Laura in Second Place!

You ladies are blessed with good fortune! You've won a copy of SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater, or a Synopsis Critique from yours truly (which I don't think you need, since you have a wonderful agent, but hey, just checking), and your choice of chocolate, coffee, or a bookmark. Email me!

Cipherqueen in Third!

With the most Book Love and eleven total points in the contest, it's only right that you win some love! You've won either SHIVER or a synopsis critique (whatever LiLa doesn't pick), and your choice of chocolate, coffee, or a bookmark. Please email me as well!


And hey, the Book Love doesn't end here ;). Remember to show authors and aspiring authors your support however you can!

So, I'd like to know: What's the best book you've read lately?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love is in the Air!

Hello, friends!

I have presents for you today, in the spirit of the holiday :), because I love you all!

First a gift for those of you who are tired of family members and co-workers asking "Are you published yet??" It's a blog post from the lovely INTERN detailing why everything in publishing happens at a snail's pace. Please feel free to email it, or just print it out and hand it around the table at your next family gathering. You're welcome!

Next, a present for the romantics among us. You know who you are, you adorable things, you! (It's okay to come out of the closet... I'm one of you.) Jessica Faust over at Bookends has tributes to romance from romance writers themselves!

For those among us who like our sweets a little bitter, a wonderful, well thought out article on sexism in the writing world by RAMPANT author Diana Peterfreund. At first it will piss you off a little, but if you're anything like me, you'll feel warm fuzzies knowing that awesome writers like Diana are bringing attention to subjects such as these. Rock on, lady authors! And rock on male readers who love them!

Lastly, the yummiest treat of all: THE COVER OF THE NEXT HUNGER GAMES BOOK!!!!


I know.

I can't wait, either :).

Also, sorry for deafening you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

*Make sure you've entered my BOOK LOVE CONTEST before Valentine's Day! I'm picking winners of fabulous prizes (including a giftcard, book, critique, bookmarks, coffee, and chocolate--Could it get any better??) on 2/15/10!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


"It" being ME! I'm alive, blog friends!

The end was nigh, but I refused to walk into the light, no matter how sweet deaths' embraced seemed at the time.

Also, I'm never eating fast food again, especially if it's served suspiciously cold (this statement subject to change at a moment's notice if I'm craving tacos.)

While I was lying in a heap on my couch, you were awesome enough to ask me questions!

Here are your answers!

Nisa asked: "

On that note, this is probably an evil question, but what's your favorite fast food place? (Okay, don't think about that one right now. It really was terrible. Can I blame genetics?)Who is your favorite author and why?"

Okay, Nisa, that is fairly evil, but I forgive you, because I'm like that :). My favorite fast food place WAS McDonalds. I think their fries are the one food I could eat forever and never get tired of. That and their bacon egg and cheese biscuits... mmmm.... savory greaseness!

Ooh, the favorite author question is such a tough one. Damn! I love so many... argh. Right now, I'm completely crazy about Kristin Cashore, author of FIRE and GRACELING, because she writes the kind of high fantasy that I absolutely love, but with a fresh twist and clean writing. Her books don't ramble, and I love the pacing! I'm kind of a favorite author tart, though. I have many favorites :).

Tess asked:

"What's your favorite guilty pleasure? Love Boat or Fantasy Island?"

Great questions! Oh, man, my favorite guilty pleasure would have to be a full on bubblebath with a candle, book, glass of wine, and the door locked. It's guilty because I'm still working out that whole "Oh, hey, I can do nice things for myself and don't have to be working or writing *all* the time," and also because the water bill goes up if I do it too often ;). But it's The Best.

Now, I'm ashamed to admit I've never really watched either of these shows. With that in mind, I choose Fantasy Island, solely because of Tattoo!

Scott asked:

"What's your favorite Starbucks drink?"

The perfect question for a Northwest girl! I have several answers. If I don't want coffee, then a nonfat black tea latte ;). Mmmm, teaaaaa. If it's winter, then a nonfat peppermint mocha! If it's summer, then a sweetened iced coffee. Awwww, yeaaah. Dang, now I want Starbucks!

Abby asked:

"If you were being sent to a deserted island and could only take three things, what would they be?"

Oh, geez. Thanks a lot, Abby! Hmmm... only three things.

I fear this is where some of my crazy might show through, because the first things I thought of were a) Big Rambo Knife (for survival purposes), b) Flint (see a), and c) The Lord of the Rings (because that book/series never gets old.)

And now I'm afraid that I sound like Dwight Schrute because of a) and b)... (FACT: I am faster than 80% of all snakes.)

Kate asked:

"How many pairs of shoes do you own?"

Hmm, I'll have to think about that one. I have about five pair that I wear consistently, and then about 10 other pairs that I'm either "saving for a sweet costume" or need to throw away because they have holes in them the size of well, an entire shoe. I have a weakness for shoes, especially boots, but my cheapness has helped me keep it relatively under control. We'll see how that goes this year ;).

Lisa & Laura asked:

"How did you know you wanted to be a writer? What is your all-time favorite book?"

Now that I think about it, I've always loved telling stories, but I never admitted to wanting to be a writer (or an author) until I was out of college. Before I could write, I would draw "books," which were usually rip offs of Peter Pan or movies I'd seen, but with my own embellishments, like tarantulas with tiny parachutes or extra mermaids where they didn't belong. I'd also dictate stories to anyone who would listen; i.e. my kindergarten teachers and parents. Good times!

My dad was a freelance writer, and I didn't want to follow in his footsteps. He didn't have a day job, and made some bad decisions that lead our family into tough financial times. I didn't want to be pressured to choose something just because he did it, and I didn't want to put my family in jeapardy by chasing writing. In the mean time, I kept writing stories, but just for me.

In highschool and college I realized I LOVED classic literature. Like, I wanted Chaucer to be my long-dead boyfriend kind of love. This translated into me wondering if I could actually be a writer after all, but do it in a practical way. A way that fit me :).

I hadn't believed in myself, or understood that this was a dream I could chase until I'd been on my own, figuring it out. My dad always had great ideas, but gave up on them after facing a few rejections, so never accomplished what he'd wanted. This is a huge factor for me, because I know never to give up :). I don't want to make the same mistakes, and will chase my dream as hard as I can, while still being responsible to my awesome husband and cat (read: my family.)

Writing this, I realized that my favorite book of all time is Peter Pan! It was the first book I drew a rip off of when I was six, and I've been in love with the story ever since. Thank you for making me love reading, J. M. Barrie!

Enough rambling for now :).

If you have any other questions, I'd love to answer them!

Now, one for you: What is YOUR favorite book and why?

*Make sure you've entered my BOOK LOVE CONTEST before Valentine's Day! I'm picking winners of fabulous prizes (including a giftcard, book, critique, bookmarks, coffee, and chocolate--Could it get any better??) on 2/15/10!

*adorable zombie pic courtesy of

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Question and Answer!

On Sunday, I was fortunate to get food poisoning from a fast food burger, which is why I've missed blogging--sorry guys!.

I think this is God's way of telling me that fast food is evil ;).

So while I recover tonight and sleep for many, many hours, how about a Q&A?

What do you guys want to know about me? :) I will answer any and every question in upcoming blog posts.

Ask away, my friends!

I hope you're having a good week so far, and I'll see you all soon (figuratively speaking, because this is a blog... yeah.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Amazon Vs. MacMillan: The E-Pocalypse is Nigh!

The big drama in the publishing world this week, came from Amazon removing all the "buy" buttons from MacMillan books on their site. MacMillan was in talks with Amazon, suggesting a new e-book pricing model, and Amazon reacted by basically black-balling them. They haven't let up yet, and the MacMillan/Tor authors are reaping the consequences.

If you haven't been following this e-book battle, check out the links below.

For a basic overview of what happened, agent Kristin Nelson breaks down what happened. John Scalzi, an awesome MacMillan author effected by this... incident... speaks out Here, awesomely calls for author support Here, and updates us on how this effects him and others like him Here.

The SFWA makes a stand Here, and Kristen Nelson has another update, and a letter from John Sargent, the CEO of MacMillan Here. Agent Jessica Faust talks about how this effects authors Here, and there's a lovely post on how Amazon's actions utterly screw all of us, consumer, publishers, and writers alike, Here.

I urge you guys, if you're buying a book anytime soon, to please consider supporting MacMillan authors during this time. They are the ones caught in the middle of an argument between publishing entities, and suffering for it, despite having no control.

Please check out if you're looking for a great indy bookstore to purchase from instead of Amazon :). Buy a MacMillan/Tor book today, and make a difference for those authors. I know they'd really appreciate it!

Also, if you happen to buy any books, let me know in the comments, for a chance to win my fabulous Book Love Contest! It ends 2/14/10, so get your book love in now :).

How do you guys feel about this Amazon/MacMillan bruhaha?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Technical Difficulties or Blogger Hates Me

Here at Writer In Progress, we are experiencing some technical difficulties...

booooooooop boooooop


(this is not a test)

As you may have noticed from my sad, boring new look, I'm having some issues with Blogger. I can't really complain, since it's free, but Blogger and I aren't quite seeing eye to eye this week.

I wanted to change my template so that my comments would be easier to read for all (hooray!), but alas, Blogger threw an evil error at me when I tried to upload a new one. Then said I couldn't have my old one back either. Because I'm dumb, and my mama is fat :(.

It was quite rude, actually.

So, forgive me for my poor housekeeping this week. Hopefully I'll have a sparkly new look shortly, and can have a blog-warming party!

Also, if you happen to be a Blogger guru, and have tips on getting around evil errors, I would absolutely love you forever if you would email me at rebeccaknightbooks (at) gmail (dot) com. YAY!

Has this been "one of those weeks" for you guys, too?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Remember that post I did at the beginning of January about my personal goals for 2010?

Well, it's February (so people tell me), and that means it's time to check in and see how we're all doing :).

Here's my progress so far:

1) Finish Legacy of the Empress final edits by 1/31/10!

I finished my edits on 2/1/2010, which isn't too shabby, if you ask me :)! I'm extremely proud of myself and have been strutting around looking smug since Monday. Hooray! Now, Legacy of the Empress is in the hands of my copy editor (a.k.a. My Poor Husband Who's Read This Book So Often He's Starting to Hate it), and when I get his edits back, I have a week to finish those. Right now, what am I doing? Why, polishing my query letter, of course!

If you are looking for some great forums to get feedback on your query letter, check out, or jump into the forums over at agent Nathan Bransford's blog! There are some very helpful writers in both groups who are happy to shred your query! They've helped me immensely, and I'm eternally grateful.

2) Get to [redacted goal weight] and stay there!

So, I've done Jillian Michael's 30 Days of Evil (or whatever it's called) several times, and am starting to lose not only pounds, but inches! Inches, people :). It's exciting stuff. Maybe one day I'll be able to run in corduroy pants without them bursting into flames!

My other goals involve querying agents, and working on my 2nd novel, so I'm not there yet.

How are your goals going this year? What are your successes and struggles so far?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blog Chain: The Best Mistake!

It's my turn to start off the Blog Chain this round! :)

I've been thinking about mistakes I've made so while persuing a writing career, and I realized something.

Our mistakes can be more useful to us than our successes--they not only teach us how to think critically and ask the right questions, they teach us how to grow.

My question for this chain is:

What is the best mistake you've made so far in your journey as a writer? How has that mistake helped you grow :)?

This past year, I've made some royal mistakes, which I'd like to share for the edification of all ;):

1) Write down names, things, and places! When writing a fantasy novel, you're bound for forget all of the crazy stuff you named as you went. Was it Sepharith or Sephorath? Castill or Cavills? Oh, geez, I have no idea, and the search function can't help if I don't know what I'm looking for!

What I learned: Create a glossary as you go! It will help immensely down the road.

2) Don't go it alone! Find some people whose writing you know is as good or better than your own (this part is important), and then ask them to please read your book and give you feedback.

What I learned: There are some things we are blind to, because we are just too close. Always ask for feedback, from several places if possible!

3) Take your time! Don't query too soon, and don't assume your book is finished before it is.

What I learned: If you're not completely sick of your own writing, you obviously haven't revised enough! ;) It's worth it in the long run.

What have you learned this year or decade from your Best Mistakes?

Don't miss Kate's answer, coming up next!