Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Coolness

Seeing as how we are coming up to Christmas and all, I probably won't be posting much (or at all) until after New Year. (I know, I know, what else is new?)

However, I thought I'd decorate my blog a little for the season before I go. Something festive and purty to look at.

Voila! This is Jetta, the main character from my novel Searcher. (Note: At no point in the story does she actually wear a Santa hat.) This sketch was drawn by my lovely and talented friend, Natalie. (Note: I drew the Santa hat.)

Now, I am also going to leave you with presents! Because it's Christmas!! Starting in 2011, you will have three things to look forward to:

1. More posting from me!!! (*pauses while the intense cheering dies down*)

2. A new weekly blog feature that is going to be very fun!

3. The return of Photoshop Fridays!

So go now. Eat lots of candy. Hang out with family. And open presents that you're actually excited about (as opposed to, you know, mine.) Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another first!

Well, I've written my first guest post. This feels like a rite of passage or something.

My amazing friend Michelle Davidson Argyle asked me to write a little more about the mental/emotional aspects of my writing journey. So I did. Happily. I discuss my new philosophy: Optimistic Realism. (Hey, something had to come out of all those philosophical journeys.)

But the truth is, Michelle's a very cool, very talented, very published author, so you should check her out anyway. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Journey: How I got my Agent

To start, let me say that I'm a huge fan of these particular kinds of blog posts. The journey posts. I loved (still love) reading them because they rarely follow the theme of "OMG, I just wrote this book last month, got my agent last week, and I just signed a three book deal!!!"

No, usually theses post chronicle the long, often difficult journey of the writer involved, and that always gives me hope. Well if you are looking for one of those, you've got one! Remember, the primary emotion I feel when writing this post is optimism.

Okay, so here is the WHOLE rundown, complete with stats. Because I know I love reading other people's stats. Note: I will try to be as pithy as possible, but this post might be a tad long.

Summer 2004
I've always loved writing, but this is when I decide to get serious. I have an idea for a YA fantasy novel about twins who are princesses. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. But hey, we all have a twin princess story in us.) I fill an entire spiral notebook with notes.

Summer 2005
Force myself to stop daydreaming about writing and start doing it. I write 30 pages of my YA fantasy novel and decide that I absolutely loathe my main character. Abandon ship!

The Year of 2006
I start and stop several YA novels, never getting past 45 pages. I do, however, complete a young MG novel, and a picture book that has WAY too many words.

Early 2007
I begin a YA epic fantasy that never got a title. I've always referred to it as Tristan.

February 2008

I start my lowly blog.

April 2008

I finish Tristan on my birthday! Feel overcome with the sense of accomplishment. I've actually FINISHED a whole novel. Also, right around this point I become friends with Kiersten White and Natalie Whipple. We form a crit group, and call ourselves the MoMo's.

Summer 2008
Slogging through edits for Tristan. I'm feeling like it just might be a quagmire. Besides, I have this other idea pulling at me. After much thought, I set Tristan lovingly in the trunk.

Miss Midas bursts onto the scene. I write it in just over a month, and dive into edits. I'm pretty sure it's the most brilliant thing EVER.

(In July, I get this idea for a post apocalyptic novel. Seems pretty cool. I make sporadic notes, but don't pay much attention yet.)

October 2008
I send out my very first query letters ever! I'm SO SO SO excited. Wonder how I'm going to pick between the twelve agents that are going to fight over me.

Queries sent: 44
Partials Requested: 2
Fulls Requested: 4

Offers of Rep: zilch

The agony of querying hits me VERY early on. To distract myself, I start working on my post apocalyptic idea. I give it the awful working title: PAMR. (short for post apocalyptic, magic realism) (even though it's not technically magic realism. Details, details.)

December 2008-July 2009

Real life takes over. Due to my husband's work, and various other crazy reasons, our family moves FIVE TIMES, to FOUR different states. Needless to say, writing often falls to the back burner.

But in the space of this time, I:

1. Give up on querying Miss Midas
2. Finish the first draft of PAMR.
3. Give it a better name: Searcher
4. ( 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. ) Edit my brains out.

Searcher takes a lot out of me, but I believe in it. So much. And as hard as it is with the craziness of my life, I'm willing to put the work into it.

September 2009
My first, big Philosophical Journey. (Or so I call it.) Everything screeches to a halt while I ponder many deep and weighty things related to my writing. I wonder if Searcher has what it takes. Think to myself, I was so sure about Miss Midas, and it got canned. What makes me think Searcher will be any different? Contemplate giving up. Thank goodness for good friends who bring me back. (my writer friend Candice, and my twin sister Diana were key here.)

November 2009
I start querying Searcher. The responses feel more enthusiastic this time, but the Querying Despair creeps up anyway. After 3 months, I hit a wall. Clearly, the agents have spoken. This isn't what they want. Case closed.

I give up.

Queries sent: 39
Partials Requested: 4
Fulls Requested: 5

Offers of Rep: One close call, but nothing sticks.

Winter 2009
Embark on a second Philosophical Journey. It lasts several months. I don't do much writing.

Spring/Summer 2010
I embrace my childhood love of mermaids, and start writing Deep. It's fun and diverting, and goes pretty quickly. Within a few months, I've finished, and gone through a several rounds of edits.

July 2010
I start querying Deep. This time, instead of feeling excited and giddy, I'm kind of sick to my stomach.

Within a month, I give up. (I know. I know! Believe me, I know. Well . . . I will come to know. (Keep reading.)

Queries sent: 17
Partials Requested: 2
Fulls Requested: 1

September 2010
Thus begins the 3rd Philosophical Journey.

I do A LOT of thinking. (Are you sensing a theme here?) I reread my novels. I talk with my very good friends. And I come to a very, VERY important realization. Two, really. I discuss my thinking in greater detail in this post, but in a nutshell:

1. I have been WAY too hard on my own writing.
2. I gave up on querying WAY too soon Every. Single. Time.

I realize I owe it to myself to keep trying. So . . . I start querying Searcher and Deep again. (Disclaimer: I did look into it, and never found anything that said "DO NOT query two books at once," however it gets tricky. As you will see in a minute.)

Quick stats:

Queries sent: 14
Partials Requested: 2
Fulls Requested: 3

Queries sent: 8
Partials Requested: 1
Fulls Requested: 4

And then . . .

November 16th, while I'm on vacation, Molly Jaffa requests the partial of Searcher. Two days later, she requests the full.

Monday morning, November 22, I'm sorting laundry (glamorously) when I hear my cell phone ring. When I see the area code, my heart freezes for a split second, but I tell myself that it's most likely a telemarketer.

It's Molly Jaffa. Offering representation. *cue celebration* I spend Thanksgiving weekend feeling VERY thankful.

And THEN, on the last day the other agents had to get back to me by, another agent emails me wanting to set up a phone call. (And while I try not to play that game, she's a pretty big time agent from a pretty big time agency.) *stunned* She loves my book, and while she does want to see a round of revisions first, she is essentially offering. BTW, did I mention the book she read was Deep!

So then come a few days filled with a mixture of panic, nerves, happiness, and disbelief. I find myself with a big choice to make. In spite of my daydreaming about picking between agents during my Miss Midas days, having to actually face the situation is very nerve wracking. I have a stomach ache for three days straight.

But, as you all know, this story has a happy ending (, or a happy new beginning!) I picked Molly Jaffa, and I couldn't be happier.

So there it is, folks. If you read this whole post, I commend you! It sure was fun to write. It makes me really grateful. I'm grateful that while I had periods where I didn't want to think about writing AT. ALL., and giving up seemed like the most sane thing to do, I'm truly glad that I never did. And I know things don't always work out, storybook style, but I do believe that things only started to really happen when I was truly ready inside. When I truly believed I could succeed. And THAT is your dose of optimism for the day. Hope you enjoyed it. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010


Yes, you read that right! And this isn't a joke! Or a trick! Or a clever play on words!


I'm beyond thrilled to announce that I am now officially represented by the fantastic Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management!

*screaming* *jumping around* *dancing*

A literary agent! Of my very own! I seriously have no idea how to write this post. I'm filled with so many different emotions. This post could be brimming with:

a. Euphoria

b. Optimism

c. Gratitude

So by way of a warning, I plan to use a few different posts to cover this monumental event in my writing career. In fact, I think I'll use one post to cover each of the emotions I mentioned above. In the next few days, you guys get to hear the WHOLE SORDID TALE. (I know! I'm so generous.)

Today, is the euphoria.

This post will include some GUSHING about Molly. Because she really is awesome! And I know everyone says that about their agents, but I absolutely mean it. Molly is sharp and funny, and super nice. I'm SO excited to work with her!

This post will also include more *screaming* *jumping around* and *dancing*!!

This post will include far too many exclamation points!

In the end, on a day like this there's really only one thing to say:

PARTY IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!! Dr. Peppers for everyone!! Today they shall flow without end!

Check in again Thursday for my Optimism post. I'm going to tell you guys the story of my journey to this moment. (Spoiler Alert: It was long.) Until then, ROCK ON. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why, oh WHY is this so Brilliant?

I can't stop watching this scene, guys. I seriously can't. It's the final scene in the season finale of the AMAZING show, Sherlock.

What do I love about it?

1. BRILLIANT writing

2. BRILLIANT acting

3. And . . . okay, I admit it, I'm strangely attracted to Moriarty.

Anyway, watch it. Seriously. It's genius. If you saw this episode, watch this scene one more time. (You know you want to) And if you haven't seen this episode, and you don't mind spoilers, watch it.

Just . . . bask in the general awesomeness.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Big Lie

I've had something of a revolution going on inside the past couple of weeks. I'm cleaning out the old regime that has been ruling my writing mind with a cruel hand. Basically, I've come to an important realization. One I want to share, on the chance that someone else might be going through the same thing.

Ever since I started querying, I took great pride in my "realistic" approach to it all. I wasn't over emotional. I wasn't blinded by my love for my own stories.

Me: Sure rejections sting a bit, but they don't rule me. I make all of my choices based on a calm, rational approach. If I stop querying a book after 20 queries, that's because I have gauged the market, and can see it simply isn't right. No problem. On to the next. I'm barely even sad about it.

Man, was I full of it.

What I've realized in the past few months is that I stopped querying books because rejections, in fact, HURT LIKE HELL. They did rule me. Especially the rejections on requested materials. They hurt, but I wouldn't even admit how much. Deep, DEEP down, I told myself that these requests must mean my story stinks so why don't stop making an idiot of myself and TRUNK it. But at the surface level, I applauded myself on how "realistic" and "rational" I was being.

And that was the big lie, guys.

Well, no longer. Things are going to change. I'm putting a halt on my WiP for a while. Instead, I've got some apologizing to do. I'm turning to the three novels I poured my heart, sweat, and tears into . . . only to trunk after a very half-hearted querying round. I'm turning to them because they are NOT crap. They are actually really good! And they deserve a real chance. I need to give them a chance.

And so I will. I'm going to be honest with myself from now on. Both on how much the rejections hurt me, but also, most importantly, on how GOOD my writing can be.

So to end on a high note, watch this, and repeat after me:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A fangirl moment

Suddenly, I can't wait for the actual movie. :)

eta: I didn't make this video. I only wish I had film editing skills like this.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's a YA Halloween

I had a hard time trying to decide what to be for Halloween this year. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have caught the Drama of the Red and Black Wig. In the end, I realized the answer was there all along.

What better costume for a YA writer than an angsty, emo teen?!

(Come on. You know you dig my Edward shirt.)

And as for hubby? He makes a ROCKIN' Spock.

Hope you all have a great Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sexy it up

Last night I watched the new PBS show Sherlock. *fans self, while trying to breath.* So. Much. Awesomeness. Having. Trouble. Expressing.

Basically, it's the classic characters of Sherlock and Watson, modernized, and set in contemporary London. Was it awesome to see Sherlock texting Watson to hurry up and get to Baker Street? Uh-YEAH. It was.

I've noticed this trend a lot lately, and I have to say, I'm a big fan. Basically, you take a classic or well known story and modernize it. Make the main characters younger. SEXY it up a little! (Yeah, baby.) Some other examples:

The new Star Trek. (*chants* Team Spock! Team Spock!)

Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet

I'm sure there's a specific word for these kind of stories. If anyone knows, give a shout. At any rate, it's actually a dream of mine to write one. It'd be so fun! How about you? Any ideas of a modern twist classic? Share in the comments section! I'll give kudos to the best idea. :)

Here are some prompts:

A sexy, younger _____________________ (classic character)

Modern day version of ___________________________ (classic story location)

________________ (character), only hotter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weird Science

For the past few months now, I've been toying with three different ideas. Notebooks have been filled. Outlines have been formed. I've even started writing two of them. But something kept tripping me up. I couldn't put my finger on it.

And then, a few days ago, it hit me. The answer to my problem. It was staring me in the face all along. I simply broke off the major pieces of each story that I liked and smashed them into one. And like that, I had my story. The moment went something like this.

(*sigh* Gene Wilder. Gotta love him.)

So anyway, from now on, you'll know what I'm talking about when I refer to my FrankenWiP. But I can't talk more about it now. I have work to do. Much work.

*sinister lightning flashes*

Yes . . . much work. . .

*runs off to secret lab*

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scary/Exciting/Big things

I've been doing a great deal of pondering lately. This should come as no surprise, of course. Every six months or so I go on a Quest of Pondering, Angst, and Re-Evaluation. (I'm telling you, if there was a contest for introspection I. WOULD. WIN.)

If I could have, I would have spent many an hour walking on picturesque lookouts, thinking deeply, my hair blowing in the wind. Like that scene on Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth is staring out over the cliff edge. Pondering.

Yeah . . .

I probably looked more like this, though.

At any rate, as I said, I've been through this before. What can I say, I'm a little slow. This time, however, I've come to some fairly scary and big thoughts. Thoughts about who I am as a writer. What I want. What I am and am not willing to do.

Probably the biggest thought is about what I will write. It's also the scariest. In a nutshell, I think I've found my voice.

And I think it will be a tough sell.

But I'm going to write the book anyway.

The thing is, I've had this feeling in my gut for a long time. I avoided it, because, to be totally honest, I want to be published. I really, really want to be published. So, I've pushed this inkling away to pursue ideas that seemed more marketable. (Don't get me wrong, I loved these ideas, but I can be honest as to why I picked them over others.)

But it's time to take a risk, folks. For me, anyway. So I plan to. There are going to be some changes around here. Because like I said, my pondering involved all aspects of my writing career, not just what idea to pick. So be ready, gentle blog readers. Be ready. More details coming soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Photoshop Friday

(Even though it's Tuesday.)

THE EVOLUTION OF AN IDEA, or An Argument for taking Internet Breaks.

So, there you are, brainstorming ideas for your Work-in-Progress. Or maybe you're just fixing yourself a turkey and avocado sandwich. At any rate, out of the blue, an idea strikes.

For a small, glorious window of time, this idea is the most Brilliant. Thing. Ever.

So you head to the internet to do some research. After spending a while on Wikipedia, Google Earth, and the like, you decide to peek over at Amazon to see of there are similar books.

Well you find them.

This leads you to the blogs of the authors of those books, doubtless with posts expressing their relief that they got their novel published before the trend DIED last week.

This leads you to scouring agent blogs and interviews, positive that SOMEONE still wants your idea. And this leads you to various writer forums, where they discuss various topics of decreasing relevance to the topic at hand. And before you know it, you've frittered away a depressing amount of time. Time that you could have been (but obviously weren't) WRITING. And you end up like this.

The lesson, gentle reader? I love me some internet, but it can be COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. Alas, it's a lesson I have to re-learn every few months. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

With this outline, I thee wed

As I stated in my previous post, I'm in between projects right now. I'm also having a hard time committing to any one idea. I've outlined a few here and there, but something keeps stopping me. So I was discussing this with my husband, and he asked me a very interesting question. "If publishing as we know it ended, and you could only write ONE LAST story, what kind of story would that be?"

Needless to say, it got me pondering. It reminded me of the thoughts I had while I was single. "If I have to spend the rest of my life with one guy, what kind of guy do I want him to be?" So, I did what any dreamy eyed fourteen-year-old girl would do. I made a list. The following is a direct quote from my Moleskine:

1.Unique, high concept world

2. Epic in scope
-factions, cultures

3. Strong, intelligent MC

4. Good love story
-at least a star-crossed kinda thing

5. Mountains, oceans/seaside

6. People gotta die

Here's the thing. I know I can't sit around and wait for the ULTIMATE, BEST-EVER, ENCOMPASSING-EVERYTHING-INSIDE-MY-SOUL idea. And I probably shouldn't demand that every novel I pursue have every single element I love. But I think I've reached a point where I'm willing to wait for The One.

"The One doesn't exist!" you say. "Ideas are a dime a dozen!" you say.

Perhaps. But I'm waiting anyway. Because let's face it, writing/editing a novel takes a long time. Six months, a year, a couple years. That's a huge commitment, peeps. And it's HARD! Writing a novel is hard! So I don't want to put all that time and toil into something unless I truly love it. And I don't just mean love. I've loved all my stories. (We writers tend to love pretty much anything our brilliant, precious brains dream up.)

No, I mean LOVE love. I want to write a book that I'd be okay with accepting as the last book I ever write. (Though in truth, that notion makes me really sad.) I want to write a book that I would be willing to walk down the aisle with. And so I'm not going to write another outline, until I've found it. I'm saving myself for book-writing-marriage. I'll know him/it when I see him/it. ;)

How about you? What would be on your list of The One?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Agony and the Ecstacy

Right now I'm in that fuzzy, foggy land that all writers pass through. It is the land of in between. I'm not working on edits (for the moment,) nor am I drafting a novel. I'm not outlining any ideas. In fact, I've put the two I had onto the far back burner. So right now, basically, I'm floating in the void.

There are two ways to look at this place:

1. I've got nothin'.

No ideas that I like. Nothing to work on. My fingers itch, my head swirls with detached scenes and random voices. But I've yet to grasp anything and say, "Yes! This is what I'll work on." I sit down, open my laptop . . . and log onto Twitter.

However, like I said, this sis a place of conflicting emotions. Another part of me says:

2. The world is my oyster!

Do you ever watch a great movie, or read an amazing book, and say, "I'd love to write a story like that."? I do. All the time. Well right now, I could write any of those. I could write a sweeping dystopian love story, or a heart-wrenching magic realism story, a quirky and funny contemporary novel, or a dark and epic fantasy. Anything I want! I can let my imagination soar! OMG, I'm going to write the BEST. NOVEL. EVER!!!

I just need the plot.

Oh yeah . . . I don't have one.

(Go back to 1.)

So you ever feel this way? That you have a million ideas, but not really anything at all? A million stories you'd love to write, but no basic plot or concept to grab onto?

It really is frustratingly wonderful and wonderfully frustrating.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Well folks, I'm back from vacation. *cheers* *sighs* I had a blast at my family reunion. My sisters are officially the Funnest People Ever. :) It's good to be back, though, even if life is waiting right where I left it. The house is void of edible food. I have piles of laundry to do. And school starts in less than a week. So I have a busy few days ahead.

Still, this trip did my body good. Imagine my battery recharger light glowing a happy green right now. It's really amazing what a ten days will do. In fact, I've come to the conclusion that vacations should be REQUIRED for writers. In the space of ten little days, I had two important thoughts.

The first was a reminder:

I'm good at things OTHER THAN writing.
Also, I like things OTHER THAN writing.

I swear, I forget that sometimes. We writers tend to get tunnel vision, so caught up in the quest/race for publication that we lose sight of all else. It's wonderful to break away from that for a while.

The second thought was a revelation:

I know what to do with my quirky character!

Thanks to the relaxed, happy mind vacation gave me, I had the clarity I needed to finally give her a plot. It's equally quirky, possibly too quirky, but I'm going to write it. In fact, I can't wait to get started.

So as you can see, I had an eventful ten days. I almost wish I had another vacation coming up. Almost.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Someone make this movie!

In other news, I'm heading out of town for a while so I won't be blogging or tweeting much. (Right now you're thinking, "Uh, yeah? What else is new?) We'll return to our regularly scheduled lack of blogging when I get back. ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Brain Invasion!!

Last week a character walked into my brain. She's quirky, impractical, and kind of loud. She's informed me she's not going anywhere until I write her book. The trouble with this? NO PLOT.

You need to understand, I'm a plot gal. The story ideas I get are usually in the form of plots. I focus very much on plot when I'm drafting and outlining (and I outline pretty heavily.) And moments when I'm feeling down about my writing, I console myself with the idea that I can create a decent plot.

So where's this character coming from? And what's with the lack of plot? To tell the truth, I'm kind of nervous about this.

That said, I'm in an adventurous mood.

I remember going to a poetry reading in college, where the brilliant Leslie Norris said we need to create the character first, and then let that character tell us the story. So I'm going to put Mr. Norris' words to the test. I'm going to get to know this girl in my head, and then I'm going to set her loose in a Word document.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Secret One: Revealed!

So last night I finished a major edit round/rewrite on my WiP. You remember. The one I finished in mid-April. "The Secret One." The one I promised to tell you more about.

Yeah . . . I guess I forgot about that part. What can I say, I was busy.

Well, now that it's all fresh and shiny, and 14k longer, not to mention sitting in my beta's inboxes, I suppose I can share a little more.

You may be wondering what's with the secrecy anyway. Well, it wasn't an elaborate plot to build suspense and blog readership. (If that had been the reason, I'd call it a massive fail.) It wasn't because I was afraid someone would steal my idea. No, the real reason I didn't share more about this story is because I'm kinda shy about it.

Here's why: it's a mermaid story.

Yep. Mermaids.

Don't get me wrong. I think, and have always thought, that mermaids are officially The Bomb. What's not to like?! Trouble is, I say mermaids and most people think . . .

Truth is, awesome as they are, there is something inherently Middle Grade about mermaids (to put it in book world terms.) So I get a little sheepish telling people that I'm writing a mermaid book, because I assume they're suddenly envisioning talking fish and cute purple clamshell bras.

Not my mermaids.

This mermaid story is dark and pensive, with a semi-tragic romance. People die and stuff. I wouldn't call this book fun. Exciting (hopefully,) but not "fun." And definitely not cute. Think more along these lines . . .

So there. I finally talked about it. *exhales* I feel much better. And now I'll go back to biting my nails in the corner while I wait to hear back from my betas. ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the baby makes . . . like, twelve or something

*wipes the cobwebs away from blog*

Sheesh, it's been a while hasn't it? I've been pretty busy lately. Just a small thing called having a baby.

It's funny how adding one tiny creature into the mix makes everything about life more complicated. And more crazy. But I'm not complaining. I'll happily take the chaos. My new little girl is healthy and sweet, and life is good. :)

That being said, if I continue in my diminished blog/internet presence, you'll all know why. I'm aiming to have things under control and back to reasonable normalcy by July. Now this might be a huge pipe dream, but we'll see. Gotta set goals for yourself, right?

Anyway, here's some pics. I'll show you this one first, because it's so sweet.

But then I'll post this one, to help plead my case. Is this the face of a kid who'll back down for Mom to do some blogging? Yeah . . . not likely.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Big Reveal

*and no, I'm not writing a review of the Lost finale. I actually didn't even watch it.

Today I'm writing about a type of scene that we come across a lot in YA fiction, particularly YA Fantasy and Paranormal. It's a scene that I have just finished rewriting for the tenth or maybe fifteenth time in my own WiP. I'm talking about . . .

The Big Reveal Scene

You know the type. The scene where Main Character is told that she has Fill In the Blank Power. Or that she's actually a Fill In the Blank Paranormal/Fantasy Creature.

Or when Main Character's gloriously Hot New Crush reveals that he is actually Fill In the Blank Paranormal/Fantasy Creature. Or that he has Fill In the Blank Power.

These scenes are inevitable in any story where the fantastical and paranormal are thrown into a real world setting. And a lot can ride on them. Haven't we all read a book where we thought, sheesh, she accepted that pretty easily. Or, hello when is she going to just freaking accept that this isn't a dream?!

In my slaving over my own Big Reveal Scene in my WiP, I've tried to pinpoint exactly what makes these scenes work. Here's my rough list:

This is the vital ingredient, and the most vague concept. When faced with a startling truth, characters have to struggle with accepting it. Especially if this fact challenges their concept of reality.
However no reader wants to slog through twelve chapters of the Main Characters refusing to believe what is right in front of their eyes. It just gets old. Frankly, I think readers want to move along as quickly as realistically possible. Realistic being the operative word.

2.Strong Characters
This seems like a no-brainer. You need this in any story. True. However I do think that strong characters are vital in pulling off the Big Reveal Scene (BRS.) If you don't have well defined characters, the risk is that you will fall into the dreaded Cliche Reactions. Readers are smart. If they feel like your character "would never act that way" than you risk losing them.

Ideally, your BRS will breeze by without a wince because your characters are reacting exactly how they "really would." Know what I mean?

3.Mix it up a Little
So many times, the BRS are two talking heads in a room. All necessary info is shared. Reactions are made. Then a form of acceptance. End Scene.

If you think about it, this moment has the potential to be very exciting. This is a chance to show us exactly what Fill in the Blank Power/Fill in the Blank Paranormal creature can do. Dazzle and distract us. We might be more forgiving of any lack in the actual dialogue. (Maybe. I'm a pretty easy going reader. Others demand perfection. Just something to keep in mind. No pressure . . .)

So there's my rough list. I know there are many more points you could add to it. What do you think? Have you ever written a BRS? How did you pull it off? Any tips? (Because, frankly, I feel like my WiP's BRS is still not just right.) Please do share.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maybe I ain't the blogging kind

This is Just to Say

I have switched
to Twitter
instead of

which is
probably not
a huge loss to you,
but anyway

Forgive me.
Twitter's just so short
and fun
and manageable.

(*no, this is not my blogging swan song. :) But I am much more active on Twitter, so if for some odd reason you have been missing me, feel free to follow me there.)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dreams come true!!

Today, I head out of town to buy a minivan!!! Every mom's dream!

(Did I getcha? Did you see my post title and think I had amazing, writing related news? *grin* Sorry, I'm feeling a little cheeky this morning.)

In truth, my feelings on the purchase of a minivan are fairly neutral. I can't say I've dreamed of owning one, but I'm not one of those people loathe the idea. Truth is, it may not be the coolest car out there, but it will fill our needs in the most price and fuel efficient way. So there you go.

As far as writing related news, nothing dramatic to report. I'm busying away on edits. This is the first time I've ever had to add words in the revision process. It's surprisingly hard. After taking a few weeks to ponder, and getting some great feedback from a beta, I'm pretty sure I have some solid areas to expand. However, for me, editing has always been all about cutting. So it just feels weird.

*lovingly strokes Delete key* Next editing round, baby. Next round.

Anyway, here's hoping I can still get some work done on my little minivan-purchasing pleasure cruise. I'll see you all when I come back next week!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Apparently I was a violent child

Alternate post title: Authentic Teenage Voice

So my older sister Rebecca sent me this little gem from her 8th grade diary, and I wanted to share it with you. Becca was 13 when she wrote this, and my twin sister and I were 10.

"I'm so angry. I can't believe how violent the twins are. Instead of saying be quiet or stop it, they lunge out in viciousness. In the past 12 hours I have received 4 bloody scars and several welts. All from the Twins!! My parents just say its too bad. They never listen. I dread each day. What new problems will remain unattended? On a happier note, I realized how much I am falling in love with Michael. I can't wait for school. I get to see him."

I'm not sure which amuses me more: the supremely dramatic prose, or the abrupt shift at the end to talk of romance. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Well I'll be hornswaggled!

Dude, guys, I just finished the first draft of my WiP!!

You're thinking: ?!??!?!?

But seriously. I'm done. Maybe it's because the book was outlined, or maybe I just hit that exciting second half and couldn't slow down, but I've been pounding out this baby. And now I'm DONE!!

(btw, in regards to my post title, haven you noticed how weird I get when it's one a.m. and I'm kind of giddy?)

At any rate gang, this novel was complete MUCH sooner than I expected. It's kind of insane. Details about this super secret book will soon follow. (Maybe . . .) What's up next for me? A nice break. But only from writing! That means I might actually blog more!

You: No. Way.

Me: WAY!

You: I just wet my pants out of sheer delight.

*ahem* Loopy. Anyway. I'd better hit the sack for now, but I really will be around online more now. This party's just getting started. See you then. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010


(get it? get it?)

Before I begin this post, I just want to give a shout out to my friend and fellow MoMo Kiersten. She revealed the cover for her upcoming book, and it is SHINY!!! Congrats, Kierst. You are living one of those moments many writers daydream about. :)

Anyway, I figured I'd better post, seeing as how my blog has been gathering dust for quite a while now. Truth is, you have all probably forgotten about me, and even now as you read this, are straining to remember why you're following this blog in the first place.

Regardless, I've decided to give you a brief update.

As you probably noted (in the extremely clever post title,) I am currently working on a new novel. You will also note that I didn't call this post WiP-Love or WiP WiP Hurray! or something like that.

No, I'm talking about Wip-lash here. Because my friends, gone are the days for me of dancing happily through a rough draft. Gone are the days of pounding out that novel and thinking MAN, this is the best thing ever. Unfortunately, I've reached a place where working through that first draft feels more similar to a cat-o-nine tails coming hard across my back.

But before you think I'm complaining, you should know that I'm glad. It may seem odd to say, but I'm happy that writing is such hard work for me. Why? Because I think it means I know something now. You see, it's hard to pound out new scene after new scene when you are keenly aware how important each scene really needs to be. And likewise, throwing in a cool plot twist just isn't as fun if you know it needs to actually make sense for the rest of the story.

Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of people who blitz through first drafts, and I am in no way saying that they don't know these things. Not at all. I'm only saying that, for me, the fact that I'm not happily frolicking through my rough draft means that I think I finally get it.

So that's where I am, folks. Slaving away in the first draft sweatshop. But don't worry, you can know for sure that I have a smile on my face.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dream Dude

I guess I'm on a non-writing related post spree, but I couldn't resist. This one makes me laugh.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In which I break my bloggy silence to be cliche

So yeah, I haven't been around for a while. I won't bother you with my various reasons why, though I assure you they are really valid . . . promise.

Anyway, what could have prompted me to post now? I'll tell you, but I warn that I'm just going to be jumping on a bandwagon and not offering anything new or incredibly insightful.

No, I'm going to rave about Avatar.

I know, I know, I'm probably one of the last people on Earth to see this movie. Literally. I mean, Palestinian protesters, in remote desert regions where electricity is probably hard to get saw it before me.
But anyway, I finally saw it. And LOVED it. It's not every day that after watching a movie you feel more like you experienced it. With the INCREDIBLE special effects and fantastic world building, it's hard not too. In fact, I remember reading about people who suffered from depression after watching Avatar because Pandora doesn't actually exist, and they can never go there. That says something, my friends.

So, um, I don't really have any writerish tie ins or conclusions to make. In fact, I felt that the story itself wasn't the movie's strong point. But seriously, who cares? I was too busy staring at the screen with my eyes bugged.

So yeah. I guess in conclusion I'll just put up this pic. (I did warn you in the post title that I was going to be cliche.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Writers Rock

As you know, I spent this last weekend at the LTUE writers conference. To sum it up in a single sentence, it was an absolute blast.

Highlights of the trip

#1 Hanging out with my writer friends: Candice, Natalie, Jenn, and Kasie (the shy one.) These ladies are equal parts brilliant and hilarious.

#2 Meeting a bunch of you blogger friends. It was fun to see you walking and talking, all three dimensional. Meeting you all made me resolve to get more involved in the blogs, so that I can get to know you all even better.

#3 Being a giddy fangirl. Who knew it could be so much fun? Also, who knew that hot shot writers like Brandon Sanderson and James Dashner would be so down to earth and cool? Seriously, I'd hang out with those guys any time. (Brandon? James? Any takers? *whispers* Call me.)

And, #4 Just mingling with a ton of fellow writers. Yes, the classes were interesting. The topic useful and inspiring. I learned a lot. But overall, one of the coolest things about it was to see so many people just like me. It inspired me, actually. Fired me up to work harder and really go for my dreams.

Anyway, that's my wrap up. I had a such a great time. I'd recommend any of you out there to try and attend a writer's conference if you get the chance. It's a great way to charge that battery and have a few laughs in the meantime.

P.S. To those of you who were at the banquet. I gave my husband the spinning ballerina test, and it showed him as LEFT brain. And then I new the test was invalid. ;) Seriously though, I Googled it (yes, dorky, I know) and found an article stating that not only is the test no more than a fun optical illusion, but the whole notion of Right Brain people vs. Left Brain people is outdated, and no legitimate indication of one's skill set or way of thinking. So there! *hugs self, rocking back and forth on ground* I am creative, I am creative, I am creative . . .

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Intuition . . . (I have none)

So I've decided that my ears are deaf to the whisperings of the Universe. My career as a psychic is doomed.

I was pretty sure the Colts would win the Superbowl.

I had a dream that I would get The Call . . . yesterday.

And, lastly, I was 100%, absolutely and completely, beyond any doubt positive that I was pregnant with a boy. But ultrasound results came in and it's a girl. I made the doctor check three times.

( Have I not mentioned before on this blog that I'm pregnant? I meant to. And I should have. It could have better explained my long absences and general crankiness ;) )

So anyway, there it is. I apparently have no intuition. Ah well. I suppose there are worse flaws.

*worst segue ever coming up*

Speaking of flaws, I plan to learn how to improve some of my writing flaws at the conference I'm attending this weekend. (Told you it would be bad.) I'm super excited! I'm going to meet some very awesome writer friends of mine and generally have a good time. Because of that, I probably won't post again until next week. But I'll return, hopefully with great advice and/or amusing stories to share.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How to be Great 3

I meant to post this two days ago, but then things got quite busy and, well, you know how it is.

At any rate, today I'm going to show you Jim Collins' method for finding that golden concept, the one that is both simple and consistent. The one that can make a company (or a book) Great. He actually has a nifty diagram.

Truth is, I could leave it there. My interpretations of this diagram, and how it relates to writing is just my opinion. You may see it differently. That said, however, I'll tell you what struck me about this.

Disclaimer: I'm using this diagram to find a concept for a novel that could bring success, as in commercial success. Let it be said, loud and clear, that commercial success is NOT the only purpose, or the best purpose, or even my own personal purpose for writing. But I don't think I'm far off from thinking that it is a goal for many of us. And with that in mind, it can help to think about our writing from a commercial viewpoint. We good? Good. Moving on . . .

What are you passionate about?

This one's easy. When choosing what to write, it has to be something that we love. We shouldn't just write the vampire book because vampire books are in. Right? Right. Without our passion involved in the process, it won't go far. Passion! It's the easiest thing to focus on, and for most of us, our favorite thing to focus on.

What drives your economic engine?

Does this one seem in conflict with the first? I think some people would sneer at the idea of having your "economic engine" in mind when it comes to writing. I feel that way from time to time myself. However, if we are looking at writing as a business, meaning we want to sell our work, we have to have it in mind.

So in order to determine what drives one's economic engine when it comes to writing, I think we need to study the market. And I DON'T mean writing to trends. I mean knowing what kind of ideas are more commercially viable than others. Because let's face it, we all have a few ideas that we love, but deep down, we know they'd be a tough sell. Like my idea about the reincarnated young man who comes back in the womb of his lover. Yeah . . . I'm thinking that one would be a challenge.

Similarly, if you know your market, you know when an idea has good commercial potential. You can just tell. And if you feel that you don't have that skill, I think you should try to hone it.

What can you be the best in the world at?

This one is the hardest of all. I don't think I could be the best in the world at anything. So I'm sunk? Well, not quite. The way I interpreted this is knowing yourself and being realistic with your personal talents. I have this killer idea for a literary novel, but I KNOW that I don't have the skill to write it yet. It's simple as that.

I think finding your niche can be tough because we writers tend to either think we ROCK at everything or that we SUCK at everything. Sometimes we jump back and forth between the two. So obviously, it can help to have some outside opinions. Get some beta readers. Post some of your work online maybe. Try short stories in the genres you're considering. Overall, if you stay brutally realistic with yourself (remember the Stockdale Paradox?) it should be clear to you where your talent is.

I'm posting this diagram again, because I want to emphasize the point of this entire Hedgehog Concept. That golden idea is one that has overlaps of all three circles. We need to include our passions with what we know we can write best with what we know has commercial potential. And remember, you may decide to stay solidly in the Passion circle, and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm just giving those of you that want to sell their stories one perspective for finding potential commercial success.

Because, let's face it, like it or not, publication is a business. Writing doesn't have to be, but publication is.

So, seeing as how this post is already quite long, I'm going to post again soon with my wrap-up/closing thoughts on Good to Great .

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to be Great 2

Another of the great, writing related themes in Good to Great is called The Hedgehog Concept. There's lots of meat here, so I'm going to break it up into two different posts. So today we have:

The Hedgehog Concept: Part 1

The Hedgehog Concept is all about finding the right concept. The concept that is a hedgehog to build your business on. Allow me to explain.

Imagine a fox chasing a hedgehog around in the forest. When the moment comes for the fox to strike, what does the hedgehog do? It rolls up into a spiny ball and blocks the attack. Nothing fancy. Nothing flashy. Nothing grand. And yet it works every time.

Collins makes the case that all of these Great companies share the common trait of simplicity and consistency. There are no bells and whistles to what they do. No secret tricks that only the Big Guys know. No magic. These companies find a simple concept that works for them and go about consistently delivering it. That's it.

How does this relate to writing?

Well, of course "simplicity and consistency" in regards to writing could be interpreted in many different ways. What I related it to in my mind however, was the types of stories we write. The concepts.

I know when I start to develop a story ideas, sometimes I can get a bit carried away. I just want to make it AWESOME, you know? I feel the impulse to include numerous exciting elements and characters and crazy situations, and the next thing I know, the story that started off as a simple idea has turned into a huge, monstrous undertaking that's just too fancy for it's own good.

If you look at the most successful books out there, most of them are based on a simple concept. And they stay consistent to that theme through the entire book, meaning the book doesn't start off as, say, a girl who loves a werewolf and then turn into a high stakes legal battle of Big Business vs. the Little Guy. Or something like that.

We often hear the term "high concept," and I think it's applicable here. According to my definition, "high" concept is really another way of saying simple concept. Simple and consistent. A hedgehog.

The best stories out there don't try and go for flash or try to fill as many of the current trends and tropes as they can. They just have a simple concept, which they deliver with consistency.

Now, the obvious question left hanging here is: how do find these hedgehogs? Believe me folks, I've wondered this very thing. Coming up with a "high concept" idea or a "simple and consistent" idea is MUCH easier said than done.

But have no fear! In Part 2 (coming tomorrow,) I will show you Collins' formula for finding just such a concept. It's a model he's created from his study and interviewing of those Great Companies, so it's pretty legit, and I found it quite helpful.

Stay tuned . . .

Monday, February 1, 2010

How to be Great

*According to NY Times Bestselling author Jim Collins. (No relation.)

My husband is a big reader. Not of fiction, mind you. He told me once that he likes to read books that are "useful" and "actually teach me something about the world." As is, not fiction. You can imagine, I had a hotly worded response.

But I digress. I wanted to tell you about a book he's been reading which I have actually found surprisingly "useful" as well. The book is the huge bestseller Good to Great by. Jim Collins. (Again, no relation. I only wish.)

Basically, the book chronicles Mr. Collins' study of the top, or Great, companies in America. He carefully analyzes and breaks down why these companies make it and others don't. What they have that others do not.

Now, you may be wondering if I am planning to make a venture into business. To that, I would say, aren't we all? The business of writing. In fact, as my husband and I have discussed much of the book, I keep likening it all back to writing. And it fits quite well. It's rather fascinating. Therefore, for the rest of the week, I plan on sharing some of the things I've learned from Good to Great and analyzing how that applies to us, the writers.

Just to start the week off, I'll leave you with one tidbit that really struck me in my current situation. One of the attributes that Mr. Collins noticed every single Great company having is what he calls the Stockdale Paradox. (And just try to tell me this doesn't relate to writing):


Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties AND, at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Facinating, isn't it? And oh, so relevant to us writers. What I think is so interesting about it is that it's advice we've all heard before, and yet it's clearly more than just quaint sentiment. According to hard research, it's the mentality of winners.

More from Mr. Collins tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just face it

As many of you know, I put a lot of work into my novel Searcher. Fifteen months, to be exact. Fifteen months of hard, hard work. I gotta say, it left me pretty burned out.

So during my writing break/philosophical journey, I made some big plans. I told myself that when I started my next book I was going to do things differently. No more lashing myself with the work whip. No more hair shirt. I was just going to grab the kernel of an idea (any idea will do,) jump on the free writing roller coaster, and enjoy the ride. I was going to pound out a book in a month just like everyone else (*cough*kiersten*cough*natalie*cough*) seems to and that was that.

Well, I tried.

And failed.

And I've had to face a truth. You are what you are. As much as I really, really (really, really) wanted to, I just can't write that way. I am, like it or not, a planner. A note taker. An outliner (*shudder*) I have to know where I'm going when I sit down to the computer. When I try to do it any other way, I either end up staring at a blank screen or writing a few pages that I will absolutely hate the minute I'm done.

So there is it. Face it. I'm in for another fifteen months of work. And I guess that's the way it should be. We have to accept who we are as a writers, and who we aren't.

But don't worry, this time, I really will leave my whip and hair shirt in the closet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Promise, Broken . . .

Here's the thing, gang. I had every intention to give you a Photoshop Friday today. I truly did. But then my old Dell finally snapped. He's currently living it up in Computer Rehab.

Now, I have Beloved (my Mac,) but I am ashamed to admit that I have yet to figure out how to get the Photoshop working. Lame, I know. My apologies.

I won't leave you empty-handed, though. Here's a Youtube video for all you folks out there in queryland. Just play it over and over again as you send out those query letters. I do. I'm convinced it will brainwash me into success.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back with an answer, an announcement, and a promise

Well, it was a loooooooong blog break, folks, but I'm finally back. I must admit that I enjoyed drifting away for a while. However, I am ready to jump back into the old blogging world. So, without further ado, I give you today an answer, an announcement, and a promise.

An Answer
You may be wondering how I fared on my Great Philosophical Journey of '09. Well, the answer is that I'm still on it to some extent, but I see no reason not to share a little of what I pondered.

In a nutshell, I took the end of the year as a time to analyze exactly where I was as a writer. What I've learned. What I still need to learn. What I really want from this all.

It's been very good to stop and examine these things. I think sometimes the writing world can feel like one big, crazy race. It's so nice, vital even, to step back for a while and take stock of it all. I'd highly recommend it.

An Announcement
The holidays were not without some excitement for me in the writing side of things. Remember my novelette "Confessions of the Watcher?" You know, the really dark dystopian story about a depressed, obsessive-compulsive, sexually frustrated guy? Yep, that one.

Well, forever ago I entered it into the highly competitive Writers of the Future contest. The results finally came in. I got myself an Honorable Mention. So yay! Nice little boost to my writerly confidence.

A Promise
I close my post today with a promise, well two actually. The first is that I am going to try to be around much more now. I know, you guys are all probably dancing with joy.

The second promise is that we WILL have a Photoshop Friday this week! One that will thrill and delight. I just have to think of it . . .