Wednesday, December 14, 2011
A few months ago, I faced one such moment. I didn't draw any attention to it on Twitter or my blog, but some of you might have notice that I erased my agent's name from my profile. To put it briefly, I faced one of those terrifying scenarios that no fresh-faced, dreamy-eyed writer embarking into the Query Trenches ever wants to imagine:
What if I finally land an agent, but then things don't work out?
I won't go into the details here, but suffice it to say that my former agent is a lovely, smart, capable person. Anyone would be lucky to have her. And yet, for she and I, things simply didn't go in the direction I hoped.
The realization that things weren't working crept up on me slowly. At first, I avoided looking at it. Then, as it grew louder in my mind, I tried the equivalent of plugging my ears and humming Jingle Bells. The people-pleaser in me even tried to insist that my former agent was a perfectly nice person and I would be a total jerk to leave her.
But the truth wouldn't go away. And that moment, that realization that truly my best option was to part ways with my agent and go back to Square One, was the scariest moment I've had so far in my writing career.
I felt sick to my stomach for days. The only thing that kept me going was my belief and love for the new book I'd been writing. That, and the absolutely invaluable support of my wonderful, amazing friends and twin sister. Still, it was a dark, terrifying feeling to be alone again. To be back where I'd started.
And then, I asked myself "So what?" Yes, it sucked to be agentless again. But so what? What was I going to do? Give up? After all the work, over all those years? After the tears and sweat and fighting?
Giving up simply wasn't an option.
So I finished my novel. I edited my heart out. I crafted yet another query letter. I researched agents. I took a deep breath and started querying again.
And you already know this story has a happy ending. Indeed, it does.
I am beyond thrilled to announce that I have signed with Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media!
I'm grateful that I didn't ignore that terrifying truth screaming in my head. It would have been easier. It would have been less work. But as I said at the beginning of this post, our business is no picnic. And fighting through the darkness is what we writers do best.
Friday, September 23, 2011
If you are wondering about the contest, your entries still count! There will STILL be a winner from my blog. The lovely Kristen has agreed to announce my blog's winner over at her place at the end of the contest.
Repeat: I will not be announcing the winner from my blog here. See HERE during the first week of October to see if you've won.
Good luck to all the entrants! I'm rooting for you. (Yes, YOU, not the others. ;) ) I wish I could be there, but like I said, I shall be deep in the Revisions Cave.
On a related note: remember when Batman ROCKED? When he wasn't out to impress people with cheesy, ripped muscles. Or speed. Or . . . being hot. PLEASE. He was Bat-freaking-man. And if you had a problem with that, he'd KABLAMMY your face.
Also, was I the only one to have a childhood crush on The Robin?
Catch you all later!
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The BWB Blog Contest!
We all know how hard it is in this biz. To keep writing when you’re discouraged, dejected, demoralized, and all those other d-words that seem inevitable as you make your way along the dusty trail toward publication.
But when you’re down or, worse, when you feel like giving up, here's your saving grace: your BWB. That’s right, your best writer-buddy. They are there to cry when you cry, to celebrate when you celebrate, and occasionally, to talk you away from the edge of the cliff. Without my BWBs, I honestly don't know if I'd still be pursing this crazy dream of mine.
How to Enter: In the comment section, tell us briefly (in 100 words or less) about your best writer-buddy and how she/he inspires and encourages you. If applicable, include a link to your blog as well as your BWB’s blog. Again, this is for YA/MG fiction writers only, but you can write in any genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Not-paranormal, Somewhat Paranormal – anything.
To Qualify to Win: Be a blog follower of mine, Angelina’s or Kristen's, simple as that. You probably already are a follower anyway. ‘Cause you’re cool like that.
Winners: Each of us will choose a winner at random from the entries at our blogs. And, yes, that means that you have not one but three chances to win. Because you can go over to Kristen’s blog and follow her (if you don’t already) and then to Angelina’s blog (and follow her as well) and leave comments/entries there.
Prizes: The winners at mine and Kristen’s blog will receive a query critique from our fabulous agent, Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management (Did I not say you all would benefit from my bragging?!). The winner at Angelina’s blog will win a query critique from her agent, Kate Grimm with Don Congdon & Associates. And here’s the good part, not only will winners receive a query critique, your writer-buddy will receive a copy of Cheryl Klein’s new book Second Sight AND both the winner and her writer-buddy will get one of these super cheesy, BFF half-a-heart pendants. Awwww!
Deadline: Entries must be submitted by Friday, Sept. 30 at midnight. Then we will announce the three winners the following week: one on Monday, 10/3; one on Wednesday, 10/5 and the final winner on Friday, 10/7.
Let the fun begin!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Ah, if only it lasted. Alas, that rush doesn't hold on long. Why, you may ask? Because after a short edit, I sent my baby off to beta readers.
Don't get me wrong, my beta readers are FABULOUS. I love each and every one of them. But still, I find myself struggling as I become the dreaded Beta Waita. (Or Beta Waiter, as in one who is waiting on betas. I know, I know, my cheesy slang is confusing.)
It's kind of terrifying. I mean, they're actually reading my book!! And they're gonna think things about it! And they're gonna read that one scene that isn't so tight! And they might think it's LAME! Or they might say they like it, but SECRETLY think it's lame!
Is your book with beta readers right now? If so, here's a helpful list of things you can do to pass the time!
1. Rock back and forth, alone with your thoughts.
2. Consume calories.
3. Crying always helps.
I'm so helpful, right?? No need to thank me. Giving back is just my nature.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Jenn's book just sold in ITALY as well!!! Molto bene! If I were in Utah, I would take her to Olive Garden to celebrate. Hmmm . . . maybe I will just go to Olive Garden here, and think of Jenn. Yes, that's a good plan. :)
Guys, by now you should know that I am a Slacker Blogger in the extreme. But today, I am going to out do myself in slackerly ways.
So, I have this fantabulous friend named Jenn (or J.R Johannson as she's known online,) and she wrote this AMAZING and SCARY book called INSOMNIA. I got to read it before it was unleashed onto the hungry publishing world, and man, did I SO call it that she was going to sell.
Well, sure enough: SHE DID!!! AT AUCTION!!
Here's the problem. This happened a couple weeks ago, and I've been totally planning to write a YAY JENN post on my blog. But as I pointed out at the start of this post, I am clearly a slacker.
So, here's my post, but I'm not just going to be a slacker by putting it up late. Oh no. I can go much worse. I'm going to surpass own slackerishness by actually just sending you to my friend Candice's blog. She wrote a hilarious YAY JENN post, and I thought, "You know, that's much better than I can do, so why try?"
Therefore, GO HERE! And celebrate Jenn's triumph (and Candice's sense of humor.)
YAY for slacking! And YAY FOR JENN!!!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Here we are.From left to right: Michelle, me, Candice, Jenn, Kasie, Sara, and Natalie.
Though this picture is more accurate, I think.
Anyway, now I'm all recharged and brimming with writerly thoughts. Thanks to them, I have ideas for more blog posts, which will come soon. Until then, the only possible useful purpose I can give for this post (other than trying to prevent this from turning into a once-a-month type of blog,) is to say that having writer friends has been the NUMBER ONE smartest thing I've done for my writing career. No question. If you don't have friends who are writers in your genre, get some! Be brave. Be friendly. Be outgoing online. You'll be glad that you did.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Well today, I'm throwing a very special party here on Midnight Meditations. A party for my fabulous friend Natalie Whipple! Because today, she is announcing her new TWO BOOK DEAL with HARPERTEEN!!!
*passes out Dr Peppers* *throws confetti* *blasts dance jams over the speakers*
Here is the picture I told her she HAD to take. I mean, come on! Everybody loves the "Signing my book contract" pic!
I imagine Natalie needs no introduction. She has an amazingly popular blog. In fact, you most likely already know her. You probably came over to my measly blog because you follow her blog. :) At any rate, Natalie is amazing. She's one of my earliest friends and critique partners. We've seen each other through high high's and low low's. She's talked me off the edge of the "I'm gonna give up on this stupid book" cliff many times. And I love her for that. Also, she's smart, a fabulous dresser, and a fantastic writer. NATALIE RULZ.
So party hard here and my blog, and then head over to crash the party at her blog! But today, there will be partying. Oh yes, there will be partying.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Unfortunately, with time (and rejections,) those dreams started to no longer feel safe. Little by little, almost without realizing what I was doing, I built up a wall around them, closing them off inside me. I'd tell myself it was good. It meant I'd grown. I was smarter now. More realistic. In stronger moments, I'd sneer at my earlier self for being so "clueless." In weaker moments, I'd mourn the loss of those dreams.
I've thought a lot about it in the past few weeks, and I've realized a very important thing. I haven't outgrown those dreams, or become to wise to have them. I've just been afraid of them. Plain and simple. I've been afraid to even look at or acknowledge them anymore.
So today, I'm going to force myself to break through that wall. I'm not only going to accept that my dreams are still there, I'm going to share them with you. Believe me, I'm terrified. I've edited and deleted and rewritten this entire post. I've waffled over whether or not to even do it, because I'm honestly really scared to share these things. I'm afraid of looking stupid or vain or naive. I'm afraid of people reading this post a year from now and thinking, "haha, I guess her dreams didn't come true."
But I need a breakthrough, guys. I need to do this. I'm not going to run away from my dreams anymore. They are still inside me, and they deserve to be acknowledged. So here goes.
1. I dream of holding my own book in my hands. Printed books are special to me, always have been. To me, they are beautiful, powerful things, both figuratively and literally. I dream of the day when I can feel my story beneath my fingertips, smell the new pages, and gaze at the cover.
2. I want to write an epic love story, one that makes people FEEL something when they read it. Longing or sadness or joy. I want to create characters that seem alive. I want to give those characters scenes that are beautiful.
And last, the hardest one to actually write out. (Trust me, I've deleted it about ten times.)
3. I dream of readers. I dream of a fan base. People that love my books and think about my books, and can't wait for the next one. To know that someone out there who doesn't know me personally is moved by my stories would be the most amazing feeling in the world.
What are your dreams? What is the reason you keep going? If you are like me, if you feel afraid of those dreams that once burned inside you, please, PLEASE share them now. I'd love to hear them.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Ah, blogs. We all have them. We all struggle from time to time with how to fill them. We love them. We hate them. We feel like we have to keep them up, (it's called a platform, people!) but some days we kind of want to set a match to the thing. Indeed, blog angst is one of the time-honored rites of passage for a writer.
Eventually, however, one of two things happens: the blog either dies a slow death, or the writer finds her groove.
I've noticed a few common types in blogs, (though most have aspects of all.) Which one are you?
1. The Advice Blog-These are usually pretty popular, because who doesn't want/need advice?
2. The Entertainer-Sometimes witty, sometimes silly. Occasionally, adorned with cute animal photos.
3. The Forum-This blog brings up interesting or hot topics of the writing world in the hopes of stirring up some stimulating debate in the comment's section.
4. The Random Pontificator/Online Journal-Random would be the operative word here.
And even the dreaded:
5. Blag (or Brog)-Where the author makes sure to keep us up to date on his or her latest, gleaming triumph. And . . . that's pretty much the only reason they ever post.
As for me, I've noticed my blog has fallen snugly into the category of Random Online Journal. I hardly ever try to think of post topics, I just blog when I have thoughts or news or the rare rant. Whatever's on my mind. I rarely feel that intense pressure to post anymore. (The fact that my last post was almost three weeks ago is strong evidence of this.) The truth is, I've come to realize that if I'm scraping to think of a post, it probably won't be that good. And if that means I only post once a week, I'm thinking that's just fine.
What about you? What's your bloggy groove?
Monday, June 6, 2011
Personal story time: I was ten years old. Sleeping peacefully in my bed. I felt a weird pain on my foot, and began to dream that someone was pounding a nail into my toes. But that didn't wake me up. What woke me was the prickly, tickly feeling of sharp, little legs creeping up my arm.
I shot up in bed, swiping the feeling away. Weird, I thought. That felt like a bug crawling on me. Then I thought: Huh, why does my foot hurt so bad?
As the waves of sleep receded, I put two and two together.
As you can imagine, this event rather traumatized me. I still am. Even though it's been over a decade since I left Hawaii, I still shake my blankets out every night before going to sleep. Just to make sure a centipede isn't curled up somewhere in there.
So, how am I going to relate this to writing? Well, guess what kind of creatures show up in Searcher? Yep, centipedes. (BIG centipedes.) I'm not saying those are my best scenes in the book or anything, but they certainly were fun to write. It's one of the joys of what we do. We take these poor characters and force them to face our fears for us. They may defeat them (Jetta cuts a centipede's head off) or fall to them, it doesn't matter. You can always tell when those obstacles come right from the author's past.
How about you? Which of your fears have showed up in your stories?
Monday, May 30, 2011
When I was pure panster, I usually ran into a moment like this:To be 150 pages in, only to crash land into the side of an enormous plot mountain kind of stinks. A lot. Oh sure, you crawl your way out, but it soaks up a lot of time, and drains vital confidence.
HOWEVER, the two times I faithfully outlined my entire book before writing, it ended up like this:I'd be all excited while developing the outline, but when time came to actually write . . .it was gone. I'd squandered that heat on the planning phase.
This has led (over the years) to the development of:
The Outline-Pantser Hybrid Method
Step 1: When Shiny New Idea strikes, take time to ponder before writing.
Even for Pantsers, I think it's a good idea to do this. Daydream about your world, your characters, and possible plot twists. I'm not recommending any single period of time, because some ideas come in more fleshed out than others. Just make sure you have a good grasp on the kind of story you see this becoming. And make sure you have one thing, vital to the OPH Method. . .
Step 2: Wait for that opening scene.
We all know how important the beginning is. Over my years of writing, that has only become more clear. So in this method, you need to have that awesome opener in mind. That scene is going to kick start your enthusiasm.
Step 3: Put your Panster Pants on.
The OPH Method blends the best of each, right? And one of the benefits of being a Pantser is that you really are free to create and fall in love with your story. Work is important, but if there's too much work at the get go, you may well lose steam.
So once you've fleshed out your story a bit in your head, and you have that great opening scene in mind, just go for it. WRITE. Let your imagination free. Go crazy with those first chapters. Fall in love. Be a pantser for all of Act 1. But then. . .
Step 4: SCREECHING halt.
Time to get down to dirty work. Things need to start really getting going now, and we all know how important each chapter is. So, it's time to outline the rest of the book.
This isn't an infallible document that must be obeyed slavishly. And it doesn't have to be incredibly detailed. But now is the time to really make sure you're on the right track. And to make sure it STAYS on the right track.
I know, I know, it's hard. But so worth it. And I actually find it a big relief to have a solid outline. I know that every scene I write from here on out will serve a definite purpose. (Often two or three purposes.) And the best part is, you've already fallen for this story during Step 3, so the chances of you fizzling out now are slim.
Step 5: Finish the book!!
With your outline in hand, dive back into that baby! Chances are, you'll be chomping at the bit. So run free, you majestic stallion. And be energized by the notion that all of this work is going pay off in a VERY sturdy rough draft.
So there it is. My humble method for drafting. It's led to my strongest rough draft to date, and my WiP is going so well, it's almost scary. Maybe it can work for you, maybe it can't. Like I said, different things work for different people. But it's always fun to figure out a way that works great.
How about you? Has your method changed? Have you found your perfect process?
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Well, what if there was a book like this for YA romances? We had to try it out. So today, we discuss some of the classic (and dramatically overdone) types of romance in YA books today, and suggest a more nutritious (and less cliche) variety.
Renee: Let's start by talking about Eternal-SoulMates-Love-at-First-Sight love. I'm sure we can all come up with a few examples of this?
Diana: Hmm . . . not really.
Renee and Diana: *laugh uproariously*
Renee: I mean, look, we all know why people do it. Cuz itz romantical.
Diana: Exactly. Plus, unless this is a straight romance, you have a separate plot to move along, and therefore a limited amount of time to establish a great love.
Renee: It's a fast and easy way to try and have the reader root for the main couple.
Diana: The problem is that this rarely happens in real life.
Renee: Except with me and my hubby
Diana: Oh, of course. :) So, you want the Soul Mate feel. What's a healthier, less cliche alternative?
Renee: What if the two characters are already friends? They know each other, understand each other. This gives the basis of "perfect match"ness.
Diana: Yes, and then there is that delicious moment when they realize they have something more.
Renee: Exactly! A moment that could even happen early on in the book, like InstaLove, but it's far more believable.
Diana: I think equally overused and tricky one to get right is the "I-hate-your-guts-until we-share-a-passionate-kiss-then-we-are-lovers" love
Renee: Yeah, equally tricky, and equally abnormal in the real world. I mean . . . nobody is really like that!
Diana: Except me and my hubby...;)
Diana: This kind of romance often feels like another quick trick to manufacture tension.
Renee: What's our fresher take on the I hate you/ I love you romance?
Diana: Well, I think you could keep that tension of the people disliking each other, but then have something happen that shows a better side of the person. A moment that doesn't have anything to do with hotness or dreamy abs.
Renee: Yes. An "aha" moment that isn't "aha I'm attracted to you," but "aha, you're not as bad as I thought." And this leads to attraction. (And dreamy abs.)
Diana: Like Beatrice and Benedict!!!
Diana: Preferably with Kenneth Brannaugh as Benedict :)
Diana: Okay, now the final overdone tension-maker: the Love Triangle.
Renee : dun dun DUN
Diana: Well, the love triangle actually has many different varieties, but all we see is the "MC chooses between Two Hotties" variety.
Renee: So true! Keep the triangle, but mix it up. How about "MC loves Hot Math Tutor, but he loves the redheaded Next Door Neighbor, and meanwhile Hot Lacrosse Player loves MC, but she's unsure how she feels about him?" It's a love triangle, and therefore it has the same kind of tension.
Diana: Even more, I think!
Renee: I do two. The options are endless.
So there it is. If you really love the basic idea of Soul Mates, Love Triangles, and the Love you/Hate you romance, don't despair! You can still have it! Just write this, not that. ;)
And now, we're going to throw one at you guys.
The milquetoast Bad Boy.
Who we are told over and over again is Teeeee-rouble, but around the MC he acts more like a smitten golden retriever/ Sir Walter Raleigh-putting-his-cloak-over-the-puddle-for-the-Queen-to-walk-over type of guy.
How do we make him fresher? Any ideas??
Monday, May 16, 2011
CLEARLY, I did this. I awoke the magic of Disneyland, and sent it on the tailwinds to New York City! Oh, and it also might be because Kasie is a brilliant writer, with MAD SKILLS at dialogue, who wrote an amazing and clever book. Yeah . . . that helped too. ;)
Go over and party at Kasie's blog!! Dr Peppers on me!
Friday, May 13, 2011
This is very weird... I can only think of a few logical explanations:
- The post was so bad that a group of readers rallied together and had Blogger remove it.
- My alter ego Vanessa took over my body in the night and deleted in order to drive me crazy.
- I am in my very own episode of The Twilight Zone and any minute now one of my daughter's baby dolls will peer around the corner holding a large knife.
OK, now I'm freaked out. Tell me I am not the only one to have posts inexplicably go missing...
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
For example, how do you write a villain that is not two-dimensional? Do you give you villain a "human side"? Or, harder still, how do you write a hero that has flaws and is likeable?
In my first attempt at writing- the epic Rosaline...*cough cough*- I gave her so many flaws that in the end, when she was shot (yes that's right, I shot her in the end of the book), I was glad to see her go.
Its a careful balance. How do you keep it in check? Who are some of your top villains or heroes?
Sunday, May 1, 2011
I'm sure you've all heard by now that Osama Bin Laden has been confirmed dead. I've spent the last two hours on Twitter, just celebrating with my fellow writers. Not necessarily celebrating the death of a individual, but celebrating the symbolic victory for America and the entire world.
Do you remember the swell of patriotism and unity after 9-11? It's my deepest wish that everyone take this moment to recapture those feelings. I almost never talk politics on this blog, but I can't deny that the bickering and ugliness on BOTH sides has been making me crazy lately.
I hope, I wish, I pray that we will take this moment to come together.
To forget petty politics and policy quibbles, and celebrate the things that matter.
The country we love.
The freedom we enjoy.
The men and women that give their lives to make sure we have that freedom.
My heart is full tonight. God bless America.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Today, we're going to give you a piece of an actual conversation that took place between Diana and I. (Which we then shamelessly replicated for blogging purposes. We're busy girls. We use whatever material we can.)
After talking politics for about an hour (and MAN, don't you wish I'd post that?,) the topic turned to writing.
Renee: So, how are things coming with your novel?
Diana: Slowly. I am in the phase now where I daydream about the scenes I want to write, but am stuck because I need to set up the story.
Renee: Yeah, that's how I was when I was writing my first story. You remember . . .the one about twin princesses. (*deep shame*)
Diana: No shame, Ren! It was a good idea!
Renee: No . . . no, it wasn't.
Seriously though, I spent a solid year, probably closer to 15 months, writing out a detailed outline, and describing scenes I wanted to write. Trouble was, I wasn't excited about the beginning. So after starting it about five different times, and losing interest each time, I just gave up.
Diana: The beginning is so hard. How do you set up the story and tell the reader what they need to know without it being SO boring??
Renee: Honestly, that's my biggest struggle. With every book I've written, I've had to go back and rewrite the beginning. I think I had at least five different opening chapters with Searcher.
Sometimes I think that if you are going to have to rewrite the opening anyway, you might as well just skip to the good stuff, the stuff you are excited to write.
Diana: Like the passionate love scene where Roberto is wearing only bearskin loin cloth?
Renee: Oh, so you're working on your memoir now? ;)
Diana: Ha. Perhaps one day. When I feel the public is ready.
Diana: Seriously though, it's hard, because I want to write, but I keep getting bogged down.
Renee: Every story has that moment where things really kick in. The hook, I guess. It's that point where the reader goes, "Ooo!" I don't think it necessarily has to be the opening chapter, but it needs to happen soon, for both the reader and the writer.
Diana: Exactly. I love my idea, but have not been able to gather the swirling images in my mind and make they come together into a story.
Renee: I'd say just write the scene that you are burning to write. You can add/perfect the exposition later.
Diana: You're right. I bet that as I write the scene things will come together.
Renee: I think they will. Or maybe you'll find you don't need those expository scenes at all. I remember reading somewhere that most new authors start their book in the wrong place. And if you think about it, the beginning is what will hook that agent. That publisher. Those impatient teen readers.
It's sooo important.
No pressure, though ;)
Diana: Piece of cake.
Seriously though, good advice, as always.
Ok, my checklist for today:
1. Write that scene I have acted out while doing the dishes
2. Throw out my current beginning
3. Eat an obscene amount of M&Ms :)
Renee: Perfect!! I'll expect an email later today. (*stern glance*)
So what do you think, illustrious reader? How do you get yourself kick-started into a book?
Monday, April 18, 2011
I remember the excitement of delving into that first book. The new and interesting struggles of trying to learn my craft. The untainted, maybe even ridiculous optimism and joy that came with dreams of publication.
I miss those days. To anyone still in that time, cherish it. Cherish being at the start of the path, looking up at all you still have to do. Trust me when I say that being on the path isn't always as amazing as it seems.
This post makes me sound a little jaded, and I guess I am. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to be where I am. And I'm grateful. But I do miss the days when the publishing world existed mostly in my very beautiful dreams.
Once you see it for real, you can't go back.
One of my best friends in the world is hurting right now. And part of me wishes we could both return to those giddy early days. But the other part knows that we haven't come this far for nothing.
I still believe.
So maybe I'm not as far from that new, bright-eyed writer as I thought I was. Maybe it's because hope is something we should never let go of, no matter how much we see. No matter what happens to us.
And in those times when hope seems too hard, we have our friends there to hold us up. So to that friend, to all of my friends who are struggling on this path, I say:
I still believe.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Some days, I feel a lot like this baby.
I can see that thing I crave. We all do. Stories of agent signings and book deals and landing on the NYT Bestseller list. We all know what we want, and it's tantalizingly close.
Believe me, if I could, I'd slide all the way down the proverbial publishing staircase. I think we all would.
Alas, in our world, it isn't that simple. There's no short cut, though it certainly seems like some people have found one. Trust me, they haven't. Everyone has a different staircase, of different lengths, with different kinds of steps. And the only way down in one step at a time. And the only way to not go absolutely insane on your descent is (wait for it . . .)
Do I have a magical trick to getting more? Nope.
Tips? Advice? Tricks I've learned over the years? Nada (well . . . other than avoiding Twitter . . .)
Really, the only thing to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep your eyes on the prize.
Yoga-chant with me now: Paaaaaaatience. Paaaaaatience.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I'm sure many of you have at least heard about the "Author attacks reviewer" debacle going on. If not, here's a link: http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/03/greek-seaman-jacqueline-howett.html
Look, when I read the blog post, I was totally shocked at Ms. Howett's behavior. She was unprofessional, rude, childish, and frankly out of control. But there has been a reaction on Amazon that has me deeply troubled.
Starting yesterday, Ms. Howett's book has received 42 one star reviews. (And the number is climbing.) Many of them admit they heard about the book only because of all the buzz. Some reviews only comment on the author's behavior. But almost all of them freely call the book "trash," "crap," and various other hyperbolic insults.
Many claim they read the sample (which is free to download on a Kindle,) "to be fair." But I don't think that was quite the intent. I think they read or claimed to read the sample as a way of justifying their review. When the fact is the vast majority of them came to Amazon straight from the blog with the express intent to give Ms. Howett what's coming to her.
Here is one review, titled "Because you will learn" :
"Without consequences, mankind is doomed to repeat its mistakes for all of eternity.
Look at that, right off the top of my head. No forethought or planning!
But I digress, let's get back onto the meat. I lol'd at the reviews, but the support reviews really got to me. Many people claiming she should be spared the public flogging, simply because "she's human" and "everyone makes mistakes". That sounds like commie talk to me. Howett has to be publically punished and ridiculed for her actions.
It's the only way she'll learn. Bet she won't make that mistake again. "
Really? I mean, really?
Here's the thing, don't you think Ms. Howett probably feels about like a pile of crap right now? Her own actions (or rather, reactions) have done a perfectly adequate job of condemning her. Does she really need dozens of people to kick her while she's down? She has almost 50 one star reviews. Isn't that enough of a slap on the wrist? Do potential future customers really need more proof that the book is bad?
I'll be honest,there's an unsettling glee in those one star reviews. It smacks of bullying.
So back to my original question, what happened to "being nice?"
Ms. Howett had a hissy fit online. She reacted poorly. But guess what? She's a human being. And probably a perfectly normal, decent person. I say, lesson learned. Time to put away the pitchforks. Time to "be nice."
(You have now experienced a rare Renee Rant. Hope you enjoyed. ;) Please feel free to discuss in the comments section.)
Friday, March 25, 2011
So we were wondering, wouldn't it be totally sweet if they merchandised books like they do the movies? Can someone get on that please? We present a few suggestions in our post:
Our first product is here to improve the mornings of women everywhere. Just imagine. Instead of waking up the harsh screech of your alarm clock, the smooth, creamy voice of Rhett Butler coaxes you from your dreams.
Ever get the munchies? Ever find yourself making the slow march of shame to the refrigerator for a snack, and therefore smashing your final hope to restart that diet you've been neglecting? Sure, ladies. We all have. But now, with our Big Brother refrigerator, you'll have a searing pair of eyes needling into you at all times. Don't even think about grabbing that leftover slice of cake! Because Big Brother is ALWAYS WATCHING.
We all want the best for our children. We want them to be loving, smart, and cultured individuals. Well now, you can get a head start on that! With our new Moby Dick Mobile, your little tyke can gaze up at icons from one of our cherished works of literature. Imagine his or her delight as they watch the murderous white whale and insane, revenge-driven Ahab dangle over them at night. It's sure to be flying off the shelves, so act now!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Anyway, as you may know, I've been searching for the right book idea for a long while. Since early last summer, to be exact. That's almost eight months! (Geez, where does the time go?) In that span of time, I've been working quite a bit on edits with my lovely, brilliant agent, so that has distracted me. But still. Eight months, I've been struggling with this.
It's not that I haven't had ideas. Oh sheesh. Ask Diana or my husband, I've had PLENTY. Some I cast away instantly. Some I scribbled a page or two of notes on, and then lost steam. And many of them are still in my notebook, simmering. But it seemed as if I just couldn't pick one and have it feel right.
Finally, I narrowed it down to two very different ideas. And for the past month, those two ideas have been bouncing around in my head. I found myself waffling back and forth, back and forth between them. I even picked one, and started to outline, but once again lost steam somehow. To tell the truth, part of me was starting to wonder if I'd run aground with my writing.
Then, three days ago, the floodgates opened.
For whatever reason, I started to think about one of my two ideas, and I couldn't stop. I started to dream about the main characters, write notes about them. Then, those character notes turned into overarching story notes. And those story notes turned into plot notes. And all of the sudden, I was writing an outline.
Three days later, I've finished a detailed, seven page outline, and HOLY CRAP I CAN'T WAIT TO START WRITING.*
All of this has reminded me of one very important truth with writing: when the idea is ready, you'll know. As I looked back on every story I've written, I've always had that BAM moment, when I could see the path ahead of me, and the writing engine suddenly roared.
It hasn't always taken me eight months (thank goodness!) For one of my novels, it took two days from idea to BAM. But the point is, I've never been able to stick with a story without first having that moment.
How about you? Do you have to have a BAM moment before writing? Or are you one of those people that joyously writes anything you want, the moment you sit down to write it? (If so, please accept this punch in the nose.)
*Note to my agent, should she be reading, I have not forgotten Searcher edits! I will be dutiful and work on them before I start writing this new book. Pinkie swear.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Today's post explores that elusive thing called creativity. Ah, creativity. The life blood of writing. The magic that brings out stories to life. The power that makes our words flow. The Muse!
I'm about to blow the lid off these rosy, romantic visions.
Your Muse is Actually a Big, Fat, Cat
You know it's true.
1. Your Muse must constantly be fed.Reading good books, watching movies, listening to music, or gaming, you name it, the big, fat Muse demands it. If you go too long without feeding your creativity, hello writer's block.
2. Your Muse needs lots of rest. (Read: is lazy)Writing is hard work. For the writer. Your Muse doesn't work hard. Sorry, that's your job.
3. Your Muse is fickle.There you are, sitting down to your computer, ready to make something beautiful happen. You reach out for your Muse. You call for her, the one you have fed and nurtured and cared for. Well, good luck. The Muse is not one to be summoned from her various perches and warm, sunny windows.
In the end, it's really up to you to get that story on the page. It's a little known secret that you and you alone will make it magical, beautiful, wonderful. Trust me, you don't need the Muse. Only don't tell her I said that . . .
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
-into context, motive, design, color, theme, etc. While I absolutely loved every second of my education, I have found this to be an obstacle in my writing. I find myself dissecting -and when I say dissecting I mean picking to death- my word choices, my characters, even my idea:
Why am I writing this? What is her voice? Will this book make a positive difference in the world? Should I put a wood nymph here?? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE??? *sobs*
Then I have to snap myself out of my existential rut and remind myself I am supposed to be having fun.
Am I the only one who over thinks things? What are your motives for writing?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Do you want to know how many times I have entered various blog/twitter contests to try and win this book, guys? TOO MANY.
And here I am now, blogging to give myself three more points. But by doing so I am introducing more people to the contest, which means more COMPETITION. Grrr.
So here's the deal. Go enter the contest! But if you win, you have to send it to me when you are done. Fair enough? Great! Hugs n' kisses.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Never fear, my friends. We could spend a whole post telling you that ideas, while important, are only as good as their execution. That even similar sounding stories will be completely different in the end. But you guys know this already. And besides, it's much funner to SHOW you.
Renee: Today we are going to illustrate how execution is everything. We're going to take the exact same idea and each write our own synopses for it.
Diana-Now realize that we are identical twins. We grew up in the exact same house. We read the same books. Saw the same movies.
Renee: Have a creepy, psychic connection. . .
Diana: Exactly. So if there were ever two people who could potentially write identical stories, it would be us.
Renee: I'm very interested to see how it turns out, actually.
Diana: I hope we don't disprove our whole point.
Renee: Only one way to find out. Okay, so we need an idea.
Diana: Hmm. *thinking*
Diana: I know! How about a girl who can turn herself into Jello?
Renee: Pure genius.
Diana: I try.
Renee: Perfect. That's our idea. A girl who can turn herself into Jello. Go forth and write your synopsis. Meet you back here in a bit. In the meantime, enjoy this visual inspiration.
Renee: Okay, I'm ready! VERY interested to see what we came up with. Here's mine:
In a family where everyone has special powers, Matilda Waters got the short end of the stick. Her brother can fly. Her sister walks through walls. Matilda? She can turn into strawberry jello.
When her family is captured by a secret government agency, Matilda is left behind. Apparently she’s not the only one who sees her power as useless. Distraught, Matilda seeks out the help of the Hinklesons, a fellow power-wielding family. But they’ve been captured as well. Only Andrew Hinkleson, their dark, dangerous foster child, is left. Matilda fears all is lost, until Andrew reveals that he also has a special power. He can turn himself into a corn dog.
Together, Matilda and Andrew form a mock catering company, and manage to land a job catering the secret government agency’s annual summer picnic. On the menu—corn dogs and jello, baby. Revenge never tasted so sweet.
Renee: *bashful shrug* Aww, come on. Let's hear yours.
For Alice Mint, having a mother who is a beautiful enchantress has many perks. She always has whatever she wants, lives in a beautiful home, and has lots of “help” with her schoolwork at the mortal high school she attends. Life seems perfect.
Then, one day, one of her mother’s jilted lovers puts a powerful curse on Alice so that she won't become like her mother. He curses Alice that if she makes a boy fall in love with her, she will turn into Jell-o. Literally. That poses an interesting problem for Alice, who is an enchantress-in-training.
Alice teams up with Jake, a handsome young Lifter (someone who steals powers from Warlocks), to find the Warlock who put the spell on her and break the curse. The only problem is Alice is falling fast for Jake and she can see in his eyes that his feelings are growing. Can she break the curse in time? Or will she spend the rest of her life as a tasty dessert?
Renee: HA! That's really good, actually. WRITE IT.
Diana: Maybe I should, maybe I should.
Renee: Well, we've proved our point! Look how different those two stories are. And they both came from the exact same, very specific story idea.
Diana: It really should put any fears to rest. The stories WILL be different. It's all about execution.
Renee: Amen, sister.
So there you have it. Nothing to worry about. Just ignore that book/movie/T.V. show, and keep working on your brilliant idea.
Friday, February 18, 2011
She is the little voice in my head.
Her name is Vanessa. I named her that because growing up when Renee and I played Barbies the evil Barbie's name was usually Vanessa. (no offense to any Vanessas out there)
She came into my mind a long time ago and is still hanging around. Every time I write she shows up to share her two cents. She has been, at times, very cruel, but her most effective tool is distraction. Here is how our conversations typically go:
Me: OK...Time to write that love scene between Robert and Ariana...
Vanessa: *stifles a laugh*
Vanessa: Nothing..its just...a love scene? Do you really think someone at your writing level should attempt to write a love scene?
Me: How else would I show the romantic feelings developing between the two characters?
Vanessa: Suit yourself...
Me: ok......*stares at the blank screen*
Vanessa: Ooo! Did you hear the trailer came out for the new X-Men movie? Lets go check it out!
Me: Really?! -wait, I can't do that. I have to work-get lost! Now...where to begin?
Vanessa: Actually I think its been about fifteen minutes since you checked Facebook. Better head over there and see if any one has responded to your new profile pic.
Me: Arrrgh! Leave me alone! OK ...*flexes fingers* I just need to describe Robert...
Vanessa: Maybe we should Google every picture of Colin Farrel we can find and-
And so it goes with Vanessa. Do you have a voice inside your head? Any ideas on how to get rid of her? (humanely, of course)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
So thanks again for joining in the party! We wish we had tons of awesome prizes to hand out! But alas, just one.
Before we announce that winner, here are our Honorable Mentions, (though like I said, we really enjoyed ALL of your entries.)
Anonymous-For his/her suggestion to pair Bella Swan with the vampire Lestat. Um, yes please.
Janine-For her love pairing of Gilbert Blythe and . . . herself. Dream big, Janine. Dream big.
And finally, Melissa-For bringing up the famous "almost kiss" moment on the new Pride and Prejudice. *swoon*
And now, the runner up. First let me say that we had a very hard time picking between our runner up and our winner. Both are very funny! And BOTH included an amazing photoshopped pic! *LOVE* I honestly wish we had a prize for the runner up!
The Runner Up is Matt Sutter! Partake of his brilliance:
"Hold Still . . ."
“Robbing banks just isn’t lucrative anymore.” The joker sighs and looks at Stacey. Stacey smiles and licks her fingers to smooth out a curl on the joker’s head. I snap a picture.
It’s not every day that you walk into Red Lobster and see Hollywood’s hottest couple sitting at the table next to you. Stacey London’s hit show, “What Not to Wear,” has featured many normal looking people get a fashion make-over. It’s no wonder there’s buzz about this odd couple.
“We’re in love. What else matters?” Stacey smiles. The Joker quivers.
Whoever said “love is blind” sure was on to something.
The Joker and Stacy London? Now that's an odd couple that cracks me up.
And now, without further ado, we announce our hilarious winner!
Red Boot Pearl!!! This entry is, in a word, genius. :) Hilarious and fun. The perfect spirit of our contest. Behold! :
Willy and Glenda (the good witch) Wonka
Pure awesomeness. So congrats to you, Red Boot Pearl!! Email me and let me know which wonderful YA book you want! You've definitely earned it!
Thanks again to all who participated (even in spite of our groveling . . .) You all ROCK!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I share this bit of minutia with you because it means we will be shortening the Kissing Contest a bit.
But don't worry! You still have all of today to enter! We will accept entries until tonight, February 15th, at midnight. So head on over to our main contest post, and do so! (If you haven't already.)
Johnny sent me this one yesterday. He's just a big softie.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Today, for Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share one of my favorite romantic moments in all film. It's not a kissing scene, but it makes me melt Every. Time.
So watch! And you're welcome. ;)
Saturday, February 12, 2011
We're changing the rules to our contest! And making it much easier to enter!!! So . . . enter! Don't you want that YA book you've been dreaming of to show up on your doorstep?! Well it's never been easier!
1. Write a 15 page kissing scene, with at least three metaphors per page, and at least fifty lines of clever, but poignant dialogue
wait a minute . . . Strike that. Reverse it. (*wipes a tear* Gotta love Gene Wilder.)
The *Real* NEW, IMPROVED, EASIER Rules (plus more gratuitous kissing pics!):
You can enter in three ways:
1. Suggest a Literary Love Mashup in the comments section! Who should be together this Valentine's Day, and why?
2. Or you can still write a Literary Love Mashup kissing scene for extra Bonus points. :) (Either post in the comments section or email to Renee: 1wrenbird AT gmail DOT com)
3. Share your favorite KISS from a book or movie in the comments section.Also:
1. You need to be a follower of the blog.
2. Bonus points if you tweet or blog about the contest!
3. Only U.S. residents eligible for book prize, but we're working on an alternate prize to those outside the U.S.
So there it is! Enter! You have until Wednesday, February 16th! And before you go, here's one more kiss picture.
(har har har)
Thursday, February 10, 2011
That's right, we are having a contest to celebrate the favored pastime of February 14th: Kissing. Smooching. Snogging. Macking. Frenching. Sucking Face. Making out. Hot n' Heavy. Tonsil Hockey. Gettin' it on. Going at it. (Have I left anything out?)
Now before you get all excited, no, we are not hiring a squad of Latin Lovers to visit the homes of our blog readers. My apologies. We tried, but there was a snafu with paperwork from the Latin Lovers League, and long story short, no can do.
So we thought instead we'd do what writers do best: make up fun kissing scenes! Yep, we want you to write us an awesome kissing scene. It can be funny. Romantic. Tragic. Or even the ever-taunting "almost kiss."
And what would a contest be without a PRIZE?
The winner of this contest will get to select any currently on the shelves YA romance novel they want!! Because I think YA does romance right. And have the BEST kisses! :) (Note: By romance novel, I mean the story has to be YA, and it should have at least SOME romance. Because why would you want to read a book with no romance? /judging)
Write a short kissing scene (Min. 50 words, Max. 300 words)
You must use existing characters in literature or film. And they CANNOT be from the same book or movie. We're going for a Literary Love Mashup Vibe. See HERE for inspiration. You are welcome to use the couples we created, but feel free to make your own! The more creative the better. (Bonus points if a picture is included!)
Post the scene in the comment section of this post, or email to Renee. 1wrenbird AT gmail DOT com.
Contest ends Wednesday, February 16th. Diana and I will pick our favorite as the winner. (And then email you to see which AMAZING YA love story you want!)
1. Bonus points if you are a follower of the blog.
2. Extra bonus points if you tweet about the contest!
3. PG-13 ratings por favor. (But a tasteful boob grab might be overlooked. . . )
4. U.S residents only (Sorry!! Truly. :( It's a shipping thing, yo.)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I am the same way with my writing. The minute I get a new idea, I feel the urge to tell someone. And as soon as I begin writing the first magical pages, I am dying to have someone read them. Lately, however, I have been feeling that, at least with writing, that may not be the best move.
With my last two stories, I started out with so much excitement and was writing up a storm, only to have the momentum mysteriously die soon after someone had read the first pages. So I am beginning to wonder, am I letting my fledgling idea out into the world too soon?
What do you think?