Monday, November 30, 2009

Me! Me!

The lovely Ms. Alexandra Shostak tagged me in this "meme" survey thing. I so love surveys :-)
Before I begin, I tag Quillfeather and Melane!

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was a piece of flash fiction for Shannon's contest.

The first thing I wrote that I still have is a story called "For the Fear of Death". I wrote it in 5th or 6th grade and found a copy of it a few Thanksgivings ago. (My husband - then boyfriend - was the one to find it, actually, and then decided to read it outloud at the HUGE Thanksgiving gathering that year. I about died, haha.)

2. Write poetry?
I do actually! Not a ton, but my professor seems to think I have some talent in it... (I submit poems for critique in my creative writing workshop.)

3. Angsty poetry?
Not really. I did write a poem about a conch shell being washed away by the sea without anyone noticing... But I don't think that really counts as angsty.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
FANTASY! Specifically magical realism... Love it.

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
A selfish daughter in a short story I wrote a year ago... Otherwise I really do love my characters :-)  (So far at least!)

6. Best plot you’ve ever created?
Um. I think it's the one for Shattered. I love the plot beneath the plot! (But I'm pretty biased.) I can also tell you about the lamest plot I ever created - but I may just save that for a future blog post...

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
If I tell ya, I'd have to kill ya ;-)

8. How often do you get writer’s block?
Not that often. (Ask me that same question tomorrow and I could give an entirely different answer!)
But Procrastination Block stikes quite frequently.

9. Write fan fiction?

10. Do you type or write by hand?
I type. (I do have composition notebooks full of notes though.)

11. Do you save everything you write?
Oh goodness YES.  My computer died after college and I lost a LOT of things. I learned my lesson.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
Sometimes. I don't abandon much though. I hate giving up on creative things that I put effort in to!

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve written?
Shattered!! Hands down. (I have two poems I'm quite proud of, but they don't hold a candle to my novel!)

14. What’s everyone else’s favourite story that you’ve written?
My professor loved a poem I wrote about windshield wipers (random, I know). My husband's is the Fear of Death story from elementary school - but it's the only thing he's read yet and he's really, really excited to read Shattered when it's ready. 

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Ditto to what Alexandra said: Everything I write has a romantic sub-plot.
Also, Shattered is a teen drama... I'm not sure about the angsty part though!

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
The real world! Particularly places by the water...

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I'm editing Shattered and about to start my new idea!

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Does it count that in first grade I wrote a story about a groundhog that was printed in the school publication? It was chosen out of entries from students in grades 1-6 and my class won an ice cream party for it...

19. What are your five favorite words?
I suck at picking favorite things because they ALWAYS change. Here are 5 that I really like right now:

grace, lithe, demure, lilt, ethereal

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Niko. But only some parts and it was completely unintentional. She's a brat.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Ditto Alexandra: They sort of just walk into my head.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Not very often. Though Shattered came to me right as I opened my eyes one morning in Annapolis...

23. Do you favor happy endings, sad endings or cliff-hangers?
I hate cliff-hangers! I mean, I love them but I hate them because I am NOT good at waiting until a sequel comes out. I really hate cliff-hangers that are never answered. (I also don't write them.)

I lean towards happy but am not opposed to sad as long as story leads me in that direction.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

25. Does music help you write?
Absolutely! I never write without music. I could, but I prefer not to!

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

It’s swallowed completely by the sea, perhaps
lost forever, but
to the rest of the world nothing has changed.

(A stanza from The Conch)

Have your fill of me yet? If so too bad bc tomorrow you get TEN MORE FACTS! dun dun DUNNN

♥ me

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tottering Regarding Plottering

About a month ago, I came across this post of W.M.Morrell's.  She introduced me to the concepts of plotters and pantsers.  I loved it. As you can see, from the comment I left, I was (mostly) a panster for Shattered.  I loved just sitting down and letting the words stream from my fingertips.

But sometimes the stream was more of a trickle... sometimes all I found at my keyboard was a dry riverbank - with a few puddles here and there. Because I didn't know where I wanted to go next. I got stuck. There were more than a few weeks in which I didn't write anything at all.

This is why I've decided to outline my next project. (For which, by the way, I just came up with a very cool concept... more on that later)

I'm a fan of Writer's Digest books... I peruse their online shop often.  The other day I came across First Draft in 30 Days.  A few clicks of the mouse and it was delivered a couple days later. 

As I'm sure you surmised, the book offers a 30 day plan for outlining a complete novel.  Apparently, the outline should be so comprehensive that the first draft will be practically written at its completion. 

So here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to follow the 30 days plan and see where it takes me.  I'm not going to do the 30 days consecutively - it's the holiday season and my sister's here for 6 weeks!  Plus I'll be editing Shattered at the same time.  But I will blog about each day as I complete it from the schedule.

The book seems really thorough.  However, I have no clue if it really works, I haven't read reviews or heard anything about it... and don't tell me if you know one way or the other - because I'd like to go into this completely unbiased!

Wish me luck!  Day 1 will fall sometime in the next week or so :-)

♥ me

Monday, November 23, 2009

Award Numero Dos!!

Recently Melane at Chasing the Dream gave me my second blog award!! I was completely flattered when she told me... and also totally finishing my WIP at the time, and then sick, so it's taken me a little while to respond.

First of all, Melane, thank you so much! I'm a huge, huge fan of your blog and run (click) over to it salivating Pavlovian-style when I see you've updated it :-)

And now it's MY turn to pass it on!

The rules for The Best Blog Award are:

  1. To accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to other bloggers that you recently discovered and think are great! Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Oh man, I love my blogging friends!  These are the ones whom I've most recently discovered and think it'd be a shame for you to miss out on!!
  1. Courtney at Courtney Reese
  2. Valerie at I Should Be Writing
  3. Shannon at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
  4. Southern Princess at Southern Princess
  5. Jonathan at Words and Coffee
I highly suggest you check these blogs out - I promise, you won't be disappointed!

♥ me

Friday, November 20, 2009

Max and Natalia

Below is a piece flash fiction I wrote for Shannon's contest... Shannon posted a wordle word cloud and told contestants to create a short story using words from the cloud.  (How many times can I type the word 'word' in one sentence... and now, make that two...)

I bolded the words (that I could remember) I used to form the story with.  It was fun - a definite change of pace from Shattered - the young adult urban fantasy I spent the past five months writing.

So, here it is... Will I win the prize?  Who cares! I mean, it'd be cool - don't get me wrong... It's just that I think any contest that gives writers a reason to write is a contest worth entering...

Natalia didn’t talk about Avalon.

Max didn't press her about it.

He loved her. With that deep, faerie tale kind of love that’s rarely in the cards for anyone. She was his world. So he didn’t press her.

But she was pulling away. Whatever had happened, whatever secret she kept, it seemed to set a shadow within her open, carefree nature. Max couldn’t erase the nagging suspicion that somehow Ernie Iver was involved. But he was out in California -- nowhere near Minnesota. Thank God.

The man was a goblin, a monster. Next to him, baboons looked like little kids. Natalia said they were just friends. And Max had believed her. Before Iver’s very public, very verbal, and unfortunately very truthful, attack on their relationship.

Those days were long past though. They’d made their way back to a good place. A better place, perfect and built on trust.

Still, something changed when Natalia went to Avalon. She never read books anymore. She didn’t even take the time to brush her hair.

On the second Sunday of every month since Max had known her, Natalia and her father went shopping for antiquities. They’d discovered an ancient looking table once, years ago, in a dusty old town in North Carolina. It was made out of an old barn door. They’d hauled the thing home, sanded it out on the deck, and stained it a dark, chocolate color. Four weeks they spent on the table and Natalia loved it. She guarded it like an army of one - Max wasn’t even allowed to work on his crosswords without a placemat between the magazines and the wood.

Since Avalon, she sat at the table, silent in her chair every morning and stared out of the window. But Max knew she wasn’t really looking at anything. Her mind was elsewhere. She drank glasses of water without coasters, and those glasses left rings on the oak.

So he tiptoed around her. He kept things light, trying to let the darkness run its course.

One month, though, turned into three. He just couldn’t stand the defeated look on her face anymore. So he sat down, and stared at her across the table, until she met his eyes. And he asked her to explain the business in Avalon.

She painted a picture for him with her words. By the time she finished, he’d rubbed his knucklebones raw against her beautiful antique table.

After that, Max didn’t talk about Avalon either.

Have a great weekend!!

♥ me

Thursday, November 19, 2009

First Draft... COMPLETE!

Joseph Joubert once said,
"Genius* begins great works; labor alone finishes them."

And, at this very moment, I completely agree with him.  Because without that spark of inspiration and the substantial amount of hard work that followed -- I'd never be able to type the next sentence.

I finished Project Jane!!
(The first draft anyway.)  Which I (tentatively**) titled Shattered. 

And seriously, here's how the entire process went down.

First, I had the idea.  It hit me and I couldn't ignore it.  I was revved.  I knew I had something good.  I was excited and words flowed like chocolate fondue at a fancy wedding.  (You know the type... Like 10 tiers of freefalling chocolaty goodness.)

I felt like this:

Then about 10,000 words in something happened. The words slowed down... The process began to feel more like molasses.  Thick, slow rolling molasses.  Heavy.  The excitement was still there, but I was weighed down.  Doubts, writer's blocks, the realization that completing a novel is not all butterflies and roses.

I felt like this:

And that's pretty much how I stayed for the next 85,000 words.  I loved my characters; I loved my plot.  I never stopped loving the writing process (I never will), but the hard work factor rocked me.

Oooh boy, but let me tell you.  The effort and blood and sweat and tears were all worth it when I typed the very last paragraph... the very last sentence... very last word.

So, if you're a first time writer stumbling across this blog, know this: don't give up on the first draft! It loses its magic sometimes and you might get bored with it.  But don't stop writing because finishing it feels amazing.  And you can always go back to edit the parts you forced yourself to write.  (And maybe, if you're lucky, they actually came out a lot better than you thought they did!) 
(Also, check out the hashtag #amwritingparty on twitter... It's a nightly party with writers who are super, super supportive and all in some stage - be it writing, editing, or brainstorming - of the writing process.)

As for me?  I've got a few edits to take care of immediately, before I forget that I wanted to do them.  (I made a list while I wrote, since I didn't edit while writing).  Then, I'm putting Shattered away for a few weeks before I enter the next phase, which I believe is going to feel

a little bit like this:

And a LOT like this:

(Except without the balls... and with my manuscript.)

*Genius, insofar as how I relate to the quote, refers to the creative spirit.  I'm not trying to say I have a large IQ.  (I mean, I'm blonde after all...)
**I think the title fits my story perfectly... I'm just hesitant because a quick google search told me that Dean Koontz wrote a novel called Shattered, in the 70s... And I'm not sure what the protocol is for using a title that's already been used...

♥ me

Monday, November 16, 2009

Other Fabulous Things to Read

I have a lot going on.   That being said, today I will provide you with links to other bloggers who had very interesting things to say recently - in case you missed them the first time around.
Okay, so this should be enough material to keep you occupied for a while.  I'll be back on Wednesday... Thursday at the latest!  But don't forget about me while I'm gone!  Fun stuff to come when I get back (awards, and clichés, and concrete writing, oh my!  And also... setting the mood, wink wink)

Finally, one last bit of entertainment.  (Really, this is just for Ninjadillo, but still...) This is me at a friend's wedding last summer pretending that I was a ninja... using bouquets as nunchucks.  

Take me seriously.  I am very scary.

♥ me

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quotation Commentary #3 - G. Fowler

Let's start by being honest here.  I should not complain.  I know I shouldn't.  I have the pefect job.  I write.  I do what I love and I'm pursuing the (not a, but THE) dream I've had since I was barely as tall as my desk sits now.

Even when it's hard, I enjoy myself.  Because I'm doing what I love.  But, seriously, some days (including the past week for me) Fowler, SO got it correct:

I don't have much commentary on the quote today because it really just speaks for itself.  I mean, for all you writers - I know this quote made you sit back and nod your head in absolute empathy.

Happy Friday!  Here's to a weekend filled with writing! (Or whatever it is you're passionate about.)

Picture via life.com

Want to know more about
Gene Fowler (1890-1969)? 
Click Here

♥ me

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Procrastination Justification (Can It Actually Lead To Innovation?)

Let me start by throwing it out there that I am a world class procrastinator.  Believe me - if there's anything that can keep me from my task at hand, I can find it and use it to my procrastination advantage.  Even when it comes to tasks that I love to do... For instance, writing.  (Let's pause for a moment for the shock heard 'round the world - who ever would have thought I'd choose writing as my example?)

I was on a mayjah procrastination kick last week.  I got sick, but when I got better a day later, I avoided writing.  And on the next day.  And the next day.  And the next.  Now, I'm a believer in taking a day off here and there - to let that reservoir of creative juices refill when it's been overworked.  Even two days, maybe three.  But more than that (for me it was an entire week) is just plain old procrastination.

I wanted to write, I really did.  I love this job.  But I let myself find distraction in every. single. thing. possible.  A lot of it was writing related, but we all know it's not the same as actually facing the manuscript and giving those fingers a workout on the keyboard.

This past Monday, I finally forced myself out of the hazy procrastination fog.  After much whining about how much I procrastinated (just another procrastination method, no?) I opened Project Jane and click by painful clack I typed a new paragraph.  And then another, followed by a new page, and so on and so forth.  I found my stride again, though it was a slow start.  (I finally passed the 70,000 word mark - yay me!)  By the time I finished typing that night, the last dregs of laziness had flown from my knuckles.  I was in writing heaven.  At one point I'd even, mid-sentence, come up with a completely new and awesome angle.  I call that super duper writing heaven. 

Then a strange thought struck me.

I loved what I'd written.  Yet, I couldn't help but feel that had I attempted to write even a day earlier, I never would have written the way I had.  The words would have been shaped differently; the flow would have been set to a different frequency.  And most startling of all was the realization that I might never have developed the new twist. 


Maybe sometimes procrastination is a good thing.  Perhaps my lazy tendencies will actually pay off in the world of writing first drafts.  Looking back, I realize that I might have produced a completely different story had I never procrastinated the way I have.  Would I have liked it? Probably.  Could it actually have been better? Possibly.  But do I love, love, love the story I've written up to this point? Absolutely.

So, while I still strive to complete this draft without any further procrastinating - I no longer feel guilty about the time I've already spent doing just that.

(Of course a necessary caveat here is that this could certainly all be a severely imaginative rationalization on my part - a subconscious effort to allow myself to think that procrastination is okay... So take my words in at your own peril, haha.)

♥ me

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writer's Block Remedies... Tip #3

TIP #3: Write or Die

I so hope you've heard of Write or Die.  It is the perfect - and I mean PERFECT - remedy for the kind of writer's block I call Cyberspaceship Disorder

Long story short: you enter your desired word count and then select the amount of time you want to achieve it in.  Select how harsh you want the application to be and hit the "Write!" button.  You'll find yourself facing a screen to type on.  If you stray from the screen you are, in effect, yelled at.  If it takes you too long to write a word, you're punished.  When you hit your desired word count, I'm telling you it's like a fresh piece of birthday cake!  Seriously.  Then, copy and paste it into your own document and make your edits from there.

These are the consequences that you select before you start:
  • Gentle Mode: If you pause from writing for too long, a box pops up to remind you that you need to continue.
  • Normal Mode: If you pause for too long, a really unpleasant sound/song is played.  It only stops when you start typing again!
  • Kamikaze Mode: If you stop writing, your work gets deleted.
I recommend Normal Mode.  The songs they play to "yell" at you are extremely annoying and keep you really focused.  I definitely say skip the Kamikaze Mode - your work really does unwrite itself if you take too long to type, and it's infuriating and can (in my case at least) cause a person to give up on what they're working on.

You also choose from three "Grace Period" options: Forgiving, Strict, or Evil.  These periods correlate to the length of time you are allotted without typing anything.  I usually go with the Forgiving option.  Sometimes I need a moment to think quickly through the next scene, so a little bit more time between typing is needed.

One of the things that I really enjoy with Write or Die, is that while I'm typing I absolutely can't surf the Internet - or tweet - or catch up on my much needed celebrity gossip... BUT, since it's timed, when it's over I give myself a break and skim whatever sites I feel like. Then it's back to Write or Die!

♥ me

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Romance... Literary vs Commercial

Do you literally write romance stories?  Do you write fantasy and only consider the romance in your work to be minimal (if any at all)? 

If you answered yes to either question - well, my friends, you may need to think again!! 

Did you know that the original meaning of the word "romance" was to have belief in things that are out of our control?  (God, ghosts, etc.) 

See, until the years leading up to the 1800s, romances weren't about courtship and love - they were about adventure - superhuman abilities and heroes that fought dragons and went on missions to save the day.  (Sure, sometimes the heroes won the girls at the end, but the love wasn't the basis for the story - the action was.)  Think quests... and King Arthur tales... Chivalry and dramatic triumphs...  Romances were actually first written for male readers!

Then the 1800s rolled around and things began to change.  Somewhere along the lines the fantasy genre we know today branched out from the romances. (A post for another day perhaps.)  And along those same lines, a new type of "romance" writing emerged in France.  A far cry from grail quests and legendary sagas, romances began instead to emphasize themes of gallant and flattering love, (think lovers who seek solace in one another's arms during rough times).  The concept of "romance" switched from fantastic/eerie/gothic adventures to novels centered on the "scene-by-scene" advancement of wooing and/or lusting  that ended with marriage - or at least the "happily ever afters".  This is probably what you think of today, when you hear the term "romance".

However, there is a stark difference between commercial romance and literary romance.  (And, I think they make perfect sense, if you've read my other post about Literary vs Commercial Fiction.)

In commercial romances, also known as "Harlequin romances", the lovers always overcome their obstacles and are happy and in love by the end of the novel.  You pretty much know from the beginning that the two protagonists will end up together - but that's okay, it's probably why you read it in the first place!  Who doesn't love a happy, hopeful ending?  I can tell you - commercial romances (particularly those by Nora Roberts) helped me to escape from some pretty crappy break ups in previous years!

Literary romances focus on more realistic romance.  The lovers are actually unable, most of the time, to overcome whatever obstacles they face.  Sad, yes - but also authentic.  I'm married to my "Prince Charming", but goodness did I have to get through a lot of frogs before I found him.  (And, okay, to be fair - there were one or two non-frog genuine nice boys with whom the relationships just didn't work out.)  The point is that in real life, which is what should be reflected in literary works, romance is much less likely to end in marriage than what you'd read in a commercial novel. 

One thing that I love about literary romances is that truly in these works of fiction, I am able to find beauty in the small things.  Looks, touches, longings... They're almost more meaningful because their very purposes go unfulfilled.  You know what I'm talking about.  I'm sure you have memories of your own... Sweet gestures that fell through, smiles from handsome/pretty strangers in passing... Things that never came to fruition, but still make you feel warm inside when you remember them.  (Or bitter - I think it works both ways, ha.)

I'll leave you with this:  In whatever way you choose to define it - be it adventure, love, or lust - go get you some romance today, dear reader ;-)

♥ me

Monday, November 9, 2009

Do any other writers have this problem?

I have a problem.  And if I don't fix it, it could end up major one.

It's my tongue.  I can't seem to use it to form coherent sentences when asked about Project Jane.

Before I continue, let me tell you a little bit more about me:
  • Public speaking? No problem.  Let me prepare a speech and I can give it comfortably, with few nerves... (Or give me some alcohol and watch what happens... I become hilarious - it's true, I swear.)
  • Quick thinking?  Again - no real problem.  I can solve math problems like a pro. (I did used to teach it after all.)  And don't get me started on the amazing lies I told in high school, at the drop of many a dime, to get out of trouble... pretty much on a weekly basis.
  • Project Jane? I am in love.  I love my story and am really proud of what I've created.
  • Synopses (that's plural for synopsis, btw)? Also no biggie.  Ask me to write a description about the story in a clear and concise manner?  I gotcha.
  • Conversations? Granted, I'm nowhere near my husband who can talk the paint off a wall - but I can hold my own, for sure.
But, my goodness, it seems that I cannot combine the above factors to form a single, interesting sentence.  Or even a group of sentences.  I think a good portion of it is based on in the fact that I have very few friends who like to read fantasy.  So I always am slightly uncomfortable using the "F" word - yet it's definitely a part of what I'm writing.  It's just that... people's eyes really do kind of glaze over at the word.

There's more though.  I don't know what it is that keeps me incoherent when speaking about Project Jane.  Is it that I love it too much - and I worry about any negative remarks?  I don't think that's it... I can handle criticism.  Is it that I don't have a clear idea regarding what the story is about?  NO! I know this baby inside and out.  Maybe I know it too well?  IDK (my BFF Jill) (I just had to add that last part, ha - remember the commercial?

Maybe it's the blonde in me.  (I can say that - I'm a natural blonde... well - not naturally as blonde as the current color, but still.)  Maybe I should just memorize the hook from my query and repeat it to people...

In any case, I have to get it together.  What if I actually get picked up - published even?  I'll have to be able to speak about it - in ways that make other people as excited about the book as I am.  Too bad you can't go to a reading and just hand out note cards instead of verbally answering people's questions.  OH. Or I could just speak in haiku... Sigh.

Does anyone else struggle with this?  If so, how do YOU handle it?

♥ me

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood Tragedy

Usually on Fridays, I write a quotation commentary.  But today, I'm pausing, instead, in a moment of silence for the victims of Fort Hood. 

What happened was senseless and tragic... cowardly more than anything and I hope the shooter rots in hell when it's his turn to leave this Earth. 

My heart goes out to the families of the victims and for the victims themselves.  I pray for speedy recoveries for those left with life and community healing.  It's bad enough when we lose the brave men and women who fight for justice, and for freedom, overseas.  But to have one sick, deranged, jackass of a man take their lives while here on what should be safe American soil?  I'm heartbroken and appalled.

My soapboxing, insofar as this blog is concerned, will usually stick to subjects like Twilight.  But I just want to say this one thing:

People who think that violence is the answer to their personal problems, or believe that their "gods" call for violence, or who think "so what? I got a little drunk and hit her, she'll be fine", or anyone along those lines, deserve to be castrated (so they produce no others with their own twisted beliefs) and left to rot on an island with others of their kind.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Got Query Queries?

I did too, but not anymore!  Because...

I participated in a totally awesome Query Letter training workshop today!!  It was given by Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest, and I learned SO much. (There are several other webinars coming up and if the quality matches up to the one I took today - I suggest you check them out.)

I now feel completely prepared to query.  (Except for the teensy tiny fact, of course, that my manuscript isn't yet complete.) 

Participants were allowed to e-mail drafts of their queries beforehand.  During the workshop Jane critiqued each one and gave a wealth of information about the things that make query letters successful.  Right now, I'm kind of on cloud 9 because guess what - SHE LIKED MY QUERY!!  She even said I had a "killer" final line.  (And before you think it, no, that didn't make me biased about the quality of the presentation.  Even if she'd marked through every line of my text, I still would be raving about the workshop.)

Here are some of the things I took away from the workshop about queries:
  • Keep your query tight - BRIEF IS BETTER
    • Only highlight the very key points of your manuscript
  • It's okay to leave an agent guessing - you want to leave them wanting more
    • Don't tell the entire story - or what happens in the end - the agent should want to ask for more information, not be told everything up front
  • If you're a part of an association, or writing group, tell the agent in your credentials - it shows that you're putting time and effort into your writing career
And the hook is the most crucial aspect to the query.  Here are some things I took away about the hook:
  • The hook should introduce the agent to your protagonist, by name.  It also needs to tell the agent what the protagonist's challenge is, (be it change or conflict).
  • The hook should be kept to the point - conciseness is really important.
    • Think about reading a movie summary on a Netflix envelope... that's how short the hook should be.
  • Ideally, the hook should be 1 paragraph - no more than 150 words, and
  • it should comprise of at least 75% of the query.
Can you break the rules?  Of course, every rule can be broken - as long as the letter is crafted with enough skill to be worth the rule break :)

Obviously, I'm no expert on the matter - as I have yet to send any queries out.  There are tons of other, great resources out there.  But I still wanted to share some of what I learned!  (There was a lot more, but I don't want to give away Jane's material - you should DEFINITELY take her workshop if/when it's offered again!)

PS I'll totally show you my query draft if you want to see it - it's just that I recently downloaded Paint.Net and am having SO much fun playing with all of the effects :) 

♥ me

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Did Snoop Dogg Need an Umbrella?

Yep, that's right.  All I'm writing today is a joke.  For 2 and a half reasons:
  1. I still think you should check out Alexandra Shostak's guest post from Monday about steampunk

  2. I wanted to give you a chance to check out the blogs I gave the Kreativ Blogger Award to :)  They're all awesome!
    2.5  Because it's FUNNY.

If you want to know the punchline to the joke, just check the comments section! 

Why did Snoop Dogg need an umbrella?

PS.  Feel free to leave your own silly joke in the comments :)

♥ me

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

W.M.Morrell (aka Quillfeather, whom I affectionately call Q) left a comment for me, which said, "I've left you a little something on my blog. Check it out :)" 

And what had she left for me at her blog?  The KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD!!  I was so surprised and completely flattered!! 

Now that I've received the Kreativ Blogger, I will pass the award on to 7 of my favorite bloggers (who must follow the following instructions).

  1. Copy and paste the pretty picture in which you see on the top left corner onto your own blog. 
  2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.
  3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
  4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award.
  5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
  6. Notify your 7 bloggers.
  7. Do a little dance because you just won the KREATIV BLOGGER award! (I added this rule because it's what I did and it was FUN)
Let me just start by saying THANK YOU to Q :)  Her own blog, W.M.Morrell can be found and followed here: http://quillfeather-blog.blogspot.com/.  If she hadn't already received the award, you can bet she'd be the first person to receive it from me now!  Q is a children's author who loves cheese, wine, dogs, and life... How could you NOT want to follow her?  (Plus, her posts are thought provoking and fun to read.)  AND if you're interested in what she's working on - check it here: http://www.wix.com/quillfeather/Book-of-Shadows.

Now... Here are 7 things that you probably don't know about me:
  1. I've been skydiving and LOVED it!  I really want to go again, but somehow in the 7 years since my first experience, I've developed this weird fear of heights...
  2. I was part of an Olympic training group as a gymnast when I was younger (thankfully I realized that the life was being sucked out of me and quit while I was ahead)
  3. I've never had a favorite color.  I can't ever just pick one!  Right now I'm really diggin' crimson reds and deep purples.
  4. In the past year, I've gotten two tattoos.  An ensō on my wrist (I blogged about it a while ago) and a thick outline of an island flower on my foot.  They're both in black ink, and I am infatuated with them!
  5. I hate being sick, but I secretly like when my voice is raspy.
  6. I am obsessed with boots.  I claim to be a "summer" girl - in that I absolutely love and live for warm weather... but I love, love, love winter boots and therefor could never give up on cold weather completely.  I have about a million and a half pairs.
  7. I cannot stand when two different textured things rub against each other - for example: a marker across a pillow case, or a cloth texture between someone's teeth (my husband bit his collar the other day just to make me gag)... To me, it's equivalent to people scratching their nails down chalkboards.
Okay, that's enough about me!   Now I get to give the Kreative Blogger Award to 7 amazing bloggers!  (List is alphabetized by name.)
  1. Alexandra Shostak of
    http://lazy-iris.livejournal.com/.  You may recognize the name, as she wrote a fabulous guestpost for me yesterday about steampunk.  Alexandra is an extremely talented writer and, I've recently discovered, a photoshop wizard.  She also lives in a haunted town.  Super cool. 
    Oh, and one more thing - she's also a part of a new group of writing bloggers on http://letthewordsflow.wordpress.com/

  2. Carolina Valdez Miller of
    http://carol-in-print.blogspot.com/. Carolina is a fellow Young Adult (YA) fantasy writer.  I love her blog!  She's also very active with me in the new #amwritingparty twitter group.  She's full of inspiring words for other writers - you'd be silly not to follow her!

  3. Georgia McBride of http://georgiamcbridebooks.wordpress.com/  Georgia is pretty much amazing.  It's the only way I know how to describe her :)  Her first book, PRAEFATIO, is out on submission and Georgia's hard at work on the second in the series.  (I got to read the first two chapters of PRAEFATIO and it is definitely something to look forward to!)

  4. Hot Blonde of http://hotblondeinthekitchen.blogspot.com/ HB is my oldest friend.  She was in the same training group that I was back in the gymnastics days.  She's writing a cookbook and posts really phenomenal recipes on her blog!  Complete with step-by-step instructions for those of us (ahem, ME) who aren't culinary geniuses.

  5. Jenni Bailey of http://jennibailey.com/.
    Jenni is writing a young adult novel and her blog is fun to follow :)  Although, whether reading her blog, or twittering with Jenni, I always endup craving cupcakes... I wonder why? ;-)

  6. Karen Hooper of http://karenamandahooper.blogspot.com/  I just recently started following Karen's blog, but I already love it!  She's finished one book, The Kindrily, and is working on more in the series.  I can't wait for it to get published - I'm already hooked!

  7. Kristin Miller of Long Distance Drive
    Her posts are insightful and I always look forward to seeing something new.  Kristin has an agent and her first novel is out on submission.  She's also a part of http://yahighway.blogspot.com/, another blog I frequently visit.

An Introduction to STEAMPUNK! (Guest Post)

This post was written by Miss Alexandra Shostak.  (Click her name to be directed to her blog.)  Alexandra is a really fantastic writer, soon to be agented, and has introduced me to the world of steampunk.  Now she'll do the same for you!  And please, even if you're not interested in steampunk (which I'm telling you, you should be), you know one look at her smokin' picture made you interested in whatever she has to say :-P

Steampunk. Doubtless you’ve heard something about this genre of music, fashion, and literature in the past few months. It’s said by many to be the “up and coming” trend in books, and it’s already making headway in other areas of life (if you’ve ever seen someone checking a pocket watch or walking around with a parasol, likely they’re dressed steampunk). But though a lot of people have heard this word floating around, many people still want to know: what exactly is steampunk? So, I’m going to do my best to impart to you the knowledge I’ve accumulated both in reading and writing steampunk.

Most simply, steampunk is a genre of speculative fiction—it’s most commonly set in Victorian London, which means it has many historical elements, but it focuses on technology that doesn’t exist. Steam power is generally the driving force of this technology, which features things like (but not limited to) trains, airships, and automobiles. This is where science fiction enters into the equation. In many of these alternate histories, the technology also centers around engines, like difference engines or analytical engines—extending the technology farther than it ever went in real life.

However, steampunk doesn’t have to be historical, and it doesn’t have to be science fiction, either. Sometimes the world in which the book is set is made up—a fantasy world. Many times magic also comes into play in these stories, blending the science fiction aspect of steam-powered technology with mythological creatures, sorcery, and really excellent world-building. Like any genre, steampunk weaves in and out of other genres, and it doesn’t have to have every single one of these elements to make it steampunk. But the defining characteristic is the presence of steam power, and technology based on that power.

There are actually several examples of steampunk in pop-culture that people didn’t know were steampunk until recently. Most notably is THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. I recommend checking out both the Alan Moore comic, and the film. Also, if you’ve seen the Disney movie “Atlantis” that’s also an example of steampunk—and it’s just a really good movie in general :)

There are more and more steampunk books showing up—several people have told me they’ve seen a steampunk display at Barnes & Noble. But I’m going to recommend a few that I think really capture what the genre is. They aren’t the only ones out there, and I’m constantly looking for new ones (so if you find one I didn’t list, let me know!)
  1. THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling – Even though steampunk seems to be a new genre, given the amount of press it’s getting lately, it’s actually been around for several decades. THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE falls in the category of historical and science fiction steampunk, and it is one of the books that first defined the genre.
  2. PERDIDO STREET STATION by China Mieville – Many of Mieville’s books fall into the steampunk category, but this is probably his most popular. This one isn’t historical; it’s set in a fantasy steampunk world, and blends fantasy and science fiction together.
  3. WICKED GENTLEMEN by Ginn Hale – This example of steampunk is mostly fantasy. It’s also set in a fantasy world, but Hale’s world is based pretty directly on a Victorian city. This book (actually two novellas following the same characters) follows the relationships between the characters more closely than it does the speculative technology.
  4. LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld – I haven’t read this one yet, because it just came out a few weeks ago. This YA novel is historical, and it takes elements of fantasy and science fiction to create a very unique world. It’s set a little later in time than most Victorian steampunks; it happens on the eve of World War I. Also, it has illustrations. I’m really excited about the illustrations—I can’t wait to read it.
  5. CLOCKWORK HEART by Dru Pagliassotti – Another fantasy steampunk, with a really well-imagined world, and a really great romantic sub-plot. This one is especially cool, because the main character has metal wings that she uses to fly over the city.
These are just a few examples of steampunk books that I think really stick out, but there are of course many more, and my “to-read” list is always getting longer. Also, Cassandra Clare (known for her YA series MORTAL INSTRUMENTS) is coming out with a steampunk series. The first installment, THE CLOCKWORK ANGEL, is set to be released in 2010.

Tor.com had “steampunk month” last month—and their blog was a wealth of information about anything and everything steampunk. It was really informative, interesting, and just fun. There was some really great stuff, including awesome pictures and videos. I definitely recommend checking it out.

I suppose now is the time that I tell you something about me, then. Well, I write fantasy, and the most recent novel I completed is a steampunk called MEMENTO MORI. It’s more on the fantasy side of steampunk than the science fiction side, though there is a lot of clockwork—clockwork taxis, clockwork mages, clockwork corpses… you get the idea ;) I really loved writing it, since steampunk has been one of my favorite genres for several years now, and I definitely plan to continue writing steampunk.

That’s it! Thank you Sara, for letting me guest blog—you’re awesome :) And I hope my post was informative, and made at least one person want to go out and buy a steampunk novel.

No, Alexandra - thank YOU!