Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I'll be off line (maybe) for a few days. But there will be a new blog entry Thursday, (midweek links) Friday (my review of The Hunger Games) Monday (All about Music) and Tuesday (pretty flowers and stuff)
When I'm back on line I'll comment away on your blogs.
BTW I'm at 44 followers. YAY I can't believe it.
When I hit 50 Followers I'm going to do some sort of contest, what sort of prizes would you like?
It needs to be legal, cheap and real thing.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
One line review: If you read, write or breathe, go read this book.
Why did I read this book:
So Nathan Bradford asked his readers what the best book about writing was, in their opinion. I said Bird by Bird, but most people were saying On Writing. So I figured I'd go check it out.
I'm going to Boston in a few days and I was in a weird void time, not enough time to start revising No System At All, so I opted on doing a book binge, where I spend any free time I have reading.
I wanted to get my head in the right place for No System At All, I wanted to brush up on the basics. So I while I was in the library finishing Penny and Hank, I checked out On Writing.
The first 100 pages is Stephen Kings writer's history. A narration of his life and how he became a writer. Interesting and funny read, almost every page I thought, damn that was clever.
After he told about his writer's journey, he spends the next 200 pages giving away little gems about writing.
To recap the best:
No adverbs- your reader is smarter then you think they are. Adverbs=lazy writing
use Said, not said quickly, or mocked or coughed or whatever. Said is the right word to use.
Read a lot, write a lot and the only way to get good at description is to read.
By page 125 I knew I needed to own it. I got a copy at Borders and started to dog ear the pages and high light the crap out of it.
The last 50 pages is about when he was hit by the car and revising. I was reading it for writing tips, so I skipped it. I know, bad reader bad.
Rating: 10 out of 10.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Last week I finished my first draft of Penny and Hank. You know that blissful feeling of accomplishment? That rush of a job completed? The ability to cross something off your to do list?
That buzz latest less then five minutes for me.
By the time I drove from the library, where I was writing, to my front door, the thrill had vanished.
My next thought was "this is going to be a bitch to revise."
It will be. There was at least 5-10 spelling mistakes on every page, I left words out of sentences, typed the wrong word but spell check won't catch them. That's the little stuff, there's big issues too, like the overall tone of the book, character development, word choice. Blah blah blah.
I hung my head an thought, I don't know if I can handle this book for another three years.
So I vowed to not look at it for the rest of the summer.
I'm doing a reading binge, focusing on my daughter and getting ready for our trip to Boston!
When I get home I'll revise No System At All.
When I drove to pick my daughter up from daycare, I had to force myself to get happy and proud. I listened to Glee, because as much as I love Alt rock- I dig show tunes too, and tried to get myself pumped up.
So writers, does writers' remorse ever set in for you?
Friday, June 25, 2010
I sort of feel both ways about it.
So for the Moms out there who write, let's be known for it.
So I made an award, because I'm a dork with crappy photoshop skills. You can pick between the two awards.
I'm giving the first round of awards to:
Please pass this on to anyone else who is a mom and writes.
Let's put it on our blogs proudly. Let's support each other when we're covered in baby puke and we feel like giving up.
What do you say?
Who's with me?
Thursday, June 24, 2010
A few days ago I listed the famous people I've met in my life. On that list was The Airborne Toxic Event. And since Blue Lipstick Samurai asked about it I will tell the story.
There is only 1 song I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard it. My husband and I were driving into Baltimore for our Anniversary dinner. Sometime Around Midnight came on my Sirius Radio, I told my hubby to shut up, so I can listen. I wrote down the name of the band. A few weeks later Hubby, Daughter and I were going to John Hopkins Hospital because something was "wrong" with daughter. My daughter was six months old. The last song I heard before walking in was Sometime Around Midnight. We got daughter's diagnosis, and in the scheme of things, it wasn't that bad. Really not big deal. But at the time I was devastated. Sometime Around Midnight came on as we were pulling out of the parking lot. I realized that lots of people come out of John Hopkins with much worse news and this was pretty minor. Six months later she was perfectly fine.
I wanted the CD but when I went to Amazon I couldn't buy it, mostly because it wasn't out yet. I wrote down the release date and waited for it to come out. I was a complete idiot. The CD was already out and I looked at the LP release date. *shakes head in shame*
The CD is amazing, the songs all sweeping and epic, catchy and poetic. There's a freaking viola in the band. Come on! Amazing isn't the right word but I'm a crappy speller so that's what I'm going to have to go with. The CD is a little depressing but for good reason, the lead singer was writing a novel (I love him already) and in one week he found out he was very sick, his mother was sick and his girlfriend dumped him. One of these things seems like it could have been delayed for a few weeks or so.
I listen to them and I was pretty sure I was the only one who did. Mommihood put a damper on my concert going experiences. Until one day I saw they were doing a free show with The Gaslight Anthem (I LOVE THEM) and the Bravery (meh) in Boston. Boston-- that's pretty far away from Baltimore but it's also where my friends live.
I did my first truly selfish thing as a mother, I bought a plane ticket and flew to Boston for a free show, abandoning my child and husband for 72 hours. My flight got delayed like 5 hours I didn't get to sleep until 3 am. It was still one of the best weekends of my life.
I won't go into the details of hanging out with my friends but it was like I had known them my whole life.
Then the concert. It was in a plaza and everyone was hanging out on one side, the other half of the stage was empty. We pushed our way up to the second row.
I watched the bands get ready back stage, I saw Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and I thought, "Oh my god, he has a backpack, I have a backpack too. We're so cool." <-- I was 30 when I had this thought. I also took the most Rock and Roll picture EVER. It does look better when it's viewed the right direction.
Then The Airborne Toxic Event came on the stage. No. Words. In. The. English. Language. Can. Do. It. Justice. Mikel Jollett climbed the towers holding up the stage, Anna crowd surffed, it was sweaty and loud and art and perfect. AND THEY WERE DOING A SIGNING! I geekishly got in line afterward. Geeked out with all the fans, "You've met them before. OH My GOD are they cool?" I asked that of the 19 year old girl behind me who was debating if she should pee before or after seeing them again. I watched the joy ooze out of a the guy who just got his CD signed, he was on the verge of tears. Then It was my turn. I had be practicing what I would say, "I flew up from Baltimore to see you." Mikel stared at me, "But just played DC a few days ago." "I know, but it was at the 9:30 Club and I didn't want to get shot... somehow I thought going to a strange city would be safer." Their manager asked if I wanted a picture. I said, "I screw up (I used a different word) every picture I'm in." "I'm sure you'll be fine." She took the picture. She looked down at the screen and frowned. "YOU look excellent, its everyone else that, um." Anyway I moved down the line, got my signature on my CD, told the rest of the band about the story about my daughter and thanked them for being such amazing artists. They seemed genuinely moved by this.
Anyway that was my brush with fame. Awesome. They have a new CD coming out soon. I'm super excited for it and they wrote a song for Nada Speaks.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
This Week's Topic:
"I live in the gigantic gay shadow of my ironically named friend Tiny, of course, I'm bitter and less interesting." Will Grayson.
"Who knew that someone who was cute and funny in high school could grow up to a dull and annoying adult, shouldn't it be the other way around?" - Jessica Darling.
"Wars are such a pain in the ass, very inconvenient to my already busy lifestyle. " Death from The Book Thief. <-- yep that one didn't the book justice at all.
Yep, they're not stellar and kinda snarky but I'm allowed an off day, right?
DONE!!!!!!!! Penny and Hank Draft 1 is completed!
I won't lie, if it wasn't for this blog I would have quit in the beginning of June. Thank you!!!!!!!
Penny and Hank, final word count 59804!
No Ya Highway post today. But I promise to comment on blogs later on tonight!!!!
Thank you for all your support.
Plan for rest of the week- Play with my daughter, go to Hershey Park with the family, do a thousand parties on Saturday, read On Writing by Stephen King. Maybe next week I'll finish spell checking and do a read through of Penny and Hank. But I plan on Revising No System At All for the rest of the summer.
(anyone know where I can print of a 300 page MS for cheap? Or is it better and cheaper to use my home printer?)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Every time I went to write someone or something would interrupt me. I sat at Starbucks and wrote for two hours. I got some solid work done, but still it wasn't moving as quickly as I would have liked.
Then I had a dentist appointment it was my third one in two months, Ive been so foolishly trying to get my teeth cleaned. Yep they still aren't clean.
Then I got lectured by an elderly lady who was way to positive that I should live each day for itself. Great advice, but I was NOT in the mood to hear it.
Then I went to Panera, I ordered a new salad, it wasn't as good as I would have liked. Hubby called, I told him I had 1 hour to write before I picked up our daughter. Then the women next to me started to talk to me. FOR AN HOUR!!!
Then my daughter was exhausted (YAY) when I picked her up. YAY YAY and she wanted a nap. YES YES YES. I wrote one paragraph and Hubby came home and started to clean. Now I feel pressure to clean with him. I'm on the verge of tears.
Daughter went to bed at 7:45 and I"ve been writing since then. I have three scenes left. They should be sort of short.
Plan for tomorrow, Drop of daughter at daycare*, go sit at a library and write. Then go to Let's Dish with Cindy, go to lunch, Best Buy and get the comics. Go back to a library and finish writing. Pick up kid by four. Write until it's time for bed.
*I'm not a stay at home mom who sends her kids to daycare. I'm a teacher and my school shut down three days earlier then the rest of the school system because it was getting renovated. Since I already had my daughter scheduled for daycare, it would be a SHAME and a CRIME not to use it.
Word count 5510 words written today. Total 56k
I won't lie, I'm pretty awesome at dialogue:
"Shut the front door." I screamed, people are so rude.
"You shut the front door."
"Stop being such a putz and shut the door."
Um, or maybe I don't rock at dialogue as much as I think.
So here are some links and resources for writing great dialogue.
Whenever I do one of these postings the first place I go to is Mary Kole. This week I have a TON of stuff from her and other links I found through her.
The Name Game talks about how some writers use the character's names too much in dialogue.
Tag you're it, is all about writing good dialogue tags. <-- this one I think is SUPER helpful.
What to cut, explains what you need to cut from your book. Lots of times it's crappy dialogue.
What show don't tell really means<-- yep it's that straight forward.
Here are a bunch of links Mary posted on her blog and I'm reposting them.
Barry Lyga has a great series on dialogue, one, two, three, four and five.
As always a little Nathan Bradford for you. Cause he's just so gosh darn cute.
Blood Red Pencil has TONS of great stuff. Dialogue is NOT how we talk How to write dialogue that gets interrupted
This one I have a really hard time with, internal dialogue
They also have the three part series about dialogue. Part 1, Part 2, Part3
I found this post from W.I.P It. 7 tips for writing Dialogue.
I think 17 posts are good for now.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Once I got home I wasn't nearly as productive. I ate lunch, commented on TONS of blogs and did laundry. It was real life productive but not writing productive.
Tonight my plan is to write after my daughter goes to sleep.
I'm also really glad I outlined (sort of) because I LOVE to cross things off a list.
I'm on item 21, I've got 24 left to write. Plot Bunnies exploded and I might add more.
My plan is to repeat the process tomorrow.
I will tell you at this moment, my daughter is asleep, my husband is out of the house, my laundry is done (almost) and this is the perfect moment to be writing. But I am not. Why? Because of the aforementioned plan. I will be away from the internet for a little while but I want to make sure I have my blog updated and ready to go.
So here is what today's entry is all about. THE GAME! Watch this video and then come back to me.
If you can't watch the video because you're firewall at work won't let you, (for shame for blogging at work--- totally kidding) I will recap. Hank Green tells his viewers about this game called The Game. If you think about The Game, then you lose The Game. All desire ends in lose. The only way to win The Game is not to know about The Game. The Game can be anything. If you're living for it, you'll never win.
Wow depressing right?
Is he right? Yeah.
Right now on my hard drive there are 3 (almost 4) manuscripts. How many of them have been published? None. How many of them will I try to get published? Don't know. See for writers The Game is publication. But then there's all this crap after publication. Let's say you're lucky/talented enough to get an agent and that agent sells your book. Now the real work begins. You have to face the public, criticism (worst then anything you think about your book, because we are our own worst critics-- nope there are people out there who get paid to read books and write their comments on them) Then there's the internet trolls who get off by being mean.
Then you have to face your fans. If you're lucky enough to have any.
Then your book gets moved from the new release section to the shelves and before long it in the bargain bin, where books go to be forgotten and die.
Now your agent and your publisher and your fans want a follow up. Pressure is mounting and this wasn't why you got into writing in the first place. Was it? Did you just lose The Game?
For the record, my heart goes out to any writer who's book explodes over night and Hollywood comes calling for a movie that goes to number 1 and breaks box office records. Worst of all when Hollywood remakes you book and does it better then you could. (True Blood I'm looking in your direction) The fame might be nice but the pressure has got to SUCK. <-that was NOT meant to be a vampire joke.
Writers, readers, friends, family, I ask you this, are you playing The Game? What are you playing The Game for? Are you willing to lost The Game? Winning does not mean happiness. Happiness does not mean winning.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.
7 Things About Me:
1) I drink at least one cup of coffee a day, a habit that occurred when I got pregnant, it's 7 am on a Saturday and I haven't had my coffee yet. This problem must be rectified. *off to get go coffee*
2) It took me five hours to get back to my computer to write number 2.
3) I'm a nerdfighter and my blog Project Nice 2.0 is officially over. (I think, I need to go check Project Nice's e-mail.) (Yep its over)
4) The famous people I have met: Bill Clinton, The entire band The Airborne Toxic Event, I saw Sarah Jessica Parker once at a Broadway play in the audience, Brad Meltzer (the author) bunch of comic book writers and artists.
5) Super natural creatures I have met in my lifetime, a zombie, a demon and a dude trying to impress me by telling me he was an assassin.
6) I am only writing this to avoid writing Penny and Hank.
7) I'm afraid of Bees, Ive never been stung but the threat of killer bees is one of the reasons I didn't take a job in Fort Worth Texas.
Now I need to list 15 other people to get this award, (hmm this is striking me to be like a Meme)
3) Josh (Maybe he'll update his blog more)
7) Michele H
8) Katie May Loud
9) Kathrine Owens <-sorry if I spelled your name wrong 10) Abby Stevens
13) Cid She has TWO blogs
14) Sarah Enni
15) Laini Taylor
Friday, June 18, 2010
There I've said the very dirty truth...
I withdraw into my imagination- play around, type type type on my computer, get annoyed when I get interrupted.
I've ignored my hubby. I've been slow to rush to my daughter's side when she wants to show me something... in all fairness for the last 2 years she mostly wants to show me the dog. "Honey, I"ve seen the dog. I know what he looks like, you don't need to tell me he's cute. I know he's cute that's why I bought him."
When my daughter was born the doctor asked my Hubby if he wanted to take a picture of her while she was all goopy and covered in slime. Both Hubby and I said, "No, yuck!"
The doctor said, "She will only look like this once in her life."
She will only be this two years old-- once in her life.
She will only be learning how to walk once in her life.
She will only be potty training once in her life.
She will only have THIS day THIS moment ONCE IN HER LIFE.
I missed some of those, because my characters were calling me, because I wanted to blog, because the plot bunnies exploded, because I was trapped in editing hell.
I love my daughter. She's the coolest person I've ever met. (For the record-- I've met a LOT of people)
Writing isn't like knitting or scrapbooking where you can do it in the same room as your kids, no, you have to be alone. Being alone means missing out on stuff.
So Mom Writers out there, I ask you this, how do you deal with Mommy Guilt?
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I've said it before and I'll say it again, revising sucks.
I opted to do this week's set of links of revising because in a one week I will start revising my novel No System At All for the 12 time. 12 drafts. Something along the way went horribly wrong. But it's just not there yet. I feel like draft 11 was rocking at an 80% and hopefully draft 12 will be at 95%- draft 12 is what I plan on sending to Kathleen Ortiz since my hubby won a charity auction of a FULL MS critique. Since I wanted to get the most out of our money, I wanted to send her the BEST draft I had. Which means= REVISIONS.
BTW I should say this, please don't send an agent a first draft or even a second draft. Seriously I've worked very hard for three years now on No System At All and it makes writers look bad when some newbie sends out a first draft. Writing means rewriting.
Reading = Easy and Fun
Now there are different elements to revisions - there's big picture stuff, like major plot holes and character problems, and not enough conflict.
Then there is editing. Editing sucks too.
This week I'll focus on BIG picture stuff, then do editing and running everything through a fine tooth comb.
Over at the Disobedient writer, there's a few good steps on how to improve a first draft.
Getting started on Revising:
It's a crappy and emotions processes, querytracker.net blog tells you how to avoid the black hole. They also have a great post on how to write the second draft.
Natalie Whipple has an awesome blog and in case you haven't checked it out, SHAME ON YOU! She has several posts about revising. Revision Reference Stages of revision and while she's also an artist, she does a great visual representation of revising her own art but I think it's a great metaphor for the writing revision process as well.
I just discovered this blog last week and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites.
The Blue Lipstick Samurai <--freaking awesome name, wrote up a few revision tool kit. There's also this great post about "how 2 write good." It's great for a giggle.
Writer's Digest has a good article on the 8 blunders of writing, double check you manuscript, did you do any of these?
Another site recently discovered and I"m really digging is Sarah Enni. What I like about this post is that it's a need MS Word trick that if you haven't been doing, you should be. It tells your reading level for your writing. That's a neat little tool to have in your toolbox.
What would a mid week link be without Mary Kole? She has a BUNCH of entries on her blog about revision. Here are a few, Tip on Revision When to cut something out of your manuscript and how to write an action sequence
Next week I'll focus on editing-- the nitty gritty and painfully boring stuff.
Over the summer Mid Week Links will include information on:
And whatever else I can think of.
What do you think? What should I put up?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
When/why did you start writing?
Here's the long and deeply personal story of When did I start writing.
I started writing back in 7th grade. Back in middle school I discovered the wonderful world of comic books. I was a Batman girl. I liked Robin, -- Tim Drake, not Jason Todd, or even Dick Grayson. Tim Drake was my Robin. He was also one of the reasons why I started to write.
In my head I had been writing for since birth, running around, talking to myself, living in the wonderful fantasy world in my head. But in 7th grade I started to write on paper. By 8th grade I though, "yep- I'm the most amazing writer that ever was."
In 9th grade was I diagnosed with a learning disability, in language. I leave out words, I reverse letters, I don't read what's on the paper, I make up my own words that sound better. All signs were pointing to, "Erinn, you need to stop." But if Robin could put on a suit every night and fight crime and go to school the next day, surely I could write a short story.
Throughout high school I had a story I wanted to write, because EVERYONE who read comics has a story they want to see in comic form, or they want to draw it.
I wanted to write comics, I wanted an ainmated series. I wanted a live action series. I wanted my characters on the big screen.
So I took every opertunity to do it. I took an elective every year to move ahead in my writing.
But reality started to creep in, I wasn't the best writer in the class. I wasn't the worst but I wasn't as talented as others. If I couldn't win an award in my writing class, then how can I get published. <-- a thought that still lingers with me today.
I went to Salisbury University because it had a creative writing major. I lasted one week when I opted to double major in English and Education. I remember thinking that I was giving up on my dream.
Still my story haunted me.
I discovered Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Power Puff Girls and other shows that protrayed women as strong and fighters. Plot Bunnies exploded, but they never made it on to paper.
Finally my senior year of college, I was living alone, no roommate to distract me and one of my friends had published his own book. Now was my time. I formatted it like a comic --- still holding on to that dream.
I graduated with about 17 "chapters" of the story. To this day it's still sitting on my bookshelf.
Then I started to work, with a real job. I was a teacher, I started dating my husband, I was a bride, I was a homeowner and poof 4 years had gone by and I had no writing to show it.
Then I started watching The West Wing. Josh and Donna infected my brain as much as Buffy, my own story and Robin had in the past... and I started writing Fan fiction. Some people are ashamed of their fan fiction, I know it's not something I talk about a lot. But fan fiction was the reason WHY I got back into writing.
First The West Wing then I moved on to LOST. I was a shipper. Josh and Donna, Charlie and Claire. 10/Rose. Yep that's who I was. Then I wrote a Fan Fiction taking place in an AU for charlie and Claire... when it was over I said, "Nope, it's not." I changed it from characters who were "real" to my own characters. The story was so far removed from Lost I thought it would be fine.
That's how No System At All was born... sort of. But I called it Love Wears a Sucidial Fish Hat,-- it made sense in the book, I promise.
I did some edits, added scenes and flashbacks. Wrote a query and poof. I had a few requests for partials.
Awesome. I was half way there.
Nope. As it turned out the book sucked, and I was pregnant. So I had to make a choice, give up on writing or push on.
Motherhood loomed in front of me. Life changes didn't even begin to say it. During week 22 of my pregnancy I said, "no, I'm not giving up on these characters and I want to make the book into a series." It would be story of a band's rise to fame. My frist book Love wears a Sucidial Fish Hat would be the series finale and I would just go back and write the band's orgin for the first book.
Author's Note: Yeah all those plans have been thrown out the window, Fish Hat was my "practice" novel and it will NEVER see the light of day.
I spent the next 16 weeks being pregnant, teaching, getting ready for the baby and writing. I was 20 pages away from finishing when my daughter came month early. I went the hopsital and agrued with the nurse, "No, I can't have this baby, I need to finish my novel."
The nurse didn't listen.
Neither did my daughter.
This summer marks 3 years since I started writing No System At All. Since then I have written one other complete novel- New York Karma and I'm 1 week away from my third book Penny and Hank.
20 years since I started writing and you know what, my heart still belong to Robin.
Why do I do it?--- it's the plot bunnies, they don't leave my head, the story infects EVERY aspect of my life until I get it out on paper then I can move on. Beside I owe it to my characters to try. I owe it to my beta readers to make the story better. I owe it to myself because I love it.
All I know was my daughter was completely mesmerized by it and she was also super snuggly. Snuggles makes mommy sleepy.
When I woke up I started to think more about Dora's world. Where the hell does this kid live, there's a crocodile lake, a volcano that exploded bouncy balls, a blue bull named Benny and Isa a talking iguana.
But the most alarming thing about the world that Dora lives in is Tico the squirrel. He's a purple squirrel that drives a car. In my lifetime I've had thousands of encounters with squirrels and none of them would I give a driver licenses too. They don't even have thumbs. But here's Dora stopping Tico where ever he goes and asks for a ride. He always complies because the show is named after Dora and God forbid he doesn't do what she asks. So Dora hops into the backseat of his car and puts on her seat belt so she can be safe. Although I doubt how safe she is in this crazy world she lives in.
Children's programing makes everyone suspend reality for 23 minutes. Dora is a quality show, my daughter knows Spanish, she learns problem solving skills, and lots of counting.
I will also admit I've fallen asleep during Max and Ruby, the Wonder Pets and Diego too. Sadly my daughter has a longer attention span then I do.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
When she woke up, we went to the pool. SIDE NOTE: I hate the pool. I really hate going to the pool. I loathe it. It's crowded It's hot. It's loud. It's wet. I'm not a fan of the pool. It's the one thing I do for my daughter that I feel I'm really sacrificing. When we came home she was the crankiest child ever. She cried, she fussed, my God, she was like a teenager.
I put her to bed at 5:45 PM. From 5:45- 7 I was expecting her to get up and I would have a hyper child. From 7- 8 I lived in terror she would wake up in time for her to go back to bed. From 8- 10 I panicked that she would wake up and then I couldn't sleep. From 10- 4 I tried to sleep but was constantly wondering when she would wake up and wondered if she would listen to me when I demanded she go back to bed. From 4-6:45, laying in bed, ready to play with my kid.
At 6:45 I checked on her because I heard her moving around. She was looking out the window.
From 5:45-10 pm I lived in terror of my child. As all parent do. My hubby and I wouldn't talk around her bedroom in case she was waking up. We turned down the TV. I didn't listen to music while I was writing.
Everything I did, I did to keep her asleep.
I didn't get much writing done.
Parenthood means living every moment trying to get your kid to sleep and living in terror that you won't get enough sleep. You are living with a Sleep terrorist just down the door.
Parenthood also means you've been puked up, probably in a location you could never do yourself. I've uttered the sentence, "My kid puked on my back last night," while I was at a wedding.
So mom out there, what does parenthood mean to you? Please no sappy hallmark answers. Let's talk about the far less glamorous things.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I won a contest back in May from Kathleen Ortiz. You can find the link here.
Anyway today my package came. YAY!!!!
How awesome! Seriously. I've been wanting to read Gone for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it and it's really fraking expensive. I read Wicked Lovely A few years ago and it's a solid read. I still think about it now and then.
But I'm most excited for Vordak--- its a super villain guide to over taking the world, but it's written like the wimpy kid books.
Also two pretty amazing videos are on youtube right now that I wanted to point out:
Hank Green of the vlog brothers does his BEST video ever.
Charlie from Charlie is so cool like, has a new musical project. Charlie is one of many reasons why I like England so much.
Its that time of year. UOMAMWNSATS.
What is UOMAMWNSATS you ask?
Ugly Overweight Middle Aged Men Wearing No Shirts and Tight Shorts time in my neighborhood. Yes, enter June and all the shirts come off. No man wears a shirt. Men with better boobs than me are walking their dogs, squeezing themselves into the tiniest shorts known to science.
It's not just one guy who does this, but like 70% of the overweight middle aged men in my neighborhood. I don't really mind the Russian guy who does it because a) he is in shape and b) he's from Russia there's a big climate change for him. But no one else has an excuse.
I will not include any picture of that, its bad enough I have to see it, why force it on other people.
That's all for now, good night all.
I only get to write when she's asleep.
I will admit this- she watches a lot of TV. Yeah I'm a crappy mom. Don't get me wrong, we play, we color, we blow bubbles, we're potty training and all those good things. Every weekend we do at least two or three daughter centered activity.
So this is what I've noticed in children's programing.
1) Tyrone's voice changed in the Backyardgains and Austin doesn't get used enough.
2) Max and Ruby is sort of a terrible children's show because Max is a jerk and Ruby is bossy. It's a weird so of throw back to the 1950's. But the show is so mellow, so that's a plus.
3) I wasn't a fan of the wonder pets, mostly because I don't like that Ming Ming has a lisp. And I'm not sure of Lenny's gender-- I've spent TOO much of my brain power trying to figure it out. But I do think its really funny that the Wonder Pet's don't like Ollie. (the Bunny in the classroom across the hall)
4) Yo Gabba Gabba isn't as horrible as I first thought it was.
TV and children's program aside, there's a lot if stuff in my head that wasn't there two years ago. I have concept of time. How valuable it is, how much time we have on this green and blue planet. Time. It's a four letter world.
Moms out there, what new knowledge do you have in your head, you never thought you would ever know?
Friday, June 11, 2010
I've got nothing but love and blind jealousy for all of those people who can take a great picture. And I'm also not hitting on anyone, it's just a weird little rant about a trend I've noticed on the blogs.
The last week I've spent a lot of time on blogs. A lot. Seriously I have a huge blog stalking problem.
I've noticed two things:
1) Everyone as a kick ass layout and I need to learn me some HTML
2) Author's pictures.
EVERY AUTHOR IS SUPER CUTE. Seriously they're adorable.
My profile picture is a puma, and I'm assuming no one thinks I'm puma.
Everyone else has a kick ass, super cute profile picture that was probably professionally taken.
This is a problem for me.
1) I'm really cheap and not photogenic at all. I screw up EVERY picture I'm in. So why would I pay a couple of hundred bucks for a picture to have my face all jacked up.
2) I've got all the mental scars of middle school and I feel like I'm the ugliest girl in any room. (yep I went and got all personal on you)
3) It's not fair! Writers are the ONE set of entertainers that it doesn't matter how you look. We could be trolls that were kicked out of the deepest pits of hell, and that's cool, because no one cares what we look like as long as our characters are hot.
I'm fine with that.
Right now I've got a zit on my face that's practically a planet, it's effecting Earth's gravitational pull. It's bad. I'm cool with it, because I'm a writer I don't have to be cute... or do I?
So, bloggers, how did you get your super cute pictures? Do you have awesome photographer friends? Or do you naturally look like the cutest people on the planet? (Not the planet that just formed on my face) Do you think your super cute picture is giving you more blog traffic?
Thursday, June 10, 2010
YA Highway asked today on their Road Trip Wednesday (which by the time I post this blog it will be Thursday so just deal with it) This week's topic: How do you know when a project will work out, and when it won't?
Breaking up is hard to do, or its really easy if you don't like the person and or whatever writing project you're on.
I've written 3 complete novels. I've started 3 others. Penny and Hank is my current work in progress, but before there was Penny and Hank there was Cheating Dog and Serial Love Story.
Cheating Dog was a paranormal romance about a recently divorced woman and her boyfriend who's a werewolf. She has "magical" abilities and she doesn't know it... He's a werewolf with a very complex family history, yadda yadda yadda. I sort of dug the concept but I stopped writing it because I COULD NOT WRITE THE NEXT SENTENCE, seriously. My characters are still standing outside of her apartment complex.
I got bored.
It's a bad sign when the writer gets bored.
It also switched from past to present tense constantly because I couldn't pick a tense and I gave up because line editing this would have been a bitch.
Serial Love story was about a serial killer who killed every six months. We start the book with him coming home from killing someone and he gets a phone call from journalist who wants to do a story on him. (Why she never calls the police was a logistical problem I couldn't solve... and one of the reasons I dropped it) They fall in love-- yep, and now there's a ticking time bomb, is he going to kill her?... yadda yadda yadda.
I stopped because it was too much like Dexter (yes I know it doesn't sound anything like Dexter but trust me I would have been sued).
And I outlined it. <--- Kiss of DEATH for me.
The story was out of my head and sitting on a hard drive.
I had, and still have, ZERO motivation to write it.
So when does a project stop working?
Mostly when the author stops caring, when they would rather be blogging, playing farmville, or cleaning her house instead of writing and playing with her new friends.
I'm going to stick it out with Penny and Hank, because it's a book I would WANT to read. I see a light at the end of the tunnel and I think it might be salvageable.
AT the end of the day, I like Penny, I really like Hank and I want to hang out with them some more.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
For those of you who don't know Synopsis suck, hence the name sucknopsis. A Synopsis is a one to two page summary of your book. That's not a big deal, right? you wrote the book, you should know what's it's about? Right.
How do you condense a 70,000 word book into 1 page?
Leave out the details.
Tell, don't show <--which goes against EVERYTHING you know as a write.
Main plot points only.
Focus on the main character.
Sounds simple enough, but here's the thing, no one goes into writing to write a summary. No, we write because we like word play, we like characters, we like dialogue or exploring new ideas or rich worlds that are completely unlike our own. In other words we write because we like to be creative.
A synopsis is boring, its like REAL work... worse yet it's like a homework or a book report.
Why does it need to get done? Because some agents require it, how else are they going to know what happens in your book if you don't tell them.
So below are a few links on how write a sucknopsis.
At Guide to Literary Agent blog, Chuck Sambuchino gives an example of a great synopsis for possibly one of the greatest movies in the past 20 years, Eternal Sunshine in a Spotless Mind. What's nice about this is that the movie is very confusing story and yet makes complete sense. It would be a nightmare to write a synopsis for it, but Chuck does an excellent job of it. And he includes some links at the bottom of his page.
He also give a few step by step example of how to write it here.
Querytracker.net Blog is always a good resource on how to write in general. Here's one on how to make your synopsis ROCK and who doesn't like a little rock.
YA Highway has a great article about the dreaded synopsis and I'm pretty sure this is where I stole to term Sucknopsis.
Because a mid week link session would be complete without it, here's Nathan Bradford's take on a synopsis.
Lots of the sights repeat the same information, again and again.
And it all comes down to practice.
Yes, it's skill and drill. Yes, its homework. But of the query process is like the final test, then having a great synopsis is like having a great study guide.
Monday, June 07, 2010
2) I made this announcement today via Twitter-- when I hit 50 followers I'll do some sort of very cool contest--- although I have NO IDEA what, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. PLEASE leave comments below
3) I just hit 35K of Penny and Hank tonight. I have just under three weeks left to write it. I know my goal was 60K--- but honestly- I don't think I'm going to hit it. Not because I'm avoiding writing but because I don't want to force words on a story if they don't need to be there. I WILL finish this book by the deadline. It will have a satisfying ending. It just won't hit 60K. I'm stating that now for the record. Although I am hitting fun and pivotal plot points and if my adult ADD and the shiny distractablty of the internet didn't distract me (way to use the same word twice in a sentence).
4) So YaHighway (and Alicia just won a contest over there) is having yet another contest! YAY. This one you can receive early copies of some very cool up coming YA book, including The DUFF! I'm super excited to read this even though I know it's just going to make me feel SUPER depressed that I can't write like that.
Here's the linky link. To the BEA Giveway.
This post is going to be about the writers' conference. I promise not to name drop or do anything annoying like that, but there will be a few names placed in this blog.
Alicia and I arrived in New Jersey on Friday at 7 pm-- there was a ton of airport issues but the important thing is we got there. The hotel was having a prom, which was weird because my prom was held there and the book I was pitching had their prom in that same hotel.
We woke up too early and got dress and awkwardly hung around the hotel room until we opted for coffee. By the time we got back, the breakfast was up and running. The keynote speaker was incredible. She described the pain and depression of writing -- which sounds like a total bummer but it was funny and touching and accurate. The best part about it, for me, was when she spoke about being a mom and a writer. That it's ok to do both. She puts the MothErhood. Me in motherhood. I rushed out and bought her book Dairy Queen.
The rest of the sessions were excellent, I went to one on Character, Conflict and Pacing which confirmed what I knew about writing. IT was run by a agent who knew his stuff. No name dropping but he runs his own agency and it gets 2000 queries a year.
The agent panel was excellent too. There were six agents there and they answered all sorts of questions, from how many queries do you get in a day to what is the project you're most excited about. They even answered my question of, "When is the paranormal teen romance trend going to end? Should I wait to query until its over, because I don't have a werewolf questioning his sexuality in my book." It got a big laugh. The answer was "it's not going anywhere, so you might as well query because there are agents who are sick of it too."
Lunch was amazing-- Mary Kole sat at my table. (We had assigned tables) I introduced myself to her and when the girls who were sitting next to her left. She patted the seat and told me to sit next to her. We talked about books and what sort of books she likes, and what makes a good conference for her. Very cool person. And I didn't throw up on her shoes, so that was a pretty big victory for me.
I had a one on one with an editor--- who edited The DUFF (its coming out in September I believe and it's going to be huge) She liked my 15 pages, thought it had good voice and the dialogue was funny. She had some concerns about the setting but in my mind that's a pretty easy quick fix.
Only two sessions were sort of lame, but that's not a big deal, everything else was amazing.
Would I go back? YES!
Should you go to a conference? YES
Is it worth the money? Depends on the conference, but I'm going to go with a yes on this one.
Anyone wanna share their conference experiences?
Thursday, June 03, 2010
It's in my hometown of Princeton, NJ. A place I haven't been to since my wedding, and yet in my mind I can still drive through all the streets.
I'm worried that it's changed. I'm worried I'll get lost and look like a moron.
What if the place I grew up changed and grew up itself? What if it's not the place of my memories?
A about a year ago a ran into a friend from high school, I couldn't recognize him. He changed, got older. I don't think I've changed very much, sure I have a career, a husband and a kid. But how much have I changed? I don't know. It's weird. I live with me everyday, I don't notice the differences.
Also I'm worried because I might puke on an agent's shoes. My last conference didn't go well-- as you know-- I'm wondering how low my bar is to consider this conference a success.
I've got my hopes up pretty high (which is always a mistake) because there is a small flicker of a thought in my head that this whole thing is a sign.
1) I haven't been home in 8 years.
2) I'm going to pitch a book I feel confident about. (sort of)
3) My dream agent will be there. (although I found out yesterday she is no longer interested in my topic.)
4) The book takes place in my hometown.
It seems like a perfect recipe.
So writers, do you have any hopeful dreams or illusions of grandeur or any signs for above?
Also is there anything you think I might need?
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Ok, here's the deal, you spend at between six months to five years writing a book.
And you want to get it published. How do you do that?
GET AN AGENT. How do you get an Agent?
Due to weird ass formatting issues you'll have to scroll to the bottom of the page,
to watch a cool video about it.
Ok, queries have a very specific format, three paragraph, one bio paragraph.
Here's a great example of what not to do, over at GotYA.
Sadly, I've known writers who have made most of these mistakes.
Don't ever send your form query out to 100 agents and wonder why you got rejected.
Here's another important fact-
ONCE YOU QUERY AN AGENT YOU CAN NOT QUERY THEM FOR THE SAME PROJECT.
No matter how much you change your query letter.
You get ONE shot with an agent, don't screw it up by spelling their name wrong.
Format of a query letter:
Nathan Bradford is pretty much the best resource out there for this topic.
Here is a fill in a blank format
Here is an example of a good query on Nathan's blog.
NOTE: he is representing the book as well.
Formatting the query.
Publishing Cred. What to list and what not to list.
See told you Nathan was a good resource.
Mary Kole talks about What to Query here.
I asked Mary Kole a few months ago when was the best time to query, see her response here.
Examples of Queries and why they are rejected by Janet Reed can be found here.
I will give you a warning, Janet's comments are harsh and if you are having a "woo is me, I totally suck and I should give up writing and breathing" sort of day, avoid this website.
Kathleen Ortiz gives you Query Etiquette and Part 2 is here.
She recently had a query with a 11,000 KB attachment!
It blocked up her e-mail for hours. Not cool.
HUGE TIP: Research the agent, what they like and what they don't like.
Here are a few places where you can learn all about agents.
For YA and Children's books this is a great resource.
Query letters are hard, yucky and tedious.
There's lots of way to screw up on it.
So if you spent years of your life working on a novel, why not spent some time on your query letter and make sure it's perfect.
My first book I sent out 24 queries, I got 5 requests for content.
I was rejected because the novel sucked.
But I wrote a pretty awesome query letter and I learned a lot from it.
There's TONS of resources out there, but that was a small sampling that I found to be useful.
Well Maureen Johnson does a pretty good job of explaining the process here,
and since she's a published author she knows what she's talking about.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
First off I got organized-- outlined the scenes I had left to write. I had 25 scenes/ chapters to write. Basically 25 things I wanted to have happen before I ended the draft.
I like lists, they keep me organized and make me feel productive.
Over the weekend I crossed off 5 of those scene.
Last time I updated the blog I was on page 89 and had 22K words.
As of 9:38 on June 1 I have 127 33K words.
My goal is to hit 60K and 250 pages. I don't think it's going to 60k, I think I'll end up getting to 50- 55k. Which is fine because I don't want to drag the story out and have twenty pages of the characters watching Doctor Who, because while I would find it entertaining to summarize all the episodes, I'm not sure if other people would. And I don't want to get sued by a British lawyer--- they're so fancy after all.
Night all, tomorrow is a mid week links--- all about Queries.
To recap, I went to convention, I had the flu, I thought I was awesome, (normally a bad sign) and I had a meeting with an agent... It was not going well- I had two books but nether were ready to pitch, I just wanted to ask an agent a few questions....
And things got worse from there.
Yes, you guessed, I pitched both books. One was a young adult book with a combination of prose and E-mails and IMs, something I thought would be very marketable and original, but according to the agent, it’s getting done a lot. Yikes. Then the second book, I said, “It’s only on the second draft but I have a really good feeling about it.” Oh. My. God.
My brain had been screaming, shut up, shut up now. What the hell are you doing? Stop talking. But my mouth wouldn’t stop. It didn’t. It couldn’t. I kept rant and raving about the dumbest pitch ever. A novel I had a really good feeling about! My mouth and my brain had become completely discontented and were two separate entities trying to get control of my body. Some other information I came out of my mouth during this disconnect between body and mind, my profession, my daughter, and I’m pretty sure my bra size.
Time is a funny thing, pregnancy time was the longest time in the universe while ten minutes with an agent was faster then the speed of light by the infinite power. I thought I had only been talking for two minutes when someone came in and told her we had one minute left.
Then just as she’s about to give me feedback, I CUT HER OFF to ask her the four stupid questions I had intended on asking in the first place. Yep. I cut her off. Its like I’d had never been in a social conversation before, like I had been locked in a small room in a basement only learning English from whatever fragments would filter down through the vents.
She ended the meeting with, “At least you had a good time at the conference, and good luck with your baby.” Ouch.
That’s not even the lowest point of the day.
I sunk to a level of desperation that I never thought was possible. I went to the final session of the conference, on the verge of tears as I replayed the events of minutes ago. The woman I met in the beginning of the conference sat next to me, her agent session went much better and the agent asked for a manuscript. I felt like crap. I did the most humiliating action I could ever do. I pounced on the woman and asked her to read my first 10 pages of the novel I had a good feeling about. I told her, “I just need to hear its’ good.” Newest personal low. Worse then anything I did in high school or college put together. I basically forced a woman to read my writing and tell me it was good. It was like I was raping her eyes and mind.
While she was reading and I was wallowing in modification I noticed something was very wrong. The woman looked up at me and said, “Its very good and funny.”
I blinked at her. “You’re missing four pages.”
And that’s the point when I wanted to kill myself.
I sighed and thought one day I’ll be laughing about this. Or someone will. Hopefully when I’m dead.
At the very least people should learn what not to do.
Hopefully Saturday will go better.