Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Funnies

I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because 
I don't think it's finished yet.
~ Lawrence Welk

Once you've put one of his books down, you simply can't pick it up again.
(Mark Twain talking about Henry James)

I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it. 
~ John Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Very Lovely Surprise

The very sweet Tira at Runaway Moments presented me with this lovely award. Thank you so much, Tira. I really can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I've got an extra spring in my step today :) If you haven't visited Tira's blog yet, I highly recommend it. It is full of beautiful images and lyrical words. Just wonderful :)

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog along with the name of the person who awarded you, and their blog link.

2. Pass the award to fifteen other blogs and remember to contact the bloggers to let them know.

Here are my nominees, just a sampling of a few blogs I love to read, in no particular order:

Abby Annis at Evolution of My Neuroses
Suzanne at Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness
Lisa Amowitz at Why A?
Mary Anne Gruen at the Starlight Blog 
Bonny at B.J. Anderson 
Cole Gibsen at Hair Dye and Samurai  

Corey at Thing 1 and Thing 2  
Jody at Author, Jody Hedlund 
Stephanie at The Writer's Cocoon 
Natalie at Natalie Bahm 
Megan at Megan Rebekah Blogs...and Writes
Sheri at Diary of a Children's Book Writer  
Stephanie at Chronicles of a Novice Writer 
Carol Anne Strange at My Writing Journey 
Kate at The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WIP Wednesday

Soooo....are we all ready for NaNo? :D I am cautiously optimistic. I have a fairly good synopsis for my new book and an outline of sorts. It's more of a "This happens then this happens then this happens" type thing, but hopefully it will help give me an idea of what to write :) I'm sure the story will mutate at some point, as it always does, but at least I've got a starting point.

I'm curious to see how this will work for me. I've never tried outlining before, at all. My stories always turn into something completely different than what they started out as. In fact, my first two books both started out as sort of "coming of age" stories about a girl and a few of her relationships. Somehow, that storyline turned into a historical romance with a treasure hunt and a YA paranormal with gods and cool powers. Go figure :)

But, I've never had this much of an idea of where I wanted the story to go. It was always a general "I want the story to be about this." This time, I actually have the whole story mapped out. Not specifics necessarily. I don't have any of the chapters fully outlined with minute details. It's more of a "Chapter 1 - The MC meets character one at the bookstore - he follows her home" "chapter 2- flashback to how she got where she is - meets up with character 3"...That sort of thing. But it's much more defined than anything I've ever done before. I am actually really excited to see if this method works well for me :)

My current novel is just about done. I've done all the major revisions it needs (I think). My main group only has about 30 pages left to go through, and my second group has about half the book, but as they've only been finding minor things here and there (commas and dialogue tags that could go, etc), I'm pretty confident that this book (which finally has a title!!!) is ready to fly the coop :)

How is everyone else doing? Present projects making progress? NaNo novels prepared to go?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blog Chain - What do I fear?

Okay, this is for the blog chain, though I am several days late. I was going to skip it altogether but as I'm feeling so much better and this round is still going, I thought I'd squeeze in :) Kat picked our topic this round. She wants to know:

What are the primary fears that drive your characters? Do they battle aliens or gangsters or monsters? Or do they battle unreconciled issues in their lives? Which do you prefer writing about? What do you fear?

Fears are funny, I think. When it comes right down to it, all fears are internal. You may have a very good reason to fear something, (see Cole's post if you haven't yet), but the fear you feel is based in your head.

I had a nightmare once, when I was in my mid teens. I was in my room and a blinding white light was shining through my window - like someone had focused a spotlight on it. There was a man standing in my room, but he was made of shadow - black and sort of hazy. No features, just a black outline though it was solid. And red eyes.

I've slept with a nightlight ever since. To this day.

I also fear spiders, ghosts, enclosed spaces, heights and losing my loved ones. All of those fears are totally irrational, justified but unfixable, or unavoidable. I'm huge compared to a spider. I step on it and it dies. But I'll run if one is big enough. I generally stay out of my basement at night and never EVER watch or read ghost stories...esp at night (not even Ghostbusters). I avoid enclosed spaces and heights if at all possible and go to my happy place and breath deeply if I can't (no amount of exposing myself to such places has cured these fears). And I'm going to lose people I love. I already have. And I will again. Yet I fear it.

I put these same fears into my characters. Sure I give them a real monster to fight- that's always fun. :) But those internal those are intense battles. I like to watch my characters conquer their fears. Sometimes it takes more than one try, but there is nothing more rewarding than beating a fear...even if it's only temporary.

Several of our members have posted some really awesome quotes. One of my faves is:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that 
something else is more important than fear. 
~Ambrose Redmoon

I actually first heard that quote while watching The Princess Diaries :) But it's so true. I may fear a lot of things - but I can be courageous, no matter how bad my boots are shaking, when I need to be :)

The awesome Shaun is after me in the chain and check out Bonny's post before me!

A Heartfelt Award

Diana Paz over at Writing Roller Coasters very kindly awarded me with the Heartfelt Award last week. Thank you so much Diana! Receiving this award definitely put a smile on my face during a very difficult week :)

The description and rules for this award are:

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside. Rules: Put the logo on your blog/post. Nominate up to to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside. Be sure to link your nominees within your post. Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

I know this may seem like a total cop out, but every blog I read falls under this description. The writers whose blogs I follow are all incredible people who truly love this wacky business we are in. Their posts are insightful and heartfelt and warm my days. nominees are...all of my wonderful followers, readers, and those whose blogs I follow. I know I don't get around to commenting much, but every morning when I come downstairs and turn on my computer, it is with a little thrill of "ooo I wonder what everyone will have to say today" :) Each and every one of you deserve this award, so if you are reading this post, copy the award and post it proudly on your blog. And thank you again, Diana!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are You Having Fun?

I'm baaaack :D Still a bit loopey, as I have to stay on a few meds for the next several weeks, but doing much better. Thank you so much for all the kind comments and get well wishes. You guys rock :)

So, what have I been up to lately? Well, for the most part, editing and preparing for NaNo :) My current book is so, so close to being finished, and I think I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going for my new book. And I'm excited...EXCITED...about both of these things. And it got me thinking about why I do what I do.

I've come across people in crit groups or writers forums that seem so stressed out and disillusioned by the endless rounds of edits and revisions and harsh critiques and agent rejections and publisher rejections that they do nothing but complain and bash writing and the publishing industry in general. Yet, when asked, "If you hate it so much, why do you do it?" they invariably answer along the lines of "I've put so much work into it, I can't justify quitting" or "Because being a published author has been a dream of mine since I was little, I'm not going to quit."

While I admire being able to stick with something even when it gets difficult, it's the attitudes behind it that confuse me. This business can be hard. It is a roller coaster of emotions and successes and failures. But most writers I know still love what they do. LOVE it with a capital L. Despite all the hardships and ups and downs, writing just isn't something they could ever do without.

I came across a quote the other day that sums up how I feel about it.

Most people quit. If you don't quit, if you rewrite, if you keep publishing in fancier places, you will understand thta "What's the secret?" is not the question, which is "Are you having fun?"
~ Robert Lipsyte

I read that and thought, "Yes! That is the question!" Are you having fun? Even though you may be crying in your Cheerios over that rejection or at having to cut half your book and start over - are you having fun? Cause if you're not...then what's the point?

Life is too short to spend so much of it engrossed in something you don't enjoy. I write because I love it, because I enjoy it, and because I have fun doing it. Coming up with new storylines, reading the comments of people who are enjoying my stories, losing myself in new worlds and ideas, penning that perfect line, all these things make me dance around with joy. Polishing up that manuscript, sending out those queries...even with the rejections and the hard work and long's fun to me. Have you ever seen the look on a dog's face as he rolls around in the grass? That look of sheer and utter happiness?

Yeah, it's like that :D That's what writing does for me.

Writing, even with the downsides, is one of the great lights in my life. If it wasn't, I wouldn't bother.

So how about you? Are you having fun? :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Apologies

Sorry for the post flakeage this week. I am battling an allergic reaction to some new medication and the medication they put me on to get rid of all the hives and swollen limbs sort of knocks me out :D I'll be back next week!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

WIP Monday and a Reading List Update

Well, my turn for the blog chain falls on Friday, which pushes our Friday Funnies to Wednesday, which pushes WIP Wednesday to Monday....orrrr I suppose I could leave WIP Wednesday ON Wednesday and do funnies today...but since I've already started I think I'll leave well enough alone :D

This about sums up my week :D

Well, not totally true. I did finish going through my manuscript myself. My first crit group only has four more chapters to go through and the last crit group has 9.5 chapters left. I've been doing revisions as I go along, so, for the most part, I'm just about done.

Although...I may have run into a sort of major, but probably not as bad as I'm thinking plot thingy I may or may not need to fix. :D Confused yet? Yeah, me too :D So, I am holding off on any major rewrites until all groups are done critting. Then I'll see what the main concensus is :)

How is everyone else doing? Making more progress than me, I hope :)

Since I am waiting on crits, I got to read a little bit this week. I finally finished Echo in the Bone, the much anticipated new book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

Now, usually, I can polish off one of her 1000 or so page books in a day or two. This one took me a while. I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with the fact that all I've been reading lately are YA books. So I got used to the very quick pacing and the "only add what is necessary to the plot" type storylines of this genre. The Outlander series are much more involved than that.

It may also have to do with the fact that this book follows the perspective of four different characters or couples. Jamie (swoon!) and Claire, Roger and Brianna, Lord John, and Jamie's son William. Honestly, while all storylines were interesting, I think I would have preferred sticking to Jamie and Claire and Roger and Brianna.

I felt like every time I'd really get sucked into a storyline, it would stop and focus on another character. And when that happened, it was easier to put the book down for a few days as I wasn't totally swept up in the new storyline yet.

Having said all that, I did very much enjoy the book and will eagerly await the next (which will probably be several years in coming) as there were several occurrences in this book that desperately need to be resolved in the next.

I also spent the last two days reading Dan Brown's newest, The Lost Symbol. I am torn about this book as well. I enjoyed it, very much. But the pacing of the book kept getting slammed on hold by long passages of philosophical musings on Ancient Mysteries and Noetic Science. Don't get me wrong. I was fascinated. But it sort of felt like I was reading two different books: the intense story of Robert Langdon trying to solve the mystery before everyone dies, and a non-fiction book outlining the principles of noetic science, the Masons, Ancient Mysteries, the origins of our country, etc.

Now, those passages were interesting enough that I actually would like to go look up more information on all of it. But I think the story could have been more intense, or more consistently intense, without some of the "heavier" info dumps.

And *SPOILER ALERT!!! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING!!!!*  I'll still try to be a bit cryptic :D I had the location of the hidden item figured out very early on in the book, and have a hard time believing that the Masonic brothers would go through as much trouble as they did to keep the secret that they did, even to the point of giving up their lives, considering the item involved...seeing as how it is readily available to anyone who wants it anyways and was available (though admittedly, not nearly as much as in present times) at the time it was hidden. But that's just me :D

But again, I did truly enjoy the story, had several "Holy crap, no way!" moments, was brought to tears a few times, and think anyone who likes Dan Brown's previous books will enjoy it as well.

All in all, two thumbs up on both of them :D

Also, though I was privileged enough to be able to read The Hollow, by the ever awesome Jessica Verday, several months ago, I can now add it to my list of new books read as it is actually out in stores now. Well, it has been since last month, but I forgot to add it to the list sooo I'm doing it now :D You can click on the picture of her cover on my sidebar to find a retailer :)

I started out the year going strong - but the end of the year is creeping up fast and I still have 18 books to go. I better get my butt in gear :) I have read a ton of other books, but they were all rereads, so I can't count them. Ooo, and I just realized the new House of Night book (P.C. and Kristin Cast) and the new Merry Gentry book (from Laurell K. Hamilton) are out this month! Yay!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Funnies

There's many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
~ Flannery O'Connor

Never judge a book by its movie. 
~ J.W. Eagan

When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.
~ Erasmus

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday

I don't really have a WIP anymore (not for a few more weeks). I am still editing, of course, and am about halfway done, I think. I've been trying to brainstorm ideas for another non-fiction book, but haven't really come up with much there. Well, I have one idea, but not sure about it. More stewage needed :D

So, I have moved on to researching (and outlining, as I mentioned on Monday) my new book. And I'm having a lot of fun with it, actually :)

But, until I actually start writing it, I just don't have much to report.

What has everyone else been up to? Projects going well? I didn't get to ask last week, so I expect much progress to have been made ;-D

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Outliners Got Me

(posting change up - in an effort to keep myself mildly sane :D I will be posting on this blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and on the new blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays)

Also - HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! to my stepson Matt. May your day be spectacular :)

Well, since I mentioned in my Blog Chain post that a great way for a character, or person, to experience change and grow is to leave their comfort zones, I thought I'd share my recent "leaving the comfort zone" experience.

*ahem* I have decided to outline my next book  :D

I know I always said I hated to outline, that I would never do it, that I liked to just write by the seat of my pants. I still do.

However, I have decided to give outlining a try for a few reasons.

1. NaNoWriMo - I will be starting this book for NaNoWriMo - I am hoping that an outline will keep me on track, remind me where I need to go, and thus help me meet my word goal

2. Revision Problems - I am hoping to head off some revision problems. With both of my past novels, I've ended up cutting about half of the novel and completely rewriting those sections. Mainly because I get off track and write a bunch of stuff, that, while I love it, just doesn't help the plot any and bogs down the pacing. So again, maybe an outline will keep me on track and prevent major cuttage when the time comes

3. A Better Story - This time around, I want the main story fleshed out. I want to know who my characters are, what their motivations are, what they will be doing in the book, what their main conflict is and what they'll need to do to resolve it. I know things will still happen as I write that I don't plan. That's good. I love it when that happens. But I don't want to get halfway into my story and have no idea where to go. Or have to come up with some lame storyline at the last minute. I want to have a good story with an interesting plot with a lot of cool, well thought out stuff happening. I think an outline will help with that.

4. Better Characters - I would like my characters to be more thought out this time. I want a better idea of who they are. I had a bit of a problem with my main character with my last novel. I don't want that to happen this time

And you know, so far it hasn't been so bad :) I've mostly been focusing on research and fleshing out my plot. And I'm getting really excited about this story. I was struggling with my characters' motivations and their main conflict. I had an idea what I wanted it to be, but wasn't positive. Had I just started writing with the general idea that I had, I would have either gotten stuck, frustrated, and given up - or come up with something that wasn't the best idea in the interest of continuing the story.

This time, I have a really good idea of my story from start to finish. And I think I may reach all of my goals, simply by taking the time to really ponder my story and outline where I need to go. We'll see how it goes :)

How about everyone else? Do you guys outline? Ever? Have you tried it and hated it?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blog Chain: Take a Trip

First of all, thank you so much for all the well wishes and kind thoughts. My family is finally back to feeling mostly normal, minus a few lingering coughs and sniffles.

And now, it's Blog Chain time! This round, the topic was chosen by the ever awesome Sandra, who wants to know:

What kind of journeys do your characters make? What effects do they have on the characters and the plot? Also, if you wish, please tell us about one of your personal journeys and how it changed you.

Well, depending on what I'm writing, I like to explore other locations, settings, and even times with my characters. When I write historicals, I am able to take the characters all over the world and delve into many different eras. It is fun to immerse myself, through my characters, in past cultures and societies. 

For stories set in present day USA, the physical journeys in my stories often serve as learning and growing experiences for my characters. Something that will happen along the journey will impact my characters and they are forced to react. Going out of your own little corner of the world often means leaving your comfort zone. If I have my characters physically traveling it is usually so they can meet new people, see new places, experience new things, all so they can change and grow on a psychological journey.

I like when my characters change and grow through the things that happen to them throughout the story. I don't think you have to go on a physical journey to take a psychological trip, though I think physical trips can help open one to personal changes because it gets you out of your comfort zone, out of what's normal and accepted and open's your mind to new things and experiences. So, I like to explore all those options with my characters.

How about you? What types of journeys do your characters take? 

Be sure to check out Bonny's answer before mine and head over to Shaun's blog to see what he has to say on the subject! 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Annnd....I'm not back yet :)

First of all, thank you so much for all the kind comments on the last post. They definitely put a smile on my face. Thanks for all the well wishes!

I am going to have to extend my hiatus a bit and do an unplugged week. My family is fighting swine flu at the moment. My son started the cycle and it is sort of making the rounds. We are doing pretty good, starting to feel better, but with two sick kids, a sick husband, and still not feeling 100% myself, I think a longer break may be in order :)

I will be back and blogging next Monday the 12th. I hope everyone is healthy and happy and writing like mad :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Taking a little Break

I am going to have to go on hiatus for a few days, hopefully just until Monday. My family is a bit under the weather :) Hope all is well with eveyrone else. Happy Writing!!!

Here's a funny for you! :D