Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Everyone!!






















May the New Year bring everyone health, happiness, success, and many, many shiny new words :) Happy New Year's!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Games Begin In Just a Few Short Days!

All right ya'all....we've got 20 days until my book comes out....and we're going to have some fun until the big release :D

In the tabs at the top of my blog, you'll find one for Book Release Games. This page contains all the info you'll need on all the upcoming games leading up to the day of my book release and Blog Tour kick off. The links and specifics of each game will be listed and active the day they begin, but you can find general info about what's coming up now.

Once the Blog Tour gets underway, I'll list links to all the stops on the Tour as well as links to any giveaways that may be occurring. PLUS, I'll have info about how you can enter the huge Grand Prize Giveaway at the end of the Tour.

So...what is the first game, you wonder? Well, my book is a guide book on how to write essays and term papers...those pesky, hair-pulling, unfortunately necessary and required aspect of every single English class in the country. If you are going to school or know someone who is, an essay is in your future, plain and simple. My book is design to make those assignments a little easier, because let's face it, papers can be a pain to write, even for those of us who write for fun!

So we'll have a few games centered around essays and writing with some fun books and swag as prizes.

The first game/contest kicks off this Saturday Jan 1st so don't forget to check back here for details!

In the meantime, I could use a little help. My awesome stepkids got me a Borders gift card for Christmas (do they know their step mama or what!!) Any suggestions on books? I've got a few in mind, but am having a LOT of trouble narrowing them down LOL What was your favorite book this year?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Things I Learned From My 7 Year Old

So much about surviving in this business depends on attitude. Rejections, critiques, reviews...they can all get to you if you don't have the right attitude about them. Keeping a positive attitude can be anything but easy.

But it is possible to have a positive attitude about anything if you choose. Something that was brought home to me as I watched my 7 year old open his presents on Christmas morning.

He's a cute kid on any morning, but this Christmas, he was so flippin adorable I almost couldn't stand it. He didn't stop smiling once, not even when things didn't really go the way he wanted.

For instance, he and his sister received desks (she for her art, he for his science and art projects). They were both very excited about them, and about the presents stacked on top. Now, these presents went along with their desks (they were filled with office supplies, crayons, markers, stickers, etc). And since they both always get in my computer paper for their projects, I thought having their very own stash of paper would be fun.

My son unwrapped his paper (it was the first present he unwrapped) and when he saw what it was, he said, "Oh you gotta be kidding! Paper?"

Now, he could have said this as "Oh you gotta be kidding, paper?" *insert sarcasm and exasperated eye roll*

But it was said with a laugh and a smile. He put the paper to the side (instead of chucking it across the room) and moved on. Some kids would have reacted with a much different attitude. (And he has since had a lot of fun with that paper, so it's all good) :D

My favorite moment of the day came a few minutes later as he was going through his stocking. He found a box of those storybook lifesavers (which Santa forgot he didn't care for). He held them up, smile from ear to ear, laugh in his voice, and said "Awesome I hate these!"

Now, I think he was saying "awesome" and then realized what it was and switched to "I hate these" - but either way, he didn't throw a fit, he didn't even look disappointed, he just put them down and moved on. And gave the rest of us a good belly laugh at the same time :D

It got me thinking. How do we react when something doesn't go our way in the writing world? What do we do when a request that looked so promising comes back with a rejection? What do we do when a manuscript we thought was clean and polished and ready to go comes back from a critiquing with so much red you can't see the white of the pages anymore?

I realize everyone is going to have a moment where they want to quit, hit delete and never write again, or shoot off a nasty email to the person who sent that rejection or critique. It's natural and totally understandable to feel supreme disappointment. We pour our hearts and souls into our work and it hurts when it doesn't make it.

You can't do anything about how other people view your work. You can't make an agent sign you, or make that editor buy your book, or make your crit partners send your manuscript with a big smiley face and a "PERFECT!" rating.

But you can politely thank your crit partners and move on, even if you cried yourself to sleep over their comments, even if you'll never use one of their suggestions. They took time away from their own work to read yours. Just say thank you with a smile on your face and move on.

Got a bad reject? STAY AWAY FROM THE REPLY BUTTON. Resist the urge to tell that agent/editor that they don't know what they are talking about. Maybe they don't. Maybe passing on your book will someday be the biggest regret they ever have. I'm sure the people who passed on Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling and John Grisham give themselves a little kick every now and then.

But it doesn't matter. This business is subjective in the extreme. Everything depends on getting the right book in front of the right person at the EXACT right time - over and over again. You can't control any of that. But you can control your attitude when disappointment comes your way. You can have a minute of mourning for the shiny possibility that didn't pan out....and then put a smile on your face and move on. Bigger and better things will be waiting for you if you have a good attitude and keep on going. A bad attitude will burn a lot of bridges and wear you down.

If my son and thrown a fit over the paper or the unwanted candy, Christmas morning would have been miserable for everyone. There were much better presents under the tree, more delicious candy in the toe of his stocking. But he never would have found that out if he'd stopped unwrapping after the first disappointment (and to be honest, his attitude about that paper was so good I'm still not sure if he was disappointed or not).

Bottom line - you are going to wade through a lot of coal before you get to the good stuff. Having a bad attitude about it will make the journey miserable for you and everyone you are involved with. A good attitude will make even crappy candy and stacks of computer paper a lot more fun, and it will make finally finding that shiny new bike under the tree a much more rewarding moment.

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday! :) May our new year be filled with good attitudes and awesome rewards for hard work :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

(My post from the OA yesterday) :)

It's a couple days after Christmas, the year is drawing to an end, and it is inevitable that our focus begins to turn to the shiny new year waiting just around the corner. I've heard the phrase "New Year's Resolutions" bandied about frequently in the last several days. It's not a term I like much. Mostly because it feels like yet another to-do list I'm going to fail to accomplish.

So this year, I decided to make a Desire List instead....everything sounds better with the word "desire" in it....okay, maybe not EVERYTHING, but it certainly sounds better than "resolutions" which just makes me think of "requiem" for some reason, and that just isn't a fun word.

Anywho....what do I desire for next year? The usual, I suppose....to be a better mom and wife, write some books, sell some books....and of course lose 10 (+ a few dozen and a few dozen more) pounds.

There are a lot more things I'd like to do, more goals to accomplish, but really, those are the big ones for me. Spend more time with my family....continue working on my writing career. Or to simplify it even further....to keep my focus on the big picture.

I figure if I keep it simple and keep my focus narrowed on what's truly deep down important to me, maybe the stress of trying to keep up with everything else will lessen. Maybe I won't be so hard on myself when my blogging fizzles. Maybe I won't feel so guilty if I spend a few extra minutes with my kids instead of on a manuscript. Maybe I'll let my exhausted body rest instead of staying up till the wee hours of the morning plugging away on some project or other.

Maybe. :)

I think too often we allow ourselves to get so overstretched and engrossed in whatever million projects we've got going on that we forget to focus on the big picture, the main goal, the one thing we really, truly want. We allow the details to swamp us until we forget the goal we were working toward in the first place.

Operation Awesome's Lindsay mentioned Pointilism in her awesome post a few days ago....it's sort of like that....We get so focused on the dots we don't see the larger pictures. Are the individual dots important? You betcha. Without them, there wouldn't be a larger picture. But if you spend all your time staring at those dots, you'll never see the masterpiece they form.

So, next year, I'm going to try to focus on the masterpiece, and spend a little less time stressing over the dots. :)

How about you? What's on your Desire List for the new year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

And the Christmas Coutdown Begins....

Is everyone ready for Christmas!? I can't believe it's just days away. My kids are so excited....luckily (for me) they are still in school. They got a week off for Thanksgiving, so they only get a week off for Christmas. They are in school right up till Christmas Eve (Thursday is their last day). Of course, this would be a bit irritating if we were traveling this year, but as we aren't, I'm going to enjoy having my days free to get ready for the big day :)

I'm going to take a Unplugged Week this week so I can hang with my family and take a short break before things start picking up momentum in preparation for my book release in just a few short weeks (squeee!!!!) But, I'll have a little Christmas funny posted for you every day :)

I hope everyone has an amazing holiday and I'll see you next Monday!




Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leah Clifford on the OA

Come to the OA today!!! We have the fabulous Leah Clifford stopping by to answer all your questions! Don't miss her!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Funnies





Have an awesome weekend everyone!!!! And don't forget to stop by the Operation Awesome Blog on Sunday for a Q and A session with the lovely Leah Clifford :D

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You...

Upcoming events!

On this Sunday (the 19th), the OA will be hosting the fabulous Leah Clifford in a fun Q and A session. Stop on by and ask Leah anything you've ever wanted to know and she'll stop in throughout the day and answer your questions :)

And starting in Jan (just a couple short weeks away) I'll be kicking off my book release festivities. Every week leading up to my release on Jan 20th, we'll be doing something fun....games, prizes, contests, and giveaways! Stay tuned for more details! :)

Now, I know my blogging has been a tad intermittent for the last week or two (or three) - however, I think my heating problems have finally been solved, my internet seems to be working at last, my laptop is up and running, and I'm ALMOST caught up on crits and projects. I think LOL So, I will try my hardest to stick to our regularly scheduled blogging :)

In the meantime, I feel very out of the loop....what's going on with everyone? How are projects going? Querying? NaNo edits? Tell me what's been happening!! :) Is everyone ready for the holidays?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What's Your Point?

When it comes to writing either non-fiction or fiction, there is one thing you should always ask yourself....what's your point?

No matter what you are writing, you should have some sort of goal in mind - what are you really trying to get across to your reader? For non-fiction, most narrative essays will have some sort of moral to the story, some reason for telling the tale. And for non-fiction works such as term papers and other types of essays, there is always a main point to the paper. When choosing arguments, evidence, and examples for your project, keep your main point in mind...make sure everything you are writing supports that point.

For fiction, what is the main point of your story? What are you leading up to? When writing your scenes, make sure they are leading somewhere...there shouldn't be anything in your story unless there is a reason for it to be there. It needs to move the plot along, there needs to be a reason you are spending time depicting what you are depicting.

Just remember your point :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge

Well, the year is drawing to a close and I'm very happy to say that I've just about reached my 52 books in 52 weeks goal. I never think it'll be a problem to read 52 books in a year....that's only one a week. Yet somehow, it always becomes a challenge. Of course, part of the reason is because I'm only counting new books, not the many well beloved books I reread through out the year.

I've noticed that I tend to go in spurts. I'll have several weeks, even months, where I won't read a new book, or even an old one, at all. Life gets in the way, a wonderful burst of writing productivity hits (I rarely read when really immersed in a WIP), deadlines hang over my head, children need attention, and that darn laundry ALWAYS needs folding. But then, I'll have a week or so where I read book after book after book, devouring them with every waking moment.

As long as I get them in, I'm happy. I've reached 50. I need just two more books....and I have about three more weeks in which to get them read. I know I'll be getting a bunch of new books for Christmas...but that won't give me much time to read by the end of the year. So, I think I'll have to browse a bookshelf or two and get in my quota for the year :) (Check out my list on my sidebar if you want to see the new books I've read this year. I loved them all!!)

Did any of you participate in this challenge (or one like it) this year? Did you meet your goal? What's the best book you've read this year?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Epic Contest of Awesome

Beth Revis is having an absolutely epic (and I don't use that word lightly!) contest. With not one, not two, but 99 prizes available in addition to an incredible grand prize. If you haven't entered yet, head over there now!!

Friday Funnies

If you can’t annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.
~ Kingsley Amis 



You really ought to read more books — you know, those things that look like blocks but come apart on one side. 
— F Scott Fitzgerald 



I don't take drugs, I take books. 
— Ingeborg Bachmann, Malina

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Writer's Christmas

So my husband and I were sitting at the table the other day discussing what to get the kids, and each other, for Christmas this year. I usually just get my own presents and pretend I'm all surprised :) but this year I'm making him get me something (aren't I mean? Mwahaha) I told him I already had his present picked out. He said he had no idea what to get me.

I'm confused by this.

Aside from the fact that we've been married almost 10 years, I'm a writer. I'm not that hard to figure out. I'd be giddy over a few spiral notebooks and a new pack of pens. Especially if there was a cute stack of designer PostIts on top. (I heart me some stationary!) Sure, there are some "harder to figure out" gifts I'd really enjoy like a few new computer programs or maybe some new CDs for my playlist.

But really, if you are ever in doubt about what to get a writer, you can resort to the always popular gift card to your local bookstore. I go after new books the way our cat goes after cat nip. Want to make me really happy? Get me a huge gift card to the bookstore and a new bookshelf to put all my shiny new pretties on....and a pile of new stationary 'cause like I said, that stuff is ALWAYS fun :)

What is your ideal Christmas gift? What do you think the perfect writer gift would be?

p.s. thanks for all the "warm" wishes :) The heater is still out (we've dropped a few more degrees so I am REALLY hoping the heater parts come in SOON) but we are really doing okay. It's toasty warm upstairs in the bedrooms with the doors closed and the space heaters going full blast, so we've just been hanging out up there. My real whine is because my laptop is dead until my new charger gets here (hopefully today!) so, since the main computer is downstairs and it's too cold to work down there, I'm not getting anything productive done. Except laundry. But, you know, I'd rather be writing LOL

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fingers Frozen...Can't Type

Happy Wednesday morning everyone :) I really just popped in real quick to say that I'm just popping in LOL Our heater finally quit over the weekend and while the landlord sent someone out, they have to special order parts. Which means, it's 45 degrees in here and my fingers are seriously too cold to type LOL

The new charger for my laptop should be here today (frozen fingers crossed) so I'll be able to take it to my room where it is actually fairly warm as the space heater is able to completely heat the smaller space.

So for today, let me just wish everyone a happy, productive, and warm middle of the week :) I'm going to go hide under some blankets now :D

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tutor Tuesday - Settings

Whether you are creating your own settings while writing fiction or analyzing settings while writing non-fiction, this story element is an extremely important part of the equation.

Let's look at non-fiction first. You have to analyze a story for an essay and you decide to look at the settings of your piece. Some stories have more pronounced settings than others. In some books, the setting is more of a subtle background, the stage on which the actors play, while in others, the setting is almost a character in and of itself.

Say you are asked to write a literary analysis of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some questions you may want to consider when analyzing the setting of this book are:

* What is the time period? Would this story have worked better set in a different time?
* What is the location? Would the story have worked better elsewhere? Are several locations used in the story? Do they work? Would a specific scene have worked better in another setting? If all the scenes are set in the same location, would the story have worked better set in several different locations?
* What season is the story set in? If it is set in winter, would it be better set in summer? Does the season echo what is happening in the story? (example: Do the love scenes occur in the summer while the trial occurs in the winter, or vice versa?)
* What time of day is it when important events in the story take place? Do the sinister things happen at night while the happy things happen during the day? Why do you think this is?

While the setting may seem like a simple part of the story, it can actually have a huge impact on what is going on. The events detailed in The Scarlet Letter either wouldn't have happened or would have happened in a very different way with a very different outcome if the story had been set someplace like the farthest frontier outpost or an indian village or in the southern states...even during the same time period.

The setting of a story, not just the physical location but everything about it (time of day, season, outside (forest or beach) or inside (and what type of building if inside)) can greatly impact the success of a story. Thoroughly exploring this literary tool can be a great start to your literary analysis.

For fiction, you can ask yourself these same questions as you are creating your settings. Are you creating the best setting for your story? Would it work better somewhere or some time else? Are you giving enough detail for the reader to see the setting without going overboard?

This one can be important. In the first draft of my first novel I described my character pulling up to her home and spent 4 PAGES describing in minute detail every nook and cranny of the house. And I did that several times throughout the book. I was convinced if I didn't give the reader all that description, they wouldn't be able to see the location.

But you know, readers have great imaginations. Give them enough to get them grounded, to let them know what your world looks like, without drowning them in pages of description that they'll never read. I generally start skimming if there is more than a paragraph of description, no matter how beautifully written. Chances are, your readers will too :)

What is your opinion on settings? Do you like long, descriptive passages that describe every detail, or do you like to set things up in your own imagination? What is your favorite literary setting?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Would you Die?

I was going through some of my favorite quotes last night and came across one that said something about how you should only write if you would die if you couldn't. And another one which said something along the lines of "If I only had six minutes to live, I wouldn't stress...I'd just type faster." Or something like that.

Which got me to thinking, would I die if I couldn't write?

Honestly, no, I wouldn't die. And I wouldn't spend my last few minutes on Earth writing either.

But then, I thought about something else that we've talked about before. We discussed on several occasions how even when we aren't writing, we are still writing. Story ideas and scenes and dialogue and characters and settings and everything that goes into our stories continually swirl through our brains whether we are committing all those things to paper or not.

So no. I wouldn't die if I couldn't put my thoughts on paper. But I don't think it would be even remotely possible to shut of my internal writer. It's just part of me. It's how I see the world. There is always an internal monologue in my head, always. Have you ever scene The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black)? You know how Amanda (Cameron's character) is always hearing those voice overs (she makes movie trailers and keeps hearing these voice overs describing her life). That is EXACTLY how it works with me. I'll think about a scene or see something in real life that sparks a thought, and it's like watching a movie scene in my head...sometimes with narrator and sound track playing in the background. :D

I'd never stop thinking about writing everything down, but I'd survive, I think, if I couldn't. But for the rest...no, that's a part of the unique pile of quirkiness that is me :)


How about you? Would you die if you couldn't write?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blog Chain - Tales of Totally Random Awesomeness



All right, my blog chain lovelies :) For our last blog chain of the year, I get the honor of picking the topic. So I thought we'd have a little fun :D Her Royal Sharkness Janet Reid often runs fun little contests in which she'll list 6 totally random words that entrants must form into 100 words or less stories. I've participated. I've enjoyed. Now I want to see what you guys can come up with :)

Soooo, thanks to my husband's awesome flip-through-the-dictionary-randomly-stopping-and-blindly-pointing-to-a-word technique, here is your task:

In 100 words or less, write a story using the words ride, post, soulless, local, dehydrator, girdle. Your story may take on any form you wish. The only two rules are 1. you can't simply list the 6 words; you must actually craft them into something creative, and 2. you must use ALL six of them.

Have fun :D Be sure to stop by Shaun's blog tomorrow to see what he comes up with! In the meantime, here is mine :)


The soulless girdle squeezed the life out of me. Every breath a fresh tidal wave of pain. But I looked good. The local boys wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. I twitched, paranoid my ridiculous undergarments would ride someplace unfortunate. I sighed. I’d never be one of those girls on the cover of the magazines, the ones that looked like they’d had one too many run-ins with a dehydrator. But I had curves no stick-post runway model would ever have. I gave my dress a final tug and stepped into the flash of camera lights. Show time. (98 words) :D

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funnies

Best rejection letter E.V.E.R. :

We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that in the next thousand years we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our short sight and timidity
— rejection slips from a Chinese economic journal 



Lightning does occasionally strike and occasionally the result isn't a corpse. 
— Tillie Olsen on publication 



The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. 
— Robert Benchley

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Having a Good Day :)

Why, you ask? Well, despite the fact that my heater is once again not functioning (the pipes are probably frozen again so hopefully by this afternoon they'll thaw enough for it to kick on) and the fact that my kids are home due to flooded roads all over town (they were back to school for a whopping 1 day after a very long Thanksgiving vacation) I am STILL having a good day because....

MY BOOK IS BEING PRINTED AS WE SPEAK!!! Or...as I type LOL AND I also got to look over my full cover (front, back, and spine) for final approval yesterday. Just TOO cool :)

Ooooo, AND there are two incredible blurbs on the back cover of my book - one by the lovely and wonderful Suzanne Palmieri, and the other by my very dear friend/crit partner/agent sista Christine Fonseca. How cool is that!!!?

So, despite the minor set backs of the day, still:


How is everyone else doing on this fine Thursday?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mystery Agent Contest at Operation Awesome!

Welcome to December!!!



To kick off this lovely month right, we've got a brand new Mystery Agent Contest over at Operation Awesome. Here are the details:

All YA and adult subgenres except for Christian fiction, erotica, MG, and picture books.

Please include title/genre in the comments.

The first 50 one-line pitches posted will be considered. Mystery Agent will choose one winner.

The winner will have Mystery Agent's full attention when they send their full MS. Yep, you heard me right -- YOUR FULL MS! So don’t forget, please have your manuscript ready to send before you pitch.

We will post when the 50 slots have been filled, so even if there are 50 comments, go ahead and leave yours unless you hear otherwise from us. We'll have actual comments or questions in there as well, so not all of those 50 comments will be entries.

Good luck to everyone!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blog Chain - What are Books to you?



So, apparently I DID have something to post today...I just totally forgot LOL

It's my turn on the blog chain, and for this round, Kate wants us to fill in the blank:

Books are __________.

It's been really interesting reading everyone's responses. I sort of thought everyone would have the same answer and that hasn't been the case at all. Everyone has had wonderful posts on this.

For me, books are........an addiction.

Seriously. I crave them. I think about them ALL the time, whether it's about reading them or writing them. I dwell on the characters and worlds I've immersed myself in for long after I've closed the book. I dream about them. I could talk for hours about them. I let my house crumble around my ears when I'm in the middle of a good one. I carry one with me at all times. My house is bursting at the seams with them and I still want more! My dream is to have a huge library in my house, with rolling ladders to reach all the shelves :D

The second pay day hits, I go out and buy at least one new (or new to me) book. I have kept the library cards from every place I have ever lived (and I've moved a lot). When I don't have something to read, I go a little crazy. I'll buy books I'm not horribly interested in because if I need something to read and that's all that's available, I can't just walk away empty handed.

I'm seriously addicted....and I LOVE it :)

Be sure to check out Laura's awesome answer from yesterday, and stop by Shaun's tomorrow to see what books are to him :)

How about you? How would you fill in the blank?

Getting Back into the Groove

Okay, so we were supposed to get back to our regularly scheduled blogging as of yesterday, and here we are on Monday morning and I've got....nothing LOL

I think my brain is on turkey overload or something. A combo of too much good food, too much time off of writing (the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to get back into it), a destroyed house that is squashing what little creativity is trying to break free, and two kids who have been on vacation going on 7 days now and have been cooped up in the house due to weather.


How do you find the drive to write when everything in life is conspiring against you? 

I know breaks are good and life gets in the way but, if this goes on any longer, I despair of ever writing again.....help :D

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging :)

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! My house is destroyed...and my kids are home for another two days before heading back to school....at this point it would be easier to move :D Though we did get our Christmas tree up this weekend. Since we were in the middle of moving last Christmas, we didn't get to do the big tree with all the trimmings, so I am enjoying getting everything all Christmased up :)

But, vacationing children and their destructive tendencies or no, tomorrow the routine must begin again...or I'll never get back into gear LOL

OOooo how did everyone do on NaNo!!? 

I'm over on the OA today - stop by and say hi! :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head. 
— Audre Lord 

So don't feel bad when the voices start screaming at you :) Okay, that had nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but I thought it was funny LOL I'm going to take the rest of the week off - I've got family coming in and not only is tomorrow Thanksgiving, but it is also my birthday :D So I'm going to have fun with my family and just chillax for a few days :)
I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe holiday! I'll see you bright and early on Monday!




Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tutor Tuesday - How to Write a Memoir

We haven't done a Tutor Tuesday in a while, and since I've been in a haze of non-fiction lately (editing my author proofs for my book (squee!!!! done!!!!) and organizing my blog tour, etc, I thought I'd revisit a few tips on how to write a little non-fiction.

Most writers I know or have met, who write NF along with fiction, are memoir writers - or would like to be someday. Writing a memoir isn't that much different from writing fiction - you still want to pull the writer into the story, you are usually trying to make a point with what you are writing, etc. With the one huge, glaringly obvious difference that a memoir is TRUE, as opposed to our less true fiction works :)

Writing a memoir takes a lot more effort than just recording the events of your life as you recall them happening. Here are just a few tips to get you started.

1. Pick a theme 

The difference between an autobiography and a memoir is the focus of the narrative. An autobiography is the telling of someone’s life. A memoir focuses on the theme (or themes) of that life (or episode in the life). Think of what you are writing about. What is your message? What is going on? What is the moral to your tale? Are you writing about your life as a cautionary tale? Was your life changed by one spectacular event? What events in your life led up to that? Picking a theme helps narrow your focus so that you don’t get distracted with stories that have nothing to do with that theme.

For instance, if I was focusing my memoir on how I am the unluckiest person in the world who ended up winning the lottery, I’d choose to share events in my life that illustrate that. Share unlucky episodes, anecdotes, and events that led to me winning the lotto. I would steer away from writing about my first puppy or my first car or my high school graduation…unless those events helped to support the theme I want to get across. You want to tell the story of your life…but a lot of stuff happens to us in the course of a lifetime…you need to find a way to narrow that down and trim a bit of the excess.

2. Make it conversational 

You gotta make it interesting. Don’t drone on and on about your less than stellar childhood – make the reader feel like you are speaking directly to them. Pull them into your narrative, make them feel what you were feeling, experience what you experienced. Put them in the story.

3. Use your senses 

This is a good way to draw your readers in. When you write a scene, think about your five senses. If you are describing a trip to the beach, what did you smell? What color was the ocean? What sounds did you hear? Could you taste the salt on your lips? Did the hot sand burn your toes, or did it feel cool and silky?

4. Ground your story in the real world 

This seems like a given, but when you are writing about personal experiences, you are (naturally) focused inward. Add details to your narrative that help place what is happening to you in the real world. Things like cultural references (what movies were playing, what songs were popular, etc), modes of transportation (were wood paneled station wagons littering the roads, or was everyone driving a hybrid?), popular clothes fashions (shoulder pads and teased hair or bell bottom jeans and long, shaggy hair?)….these types of details can be woven into your memoir to help set the setting.

5. Be ethical when writing about living people! 

This one can be tough, and it is completely up to you if you will use real names or not. But consider how your story may affect those you include. Telling the world that your sister had an affair might be great for your story, but how will it affect your sister? In my opinion, changing the names of the major players in your narrative don’t adversely affect your memoir in the slightest – and using the real identity of someone who would prefer to remain anonymous could hurt you (and them) much more than it could help your book. Again, this is only my opinion, and this is a subject that can get really touchy, but if your sister’s affair is something you need to include in your book (maybe it is what broke up your own marriage, etc), I don’t consider it dishonest if you change your sister Patty to your cousin Susan – the event is the same, the results are the same, the STORY is the same. Changing a few details to protect someone who has no choice over your freedom of speech is not, in my opinion, dishonest.

Now, saying you were a drug dealer that lived on the streets when in fact you were raised in a million dollar mansion in Beverley Hills is another thing entirely. Changing the facts and events of your life is dishonest…that isn’t a memoir, that is a fiction novel. But changing a name or two…making a sister a cousin…you aren’t changing anything that affects the outcome of your story. Just think long and hard before you include someone that might not want to be included. You have the right to tell your story, but they have the right to keep their lives private if they wish.

6. Above all…KEEP IT HONEST! 

As we just discussed, fabricating the facts of your life doesn’t do anyone any good (as some writers have discovered). When you label something a memoir, you are making a sort of promise to your readers that what you are telling them is the truth, that the events that you are sharing really happened. If the events of your life aren’t enough on their own and you need to fabricate experiences to complete the story…then do what you wish, but don’t call it a memoir – call it fiction, because that is what it is.

Will you get hauled into court and called a fraud if you couldn’t remember that it was raining the night you fell overboard into the sea so you said it was a clear night? Probably not. It’s a small, insignificant detail that doesn’t affect the outcome of the experience. Are you being dishonest if you say you fell overboard when you’ve never set foot on a boat in your life? Yeah. You are. Don’t do that. :)

Now, these few tips are just the bare basics of memoir writing. For more detail and specific How To tips, you might want to find a book or two on memoir writing. I recommend Judith Barrington’s Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, to start you out.

There is also a chapter in my upcoming book on writing narrative essays (which can be a sort of shortened version of a memoir), along with tips on how to take your writing up a notch.

Have you ever thought about writing a memoir? Or have you written one? Narrative essays (like Chicken Soup for the Soul stories)?

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNo Fail

Ah, my dear NaNo,

We had a good run, you and I, but alas, it was just not meant to be. I don't regret a single moment of our time together. We made it longer than any other NaNo year I've ever been with, and have over 20,000 beautiful new words to show for it. But sometimes, life and more important deadlines just get in the way. It's no one's fault. We just....drifted apart. We wanted different things. I know you wanted what was best for me and our manuscript, but your unwillingness to be flexible was a problem I just couldn't overcome. And that's not your fault. It's not you, it's me. If I could have stuck to what you wanted, the result would have been amazing. All I can say is, I did my best. I'm sorry it wasn't enough.

We had some amazing times together, and the words we created are well worth the stress and near panic of every looming word count goal. I'll still think of you, from time to time, especially when I'm shredding our precious creations.

And this doesn't have to be goodbye forever. Maybe, once we've taken a break, stepped back and given each other some space and time, maybe we can try again.

We'll always have November.....

Best regards,

Michelle

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On the OA today with the fabulous Christine Fonseca - come say hi!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Funnies with a bit of Music :)

Some funny videos for your Friday :D (language warning: the first says the "a" word :) )

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lot of Words Thursday :D

Crowding is what Keats meant when he told poets to "load every rift with ore." It's what we mean when we exhort ourselves to avoid flabby language and clich├ęs, never to use ten vague words where two will do, always to seek the vivid phrase, the exact word. By crowding I mean also keeping the story full, always full of what's happening in it; keeping it moving, not slacking and wandering into irrelevancies; keeping it interconnected with itself, rich with echoes forward and backward. Vivid, exact, concrete, accurate, dense, rich: these adjectives describe a prose that is crowded with sensations, meanings, and implications. 

But leaping is just as important. What you leap over is what you leave out. And what you leave out is infinitely more than what you leave in. There's got to be white space around the word, silence around the voice. Listng is not describing. Only the relevant belongs. Some say God is in the details; some say the Devil is in the details. Both are correct. ... Tactically speaking, I'd say go ahead and crowd in the first draft — put everything in. Then in revising decide what counts, what tells; and cut and recombine till what's left is what counts. Leap boldly. 

— Ursula LeGuin


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sound of Writing

You know, writing is so much more than just a visual experience for me. I see the scenes play out in my head, I see the words I type and love to read them, of course. But there is so much more to the act of writing. The smell of the paper and ink as I shred my manuscript with my brilliant red pen. The feel of the paper beneath my fingers. The taste of my blood as I suck on yet another paper cut LOL (I toldya...I'm kinda klutzy sometimes) :D

But what, you may be wondering, are the "sounds" of writing that I love so much? Well, I tried to find a clip from You've Got Mail to help me illustrate, but apparently, I'm the only one who totally got what Frank was talking about when he went crazy over the sharp retort that sounded when he struck his typewriter keys :D Couldn't find a clip.

It's not the sound of a typewriter I love, or even the sound of a keyboard. It's the very specific sound of the keys on a laptop being struck. The sound they make when I type. I seriously wanted a laptop for that specific reason. For other reasons too, of course. But the first thing I did when I got my laptop was type like mad, just to hear the sound. I like the sound of my regular keyboard on the family's computer okay....but the sound of my fingers hitting the keys on my lovely laptop (or any fingers hitting the keys of any laptop for that matter) ahhhh, sweet dulcet tones!

The other sound I love...a quill scratching across paper. One of the reasons I loved writing my second book so much was that I wrote it by hand, using those gel pens. They make a very similar sound to a quill...that lovely scratching as they move across the paper. I LOVE that sound. I'll scribble nonsense for hours just to hear that sound.

(p.s. conversations like this are why my husband thinks I'm crazy) :D

Are there any sounds of writing you love? What other aspect of writing do you love, besides the visual part of reading your words?

NaNo stats: still behind...working to catch up. Did get 1366 words out yesterday, so a fair showing, though not enough to get me to where I need to be....here's hoping I do better today! :D How is everyone else doing?

Oh! And major book giveaways going on today!! And I mean MAJ.OR. Over 180 blogs are participating, each one doing their own giveaway. Here is a link for the list of those participating. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Characters on the Blog Chain and a Thanks to my Editors!

Today you get a twofer because it is both my turn on the blog chain and Thankful Tuesday (a la Christine Fonseca) - First up....the thank yous :D Today we are thanking our wonderful editors, without whom our books would quite literally suck :D

I've had the pleasure to work with several editors, along with a team of other awesome people who are working hard to get my book all polished and shiny and ready for its debut in Jan. Adam Schwartz is the awesome acquisitions editor who signed my book - he is the one who started me off on this dream come true and I am more thankful than I can say that he decided to take a chance on a new author with a tiny platform and believed in my book enough to make an offer for it. Along with Adam, Michael Pye, the senior acquisitions editor at Career Press, has been a tremendous help and has fielded several newbie questions from me with patience and kindness, for which I am eternally grateful.

Then I had the pleasure of working with my developmental editor, Kiersten Dalley. She was absolutely amazing, had incredible ideas, and even came up with an idea for a new chapter that I just love. Saying Thank You seems so inadequate, but THANK YOU!!

Most recently, I've been working with my line editor, Diana Ghazzawi - she has really helped bring my book up from just okay to pretty dang snazzy :D Just an FYI, don't ever think you'll be able to get away with anything once your editor gets a hold of it - they call you on EVERYTHING and make sure you fix it :D She helped me make my examples more fun and interesting, had me add a much-needed new first chapter, and literally went through every line of my book to make sure everything was as it should be. And fielded a million questions from me in the process. She has been amazing to work with and I am so thankful for every minute of time she spent on my book. Thanks so much Diana!


And now for our blog chain question - this one was chosen by the awesome Abby who wants to know:


Where do your characters come from? And once they've been introduced to you, how do you get to know them?

For me, it sort of depends on the character. I have characters pop into my head all the time. Sometimes they have names, sometimes not. Sometimes I change their look a bit from what I see in my head (I just lopped a finger off a character....he needed something a little more amped up than a simple facial scar like he'd had :D ) and sometimes I write them like I see them and they stay that way. There is always some aspect of their personalities that changes - with my first MC, Min, I toned down her klutziness, amped up her intelligence, made her less trusting, more ambitious, and a little more feisty than when she first appeared. The basic character of Min stayed the same, but the specifics needed tweaking.

I get to know them by writing them. I don't do character sketches or interviews or collages, though I see the value in doing them. For me personally, doing something like that, at least right off the bat, feels forced. For the most part, I write what I see for the first draft and then, with subsequent drafts, I go back through and make sure my characters are who they need to be. The more layers I add, the more times I read the manuscript, the better I get to know them and the more "real" they become to me.

Just like with any "real life" relationship - the more time I spend with my characters, the better I know them.


How do you get to know your characters? Do you craft them one characteristic at a time, or do they show up fully formed and ready to go?

Be sure to check out the lovely Laura's answer from yesterday and swing by the spectacular Shaun's tomorrow to see who his characters make themselves known.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finding the Time

So, the weekend got away from me once again :) I was on the OA yesterday talking about how I find the time to write (which, obviously, I don't always lol) But here is an abbreviated version of that post for anyone who didn't see it. Happy Monday everyone!

1. Carry a notebook and pen, a recorder, laptop, etc so you can jot down notes if you think of something even if you don’t have time right that second to write.

2. Get chores and errands done in a timely manner – get them done first thing, then any spare moments that come along during the day are free for you to write. \

3. Treat it like a job. Sit down and do it every day no matter what, no matter how many words you manage. Just get something done every day. It is not always important WHAT you write – that is what editing is for. What is important is that you sit down and DO IT. Butt to chair, fingers to keyboard (or pen to paper). When you least feel like writing is when you need to do it the most. To aid in this:
• Make a writing schedule - choose a time when you can sit and write every day and when that time rolls around SIT AND WRITE
• Set goals - set a realistic goal every day and do everything you can to meet it

4. Prioritize your activities – use your spare moments wisely. Decide what is the most important to you and what can be sacrificed to get a few more words in.

Author Kenneth Atchity said:

Every human being has exactly the same amount of time, and yet consider the output of Robert Louis Stevenson, John Peabody Harrington, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury,William Goldman, Neil Simon, Joyce Carol Oates, Agatha Christie and John Gardner. How did they accomplish what they have? They weren’t deflected from their priorities by activities of lesser importance. The work continues, even though everything else may have to give. They know that their greatest resource is themselves. Wasting time is wasting themselves. When people ask them, “Where do you find the time?” they wonder, “Where do you lose it?” 

How do you find the time to write?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the OA Today

Okay, I've decided I just need a big surplus of words to carry me through the weekend (the stats I posted yesterday were what I ended up with as of Friday night) - yesterday......nada.....today so far.....zippo......argh. Behind again - but I'll make sure I have enough by next Friday to carry me over next weekend LOL

I'm over on the OA today talking about Making Every Second Count :D Come say hi! :D

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNo Stats

Okay, are ya'all ready to be proud of me? :D I actually buckled down yesterday and wrote my little fingers off and managed to pull off.....ready?.....4371 words!!! I'm so excited LOL Potato Man is doing the dance of joy. I can't believe I actually caught up. Hallelujah ;-D


How is everyone else doing? For those not doing NaNo, how are your projects coming along? Or just life in general? :) Anyone doing anything fun this weekend?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Funnies


"Donne's verses are like the peace and mercy of God. Like his peace they pass all understanding, and like his mercy they seem to endure forever." King James 1


"I was working on the proofs of my poems all day. In the morning I put a comma in and in the evening I took it back out again." Oscar Wilde



"I thought I'd begin reading a poem by Shakespeare but then I thought why should I?" He never reads any of mine. Spike Milligan

(NaNo stats....still behind...but catching up :) )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thirty-three Word Thursday

We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art. 
— Henry James 

(NaNo stats: the cushion has left the building :( I've had a strange few days in which almost nothing has gotten accomplished. Once I tackle Mt. Laundry I will tackle Mt. Manuscript. I will conquer both clothes and word count if it kills me - huzzah!)

p.s. I hope the rest of you are doing better. Give me some motivation, spark that competitive streak - give me some word counts :D Who is whipping NaNo's tail!?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Andrea Costantine's and Lisa Shultz's How to Bring Your Book to Life This Year

Good morning all :) Today, I'm pleased to be hosting Andrea Costantine and Lisa Schultz as they celebrate the release of their new book, How to Bring Your Book to Life This Year: An Exploratory Guidebook on Writing and Self-Publishing.

If you are someone who has always wanted to write a book, but hasn't for some reason, or if you are interested in self-publishing, be sure to check out their book :) They've stopped by today with a few tips on how to make the process of writing a book a bit easier.

Can writing a book really be easy? Three So-Easy Strategies – They’re Just Silly.

It’s hard to believe just a year ago I didn’t even have a book in the pipeline. At the time, it was just some pipe-dream. Little did I know that in less than twelve months I’d soon have two books on the market. It seems ironic since I had struggled for years to even commit to an idea for a book, but now the ideas are everywhere.

Why was my experience so easy? What was different or was I just plain lucky? In reality it was none of those excuses that even I’d love to believe. If I happen to come across a page of luck, I’d surely share my secret formula, but it isn’t about luck at all.

Over the course of the year, there have been three-oh-so-easy strategies that supported this stellar growth. Besides only sleeping on Sundays, and cloning myself, - teasing - these are the three things that I know can help bring your book to life too!

Drumroll p-uh-lease!?!

Collaboration. First, I didn’t go at it alone. Lone-ranger out – team player in! My book and business partner Lisa Shultz is my main collaborator; however, in our first book we had 47 other lovely ladies submit their chapters to us. Which made the writing process a whole-heck-of-a-lot easier. Imagine a book with your name on it and you just have to write a few chapters!? When I went to take my first stab at writing a book, I failed, I barely got started, and the whole-darn process seemed overwhelming as all get out. I quit. Here’s where luck or serendipity did come in. Lisa asked me to join her on her book project, and I said yes! Suddenly, I saw the light. If you want to do something big in your life, whether write a book or become president, you are not going to get there alone.

Goals. I know, this sounds elementary. But they work. Goals, deadlines, and a fire under your-you-know-what are seriously the key to just getting that book written and out into the world. Trying to write a book without some looming deadline means that your book may, just may, be ready for print in 2025. Clearly define your goals and figure it out from there. When Lisa and I partnered at the end of 2009, we picked late August for our launch date. We then worked backwards and timed out every step in between. It kept us on schedule and it kept the process moving along. We always knew where we had to be and when we had to be there by. Goals, however over-emphasized in our world, are a shortcut to accomplishment.

Accountability. If no one knows you are writing a book, or if you’ve locked up your work in a vault fearful of putting it out into the world – it’s never going to get out there. Accountability to others is one of the fastest ways to get your book done and out to market. Lisa and I checked in with each other so frequently during the writing and compilation of our books, that we never missed a beat. How are you on this? Where are you on that? How’s this coming along? What can I do to help you? Flailing along as a solo-aspiring-author is difficult, challenging, and lonely-as-the corner ice cream store in a February snowstorm. Don’t do it, do not, under any circumstances attempt to go at it alone. If you are writing a book as the sole author, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have an accountability partner, coach, friend, or mentor. Team up and you will find a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow, filled with inspiration, encouragement, and motivation.

So really, as you can see – writing and getting two books complete in one year isn’t all that hard if you abide by these oh-so-easy-strategies. Don’t wait to get your book done. Get your book done this year!

And if you are ready to take the leap and write your book this year, then check out Andrea Costantine and Lisa Shultz’s latest book  HERE.

Grab your copy today and receive two months accountability and writing support in their monthly mentoring group and other bonuses valued at $150.

For more information on Andrea and Lisa, you can visit their website HERE

Congrats on the book ladies!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful for Agents Day - Thank You Krista Goering!

Today for our month of thankfulness, we are saying thanks to agents (and thanks to Christine for the idea :) )

Even if you don't have an agent yet, I'm sure you can join with me in this one. Agents are really amazing people. They pour through hundreds of queries, submissions, and manuscripts, and spend countless hours helping to develop amazing projects that they then spend even more time submitting. The sheer amount of work they do, often for little or no money and very often on their own time, is just staggering. What an incredible, dedicated bunch of people.

I want to send a HUGE thank you to my agent, Krista Goering. I was terrified when we scheduled our first phone call LOL I mean, this was an AGENT, who was interested in ME :D But she put me right at ease. I have loved working her on my non-fiction projects. She's a wonderful agent. She always keeps me updated on anything going on, she responds to my emails faster than my own family, and patiently answers even my dumbest questions :) She even sent me a picture of my editors when she ran into them at a conference :D Sooo fun to see the faces of the people working on my book :)

I feel like I can go to her with any issues I may have with projects, present and future, and she is always there with some help or advice. She's been a pleasure to work with and I look forward to working with her on many more books. I can't thank her enough for all the hard work she does on my behalf :)

Krista reps fiction as well as non-fiction, so if you are looking for an agent, I highly recommend her :) Be sure to head to her awesome new website to check out her submission guidelines and what she's looking for.

Why are you thankful for agents? Is there any particular agent you'd like to send a thank you shout out to?

NaNo stats: Okay, let's just say I'm thankful that I have a little bit of a cushion, even though it is rapidly dwindling. I am going to beef up these numbers today if it kills me, and it just well might, but dang it all, I'm gonna try! :) I pulled a measly 842 yesterday. *le sigh* I'm going to go clean my house real quick so I can get some actual writing done today :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Evolution of the Female MC

I was watching some movies with my daughter over the weekend and they got me thinking about a few posts I'd read around the interwebs - about today's heroines. There seems to be a lot of concern over whether or not there are strong female leads in the books out today, and to be honest, I was surprised that a lot of people didn't seem to think there were.

Sure, there are the Bellas out there who spend more time getting rescued than kicking butt themselves, but it seems like every time I pick up a new book, there is a strong heroine taking the lead.

Case in point: Disney princesses. I know these are movies, but stick with me for a sec...

I'm the mother of a five year old girl...Disney princesses make up a huge part of my life (and, okay, they would even if I DIDN'T have a 5 yr old daughter...but I DO so I can blame it on her) :D

We watched Snow White this weekend. Meek, mild, gentle Snow White who wouldn't hurt a fly, fell in love with some guy who trespassed on her property and married him because he stumbled across her in the forest, and kissed her....while she was UNCONSCIOUS....with an entire woodland audience as witness.

And then we watched Princess and the Frog. Where the heroine has worked her tail off to make her dream of owning her own restaurant come true. Not only does she NOT fall in love with the prince at first sight, he irritates the crap out of her. And when the love bug finally strikes and they do the happily ever after thing, her happily ever after does not entail following him to his castle in the clouds. Nope. He follows her into the restaurant business.

And I cannot WAIT for Tangled to come out - Rapunzel looks absolutely hilarious pushing the stuck up prince around :D

Now, I know these are movies, not books, but I see this in literature too. Even Bella had her moment in the sun, flying off to Italy to rescue Edward. Hey, I was impressed. I'd be terrified to fly off to Italy to face off against a whole mess of angry super vamps. Give the girl some brownie points (oooo brownies....brb)

Anyhow, I'm just glad to know that my daughter is growing up in the age of Tiana and Katniss and Zoey from the House of Night series and all the other kick-booty heroines out there...not that I don't love Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but I'd rather see my girl out there pulling some Princess Fiona moves instead of waiting for some guy to come accost her while she's out cold in the forest.

Just sayin'.

NaNo stats! Weekends are tough for me - I don't usually write on the weekends. That's family time. So carving out the wordage was a little more painful than usual. I'm hoping to get back in the power writing groove today! But, I still pulled a respectable (I think) 1583 - I'm just happy for the word cushion LOL (p.s. I'm not really as frustrated as my potato guy lets on....I'm just having fun playing with all his moods) :D


Sunday, November 7, 2010

On the OA Today

I'm posting over on the OA today about the Occupational Hazards of being a writer :) Come say hi!!

NaNo stats for the day: (it's getting harder! Only 1660...but close enough and still ahead over all so iz all good)


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wordage Update

Okay, if I read the little calendars right, I'm a day ahead of schedule since I should be hitting 10k tonight (the word count you see below is the number I hit last night, so my starting number for today). Sooooo, I think I'll relax just a little today. A LITTLE :D Don't want to give up too much of my lead. Still gonna get some wordage in, another 1667 minimum if at all possible. But, for just a minute, I think I'll give the old fingers a rest :D How is everyone else doing? Happy Weekend all!!! I'll be at the OA tomorrow, so don't forget to come say hi :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Funnies

I found this on Timothy McSweeney's site via the awesome Janet Reid - and holy crap, I laughed till I puked :D Enjoy!

How to Put On a Sports Bra. BY ANNA LEFLER - - - -

1. Approach the sports bra with confidence, secure in the belief that you will wear it.

2. Holding the sports bra open by its bottom edge, peer into it and locate the medium-sized opening in the center of the cavity. This is your target.

3. Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions: A. Am I naked from the waist up? B. Have I removed my glasses? If the answer to either is "no," make the necessary adjustments and return to Step 1.

4. Snake your right arm through the right armhole as far as it will go. Repeat for left arm and left armhole.

5. Assume power stance: feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hook your thumbs into the sports bra's bottom-edge elastic and pull it out in front of you as far as possible. (Note: do not let go.)

6. In one, deft motion, pull the elastic toward you and over your head. If you have martial arts training, this would be the time to release your battle cry, or kiai.

7. You should now be standing with arms pointing skyward, the sports bra encircling you at chin level, binding your biceps to your ears.

8. Remain calm. Visualize yourself wearing the sports bra while engaged in a pleasant activity, such as not watching Jersey Shore.

9. Cross your arms in front of your face, grasp the bottom of the sports bra and begin tugging it down to your chest. This process should take 2-25 minutes and can be streamlined by the removal of one of your arms (advanced yoga practitioners only).

10. If you have followed steps 1-9 correctly, the sports bra is now strapped across the rise of your bosom, compressing the breasts downward to the point that you can see your pulse in your areolas.

11. Resume power stance (see Step 5). Holding firmly to the bottom edge of the sports bra, pull it away from your body in a downward arc until it grazes your kneecaps. Then, with a scraping motion, drag the sports bra upward along the front of your body, capturing all excess flesh in its path.

12. When the bottom elastic reaches the desired altitude on your rib cage, release it. Then, while holding the top of the sports bra away from your body with one hand, plunge the other hand into the sports bra to distribute and align its contents, which should include both of your breasts.

Note: If you are unable to locate two (2) breasts in the sports bra, do not become alarmed as they are likely nearby. Remove the sports bra (see "How to Take Off a Sports Bra") and return to Step 1 of these instructions.

How are my NaNo peeps doing? And my non-NaNo-ites!? How's life?

If you're looking to redo your blog or just like pretty banners, head to Kristal Shaff's blog for a chance to win a custom-made bog banner!! And don't forget to check in at Operation Awesome - as soon as we hear back from our mystery agent, we'll make the big winner announcement :D

NaNo Stats: I'm up another 1630 words :) Didn't quite hit my daily goal but definitely on target over all! :)



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thirty Word Thursday x 2

Sometimes language gets in the way of the story's feelings. The reader finds himself experiencing the language of the story rather than the story. "A man goes into a phone booth, stirring coins in his palm." "Stirring" is such an obviously selected word. You can feel the writer looking for the word as he sat at the typewriter. 

— Leonard Michaels 


Do you find yourself doing this in your own writing? I know we all sit and search for the exact right word, but have you ever had an experience, whether with your own work or someone else's where you've read a line, and instead of it having a powerful impact, you think "okay, I (or that writer) am/is trying too hard"?

And how are all my NaNo peeps doing? For those not doing NaNo, how are your other projects or just life in general going?

I have actually surprised myself - I'm doing much better than I expected LOL

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Characters' True Nature

So I was talking to a good friend/crit buddy of mine last night. We are both reworking old novels that have been sitting for several years and we are both just jumping out of skins excited at how our revisions are turning out. Apparently, even if you love a book like it was your own child, letting it sit for a year or three gives you a bit of prospective. I have been slashing away like you wouldn't believe....about 30,000 words so far. In fact, other than the characters and the basic story line, most of the story is brand new.

But we started talking about how I miss some of the scenes between my MC and her love interest but that I just couldn't keep them because the scenes no longer fit the dynamics of their relationship (they were very tender, gushy...love them, but their relationship has more of an edge to it now - there's more mistrust and other stuff going on instead of just straight 'OOOO I LOVE YOU SO MUCH' stuff).

And then we talked about how much I love the new scenes between them. And she pointed something out.

I still know about those scenes that are no longer in the book. Those scenes show how my characters really feel about each other - they show the emotions my characters can no longer afford to show. And all of that comes through in the new scenes.

It made me realize that THIS is probably the reason people do character sketches and fake interviews and bios or character bibles. I've never done one...never wanted to. I get to know my characters through writing them. BUT I have a tendency to let inconsistencies in their makeup slip through. I'm getting much better at catching that (and this is something that I've learned over the last year so it wasn't present when I wrote the first 100 drafts of this novel) :D (p.s. thanks Elana and Christine) :D I'm hoping that I'm just getting better at staying true to my characters...not that it will take several years to really get to know them every time. Because that could be a problem LOL

However, now, when I'm going through reworking these scenes, I am staying true to my characters and who they really are. I'm not forcing them to react the way I want them to react. When I first wrote the book, I wanted a story where they guy got the girl and they stayed together totally in love, totally trusting, through the whole book. But that's not only boring, it just doesn't fit the way real people are....and certainly doesn't fit who my characters are.

Rewriting these scenes and letting my characters' true natures shine out is just unbelievably exciting. *happy sigh* It's moments like this that really drive home to me why I do what I do :)

How about you? Have you ever tried to force a character to do something he/she/it just wouldn't do? Do you have trouble staying consistent? And do you do character sketches, etc before writing? I'm still not sure I have the desire to do one, but I can definitely see it's merits.

And how are my fellow NaNoers doing? I got my goal in last night so I am now up to.....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful for Crit Partners Day

In honor of Thanksgiving this month, every Tuesday is going to be devoted to spreading a little love and thanks for those who help make my writing life not only bearable, but successful and enjoyable. Today is spreading some thankful love for CPs day (a la Christine Fonseca) :)

I have been trying to come up with adequate words for a couple days now, and I just don't think it's going to happen. My crit partners aren't just helpful readers who give my manuscripts the shredding they deserve. They have all become very dear friends.

I couldn't have a "Thanks to CPs" day without thanking Jeannie Ruesch, the very first writer to really take me under her wing. I met Jeannie in my first formal critiquing group quite a few years ago. She took my very first novel and spent an incredible amount of time showing me the ropes, letting me in on all the little "rules" I'd never heard of (like killing adverbs, keeping to one POV instead of jumping between four or five in the same scene...or paragraph (no joke...4 in ONE paragraph...I was THAT bad), showing instead of telling, and all the other little intricacies that come along). Though we no longer crit each other's work, I will be forever grateful that she took so much time from her own writing to really set my feet firmly on the right path.

My new group, the incredible ladies at Operation Awesome - I've only been with you a few weeks (though Kristal has been a long time CP and very good friend of mine for years - I am so thankful for all your help and support), but I already feel like I've known you forever. You welcomed me into the group with open arms and made me feel right at home. You are an amazing ensemble and I am honored to be a part of your blogging and critting group. I look forward to reading your stories and to everything I'll learn from you as you read mine.

My YA partners, Christine Fonseca and Elana Johnson - Both of these ladies have been more than CPs for me - they are dear friends. I can't even begin to tell the two of you how much I've learned from you. Not only do you work tirelessly to help me find the exact right words for my stories, you are always there with a comforting shoulder and willing ear to laugh and cry and angst and vent with me. I don't know what I'd do without either of you. Christine pulls double duty as she crits both my fiction and my non-fiction. Being a writer who does both is a bit of an interesting twist, and brings its own barrel of fun. I don't know what I'd do without having someone to share that strange journey with. I spend a good part of every day chatting with Christine about every - not only writing, but about life. She supports me in every way and is truly one of the best friends I've ever had.

Toni and Cole - you ladies are always ALWAYS there for me, at the drop of a hat, to read everything and anything I have, no matter how many times I've sent it to you :) Not to mention being there for everything else. I don't know how many times I've whined to you over the years, about everything under the sun, but you are always there with comforting words and steel toed boots to give me a swift kick in the right direction :) You are both crazy, talented writers and my life would be seriously bleak without you. Toni is another dear friend with whom I talk every day - we check in with each other several times a day and I think she knows every single deep dark secret about me :) And she likes me anyway :D

My QT family - what an amazing group of writers I have the privilege of knowing. It's been incredible watching everyone grow and succeed and it's been a true honor to have been a part of your journey.

I'm starting to get all misty-eyed LOL My crit partners are so much more to me than just a group of people who look over my work. Each and every one of them holds a special place in my heart and I look forward to many more years of red ink and shredded manuscripts :)

I am more thankful than I will ever be able to express :) Muaaah! Love you all :)


As for NaNo - after some first day jitters, I pulled myself together and actually managed to go a little over my goal for the day! Which will be helpful because I have no doubt there will be days (and many of them) when I'll fall short :)



How is everyone else doing? And while we're at it, have you spread any CP love today? :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Agent Contest and Blogfest and NaNo, Oh My!

Today's the day! Break out those one-line pitches and head to Operation Awesome for the MYSTERY AGENT CONTEST!!!! This is not just for YA/MG - our awesome mystery agent is on the look out for adult fiction also, so hurry on over!!!

And don't forget to showcase those logline/hook line/pitch lines for Steena Holmes's epic blogfest! Head to her blog for details - the blogfest starts TODAY!

Now if that's not a little fun to brighten your Monday, I don't know what is :D

And lest we forget....IT'S NANO TIME BABY! Dunn dunn dunnnnn (hehe) How are those words coming? My potato man is all warmed up and ready for me to drop some pages in his box - here is is for your viewing pleasure :) Good luck to all you NaNo-ites out there!



So, how is your Monday morning going?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween :D

Happy Halloween!!!!


I'm over on the Operation Awesome blog today - come by and say hi!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monday Reminders - You Don't Want To Forget These!

Just wanted to remind you, yes again (because I really really REALLY don't want you guys missing out on any of the Monday awesomeness!) - there are two places you DEFINITELY want to head to on Monday.

1. Steena Holmes's blog for an awesome logline/hook line blogfest - with prizes! She has been posting some really helpful posts all week long about how to write these little babies - so you might want to head over now and get some polishing tips because....

2. The Operation Awesome blog has something epically fun and potentially career changing that you MUST checkout...and you might just need a shiny, polished one-line pitch for a certain Mystery Agent who just might be stopping by to collect them *whistles innocently* Okay, so that wasn't exactly subtle :D MYSTERY AGENT CONTEST COMING YOUR WAY! :D Don't miss it!

Have a good weekend everyone! I'll be posting over on the OA blog tomorrow, so stop by and see me :)

SO MARK MONDAY ON YOUR CALENDARS!!!!!! It's going to be a blast! :D

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Round Up and a Little Linkage

Last night's chat with Elana was a complete BLAST!!! Loads of good info and lots of laughs too :) If you missed it, you can view the transcripts over at the Operation Awesome Blog. Thank you so much to all who participated, and a HUGE thanks to Elana! She not only came and spread her awesomeness, she even stayed for an extra half hour. You are sheer AWESOME Elana, no doubt about it :)

Today on the Operation Awesome Blog we have an interview with the fabulous Janice Hardy! Janice is stopping by as part of her blog tour for the second book in her Healing Wars trilogy, BLUE FIRE. She is dishing about fantasy and what makes it so awesome. Be sure to stop by and say hi!!

Also today, Theresa Milstein is hosting a fun Halloween Haunting on her blog Substitute Teacher's Saga - stop by for a chance to win some awesome signed books and haunt a few blogs :D

COMING UP! Monday - don't forget to head to Steena Holmes's blog for a Logline/Hook line Blogfest!! Get those loglines/hook lines polished up!!!

And for a little funny, as it is Friday - check out Operation Awesome's Kristal Shaff in her How to (not) Write a Query video :D Hilarious! CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Query Chat Tonight! and How to Write a Non-Fiction Query

Today's the day!! Join us at the Operation Awesome Blog at 9pm EST/8 CST for a LIVE query chat with the Queen of Ninja Queries herself, the awesome Ms. Elana Johnson. 

In honor of our query talk tonight, I thought I'd repost an article I did last year on How to Write a Non-Fiction Query. Elana will be addressing fiction (which I know most people who read this blog write) but in case there are a few of my non-fiction peeps hanging in the wings, here's a little something for you :)

And for everyone, no matter what genre you write, DO NOT MISS this awesome opportunity to get all your query questions answered by the woman who literally wrote the book on the subject. (Seriously, she did, and it is AWESOME...you can buy it HERE) :D


Now, for non-fiction queries, even though the elements are similar to a fiction query, it's just a whole different angle of pitching your book. So, here goes.

What to include in your non-fiction query:


1. Your lead/hook

Just like in a fiction query, your opening paragraph should hook the editor or agent into wanting to find out more. But you also need to clearly state what the book is about. With fiction, sometimes you might leave out some details in order to entice your audience into wanting to read more. But with non-fiction, publishers generally buy the book before it's even written based on your proposal. They need to know specifically what is in your book in order for them to want more, so get right to the point. Don't save the best for last. Start with your strongest material. You could start off saying something like, "In a recent NYT article, it was reported that over 60% of Americans are dying to buy my book." :D You could also use a strong anecdote or comparison.

2. Supporting Material

This is where you back up your thesis (the idea for the book). You could add some preliminary details that you've researched. This is also where you would state why your book should exist. What is the need for it? Maybe mention the strong market for it. Will your book help millions of students pass their math classes? Say so. Will it teach all those frustrated mothers how to deal with fussy children? Point that out. Are the skateboarding teenagers of the world crying out for a book on cool stickers to decorate their boards with? Well this is the book they've been waiting for!!

Sell your idea and back up your claims. Just make sure you do it in a page or less :D

3. Author Bio

As in fiction, this is where you toot your own horn as loud as you can. But make sure the material is relevant. The editors and agents don't need to know how many kids you have or what kind of dog you have, unless your book is about training kids or dogs :D Do you have any publishing credits? Put them in! Degrees, special training courses relevant to your book, any other experiences that prove why you are the best person to be writing this book? Put it in! You want to show them why you are qualified to write the book you are proposing, why you are the best one for the job. So any relevant credentials you have, be they educational, professional, or real world experiences, should be included.

4. Closing

Use strong closing statements to finish off your query. Don't be shy about stating clearly what you are looking for. "I am seeking representation for this book. I look forward to your response." Don't use phrases like "I hope you like this," "I hope I'll hear from you soon." Keep it strong and confident. And be sure to thank them for their time. Being polite never hurts :)

And it is always a good idea to have a writer friend or three look over your query before you send it to help catch those embarrassing typos we all make. :)

When you are writing your query keep in mind these two things: what is the need and how does your book address that need?

This is your selling point - this is what will make a publisher buy your book. With my book, I pointed out how many students were in this country (with actual statistics), pointed out that every single one of them had to take Language Arts classes where they would be expected to write essays, and then I pointed out how much trouble the vast majority of these students have with this task.

I mentioned how other guidebooks out there tend to be too technical, hard to understand, and just plain boring and how this does nothing but further confuse and frustrate students. And then I zinged in with how my book was going to change all this. I pointed out the ways in which my book was different, mentioned specifically everything my book would contain (step-by-step instructions on how to write over a dozen different types of essays, including the SAT essay; rough draft, edited, and final copy examples of each type of essay; tips on researching, citing sources, and proofreading).

I followed it up with my bio - and since this was a weak section for me, I made sure to list EVERYTHING that could help show why I was the best person to write this book....my degrees, my personal experience with helping people with writing, my experience with my blogs, and the publications in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.


And it worked :)

Please join us at over at Operation Awesome tonight! Bring your query questions and take notes! See you there :)