Friday, January 29, 2010

Head's Up :)

Just a quick note - I'm in the mood for a little color so I'll be playing with my blog layout this weekend. Just in case you stop by and wonder why it looks different every time ;-)

Happy Weekend!

Friday Funnies

Happy Friday!!

How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.

How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reading Challenge 2010

All right, so last year I didn't quite make my goal of 52 new books in 52 weeks. I certainly read at least that many books, but I did several repeats - like the Harry Potter series and the Sookie Stackhouse series, and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, among others.

Well, here we are in a new year and I am determined to make it this time! I'm already off to a good start, since our moving truck was so late and I had nothing to do other than sit around and read.

So, my list so far is:

1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston
4. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

I think I have one more but my mind is blanking so I'll have to go check my bookshelves and see what new books I have there :) (update: Ha! The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. I knew I had another one in there :D Update 2: Found another one! Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs. Definitely on track for this year :) )

Right now, I am reading Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - and am totally loving it.

And on my to-read shelf are The Queen Jade by Yxa Maya Murray, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, Brethren by Robyn Young, and Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex. I've got more on my wish list, of course, but I think these will get me started :D

For updates, check out my side-bar. I'll keep a running tally.

How about you? What good books have you read lately? Up for a challenge? :D

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Deadlines Are Falling On My Head...

Last night, my awesome brother called me with an assignment to write a press release for his company. This is something I do every few weeks for him. Now, my brother is one of those people who has so many balls flying in the air that I have no idea how he manages to do everything and still find time for little things like breathing and sleeping. So he tends to call me at the last minute. And by last minute, I mean REALLY last minute. He once called me to write up a bio on him for an article that he needed within the hour. Gotta love him.

Well, last night he had two releases for me to I had previously done that needed some tweaking so it could be released by the end of the day (which gave me 2 hours) and another that he needed for this morning. I just laughed, wrote down the info I needed, and got to work.

But that is me. I do well with deadlines. Which is not the same as doing well under pressure, by the way. I don't do real well with pressure. You put me on the spot and ask me some totally easy question and my mind will go blank. I haven't figured out why I do this yet. However, tell me you need love my manuscript but want the entire thing edited by the next day, and I'm your girl.

Which works well with the fact that I tend to procrastinate. Put it off until the last minute and then bust your tail getting it done. I'm not sure why I work well with a deadline. I think it's because it forces me to focus. I just don't have a choice. Someone somewhere is waiting for whatever it is I'm working on. My brother is waiting for his press release. My professor is waiting for my paper. My agent is waiting for my revisions. My kids are waiting for dinner ;-D So putting it off again is not an option.

This is one of the reasons I try to give myself deadlines. 1000 words a day. A chapter a week. Writing every morning from 8-11. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work. Because I know it's my own deadline and nothing devastating is going to happen if I don't stick to it. But I do try, and it does help.  

So, how do you work? Do deadlines loom over your head, overshadowing and crushing the life out of your creativity? Or do they spark some rush of adrenaline, forcing the words to flow from your fingers? Do you give yourself deadlines?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Owning My Insanity

First, for your Monday viewing pleasure:

Ever feel like that? :D Annnywho......

They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same action expecting different results...or something along those lines.

It got me thinking. Are we, my dear writers, insane? Sending out query after query, revising over and over, plowing on despite the rejections and accidental deletions and manuscript fails and revision dead ends....

Or are we just persistent? Driven? Determined? Plain ol' stubborn? :D

I'm inclined to think it's a mixture of all of the above. I think it takes a certain amount of insanity to put yourself through the wringer that is the publishing industry. But at the same time, that wringer weeds out those who have a true passion for what they are doing from those who might have been trying out a passing fancy.

Because, let's face it, unless you absolutely love what you are doing, this game can really get to you.

The thought of querying both chills and excites me. It's daunting, to say the least. A seemingly never ending cycle of emails and snail mails and requests and rejections. Incredible highs followed by crushing lows....we seem to be our own special type of adrenaline junky.

Do I go jumping off cliffs?

Heck no!! I send a query letter, baby!!

Do I race a car around a track at 200 miles an hour?

No way! I go through my manuscript one more time and send that puppy off to the agent that I just know is impatiently waiting by their inbox.

I HIT SEND!!! WOOOOOO!!! What a rush! 

Did I curl up in the fetal position and cry uncontrollably when that tree fell on my car a few years ago?

Pshaw! I save that sort of devastation for REAL when that agent who LOVED my manuscript decides they just don't love it as much as they should. (just kidding....or am I?) ;-D

So, are we insane? Maybe. But you know what I love about writers? At least the ones I know, the ones who are so determined to make it they stick to their guns no matter what delightful particles of nastiness may be poised to smack them in the face -

They own their insanity.

They embrace, rejoice in it, and with a smile on their face and a song in their heart they put yet one more query letter in the mail, knowing that THIS time, the answer will be different. Despite the rejections that are literally wallpapering their office, they KNOW that eventually, someone is going to say yes.

And when that next rejection comes in, they simply say:

and do it all over again.

They are my heroes :D

And if that's insanity, well count me in. Sounds like a grand plan to me :)

How about you? Are you a proud, card-carrying member of the Insanity Club?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Funnies

Every time I say the word diet, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.
~on a plaque I saw at the mall :D

"The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding." 
-Francis Bacon

"It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. 
Let them think you were born that way." 
-Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Do You Blog?

Well, this week is apparently question week...or maybe I just have a lot of musing time on my hands. Unpacking boxes doesn't really require that much brain power :)

I watched Julie & Julia the other day (loved it!) and there was a line in the movie when she's talking about starting a blog. She says something along the lines of "I could write a blog. I have thoughts."

Which got me thinking - why do I blog? I have thoughts, sure. I like to think they are occasionally interesting, funny, helpful and maybe (on a really good day) witty and intelligent :D Though, maybe I just like to hear myself talk (or see it I suppose, as we are talking about blogs) (I do, by the way, as I'm sure most people who know me can attest to. But hey, in my defense, I am home all day with a 4 and 6 year old. If I get within 100 yards of someone with thoughts that revolve around something other than Barbie and Spiderman, I just can't be held responsible for the unstoppable flow of words that shoots from my mouth).

But is that why I did it? To share my thoughts? I don't think so. Maybe partially, but really, I never imagined that anyone would actually be interested in what I had to say. I mean, who was I? Nobody...just an unpublished writer trying to find my way in the big, strange, and scary publishing world. So, why do I blog? Why did I start doing this in the first place?

Honestly, peer pressure, pure and simple. Everyone was doing it, I thought playing with the templates was fun, and I had heard/read/saw somewhere that if you wanted to be a successful writer, you had to have a blog. So, here we are.

But along the road it has evolved into a little something more. I love, LOVE, connecting with other writers. I can't tell you how awesome it is to type up a post that most people would think was nonsense and have people comment saying "I do the same thing! I think the same way!"

Knowing I'm not the only crazy writer out there has really been a wonderful discovery. Seriously, I thought I was completely weird most of my life. I mean, how many people sit there staring off into space while a whole other world of characters plays out in their heads? How many others can't carry on a "normal" conversation because they can't resist going off on weird tangents that suddenly occur to them? Especially when those tangents involve people, places, or situations that don't really exist. :D How many others get dirty looks from complete strangers and suddenly realize they've been staring at said stranger, taking mental notes about their appearance or mannerisms because that stranger's look/actions would be PERFECT for this book you are working on? How many others notice strange, obscure little details about places and people and things and every day life that they squirrel away for future musings, or have conversations with themselves, or scribble weird little notes on anything and everything?

Apparently, quite a few :D I always felt so alone in my weirdness and then I found some forums, and started blogging, and I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful, crazy people, people just like me who just laugh and say "Oh yeah, definitely!" when I ask, "Hey, do you ever...?"

So, I suppose the reasons why I started blogging don't matter in the long run. I guess what's important is why I keep doing it, what I get out of it. Yeah, it takes a little extra time out of a day that might not have enough hours to begin with. But it provides a forum for my insane thoughts and it allows me the opportunity to connect with all these incredible people, from all areas and walks of life, who all have the love of writing in common. And really, what could be cooler than that?

So how about you? Why did you start blogging? Why do you keep doing it? Or if you don't, why not?

Monday, January 18, 2010

What Happens When A Writer Gets Bored?

First of all, hello everyone! Thanks so much for the warm welcome back. Honestly, it was nice taking a week or so off from everything. But by the end of week 2, I was going a little nuts.

Hence my topic today. What happens when a writer gets bored? And I mean really, really bored.

Here I was, sitting in this big, old empty house. No chores (as there was nothing in the house to wash, pick up, dust, vacuum, move, or even look at), no errands to run (there was nowhere to put anything, nothing to put it in, no bills to pay as we had just moved in, no kidlets to take places as they hadn't been signed up for anything yet), and, horror of horrors - no books to read and no computer to play on, work on, or write on.

I hit a couple book sales (I now live 5 minutes from a Borders!!!!) but those lasted me about a day a piece and I only had so much money to spend on books.

With literally nothing to spend my time on, my mind (crazily spinning on the best of days) went into overdrive. Oh, and let me tell you, I am SURROUNDED by some awesome inspiration.

We moved into this big, old farmhouse in PA - out in the country, a farm to one side of us, and fields all around. And across from the field directly in front of us, an old, red-brick church that was built in 1791 (rebuilt in 1863) that is surrounded by evergreens and a small cemetery with yellowing headstones. It is beautiful, incredible, and just begging for a story to be written about it.

So I went out and bought a notebook and a pen and started writing. And there was WIP #1. As this is a ghost story, I only write it during the day :D Cause, you know, I am a chicken with an overactive imagination and I prefer not to torture myself by freaking myself out with my own stories :D

Which left my nights free.

Which left me time to reflect on the move we had just made and all the fun things that happened along the way...and after we arrived. Including, (but by no means limited to) the many wonderful things that can happen when you imprison a dog, a cat, two kids and two parents in a car on a four day trip, or finally arriving at your destination to have the heating system in the house break two days after you get there (in freezing temps), or finding out a week after you get to your new home that your moving truck won't be there for another three weeks.

Which left me thinking about all the weird stuff that tends to happen to me on a daily basis. Which left me thinking of 33 years of weird/strange/funny/interesting/awesome or just plain "you've-got-to-be-kidding-me-you-have-the-worst-luck-in-the-world" type things.

And WIP #2 was born :)

Then I remembered the WIP I had started for whopping 2213 words. I thought it might be a good idea to add to it, as I still like the story I was working on. And I had some time on my hands :D

And WIP #3 was on its way.

Now, I didn't get very far into any of them. I did have two very bored children (running around a big house scot-free is only fun for a week or two). But I quite enjoyed myself, scribbling away in the corner of my empty living room.

My notebook is hilarious. I have a page or two of WIP #3 followed by half a page of WIP #2 and 4 pages of WIP #1, and so on. I just couldn't make my brain focus on one story. Apparently I had denied it too long and to punish me it started shooting out words willy-nilly and woe be to anyone who got in the way of the pen.

My husband looked at the notebook and asked, "Are these short stories?" And I said, "No...just the product of very bored writer."

What happens to you, my fellow writers, when you are unbelievably bored? Does your brain go so far into withdrawals that it starts spinning out of control and spewing random stories at any piece of paper that will hold still? Or does it shut down completely, so traumatized by lack of exercise that it freezes at the very sound of a word?

I hope I am not the only writer in the world that starts staring at blank napkins with a mad gleam in my eye while my fingers feverishly search for a pen...cause that would just be embarrassing :D

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm Back!!!

Woohoo!!! It's been an adventure, let me tell you. I have literally started writing a book about it :) Long story and many details short, we left Utah on Dec 15th. Our stuff didn't arrive in PA until yesterday, Jan 14th. Among other things, we've been on air mattresses (and computerless!!!!) for almost a month. But the truck showed up yesterday, the saint of an internet guy today, and all is right with my world again :)

I promise I will get all caught up with comment moderating (and I noticed I received two awards while I was gone so I'll check those out, thanks!!!) and all that other good stuff. I promised my agent some revisions, my brother some editing for his business, myself some fun writing time, and somehow I forgot that I'd need to actually unpack all these lovely boxes surrounding me.

Hehe, I seriously was so focused on getting my computer back everything else fled my mind. Oops :D

No worries! I am so pumped to be reunited with this lovely electronic appendage I will get everything done and might get a few things put away in the new house as well! :D

Stay tuned Monday for a return to our regularly scheduled blog and thank you all so much for sticking with me in my long absence. It's wonderful to be back :)