Friday, February 26, 2010

So Close to Winner Number 2!

Only 10 more followers needed at Papers, Prose and Poetry and I'll add a prize for a second winner! I'm thinking something literary....or critiquey......only one way to find out!!

Friday Funnies

An English professor wrote the words
"A woman without her man is nothing"
on the chalkboard and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.

All of the males in the class wrote:
"A woman, without her man, is nothing."

All the females in the class wrote:
"A woman: without her, man is nothing."


The English Language

Have you ever wondered why foreigners have trouble with the English Language?

Let's face it
English is a stupid language.
There is no egg in the eggplant
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
English muffins were not invented in England
French fries were not invented in France.

We sometimes take English for granted
But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
Quicksand takes you down slowly
Boxing rings are square
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.
If the plural of tooth is teeth
Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
If the teacher taught,
Why didn't the preacher praught.

If a vegetarian eats vegetables
What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
Why do people recite at a play
Yet play at a recital?
Park on driveways and
Drive on parkways

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
Of a language where a house can burn up as
It burns down
And in which you fill in a form
By filling it out
And a bell is only heard once it goes!

English was invented by people, not computers
And it reflects the creativity of the human race
(Which of course isn't a race at all)

That is why
When the stars are out they are visible
But when the lights are out they are invisible
And why it is that when I wind up my watch
It starts
But when I wind up this observation,
It ends. 

(found on Aha! Jokes. Click HERE for original site) 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hurry and Enter

Only four more days to enter the contest!! If we can get to 50 followers on the Papers, Prose and Poetry blog, I'll toss in a prize for a second winner! :D

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No Tears, No Dice


I may have posted this quote before, but I think it is awesome enough for a second run.

What lasts in the reader's mine is not the phrase but the effect the 
phrase created: laughter, tears, pain, joy. 
If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what's it doing there? 
Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.
~ Isaac Asimov

I love, LOVE, this quote. Cutting material is one of the hardest parts of writing. Especially when the stuff you are cutting isn't bad. Sometimes it's really good stuff! But it may not be doing its job for one reason or another and has to go.

When I started out writing (for the purpose of publication, in any case), I had pages - a LOT of pages -  that I needed to cut in order to get the pace of my story moving. It wasn't bad stuff. Most of it was description. Really beautiful description (if I do say so myself *ahem*). But it didn't do anything for the story. It wasn't needed to help the plot along. In fact, I was describing rooms of a house that the character would never go in. It certainly didn't evoke any kind of response in my readers, except perhaps boredom, which I REALLY wasn't going for.

So, it got cut.

Now, that was a more clear cut case - but I've had instances that weren't as easy to spot. I had a conversation in my last book that I really loved. I thought it was funny and showed a playful moment between two of my characters. It didn't move the plot along - meaning, it wasn't introducing any new information about the stsoryline. But I ended up leaving it in the book, with a few tweaks. I did change it up a bit so that there were some plot-moving elements. The main reason I left it in the story was because, after taking a poll of all my readers, I found it was evoking the response I was going for. The parts of the conversation that weren't helping to evoke that response got cut. The stuff that worked, stayed.

Have you had material that you've really loved that you had to cut because it wasn't producing the desired response?  Were you able to save it or did it end up in the great red-marked chop pile in the sky?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebration Contest!


Well, my fabulous readers, I believe I promised you a contest :)

How about a super easy contest with lots of opportunities for extra entries?

How To Enter:

To enter the contest, simply leave me a comment on this post. You can say anything you want, just a quick "hi!" (try and keep it nice though ;-D ) and that's it! You are entered!

Extra Entry Opportunities:

1. Be or become a follower of this blog = 1 extra entry

2. Blog it, tweet it, Facebook it, or MySpace it = 1 extra entry per announcement = 4 possible extra entries

3. Put it on your blog's sidebar = 2 extra entries

4. Be or become a follower of my other blog, Papers, Prose, and Poetry (click HERE or on the link in the sidebar) = 5 extra entries

That is a grand total of 12 possible extra entries  :D

Leave me your tally with links to your posts in your comment. Everyone will go on to a spread sheet and a handy random number generator will choose the winner.

And now for the prizes (drum roll please......)

One lucky winner will win:

A query critique from my ever awesome agent, Krista Goering

A copy of the incredible Query Queen Elana Johnson's e-book - From the Query to the Call


A $20 dollar gift card to Barnes and Noble.

Depending on the response, I may just have to throw something else fabulous into the prize pot :)

So hurry and enter!!!! I will be accepting entries for one week, from today, Monday Feb 22nd, until midnight on Monday March 1st.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, March 2nd.

Happy Entering Everyone!!

Stayed Tuned.....

Working on a couple contest details - I will get everything up in just a bit! :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blog Chain: Creating New Worlds

Blog Chain time again! This round's topic was chosen by the ever awesome Cole, who wanted to know:

How do you get inside your character's world?

You know, to be honest, I read this question and my first thought was "I don't know! I just do!"

So I had to take a second and think about what I do when I start writing and building that world. I think at first, I just sort of have an idea of how things are. A character, a storyline pop into my head and they are a part of a world. I explore that world as I write. With each scene, the world gets a little more detailed as my character's go different places and experience different things.

I'll get to spots where I need to research something, details about what could or would be in the world in which my character lives (were there toilets in 1855? Does it snow in Nevada? What would a 200 year old tombstone look like?)

I love researching the details. It makes my worlds come alive and helps me create something real and fantastic.

I do find pictures that are similar to my character's world. I'll often use these as my desktop picture, just to keep me in the right mood. For example, my latest book has a pyramid of rocks as one of the key locations - there is an actual Pyramid Rock in Nevada that I use in my book. I did change things about it...exactly where it is set, etc. But my storyline revolves more around things Egyptian. So I have a picture of the Giza Pyramids as my desktop background....because they get me in the right mind frame.

I will often see locations and think "ooooo that would make such a cool location for a story!" Like the Pyramid Rock. Or the cemetery next door to my house. When I find locations like that, I do try to take or find pictures of them because they often will trigger storylines and scenes. I don't describe them exactly as they are in real life. They are more like the starting point for my storyworld. So it's never exact.

And I never do this for my actual characters. I might see someone in real life that has the same features as one of my characters. And I might see someone that I think might be a cool character in a book. But I don't think I've ever seen someone and thought "Ooo, that is my character!" It's more often going to be something like "Ooo, that guy has the same hair and eyes as Bryant" or something along those lines. I'm not sure why, but I think trying to describe something I'm looking at is harder for me than describing something I'm seeing in my own mind.

As I do revisions and rewrites, my characters and their world become more detailed, more vivid, more real to me. I learn more about them and their surroundings. It's sort of like in the first draft is our first meeting. I had a vague idea of who and where they were, but the more we meet, the more I get to know them and their world. And that helps to make revisions a little more fun and exciting...knowing that I'm going to come across something new and interesting about my storyworld. :)

How about you? How do you get into your characters' worlds? Do you find pictures of people and places or go by that fun movie playing in your head?

If you haven't read it yet, head over to Sandra's blog for her take on the subject and be sure to visit Kat tomorrow to see how she gets inside her characters' worlds :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Funnies.....And A Little Announcement

Okay, first off, my fun news.....Career Press will be publishing my book, HOMEWORK HELPERS: Essays and Term Papers in Dec 2010/Jan 2011. The sale was announced in Publisher's Marketplace on Wednesday.

I am absolutely beyond thrilled :) And I want to send a huge THANK YOU to my wonderful agent, Krista Goering. She has been an absolute dream - keeping me involved and informed throughout everything, being encouraging, supportive, available no matter what I might need, and a delight to work with. She's an amazing agent and this never would have happened without her. :)

Now, I think we are in need of a little celebration :D How about a nice little contest with some fun prizes? Gift cards and free books, anyone? :D

Come back on Monday for all the details!!!!

And now back to our regularly schedule Friday Funnies :D

Q. How many writers does it take to change a light bulb?

A. But why do we have to CHANGE it?

Q. How many editors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A. Only one; but first they have to rewire the entire building.

Q. How many copyeditors does it take to change a light bulb?

A. The last time this question was asked, it involved art
directors. Is the difference intentional? Should one or the other instance be changed? It seems inconsistent.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

(Jokes were found HERE)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Unplugged for a Bit

Okay all...I think I am going to do an Unplugged Week....or at least an Unplugged Couple of Days :D I am having a Monday and it seems to have started somewhere over the weekend and will probably extend for the next several days due to a few creative upsets (though these aren't necessarily bad, just time consuming) and some real life stuff going on this week that is a bit on the stressful/anxious side. So. I am going to take a few days and focus on some stuff :D and I'll be back next week hopefully chipper and smiling :D

I will be posting Friday Funnies though, cause, well...I like 'em :D

Also, I promised to have my 12 picks for the Sunshine Award up today, and you know, I really can't pick. Every time I get a new follower, every time someone posts a wonderful comment, and every time I find an awesome new blog or read one of the hundreds I already follow, a bright ray of sunshine lights up my day.

So if you are reading this, the award is yours. (The song You Are My Sunshine is now floating through my head) :D Thanks so much to all my followers, readers, commenters, and authors of all the awesome blogs I enjoy. Happy Monday everyone!!! I'll be back in a few :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Funnies

First off, I wanted to say a huge thanks to the very sweet Cher Green, who presented me with the Sunshine Award a few days ago. Thank you so much, Cher! Be sure to check out Cher's Tarot Guidance blog and her writing blog, Footsteps of a Writer. I am supposed to pass the award on to 12 bloggers, which I will do first thing on Monday, but I didn't want to let another day go by without acknowledging Cher's very kind gift :) Thanks again!!!

And now for our Friday Funnies! Happy Weekend everyone!!!

“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: You find the present tense and the past perfect”

“Grammar is the grave of letters” ~ Elbert Hubbard

“When a thought takes one's breath away, a grammar lesson seems an impertinence.” ~Thomas W. Higginson

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blog Chain: My Favorite Mistake

This round's topic was chosen by the lovely Rebecca who wanted to know:

What is the best mistake you've made so far in your journey as a writer? How has that mistake helped you grow :)? 

Well, as most of the other awesome people in our chain have mentioned, I've made them all, some of them repeatedly. One of my biggest mistakes, one I still struggle not to make again, is jumping the gun. I get a project finished and I want to send it off the same day. It is torture for me to wait until it is really ready to send out. Fortunately, I have wonderful crit partners who slap my hand away from the Send button :) But I have definitely blown more than a few awesome opportunities by sending out something that wasn't ready.

However, despite the sometimes spectacular mistakes I make, I think the worst one (or the best) was when I quit. Now, in my defense, life had thrown me a huge curve ball. My daughter was born two months early and spent the first seven weeks of her life in the hospital - which was 45 minutes away from where we lived (if there was no traffic). My husband was working 90 + hours a week at the time and we also had a two year old that needed my attention.

So, I definitely had cause to take a nice long break. But I let that break drag on for two years. I had a novel that I was a few chapters from finishing. It was my first book, and when I started it, I was totally in love with it. I couldn't wait for my son's nap time every day so I could dive back in. 

Over those two years, I thought about it often, wanted to get back to it, and then found an excuse not to. Eventually, I sat down and finished just a few weeks. And I was hooked again. Have been ever since. And I'll never make that mistake again. Writing gives me something I just can't get from any other aspect of my life. It lets me escape into another world. I can exercise my brain, challenge my abilities, indulge in my love of learning and creating and reading and so many other things.

I've met incredible people, some of whom are now my closest friends. And I've become ME. Before, I was my husband's wife, my children's mother, my parents' daughter. I had degrees, I had jobs, and hobbies and friends. But I didn't know who I was yet. I was still searching for what I wanted to be when I grew up :)

When I started that first book, I got a taste of it. I got a glimpse of the person I could be, of the life I could have. And then I let other things get in the way. Important things, yes. Unavoidable things, of course. But I let it go on too long. I talked myself into believing that everything and everyone else was more important. And you know, sometimes they are. And that's okay.

But I will never make the mistake of letting YEARS go by without writing again. It's too much a part of me now. I am glad I made the mistake of giving up - because now I know what's at stake and I'll never do it again :)

What about you? What is your best mistake?

Be sure to check out the fabulous Bonny's answer before mine and stop by Shaun's blog tomorrow to find out what his best mistake is. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Over Exaggerate? Moi?

This morning, my husband had an epiphany. I had made some comment about how he hadn't taken the garbage out once the whole time we've lived in this house (not entirely true, but close - though it's not his fault...he just hasn't been home on trash day in a while...though of course I left that bit out ;-D ) and then a short while later made some other comment about how in 10 years of marriage, I'd never seen him not put salt on something he was eating.

He sat there for a second and I could literally see the light bulb go on over his head. He grinned at me and said, "I just figured it out. Writers exaggerate."

I just broke down laughing.

Do writers exaggerate? Um's sort of in our job description, at least if you write fiction (exaggerating is sort of a major no-no in non-fiction).

However, I do try not to exaggerate too much in my real life. But you know what? That is sooo much easier said than done. After I sat and thought about it for a minute, I realized I really do exaggerate, a lot. I'm not just cold, I'm freezing to death. The bookcase I put together wasn't difficult, putting it together required a degree in rocket science. My kids aren't irritating me a little, they are driving me insane :D I didn't wake up three times with my daughter in the middle of the night, I was up ALL NIGHT LONG.

For a second, I felt a little bad about this. I'm an honest person. I mean, I have a really hard time lying. In fact, I tend to giggle a bit when I try to do it and my face turns red. But after a bit more reflection, I decided that exaggerating the regular occurrences in my life isn't a bad thing. Like I said, I'm honest. I don't exaggerate on my taxes or in any serious aspects of life.

But when it comes to describing my mood or the more routine things going on, yeah, I like to spice it up a little :) Why not? It makes things more fun, more interesting. There might be 8 inches of snow in my front yard, but darn it, if I'm going to bother mentioning it, then we are BURIED. Are there a few toys on the floor? Nope. The house is DESTROYED. Am I having a bit of a bad hair day? Not at all. My hair is so horrible I'm just going to shave my head :D

So how about you, my fine writer friends? Do you tend to exaggerate? Or do you just call it exactly as you see it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Little Monday Surprise

Happy Monday!

First up, my wonderful friend and crit partner, Christine, awarded me with the Prolific Blogger Award. I am beyond thrilled, thanks so much, Christine!

The award originally comes from this blog.  And it comes with rules:
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.  (Check out Christine's Blog Here!!)
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

And now the hard (I'm a terrible commenter but I lurk on a LOT of blogs) :D though fun part, my seven picks, in no particular order:

1. Lisa Amowitz over at Why A?
2. Jenni James
3. Steph Bowe at Hey! Teenager of the Year
4. Elle Strauss
5. Rebecca Sutton at Sometimes Nonsense
6. Kiersten White at Kiersten Writes
7. Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now

And here is the awesome award:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Funnies

It's better to reach for the stars and land on the roof, 
than to reach for the roof and land in the garbage. 
~via my cousin, Jaime...not sure where she got it

I would never encourage anyone to be a writer. It's too hard.
~Eudora Welty

John Irving on writing and drinking:
Drunks ramble; so do books by drunks.

The first book I wrote was the best-selling book of the year, and the second book dropped dead. What can we learn from this? Absolutely nothing. But if you keep on submitting and never give up, the chances re that someday somebody will eventually buy your work. 
Unless they don't.
~ Dan Greenburg

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Contest

I'm always a fan of contests, especially those with free books as prizes :) Head on over to Steph Bowe's blog Hey, Teenager of the Year for a chance to win three awesome books. She's taking entries until Feb 14th and there are several ways of getting extra entries (like blogging about it) ;-D

Prizes listed are The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Liar by Justine Larbalestier and Paper Towns by John Green.

So hurry on over! 

Ode to Spam Email

Oh Spam Email, how I hate thee,

Let me count the ways:

*she takes a deep breath*
Eh, forget it - there's too many to say.

I hate how you clog my inbox fair,
whatever you're selling, I really don't care.

I hate the hope my impatient heart feels
With visions of contracts and multiple book deals.

I hate to open those emails and see
All your spam advertisements. Would you just leave me be!!?

I'm waiting for emails about my life's work,
I don't want your junk mail, you mean, teasing jerks!

When I open my mail, I don't want to see
thirty spam emails staring back at me.

The only emails I care to receive,
Are those that are not from my greatest pet peeve.

So to my spammers, I beg you to refrain,
Just leave me alone, I'm going insane!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When the Ingredients Just Don't Mix


Have you ever been working on a story that has it all - great idea, cool characters, interesting storyline, exciting plot....yet when you put it all together, it just doesn't look the way you envisioned? There's just something missing that you can't quite put your finger on. Or maybe the story fizzles out long before it should. Looking at each element separately, you should come up with a total that equals success. But instead, it's coming up looking like...well, a mangled skinny cat that looks more alien than furball :D

What do you do?

I've been lucky enough not to have this happen yet, at least to a devastating degree. Though I have written stories that three chapters in I've either lost interest in the story or just don't know where to go from there. And let's face it, if the author is losing interest in the story, there's probably not much hope the reader will want to read it.

Most of the time, the sad little story I'm working on gets put in a "I'll deal with it later" file and never sees the light of day again. For example, I started a book, probably two years ago now, that I started out very excited about. It was a historical romance (my favorite genre to write at the time). I had found a very cool real life story about a 13th century woman that I was going to adapt into my romance.

It had action, adventure, romance, fight scenes, chases, a corrupt high powered priest, a good guy love interest with a dangerous and criminal past, heartbreaking scenes and gorgeous imagery (if I do say so myself *ahem*).

But three chapters into this literary masterpiece, I stumbled. I knew where I wanted my story to go, but wasn't exactly sure how to get there. I had points A and Z but all the points in between were a little blurry. I had all the elements I needed to create an awesome story, but for some reason when I tried to string them together, I got the mangy cat instead of the gorgeous fashion model.

So, instead of being a good little writer and working out the bugs that were mutating my fabulous project, I moved on to something else (which, incidently, had the same problems and also got shelved.) I think I did this three or four times before I finally found a story I was passionate enough about to work through the kinks and get it finished.

And that was my missing ingredient. Passion. Sure, I had all the basic elements, but if you don't have the glue that holds it all together, the passion to stick with a story no matter what nasty hairballs come your way, all the perfect elements in the world won't amount to anything.

Writing is hard. Writing an entire novel, from start to finish with all the edits in between, is a daunting, time-consuming, goliath task and if you don't have the passion it takes to complete it, you are going to end up with a file full of half-finished stories.

Now, I still plan on finishing those stories one day. Like I said, the right elements are all there. I have what I need to make those half-baked ideas something really special...I just need to find the passion to finish them :)

Have you had this happen? Do you file them away for another day or discard them completely? Do you ever go back? How many mangy kitties are hiding in your file box and did any ever make fashion model status? :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet Awards

My fabulous crit buddy Christine gave me an award the other day - thanks so much!! :) And it's a yummy looking one too :D


I'm supposed to list 10 things that make me happy. Soooo:
1: My kids
2. My hubby and family (my mom and sis are the world's best cheerleaders)
3. Writing "the end" and realizing I've done what few accomplish
4. Settling into my favorite couch corner with a good book, when the house is quiet and I'm the only one up
6. Music - I love to dance, I love to sing, I love to sit with my eyes closed and just let it fill me to the core....I just prefer to be alone while I'm doing all of the above because I tend to look a bit goofy ;-D
7. My friends and crit buddies - I'd never make it through this crazy game without them
8. A really good joke - I love to laugh. I turn red in the face and occasionally snort, and if I'm laughing really hard I sound like an old car that just doesn't want to start, which makes other people laugh which makes me laugh harder....ahhh, good times :D
9. Nature - I could sit and stare at it forever (I'd be more specific, but I could fill a book with the things I love about it) :)
10. My dreams - sometimes I don't want to wake up :)

And to share the love, I'd like to give the award, first of all, to a few people who are always there for me when I need someone to make me smile (Christine, you already received this award but just wanted you to know, you'd be top of the list) :) = to my crit buddies, who are always there to support me - Bethany, Bonny, and Elana (plus a few more who I love to death but who don't have blogs).

And second of all, I'd really like to give this award to all of my followers. I can't tell you how much I love to log on and see all the lovely comments you leave me. Definitely one of the highlights of my day :) You all rawk! Thanks so much.

A Day Late and a Story Short

Okay, so have you ever missed the idea boat? Gone to jump on board a brand new ship just to discover it sailed the day before? Had a completely awesome idea that you just knew that no one else on the face of the earth has ever had before? You get so excited you grab the nearest pen or computer and madly scribble notes and ideas, you spend hours researching, you let your crit buddies know that the best thing they have ever read is on its way, you sit and you type and you type...and then you take a break. You pick up a book that everyone has been raving about - and about half way through, you realize IT'S YOUR STORY!  (and how was that for one long awesome sentence *ahem* )

Well, this has happened to me, on more than one occasion. Maybe not quite that drastically. Somewhere deep inside I know that there really isn't such a thing as a totally brand new idea. Just new ways of spinning old tales. But still, sometimes it's a bit of a shock to be reading a story and have elements of your own story rear up and hit you in the face. Especially if the similarities are strong and it's a story you've never heard of before in your life.

So what do you do when this happens? Do you scrap the whole idea and start over? Do you continue on your merry way and not worry about it all?

For me, I think it depends on how striking the similarities are. It really is possible to have almost the exact same idea as someone you have never met, whose work you have never read. It's a bit depressing when it happens, a little disappointing - but for me, I usually sit and think about how I can tweak it, how I can spin the idea to make it even more different than the story that beat me to the punch.

I mean, why did Stephanie Meyer go so big? Were vampire love stories a new idea? Not even close. But vampires that can go in the sun and sparkle like a diamond? Yeah, that's a new twist. If you give ten writers an assignment to write a ghostly love story, you are going to get ten completely different tales, even if there are very similar elements.
So I try not to worry about it, for the most part. Yes, I do try some tweakage, and I make it a point not to read books that are in the same story arena as the one I am working on, just in case I accidentally pick something up. I'll read YA if I'm writing YA, but if I'm working on a YA ghost story, I'm not going to read any ghost stories until my book is completely done (though I probably wouldn't go reading ghost stories anyways...I live in a very old house and have a ridiculously overactive imagination) :D

But I think the best thing you can do is just write. Chances are, you'll be fine. If not, revisions are always fun ;-D

So how do you handle it?