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Showing posts from April, 2008

Tip or Death?

One cover fee for Medieval Monster's Club - $20
Three rounds of Bloody Marys for the ladies - $50
One tank of gas used up cruising in the 9-4 - $120

Learning that people tip huge when their server carries a sword and shows no hesitation in using it: Priceless

And The Winner Is

*Thank you to my fellow Golden Heart finalists for providing some of the contest links!*

If you're serious about your writing career, you've probably already realized that getting published is an uphill battle. The road to being published is littered with discarded manuscripts, worn-out ideas, rejection letters, harsh critiques, and consolation tubs of Ben & Jerry's. Or maybe that's just me.

You can be a strong, imaginative writer and never be published. Why? Well, that's the million dollar question. "Why" is different for each writer. Maybe you need some serious critiquing of your manuscript to whip it into shape. Maybe you've trotted out an old idea and littered your manuscript with cliches. Maybe your idea is original but parts of your execution are flawed. Maybe the right person has yet to see your material. Maybe you're two steps ahead or behind the market.

Whatever the reason, entering contests can be one avenue to addressing many of…

Lolcat

Excuse Me?

My hubby's radio show recently signed a deal with a local television news program to do some sort of cross-broadcasting promotional whatnot. I'm pretty fuzzy on the details. All I know is that because of this deal, my hubby is in a tv commericial, a fact that delights my children to no end, and now he has to watch Dancing With The Stars, a show which, up until this point, we've treated with the sort of enthusiasm usually reserved for finding spiders in your shower or science experiments lurking in the veggie drawer.

My hubby is on his second week of watching DWTS (No, no, that doesn't stand for Dimwits...). I stayed with him the first week, out of a wifely obligation to mitigate his suffering as much as possible. This week I decided he had a husbandly obligation to soldier through it alone while I stayed upstairs and read books with the kids.

Not watching with him, however, does not excuse me from a blow by blow of his brief excursion into ballroom hell and so after…

Monday's List

1. I just received another request for DTR from an agent I queried last week. Yay!

2. Have all three kids home from school today due to a stomach bug.

3. Since I also have the same stomach bug, this is not fun.

4. Regular readers of this blog will know that I give out a quasi-annual (a word that means whenever I feel like it) Idiot Patron Award for customers of my restaurant displaying levels of idiocy far exceeding the general garden variety idiocy one usual sees.

5. For months that title has been held by the man who ordered a BLT and then complained that there was nothing but Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato on his sandwich.

6. In truth, I thought nothing could unseat him and he would be Idiot Patron for life.

7. I was wrong.

8. Last week, three twenty-something guys in workshirts came in, sat at my friend's table, looked over the menu for a minute, and then asked her where our dollar menu was located.

9. You enter a sit-down dining establishment, one where bread comes free with the meal and…

Work In Progress Update

Current WIP:

1. Finishing SHADOWING FATE
2. Outlining TWISTING FATE
3. Small revisions to DYING TO REMEMBER.


Additional Writing Projects:
1. Bi-weekly Writing Process blog posts
2. DYING TO PUNISH - DTR's sequel
3. Building main character for series to follow FATE.


Contests & Agent Search:
1. DTR currently Golden Heart finalist
2. Sizing up several smaller contests to enter SHADOWING FATE to get it in front of editors
3. Sent out 10 agent queries last week and have a request from Jessica Faust of BookEnds as of last night. Yay!!

Scarred For Life

To Be, Or Not To Be

1. I realized I left things off of yesterday's list.

2. This is because my brain is a strange and twisted creature full of fanciful ideas but prone to forget them thirty seconds after they first appear.

3. In honor of our as-yet-unnamed skull, I dragged out my hardbound copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare and perused my all-time favorite play - Hamlet.

4. The skull in Hamlet (as you are no doubt already aware) is called Yorick and once belonged to the court jester.

5. I'm not sure I can name this skull Yorick - sounds too much like a hockey player from Canada or like, "Yo! Rick!"

6. My hubby wants to name it Anne Boleyn which, I must admit, sounds like a good plan.

7. Paul and Kelly come home today.

8. One can only hope Juan Pedro has removed all traces of his wild week alone.

9. I've submitted DTR now to ten agents, meeting my goal for two a day this week.

10. Now I'm going to go back to concentrating on the FATE series.

11. Speaking of which, I found the perfec…

Week In Review

1. May is almost here and while I'm really excited about seeing Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones, I wish there was a Pirates 4 coming out as well.

2. Why is the rum always gone?

3. Lost had a new episode last night after several weeks of re-runs.

4. I've faithfully submitted to agents this week via e-submissions.

5. Except for a few who were recommended by fellow writers but who, oddly enough, have zero web presence.

6. I know people will say that some agents prefer not to do stuff on the web and blah, blah, blah but honestly, in this day and age, if you don't have a web presence, I worry that you can't get the job done.

7. Middle Tennessee is currently experiencing swarms of those big, ugly, harmless bugs that look like flying should be totally impossible. I don't know the technical name but we always called them Mosquito Eaters.

8. Although, has anyone actually seen one of them eat a mosquito?

9. I'm just thankful I'm dealing with those instead of with moths.

1…

Whispered, Sneered, Glowered...Said

In thinking about discussing the art of writing dialogue with you, I decided to start with cleaning up what, for many newer authors, is a classic mistake - using flowery dialogue tags to convey far too much information.

I know, I know, I'm the girl who always says a writer needs to make every word count but trust me on this one. Dialogue is essential to your plot, your pacing, and your character development. Dialogue tags are useful only to show which character is speaking.

My first draft of DYING TO REMEMBER was rife with the kind of overly descriptive dialogue tags to which I am now adamantly opposed. Every character whispered, sneered, laughed, or "said ___fill in appropriate adverb here___" his or her lines. My rationale was simple. My characters were not wooden puppets simply standing there delivering lines. There was emotion, movement, and life expressed in their dialogue and I wanted to make sure every last shred of that life was brought to the attention of my …

Hump Day Lunacy

I interrupt this week's flow of instructive, illuminating, and somewhat entertaining posts to bring you some hump day lunacy. A quiz I took on blogthings told me "what kind of music I am". Since my computer is safely in one piece still, we know the answer didn't come back "country".





You Are Punk Music




You've thought long and hard about what mainstream society has to offer...

And you've pretty much decided that most normal things aren't for you.

You're creative, expressive, and likely to do things yourself.

You are a rebel and a fighter. You'll defend your point of view to anyone.

What Kind of Music Are You?

Query Clinic

A query letter is the author's written introduction of herself and her work to prospective agents and editors. The irony of query writing is that it is one simple page, summarizing what you've already written, and yet most writers would rather start a new novel than face condensing their magnum opus into a hook appropriate for the back of a book.

It is absolutely vital that a writer be able to craft a finely honed query letter. If you claim to be a writer and your query letter has simple mechanical errors, convoluted sentences, or is flat-out boring, it will be hard to get an agent or editor to read your work. Remember, most agents are looking at over 100 new submissions on their desk each week! You have to do everything possible to stand out from the pack.

Query Do's and Don'ts: (culled from agent blogs and workshops at conferences)

1. Always make sure you've addressed the agent correctly. I'm always shocked at how many agents post rejected queries where the…

Prepare To Die

I did it. Finally. Thanks to my hubby, who provided an excellent sounding board for my brainstorming session (especially considering that he hasn't read SHADOWING FATE yet, or maybe because he hasn't read it...), I know how to kill what doesn't exist.

I can finish the book.

My fellow writers will understand the weight that is lifted off my shoulders now. =)

Off to set up my characters for a chilling death scene and a twist that has ramifications for the entire series...

Work In Progress

Current WIP: SHADOWING FATE - nearly finished. Would already be finished if I didn't obsessively rewrite every chapter before moving on. =D

Other writing projects: Writing Process blog series, DYING TO PUNISH - sequel to DYING TO REMEMBER, current Golden Heart finalist.

Agent search: Sent e-queries today for DTR to two agents: Ethan Ellenberg and Jessica Faust. Decided to use my momentum as a GH finalist to gain some attention for my career and hopefully find the right agent. My goal is to send out two queries a day this week and to sign up for an agent pitch spot at RWA's conference as well.

Future projects: Currently outlining TWISTING FATE, the second in the Alexa series, DYING TO SURVIVE, third and final in the DYING series, and beginning character sketches for the series following Alexa (which is, surprisingly enough, named already - shocking given my difficulty with titles, but I'm feeling fairly territorial over the name since a) it's very unique and b) it's …

Squirrel Cribs

Monday's List

1. It's Monday again. Wait...what?!

2. Sheesh, what a busy week it was.

3. Found another new band (new to me, at least) that I really love. Fireflight. It's Evanescence meets Red.

4. Or something like that. :D

5. And since Paul is on his honeymoon, I discovered this band before him which is totally cool because that rarely happens. (Of course the last time it did, I discovered Submersed which is by far one of the coolest new bands I've heard in a long while so I'm on a winning streak.)

6. Have my next oncologist appointment this week. (I think. Need to double check.)

7. That is never fun.

8. Some things my oncologist could do to improve the experience:

a. Dispense with the useless small talk while probing far enough to cause convulsions in my small intestines. I truly DO NOT wish to talk about my kids at that moment.
b. Warm up that stupid specula. One of these days I'm going to just snap and use it on him in return...we'll call it Advanced Sensitivity To Th…

Week In Review

1. Paul and Kelly get married tonight. I'm really happy for them both.

2. Last night was their rehearsal dinner. We went to Shogun's, a hibachi grill.

3. We brought our kids.

4. Our chef was highly entertaining and while he was making fried rice, he tossed a ball of rice toward each of my kids, presumably aiming for their mouths.

5. The Scientist got a rice ball to the eye ball.

6. Daredevil ducked and we had to instantly restrain his impulse to throw something back at the chef. Especially since all he had at the moment was his fork.

7. Starshine stared straight at the chef while the ball of rice sailed over his head and then looked around and said, "What? What just happened?"

8. Next thing I know, Starshine is chewing a mouthful of rice. When asked where he found it, he vaguely pointed behind him and I wisely chose not to pursue that line of questioning.

9. No matter what the FDA and the Center for Disease Control might tell you about eating stuff off the floors, or wash…

Medieval Double-Mints?

Tonight, at Paul and Kelly's rehearsal dinner, I spotted a waiter who bore a striking resemblance to our own Juan Pedro. Could this be JP's long lost twin? His doppelganger? Just a far-fetched coincidence?

No one knows for sure as the mysterious waiter refused to answer any of my questions and, indeed, maintained an air of silent menace throughout the entire meal.

I Vs. He/She

Choosing which point of view (POV) to use when writing a novel can be tricky. Sometimes the choice is abundantly clear; sometimes you are one third of the way into the novel before you realize your POV choice isn't working.

DYING TO REMEMBER
is written in third person (he said, she said) because the structure of the novel requires it. I switch scenes within each chapter, jumping from one character to another, feeding the reader pieces of information to raise the suspense and their interest before switching to another scene and picking up another thread within the story. Unless your main character is present in every single scene, an impossibility in DTR since it jumps from one country to another, first person (I said) won't work.

I loved using third person for DTR because I got to inhabit the minds of three primary characters and numerous interesting secondary characters and that was fun. To effectively use third person, the writer must switch gears with each character and sp…

Monday's List (on a Tuesday)

1. Funniest line from this weekend was Daredevil, commenting on his impending haircut: "I think I want to be bald, like Dad. Then I could look like a Rock Star!" (said with flair and a hint of sarcasm...I'm so proud.)

2. Starshine was extremely proud of himself for beating Slash on Hard in Guitar Hero.

3. If that makes little sense to you, join me in the Guitar Hero Losers category and we'll do lunch.

4. Paul returned the 9-4 to me this morning since I had a dentist appointment and needed my vehicle.

5. He returned it with two nearly full 2 liters of soda lying on the floor of the passenger seat.

6. He did not tell me this.

7. I discovered it as I was turning into traffic and suddenly had to contend with two nearly full 2 liters of soda under my feet.

8. I used Paul's name in vain.

9. Loudly.

10. I'm joining with some of the other Golden Heart finalists to offer a professional critique of an unpubbed manuscript in Brenda Novak's
Diabetes Auction.

11. This crit…

Can I Buy An "I" ?

My newest pet peeve is television sportscasters who pronouce "immediately" as "ammediately". If speaking is your job, learn how to do it correctly.

TGIF

1. I recently remembered that I used to love Cheese Whiz.

2. What could be wrong with cheese in a can?

3. Don't answer that.

4. I reconnected with some of my former students (used to teach high school English) and two of them are married with children now and yes, that makes me feel old.

5. I'm proud of them.

6. I was browsing in Target the other day and discovered that jelly shoes have made a comeback.

7. I wore these in sixth and seventh grade.

8. They were on sale so I tried on a pair as a joke, discovered they were comfortable and bought them. In a pretty pewter gray.

9. Never thought I'd see the day.

10. Paul and Kelly get married a week from today!

11. That means this house will be wedding cake central for the next 7 days.

12. Plus Kelly's shower is at my house Sunday afternoon, which will be fun.

13. I placed a photo-op request for Juan Pedro with Paul, was promised results last week, and have nothing to show for it yet.

14. I might have to "borrow" JP for a while…

A Light At The End...

I'm sick, I admit it. I laughed so hard when I saw this, I almost cried.

Shh...they're after me!

Yes, yes, I know I promised I would post the Writing Process series every Tuesday and Thursday and I missed Tuesday.

I'd love to tell you why but as that would violate several international treaties and tick off one very determined sheriff, I'll just leave it to your imagination.

However, today is Thursday and as I've broken no laws and started no international incidents thus far, I found the time to write about setting.

Enjoy.

Setting The Scene

One of my early American literature classes at Pepperdine focused on the body of works by Nathaniel Hawthorne (for those of you who couldn't care less about early American lit, he's the author of The Scarlet Letter - that book your English teacher used to torture you in high school). I'm a fan of Hawthorne and the dark, intricate themes running through his works but one thing Hawthorne lacked completely was the element of setting.

My professor expounded at length this missing element, claiming that Hawthorne deliberately left his settings vague and murky as a statement on his current social clime and to emphasize that the morality lessons contained in his writings transcended time and place.

All well and good, if it's true. Since Hawthorne's been dead for quite some time, it's difficult to know for sure if he meant to mostly ignore the settings of his works or if he was one of many authors who struggle to make setting come alive for the reader.

Setting the scene…

Monday's List

1. The weather is gorgous today and the view as I walked around my neighborhood confirms that Tennessee is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

2. I have a solid list of topics now for the Writing Process series I'm doing. I'll be posting those every Tuesday and Thursday.

3. Unless, of course, I post on Wednesday and Friday just to mess with you.

4. How is it possible to wash 33 pair of boys' socks on a Monday and run out by the following Monday?

5. Even with 3 boys using one pair a day, this does not make sense.

6. Unless you assume that my boys change socks throughout the day due to their propensity for paying strict attention to personal hygiene which I assure you couldn't be further from the truth.

7. It's been a few weeks since I purchased a new pair of shoes (strappy silver heels for Paul and Kelly's wedding) and I'm feeling the urge.

8. Need to reach a personal goal first, then I'll reward myself with shoes.

9. I've invited my Critique Partne…

Cold Shower Kitty

Week In Review

1. Thursday afternoon, someone backed into the driver's side of the Explorer while I was parked downtown.

2. In this case, "backed into" is a euphamism for "drove-like-Shoe-Carnival-was-offering-a-buy-1-get-3-free-on-all-pairs-of-stilettos".

2. Thankfully, that person was honorable enough to come find me and we filled out an accident report and all that joyousness.

3. Also thankfully, while the door is mangled enough that it won't seal when it's closed, the car is driveable.

4. We hear back on Monday from our insurance company as to rentals and body shops.

5. My in-laws came to town for a brief visit on their way to see other family members in South Carolina.

6. As they rarely see our kids and are thus unfamiliar with the particular joys of raising 3 boys, we subjected them to the seventh level of hell that is Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday night.

7. Found a new band I really like - Submersed.

8. Their current single, "Price of Fame", is one of those s…

Jane Austen, You're Not

I write paranormal fiction. The kind that come out in paperback until you have a proven track record warranting a hardback book. The kind that are featured on grocery store shelves.

I do not write books that are likely to be chosen for Oprah's next book of the month.

My stories are the kind that keep you up at night, promising yourself that you will put down the book after just one more chapter until it's 2 a.m. and your eyes are crossing. My stories are fast-paced, entertaining rides that unashamedly make no attempt to dissect and discuss the state of mankind today, solve world hunger, or peel back the layers of society to reveal the blight and beauty beneath.

This is because I write paranormal fiction. I do not write literary fiction. I barely read literary fiction. I have some on my shelves, I've enjoyed it and admired it, but it doesn't speak to my heart the way paranormal does.

I am open about what I write. Most of the reactions I receive are positive - ranging…

Quote of the Week

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

- Anonymous

Lolcat

Mid-Week Madness

1. I am excited about the series of posts on writing. It's a fun challenge for myself and seems to be grabbing the interest of several readers, which is always nice.

2. The yeast rolls at Logan's are of the devil.

3. Paul has been driving my sexy '94 Dodge Caravan (yes, the one Juan Pedro nabbed for his night on the town) for about three weeks now while his car was on the fritz.

4. Now he's decided to sell his car and buy a car that used to be an undercover cop car. (Who knew he'd be drawn to that?!)

5. Last night I told him I really wanted to drive an undercover cop car and I wanted to use it for three weeks in payment of him using my van.

6. Naturally, he balked at the idea, perfectly reasonable though it was.

7. He said he'd let me drive his car sometimes. Translation: You can drive it while I'm in the passenger seat making sure you don't do anything stupid like, oh I don't know, flash the lights and make people pull over left and right just so you ca…

Lolcat

Add Your 2 Cents

I've started the series of posts on the writing process and have some ideas of my own on what the series will cover but some comments on my first post caused me to add to my list. =)

So...here's the list I'm currently working from. If you have another topic you'd like covered, please suggest it!

*Writing an attention-grabbing first chapter
*Setting
*Characters
*Voice
*Dialogue
*Pacing
*Outlines vs. Seat of the Pants
*Queries
*Synopsis
*Writing a series
*The submission process