Sunday, January 31, 2010

Upcoming Workshop Schedule

Over at my Writing Workshop site, I've posted two new classes.

1. How To Write A Killer Synopsis--includes training on formatting, Voice, and how to identify the plot arcs and emotional landmarks to include in a synopsis along with three in-depth critiques of your synopsis and subsequent revisions. Registration closes February 14th.

2. Query Workshop--includes training on how to format a query letter, how to target the right agents for your manuscript, how to write a stellar hook, and multiple in-depth critiques of your query and subsequent revisions. Registration closes February 28th.

3. Critique Docket: For those interested in purchasing a 25 page manuscript critique, I have five slots remaining on my February critique docket.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Goodbye, Baby Girl



I'm heartbroken to announce that my gorgeous Tinks died early this morning, surrounded by me and the boys. She'd been sick for two weeks, and while we had signs of improvement over last weekend, she suddenly went downhill again yesterday. She was my loving, cuddly girl, and I miss her terribly.

Regular blogging will resume on Monday. I don't have it in me to write anything this weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Throwback Thursday

For today's Throwback Thursday post, I'll take you all back to a day where blowing up, running in traffic, and finally using a police baton to my advantage were all definite possibilities. As the 9-4 has now been put out of its misery, I don't have to worry about repeating this sequence of events any time soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Usual Suspects!

Part of the Cupcake Characters idea is for me to interview authors and make a cupcake in honor of their latest book. (They can work with me to pick a design. Thank God I don't know any intrepid Were-platypus authors out there.)

The interview itself will be conducted by their choice of one of the blog's Usual Suspects. They can choose to be interviewed by:

1. The blog's mascot: the Were-llama

2. Captain Jack Sparrow

3. The Spork of Doom

It's highly likely a few authors I approach will run as fast as they can in the opposite direction. More cupcakes for the rest of us that way. :)

A Compromise?

My friend and traitorous Were-platypus fangirl, Kerry Allen, offered this compromise to the Captain Jack Sparrow vs. Wally the Were-platypus dilemma yesterday on her blog.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Consider Your Options

The Cupcake Characters poll is still alive and kicking. Team Were-Platypus has taken the lead with 50 votes (as of this post), but they've also admitted to stacking the ballots. Team Jack Sparrow is fighting to narrow the gap at 31 votes. They've admitted to cheating too, but hey! He's a pirate. He's totally down with that.

I thought perhaps some visual aids might help in deciding the outcome. Will each team please present their mascots?

TEAM WERE-PLATYPUS



Name: Wally the Were-Platypus
Occupation: Fighting underwater crime
Hobbies: Eating sushi, listening to show tunes, and polishing his bill
Special Attributes: He can turn into a duck-billed, web-footed platypus at the drop of a hat. Or when he wants to show off for the women's' swim team.


TEAM JACK SPARROW



Name: He's Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?
Occupation: Pirate
Hobbies: Stealing ships, seducing women, and outsmarting everyone.
Special Attributes: Um...have you looked at his picture? Plus, he carries a sword and he knows how to use it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Harbinger Of Things To Come



1. The Cupcake Characters survey is well under way, and I find the results ... surprising, so far.

2. How is it possible that the Were-platypus cupcake idea is beating out Captain Jack?

3. I mean, he's CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW. Savvy?

4. If you haven't yet voted to correct this wrong, please do so.

5. Of course, it doesn't escape my attention that many of you are voting for the Were-Platypus (Thank you SO MUCH Shannon) just to make my life difficult.

6. Someday I hope to return the favor.

7. Daredevil tried to get past me in the kitchen the other day, and we sort of danced around each other until he finally looked at me and said, "Go on with your bad self."

8. So, I did.

9. The January query workshop starts today.

10. I always love diving into other writers' projects and helping them make their queries shine.

11. Always makes me wish I was a literary agent so I could request manuscripts.

12. Of course, I'd totally suck as a literary agent because a) I live far too much of my life inside my head to ever be responsible for the details involved in contracts/submissions/what have you for someone else and b) if an editor turned down a project I loved, I'd have a difficult time restraining myself from hauling out my Spork of Doom.

13. Soon I'll begin this year's Get Me Started creative writing exercise on the blog.

14. For those who are newer readers, this is where you leave me a first sentence and I turn it into a short piece of fiction on the blog.

15. Given the plethora of creative cupcake ideas you gave me *cough Were-Platypus cough* I'm looking forward to the Get Me Started sentences.

16. I'm thinking about doing an Ask the Were-llama segment too, which means I'll need creative questions from you.

17. Notice, I'm NOT doing an Ask the Were-Platypus segment.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Cupcake Characters!



Lately, I've been a little preoccupied with cupcakes. Not with eating them. My lemon bar fetish is safe from all competition. However, I've become obsessed with the idea of turning cupcakes into characters for the entertainment of my blog readers.

Like a ninja:



Only minus the turtle.

Or like a Were-llama...oddly enough, I couldn't find a single pic of a llama cupcake online. A valuable niche market being under-exploited by everyone on the planet!

Or I might make characters from my books, from movies, or from pop culture. (Yes, that means a Richard Simmons cupcake is in your future, dear reader. Tremble.) You get the idea.

Naturally, since I royally suck at arts and crafts, and this sort of qualifies, I'll need help. How fortunate for me that my hubby is amazingly skilled at cake art. I'm sure he'll help me. Who wouldn't want to put both a llama cupcake and a Richard Simmons cupcake on his resume?

So, if you have cupcake characters you'd like to see, leave a suggestion in the comments. I'll add the ideas to my own list and treat you all to some of the wildest, zaniest, funniest cupcakes you've ever seen.

Let the mayhem begin!

Top 10 Reasons I Won't Read Your Next Book

1. You barely skimmed the surface of your main characters. I love to sink beneath the skin of your characters and live in their heads for the duration of the book. If your heroine has the emotional capacity of block of wood, don't expect me to care if she gets put in mortal peril in chapter twenty. At that point, chances are good I'm rooting for her to bite the big one and put us all out of our misery.

2. Every character in your book is stunningly beautiful and perfect. I have a confession to make. Stunningly beautiful/perfect characters bore me to death. If you have an entire cast of them, I'll wonder if some cruel trick of fate has landed me in the middle of an episode of America's Top Model. I was about to say the only thing worse than reading an episode of ATM would be doing a workout with Richard Simmons, but at least he makes me laugh.

And he's not afraid of sequins.

3. Events happen that go against what a character would authentically do/choose simply so you can have the plot twist where you want it to twist. This a) is lazy writing and b) assumes I'm too stupid to realize you've hijacked your characters for the sake of sticking with your outline.

4. Your main character is never in any real danger. I don't necessarily mean physical danger, though most of what I choose to read includes that component. Emotional danger works too. At some point, I need to worry the hero/heroine won't get what he/she needs. I need to be afraid he/she won't live, won't succeed, or will be broken beyond repair. If you can't deliver stakes like those, what's the point of reading the story?

5. You repeat things I already know. It's one thing to revisit an important fact/idea occasionally throughout the book. It's another thing to SHOW me a character laughing and then fill up the next two paragraphs TELLING me the character found something funny. Give me the action and trust me to understand its implications. If more explanation is needed, do it in a way that doesn't assume I'm too stupid to have figured it out on my own.

6. You rhapsodize endlessly about a certain feature on your hero or heroine. I love a sexy hero as much as the next girl. I don't love endlessly reading gooey descriptions of the hero's lips. Eyes. Jaw. Pecs. Whatever. Now, this one is certainly a matter of personal taste. I'm sure there are readers out there who enjoy having the hero's adorable cleft chin referenced on every other page. I'm not one of them. I'm much more interested in what's going on within the hero's heart and mind. And I like to think the heroine is the kind of woman who's intelligent enough to get past her initial OOOH! Cleft chin! reaction and start looking for signs of heroism beneath the external.

7. Your villain doesn't scare me. Voldemort scared me. The killer from PSYCHOPATH (Keith Ablow) scared me. A villain who has the opportunity to cause pain and uses it instead to endlessly explain his every little move (All the better to give the hero a chance to arrive, my dear!) does not. I think it's fantastic when a villain offers some sort of insight into the way his mind works. I just need it to be done in a way that increases how threatened I feel by him. If I'm not afraid of the villain, I don't care about the story.

8. If I can see a convenient way out of the danger/situation, if all the hero/heroine has to do is do x instead of y and x doesn't cost him/her anything, I'm done reading. I love to be on the edge of my seat, unable to see how the hero/heroine could either a) get out of the situation unscathed or b) pay the cost of the decision they'll have to make. You do that, and I'm hooked for life.

9. Your ending is heavy on the exposition, light on the action. This is an easy mistake to make. You've got loose ends to tie up. Questions to answer. A foundation for the next book to lay. I get that. But I've been reading feverishly for the last two hundred odd pages to get to this point and I don't want to sit back and read the equivalent of Driving Miss Daisy. I want action. Danger. Life-threatening/emotionally-scarring stuff. I want to be unable to put the book down because I'm so afraid the characters I know and love won't come through.

10. Your stakes suck. For a story to really pull me in, the stakes have to matter. Really matter. I have to care deeply about the characters and the outcome of their struggle. I have to want them to make it. I have to see that the cost of them not making it is painfully high. It doesn't actually matter if the stakes involve physical danger, saving the world, or finally making a romantic commitment to their soul mate--the stakes have to really matter to me. For the stakes to matter, you have to push the characters to their limit. You have to make me frantically turn page after page because I have this terrible fear that somehow the characters won't pull it off.

Any reasons you'd like to add to the list?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Casserole, Anyone?



1. Someone recently asked me why I do the list thing so much on my blog.

2. My answer? It's my blog, and I'll do what I want.

3. Also, I live a crazy-busy life, my post gave-birth-to-three-boys-in-four-years brain resembles a colander, and this way, I can share a bunch of random tidbits in one post (Hey! Convenient!) for the enjoyment of all.

4. It's like a C.J. casserole.

5. Everybody loves casserole.

6. If you don't, hie thyself to another blog.

7. I'm trying to convince my hubby to make a cake for our resident blog mascot, the Were-llama.

8. I want the cake to resemble the Were-llama.

9. With glowing red eyes.

10. Cool, yes?

11. Even cooler if the cake spits from both ends!

12. I'm all about the details, folks. And you know you want to see a sparting (spit+fart = spart...stay with me, peeps) Were-llama cake.

13. We could make a video of its construction.

14. Any suggestions for a Were-llama cake theme song?

15. Were-llama says NO to anything by Brittany.

16. Also, Were-llama vetoes the Macarena.

17. Recently, I judged five contest entries for the YA category of the Golden Heart.

18. There were some fantastic story ideas and a couple that I think are really close to being publication ready.

19. It's fun to read up-and-coming writers.

20. Speaking of writing, I'll be diving in to plotting and researching the sequel to CASTING STONES next week.

21. I'll also be starting the January query workshop this coming Monday.

22. Four spots left if anyone is interested in getting multiple in-depth critiques on their query.

23. Now, I must get ready to face the day job, the dentist, and a sneak peek of the new Brendan Fraser/Harrison Ford movie. (Because my parents want to go, and as I only see them twice a year, I've capitulated. This is the kind of movie I usually avoid like the plague.)

24. Were-llama theme song, anyone?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Can't Think Of A Title To Save My Life



1. In my zeal to thank my awesome CPs for helping me make CASTING STONES the best it can be, I forgot to thank one very important person.

2. My hubby.

3. Without his tireless support of me, this book would still be unfinished.

4. He spent hours doing housework, cooking dinner, riding herd over homework time and bed time so I could go off by myself and write. Sometimes, I spent ALL day at the bookstore writing. Not only did he not complain, he cheerfully encouraged me to stay as late as I needed and was excited to mark every chapter's completion.

5. I can't really express how much his belief in me and my dreams means to me.

6. Thank you, Clint. I love you too.

7. That concludes the mushy portion of this program.

8. We will now return to our regularly scheduled mayhem and silliness.

9. *is waiting for inspiration to hit*

10. Daredevil's Sunday school teacher sent me an email this past weekend. Apparently, the class was discussing the tabernacle. The teacher asked the students, "Who knows what the innermost room of the tabernacle was called?"

11. Daredevil raised his hand and said, "The Holy Mackerel."

12. I have high hopes for his comedic timing.

13. I'm still accepting registration for the upcoming Query Workshop.

14. And I'm still mulling over how to put together a worthwhile synopsis workshop.

15. I'm sure you feel much better about life in general knowing that.

16. Oh, yes. The pic at the top of this post?

17. One of Lilli's t-shirts from the CASTING STONES series. She wears it in book two.

18. I got a bicycle for my birthday. It's what I asked for.

19. Now, I'm remembering how long it's been since I rode a bike.

20. Twenty years.

21. I sincerely hope, given the steepness of our driveway and the unforgiving nature of both our aggregate and the asphalt on the street below, that the belief one never really forgets how to ride a bike is, indeed, true.

22. On the bright side, if I eat it, I'll have plenty to blog about.

23. Going to get my hair cut short and sassy today.

24. With highlights.

25. I think I'm going to have her put a blue or purple streak in as well.

26. Just to keep it interesting.

27. Later, peeps!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Also

I want to publicly thank my CP team for hours of reading, catching my lack of commas or word repetitions, understanding my characters and falling in love with them too, and pushing me to make CASTING STONES the best it can be.

Thank you Katy Wagers, Myra McEntire, Keli Gwyn, and Heather Zuerner. You make me a better writer.

Typing THE END



Last night, at midnight (No, really. At midnight.) I typed The End on CASTING STONES. It came in at about 90k. I'm really pleased with it. I'm doing a final read-through and polish and then sending it to Holly tonight.

Also, the title is going to stay the same. I'd considered changing it, but after discussing it with my CPs, I've decided the title CASTING STONES works.

To meet the deadline for this, I had to work like a ditch digger these last two weeks. I wrote 50k in TWO WEEKS. Yes, that's insane. But I'm really glad I now know I can do that. =)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

36 "Really? This Was Worth Sharing?" Facts



Tomorrow is my birthday. I'll be 36. In keeping with the weird list tradition I seem to have inadvertently started on this blog, I thought I'd think of 36 random facts about me you might not know.

1. It's highly probable most readers of this blog will find less than half of these to be interesting and/or edifying.

2. And no, I don't think #1 is cheating, even though I said this was a list of random facts about ME, because it was discussing said list and it was on my blog, ergo, it was about ME. In a convoluted sort of way, of course, but if you're unable to appreciate my logic, you probably aren't a regular blog reader anyway, so what do you care?

3. I was raised in a family where the Swedish side thought a dessert called Prune Whip Pudding was acceptable celebratory fare for a Christmas Eve celebration.

4. As I firmly believe prunes, whipped or not, don't qualify as dessert, and as I'm not about to stick brown jello in my mouth, I avoided this delicacy like the plague.

5. I once wanted to be a vet when I grew up.

6. A friend of the family was a vet and let me help him "fix" our male cat.

7. I decided I no longer wanted to be a vet.

8. I wrote my first short story in second grade about a school bus who was alive and didn't appreciate the screaming, inconsiderate children jostling around inside it. I think there was more to it than that, but honestly, I can't remember.

9. I had a pair of black patent leather shoes with clip on bows when I was in elementary school, and I adored them. A precursor of things to come.

10. All the kids in first grade who got hot lunches on raw veggie and dip day used to pass their little bowls of broccoli and carrots my way.

11. Yes, I'm strange like that.

12. The first time I remember using a fancy vocabulary word to perfectly express myself was second grade when I informed my teacher that the rest of the class was being awfully loquacious.

13. FYI, I was totally right. They were.

14. I didn't believe in Santa Claus when I was little, but I still looked to the sky every Christmas Eve. Just in case.

15. Much to the dismay of my boys, I totally suck at games like James Bond and Street Racer.

16. Whenever I drive a fairly long distance from home, my hubby sternly admonishes me to drive the speed limit.

17. I listen. And try to respect his wishes. Often, I'm successful. Sometimes I'm so far inside my own head (plotting or listening to my characters), I don't really know how fast I'm going until I look down and realize I'm driving ... somewhat over the 70 mph mark.

18. I don't do chick flicks or stupid, frat-boy-type humor in movies all that often.

19. I'm too busy watching action, paranormal/comic book, or whatever strikes me as strange/creepy/cool.

20. Boxing is one of my favorite sports to watch.

21. I understand the game of football. Not enough to be a commentator (although having listened to some of those guys, I'd have to say I'd probably sound far more entertaining), but enough to intelligently follow the game.

22. I used to be able to hula hoop from the neck down.

23. If I tried to hula hoop around my neck now, I'd probably require medical aid.

24. I once ate an olive right off the tree.

25. I do not recommend it.

26. I've always loved theater, musical or otherwise. I've seen a number of shows. To date, my favorites are Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

27. I chose my favorites based on one simple criteria: Would I want to see it again?

28. I used to have a collection of jelly bracelets that included the uber-cool glitter-and-water-filled ones.

29. I don't feel old enough to have a child in middle school.

30. I hated middle school. With a passion. So much passion, I wouldn't re-do it for anything.

31. I learned to drive on a 1979 Cadillac Brougham. It was a beast. A huge, can't-parallel-park-this-sucker-to-save-your-life beast.

32. I used to keep journals. I stopped sometime in college and never started again. The thought of keeping a journal now is just exhausting.

33. I can't sew. No, really. Really. I understand the concept of threading a needle and applying it to fabric, but the results are often unrecognizable and sometimes, downright scary. My mother used to sew Gunneax Sax dresses for us as children (which are some of the most difficult dresses to sew), but I inherited none of her sewing skills. Nor do I have the patience to learn.

24. I was once crowned Queen at the end of a dinner theater performance at Medieval Times by our section's victorious knight. I was a high school senior. The knight was cute. It was memorable, to say the least.

35. Okay, seriously? Did anyone see that I just wrote #24 for #34? I'll blame lack of sleep and working my brain to ye olde nub on CASTING STONES for that. If you have an alternative suggestion, I suggest you keep it to yourself.

36. I'm happy. I love my thirties. I enjoy my family, my friends, and how I'm pursuing my dreams.

Until next year! Same bat day, same bat crazy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Next Workshop Registration Open

If you're interested in any of the following, head to my workshop site for more info:

1. The next query workshop starts in three weeks. Registration is now open.

2. I have four spots left on January's critique docket. If you want pages critiqued, please see the sidebar on the workshop site.

3. I'm now offering a synopsis critique as well. I will accept up to a ten page synopsis. Info/purchase button is on the sidebar.

Go Ahead, Dance. You Know You Want To.

Thanks to my hubby for sending me this incredibly cool video of the year's top songs. Take a look.

Hinky Mountains, Nasty Goat Facts, & Danger to the Eastern Seaboard



1. As it's now 2010 (and has been for four days now, but whatever), I should probably post something profound, inspiring, and reflective.

2. ...

3. Hope that worked for you.

4. I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore because a)I constantly set and revise small goals for myself every month and b)I'm still working on taking over the world and really, shouldn't I accomplish one resolution before moving on to the next?

5. Eastern seaboard, be warned. I'm starting my bid for world domination with you.

6. This has as much to do with my desire to own a vacation house on the North Carolina beach as it does the fact that I need to get Washington under my belt before the rest of the continent can legitimately be mine.

7. Honestly, I really was going to post something ... well, maybe not inspiring, per say. But at least interesting and thought-provoking.

8. I got derailed by Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs.

9. (Speaking of which, maybe he should do a show on shoveling out the HOLY COW WHAT IS THAT AWFUL THING? IS IT ALIVE? RUN! RUN AND DON'T LOOK BACK! that exists under boys' beds. But, I digress)

10. How did Mike Rowe derail my attempt at bringing you lofty, inspirational blog content?

11. He did a show on transforming goat skin to paper.

12. *eyes all the paper on my desk with trepidation and distaste*

13. I think we all know how I feel about goats. *shudders*

14. But what really got me about this episode was the scene where Mike and the goat-skin-paper guy are examining the underside of a piece of recently harvested goat skin and Mike asks what the huge lumps are.

15. Because, peeps, there are huge lumps scattered across the underside of a goat's skin.

16. They're the size of those large candy corn pumpkins they sell at Halloween. Or the size of a large marble. Or the size of I-Think-I-Might-Vomit.

17. Know what they are? I'm about to tell you. I'm just warning you in case you want to shelter your innocence a bit longer. You can always scroll down to #20. I'm sure I'll be done discussing them by then. No? Last chance! Read on at your own risk.

18. They're zits.

19. Huge, yellow-grease-filled goat zits. And Mike Rowe popped them.

20. I'll never be the same.

21. I'm still gagging reflexively at the memory.

22. Sorry. I guess I wasn't done discussing them by #20.

23. Almost ready to turn CASTING STONES in to Holly.

24. Just one problem.

25. I don't think the title CASTING STONES works anymore for me. It doesn't quite encompass the dark, creepy edge to the story.

26. I suck at titles, so help me out here.

27. I need a title that sounds uber-cool and means SOMETHING HINKY ON THE MOUNTAIN.

28. What've you got for me?

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