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Showing posts from April, 2009

Writing Update

It's been a busy writing week for me. Comes with the whole "get up at 4:30 a.m. because I am a crazy woman" territory. Here's where my projects stand:

1. SHADOWING FATE: Finishing the revisions requested by my agent. The last two scenes were just not working, no matter what I did, so I finally opened a new doc and started typing from scratch, rather than trying to work within my existing material. I think I've got it now.

2. DYING TO REMEMBER: Because so many people (both on and off line) have requested this book, I submitted a query for it to The Wild Rose Press, an e-pub that also sells paperback copies of their novels through Amazon. If they offer me a contract for DTR, I can post a link on my site after it's published and all interested readers may purchase a copy and read to their heart's content.

3. Super Secret Project: I'm really excited about an idea I have for a Middle Grade novel. My agent wants to see a chunk of it when it's ready so I ha…

Upcoming Opportunities

A Cup of Comfort and Redbook Magazine are sponsoring the Silver Lining Story Contest.
Write a 1000-2000 words personal essay about finding comfort in today's tough times and you could win $1000 and publication in Redbook.

The deadline for entries is May 15. Read the guidelines here.



Enter my local RWA chapter's Melody of Love contest. We have some excellent judges lined up!

Nothing Works Like A Little Action

A fellow writer asked me last week what I do to combat the inner "you suck" messages that follow hard on the heels of a rejection, a contest flop, or a dry spell in our writing.

I could give you some long, complicated answer and write a truly inspiring blog post but honestly, I can sum it up in two words: take action.

Whenever I received a rejection from an agent, I sat down at the computer, did a little research, and queried two more. When I didn't place well in a contest, I focused on the next project at hand and set a goal to have it ready for the next big contest. When I face a dry spell in my writing (and we all have those days where writing is like wringing water from a rock), I keep writing.

Maybe I write something different--take a scene from a new perspective, outline another project, interview my characters--but nothing cures the inner "I suck" voice like proving it wrong and action is the only way to do that.

Because the truth is, most of the agents out…

Spaz, I Tell You!

1. Getting up at 4:30 a.m., while productive, makes me feel like I should be halfway through my day by 9 a.m.

2. Daredevil will probably be a writer when he grows up.

3. I say this because he's been writing novels (and wondering aloud at my astounding lack of progress when he can complete five a day and I can't) for several years.

4. And because he asks me if I understand what it feels like to look around a public place and pretend to be the other people I see.

5. And because he walks by a restaurant doorway lit with green neon and exclaims loudly, "Beware! The Green Door of Doom!"

6. I think we may have misnamed our new kitten.

7. We call her Samantha (actually, we call her Sam or Sammy) but truly, she should be a Spaz.

8. She talks constantly and if she doesn't receive the proper reply (hard to know what that is...imitating her seems to be the WRONG button to push), she begins meowing with the kind of volume and ferocity rarely seen in the feline species.

9. Also, she …

Top Ten Reasons Hershey's Puts A "Consume In Moderation" Warning On Their Dark Chocolate

1. Death By Chocolate isn't just a fancy dessert.

2. Somebody, somewhere, sued when it was found that their copious consumption of dark chocolate was directly responsible for their fifty pound weight gain.

3. The high concentration of anti-oxidants in dark chocolate reverse the signs of aging--eat too much and you're Benjamin Button.

4. Joan Rivers eats three bars a day. (See #3 for her reason.)

5. Causes giddy euphoria directly linked to the mystifying popularity of Britney Spears, reality television starring C list has-beens, and pants with phrases embroidered across the buttocks.

6. It's a confirmed fact that substituting dark chocolate M&M's for regular M&M's during writer's sessions gave us such cinematic gems as Gigli and Glitter.

7. Reverse Psychology: Tell a woman she can't consume an entire chocolate bar in one sitting and see how long it takes her to defy you.

8. Research held in long-buried files located somewhere in Area 51 prove that excessive…

It All Started With A Shoe

I'd love to own a pair of these shoes. That's probably an understatement. I'd take out any prospective shoe buyer standing between me and this pair of shoes using nothing but the bits and pieces of whatever flotsam lurks at the bottom of my handbag--pennies, used popsicle sticks (yes, my children view me as a walking trash receptacle), and dental floss. So, it will not surprise you that when I saw this pic, I snatched it up, drooled over it a bit, and then realize my covetous thoughts were turning in an entirely unexpected direction.

What if these shoes belonged to an elf queen?

What if they were magic shoes?

What if wearing these shoes would give a mortal the power to rule all Magical beings--at least until someone pried them off her feet?

And that, for me, is how a story is born. An image, a line from a song, a stray thought and my imagination is off and running. Which is why I think for writers (or artists of any kind) surrounding oneself with things that inspire us is impo…

Get Me Started #5

From Sarah's first sentence.

"I coveted the red shoes," I half-whispered to the I-Bench-Press-Semi-Trucks-In-My-Spare-Time goon guarding the Presidio's entrance.

He stared at me in silence, beady little eyes showing more malice than intellect.

I was going to kill Freddy if I had the wrong password. Again. There're only so many times a girl can expect to escape death. Even a girl like me.

"Are you going to let me in or what?" I took an aggressive step forward--offense being the best defense--and wrinkled my nose as the unmistakable burnt rubber stench of Krygon hit my nose. Just what I needed. A confrontation with a muscle-bound junkie mainlining magic he had no way to control.

"That's not the password," he said, scowling at me.

Stupid, stupid Freddy. Stupid, dead Freddy.

Of course, to kill Freddy I had to survive this little fiasco first. Nothing like a little motivation.

"Yes, it is." I fisted my hands against my hips--all the better to…

How To Write A Scintillating Blog Post

In five minutes or less:

1. Open blog page and hit "sign in" button.

2. Curse for the fifty-thousandth time as blogger opens but refuses, despite repeated requests, to remember your log-in information.

3. Type in log-in information.

4. Check the box marked "remember log-in information" for the fifty-first-thousandth time--proving that either hope springs or idiocy abounds.

5. Hit "create post" button.

6. Stare at empty page.

7. Glance at clock and realize time is of the essence--five minutes to go before you must leave for work.

8. Wonder what you can blog about that will be both interesting and non-time-consuming.

9. Flying monkeys.

10. Indian soda made from cow's urine.

11. The extreme likelihood that Joan Rivers is a Zombie and no one yet realizes it.

12. Discard each idea as either too time-consuming (really the cow's urine soda deserves much thoughtful pontification), too hackneyed (who really cares about flying monkeys?), or too obvious. (Joan Rivers is…

Chocolate-Covered Gummies & Imaginary Friends

1. I've decided to start a new tradition on this blog.

2. Top Ten lists every Friday.

3. Or most Fridays.

4. Depending on whether anyone else in the literary world (Oh, fine...the world at large) needs to be put back in their place.

5. I had a hilarious Top Ten planned for last Friday (Did you know Hershey's puts a warning label on some of their products?!) but was sidetracked by Miss Everyone-Who-Writes-Outside-My-Genre-Is-A-Hack.

6. Stay tuned for this week's shenanigans.

7. My sister has made my boys' decade by buying them each a DS Lite.

8. Now I only have to answer the "When is the package going to arrive?!" question fifty times a day.

9. Small sacrifice to make for having someone else anti up to bring joy to their little hearts.

10. Tinks has an imaginary friend.

11. It's both funny and slightly scary.

12. She's adopted a tiger Webkinz (Can she see the colors and know it looks somewhat like Carly?) and carries it around in her mouth by the back of it's…

Oh No She Didn't

Yesterday a blog post by a writer of literary fiction gained the notice of writers and lit agents both. Links were posted on Twitter--as an example of a writer who didn't understand that publishing is a business.

I read the post, and while I didn't leave a comment there (partially because jumping into online arguments isn't my style and partially because it was clear in the comment trail that the post's author wasn't open to any argument but her own), it made me think.

Here, in her own words, is the gist of the complaint:

The substantial and nearly unassailable wall that separates you from us has been under construction for decades. You can find the names of its architects and gatekeepers on your telephone-callers list, and in your email in-box. They are the literary agents—that league of intellectual-property purveyors who bring you every new manuscript you ever see, those men and women who are so anxious to gain access to the caverns of treasure they believe you sit…

For The Love Of Biscuits

I see a lot of rather bad behavior from people in my line of work, but the one that gets to me the most is when someone thinks it's somehow appropriate to throw a tantrum over food. And by tantrum, I mean yelling, tossing their silverware down on the table, and going on and on about how their life is absolutely ruined because we ran out of meatloaf.

The other night, a man pitched a fit over biscuits. Biscuits. I'm used to grown-ups behaving like a spoiled two year old denied his favorite blankie at bedtime, but on this particular day, I just couldn't take it.

Setting the Scene: Last Friday, a mere five hours after I'd watched Carly die and only one hour after a tornado devastated our neighboring city--killing a mother and child and wiping out blocks of homes.

The Conversation:

Me: *bringing their dinner to their table a scant six minutes after they'd placed their order--even for us, that's really fast.* Here you go. We've got fresh biscuits coming out of the o…

The Saga of Milk Pills, Comic Relief, & Poo

Time once again for us to take a peek at what search terms are bringing intrepid Googlers to this blog.

1. Snort milk pills: No, no, no. You're doing it all wrong. True comedic genius lies is the snorting of actual milk. Pills don't have nearly the same effect. Plus, they get stuck in your sinus cavity and then you have to explain your particular brand of idiocy to the local E.R. Stick with liquids, my friend. Liquids.

2. I hate having the last word: Really? I don't share that sentiment. Don't worry, though. Around here, you won't ever have to worry about it. =D

3. Is eating bananas with pickles common?: Ah, no. And really, if it was common, wouldn't you already know it? Absolutely no one I'm personally acquainted with walks around eating bananas and pickles at the same time. Never mind the disastrous clash of tastes, combining those two textures would be enough to violently trigger my gag reflex.

4. Poo Saga: I'd love to claim ignorance on this one but, s…

Beware The Zombie Goat

Today, as promised, a post on zombies. Not just any zombies. Zombie goats.



Unlike ordinary zombies who stalk through the streets muttering "Brains! Brains!" with the single goal of finding an unwary human and dining on the contents of their cranium, zombie goats are a much more insidious creature. As I've discovered an inexcusable lack of information on the Internet regarding this terrifying threat to our way of life, I will now take it upon myself to educate the public:

Ways in Which Zombie Goats Differ From Ordinary Zombies:

1. They are goats.

2. They do not have to die to be infected with the Zombiagulus Virus and indeed are often born with it.

3. They show no preference for brains so donning your protective Zombie Helmet does nothing to keep you safe.

4. They lure their victims with displays of cuteness.

5. They chew anything and everything, often starting with the outer limbs so as to render their victims incapable of flight.

6. They pretend to be foolishly stupid, lulling …

Heartbroken - Again

Today, I promised you zombies, but that will have to wait. This morning our baby kitten Carly lost her fight against the FIP virus. It's almost two months to the day since we lost Taz. Carly was suffering and I'm relieved she's not in pain any more, but I'm crushed all the same. So, no blogging for a day or two while I grieve another loss.

A Face Only A Goat-Farmer Could Love

1. See? Goats are disturbing.

2. Yesterday, I hit a moment of blogger's block and asked for suggestions on Twitter.

3. The first topic suggestion was zombies.

4. I realized suddenly that this blog has a regrettable lack of information on zombies, a situation I plan to rectify tomorrow.

5. Stay tuned.

6. Today, I get to go pee in a cup to prove to my company that I was not flying high on crack when I bashed my brains in on the shelf in the walk-in cooler.

7. Since I went to my own dr and didn't submit a worker's comp claim, I think this is ridiculous.

8. Still, they have the power to tell me I can't work a shift until I prove I've got nothing more sinister than Tylenol and Hot Tamales (which are of the devil) in my blood.

9. LOST is having a fantastic season.

10. This morning the Today show announced that romance novels appear to be recession-proof. Sales have gone up 30% since the whole panic about the economy started.

11. Yay for job security!

12. Speaking of novels, here…

But...Where's The Sparkle?

A few weeks ago, I met a writer friend at my local bookstore for coffee and conversation. Naturally, we also browsed the shelves and selected a few more books for our huge TBR piles. As we approached the cashier, our shiny new books clutched in our hands, we saw the most incredible thing.

Eddie and Bells action figures. Huge action figures. Bigger than Barbies. I guess you know you've arrived when a bookstore is selling action figures of your main characters. I was quite disappointed with them, though. Poor Eddie had not a single sparkle.

Romance Cooties!

Friend and fellow author Kerry Allen has a new site up and running called Romance Cooties. Ostensibly, the premise is a glimpse behind the scenes of a romance novel using the setting of an academy for heroines and four very interesting characters.

In reality, it's some of the most entertaining YA writing I've ever read. If you like YA or you want to learn how to establish VOICE in your writing, head over and check it out. She's brilliant.

Is It Monday Already?

1. The boys are home for Spring Break this week which means I don't have to set my alarm so early.

2. It also means finding quiet time to write is much more difficult to do.

3. Jeaniene Frost has agreed to be interviewed on this blog in May. Yay!!

4. Any questions you'd like to ask her?

5. Carly, one of our kittens, is very sick.

6. The vet says it's fatal. I researched her illness online and only found one case where a cat was cured.

7. I'm forcing food and an auto-immune builder (something I've used successfully myself) down her throat every two hours and praying for a miracle.

8. I don't think one is coming and having to face that grief again so soon is really rough.

9. Started my online query workshop today (it's confined to some specific writer loops or I'd issue a blanket invitation to my blog readers).

10. My house looks like I have three boys home for Spring Break.

11. I'm going to remedy that situation today and they're going to help.

12. I'm …

Love Them Or Hate Them

You-the-writer must have empathy for your characters. You have to like them — or hate them. I’m not saying believe they’re real — that road leads to the Palace of Psychosis, and nobody will visit you there except to mock — but you have to let them into your heart as well as your head. It’s that emotional connection that allows you to care about them, not as the means to deliver a message, or to flip a twist, but as actual individuals going through hell. Once you care about them, you can make other people care about them, too.

If you don’t? if you’re emotionally removed from your characters, or see them merely as markers to be moved along the story, in order to achieve a final goal? The most brilliant prose in the world won’t do you for d---. (Laura Anne Gilman)

Authentic characters are an intrinsic element to excellent writing. I will read just about anything in any genre if I am captivated by the characters. I need to love the hero and heroine. I must empathize with their struggles, be…

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know

I got one of those email forwards today instructing me to change the answers to my own and then send it off to the rest of my mailing list. Instead, the lazy blogger in me decided this might be an entertaining blog entry.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:30, although my brain engaged sometime later in the morning.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Shoes! What? It's an accessory.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? 12 Rounds (A Big FAT Don't Bother!)

4. What is your favorite TV show? Lost is my favorite show currently on tv (and yes, I'm a rabid fan). Other all-time favorites include Alias and I Love Lucy.

5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Cereal, if I can protect my bowl from my diabolical kittens long enough to wolf it down.

6. What is your middle name? Queen Of Everything

7. What food do you dislike? Green beans, apples, and most forms of chocolate. Also pizza. And don't forget okra. Blech.

8. What is your favorite CD at moment? Red's Innocence And…

I'll Shoot You In The Leg

1. I recently realized that I neglected to do two or three sentences from my earlier Get Me Started writing exercise.

2. Now, I'm trying to decide if I go ahead and do those three, or start the whole thing all over again.

3. I have to lock myself in my office each morning to eat breakfast while the kittens attack the door, trying to break it down and get to my cereal.

4. I've learned the hard way not to have sympathy for their pathetic meows.

5. The devious little beasts use cuteness to soften up their victims before moving in for the kill.

6. My head is slowly improving. The dr. told me to drink plenty of fluids which, while I'm sure is always a good idea, seems in this case to be code for "Nothing's going to cure this except time but I need to say something vaguely medical so there you go."

7. Besides, the more fluid I drink, the more trips to the commode I'm forced to make and is it really wise to send a dizzy klutz into a small room packed full of unyieldi…