Friday, July 31, 2009

Thank You from the "Me Monster"

By it's very nature, blogging is a bit self-centered. This blog is all about me--my thoughts, my experiences, my books that I'm reading and writing, and even my silly cartoons and pictures. In real life we'd probably be annoyed to meet someone who talks about themselves all the time, but we flock to blogs from people who do just that. Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians, calls this type of person the "Me Monster" (see video clip below).



So just a quickie post today to say Thank You from the "Me Monster" of this blog to all of you who come and read my ramblings. I love sharing thoughts, experiences, epiphanies, books, and things I find funny. It makes my day when I make sense and sometimes, maybe, perhaps, even help some of you. *Sniff*


One teeny-tiny question: what is your take on a blogger responding to comments by leaving their own comment? Do you guys ever go back to see if the blogger has written back to you?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

You know you're addicted to reading when you read the back of shampoo bottles while showering. But, just in case you're not a freak like me, let me tell you that shampoo comes with instructions. For those of us who haven't figured out how to wash our hair, I guess.

(Isn't this the most Donna Reed 50's picture?)

Massage into wet hair, lather, then rinse thoroughly. Repeat.


Repeat?

Yep. Repeat. Just in case you didn't get it right the first time.

And all of this fancy shampoo talk is just a lame way to lead into the writing topic du jour: repetition. I think repetition of certain pet phrases, sounds, and gestures is something that plagues most writers. One of my friends shared that her editor hated "raising an eyebrow" or "quirking an eyebrow" or anything eyebrow so much that he'd rip his own out if he saw it again. Okay, for the sake of honesty, the editor didn't say that (wouldn't it have been witty if he did?). But he did list eyebrow movements as one of his pet peeve repetitions. Since then I've been extra careful not to do the eyebrow thing. Sometimes it sneaks its way in, though.

And now after that picture you'll never forget it, will you?

Try and notice your common repetitions. I use "dripping with sarcasm" way too much. Thank you to the person that pointed it out to me! Some common words that are repeated and often not needed are "that" and "just" and "then." I make sure to do an Search->Find on each of those words on one of my editing passes. Try it and you'll be surprised how many you've stuck in.

And really, Elana over on Mindless Musings had a brilliant post on this subject. Or maybe it's just the brilliant YouTube video she has to go with it. Either way - love it! Go check it out and I dare you not to laugh.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Men aren't the only ones who get lost


It's Work in Progress Wednesday, which really means Work in Progress Musings (as the progress part is crawling along at a wounded snail's pace).

Meow. (Spongebob fans will get that.)


Anyhoo, I hardly ever watch TV, but a few years ago I got sucked into a certain show. You might have heard of it.


Not only was there the most attractive group of airplane crash survivors, but there was also some freaky black smoke that made a creepy noise, polar bears, and a psycho french lady. Then there was a hatch with a strange number countdown, the survivors from the other half of the airplane, and a group of "Others" who needed a doctor and kept their prisoners confined in a zoo cage while they had book club.

Whaaaaa...?

Exactly. Not only were the characters on the show lost, but I started getting lost. And I think the writers were definitely lost. It's like they didn't really plan what was happening, but when the show was a surprise hit they had to scramble to figure something out. I can imagine them sitting around some conference table stacked with doughnuts and coffee.

"What about a polar bear?" someone said.

"Sounds good. Throw it in."

"I'd really like a conspiracy," someone else said.

"Fine. Go for it."

"I've always had a thing for insane French women."

"Great! And that actress from Babylon 5 is available. She'll do."

"Oooo. You know what would really get our young married audience? What about a kidnapping? And someone's infertility problems miraculously getting fixed?"

"Perfect. Let's do that, too."

"And you know we could have a group of other survivors who don't fare as well."

"And they could fight. Great!"

"I know! Let's put an African drug-runner who's repenting from his past sins so he can't talk."

"Do it."

And so on. I quit watching either in the second or third season (I can't remember) because I felt like they were just throwing stuff in and never wrapping up *anything.*

And this week I realized that I was "Lost" with my WIP. Just like with the show, I was throwing in all kinds of things because it sounded good and I wasn't really sure where I was headed. I'm not talking about what happens at the end--I know that--but the end point of the whole book. What I want readers to think and feel when they're reading it.

An airplane route that is just a tiny bit off at the beginning of a flight can end up hundreds of miles off course at the end. And I had to step back and figure out where I would end up if I stuck to the course I was on. I had been trying for one type of overall emotional reaction, and I was bored with it myself and it just wasn't flowing. When I figured that out and changed my direction, the story started to flow much better.

Work In Progress Wednesday musings moral: stop every once in a while to check your course and make sure your story will end where you want it to, not marooned on a desert island in the middle of the ocean with polar bears and everything else under the sun.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Peek Into the Beach Bag

Of course, the title of this post would be so much better if I actually lived within 300 miles of a beach, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy a beach read, right? So lets talk about some of the books that would have been in my beach bag the last little while, if I had a beach and a bag to take with me there.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

This isn't exactly a sequel to Wicked Lovely, as it deals with secondary characters, but you would have to read Wicked Lovely to understand it. I liked this book but it was very dark. Not too surprising since it deals with the Faerie Dark Court.

Recommend.



Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

This is the sequel to Wicked Lovely, but you should read Ink Exchange before this one. We're back to the original main characters, but enter a new cast. Melissa does great characterization. I really enjoyed this book but was surprised by the ending. I thought this was the last one so the ending which clearly leads to another book totally surprised me.

Recommend.


Fragment by Warren Fahy

I tend to read in phases. For example, I'll get in a mystery mood and read a bunch of them. Lately I've been in a YA/MG mood, but I do try to venture into grown up fiction once in a while.

I tried this book because the premise sounded interesting (Jurassic Park-ish) and because someone gave me a copy. I wish I could have finished it, but there was a lot of swearing. We're talking the big, if-you-use-this-in-a-movie-it's-gonna-be-rated-R swear words. And one sentence that was strictly the one word repeated five or six times with the last one draaaawnnn out like that for emphasis. Of course, the character did have his thumb sliced in half by a deadly insect-like thinger, but still.

If any of you finish this book, let me know what you think.

And back to YA:

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

I know, another faerie book, but the faeries are very otherworldly and not at all nice in this book. Loved it!

Recommend.




Gone by Michael Grant

If any book is going to get teenage boys to read, then this is the one. Packed full of action, suspense, plot twists, and fighting. Grant doesn't bother too much with such things like deep characterization that might bog the story down, but I didn't mind. And neither did my son who devoured this hefty-sized book in a couple days. I've got to give it to the author for not being a wuss in the what-if department.

Recommend.


Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

I'm not sure if I liked this book or not. First of all, it was two different stories that alternated back and forth. And one story was written in third person (female POV), while the other was written in first person (male POV) - which you wouldn't think would work but it did. If nothing else the writing kept me intrigued. This book was definitely the first part of a series. At the end it felt like the author had just chopped the story at the point where it would make a good book length. There was no wrapping up of any of the story threads, so there wasn't a sense of resolution at all.

With all that being said I will probably read the second book, but if there isn't any resolution in that book I don't know that I'd give a third book a chance.

50/50 Recommend


The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

If you're a Twilight fan then you'll probably really like this book. It's a paranormal romance with the same feel, only maybe not quite as goopey. And it has quite a bit of Shakespeare in it, too. I enjoyed the book, but was a little disappointed when I found out exactly who and what the main love interest was. But I have to give the author points on it being unexpected. And to be honest if he had turned out to be a vampire I might have rolled my eyes and groaned.

**Spoiler: Dante is not a vampire (Sorry, probably should have given a spoiler alert.)

Recommend

There's a brief peek into my beach bag. That's not all the books I've read this summer, but is a good chunk of them. Any good reads in your beach bag this summer?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Word of the Week #61

pejorative - [pih-JOR-uh-tiv] - adjective

Definition:
1. Tending to make or become worse.
2. Tending to disparage or belittle.
3. A belittling or disparaging word or expression.

Usage: (definition #1)
I wish my kids would learn that the most pejorative response to anything is whining and complaining; it drives me nuts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Getting all philosophical

You may remember that I ran a huge relay race a few weeks ago. It was a total blast and if you're curious for more details and pictures you can peek at my other blog (Part One, Part Two, and Part Three). But for now I'm going to expound on the philosophy of running up a hill in the middle of the night and how that applies to writing (and life) -- a la Jaime.

Ever since I agreed to run the race--4 weeks before the day when I stepped in for someone that had to drop out--and saw what legs of the relay I had, I'd been dreading my middle leg. It was 8.1 miles mostly uphill, which is bad enough, but we predicted I'd be running it about 2:00 a.m. That's right, people! Miss Morning Person Extraordinaire who can barely stay awake past 10:00 p.m. would be doing the killer run in the middle of the night!

I trained my tush off for this leg - up hills, up mountains, up some more mountains. I did all I could reasonably do to prepare and I was *still* nervous. I'd be running in the dead night, away from houses, cities, streetlights, and people. All alone. In the cold night. What about dogs? What about psycho guys hiding in the bushes just waiting to pounce on lone women running by at 2:30 in the morning? What about deer? Oh my gosh, what about bears?!


As each runner in our van did their legs, the wiggly-icky feeling in my stomach got progressively worse (as did my trips to the Honey Bucket port-a-potties). Finally it was my turn - it was do or die. I'd already pushed it hard on the last leg and I just *knew* I would do terrible. I *knew* it would take forever. And I *knew* that I had to fake it in front of everyone else.

So I turned on my trusty racing playlist on my iPod and followed my husband's advice to Just Do It. Don't worry about your pace, don't worry about the time, just keep going. No matter what, just keep going.

At first I just focused on one foot in front of the other and calming my nerves. Then, after a while, when nothing scary jumped out at me and I didn't collapse in exhaustion or fear, I noticed the bobbing lights of all the other runners going in a string up the mountain. I wasn't alone. I watched the cars from other teams stopping and cheering us on. I waved to my own team. And I looked up at the amazing, breathtaking night sky full of stars.

(It didn't look like this, since it was much darker and I wasn't at the ocean, but it was amazing!)

And you know what happened? I started to enjoy my run. I passed some people going slower than me, and I got passed by others going faster. Some of us greeted each other, and others were just putting one foot in front of the other.

I followed my husband's advice and just kept going. I didn't pay attention to how fast I was going, I just did it. Just gutted it out and kept moving. It wasn't an easy run, but I did it! After I finished I could barely move, and when I finally checked my pace and time I had done way better than I ever expected to.

This a great story in itself, but as I've thought about it I've found some parallels to writing (and many things in life). Stay with me here...

I want to write, not just for fun, but be published nationally. Maybe make some money at it. I can't wait to have total strangers read the stories and characters that live in my head and become just as involved and emotionally invested in them as I am. (Part of what drove me to finish my children's fantasy was imagining my two sons reading the book and getting so involved they tell their friends about it in a mad rush of words tripping over each other - just like I've heard them do before.) This is something I want really, really bad. Bad enough to do the writing equivalent of running up mountains and setting out in the middle of the night.

And at the same time the whole thing makes me nervous, too. I get nervous that my story won't live up to the wonderful nebulous ideas in my head. I get nervous that I'll never be able to pull out the words and string them together well enough to draw readers in. I get nervous that I won't finish the current project, or that I won't find an agent who likes my work enough, or that I will find an agent and then have deadlines to meet, etc. There are a whole bunch of things that can make someone nervous, and give you the wiggly-icky feeling in your stomach. Just like with my run.

Sometimes you have to Just Do It. Don't pay attention to all the side worries, or stress that your rough draft isn't great (yet), or that other friends and writers seem to be doing better than you. Just keep moving. Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep trying. And when you can, look around and notice the others on the same road as you. You'll pass some. Others will pass you. Take strength in the little conversations as you meet. There are cheerleaders on the side to cheer you on. (Like me. Go! Go! Go! *jumping up and down with pom poms*)

And make sure you look up and enjoy the beautiful, soul-satisfying moments of why you write. Those times when it clicks and you can't type fast enough, or when you're laughing or crying along with your characters.

When you finally cross the finish line you may be exhausted. It will have been hard, but you can feel the deep satisfaction of knowing that you did it. And after the pain wears off and you've had some time to recuperate, you'll want to do it again!

And that, my friends, is what running up a hill in the middle of the night has to do with writing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Work hours and learning to be an Incremental Writer

It's that time of the week again - Work in Progress Wednesday!! *applause*

This is probably going to be more about my musings than my acutal progress. (There is significantly more happening in the musings department than in the progress department.) In the last week I've made an itsy-bitsy bit of progress on the rough draft. It's not the goal I set for myself, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. However, I've come to the conclusion that in addition to all the writing craft skills I need to learn, work on, and refine, I also need to somehow learn to be an Incremental Writer.

I'm not sure if that's an actual term, but I'm going to make it one. In a perfect world where the clouds are fluffy and I get the right amount of sleep every night, I can have a few hours uninterrupted time to write and really get the creative juices flowing. In the reality I'm living, though, that's just not going to happen when kids are home. I don't have the luxury of taking 10 minutes every time I want to write to warm up and get back in the groove. If I'm lucky I might have 10 minutes without a neighbor ringing the doorbell, a child fighting with another child, the sound of a crash as the contents of one of the refrigerator shelves is dumped on the floor, someone crying because they just got injured, the phone ringing, someone wanting a snack or a drink, a child jamming to the keyboard or piana, someone needing help with a project, etc. As a mom-author (or a Mauthor), I simply *have* to learn how to write in small bits of time. I need to be able to jump into my world and pound out the words, even if it's just a paragraph or two at a time.

It sounds great, right? I wish I knew how to do it.

On the bright side, in less than one month I will have all three children in school for the entire day! *gasp* That means that, theoretically, I can write for a good chunk of time every school day. In order to make this work, the first thing I plan to do is get serious about my writing time. I'm going to treat it as the job that it is, with set work hours as if I had to be to work. That doesn't mean I won't be flexible for those days when life throws all best-laid plans to the wind, but I will do all I can to make sure I put in those work hours. And that means I'll have to ignore the phone and the door and pretend I'm not home for the neighbors.

So, there's this weeks musings and progress. I hope all of you had a more productive week than me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's in the stars

WARNING: This blog post has nothing to do with writing, books, life, or really anything productive at all. In fact, I wrote it yesterday after having a loooong day where I got zero--zip, zilch, nada--done on my WIP.

Yes, I wasted a perfectly good 10 minutes of computer time looking at my daily horoscope. And then 10 more minutes blogging about it.

Someone's tweet started me thinking about horoscopes. The stars are the same for me today, so in theory I should be able to look up a bunch of horoscopes in different places and they should be similar, right?

"A Ha!" said my writer's mind which jumps at the slightest chance to procrastinate. "Let's test that theory out!"

And here are my horoscopes for Monday (from different sources):

!. You need to show off a little of that flexibility you've got in spades. It's a good day for you to offer to take on extra work or to see about getting yourself back on track with a friend.

(Ha ha ha! The reason I *didn't* get anything done today was babysitting for 9 hours for a friend. So obviously I should have offered to take on even *more* work.)

2. You will find this Monday a high achievement day. This is a time of decision--small changes can have big effects later on down the road. Make the right choice and it rebounds to your benefit; the wrong choice does you no favors. You are very communicative today and talking, writing, broadcasting . . . even by car, may interest you. Careful, a news story, or piece of gossip may need holding back for a while. You are happiest today when you are absorbed in the variety and complexity of life. You naturally are a giving person, sacrificing your own interests for the sake of an inner vision--what you feel is right. Today you may be guiding someone younger than you in matters of importance. You will certainly be pleased by the opportunities this day brings forth.

(Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.) (Did I mention this was wrong?)

3. You will be in good health and have lots of vitality. You will be in full control, on top form, vigorous, powerful, resistant and dynamic. You might spend all your energy in your professional life. Success is guaranteed. (So far I don't even care if this is true. I like it!) You will want to distinguish yourself from other people by a new attitude to life. You would be able to create something original, novel, singular. (Yes. Tell me more!) You will be in great form. You will realize your plans with verve and impetuousness. The world belongs to you and nothing can stop you in flight. You will be successful, that's for sure.

(Wowsers! I freaking *love* this horoscope! Even if it's some teenager pounding out drivel late at night while half-asleep. This one has my vote of the one I want to be my horoscope.)

4. Your high energy and discipline will enable you to complete any seemingly insurmountable tasks. Colleagues may try to undermine you when talking to superiors. Heart to heart talks will clear up vague issues.

(Whaa....??? How about a heart to heart talk with the stars to clear up this vague horoscope.)

5. You could be setting yourself up for disappointment, but your reasoning is so effective now that your words can weave an invisible protective shell around you. You'll probably come out on top in the long run, but it's frustrating when you are in touch with feelings of scarcity. It may seem like a stretch to change your attitude by just changing your mind, but you have the power to do it.

(Ohhh-kay... I guess I need an attitude adjustment.)

6. An early start puts you a step ahead of the competition. Try not to let little things irritate your relations with a close tie. What a difference a daring new attitude and a new start can make!

(I think this one just plagiarized the last one.)

7. You may be in a crabby mood, but that's no reason to bring everyone down.

(Okay, now I'm a believer.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Word of the Week #61

quondam - [KWAHN-duhm] - adjective

Definition:
Having been formerly; former; sometime.

Usage:
As a quondam flower child, Serenity couldn't quite give up her hip-length hair, much to the chagrin of her teenage children.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sometimes you have to laugh...

... so you don't cry.


Finding time to write


Anyone else think this is actually a *fabulous* idea? (Yeah, you guessed it. Not a lot of time for writing lately.)


Procrastination


There's absolutely no reason I chose this comic for today. *full-scale denial*



Writers Block


And this one just because it's funny.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm all about free

I haven't won a free book yet, but I will! Here are some more giveaways (and some are open internationally - for you Kimberly :)

Win an ARC of The Hollow (a supernatural romance that the blogger thinks may have you making your own T-shirts) at Lee A Verday's Book/Writing Blog.

Enter to win a copy of The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns on One Literature Nut blog.


Leave a comment to maybe win Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia.
*Here's my blog post when I first heard about this book. You bet I entered the giveaway!



A lot of blogs are giving away copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Hmmmm, I wonder why?) Like here and here and here.



Total aside: Anyone see the movie yet? I'll go see it soon but I'm going to wait until the risk of being trampled by rabid fans dies down. I mean, I like Harry Potter, but not enough to risk being maimed.

Anyway, just thought I'd share some more chances to get free books. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WIP Wednesday




I'm happy to report that, yes, we have movement on my WIP. Granted, my story is actually just creaking forward along the shoulder of the literature road, choking on the dust of passing authors, but it's movement!


I've brainstormed, tweaked, and figured out new twists and turns to the story and I'm excited again. I've tied up the internal editor and tossed her in the furnace room to keep my possessed hot water heater company, and we're moving!

Deep thought for this WIP Wednesday: sometimes you just have to persevere once the honeymoon of your new story is over.

Keep going when you are no longer in starry-eyed twitterpation with your story (work with me on the pic, all right?) and you begin to notice and get annoyed at the globs of toothpaste on the sink, or the stinky socks flung willy-nilly on the floor, or the dirty dishwater left in the sink. There are multiple times when the blush wears off, where it feels like *work* rather than the glorious outpouring of creativity you envisioned.

You know what? This happens to everyone and with every story. And usually more than once in each story/book. That's why persistence and perseverance is a valuable writing trait. (You can call it whatever you want, but I thought persistence sounded better than bull-headed stubbornness.)

And I'm more bull-headed than this story, that's for sure. The starry-eyed Jaime is gone but the story. Will. Move. On!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Word of the Week #60

quidnunc - [KWID-nuhngk] - noun:

Definition:
One who is curious to know everything that passes; one who knows or pretends to know all that is going on; a gossip; a busybody.

Usage:
One of the staple stock characters in fiction and the movies is the quidnunc who gets the main character in trouble by watching through the blinds at the most inopportune times.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Copying others to find your own voice?

Happy Friday all! Not only is it a bee-you-ti-ful Friday weather-wise (bring on the sun!!) but it also happens to be my anniversary. 13 years with my awesome husband! *sniff* The traditional 13th anniversary gift is lace, for those of you who do that sort of thing.

And yes, that is my husband whooping and cheering in the corner. (He won't be nearly so happy when he unwraps that package of doilies.) He likes this year better than, say, year 7 which is the wool and copper anniversary. That was an easy year for gifts. Steel wool anyone? And it came in so handy for that pot where I got involved writing that fight scene and forgot I was steaming carrots... *Note: I didn't really get him steel wool, but wouldn't that have been an *awesome* idea?!

So, on to something writerly...

I stumbled across a blog that talked about putting your personality in your writing. The blog was talking about business websites, but one thing in particular struck me. The post mentioned figuring out how to put your personality in your writing (or, in author-type terms - find your voice) by writing in other people's voices.

??

(The italicized stuff is directly from the blog, which I will link to at the end of this post.)

This is a trick artists do. When they learn to paint, they paint in the style of other great artists. By studying how other people paint, you'll pick up some of their techniques. You incorporate what works in your style and abandon what doesn't. And by studying other people's styles, you'll start to be able to break down your own style, and thus you'll understand how to strengthen it.

My first college major (yes, there was more than one) was in commercial art, which is graphic design, etc. mainly for business and advertising. I chose commercial art because, frankly, I wasn't a spectacular "artiste." I couldn't whip out the paints, chalk, pastels, or whatever, turn to a blank canvas, and produce some fantastic artistic masterpiece from thin air. *But* I was very good at coming up an idea and then finding bits and pieces from places and copying them into a pretty good work of art.

*Aside: There was one kid in my art classes in high school that was an amazing "artiste." But he always came up with stuff that was just...well... weird. My art teacher used to comment that we should work together--I could come up with the ideas and he could do it with flair. Neither of us was too thrilled with that.

So, I wondered if maybe there could be something to this idea of copying other people's writing.

You can use this for your writing. Here's how you do it: First, choose a writer whose style resonates with you. Next, copy a passage they wrote word for word. You might want to do it a few times. Then write something original, but do it in their style. Keep practicing until writing in their style becomes second nature. But this should strictly be an exercise. Don't try and copy other people's writing styles and pass them off as your own. Not only will it come across as inauthentic and more likely turn off your target market, but depending on what you do, you could end up in legal trouble.

*See the entire post at 5 Ways to Add Personality to Your Writing.

As I've been wondering if I should give this idea a try, I think I may have discovered one of the problems I've been wrestling with on my WIP. As I brainstormed authors that I like and that I'd like to copy I realized that all of the ones I come up with are not the style I thought I was trying for in my current book.

You see, I'm writing a dark story with some scary and potentially disturbing things. So I thought I'd write a dark book. Plus, dark topics & writing are the rage right now.

Good idea, right? Maybe not so much.

The truth is, I'm not a very "dark" person. Any of you who've spent any time with me probably agree. I crack jokes. I'm a little clumsy and run into things. I'm sometimes goofy (okay, often goofy). I don't emote and ponder on the horribleness of life. Yes, I listen to some darker music, but not for long periods of time. I dance around my kitchen to techno. I'm a sun worshiper. I don't like dark chocolate. I love the movies "So I Married and Axe Murderer" and "The Princess Bride." And I don't even *own* black nail polish.

I'm not sure I can write a dark novel.

But maybe I can write about a dark topic, with a character who tries hard not be dark and disturbed despite what is happening around her. Yes, maybe I can do that.

As for the writing exercise, I haven't tried it yet. But soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Learning from Monkeys

The right way to peel a banana.

(It has nothing to do with writing, but I think it's incredibly useful anyway.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday - Wish I had some

It's Wednesday again! Oh goodie!!And that means it's time to report on my progress! *Big fake smile and over-the-top enthusiasm* Yea!!!



*Smile disappears* Oh, who am I kidding. My work in progress has stalled.

After further research and thought I've realized that my story suffers from Same-a-situs. Which basically means it's too much like a bunch of other ideas out there. It's too much the same. And this story is my baby, so when it came down with the dread Same-a-situs disease it has made me very sad. (Yes, just like that super-cute puppy above.)

So the rough draft is on pause and I have to do some serious brainstorming. Holly Lisle has some great exercises for shaking your Muse up and thinking outside the box, but they require at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted time. And uninterrupted time around here has been as rare as a happy banker these days. What with company, the 4th of July, staying up too late, my daughter having a nasty accident involving her fingers and a treadmill (I have pics but I don't know that I'll post them), and the tragic death of a good friend's husband Sunday.

If any of you are in stall-mode with your projects, you might want to try one of these exercises (assuming you can find 10 minutes). These are from Holly Lisle's Create-A-Plot Clinic:

  1. Do some timed freewriting. Don't limit yourself to your story. Just vomit out whatever flits through your brain and see if your Muse will make some connections when given free rein.
  2. List words/phrases that resonate with you, that cause some sort of emotion. For me, I could use "trapped in a sleeping bag" because that would actually terrify me. Not being able to move freaks me out. I could also use "sunrise" because that is a magical time of day for me. Then take one of your words/phrases and brainstorm how you could fit that word (with the emotion) in your story. You might come up with some great scenes.
  3. Play tennis with your muse, where you ask a question or make a statement about where your story is stalled and your muse's only job is to disagree with you. Then you go back and forth and see what comes out.
  4. Make a word list of things from your story - characters, setting, conflict, etc. Randomly choose one of those words (pick from a hat or close your eyes and point). Freewrite for 3 minutes on that word. When time is up immediately randomly choose another word and write on it for 3 minutes. Repeat and see if you can find a direction or how to fix your stalled story.
  5. Go for a run or eat some chocolate (for those who like chocolate).

There are many other good ideas. How about things that have worked for you when you've been stalled? Hopefully I'll be able to jump start my story and get moving again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The "E" word

Are you ready for this? Maybe you should sit down. Oh, you are already? Good. Because I'm going to mention the "E" word. And many writers run screaming for cover at the mention of this word.

*deep breath*

EDITING


A lot of writers *hate* revising and editing. I'm one of those weirdos that actually likes that part. Much more than the rough drafting, holy cow this is unmitigated crap, part.

And here's a fantastic blog post on it, called The Top 10 Things I Know About Editing from Alexandra Sokoloff. Really, really good. It not only covers editing but has a great quick-list for the Three-Act Story Structure. And I'm now adding genre passes to my editing plans.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Word of the Week #59

daedal - [DEE-duhl] - adjective:

Definition:
1. Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.
2. Skillful; artistic; ingenious.
3. Rich; adorned with many things.

Usage:
I love Celtic knots and designs for their daedal patterns.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Free stuff


I've heard from various places that a really good way to get blog readers is to give away free stuff. So, I decided that maybe I'd try and do a contest. I just have one lee-tle (misspelled on purpose - don't email me) problem: what exactly to give away.

**searching my house**

Let's see, a well-loved paperback of Artemis Fowl (we finally bought them all hardback). Probably not. *tossing it over head* A copy of Twilight that my brother in law accidentally dropped in Lake Powell? Uh, no. Not that book or that one or that one because I love them all too much. I have a ton of Lego creations by my kids ... Nah.

*2 hours later, collapsed on the couch*

I'm afraid I don't have anything good enough to give away right now. So, I'll have to do the next best thing and direct you to people who *do* have cool free stuff. (Although using cool makes me outdated, I've realized. Maybe I should say people who have "tight" free stuff, or "sick" free stuff.)

Usually all you have to do is leave a comment or fill out one of those easy forms with name and email. If you don't like giving away your email or are scared of spam, then make a new junk email address with Yahoo or hotmail. Then use that one to sign up for stuff like this.

Yippee!!

**Disclaimer: The author of this blog in no way endorses or recommends any of the books in this list (unless she says so) and will not be held accountable if you win one that sucks rocks.**

  1. The Summer of Seven - 7 debut authors giving away 7 copies of their books, or you might be the lucky duck to get the whole thing! (Forest of Hands and Teeth and Wings are both in here. And I've read both of them and recommend them.)
  2. The Great American Book Giveaway - I just found this site, so I can't vouch for it. It looks like they give away 5 books a week. Sounds cool!
  3. Brimful Curiosities - a blog that lists a ton of book giveaways, usually every Monday and Friday. Here's the latest kids book giveaway list.
  4. Dave Farland book giveaway over on the Dragon Wrangler blog. All you have to do is post a comment on each portion of his author interview. Easy-peasy.
  5. A giveaway over on the Deadline Dames for Urban Fantasy lovers.
  6. Another giveaway on Deadline Dames but this one ends July 4th.
  7. Win a YA book on Popin's Lair.
  8. AND TO WIN A SONY DIGITAL READER (I want! I want! I want!) given away by Rachel Caine, the author of the Morganville Vampire Series, check out the interview and contest rules at the Bitten By Books blog. *Note: some of the ways to enter are to purchase books, but keep scrolling down and there are ways to enter that don't involve shelling out money.
  9. Lauren Barnholdt is giving away an ARC of Catching Fire (sequel to the Hunger Games). Check it out on her blog.
  10. Here's another contest to win some ARC's over on Presenting Lenore.
Now, I'm off to go sign up to win all this stuff, but you shouldn't because you'll lower my chances of winning >:) (Kidding! Sort of...)

Have a great weekend!

Extreme Sheepherding

Many of us have heard of extreme sports, like bungee jumping, parasailing, longboarding, and other crazy things. But I bet there's one that you've never heard of:

Extreme Sheepherding

That's right! Check it out here, and become a fan. Maybe I should design a bumper sticker.

**And yes, I know this is a lazy post, but life is really crazy right now and my hubby's home so I'm going to go take a nap. I will be back to normal blogginess soon.**

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday #9




Um. Yeah. It's that time of the week again. While I have made progress as a human being, I'm afraid in my writing it can pretty much be summed up with the following picture montage:






ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more


ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more


ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

That last one may be a *smidge* melodramatic. Anyway, if you haven't guessed the last week has seen very little actual writing the rough draft progress. In fact, I've pretty much stopped because I need to think real hard about some of the basics of my story because it might be too similar to a TV series that I've never actually watched. So even though it may seem I'm copying, how can I if I've never seen it?!?! But no one will know that. Soooo.... now I need to try to come at it sideways and see what twists the story develops so it's not more of the same that's already been done.

And I've had family in town visiting, so the writing kind of goes back burner when that happens anyway. Hopefully I'll have a better report next week.