Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dialogue Dos and Don'ts

First off, thanks for all the great compliments on my book cover. FYI I haven't found publication yet, I just wanted a little inspiration and Ms. Fena Lee offers her services free of charge. ;) You like how I stressed the word yet?? I think for those of us still seeking representation, being positive is essential. So please join me in leaving any negative thoughts behind with 2010.

Back to dialogue.... I believe this is something that improves with writing over the course of time. We don't notice the stilted dialogue in our first drafts because the words convey the message we want. It's only after learning to hone our craft that we can go back and isolate the dialogue, reading it aloud, and picking out unnecessary words and beats to give it a more natural, realistic flow.

One thing I've gotten better about picking out is exposition in dialogue. I was watching a movie the other day and  the delivery of exposition between two of the characters was so obvious my skin crawled. Two years ago I never would've noticed it. I think that's how most stories are--to the untrained eye ( or ear) it's unnoticable and doesn't intrude on the story. But to agents and editors with a fine tuned eye, it's like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Don't worry, I'm not in any way comparing myself to an expert, but I'm becoming better at my craft with each story--which is five in total now. Check out My Projects link to the right to peruse my story blurbs.

Here are some tips on dialogue:

1.  Make sure words and behavior are meaningful. In real life we have meaningless exchanges all the time. But in books, every spoken exchange must advance either the story or our sense of character. Don't write little physical details just for the sake of writing it.

Ex.)    "I really like you," she said, while cutting an orange in half.
(What does an orange have to do with this confession??)

Ex.)    "I really like you," she said, scuffing her feet.
(The scuffing denotes nervousness without having to tell the reader she's nervous.)

The second example is much more effective. Not only does it show the action, it relates to the speaker's words and behavior.

2. Think of real life situations where you'd notice someone's physical behaviors, and those you wouldn't.

Ex.) At a party, two best friends are screaming at each other because one hooked up with the other's crush. You wouldn't care if a lock of hair fell over the right eye or fingernail polish was chipped. You wouldn't care about anything except the exchange of words.

Writing should reflect the intensity of the moment--people (or characters in this case) lose perspective and sense of detail when angry or terrified or overwhelmed.

3. It's much easier to cut physicality down than add to it later. Focusing on the physical forces the writer to vividly imagine the moment--to slow down and understand what characters are thinking, feeling, and/or doing. You must understand them better in order to evoke them for the reader.

4. In many cases you can cut any kind of explanations you've included with dialogue. If you mention an emotion outside of the actual dialogue, chances are you're telling instead of showing. Go back and convey that emotion inside the dialogue only. Of course, by this time we should all know when we use an adverb to modify the spoken action, we are taking away from the dialogue. (no -ly words after the tag... she said forcefully.)

5. Are your dialogue tags varying too much? Using anything other than said, pulls attention away from the actual dialogue. The occasional replied or answered or asked is acceptable, just watch you don't use them too frequently.

6. Read your dialogue aloud!! This is so important. It's so hard to get the true feel of the dialogue without acting it out verbally. I like to pretend I'm reading for an audience and really get into character. I find so many places to trim and/or add contractions. I've found in almost every type of dialogue (unless it's a period piece with proper English) using contractions will smooth out that dialogue and make it more believable. Same holds true for using sentence fragments. People just don't speak in full sentences. Your characters shouldn't either.

7. A good rule of thumb to follow: if you're tempted to change the dialogue, do it. That little voice inside your head is trying to tell you something.

8. Stilted dialogue. Argh! I've been guilty of it on numerous occasions.

Ex.) "But what about the map we found?" I said.  "It says the treasure is buried in the furthest most point, west of the mountain ridges."
      "Good idea," Bart said. "I'll get the men together and we'll follow your lead. I just hope we're able to avoid the Pit of Despair near the Death Mountain Ridges. Men have been lost forever trying to pass over."

Oh my, so stilted. I tried really hard to give you information in the dialogue. The result is an artificial feel that makes it super obvious what I'm trying to do. I'm not letting the characters be natural--I'm forcing them to give information, or exposition, so you'll understand the story. In most cases, the reader is intelligent enough to pick up the pieces and put them together.

9. Unfinished sentences, outright lies, deception. Never underestimate the power. When these techniques are used in dialogue there's a very believable effect. Think of real life exchanges. How many times are we interrupted in mid sentence? Or tell little white lies to avoid real conversation? Sometimes we just outright deceive each other. Maybe we're having a bad day and we pretend we're happy as ever. These little nuances happen all the time. Your characters' dialogue should reflect that.

Thanks to Lauren Oliver Books and Self- Editing for Fiction Writers for these very important points.

So what's in your little dialogue bag of tricks? Any pointers or techniques you'd like to share? I'm all ears ...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just Wanna Show This Off ....

Presenting my book cover for my WIP:


Isn't it cool? It was done by Fena Lee. Feel free to check out her blog here. She's fantastic and super nice.

She may be able to help you with your own eBook covers.


On a completely different subject, I saw Tron Legacy yesterday. It had fantastic special effects and a stellar eighties style soundtrack/score. The concept is awesome, but I had a little trouble suspending disbelief. I couldn't quite grasp the idea of The Grid--not that I didn't understand it--but that I found it too hard to buy into. Aside from that, it's a fantastic 2.5 hours of entertainment.

Well, I feel like I've been so distant. Sorry for that. Work has been a bear with all the cancelled flights from weather problems in the UK and US over past week. Plus, with the holidays I just haven't had the usual blog time I like in order to peruse your blogs and update mine. Hopefully, that will be changing once kids are back in school.

If you've stopped by, thank you so much! Hope the remainder of your year is extraordinary. How are your WIPs coming along? Had any chance to work on them? I know I haven't. :(

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All .....


....  AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT !!

          Peace and love to all my lovely bleeps! May your
                   family be blessed with all good things.
                                   Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weekly Spotlight .... Could Be You!

Last spotlight of the year here. For any new followers, Wednesdays are the day I shine the spotlight on a blog I follow and tell you why.

Today, the blogging Oscar goes to ....

*drumroll*



Lydia Sharp   of  The Sharp Angle

Now most of you probably follow Lydia already. If not, consider this a golden opportunity to hop over. Do yourself a favor and read all of her posts. If you're a writer like me, Lydia's posts are invaluable if you're hoping to improve your craft. I usually take notes when I read hers. Seriously.

Lydia also started a forum for Writing Mothers on Writer's Digest Community--a free forum where writing moms can connect with other writing moms and share the challenges and joys.

Alright, I won't keep you any longer so you can get right over to Lydia's blog and start catching up on her archives. Do yourself a favor. 

This is it for me until after Christmas. I'm saving the next few days for family and trying to stay away from any distractions. I'll see you back after the 25th. Thanks so much for taking time to stop by and/or leave a comment. 

Wishing all of you the very best of the season!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ho Ho Ho ... BE JOLLY BY GOLLY BLOGFEST

In the spirit of all things merry and festive ...



Thanks, Melissa and Jen, for this fantabulous idea of sharing our holiday decorations and traditions!

Thanks to all who stop by! Check out mine, then click on the pic above to be swept away to Jolly by Golly HDQ and check out all the other participants. Ho Ho Ho!

My hubby and I are HUGE Christmas geeks. We break out the decorations day after Thanksgiving and instead of shopping for Black Friday, we decorate! Music, movies, trimming the tree ... it's so much fun. We don't celebrate it as a religious holiday--although we do have strong Christian beliefs--for us, Christmas is a cultural celebration of fantasy and fun. (Remembrance of Christ we observe in church on Sunday mornings.)

Here are some pics of our decorations:


The Tree ... small and fake, but just right for us!

Ah, the unparalleled glory!


The stockings all hung by the French doors with care ...  Yep, that's right. We live in Florida, so no fireplace. :(


And my darlings with Santa ... our Christmas cards that went out. Consider this one addressed to all of you.

Now, for a recipe of my fave holiday treat! I make these sugar cookies every year and it takes all day and is laborious and exhausting. BUT! They are always a humongous hit and they're gone by the end of Christmas day! It's an old family recipe, but I don't mind sharing it with you. (ancient Chinese secret )

MARY'S SUGAR COOKIES


1.5 C. sifted powdered sugar
1 C. butter
Mix together

1 egg
1.5  t. vanilla
Mix thoroughly til blended

2.5 C. sifted flour
1 t. soda
1 t. cream tartar
Sift and stir into butter mixture
Refrigerate dough for 2-3 hours

Roll out dough quarter inch thick; cut with desired cookie cutters; place on lightly greased pan. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes.

Icing: Blend 1 C. powdered sugar; 1/4 t. salt; 1/2 t. vanilla; 1-2 T. cream or milk. Tint to desired color and spread, sprinkle. (Note: I usually need more cream with my icing to keep it less thick and easier to spread)

These make some of the cutest and most delicious cookies ever! I'd snap a pic for you, but I haven't made this year's yet ... plan to Wednesday... yum-o! Goodbye, bikini body!

As for holiday beverages, I like to have a little eggnog with a dash of Captain Morgan's spiced rum on wrapping night. My hubby and I usually spend the evening together wrapping and sharing a few drinks a couple of days before Christmas--one of my fave parts of the holidays. Mmm... I can almost taste it now!

Since my hubby is a firefighter, he works 24hour shifts at a time. This year, like last year, he works Christmas day. Luckily our kids are young enough that they don't know which day is which, so we celebrate Christmas day on the 24th. We'll have our big Christmas eve festivities this Thursday and kids will wake up Friday morning as though Santa has come and then the dive into the cornucopia of presents with unbridled avarice. lol.

It's supposed to be cold in Florida all week and I'm looking forward to snuggling up with cocoa and listening to music and getting ready for the big day. My kids believe %100 in Santa which makes it a lot of fun getting them all hyped up for the big day. They've been on their best behavior since the Elf on the Shelf arrived. ;)

I'm guessing blog hopping will be slim pickings this week, so if you've stopped by here, I really appreciate it! Please leave a comment and let me know how you celebrate. Or if you don't celebrate at all, tell me what you do celebrate--Hanukkah? Kwanzaa? Eid al Ramadan? Anything special? Spill it all, right here ...

However you celebrate this time of year, I'm wishing you all the best! Loads of good cheer to you and your family!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oo La La ... Writing the Romance ... *blushes with a grin*

I interrupt this regularly scheduled program so that I can bring you somthing much more tasty and fun ...

I had intended to post today on helpful chapter one feedback, but much to my dismay, I'm flat out unprepared. So I'm going to be working on that. I hope to have a some really useful info compiled and want to take more time on it.

On to writing the romance.... It has to be one of my fave parts of writing fiction. The ability to create charismatic, sexy characters who don't even know how sexy they are and set them up for love scenes .... mm, mm , mm ... I. Just. Love it. ;)

Now, I know if I can give myself butterflies from reading my own work--it's pretty darn good. And I don't have any trouble saying that, A) because it's so darn fun, and B) because it takes a lot of work and effort on my part. Kind of like baking homemade cookies--always worth it in the end.

So many genres and story styles out there-some of which really have nothing to do with romance or love. However, when the authors sprinkle a little romance in ... oo la la! I just love it.

Which got me thinking, what kinds of characters really turn me on. I think that's what it boils down to. Because you can write romance scenes out the wazoo, but if the characters don't have what it takes to get my blood pulsing ... forgedda bout it! It's part of the reason why the Twilight saga is so popular with readers of all ages. The writing is okay, but the characters of Edward and Jacob get women everywhere swooning. I think the saga makes a great study if you want to learn how to build a swoon-worthy male MCs.

And since I am female and can only truly vouch for male swoon-worthy MCs, I thought I'd share with you a few of my fave. I'm sorry I can't say all of them are literary, but part of what makes a character so knee-weakeningly adorable, is a particular charisma and finesse that's either there, or it isn't. Completely subjective. You may disagree with me there... and that's okay--disagree away in the comments. The fact remains, these characters are my all time fave and will forever have my heart.

Without further ado ....


Oh yes. Who could resist Tristan Ludlow from Legends of the Fall? Back in the 90s Brad was the ultimate hottie, but he also played in a lot of other roles that didn't have me swooning at all. Tristan Ludlow, however, has got to be my top pic for total turn on--not because it's golden boy Brad Pitt, but because Tristan is smart, wild, tough, sensitive, confident, earthy, mysterious, outdoorsy, and a total family guy. *dreamy sigh*


I've been a Ewan mcGregor fan since Trainspotting, but it was his role as Christian from Moulin Rouge that had me swooning and falling helplessly in love. What about this character had me weak in the knees? His heart felt crooning voice could've been enough, but the fact that he was a starving artist--passionate about writing and passionate about love made me starry eyed. He was sensitive, yet determined; cute, but sexy in his desire for Satine. Christian could sing to me all day, with his boyish charm and larger than life romantic vivacity.


Another Tristan ... who knew?! Yeah, James Franco is a good looking guy, but it was this role--this character, Tristan of Cornwall from Tristan & Isolde, who had me breathless. How about the intense stares of longing? Or the gallant maneuvers of chivalry? A true knight with a noble and integral spirit. One who has experienced loss, and it has made him stronger--unbeatable. His loyalty to his king is contrasted only by his deep love for Isolde. Wow. This character only made James Franco's looks better. In truth, it wasn't James' looks at all that had me giddy. It was everything about the essence of Tristan--his charisma and honor.

Last, but certainly not least, Jude Law as Inman. Yeah Jude is pretty darn hot, but honestly, it was Inman's quiet, intense and honest character that melted my butter. There's just something about a quiet, genuine man that evokes mystery and intrigue. Add in some good looks and calm coolness, and I melt even more.

These are my absolute faves when it comes to male MCs. If you're needing a little inspiration on creating your own compelling (and swoon-worthy) male MC, watch these films, or read the stories (Cold Mountain, Tristan & Isolde) and you'll be sure to find your muse. BTW I'll always have a place in my heart for Mr. Darcy. ;)

Now it's your turn. Tell me who makes you weak in the knees--who melts your butter? Male or female, it doesn't matter. And I don't mean the actors/actresses. I mean the actual characters. Let's hear it, then ....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Spotlight.... Could Be You!

Well, I'm late getting this out, but what can I say... I'm just an overworked mom and wife who tries to get a few minutes of blogging in in between. lol.

Anyway, for new followers who don't know, Wednesdays are the day when I shine the spotlight on a blog I follow and tell you why I follow them.

Today, the Blogger Oscar goes to .....

*drumroll*

*gasps of anticipation*

*confetti falling*

*streamers streaming*

(lol ... I love dragging this out)


QUINN  of  SEEING, DREAMING ... WRITING

So what I love about Quinn's blog is his evocative posts. He always has some interesting, thought-provoking subject that has everyone commenting--not just a few words--but long rants. lol. I find myself typing small novels in his comments section, and I'm not alone! Sometimes his comments section is so long I have to grab a cup of coffee to drink while I'm scrolling through them.

That's a good thing! I find myself making it a point to read his blog every chance I get. Not only because he's a great guy (way over in Korea and speaks fluent Russian btw) but because his posts always intrigue me and I can't resist commenting.

Are you following Quinn? If not, you should be. If you are, pop on over and show him some blog lurve. He does not disappoint!

Tune in Friday when I'll sum up what I've learned from my chapter one feedback.

So how are you , my pretties? Tell me all about it, then go visit Quinn! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Chapter One Blues

Recently, I had the good fortune of winning two different critiques on the first few pages of my NaNo WIP, StarSong. One from Roni Loren and the other from her agent Sara Megibow. They just returned my critiques and wow! So helpful! Roni picked out so many areas that were concerns for me anyway, and Sara gave such great advice, as well as some surprising praises.

I was so mind-bogglingly lucky to win both these critiques, but now I'm back to square one with my WIP and doing a first chapter rewrite. UGH! First chapters are always my weak spots. I can never seem to nail it like I want. And I've read all the popular guides: The First Five Pages, Hooked, etc. But I always have trouble getting it like it needs to be.

Roni's and Sara's feedback was such a humongous help, and it's a start in the right direction. I've already rewritten chapter one and I'm going to sit on it awhile and let it slow cook. Meanwhile, I plan to go back and reread some writing manuals to see if I'm on the right track.

I'm looking forward to getting caught up with all of your blogs in the next few weeks. My apologies for not having been around as much.... I was just so consumed with my WIP.

But I leave you with some words of wisdom from Noah Lukeman. May it help get you where you need to be with your own WIPs:

Forget the writing before you and instead summon your original intention when setting out to write your book. Go over each chapter and ask yourself what your goal was when you set out to write that chapter. Did you have any general ideas about where you wanted it to go? Did it go there? If not, where did you go off course? When you went off course, could it be the source of some other point? Does it belong here? Can you add anything to the chapter to help bolster your original intention?


On a side note, my love letter to Sirius Black for the Harry Potter Blogfest made it to the top 5. Yay! If you wouldn't mind hopping on over to Michael's blog and voting (up in top right hand corner of his blog) I'd appreciate it. Of course, I'd love you  to vote for me, but read the other entries too... they're all fantastic and fun. Vote for your fave! I'm sure all the contestants would appreciate it. :)

Now, what techniques, if any, do you have for nailing that dynamite chapter one? Is it a weak area for you too? If not, share your wisdom.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Than I Can Chew....

So I realized the other day that I've signed up to do TWO blogfests for today. I lurve blogfests and sometimes I stumble across them and think how much fun they look and sign up--then realize later that I better get to work! So here I am, this lovely Saturday, sharing with you my two different entries for two different blogfests.

I hope you'll enjoy mine, then click over to the blog HDQ and enjoy some of the other entries. :)



The first is the Harry Potter Blogfest taking place on Michael di Gesu's blog. Contestants are to write up to 500 words invloving any HP character during the holidays. Fun, right?? Here's mine:

Dear Sirius,

   As I write this, the snow is falling in London like silent raindrops. As usual, the muggles are scurrying about as though it's the first time snow has fallen. Try as I may, I'll never understand them.
   I miss you more than words can say. Whilst I sit here--at our table in The Leaky Cauldron--I'm reminded of the first time we met. I am alone, listening to other witches and wizards as they talk of their Christmas plans. I wish you were here--we'd be trimming our tree right now--you with your wand, I with mine--drinking together as decorations attached themselves to the branches. You wouldn't care that no one else has their tree inside the Cauldron. We'd laugh and make a spectacle.
   Knowing you're gone forever is a sword to my heart, but trying to maintain our love as secret after all this time, is torture. They still don't know about our past--about our love. I know what you'd say, "it's safer that way--the Ministry has no business in our personal lives."
   Still I long for others to understand what I'm going through. I met with Harry and Ginny last week. Oh, Sirius! You should see young Albus! He's just like his father, and like James. It brings me joy to see how he flourishes. Harry misses you awfully. He always makes time for me when I stop by for tea. Do you see our old friends where you are now, my love? It comforts me to think they are there with you--in that great unknown.
   At times, I pretend you're still in Azkaban, and I write these letters with a sliver of hope you'll respond. Then truth settles over me--cold and bitter as the snow--and I remember you're gone forever.
   I've been offered a teaching position at Hogwarts, and I think I must take it. Teaching Divinations is what I've always wanted, and I don't see how I can refuse. It will be the start of something fresh--a new life, hopefully. Though, you'll always live in my memories--and in my heart. Do you remember the talks we had of our future? Of the family we'd raise together? I save the memories in my heart, but I fear some I've had to put to pensieve ... too much for me to bear.
   I shall leave it at that for now, Sirius, my eternal love. Diagon Alley awaits, and there are still more presents to buy. I'll write again soon.

All my love,
PK 


Okay, that was fun. Thanks, Michael, for an awesome idea and for allowing me to participate!

Now for the next blogfest from Marieke at Marieke's Musings. Contestants are to write up to 500 words on how their MC of their current WIP celebrates the holidays. here's mine:

   My name is Wynonna Pinks, and this is my last Christmas as a resident in my parents' home. I graduate high school in June and then I'm off to New York city. Pinks family tradition has us gathering around the fireplace and tree, singing caroles kareoke style--Mom's idea. She started it back when she used to sing--thought she'd be a professional one day, til her worst nigtmare came true.
   I used to love it when my older brother, Jake, and I were younger--we'd ham it up and act overly dramatic. But then something happened and I didn't participate for a few years. Mom would always nag me, say someting like, "You spoil everything, young lady," and that would only make it worse. Every Christmas, Mom and I would fight, til Dad and Jake would duet It's Cold Outside and get us all laughing again. 
   This year, I'm back at the mike--got my boyfriend to thank for that--he helped me find my voice again. Who knows what will happen next? If Mom can stand him being around long enough, we may just convince him to get in on the Pinks fun.  


Thanks, Marieke! Also a fun idea and glad I participated.

That's it! Thanks for stopping by and reading. Don't forget to check out the others, there's a list of entries on the main blog from the links above. Also, would love your comments here. Anything you want to share? Who's your fave Harry Potter character and why? Or how would your MC celebrate the holidays? Tell me everything!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Spotlight .... Could Be You!

Thanks for tuning in! We've made it mid-week, which for me, means two days off from the day job. My life is completely backwards from the norm. But it has its perks.

Today being Wednesday, it's the day I shine the spotlight on a blog I follow and tell you why I follow it. It gives me an opportunity to thank a fellow blogger, while giving you an opportunity to find a new, helpful and unique blog to add to your list.

My spotlights are always on blogs I find particularly interesting, and I just know that you will too.

Today, the Blogger Oscar goes to .....



JE FRITZ     of      STILL WRITING


Okay, you know why I love JE's blog? She always has interesting little facts on words and their origins. She's a total word nerd, and I can relate to that. Her posts are nice and concise, to the point, and I almost always learn something. They're fun to read.

JE is also a fantastic follower and commenter. She's super involved, and to me that's the kind of bleep to have around. So don't be shy ... click on the link above and visit a new blog today. If you already follow her, be sure to pop a comment over to her.

JE is a new bloggy friend worth making. For sure.

And now .... back to my first round of revisions .... oh how the words flow with such feverish fluidity .....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Art of the Critique ...

So it's getting to be about that time.... Time to send over my blood, sweat, and tears for someone to rip apart and demolish my oh-so-blown-up writerly ego. Perfect. That's what I need. Funny, how after writing that first draft I feel so proud of myself and unstoppable. Then, chapter by chapter, my beta readers/critique partners whittle away at my masterpiece and expose it for what it is: a first draft in need of revisions.

Thank the Lord for good critique partners. Seriously. I value them so much--they pick out things I don't notice and offer suggestions for improvement that, well, just never occured to me. That's the power of more than one brain.

Knowing my new baby is soon to be in the hands of my trusted beta readers makes me excited and anxious. SO I thought I'd share what --to me-- makes a good critique and what I hope to find out about my own work. I'll also share some of the things I look for and strive for in returning the favor.

One thing is for sure: writer's should never assume their story is finished before running through at least one trusted critique partner.

What I hope to discover after the first time my baby has been read:

*How the story flows/pacing

* Does it make sense

*Is the conflict clear

*Are the characters easy to visualize

*Is the voice clear/consistent/entertaining

*Do you feel like you're reading a story or do you feel like you're part of the story

Also, I love line edits. I don't expect them and I know not everyone cares for them, but if I misspelled or mispunctuated or, heaven forbid, dangled a participle, I wanna know!

When I give critiques, I look for the same things, but my strengths are picking out inconsistencies with characters and spotting unnecessary adverbs. I'm a stickler for using verbs in place of adjectives and modifiers.

Every beta reader/critique partner has different strengths and weaknesses. That's why it's so great to have more than one. At this partcular time when 2010 is nearing a close, and so many WIPs are enduring the brunt of full force revisions and critiques, I thought it'd be nice to find out what you look for when giving/getting critiques.

Please share, so we all may benefit in makinfg our babies glow with precision.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Calling All Harry Potter Fans....

Hey did you know our fellow bleep, Michael di Gesu, is having a Harry Potter blogfest??? It's a contest, and get this ... you write a 500 word scene with yourself and any character from the Harry Potter series. What HP fan hasn't ever wanted to do that??

And the prizes are real HP souvenirs from the Wizarding World at Universal in Orlando. There's still time to sign up. The actual blogfest date is Saturday, Dec. 11. So set that NaNo project or WIP aside and take a magical break to flex your writing muscles and spark your creativity. Step inside the writerly shoes of JK Rowling and let yourself have some fun!

Click on the pic to be magically whisked away and sign up for the Harry Potter blogfest! * waves wand* *stupefy*

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I'm sorry for the delay on getting out the winners to my giveaway. Yesterday was so busy for me, I had to neglect the blogosphere... much to my chagrin. :(

We had a blast on Wednesday with the kids' first trip to NYC. It rained the whole time and flights were delayed so it was a bit stressful, too. Completely worth it, but exhausting.


        My lil holligans at Rockefeller

Yesterday was spent playing catch up. And, as if Wednesday wasn't awesome enough, I found out I won two contests for a 30-page critique of my NaNo project from lit agent Sara Megibow of Nelson Lit! How fantastic is that?? It seems I won Roni Loren's contest as well as Ashley March's contest. That is so unlike me! I'm never this lucky!!! *huge grins*

But I'll take it and run! If you don't already follow Roni's and Ashley's blog, click on over and make it a point to. They're both represented by the ever impressive Sara Megibow and I promise you'll get some great advice on writing from both of them.

So back to MY winners! YAY! I had so much fun with My Favorite Things Giveaway. Most of the prizes were donated to me. My airline colleague makes the soap and runs her own herbal soap business, the Out of Print tee clothing company donates books to children in Africa for every tee bought ... great shirts and a great cause!

 I went old-school and literally tallied up each entry and put names in a bucket. I swished them around, stirred, tossed. I fondeled each of the contestants names on little tabs of paper ... lol. No high tech random selectors for this girl ... There's just something so exciting about physically drawing a name. ;)

Anyway ... the winners are:

Starbucks gift card:    Debbie Curran

Choice of 2 handmade soaps from Natural Mystic:   Marissa Farrar

The Secret Year YA novel by jennifer R. Hubbard:   Susan K. Quinn

The One I Want women's fiction by Allison Winn Scotch:  Nas Dean

HP Deathly Hallows soundtrack:   Oddyoddyo13

Choice of Out of Print tee:  Carla

WOW! Equal new and old followers for winners! What are the odds??? I promise it was completely random.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone who participated. Winners, please email me at pakazo77@gmail.com so I can get your address and/or make arrangements with you for your prize. :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weekly Spotlight: Web Splash!

This week's spotlight will be a little different. I, like many others today, will be shining the spotlight on Talli Roland and the release of her debut novel : The Hating Game.

Let's rally together to support our fellow writer and blogging goddess by helping to promote her new book and taking Amazon by storm! Hey, if it were your debut book, wouldn't you appreciate the support??

Help Talli's debut novel THE HATING GAME hit the Kindle bestseller list at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk by spreading the word today. Even a few sales in a short period of time on Amazon helps push the book up the rankings, making it more visible to other readers.

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/hNBkJk
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/hX2ieD

No Kindle? Download a free app at Amazon for Mac, iPhone, PC, Android and more.

Coming soon in paperback.  Keep up with the latest at http://www.talliroland.com/.

About THE HATING GAME:

When man-eater Mattie Johns agrees to star on a dating game show to save her ailing recruitment business, she's confident she'll sail through to the end without letting down the perma-guard she's perfected from years of her love 'em and leave 'em dating strategy. After all, what can go wrong with dating a few losers and hanging out long enough to pick up a juicy £2000,000 prize? Plenty, Mattie discovers, when it's revealed that the contestants are four of her very unhappy exes. Can Mattie confront her past to get the prize money she so desperately needs, or will her exes finally wreak their long-awaited revenge? And what about the ambitious TV producer whose career depends on stopping her from making it to the end?

Sounds clever and entertaining, doesn't it?

I confess, this is a scheduled posting. With any luck from the weather, I'm on my way to Manhattan for the day with the kids. It's their first time seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center, before we spend hours lost in FAO Schwarz. lol ... So I'll catch up with the blogosphere when I return ... BUT I'm bringing my Kindle with me so I can download Talli's book at the airport. I love helping out fellow authors, don't you??? Karma, baby! :)

What are YOU doing today??? I love reading your comments, so please share!

Monday, November 29, 2010

What I Learned From NaNo

As the final hours of NaNoWriMo come to a close, I must take a few moments to reflect on the experience. Don't worry ... it' ll be short. ;)

For my very first NaNo I have to say, it was pretty darn fun. I was as dedicated as a working mom can be, and even finished with days to spare. I've never written a first draft with a deadline before--well, not with a thirty day deadline, anyway. So knowing I had to have the 50k words down by Nov. 30 was a little daunting.

However, I think it really pushed me to get the story out. I feel bloody awesome! I just finished an entire story in a month and now I'm ready for the first round of edits! *grins* Now, I'm not one of those peeps who think that, now I have my first draft, I'm ready to query. I'll put my ms through a few rounds of revisions and beta readers. I'll even take a month break from it so I can return with a fresh perspective.

So what I've learned from NaNo, is that I can write a story pretty quickly if I know what I want to happen. I went in with a full chapter outline and character sketches. I never got writer's block because I knew what was going to happen (for the most part). With each chapter I set the scene, then let my characters have free reign and see where their conversations took them.

A little about my WIP--the story formerly known as Sapphire--I changed the name to Starsong. What do you think? Does it have any appeal? Before I wrote the story I wrote a logline, which pretty much sums up the gist:

All-American teenager, Wynonna Pinks, never expected to fall in love with the oddball neighbor kid. As if teen love isn't intense enough, her new love's devout Muslim upbringing will make some awkward waves for them in their small Bible Belt town, leaving them no alternative but to focus on the harmony that brought them together in the first place.

It's a contemporary literary story, so it focuses mainly on dialogue and the angst of a teen romance with conflicting religious backgrounds. The focus is not on the actual conflicting beliefs of Islam and Christianity, but on the ordeal of trying to make a relationship work when everything is against it.

So that's it. I'm wrapping it up at just about 70k words before revisions. I'm sure it needs some major work after  writing it so fast, I don't even remember everything--which makes it exciting during the first round of edits ... then by the fourth time around I wanna puke... lol!

Thank you, NaNo! I've learned that I can crank out a story with dedication and diligence. But with the understanding it is nowhere near ready for submission. I'm looking forward to tweaking it into shape.

How about you? Did you learn anything from NaNo? If you didn't do NaNo ... what are you working on? Tell me everything!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Puppeteer

HI, all! I'm back from the decadence of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, greenbean casserole, pumpkin pie, etc .... Wheew! Has to be my fave cuisine of all time ... good ol southern Thanksgiving. And, we're officially all decorated at my house. My kids had so much fun yesterday getting the Christmas decor out.I just love the warm glow of colored twinkle lights in my living room.

Anyway, I've been reading the book Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott. Long overdue, I've had it on my shelf for weeks but hadn't had the chance to delve in. Have you read it? It's awesome. If you don't know, it's a writing guide and I highly recommend it. In one of her chapters on plot, she brings up a really good point that got me thinking. I wondered if any of my writer buds were guilty of this too...

In the third maniscript I ever wrote, I tried my hand at an adult political thriller--something I love to read, but never envisioned actually writing. This was back before I really learned how to polish my craft--I was just a fledgling with a dream of writing a novel--and not truly understanding what it takes to craft the story.

In Bird by Bird, LaMott talks of those writers who have a good, strong plot to their story, but they force their characters to follow the plot. This leaves the characters hollow and it makes the writer the God of their story--controlling everything and not allowing the characters to develop and make discoveries and revelations of their own. LaMott is adamant on focusing on the characters first, then the plot and everything else will come naturally.

Wow, I really thought on that for awhile. I was totally guilty of that with the thriller I tried writing. I had a great plot and lots of suspense and secrets that I unveiled sparingly along the way, but I was forcing my characters to do what I wanted. I was the puppeteer, pushing them along and pulling their strings to move in the direction I demanded. I can see it now, but back then, I had no idea. I was seduced, consumed, and enchanted by my plot. How terribly egocentric of me!

Well, hindsight is always 20/20, or so they say ... and I know now I can go back and rewrite the heck out of that story and I may just have something. I plan to, once my WIP is finished, and this time I will let my characters have more control. I've learned a lot about character development since then, not by reading writing guides, but by writing new stories and letting my characters interact--giving them room to come alive.

By the way, I'm literally two chapters aways from finishing my WIP (the NaNo project formerly known as Sapphire.) I did an Amazon search yesterday and learned the title of Sapphire is already taken. So I've got some new ideas in the works. No big deal. This one has been a really tough one to name.

I'm looking forward to revisions all next month and hopefully queries in January. I'm hoping to make February my NaNoQuerMo month (idea stolen from Tracy at Forever Endeavor) an anyone who thinks they'd like to join me in my query endeavor just let me know and we can make it a joint effort!

Also, sidenote, there's still time to enter my GIVEAWAY. In order to qualify you must leave a comment in that post. Old followers get an automatic double entry into the pot.

So tell me, my friends, are you or were you ever a puppeteer? Come on, fess up ... we all have our writing faux pas along our path. If not a puppeteer, what mistakes are you guilty of and how have you learned from them?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Character Questions or a Question of Character?

So I stumbled upon these questions the other day, I think on Julie Musil's blog ... it was a link and I copied down these nine questions to ask your characters in order to gain better insight on them. I love these kinds of things. I've found that writing my first draft--after doing brief character sketches--gets the ball rolling.

After my first draft, and once I've gotten to know my characters pretty well, I start a series of interviews before I go in to do revisions. That way, I can tweak away to make sure their essence rings through in the story.

I thought it'd be fun to not only leave you this short list of character questions, but to answer them myself so you can get to know me better.

1. How do you learn best?  I'm a hands-on, visual person. I have to see it, and best if I can try it. Then, I never forget it.

2. How open are you to new ideas?  Very! I love new ideas and have a very progressive way of thinking.

3. What's the first thing you notice when you walk into a party? Open spaces. I hate crowds and I always go for a opening. But I love parties, too... as long as I've got my space.

4. Is one sense more developed than the others? My hearing has probably been dulled from my early years of concerts, raves, and loud parties. My smeller is pretty average. But my sight has always been 20/15. I can be at a rowdy, crowded party and I'll notice a little spider in the far corner of the ceiling.

5. Do you notice problems around you? Always. I have a strong sense of conflict in the air as well as empathy for others who are feeling down. My daughter takes after me with this. She's 4 but I can see the same trait in her already.

6. Optimist or pessimist? Optimist

7. Are you more interested in past, present, or future? Future

8. How do you decide if you trust someone? Vibes. I pick up on peep's vibes. If it's really negative I don't trust them. Otherwise, I'm a really trusting person.

9. Are you a deliberate, careful speaker or do you speak without thinking? My words are usually well chosen, though my hubby would probably disagree. ;)


Regina Linton is having a giveaway on her blog, Unsettled, so feel free to click over and check it out!

Also, there' still time to enter My Favorite Things Giveaway... just click on the pic to the right.

If you're American, wishing you a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday with lots of good food, family, and friends! I'm off to see Harry Potter at the Imax today (my Bday gift from my son). YAY!


                                                         
                                    

Do you have any methods on building  your characters? Any great questions you ask them? Please share ....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Favorite Things GIVEAWAY!!!

So super-excited to announce my first ever giveaway!! Oooo-eeeee! Thank goodness you're here!

 *greets with warm embrace*  *smooch to each cheek*



Big, warm welcome to all blog joggers!
              
   

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to look around, and by all means enter My Favorite Things Giveaway for a chance to win some groovy prizes. Then come back here for your next stop on the Blog Jog : http://serialcentral.wordpress.com/ . If you want to get to Blog Jog Central for all the blogs participating, click on the pic above. But first! Check out what I'm giving away ....

Since November is my favorite month, and in honor of American Thanksgiving and in celebration of my birthday (coincidentally on the same day,) I'm rolling out a few of my favorite things to giveaway as a HUGE thank you for following, commenting, and supporting my little ol' blog. :) I've arranged for the gorgeous Vanna White to present the lovely prizes for you. (Do I have connections, or what??) *wink wink*

Take it away, Vanna ....



*in Vanna voice now*  Thank you, PK. Six lucky contestants will win one of these great prizes:


**  A $ 10 Starbucks gift card




** 2 Bars of your choice of luxury All Natural Handmade Soap from Natural Mystics

** YA debut novel from author Jennifer R. Hubbard  The Secret Year

** Women's Fiction novel by NY Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch, The One That I Want

** Harry Potter Deathly Hallows original score CD 



** Your choice of classic Out of Print tee (the coolest tee-shirts boasting classic novels)                                     



*back in PK voice now*  Thank you, Vanna! Is she great, or what??

So, six winners total and all you have to do to enter the pot is one of four easy options. (or you can do all four for more entries and a greater chance to win!) Everyone is welcome to participate!!

1. Be a follower and leave a comment on this post. Welcome to new followers!!! (old followers get an automatic extra entry. Don't worry, I know who you are. :)  )

2. Visit the pro teen self-esteem Facebook page, F.L.O.A.T., here and click LIKE

3. Tweet about this contest with a link back

4. Blog about My Favorite Things Giveaway or add a link on your blogroll and link back here

If you do all four of these, your name will be entered into each pot four times. Six pots total (only one winner per prize ) SO that means you have a chance to win one or more of six prizes!! Remember to leave a comment on this post by December 1. And let me know how many entries you've earned.

Drawing will be held on Thursday, December 2, so check back then for the big announcement of winners!

Thanks again for all your support. This is my little way of showing you how much my bleeps mean to me and how much reading your comments makes me smile every day! Best of luck, and if you're new here... THANK YOU! I look forward to making your virtual acquaintace. :)




My Favorite Things - Sound of Music

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Keep On Truckin' ...

Not my ususal post for a Wednesday. I miss doing the Weekly Spotlight, but it will return first week of December. So many excellent blogs out there, I'm anxious to dole out more Oscars. :)

Today's my day off from my regular job ... you know, the one that pays the bills--that ol' airline gig of talking on the phone at 3am. *rolls eyes* BUT, being the dedicated Nanner that I am, I dragged myself outta bed at 230am and put myself to work on my ms.

Well, okay, I admit, at first I got caught up on reading a few blogs and checking some emails. I was totally procrastinating because, quite frankly, I just wasn't in the mood. I've been cranking out chapters and having such a good time with it ... I guess I just hit a speed bump. Bound to happen.

Seriously, I'm at 45k words already, so I'm not worried about making my word count at all. Plus, I knew going into it that my story would be over 50k. I'm thinking more along the lines of 80k after some revising. That's a realistic goal, and in all honesty I haven't had any problem with word flow or ideas or dialogue .... Until today.

Whew, child! I just couldn't get it going. I wasn't motivated at all. I felt stuck--trying to get over the hill. I wrote a little, and peck, peck, pecked along with no real zest or gusto. I considered calling it quits. I went over my chapter outline again. Man, I just wan't feelin' it.

                                                     

BUT,  I forced myself to keep typing. I didn't give in. I reminded myself that it didn't matter what happened on the page today, that I'd just let my 2 MCs chat and see what happened.

OMGosh! It worked! After chugging along for two hours, I had a major breakthrough between my MCs. There was a revelation and moment of truth and even an exchange of amorous words. Oh, it was so fantastic that I almost had tears in my eyes. Which just goes to show, sometimes the best remedy is to just write and let the characters do their own thing.

Of course, I may go back and read it and think, WTH??? But for now, I'll relish my accomplishment for what it's worth. So, my fellow writer friends, when you're feeling the slug of unmotivation, I leave you with these words of wisdom: KEEP ON TRUCKIN' ! You'll get there, too.

Got any words of wisdom for me??

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quick and Easy Contest ...

Okay, so it's not mine, but it is one of my fellow bleeps, Caitlin Darrell, down under in Australia.

Check it out, it's super easy! And to give you a little extra motivation, how can you resist any contest that starts off with a picture like this:

                              

LOL! I love it! Anyway, click on the pic above to get to the contest at Caitlin's site and enter for the great prizes.

I'll be having a contest of my own later this month, so check back for that around the 21st.

What about you? Know of any good contests going on? Share them with a link here, please!

Monday, November 15, 2010

From My Private Word Reserve ...

Wow, I've been away from the blogoshpere all weekend. Been sick--I'm talkin' laid up in bed sick. But recovery is in full swing! I know I've missed a lot of great posts from all of you, and I hope to catch up with it all over the next few days.

Don't forget WriteOnCon chat is tonight. I'll have to miss it this time since I work at 3am tomorrow. I'll be paying catch up with that as well. My NaNo project is in good shape. I'm really diggin' my story ... lol. Hope some others do too.

So what's my private word reseve, you ask? Some of you may do this too: keep a notebook or file of words you like to use. I refer to mine all the time, and it's just a plain old spiral notebook, which works best for me. Inside I have names for future character use, exceptional adjectives (for minimal use, of course,) some antiquated words for fantasy stories, and my fave punchy verbs.

I'll share a few with you each week:

Punchy Verbs

lunge    sweep    scatter    ram    quake    scrape   probe   strain    stroke   scavenge   grunt   slather   prolong  itch       grump   fritter    quarrel   nag      slobber   twitch   snatch   squirm  toss          sift       gleam    flash


Do you use any of these? Feel free to add them to your own word reserve. I have plenty more I'll share another time. It's so important we use verbs that say it all instead of modifiers tacked onto them. It makes a huge difference.

What about you? Do you have any faves you'd like to add to the pile? Please share!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Put Your Sneakers On ...

That's right, some of us are going on a jog ... a blog jog, that is. It's super easy and there's still time to sign up if you're interested. It's a great way to learn about new blogs and get some more attention to your own.




Just click on the Blog Jog link above and it will take you to the right place for more info. Or click this link to sign up. The actual day is November 21, so should be a fun time meeting new bleeps and seeing what else is out there ... I know, like we don't have enough already, right? Well you can never have too many friends and/or connections if you ask me.

Also, if you didn't get a chance to already, check out this Kristen Lamb's Blog about maximizing your social media. She has some fantastic advice and her posts are always super helpful.                               

That's it for me today. Short and sweet ... You're excused to move on down the yellow brick blogging road. Have fun! Have a great weekend, and if you're doing NaNo, how's it going? If not, how's your WIP coming along? Mine is almost halfway done, so excited about it!!


                                        

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How Far Would You Go?

So the other morning after writing for three hours straight, I was enchanted by the charms of the sofa and remote control. Hey, the kids were in school and  the morning was mine to behold. I should've been writing more, but I was burnt from staring at the laptop screen.

Oh the joy of sinking into the sofa, remote in hand, for some quality vegetation. Pure bliss. Funny, when you spend so much time creating your own story and characters, it's such a treat to be entertained by someone else's for awhile. That old movie, Tootsie, was on--just starting--so I set down the remote and got comfy.

I've seen Tootsie before, but it's been a long time, so I didn't remember all the dialogue, just the premise for the story. Why am I telling you about it?? Because Dustin Hoffman's character, Michael Doresy, is someone to make note of. A talented actor with a difficult-to-work-with attitude, Michael finds work by impersonating a woman, which earns him a role on a successful soap opera.

Michael's agent warned him no director would hire him because of his reputation for his argumentative side--I mean, this guy argues about why the sky is blue, kind of thing. But Michael is a really good actor. He knows it. And dressing up as a woman is the only way for him to get work as an actor. Of course, there's all kinds of problems this causes--trying to juggle both lives as man and woman. But Michael is so passionate about his work, he is willing to suffer through it.

                                                  

There was a scene with Michael and his agent talking about why he would want to continue impersonating a woman just so he can act. Michael was so passionate--he said he'd rather be acting as a woman than not acting at all. His point being that the work--or the art of it--was so important, that he was learning the craft even while impersonating the woman. That's how far he'd go to be able to act.

Then once he was used to being treated as a woman, he felt like he had a message for other women. His passion ignited even further and he was doing something he loved while trying to help other people. Wow! Is that like a dream or what?

Reason I'm bringing up Tootsie in the first place is because I was applying it to life as a writer. How far would you go for your craft? Are you passionate about it? Willing to step outside your comfort zone in order to make things happen?

Sometimes that's what it takes. And I don't mean impersonation ... lol , that is, unless it really floats your boat ... But I mean doing whatever it takes to be an author / writer. Maybe it's skipping that dinner out, or that movie you've been dying to see. Maybe you give up your entire day off to research and query agents, or to finish that WIP that your editor's been waiting on.

Passion fuels our desires. Passion makes things happen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's the Great Space Coaster .... Get on Board!

Remember that show? Some of you may be too young, but it was a regular morning show at my house growing up. I loved the little stick figure named Leroy. And of course the catchy tune at the start of the show. What does it have to do with my post today? Absolutely nothing. Just thought of it ... At 3am crazy things go on in your brain...lol.

Earlier in October I posted some on the webinar I did with kid lit agent Mary Kole. Today, I'll share with you what I learned on the YA market. Not everyone is a YA writer, I realize, but even if you've ever considered it, this is great info:

YA  -  * Two kinds of YA, including readers ages 12 and up, as well as 14-16 and up.
           * Word count should be between 45k-90k
           * Anything goes! (paranormal, dystopian, contemp, etc.) Just write what's in your heart.
           * Don't be edgy for the sake of being edgy
           * YA is about authenticity and relating to your readership
           * Teens have a very sensitive BS monitor (they know when it's not realistic)
          
There were some questions on the paranormal romance category--why it's so popular and if it's going to last... 
Mary said teens (especially girls) have a romantic obsession and these stories allow them to live vicariously through fiction. These stories have lots of action and fights. Paranormals allow teens to explore the dark side of humanity. It's still a very strong category, even if it may seem overdone at the present.

Still lots of room for contemporary (yay for me!). But contemps need a strong voice, with bigger and darker conflicts. Teens don't want %100 happy ending anymore. It's all about the bittersweet endings. Teens realize life is more complicated.

If you are writing YA, keep in mind the teen mindset:

* They go through lots of firsts (love, conflict, being a hero)
*They feel everything intensely (all those new feelings are rocking their worlds)
*There are many highs and lows everyday
*They're in the moment. Relationships are very important. (all kinds--friends, love, parents)


 (One of the best teen movies ever, Pretty in Pink. I know, so 80s, right? What can I say, I grew up in the 80s)


Best advice from Mary:

Be authentic. Do research with real teens. Don't preach or moralize. Pay attention to the guidelines for age range. Really get in their heads.

And here is what she says separates hopeful authors from actual authors:

* Character
* Voice
* Authority (notice word author in authority)

Identify these elements and transfer them to your own writing. Writing is an art/craft that takes time.

As I've learned since my first story. Yikes! I started off writing YA, then dabbled in some other areas, now I'm back to YA... it seems to be where my heart is. It's such a sensitive time in a person's life, and I love the idea of helping to mold young minds.

What about you? Why do you write the genre you do?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Story Check

Whether you're cranking out a first draft this month, or revising away at a finished one, we all have to remember the key elements that make up a story.Keep them in mind as you write and revise:

STORY ISSUES

Does the plot make sense? Is there strong narrative? Identifiable conflict? Pressing story question? Is the reader engaged from the first scene? Pacing good?

CHARACTERS

Does each character have a purpose? Are they defined by their dialogue and actions? Are their feelings shown rather than described? Are their traits explained on a need to know basis throught the story? Is your MC likeable or at least sympathetic? Does each character have unique mannerisms? Does your MC have a goal and arc (meaning they end up different than when they started?)

DIALOGUE

Is it believable? Does it flow? Does each character have his/her own voice? Does it move the story forward to reveal chapter question? Is there a nice balance between dialogue and summary?

SCENE

Does it contain elements of location in time/space; action; dialogue? Does each scene have tension? How about the right number of beats for pacing?

GENERAL

Are you RUI? (Resisting Urge to Explain)? Are you showing instead of telling? Do you have enough interior monologue? Are you looking for verbs to use instead of adverbs and modifiers?

                                                 


Whether you're a plotter or panster, you have to have some kind of basic knowledge and idea before you create a story. I'm a little of both. I plot out a chapter outline of how I want each one to go and what scenes to expect will carry the plot.

Then, while I'm writing the first draft (which I'm doing now and using NaNo as an excuse to stay motivated) I create the scenes and just go with it. So in a sense, I'm flying by the seat of my pants while I write, and often digress because I can't get my characters to do what I need. LOL! Isn't it funny how they have a mind of their own? Sometimes that's a good thing.

I'm already thinking of places in my WIP where I can cut, and I think I even have too many characters. I'm going to have to cut a few who I wanted to use to add some flavor, but they just don't further the story at all. I'm a third of the way in ... feels great! Now, to get writing ...

How about you? How's that WIP coming along? Are you like me and already finding places or peeps to cut?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Confessions of a Blogoholic

Well this reduced blogging thing is becoming a drag ... I miss you, my lovelies ... I find myself longing to see my fellow blogger friends while I'm knee-deep in my WIP. Okay, okay ... I'm overdoing it ... lol ... but I do wish I had more time to spend visiting all your blogs. :(

Even so, I try to get a few in each day. Plus, I'm 10k words into my NaNo project so I'm definitely being productive.

Oh, and if you were kind enough to visit my last post on Weekly Spotlight where I discussed Jessica Morrell's writing guide and blog, you should know she stopped by here and read it for herself. And as if that wasn't cool enough, she also mentioned little ol insignificant me in her post and linked back to my blog. Total coolness.

On a separate note, I had a little idea for a series of posts and I'm calling it Confessions. Why, you ask? Just so you can get to know me better and I'm not boring you with posts on craft all the time.

So confession time! And to kick it off, I'll let you in on a deep, dark, dirty little secret about me .... Nah, I don't that would be unwise. (Sorry, I'm a total teaser.) But seriously, folks ... I do want to share little tidbits, so let's see .... um, okay ... yeah, this one'll do:

When I was a teen I used to watch that movie Romancing the Stone every night before going to sleep. I don't know why, really. I could recite it by heart and for some reason it just sent me off to dreamland within the first hour or so. Hmm...maybe that's why I wanted to be a writer. Maybe I saw a little of Joan Wilder in myself. Who knows! But if I grow up to be a successful novelist, I owe it all to that movie. Lol. No, not really. But it is ironic how it played such a part in my life.

                                          
(And yes, sometimes I make myself cry when reading my final drafts.) lol!

That's it. Just a little something to get the ball rolling. Now you can look forward to my confessionals so you can learn some other quirk. But hey, we all have them, don't we? Those little oddities that make us who we are.

Care to share any of yours? I'll show you mine if you show me yours .... let's get to know each other better, shall we? 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Spotlight

Whoa! Day three of NaNo is here .. Tell me how those overworked brains, cramping wrists, and aching arses are holding up? I feel pretty good considering I've been working at 3am and writing in between. (For the record, I work from home and take calls from UK/Ireland while it's their regular hours.)

Sapphire is coming along nicely ... so much so that if I only had more time to write, I could get it all out with days to spare.

Time is my challenge, never story.

So as usual I'll post my Weekly Spotlight today. If you're new to my blog, each week I shine the spotlight on a blog I follow and tell you why I follow it. Due to the constraints and limited blog activity from NaNoWriMo, this will be my last Weekly Spotlight til December. I'd hate for the blogger in the spotlight to miss possible new followers because so many are concentrating on NaNo right now.

But in the spirit of all things writerly, I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to tell you about a blog I stumbled upon a couple of months ago. How did I stumble upon it? Found the web address right on the back flap of her book ... easy as pie.

And the Oscar goes to .....



JESSICA PAGE MORRELL   of   The Writing Life Too

*applause*   *whistles*    * cheers*

Have you read her book, Thanks, But This Isn't For Us?  Funny story, I was waiting for the doors of B&N  to open so I could write in the coffee shop one morning, and they had their clearance book racks out front already. I hadn't planned on shopping, wasn't even looking, but by chance my eyes fell upon the binding of Jessica's book at the bargain price of like $4 or something ridiculous. Flipped through it, couldn't stop reading it. Bought it. Devoured it over the next few days. No joke.

I don't know if it was just the right time or what, but everything she writes about why writers get rejected just clicked and resonated like nothing else ever has. I've read the usual writing guides and gained something from each one (list on my Writers Bookshelf link to the right) but Jessica's book just spoke to me.

                            

This is the book cover. Click on it and it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase for a really great price. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor.

What's more, is you can get Jessica's sage advice from her blog as well. I am serious when I say she always has something helpful to writers on her blog. She is a writer. And editor. And she lays it out in a real, down to earth way ... plus, she's funny and witty. I could champion her to you all day, but don't take my word for it .... check out her blog and read for yourself. Buy her book (one of a few) and take the opportunity to polish your craft just a little bit more. She's got all the inside secrets and she tells it like it is.

On a separate note, I'll be on reduced blogging schedule for the remainder of the month, so if I don;t make it to your blog to comment, I apologize in advance. I plan to get around as much as I can in between work, family, and NaNo project. But I'll be swinging in full force again once this first draft is out.

Is there a particular writing guide that's spoken to you about craft? There are so many, and it can;t hurt to read them all, but I imagine it's like the feeling you get when you find the right agent ... the feeling that someone gets you, even though they have no idea who you are.


                                       

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet November

Ahh ... my favorite month of the year! If you're American, a time of Thanksgiving. A time for family and delicious food. (Pumpkin pie is my weakness!) It's a time when the weather changes for good, leaves are crunchy on the ground and everywhere you look there's a russet-golden hue.

It's also the month of my birth (which coincidentally falls on Thanksgiving Day this year.) And if you're a geek like me, it kicks off the Season's Greetings--the movies, music, decorations all come out by Black Friday in our house.

But this month is something else special:  NaNoWriMo. It's my first year participating. Of course, to make things more interesting my shift for the airline just changed back to 3am start time five days a week. So my internal clock's gonna be all jacked up while trying to write madly while kids are in school... when I should be sleeping, but you know what?? I'll sleep when I'm dead. That was my motto in college anyway... LOL!

So if you're a Nanner, best of luck! I think it's brilliant to have NaNo right after Halloween when there's an abundance of candy and chocolate to get us through it. My kids raked it in last night. Our neighborhood had a haunted house, haunted trail, and spooky animatronics show.... all in walking distance. It was so great!!

Are thos some scary trick-or-treaters or what??? :)                                                   

I was reading some of The Lovely Bones yesterday. OMGosh! What an amazing story and piece of work that is!!! Have you read any of it??? Read it!! I can't wait to read more, though it will have to wait for now. But I was reminded how we should always write from the heart. The author's words moved me. Our writing should do that also.

Are you writing a story right now? If so, yes, get your plot, characters, dialogue all right and tight. But don't forget to write from the heart. It's what makes good storytellers, amazing storytellers. It's what sends shivers down our spine even when the story's not scary.

What about you? Any words of wisdom you'd like to share that helps make a story a story?? I'm all ears!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Showdown....

In one corner, we have the original story as it was told by the author, call it what you may: book, eReader, etc. THE defending champion who will stand up today and reclaim its title, if it can.

In the other corner, we have the film version of the same story, hoping to throw down some new moves and claim the title for itself.

I give you, the Friday Showdown :    Book vs. Film


                          


So tell me, my writerly friends, are their any stories out there where you prefer the film story over the original author's story? In most every case, the book always rules for me and the films are often a disappointment. I love the in depth story the books give and how I get to imagine the characters and scenes. Some films are pretty close to the originals (Harry Potter, Star Wars) but some films tend to leave out very important details or fly through pivotal scenes so the crux of the story is missed.

There just so happens to be a few films I prefer over the original story. Not to say I didn't enjoy the books as well--most are my favorite books as well as films--but in these rare cases, I actually prefer the film version story to the original author story.

A few off the top of my head:

Jaws
The Count of Monte Cristo
Stardust
Dracula

Either it's the happier ending or just the addition or blending of characters/scenes that made me enjoy the film version more than the original story. Now, I give all credit where credit is due. The films would be nothing without the original author story. I LOVE all four of those books written by talented authors who dreamt up these stories in the first place.

BUT .... when it comes down to it, the film version stories are more fulfilling. Those happen to be four of my fave movies as well.

What are your thoughts? Any films you prefer over the original story? It's rare, I know. But they are out there. Do you disagree? Why?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nanners, Start Your Creative Engines!

First off, a humongous thank you to Quinn over at Seeing, Dreaming, Writing for the lovely Irrisistable Blog Award. It's so purty! And I'm equally flattered. Check out his blog and his wicked cool Halloween fingernails if you haven't already.

Nanners, you ask? Yes, as in NaNoWriMo .... THE event that the writer blogosphere has been talking about for the past two months. In three days time writers around the globe will be hunkering down to pound out 50k words. I can feel the excitement. Okay, so it's kinda weird to anyone who isn't a writer. My hubby thinks I'm crazy that it even sounds fun to me. Must be a writer thing.

Last night I stumbled upon a blog that mentioned GMC. What is GMC?

Here's the basic formula:   Character wants Goal because Motivation but Conflict

If you can figure out that, you've got your logline and your hook. And probably a great first sentence for a query.

I spent a good while trying to come up with the GMC for my NaNo story. The logline was no prob. But the graph had me thinking away and really considering what my internal and external motivations and conficts are.
I've already got my chapter outline and character sketches and I'm ready to go. But when you have to break it down into this GMC formula, it can get a little tricky. It should be cut and dry, but I've got all these subplots tangling their way into the main plot thread.

I'm guessing if you can keep the GMC in mind while you're writing your first draft, you can keep yourself on track with the story and prevent too much deviations. I foresee going WAY over 50k words, but I love the numerical goal. Keeps it in line with something to work toward.

Anyway, here's the link to Adventures in Children's Publishing.  It's the must-read post on GMC, complete with graph that I recommend writers use for every future story. It applies to any writer, not just kid lit.

That's my bit of advice for my fellow Nanners as they fill up their coffee cups and rev their creative engines. What about you? Any last minute helpful tidbits to add (besides showering at least once a week?)

lay'em on me.... I'm ready to rock-n-roll!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Weekly Spotlight

Wow, Blogger's slow this morning. Must be like congestion in a traffic jam. A kind of blogging rush hour, if you will. :s (I'm a dork, I know.)

Welcome to my new followers. Glad you're here. Feel free to comment. Love to hear from you. :)

Wednesday is the day I shine the spotlight on one of the blogs I follow and tell you why I follow them. If you're following me, then I should be following you. If I'm not please let me know. Because unless your blog is rude, crude, or offensive my face should be one of the many in your little sea of floating heads. (I know that doesn't include any one of my lovely followers.)

Love my blogging friends, and while I can't read every blog every day, there are those I read regularly for their awesome writing, voice, tips, humor, etc. You never know when it may be YOUR blog in the spotlight, so check back each Wednesday ... it's always a surprise. :o

Today, the Blogger Oscar goes to .....    

 *drumroll*

*gasps of anticipation*



RAYNA M. IYER      of         COFFEE RINGS EVERYWHERE


You may be following her blog already. If you are, don't you love it?? I'm always eager to learn what she will post next. She's over in India and every day has been posting a drabble. What's a drabble you ask? A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words. And Rayna always has a great one.

Her posts make me stop and think. They make me appreciate the world, and question what's wrong with it. Just read her post from yesterday on what wives do for their husbands. If you're not following her already, you should be. Read a few posts and you'll be making it a point to read her blog daily.

So what are you waiting for? Click on the link above and check her out.

And if you don't see your name in the spotlight this week, don't worry ... keep posting on those awesome blogs and you never know when it'll be your name in the spotligt next.  

Cheers my firends!