Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pssst .... Yeah, you.... Come a little Closer

ha! Gotcha!

Summer's in full swing (and I'm still catching up on all your blogs) and most of my fellow Americans will be enjoying sun and fun as our Independence Day is right around the corner. I'm off to the beach today and will be spending some time with family over the next week.

I'll be back to post for Insecure Writers Support Group on Tuesday, but just wanted to take a quick opportunity to remind you all of something very important this summer in and around the water:

Well, you don't have to worry about that unless you're scuba diving off the coast of South Africa.

And this isn't likely to happen unless you're on hallucinogenic drugs.

BUT! (and on a much more serious note....)

Pediatric drownings are a huge concern, especially this time of year, and especially on holidays. Trust me, I know. My hubby is a firefighter on Florida's coast. He sees it ALL the time--far more often than he'd like. It's a tough tough scenario to be on a scene where a toddler or child has drowned and the family is beside themselves with panic and grief. All because they were sidetracked with guests and fun and thought someone else was paying attention.

Not trying to preach here, just hoping to remind my bloggie friends that if you're around water and there are children, PLEASE make sure someone is a designated watcher at ALL times. This goes for locking sliding glass doors and sealing doggie doors as well. It can happen so fast. And during the holidays is when it happens the MOST. It's so easy to assume someone else is watching.

Even if you don't have small children, if you're in the vicinity of small children around water, please take the time to make sure there's a designated watcher. You know the old saying about an ounce of prevention??? Yep, live it.

Okay, off my rant. Just want you all to be safe. It happens more than you'd ever want to know and it's always a horrible tragedy to everyone involved.

On a more positive note, it's the weekend! Yay! And it's finally stopped raining here after Tropical Storm Debby wreaked her havoc. If you're in Colorado, blessings and prayers for you. Where ever you may be, have a wonderful and safe weekend.

What's about you? Any news to share? You know I love to hear all about it, so spill it!! :) 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Notes from a Conference (Part 2)

Happy Sunday! Read this quote today and wanted to share it:

"When you're feeling stressed out, don't allow yourself to explode in anger. Find a reason to laugh ... and watch the stress melt away."

It especially meant something when I read it since I've been mega stressed this weekend. Nothing crazy, just getting adjusted to entertaining kids while working from home and having a "guest" big dog that loves to scuffle with my own big dog. Not to mention it's been raining here for like five days. Oy

Anyway, more notes from the SCBWI regional conference I went to last weekend. But first, wanted to give a shout out to Deana Barnhart who just signed with lit agent Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown. Deana's been in this game for five years (like me) and I'm super excited she found the right business partner for her story. Yay, Deana!

At the conference, taught by NYC editor Noa Wheeler from Henry Holt and author Nancy Werlin, the topic of self-pubbing came up. Of course. I found it interesting that Ms. Wheeler did not feel it taints the author name in any way, and she even said she'd signed an author who had self-pubbed a story that he pitched her. She liked it, he took it down from Amazon and voila! It does happen.

She did have some suggestions though if self-pubbing is your route:

* Have a book cover design that will appeal to both teens and adults, more specifically using graphics instead of photos. (for YA)
* Book trailers should be 30 seconds and no longer.
* The book flap should draw reader in as a teaser and an overview (just like a query). It should reflect the tone and contain no specifics. You must have a lead in for the first sentence, and the last sentence must have a power effect. Don't muddle the middle with too much exposition or plot.
* Never use the phrase "everything changes" in a pitch or book flap. It's a given. Everything must change or you have no story.
* Make sure your book flap or pitch contains something about the MC that will hint why the reader will care about him or her. Very important! Also in your story's first page--which I'll go into in more detail in a later post.

Some brief notes on voice:

* Consistency brings it together.
* Must be confidence in the storyteller's (narrator's) voice
* Write the scene as though you're seeing and thinking everything from the MC's perspective
* Voice is the artful doling out of information unique to your narrator


The ending to your story should be like dropping a feather--let it drift and settle. It's not a bowling ball that falls with a thud.

And of course, the old "show don't tell" mantra all writers know:

Make your reader a peeping tom to the scene. They are reading, yes, but they are watching the scene unfold and need to see everything as if it were happening in real time.

That's it for today! Hope you found it helpful. Most of it's basic, yes, but it's always good to be reminded and especially important if you're a new writer. :)

Have anything to share? I love hearing your thoughts and reading your comments! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

It's a blog hop! Writers are having their heroines interviewed by other characters and focusing on only three questions to keep it short and sweet. You know, girl talk. ;)

Now I have to confess, I'm not prepared at all for this today. So rather than make you read something I didn't have time to put together, I just wanna send you over to the blog hop HDQ and let you read the other entries.

To those of you participating, I apologize. You must excuse my epic blogger fail. *puts on best puppy dog sad eyes*

But back to the bloghop: HDQ at Jaycee DeLorenzo's blog. Click on pic to get there.

I'll have more notes from the SCBWI conference I attended this past weekend coming up soon!

Til then, I'll leave you with a Chris in the Morning quote:

"I'm the teflon kid. Dozens of chicks, nothing sticks." lol

Have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Notes from a Conference (Part 1)

This past weekend I attended the regional SCBWI workshop for YA fiction. It was especially informative this time, and I plan to share some of the highlights on what I learned. Basically, I'm transposing my notes right here to share with you. And whether you write YA or something else, any of this applies to fiction writing.

Before I get started, I just wanted to give a shout out to Jamie Ayers who just signed a contract with Curiosity Quills Press for her YA novel. Yay, Jamie!

So during our workshop, which was taught by a NYT bestselling author, as well as a NYC publishing house editor, we talked a lot about the importance of characters. The editor had us do a lot of brainstorming on questions for our characters, everything from what makes the character feel, to what kind of setting affects the character, to what makes them truly unique.

She asked us these questions for us to consider before writing the first draft, as well as during revisions:

1. Is my MC (main character) active? (not reactive)

Basically saying, the plot shouldn't bully the character, but the MC should be proactive. In each scene the author should be asking, what should MC do?

2. Does the MC have something in his/her life that the reader can identify with?

They have to have this in order for reader to bond with them. EX: Katniss' sense of obligation to her little sister, Prim.

3. What motivates the MC? 

Overall, and in every scene, there has to be a catalyzing agent. We as the authors can't force the MC to do something. "Every character should want something--even if it's a glass of water." Vonnegut
What is the motivating force behind every action?

4. How is the MC unique? 

What combination of traits makes them memorable?

5. Does MC act consistently?

Make the reader forget it's only a character. And if the character does something that's out of character, acknowledge it in the story. Make everything connect.

6. How does what the MC say reflect their personality? 

Use interior monologue to establish the MC's personality. How does the MC see the world? How do they convey information?? Play with the language--give them quirks of speech.

7. Is the MC's speech realistic?

They shouldn't be saying what they mean all the time. Use dialog breaks (it takes two to tango) and let them pause. Read aloud for best results in fixing stilted dialog. There shouldn't be any long winded explanations. Weave those in through the story in bits and pieces.

8. Is the MC the center of the story?

Your MC is the light in the dark. The story is the halo surrounding your MC.

9. Does the MC have passion? Is she/he capable of suffering? 

Not talking sensual passion, but the kind of intense emotion one feels for something they love or hate. They must love or hate it so much, they feel pain if they don't get it or are faced with it. They must have something at stake or there is no point. Suffering = what the MC is made of.

10. Does the MC change? 

The MC must have a character arc, whether it's from worse to better, or from better to worse. There must be change or the story is flat. Regardless of plot, there absolutely has to be a character transformation.

That's all I have for you today. Hope it's helpful. I'll have more for you over the weekend, so be sure to check back.

Do you find these types of character building questions useful in designing your own characters? Is there a particular question you like to ask yours? Or a special technique you use? Please share ...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Break on Through ...

Or rather, Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan! It's here, and it's free today and tomorrow!

Want to know more? Click here for author Stephen Tremp's blog and get to virtual party HDQ.

And if you have a kindle, go here now to download this suspense thriller for free. Don't have a kindle? That's okay, check out Stephen's blog to see how you can download it to a different eReader.

I've got mine!

On a more personal note, I attended SCBWI regional conference in Orlando this past weekend and it was excellent. I'll have some notes on it later this week.

But for now, head on over to Stephen's blog and help him celebrate! He's a great guy.

How about you? Read any of the Breakthrough trilogy yet? How was your weekend? Do tell ...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Be Here Now

Hey all! I"m still making my rounds visiting blogs, but I wanted to let you know about this golden opportunity and super important cause.

Thanks to Marsha Sigman for posting about it. Be Here Now is a special project documenting the late actor Andy Whitman's battle with cancer... and how tragically he lost it. The project had to come to a halt since they're in need of funds, so Andy's fans around the world are pulling together to raise money for this documentary to be completed and helping to fund a continued search for the cure.

How does this affect you, as a writer? Well Kathy Bradey over at Once Upon A Time in Writerland is holding a critique auction. You can bid on a variety of critiques here by professionals and agented authors.

Check out the link above and find out how you can help, and/or be helped for this worthy cause.

I'll be at SCBWI regionals all day tomorrow and I'll be back Monday with all the good info. So please check back for that.

Have an outstanding weekend!

                                                                        RIP Andy Whitman

Thursday, June 14, 2012

First Kiss

Thanks for visiting! It's back to the blogfest, which seems to be everywhere this week.

On Monday, I blogged for the Never Surrender blogfest for Elana Johnson's new book, Surrender. Wow have you been around to some of those posts?? Such moving testaments of endurance. Definitely check them out if you can. My (very lighthearted) post is here, and you can get to the list of entrants from there. 

Then on Tuesday, I posted my first fight for the First Fight/ First Kiss blogfest for Dani and Jackie. You can find that post here. But first, read on below for my first kiss ....

I mentioned on Tuesday that my first actual fight with someone other than my brothers was in 7th grade. Well, coincidentally, my first kiss happened the same year. But, uh, not with the same dude. That'd be funny, though, right? 

Okay so my first kiss: I was 11 and this was way back in '85. I was into Prince and The Goonies and Madonna ... and my favorite outfit to wear was a pair of gray striped jeans and a matching denim vest, along with a bright red tee underneath. My hair was a mullet--parted in the middle and feathered on the sides, long in back. Oh and I had a pair of huge red plastic earrings that were numbers: a 1 in the right ear, and a 2 in the left ear. Oh yeah, I was pimping my style all over school, don't you know! 

LOL! If I had my album handy I'd scan a pic and post it. I'll work on that, but for now, use your imagination for the sheer awesomeness of 11 year old PK. 

Anyway, that was the hip thing back then, and I was workin' it. So, in 7th grade you don't really get serious with anyone, as you well know. It's all so new and the hormones are only just beginning to let you know they're working. My teacher in History class had recently moved me to another seat, right in front of a cute boy named Brian. After a few days of flirting back and forth, Brian asked me, just like this : "Will you go with me?"

Go where, right? Well if you're younger than 30 you may not know that was the lingo for "be my girlfriend." Yep, that was all it took. So I said "sure." And that was that. We were "going" together. lol

SO of course we talked on the phone at night (because we were boyfriend and girlfriend all of a sudden) and made our big plans to meet up at the skating rink. That's what we did back in the '80s in 7th grade. Every Friday night, if you were lucky, your parents would drop you off at the rink til about 11pm... but not to skate. We'd gotten too cool to skate, we'd just go to hangout.

So that Friday night I met Brian at the rink and we walked around and held hands til it was time to step outside. All the kids did it--at some point we'd get tired of being inside and walk the plaza where the rink was. It was a happening place for kids and there was an arcade at the next plaza over called Big Daddy's. (love that name) Of course we weren't allowed to walk from the rink to Big Daddy's at age 11, but we were all rebels and did it anyway. So as Brian and I were making our way to Big Daddy's, he stopped me at the crossover, shielded by a shrub, and we kissed. A real kiss with tongue. 

I remember it perfectly because I remember thinking, "This is really gross, he tastes funky."

Then that was it. We didn't kiss again for the rest of the night, and quite honestly, that was fine by me. I just wasn't ready for all that spit swapping. lol (not til 8th grade came around anyway)

Sad to say, about 2 weeks later, Brian and I called it quits. You know, the big break up. And I don't think I ever even saw him again after 7th grade. But he will always have an awkward place in my memory as my first kiss. lol

Okay, your turn. How old were you when you had your first kiss?? And did you like it or not?   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Fight

Hey all! Today's the First Fight / First Kiss blogfest hosted by Dani Bertrand over at Entertaining Interests. Click on the pic to go to get to her blog and read the other entries. But wait! First check mine out. ;)

Okay, so we're supposed to post a snippet of one of our stories first fight today and first kiss on Thursday, but you know I always like to put my own spin on these, so instead of making you read some of my work, I thought I'd share with you my first fight. You know, the real deals.

Now, I fought all the time with my two younger brothers, so throwing fists and kicks was never new to me. But when I was in seventh grade, we had to be bussed to inner city schools as part of an integration project ... and that's exactly where my school was: the projects. My first real fight happened in math class one day after the teacher had stepped out. And of course, it was with probably the toughest little boy in the hood. lol (I don't know how I get myself into these things.)

Anyway, he sat in front of me in class and was turning around and kept getting in my face ( I don't remember exactly why) so what does the brilliant PK do?? I b*@#ch-slapped him right in his face. Well, that did it. From there we stood up and threw kicks and punches. He pretty much whipped my arse. I finally got away from him and had a black eye and bruised cheek. At some point the teacher did come back and sent us both to the principal.

We both got suspended. Uh-huh. Nice.

Don't know what ever happened to him. But it sure makes for a funny memory.

There you have my first fight story. How about you? Have any to share? Don't forget to check out the others .... and come back on Thursday for my first kiss. Woo woo!;)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Surrender!

Hi there! And happy Monday to you! Summer is officially here. The kids are out of school and I managed to finish another story before the free childcare came to an end. Phew! Now I sit and wait for the reviews from beta readers. *bites fingernails*

This week is the epic blogfest for Elana Johnson and her new release:

Click on the pic for the blurb and see how you can order this YA dystopic tale.

For the blogfest, Elana wants bloggers to share a time when we never surrendered... when we refused to give up. Something inspirational. Well, rather than tell you about something I never surrendered, I wanted to share someone else's story who inspires me every day. Someone ... very unexpected ....

Okay, so not the best picture, but if you look square in the middle you'll see an oval with black and red. That's him. That's who inspires me. Yeah, right about now you're like, uh ...what??

Allow me to elucidate: That little guy in the web is some kind of garden crab spider. I haven't been able to find the actual name. He's pretty unique and he looks just like a crab. His back resembles an African tribal mask. Now, I'm no spider fan, but they do fascinate me, and their purpose on the earth is vital to our existence and comfort. But this little guy here likes to make his web inside my screened in pool area and use part of my lounge chair as foundation for the web.

Everyday, I'd move my chair just enough to sever the web, destroying half of it, and sending little spider guy back to the opposite side of his web, away from me. And every new morning, when I'd go out to my lounge chair to enjoy the sun, little spider guy was back. lol And I know at some point I should've just been annoyed with him and squashed him, but you know what?? I admired him. I thought, no matter how many times I destroy his web, he keeps rebuilding. There's a whole screened enclosure, not to mention yard, he could safely rebuild in and not have to worry about me. But he wants MY spot.

You have to admit, there's something really admirable about it. Little Spider Guy just won't give up. So what did I do? I learned to live with it. Yep. Now I don't disturb his web, I work around it. I figure he's just going to rebuild it anyway, and he's not bothering me ... on the contrary he's probably keeping the mosquitoes away. And to boot, he's offered me a daily inspiration to never surrender, to never give up til we get what we want. And in the writing/publishing world, that's a priceless mentality to have.

I leave you with an old song that was one of my faves as a kid, and appropriate for today:

How about you? Have a never surrender story you want to share? Don't forget to visit Elana's blog for other participants in the blogfest. What a great week to find encouragement! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writerly Wednesday IWSG

Hey, is it June already?? Well you know what that means if you're a writer in the blogosphere ... time for :

LOL....oops.... wrong picture. *ahem*

Yep, there we go. First Wednesday of every month, writers are talking about insecurities and sharing hopes, fears, advice, and encouragement. You don't need an invite, just head over to Alex J Cavanaugh's blog, sign up, and share a post!

I've got my first page from a brand new project up on Dianne Salerni'sand Marcy Hatch's blog today. Open for comments and suggestions. I tried something really new with this project so I'm a little bit anxious (and nervous) to see how it comes off.

Here on my blog, though, I want to know your thoughts and feelings on some of what we go through as writers. This is in response to Rachelle Gardner's post yesterday on 13 Things You May Not Know About Agents.   First of all, I adore Rachelle's blog and wealth of info for writers. She's amazing, and most of you probably follow her already. But yesterday's post was one of those big THANK YOU FOR POSTING posts that made me smile. It's so easy to become consumed with our own gigs, we forget what it's like for the others around us.

Rachelle ended her post asking writers what agents should know about them, and she got a ton of feedback (of course.) Here was my fave from Terri Patrick:

What agents need to remember about writers:
1. We don’t want to be agents.
2. Most of us are not editors.
3. Few of us grasp marketing or are comfortable in public.
4. We put in tons of hours and still have to get our paychecks doing something not writing related.
5. Contracts make our eyes cross.
6. We’d rather be reading.
7. We don’t understand why everyone is not totally enthralled with reading.
8. We don’t want to read everything published by a publisher we’d like as our publisher to determine how to write for that publisher.
9. We love our stories and want to share them. We know this is not a career path to be in for the money.
10. We know there are easier ways to make money so we write for the love of the story.
11. As writers, we totally “GET” the business model of publishing has many layers and we really don’t want to deal with that, so we accept pennies on the price of books sold.
12. We’d rather go to the movies.
13. Our writing career doesn’t keep us awake at night, our stories do.

Isn't that great?? Do you have anything to add? 

Oh and this pic has been making its way around the blogoshpere and since I just saw the film yesterday:

(can't decide who I'm in love with more ... ho-hum ... decisions, decisions ....)