Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cliche Conundrum and Cally!

Hi there! Happy Hump Day. Almost there. Weekend's right around the corner. Actually, this is my weekend. I always work Saturdays and Sundays, so mid week is my time to chill.

Oh so back to my blog title. Cliche conundrum, you ask? I'll explain. But first, I'd love to introduce you to my blogger buddy, Cally Jackson's, cover reveal for her debut, The Big Smoke.

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane for uni. Will they survive life in the big smoke or crumble under the pressure?

Doesn't it sound great? I know Cally is uber excited about it's upcoming release. 

You can find Cally Jackson on her website here. She is super sweet (and also expecting her first baby soon.)
She's on Twitter.  And GoodReads.   And just click on the cover above to get to the book on Goodreads and learn more. 

Here's what I mean with cliche conundrum, so tell me what you think, oh wise and witty bloggers.

Every writer knows that using cliches in our writing is taboo. If we can't think of original ways to say things, then what's the point, right? Well, I'm not just talking about the way something is said. I'm talking about the story cliches that agents warn us about. For instance, a MG story with an MC who is a subject of a prophecy, or one who mysteriously gets magical powers. Or a YA story with an MC who moves to a new town where there are magical powers. Or one who has dead parents. 

Yes, these ideas have been done many times, and well-read people are tired of seeing them. But what about the child or teen who is picking up a story for the first time? It's not cliche to them. It's brand new, and maybe everything after that story will seem cliche. So while, I get what agents are trying to say with overdone plots, I also think there's a flip side. Especially in writing for kids. 

In the adult world, this is entirely different. Because we HAVE read just about everything. But there's a reason cliches are cliches. Because they work. Now, I'm not saying we should use them without any thought, but I am opening up the debate that maybe some cliches are okay with the right spin. If done in a clever way, they can work. And in some cases, can be a formula for success. 

What do YOU think? And don't forget to stop by and say hi to Cally.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites!

It's time for another blogfest! Hosted by the honorable Blogfather of our writer's cyber-world here, Mr. Alex J. Cavanaugh. Drumroll please ......

Click on the pic above to get to blogfest HDQ, but first, check out my faves:

It's always uber hard for me to single out one genre as a fave. I'm ridiculously eclectic, and there's a genre for every mood I have. But I'll try to scrape off the very top of each category and narrow it down.

So here goes ......

MOVIES: thrillers

I lurve a good thriller, whether it be psychological, political, spooky, etc. The more twists and turns the better. And the more I have to keep guessing, the happier I am. Throw in some psychedelic cinematography and I'm happier than a puppy with two wee-wees.

MUSIC: jazz & blues, swing

Man oh man, sit me in a dark little club with some live blues playing and I'm in heaven. Turn on some swing and you can't get me off the dance floor. The jazzier the better. But of course, if I'm cruising to the beach with the convertible top down or windows open, I want classic rock coming out of the speakers.

BOOKS: fantasy

A good fantasy tale has many elements in it--romance, mystery, humor. But what really pulls me into a story, and what keeps me coming back for more is the world building. I love stepping into someone else's imagination and putting my own spin on it. It's what gets my creative juices flowing.

GUILTY PLEASURES:  period piece romances

And that goes for movies or books. I LOVE being thrust into another time period and swooning over a forbidden romance. It lets me live in a time I never knew, and it can be so decadent and satisfying.

That's it for me. How about you? Are you participating in the blogfest? If so, leave me a comment so I can stop by and visit. If not, tell me your faves right here! Hope your week is outstanding!    

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Cynic Factor

It's no myth that the more we read, the harder it is to impress us. Just goes with the territory of expanding our knowledge. But I've also found that the more writers' work I critique or beta read, the more cynical I become. But let me explain ...

Currently, I'm reading a novel for my Book Club's selection. It's an adult women's fiction and it's wonderful. Very well written, and relatable characters. There was a scene I just read where a robber hold's up a convenient store with one of the MCs inside. She's a budding reporter, and she's got her microphone still on and tries to report the scene to her cameramen in the van outside.

She ends up getting shot in the shoulder, but because she's such a dedicated, ambitious reporter on the rise, she wraps up her shoulder and presses on, helping a scared little boy behind the robber's back and continuing to report the scene in real time.

All the time, I'm thinking to myself, "Come on. She'd be in shock, or pass out or something. She's only 25, and naive. She's not a special agent."

Ends up after the robber is caught by the police who storm the premises, the MC does pass out, but only after establishing herself as a hero, which reaches national news within days after, therefore creating a celebrity. Plot device? Or good old fashioned storytelling?

It didn't ruin the story for me. I can accept it, even if I don't %100 believe it could happen. I mean, who am I to say? Crazy stuff happens all the time in real life, and people are often braver than we give them credit for.

But my point is that during this scene, my cynicism pulled me out of the story. I questioned it. Just like I do when I critique or beta read. Because that's what readers do, right? Honestly, I didn't use to. Before I became a serious writer, I read to enjoy a good story. I allowed the author to whisk me away and as long as the writing was decent and my feelings and imagination were provoked, I loved it.

I can't say that anymore. And I don't know if I like it. It's kind of like being a writer myself, and reading other authors' stories. I can't suspend my disbelief as much anymore. The story is coming from another writer, and if it's a writer I'm critiquing for, I analyze everything for fear of something slipping by that may hurt their story.

But why? Writers have to be the hardest readers out there to impress. We look for errors and believability in everything. This also means that there is still a large population of readers who aren't writers, and still read just to enjoy. I think those are readers worth reaching just as much as our fellow writers.

What do you think? Is it better to be a cynic, or is it just a hazard of the trade? Do you miss the old days when you could read just to enjoy? Do you think as writers we're too tough on other writers' work? Please share ...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bigger than a Shopping Mall Giveaway!!

Today, SA Larsen invites you to celebrate with her!! She's signed with Literary Agent Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary! And because our literary community is so freaking fabulous and generous, she's having a Bigger-Than-A-Shopping-Mall GIVEAWAY!! The giveaway consists of:
  •  two separate Rafflecopters with multiple giveaways 
  • and one grand prize Rafflecopter giveaway - to enter for the grand prize, you must enter either giveaway #1, #2, or both. 
And just to make it easy for you, you can enter right HERE! Just check out my sidebar for three different rafflecopters. Such great prizes from fellow writers/blogger from all over the blogosphere. 

If you don't already know SA Larsen, then head over to her blog and meet her before entering the giveaway. She's super fantastic wonderful, I promise! And we're all uber excited for her new agent!

Don't forget to enter all the giveaway madness! Click on SA Larsen's picture below to get to her blog at Writer's Alley. And good luck! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

IWSG - Wednesday

It's that time again for insecure writers around the blogosphere to come together and share hopes and fears and writerly encouragement. If you're here from GUTGAA, my meet and greet post is below this one, or simply click here.

But don't go just yet. You may be interested to learn more about the Insecure Writer's Support Group that goes down every first Wednesday of  the month. Click on the pic below to get to IWSG HDQ over at Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and sign up. I promise you'll love it! For my fellow IWSG bloggers, Happy IWSG Day!! ;)

You may've already seen the video I'm posting below, but if not take the time to watch it. I can't think of a more motivating or encouraging speech to hear when you're feeling insecure about yourself as a writer or an artist. The simple fact is, we ALL feel that way sometimes--even famous bestselling authors. So the important thing is to know how to pick yourself back up when you're feeling down. And for me, that means listening to this speech by Neil Gaiman.

How do you pick yourself up when you're feeling down or insecure? Please share....

Thanks so much for stopping by! I love reading your comments. :D

Monday, September 3, 2012

Gettin' Down with GUTGAA

Happy Monday! Today's a meet and greet for the annual GUTGAA kick off! What is GUTGAA, you ask?
Gearin' Up To Get An Agent 2012, hosted by the ever charming Deana Barnhart. 

There's still time to sign up if you're interested, just click on the link for Deana's blog and head on over.

If you're new to my blog, then welcome! If you're an old friend, welcome back. Deana wants us to share a few things about ourselves so we can all get to know each other better.

1. Where do you write?

In my office. Yes that's right. MY office. All mine and I lurve it. I work from home as well, so I have a wrap around desk with my work laptop on one side, and my writing (and everything else) laptop on the other. It's my place to get busy.

2. Quick, look to the left of your writing space. What do you see?

Head shot cut outs of my kids with paper cut out bodies attached to them. (They're hanging on the wall.) And a picture of three girlfriends and me in Vegas when we were 26. That was a trip  worth remembering (just wish I could remember more of it.) lol

3. Favorite time to write?

That varies. I prefer early morning at the crack of dawn, or just before. But I'll take whatever I can get, because beggars can't be choosers. And since I'm a mom of a 7 and 6 year old, as well as a part time employee for the nation's largest airline, I'm always begging for time. ;)

4. Drink of choice while writing?

COFFEE! and water

5. When writing, do you listen to music or need complete silence?

SILENCE IS GOLDEN. But I do listen to music for artistic motivation... especially for those love or action scenes. Or if my worldbuilding needs a kickstart.

6. What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

Initially, I was inspired after watching Hugo. I love the idea of a character who lived in a train station. With my story The Desiree, I created a character who lived in a vintage movie palace.

7. What's your most valuable writing tip?

Have at least one critique partner who is smarter than you. ;)

Thanks for stopping by! How would you answer these same questions? If you didn't already blog about it, leave them for me in the comments. And have a great week!