Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Being A Horse

First off, I hope everyone had a great holiday with family and friends. I had a fabulous time eating, skating, sledding, sliding down water slides, eating some more, and even became a new aunt. She almost had it on my birthday, only 41 minutes late. Anniversary and birthday have been great and looking forward to New Years.

On to the post:

In the past I have been known as a bit of a clothes horse. I love buying new clothes almost as much as I love chocolate, okay maybe even more. As a teenager I refused to go to the Saturday night dance unless I had something new to wear. This trend continued into married life, much to my husband's chagrin.

Now since I'm a whole year older, I've become a bit more mature. In fact, this year for my birthday, my mom bought me a belt and a wallet. Very practical items, things I needed.

Although my hunger for clothes has abated somewhat in the past few months, I've boughten way more books than I ever have before. Now I'm becoming a book horse. I have my own bookshelf where I've divided my books up by genre. The truth is I have a lot of books I haven't even read yet, but I like looking at them on my book shelf.

So for a New Year's resolution I'm determined to buy only the clothes I need, which won't be any and I won't buy anymore books until I read the ones I have.

Oh wait. I do have a gift certificate to the GAP that my husband got me for my birthday. And Kimberley Derting's book "The Body Finder", comes out in March. Also the book "The Secret Year" by Jennifer Hubbard looked good. Then there's the sequels to Wings (Spells), Shiver (Linger), the third book in the Hunger Game series. In June, Northanger Alibi by Jenni James comes out and then there's Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. Plus so many more.

Okay forget the New Year's resolution. It looks like 2010 will be a great year for shopping for clothes and books.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas


This is my last post until next week. I'm off for a week of celebration. Christmas Eve, Christmas, Anniversary, Birthday, New Year's Eve, all within one week.

Remember the real reason for the season and have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kissing Day


Warning: Extreme awkwardness ahead.

In lieu of kissing blog day here is my attempt at a not so romantic kissing scene.

After their initial meeting, Kate remained undecided about whether she wanted to return Oliver’s affections. He spent a whole month carrying supplies to her house, helping her father mend fences, and giving her thousands of compliments every day. In the end, it took him standing up to a much larger man who wanted to walk her home. Of course he had received a broken nose for his efforts, but Kate finally relented and gave Oliver permission to court her.

For a month they just walked beside one another holding hands. Six months later, she allowed him to give her a peck on the cheek. Then the day came. She took his hand in hers and stared deep into his eyes. “It’s time Oliver.”

“Time for what?”

“You may kiss me now.”

Oliver swallowed hard and stared at her with wide eyes. It was one thing to let a kiss happen, quite another to be told to do it, especially since he had never kissed a girl in his life. She closed her eyes and sat still, waiting for him to bend forward and meet her sweet full lips with his. He took a deep breath, puckered up, and closed his eyes. He leaned in and almost missed her completely. Instead of landing on her lips, he grazed her right cheek. After opening his eyes to get his bearings, he slid his mouth to the left and just barely touched his lips to hers. When he tried to draw away, she pulled him closer, extending the kiss. She probed his mouth with her tongue, causing saliva to drip down onto his chin. He found it difficult to breath, but didn’t dare back away until she did.

After the kiss, she insisted on a proposal with a date to be set after he was made a Defender.

It's still rough, but nevertheless there it is.

Happy Kissing Day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Playing Tag

Last week I got tagged by Mim and Carolyn to do a meme. I can't believe I'm writing those words. A year ago I didn't even know what that meant.

So here it goes:

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was three pages for my new superhero project. A book I wrote when I was fourteen.

2. Write poetry?
I’m not very poetic

3. Angsty poetry?
See above

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Young Adult Fantasy

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
I think it will be the dad in my new WIP or Kate in my other project.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
A damsel in distress twist. A hidden city. A girl with super powers, who'd rather shop than save the world.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
See above.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
Too many times to keep track of.

9. Write fan fiction?
No.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Typing all the way, I type much faster than I write. Although in the planning stages I like to write.

11. Do you save everything you write?
I save everything. If I make one small change, I save the previous version.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
I have.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
That’s like picking which child is your favorite.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
Probably the book I’ve finished, since that’s the only thing anyone else has read.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
When I was living it.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Don't really have one.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I seem to always be revising my first project. I have a damsel in distress with dragons and everything project and now super hero girl.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Afraid not, but I guess you would have to enter a competition to win something.

19. What are your five favorite words?
I love the name Oliver. If I were to get pregnant again and have a boy, I’d name him Oliver. But that’s never going to happen, so I’ll have to settle for a character (or two). I don’t know if they’re my favorite words or the vain of my existence. Only, Turned, Looked, and Around.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Evie, I'm a little insecure.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
I have a character or a plot. It never seems to be both. Then when I start writing a little bit the rest seems to come.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
I’ve tried, but I never remember them in the morning and I’m too lazy to get up and write them down in the middle of the night.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Are there any other kinds.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Sometimes.

25. Does music help you write?
Sometimes.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
I didn’t fall into a vat of toxic waste, nor did I get hit with a cosmic ray gun, but for some reason on the morning of my sixteenth birthday I woke up with the ability to fly.

Okay now for the tagging part. I'll close my eyes, spin around and choose. Lois because she's in my critique group and I want to see her answers. And Tabitha because unlike me she's very poetic.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Participation


Whenever I have to teach, whether it be at church or at work, I always use the method of class led discussions. This method prompts a more interesting class and less work on my part. I'd like to think that I use this technique on my blog. You guys are a wealth of knowledge through either personal experience or study. I learn so much from each of your comments and your blogs. So don't think of me as lazy, but as mediator of debate.

On to other news.

My friend and fellow blogger Heidi had her launch day for her book "Some Kind of Normal" on Monday. Go check out her blog for more details.

I've always wanted to write a super hero book. I've been obsessed with them since I was a kid and watched the Wonder Twins activate. The other day I just started writing, had no clue what the story was going to be, but as I wrote it prompted ideas and now I have another project to work on. Funny how that works.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Voice

Every time, well not every time because rarely does anything happen in absolutes, but more often than not when people call my house they ask if my dad is home. I used to say you mean my husband, and the caller would get all embarrassed, so lately I just answer, "Yes. Just a minute."

Sometimes they clue into the fact that I answered the phone and say to my husband, "That was your wife, wasn't it?"

I think my voice is deep, but apparently when I answer the phone I sound like my seven year old daughter.

This got me wondering, as things usually do. What does my voice sound like when it can only be read?

Can you tell what kind of person I am just by reading my blog. Do you think I'm witty, shy, outgoing, whiny, or snarky? (That question was rhetorical)

I have a hard time reading my work out loud because I'm not entirely fond of my voice, but I think it's a must.

First you discover things that you wouldn't normally notice by reading your work in your head. Echoes is a big one for me, or awkward sentences. I can tell when I haven't read something out loud because it doesn't flow the way I want it to.

Second, it's so important to show what kind of person your characters by using just your words that sometimes when you read out loud, you get a better sense of your characters.

How about you are there any other reasons you can think of for reading your words out loud?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What would you refuse to give up...

A recent study asked the question, what would you refuse to give up even if it added five healthy years to your life?

Surprisingly people wouldn't give up TV, alcohol, or red meat.

Since I don't drink, giving up alcohol would be easy, but TV and red meat I'm not so sure, especially after watching last night's Glee.

I started making a list of modern conveniences and wondered if I'd be willing to give them up.

Microwave, dishwasher, cell phone (I think I could do that one), internet, DVD's, ipods, email, washer and dryer, spandex, and of course chocolate.

It's hard to think of giving up something we've become so accustom to using.

How about you is there something you'd refuse to give up, or something in this modern era you could definitely do without?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Waiting

We interrupt this blog with a scene from my favorite
movie. Can you name the movie?
Inigo: Hello there! Slow going?
Dread Pirate Roberts:

Look, I don't mean to be rude, but this
is not as easy as it looks, so I'd appreciate
it if you wouldn't distract me.

Inigo: Sorry.

Dread Pirate Roberts: [tersely] Thank you.

Inigo: I do not suppose you
could a-speed things up?

Dread Pirate Roberts: If you're in such a hurry,
you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find
something useful to do.

Inigo: I could do that. I still got some rope up
here, but I do not think you would accept my help,
since I am only waiting around to kill you.

Dread Pirate Roberts: That does put a damper
on our relationship.

Inigo: But, I promise I will not kill you until
you reach the top.

Dread Pirate Roberts: That's very comforting,
but I'm afraid you'll just have to wait.

Inigo: I hate waiting.
I could give you my word as a Spaniard..

Dread Pirate Roberts: No good.
I've known too many Spaniards.

Inigo: Is there not any way you'll trust me?

Dread Pirate Roberts: Nothing comes to mind.

Inigo: I swear, on the soul of my father,
Domingo Montoya, you will reach the top alive.

Dread Pirate Roberts: Throw me the rope.

Just reading that scene makes me smile. I love that movie.
What does it have to do with writing, you might ask.
Well, not much, except for the line “I hate waiting”.

This business is a true test of patience.
You wait each day for the perfect time to write.
When you’re done the first draft, you patiently
go through each chapter, editing each paragraph,
sentence, and word. When it’s done, you send it
to beta readers and wait for them to send it back.
Then you read through their advice and make further edits.

The waiting goes on and on and on.
Queries, partials, fulls….its never ending.

But I swear on my very own manuscript that if
patiently fix your manuscript and edit your work
there’s a much better chance you'll reach the top
with an agent and a book deal.

Here’s to waiting.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One Book Sold

I usually don't tell anyone I'm writing a book. Only a handful of people know. My family, my best friend, and my soccer team, and of course all of you.

So you can imagine my surprise when a lady at church today asked me when she could buy my book. "I want to buy it for my grand-daughter for Christmas," she said. How cute is that? After a short chuckle, and figuring out that my adorable nieces must have told her about my book, I patted her on the shoulder and said that it would probably be a couple of years before she could buy my book (hopefully). Then she said to me, "It's just so exciting, I've never met an author before", which totally made me smile.

Now at least I know one person will buy my book.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How do you decide?

I just read an excellent post by Natalie on the differences between YA and MG. Even though it was about the differences between the two genres, it got me thinking about why I chose to write YA. I love reading all genres, except horror and maybe mystery, although I've never really given either a chance.

When I look in my bookshelf I have my books divided into genres. Books on how to write, YA (mostly fantasy - but I'm trying to branch out), adult contemporary (Diana Gabaldon, according to my sister in law, saved her marriage), adult humor (love Nick Hornby and Larry Doyle is hysterical), and I also have a section of literary books.

So, since I love reading a lot of different books why do I love to write YA? I think it's because I fell in love with reading those MG and YA novels. Those books were my friends when I didn't have any at school. They helped me through some tough times in my teenage years, and since I'm the youngest child they were a good companion. I feel a connection to their stories and reading them makes me feel young because even though I'm inching closer to 40, I'm still 16 in my heart. Okay maybe not 16 that was a bad year, but definitely 17.

Why did you choose the genre you write in.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Life is getting busy - not that it wasn't already, but now it's really busy

So far December has been better. I got my root canal on Monday and my mouth already feels better, plus the dentist charged me $400 less than normal. I also received the go ahead to start practicing with my soccer team again. Good news all around,

Tonight I went to a parents meeting for my son's high school basketball team and we received his schedule for the next four months. Practice everyday for 2 hours, except on game days, which is once a week. Plus they're in six tournaments. We have one this weekend, and next.

I love basketball. I like playing it and I like watching it on TV (go Raptors), but I especially like watching my boys play. It brings me all kinds of joy. Now between my older sons games, my younger sons games, and my soccer games, it will be a busy winter. The thing is, I don't want to miss it. I want to be there for all of it, but I also know I need to find time to write.

So this post is actually a plea to my husband. Please buy me a laptop for Christmas and since my birthday and our anniversary are right after Christmas, you can consider it a combo gift.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hoping for a better December

Warning: This blog contains whining, please proceed with caution.

This fall has been pretty awful. For those new to the blog I broke my wrist last May and it just started feeling pretty good by September. Then I threw my back out by trying to get back into shape (too much, too soon).

At the beginning of October just as I was recovering from my back, I got incredibly sick, like H1N1 sick. Two weeks to recover from that. Then I went to the dentist, had a root canal at the end of October and have been in pain ever since.

Three weeks ago, I sprained my knee (ACL, MCL sprain and a miniscal tear - no soccer for me until at least January). On Friday I just found out another tooth has died and I need another root canal. So basically the last three months have kind of sucked.

On the bright side; I wrote a query letter I like, finished my synopsis, which I have been putting off forever, and am on my very last round of edits before sending off to some lucky agent. I also wrote 21,000 words on a new project, and since my current project is a potential four book series, I wrote a one paragraph synopsis for each of the next three books.

My point. If I can accomplish all of that while going through a sore back, tooth pain, and a bad knee, think what the possibilities will be when I'm happy, healthy, and pain free.

Looking forward to December.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My attempt at poetry

Okay I have to admit I don't love poetry. I took a poetry class in University, but it was right after work and I often fell asleep.

So here is my Acrostic Poem. I got the idea from my kids.

T - typing - I'm so happy I know how to type fast.

H - husbands - For being supportive and not plugging his ears when I whine

A - Advice - I've had some great advice over the last few months that has helped me a lot.

N - Networks - This forum has been amazing and its great to communicate with people who understand what you're going through.

K - Kicking a soccer ball - Playing soccer has been a big part of my identity for a while now. I can't even imagine not playing.

F - Friends & Family - They are wonderful, tremendous, and I don't know what I'd do without them.

U - Undulating - Just because I really like this word.

L - Laughing - There really is no better medicine.

I was going to do Thanksgiving, but I didn't want to get carried away. Have a good weekend of food, family, friends, and football.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One genre to rule them all?

First off Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, which is most of you. I hope you have a great holiday.

Second. Here is a short question. A few weeks ago there were quite a few blogs about establishing your platform as a writer. So, here's m y question. If you start off writing YA fantasy do you need to stay with fantasy or can you do humorous or contemporary? How specialized do you have to stay?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Other Side of the Coin

I was a boy crazy fiend as a teenager and I have many journals to prove it. I won’t embarrass myself by revealing any of the content here, although I shudder just thinking about what a total psycho I was when it came to boys. I constantly tried to figure out what boys were thinking. Does he like me or not? I over analyzed the way a boy looked at me or his tone of voice when he said hi. As I look back at my relationships over my teenage and young adult years, clearly, I did not have a handle on how boys think.

Now that my son is fourteen it’s been quite interesting to watch the other side of the gender. Last week he caught a girl writing his name in hearts. He told me it totally creeped him out. All I could think of was, I wrote guys names in hearts, did I creep guys out?
After reading through my journals, I probably did.

Most YA books are told from the girl’s perspective. What I wonder is do I have an accurate account of how the guy would act in a relationship that’s just starting. I just read through my courtship with my husband and there were many ups and downs. The whole time I kept wondering what he was thinking. Sometimes I still wonder that. I’m hoping that by having a son whose entering those teenage years, I can get a glimpse that will give me a heads up on my male characters, which will come in handy as my next book is told from a male’s POV.

Is your MC male or female and if male what are you doing to make sure you create an accurate depiction of the male psyche? For those male readers the opposite question applies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finding Your Voice

I live in a small town of about 13,000 people. Okay, maybe it’s not that small, but it’s still just 13,000 people. We have all the conveniences of a big city; grocery store, movie theatre, hockey arenas, soccer turfs, swimming pool, bowling etc. We also have a great library that really tries to help new writers. For two years they’ve had writers-in-residence programs, and they also have guest author nights. In the past, when I’ve gone to those events, I’ve sat in the back and just absorbed the information. I didn’t tell anyone I who I was, what I wrote, or that I was even a writer.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an ad in our local paper advertising an “Aspiring Author Night”, it was geared toward those who have an interest in writing and wanted to get together to discuss books, writing, networking, whatever. I cut the ad out, sent an email saying I would be interested and waited until the second Thursday in the month.

The day came and I realized I had no idea what time the meeting started. I emailed the contact name, but she didn’t get back to me. I looked at the ad again, but no time was mentioned. It had been a busy week and I really didn’t feel like going, but after my husband’s urging, decided to go at 7:30. I walked into the coffee shop and there were two different groups sitting on opposite sides of the store. One group was looking at art, so I continued on and went past the other group. I recognized one lady as the owner of the book store, this was the group. Seven people sat around three small tables, plastic cups filled with an assortment of chips, pretzels and cheezies sat on each table, and I didn’t know anyone. I kept walking by.

I went to the back of the shop and took a deep breath. Then I decided this was my chance to find my voice, to see if I had it in me to discuss my book with confidence. So I sat down introduced myself, said what I wrote and that I had finished my book and was now in the final stages of editing. They asked questions. I responded with clear concise answers, and actually had everyone’s full attention. I told them about my blog, about networking, and what I’d learned about being published. I actually felt knowledgeable.

It’s so easy to communicate on my blog. I can think about what I want to say, write it down, edit it, but when it comes to speaking to a group of people, the palms start to sweat.

I am getting better at it, and like with anything, practice will only make it easier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Running up hill


A few years ago, I heard a lady talking about how she runs up hills. She said that she always looks picks a tree or a bench, or anything at the top of the hill and focuses on that.

I remember hearing that piece of advice and thinking, I don’t do that at all. I look down at my feet and keep saying to myself “the ground is flat, the ground is flat”. I take one step at a time and don’t even look at the top until I’m within a couple of steps of it.

So what kind of writer are you? Do you constantly keep an eye on the end, the agent, the book deal. Or do you look down and take one step at a time, without thinking too much about the end product?

I’m definitely the later, but lately I’m been peeking at the top.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No one can see inside my mind. Not sure if that's good or bad.

We were watching Flight of the Conchords on the weekend. If you're not familiar with the show, it's about a band from New Zealand trying to make it in New York. In the episode they were having a band meeting with their manager Murray. They're trying to figure out why no one is coming to their gigs.

Murray: We have to face facts - you guys just aren't cool.

Jermaine: I am.

Murray: You may look cool in your mind Jermaine, but when other people are looking at you they don't see what's happening inside your head. They only see the outer shell.

In the show Murray gives the band some hair gel to make them look cool, and suddenly they become a hit.

I found this with my writing. When my husband read my first draft he kept asking me all kinds of questions. I would explain what I meant by a certain sentence or paragraph then he would grumble, "You have to remember that you may know those facts, but your readers don't. They can't read your mind."

After a moment of being offended I went back and re-read my book and realized he was right. (I hate it when that happens). I really need to make sure I struck a balance between laying the story out so that the readers understood without giving too much away.

With time my writing has improved, and just like the hair gel, hopefully It'll help me become a hit.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We've been outed

Last week Jessie outed out writers group: Pretty in Ink, motto: "We Slash the Trash."

I'm going to use Jessie's introductions because she is just so clever, but she neglected to introduce herself.

Jessie Oliveros writes young adult. She actually just finished her first draft in about eight weeks. Amazing. Yes. She has a little boy, who has the same hair color as her, you can't even tell she's holding him in her picture, plus she's about to have another child within the next month. She's revising her draft right now and I can't wait to read it.

Lois Moss also writes young adult. She is a girl from the south and has four children, two of whom she homeschools. (I admire anyone who home schools. I'm way too selfish.) She studied Latin and French in college and used to teach. You may also know her as lotusgirl.

Beth Mann writes women's fiction. She also hails from the south. Beth is the mother of two young children, and her husband is a tech geek which we all know must come in handy as a writer. She gets to go to Starbucks and write sometimes which makes me jealous.

Since Jessie thought we needed a mascot, I decided on a pink ninja bunny, because we're cute, but can slash with the best of them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Introductions are every thing

In the movie “A Knight’s Tale”, the character Ulrich, played by Heath Ledger, creates an identity in order to compete at jousting competitions. At his first tournament, he’s nervous, scared --- worried that everyone will find out that he is a fake.

Enter his Herald, Geoffrey Chaucer, a man so eloquent with his words that his introduction incites the crowd to a frenzy, causing them to route for a man they had never seen joust before.

This only goes to show that introductions are every thing.

I’ve been reading Donald Maass’ The Career Novelist. (I know I should be reading his book The Fire in Fiction, but I haven’t gotten to the bookstore yet. See Susan's post for great summaries of that book.) I just finished his chapter on “Pitching Errors”. Needless to say I now read with a highlighter in my right hand.

Basically he says that sooner or later we have to bring our novel into society and introductions are everything. Picture this; an agency receives 5000 queries a year (this book was written a while ago, so I’m sure that number is a lot larger now). Said agency only requests one or two partials a day and out of those partials only 40 full manuscripts are chosen. The numbers are daunting.

What’s Donald Maass’ advice: Learn to pitch.

Three questions that need answering:

1. Where is your story set?
2. Who is your hero or heroine?
3. What is the main problem they must overcome?

A setting, sympathetic character, compelling problem. Easy stuff.

I know queries are hard, but he’s right when he says, better to learn now then to try and cram later on.

His last analogy is the best. Few consumer products sell without affective advertising. Think of your query letter as your 30-second commercial.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spinning Rides

I have decided that editing is a lot like riding a spinny ride. Not a merry go round that's slow and plays fun music, but one of those rides that spins backwards with loud booming music and a DJ yelling, "Do you want to go faster!"

This is the way it goes (at least it does for me).

You start editing your book. After reading through the first five chapters you notice that you're using too many adverbs, so you start watching for the dreaded "ly" words. By chapter six you realize that you over use the word "around", so you highlight each one and try to find a different word, or take it out all together. When you reach chapter eight, you see that your dialogue tags are not mostly "said". Instead they are "explained, exclaimed, asked, yelled, screamed", so you fix those.

When you get to the end, you still have to go back to the beginning and fix all the adverbs, "arounds" and dialogue tags that you missed, but as you make those corrections you find other mistakes and the process starts all over again.

Finally when you think you have everything perfect you give it to your beta readers and you realize that there is a lot more you have to work on. (Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love beta readers. I'm definitely a better writer because of them.)

That is why I think editing is like a spinny ride and right now I'm almost ready to puke.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Finally a reason to be grumpy

In a recent report by an Austrialian psychology expert it has been discovered that being grumpy “is good for you”.

It makes us think more clearly.
Helps us make better decisions.
It makes us less gullible.
Breeds attentiveness and careful thinking.
You can cope with more demanding situations.
A bad mood can promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style.

On the flip side, they say that cheerfulness fosters creativity.

So these are my conclusions, when you’re writing your first draft be happy, jovial, and cheerful, because you need to be creative. When it comes to editing feel free to put on a grumpy face, so you can watch for details and be more attentive.

Side note for all those people who live in sunny climates - wet, dreary days sharpen memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scattered

Proof that I've been way too scattered brained for the month of October:

  • For the whole month I've been using dishwasher detergent to wash my clothes
  • My kids have to say mom, mom, mom, MOM! to get my attention.
  • My son has been wearing pants to church for the past month that are way too small.
  • I've lost track of how many Halloween candies I've eaten, (that's only the past week).
  • I went two days with out showering and that's after playing soccer. I know you can say it yew!
  • I forgot to check for adverbs on my last round of edits, now I have to go back to the beginning.
  • I find myself re-reading the same sentence over and over again and wonder if its any good.
  • My chapters are starting to blend together and I think I may need glasses.
  • I spend way too much time in front of a computer, both at work and at home.
  • I completely lost track of my blogs and this is my 100th one.
Happy 100th blog to me, happy 100th blog to me, happy 100th bloooooog. Happy 100th blog to me.

Time to go have another candy. Whose keeping track anyway?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Advice


I've been pregnant three times. I've had morning sickness, gained weight, and craved all sorts of food. I went through labor twice and had three c-sections.

There are two guys in my office who are having their first child so I feel pretty confident about giving advice when they ask me about being pregnant, but I don't know anything about actually having a baby naturally. I can tell them about the challenges I had trying to recovery from c-sections, but that's about it.

I kind of feel like this with my journey into writing a book if I were to equate it to a pregnancy. I think I'm about to start my second trimester.

First Trimester:
I've written the book.
I've edited a book - many times.

Second Trimester:
I queried a couple of years ago, but not a lot - so I can give a little bit of advice.
Query Agents
Get an Agent.

Third Trimester:
Book deal.

I'm very excited to going through the whole thing, so I can give advice on it all.

What trimester are you in?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Friday

My mind is a little scattered as I write this. The week has been busy with working, soccer games, basketball practices, football games, dentist appointments and a sick husband.

So this post will probably be a little random.

Update: I'm going through my book one more time to tighten it up before I start querying. I hoping for second week in November.

Funny moment of the week: 14 year old son says: "Apparently the girl who we thought liked my friend likes me and now our friendship is going to turn into an awkward sitcom series."

This is the ultimate in trying to protect the environment. A guy at work told me that in Brazil this summer the government launched a campaign to encourage people to pee in the shower, so they would save water. Apparently they shower 3 times a day, because it's so humid.

Bought the book Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, but my son stole it from my bookshelf before I could crack it open. Also bought the Uglies series by the same author, because my sister-in-law said they were awesome. Hoping to read more at the end of November.

Finally good luck to all of those who are participating in NaNoWriMe in November. I wish I could do it, but I need to get this book done. Maybe I'll have a week in December where I'll write non stop. Anybody else want to join me?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Results

Well I tried to keep my pessimistic side at bay and hoped for the best at my soccer game last night, but we lost 4-0. We commiserated afterwards with cake and pizza, and tried to figure out what went wrong. After a few hours, more than was actually spent playing the game, we decided we needed more game play practice, among other things.

Now after having four hours of sleep last night, I've put the game behind me and have moved on to focusing on next weeks challenge.

I guess this is what we have to do when we receive a rejection. Take a moment to be sad, angry, and disappointed, or just have a good cry in the bathroom, but then move on. Put that letter behind us and keep trying.

Maye it's not about being pessimistic or optimistic, but being resilient. Having the perseverance to keep going and not give up.

Hopefully I can maintain that attitude as I begin quering and try to make it through this incredibly hard soccer season.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Expect the worst or Hope for the Best

My soccer team pretty much rocks. In fact we are so awesome we have been promoted to the highest division in over 35 women's soccer. Now as good as that sounds it does come with a few minor issues.

1) Most of the ladies who play in this division have been playing since they were kids and a few even played university level soccer.
2) Most of the ladies on my team started playing 8-10 years ago.
3) We will be playing against a national winning team.
4) We will be playing against another team from our small town. (That's right our soccer program is so awesome we have two over 35 women's team in the top division)
5) We are probably going to get our butt's kicked.

I say probably because I don't know for sure. We might be okay, we might even win a few games. We just don't know. So do you go into the games expecting nothing (to lose) or hope for the best.

I'm hoping to start querying agents within the next two weeks. Now as most of you know querying is stressful, difficult, and did I say stressful. You have to get your query letter just right for each agent you query. You need to research which agents represent what you write and decide whether or not you think you could work with them.

So here's the question of the day. Do you think when you query you should expect nothing that way you won't be disappointed, or should you hope for the best.

By the way I play my first soccer game tomorrow against the other team from my town.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another Contest & Award

This time its a query letter contest over at Kid Lit, Mary Kole, associate agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!

In other news I want to thank Melane for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

7 things about me, you might not know

1. I hate wearing socks and would live in sandals all year long if I could.
2. I hate folding socks, it's the household chore I hate the most.
3. I have a drawer in my room strictly for socks that I can't find the mate to.
4. I don't like hot drinks, they make me sick to my stomach.
5. People sniffing is my of my biggest pet peeves.
6. My favorite show of all time is probably Firefly, too bad it got canceled.
7. I absolutely love the show Glee and would love to be able to sing, but can't. In fact my husband cringes when I try.

That's a little more about me. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How to Choose?

Now that I'm getting close to actually pushing that send button I've been contemplating my plan of attack, so to speak.

A few years ago when I researched querying I read a lot of advice about only querying a few agents at once, some even suggested one at a time. Back then I thought that was ridiculous why wouldn't I want to query as many as possible at once. As with everything, time and experience has made me wiser. Now I see the wisdom in those words.

If you send out 20 queries and they are all rejected you don't have a chance to revise your query or revisit your submission before trying another agent. And although you can submit again you probably shouldn't unless you're completely changing your manuscript, so I'm starting to feel a little stressed about who to send it to, because once it's sent there's no redo.

So here's my question, there are so many great agents out there. How do you decide who to query first? What has been your criteria for choosing? Do you start with the bigger profile agents, the ones who have blogs with tons of followers or do you look beyond that and research what they represent and how well they've done with selling the authors they represent.

If you have an agent how why did you pick them to query, if you don't do you know how you'll choose?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Over use

She turned around and looked down the path she had just walked.

I've been going through each chapter and highlighting words I over use. Four of the worst offenders are in the sentence above.

Any guesses?

It's been an interesting exercise in trying to figure out different ways to say the same thing. I'm always amazed at how I can miss using the same word within one paragraph. Anyone else feel that way?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long Lost Book

Years ago I fell in love a series called "The Keeping Days" by Norma Johnston. It's about a young girl at the turn of the 1900th century trying to deal with family crisis, a test of faith, and new love.

There was six books in the series, but I only ever read and was able to find the first three and the last two. I've searched for the book called "A Mustard Seed of Magic" for years and years. I even wrote the publisher asking for the book. My local library never carried it, so I went for a lot of years without the one book to complete the series. (I was going to put a number, but it made me feel too old).

A month ago our local library joined this system where they can get books from other libraries, I can't remember what it's called. So one day I went on line and guess what, they had the book. I have never been more excited.

I finished reading A Mustard Seed of Magic this weekend and it was wonderful. In it the main character wants to be a writer, this is probably why I was inspired by this series. There was so much great advice that I actually took notes.

This quote from the main character hit me and I think it's how a lot of us feel.

"A writer wasn't a real writer until his work was read, not just by himself and his near and dear, but by the world to whom he had things that he must say."

For many years the main character wrote only for herself, but it had to come to a point where she wanted others to read her work. I'm at that point now. I'm no longer hiding it in a shelf, I'm ready to try and share with the world. At least in two weeks I am, that's how much editing time I have left.

It's amazing to me how this main character's story can still motivate me even after 20 plus years. Now I have the pain of giving the book that I've tried so hard to find back to the library. Part of me just wants to tell them I lost it and pay for the book, but that wouldn't be honest even though it's extremely tempting.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Awesome contest



Jenn is having a contest on her blog to win the book The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It sounds like a great book. Go check it out.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Will I ever get better...

I've been sick this week. Really sick. Chills, fever, coughing, sore throat, achy body, and a headache. I stayed home from work and have laid on the couch feeling like I wanted to die. Every morning and every night I've thought am I ever going to get better.

Even this morning as my boss rattled off all of the H1N1 symptoms to me on the phone when I called in sick had me worried. I had all of them. I went to the doctor and waited an hour for him to tell me I had a viral infection, the flu and there was really nothing for me to do, but rest and drink lots of fluids.

Funny thing happened when I got home I started to feel a lot better, not 100%. My head still feels like it could explode at any moment and it hurts to swallow, but I'm definitely better.

Sometimes I feel like this with writing. I'll look at a sentence, paragraph, or chapter and think will I ever be able to make it better. And just like being sick, if you drink fluids and get some rest you get better. If you keep trying your writing will get better.

I'd write more, but I losing energy and my daughter is pestering me to get onto the computer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is it wrong...

Is it wrong to hope that football conflicts with my boys basketball, because I hate that sport so much. Had to change this around. I love basketball, hate football.

Is it wrong to feel old, because I want to put a jacket and boots on when I go outside in the cold.

Is it wrong that when the subject of the end of the world comes up all I can think is; I hope I get my book published before that happens.

Is it wrong to change my word choice instead of figuring out how to spell a different word.

Is it wrong to eat a lot of chocolate, because I can't get past chapter eight.

Is it wrong to change an element of your book, because you heard that some publishing people in the industry consider it be one of their pet peeves. (Actually I really could use an opinion on this one)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finding the Cheese Grater

The other day when I was making pizza, I went to the cupboard to find the cheese grater, but it wasn't there. Usually it's in a bowl lying down beside my braun mixer. I looked in the sink, the dishwasher, and all of the other cupboards. After five minutes of searching I asked my son to come in and see if he could find it. He opened the cupboard and there it was standing beside the bowl, but since it wasn't lying down I had failed to notice it.

As I go through the edits that my beta readers have given me, I've noticed a few things. I use the phrase turned around and walked over a lot. Apparently I need to document their every move. It's funny how I couldn't see it before, even though I've read through my book numerous times. All it took was a fresh pair of eyes to notice it and point me in the right direction.

I often find it amazing how every time I read my book I can come up with better ways to say something. It makes me wonder why I didn't come up with that word the first time when it came so easily to me the second time.

Writing is a funny business, all I can hope for is to learn from my mistakes so eventually I won't make so many.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Being Thankful


It's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. A time that we spend with our families, eat, visit, eat more, and most importantly remember what we're thankful for.

This year I'm especially thankful for all the regular things:
- A husband whose honest, loving and a great father.
- Wonderful kids who make me laugh and proud.
- The best extended family ever. It's great to live close to people who supportsand care for you.
- I'm grateful for my health, it was a hard summer, but we're slowly getting back to normal.
- Friends who make me laugh and give a shoulder to cry on whenever I need it.
- The fact that both me and my husband have jobs that pay for our house, clothes and food.

One thing that's different this year is the people I'm met through this blog. Ten years ago we wouldn't have had this forum to meet, commiserate and rally around each other. The information that is exchanged is wonderful and I've learned so much these last nine months. It's been great seeing how many people are sharing in my struggles and better yet seeing some of you begin to succeed.

So this year the new thing I'm grateful for is the invention of the BLOG.

I know Thanksgiving is two months away for most of you, but what are you thankful for.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It’s Back


Almost two months ago I sent my book away to be read by a beta reader. During that time I didn’t tinker with it, read it, or even think about it. Okay maybe that last one is a lie, but I really tried hard to put it out of my mine. I highly recommend doing this. I know it’s hard, because we want to finish it, but the break has really made me look at things differently.

Anyway, today my book came back. It’s a little battered and bruised, but also much wiser.

I’ve had the great privilege of having two great beta readers who have finished reading my book and given me great advice, wisdom, and most of all hope.

I now have two weeks to tighten dialogue, add a bit more romance, make sure the ending is the way I want it, and correct a few echoes (okay maybe there’s more than a few). After that I will finish the query, it’s almost done. Update the synopsis and press the send button. I’m not sure to who and how many yet, but I have two weeks to decide.

So thank you to my beta readers, you did an awesome job and I don’t know where I’d be without you.

Feel free to leave a shout out to the people who read your work and nicely tell you how it can be better.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nature Vs. Nurture

Last week I received a magazine in the mail called West. It's a publication about Western Canada, which focuses on little towns and the impact the people who live in them make on the country. I'm proud to say my daughter was on the cover last month, but I digress.

Anyway this month they had an interview with the author Andrew Davidson, the man who wrote The Gargoyle. It has been translated into 27 different languages and is selling well everywhere in the world - except the US, so you might not have heard of it. (Personally I haven't read it)

The Gargoyle is his first book and he received a $2,000.000 advance for it, which is like a record for a Canadian publisher. Andrew Davidson is from a small town in Manitoba, population around 1500. I like this fact because I come from a small town in Western Canada, so it gives me hope.

A little way into the article the by line reads DAVIDSON WASN'T AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS. I liked that to because lately it seems like everyone is. They write their novel in two months, edit it in one, submit to agents and have a book deal all within six months. Davidson worked on his book for seven years.

I should clarify that I don't actually know anyone whose got a book deal that fast and it just appears that way because we don't see all the late nights and long days slaving over the computer.

He first began writing on poetry and stage plays, but "it was all bad, but it didn't matter, and it didn't stop me from writing" I loved that quote.

Later he says "I certainly wasn't born with some skill that came fully formed. Hard work and determination helped me develop the skill of writing. If there was one thing I was born with, it was the desire to write that even I don't fully understand. It just it."

Growing up I thought writing would come naturally for me and when it didn't I became frustrated and stopped doing it. I thought I wasn't smart enough to learn how to do it, that if it wasn't a natural talent then I must not be a writer. I was a little insecure in those days.

I have since changed my mind. No, my writing does not come naturally and I'm also not a size two who can eat whatever they want. I have to work at my writing, like I have to exercise and eat healthy. Yes, there are some people out there who have a natural talent and maybe they are the ones who can write a book and have it sell all within six months.

I have learned a lot over the years and will continue to learn. And although I may not be a naturally gifted writer, like Davidson says, I was born with the desire and for me that is enough.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Stuck in the past

I was tagged by Jenn to write down my top seven songs. This challenge really got me thinking. I've loved music for as long as I've loved to write. I used to sit in my basement and play my records, (that's right I said records) until I wore the album out.

In high school I used coil notebooks to write stories and on the cover I would jot down my favorite bands. I could write a journal of my high school years through the music I listened to.

So instead of telling you what my favorite songs are right now, I've decided to write down the songs that were my favorite back then and have remained on my play list.

1. I Melt With You by Modern English
(It was always a favorite at the dances)
2. It's My Life by Talk Talk
(not by No doubt)
3. Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order
(reminds me of grade 12 - for reasons I'll not say)
4. Lovesong by the Cure
(I still run to this song)
5. If You Were Here by the Thompson Twins
(it was one of the first albums I ever bought, plus it's the last song on Sixteen Candles when they're kissing over the birthday cake - who couldn't love that song)
6. All I Need is Everything - Aztec Camera
(I just loved the name of the band. I felt cool saying I listened to Aztec Camera)
7. Anything by Duran Duran - (I was a total junkie and had their pictures plastered all over my wall. My mom was totally worried)

So that's it, the story of my teenage years. Do you have any favorite songs that you still listen to long after it's been forgotten.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Planning

I'm no good at planning vacations. I can never make up my mind about what hotel, what at to stay at. I always think what if we get there we find something better. I usually fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to planning an itinerary as well. My sister on the other had plans everything down to the detail. She has a binder where she categories all of the research she's done.

Sometimes I'm extremely jealous of her planning abilities and other times I think she's so stuck to that plan that she doesn't open her eyes to other possibilites.

I'm kind of like this in writing. I don't write an outline. I have a general idea of where the story is going, but I don't necessarily know the stops along the way. Sometimes I run into a dead end and have to back track, but I enjoy writing that way. I've tried writing out exactly what happens, but I find that when I get to that part I've changed my mind.

For example on your current WIP, I had the two main characters being attracted to each other right away, which really takes all of the conflict and tension out of the story. Now I've back tracked and have planned a different route for them. One I'm very excited about.

How about you? Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Back Pain thrown in with some success


I learned this week when they say you should consult a physician before starting a new exercise program, you probably should.

A few weeks ago I decided I was going to get into shape by following the training program my son brought home from one of his university basketball camps, plus I was going to run 2x a week up and down a hill. My first clue should have been university, in other words young people.

It went well for two weeks. I was sore, but preserving through the lunges, squats, and push ups. But last Monday I bent over at work to reach for a file and threw out my back. I've had back pain before, but nothing like this. I couldn't move, I couldn't walk. It hurt to sneeze and cough.

I went home from work, had a hot bath and went to bed. The next day I went to physio where she shoved needles in my back and proceeded to slide them up and down in an attempt to loosen up the muscle around my back. On Thursday I went again and had acupuncture. There were needles everywhere; feet, ankles, back, wrists, and even the top of my head.

On Saturday, I was finally able to stand up straight and decided to go to my older son's basketball game, which they won and was exciting, but then I had to take my younger son to his football game. First they had to be there one hour early and the game before them was running behind. Needless to say I arrived at 2:30pm and left at 6pm. I was exhausted and my back was killing me. I was supposed to go to a soccer social that night, but called in sick, a first for me.

Sorry this has been a poor me post, but it does end on a good note. I promised myself (before I hurt my back) that I'd write three chapters a week and since last Friday I've written 6000 words on my new WIP, bringing the grand total to - 21,912.

I'm kind of excited because I've been working on the same project for so long that I was beginning to wonder if I could write anything else, turns out maybe I can.

Now just 40,00- 50,000 more words to go until the first draft is done.

Have you ever had to work through some pain and suffering to meet a real or self-imposed deadline?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Finishing

I have so many different emotions after finishing a book.

1) Joy - depending on the book
2) Disappointment - depending on the book
3) Accomplishment - I felt that back in university after reading James Joyce
4) Sadness - either you wasted your time or you're sad the book is over
5) Anger - when characters disappear or you hate the ending
6) Excitement - especially if it its a series
7) Tiredness - which is always a sign of a great book

This morning I'm feeling 5 out of the 7 as I stayed up until 2am to finish the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Great book. I even pretended to go to bed with my husband, but when he was asleep got up and finished it.

And the good news is, there's a second. Yeah. Off to the book store this weekend in between two basketball games and two football games.

What do you like most about finishing a book?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He had green eyes and brown hair.

There's so many different ways to describe characters. You can list off all of their physical attributes; hair color, eye color, stature, build, or bone structure. You can describe how they walk, how they talk, or how they eat their food. The list goes on.

With my new WIP I didn't realize there were no physical descriptions of my characters until my niece said what color hair does Oliver have?

I don't know
, was my response.

I guess I've never been able to see what my characters look like, at least not at first. (It would probably help if I could draw like Natalie does - what a wonderful talent). I see them as who they are; they're personalities, weaknesses, strengths. What they look like is almost secondary to me.

In my current project I actually don't describe what the main character looks like until chapter two and the other main character until chapter four.

What do you think? Do you need that physical description to connect with the characters, or can it wait?

Monday, September 21, 2009

What I'm trying to learn.

I'm learning that you can't eat well and exercise hard for one day and expect to lose weight.

I'm learning that the politics behind kids sports is almost overwhelming.

I'm learning that you really do have to add weight training to your exercise regime if you want to be stronger.

I'm learning that if threaten early bedtime, your kids will clean their room.

I'm learning that you do get a lot accomplished if you wake up early, but eventually you'll need a nap.

I'm learning that you have run more if you want to get faster.

I'm learning if you plan your meals ahead of time, life becomes easier.

I'm learning that in order to be a better writer you actually need to keep writing, not just think about it all the time.

I'm learning that if you use counting to get your kids to stop doing something, you should tell them what you're counting to.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cook Books


I love cook books. I spend hours peering over them, looking for a great new receipe to try. I make lists of the receipes I would like to try along with the ingredients I'll need. I especially love Company's Coming Cookbooks because they have great pictures.

But when it comes to actually buying the groceries and cooking the meals, I'm afraid I fall short. I have a tendency to stick with my old stand by's of chicken and potatoes, spaghetti, tacos, and home made pizza.

I'd really like to try something new and sometimes I do, but I never know if my family will like it. If they don't I'll have gone to all the effort of making something new only for them to end up having a bowl of cereal.

Sometimes I do this with writing. As I started writing a new project I realized there are certain settings, character types, and even names that I like to use. For some reason I like my tunnels and caves. I love the name Oliver and I'm fond of dark forests. Evidently I need to get out of my comfort zone and try to make some new receipes of maybe a big city, skyscrapers, and no one named Oliver.

How about you are stuck using the same old receipes or do you try to mix it up a bit?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Best Laid Plans

Yesterday I wrote 2143 words on my WIP. It all just came out and only took me an hour and a half. So I was super excited for today because it was my day off.

I got up early ran 5 km, got groceries, cleaned my kitchen, vacuumed, and even visited with my sister for a little bit, all by 10:30am. The kids were at school, the house was clean, and husband was gone to physio (he works out of the house). I went down to my computer and checked my email, then I checked facebook, and then I checked my blog. There was nothing.

I could delay no longer. I opened a new document and typed Chapter Seven at the top. I wrote a paragraph, but hated it so I erased it. Tried again, but hated it even more. I must have stared at that blank page for an hour.

Finally I decided to do some research, maybe I just needed some direction. So I looked up dragons, because right now my MC's in a cavern and about to fight a dragon. So where do I go to find out information; Youtube. Actually they had a very interesting documentary from Animal Planet on there. Apparently a dragon was found in some ice caves in Romanian. Did you know they have two sets of lungs; one set for breathing and the others are filled with hydrogen. They called them flight bladders. Isn't that a great description, flight bladders.

After watching the 4 parts of the show I started to feel tired so I went upstairs to have a nap. I thought if I just get some sleep I'll be able to finish the chapter. Instead husband comes home and wants to talk; so much for my nap.

I go back down to the computer, still nothing. I can't think of anything. It's horrible and frustrating. The words flowed so effortlessly yesterday, my hands could barely type fast enough and I type pretty fast (60 wpm).

It's now 2:15. I decide to go do an errand and pick up daughter from school, except daughter and friend are no where to be found. The bell rang early and they didn't stay by the doors. I ran to the bus, not there. Luckily she was back in the office waiting patiently for me. We had a scare with her a few months ago, which is a completely different story.

Came home after telling daughter to stay by her classroom door if I'm not there right away. Listened to older boys tell me about their day and then I went to the computer again. Still nothing. So I shut it down and watched my son play Halo 3 before making dinner.

After dinner I went and helped my husband with basketball evaluations for younger son, went and picked daughter up from grandma's house then picked other son up at football. Fed him and took him to basketball practice.

Now that I finally have the two younger kids in bed I'm writing this post instead of working on Chapter Seven. I figure nothing came to me all day so I'm leaving Chapter Seven blank and hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Do you have days like that? One day you can't write fast enough and other days: Nothing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Worrying

I am a worrier. I come by it honestly. My mother is a worrier, as was her mother.

It's amazing how through your life you worry about different things.

As a child I worried about not being invited to a classmate's sleepover. (I was and it wasn't that great)

As a teenager I worried about boys, a lot!!!! (Too much actually)

As a young adult I worried finding a husband. (Turns out I found a great one)

When I was first pregnant I worried about what kind of mom I would be. (The juries still out)

When I had a new born I worried about dropping the child, what certain rashes were, and whether they were getting enough to eat. (Didn't drop anyone, rashes went away, and since one of my children is taller than me, I think it's fair to say they get enough to eat)

When my kids started school I worried about what kind of friends they'd make. (So far alright, had a few issues with older child, but those are long forgotten now)

When I finished my book I worried if anyone would like it. (Family seems too, hopefully others will too)

Now that I'm entering the time in my life where the decisions we make for our child could really define their future I beginning to worry more than ever. Are we putting too much pressure on them? Have we taught them to make the right decisions? Have we done enough? It's all very stressful.

I'm definitely a worrier, but I try to remember the past. The things I worried about then seem to be nothing now and in time this will too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Backhoe, shovel, broom

I work at a forensic engineering firm. Yes, it's a little like CSI, except that instead of dead bodies we investigate car accidents, fires, and property damage.

It's my job to proofread the reports that the engineers generate. I go through pages of technical writing regarding seat belt use, burn patterns, and electrical voltage. Some days it makes it hard to come home and be creative.

Today we were having a meeting and the subject of report writing came up. One of our engineers is having trouble writing his reports. He has mental blocks and can't write, (sound familiar to anyone). Anyway, another engineer suggested he just open a blank file and randomly write down all the facts of the case. He said that sometimes we get bogged down in trying to make it perfect the first time around, (sounds familiar again).

Then another engineer made a perfect analogy. He said it's like trying to remove a dirt pile with a broom, attempting to make every brush stroke even. Instead you need to use a backhoe and get rid of the majority of the dirt (write as much as you can not worrying about the mess). Then you can use a shovel to pick up the small chunks that the backhoe missed (the first editing process). After that you use a broom to clean up the little things and it may take you a more than one stroke. (edit after edit).

I thought it was a great analogy and had to share.

Here's hoping we all get to the point where we can put all the dirt in the dust bin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The BIC

I love this pen. It's the Bic Orange Fine. Although the picture shows it with a black lid, I prefer blue. This pen is considered a classic and therefore very hard to find. I've searched all over for it. I tried different stationary stores, but no one carries the Bic Orange Fine, at least not here in Canada.

I gave up and found a different pen that was somewhat comparable. The Bic Soft Feel Fine, but it wasn't quite the same.

This summer I was visiting a friend in the small town where she lived. My husband, who as you know was recovering from ankle surgery, needed an ankle brace. We went to the local pharmacy and as I trolled the aisle, waiting for him to pick out a brace, I found it. Packages of my favorite pen.

There was three packages of two and I bought every single one. I now guard them like a protective mother bear. You see I'm very particular about my pens. When I start a new project I like to carry around a coil notebook and jott things down when I think of them; like possible scenes, names of characters, or potential plot twists. If I don't have the right pen I don't like writing, so I'm very excited to have found my pens.

Is there anything that you love to use when writing.

Now I've followed Jessie's example and put up a followers list. It's a big step for me. To repeat what Jessie said; I am prepared to follow and be followed.


Monday, September 7, 2009

It's a known fact...


It's a known fact that when women are with their friends they eat 20% more.

It's a known fact that when you have well hydrated women athletes there's a line up for the bathroom.

It's a known fact that shopping malls love women's weekends away.

It's a known fact that when 16 women get together in one hotel room, they can sound like a small jet plane.

It's a known fact that unless someone in the car navigating, women will get lost.

It's a known fact that men rebound from being taken down at the knees a lot faster than women.

It's a known fact that three games of soccer in three days is hard on anyone's body, let alone women over 35.

It's a known fact that coaches get nervous too.

It's a known fact that gold is thought to be better than silver, but I think I like silver the best.

Had a great weekend with a wonderful team who played their absolute hardest, became even closer friends, and had the time of our lives.

Thanks ladies.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

If I don’t know what I want for dinner, how can I decide what my character wants for dinner?

We’ll all seen them in magazines or on-line. Personality quizzes.

You know the questions:

You like to be engaged in an active and fast-paced job – sometimes.

You enjoy having a wide circle of acquaintances – depends on the day.

It is in your nature to assume responsibility – only if I feel responsible.

Your actions are frequently influenced by emotions ­– not as much anymore.

You often do jobs in a hurry – all the time.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out my own personality let alone my characters. I’m not sure how people have their character all figured out before they start writing. I’ve started a new project and I really can’t decide what kind of personality I want this character to have; moody, caring, emotional, or all of the above. I’m even having problems with my main character. The one I’ve already written a whole book about. I don’t know how I want to her to be feeling right now.

I’ve really become stuck and I know I need to write through it and see what comes out, but I know how much work it was to edit the last book.

Anyway besides climbing a mountain, it’s been a very frustrating week. Any thoughts on how you develop your characters many dimensions would be helpful.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SUCCESS!!!

We climbed our mountain.

On Monday, the day before school started, we left at noon and arrived at the mountain in Canmore at around 1pm. It was hot 28 degrees (83 fahrenheit). We filled up our camelbacks with water and snacks and began the hike. Ten minutes in my daughter was struggling. I put her thick hair back and gave her some water. Ten minutes later she wanted to rest again, so I gave her some food. Five minutes later she fell down on a log and exclaimed that she couldn’t go any further.

We stood over her and thought about what to do. Certainly we couldn’t continue up the mountain with her stopping every five minutes, so once again we decided to turn around. Apparently it was too hot, she wasn’t well rested, or she hadn’t eaten enough. I was pretty sure it was all of the above.

We had promised the kids we’d take them out for dinner in Canmore after we completed the mountain. Being faced with having to try to do a mountain again on another day and no dinner out, my oldest son insisted he could carry his sister up the mountain. He took off his back pack, gave it to his dad, and put her on his back.


He carried her for about ten minutes and when he put her down she raced to the front and led the way. I think a lot of her problem was more psychological than physical. (I can relate to that).

Whenever she got tired her brother carried her and when he got tired, he put her down. When it got too steep for a ride her dad pulled her up the mountain.

So after two hours and twenty four minutes, and a tough scramble at the end, we made it to the top. It was a beautiful day and felt great to complete another mountain.


It took us an hour and half to get down. Me and my husband were so sore. His ankle was throbbing and my calves burned. As for the kids, when we got to the bottom, they ran to the car.

It’s so not fair.



Sunday, August 30, 2009

All you need is love…. or do you?

It appears that a lot of YA books involve love. A young girl sees a boy at school and instantly feels a connection. Sometimes they hate the boy; sometimes they are immediately attractive to one another. Invariably that boy or girl harbor a deep dark secret that threatens their budding love. They undergo challenges that bring them together and in the end fall madly in love.

While I know this is not the main story line of every book, it seems to be a common thread in a lot of them, at least the ones I have picked up lately.

This is my question. Can you have a YA book where the relationship starts as a friendship and builds over time to something more or does the protagonist need to have an automatic attraction to someone in order for the book to sell?

What do you think? Do you need a romantic story line for a YA book to sell?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When to go back down the mountain

Every summer my family climbs a mountain. Why you might ask? Well that’s what I said when my husband suggested the tradition. “It’ll be good for us,” he said. I belligerently accepted his challenge and we began. After a couple of mountains, I came to the conclusion that my husband is brilliant, which is kind of hard to admit. Not only do we get some bonding time and we get to challenge ourselves. Now the kids have something to put down when they’re asked at school what traditions does your family have?

This year we chose Forget Me Not Mountain, which is only a 30-minute drive from our house. My brother in law, along with his two daughters joined us. He had climbed the mountain before and suggested that we could cut off 2 km each way if we traversed the river. So we packed our sandals and stepped into the cold, fast moving water. My brother in law carried both his kids across. My husband carried our daughter and I was lucky to get across without falling in.

We cached our sandals, thinking we wouldn’t need them again and continued on. To our surprise we came over the rise and saw a number of small creeks that we had to cross. Some we could step on dry stones to get over and there was one where we had to balance on a dead branch.

Finally we got to the trail and began the hike towards our destination: our seventh summit.

The trail was flat at first and we had to watch where we stepped due to the fact that we shared the trail with horses. After ten minutes it veered to the right and we started our climb upwards. It was okay at first, but then as the guidebook said we began an unrelenting climb at a 30% grade on loose shale. My brother in law pushed his kids up and my hubby carried our daughter part of the way. When we got past what seemed like the hardest part we took a rest and gauged our progress.

We had come quite a ways in a short time. The view was amazing.

We continued the trek up and criss crossed our way up through the rocky terrain. On the south side of the mountain the sun was shining, we were all sweaty and wondering when the steepness would end. When we came up over the ridge the sky turned. Clouds, which weren’t in the forecast, began to streak across the sky. Within minutes they covered the summit. We could no longer see our final destination.

We thought about hunkering down and waiting for the clouds to pass, but we were not prepared. I had forgotten windbreakers and had only stuffed a scarf and a pillowcase into my bag just in case. Well, we were now in a just in case scenario. I pulled out the scarf and wrapped it around my daughter, and my other son put his hands in the pillowcase. We trudge along for a while, but soon a bad feeling began to develop. Even though we were very close to the top, the wind was blowing hard and the temperature was dropping fast. It was not worth risking hyperthermia. I called my husband and we decided to head back down.There is suppose to be a mountain behind us.

This had happened to us before. A couple of years ago on a mountain near Canmore, we were so close to the top I felt like we could almost touch it. It would have taken us 15 minutes to reach the summit, but it would have taken us 15 minutes to come down and 30 minutes would have meant we would have been walking down in the dark.

So for the second time in our tradition we turned around right when we were near the summit and failed to complete the mountain. We took our time coming down as it was steep and had lots of loose rock. When we got to the river we looked back up and everything was covered in cloud. We traversed the now colder river and went back to our vehicles to warm up. We drove home cold, tired, hungry, and a little dejected because it meant we would have to try again on another day. We would have to start at the beginning all over again. We’ve already decided to try and climb the mountain in Canmore instead. Hopefully we’ll conquer that one this year.

I was going to relate this experience to writing and how you need to keep trying even if you have to turn around and start at the beginning, but I’m too tired to write any more. I’ll let you guys come up with some of your own analogies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do you like them?

Creating great protagonist characters is fine art. They have to be likeable and relatable. You want them to have flaws, but not too many. They have to grow and learn throughout the book and not remain static. It’s a tough order.

Last weekend I watched two movies. Both were romantic dramas with tragic ends.

The first one was brilliant. The characters were likeable, but at the same time flawed. They made mistakes, had arguments, and were a little manipulative. When they got together I was excited when tragedy befell them I bawled my eyes out.

The second movie the characters were somewhat likeable. The male was too static. He was nice throughout the movie, never judgmental and didn’t really show any emotion. The girl was selfish and spoiled. When they finally did get together I wasn’t excited for them. I didn’t feel any empathy after they split up. I didn’t shed one tear.

It was amazing the difference and it was a good lesson for me to try and develop characters that the reader will root for, have empathy, and most importantly want to keep reading about them.

By the way Brit had great posts about character last week go check them out.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Over Stuff or Under Inflate

I have a conundrum.

Since I've finished my current project, at least for the time being, I've started working on a couple of new projects.

WIP A: Is the second book to my current project (so far 15,000 words)

WIP B: Completely new book with new characters and plot (so far 5,000 words)

Sometimes the words flow like melted butter on popcorn. yesterday I wrote 2000 words in an hour. Other days I feel like I'm just throwing words on the page and hoping that later on I'll be able to put them together.

Having not written a first draft in a while, I think I've created a habit, which I'm not sure is a good one or a bad one. I'm finding I use a lot of brackets as I write. Things like (add description here), (expand more), (research this), and (check details).

For WIP A I think I have too much going on; too many plots and sub-plots. I’m finding it hard to balance it all. I'm not sure what to keep and what to get rid of.

For WIP B I have a better handle on which direction I want it to go. I'm not using as many brackets.

So here’s my question: Is it better to put in as much as you can on your first draft and cut later or write the bare minimum and add.

What do you think?