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


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


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?