Sunday, January 31, 2010

First Looks Can Be Deceiving

So I've needed to paint my house for about eight months now. Last April I fixed all the holes in the walls, but it's taken me this long to pick a paint color. Originally I had a medium brown with a burgundy feature wall, which I really like. But I thought since we have to paint anyway let's try something different.

I picked out European White, a green feature wall and a desert gray for downstairs. Last week I started painting. I put the first coat on downstairs and nearly cried. I thought it looked awful. It was way more green than I thought it was going to be. My husband, bless his heart, thought it looked great and would look even better when we got it all done.

I left the downstairs and started upstairs. I got out the European White and started painting the wall. After my first brush strokes, I put the roller down and all I could think was "What Have I Done." It was so bright and white. I was used to the darker browns. I hated it. Then my friend came over and said, "I love the green, but this white. I'm not too sure about that." I was heart broken.

My husband, once again, thought it would look good, so I continued to paint. All Thursday night and all day Friday I painted. I have to say that after a couple of coats the European White is growing on me. It just needed more layers.

I think you all know where I'm going with this. Lots of times when I write that first draft I stop and bang my head on my desk and think, "What have I done.", but I continue on. I put more layers on and fix the streaks. In the end when all of the layers are done and all the mistakes are fixed I hope to have a nice wall and a new looking house.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What I need to do today?

Today I need to not be afraid of change.

Today I need to believe I can do it.

Today I need to write some new words.

Today I need to exercise.

Today I need to finish reading my book one more time.

Today I need to read with my daughter.

Today I need to write a query letter.

Today I need to have a hot bath.

Today I need to wear my glasses when I'm on the computer.

Today I need to finish reading my crit partners book.

Today I need to paint.

Today I need to say 'Yes I can' instead of 'There's no way'

Okay wait, I just read through my list again, what I really need is more time.

I think I'll change this post to What I need to do today or tomorrow or maybe next week.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A contest

We interrupt this blog for an exciting new contest.

Have you finished your novel? Do you think it's totally awesome? Then I have a contest for you.

Mary Kole at Kid is offering potential authors a chance at some wicked prizes. All you have to do is email her the first 500 words of their book.

That's right just email her the first five hundred words of your novel before January 31st.

Grand Prize Winner: A 15 page critique
First Place: A 10 page critique
Second Place: A 5 page critique
Third Place: A 2 page critique
Honorable Mention(s): A critique of the first page of your novel

What are you waiting for, just push SEN
D now.

***Please note this contest is only open to MG and YA books. I may or may not have mentioned all contest rules. Please check Mary's site for more details. If you have not finished your novel don't enter. If you don't think it's very good don't enter. Contest results may vary.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of the Parents

In order for YA characters to save the day, slay the beast, or kiss the boy, parent supervision must be at a minimum. A lot of YA authors employ one plot device or another to get rid of the parents, here are some of my favorites.

1. Make all the adults disappear (actually haven't read this book yet, but it's sitting on my bookshelf), but I thought it was a great way to get rid of all adult supervision.

2. Parents get killed by an evil wizard, forcing main character to live with an aunt and uncle, who make him sleep in a closet.

3. Set the book during a war, and send the kids off to the countryside to live with a crazy uncle who owns a trippy wardrobe.

4. Make the kids orphans with an older brother who has to look after them, but make sure the kids have cool names like Sodapop and Ponyboy.

5. Have parents bitten by zombies

6. One parent dies and the other becomes emotionally unavailable leaving child to a)take care of other siblings or b)fend for herself with very little adult supervision.

7. Both parents die and child goes to live with work alcoholic aunt, who lives child alone a lot.

8. Child goes to live with other parent to give her mom time with new husband. Father works a lot and doesn't really know how to talk to his child, but gives her a really nice truck. Okay maybe not a nice truck, but it's still more than I got at 17.

9. One parent is murdered and in order for them to stay in the same house the other parent has to work at a job that takes them out of town a lot just to pay the bills.

10. The parents are mad scientists who spend all their time in their basement working on scientific experiments that may or may not include giving their daughter super powers.

10a. Main Character does something horrible and the parents disown him (my next book)

Feel free to add your favorite way to get rid of the parents or guess what books mine came from.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do you ever wonder?

Do you ever wonder if a day will come when you get your chapter back from a beta reader and they say, "brilliant. I wouldn't change a thing."?

Do you ever wonder if you'll ever be able to say without a shadow of a doubt that it's ready?

Do you ever wonder if you'll ever be able to write a chapter without using the word "look"?

Do you ever lose sleep thinking about what you say on your blog?

Do you think that you could be a millionaire if you invented a pill to put your kids to sleep without harming them?

Do you ever look at the list of things you have to do and just go to bed?

Do you ever get tired before 9:00pm and want to go to bed even though your kids are still up?

Can you tell I haven't got much sleep this week. I hope to catch up on the weekend, but with 9 gallons of paint sitting in my basement and a book that's screaming to be done, I don't think that's possible.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I'll be painting, editing, and reading, along with watching four basketball games.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are you a reacher or a settler?

On Monday night when I had just settled down to do some editing my son ran downstairs and told me he need my computer for his homework. Unfortunately that took precedent over my writing, so I went and watched "How I Meet Your Mother". During the first ten minutes an interesting theory popped up.

I can only find this crappy video that cuts the scene off, but if you interested it starts around 2:40

Anyway Marshall thought his wife would be jealous when she saw that he was working with a beautiful woman, but she wasn't.

Cut to scene:

Marshall: She wasn't jealous at all.

Ted: Of course she wasn't jealous. That's the whole dynamic of your relationship.

Marshall: What's that suppose to mean.

Robyn: It's like this my man. Every good relationship has a reacher and a settler.

Ted: Exactly one person who reaches for someone out of their league and the other one who settles before there's.

Marshall: I did not settle for Lily.

Awkward glances ensue.

Marshall: You think I'm the reacher!

What does this have to do with writing. Not a lot, but it sure was funny.

In a way writing is about reaching and settling. Except in this case being the reacher is a good thing. We are constantly reaching for that perfect word, sentence, paragraph. Wanting to do better than we did the day before.

Sometimes I'll think I can't write that scene any better. In my head I'm saying I know it's not the best, but it's still good. Then I leave it for a few days and lots of times when I come back to it better words seem to pop into my mind or I'm able to put the scene together better.

Does this ever happen to you?

I hope we all do a little reaching today and not settle for an okay scene or an alright sentence. Reach then reach some more and then reach a little higher.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rewrite or Edit

Many moons ago when I finished the first draft of my book I began to do some research on how to go about editing it. I came across this little piece of advice.

So you've written a novel. Congratulations. Now put it aside and write it again.

My eyes bugged out like a cartoon character on Looney Tunes and a big WHAT went off in my head like a siren. Were they crazy? Why would anyone do that?

Now that I'm old and wiser and a little more experienced I still think it's crazy advice. No, actually I don't. While I don't know if I would actually rewrite a novel from memory without ever going back to my first draft, I do see some benefits of rewriting sections from scratch.

Too often I find myself trying to intermingle new words with old, forcing them to work together. I push and I shove like a child trying to put a square block into a round hole. When all I really need to do is say good bye to that sentence and start fresh.

This weekend I rewrote the first three pages of my book. I had received some advice that made the light bulb go off over my head. It was definitely an A-ha moment. So I re-wrote some sections from scratch, and combined those sections with older ones. Hopefully now I have a better opening.

What about you? After your finished that first draft have you ever considered rewriting the whole thing or do you mix the new with the old?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Trailer for The Body Finder

Check out contest and trailer for Kimberley Derting's book The Body Finder. I can't wait until this one comes out.

I'd post the video here, but for the life of me I can't figure out how to do it. Brain Freeze, so go check it out on Kimberley's blog.

So exciting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is there an Echo is here?

Echoes are my nemesis. For some reason I like to use the same word over and over again. Lots of times it's just for one scene. Like the other day I was editing and I had used the word branch like seven times in two pages. First I highlighted them all then I went through to see if I really needed that sentence or if I was just repeating myself then I found other words for branch.

After I made my changes I used the Victoria read back feature and had the computer read it out loud to see if it still made sense.

I also seem to use the words; looked, turned, walked, around and only a lot. In my current WIP I'm trying hard to avoid these words all together. I had a friend tell me she allows herself two looked's per chapter. I've been reading a lot lately on choosing good verbs and I've been trying to do that with my current project. And when I read books I've been noticeing the verbs that other authors use.

I guess I just need to expand my vocabulary.

What about you? Do you have a hard time with echoes?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting your butt kicked

So this season of soccer has been abysmal. I hurt my knee in November, so I've only played two games this season and the chances of me playing anymore are slim to none. It's been hard not being able to participate. You lose a little bit of camaraderie with your team mates since your not there to experience the same things they are. I have to watch every game and I'm not able to attend practices.

What's even sadder is that we're getting our butts kicked. I mentioned back in September that we moved up a division and I had high hopes for us. Well we're not doing so well. We've played nine games and we've only won one. Worse is that we haven't even scored in the other eight.

It's been hard to watch, BUT and this is a big BUT, I still wish I was playing. Even though we're getting out played and it's a little demoralizing. I would do anything to be on the pitch kicking a ball with my friends.

The same goes for writing.
Writing is hard. There are times when you stare at a blank screen for hours not knowing what to write. Only to later spend hours, days, and weeks rewriting what you had already spent hours, days, and weeks writing in the first place. Then there's the critiquing process where what you think what you've written is wonderful only to find out that it isn't. And finally rejection, which can sometimes be demoralizing. But even though writing is tough and sometimes I feel like I'm getting my butt kicked, I still want to play.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A new reader

I officially have a new reader. Her name is Victoria, she's around 35 and has kind of robotic sexy voice.

Yes, I've discovered how to make my computer read the words I've written. Since I don't particularly like the sound of my own voice, plus reading 80,000 words makes the throat a little raw, this feature has been great. I can highlight a page and listen as she reads my words back to me. I've figured out that I use "said" way too much, so I've been able to fix some dialogue tags. I also find echoes a lot easier. Spotting spelling mistakes is a piece of cake as well as awkward sentences.

I remember someone saying, I think it was Lady Glamis saying that she was going to get her husband to read her book to her, which I had never considered before. And although my husband is wonderful, I don't think he would enjoy reading my book to me.

The voice does take a little getting used to, but once you do I don't know what I'd do without it. Plus when she tries to read an Irish dialect, it's quite funny.

Question of the day: Do you use liquid or crystal dishwasher soap? I know it's totally unrelated to writing, but I was just wondering.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

When nothing good ever happens?

I used to watch the show Hereos. I know it's a hard thing for me to admit, but its first year was really good. The characters were great and the storylines even better. I found myself routing for the characters and wanting them to find love, success, and happiness. But no one ever did. Yes it's good to have tension, problems and dire circumstances, but eventually that's all the show was about. I got sick of watching people die and suffer all the time.

There has to be little snippets of something good to keep the readers wanting to read more. (At least that's what I think)

Today I read a review of a book that made me think.

The author's luminous prose never falters, he's a master. Alas, the same can't be said for the reader's emotional investment.

No matter how well we write, if the reader doesn't want to read the story no amount of excellent sentence structure will solve that. I think we need to balance the perils of our characters situations with a little humor, love, and happiness.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You like me. You really like me.

I have been amiss at acknowledging a few awards that have been sent my way.

Today I remedy that.

First: Dawn Simon

10 honest things:

1. I like watching sports on tv for which my husband is eternally grateful
2. I love chocolate
3. I have the greatest husband in the world
4. I don't have a favorite book
5. I eat Fibre One cereal almost everyday
6. I can't decide if I would use a laptop or not
7. I already broke my resolution and bought two books yesterday
8. I adore my children even when they're driving me nuts
9. I love Kris Allen
10. I'm terrible at making decisions. I've needed to paint my house for six months and I still can't decide on a color.

Next: Tina Lynn
I don't have to reveal anything about myself, which is great.

Thanks Tina

I give these two awards to anyone who comments on my blog because you're all totally wicked.


Natalie Bahm. Before Christmas she had an awards extravaganza, which I felt privedged to be a part of.

I give this award to Jessie since she was my first blogging buddy and just had a baby.

Finally, Kasie

I give this to Susan because her blogs are totally awesome! (Yes I used an exclamation mark)

That's it, told you I was popular.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back in the Saddle

The Christmas break was truly a time of relaxation. The kids slept in until 10 or 11 every day. I worked out a couple of times. Went to a couple of movies (Avatar and Sherlock Holmes - both good). Watch DVD's at home (Star Trek and Harry Potter), read a book (unfortunately it was the one my son is reading for school, so I could help him with homework, but it still counts as a book). I ate what I wanted with no guilt, except an occasional upset stomach. We visited with family and friends. Went skating, sledding, and shopping (my favorite of the three).

I barely looked at the computer and I didn't do any writing just a little revising.

Now we're back to reality. We have to wake up early tomorrow to go back to school and work. The kids will have homework and sports. I have a house that is in sore need of renovations and I still need to write. Scheduling my time and not wasting it will be imperative.

So I'm ready to focus and make 2010 a great year.

2 goals: a) find agent b) write another book

Let's get back at it.