Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Puppy

My family has a new member gathering around the tree this year(hopefully gathering, and not trying to eat the branches.) Meet Trudy, the puppy we adopted. She is a sweet little five month old Blue Healer mix.

I was worried about bringing a new puppy into the family. My husband and I had discussed the possibility of a puppy several times in the past, but always managed to say no. We have an eight year old lab, who is such an angel (most of the time) we knew we were spoiled, and two cats who rule the house, so bringing a puppy in could disrupt everything. But, we couldn't pass up this little girl. (It was a very thought out decision which included a long talk to the foster mom and the adoption service, and spending a couple hours with Trudy before we finally decided to bring her home.

So far, her joining the family has been a relatively seamless process. She is a silly but shy little thing who has yet to grow into her feet. My adult lab greeted her enthusiastically when she first arrived--then he realized she was staying and promptly began to ignore her. Considering she really, really wants to be his best friend (or at least cuddle with him) that didn't go over to well, but they are working it out. This morning they actually played together during their morning walk. The cats haven't been as enthusiastic about the puppy's arrival. My littlest one watches her from the landing, but currently has decided she is a strictly upstairs cat (where the puppy can't go.) I'm hoping she comes around.

Well, from my family to yours: Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Crisis of Craft

I think it happens to everyone once in a while. No matter how much we love doing something, despite any positive feedback we receive, and regardless of how long we’ve been practicing, some days everyone feels like they fail. We all stumble through it—a crisis of faith, or for me currently, a crisis of craft.

I have now written several books, sold one, and garnered a request on another. Once Bitten was my first book, and was so heavily edited that barely a word was left unchanged between the first draft and the manuscript which sold. Since then it has gone through a couple more major revisions with my editor’s input. After all that, you would think I could get through the 2nd draft of my current work in progress.

It should be a snap, right? I mean, the book is already written, I just need to make sure it says what I really think it says. And I need to further layer the world building and sensory details. And add two characters who weren’t in the first draft. And plug some major plot holes. And . . .

Yes, those bloody impressions in my forehead are in the shape of my keyboard, thank you.

Somewhere along the line, I got a little overwhelmed recently. Maybe it is just everything going on. Needless to say, I know I can get through this draft. I do. I’m just . . . struggling.

Struggling so badly I started questioning my ability to write. Had I written myself in a hole? Maybe I needed some guidance, or to dig in and learn something new about craft that I *must* be missing. So, I went to the library and picked up a bunch of craft books, and read about five of them over the last couple days. What did I learn?

That I’ve read a lot of craft books.

It is a rare book on writing that presents new information. Not that I’ve mastered everything—far from it—but most of the craft book I’ve read recently all seems to run over the same ground. Some books are a little more informative, or maybe I just read them earlier, but here is a list (in no particular order) of my favorite craft books:

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

Goal Motivation Conflict by Debra Dixon

Don't Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roedren

Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham

Okay, there are a few more, but that is a good list. If you are a writer, what are your favorite craft books? If you are not a writer, what kind of 'crisis of faith' type situations have you been in recently? How did you pull yourself out of them?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A New Look

Thanks everyone who emailed answers and opinions to my last post! I asked if I should split up my art and my writing, and the overwhelming response was to keep them on one site. So, having taken that into consideration, I've toned down the fine arts bit and splashed my book cover around.

For the design, I was going for something dark and edgy, but I think it turned out a little drab. That being the case, the site you see now is a work in progress. Hopefully in the coming days, I'll come up with something more...interesting? dynamic? colorful?

For those wondering about the cemetery image in the banner, I'll tell you a little bit about it. I took a series of photos while I was in New Orleans four years ago. This weekend I blended my favorite photos and created the image you see above (yes that is actually four different images. If you pay close attention to the angles, you can probably tell.) I like the banner, but I think it might need a little more color.

Any suggestions for the site makeover?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

On Secret Identities and Split Personalities

It has been a over a year since I last changed my web/blog layout, and with the looming release of Once Bitten, I think it is time for a makeover. With that in mind, I am facing a dilemma: do I separate my art from my writing?

Writing and painting are different parts of my life. I am pursuing writing as a career while painting is a hobby. Both tend toward fantasy, but if I am presenting myself as a professional writer should I showcase amateur artwork in the same space? Or should I have a site dedicated solely to my writing and a totally removed site dedicated to my art?

What do you think? Is it interesting to know a writer's hobby, or is it best something kept separate?

Thanks for you input!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another year, another NaNo

I didn't blog often about NaNoWriMo this year, but I completed the challenge for the fourth time. That said, I can't claim to be particularly proud of my accomplishments. While I am excited about my WIP, my attention was so scattered among other writing endeavors that what I accomplished was not of much value. So, I'm flashing my winner badges with a torn heart this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day

Hey everyone!,

I know I’ve been a very sporadic blogger recently, and apologize. As today is Thanksgiving, and a day we give thanks for many, many things in life, I wanted to extend a great big Thank You to everyone out there who reads this blog. I smile every time one of you leave a comment—it really does make my day.

So, Thank You for reading!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trailing Off . . .

Cross posted from the Tri Mu Blog.

I usually try to post craft topics to the Tri Mu blog, but I finished copy edits not too terribly long ago, so I’m in a technical mood—humor me.

This is probably something everyone already knows, but I didn’t until the copy edits came in, so I’ll share. Did you know that Microsoft Words default treatment of ellipses is incorrect?

For those unsure what an ellipsis is, Wikipedia defines it as “series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word or a phrase from the original text.” Fiction writers use it most commonly to indicate a character trailing off.

When writing in Word, the autocorrect option automatically shrinks an ellipsis into three tight little dots, so I always assumed that was correct. Apparently not. Once I received my copyedits, I learned an ellipsis has space between the dots . . .

For me, space period space period space period space is not a very natural thing to type, not to mention the spaces create the possibility the ellipsis can be broken over lines. These two issues make for a frustrated author. The good news for me (and hopefully soon for you,) is that fellow Tri Mu Darlene taught me a trick to make non-breaking spaces. (Yes, non-breaking spaces, isn’t that cool?) Then, to make things even easier, I figured out how to change the autocorrect feature to add these non-breaking spaces every time I type an ellipsis.

Yes, I’m going to share.

Non-breaking spaces: If you are using a PC and hold down SHIFT and CONTROL then hit SPACE you will create a non-breaking space. (You will probably have to turn on the formatting marks to see the difference.)

Correcting AutoCorrect: Select AutoCorrect Options from the menu. Under “Replace” type in your three periods like you would when writing and then under “With” use your non-breaking spaces to put in the correct . . . . Save. Now when you type an ellipsis it should automatically change to include the proper spaces. Easy stuff!

Well, I hope that helps! Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Off to a crazy start

Halloween has come and gone (and I already miss it--Halloween is a great holiday. Candy and Costumes. What's not to love?)

Me, being me, dressed up for work once again despite the fact I knew I'd be mostly alone in my costumed freakishness. I did actually talk one co-worker to dress up with me. Next year my goal is at least five. ^_^

After work it was off to hand out candy with my fellow Tri-Mus and watch some movies. Then, at midnight, NaNoWriMo began. I wrote only about five hundred words before heading home to get some sleep, but I was back at it the next morning.

Saturday night we celebrated our local kick-off. Attendance wasn't great compared to some other events I hosted already this season, but we had a lot of fun.

I plan to hit 5k tonight, so I'm plugging along. I could be writing faster, but I'm happy with my current pace.

So what is everyone else up to? Anyone have Halloween photo's to share?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The missing month

I can't believe it is the day before Halloween already. I swear I missed the rest of October somehow--maybe most of September too. I have been busy with two different writing projects plus hosting the first several events for NaNoWriMo. (A massive writing endeavor which begins in less than 48 hours. *gulp*)I'm not ready--there is still so much left to do before I say goodbye to October. Anyone know how to slow time (preferably while I'm NOT at work. ^_~)

Have a productive day everyone.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Excerpt Posted

I'm thrilled to say I now have an excerpt of Once Bitten posted on my site. If you would like to read the first few pages of the book, check it out here!

Happy Reading!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Needle in the Haystack: Research

(Craft post X-posted from the Tri Mu blog.)

From the title, you probably think I'm going talk about searching out elusive information. Maybe even where I like to look or my favorite resources. Well, I hate to disappoint, but I'm not talking about finding the needle in the haystack. I'm talking about hiding the needle.

Okay, just to be clear, in this instance, the haystack is a manuscript, and the research is the needle. Why in the world would we hide our research?

Well, quite simply, writers learn everything they possibly can about a subject (especially if they have a tendency to get hooked on research--and it is a great procrastination tool if you are not careful) but the reader does not want the story to stop as the writer informs them of all the cool stuff learned during research. They want to absorb the necessary bits and move on.

So why the needle metaphor? Surely the reader needs to know more than that?

Sometimes, yes. Many times, no.

For instance, in Once Bitten the main character can pick locks. When I started writing this book I knew only the obvious about locks: that the ridges on the keys matched up with something inside the lock. Not so helpful. I spent many, many hours online reading wikis and "how to" guides about locks and lock picking. I learned about the pins inside locks (the average house lock has a double row of 6.) I learned about different picks, the obligatory tension wrench, and different methods for manipulating pins. I've never held lock picks, but, in theory, I have a pretty firm idea how to go about picking a lock. (I'm obviously hitting only general points here because well...this is not a paper on lockpicking. ^_^)

What happened to the information I gathered from my hours of research? I used it in about three lines of the manuscript. That's it. Just enough to establish credibility and be clear to the reader.

How much is too much, too little? That is a tough one, and one of the values of critique partners. If they get confused, you need more. If the scene drags, it's time to cut. After all, you don't want to throw an anvil in your haystack--an info dump will blend in about that well. So, dig in and do your research. Then refine it to the finest, sharpest needle, and hide it nice and deep in your manuscript. Your reader will thank you.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ANNOUNCEMENT: Release Postponed

Well, I found out the other day the release of Once Bitten is being postponed by a month. I'm not exactly shocked by this news--my publisher planned to break speed records to get the book out this season, but the process takes time (and a second set of revisions slowed things down.)

So, it will be a couple more weeks before the book hits the shelf. (Which means more weeks for me to be jittery and stressed.) I'll post the official date as soon as I have it. Be on the lookout!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

First NaNo event come and gone

October is slipping away (far too quickly in my opinion) so my Co-ML and I hosted our very first Pre-NaNoWriMo event last night. We decided to do three pre-nano events this year: Noveling 101, a Plotting Bash, and a Creativity Kicker. Last night’s event was meant to be an informal discussion over dinner, so both my co-ml and I typed up hand outs that were supposed to just be general stuff to help guide the talk. Vikki wrote a short concise little hand out which, if you are interested, you can find here.

I, on the other hand, got a little carried away, and a little long winded. (This will not surprise any long time blog readers.) Since I typed it up, I thought I would share it here on the blog. So, enjoy! (or skip it, as it is long.)

Noveling 101

A General Overview of What to Consider When Writing a Novel

Before being writers, we are readers, and as readers we absorb a lot of the necessary components for writing a novel. We know a good story when we read one, and, since we are all here to write, we probably all have a good story to tell. The trick is to take that idea for a story and translate it into words on a page. I think that, as readers, we intrinsically understand many of the ‘rules’ of storytelling, so my goal with this handout is to help bring these rules/components to the front of your brain. Then, I want you to ignore all of it and just write freely through NaNo. Come December you might be surprised to discover how many of these ‘rules’ you followed without concentrating on them.>
The Basic Story Components of a Novel:
  • A beginning, a middle, and an end (Typically in that order, but not always.)

  • A problem or obstacle that must be overcome

  • Characters who are forced to grow and change by the conflicts presented by that obstacle

  • A place/world/time for this action to happen and your characters to interact in

The Basic Technical Components of a Novel:
  • Scenes

  • POV

  • Tense

Okay, those are very basic lists, and there is a little overlap, but I think this is a good spring board to start from.

If you already have a story idea, you probably have at least a general notion of who you’re writing about (character) the world that character will be in (setting) and what your character will be doing (plot) but lets explore these components in a little more depth.

PLOT is all of the action and progression of your story. Your main plot is the big goal/problem/obstacle of your story. Conflict should drive the plot and must challenge the character(s) so he/she is forced to progress through stages to be overcome (if your character overcomes) the issue. [If you are writing a mystery, the main plot is the detective’s journey to discover ‘who-dunnit’. In a romance, the main plot is the evolution of the relationship between the hero and heroine. In a fantasy, the main plot might be the steps of the character’s quest to XX. ect.] Plots should arc, starting with the inciting incident, leading to rising tension that keeps growing up to the black moment and climax and then tapers down into the resolution. (More on this at the plotting bash)

CHARACTERS are the people on your written stage. You will likely have only a couple main characters (or only one) and several supporting characters. How do you decide who are your main characters? Well, ‘screen time’ will be a major indicator, but also your main character(s) is the person whose story you are telling. Your plot and character should be so intertwined, that the conflict drives him to move, to act (and act he does. A character should be proactive, not only reactive, to the events of the plot.) Characters need to be properly motivated to move through the plot and the stakes must be big/personal enough that he can’t just walk away from it.

SETTING is where and when your story is set. For this general discussion, it is also the rules of the world your characters are interacting in. You might be thinking this only matters to fantasy writers, but do give thought to your setting. A small town verses a big city effects everything from how your character gets around to how many people she passes on the street she knows. Also your characters perceptions of what are around them can create great characterization while setting your world solidly in your readers mind. Also, setting can set the tone, mood of your story.

On to the more technical parts of story…

SCENES are the building block of your plot. Think of them as snapshots of the story. Each scene is like a mini story and should contain change. If something about your character, their goals, or their knowledge base hasn’t changed, the scene hasn’t accomplished anything. Good scenes should grip the reader and hold on forcing the character on with new goals or leave them with only bad choices that have to be made. That said, good pacing includes a releasing and tightening of that tension periodically throughout the story. (Think of your reader as a rubber band, you can only pull them so far before they snap, and you don’t want that snap to occur until the black moment/climax, so you give them a little slack here and there) There is no ‘perfect’ pacing technique or trick to learn it. Certain things will help slow down or speed up pacing: (and this is not a complete list, just things I remember from classes I’ve taken)

To slow down pacing use:

-Humor. It breaks tension and thus will slow down pacing

-introspection or long passages of description

-longer sentences.

To speed up pacing use:

-shorter sentences. This will create a fast rhythm to your writing.

-More white space on the page. Pages will literally turn faster.

-Less description and less introspection.

POV is probably one of the most discussed and debated topics in the writing loops I belong to. POV, which stands for Point of View, refers to who the story is filtered through.

- With 1st person pov the story is told completely inside the head of the character using the pronoun ‘I’. This is a very immediate POV, but the reader can only see/know what the view point character knows.

- 2nd person pov is not in common use currently, but think choose your own adventures in which the reader is addressed directly. This can be a very jarring POV.

- 3rd is probably one of the most common POVs. It uses the pronouns he/she and think of it as a camera lens, zooming in and out. It can hover around one character’s head, making it her POV despite using ‘she’, and occasionally dipping into her head for a deep POV. Or the camera can be pulled very far back, giving us and omniscient POV.

If you are writing from multiple characters’ POV, it is a good idea to use only one POV per scene (point of contention) to avoid head hopping and jarring the reader. If you are trying to decide which character the scene needs to be written from, try to figure out who has the most at stake, the most to lose, in the scene—that will typically be your guy.

TENSE is simply whether you are writing in present or past tense. This has to do with your choice of verbs. (He ran to the store. Vs He runs to the store.) Speaking of verbs, watch out for passive verbs, and for weak verbs like forms of ‘to be’ (which can’t be completely avoided, but 3 our of 5 times it is better to say “He sat” than “He was sitting”.)

Okay, this is getting very, very long, so I will wrap this up by repeating that this is all very general information, and now that you’ve thought about it—don’t worry about it. At least not in your first draft. Nano is about writing with abandon. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Best of luck in your first draft!

(**Note. There are exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure we can all name books that don’t conform to anything in this handout. Think of these rules as the pirates’ code—as in more guidelines than rules. Some rules are made to be broken, but make sure you break them intentionally and not from a lack of understanding.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Moonlight and Magnolias--the highlights.

I'm back from Moonlight and Magnolias, and wow, I had a spectacular time. I'm definitely going back next year.

What made it absolutely amazing? Well, there was the fact I learned a lot, at times, a whole lot. Margie Lawson's workshop on the deep EDITS system was a mind blower. I purchased the class packet several months ago, but I learned even more during the workshop. I also attended classes on setting, back story, and the hero’s journey which were highly valuable. I'm currently trying to apply what I learned in the hero’s journey class to my current WIP.

The value of this conference was more than just what I learned (also more than the bag of signed/free books I totted home, though you know, I’d never look down on that.) What made last weekend memorable was hanging out with so many other writers. At Dragon*con there were 40k people, but only a handful were writers, and me being the social wallflower I am, I didn't talk to too many of them. At M&M, there were probably 300 or so people, but writing tied everyone together. I also didn’t get the chance to hide in a seat and blend into the anonymous crowd like at Dragon, at least, not all the time. There were lots of social events, so I ended up meeting people at meals, sitting at round tables talking before workshops, discussing pitches with other writers, and then there was the dance. I saw writers from my home chapter, met several people in person for the first time from online chapters, and met new people I hope I’ll manage to keep contact with.

I wish I could list everyone I hung out with, but I’m horrid with names so I’m still working on tracking people down. To highlight just a few (but by far not all) I spent a lot of time with the talented Dana Lyons. Dana is a CRW chapter-mate I don’t see too often, so it was great seeing her at several events! I also ran into (read ‘was jumped by’ ^_~) the lovely Marcia Colette from my online elements chapter. It was tons of fun hanging out with Marcia, and I found out we have a lot in common. We belong to sister chapters that are not to far apart, so I foresee a daytrip in my future. Chudney, I met at M&M for the first time and I’m trying to find on facebook or myspace because I don’t think we share any chapters. Another elements member I ran into was Petrina. She was in my group at the pitch workshop, and her pitch was stellar. I except we’ll see her book in print soon. There were so many others, and everyone was friendly and great. I wish I could write a shout out to everyone, but I’m going to cut the list here.

Oh, before I wrap this up, one other big thing. Another highlight from the conference: I pitched (and garnered a request) from one of my dream agents! This was the first one on one pitch I’ve ever had and nervous is a major understatement of what I felt walking in there. I can only hope I didn’t make a total fool of myself, but she was super nice. I’m polishing up my submission now. Wish me luck!

Another weekend is upon us (and will hopefully be a productive time for me) so everyone have a great one!

[ETA: Tori, who I went with, has posted to the Tri Mu blog about M&M, and she actually has a slideshow of pictures!]

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Over Packed

Moonlight and Magnolia begins tomorrow, and fellow Tri-Mu Tori and I will be driving to Atlanta together shortly. I'm (over)packed, everything is loaded in the car, and I am now half an hour from my house and sitting in Tori's living room. And, besides blogging, what am I doing? I'm worrying about what I might have forgotten.

Over packing is not a trait common to me. I have a personal rule that I will only pack as much as I can carry in one trip, and I don't like being bogged down. I'm a master of rolling clothing, don't need a lot of accessories or upkeep products, like all purpose footwear, and my bulkiest items are typically my laptop and a stuffed tiger I sleep with.

That isn't the case for this trip.

I've never been to an RWA conference, and everyone I've talked to has reiterated the need to be professional every time I step out of the hotel room. I'm not sure how professional, so I packed my suits (which means a garment bag so they don't wrinkle--this had to be borrowed.) But what if a suit is over the top? I also packed business casual clothing. Oh and then there is the awards banquet, which means a cocktail dress.

My poor husband had to play fashion consultant with me as I packed. I'm not on top of fashion. I don't wear tennis shoes with dresses or anything, but I do wear a pair of beat up timberland boots with everything. Hey they are black and pant legs cover the laces--they look professional, right? Apparently not. My husband went through my box of (forgotten) shoes and matched them with outfits. This means I'm bringing four pairs of shoes for a three day conference.

Four. I didn't even know I owned four pairs of dress shoes.

I'm pushing the limit of what I can carry, luckily one bag is on wheels. I can only hope this over packing thing doesn't become chronic, and that in the mess of over packing, I didn't forget anything important.

Well, I'm beyond being able to double check. Time to stop worrying and get going.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll post an update on the conference when I come back.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About the Cover

Cross posted over at the Tri Mu blog.
I’ve had a lot of emails and several questions over on facebook about my cover. Did I design it? Do I know the girl on the cover? Does she look like my main character?

The simple answer to all the questions: No.

Here is the story about the cover.

Several weeks ago I opened my inbox to discover an email from my publisher titled “Cover Rough Draft”. Attached was a .jpg image that looked very similar to what you see now. I was invited to tell them if I loved it or hated it, and luckily I love it because that was the extent of my influence on the cover.
The girl doesn’t look like Kita, and the really cool iron lamp isn’t in the book, but I think the cover as a whole has a dark-edgy feel that I hope permeates the book.

So, that’s the story. Probably not the most illuminating tale, and I’ll be honest, just for curiosity’s sake, I’d love to see what other designs were thrown around, but I’m very happy with the cover, and I can’t wait to have a copy in my hands.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To bookmark, or not to bookmark

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about promo material. From my time working at a bookstore, I know most of it gets junked immediately if sent to a store. Bookmarks are the only thing to survive, and their effectiveness depends a lot on the store in question. Placed in books in genre, bookmarks might just earn a new writer a second glance. Typically though, bookmarks are placed on the counter where most the people who pick them up are interested only in the fact it is a bookmark and not in the book, or worse, the bookmark is stuffed in a bag—where it will likely stay.

Conventions, conferences, and signings are a little different. At Dragon*con the ‘freebie’ tables were covered in all kinds of things: postcards, bookmarks, flyers, fold out pamphlets, pens… Some were really cool. Most I would consider tossable (so I didn’t pick them up.) About the only thing I grabbed were bookmarks.

I like bookmarks. I’ve bought several books after staring at a bookmark in books I was reading at the time. Bookmarks work for me. (Meeting an author and talking to him/her works even better—I took home books by about everyone I liked at Dragon—but I’ve always thought bookmarks were nice.) Most other things end up as clutter and get tossed, but bookmarks are utilitarian. That’s just me though.

What gets your attention? What kind of freebies do you treasure picking up? Do you ever end up buying titles by the authors you find on freebies?

Thanks everyone for your opinions!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Case of the Busies

I am busy.

That about sums things up.

The last few weeks have been packed and the horizon looks just as chaotic. Once Bitten's release date is looming, though most of my work with the book is finished. Currently I'm neck deep in revisions again. I'm pulling apart my own words and trying to get them as tight as possible before the Moonlight and Magnolia conference. My edits were derailed by revisions not long ago, so *cross your fingers* I hope I'll be ready to pitch a new series while at the conference.

My schedule doesn't get any clearer after that. During October I have three big NaNoWriMo events I plan to hold this year: Noveling 101, a Plotting Bash, and a Creativity Bash, so I need to do prep work for those. I also need to break out my own plotting hat because I'll be starting a new story in a new world for the challenge. (At least most of the world building is done, but I have a dismal amount of it plotted and most of that is in my head.) Then of course, there is the challenge itself--50k in November. Plus parties and write-ins. Oh yeah, and Once Bitten will hit stores.

Busy, busy--though I'll be honest, I'm thrilled.

What is everyone else up to?

[ETA--okay, apparently I'm so busy I wrote this up and hit save instead of publish. *shakes head.* Better late than never, right?]

Friday, September 05, 2008

Once Bitten: Now listed on B&N for pre-sale

One of my fellow Tri-Mus just sent me a link to my book, now up for pre-sale at Barnes and Noble. I had no idea it would but up so soon, but Check it out!

*happy dance*

Thursday, September 04, 2008

ONCE BITTEN: Cover and Blurb

My publisher bounced around a lot of ideas for a title, and I’m super pleased with the final outcome of ONCE BITTEN . Because good news is plentiful today, I have been given permission to share the cover image. (I saw it right before leaving for Dragon*Con, but I couldn’t share it yet.)

Without further ado, the cover and blurb for Once Bitten:

For the past five years, Kita Nekai has faded into the background of the human world, but when a rogue shifter begins littering the city of Haven with bodies, Kita's illegal status lands her on the suspect list. During a confrontation with hunters that she can't win, rescue arrives in the form of the mysterious Nathanial Deaton. Kita soon wishes it hadn't when his method of saving her leaves her undead. With only three nights to prove her innocence and a new liquid diet to worry about, Kita doesn't want to deal with her infuriating rescuer or the ghost from her past who is determined to drag her back home. But, she needs help if she's going to stand any chance of survival.

So, what do you think?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back From Dragon*Con

I’m back from Dragon*con, and while I’m tired, and need to get some serious work done on my revisions, I’m very glad I went. I listened to, and talked to, a dozen or more authors this weekend, not to mention all the other avid readers I had the opportunity to discuss my favorite books with. I don’t have a lot of time to write as much as I would like about Dragon, but here are some highlights:

--Larurell K Hamilton getting on her soap box about the fallacy of ‘one perfect person’ because a romance writer on the panel insinuated Anita Blake’s character relationships were not about emotion.

--Signed books (need I say more)

--Meeting my publisher.

--Watching the businessmen and innocent mall attendees staring at the crazy cosplayers. In the same vein, walking down the tubes connecting the hotels and passing Darth Vader and a troop of Storm Troopers.

--Discovering two bands I’d never heard of: Voltaire and Cruxshadows

--Talking to Rachel Caine (and too many more authors to list here.)

There was so much more, from dances to informative and fun panels, but I have to run.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


(x-posted over at the Tri Mu blog.)

Dragon*Con is approaching quickly, and I’m excited and nervous (a common state for me recently.). This is not my first big convention, but this is one of the very biggest fantasy conventions in the states, and it will be my first time attending. The con will be full of stars, writers, artists, and fans. There will be pirates, klingons, fairies, anime kids, and dozens of other fans stretching across the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Several writers I adore will be attending—which means I need to pack books to be signed (I must remember that this time, unlike when I went to concarolinas.) My editors will also be there.

I’m left unsure what roll I play—which will make packing a neat trick. I’m typically the type to dress up at cons. After all, any excuse to go in costume is a good excuse, right? But, I’ll be following the writers track, and I’m told most don’t dress up.

Do I dress up anyways?

I’m really not sure yet. I might not decide until I get there. The only thing I know for sure I’ll be bringing is my work—my revision letter came in and I have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in.

Well, it is time to start packing. I’ll take pictures and actually post them this time. If you are going to be at Dragon*con, look me up.

Have a good Hump Day everyone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Author Photos: We have a clear leader!

The poll is still open for another hour, but unless several dozen new people vote, option 2 is the clear winner with 54% of the vote in the poll and the majority in comments and emails. "Friendly and approachable" is clearly the way to go.

I'm a fan of options, so I've decided to let my editor decide between the top two choices, but runner up is a little harder to determine. Option #6 has a marginal lead in the polls over the next closest(14% total votes compared to 11%--both a far cry from the leader) but in comments and emails option #5 is a little ahead. Since #5 is a little darker and edgier (and I'm writing Darker Urban Fantasy) I think I'll send that one.

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to vote and/or voice an opinion! Currently there are 74 votes, over a dozen comments, and several dozen emails. Thank you all again!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Author Photos

Okay everyone, I need some help. I've been asked to provide an author photo which will first go on my publisher's website, and then will later end up in the back of my book. I took a couple dozen photos this weekend, and I narrowed it down to the following. Which do you think I should use?

Option 1 Option 2

Option 3 Option 4

Option 5 Option 6

So what do you think? I'm going to post a poll in the sidebar, but feel free to voice your opinion in the comments.
Thanks so much!

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's official: First Sale

I know, I know, I posted some exciting information in my post 'The Call' but withheld details. Well, I'm finally ready to share.

The short story: I sold my first book (and there was much dancing around the living room.)

The longer story: The call came in several days before I posted about it, but I wanted to be sure I was going to take the offer before I said anything. The funny thing is, I actually missed the call originally. Yep, you read that right. I MISSED THE CALL. I was at work at the time, in a meeting, so it wasn't until later I looked at the phone and noticed a call had come in from an area code I didn't recognize. So, I first found out about the offer by email, though a second call came later and I had the opportunity to talk to my new super nice editor. Still, I didn't want to say too much too soon. So what has changed?

My contract is signed and in the mail.

It's official, I'm being published. The book I've always referred to as 'DH' on this blog (I've already been told the title will change, so I'll post the full title once I know what it will be) has been picked up by Bell Bridge Books, the new fantasy imprint of Bell Books.

Look, it's my very first contract! It has my name on it, and the (tentative) title of my book. Two copies had to be signed and returned to the publisher; the third copy was mine. (That is Lady Ashe at the top of the screen wondering why I'm making such a fuss about paper.)

The book will probably be out in Spring 2009, but my editor said she has an opening a little earlier than that and if we break land speed records, it might be released sooner.

Now that the contract is in the mail, I've been told to expect a letter requesting revisions next week sometime. Things seem to be moving fast now...and slow...maybe it's the adrenaline?

Until next time, Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Because I'm all about last minute decisions, I have just today decided to attend DragonCon. Yes, that's right, the biggest Science Fiction Fantasy Con on this coast is 7 days away, and I decided today. It happens.

Long story short: a friend from college had to cancel last minute, so there was an extra ticket and a spot in a room up for grabs. Some other time that might not have been enough to motivate me, after all M&M is only a month away, but well... It worked (or at least I hope it will.)

So...Yippiee I'm going to DragonCon. The friends I'm going with won't be on the writer's track, so I'll probably be wandering around alone. If you'll be there, give me a shout. Maybe we can meet up sometime.

Watch for updates. I still have to tell you about The Call....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Call

Unpublished writers are always waiting for THE CALL. Which call would that be? The call from an editor, of course. The call telling them someone wants to publish that doorstop they wrote.

My call finally came.

More details soon... ^_^

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Finding the Time

Time is arguably one of the most valuable and scarce resources each of us have. We can only count the time that has past, never the time still to come, and while it could be argued that time is a renewable resource, as one minute continues to follow the last, we never truly know when the final minute will come, or what will pop up in the next moment and demand our attention. Everything in life vies for time: family, jobs, sleep, shopping, hobbies, ect. We each must value and balance the activities that consume our time.

If you are a writer, you have probably heard someone say something to the extent of “Yeah, I plan to write a book one day, when I get time.” If you haven’t heard a line like that before, walk around and tell people you are writing a book, I almost guarantee you will eventually hear it. This line is one of my personal pet-peeves. After all, when is there really ample time just sitting around to write a book? Retirement? Who wants to wait their entire life before trying something they think they want to do?

When I first got serious about my writing, I knew one of the keys to improvement was to write a lot, and write constantly. I found advice (I forget where) which recommended establishing a ‘writing ritual’—a dedicated time I set aside every day to write.

Okay. I could do that. Right?

I made it maybe a week. Then life got in the way. Work swallowed me whole, a family event was scheduled during my time, or maybe I was just too tired when I got home. Writers always say “You wouldn’t let life get in the way of showing up to work. If you were serious, you wouldn’t let it get in the way of writing either.” Which, is true enough—but so not helpful.

I tried to be flexible about my dedicated time; it didn’t have to be the same time everyday, just an unbroken hour or two, alone, without distractions. Still I wasn’t consistently making it to the computer. I was frustrated. Some days I might get four miraculous hours, but then days would go by where I barely had a break all day. What was I supposed to do? Were people right about that waiting for retirement thing?

Of course not.

Here is what I finally figured out: sometimes time has to be stolen. There are lots of lost minutes during the day. Waiting after work to meet up with the husband or the kids? Hey, it might only be a couple minutes, but add those up with the twenty minutes dinner is in the oven, and the half hour before bed, and suddenly you have a full hour of writing. It’s not all together, and it’s not necessarily quiet, but carry a notebook, and you might be surprised how many words you have at the end of the day. Realizing my time didn’t have to be all together helped me immensely, and my word count grew on that first book.

Over the last two years, I think I’ve forgotten what I learned way back when with that first book. Oh I still steal time, in my own way. I now pack my lunch and devote my lunch hour to writing every workday. Most of the time, I can write at least 500 words during lunch, on good days I hit around 1k in that hour. After work, if I have the time and energy, I try to devote a little more time to my writing, but if life gets in the way, at least I know I had that hour. For deadlines (even if they are self-imposed), that isn’t always enough. I’ve been frustrated recently with my lack of time, so I think I need to start looking for those wasted minutes once again.

When do you write? (or practice any other hobby/prospective career?) Do you steal time? Where do you find it? Or do you have a dedicated time? How do you protect it? I’d love to hear from you, so chime in.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What inspires you?

I know, I know; I talked about what inspires ideas in my last post. I promise, I’m not repeating the topic. No, this time I wanted to address what inspires a writer to write. Not what makes her drag her butt to the chair everyday—that’s a different topic—but what makes her need to write. What inspires her to get up early, stay up late, or miss returning to work on time because the words are pouring out of her? How does she go from scrapping the bottom of the creative well to being muse-touched?

Over the past couple years, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to many different writers. A question I always find interesting to ask (whether the writer is multi-published or still struggling to finish that first manuscript) is ‘What gets your creative juices flowing?’. I’ve received a lot of answers, so I thought I’d hit on a couple.

-Reading a Good Book This is something that works for me. There is nothing like reading a great book, and after the last page, thinking, “I want to write something that good.” If I’m in a slump, reading a book can often energize me and make me want to write even if I don’t know what to say. Possible Negative: once in a blue moon this backfires and I close the book thinking, “I’ll never be this good.”

-Reading a Bad Book This is one a fellow writer told me about. Not that she goes out looking for bad books, but anytime she reads one, she closes it thinking “I can do better than this” and it drives her to her computer. Possible Negative: thinking something along the line of “If this is published and it’s terrible, how bad must my stuff be?”

-A Writing Related Class/Lecture/Conversation This is a great one. I love learning something knew that pumps me up to go and write—and write better. Possible Negative: thinking everything you’ve already done is wrong and possibly unsalvageable.

-Pressure I know a couple of writers who absolutely thrive under pressure. Is a near impossible deadline looming? They are pumped and ready. Possible Negative: Stress.

-Reading Blogs This is one of mine. I lurk on several writers’ blogs. Not only because I want to know the current news on what they are releasing next, but because I want to silently celebrate with them when they accomplish things, and, I admit it, I want to read about their bad days. The days the characters stop talking or they have to cut entire scenes. The days nothing goes right. I want to read about how they overcome these things, but even more than that, the fact they struggle with the same things I do makes me think maybe I’m not doing everything wrong. It also reminds me that good writers are not demi-gods who magically churn out pages but real people. Possible Negative: time consumption. Reading blogs can quickly suck away writing time.

Well, those are just a couple I found interesting and/or use myself. I’ve also heard responses such as watching movies, going to concerts, and/or people watching. So what works for you? What inspires you? Recharges you? Locks you to your chair? Does it sometimes have the opposite effect?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From Everywhere and Plot Soup

X-posted over at theTri Mu blog.
Every time I’ve attended a session where an author opens the floor to questions from the public, someone inevitably raises their hand and asks “Where do you get your ideas?” These few words almost always produce a pained look on the author’s face, and even I have learned to cringe. Sometimes the author laughs it off, but when pressed to answer, she typically says, “Everywhere.” This answer rarely satisfies, despite its validity, and the author knows this, but how else can she answer and still have time to address other questions?

Defining an author as someone who has at least one published book and a writer as someone who has completed a manuscript but has not been published, I can only attest to the truth of the statement of ‘everywhere’ as a writer. Everything a writer/author sees, reads, and hears and everyone she meets gets thrown into the plot soup in the back of her head. Since that is such an unsatisfying answer, I’ll give you some examples of ‘everything/everywhere’ from the last couple days.

--My office was broken into over the weekend. While this is a distressing event, the writer part of me noted several things in an almost detached way throughout the cops arriving and doing their thing. Two big details that stuck with me: the CSI wearing bright purple gloves and the fact we had to clean up the fingerprint dust after they left. I tossed these details into the plot soup.

--Last night, when my family gathered for our weekly dinner, we were talking and my brother jokingly said, “You mean there were girls before highschool?” Definite plot soup material.

--Yesterday one of the grad students was in the hospital. Today he is out, smiling and exuberant. When asked about it, he says he has a prominent ‘dumb gene’. I think it’s more an excessive sense of adventure, but boy is he interesting—into the plot soup he goes.

--I was recently introduced to the music of Kerli, a young singer about to release her debut album. Her voice it dark and haunting, and the video for Walking on Air is very shiny. The emotions her music evokes in me? Tossed right into the plot soup.

--Sunday morning my Labrador chased off a coyote, and I dashed after him, trying to call him back. Oh yeah, and I was barefoot in a cloud robe. Plot soup.

--A friend sent me an article the other day about feet washing up on a Canadian shore. No other body parts, just feet. Weird. Plot soup.

I could go on, but these are a good sampling of the random tidbits from the last three days. They are all just little bits of this and that collected and stored away for later use. Everyday writers collect things that are tossed into the plot soup. There they simmer, mix, and change. When she needs an idea, a scene, a plot, a detail, or a character trait, she calls on that plot soup, dips in her ladle and pulls out what she needs. It probably no longer resembles what it went in as, and she shapes it to her needs, so the idea really is a product of everything encountered.

What tidbits have you added to your plot soup recently?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The First Time

[X-posted over at the Tri Mu Blog.]

The first time is always memorable. No, not THAT first time (get your head out of the gutter.) I'm talking about the first manuscript. The first time a writer decides she is going write a book, and she does. Day after day she returns to the keyboard to pound out the next word, the next scene, the next chapter, until she hits those two magical words 'the end.'

For some writers, this process may take only a few weeks, but for others it takes years. Some will attempt it many times, but for various reasons, not reach those two words on a novel length project. For me, the journey took years, and during that time I acquired a graveyard full of false starts and half finished stories that never went anywhere. Some of these stories were worked on only a short amount of time before being abandoned, others were labored over for three or more years before I finally gave up on them.

After years and years, the first book I finished took only three months to write. (first draft, of course.) Since that first manuscript, three to four months is typically how long it takes for me to write 'the end' on any given novel length project.

You might be wondering what changed. Did I finally find the perfect writing guide? No, but goodness knows I looked. In fact, I searched high and low, reading all the writing books I could get my hands on from the time I was twelve on, and every time I read a new guide, I learned something new, something I'd been doing wrong. That of course, meant I had to go back and edit the 20k or so words I'd already written. After all, how could I go on when I'd made mistakes? As I only wrote when the muse struck, this led to a lot of very polished beginnings to books that never went anywhere.

This ugly cycle is why most authors I've spoken to advise new writers to "write the first book in a void". What does 'the void' mean? It means you don't join a critique group, read lots of guide books, or join writers loops before the book is finished. Why? Because all of these things make you want to edit, and editing doesn't help finish the book. (**NOTE: This is just what I've learned and may not be true for everyone.) There will be plenty of time to fix a manuscript's flaws once the first draft is done, so write it first, and then edit. (Sure wish some of the guidebooks I read would have told me that.)

The other big secret I learned, and this one is arguably even more important, is that if you want to write, you have to write. Okay, yes that seems obvious, but did you see where I said for years I wrote only when the muse struck me? Meaning I wrote only when I was inspired, and when I was dry...well, lets just say I avoided the keyboard. When I finally got serious about writing and realized that sitting in front of my keyboard once a month wasn't going to get me where I wanted to go, I made a point to make writing a habit.

The first couple days were great. I had a new idea and enjoyed running with it. But inevitably, the dreaded writers block hit. Then I had to drag myself in front of the keyboard. Everyday (or at least most days out of the week) I forced myself in front of the keyboard. There were days I wondered why I was torturing myself, but you know what? It got better. The block broke, and I wrote like a madwoman, almost giddy with it. Of course, over the three months it took me to finish that first draft, I got blocked several times, and I learned I had to write my way out of it. Even if I only wrote a couple sentences, it was something, and eventually I would find my muse again. At the end of it, when I finally wrote "the end" for the very first time, I laughed out loud and then called my husband (who worked nights then) to let him know. It was a rush, and every moment I fought with words or characters--totally worth it.

Those of you who are writers with finished manuscripts, what was it like the first time you wrote 'the end'? What type of process took you to that point?

Happy Thursday everyone. I hope you've enjoyed this look into my writing past!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Because you have to love it

[Be warned, this turned into a very long post.]

If there is one benefit to being unpublished, it is the lack of a deadline. This frees a writer to experiment a little--to take chances she might not have time to take later in her career. (Not that time is ever overly abundant.)

This year (all five months of it thus far) has been full of exploration for me. The Tri Mu has had writing challenges most months which have ranged from writing in different genres to including very specific elements in scenes/short stories. Besides these short challenges, I've been working off and on a literary YA, but I haven't managed to really sink my teeth into the story for an extended amount of time. This project is an interesting one, and a big stretch for be because the story includes neither fantasy nor mystery elements, the two genres I'm most familiar and comfortable with. But, I was urged to write it by a non-writer who is very important to me, so I gave it a shot, and it will probably continue to come out in disconnected scenes.

I also took on another project which I thought would be tough but not a huge stretch. Tori, a fellow Tri Mu, challenged me to write a short story targeted at a certain romance line. No problem, right? I write UF and all the books I’ve completed contain romance subplots. How hard can it be to make that subplot the main plot?

I've struggled through a draft and a half of the story, and it has been a battle. Not because on any lack of ideas, but because while writing I felt confined. The story kept heading off in really fun directions, but I'd have to pull it back in line and remind the muse what we were writing (or trying to write.) All in all, it was a frustrating and exhausting experience.

Framing this struggle is the full length novel I’ve been working on. I finished the first draft of GW in March and began editing in May. Now I’m not going to say everything was rainbows and sunshine while I wrote the draft, or that there haven’t been days I dragged myself to the keyboard and then bashed my head against the scene after scene, but I’ll admit, GW has some sort of magic to it that the other challenges lacked.

What is that magic? Well, quite frankly, the fact I love this story.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m editing right now and some days I declare it the worst drudge ever committed to the page—and thank goodness for critique partners willing to help talk out the icks—but most days, I know this story is what I want to be writing.

The other projects I’ve been dabbling in have/had points of attraction, but I entered them halfheartedly. They weren’t the types of stories I love to read, and I knew starting out, they weren’t what I really wanted to write.

I was at a workshop recently given by Madeline Hunter called “The Romance that Writes Itself” and at the time I was still in the throws of battle with Tori’s romance challenge. I’d already tossed the first draft because I realized it had several glaring errors that made it a ‘sickly excuse for a romance’. I had started the second, and was getting closer, but as Tori and I sat there, listening and jotting notes on the worksheet, I finally looked at her and whispered “I know what’s wrong…I’m still not writing a romance.” Oh, I had a heavy romance plot in there, but the adventure plot was still the forefront.

This was a frustrating realization. After all, I read romance. I’m a member of RWA. I’ve been to dozens of romance workshops. Shouldn’t I be able to write one simple romance short story?

During the question and answer, Madeline said something that really stuck with me. Someone asked her which of her books was her favorite and she said “All of them. If I didn’t absolute love each and every one of them, I wouldn’t have been able to write them.”

I think she was dead on. It takes a lot of love to sit in front of the keyboard day after day. It also takes a lot of time, so you might as well be working on something you really love, really believe in.

By the end of the workshop (about 4 hours) I’d decided I loved my characters, I loved my world, and I loved my plot. I hated putting it in a romance box. So, this November (if not sooner) I’ll be recycling all I love about that story into an Urban Fantasy. It won’t be all that big a change, it kept trying to break in that direction anyway.

There is no wasted time in writing, because I honestly believe every word you write makes you a stronger writer, but I probably haven’t been the most productive. At the same time, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I want to write. I’m glad I had the time to dabble in other things, and there are a couple other stories I’d like to try my hand at while I still have time. But I’ve learned something really important. Writing is just too hard (or really too easy to not do) to not love what you are working on. You won’t love every word and some days nothing will work, but its important to find the subject/genre/characters you love, and hang on for the ride.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Should it end?

I read a lot of series in several genres, and many have hit double digits in number of books. I love series--particularly ones with the same main character in each book--because every time I pick one up it's like seeing old friends again. That said, I'm starting to wonder if series should end at a point.

Several of the series I read today, I first picked up when I was a teenager. Over the years, some have changed drastically, some not so much. Both these extremes have their own issues. The series that change drastically tend to push character growth and as the character reaches a peek, something new has to level them back out (lets not talk about paranormal sides where the MC ends up godlike because s/he keeps gaining new powers each book.) The series that don't change much, have much less character growth, and you can usually pick up the later ones in any order and and only miss some minor references. The middle ground is a little fuzzy and harder to find as each new book in a series comes out, in my personal opinion.

Of course, there is always a demand for the next book in a series. People like seeing the next adventure of their favorite characters. (And publishers love the reader loyalty) Harry Potter had a clear end, but people are still begging for a new book (to use one of the more famous examples.) So what do you think? When a writer starts a series, should she hope it gets picked up as a never ending series, or would you prefer her to have at least a vague idea of a series ending? Something she lays tiny stings down for throughout so it all ties up in the last book.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

U can has Laughs 4 UR Grammar

Admit it. You've been there. I can has cheezburger or a Caterday site. You've looked at the cute little animals with clever little captions because well, they make you laugh. (And if you haven't looked, you should, laughing is good for you.)

The problem becomes apparent when you think about the fact most people know grammar intrinsically, not factually. Things sound right to the ear. But if enough people use words/phrases incorrectly, they start sounding 'right' and are eventually adopted as slang, and after enough time, slang is adopted as an evolution of the English language. That's what a living language does--it evolves.

Since the advent of instant messenger, English teachers around the states have reported a rapid degradation of proper grammar. I occasionally have to remind myself that smiley faces ^_^ and *emotes* have no place in professional correspondences. That doesn't mean I don't receive them from other 'professionals' at work sometimes.

Caterday pictures take 'net lingo to a new level. The images are cute and funny, but if you read the forums, they are practically in another language--lolcats. In large chunks, this stuff is worse than l33t, or at least on par. But hey, for the most part, it's easy to ignore. Until you find yourself repeating it.

It starts out innocent enough. A joke among those in the know. When my husband is teasing me, I often look at him and say "But...I loves you!" (I couldn't find this particular LoLcat, but take my word for it, it's cute.)Or to tease him, I'll point to something and say "I can has that?". All good fun. Until someone outside 'the know' hears you. In the office the other day, the printer ran out of paper and one of the computer guys and I were verbally messing around. About the time I announced "You can no has paper" the chair of the department walked into the room. Oh yeah, he didn't get it.

So, tread carefully as you laugh. Grammar no iz good trade 4 lols.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Announcement: Tri Mu Blog

I have a very special announcement, the Modern Myth Makers blog has now officially launched. *pulls out the launch party-hats*

We are just doing introductions right now, but please stop over and learn about the other girls in my writing group. In the future we plan to do lots of writing related posts as well pass the plot challenges (where one writes a section of a story and then another has to pick up where she left off) and other fun little things. So, go on, visit, and don't forget to bookmark us. ^_^

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I did a ton of coding this weekend, like twelve hours with only a few breaks here and there. Of course, very little of it was on my own stuff (that cobbler's bare-footed children thing) though one of the projects I was working on is a very cool surprise the Tri-Mu will be unveiling later this week. At the end of the day, I was like, "well, I did all this, maybe I should update my poor neglected site. Like the links page, which has said 'coming soon...' for a year. And changing that photo my hubby hates...." So, I made a few updates, if you want to check them out. Nothing impressive, mind you, but progress.

It got me thinking. It has been about a year and two weeks since I built this layout. I'm wondering if its time for a change?

What do you think? Should I redesign the site/blog? Or do you like the current design and think I should keep it?

Thanks for the opinion! Happy Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hard Decisions

I've been silent for a couple weeks, and I apologize. Lots of stuff has been happening on my side, writing and otherwise. Among other things, I've recently been mulling over a very difficult decision. It's one of those things I don't want to jump into (or out off) blindly. That said, I think I've finally made my choice. Now just to take a deep breath and follow through with it. Wish me luck!

In other news, because I haven't updated recently, you'll notice I passed my short story 'goal' by about 1k. You might be thinking that means I wrote THE END.

Well, I didn't.

I realized after I hit the 15k point, and I was only about half way through my plot. So, I started looking at the main line because well, I'm pretty sure I could write longer. What I learned was that the story was way, WAY, off what either line wanted. (See what I get for trying to write outside my genre and targeting a line?) I seriously considered scrapping it after that realization, but of course, even when I give up on things, my subconscious keep working on it. Two days ago, when I wasn't supposed to be working on the short at all, I suddenly realized several major things I could change that would bring it back in line. Now I just need to decide if I should start over without finishing the first draft (a terrible backslide into bad habits) or keep working, pretending like I made the changes already (which might get really really confusing as these are drastic changes.) What would you do?

This post is starting to run a little long, so I'll tell you about Fast Draft next time. Until then...Happy Tuesday, and Happy Earth Day everyone!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


My self-imposed deadline for finishing my short story is fast approaching, and I'll admit, it's going to be a crunch. I want to write those magic words this Saturday, April 5th. I slowed down a little, not writing a word this past weekend, but I still intend to finish on time. If I don't, I'll have to put it aside and that will bum me out. No fun. Plus, deadlines are good for me.

You might be asking, what changes after April 5th? Well, April 6th is the day the Tri Ms decided to begin our first Fast Draft challenge, which pretty much guarantees two weeks of total writing insanity. I discussed doing a FD challenge once before, but those plans fell through, so I'm excited the Tri Ms decided to give it a shot this time. But, more on Fast Draft on a later date.

Today I'm talking about my short story, and on meeting deadlines. My current word total is 7,260 words. My goal, as close to 15k as possible (I'll give you a hint, I'm not worried about being low.) I would guess I only have about a third of my plot covered, and I've already hit the halfway point in wordcount.

Wish me luck!

Current Progress: Short Story
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
7,260 / 15,000

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

First Quarter Faves for 2008

It's been a while since I posted a 'what I'm reading' post, so I thought I'd do that today. I've been a bit more sporadic in my reading habits this year--probably due to several time consuming reasons, but I'm going to pretend I'm writing during what used to be some of my reading time. ^_^ I've also been pickier this year, and more of the books I read didn't make it to my 'great reads' list. I find the more I write, the more I pick apart books while I'm reading them, which annoyingly makes them less enjoyable.

So, I'm going to highlight three books I enjoyed immensely (not to belittle other books on my great reads books for this year, but I had to narrow it down to a reasonable number, so these are the three that stand out the most in my mind.) Without further ado --and in no particular order--my top picks out of winter 2008 books.

I think I mentioned Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, once before when writing on hooklines because this writer nailed it. She nailed the rest of the book too. It's a fast paced debut novel, and though it's heavy on the romance, there is plenty of action and outside tension to please fans who might not typically go for the romance genre.
I throughly enjoyed this book, was surprised by the ending, and am anxiously awaiting the next novel in the series, One Foot in the Grave.

The next book on my top pick list probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows my reading tastes well, but I'm listing it anyway. It is, of course, The Outlaw Demon Wails, by Kim Harrison. I won't say too much about this book because it is the latest in a growing series. What I will say is if you've read the previous books, but haven't picked this one up, stop dwadling. If you haven't started the Rachel Morgan series, the first book is Dead Witch Walking. Go, get it, read it.

The last book on my list comes with a disclaimer: this is a book that will have few wishy-washy opinions, people will love or hate it (as cliche as the statement is, it is still true.)
Happy Hour of the Damned, by Mark Henry, is like nothing else on the shelves. The writer, very intentionally, breaks every rule you've ever heard about writing: there is a several chapter long flashback; the reader is addressed directly, breaking the 'fourth wall'; and the main character is the ultimate anti-heroine. Oh yeah, and then there are the footnotes (I kid you not) and the directions to note side-boxes with information like drink mixes and music playlists.
The book is a reading experience to say the least, and I'll admit I got totally thrown out of the story dozens of times (footnotes will do that) but I highly enjoyed it. I'll admit, had I picked it up on a casual brows, I probably wouldn't have purchased it. But, I happen to like the author's web presence (yes, web presence sales books--I have proven that, lol) and it came recommended. I'm glad it did, and very glad I read it. I can't wait to see what Mark comes out with next.

Well, that wraps up my top picks for Winter 2008. As a side note, I'd also like to spotlight two books that will be coming out on April 1st. I can't say I'm recommending these books, as I have not read either yet, but both are sequels to books I read last year that were definitely in my top five books of 2007, so I have high hopes.

Rogue, by Rachel Vincent, is the second book in her Werecat series. You can find where I blogged about Rachel's debut novel, Stray, here.

The other book I'm anxiously awaiting which releases on April 1st is the third book in the Cassandra Palmer series called, Embrace the Night, by Karen Chance. After the first two books, I would really love to sit down with Karen and pick her brain on how she plots, and more importantly, how far ahead she plots. These books have a time traveling element, and during the second book, the reader (or at least I) picked up on subtle things that happened in the first book that were affected by events in the second, which is an awesome trick!

What books have you been reading recently? What books are you drooling over and wishing for longer excerpts while you wait for them to release?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Squirrel 3, Building 0

My work has a squirrel. Actually at first they thought it was a rat, then a squirrel, then a rat AND a squirrel, then they decided it was just a rat, and now it's a squirrel again. Confused yet? I'll back up.

Several weeks ago, one of the bigwig guys in my office discovered he'd had a nighttime visitor who hit his secret stash of junk food and left little droppings behind. The assumption was that a rat crawled under the door and squeezed into the drawer full of food. The pest control people were called. Traps were baited and set.

No rat.

In fact, not only did the traps not catch a rat, but there was evidence that something had been sitting ON TOP of the traps (they were enclosed). Also, foot prints were found on pipes in the room, indicating the perpetrator was coming from the ceiling.

Okay, not a rat, a squirrel.

More traps were brought in--bigger, 'live' traps. Still nothing. At this point, the guy was getting pretty upset with the lack of results, and the fact his NEW stash had been hit. (No comments about the fact the smartest thing to do would have been removing ALL food from the room. No food, no reason for the visitor to return.) Anyway, pressure was put on pest control to fix the problem.

The exterminator, a very nice lady who also works in wildlife rescue, went up into the ceiling to further investigate. She found evidence that a rat had been around recently, but the squirrel droppings were old, dried.

Okay, no more squirrel, back to the rat.

She put glue traps in the obvious path the rodent had been taking, and left for the night. The next morning, she discovered the traps scattered around the room. Our squirrel was back, but he only got one foot stuck, and apparently dragged the trap around the room until he got free. He lost a couple tuffs of grey fur, and a whisker, but he escaped.

No sign of the rat.

I feel rather bad for the squirrel. We are guessing he came in an open window one night, and now he's stuck in the building. So far he is winning, but for his sake, I hope he walks into one of the 'live' traps soon so he can be released back outside. We will see what happens--or maybe it will be a rat again. ^_^

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Writing Short

Last week, one of my fellow Tri Ms (Modern Myth Makers, the writing group that formed following NaNo last year) challenged me to write a short story targeted at a very specific line. I knew this would be something totally new for me, but as I had just finished my latest WIP, decided it would be a fun change of pace.

I think that was Wednesday. At that point, I had no idea what I would write about in specifics, but I had lots of ideas that had been on the back burner. Some were obviously not a good fit for the paramaters of what I was trying to write, but over the last part of the week, I knocked enough ideas together to start a spark, worldbuild a little, and get some idea who my characters were. I did not write a full outline, but I did jot down some very basic notes of what had to happen in the story for it to be, well, a story. With that, Saturday I began writing.

The word count goal of this story is 10-15k words. Now, as far as short stories go, 10k isn't that short. But, for me, to tell what I feel is a complete story, that is pretty short.

This story is written from two POVs and judging by the notes I made before I started, I'm guessing I will need ten or elven scenes to create a full story. Knowing that from the get go, I planned for each scene to be around 1k, give or take a few hundred words.

I've yet to write a scene under 2k. *sigh*

I get the feeling this story will end up under a very fine knife later. The good news is, this should teach me a lot about tightening and refining down to the essential story. It might be a bit of a painful lesson, but maybe a quick challenge is the perfect place for it. My plan is to finish the story, completely, by April 5th. Wish me luck!

If you read short stories, can you recommend a couple of your favorites? If you write short stories, what tips can you share about writing short?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fun with Comments

I'm neck deep in plotting a short story, but I'm not ready to say much about it, so I thought I'd share some of the Comments from the MS I just finished. Rachel posts her comments to her blog once in a while, and they always fascinate/amuse me, so I hope you find mine just as interesting.

The MS, which ended just under 80k, had a total of 158 comments. (For those unfamiliar with comments, they are a feature in word that highlights a section of text and puts a little bubble on the side of the page where additional text/notes can be written.)

Some random comments from the first couple chapters:
-"Find out the legal term for (place)"
-"When talking about (deleted) is (deleted) capitalized?"
-"Clunky" (referring to a paragraph I didn't like)
-"Look up shoes"
-"Did I give him a name earlier?"
-"This is the idea. Now rewrite it to make it work."
-"Long meandering description. Figure out what you want to say."
-"Where did the (object) go?"
-"How can I up the tension?"
-"What time was it when (deleted)?"
-"Make sure (character) didn't have a watch on earlier."

So...yeah. That's how I talk to myself inside my head too. A combination of reminders to look stuff up, either within the MS or actual research, and a little yelling at myself because I don't like the way words are landing on the page.

Who else leaves comments in their work? (Doesn't have to be writing related) What types of notes do you leave yourself?

That's it for me today. Back to plotting--I mean work. ^_~
Happy hump day everyone!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Well, after a very busy week and weekend, I finally got out those last few words and wrote, you guessed it THE END on my WIP. Granted, the word count came out a little lower than I expected for a first draft, (though only about 700 words less than I was projecting) but I know with the way I write, the second draft will flesh out what I wrote in this one. I also realized during the middle of the climax that I sort of forgot to kill someone (I know...how could I have forgotten something like that? But I did) so there are two scenes or so I didn't write, but I'll catch them in the second draft.

Final wordcount:
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
79,287 / 79,287

Now, I will commence in a little happy dancing, and then put this MS in the drawer a couple weeks while I work on something else. There are a lot of projects I've been thinking about, so I'm not sparse on ideas. The question is what to work on next? Isn't that a great dilemma? ^_^

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Those elusive words are around the bend

Let me start this by going ahead and splashing the progress meter up:

Current Progress: GW
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
74,824 / 80,000

As you can see, I'm just an inch above 5k from hitting the goal. Now I'll be honest, at this point I'm not sure if the first draft will end up a little over or a little under that 80k goal, but I'm thrilled to see such a tiny sliver left. I'm even more thrilled that I reached the climax scene while writing at lunch today. I was neck deep in the final confrontation between the MC and the 'bad guy' when the little 'ding' sounded reminding me to run (no time left for a casual stroll) back to work.

So, I know it won't be long now until I'll be writing those two little, elusive words at the bottom of the MS. I can't wait!

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Blurb it!

Today I want to talk about writing blurbs and pitches. Blurbs are used for many different things: they are included in query letters, pitched to agents/editors at a conferences, and some end up on book jackets. In all cases, the blurb serves the same purpose, to entice the intended audience into reading more.

Most blurbs are only a couple lines long, maybe a couple paragraphs at most, and they have a lot to do in that small amount of space. Each word counts, and should work toward introducing main characters and throwing out a plot hook strong enough to draw in readers.

I've written a handful of blurbs (that may or may not be any good) but all have been for 'first books'. A couple days ago, I had a chance to see my agent face to face, and she asked me to send her a blurb for the sequel to the book she is currently pitching to editors, so she can pitch it as a series with a little more authority.

My first thought was, "Hey, no problem. I can do that." After all, I have (a very rough) first draft of the book written. How hard could it be to write a blurb about it?

Very, from what I've found. I'm really struggling with this blurb. I'm continuing with the same characters and world as the first book, and the book opens just a couple weeks after the last chapter of the first book. What I keep running into is, how much needs to be said about the events from the previous story? Do I start it assuming the reader already knows the main character, or in one dynamic sentence or two do I bring the reader up to speed on the changes that occurred to her during the first book?

How much is too much, and how much is too little? I think that is the problem I'm running in to.

So, I want to hear the opinions of other readers. In published series, who do you think writes truly wonderful back cover blurbs? What do you like to see/read when you flip over a book in a series. What draws you in? What pushes you away? And of those reading who are writers What tips can you share about writing blurbs?

Happy Friday everyone!