Sunday, June 19, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Fifteen

As promised, we are now going inside Lilly Young's head, in a new scene that continues right after her visit to Lewis Hunter's butcher shop.  To read that scene in its entirety, click HERE.

I pulled in front of the hospital, to wait for Nick. Nobody asked me to move the Porsche, even though I had blatantly ignored the NO PARKING signs that decorated the entrance bay. When he appeared, moving swiftly towards the revolving doors, I felt momentarily plunged onto the runway of a fashion show.

Nicholas Blake made scrubs look elegant.

Even under the hospital's harsh lighting that reached out into the dusk, Nick was the picture of tall and handsome, but he wasn't dark. His face - his divine face - appeared starkly pale in the half light, almost ethereal.  

As always, be sure to visit the official website of Six Sentence Sunday to either sign up or follow the links to over one hundred "Sixes". 

Happy Father's day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Fourteen

Good day all!

Yes, this is SSS Episode 14...Because even though there was no official SSS last week, I still posted. Scroll down to the previous post to read Episode 13.  If you would like to read the entire scene from RESET from the beginning, click HERE.  You'll have to scroll all the way down through the "older posts" to start at Episode One.

And of course, to find out how to participate in this awesome weekly blog hop, visit the new improved Six Sentence Sunday site!  After 9 a.m on Sunday, you can find the list of links to the hundred plus talented writers who have thrown in their Six this week!

Hopefully I'll figure out my new smartphone so I can read and comment on Sunday - otherwise, I will get to reading as many Sixes as I can on Monday - as I procrastinate for work.

And finally, here is the final bit of this scene!  Next week - I change POVs and questions may be answered...Or not!

"I'd better go," she said, still not going.
"Yes." Because I didn't trust myself to linger in her presence any longer, I snatched up my apron and pushed through the door, leaving it swinging to and fro, like an unasked question. 
When I heard the jingle of the bell as the door closed, I collapsed against the wall.
I would not ruin her life.  Again.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Thirteen...Kinda

Drat, wrote my post, then went to sign up and there is no SSS this week! So, this is an "Unofficial Six".  Anyone else do a "Six" this week?  Let me know by commenting and I'll be sure to visit! Remember, every Sunday (except this one), you can read other great snippets written by the talented writers who participate in Six Sentence Sunday by clicking HERE.

To read from the beginning of this scene in RESET, click HERE.

I watched her swallow uncomfortably. Then she smiled. It was tentative, but it still lit up the room.

“I'm Lillian Young.” She extended a hand over the counter. “But please call me Lilly. Lillian sounds like someone's grandmother.”

I looked at her hand, hovering in space, but made no move to take it. “I know who you are,” I said, and slid the wrapped packet towards her.

Happy Sunday all!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Twelve

YIKES!  Sorry all.  I am not sure my writerly dreams will come to fruition this year - at least this spring / summer.  Darn day job!  Busy, busy with whopping marketing reports for two clients...Well, you could say writing a marketing report is sort of similar to fiction writing!

I'm back with SSS.  However, I won't be able to comment until probably Monday and I can't wait to see what I missed!

Continuing in RESET - the Butcher Shop scene.  To read the whole scene since Episode One, click HERE.

She tried to cross her arms in front of her, but her parka was so bulky, she gave up, letting her hands slide into the pockets instead. “I find old memories fascinating,” she said.

“Do you.” I had meant it to sound like a question.

“Yes,” she said, still defensive. “Who doesn't?”

“I don't.”

And the mystery deepens...Thanks to all who continue to stop by, even when I can't be as dedicated a Blogger as I'd like. 
As always, don't miss reading tidbits from other talented writers' WIPs and finished works by visiting the Six Sentence Sunday Links page HERE.
Happy Sunday!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Eleven

From RESET (of course).  Continuing where we left off last week, still Lewis Hunter's POV. If you're interested in reading this scene from the very beginning, go HERE.

She pushed herself away from the counter, away from me.
"I just wondered because I've never seen any photos of this place in the archives,” she said.

“Archives?” I frowned.
“The Martinsburg Historical Society.”
Now my smile felt so ironic, I was sure she would notice. “A history buff, are you?”

The Martinsburg Historical Society HQs, right beside Belle Boyd House and across the street from the historic B&O Roundhouse.

As always, a big thank you to everyone who stops by to read and comment!  Go HERE for links to over 100 other Sixes.  Yes that's right - there are over 100 participants in SSS!  Wow!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fun with Word Verifications #2

This WV came from the comment form from the first blog I visited this morning.  DNA Writers (Friday's post - about ideas and where they come from).  It hit home for me, as I have several "to finish" books on my to read shelf that I refuse to read until I've finished revising RESET.  One is Lauren Kate's Fallen series.  I read the back blurb and immediately shelved it.  NO, there is not a fallen angel in site in RESET, but the premise was a little close, and I don't need anything to demotivate me from finishing my damn revisions!

OK, the WV Norapiqu sounded South American, perhaps like an ancient Mayan word, so here goes....

"Oh my God," Karin's voice full of awe.  "Where did you get this?"  The stone tablet was ancient, covered in moss and worn nearly smooth, but she could still make out the familiar square glyphs.

"Norapiqu."  Jeff pronounced his translation like Nora pick you.  "I found it in the cave."

It was ninety-five degrees in the jungle, with one hundred percent humidity, yet Karin shuddered.  Goosebumps lifted the hairs along the back of her arms.  "Do me a favor," she said.  "Don't go back in there."

"Why?"  Jeff's question was innocent.  He had no idea what he had discovered, no idea what the word meant.  And why would he?  They didn't teach ancient Mayan curses in Archaeology 101.

Go have fun with your WV's today!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Ten

Continuing in RESET...
Lewis Hunter is desperately hoping that Lilly won't recognize him...

Disclaimer - this is sorta more than 6 sentences, but it was hard to break the thoughts and dialogue, so I left them together, and I would HATE to leave you all hanging LOL!

“Have you really been around since 1934?” she asked. 

My smile faltered.

Her next sentences tumbled out in a rush.  “The sign out front says…I mean, of course you haven't! Maybe a grandfather? Great-Uncle?” The words tripped over each other, left her cheeks flushed pink.
No questions! "My grandfather." I held my breath.

“Oh. That makes sense," she said, but continued to study me, her face a picture of perplexity.  She leaned in, as if for closer inspection, and I stepped back, fearing what I'd do if she crossed that line I'd drawn - the one that kept her safe.
Do yourself a favor and check out the other Six Sentences from talented writers near and far.  Click the logo to get the links!

Oh, and happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! 

Next week:  Things might get answered...or they might not!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Nine

Continuing in RESET.

Last week, we left Lewis Hunter speculating who the third steak was for.

Outside the shop, a car's horn sounded and we both turned, instinctively orienting ourselves to the obnoxious sound.

As soon as I saw the Porsche parked in front of the shop, my eyes bugged. “Nice car.”

“It's not mine,” she clarified, too quickly. 

Boyfriend’s car. The brown paper tore a little under my hand.

“You're not Melvin Hunter, are you?” she blurted next.

I managed a smile. "No."

Her mouth thinned, lips pressed together in frustration.
As always, check out the other fabulous Sixes from a wealth of pubbed and non-pubbed authors alike - linked HERE.
If you want to read back to the beginning of this scene between Lilly Young and Lewis Hunter, click HERE.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Eight

Last week, we left Lewis wondering if perhaps Lilly does remember...Something...

I'm at a dog trial this weekend  (see the "Me" tab on this blog to find out what that's all about!) so won't be able to comment on all the other great authors' Six Sentences until Monday. 

You should head over to the Six Sentence Sunday site to see who's taking part this week.  Or why not participate yourself?  Sign up from Tuesday pm, post your six from any WIP or finished piece before 9 a.m. on the following Sunday and voila, you're part of the fun SSS family!

I turned away. “Should I wrap those filets for you?”
“Um. Sure.” 
“How many?” 
Three. One of her parent’s friends? Or a boyfriend? I wrapped the steaks. My hands were clumsy, fingers sticking to the tape.
Happy reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Seven

Continuing from last week...

Lilly has just almost fainted (or something) as she scrutinizes Lewis Hunter in the butcher shop. He laughs when she tells him she's a vegetarian - a private joke? Remember, he likes his own meat almost raw...

She worried at her bottom lip, an endearing and surprisingly sexy tick. “That's not why I felt ill, though.”

Still staring at me with flinty eyes, she stood, her legs unfolding like snow-bent trees after a thaw; gracefully, slowly, as if she expected them to buckle again under some invisible weight that only I could see.

This was not good.

When she was being whisked away on the stretcher, she had met my eyes - called me her angel.

Had she been lucid?
Happy Sunday!

Visit the Six Sentence Sunday site to read more excerpts and to find out how you can participate!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Six


Continuing the awkward little scene in the butcher shop between Lewis Hunter - a half human who is trying to lay low and NOT be recognized - especially by Lilly Young.

When she looked up, her color was distinctly better and her gaze--somehow both mortified and accusing - took up where it had left off, searching my face for some hint.

I looked down, only then noticing that I still sported my red-stained apron. Darker, older blood that no amount of bleach could remove lay underneath the fresh stains. I looked like a grisly Edvard Munch painting, one entitled 'Penance'.

I removed it hastily, tossing it behind the counter.

"I'm a vegetarian,” said Lilly.

I laughed.

Read the Sixes from all the other participants by clicking HERE. Happy SUNday. Yes! It finally is sunny here. Feels like spring at last!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are You Human? Fun with Word Verifications

You know those annoying word verifications you have to complete before posting a comment on some blogs? The ones that check to verify that you're human and not some spam bot waiting to clog the poor Blogger's inbox with viruses?

I always picture a green headed alien typing a comment and then deleting it when he is forced to answer that question...

Anyway, how good are your language-building skills? I'll admit, I have no experience with language creation in world building (my current - endless - WIP is set in a modern city). But I find too complex a language utterly distracting when I'm reading. However, if it's well done, and just enough to pull the reader into an alternate world without throwing us into a swirling black hole of "huh?", it adds to the world the author has built.

So, I thought I'd put those annoying WVs to use. Here's where I take a choice WV and use it in a sentence or dialogue. Do you know the meaning right off the bat, without having to guess? If yes, I've succeeded in that little piece of language creation. And that would be frexing brilly.

This week's Word Verification comes from Bethany Robison's blog.

Bethany is also part of the Ink Slingers Girls. Go over and give both blogs a follow. I won a coveted copy of Beth Revis' Across the Universe on Bethany's blog, so of course, she is awesome in my book.

Here is the Word Verification I had to type before I commented this morning: Stinitio

And here is my first attempt:

Kat tried on the shoes. She'd never worn such high heels before. These were a shiny vampire red, matching the hilt of her lightsword perfectly.

"Stinitios are hard to walk in, at first," the saleslady commented. "But they're kick-ass sexy, don't you agree?"

Kat admired the length of her leg and the way the shoes shaped her calves. "Yes," she said. "I'll take them."

Have fun with your Word Verifications today! And for more great information on World Building, head on over to the Wednesday Word Building Workshops at Juliette Wade's Talk to YoUniverse blog.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Five

Taking off (almost) from last week's snippet from RESET.

Half human Lewis Hunter is serving Lilly in the butcher shop where he works, trying to remain anonymous, hoping she doesn't remember him. She is scrutinizing him, trying to place him...

Possible Lewis Hunter? (I had Alex Pettyfer in my mind, but seems like he's going to be overly used LOL) Image source

“Are you okay?” It was something a concerned stranger might ask. “You don't look so good."

I was good at lying, after so much practice.

She pulled off her woolen hat. Her glorious chestnut hair spilled forward as she put her head between her knees.

"It’s okay,” she said, voice shaking. “It’ll pass in a minute.”

To be continued...

Please visit the other SSS participants HERE. Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Four

This is too much fun!

This snippet is also from RESET.

Last week, we left off with the enigmatic, half human Lewis Hunter experiencing a flashback when he goes to serve a customer in the butcher shop where he works.

“This would make great filets,” I said, pointing to an expensive piece of tenderloin.

She was looking at me - scrutinizing me, a crease deepening between her lovely blue-gray eyes.

I pulled my ball cap further down. She doesn’t know me. She cannot know me.

“Do I…?” Her hand gripped the counter.

Now hurry on over and check out the links to other entries. And next week, why don;t you give SSS a try? Sign up on Wednesday, post your Six before 9 a.m. (Eastern) and that's it! It's a great way to find new friends for Facebook, new writers to follow on Twitter and new blogs to read.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CUT! Tightening the Story and Reducing Word Count

I'm so close to finishing my current rewrite of RESET. So close, in fact, that the ending is already written and all I need to do is tie up the last loose ends. (This sounds easy but in fact is not!)

The funny (or depressing) thing about each of these rewrites is that they all felt like a first draft. My characters continue to drop bombs that wreck my plot and I find myself adding or remove entire scenes to have things continually moving forward.

So, yeah.

I've cut a whole lot from that 110,000 word first draft from hell. I mean, seriously, what agent is going to go within a hundred miles of a newbie writer with a 110,000 word paranormal romance manuscript?

You really want to know? Read this post on the subject at Guide to Literary Agents and this one as well as this one at Book Ends, LLC.

This 4th rewrite of my own manuscript is going to top out at approx 85,000 words. I've now crossed off one reason it might be rejected when it comes time to query!

How did I cut 25,000 words? Well, as I said, when my characters dropped those bombs, my plot changed - became tighter. I cut a whole bunch of redundant scenes. I dropped a handful of characters who were unimportant. I dropped a few stages (locations) and merged other world-building stuff together to make the thing a whole lot easier to read.

But doesn't it suck to get rid of all that work?

Doesn't it hurt to know you wrote all those scenes and developed all those extra characters for nothing? No!

Because nothing was written 'for nothing'. In my long-winded first draft, I got to know lots about the world, the characters and the plot... Stuff that's now (I hope) hidden between the lines!

When I begin my read-through and revision of this particular draft, I'll also be looking for ways to tighten my writing, lose useless adjectives and all that editing stuff. Perhaps I'll cut an additional few thousand words. Who knows?

Do you have a really long first draft and now are stumped with how to revise it? Have a look at what Janice Hardy says on her blog (links below). And if you don't regularly read her posts, you should. It's like taking a really amazing online creative writing course... For free!

Happy chopping!

Janice Hardy's posts on word count: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Three

So I have not done very well this week on Twitter or Facebook or blogging. However I did get other stuff accomplished and I managed 1000 words every morning on my rewrite of RESET.

Celebrate the little wins, right?

I learned that my first 25 (again, RESET) ended up as Runner Up (4th out of the 5 finalists) in the NTRWA Great Expectations Contest. I could let myself be disappointed with not "placing", especially when I was hoping to be able to at least write "contest winner" in my Query Bio instead of nothing!
(I read on an agent blog - of course can't find the link now -that (agents) don't want to see "my manuscript was runner up in the such and such contest", they want to see "my manuscript won the such and such contest". Not sure how true that is?)
However, for my first stab at a novel, and with zero writing credentials and learning about craft as I bumble along, I'm pretty proud! The Great Expectations contest organizers informed me that there were a record number of entries in my category (Specialized), and that the competition was fierce.

But yeah. I'm so entering more contests!

Okay, on to Six Sentence Sunday! Don't forget to browse through all the other participants' entries. Go HERE for list. Who knows? Perhaps' you'll catch a glimpse of a future million dollar best seller!

Last week, Lewis Hunter (a half human, half... )was just about to serve an unknown customer in his butcher shop. Read back two weeks to see the beginning of Lewis' story.

A woman bundled in hat and scarf was leaning over the refrigerated display case. “What do you suggest?” she asked, turning.

And suddenly my haven was no longer safe.

A hundred images flipped through my mind like an insanely-paced slide show. Lilly lying beside me on the little pebbled beach by the river; Lilly laughing as she chased her dog, trying to pry a ball from his jaws; Lilly standing on tiptoe so she could reach my lips.

Lilly dying.

Happy reading and writing!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday - Episode Two

Happy Daylight Savings Time.

Or not. It's hard losing that hour of sleep! Coffee, coffee, coffee...

This week's SSS installment - an official entry - is again from RESET. This excerpt (almost) follows last week's and we are still in Lewis Hunter's head.

Seeing Lilly thrashing in the throes of her vision, and then risking everything to sit - for those few precious moments - by her bed in the hospital… It had rattled me so much that I forgot my rules about catering to my human half.

“I am human.” It sounded good to say it out loud every so often.

But don’t forget what else you are.

I scowled, nearly cutting off my thumb when the front bell chimed.

Take some time and read through the other entries. You can find the list of links HERE after 9 am Eastern.

Happy reading!

Juggling Skills - or Lack Thereof

ACK! My posts are getting sporadic. I'll try to do better in the next few weeks. Thanks for the new follows. It's fun to see the list grow. When I began this blog, the number of people reading sat at BIG FAT ZERO for months. So, a BIG thank you!

So, yeah. Juggling. I can't do it. My husband can juggle 3 items (soft, round items. Not knives or anything) and he tried to teach me. But I drop stuff. And soft, over-ripe oranges go splat.

And then there's LIFE juggling. You know what I'm talking about. Most of my aspiring writer friends are trying to balance writing (and all that social networking that must accompany it) with a career/day job (usually uber-boring, by comparison), kids/dogs (or both), and any number of other things from a sick, live-in parent, a farm, volunteer work and the list could go on and on.

I am struggling with juggling.

I can barely find the time to get my day job work (luckily, I telecommute) and my farm chores done by the end of the day. Add social networking to the mix (Blogging and commenting on blogs I follow, Tweeting, Facebooking) it seems that writing - the one thing to which I would happily dedicate my whole day seems to be taking a back seat.

Here's what I plan on doing next week. Or, perhaps the week after since I have a big work project over the next several days that will probably throw me for a loop.

1) Try to limit the number of blogs I read/comment on.

Blogging is time consuming. But let's face it. There is a wealth of learning and networking to be had by reading and commenting on blogs. Plus, if you want people to read and follow your own blog, you've absolutely got to do this. I've 'met' a tone of great writer folk through blogs. But, My Follow list is steadily growing. I need to skim titles and read only what catches my eye. Or something.

2) Use Tweetdeck or something to schedule Tweets.

I am a novice Tweeter, but I'm trying. I just find Twitter so time-sucking! Anyone got any other tips? Please let me know!

3) Cross post my Facebook and Twitter updates or at least some) to kill two of those birds with one stone.

4) LIMIT my online Twitter and Facebook time (yes, my posts are woefully infrequent, but I still find myself spending a lot of my time there!)

5) Schedule writing time.

Like exercise, writing won't make time for me. I've got to make time for writing. My muse is at its best anywhere from 3 am to 6 am (with 10 cups of coffee of course). That still gives me time to get farm chores done and hike my dogs (see exercise, above) before I need to sit at The Work Desk. Of course, then I'm wiped by 8 pm!

6) Take a day of from writing once a week.

I know, this seems counter productive. But honestly, my WIP or revisions benefit from a day of not actively thinking about it - that's when most of the questions get answered and problems get solved. Tip: Carry a small notebook and pen with you EVERYWHERE. The answer to your plot problem will come at the most inopportune times!

So, what do you all do to juggle everything? Are you like me, dropping oranges or are you an expert, like Bobby May?

Happy Juggling!

And remember....


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday!

I stumbled across this blog a couple of weeks ago. It's not really a contest, per say, but more a place to share and comment on little snippets of writing. And hey, we can all learn from each other. Though I am not sure how to participate officially, I thought I might participate unofficially, just for fun.

I am struggling to keep up with writing, social networking, our farm and animals and a new job, but I hope I'll get back into the groove again when I've got my new routine down. (Gah, someone please give me Twitter tips - I really, really suck at Twitter!) In the meantime, this will be an easy way to ensure at least a weekly blog post!

This week's Six Sentence Sunday "entry" is from RESET (currently undergoing huge rewrite #3). This one tells us something about Lewis Hunter, the hero (who in my head looks exactly like Alex Pettyfer *swoon*).

Melvin Hunter’s Butcher Shop, established 1934, was both haven and prison.

It was a haven for my anonymity; this was not a place a girl like Lilly took a second glance at a man. Even if she ever set foot inside the door, which was about as likely as me turning vegan, she would just see a guy in a green ball cap and a bloodstained apron.

It was a prison for the very same reason, and I was on self-directed lockdown. At least I had an unlimited supply of steak. Yesterday, I hadn’t even bothered cooking it at all.

Thanks for reading! Hey, why not give Six Sentence Sunday a try yourself? Comment and link your SSS below!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Audiobooks: Same as Reading?

I do a heck of a lot of long distance driving. Good radio stations are sometimes hard to find, and even your favorite itunes playlist gets old after 5+ hours.

A few years ago, I joined an online audiobook club. For a monthly membership fee (around $15) I get one new credit each month. One credit buys most all of the audiobooks on the site (thousands - it's rare that I can't find a title I want). Sometimes a book will cost you two credits (all the Stephenie Meyer books - not sure why, as well as George RR Martin's fantasy series - I get that, they are often 45+ hours of listening joy!)

Of course, even your favorite books can be spoiled by a reader who doesn't quite match the author's "voice". But if the reader is a good fit, the stories that are fantastic on paper are made even more awesome. You can get totally swept into the world, and five hours in the car passes in the blink of an eye.

Someone once said to me that listening to a book read to you is not the same thing as reading (ha, there is defunct Facebook Group that also believes that), and to be a good writer, you need to READ.

I disagree.

NOT with the reading part, obviously. All writers should be ravenous readers, it's the way we see what might work in our own writing, how to improve imagery through metaphor use, for example; how overkill on similes can draw you out, how important voice is, etc. etc. But can you learn these things from listening to an audiobook, rather than reading your favorite novel?

YES. In fact, I almost would say - for me, at least - even more so.

When the reader is a perfect fit, the characters leap to life, the choice of words and sentence structure embed themselves into your mind...You can hear the punctuation, ascertain subtle emotion shifts, listen to the flow - the poetry of the paragraph, and how it brings the world to life.

If the reader is not a good fit, however, well... I usually don't get through the entire book, so I can't say if it would work the same way.

Below are a list of some of the audiobooks I've listened to recently and a couple of reasons why felt they helped me as a writer or why they didn't. So, got a road trip coming up? Try an audiobook. Really listen to it...No conversation with any other passengers, just listen. You'll pick up at least a handful of great ideas for your own work, I guarantee it!

A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords (George RR Martin) - all read by Ray Doltrice
  • Deep world building comes to life, you can see how important even simple language is in relation to that world
  • Doltrice has a difficult time doing the voices of all the characters, leaving the listener somewhat confused. For instance, one character sounds a certain way in one book, and a completely different way by the third. (It must be SO hard to keep all of Martin's characters straight - I'm sure I couldn't do it!)
  • The next books in the series are read by John Lee (who reads Follet's Pillars of the Earth books. So far, I like him better)

Harry Potter series (JK Rowling) - all read by Jim Dale

  • Characters all done in different voices - perfectly! Each one is completely true to the book, in my opinion, which is NOT an easy thing to do!
  • I enjoyed the audiobooks far more than the print books - but did they help me with my writing? Can't think right now what I took away from that series, but if nothing, you should listen to them for the sheer entertainment value!

Undead and Unwed (and all the Betsy Taylor vampire series, by Mary Janice Davidson) - read by Nancy Wu

  • I got through two of these on audiobook, because the reader completely spoiled Betsy by making her sound like Bart Simpson. I do realize the snark had to be there, but it was MUCH better in my own head.
  • What did I take away? Hmm, can't decide. The reader was too distracting.

Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr) - read by Alyssa Bresnahan

  • I have only listened to the first one of the series and am hesitating on the next because the reader changes, but the dark tone of the story is dramatically conveyed by Bresnahan, and I felt myself hanging on every word, letting the poetry of the sentences sink in.
  • What I took away: style is important - dramatic writing creates drama in the plot - even if plot drama is lacking in some places - it keeps the reader hanging onto every word.

And my favorite one so far, Delirium (Lauren Oliver) - read by Sarah Drew

This reader has a PERFECT voice for the characters, and she makes the book almost musical, interpreting the rise and fall of rhythms so that words embedded themselves in my head. I caught myself saying, WOW on numerous occasions, just for the way the author strung her words together, and her endless metaphors and similes which didn't distract but brings the story to life.

  • Entertainment value also very high - if you are into YA and have not gotten your hands on a copy yet - you NEED to!
  • High concept plot - makes me jealous that I didn't think of it! All great take aways from this audiobook

I might try Shiver on audiobook, but I'm not sure if the reader's voice will ruin what's in my head (although having a female reader do Grace's part and a man do Sam's should help, and I do think they'll work). But, when I read this book, Stiefvater's beautiful writing just floored me. Yes, it's YA, so no, not Homer, not Shakespeare... Just modern and fresh and wonderful. And a great story to boot!

That's all for now - happy reading, happy listening... Happy writing!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Daily Word Count Targets and Goals

Yep, it's Saturday, so this post is seriously tardy.

I think I have set an unrealistic goal for finishing RESET. I wanted to have Ginormous Rewrite #3 finished by the end of March. (Note I say rewrite as opposed to revision, of which there has been more than I can count on my own fingers.)

Now I have a good reason for pushing myself. I never had a brother in the Boy Scouts, but the motto Be Prepared seems like a good, general one for every writer.

Be Prepared.

Since my first 25 pages made the finals in the NTWRA Great Expectations contest, I feel it would be very imprudent to not have Rewrite #3 complete in the event that all the stars align, they discover life on Mars, and I actually get a request.

Yes, I could submit Rewrite #2 but lots has changed in my plot since I began asking the right questions!

However, I am about to enter the land of the employed again, much to my relief and chagrin. Yes, I'll get a paycheck again (kind of important) but it will leave less time for writing.

Rewrite #3 is currently at 62,000 words. I have a lot of scenes that won't require more than a "simple" POV change, but others that are sitting empty. I have written the new awesome ending, but have to answer a lot of my questions in the next 30,000 or so words.

Can I do it?

What goals do you have for yourself and what drives you to push yourself everyday?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Name in the Big Bright Lights!

Er. Well.

I'm late posting to my blog this week. I have a good excuse! (Brag to follow, you can bail now)

I am a finalist in an honest to goodness writing contest!

I entered my Query and First 25 in the North Texas Romance Writers of America GREAT EXPECTATIONS contest with the hopes of getting some good feedback. Of course I was floored when I found out it made the final cut.

I had a week to revise both the pages and the query, and getting it all critted and fixed up. THANK YOU QUERY TRACKER FORUMS and my super awesome Beta Reader, Yannik!

Oh man, queries will be the death of me, really! (Someday, I may post the farce that was my first query!)

Anyway, my final entry is all polished and ready to go.

Whatever happens in the final judging, this contest is a really good one to get useful feedback. I got 2 pages of score sheets back from each judge (every entry was assigned 3 judges) and the comments really told me where both my strong and weak points are.

If you have a query-ready manuscript but are nervous of taking that first step in sending it out in the big bad world, enter a contest! It's fun and highly motivating!

A great, complete list of writing contests can be found at Stephie Smith's site.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Find Your Dream Crit Partner...Maybe?

If you're like me... A writer struggling somewhere between Rank Beginner (defined by me as a writer working on the first draft of their very first work) and published author (no matter how far along that road you are) you know how important it is to get fresh eyes to look at your writing. Let's face it, it ain't easy getting the story on paper to match that epic work of awesomeness that's in your head.

Here's where a crit partner can be your best friend... Or your worst enemy. Or a little bit of both. But regardless which side of that fence you sit on, you have to admit, critiques are NECESSARY.

But you need to find a partner you click with. Preferably someone who also writes (and reads) in your genre, and preferably someone who is a better writer than you are.

Throughout my rewrites of RESET, I've had various critters and Betas. But the one that showed me what a useful critique should look and feel like (to me) was a first page crit I won in a contest put on by the folks over at Bookshelf Muse (and they have several useful posts of crit groups on their blog too. Click here to read them).

Night and Day. So, I am on a mission to find a crit partner.

I'm thinking at this point that a sort of online dating service for finding partners would be useful. You know, like or something. (Okay, that URL could go SO many ways, but you get the idea.)

And then, while browsing my favorite blogs, what do I find?

Over at the Between Fact and Fiction blog, YA author Nathalie Whipple is running a Crit Partner Classified. Go over and check it out. I've sent in my request via email (click on her picture to go to her blogger profile and find her email address). I didn't lie or try to make my manuscript sound tall dark and handsome when really, it's maybe only 5'9" and possibly slightly bald.

Who knows? Maybe I'll find my perfect match!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finding WWWWH and More Through Clustering

WWWWH = Who, What, When, Where and How.

Have you ever....
  • Started a story only to stall out after 10,000 words?

  • Finished a story only to find out your character is so shallow a child could dig her grave?

Are you writing a story that has a lot of conflict, but no CONFLICT?

Do you want to give your villain a secret that raises the stakes?

If you are right-brained (take a quiz here), then clustering will feel utterly natural. If you are left brained, clustering might be more difficult. You may feel the urge to divert to organized lists instead of messy bubbles and lines. But just give it a try - I think you'll be amazed!

When I took the above quiz, my results showed I am 58% right brained. I studied Art in university....Alongside Stats, Finance, Accounting....Maybe this is why I feel comfortable with lists and bubbles?

Anyway. How can clustering help fix your story?

I was amazed at how quickly this method found the coolest plot twists and secrets!

Here's how it works: Write a word in the middle of a page along with a few descriptive words. If you are looking at the whole picture first (i.e. your whole novel), write the title of your novel, along with a simple logline that describes your plot.

Example: RESET: A young woman must discover a secret past.

And yes, draw a bubble around it (left brainers who need neatness might make these bubbles symmetrical rectangles - that's okay!)

Now, the fun part...

Start asking questions! About your protagonist, your villain, the setting...

Draw bubbles around each answer and connect bubbles with subsequent answers to the "subject cluster". I got so into this that I began separate pages for EVERY little thing. And I am uncovering new stuff with every question I ask!

What questions do you ask?

You can start small, if you're having trouble. For instance, one of the questions I asked about my hero was "what does he like to eat", when I wrote the answer "very rare steak" it lead to a bunch of other questions and voila - he has an intriguing secret (NOT telling!)

So, go ahead and have fun with this. It's such an awesome tool, I can't believe I shied away from it before. Must have been the 42% left brain in me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing with Stakes - not the Vampire kind!

Thee first draft of RESET was unreadable. A Great Big Mess.

I painstakingly put the whole thing through a wringer, then mercilessly chopped, pasted, rewrote. That was the FIRST BIG REWRITE.

I was so proud! My story worked!

Er, say again?

I prematurely queried ten agents - not top picks. Well, most weren't. Guess what? TEN form rejections. No surprise there. But that was okay - I was just getting my feet wet...Wasn't I?

After submitting my first five pages to the folks at the forums, I began to grasp what was wrong.

Back to the drawing board. I became the Ruthless Reviser yet again, cutting 15,000 words and tightening the story, making the plot clearer. I read the whole thing out loud to my dogs and was pleasantly surprised when I found I enjoyed it!

So, I'm ready to hit the query trenches again... Except, what the hell is my book really about? Sure there's romance, there's a twist, there's a couple of immortal beings.... But the stakes are not high enough. There's a lot of conflict, but no CONFLICT. There's not a whole lot to lose that the character hasn't already lost before.

It seemed I wrote my entire novel without asking any QUESTIONS!!!

Don't know what I'm talking about?

So the new question is: Can I raise my stakes, or should I stake my novel? Hmm, I'm not sure my MC can be killed that easily!

Happy Question Asking! When in doubt...Just ask "WHY?"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Help, My Characters are Stalking Me!

During the last go-round of rewriting Reset, a new character knocked on my door. Really loudly. I mean, hammered. Now, she and her ever growing entourage refuse to leave me alone!

I am 30K (ish) words in to Rewind, a prequel to Reset, and I hate to admit, but I've hit The Wall.

It sucks, the story's weak, the plot confusing...The ever growing list of negative feed into my brain makes me want to quit, and these new characters, who fit nowhere into my plans, are urging me, pressuring me, threatening me to pay attention to THEM!

They're all there when I wake up in the morning, they follow me on my morning hike with my dogs, they sit down at the computer with me, whispering and scratching in my head...They come to bed with me, keeping me awake with their constant chatter.
I'm beginning to feel like the Verizon guy..."Can you hear me now?"

But, I need to keep on track! Finish what I've started....


Even as I type this post, I find myself scribbling scenes for these characters on the backs of my old business cards (hey, they are good for something). I discover that their story is NOT to be ignored. It feels too powerful somehow.

Am I up for it? Do I even have the skills, newbie that I am, to bring it to life?

Am I a failure for not finishing my WIP?

Will this be the story of my writing life: begin a novel, hit The Wall, give up and let myself be bullied and coerced into starting a new one?

I can't think of the answers right now, I have to research names, build a world, create a language...

Uh, oh, sounds suspiciously like Sci-fi, a 180 degree turn from the Paranormal Romance that Reset became as I revisited themes and 'What Matters' during my (many) rewrites.

Yikes. What the hell am I getting myself into now?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I have a gorgeous office...

Complete with a huge wraparound desk and hutch, two walls of windows overlooking fields and a pond, a wall of custom, built in filing cabinets and drawers with dog paw print shaped pewter knobs (so cute), an oak floor, recessed lighting, a big flat computer screen, an ergonomic leather chair, a private phone line...

Yet I find myself doing all of my writing on a pathetic little netbook in my basement, sitting on a hard antique chair and surrounded by swirling dogs, floating dust bunnies and poor lighting.


Is it a) because I logged countless hours doing very non creative things in that office? b) because it saps my creative energy? or c) do I just prefer to be surrounded by muddy dogs?

Where do you do most of your writing? Do you do your revising in the same place?