Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Five First Try

So Friday's will likely be my random day. Several of the blogs I read do a Friday Five. I hope it's not some exclusive club that I'm invading. So here it goes.

1. My daughter started school again, and we're settling into a schedule. Seems like it will be a good year for her. My one concern is she's not allowed to talk at lunch. Seems extreme to me, and I plan on discussing it with her teacher and others if needed. Lunch, everyone needs to be social at lunch, right?

2. Fridays are generally date night for me and hubby. We may watch a movie tonight or sneak some DQ blizzards after the kids are asleep. We're not going out, since my oldest son is not feeling well. I can't have a sitter when they are sick. He has 007 in HD, but we don't have an HD tv. We also like to watch Ghosthunters, and Hell's Kitchen. I don't understand why Chef Ramsey is so mean, but still I like the show.

3. Reading funks. Still not feeling the whole reading thing, but I've found a new author I like Susane Colasanti. Her books are similar to Sarah Dessen. Still I might go dig out my L.M. Montgomery books. They sound nice to me. Slow, no tension. Just story.

4. My kids are erecting a tent/fort in my living room. It will be a big mess to clean up, but I've got to let them do it. I remember building them with my brothers and sisters. It's a rite of passage. They only have a few minutes until I put them to bed, but between now and then they will undo an entire week's worth of cleaning. Sigh. I wish I had a housekeeper.

5. I didn't write at all this week. Not at all. No revisions (unless my query counts), no new words, nothing. I'm ready to start again. And go at it.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Rejection? Can I Handle the Rejection?

I'm getting ready to send out my manuscript. I'm so close that my fingers are actually itching to hit send, but I've got to get everything as perfect as I possibly can before I do. This is the scary part, at least for me, sending my baby out into the world, into stranger's hands, and waiting for a reaction. What I think is worse in reality is sending out the query. The short few paragraphs that struggle to describe a story to persuade people to read it. I just wish you could send the whole manuscript and then the agents could read it. (Now I know that isn't practical, and I'm not saying that the agents have the time for that or anything--I'm in no way disrespecting agents. The fact that they read the queries is enough for me honestly. Just wish there was another way.)

I mean I'm on pins and needles when I send my novel off to a friend or family member for a critique. It puts me on edge. I get worried, I feel faint. I can't imagine what it's going to be like to send off a partial or full to someone real. But hopefully that day will come.

My progress for the week was finishing up the rewrite. Reworking my query letter, and my synopsis. My synopsis needs help. Lots of it. I don't like the tone or anything. I may start over from scratch on it.

I'm also gearing up, and getting ready to go on my second novel. I'm super excited about that one. I think it's going to rock. The conflict is real, it's tangible, and it's solid. My plot line is solid as well with a great twist at the end. Third person so that twist will work. This novel is going to be great. I can just feel it.

Reading this week has been kind of blah. Everything feels like I've read it before. Have you ever gotten into a funk? My mom told me to change up the genre that I read. I don't know it may be time to revisit some of my tried and true reads like Anne of Green Gables or Emily's Quest. I could try the classics. I have enjoyed some of them. Okay lots of them and I haven't walked down that path in awhile. Any books that help you get out of a reading funk?

Friday, August 21, 2009

News and Stuff

I've been blog silent for a bit for a few reasons. The first I went to the beach and the second I was really driving to the end of my rewrite. I'm pleased to say that I've finished. Yeah!

While I was at the beach, I spent a lot of time thinking about things. My novel, the vastness of the ocean and possible analogies to writing. Something about the beach makes me reflect on things. It is such a peaceful and happy place. So as I was building sand castles with my kids I had a few thoughts about the writing process.

One of the castles we built kept falling apart. We would get it built up really high and then it would fall apart. It kept splitting in the same spot. Then I realized that the foundation was cracked. It couldn't hold the castle together from the bottom. I realized that a good story is like that. You've got to have the basics, or foundation of a good story or it just won't hold together. There are several things you need, but the most important is your plot and conflict. It doesn't matter how beautiful your writing is or how compelling your characters are if your plot is cracked and just doesn't work.

The next thought came to me as my son was building a sand castle right in front of the incoming tide. Every few minutes a huge wave would come and wash away the castle completely. Although I encouraged him to move a bit further in, he kept telling me it was okay we could just begin again. This made me think about the importance of revision and finding the right way to tell your story. It's okay to start again and again, as long as you keep building. Eventually you'll find the right spot and be able to tell a great story.

So happiness I finally finished my rewrite. And I realized something that is going to help my revision process from now on. For this revision I rewrote the entire story. I literally retyped the entire thing. This let me fix things and see things I hadn't before. I tightened up my dialogue, got rid of passive voice and added a lot of pertinent details, In fact I add 5,000 words. Some of that was a new chapter, but that new chapter was created out of a chapter I split in two. The entire time I was writing I kept cutting this out and that out and I was worried that I'd end up with a shorter novel, but I didn't. I know it is a much stronger novel than it was.

Now I just need to perfect my query letter and rework my synopsis, since yeah, my story has changed slightly.

I've also thought about how to boost my blog's interest level. Mostly it's just been complaining and frustration. So I'm going to do a few things.

One post a week on the writing process. Some fun analogy or such. I"ll also include my word count and goals, since I"m ready finally to get going on my new novel. I'm so excited!

One post a week on a book I've read. Generally this will be a new book that I've read that week. I'll talk about what worked and why, and such.

One post a week on randomness. Everyone needs random every now and then right. I might do a Friday Five or something like that.

Plus I'll post the random contest or trailer.

So many good books coming out in the next few months. Personally I'm looking forward to Fire by Kristin Cashore, and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater.

(Catching Fire would be up there too, but I've already read that awesomeness--but I'm excited for everyone else!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ballad Trailer

This is the trailer to the new book Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater. I've really enjoyed her book Lament and also Shiver which came out this month and debuted on the NYT bestsellers list. This is definitely a must read!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Totally Awesome Book Contest

There is a totally awesome book giveaway going on at

Currently she is giving away Five different prizes. There are ARCs of some great books that I'd love to get my hands on, and some great books that I just want because I've already read them. For me the best part is that they are all YA books.

Go check it out and try to win!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Reading to Improve Your Craft

I've been thinking about doing some things to make my blog more interesting. Plus writing on a more consistent basis. I may plan to slowly increase my posts with a goal of three a week. I can handle three a week. Maybe a short review or thought on whatever I'm reading during the week. And then some other random writing stuff. I wish I had funny experiences to share, but I fear that I am rather boring. But I shouldn't talk about myself that way.

This week I've been thinking a lot about reading, and what makes a book so good that you can't put it down. You know those books. (They're the books I love, the ones that keep you up all night, and make you forget the dishes and your kids--the kind of book I want to write.)

One of my favorite books on writing is On Writing by Stephen King. Awesome book, and I always recommend it to people who want to write. There is a bit of foul language in the book, but I think that is just the way Stephen King writes. I actually have never read his fiction, because I get really bad nightmares from normal books, let alone horror. The stuff always seems too real to me. Rob thinks I'm crazy and has read a lot of Stephen King, and I've thought about reading his fantasy stuff, but just haven't yet.

Anyway the point of that ramble is that in On Writing Stephen King says that one of the most important things a writer can do is read. I happen to agree with him. There is something about reading which allows you to pick up the craft of writing. You know things like rhythm, where you start a story, what to include in the story, the type of language to use, and that intangible quality that really drags a reader in.

I've been a reader since second grade. This year on my personal blog I've listed the new books that I've read this year. I'm up to 68, with the goal being a hundred. I'm not listing the books I've reread though. And I think next year I'll do that, and maybe keep a page count total. Just because I'm curious about it. But since I've read so much, and so widely, I've managed to pick up on things like paragraphs, and pacing (I hope) and other things that help to make the story stronger.

If you want to become a great writer, then you need to read. Just like an artist studies the works of other artists or an architect learns about the structure and designs of other buildings, a writer needs to read other peoples books. Both for enjoyment and for learning about the craft.

For example the first time I read Twilight I read it for enjoyment. Then I read it again to figure out what about it made it so compelling. Then I read it again to really figure that out. Then I read it to understand how she address first person narrative. I learned a lot.

The Hunger Games is another novel I've read multiple times, as well as Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins writes a book that you simply can't put down. It's impossible. I learned something about her chapters. She ends in the middle of the action. Then does scene shifts mid-chapter. I tried doing it. I think it helped me.

What books (fiction) have you learned from? What books do you recommend I read along the lines of The Hunger Games and Twilight for a suck you in read? I need some new books to devour!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Week Unplugged

Well I managed to avoid reading the blogs for most of the week. I have to say that my most productive night was the night that my power went out for eight hours. Yes that night I was the most productive. Without power there was no Internet, but I do have a laptop and the battery was fully charged. There wasn't anything else to do. I put the kids to bed before it got too dark. And Rob was working, so I had nothing to do but write. I got a lot done, it was such a happy feeling.

The power actually went out at my house three times this week. The worst was the eight hours, once was for an hour, and the third one was for two. Ugh! It's hot, and we had some crazy thunder storms roll through, which would knock out the power.

I think that I'm going to form a plan of action where I only read the blogs on the weekend. This will let me keep following everyone, although I may miss out on some cool contests, but it will give me writing time, that will not be interrupted or overtaken by the blogs.

Writing wise I still have a lot do. I hate revising. I am doing it, because it is important, but for me it is so hard to do. Hopefully it will get easier with each novel. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. Who knows for sure though? So I'm really tempted to just work on my other novel. But I'm not going to until I finish up my current WIP. I'm so close to the end that I know I can do it. My query is nearly there, and then I can start submitting it.

I'm trying to think of something profound, and it just isn't happening today. I'm not afraid to admit that. So I'll close by stating my goals. I want to write the third chapter in my next novel for my writer's group--which is due in by Thursday. I don't want anyone else to look at my current WIP until I'm done. And then I plan on revising two chapters a day this week. Hopefully I can do it.

What are your writing goals for the week?