Archive for February, 2010

Friday, February 26th, 2010
Talking a Novel Out or How To Get ‘Unstuck’ 101

Last year I started writing my young adult urban fantasy. Everything was literally flying along…until I took a break to write a novella for an upcoming anthology. I figured since the work was short I wouldn’t have any problem jumping right back in to my YA. WRONG!!! I have struggled with the manuscript ever since. It’s been a hard lesson to learn. Quite painful. One I will not soon forget. Some writers have the ability to pick up right where they left off. I am not one of them. I haven’t made any much progress on the book…that was until today. Yesterday I spent several hours charting out what has already happened in the manuscript and what needs to happen. Today, I phoned a dear friend/critique partner to ask for assistance about the romantic subplot. (I was worried there wasn’t enough romance and that it wasn’t going anywhere.) A strange thing happened when she picked up the phone. I started talking about the story. The whole story, not just the romance, and it began to fall into place. I knew the bulk of my problem was in the first act. Like I said in yesterday’s blog, things were happening too quickly. As I talked, gaps began to fill in, new scenes appeared, and the outline fleshed out. For forty-five minutes, my friend just nodded and said ‘uh huh’ while I babbled incoherently about the story. It wasn’t what I phoned for, but it was exactly what I needed. By the time I hung up, the entire story was in my head. I quickly wrote it down on notecards. Now I’m ready to jump back into the manuscript. I have the road map to follow. My destination is clear.

I’ve brainstormed a lot with my critique partners, but I rarely talk a novel out. Brainstorming is a give and take of ideas. Talking a novel out is more like a brain dump. You as the author are working out the problems you’ve been having on your own, while a VERY patient friend listens. Sure they may jump in with a question or a suggestion, but for the most part you are running through the entire story on your own out loud. It’s like telling someone the story while new ideas are popping up along the way. It’s exhilarating. I cannot believe how excited and RELIEVED I feel. I can’t wait to jump back into the book.

Thursday, February 25th, 2010
Young Adult Novels & Reading

Yesterday, I spent several hours trying to re-chart out my YA (young adult) novel. I know there’s a structural problem because events happen too quickly in the beginning. I thought it would be an easy fix. Ha, Ha, Ha! Needless to say, I’m still working on it. I suppose I should be thankful that it’s not a plot problem. It’s just at the moment it feels like a plot problem would be easier to solve than the structure issue. I’m probably only missing three chapters, but it’s hard to tell with my face pressed against the glass. In writing (and life), perspective is EVERYTHING. I plan to jump right back into the manuscript today. I’m going to start by reviewing what it already in the book to see if I can spot ‘blank spaces’. Hopefully that will take care of the problem.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I’ve read twenty thus far since January 1st. (For me, that’s a lot.) I’m trying to clear some of my shelves off, but I admit I do throw in some old favorites to break things up. Whenever I feel myself starting to get into a reading funk, I pick up something from my keeper shelf. It doesn’t stop the new book funk, but it does keep me reading through it. I’m currently reading Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I’ve owned the book since it came out, but I never managed to read it. (Yes, I AM that far behind in my reading.) I can definitely see why it hit the New York Times list. The writing is, well, lovely, and the story is intriguing. I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’m also finishing up my RITA books. Two and a half to go. YAY!!! (I signed up to judge the contest. This will be my last year of doing so.) Judging is always a double-edged sword. On the good side, you get introduced to books you wouldn’t normally pick up. On the bad side, you get introduced to books you wouldn’t normally pick up. *g* I’ve avoided contests altogether that require me to write out my opinions. I find I’m not nearly as diplomatic as I used to be.

What about you, are you forgiving when it comes to the books that you read? Or are you ruthless about a book wasting your time?

Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Craft, PEARLS, and Vampires

I’ve been buckling down to study the craft of writing. I’m currently working my way through Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. The latter I’m using to tighten up my story structures. There’s a lot of really good stuff in both books. Thus far, I’d highly recommend them if you want to hone your skills.

On a truly surprising front, I found out that my book, SCARLET has been nominated for a PEARL in the futuristic category. How cool is that?!?

I seem to be on a vampire kick. I get on them on occasion. When that happens, I can’t seem to get enough of the movies, TV shows and books that contain vampires. Last night I watched the first episode of Blood Ties. I bought the DVD, since the show has been cancelled. It made me miss ‘Henry’ so much. I then popped in Dracula 2000 with Gerard Butler. Man, there are just some people who make me melt when they pop in the fangs. Sigh. My top favorite ‘vampire actors’ are: Kyle Schmid, Gerard Butler, Stuart Townsend, Alex O’Loughlin, and Frank Langella. I’m sure had I seen Buffy the Vampire Hunter, I would add Angel and Spike to that list. Perhaps someday…

If I was going by book characters, it would have to be Bones. Jeaniene Frost created a winner when she invented him.

Who is your favorite fanged one?

Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Designing and Reading

I’ve been working on the design of my new website. I admit it is taking longer than I’d like. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to put on the site and how to implement the changes. Determining the focus has been tough. I don’t want it to be a mirror image of my current site. I am definitely going back to a cleaner look. I want the books, not the design of the site to brand me. I also want to up the tech by incorporating podcasts and such. Like I said, it’s requiring a bit more planning and thought than I’d anticipated.

I finally finished my online writing class. It was very helpful and has truly opened my eyes to different writing issues. I’ve only tested what I’ve learned on my own writing on a very small scale. I hope that when I dig back into the two manuscripts it’ll be easier. I’m definitely spotting issues in the books that I’m reading. I suppose it’s a sign of a good class. Of course, it’s also made reading very difficult. It’s hard to get past the prose issues and enjoy the stories. And before you think I’m being overly harsh, keep in mind that I’m well aware that I made all these mistakes in my own writing. The realization is painful. Truly painful. I’m continuing to work my way through the RITA books that were sent to me. I have three more to go, then I’ll be done. I’ve decided this will be my last year of judging them for a while. Judging any contest for that matter. I think when you’re in a transition phase it’s hard to focus on anything else.

Went to see Avatar again. Actually liked it a lot more the second time than I did the first. We also went to see From Paris With Love–I admit we only went to see it because it was shot in Paris–but to be honest, it was a silly, fun shoot em’ up. Totally over the top, but it was entertaining. A year from now, we probably won’t remember we saw it. We also watched Whip It, which is about a girl’s roller derby team. Cute movie. Been hearing good things about Valentine’s Day. We may have to see it.

I know it’s been very quiet around the blog. I wish I could say things would change, but they probably won’t until I get the new site up. Thanks for your patience.

All the books that I owed folks have gone out in the mail. You should be receiving them soon, if you haven’t already. Ciao, for now.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010
And The Winner Is

The winner of The First Drop of Crimson is SHERRI. Congratulations!!! Just drop me an email with your address and I’ll get the book in the mail to you. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who entered.

Sunday, February 14th, 2010
How To Ruin A Story–What Happens When An Author Is Taken Out Of The Movie Equation

We went to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I’ve read the first couple of books in the series (and plan to read the rest). Dh has read all five. We love the series. It’s a lot of fun and does a great job at setting up the characters, conflict/s, and story ARC’s. All I can say is Chris Columbus must have either skimmed the first book or skipped it altogether to come up with his story. Basically everything that was pertinent was tossed out the window. Character development? We don’t need that. Emotions? What are those? Story ARC? Is it really important? (Uh, yeah, if you plan to make any more movies in the series.) The relationship between Percy and his mom (which is MAJOR in the books) is all but ignored in the movie. My mom just got killed…oh well, I think I’ll just pick up this sword and instantly be able to use it. How cool is that? Oh right, oh right, mom’s dead. Thanks for reminding me.

One of the major elements in the first book deals with Percy’s missing father. His reveal is a HUGE turning point for Percy and changes how the people around him treat him. Apparently, it wasn’t important enough to make it into the movie. The endearing thing about the books is that Percy has to work for everything he gains. Nothing comes easy. He gets better at his skills, but he makes mistakes. You know a kind of realistic situation. In the Cliff Notes movie version those elements of the story weren’t important. Percy gets handed everything and doesn’t really have to struggle much at all. Must be nice. I’m not sure I would’ve handled losing my mother and instant sword fighting with such aplomb. I realize I’m not a demi-god. Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything. The characters ‘tell’ you everything. There is no mystery…no suspense…no loneliness…no sadness…no real surprise after the first moment of discovery…no character development…no story ARC…no plot…etc.

No one wanted to make life hard on Percy. That would’ve made for such horrible drama. We couldn’t have that. All I can say is thank goodness J.K. Rowling held onto creative control of her Harry Potter books, when they made them into movies and Chris Columbus directed. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if she hadn’t.

On a completely different note, my friend, Jeaniene Frost was kind enough to let me read the ARC of her new book, First Drop of Crimson before it came out. I enjoyed it so much that I went out yesterday and bought a giveaway copy. I love how Jeaniene combines romance with urban fantasy. She doesn’t back away from the harshness of the worlds that she creates. She’s also written one of the hottest scenes I’ve read in a long time. If you’d like to take a peek at the shower scene (fans face) for yourself, toss your name into the hat. I’ll pick one winner on Wednesday. Good luck!!!

Saturday, February 13th, 2010
Hearts, Flowers, and Puppy Dog Tails…or Something Like That

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I used to wait with anticipation to see if I would get any gifts/flowers/candy…all through high school and my early twenties. Let’s just say my anticipation was met with great disappointment. I can only remember a few (ie three times) in those years when I actually received a Valentine’s Day gift/card. At the time, it was crushing, but later I wondered why I got so upset. I’m not one of those Valentine’s Day haters, but I do wonder why a celebration of love is relegated to one single day of the year. If you look at it from that perspective, Valentine’s Day loses some of its sparkle. That’s why dh and I really don’t ‘celebrate’ V-day. I want declarations more than one day a year and frankly, so does he.

So for all those who celebrate, Happy Valentine’s Day. If all has gone well, we’ll be sitting in the theater watching Percy Jackson and the Olympians, while you sniff roses and sip champagne. 😉