Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eighty People Validated Me

Thank you, followers.  YOU are great. YOU are special. YOU are wonderful!

pass it on

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Game on: Tagged

That's right. You've been tagged. If you're reading this, it's already too late.

I write fiction for kids and teens, so you bet I'm dramatic. :)

Don't worry. It's not so bad. Now that you're it, all you have to do is join the blogging fun by answering these eight questions:

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?

Given my recent completed manuscript was about super villains, I think I'd have to go with the power to channel electricity through my body. There are just so many applications. :)

2. Who is your style icon?

I'm definitely a jeans and a t-shirt gal, always have been. But when I dress up, I really dress up.

3. What is your favorite quote?

I have a LOT of favorite quotes, but one of my long-time favorites is this one:

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body."
~Elizabeth Stone

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?

Well, I'll answer this like it's a question about writing compliments. My fave two: my friend Lille who called my MG book a 'rockin little novel', and my kid sister, who read it in one day and said there were parts she couldn't believe I had written. 

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?

We've got a kiddie CD in right now, but if we went by my pandora stations, there'd be a lot of Blessed Union of Souls, Jimmy Eat World, and Andrea Bocelli

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

It really depends on the phase of life. Sometimes I can't afford to stay up later than 10pm, like when I've got a new baby (baby just turned 1 yesterday!!). But mostly I'm a night time writer. 

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

I love domestic animals, but only if we've been properly introduced. I grew up with both dogs and cats (and fish and bunnies). I did not like all of them all the time. :) We plan to get a puppy for our boys in the future.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

I call my blog my Author Page because that's what defines me best even though I'm not published yet. I've always thought the distinction between the words 'writer' and 'author' was kind of strange. I guess it's necessary to distinguish between someone who has been published and someone who simply writes for fun, but 'author' really describes the act of creating something better for me. (This could be a whole blog post by itself.) 

I just think of this old Tom Selleck movie where he's trying to hit on a waitress. He's like "Hi, my name's _______. I wrote this." Points to his book. 
Her response is, "Hi, I'm _______. And I wrote this." Slaps the restaurant tab down on the table and walks away with a flip of her hair. 
An author is somebody who writes something--anything. So that's what I am. :) (For example, I am the author of this blog post. I have also authored several grocery lists and a few impromptu dry-erase board love letters.)


So that's me. Feel free to partake in the tag yourself.

And lastly, a bonus question, because I'm fun like that:

BONUS: Team Gale or Team Peeta?
All the way. :)

I was tagged by Lindsay (a.k.a. Isabella)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Boyfriends: How much do you heart Gilbert Blythe?

Important notes before we begin:
1) Awesome Plotting Tips by Amparo over at the Operation Awesome blog
2) 1K a day writing challenge and chat room with Kristal
3) Monday, September 27th at 9 PM EST (TONIGHT!) WriteOnCon is back with a live event

Book boyrfiend (from this website)

Do you LOVE your book boys?

Is it a healthy love or a dark/twisted/obsessive/unrealistic love?

And what makes them so delicious?

Here are a few of mine:

Gilbert Blythe: sweet and ornery at the same time, but with a spunky pride and intelligence I can't help but admire. Competitive, but not once intimidated by his true love's genius.

Fitzwilliam Darcy: surprisingly shy for a rich guy, and every time he gets up the gumption to speak to the woman who gives him the butterflies, he sticks his foot in his mouth. But he'd travel a million miles in a night to right a wrong and protect innocent people.

Edward Cullen (my first impression of him, minus the literary backlash): an old soul before he became an old soul, eager to battle on the side of truth and justice, always protecting who and what he loves. Rises to a challenge, even where romance is concerned. Again, not intimidated by greatness in his female counterpart. Passionate, fierce, if a bit unforgiving.

Sirius Black (did I surprise you with this one? I was too old when I read Harry Potter to be crushing on little boys, but Sirius was a character I could fall in love with.): Fiercely protective of his family, a prankster in a former life, but older and wiser now. He was a safe bad boy to crush on at a time in my life when real bad boys could have been fatal (college).

Can you tell what kind of man I married?
Okay, that's enough confession from me. Your turn! Tell me, who do you love?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compel Me, Dark Faerie!

Before I forget, there's an Operation Awesome interview with WriteOnCon's Jen Stayrook today! 

Now onto today's blogfest:
Elana Johnson, along with Jennifer Daiker and Alex Cavanaugh, has created The Great Blogging Experiment, explained in detail here.

Basically, on September 24th, a whole slew of writer/bloggers will write about Writing Compelling Characters

Fairy kidding

I'll be using PARANORMALCY's favorite scary faerie, Reth, as my example. 

Kiersten White created a whole cast of compelling characters, but Reth stood out to me as particularly compelling. (BY THE WAY, Congratulations to Kiersten White on debuting at #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List in the first week!! That is EPIC!)

As I read this book for the first time, I found that if Reth was on stage, I couldn't even put my book down to go to the bathroom! I just knew something incredible/freaky/twisted was going to happen before he vanished again. 

How did she do that?

Here are some thoughts:

  • She limited his appearances: Reth only shows up when it matters. There's no idle chit chat with him. She doesn't show him going to the bathroom (if faeries even do that sort of thing).
  • She showed other people's responses to him: We see the gestures of fear, hear the interior monologue of the MC whenever he's around--and after he leaves. Because we know how Reth makes her feel, we know how he ought to make us feel. 
  • She made him round: We all remember from school the difference between a round character and a flat character. Flat is like Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. She has no character arc, learns no lesson, makes no great change. She is who she is, and that's an evil pink dictator. Round, like Reth, is a character who is both good and bad, who has depth, who may change at any moment, or whom we are just now getting to know. Through the whole book, I think I know what kind of faerie Reth is, and then Wablammy! My perception of him changes with one well-placed revelation.
  • She gave him a connection to the main character:  There's a reason I picked a side character for this little analysis. Main characters are almost always well-developed. We spend the most time with them, creating their back stories, giving them a favorite color, favorite TV show, favorite pet peeve. Reth is not the main character in Paranormalcy, but you get the feeling at times that it's his story, too. Kiersten accomplishes that feeling by giving him a very strong connection to the main character. He isn't just a possessive faerie, as he first seems. He's much more to Evie. Even before any grand revelations, we can feel that connection and it makes him important--compelling. 
So that's what I think makes a character compelling. 

What does it for you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Talking to Myself...Again


I love feedback. It temporarily silences the voices in my head.

My awesome cousin gave me some much-craved feedback on my latest complete novel yesterday, and it seriously made my day! I mean, I chatted with her in the morning, sent her the manuscript via email during the chat, and by evening when we came back from dinner, her thoughts were waiting in my inbox...

her thoughts on the entire. middle grade. novel.

You can't pay money for that kind of service! And she's a student at a competitive university, so I expected her to take her sweet, scarce time. Yeah, she's awesome! Obviously! I mean, we are related. ;) But I can't take credit for her awesome--that's hers alone.

Why did this make my whole freakin' day? Why do writers crave feedback so much?

If you're a writer, you're slapping your forehead in that 80s universal sign language for DUH!

We crave feedback because we get sick of talking to ourselves all the time. Writing is lonely if you don't have access to a community of writers for commiseration and encouragement. Sometimes family members don't understand why writing is so important to you. They assume you're just looking for fame and fortune, or can't keep a regular job. Even if you have a regular job, you're a dreamer. A weirdo. Well, I'll just give you the lyrics to one of my favorite Disney songs:

Look there she goes that girl is strange, no question 
Dazed and distracted, can't you tell? 
Never part of any crowd
'Cause her head's up on some cloud 
No denying she's a funny girl that Belle 

[Bookseller:] Ah, Belle.
[Belle:] Good Morning. I've come to return the book I borrowed.
[Bookseller:] Finished already?
[Belle:] Oh, I couldn't put it down. Have you got anything new?
[Bookseller:] Ha Ha! Not since yesterday.
[Belle:] That's all right. I'll borrow . . . . . this one!
[Bookseller:] That one? But you've read it twice!
[Belle:] Well, it's my favorite! Far off places, daring swordfights,
magic spells, a prince in disguise -
[Bookseller:] If you like it all that much, it's yours!
[Belle:] But sir!
[Bookseller:] I insist. 
[Belle:] Well, thank you. Thank you very much!

Look there she goes that girl is so peculiar
I wonder if she's feeling well
With a dreamy far-off look 
And her nose stuck in a book
What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle 
-lyrics from this site 

Sorry, got a bit carried away posting lyrics and dialogue. LOVE that scene. They should definitely do a live action film version of this musical.

So feedback. Yeah. It's important. Do you have a critique group yet? Why not?

The voices in your head are important to your craft, but feedback is worth all the socially accepted schizophrenia in the world. You can quote me on that. ;)

The Foldy Bit: Thinking Outside the Book Box

Arlington National Cemetery. I want this for my headstone, too.

I mentioned to my British critique partner, Lindsay, that my 3yo son loves watching Kipper, which he pronounces correctly: Kippah. And she promptly sent us a book about the adorable little British dog, called Hide Me, Kipper.

Yeah, it was an incredibly sweet thing for her to do, blah, blah. But that's not what I'm talking about today. Well, it partially is. THANK YOU, Lindsay!!

What struck me about this book was how adorably unique it was. It's a children's book about Kippah the dog (misspelled his name on purpose, I did) just sitting around on the first page of the book, wondering what this book will be about. Suddenly, a little mouse scurries across the page and runs straight into "the foldy bit in the middle of the book."

To which Kipper says, "I've been in lots of books before, but I've never been in there."

The book just gets cuter after that. But the idea of a little mouse being small enough to hide in the foldy bit in the middle of the book just tickled me so much, I had to write about it today. Call it a gimmick or an angle or even bells and whistles. Some people don't think much of creative elements like this one, but I love them. I think this kind of creativity should be celebrated and praised and...envied a little.

How can I be that creative? I'm not writing picture books (well, I do a little of that on the side, I guess). My main venue is the novel. How do you think outside the book box when it comes to a full-length novel? I can think of a few things that can't hurt in this effort:

  • read...LOTS! The more we read, the more we know what has been done, and the more we know what stereotypes and standards can be played upon. If you'd never opened a book, you wouldn't know to write about the foldy bit in the middle. 
  • make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh! Don't you know everyone likes to laugh?" -Cosmo in Singing in the Rain. When writing, don't be afraid to be goofy, if that's who you are. Cleverness is born of thoughtful goofiness. You can quote me on that. ;)
  • open your eyes to the world around you. Notice things other people miss. It's our job as scribes to commit to paper the little things most people will never see. We're each specially qualified to do that, whether because of our geographical region, our culture, our circumstances, or our creative temperaments. Notice the fuzzy backside of a leaf; the paramedic parked in front of the grocery store, thumbing through Sports Illustrated; the mini dog named Tonka that somehow strangely deserves her name. 
Someday, we'll all be as clever as Mick Inkpen. Until then, find this book, my friends. You will love it.  

How do you get into creative mode?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top Ten TV Shows of All Time Blogfest

Top Ten TV Shows of All Time

This originated with Alex J Cavanaugh, so skip over there if you want to participate. Just like Amparo over at No Rest For The Lazy, I'll be going from oldish to newish (but not in exact chronological order). Man, this is going to give my age away....

10. Out of This World

Evie could freeze time, being half human/half alien. And she talked to her dad through a glowing crystal! How cool is that? I used to rush home after school to catch this show.

9. Sliders

ah, Quinn. So clueless about love even though you've mastered inter-dimensional travel...well, sort of mastered it. Except for that glitch that makes you jump ever few days whether you're ready or not. (This is one of those series that went weird after a few seasons, like Lost--convoluted plots galore.)

8. Quantum Leap (the original Sliders)

Sam, Al, and Ziggy (not pictured here), jumping through time into other people's bodies to solve their problems. Kind of a Sliders meets Being Erica. :-)

7. Star Trek the next Generation

My parents were trekkies, so I grew up madly in love with Wesley (not pictured), Beverly's son; and wishing I could look like Diana Troy, the empath with the low-cut uniform. Data is still the coolest robot on television. Sorry, Johnny 5. 

6. Heroes (the first season)
Hiro is the only hero I loved the whole way through. Even Peter went back and forth between good and bad. It was dizzying. The first season was awesome, though. Stupid spoiled character arcs!

5. House
House and Wilson. Holmes and Watson. The detective and his consultant. It was a brilliant concept with a character who was lovably bad. But this one also went bad with a character who refused to change. Character arcs, people! They're important! The theme that people just don't change? Not cool.

4. Bones
The fun-loving character. The serious and troubled character. The romantic tension. Oh, the delicious romantic tension! This one is still a great show. The way these two play off each other keeps things interesting without the writers resorting to painfully chronic character flaws (see House).

3. Fringe
I love me some sci-fi, and this show delivers. I don't frequently watch this one anymore, though, because of the  horror quality it's taken on. Too much gore. But it still makes the list for creativity and characters. (ditto to Amparo's sigh over Joshua Jackson)

2. Lie to Me

This is like psychology on steroids, with some great character arcs woven in. At first sight, Lightman seems as hopelessly hostile as House, but there's more depth to Lightman with his family loyalty and fierce protective father gig. Not to mention a subtle romance between him and Jillian. This one still has me checking hulu for new episodes. :-)

1. Scrubs
This started out as a show my husband watched and I tolerated, but it really grew on me. JD's constant daydreaming, Elliott's bang-flipping and fake-swearing, and Turk's general goofiness won me over. Plus, you gotta love a show with a happy ending and healthy relationships. *Note, I didn't say they were healthy the entire time. :-) 

Okay, that was kind of exhausting. I'm going to do some rudimentary math with the little guy while you guys take over from here. Have fun!

OMgoodness! I can't believe I almost forgot my Zero entry, as in the best show ever:


Best character arcs ever. And they went on for 9 seasons.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Elana Johnson has a cover!!!

Her book, POSSESSION, comes out next Summer, which is so long a wait! But I'm sure it will be worth it. Just LOOK at her cover!

Run over to Elana's blog to see what all the fuss is about.

You can also to-read it at goodreads.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Most Influential Writers Ever

This is a lemming. What does a leader look like?

Guess what's happening at The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog..Period next week?
Oh you don't know? 
Fine, I'll tell you. ;-)

News from Tom Dhorman, the managing editor:
Cortnee Howard, the editor in chief, is hard at work compiling the internet's first official "twitter list" of the Top 100 most influential writers on Twitter. There will also be several "sublists" broken down by category (including things like YA fiction, poetry, romance etc). 
I'm very excited about this project, which is slated to launch on Monday. 

Spread the word and follow @BDCWB  and @Artlifefreedom on twitter to send suggestions. 

Who do you think is the most influential writer on twitter?

I'm gonna go ahead and say @kierstenwhite! I also love @staceykade and @gailcarriger. If you don't know, these are the authors of PARANORMALCY, THE GHOST AND THE GOTH, and SOULLESS, respectively.

And just for fun, tell me who you think WOULD be a twitter author celebrity if the internet had existed during their time. C.S. Lewis, for me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why Do Books Excite You? #reading

Mmm, yummy.

That's my question for you today. Why do books get you excited?

I'm thinking about my own crazy behavior lately: staying up all freakin night to finish MOCKINGJAY, then till 3:30am to finish the sequel to EVERMORE; in between times, sifting through the incredible (and copious) contests available right now at Holy book giveaways, Batman!

And I have to reflect a little on what it is about fiction that gets me so stinking excited...

Is it the new book smell?

Is it the Disney effect?

Is it the unreal other-worldliness?

Is it the prestige of saying, "oh yes, I read that in one sitting, minus bathroom breaks"?

Is it the vicarious thrill of experiencing an adventure through someone else's eyes, ears, mouth, and nose? (Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes.)

Is it the sense of completion, that all is right with the world, when the last page is turned and there are no further epilogues to be read?

Why do I love fiction so much?

Why do you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Contest WINNER! (and the Earth on Fire)

The Earth on Fire (from NASA)
"On August 1, 2010, almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun
 erupted in a tumult of activity.
This image shows many different aspects
of the 
news-making solar event."

Okay, so my news isn't so earth-blazing (hee hee):
The winner of the 50-followers contest is Sandy Shin

Email your shipping address to katrina (dot) lantz (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize of the best punctuation book ever: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Thank you to everyone who participated, and to all my faithful blogging buddies. I should do this more often. I love prizes!

What is your favorite kind of contest?

a) writing, like a pitch or a bad query or pick-up lines
b) following, tweeting, blogging by points
c) creating something, like vlogs or drawings
d) answering questions (like our "how do you rate your punctuation skillz" query)
e) something else brilliant I haven't thought of

What about prizes?

books, gift cards, critiques, t-shirts?

Let me know in the comments. :-)

Monday's Collection of Awesome

Mondays can be rough, what with the tearful goodbyes to the weekend and all. But this Monday has some special consolation prizes for the weary weekday warrior:

1. As promised, Amparo's putting on: An Awesome Thanks: 100 Followers Contest
-It's our way of saying thank you to our fabulous followers who helped spread the word so fast about the new Operation Awesome blog. Just follow and comment for a chance to win one of six prizes, including 10-page critiques, and a custom-made blog banner or button. You can be a new follower or an old friend. All are eligible.

2. I know you've missed them because I've been missing them, too: WriteOnCon gals are back!! And they've got a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT  via vlog.
-Also skip on over to Elana's blog to grab the new WriteOnCon button. The code is in the side bar.

3. If you've been wondering what to do with that book you wrote that's "good writing, but not unique enough to stand out in this competetive market", give this quick read a look: Rewrite Your Book
-It's my weekly writing tip over at The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, inspired today by Mandy Hubbard.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MOCKINGJAY as Political Statement

In the Districts, the idea of a republic is completely alien. There is only President Snow, and his Peacekeepers. No checks nor balances as there are in the United States government...or as there used to be. 

Nowadays, the lines between the three branches of government (executive, legislative, judiciary) are so blended as to make them almost meaningless. Congress debates whether or not things are constitutional (the judiciary's job). The Supreme Court creates law, even at times overruling multiple votes by the people. And the President steamrolls them both from the bully pulpit. It has been this way for decades, and it is getting worse. 

Whatever your politics, we can all agree that the less WE THE PEOPLE participate in government, the less power the people have. This line in the third book of the Hunger Games trilogy left me with goose bumps: 

"In return for full bellies and entertainment, people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power." -Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

How is the Capitol with its Districts like our world today? Without spoilers, please share your thoughts in the comments. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interviews, Book Excitement, and Follower Contests

I am sick today. Fuzzy head, achy muscles, and stuffy nose sick.

But it's okay! Because there are so many exciting things going on right now!

Interviews!! I'm doing a series on WriteOnCon's fabulous organizers about how it was to put together the world's first completely free, completely online writers conference, and what's next for WriteOnCon!

Each Friday, I post an interview over at the Operation Awesome blog. Currently, we've got:

Elana Johnson
Casey McCormick (this one's fresh from today, so skip over and say hi to Casey!)

I just recently posted an interview with literary agent Natalie Fischer, in case you missed that one. Update: This interview now includes her favorite TV shows and movies. Woot! She's a BONES fan. :-)

There's a tab across the top of my blog (go ahead and look) for all the interviews I do, whether they're based here or over at Operation Awesome. It's a great resource for writers who want to learn more about agents and the online writing community (which is probably the best online community in the history of online communities!!!).

Book Excitement!! Last night I finished reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I am now officially caught up with y'all who are just now reading Mockingjay. Give me a day and I'll be caught up with y'all who already finished Mockingjay! :-)

Can I just say that all of you who read Catching Fire before Mockingjay came out are freakin' book warriors?! I think I might have gone insane from that Lord-of-the-Rings-esque ending--that wasn't really an ending--if I hadn't been able to turn to the first few chapters of Mockingjay immediately after. So I'm in the throes of District (no spoilers here) and the leaders who kind of creep me out. Pray for me to get to the sunshiny parts soon.

There is sunshine, right? Right? (See this post about my fear of dark literature.) Of course I am loving the trilogy, and marveling at Suzanne Collin's genius in creating something so compelling and complex.

Follower Contests!! Of all the funny situations: my blog following is now at 49 at the exact same time as Operation Awesome is at 99. We are just on the cusps of 50 and 100! I'm not making an official announcement, but I will say that we have something fun planned as soon as we reach 100. Thank you, by the way, for all your support of Operation Awesome! We are honored to have reached so many wonderful writers in such a short time (the blog is only 10 days old). Our goal is to give back and pay it forward, and that gets easier with every awesome follower who shares our links or retweets.

As for me, I plan to do something special when Mr. or Mrs. 50th Follower comes along.

*insert drumroll*

A contest to win my favorite punctuation book of all time:

EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation 

I read this years ago, but it stays with me always. If you'd told me before I picked it up that I'd actually enjoy reading a book about punctuation, I'd have given you that raised eyebrows look you're giving me now. Stop that! You'll wrinkle your forehead!

It really is hilarious, especially if you're already one of those people who can't stand it when people say, "I could care less" when they mean "I couldn't care less." Or maybe you're one of those people who balked when you saw the movie poster for Two Weeks Notice (where's the apostrophe?!!).

But even if you're not. If you're the opposite--someone who doesn't get punctuation (but desperately wants to)--this book is for you.

When I hit fifty followers, one winner will win this frawesome book! Update: WE HAVE OVER 50 FOLLOWERS! The contest is a go! Comment to enter.

To enter, leave a comment telling me on a scale from 1-10 where you stand on the punctuation train, 10 being punctuation expert and 1 being "where the heck does this semi-colon go?"

Happy writing, everybody! And good luck!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Linky Thursday: Writerly Links for Today

I totally spaced in my last post on linking to some seriously awesome stuff for writers. So here I go with a special Linky Thursday post. Chickity-check it:

Join THE GREAT BLOGGING EXPERIMENT over at Elana Johnson's blog, plus get some great tips on how to blog effectively as a writer.

Literary agent Rachelle Gardner lets you sit in on a Pub Committee Meeting to see what editors and marketing directors think about your book.

My awesome CP, Kelly Andrews (or is it Andred?) writes about pen names and what prompted her to use one over at OPERATION AWESOME.

And if you still don't believe Paranormalcy is the IT book this year, don't take my word for it. Check out Shannon Messenger's glowing review and a contest where you can win a signed copy

or read author Kiersten White's response to hitting #7 on the NYT Best Seller list in the first week! This is her first published book, people!

Ask a Literary Agent (Year 1) is an awesome free e-book available for download that compiles questions and answers about writing and publishing by agent legend Noah Lukeman, author of The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens.

My Latest Favorite Book Debuts at #7 on NYT Best Seller List!

Can you guess what book I'm talking about?

Okay, go ahead and read ahead, then.

It's pink and black.

It's in my side bar.

I've been blahging about it for months, even before I actually read it.

I read it last week and fell in love.

I've got a pending interview with the awesome author.

On September 24th, I'll be breaking down characterization based on this book.

I'm recommending it to everyone I know, male, female, adult, or teen.

It has a special place on my bookshelf.

I have a huge platonic author-crush on the writer.

You guessed it (or maybe you cheated and checked out the links) :-)


Congratulations to Kiersten White on making the New York Times Best Sellers List in her first week of publication!! This book has already been optioned as a film (and it's looking like it's really going to happen) and the second book in the trilogy has been written (it's called Supernaturally). This series is sure to inspire excitement for a long time to come!

Are you feeling it?