Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Most Embarrassing Moments: Use them in your writing

We're all creative types here. Has this ever happened to you?

Something's just triggered an idea in your mind for a conversation between two sisters. Sister A is telling Sister B that the life Sister B has chosen as laundromat operator is meaningless and debasing to their family name, and she ought to suck it up and go back to college to get a real job. Sister B retaliates by saying that Sister A is a corporate bimbo who got where she is by stepping on everyone, and that she, Sister B, is happy at the laundromat where hours are flexible and she can actually make it to a 12:30 lunch on time and stay to wait for her manager sister who didn't show up until 1:45.

Well, by this time, Sister A is wearing one of those perfect, nobody-speaks-to-me-that-way-and-lives scowls. You want to be sure to get it just right: the way her eyebrows furrow, and that little crease above her nose, and the downturned lines of her mouth that even botox couldn't cure.

So that's what your face looks like when a timid voice behind you says, "Excuse me, could you hand me a package of pepperoni," and you remember that you're in a public place: the meat and cheese aisle at Fresh & Easy.

Do you smile, play it off like you weren't just making the ugliest face imaginable? Or do you hand her the meat and power-walk away? What would your characters do?

How about this? (men, you have my permission to skip this one)

You're in the gym doing Kegels on the treadmill, ya know, to kill two birds with one stone, and a man comes up behind you while you're totally focused on your nether-regions. "Hey, do you want me to leave the TV remote here?" You jump three feet in the air and almost fall off the tread.

Even though there's no way he knows what you were doing, you still turn red (or maybe that's just face-flush from the workout) and mutter something negatory so he'll walk away (okay, how is it possible that negatory is not a real word--did anybody else know this?).

Embarrassing moments. They happen to everyone. That little teen-sitcom-narrator voice in your head says, Awk-ward, and you try to move on and forget that it happened.

But I suggest holding on to them a little longer, before you suppress that memory forever. Use it.

To be human is to be awkward. That means that if you want to bring more humanity to your characters--even if they're green-skinned, multi-eye-balled aliens on Planet H--you can do it just by adding boogers. After all, we may all handle embarrassing situations differently, but boogers are universal.

What embarrassing situation did you inflict on your characters today?

p.s. Kristal has a very good post about chaos interfering with your writing life over on Operation Awesome, with a mention of the Mystery Agent contest which opens TOMORROW!! Is your one-line pitch ready?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Things that made my day

First, it's my day on Operation Awesome and I got to interview an amazing person, a teen philanthropist who also happens to write YA fantasy! Check out Riley Carney over there. She'll inspire you!

To make Thanksgiving easier on my three-year-old son, I asked him what he loves instead of what he's thankful for, as thankful for is kind of a mouthful for someone with such little lips.

He listed off:

Jamesy, Lukey, oranges, grapes, ice cream, and oranges.

I thought that was fitting for Thanksgiving. When you ask me what I love, or what I'm thankful for, the list comes down to people and food. What else is there, really?

So here are the things that made me smile upon my return to Blog World today:

This post from Amparo about what she's thankful for (you are so on my list, Amparo!)

The master of plays on words, Lindsay, sharing Thanksgiving love all the way from Britain! (I love you, too!)

Michelle celebrating her birthday! (Woo hoo! Happy belated!) and her book coming out SO SOON!

Kristal's fortune cookie wisdom (very inspiring, as usual)

and the happy emoticon smiling faces of Kelly and Angie on our group forum. 

These ladies get me through the dungeons of writer's block, and squee with me every time I break free of its chains. They call me on my crap when I get a character's voice or age all wrong, or when I'm stalling too much before the good stuff in a story. They commiserate with me over rejections, maybes, and the general slowness of the publishing industry. They put up with my (ahem) artistic temperament, and I don't know what I'd do without them. 

Thanks, ladies!! You are Operation Awesome. 

p.s. MYSTERY AGENT ALERT: December will have a M.A. judging one-line pitches. First fifty will make it in on the first of the month. Genres: all YA and adult subgenres except for Christian fiction, erotica, MG, and picture books. Polish 'em up! I hope you win!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Use Your Failures

(Apple II) Use your boxy original to craft a shiny, sleek next generation

I'm currently writing my fifth novel. That blows my mind when I actually sit down and think about it.


Of all the crazy things I've done in my life (and there have been a few), writing five books since 2008 is probably the one I'm second-most proud of. Childbearing being the shiny, uncontested first.

But writing books is second to that because it's similar to childbearing in many ways-- a long labor of love that results in something entirely unique, a new creation with its own fingerprints and innate personality.

Because each novel is born of a labor of love, we never really let them go completely, even if we delete them from our hard drive or scrap and start completely over. No matter how many novels we may write, we never really move on.

It's kind of like in X-Men when Rogue explains to Wolverine about the first boy she ever kissed (and sucked the life force from):

"I can still feel him... and it's the same way with you."

My early novels are far from perfect. Seven rounds of edits each would likely not repair what's wrong with them. But I'll always love them, always compare my new characters to my old ones and marvel at how much they've grown. I'll always wish I could have raised 'em right and sent them out into the world properly, instead of keeping them on memory sticks in various locations all over my house.

People say you've got to move on and keep writing and all that, and they're totally right. We can't spend all our time revising sub-par work when our writing style has grown so far beyond it that a total rewrite is the only sure course. We'd spend so much time and energy re-working something that might work better *gasp* scrapped for parts and incorporated into an entirely new story.

But that doesn't mean we can't still love our babies, and feel giddy when somebody recognizes the talent behind the newbie mistakes. And who knows? Maybe someday, you'll dust off that old MS and have a stroke of revision genius that makes your little baby into a full-grown salable book.

In the meantime, use what you've learned from your past work to make your WIP as shiny as possible. Never forget how flat characterization stifled your last book, or how a floppy plot arc made the book before that one fizzle out at the end. Use the pain of failure to succeed this time. And  don't worry if your WIP lets you down.

There's always the next book.  

Amparo's on Operation Awesome giving out inspiration: Why You Should Keep Going When the Going Sucks

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Writers Matter

Confession: I've forgotten most of the titles, characters, and even major plot points from the million books in my junior high school library.

Books, books, books = a glimpse of heaven?

But I still remember "Pop-eyes," a breakfast mentioned once in one of those books: bread with a hole cut out of the middle (using a drinking glass) and fried with an egg to fill the center, topped with stewed tomatoes. This sounded so cool, I had to try it and it has since become one of my favorite comfort foods.

I still remember Caitlin: a romantic trilogy about a girl who thought she needed to be in control all the time, until she crippled a little kid in a car accident. I may be remembering some of the details wrong, but I remember Caitlin's abrasive, snobby personality--and that it was the first time I realized the snobby girl is just as insecure as the shy one. Everybody needs love, even if we're taught different ways of attracting it.

I remember being grossed out by a line from Jurassic Park that some boys in the library showed me just to see my reaction.

I remember having my library books confiscated in math, science, and yes, even English classes.

I remember being the weird kid who--people actually noticed--had a different paperback book every day or every other day.

I remember Anne of Green Gables dying her hair, hating her freckles, but secretly liking her nose. I remember her insisting that Ann with an e was more elegant than Ann without it. I remember Gilbert Blythe pulling her braids and hanging out with Josie but secretly loving Anne all the time.

I remember Elizabeth Bennet being witty and strong and a little irreverent in private. I remember Darcy being a jerk and then turning out to be a nice guy after all.

I remember Brittany being raped, and learning how to live all over again afterward.

Books shaped my life and, at various times, saved it.

Writers matter. The words you put down to explain, describe, embellish your reality matter. Writers help to shape the generational discussion! But they also influence a little seventh- and eighth-grader girl to think about the nerd, the snob, the jock, and the emo kid in a more compassionate, accepting way. They teach her fun new recipes and weird social rituals she would otherwise not be privy to.  They give her hope that someday she won't be the odd one out, that it gets better.

So I have to say thank you.

Thank you to the writers who reached me in the frailty of my adolescence. Thank you to the writers who are just beginning, but who will yet reach my children. It's not easy, but it's important.  

You're awesome. Consider yourselves validated.

If you're looking for other ways to make a difference, Angela Ackerman has one opportunity for you kidlit lovers. Read my interview with her, and then head over to the Critter Palooza! It won't be a party without you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fools Rush In, but Winners Never Quit

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Had enough adages?

I've got millions more:

  • Never say die.
  • Don't count your chickens before they hatch.
  • Ours is not to question why; ours is but to do or die.
  • Fail your way to success.
  • If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Okay, I don't have a million. I have five.

This is my lame attempt at an introduction to a man with something important to say: Larry Brooks of the Storyfix web site talks today about how, in the literary industry, NO means I DON'T KNOW.

Go read his article, and then...

Don't rush in. But don't quit till you win.

Also worth a read: Kelly's post on The Limits of Hope

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cue the Violins: Emotional Triggers in Literature

I cry at movies. All. the. time.

Just before the birth of my second son, I went to a movie with a group of moms and our toddlers: Madagascar 2. It was a free matinĂ©e, and you really do get what you pay for, unfortunately. Between old ladies getting punched loudly by cartoon lions and sultry romance scenes involving wet hippos (yeah, it really was that bad), there was a scene that made me cry.

It had to do with the lion and his dad. And it should NOT have made me cry.

(In my defense, I was pregnant.)

Tracing back through my past crying-in-movies behavior, there's one common link that threads these incidents together:


Usually violins, but it can really be anything that's lyrical, legato, and swelling. My brain knows without me even thinking about it that whatever accompanies the music is going to be touching, tragic, or joyful--and my body reacts.

At various times, I've felt a little angry at how easily I'm manipulated by movie scores. After all, I don't wear mascara for nothing! And I don't want it dripping slowly down my cheeks, defeating its whole purpose.

But I really can't help it. Since I was a child, I've been watching movies--lots of movies. And they all use the same tactics to manipulate (or if you'd rather, evoke) emotion. So it makes perfect sense that, just like Pavlov's salivating dogs, I'll cry every time I hear the swelling, power ballad whistle.

But it got me wondering... can the same effect be achieved in literature? Not that I want to go around making people cry for nothing! But emotions trigger memory recall, and if you want your readers to remember the story you're telling them (and the point, because every story has a point), then it's worth thinking about emotional triggers.

So what sets the stage for an emotional connection between a reader and your characters?
Here's what I've come up with based on my reading. Add your insights to my list in the comments.

Setting the Stage for Emotional Triggers

-signs of stress, like hearts pounding, tongues swelling??, stomachs fluttering

-prolonged longing finally actualized (the back-and-forth couple realizes at last that they're perfect for each other, e.g. Twilight, Pride and Prejudice)

-threatening death and then letting a conflicted character's decision to do the right thing save the day (mouthful, e.g. Harry Potter a million times over)

-"Please Mia, don't make me write a song." (from IF I STAY by Gayle Forman) aka inside joke made tragic

-"You love me. Real or not real?" 
I tell him, "Real." (from MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins) aka tearing the reader's heart out with tender manifestations of vulnerability

Now you know what makes me cry. What triggers your sob reflex?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mystery Agent and Middle Grade Love

Head over to Operation Awesome's Mystery Agent Reveal Party right now...

Come back and read this later. :)

I've got some love for a middle grade book today. It's cute. It's clever. And even though the protagonists are two little girls, it's a book that defies the gender gap.

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life has not been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother--a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives.

The good news? There's even more of this book to love! I'm counting EIGHT Sisters Grimm books on goodreads (and when we finish reading those, there's a fun book also by Michael Buckley called N.E.R.D.S. that looks like it's right up my--er, my sons' alley).

I'm the mother of two little boys, so maybe it seems odd that I'm all excited about a series written about girl detectives. And I'll admit, when I started reading this book to my almost 4-year-old before nap time, I thought it would be something mainly for me to enjoy as his little head lulled off to sleep. But each page was filled with action and attitude, which boys and girls love just the same. It took him much longer than usual to fall asleep because he was engaged in the story (not that I'm complaining).

Michael Buckley did an excellent job characterizing Sabrina, the older sister, as a brave, distrusting soul who always has their next home cased for escape, should the need arise. She's the perfect body guard for little sister, Daphne, who thinks Great Danes are adorable, and green meatballs are exciting! Together, they navigate a strange new world where everything they read in fairy tales is true... more or less. Daphne's more at home in this world than Sabrina, with her childlike faith and forgiving nature. Ironically, it's Sabrina--normally suspicious of everyone--whose sudden bout of trust gets them double-crossed. And since there's more than one trickster in the story, you'll have a fun time trying to figure out who the double-crosser will be!

With action, humor, and a touching dose of realism in the relationship between the girls and their missing parents, The Fairy Tale Detectives won my heart.

How about you? Read any great middle grade lately?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Character Meme (a.k.a. procrastination tool)

It's Nano month and I'm swamped with writing I should have done and beta reads I've committed to (that I swear I really, really want to do and am on my way to finishing up very soon)!

Time for some character meme fun!

Using my Nano WIP, I'll answer a few bizarre questions about my characters that I hope will give us all a clearer understanding of who they are. At least that's the excuse I'm giving myself for having some fun with my characters instead of writing. Hey, maybe this will help me understand where to take them next. 

Choose ten of your OCs, then answer the questions. (My MC, Azalea, is not listed here)

1) Gabriel Blake: the seventeen-year-old love interest/mission target

2) Natalie Blake: Gabriel's dramatic fourteen-year-old sister

3) Zinc: the mysterious, centuries older paranormal being who haunts my MC

4) Brody: Gabriel's BFF, the pervy Aca-Deca genius

5) Tabitha: the Seer and my MC's scary-powerful mentor

6) Garrett: jazz scenester with a volatile temper and sordid past

7) Mrs. Blake: slightly overweight housewife, member of an ancient secret society

8) Sara Cross: Gabriel's ex-girlfriend, fly girl cheerleader

9) The Kenzian Council: several powerful beings merged into one

10) Mrs. S: high school band teacher

1. 4 invites 3 and 8 to dinner at their house. What happens?

Brody would never invite Zinc to a dinner with Sara. He'd want to keep her all to himself, and Zinc is just too charming. So what probably happened was that Sara and Brody were on a date and Zinc crashed it for his own nefarious reasons. Sara's going all googly-eyed on him, and Brody's frantically trying to gain control of the conversation by listing his various academic accomplishments. Brody would call the night a disaster. Zinc would call it a lark, and Sara would call it a much-needed distraction.

2. 9 tries to get 5 to go to a strip club. What happens?

LOL. Okay, so the Kenzian Council is trying to get its Seer into a strip club... probably in an effort to acclimate the pure-hearted Tabitha to the seedier musical element of society. Perhaps they think her process would be improved in matching people with the most opportune callings. Tabitha will perform chakra cleanses every twenty seconds and then zap out. The Council will realize its error and spend the next century apologizing.

3. You need to stay at a friend's house for a night. Who do you choose: 1 or 6?

Hmm, it would have to be Gabriel. I'm a sucker for the softies. Garrett is too, umm, scary.

4. 2 and 7 are making out. 10 walks in. What is their reaction?

Okay, Natalie is making out with her mom... Mrs. S is calling social services. Yuck. Some of these just don't work.

5. 3 falls in love with 6. 8 is jealous. What happens?

Okay, Zinc and Garrett, huh? This one doesn't work either because of a sexual orientation problem. But Sara definitely would be jealous b/c WHO DOESN'T HAVE THE HOTS FOR ZINC? She'd just go off and sulk, though. Confrontation isn't her thing.

6. 4 jumps you in a dark alleyway. Who comes to your rescue: 10, 2, or 7?

Brody is totally creepy enough to jump me in a dark alleyway. Natalie would save me, though. She's a little firecracker who's never liked Brody and hates his guts for betraying her brother. She'd kick his butt all over southern California.

7. 1 decides to start a cooking show. Fifteen minutes later, what is happening?

Azalea is gently trying to explain to Gabriel that, while he is good at many things (surfing, car-restoration, grammar, jazz, and cuddling), cooking just isn't one of them. He's not horrible, mind you. But a cooking show would be a sad waste of his real talents. There are enough recipes for meatballs floating around, anyway.

8. 3 has to marry either 8, 4, or 9. Whom do they choose?

Oh, this is kinda funny, actually, but you won't get it unless you read my book (ha!)-- Zinc has to marry Sara Cross, the Kenzian Council, or grody Brody. While any other guy would totally go for the hot cheerleader, Zinc has only ever wanted one thing: power. He'd totally marry the Council.

9. 7 kidnaps 2 and demands something from 5 for 2's release. What is it?

Mrs. Blake would demand Azalea be bound and delivered to her. But since she has kidnapped her own daughter, she's not likely to get anything from Tabitha, especially not her prized pupil. Nobody would believe she'd hurt her own daughter.

10. Everyone gangs up on 3. Does 3 have a chance in hell?

Definitely. He's wily. But it would be tough if the Council and the Vanquishers teamed up to destroy him, especially if Azalea stopped kissing Gabe long enough to join the fight. In that case, there'd be no fight. Just Zinc zapping around till his light snuffs out.

11. Everyone is invited to 2 and 10's wedding except for 8. How do they react?

Another match that wouldn't happen, but Sara Cross wouldn't care she wasn't invited. Social status is the last thing on this cheerleader's mind. Her goals don't involve a lot of people--just her and her career.

12. Why is 6 afraid of 7?

Anybody would be afraid of Mrs. Blake. Sure, she seems sweet at first, until you find the collection of daggers in her hide-a-pantry.

13. 1 arrives late for 2 and 10's wedding. What happens, and why were they late?

Gabriel is protesting his kid sister's marriage to a much, much older woman (his band teacher, no less). All sorts of laws are being broken in this meme.

14. 5 and 9 get roaring drunk and end up at your house. What happens?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! After I stop laughing, I pull out the fire extinguishers. The Seer and the Council are angry drunks with absolutely no tolerance for alcohol.

15. 9 murders 2's best friend. What does 2 do to get back at them?

Natalie's going to join the Vanquishers, intent on destroying the Council, but not because she believes in their cause. It's totally personal.

16. 6 and 1 are in mortal peril and only one of them can survive. Does 6 save themself or 1?

Garrett always saves himself first. Not that Gabriel needs his help. Surfers are tough and resourceful.

17. 8 and 3 go camping. For some reason they forgot to bring along any food. What do they do?

Ha! Sara wishes Zinc would camp with her! Since Zinc doesn't need the same kind of fuel Sara does, he'll probably just ditch her and go look for Azalea. Sara's spunky. She'll survive.

18. 5 is in a car crash and is critically injured. What does 9 do?

What Tabitha is doing in a car when she can just zap around the world on a whim, I'm not sure. Perhaps she's pretending to be human... Even if her chi is thrown completely off balance in the crash, the Council could right her with a simple light-cleanse.

19. The quiz is over. Tag someone.

Some of that was weird, but most of it was really fun to think about. 

Are you plot-stuck during Nano? Maybe this meme will help. I'm not going to tag you officially, but if you need some character development or plot ideas ("ooh, maybe 3 and 7 SHOULD get married"), then give it a go. :) 

Right, then. Back to work, Katrina. I'm at 16,400 words on the Nano WIP.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is all middle grade Harry Potter now?

Got your attention with that title, huh? You know and I know that not all middle grade is like Harry Potter, but I wonder about the general population sometimes.

I wrote a middle grade novel this past year. It's around 40k words long, has goofy titles and the super villains all have special names, usually using alliteration and universal symbols.

It's about a thirteen-year-old boy with two living, co-habitat parents, and an evil twin brother who drives him nuts--not an eleven-year-old orphan forced to live with his aunt, uncle, and cousin in the Muggle world.

So why are my anonymous reviews coming back with, "It's like you're trying to copy Harry Potter but not as good," or "Great story! Reminds me of Harry Potter"?

What the heck, people.

First of all, not a fair comparison. No other middle grade novel has been as popular as Harry Potter... ever. Second of all, if you must compare one work to another, there are other middle grade novels in the world, certainly others that more aptly match what I've written. I don't claim it's entirely unique. After all, how unique could a super villain story be considered in the year two big-budget animated movies came out about super villains? (Despicable Me and Mega Mind)

I love Harry Potter, don't get me wrong. Have my tickets for Deathly Hallows: Part I bought and waiting. I'm a big fan.

But this is my own story. It's not about Harry. Not about wizards or wand lore or magical creatures of any kind.

Like many other middle grade novels, it is about kids solving their own problems. It's about goofy or wicked adults who pose problems for the kids, and it's about the complexities of being loyal to your family while simultaneously becoming your own person.

But that doesn't mean it's Harry Potter.

I feel like shouting from my rooftop, "READ MORE MIDDLE GRADE!"

For the benefit of anybody who stumbles across this post by Googling "harry potter", please leave your middle grade book recommendations in the comments. Let's start a new trend where middle grade is taken for what it is and not endlessly compared to one (albeit brilliant) series. :)

p.s. I wrote 6k words on my YA Urban Fantasy Nanowrimo WIP last night!! I'm not totally caught up, but halfway there. My word count stands at 15,500 now.

p.p.s. I'll start the recommendations: In keeping with the super power theme, I highly recommend POWERLESS by Matthew Cody. I'm currently reading THE SISTERS GRIMM by Michael Buckley and finding it absolutely delightful! There are classics like WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS by Wilson Rawls, and THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH by Norton Juster.

Friday, November 12, 2010

And the winner of a full NaNoWriMo beta-read is...

Ready to crown our winner?

Me, too! Let's do it!

The TWO winners of last week's NaNoWriMo Logline Contest are:


(Emy and Fey, email me your finished stories at katrina.lantz (at) gmail (dot) com in December, or whenever they're ready for a beta read. I'm looking forward to the exciting reads!)

It's so hard to sum up your novel in one line, whether you've finished writing it or not. I was impressed with all the entries and it was tough to pick one (umm, impossible, really). So I picked two, but that's my max! You guys know how busy December is. :) Thanks to everybody who entered!

Keep polishing your completed novel pitches because Operation Awesome will be having a December contest. (Note about the December contest: please do not pitch your Nano novel to our Mystery Agent. Give it time to simmer before you really tackle your revisions. You'll be glad you did.)

Kristal also has declared a BLOG BANNER WINNER over at her blog, so check that out, if you entered, to see if you're the lucky winner.

I've got a new article up on The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog:
Writers, do you read?

Lastly, but not leastly, I must direct you to Operation Awesome for a fabulous guest post by... 

Cortnee Howard 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taboos for Aspiring Writers

(Picture from this website)
Confession: I'm a nerd.

This won't be a surprise to my friends who have been following this blog for any length of time. I've always been a dweeb, but now it's getting dangerous.

Because now the cool kids are actually waving to me in the halls and signing my yearbook. And now they're going to notice if I do something horribly taboo.

So, I need your help to compile a list of taboos for aspiring writers. What are the common-sense no-nos that dweebs like me don't have the common sense to avoid?

I'll start it out with a few I've heard of (or maybe at some point actually committed myself). I'll let you guess (silently, in your head, please) which ones I've committed. Add your own suggestions in the comments. Here I go.


1. Complaining about writing/querying/agents/publishers/bestsellers in the public eye. Jonathan Franzen, I'm looking at you.

2. Responding to a rejection or a bad review, even politely.

3. Being too familiar or chummy with an agent or editor in email, blog comments, twitter, or facebook.

4. Querying a book that hasn't been written (unless it's non-fiction, of course).

5. Querying a non-fiction book without a platform.

6. Talking about yourself more than your book in the query letter.

7. Giving agents parenting advice using twitter @ replies.

8. Fangirling (fanboying?) over favorite authors/books/movies with excessive squee-ing and OMGoodness-ing on your writing blog.

9. Posting bad writing on your blog.

10. Publicly disagreeing with the mainstream of agents or others in positions of power ("And that's why, you see, agents should be querying writers.").

11. Querying a novel in a tweet.

12. Pitching an incomplete book idea in a tweet.

13. Proposing marriage to an editor in a tweet.

14. Emailing an agent at more than one email address, for any reason.

15. Putting a smiley face in an email to an agent or editor who hasn't first smiley-faced you.

Okay, that's a good start. I'm relying on you guys to fill me in on what I've missed. 

Other interesting links and tidbits: 

Operation Awesome (always something fun going on there)

Elana Johnson (she's been writing about her writing process--good stuff)

My logline contest has closed. THANK YOU to everyone who entered. My final decision will be posted Friday. I'm excited to read somebody's awesome Nano novel this December!

And my Nano update: 8,360 words

Yes, I am some odd-8,000 words behind. I'm aware of the problem, and technical representatives are standing by to.... I'm working on it, okay! :) Have a nice day, and happy writing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pick and Choose Revision

It's impossible to please everybody with a single book. The first time I met somebody who didn't absolutely adore Twilight, I was slightly in shock.

Me: *gasp* You didn't feel the passion in her writing?

Them: Meh. It was sloppy.

Me: *gasp*

Same thing with Hunger Games, when I finally got the guts to read something everybody told me was really dark. I loved it, of course, and then met yet another person who said, "Meh."

It's easy for me to think, "What's wrong with you people? This is genius! Brilliant stuff!"

But people have different needs, different perspectives. That extends to literature as well as everything else in life.

That's why you should always take revision suggestions with a grain of salt, EVEN if they come from an agent. Of course, give them a little more weight if they come from your dream agent! Take a serious look at them. But don't lie down and take every single revision suggestion from all two dozen of your beta readers.

Why? Because you'll go insane. They won't even agree with each other half the time. What one person thinks is truly poetic, another will think is "trying too hard." What one person thinks is stunning characterization, another will label cliche or "bad original."

In the end, you've got to go with your gut. Feedback is priceless. But the revisions will all be yours. Make sure you own them before you implement them, or you'll end up with a book even you don't want to read.

 Don't forget to enter my 100 followers contest for a chance to have your whole Nano novel beta read by yours truly. :)

And don't miss author Roni Loren talking about What Makes Romance Awesome on the Operation Awesome blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oh, if I were a rich man, doobeedobeedobeedobeedobeedobeedobeedo

Fire Opal: my "earth name" at the wilderness therapy program I used to work for.

My awesome CP, Kristal, is waxing poetic on her blog with the "If I were" blog party. Since I happened to read her blog, I consider myself invited to that party. And since you're reading this, consider yourself invited, too! Aren't blog parties so warm and inclusive? *happy sigh* I like them, too.

So here's the deal. Answer the question with the first thing that pops into your head, not the most brilliant thing that results from hours of careful contemplation. First thing. Promise? Okay, here are mine:

- If I were a season, I’d be Summer.

- If I were a month, I’d be July.

- If I were a day of the week, I’d be Sunday.

- If I were a time of day, I’d be 5:30am.

- If I were a planet, I’d be Venus.

- If I were a direction, I’d be West.

- If I were a tree, I’d be a Fig Tree.

- If I were a flower, I’d be a gerbera daisy.

- If I were a fruit, I’d be a banana.

- If I were a land animal, I’d be a puppy.

- If I were a sea animal, I’d be a killer whale.

- If I were a bird, I’d be an kildeer.

- If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a hand-carved dresser.

- If I were a liquid, I’d be lava.

- If I were a stone, I’d be a fire opal.

- If I were a tool, I’d be a hammer.

- If I were a kind of weather, I’d be a hurricane (hee hee, oh, it's still not funny?).

- If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a flute.

- If I were a colour, I’d be yellow.

- If I were a facial expression, I’d be a wink.

- If I were an emotion, I’d be fear.

- If I were a sound, I’d be a dripping faucet.

- If I were an element, I’d be fire.

- If I were a car, I’d be an '85 Chevy Caprice Classic.

- If I were a food, I’d be caviar.

- If I were a place, I’d be Disney Land.

- If I were a flavor, I’d be lemon.

- If I were a scent, I’d be jasmine and lavender.

- If I were an object, I’d be a train.

- If I were a body part, I’d be a nose.

- If I were a song, I’d be "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" 

- If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be stilettos.

- If I were transportation, I’d be a giant goose.

- If I were a fairy tale, I’d be The Night Before Christmas.

- If I were a holiday, I’d be the Fourth of July.

- If I were a novel, I'd be Anne of Green Gables. 

- If I were a movie, I'd be Iron Man. 

Okay, some of those answers were crazy. First thing that came to my mind, mind you. Now let me know if you've done it so I can check out your corner of the blog party. 

Have fun and Happy Sabbath! 

p.s. Don't forget to enter my 100 followers contest for a chance to have your whole Nano novel beta read by yours truly. :)

p.p.s. Michelle wrote about Occupational Hazards on the OA blog today, so if you're a writer, you'll want to commiserate with her over there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thank You (and a 100 followers contest)

UPDATE: Winners posted HERE.

Update: Contest closed. Wonderful entries! I'm excited and a little nervous to pick a winner. Just remember this reflects only my personal tastes and these all sound really cool! Winner will be posted Friday. Thanks, everybody who joined me!

Thanks to everyone who helped me with my logline this week! You guys are made of awesome!

And WOOHOO for waking up to find 101 followers on my blog today!! It's a nice feeling to know that my voice is being heard, and to have the chance to read so many of your blogs, as well.

In celebration, I'm having a NaNoWriMo Logline Contest--got to keep that one-line goodness going! For my amazing blog buddies only (in other words, you must be a follower), put your NaNoWriMo novel loglines in the comments and I'll pick one that makes me desperately want to read the book, and offer a full beta read/critique to be delivered in December when the Nano novels are all (hopefully) finished.

After all, once the words are down, you're going to want a second opinion. I can help you kickstart the revision phase of NaNoWriMo.

Also, the amazingly talented Kristal Shaff is running a contest of her own where you can win A BLOG BANNER designed by her for free! She did my beautiful orange banner (I see you all eyeing it admiringly!) AND the Operation Awesome blog banner and buttons, so it's totally worth commenting and following her wonderful writing blog to win.

And Miranda Kenneally just sold her DEBUT NOVEL, called SCORE! It's about the daughter of an NFL superstar who wants nothing less than to play college football. (There's also a love triangle: yummy.)
Go congratulate her and her incredible agent, Sara Megibow!

For my contest:

-slap down your one-sentence logline in the comments
-include your genre and title
(make sure you're following this blog so you'll know when I announce the winner)

Just tell me what your Nano novel is about in one sentence. Can't wait to read them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Logline Blogfest

I'm doing Steena's LOGLINE BLOGFEST just a little late because of the Mystery Agent one-line pitch contest that went down today. Still, for the evening crowd, here's my logline:

Genre: MG Adventure
Title: Prepare to be Repaired

In a town where the heroes are all villains, Robert is the benign twin, the proverbial black sheep with white knight tendencies, do-gooder super powers, and dust allergies--but he's everyone's last, best hope against the beasts dragging both heroes and villains into the woods, one at a time.

Gee, those are hard. I'm glad we usually get a whole query to pitch our story!

Do you have one? Join the blogfest. (It's totally not too late! Well, maybe a little.)

November's Mystery Agent Contest Full!

What an exciting day! There was an awesome logline blogfest at Steena's blog! And Operation Awesome had its second Mystery Agent contest, which is what occupied most of my day with fun and fiction! I'm just amazed by the creativity you people can pack into one sentence! If you missed it...

Check out the entries here.

We'll give our Mystery Agent some time to choose (seems an impossible task to me!) and then post the results along with a fun little interview with our M.A.

Meanwhile, if you want to daydream of being plucked from the pitch pile (one of my favorite pastimes), check out Nancy's story. This time it could be you! We really hope it is!

Enter the Mystery Agent one-line pitch Contest at Operation Awesome

September 2010 rocked my socks off. The Operation Awesome blog launched with the generous help of a fabulous literary agent who read FIFTY one-line pitches and chose ONE happy winner to send her FULL MANUSCRIPT. A few others were given notable mention, and one well-prepared author even got offered representation

All of this was amazing! 

October 2010 flew by in a flurry of fun contestswriting challenges, and timely chats

Then, Operation Awesome got lucky again...

We found another incredible agent generous enough to read FIFTY one-line pitches.

This month's M.A. reps MG/YA and is building her adult fiction list. 

Enter the contest now

And, in case you haven't noticed (hee hee), the Operation Awesome owl now has an adorable name to match his person:

Thanks for voting, everybody!