Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How do you know you're a writer?

When I was a little girl, I was a liar.

I lied about anything and everything, just because the lie was more interesting than the truth. I told one potential friend that I was born in China, and had two Great Danes so big I could ride them. I never really did it for the attention, or to get others to like me. I just saw the world a different way in my mind than it was in reality.

I lied to my parents. Not to keep myself out of trouble, but just to see if I could get away with it. Sometimes I did. And sometimes the lies grew too big to contain, and took on a life of their own. That's when I'd get caught in one.

When my parents, or kids at school asked me why I lied, I'd shrug and look away. I never really knew then why I felt so compelled to change the facts. Now I know that there is some part of me that has always felt the need to re-write reality to suit my wishes. Maybe that's a selfish desire, but that was what drove me to write my own books as a teen, finding something lacking in the books I'd been reading. I wanted to create my own realities, and writing novels was the best way to do that.

It's only in recent years, since I started writing again as an adult, that I've thought about the little fibber that I once was: a bragger of false truths, a teller of tall tales. There was never anything malicious in my lies. I was just a girl looking for something. The stories I tell now wouldn't be nearly as inventive if not for the imagination of that girl. Have I found what I was looking for yet? I think I'm getting there.

Am I still a liar?


What? You don't believe me? ;)

How do you know that the writing life is the life for you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Keeping the Dream Alive part II

Morning, y'all! I am in high spirits today so I thought I'd post another excerpt from the novel I'm currently querying. Aside from a select handful of literary agents, this newest version of my opening hasn't been seen by anyone but myself, so I thought it would be a nice treat to have its debut here. If you read my blog, you'll know that no part of Evangeline has gone through such dramatic change as this opening. So here's hoping that any future changes to it (like those suggested by the editor of a publishing house, fingers-crossed!) will be minimal.



redacted 12/31/09

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Gift that Keeps on Giving...

I have to admit it, I get a little thrill whenever I get a comment on my blog, especially since I know I'm not the best at coming up with comments for the blogs of others. So I was especially thrilled when I saw that Icy Roses, over at From Elysium, just awarded me the Kreativ Blogger award. I'd like to officially express my gratitude to her, and tell everyone to go check out her blog.

Here are the rules I must adhere to to be deserving of this award. These rules apply to all those who receive this award.

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might not know.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

As for nominating seven different kreativ bloggers, well, here goes:

1. Abby Annis, whose blog has a new look! Check it out!
2. Rebecca Knight: Writer in Progress
3. Jess Jordan, whose recent posts on Say What? have been extremely helpful to me
4. Rebecca Sutton at Sometimes Helpful Nonsense
5. Suzanne at Tales of Extraordinary Ordinariness, who I know is on vacation right now
6. Tess Hilmo, for being a constant inspiration to me, even if she doesn't know it
7. Eric, at Working my Muse, I wanted to nominate you, too, but I thought the award was too girly. I'll make you a special one. ;), here:

I know you're all dying to hear my seven facts, well, here goes:

1. As you can see by Eric's award, I have mad Photoshop skills!
2. I can't curl my tongue, but I can touch my elbows together behind my back. Seriously.
3. I've never been black-out-drunk before, but I've lied and said I was.
4. I love to shop at the Asian Market, and am addicted to Vietnamese po'boys and avocado, lychee, or kumquat bubble tea.
5. I had a lot of Barbies when I was a kid, but I never actually played with them, just dressed them, did their hair, and made them have sex with Ken.
6. I love to sing, but I can never remember song lyrics unless I read them.
7. I will eat anything that's deep fried.

Is that seven already? And here I was just opening up. ;)

Thanks again, Icy Roses!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Do you like free books?

Because Princess Bookie has got an awesome one going on her blog right now. I just had to support this contest since:

a.) I like free books

b.) I like helping out other bloggers.

It looks like Princess Bookie has gotten a lot of new followers from this contest, including me, and I'd say she deserves them. Take a moment to read her reviews. She's read and reviewed a lot of paranormal novels I've never even heard of, and is obviously well-read in the YA and romance genres. Maybe you'll win a ginormous box of books.

In other contest news, simply come up with your best chicken joke, and Janice Hardy might send you an autographed ARC of her debut novel, The Shifter. This book sounds right up my alley. I like a good not-too-distant-future-society just as much as the next gal, and The Shifter looks like it will be just that!

Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back in Querying Hell


If you read my last post, you'll know that my apartment was broken into last weekend. Though it was a scary situation, it has had one good outcome regarding my writing.

I can't sleep. My palms are sweaty, I keep worrying and checking the lock on the back door compulsively. I can't concentrate on my WiP. I'm a nervous wreck.

Symptoms sound familiar? If you're currently stuck in Querying Hell, you'll know why. Since I tend to feel the same way when I am querying, I decided to go ahead and send out another batch of e-queries. Figure why bother wasting these sweaty palms? And maybe compulsive email checking will distract me from the constant, compulsive door-lock-checking.

But strangely enough, aside from the manic inbox refreshing, I feel better about my work this time around. (Is this Round Three already? Can't be!) I managed to clean up my repetitive dialogue tags, tried to remove any awkward narrative, and added more personal perspective from the MC.


One of my biggest worries came from an agent's rejection of a full, though. This agent said they thought: "things were happening too quickly--as though you, as the writer, know the way you want the story to go and are forcing it in that direction, rather than letting it take shape on its own."

Now, I know it doesn't help to obsess over the quick notes an agent jots down about your full, but even though it was the first (and only) time I heard this comment, this agent had been pretty spot on about other weaknesses in the manuscript. I was worried. It seemed like a major flaw that couldn't be overcome during the quick rewrite I had planned. In re-reading the manuscript, I felt that I knew what this agent meant. I realized that I thought of the story as being sort of... guided by a supernatural force out of the control of the characters. Call it Fate, but I realized I needed more than just an unnamed force calling the shots.

What I decided to do was give an existing character a larger role, making it out to be she (or the loa she was devoted to, even I'm not 100% sure of this) who is pulling the strings of Fate. She was one of my favorites, anyway, and I think her presence in both times really helps to balance the story, and cut down on the feeling of a contrived plot.

At least, that's the hope. The proof will be in the partial requests, right?

Monday, August 10, 2009

You'll be visited by a tall, dark stranger...

So our place was broken into late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. No one was hurt, and nothing of any value was stolen. But I swear I'm still running high on endorphins, sweating and shaking alternately. Not because someone broke into our house, because we forgot to lock our security door, so that was our fault, and our place is nigh-impenetrable with the gate locked. What keeps scaring me is how lucky we were. Things could have been a lot worse.

I wake up to the sound of breaking glass, wondering what the hell the cat knocked over. So I am already pissed off. Despite downing a bunch of cold medicine before bed, I am wide awake when I hear the glass. My cat has turned me into a pretty light sleeper over the years. Of course, once I hear footsteps walking through the glass-- even over the sound of the air-conditioner-- I know it is not the cat. I grab my husband's arm, who is slowly gaining a groggy consciousness, and squeeze tightly. The dog has not even made a sound, either sleeping more deeply than either of us or just as confused.

The footsteps stop at our bedroom door, where the door is slowly opened. I feel my husband's hand tighten on mine. I think a million things in a split second: Do they have a gun? Will they shoot my husband first? Do they just want a quick buck? Why didn't we lock the gate?

A lighter flicks a few times before the flame actually stays lit in the blowing of the air-conditioner. Something clicks in my brain: Crackhead.

"Who the f*ck are you?" comes this voice out of my mouth from God-knows-where, that manages to sound more pissed off than I have ever sounded in my life. Was that me? I think.

The lighter is out, and the intruder backs out of our room and through the kitchen the way he-- or she; it could have been Bigfoot, (if Bigfoot knew how to use a lighter) for all I saw of them-- came in, broken glass crunching beneath their feet.

My husband is as wide-awake as I am by this time. He grabs Phase 1 in our home defense plan: the t-ball bat from his side of the bed. I grab Phase 2: the bear-spray, and we both listen for sounds in the house. We are the only ones there.

Everything turned out fine, but I am still shaken up over this voice that came out of me, almost without my even thinking. It was the right thing to do in this situation, sure, but if that intruder had a gun, things could have been much different. Which got me to thinking-- no matter how we think we might respond in a certain situation, we might not be right. I had no idea I would respond in such a way. I always figured it was the man's job, or the dog's job, to chase burglars away, but neither of them was really awake until it was too late. I couldn't count on anyone but myself, and I'm glad some part of me was thinking and acting.

In case you're wondering, we locked the security gate last night. ;)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Unlocking the Door

If you read my last post, you'll know that I received an unexpected full request before I went on vacation. Let me tell you right now that vacation is not a good time or place(s) to try to revamp a manuscript. While there were some technical issues in dialogue tags and repetitive sentence structure that were pretty easy to fix, I didn't actually write a single word I felt truly CHANGED the manuscript for the better. By changed, I mean helped the reader get into the MC's head, which I've felt to be one of my downfalls writing this novel.

At first I was worried that not enough time had passed since the last time I revised Evangeline. That wasn't a problem, as it had been about six weeks since I even peeked at it.

However, it was only once I got home from vacation, decompressed, and relaxed a bit (this was not the fun, relaxing kind of vacation, I was on no fewer than six planes and spent over fourteen hours in various cars, slept in uncomfortable beds, swam in 65 degree water-- which was beautiful, if hypothermia-inducing-- and woke up to my brother's two year old screeching the mornings we were there. Oh, and I caught a cold as soon as I got home. But I digress...), that I was able to put a spin on my original opening that sort of, unlocked, if you will, a door into my MC's head that had been completely blocked to me.

Actually, it was more like I didn't even know the door was there, like the Secret Garden, covered over in vines and neglected. By unlocking that hidden door, I realized that there was so much more to her than I had shown on paper. More even than I thought I knew.

I'm supposed to be the one who knows her the best, but I was so close before all I was seeing was the bigger picture-- the garden wall, and not the garden. I was ignoring her quirks, her personality without even knowing that I was doing her a disservice. Not only did I need time to let her personality develop, I'm certain that writing the main character of my WIP helped a bit. For some reason, this new MC has no problem letting her innermost thoughts bleed all over the page. I hope I've been able to use what I learned writing this WIP to give my queried manuscript the overhaul it needed.

Sorry to keep this so short (I've been writing it piecemeal for two days now, when I have a few minutes to spare), but I've got another 200 pages of my manuscript to comb through, and too much other work to do on top of that.

Promise I won't go too long without a new post, even if it's just to tell you some of the good things that happened on my vacation. I did go to a Drive-In and saw Harry Potter 6, which was awesome, even if I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

C'est la vie!