Thursday, May 27, 2010

‘Top Kill’ Effort Seems to Be Working, U.S. Says Cautiously

From The New York Times website:

"BP began the well-plugging maneuver, known as a top kill, on Wednesday, amid hopes that injecting heavy drilling fluid deep into the well could stem the relentless flow of oil that has devastated commercial fishing in the Gulf, fouled miles of coastline and put the company and federal regulators at the center of a political firestorm."

The end is in sight.

Please cross your fingers, or pray, or just send positive thoughts down to the Gulf.

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WiP Wednesday: The Joy of Writing Crap

You know, after spending so much time revising Evangeline, I forgot how much I love writing a new draft. I know writing a few chapters of a sequel is different than thinking up something completely new, which makes it that much more enjoyable, but for this first go around, I'm also allowing myself to write crap.

I'm finding that since I gave myself permission to suck, I'm not so stressed about how the story starts. Do we ever really know where the story should start when we begin a new story? I don't, even though sometimes I have a vague idea. In fact, it's often not until I've completed the first draft that I finally know how I want it to begin.

While giving myself permission to suck is great and all, even more fun is letting myself find inspiration in little, meaningless things, things I try to ignore when I'm in editing mode. Evangeline began as a scrap of paper I saw on the bus that looked oddly like a tarot card. And out of such humble beginnings came a 95K novel (with series potential ;D).

I was reminded of this the other day while I was watching The September Issue, which documented the creation and culmination of the 2007 Vogue September Issue. (For the fashion unconscious, September is the biggest and most important issue of all fashion mags, at least in the Northern Hemisphere)

Vogue's creative director, Grace Coddington—there's a fabulous interview with her about the documentary here—has long been one of my artistic idols. A former model, and photographer and one of the most influential women in fashion, Grace is surprisingly down to earth. Her photographs, however—and the photo shoots she plans, like the one below—are out of this world.

In the documentary, Grace tells an anecdote about her father. He always told her to never sleep while traveling, to pay attention and watch everything, because you never know what might inspire you.

I've been thinking a lot lately about this anecdote, and how if I'd been nodding off, or reading a book on the bus that day, I might never have had the idea for Evangeline in the first place. Everything happens for a reason, so I thank whoever unwittingly (or wittingly, I'm not that picky) dropped that wrapper or paper or whatever it was that turned into a story.

What's been inspiring you, lately?

If you're drafting, are you allowing yourself to write crap?

Monday, May 24, 2010


Isn't this cover gorgeous? Well, the book (and every delicious word inside it) are up for grabs at our very own Kiersten White's blog.

Do your part to support her debut novel by spreading the word! Then enter her contest. It's that simple! Not only could you win this novel, but you could also win Laini Taylor's Lips Touch, which sounds very sultry to me, a perfect summer read!

So go and enter today!

Friday, May 21, 2010

OMG, You Can PLAY the Google Today!!

Try it and see what a time suck this little baby can be! ;)

This has been a public service announcement from your local gaming commission.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WiP Wednesday: To Sequel, or Not to Sequel?

While I've been letting my last round of revisions to Evangeline rest, I'm finding I can't quite switch gears to work on Strings or my urban fantasy. They're just too different.

Instead, I've been thinking critically about a sequel.

Now, I'm the first person to advise other writers not to expend too much time and energy thinking about sequels when you haven't sold the first novel yet, but I'd like to know if my novel has series potential. If I'm ever in the position of having an agent offer to represent me or my novel, I'd like to be able to tell them whether or not it does.

So I've been doing some outlining and figuring out the plots and subplots I'd like a sequel to include. Which has led to an even greater understanding of some of the motivations of the characters. After so much editing and rewriting and revising on this project, which I officially began in November of 2008, actually planning a new story for the characters has been really refreshing.

I haven't drafted anything new, aside from passages of Evangeline, since October 2009, and just the act of "outlining" (which, if you're familiar with my earlier posts on the subject, is more akin to "telling" the story's main plot points and subplots longhand in my notebook) has made me excited about the characters again after so many months spent revising. Not only has it got me thinking critically about a new story, but I've been thinking more critically about the original one, too. I can't wait to read my manuscript one last time before it goes back to betas. Thanks in advance, y'all. You know who you are. ;)

What about the rest of y'all? Do you think that even plotting a sequel—if that's how you roll—is a waste of time? Anyone else found it helpful?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Want Me to Kill WHAT?

Kill your darlings. Make it quick and merciful.

I recently joined a crit group, which has done wonders for my self esteem. Ah, the joys of receiving criticism. ;) No, really. Sometimes my ego needs to be knocked down a peg. And sometimes I need to be reminded to kill my darlings. Sometimes I need to be told which ones are darlings in the first place, those odd turns of phrase that I think contribute to the style of my writing, but are just weighing it down.

Do you need help to see which are your darlings? Or does your inner editor find them for you?

I've also found that the more feedback I get on my writing, the easier it is to read it from another person's point of view. To see what they're seeing, to experience what they're experiencing as they read. It's helped me to realize where I haven't succeeded in properly explaining my vision to the reader. And where I might want to change my vision to make things easier for the reader to understand.

Then there's the "Why didn't I think of that?" moment that sometimes comes after a particularly thoughtful crit. The analytical eye of someone you trust just might spot a better way to tell the story you've been slaving over, a story that's become far too familiar for its own good.

The truth is, that's why we need betas and critique partners. We are none of us infallible, spewing out perfect prose by the ream. Very few published authors got to that point on their own. It took editors, agents, and probably betas to help them get to where they are today. Hmmm, maybe we should start a "Beta Appreciation Week." ;)

Received any feedback lately that you've had mixed feelings over? I have to admit I have mixed feelings over every critique I get at first, even if it's sandwiched between compliments. (Mmm, compliment sandwich. *drools*) But with a little time, and a little fresh perspective, that sandwich usually goes down smooth.

Okay, I'm talking in food metaphors again, (Good Lord, I would so kill for an Abita right now) and that means it must be time for lunch.

See ya next time, y'all!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Recommended Reads

This weekend I re-read one of my favorite book series, Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing.

Then I read Elana Johnson's post today and decided to spread the awesome that is Libba Bray.

While I have yet to read Going Bovine, I just adored how lyrically Bray wove together the story of Gemma Doyle, and how well she fleshed out her main characters, four young girls in a British finishing school who want more out of their predictable Victorian existence.

I know this series has met with mixed reviews, but it captivated me in a way that kept me thinking about the book and the characters long after I finished reading. It doesn't hurt that I was raised with a healthy love of Frances Hodgsen Burnett's A Little Princess, which instilled in me a curiosity about both India and Victorian England.

What I really love is how her prose borders on the poetic without being to florid or purple. Style. A style I find myself trying (and usually failing) to emulate. Hence this weekend's re-read. There were times when I found I had to force myself to pay attention to things like dialogue and tags and beats, etc., because I was just letting the writing sweep me away again.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fantasy, paranormal girl, through and through, and I loved the plots, but I really love it when an author can tell the story using such beautiful prose. I found that in these books.

On another note, Bray's less than immediately likable boarding school girls helped me decide not to make Mara from STRINGS too likable. I didn't think she had to be to captivate the reader. I never liked Bray's Felicity Worthington, but I was captivated by her none the less.

Finally, the idea of the four girls finding power in an age where women were essentially powerless wasn't lost on me. I appreciate how much research Bray must have done, and how hard it must have been to keep from preaching the truth unnecessarily. Yet another aspect of these books that kept me thinking long after the books were finished and put back on the shelf.

I hope you'll share your favorite books with the world!