Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Can't Blog...

Setting up my new hp laptop!! YAY!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blog Chain: A Time and a Place

So it's my turn to start the blog chain and between the recent Thanksgiving holiday and work, and obligations with friends, I've been so busy I feel like I barely have time for my writing, much less tweeting and blogging.

Then my laptop broke down on Thanksgiving Day. I freaked out at first, but and it gave me the opportunity to write something new on my wip for the first time in over a week. Without the distractions of the internet and blogging, or even an open Word file, I was able to get a lot of headway on my wip. In fact, it took me in a direction I hadn't thought of before, and probably all because I didn't have the distraction of my computer. And yes, I resisted the allure of the cable box, as well. :)

So here's my topic: What conditions do you need to get your best writing done? Closed door, crowded coffee house? Computer or notebook? Can you just sit down to write, or do you need to wait for the time to be right?

For me, I need quiet. Preferably in my chair at my desk, but I can't always make the words flow like I can when I write longhand in my notebook. Writing it out like that just helps me get the creative juices flowing better tan typing. I guess I just need to be able to daydream comfortably with a notebook. I'd probably frighten the people in the coffeehouse with all the faces and weird gestures and staring off into space that I do. :)

I'll usually wind up with thousands of words to transcribe if it's a productive session, but if you must know, I get my best results with this method in the bathtub. ;) Sometimes I change a word here or there as I type, but it seems to be the surefire way to get me past a word-block.

Shaun will post here tomorrow, so check it out!

What about the rest of y'all? Does your world come to a screeching halt when your laptop breaks down? Do you have a surefire way to get the words flowing? Or do you just need to set your butt in your chair? I'd love to know!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tangled Tides: I Choose GORGONS!!

Oh, how I have waited for this day! Happy Book Birthday, Tangled Tides, and congrats, Karen!
Isn't she cute with that dinglehopper?

Not to steal her thunder, but I was the mermaid in my family. At family trips to the beach, even as a toddling baby I always ran right into the water. I still do, which is part of the reason I was so psyched for Tangled Tides! Here's the blurb:

Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.

When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.

Young Adult fans of Mermaids, Selkies, Sirens and Gorgons will love this tale of the sacrifice one makes for genuine love. Love that could be lost at any moment to the ever-changing tides. 

Sounds incredible, right? So to help her celebrate, and enter to win a signed copy of Tangled Tides, why not join in the Underwater Web War on Twitter?

I choose Team Gorgon, because I love how Karen has de-monstracized (is that a word? is now.) them. And because, I, too, possess the hypnotic power of dance. ;) (Isn't Alexandra's art wicked?!)

GORGONS: of the moon, need cold, slithery dancers, can control the sea creatures (the original 3 gorgon sisters are like the gods of their world). Fun fact: Just like Medusa, the gorgons can turn any living thing to stone, but they aren't the heartless evil monsters that are portrayed in most legends. They are wicked smart, fast, and powerful. The male gorgons are tough as rock.

I, too, am smart, but kind of slow, and not very powerful. Not sure the gorgons would take me, but I support them none the less.

Are you Team Gorgon? Or Team Selkie? Maybe you're Team Siren? Or perhaps you're a Merfolk lover? Check Amanda's blog to check out all the spectacular sea-species she's brought to life, and vote on Twitter with the #TangledTides hashtag.

Don't forget to enter, but why not buy or download a copy TODAY?!! Don't make me dance for you!!

What team are YOU on?  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"The Book Warned...": WIP Wednesday Musings

Most of my story ideas come from premises, from what-ifs, or even from a setting. Sometimes it's the conflict that comes first.

Never have I started a new novel based on only a phrase, like I know some people do.

Exhibit A: Jade and The Silagree.  > "Bad people are sent to the Silagree."

As soon as I read this I knew she had something there. But where would she take this idea? Conversely, if another writer began with this same line, how different would their stories be?

Earlier this week I was helping my husband with the mundane task of using our new electric roaster, and said something like, "the book warned you not to do that." Meaning the warning/instruction booklet that came with the darn thing. You know, the thing my husband casually glanced at and tossed aside. Amirite, ladies? ;)

After the words left my mouth, I stood there for a second like an idiot, and at last, repeated, "The book warned."

Which is when my husband, who was elbow deep cleaning out the giant roaster pan, gave me the look he usually reserves for such inexplicable things as ads for Justin Bieber's perfume (Someday. Ironic, much?) or episodes of the Jersey Shore. O_o~

Which is when I, smooth talker that I am, recovered by saying, "That would be a good first line, huh?"

He actually agreed with me, but I barely heard him as I stood there twisting the forgotten manual in my hands, wondering what the book warned. What kind of book was it? Who wrote said book? What sort of people would need warning?

That's when I turned the Shiny New Idea center of my brain off. Yeah, I can do that. It's my superpower.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, I still have at least 40K words to go on my aetherpunk-western, which is not coming out as quickly as I'd hoped, so I don't have the time for this Shiny New Idea.

But maybe one of y'all do. Consider this my gift to you, my followers, or anyone else who reads my blog. A gift of thanks, for checking up on my silly and sporadic posts.

What are you writing? NaNo? Or are you finding it difficult to make the time for writing during this part of the year? Do you know what the book warned? ;)

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Book Were YOU Reading? Of Course Rue is Black...

I know, I'm posting twice in two days. The Apocalypse has come early. It may as well be the end of the world the way certain "fans" of The Hunger Games are objecting to the casting of a black girl as Rue. Whose character was stated as being black in the book. Yes, Katniss said the girl reminded her of her own sister, but that comparison was not based on her appearance. That anyone would think Rue couldn't possibly remind Katniss of her little white sister because of the color of her skin makes me sick.

Y'all. She's from the south and she loves to sing. I almost thought Collins was being a little stereotypical in her portrayal of Rue at first, until the character won me over. To the point where I can't even re-read the passage where she and Katnis meet without getting weepy, knowing she's not gonna outlive the Games.

An Entertainment Weekly article out last year even told readers:

Don’t worry if you didn’t know that Rue and her fellow District 11 tribute Thresh were black. I didn’t either after my first read. (Like most people, I raced through the book in about three seconds.) But now that it’s time to cast the movie, we should ask: How important is it that Rue be played by an African American actress?

Ugh, really? Yes, it matters! A. it was obvious. B. whitewashing is flagrantly egregious and only seems unimportant from the prerogative of white privilege.

I don't have the energy to rant any more about this today, so I'll direct y'all to, where you can see for yourself just how thoroughly some readers have whitewashed the character in their own minds. It's pretty discouraging—and disgusting, even—especially the comments directed at Lenny Kravitz's casting as Cinna. 

At least the movie-makers didn't follow the same train of thought. But it IS disappointing that there's nary an Asian character to be found in the trailer.

My theory: All of the Asians must have wised up by this point in time, and abandoned all us gwai-lo while they jet off to colonize the moon. Actually that sounds like a great story. Too bad it would never get made into a film... :P

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Steampunk Heroines FTW!

Some of you may not be familiar with my insane, obsessive adoration for the Leviathan series by Westerfeld (who also wrote the amazing uglies series, totally required reading for the YA author). It's more than just the awe-inspiring alternate reality—Georgian England with Darwinist Beasties, the Great War fought with man-made machines and engineered creatures alike—or the heart-stopping adventures. It's the people who inhabit this strange world.

One of my favorite characters in recent years is one of the pov characters of Leviathan, Dylan Sharp. He's the embodiment of the future of British aeronautics, or he would be, if he weren't actually a girl named Deryn. O_o ?

While the idea of a girl masquerading as a boy isn't exactly an original idea, especially for period novels, Westerfeld gives Deryn such a strong personality, and makes you care for her so deeply, that there's no way she could be considered your stereotypical girl playing dress-up. Westerfeld has obviously put a lot of thought into her character, as evinced in a quote from a great article I read this morning on Steampunk heroines:

“The steampunk movement is partly about messing up the stuffy ways of the Victorians,” Scott Westerfeld, author of the popular Leviathan series, said. “Adding anachronistic technology and modern social mores to that very constrained period is a bit like bringing a flame-thrower to a tea party."

That's Deryn all over. I don't want to say to much to spoil the story for those who haven't read it, so why not pick up a copy for your next read? It has pictures! ;)

I also hope you take the time to read the rest of the article if you've never read any Steampunk. Though I'm familiar with Westerfeld's writing and I've read Gail Carriger's Soulless, I've never read Cherie Priest's Boneshaker. It's set in the US, which I love. Apparently, Cherie's philosophy on writing steampunk to is to put your own unique spin on it, and follow your gut:

“There is nothing punk about letting other people tell you about how to participate in your hobby,” Priest said.

Which is exactly the approach I've been using to write the wip.

Are any of y'all steampunk fans? Anyone tried their hand at writing any? Do you stick to real history, or make it up as you go along? (which seems to be my method, lol)

Are you punk?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blog Chain: An Accomplished Writer

For today's blog chain post, I'm going to talk about accomplishment. Michelle H asked:

 This is the month in creating writing goals and making big accomplishments. What is your greatest accomplishment -- in writing, your life or perhaps something incidental that had a big effect on you?

Michelle's post is here, and you can find Margie's post here. Check out my sidebar for the other bloggers in the group!

Obviously, my greatest accomplishment is not punctuality, as this post was supposed to go up Saturday. Instead, I spent the weekend huddled shivering under my blankets trying not to overdose from mixing too much NyQuil and DayQuil, so apologize to my blog chain members. I also apologize in advance to everyone else reading this post, since my body's been running on a combination of decongestant and Sleepy-time tea for the past four days.

But now that my head is only half-filled with mucus, I know that my greatest accomplishment ISN'T the first thing that springs to my mind when I read this question—which was getting an agent last year. Don't get me wrong, I love my agent and her wonderful assistant, but since then I've learned a lot about myself and my writing. And because of their feedback, and the crits I've gotten from my crit group and other amazing bloggers and writers, I've learned to trust my authorial voice. To write the words in a way that is truly my own, and not second-guess my own style. So I think that's my greatest accomplishment.

Some of you might think, "Well, geez, how hard is that?" But after I signed with my agent, I experienced a case of "not-good-enough-itis" about my work. It was nearly fatal. :P

I thought that I needed to make my voice more like other writers I admired, even envied. Once I gave that itis an injection of self-confidence, it vanished like Vick's vapo-rub in the night.

What's your greatest personal accomplishment, writing-related or otherwise? I'd love to hear it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Grateful For...


Ah, November. Time for spicy pumpkin pie, the crackle of gas heaters, and the return of socks. Yes, I hate wearing socks, but I hate cold toes more. But ya know what I love the most in this weather? Curling up with a wonderful book (or, more often these days, my nook). I'm overwhelmingly grateful for the role books have played in my life, from my earliest memories of board books, right up to reading on my phone during my lunch hour today. 

One book I am particularly grateful for is Roald Dahl's The Witches. So many amazing, whimsical, magical books that I read during elementary school (this was the stone-age, mind you, years before harry potter came on the scene) helped shape my personality, Dahl's books most of all. Charlie, James, and Luke seemed to have all the fun... despite their often tragic backgrounds. (as you may well know, james's parents were killed by a rhinoceros that had escaped from the zoo. that's a rhinoceros for you, no respect for pedestrians.). The combination of humor and horror made these books my all-time favorites.

The Witches even served as a sort of primer for me, shaping the way I've perceived the paranormal genre ever since. The book was "educational" on the subject of identifying witches, but more importantly, it scared the bejeesus out of me. Especially the dark stories delivered by the benevolent, yet un-traditional grandmother, whose missing finger undoubtedly augmented the creepiness of her macabre tales. Her memories of her childhood in Norway, and the children who went missing, set the stage for Luke's adventure at the seaside resort where he and his grandmother are attempting to have a relaxing vacation.

Though I hate to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't read the book, when I first read The Witches, I loved that Luke stayed a mouse (which was thoroughly ruined by the movie and its desire to give in to the allure of the happy ending), resigned to the fact that mice don't exactly have the same life-span as humans. But Luke, bless his little mousy heart, only cared about traveling the world to vanquish the rest of the witches. What an amazing role model, huh? ;) Can't believe this book has been on the most-challenged list just about every year. Oh, wait, yes I can. It's a book about "witches". Hence, it must be teaching kids to worship the devil. *eye-roll*

So, what books are you grateful for? Did you post about it? Are you dying to read A Million Suns as badly as I am? ;)  I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writing Setting with Attitude

Just downriver of the French Quarter, past Frenchmen Street and the Faubourg Marigny, there's a neighborhood called Bywater. It's funky without trying to be (although some of the so-called gutter-punk kids seem to be trying a little too hard), home of Krewe du Vieux and Mardi Gras Zone and the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

It's a neighborhood where you won't find a lot of chain restaurants (capt. sal's seafood doesn't count), or trendy businesses. Which reminds me of a story one of my friends once told me. He's been doing location scouting here for years now, and a year or so ago he met a guy who bought an old building on Saint Claude Avenue, which basically separates Bywater from the Upper Ninth Ward. The guy later found a Starbucks sign, and, as a joke, put it up outside his building with a Coming Soon notice.

He expected people would get excited about a new Starbucks (i think there are two in town, excluding hotels), but that's not what happened. Within days, the sign became defaced, scribbled on, graffitied. I think someone may have smeared some sort of excrement (human, animal, who knows?) on the sign.

The citizens of Bywater (okay, probably mostly the gutter-punk kids who are too cool to bathe or use deodorant) had spoken. Faced with the threat of a Starbucks invading the neighborhood, the neighborhood fought back. Luckily for Starbucks, they never knew a thing about this mutiny.

For me, this knowledge turned into a writing lesson (doesn't it always?) about how setting is more that just the sight of the old buildings, the smell of the river, the hot breeze whipping through the crape myrtles, it's the sound of car horns and profanity, and tags spray-painted on the crumbling brick walls. The gum on the sidewalk and the cigarette butts smoking in the gutter. It's about the people as much as it's about the place.

It can be easy to treat setting and people as two distinct entities, two different parts of storytelling, but the setting has just as much effect on people as people affect the places they inhabit, whether town, city, or alone in a big scary house (anyone else watching american horror story?).

How do people interact with setting where you live? Do you use this as inspiration in your writing?