Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Take A Bow-- Some End of the Year Awards

What is it about a little patch of pixels that can make me feel so good about myself for days? It's just a tiny blog badge, but it instills me with pride and comfort. (You like me, you really LIKE me!) So I'd like to give a big, heartfelt thanks to Elana J. and Julie Dao for thinking of me.

The specifics of the "From Me to You" award entreat me to reveal seven facts about myself, and choose seven worthy recipients. I'll try to make these fun:

1. My sister made me get up at four A.M. the Christmas I was six, so she wouldn't get in trouble by herself. The sight of that Barbie Dreamhouse made everything worth it. Ah, to be six again!

2. My parents always told us not to eat the candy canes off the tree before Christmas, but I'd take one with me on the school bus almost every morning and never fessed up. What can I say-- I needed my peppermint fix.

3. This year I got my husband The State DVD collection. He's been wanting it since it was just a rumor, and now it's his. There will be much rejoicing in our little shotgun.

4. I just started watching Mad Men and I won't be friends with any of you until you start watching it. ;) Oh, Peggy! When will you learn?

5. Sawyer is definitely the best character on Lost. What, that one wasn't about me? Sure it is.

6. I will watch Waterworld any time it is on. So will my husband. It's the glue that binds our relationship together.

7. I hate coffee. Will not drink it. I don't even like tiramisu that much because I don't like the coffee flavor. I'm a tea drinker. Mmm. I'm fixing to get me a hot chai latte here in a few minutes.

I'd like to pass this award on to:

1. Jennifer Shirk
2. Sherrinda
3. Voidwalker
4. Shannon M.
5. LiLa
6. Corey S.
7. Heather Z.

From Me, To Y'all! ;)

As for Julie's award-- which matches her blog-- I'm passing it on to these five bloggers, in the hopes that they, too, will pass on the Silver Lining to five others:

1. Icy Roses
2. Karen Denise
3. Suzanne Hayes
4. Rebecca Knight
5. Abby Annis

You all have helped me see the silver lining where all I saw was gray, so thank you!

I'll be back January 2nd, for the "No-Kiss" Blogfest! Don't forget to sign up!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Curl up with a Book and a Nook! Contest

Click here to enter the Curl up with a Book and a Nook! Contest.

Two contests:

1.) The main contest is for the Nook and it ends on January 5th. This post will remain sticky so people can enter until then.

2.) The Book-a-Day contests will be daily.


Good Luck, y'all! And Happy Holidays!

Kissing Blogfest a Huge Success!

But was it the huge turnout of amazing bloggers who participated, or do we all have our minds on one thing? ;)

I'd like to thank Sherrinda for hosting the Kissing Blogfest Mr. Linky on her blog, and I hope that you'll take some time today to read some new scenes. Sure, kissing scenes are fun, and for me, easy to write, but they're a part a greater whole-- someone's novel, their blood, sweat and tears for the past few months or even years.

I've been working on EVANGELINE for over a year now, and it has only just gotten to the point where I am truly happy with it. So I for one, really appreciate being a part of the fun, and receiving all your wonderful comments/compliments. It made my day yesterday, and my morning, when I got up and saw even more comments. I'm about to finish reading the scenes I missed yesterday, and spread the love. ;)

But wait, there's more... Check out Sherrinda's blog for more information on the next blogfest:

Annnddd, let me announce that FrankieDiane at Frankie Writes is hosting the No Kiss Blogfest on January 2, 2010. Sign up on her site to post your most tension-filled "almost" kiss. She's already got a list going!

See ya there!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Official "Kissing Day" Blogfest

I've been in a romantic kind of mood lately, thus I have succumbed to the charms of "Kissing Day" and it's attendant blogfest.

Here's a scene from the middle of EVANGELINE since I've rewritten it in third person. It's one of my favorites. Enjoy!

The neighborhood had changed. Last time she was here, there’d been fields and a few planters’ homes. Now it was one house after another, squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder. Evie drove by the four shotgun houses that sat on the property, colorfully painted and in great condition compared to some of their neighbors. Though she zipped past without stopping, she could see the small porches were covered in plants and none of the windows were broken.

Only a few more blocks and Evie arrived at Aristide Dulac’s house, a cheery yellow shotgun. Though he owned the building and the record said he lived here, it was a double. She didn’t know which door to knock on, but she hadn’t come here just to turn around and go home. She parked her bike and knocked on the closest door. Reggae music wafted out of one of the apartments. No one answered, and she knocked again for good measure.

As she took a step away from the first door, the second door opened, spilling the strains of a Bob Marley song into the air. Evie pulled off her helmet and glasses, ready to introduce her self when she froze.

Aristide Dulac-- for this had to be him-- was a dead ringer for his however many greats grandfather, just as tall, lean and gorgeous. His hair was a bit longer, and he had a trim beard, but the resemblance was uncanny.

Her feet wouldn’t move. “Mr. Dulac?” she said at last. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

Evie expected him to go inside, or ask what she wanted, but he only stood there staring. She stared back. Her heart hurt looking at him. She wondered if he liked books the same as Jude, or if he loved his mother as much.

When he spoke, Evie felt the vibration of his voice clear down to her toes.


He crossed the distance of the concrete porch between them without his eyes breaking their hold on hers and grabbed her free hand, his rough thumb scouring her knuckles.

“No burns,” Evie murmured, lips already pursed when he pulled her close, a strong hand on her back. In one smooth motion, he gently cradled her neck and crushed his mouth on hers. Her lips parted and she sighed.

Just as abruptly, his embrace ended, and his gaze darted up and down the street. He grabbed her hand and practically dragged her inside.

Though the apartment was Spartan, there were a few pieces she remembered from the old house. He shut the door. Evie turned to see him pressed up against it.

“How did you find me?” Though his head was lowered, he maintained eye contact, as if he still couldn’t believe she was here.

But she was right where she belonged. He was supposed to be dead, not posing as his own descendant. Had he time-traveled, too? What was going on here?

Here are some links to the other Kissing Blogfest participants. I'll be updating as I find more by my blogging buddies! Dig out your lip-gloss, folks, it's going to be a long day!

Karen Denise
Katie G.
Jennifer S.
Wendy Sparrow
T. Anne
Stephanie T.

Elana J.
Renée C.

Have a loverly day, y'all!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chocolate for Inspiration: Holiday Giveaway!

Whew! The Messiah is over-- I ought to be REAALLLYY good at it by next year ;) -- and I'm still alive. I also got new contacts today, so I'm ready to get cracking on my new chapters (once I'm finished catching up with the last three episodes of Monk OnDemand, got to take my contacts for a test-ride, ya know!). In other wonderful news, okay, who am I kidding, this is much better news than everything that's been happening to me, Christina has an amazing giveaway on her blog.

for Inspiration: Holiday Giveaway!
: "Why is this the most wonderful time of
the year? Yep. You guessed it. I'm giving away a MASSIVE stack of books to you-
my fellow bloggers!

This Christmas holiday, I want to add a little
sparkle and fun to your holidays. I'm giving away three huge stacks of books in
the categories of paperback mysteries, paperback girl fun, and hardbacks."

So head on over to Christina's, to see the books you could win!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beth's Book Giveaway!

Beth Revis at Writing it Out has some great news-- she has an AGENT! Merrilee Heifetz of Writer's House, yes, you heard me, Writer's House. Yay, Beth!

So she's having an amazing giveaway on her blog, where you could win one of the books (or the movie Serenity, or a gift certificate) that influenced her as a writer.

Now that I have an agent, I want to honor these works that taught me so very much. In order to do that, I'd like to share them with you all! Below is an entry form for a contest I'm going to be holding from now until the New Year. You can select any of the books (or movie) listed above--or, if you don't share my tastes, you can just get a $10 Amazon (or IndieBound or Borders or WalMart or whatever) giftcard and buy whatever it is that you want most or didn't get for the holidays.

So join in the celebration with Beth, and check out the Bookshelf on her homepage. Full of wonderful recommendations if you're stuck on what book to read next. Thanks, Beth!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I thought I was safe.

I had taken all the proper precautions, but somehow... They've found me.

The rush of bat-like wings fills the sky above me. The revision demons. Circling, as if over a carrion Thanksgiving, but it's my hide they're after. They want to delude me into thinking my novel is dying.

But that's just what they want me to think.

I stand straight and shake my fist at them, cradling my manuscript to my chest. All the while, they hurl taunts at me, but I can't listen to them. For that is certain death.

I sling stones to strike them from the sky, and run-- shaking, but surviving-- to where they won't find me again. Not any time soon, anyway. My novel is safe.

For now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh! Ya Got Me!

Thanks to the wonderful Abby Annis, I've been tagged! This should be educational, if nothing else... Okay, question 1:

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have? The last thing I wrote was a new scene I'm adding to my wip. And sadly, I'm afraid the first thing I wrote that I still have is an introduction and first chapter of a novel set in Bronze Age Crete that I started in grad school. When I moved out and went to college, my old story notebooks were the last things I wanted. I was reinventing myself-- I didn't need to be constantly reminded of how I was so desperate for friends in high school that I'd make them up.

2. Write poetry?
Good lord, no. Not since I was about thirteen and had a crush on a boy. It was sappy and awful, yet I think also had a paranormal element. Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

3. Angsty poetry?
As if the world ever needed more of my angst. *insert eye-roll here*

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Definitely speculative fiction, and preferably YA. There's no genre that's more fun to write than YA speculative fiction.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
Definitely the goddess Isis from my trunked novel, The Uneven Parallel Plane (working title). She was a mega-beast, and in the most annoying way.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
I really liked the plot to The Uneven Parallel Plane. It was fun, and had multiple pov characters whose destinies were intertwined.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
If I told you, I'd have to kill you, just like the last person who asked me this question. ;)

8. How often do you get writer's block?
Not often. If I stall while staring at the computer screen, I just whip out my notebook and brainstorm.

9. Write fan fiction?
Actually, the first novel I finished at age 15 was a sort of X-Men rip-off. The short-lived Generation-X imprint was just getting going, and I loved the idea of a school for "gifted" kids. Turns out I wasn't the only one, lol.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
I plot and start writing longhand, but I can type as I go, too.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Just about.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Occasionally. If I can't stop thinking about it. Like right now I'm thinking of destroying Mara's violin. Even though I'm convinced it would be gratuitously mean, I keep coming back to the idea.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
To be honest, I had the most fun with The Uneven Parallel Plane, which is why I'm thinking of rewriting it from memory.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
Evangeline. Betas love my hero, it seems. Ah, Jude, who wouldn't love you? ;)

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I like to add romance to everything I write-- nothing is safe. And though my teens can be angsty, it's never because they're the unpopular kid at school, or anything mundane like that. More like they just discovered they're a dragon or something of that ilk.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I love New Orleans, but I'm liking Belle Epoch Paris, too.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three. Deep Revisions of Evangeline, Mara's second draft, and I've been turning the UPP over in my head wondering how to make it work. So my head is at maximum capacity right now.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I wish. And I strive to, but I fear my work is a bit too escapist.

19. What are your five favorite words?
For some reason I love words that end in ate-- Propagate, formulate, procrastinate. ;) I also love the word affronted, but it's one I can rarely use in my writing. My absolute favorite word is lasagne.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Evangeline, I suppose, except that she doesn't like history, and I don't like exercise.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Everywhere and everyone. One character reminded me of my sister, so I even gave her my sister's name. Of course, she diverged as I fleshed her out, and is only remotely like my sister nwow.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Why? Does the world want to read a book about Zachary Quinto taking me to the drive-in, lol? I've never had a dream and said, whoa, I need to write about this. But I have had some dreams where situations in my wip will become more clear, if that makes sense.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Yes, but with a caveat. Everything has to go pear shaped first and someone probably has to die.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
To the point where I wish I weren't. I just deal with it, but misspelled words drive me batty.

25. Does music help you write?
Sometimes. Depends on my mood, but I prefer instrumental.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
This is one of my favorite passages from my wip:

As we fill M. Herve in on the mysterious goings-on, his fawn colored eyes grow serious and intense. “So you have no real evidence, and no actual suspects, is that right?”

His tone scathes, but Mme. Moreau has him beat. “Hence, why we contacted a man of your particular skills. The fact that you will also pass as a decent bartender being the reason that I hired you over the next detective in the directory. Hopefully you’ll be able to distinguish yourself from your colleagues in one of those vocations.”
Well, this was fun! Hope you enjoyed it.

In turn, I'm tagging
Carrie Harris
Shannon Messenger

Y'all are it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don't Be Cruel... Well, Not THAT Cruel.

Haven't got a lot of time for a real post today, so I thought I'd open up for some discussion of a topic that I've been giving a lot of thought during this revision.

How cruel is too cruel? I mean, we're not supposed to make it easy on our characters, and tension and conflict are what make stories memorable. But is there a point-- if the situation in question has no influence on the plot, only the character-- where doing bad things to your characters stops building character and becomes cruel and unusual? Or needless and gratuitous?

Or is simply the fact that the characters must react to this stimulus, no matter how horrible, enough to warrant such cruelty?

Any thoughts, or examples? I'd love to hear them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tu Publishing Fundraiser a Success!

Wow! Just, wow! It's been a great weekend (Saints are 13-0, woot!) I got some wonderful news in an email this morning from a friend, and another email from Tu Publishing! Check out my earlier post on this fledgling imprint here. I'd like to share a message from Stacy Whitman:

We made it!

I (Stacy Whitman) just woke up to see that our Kickstarter has been fully funded with 11 hours to go. You guys, I’m speechless. I went to bed knowing we had $2000 left to go, and wondering if we’d make it.


So, a big thank you to everyone who made this happen: All the people who tweeted, blogged, and shared on Facebook about it; all the people who participated in the auction; and especially all the people who pledged. We’ll officially be open for submissions from writers come Jan. 1 because WE MET THE GOAL!

For you writers: keep an eye on the Tu Publishing blog where we’ll be posting official submission guidelines in the next few days!

The project is still open for another 11 hours, so we won't be able to declare "official" success until we cross the finish line, but I'm sure we'll make it!

Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this dream a reality!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Red Ink Blues, or, Revising Your Novel Without Pulling Your Hair Out, Part IV

This time around, I'm trying to make editing easier on myself. Every little change matters, big or as small as the drop of water shown above. Printing out my manuscript has helped me to keep track of those changes, to really see my progress. It'll be fun to look back on this print-out by the time I get feedback from betas. But I know I'm not ready for that stage. Are you?

Oh, so you think your revisions are done, eh? Let's see what author Holly Lisle has to say about that.

In case you've never heard of her, she's the author of over thirty novels and writing books. You can download a free pdf of her book Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love and Money and check out her other books here. One of the best tips I got from this e-book is that while we must feel empathy for our characters to properly understand them, if we feel too much sympathy, we won't be able to do the bad things that need to be done to them. Too true, Holly!

Holly's article, How to Revise a Novel, was the resource that convinced me to print out a copy of Mara's story for this revision. Before I printed, I did do a quick read-through to correct any glaring mistakes and familiarize myself with the story again. Now, I know that I'm probably going to use Holly's technique at least one more time before I start querying, but I wanted to try her method before I sent it out to betas.

She informally calls this the "truly ferocious pre-submission edit", which I love. She tries not to edit too much before she gets feedback from her agent/editor, a position we'll all hopefully be in someday, right?

I couldn't agree with her more. I must have read EVANGELINE through on the computer screen over a dozen times when I started revising the first draft-- and I still didn't catch all the typos. And I definitely wasn't seeing the BIGGER PICTURE we talked about yesterday.

So now with Mara's story, I'm trying it Holly's way-- printing out the manuscript and asking myself a series of questions as I read, making notes on the manuscript, and others in my notebook. That's the first step of her process. I'm hoping to start sending this manuscript out to betas in January, so I've set myself a goal, which is the second step.

As I read through, I'm asking myself questions about the characters and scenes, making sure every character and scene is pulling their own weight to make the story work. If not, consolidate them. Make three characters into one if that makes better sense for your story. Ask, "Does this scene matter?" If not, drop it. Make sure all the threads of your subplots have been caught up. And of course, make sure you catch your typos and keep chapter headings consistent.

Any notes that need more space than the margin of your print-out? Those go in your notebook. Now it's time to rewrite, add, or delete your changes. Read it through one last time and, hey, presto, a revised manuscript!

Hopefully, when I've finished this process, my betas will cheer, telling me that the manuscript is perfect, needs no changes and will knock Stephenie Meyer down a peg (I've always wanted to say that, lol) on the NYT Bestsellers list. Yeah. Right. ;)

So check out Holly Lisle's articles. If you're interested, her next revision workshop begins January 2nd, 2010. Sign up or learn more about it HERE.

And happy revisions!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Red Ink Blues, or, Revising Your Novel Without Pulling Your Hair Out, Part III

Oh, joy! It's that special time of the season. That's right, folks. It's line-editing time. The revision stage always reminds me of a complex abstract painting, like the one by Wassily Kandinsky above. Yes, it's another art-history themed writing tip.

Every word in your manuscript is as important as each particular brushstroke of a painting. It's the details that make up the composition, just like in writing. All those details can be explored in various studies-- like a first draft.

But the only details that wind up on the finished canvas are the ones that help contribute to the painting as a whole, and satisfy the principles of design-- balance, unity, rhythm, etc. We should strive for the same when we revise. No words should make it onto the page of our finished draft unless we're absolutely certain they contribute to the quality of the work as a whole. So how do we go about turning our study into a work of art? Lots of hard work and feedback, of course.

On Monday night I printed out the entire manuscript of my WiP. Sure, it's only about 55K right now, so it didn't take up that much paper and ink, but I was glad I decided to go for it. Maybe it's the distance, or the fact that the words look so different onscreen, but editing the printed page has shown me that I can make so much better progress this way.

Every previous novel I've written wound up going too long, and I had to cut down from there. Since I purposely "under-wrote" this story-- a counteractive measure that I hope doesn't wind up being counterproductive-- I know I need to beef the manuscript up in places. Reading a paper copy helps me focus on what's NOT on the page, instead of stressing over what IS. When I'm reading onscreen, I get lazy with my line-editing. I fall into the habit of mostly correcting grammar and typos and missing words, but I'm not seeing the bigger picture, which is what the print-out has helped me to do.

(Worried about the prohibitive cost of printing out your entire manuscript? You can always print it out a chapter at a time, and reuse the other side of the used pages once you've finished adding your notes and changes to your Word file. Won't save you ink, but it will save on paper. Make sure you're printing with black ink, which is cheaper. I think my black ink cartridge is $15, and I buy paper at Office Depot whenever it is on sale. And in my ever-so-humble opinion, fifteen bucks plus paper is worth it to hold a copy of my manuscript in my hands.)

Working from the print-out has helped me to see the story behind the words, to think like a reader and a writer. And an artist, lol. Not to mention, seeing your words printed on clean, white paper really makes you feel like a writer, so for a quick ego boost-- don't worry about getting too full of yourself, it'll only last til you start scrawling all over your clean, white pages-- print out your novel. Feel the heft of the full manuscript in your hands. It will remind you of all the hard work you've done when the revision blues start to get to you.

For more information about line-editing, check out author David Louis Edelman's article, Line Editing in 10 Easy Steps. His line-editing techniques focus on trimming the fat and making sure you look like a professional, including eliminating overused and crutch words, and straightening out mixed metaphors.

But don't forget to stop and think about the bigger picture during your revisions. Think of your novel as a whole-- one that must be planned in advance in order to wind up with a masterpiece!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Red Ink Blues, or, Revising Your Novel Without Pulling Your Hair Out, Part II

Found some great revision tips at Fiction Notes, author/teacher Darcy Pattison's helpful and informative site. Here you'll find advice for writing picture books as well as novels. Though she writes for kids, I think her comments about novel writing are useful to novelists in any genre.

Darcy Pattison is an Arkansas children’s book author and writing teacher. In 1999, she created the Novel Revision Retreat, which she now teaches across the nation. Translated into eight languages, her four picture books and one middle grade novel (listed below), have been recognized for excellence by starred reviews, Book of the Year awards, state award lists and more. She is the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature.

Today I'd like to talk about first chapters. Don't run away in fear, it'll be okay.

I tend not to stress about the novel opening until after the first draft is finished. In my mind, beginnings and endings are inherently connected. I like stories that come full circle, and love the sense of closure they provide.

Of course, as we all know, the opening is no place for backstory. And it's probably not the best place for setting a stage devoid of players. No dark and stormy nights, and no endless introspection. There are a number of DON'T's to consider for your opening, but what are some of the Do's?

Well, you could start by setting up a problem:
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.
~ The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Holy crap! Murdered? I'd say that's a problem. (OT, but FYI, AFAIK TLB is still being given away at OPWFT. NISM?)

Or raise a question:
"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
~The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
What? What did he do to deserve it? Was he always a naughty child, or did he recently do something very bad? I must know!

Or introduce a WTF? moment.

“When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.”
~Geek Love
by Katherine Dunn
Uh, WTF? I'm going to keep reading to figure out exactly how the mother came to be a geek, and what that has to do with the title.

Of course, if these openings are just a way to hook the reader, and don't relate to the rest of the story, that's just as bad as a dull opening. Your first paragraph needs to have a seed of the larger problem in it somewhere, a sense of the greater plot that will be making everyone's lives miserable.

Fun, huh? ;)

Getting back to Darcy Pattinson's Fiction Notes tips, she suggests 4 Goals for a Novel's Opening that are somewhat similar to those listed above. In her article, partially quoted below, she discusses these goals in greater detail than I have. Hope this helps!

Opening Chapters of Novels MUST Accomplish

These Goals

Grab your readers attention. Something must grab the reader’s attention immediately. This can be an unusual use of language, a unique voice, a startling action, a bit of dialogue, an active description of setting (be careful on this one to keep it active!), or a mood that is set up. Get attention fast. You may only have three or four seconds before the reader closes your book and reaches for the next one.
Ground the reader in the setting. The reader needs to know immediately WHEN and WHERE the story is taking place. Please use specifics here: Is this 1825 or 1977? Are we in Manitoba, Canada, or one of the Florida Keys? Specific sensory details should cue the reader to the exact location, even if you don’t specifically say where we are in the first couple paragraphs.
Intrigue the reader with a character. Here’s a quick test of character. Read the first five pages of your manuscript, then stop. Turn over page five and on the back, write everything you know about your character, JUST FROM THOSE FIVE PAGES! Don’t cheat and throw in things you know as the author. It must be ON those five pages to count. If you can only list one or two things, revise. If you can list 8-10 things, you’re doing great! In between? Consider carefully if you might do even more to characterize better.
Give the reader a puzzle to solve. The plot, the events of the novel, should give the reader an immediate puzzle to solve, something to worry about, something to read on to find out what happens next. It must start on page one! Not page 3 and certainly not page 25.
Thanks, Darcy! Now I'd like to leave you with a classic explanation of how NOT to start your novel, broken down into fairly simple terms. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hush, Hush Giveaway at Stephanie Writes!

It's official. Blogger hates me. I just noticed it didn't automatically post this post on Sunday. What gives? Sorry, Stephanie! I knew I had one more giveaway to blog about. Here goes:

Stephanie Writes is starting a book giveaway series for the month of December, so get on over to her blog and check it out. First is Hush, Hush, which I know I'd like to read. Details follow:

Post a comment below to enter. If you blog about the contest, you’ll get an additional entry. Tweet about it? Another chance to win. Simply post a link to your blog and/or Twitter with your entry. The contest for Hush, Hush ends on Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at noon. Stay tuned for the next book giveaway as I’m currently reading Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Good luck!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Red Ink Blues, or, Revising Your Novel Without Pulling Your Hair Out, Part I

So things have been going pretty well with my revisions of Mara's story. Forgiven, is that a terrible title? That was one of the biggest words when I Wordled the entire manuscript.


Oh well, there'll be plenty of time to second guess my title choices before I'm ready to query.

Meanwhile, since I know so many of you made so much progress in November and will be revising soon, I thought this week I'd share some of my favorite resources for novel revision.

Today's pick is NaNoEdMo, a site devoted to editing your manuscript. There are great articles available, including one by Tabitha Olson, whose contest I recently featured. "Tell Me First" serves as a great reminder that it's okay to "tell" in a first draft, but to go into greater detail for your revisions. Another article that I'll remember while revising was "Cut it Bigger", by Christine Taylor. Don't be afraid to use all the senses, she advises, and remember to get deeper into your character's head in the re-write.

But the most useful to me was Amber Cook's "Ask Not Only What You Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Your Editing (When March Is Over)" I've pasted in the bit that really helped me below:
"Establish what you’re editing towards.

Start general. I want to write a good book that people will want to read. Make a list of your favorite books and ask yourself what is it about them that made them such favorites. Why did you read them, and why do you care about them? Especially books you’ve either read repeatedly, or stories which stand out vividly in your mind (even if you only read it once). When you figure out what makes them, in your own opinion, so good, you’ll have an idea of what you want to be shooting for in your writing.

Now get specific about your novel. Do you want it to be a really scary story? Gut-wrenching drama? A humorous piece of refreshing escapism? A place to share your experience with a traumatic event in the hopes it can help other people going through the same thing? Which is all another way of saying: what kind of experience do you want to give your reader?

Look at what revved you up to write it in the first place and what drove you to actually sit down and write it. What makes it something you would love to share with other people?"

The bolding is mine, because I wanted to stress the importance of this sentence, which is something I never consciously think about during my rewrites. But it's something I thought of all the time while I was planning the novel, in the pre-writing, and even the initial writing stage. Somehow, once I finally get to the revision stage, I'm so caught up in what I have to do to make it perfect, I forget what it is I loved about the work in the first place.

So pop on over to NaNoEdMo for all the great editing resources there. They even have a forum, one more site to suck up the time you should be spending writing, LOL. But you don't have to be a member to benefit from their wisdom.

Happy Revising! ;)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yes! It's raining book giveaways!

Hop on over to Writer Musings for Tabitha Olson's December Book Giveaway! Her YA novel Royal Rose is currently on submission with publishers. Celebrate the season with her, and enter to win!

Not only can you win two books by Barrie Summy, three great piles of books are up for grabs.

"Pile #1:
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - ARC
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Midnight Charter by David Whitley - ARC
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
The Alchemist by Michael Scott
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Pile #2:
Liar by Justine Larbalestier - ARC
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams - ARC
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Ash by Malinda Lo - ARC
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan - ARC
How To Steal A Car by Pete Hautman - ARC
Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem

Pile #3:
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - ARC
Fallen by Lauren Kate - ARC
My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter - ARC
Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowan - ARC
Three Witches by Paula Jolin - ARC
How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer"

Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Great Book Giveaways! Who Loves You, Baby? ;)

Nothing I like better than book giveaways. Today I've got two to satisfy your contest cravings, YA Highway, and The Enchanted Inkpot. Let's start the weekend with a bang!

In honor of their blog reaching over 100 followers, YA Highway will be awarding books to TWO lucky (U.S.) followers:
How to enter: YOU MUST BE A FOLLOWER TO ENTER AND WIN! We're all about celebrating our followers this time around. And, we're only able to ship to our US followers right now (so, so, so, so sorry, but we're working on getting you a prize, too, our wonderful internationals).

You automatically get one point by commenting [on the YA HIGHWAY blog]. Here's the point structure to earn even more chances to win:

+3 if you are a DEVOTED follower (follower before this post)
+1 if you are a NEW follower (follower after this post)
+1 for tweeting about this contest
+2 for blogging about this contest on your own blog

Tally up your points and post them along with your comment below. Contest ends THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2009, so get crackin'!
Stop by their blog to enter to win the books shown above and other great prizes.


Then there's The Enchanted Inkpot.
If you're a U.S. or Canada resident, check out the livejournal group, The Enchanted Inkpot, to enter their amazing contest before December 9th. You could win one of three book gift baskets. There are two ways to win, just read the contest rules below--

There will be a grand prize winner and 2 runner ups. Winners will be based on the following criteria:

1. The Grand Prize winner will have first pick and choose one of the book gift baskets AND will also win a $25 gift card to Powell’s Books AND a copy of ICE by Sarah Beth Durst. The winner will be chosen based on who provides the most online promotion points for our contest, via blog, facebook, twitter, etc. One point is awarded for the type of promotion and the number of times such promotion is provided. For example, a person who tweets and blogs about it for all 14 days of the contest will earn 28 points. Honor system is in place so you will be required to tally up your points yourself and we’ll check’em. YOU MUST COMMENT ONLY ON THIS ORIGINAL CONTEST POST IN ORDER TO QUALIFY.

2. Second runner up will choose from the remaining 2 baskets. The winner will be the person who comes in second with the most online promotion points.

3. Third runner up will win the last remaining book gift basket and will be chosen from a lottery. Anyone can enter the third prize drawing. All you have to do is answer one of the following questions. What MG/YA fantasy would you like to read over the holiday break? What fantasy book most reminds you of the Holiday or New Year season?

Contest ends on December 9th, 2009. And our apologies, but due to the large size of the prizes, the contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. Don’t forget, all contest entries are accepted only in the comments section of this contest post. Comment as much as you like and help spread the word!

Check out their livejournal to enter to win the books shown above and other great prizes!

Good luck everyone! And happy reading this holiday season!

Honest Scrap-- Hey, That's Me!

Recently received the much coveted "Honest Scrap" award from Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe! Thanks so much, Shannon!

And in the time I dawdled, sweating over picking such worthy nominees, I was also given the award by the best cake decorator I know, Karen Denise at I'm Always Write. I really appreciate you thinking of me! Thanks you!

In order to truly earn my award, I must divulge ten things about myself. I'm going to do 11, since I received the award twice, so here we go--

1. At Thanksgiving I like to mix everything together on my plate and liberally drown it in cranberry sauce. Mmm. Thanksgiving mush. It's awesome, but I'm a food mixer to begin with. Always have been.

2. I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to do it since I'm thirty, but I can touch my elbows together behind my back. Step right up, folks! The 9:30 show is completely different from the 7:30 show. Just a dollar a ticket!

3. Sometimes I wish I was born a century ago, and then I remember how much I like vaccines and showering. And elastic. And the internet.

4. I hate olives. All kinds. I even try them repeatedly because everyone loves olives and my husband will come home from work with a tray of them and tell me that I'll like these olives because they're real and expensive and didn't come out of a can. But I still can't eat a whole olive. Don't ask me to eat anything puttanesca, either, because I can't do it. It's my shameful secret and what keeps me from thinking of myself as a gourmand. I'm just a foodie.

5. I just watched "Up", and I didn't really like it as much as I thought I would. Too many talking dogs made it a bit too silly for me. I'll stick to "The Incredibles" for my Pixar fix.

6. I've read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", but not "Pride and Prejudice" without zombies.

7. I hate football and dislike most other team sports in general. I'd rather go to a game than watch one on television. Except curling, which I could watch on the t.v. for hours-- it's too cold to watch in real life.

8. My favorite junk food is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Zapp's Crawtators potato chips.

9. One movie I could watch a thousand times is "Spirited Away." When I was younger it was "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" and when I was really little it was "The Last Unicorn". Guess I like Miyazaki, huh?. Terry Gilliam's not too bad either-- though you can watch "Tideland" at your own risk.

10. I love to sing showtunes when no one is listening. And sometimes when people are listening.

11. Finally, I can no longer eat turtle soup. I have a pet musk turtle and I just can't do it. Somehow I couldn't care less about the politics of veal and foie gras, but I think it's horrible to eat turtle. Especially since two species of turtle were wiped out to make turtlesoup in the 19th and early 20th ceturies. Say no to turtle soup! Who wants to eat green meat, anyway?

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for--

For putting so much of themselves into their blogs, I decided to give this award to:

1. Renee at Midnight Meditations
2. Carrie at Things That Make Me Snarf
3. Tamika at The Write Worship
4. Annie "Paranormalchick" at YA Book Reviews
5. Weronika at Weronika Junczuk
6. Anissa at Off the Record
7. B.J. Anderson at Hope Springs Eternal
8. Delayne T. Buranek at An Aspiring Writer's Blog
9. Jade at Jade Hears Voices
10. Liana at Liana Brooks

You deserve it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tu Publishing-- YA and Children's Books in Today's Multicultural World

On Monday, Heather Zundel of The Secret Adventures of Writer Girl, posted about Tu Publishing. Heather has a contest going right now, so check it out, and spread goodwill.

The mission of Tu Publishing is simple and one that's close to my heart-- to broaden the scope of the genres of science fiction and fantasy, genres that have long ignored ethnic and cultural diversity even in imagined worlds. They even go so far as to recommend multicultural fantasy and sci-fi books on their site. I've copied their mission statement below:

"Fantasy and science fiction, mystery and historical fiction–these genres draw in readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Publishing to publish genre books for children and young adults that fills this gap in the market–and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers. By focusing on multicultural settings and characters in fantastic stories, we also open up worlds to all readers.

The word “tu” means “you” in many languages, and in Ainu (the language of Japan’s native people), it means “many.” Tu Publishing is dedicated to publishing fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction for children and young adults inspired by many cultures from around the world, to reach the “you” in each reader.

Kids who love to read do better in school. One way to encourage that love of reading is to provide stories that readers can identify with. By increasing the number of books that feature multicultural characters and settings, we can influence the multicultural world of tomorrow.

Books can be both a mirror and a window to other worlds for readers. Tu Publishing hopes that by publishing books that feature multicultural characters and settings and books with worlds inspired by all the many non-Western cultures in the world, we might shine a mirror on you and open a window to many."

They hope to be open to submissions (unagented as well as agented? That's the way it sounds so far) in January, so you have only a month to spruce up that manuscript. The catch is, they are currently fund-raising in order to be able to do so. They hope to meet their goal of $10,000 by mid-month, so they need your help.

If you can contribute anything (I just donated $5), click over to this Tu Publishing post to find out how. It's safe and easy to donate, especially if you already have an amazon account, and who doesn't these days? I already had a card on file with amazon, so the whole experience was extremely painless. I wish I would have heard of this publishing house sooner-- I would have been plugging them this whole time.

On a personal note, I'm not sure who I would have grown up to be if not for my love of science fiction and fantasy. But I'm not sure if I would have liked fantasy and sci-fi if no one in the stories looked like me... I do know that I enjoyed reading about other cultures from a very young age, but I'm sure I would have been discouraged if all I had to read were books about some other culture, not my own. If I'd grown up being told that my race doesn't buy books, so why should publishers waste time and money catering to me? If I'd never had the pleasure of reading about a character who was like me. I can imagine I'd probably swear off reading for good, since I was a stubborn child.

But this was not the case for this little white girl who was a tad weird and friendless, luckily. I found in books all the friends I needed. If I hadn't had my books, and they hadn't been so very special to me, I'm not sure if I would be here today, blogging and writing for your reading pleasure. And I certainly wouldn't be the person that books have helped me metamorphose into. If I hadn't seen "myself" in books, I'm not sure that love would have had such a lasting affect on me.

I hope that this perspective might convince even one person to donate $5 to Tu Publishing this week. If we all donated $5, that would go a long way to help Tu Publishing meet their goal.
Thanks for listening, y'all! And have a safe and happy holiday season.

The Dreaded Synopsis-- The Most Underutilized Tool in the Box

So I've got the complete rewrite of EVANGELINE finished and I'm ready and raring to go on my second draft of Mara's story. First thing I'm going to do is write a synopsis.

I can hear the groans through cyberspace now. (And apparently time, too, since none of you have read this as I'm still writing it, but I'm just cool like dat.)

Why write a synopsis now, you say, before the final draft? Things might change, you say.


At this stage I use the synopsis to remind myself of the plot without actually having to read the story again. This helps keep me from packing extraneous information into the synopsis. There might be some details I've forgotten, but that's for the best. It's probably minor subplot, which has no place in my short synopsis. It also helps me keep the story a little fresher in my mind for once I actually start reading through and line editing.

As I write the synopsis, a scrawling, scribbled-out, longhand mess at first, the story slowly becomes clear in my mind. And, if I find I do want to change something, the synopsis is the best place to plan such revisions, especially if they lead to other major changes down the road.

Without actually making any changes to your manuscript, you can use the synopsis and save a lot of time in the long run if you are already thinking of making major changes to the plot. Usually once I have the plot the way I like it, my short synopsis is finished. Even after all my revisions to EVANGELINE, the synopsis I made after the first draft was finished still applies. I made changes in style and hopefully refined the narrative and dialogue, and I even added and deleted some minor subplots, but none of those changes affected the major plot arc.

Since wriitng a one page synopsis is the most difficult for me, that's the length I eventually strive for, but when I first start the process, it's more like three pages. Whatever length works for you is fine, but I think over five pages means you might be focusing a bit too much on subplots. In this case, you should ask yourself why that is. Should one of the minor subplots become a more major one?

The other great thing about crafting a synopsis before you read the story again is that you're still so excited about your novel. The story still feels alive and new and full of potential. The synopsis is all about potential, about seeking it out and playing around with possiblities.

Why not make your synopsis work for you instead of slaving over it? Especially when you are on the verge of querying, trying to craft a query letter at the same time and having the query sound too much like a synopsis.

I'm really looking forward to working on my second draft, but before I dive in head first, I want to be prepared, armed to the teeth and writing with a purpose.

The synopsis is an indispensible tool. Make it work for you!