Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reading

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on writing. No shock there, right? I'm pretty sure, though, that writing has something to do with reading. So, in preparation for Tristi Pinkston's most excellent challenge, I've read a few books to get the creative juices flowing. The latest novel was The Count of Monte Cristo. Before that I read Wings by Aprilynne Pike, the ARC for The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Currently, I just read Graham Bradley's MS of Sidewinder (totally awesome!) and I'm in the middle of Donna's MS of Riptide (I can't wait to see this one in print!). I think I may have shot myself in the foot with The Count, though, being my most recent read. I mean, come on! There's a reason it's a classic. It's witty and intelligent, has depth and meaning. Oh! and it talks about God, redemption, revenge and the complex human state. All within the constrains of reality. No fantasy. No magic. No machines squashing humans like bugs. No alien invasions. No vampires or faeries. Just people living their lives. I think it might've hit a little too close to home in some respects, but then, a good book should have that affect on you. I mean, if it doesn't evoke even a glimmer of emotion in you, then what's the point in reading it? Don't get me wrong, I love action. LOVE action. But without the motivation...I just can't get behind it. And that right there is the standard I'm searching for. The bar that I may never reach. But I'm crossing my fingers that I might come close.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Face-ing Reality

I recently joined Facebook, the mother of all social networking. I worried about joining because, by nature, I am a very social person. In my mind I started seeing the hours of wasted time spinning out of technological control, my goals being side tracked by an addiction to communicate with the outside world. But when I finally joined, what I found was not what I expected.


Is it just me, or is Facebook a little silly? I read such comments as, "Out grillin' for dinner", "Going shopping today" and "Having taco's for lunch". My question is, who cares? I could see that my worries of flushing time down the proverbial toilet were all for nothing. Now certainly there were some good comments, and good uses of Facebook, but not even close to a majority.


I recently read a talk by Elder Bednar (for the non-LDS out there, he is an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). He talked about how we as a society are disconnecting from things as they really are and placing more emphasis on our "cyber relationships" than our real life one's. I have a tendency to agree. To read the talk yourself, click here.


I have come to realize that Facebook is not the mother of all social networking, but more the junior high of it. If I want to talk to someone, I think I'll run for the phone a lot faster than logging into my account.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Middle Ages

We're still in California enjoying sun, fun, and family. We also got a glimpse of the Michael Jackson hysteria on Hollywood Blvd. yesterday. Interesting...

One of our outings was to a kids' discovery museum in Palm Springs. My husband and I and our two little ones (ages 4 and 6 months) went with my best friend from California, Denise, and her four year old daughter.

As we approached the museum entrance, strollers and kid gear in tow, an elderly gentleman greeted us by saying, "Oh, it looks like the grandparents are taking the grandkids out today!" Now, granted I turned 40 this year, but nothing will take the bounce out of your step faster than being called the grandparent of your own children!

Denise, who is 44, reacted the fastest by immediately setting the gentleman straight and telling him the rugrats were, in fact, our own offspring. This sent me into a fit of giggles and Brent enjoyed a good laugh.

Now, this has happened to Brent and I once before, but it was in Utah where families are traditionally younger and it didn't shock us as much as hearing it in Cali. Also, Brent's hair has been gray since his 20s, so he is often mistaken for older than he is (notice how I blame it on him).

In any case, I've frozen the image of the elderly gentleman who assaulted us into my memory so I can base a character on him for a future project. He'll likely be either a villain or a total doofus - TBD. ;)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good News

My work just announced that for the month of July, they're letting employees work through their lunch break and either (a) leave an hour early that day or (b) accumulate an hour each day and leave at noon on Friday!

It's very progressive of them, and we're all ecstatic!

Outstanding.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Read all about it!!

Extra...Extra...News of the week!!
Our group had dinner with Aprilynne Pike on Wednesday night and she was a delightful guest. I enjoyed her stories immensely and learned quite a few extremely useful tidbits about the publishing world. We missed Arlene, DJ and Linda, but Graham joined us which proved delightful. I'm sure that there will be other posts detailing the dinner so I won't put any spoilers here. Thanks Aprilynne for visiting with us.
Latest Update...
I finished I Am Not a Serial Killer (at 1 am!) While I will probably never be a fan of horror stories, I really am a fan of Dan's writing. His main character is provocative and his plot is intriguing and with the amazingly gross stuff in between there are also some rather witty lines. John Cleaver is creepy and likable at the same time. (Kind of like Dan Wells.) He swears the book is not autobiographical and I guess we have to take his word for it. The emotional tension at the end of the story is haunting and completely necessary to the plot. Well done, Dan.
Because I had not planned to read serial killer stories after dark, I also read Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston this week. Not reading about demons at night was a good plan right? Yeah, except that Tristi's book was so fun and so well paced that I read it all in one night. I just couldn't wait to see what would happen to poor Shannon Tanner and her 'Aunt Anita.' Okay, I also wanted to find out more about the yummy FBI agent, Rick Holden. Those of you who are looking for an intense thriller, suspense novel this is NOT it, but if you want characters who are fun to spend time with and a good bad guy to hate, then this is a good choice.
Now to avoid any nightmares of the Mr. Monster variety.
I'll need to grab Wings, by Aprilynne Pike as my nighttime distraction. Fairies I can handle in the wee hours. Demons should only be allowed out in the daylight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bottled Water

I'm in Lake Arrowhead California. Of the Arrowhead water fame. Several years ago we were visiting a local park and I thought it funny that a nearby family had a big jug of Arrowhead Water. Would they be shunned if they had a jug of Safeway water? Does the company have exclusive rights to bottled water in the area?

I don't like Arrowhead Water. I prefer Kroger brand or Kirkland brand bottled water. Something about the spring water there.

Hmmmm, that reminds me of the BEST water I've ever had! On a unplanned detour near Le Grande, OR a good Samaratan took us to an Artesian well on Katherine Creek. I have NEVER had such amazing water. It poured constantly from a pipe and ran into the creek. It was cool and crisp. It was by far the best water I've ever had.

If you find yourself driving through Le Grande and are feeling parched, take the exit for Union and drive up Katherine Creek for a refreshing taste of pure water.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Argh!

I am at a loss for what to write today. Why you ask? Because I'm tired (a frequent occurence in my life) and because I'm gearing up for that pesky writing challenge. Now, to be clear, I'm excited for the challenge, but I can't very well tell everyone what my story is about, so that topic is out. And nobody wants to hear about why I'm perpetually exhausted. This dilemma requires me to go in a completely different direction. Here it is, my favorite buttermilk pancake recipe:

2 C. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 C. buttermilk
2 eggs
4 T. oil or melted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients. Mix the two together. Voila! Pancake batter.

Too much you say? Who wants to cook at a time like this? Well....I do. It's WHAT I do when I can't think straight, need some me time, or just want to eat something really good. My point is, when in doubt, do what you love. This mantra keeps me rockin' most of the time. I hope it works for you, too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Road Trippin


My family and I are heading out tomorrow morning for a vacay in sunny (we hope) So. Cal.


I’ve often fantasized about doing the cross-country road trip, stopping at all the kitschy places like the biggest ball of twine, world’s largest McDonalds, and similar. I still hope to someday. There is bound to inspiration for some great characters at these types of places.


Embarking on a road trip always elicits memories of my childhood, with five of us kids packed into a VW Bug in the era before mandatory car seats and seatbelt laws. We played round after round of the “license plate game” and “I Spy” and tried not to kill each other. My dad would drive fast over dips to tickle our tummies. Although we could never get to our destination fast enough, looking back there were good times.


My husband and I have established some traditions of our own, mainly centered around food. Required snacks include Cool Ranch Doritos, beef jerky, orange slices – the candy, trail mix or salted nut bars, and some kind of Sobe beverage. When in Vegas or California we also make sure to stop at any restaurants we miss dearly that are not in Utah, such as In-N-Out (coming soon!), Baja Fresh, and Oh Nigiri. I’m also trying to teach the road trip games of old to my four year old in between DVDs.


I plan to keep a notebook close to me throughout the trip and record observations of any interesting people or scenes I observe to build a database for future writing projects. California is never boring.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Skull and Crossbones


So I'm not sure where my son got it, but he has plastered his own rendition of a skull and crossbones on his door, barring those "less-desirables" from entering his domain. The only problem is that his sister also lives in his room (or pirate ship...it changes from day to day). So far she has been considered part of the "present company excepted" clause of the piratical edict, so she hasn't been made to walk the plank.

Sometimes I don't understand why pirates are so interesting to kids. They're basically beggars and thieves who couldn't eke out a living on land, so they decided to hit the ocean and give it a shot there. They end up eating moldy bread, drinking stale water, abstaining from the amusements and society of landlubbers (which is a term pirates themselves made up for people who live on land because of jealousy and because they couldn't come up with something better like "poohead"). So now you get virtuoso actor Johnny Depp and the kid who likes to shoot arrows and wear long (pretty) wigs and the Bend It Like Beckam costar who make pirates popular, and pretty soon you have every kid putting up skulls and crossbones on their bedroom doors.

I'm looking forward to when ninjas become trendy again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Keep Bleeding

"If you cut me, do I not bleed?" So asks my manuscript as I hack and chop more than 20% of my hard work and inspiration to make the story tighter and more printable.

A word to the wise...If you invite a professional editor to join your writing group: BE PREPARED. Your rough drafts will bleed and scream, but then again you will also get very humbling and valuable advice on how to make your genius idea more marketable.
Yes, I have learned this very difficult lesson and was reminded again this week when I mentioned that I had only cut 12,000 of the 20,000 words an editor (who may or may not be interested in buying my book) asked me to cut and then send it.
It was an impossible task. How could I possibly send to oblivion 20,000 words that had been born of blood, sweat, and sleep deprivation, over months of my life? How could anyone ask me to do such a thing with no guarantee that it would pay off?

And yet...
It it finished. Well, at least 18,000 words anyway. I'm still searching out the lingering 2,000. The first shavings were not all that hard. In 100,000 words their is bound to be several superfluous passages. They were not hard to dump because they neither moved the story or the reader. But that only accounted for 8,000 words or so. Then I chopped out the extra dialogue. Places where my story crafting lens had zoomed in close for too long on a particular scene. There were chunks of dialogue that could be summed up in just a few sentences.

And then I went to my writing group meeting and over spinach dip and chocolate chip cookies, my trusted critics and friends said it was time to cut entire scenes and subplots. Complete threads of the tapestry had to be removed. That is when my manuscript began to truly bleed and my inexperienced, trepidation red pen became a surgeons scalpel to careful remove the less important organs without killing the entire story.

How do I feel about being asked to perform surgery on my own creation? Scared to death and a little sad. I hope that readers will never recognize the scars that I see in the manuscript. Like the airbrushed version of a photograph I hope they enjoy the more perfected version and that only the few initiated support personnel can look at it and say, "Oh yes I remember that detail, but you can hardly see the stitches. If I hadn't seen it before I would never have even noticed."
So I will swab the blood and present the supermodel version of my story, lean and airbrushed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Preperation and Leaving

Today I am packing. And I hate packing. I leave for a month-long adventure through America’s West. Two weeks in California and then two weeks in Texas and New Mexico, with small adventures in Colorado and Utah.

My posts over the next four Wednesdays will be prewritten. That is half the beauty of blogspot. I can save them and travel internet free for four weeks and not worry about letting down all the followers.

Back to packing: It is a REAL problem for me. My first realization that there was something wrong was when I was 14. My family was moving from sunny Mesa, AZ to totally awesome, grunge capital of the world, Seattle. My mom was already there looking for a house. My dad was left with the daunting task of packing our huge Arizona house and my sister and I.
It was the night before the U-Hauls arrival and I was out hanging with my friends. It was a good-bye. Unfortunately my room was a disaster—as any honest 14 year old girl’s should be. That night was the only time my father wanted to hit me. He kept his cool, I got my room packed, and we drove off the next day with a cat and a dog in the U-Haul.

The next time was when Steve and I left dreary, claustrophobic Seattle and moved to Eagle Mountain. We came to Utah and found an apartment. I stayed at my sisters and Steve went back to Seattle to pack. He didn’t even give me the option. Bless his wonderful soul.

So here I am with plenty time to get ready and pack and I am wasting it by blogging. What am I doing?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coming Home and Author Dinners

I am home in Reno, as most of you already know, and there are a few things I'd forgotten since being away. Here they are:

a.) My dog is about twice as big as I remember.

b.) My kids are incredibly loud in the confines of our own home.

c.) It's possible to survive on pizza and Sam's Club rotisserie chicken for long periods of time, as demonstrated by my husband.

d.) I don't know how I used to write with my kids swirling around me the entire time.

e.) I like to cook.

f.) I am lazy.

g.) Vacations are not very relaxing.

h.) I watch A LOT of TV.



A quick note about our last author dinner. I loved meeting Tristi Pinkston! I got to sit next to her and hear her wonderful stories about perservering in the field of writing and publishing. She's had a hand in starting a new publishing company called Valor (very exciting) and I wish her the best of luck. Thanks for a great evening, Tristi!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Take The Rest Out of Restroom


One day, a couple of years ago, I was startled from my routine by a scream coming from the bathroom. My son clealy yelled the words, "My eyes are burning, my eyes are burning." Immediately I mentally inventoried every cleaning product I had while running to the crisis. As I arrived on the scene, no chemical product was in sight, but there was pee everywhere; on the floor, the shower curtain, the counter, and even including, yes, in my son's eyes. Don't ask. I don't know the answer of how or why either.

This situation raised an important awareness in me that I believe we all must ponder: bathroom etiquette. Everything from proper aim (that's aimed at the men...yeah, I can hear the boo's from here), to courtesy flushing can help make the bathroom experience just a little more tolerable.
Take the toilet seat, for example. It's not very hard for a man to simply lower the seat when he is finished. He might not think it's important, but I promise if he ended up bum first in a pool of cool water, his thinking might change.

Many have become more mindful of bathroom etiquette with new training tools such as The Urinal Test. Men can now play a simple online game to realize the all important rules pertaining to the urinal. Haven't taken the test yet? Just click on the link and you can be transported to the wonderful world of public restrooms.

Now if we can just have an online test for switching out the toilet paper roll and how to get your kids to stop needing something the second your derriere meets the porcelain.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What if...

The question 'what if?' is a fantastic tool for any writer or mother. We often play what if at the dinner table. My eldest son will say, "What if we didn't have noses?" and then everyone around the table gets to come up with a crazy consequence of not having a nose. Let's play!

1)What if all of the lollipops in the world disappeared?

2)What if everyone had feet on top of their heads?

3)What if gravity failed just for a second?

4) What if love at first sight was triggered by implanted microchips in the brain? What if eating spicy food shorted out your chip?

5)What if there really was a river made of chocolate?

Have fun with these.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Death of the Salesman?

My husband and I bought a car this week (an ’06 Kia Sedona minivan for those who like to have all the details).

We did a lot of internet research before going out to the car dealerships because we wanted to save time, and, frankly, we were doing all we could to postpone having to deal with the salesmen.

When we bought our last car six years ago we were slowly cruising through a car lot we had just been passing by and impulsively pulled into when the salesman literally jumped in front of our vehicle and pretended we had hit him in order to get us to stop. Three hours later, after being worked on by the salesman, the junior manager, the senior manager, and a fellow I’ll refer to as “the closer”, we actually bought a car from the dude.

This time around I cringed as we entered the first dealership. I figured in the current economy and with the state of the motor vehicle industry we were going to get hammered. I waited for the onslaught of eager car salesmen of the polyester pants and slicked back hair variety to converge on us. No one came.

We parked next to the vehicle we were interested in, got out, got the kids out, and began looking in the windows of said vehicle. We inspected that thing every which way we could from the exterior. Still no one came. Finally, my husband headed for the office to find someone with a key.

A salesman came out, opened up the car, and let us check it out. Before we could even worry about haggling he told us the price was as low as they could go, as they were into the vehicle for only $200 less than the asking price. He was very pleasant - the epitome of low pressure. It seems the times in the car dealing business are a-changin’.

This experience was a good reminder for me of how refreshing it is when characters surprise you. Nothing is more boring as a reader than when you’re introduced to a character and you feel like you already know them inside and out and you proceed to predict their actions throughout the course of the whole story. There are obvious stereotypes which we all try to avoid in our writing, but what about the more subtle pre-conceived notions we have about certain types of people, occupations, places, etc.? Are they creeping in?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blink Impressions

So yesterday I realized--yet again--that I should trust my subconscious a lot more than I do. Basically, my subconscious said, "I told you so, moron...if you had only trusted me enough to listen the first time...!" All my first impressions of a certain situation that I've gathered over the past couple years were finally confirmed by a collection of facts. If only I had trusted my first impressions more...

It's like Malcolm Gladwell illustrates with story after story in his nonfiction book Blink: our "blink" first impressions are often more accurate than decisions or judgments made after long, deliberate thought. After reading Gladwell's book, I've been more aware of how many times I decide to just turn off that inner voice--the red-headed stepchild of my identity--and decide to weigh all considerations, coming to the less-worthy outcome.

Gladwell often shows how many times we see these first impressions as less valuable because we can't identify why we feel that way--only that we do. He gives the example of food critics who are experts in their field and can taste a cookie or cracker and can tell you which factory it was baked at, what ingredients were used, whether the ingredients were castoffs of another product... There's no hesitation for them to be able to identify why they feel certain ways about the cookie/cracker. Likewise, as an editor, I can identify why I don't think a book would do well or why I think it would, whereas a reader who hasn't had to verbalize or consider all the minute elements of story would just say that the story was slow or unengaging and that "I didn't like it."

Regardless of whether we can pin down why we get first impressions, I've realized more and more that the subconscious is sometimes more street-savvy than our conscious self. It's not afraid to say it how it is.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bad Naked


I fully intended to blog about how I got an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) for The Maze Runner today, BUT then I went to lunch.
What does lunch have to do with 'Bad Naked' and what happened to Maze Runner? Good question. This is what happens when I don't write my post before the deadline. Life happens and I get completely distracted.
Before I answer that question I have one more interjection to make in this post. Tristi Pinkston, author extraordinaire, graced us with her presence last night at dinner with our group. She was fabulous and so friendly. Braving the long drive to Eagle Mountain UT, construction barring her path, Tristi made it to dinner and shared a lot of laughs and a few pearls of wisdom over 'Slammin Salmon Tacos' and chocolate cake. She shared some of her publishing experiences and also advised us all that we will "end up where we are supposed to be." Meaning that when we find the right publisher we will feel it and destiny will have played her part.
OKAY, now back to our regularly scheduled post and an explanation of 'Bad Naked.' (Can't seem to write those words without capitalizing them.) Any-hoo, I went to lunch with Diva Lizz and the Scarlet Tart today and we were having a blast at the Citrus Grill in SLC. (Check it out if you get a chance.) Then somehow we got talking about naked karate...don't ask. ST quoted Seinfeld and said there is good naked and bad naked and karate would be B-A-D naked. Now since this is a family friendly post we won't go into what constitutes good naked, but here are some advisories for Bad Naked:
Archery...seriously.
Sunbathing in the Sahara...think about it.
Fixing bikes.
And those really disturbing dreams where you meet a NY Times Bestselling author and then realize you forgot to get dressed.
Speaking of NY Times bestselling authors though...
It just so happens that I got an ARC for James Dashner's The Maze Runner from one of the newest YA bestsellers, who will be confiscating it as soon as she realizes that I took it. No really. Aprilynne Pike, aka sticky fingers, happened to obtain an extra ARC at BEA and since I had the fantastic fortune of running into her at JFK (thankfully not a dream and everyone was fully apparelled.) She shared the story of how she obtained it and I begged and pleaded to get a peek at it. She graciously loaned (yes, sadly I must return it promptly) me the extra copy and my Inking Cap friends and I have been completely enjoying it. I am a little over half way through it, having just gotten to it after some others read it first...grrr. AND all I can say is, "So far it's AWESOME" to use one of Dashner's favorite words. I would say it's 'shiny.' I'm loving it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So Many Ideas, So Little Time

When I first contemplated writing stories I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to come up with new ideas. It almost stopped me from trying my hand at this art. Fear is too powerful in my life sometimes.

However, now that the ideas are coming, they are coming too fast. I have tons of ideas for great stories: an awesome children’s series, gripping suspense stories (my writers group knows what a chicken I am and Kirk mentioned once that I could probably write a pretty freaky thriller . . .), a sweeping epic, several cool YA’s, and a hilarious non-fiction.

Just yesterday I thought up a great story idea as I drove past the prison. I won’t be sharing it with you…I read once in a book for writers that once you share your idea your passion for it leaves. You shouldn’t share it with others until it’s on paper and your passion is spent. I don’t know if I fully believe that or not. However, the point is that I got all excited about the idea. I remember another author saying that everyone loves the idea stage and beginnings are sexy. I guess I’m just caught up in the sexy stage. (Maybe it’s a sign,)

Yet, I suffer from serious writer’s block or maybe it’s the utter inability to finish what I’ve started. My father always told me to finish what I start. I’ve heard it a million times, and yet I still don’t finish. Even my husband bugs me. I always leave a little bite on my plate at the end of the meal. He is of the clean-plate persuasion and he is greatly disturbed by my inability to take that last bite. Now mind you, it’s not that I am full, it is that I will not clean my plate. There is always a crust of bread, or an end of vegetable. Some little fragment left there waiting.

Maybe my writing is like that with a lot of fragments hanging about my computer as little gems of ideas. Waiting for me to conquer my first project and move onto them. They need their stories told as well…

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Random Stuff

I went to the concert in the park with Donna on Saturday night. Josh Gracin and Darryl Whorley played for the "Tribute to Our Troops"-themed Pony Express Days final event for Eagle Mountain. Now, on the way to the park I was listening to Matchbox Twenty. I admit I took advantage of no kids in the car and was blasting it....loudly. The only reason I mention this is a.) I want to see a Matchbox Twenty concert and b.) I am a new fan of Josh Gracin.

In other news, there were a surprising number of strange people who went to this concert. I was rather inspired. I had an epiphany in the middle of one of the songs and had to dig my pen and 3x5 cards out of my purse to write it down. Unexpected, but I'll take it.

And lastly, I really really really miss my husband! I've been here in Utah for 2 1/2 weeks and it's time for me to go home. Thank you to my family and Donna's family for putting me and my kiddos up all this time! Thank you to my writing group for hanging with me while I've been here; Donna, DJ, Debbie, Linda and Kirk, you all are the best!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mazerophobia

I spent all day Wednesday reading, quite literally, from waking until I finished the book I had started. What, you may ask, caught and held my interest so fully? I got my hands on an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) of The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. If you want to know how I obtained an ARC, and how you might be able to get one (or NOT), come back Thursday to read Donna's post.

Anyway, The Maze Runner...

Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or a fear of mazes (this is not an actual named phobia yet... any suggestions?) should read this book with caution. They may have an increased risk for excitability while reading.

This book moves. Not in a physical, levitation kind of way, but the story, action and mystery propel the reader forward, urging one to keep reading. In a market of formula books with cookie cutter plots, The Maze Runner breaks the mold and offers something surprisingly new. It's a fast-paced book that makes you think, keeps you guessing, and leaves you wanting more. While my descriptions might seem cliche, this book is anything but.

I enjoyed the book immensely. From the unusual setting, to the unraveling puzzles, I was captivated. James Dashner has created something different, and different is good.

I have two suggestions. 1: buy The Maze Runner on October 6; 2. Make sure to clear your schedule because you won't be able to put it down.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reading Rainbow

So a strange thing happened to me about 2 years ago. It was a cold and stormy night and I had just returned from a writer's conference...okay so it was really a sunny afternoon, but still...I picked up a book to read while I decompressed from the workshops and discussions. And suddenly I discovered that I had become a very picky reader. I started to notice things like adverb usage, dialogue tag lines and awkward descriptions.
Recently on a long flight from NY to SLC, I sat next to Aprilynne Pike, NY Times bestselling author of WINGS and she informed me that my reading dilemma is perfectly normal and that once she was published her enjoyment of reading for the pure pleasure of a good story has returned. I am so excited for that to happen for me. Just one more fantastic result of someday being published.
Its kind of like watching rainbows, when your little its a wonder and then you take physics and it becomes a display of fractured light, and then it changes again when you see the rainbow break on a stormy day and it becomes a miracle again. I am hoping my reading rainbow will return to being a wonder.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Research, Research, Research

Don’t you hate it when you do light research for your epic novel and then read another novel and find out that your first research wasn’t quit complete?


I read a few articles on Wikipedia on my topic (too secret to divulge here) and thought I understood the issues enough to create a fantasy world. I’ve spent months on world building and creating this amazing society on just a few facts. Oh how foolish and na├»ve am I?


I’ve been reading a historical fiction on my undisclosed topic and realized that I totally misunderstood who the players really were. I always thought there were two races, but no, there are actually three. Which throws all my genius off. All of my cool hooks no longer work. Some of the characters will have to change races, which will ruin everything.


I could go ahead and write my story with only the two races, since it is a fantasy and no one would really know. However, I know! I know that I am now a farce and a sham.


The good thing is that now some of the weaker points of the story now have a focus. Some of the things I was trying to accomplish just didn’t work before and now they do. Now I have my strong antagonist. Now I have my divided house. I just have to go back and figure out what race some of my characters are. It takes away some of the fun “aha!” moments, but it makes for a more solid, and less contrived, story.


I guess that may be why I’ve suffered with such bad writers block—I didn’t understand the whole realm of my story. I’ve decided that I need to do more research before I start writing full force. I've got to see if there is more to the story that I haven't unearthed yet.


So my lesson for Wednesday is this: When creating a world, do your research thoroughly. Don’t just rely on an article or two. Dive deep and you’ll be amazed at what you find. All that research may never end up on in print, but the layers and depth will be apparent.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Writing Conferences and Making Time For Writing


It's a nice idea to write a book, but the time it takes makes it a huge commitment. Carving out that time is a big deal to me. It means sacrificing time that could otherwise be spent with  my family. For example, in the process of writing this post I've: Put Grace down for a nap, broken up two fights, put Josh in a time out, cleaned up a mess in my mom's kitchen and told the kids to quiet down at least a dozen times. I should probably be out there with my kids instead of in here blogging. 

Which brings me to my next point. Prioritizing. I like writing, but it's probably not the most important thing I will ever do with myself. My family sits in first place on that list, which means that there are times when I want to write, but I have to do family stuff instead. (That might be where a lot of my angst comes from). I'm not good at using my time wisely, but with each writing conference I attend, I learn little tricks and gain inspiration from cool people who are making it happen.

For example, at CONduit Graham told me a handy little trick he has with 3x5 cards that he uses for outlining that I am fully going to use.

Bottom line, I write when I can and sometimes when I shouldn't.

What about you guys? What works and doesn't work? How do you prioritize?

S.T.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why Blog?

Since the beginning of time, human kind has found ways and devices to express the one thing that separates us from lower animal life: communication. Society has moved beyond cave drawings and smoke signals, but apparently telephone, email and text messaging were not sufficient for the unique intellect to adequately express oneself. In other words, why blog? Because we’re just that cool.

All the popular kids are doing it. Everyone from famous authors (shout out to James Dashner and Dan Wells), to stay at home moms are becoming involved in mankind through the blogging sensation. And reading these blogs give us a voyeuristic pleasure, like peeking into a diary, or overhearing a phone call. Not that I entertain any thoughts of voyeurism (laughing a bit uncomfortably, ha ha). Yeah, anyway, moving on…

John Donne once wrote that, “No man is an island.” In today’s world, however, one could say that no man is an unread blog. So if you wonder for whom my blog tolls; it tolls for thee.

The Vermillion Voyeur, errr, Vixen a.k.a Debbie Hibbert