Monday, February 28, 2011

Character Examination

Anne Hathaway & James Franco as Oscar Hosts: Thumbs Up or Down?
I watched the Academy Awards last night. Funny enough, the three hour celebration of film and acting had me thinking about character chemistry. I'll tell you why.

Co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco had little to no chemistry. Outside of a fabulous opening three minute montage celebrating the year's best films, they fizzled. Badly. They couldn't time joke delivery, they seemed awkward (especially in the case of Franco) and over enthusiastic (especially in the case of Hathaway). I literally thought that if these two were characters in a book, I probably wouldn't continue reading.

On the other hand, Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law came out for a brief award presentation. They had me laughing, leaning closer to my television, and I even pushed rewind to catch something I'd missed. Talk about great chemistry!

This is what I strive for in my writing, taking characters and making everyone pay closer attention. So how do we do it? I'd like to paraphrase something I heard from Sarah Eden during a Writing Excuses podcast at LTUE (and even though she was speaking about romance, I think the idea applies to all relationships). She said that in order for a relationship to work and feel fulfilling, each individual must compliment something lacking in the other person.

So tell me, how do you do this in your writing?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Graham Cracker

While chomping on a graham cracker a couple days ago, enjoying its slightly sweet, crunchy goodness, it occured to me how remarkable it was. Thinking about the cracker genre, I could not name another sweet cracker. Everything I tried to compare it to was in the cookie category. The graham cracker, amongst all the multitude of crackers, has something unique.

It reminded me of a presentation I attended at a conference last year where an editor said one of the key things that stands out to her in a query letter is if the story offers something that makes it different than other books out there in the same genre.

I would assume there is a fine line between the unique attribute and a gimmick, but if it's something that really enhances the story, then all the better for marketing purposes. Some examples that come to mind from best sellers are: vegetarian vampires, the story of the rape and murder of a young girl told from the dead victim's perspective, and World War II England seen from the perspective of Winston Churchill's dog.

My current story doesn't have a graham cracker angle. Does yours?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Link up! Let us find you.

Welcome to all the fun people we met at LTUE!! Its great to have Alaina with us. We've been brainstorming some fun new things for our group. The first is a contest for all of our friends. We'll announce the details soon.

So if you want us to come find you in the blog-o-sphere post a link to your blog in the comments and we'll come check out what you're up to. We'll also let you know when we post the contest.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Goin' Fishin'

I've begun to ask that age old question:

Fish or cut bait.

I'm tempted to pull out my scissors, but I'm still unsure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm Moving. So....

Platform boots & Generals. Discuss.


Monday, February 21, 2011

LTUE: The Rundown

Ever feel like you've been rundown by a big, metaphorical semi, full of inspiration and smelly truckers?

Enter LTUE. Especially the smelly trucker part (try sitting in a small room packed to capacity + 47). Of course, the inspiration also participated in full.

I'll highlight a few LTUE favorites:

  • Met some ladies from Alaska. Always exciting to meet new writers who are awesome.
  • Tracy Hickman, "It doesn't matter if you're published; it's everything if you're read."
  • The Writing Excuses podcast. On finding out your story isn't going to work out, Howard Tayler said, "I can't save this patient, but he'll make an excellent organ donor."
  • Seeing fellow writer L.T. because she gives the best hugs.
  • Dinner Saturday night with Dan Wells, his wife, and Bree Despain. How can you top a sushi dinner, eaten while discussing writing? You can't!
  • During James Dashner's keynote speech, mishearing, "Everyone needs an agent," to, "Everyone needs an Asian." I couldn't keep a straight face through the rest of that topic. Despite my hearing problems, he did a great job.
  • The workshop, "Psychology of the Samurai." Fascinating stuff. Seriously.
  • A breakfast run with Donna, Jeff Savage, and our KGB friend, Ryan Uhrey. Savage is probably the nicest guy out there.
  • Meeting new author Tyler Whitsides. Very cool individual who has an excellent cover for his book.
It was a great conference and I had a great time. Thanks to all those who participated, and to Inkers Donna and Kirk who ensured the laughs never ended.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

That's Too Much!

I watched the Grammy Awards this week and one of my favorite things is the reliable train wreck known as the Red Carpet arrival interviews. So I'm kicked back with the hubby watching performers take turns being asked scintillating questions like "Who are you wearing?" and "How do you feel about being nominated?" when there is a sudden commotion around the arrival of Lady Gaga, who chose to arrive encased in a giant plastic egg being carried Cleopatra-style by four scantily clad gentlemen.

Things took an even more bizarre turn when the entourage stopped to be interviewed by the unavoidable Ryan Seacrest of E! News and it was explained by Gaga's "supermodel nurse" and her "creative director" that Gaga was in a "creative embryonic stage and won't be born until her performance this evening."

My first reaction was that Gaga was trying wayyy too hard to be eccentric. I wanted to yell "That's too much!" like contestants on that old Price is Right game were made to do. But the more I thought about it, and later when I saw all the news coverage she got for doing it, I decided it was marketing genius. She definitely got the most attention of anyone on the red carpet and promoted the heck out of her new single (titled Born This Way, hence the whole egg concept).

I recently read that as soon as you start working on a first draft of a novel, you become a business owner (if you intend to ever make money off of your writing). So, I've decided that since my novel is called Funeral Procession, when it is finished I am going to buy an old hearse, paint it hot pink, put the title and a web address on the back and drive up book sales.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm at LTUE

I'm currently sitting in a conference room at BYU listening to great authors discuss the difference between Urban Fantasy and Contemporary Fantasy. Good news its selling well right now.

Wish you could all be here. We will let you know how it goes.
Comment on who you want to know from and I'll get you quotes for next week.


In the art of podcasting Dan and Howard are talking about how much recognition they get from their podcasts.

Info you need for this quote: Their podcast is calledWriting Excuses:
"15 minutes long, because you're in a hurry and we're not that smart."

Dan said, "I can't even tell you how many times I've been in a hallway at a conference and people stop and say, "I know that voice. You're Dan Wells. You're not that smart."

Howard said, "That's better than my experience at Storymakers where these sweet LDS women come up to me and say, 'I know you. You're Howard Tayler. You're 15 minutes long."

In a discussion about answering the question about why he has put supernatural elements into an otherwise 'crime' story. He said he put it in because he wanted to he thought the idea was awesome. Then he said this:

"That's Awesome" is arguably the best reason for making every decision you make while writing a story. Dan Wells

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Random Thoughts With Bullets

  • First off, go read Graham's big announcement.  Congrats to our dear friend from all the Inkers.  We are so happy for you.  First Schaara, whom we all adore, and now a huge step in your career.  This is a good day for you.
  • I love bullets (the typing kind not the killing kind)
  • With that said, I do love to shoot a .22, but its pretty hard to kill with a .22.
  • Recently I was given a gift that allows me to have digital music.  I know, I know, I am late onto the scene, but hello--I have only had high speed Internet for less than a year.
  • With said digital music, I have been listening to more music. One of the albums that I've rediscovered is Evita (the one with Madonna--don't judge me, I love it. I've always loved Madonna, mostly).  One line from one song has stuck with me:
  • Better to win by admitting my sin than to loose with a halo
  • Ponder on that thought and get back to me.  I've got some thoughts of my own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about little nuances in the development of characters and why they do what they do. One of my favorite parts about reading is knowing that, most often, if a character is behaving a certain way, if they are having an off day, it is because it's pertinent to the story in some way. I know this isn't the case in real life. In fact, for most of us, an off day is just an off day. We aren't always going to have some huge life lesson or have the course of our existences suddenly changed because of that day. But in writing, we can' t just throw in an off day for our characters just because we want to. It has to mean something for the story. I'm not saying an off day can't happen for a character. What I AM saying is that, if we're hearing about it from the audiences point of view, it better be because that day means something to somebody in the story.

For example: Let's say our MC is trying to solve X murder mystery by process of elimination, Sherlock Holmes style. What happens when he thinks he has all the information, but in reality one of his main suspects chose to spend the day in bed and the real killer is still out there somewhere. The pieces of that story are going to fall in a very different pattern than if the suspect had gone about his day like normal.

It's a cookie cutter example, but you get the idea. I like my stories, both what I write and what I read, to reflect real life at least a little bit, but it's also extremely important that the time a reader spends on my story isn't wasted time. If information is presented, I want it to mean something.

So, there you go. I hope this inspires us to keep our writing tight. Yay for Writing Group next week!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Loving Us

So it's Valentines day...


I have always been amused that we need a specific day set aside to tell people (that should already know) that we love them. I am more of a let them know everyday kind of girl. I have always thought it was a holiday exploited by Hallmark, florists, and Sees Candies. However, I recently saw a commercial that I really liked presented by none other than the aforementioned Hallmark.

The commercial said Valentines day isn't about "I love you," it's about "I love us."

So to my writers group, I love us. I love that we all have a unique voice and style. I love that we all speak the same language (and I don't mean English). I love the way we can laugh together, share together, and spend time together, feeling like time is riding the Autobahn.

To all writers, and appreciators of writing, I love us. Because of us, new authors are born, new books are published, new art is made.

And most especially, to my husband, I love us. For more things than I could name, but at the moment, I love that you are transcribing this blog for me while I do my hair. What a team :)

Happy Valentines Day, ya'll!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Working on the relationships between characters in my WIP got me thinking about all the different types of love - romantic love, love of parents, siblings, extended family, friends, co-workers, God, country, self, fellow humans, animals...even food, books, movies, sports, TV, etc. can earn our undying love.

What kind of love are you feeling today?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Will Be Missing Brian Jacques

Sadly, this past weekend brought with it the passing of one of my all-time favorite authors. Not only was Brian Jacques the amazing author of the Redwall series, which I ate up as a fourth-grade student, but he was also the inspiration and spark that contributed to a pursuit of literature and the arts and eventually my profession in publishing.

I owe this man a debt of gratitude and a bon voyage. May you have many grand journeys ahead, you creator of worlds.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Catch it or kill it?

How we treat animals says a lot about a person. Would you kill a mouse you found in the pantry? What about in the silverware drawer? So it is the year of the mice in our part of the country. Apparently they have invaded many of my neighbors and even the elementary school.

Well, my dear hubby saw one in the pantry and while I was away from home he unearthed the nest and found three smallish house mice in a box. He then trapped them and put them in the bathtub. Don't ask me why.(I was out of town remember.) The children saw the mice and fell in love. Cries of "don't kill it, Daddy." rang through the phone as he announced that he had caught the culprits. Since then there have been two more live catches and two mishaps where the mice literally got scared to death.

5 mice have been released in fields anywhere from 5 to 10 miles from my house in the last 3 weeks. What does that say about us? Too lenient or just animal lovers? We do have a dog. She is useless at catching mice.

What would you do? Kill it? Poison it? Or catch it and drive it 10 miles from your house to release it in a field somewhere?

FYI one happy mouse couple can have 100 babies in one year. And apparently mice have a natural aversion to mint. (who knew?)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

[Enter Word of Choice]

The Inkers met last night.  We wrote for approximately 120 minutes and then we shared a little of our writing.  (There was also amazing food, as always, with Kirk winning the prize for best of show with AMAZING Raspberry Sweet Rolls.) 

During sharing time, the afore-mentioned winner, Sir-Kirk-A-Lot shared a paragraph.  In his paragraph there were two places he put brackets:

1)    [girl name] and [girl name]
2)    [gun] and [gun]

Later I was lamenting that I was still unsure how to describe my demons.  I received excellent advice: Use the brackets.

I'm wondering if brackets could replace yada-yada-yada.  "I went out with him to [   ] and we [    ]  and then we [    ].  Oh my you should have seen [    ]."

Which leads me to think of George Costanza which always puts a smile on my face.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Politics and writing. How often should the two meet?

I've been reading a lot of headlines in the news about Egypt and it makes me wonder how much political upheaval influences writing, both fiction and non-fiction. I know that Brandon Sanderson brings politics into his books with a very deft hand, but he does it within fantastical worlds. How does one go about putting politics into a novel that is based in reality? Can it be done without being dated too quickly? I'd like to hear your thoughts on this. Please, take the floor Inkers. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011


I met a new iPhone. He was so shiny and incredibly smart. We went out to dinner and had a wonderful time. We had a lot to talk about, and when we weren't talking, we could sit silently, not an awkward silence, but comfortable, like old friends.

When we got back to my place, I asked him to stay. Don't judge me for that. I think I might be in love.

Thank you, iPhone, for making my heart beat a little faster.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Curs-ed Cursor

Curs-ed, blinking cursor!
Why do you mock me with your blinking ways
on my blank page?
Do you think by incessantly blinking
the words will come faster?
Au contraire!

Your blinking has drained the creativity
from my blood with each pulse.
Be still fiend.
Blink no more.

Click here to learn how to change your cursor blink rate, or turn it off.

Friday, February 4, 2011

One of My Favorite Epics

So in follow-up to my post two weeks ago on the Inker Blog, I've been thinking about all of the epics I've read in the past and what would be one of my all-time favorites. Finally I decided that there's really two that deserve that honor. It's a tie: Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series and Garth Nix's Abhorsen series. Very different concepts, one is a fantasy set in an Asian-like realm (leaning toward Japanese heavily), and the other is about a heroic necromancer who must keep the minions of the dead in the underworld in a divided world not unlike in Neil Gaiman's Stardust: cross "the Wall" and you're not in England anymore.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Word of the day!

Snickerdoodle. Where did this word come from? Discuss.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The groundhog predicts an early Spring.

Please let it be true.