Saturday, August 20, 2011

Inspiration Lightning

Ever have it? You're sitting around mulling something mundane over when from east of left field comes this jolt of inspiration. I had that happen a couple of days ago and now all I can think about is my new WIP.

I am attempting something I've never done before because I want to push myself to be a better writer, the kind of writer I know I can be if I work hard enough. They say to challenge yourself and write something you're afraid you can't do. I've definitely done that. With each page I pause and stare at it, not sure if I'm on the right path.

It doesn't matter, I think. Just being on a path, no matter how far removed from the heavily trod one it is, may be enough. All roads lead to Rome. Some just take a more scenic route than others.

How about you? Feeling inspired? What inspires you to keep going?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Write On Con

Why the skunk? Because I love skunks, of course. This is my dream pet. I want one so bad.

What a week, guys! Has everyone been over at
Write On Con, soaking up the info and harassing... I mean... interacting with the lovely agents and authors? If not, get your booties over there. That's where I'll be all week.

On the writing front, I found me the most awesome editor in the world and she's helping me get my MS in tip-top shape. Can't say enough about this, chickadees and monsieurs. Editors are the bomb.

For a bit of smiles, I suggest you watch The Funniest Dang Thing Ever

It's got Spock. You gotta love Spock.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Try as we might, our experiences tell us to expect things of people who act a certain way, dress in a particular style, or enjoy certain things. And this has nothing to do with race. A white person dressed in jean cutoffs and a salsa-stained t-shirt (or what society has now ‘cleverly’ deemed the “wife-beater”) leaves you with a different impression than the same person dressed in business attire.

There are so many misleading stereotypes in the world:

But how do we keep this out of our writing? More importantly (at least to me), how do I keep my readers (or potential agents) from assuming my character is going to be a stereotype just because of the way I have her dress?

I know many people make assumptions about me when they see me in person. They see my two-colored hair (either black and red or black and blue), my tattoo, lip piercing, black novelty t-shirt (either a band or a ‘dark’ movie), and leather renfaire shoes, and from that visual, assumptions are made about the sort of person I am.

There are things they would not assume about me:
1) I volunteer for the animal shelter
2) I give clothes, books, and toys to battered women’s shelters instead of Goodwill
3) I participate in toy drives every Christmas
4) I buy insane amounts of Girl Scout cookies to help friends’ kids
5) I spend all my free time writing and not doing something ‘unsavory’

To name a few. I doubt they would assume other things:

1. My favorite bands are Blue October, Seether, CCR, Pink Floyd, The BoDeans, and I love soundtrack albums from movies. Music with a lot of screaming annoys me.
2. My favorite movies are Galaxy Quest, Erik the Viking, Holy Grail, 13th Warrior, Knight’s Tale, Finding Nemo, Four Brothers, How to Train Your Dragon, Sweeney Todd, V for Vendetta, and The Lord of the Rings series.

These are movies I can watch on an endless loop for days. Yes, I’m weird that way.

Because I am overweight, they assume I eat too much. The truth is I eat once a day, sometimes a snack as well. My problem is that I don’t move, so yeah – they’re right to assume I’m physically lazy, but it’s also because my job was 8 hours at a desk and then write all night, but now it’s write all day and all night. I’m not lazy in my mind.

My character dresses in a goth way and is a little overweight. I wonder if readers would be put off by her just because of that, if they’d feel like they can’t relate to her because they can’t identify with her. Also, if agents would make the same assumption of readers and dismiss my MS based on that. My MC is not a stereotype. She has layers and motivations, dreams and hopes, disappointments and heartache.

And, before anyone assumes incorrectly, she is not a mini-me. In high school I was skinny as a rail with blonde hair, and was very much a grunge girl. Most days. I occasionally had a girly moment and wore a skirt.

Do any of you have this worry? That an agent will read your query and your pages and assume your character is not going to ‘speak to’ them, as some put it, because they have never been in a certain clique (or even actively disliked people in that clique) and therefore dismiss your character’s story?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100 Word Story

As I normally do, I entered one of Janet Reid's 100 word contests, lost, and posted here on my blog for your amusement.

The five words to be included in the story:

Afternoon Delight

The sweat caked with the powdered sugar against her leathery tanned skin, like white jelly spread thin over golden toast.

On the floor beside the bed lay a half-eaten swiss cake roll, smashed into the carpet, and a t-bone cooled on the nightstand which had proved useless.

As the carnal fever almost sated, I gazed with heavy lids down at the paper bag which hid her face. A stick-figured character drawn in red gel pen smiled up at me.

Our agreement was an echo in my mind.

“Food sex? With you? Okay, but on one condition…”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Makes Us Who We Are

I have two teenage daughters. As I watch them go about their lives in their own little universes, it inevitably leads to flashbacks of my own teenage years. My high school career was at the very end of the 80s and very beginning of the 90s, so I have two of our most warped decades to thank for my personality. I also blame a lot of it on my dad.

When I get an idea for a story I want to tell, I write it down. But as I read back through it once it’s done, I can see the influences from my teenage years. It’s all there, glaringly obvious to me. If I ever become published, I think it might come as no surprise to my readers to discover who my major media influences were (and in many cases, still are).

The Far Side – I have six books of Gary Larson’s collections, and they are left out and read through daily when I have a few minutes of ‘me’ time. This current sentence was going to be TMI, but I removed it. You’re welcome.

Pictured: How I Plot My Character's Life, Part I.

Sci-Fi – I was going to list out specifics, but really it needs to be lumped into one. X-Files, Star Wars, Star Trek, the Terminator, Sliders, X-Men comics, etc.

Pictured: OMG Heaven.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – They used to show re-runs late at night on MTV, as well as Britain’s The Young Ones. These were happy, happy times for me, my friend. The offbeat and unexpected plots have heavily influenced my own plotting.

Pictured: How I Plot My Character's Life, Part II. You might notice a running theme...

Dean Koontz – Yes, I mention him on occasion. I read my first Koontz book when I was 12. Lightning. It was about time travel, fighting Nazis, redemption, and being a writer. It’s been a huge influence on me, and most likely why my first three series I wrote dealt with time travel, and why I suck up all things time travel like a sponge. A lot of people dismiss Koontz as a horror writer and never try him, but he’s written some of the most amazing characters I’ve ever read.

Pictured: OMG Heaven cubed. Aka: The Incarnate of Awesome.

Darlene Conner – Played by Sara Gilbert on Roseanne. I was (and in many ways still am) a version of this character, so much so my dad called me ‘Darlene’ half the time. It reflects in my narrative voice when I write.

Pictured: Me and my nerdy boyfriend. Funny how I look more like Roseanne now. OMG. WE DO TURN INTO OUR MOTHERS.

So, there’s my list. What’s yours? What are the defining media influences on you and your writing?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

9 Things That Make My Life Difficult

1. Ignoring my deeper peeves in life that revolve around the English language and how it’s used and abused, one of the greatest peeves in my life is clothing sizes. More specifically, the delusional folks who determine them. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t America in a sort of ‘omg we’re so fat’ stage right now? So why, for the love of that is holy and dipped in chocolate, are clothing sizes so disproportionately accounting for those of us of above standard-American-lingerie -model size in girth?

I found one website that says, “Please review our size chart as our shirts run small. Material also shrinks once washed.” Okay, WTF? And the largest size they carry? XL. That means their idea of XL to me is like a junior miss small. It’s not like I want to wear sleeveless, midriff shirts and frighten and/or revolt unsuspecting innocent bystanders with my stretch mark contour map of the Ukraine. These are t-shirts, for crying out loud. Another peevish place is Hot Topic. My girls shop there. I can only stand and look around with a dirty look on my face. Their idea of an XL is like a toddler sized medium.

Sometimes I wonder if the madness is to do with the countries and child labor sweat shops half our clothes come from, but that’s a sensitive subject matter I’ll refrain from blogging about with any specificity.

*rant done*

2. Things that are so very bad for me and my priceless time: Websites. I can spend hours scrolling through A Softer World’s strip comics, especially when it takes ages to load the image. I am sure I will never finish as there is too much infinitely amusing content. Don’t even get me started on I spent every spare second for two months there and have grounded myself from it ever since I managed to pull my head up for air.

3. My uncomfortable desk chair that thinks my legs don’t need blood.

4. My cat. He is the boss of me, and I can’t even quit.

5. A few of my kids’ friends’ parents who make ME look responsible. Yeah, they’re that bad. Too many have dubbed me Mommy#2.

6. Unobliging lottery balls. Nuff said.

7. My body’s insistence that I need at least five hours of sleep a day. This seriously cuts into my website reading. I mean… my writing.

8. Texas heat. Seriously, why is under 100 degrees an impossibility? We’re in the middle of the worst drought in history (which made lakes dry up and pieces of the Challenger shuttle were found) and now this slice of heaven just hit the news, “The Texas power grid operator has scrambled this week to meet soaring electricity demand in the face of a brutal heatwave, and residents of the second most populous U.S. state are one power plant shutdown away from rolling blackouts.” No one wants to see me hot. Seriously, I’m an angry lady when I’m hot.

9. Internet ‘improvement updates’ that make all my functions stop working like they used to. I’ve had to basically write off Skype and Youtube, and gmail started to destroy my formatting when sending an email. Hence, I sent a particularly awful looking query out without realizing it. Copy/paste into the box is a disastrous thing to do these days, apparently. Funny how it’s always been just fine for YEARS. If anyone knows why this is, please tell me. I’m afraid to query now.

I'm a Bit Ashamed, But Not Above Sharing

I've never read a lot of the classics. While pop culture has told me enough about these books to know the plot and characters, I've never read them. So tonight, when I logged into Amazon (I prefer brick and mortar normally, I SWEAR) to read when a novel I'm super anxious to read is available (This Dark Endeavor. Not til the 23rd. Sadface.) one of these 'classic' books was in the 'also bought' section, so I went ahead and got it.

Here was my first mistake. I'm not a shopper. I'm one of those impulse buyers that store owners love. Since I rarely shop, I tend to go overboard since my thinking turns into, 'well, I never get myself anything, and I've got the cash, so...'

I wound up, in the end, with thirteen tomes now being shipped to my house. Of these, I will say such classics as A Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and American Gods are all now going to FINALLY be read by me.

There's several authors I follow and I have now bought Tawna Fenske's Making Waves and Sean Ferrell's Numb. In addition to those, I bought ones that it seems everyone else has read recently but me (as far as YA goes) which are Incarceron, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Maze Runner, Whisper, and The Forrest of Hands and Teeth.

Because I'm random, I chose a couple more books I'd read about on blogs this week which are Beasts of No Nation, Hold Me Closer Necromancer, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. (I'm especially excited about the last one. Thanks Emily!)

There's a few of these well outside my comfort zone. I'm the sort of reader that sticks to what I love and rarely venture outside that. But that's sort of stupid, I decided. If it's well written, then I should give it a go.

What this longer blog post's point was (since I rarely have one) is to give an example of how blogging IS a valid and worthwhile form of advertizing. I'd otherwise have never heard of several of these if not for blogging.

As an aside, I've a file called, "Books I Need to Buy" and on that remains (and a couple aren't available yet) A Monster Calls, American Desert, Animal Farm, Beautiful Creatures, Boneshaker, Divergent, Geek Love, Going Bovine, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, Little Kingdoms, Never Let Me Go, Speak (I KNOW, RIGHT? WTF is wrong with me for not reading it yet?), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Alienist, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Blind Assassin, The Brief Wondrous Live of Oscar Wao, The Corrections, The Hanged Man, The Help, The Invention of Murder, The Monsters of Templeton, The Near Witch, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Somnambulist, The Tiger's Wife, The White Tiger, The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, Thirteen Reasons Why, This is Where I Leave You, When You Reach Me, and Wintergirls. 90% of these come from an agent I respect's personal pics. His taste is like mine, so I'm going to run with it.

We're not even going to go into the books I already own that I've not read yet *coughEndersGameWaterforElephantsTheArtofRacingintheRainTheReplacementLittleBeeTheRoadTheBookThiefWatchmenGirlWiththeDragonTattoocough*

So, are there any books you're ashamed of not having read yet? Do you have any more suggestions for me to try?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


We've all had them, right? I'll give you a prime example.

My daughter came into my office last night(or technically 3:30am) and said, "Why are you up so late?"

"I'm reading a blog and a few of these agents are hilarious. But now I'm worried no agents will want my book."

Her response? "Why wouldn't Asians want your book?"

"Agents, sweetie. Agents."

I doubt I'm the pillar of social etiquette anyway (which will shock none of you, I'm sure), but I've got a bad habit of trying to assume what someone said if I didn't understand them. I would rather take my chances of deducing what was most likely said rather than ask a person to repeat themselves.

This, as anyone could predict, leads to an occasional misunderstanding. I tend to assume towards the positive end of the scale so it's not like I get angry. I just know there've been many conversations in my life when I didn't have a clue what the other person was talking about because I'd missed the most pivotal word and was too embarrassed to stop them and say, 'Wait, what word did you say there?'

Am I alone in this? It is just another quirky thing about me I should have kept to myself? I have little doubt.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Is Your Greatest Writing Obstacle?

Mine is naming things. I can hash out words all day, but if I have to give it a name, I'm at a loss. I wind up googling for ideas, searching wikipedia for appropriate references, researching all manner of things until something finally 'feels' right. I've finished my WIP and want to work on the query letter, but it HAS NO NAME. I had a name for it in the beginning, but it doesn't fit anymore. Plus it turned out to be the title of a cookbook already published.

Granted, this is nothing compared to the anxiety of naming my girls.

I know what we name them isn't important in the end. If a publisher picks it up, they usually change the title to something they think will work. But I can't just call it 'Beans and Rice' and be done. I can't send it out into the world like a nameless orphan begging for scraps on the corner. I over-think it, I know I do, but it's the one thing I'm anal about. The name HAS to fit.

What about you? What part is the hardest for you?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Four Months Isn't Too Long, Is It?

So, I took a bit of a hiatus from pretty much everything. No tweeting, no Facebook, no blogging, and barely e-mailing. I resigned from my horrible job in May, and I couldn't be happier. I've spent pretty much every waking moment writing or editing, though most of that is work that will probably never be published. I was just writing for fun. I started to work on my WIP which I put off in March, and lo and behold, I think I will have it edited and ready to go in a week or so, barring any unforseen circumstances.

I tried to buy a house, but since the mortgage crash it has become ridiculously difficult, at least in my area. I'll soldier on. I don't mind my rental so much. I've been here five years, though. That's a lot of money I could have put towards a mortgage. Hindsight and all that, right?

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan. Well, not Harry himself, but the world. Now that the last movie has played, I find I have nothing to wait for anymore. I used to wait for Star Wars and Star Trek movies, then Lord of the Rings movies, then Harry Potter movies and books, and now there's nothing out there that has grabbed my attention. Any suggestions?

Not much more to report. I was just popping in to say I'm still alive and still writing. How goes it with y'all? I hope to hear about loads of success, guys. It'd perk me right up.