Wednesday, September 29, 2010

-ing infestation

First, get on over to Kelly's (Kelly's Compositions) She is holding a great contest. Ends October 10th.

Well, I'm looking for an exterminator. Sure I have stink bugs climbing on my screens, but I also have something that is worse, words ending in "-ing". They are complete pests. Just like the dreaded stink bug-- They come out of no where and place themselves hidden until they decide to fly off the page to scare the heck out of the person reading it.

Oh "-ing" words what am I to do with you?

This is another bad habit of mine and pointed out to me by my editor/ critiquer at the conference. I have also had some other critiquers point this out. My first chapter was, in fact, infested with these buggers. Also, the little fly known as "as" appeared as well. **Take a look at that last sentance--I can't get away from them.

So, why is this bad?
1.  Even though the sentence may be gramatically correct, putting an -ing word or "as" at the beginning of a sentence will make the action seem unimportant.

2. It may also make an action seem impossible. Example: Running into the house, I shut off the stove. You were running but were able to shut off the stove at the same time?

 Words ending in "ing" and the word "as" weaken your writing. Professionals look for this which indicates "amateur" writing.

How do we fix it?
First, search it out. Read your writing out loud or use the "find" feature in Word. This has shown me plenty of times how I repeat myself.

Second, exterminating it. Getting rid of it can be more difficult. This is what I'm working on.

 For example: Picking up the bottle, I read the label. Now, I guess you could read the label as your picking up the bottle but that seems like a lot of action happening at the same time.

Possible fix- After picking up the bottle, I read the label.

Even better-I picked up the bottle and read the label. To the point and the action is clear.

Another example--This is directly from Les Edgerton. I should add-- this is a much better example than mine.

Ripping off several large, dripping hunks of burrito, she pulled a chair up to the kitchen table and took a large bite. As she chewed, she wondered who she was maddest at. James, she decided.

The fix--

She pulled up a chair to the kitchen table and took a large bite of the burrito she'd found behind the milk and orange juice bottles. Who was she maddest at? Probably James.

Seems simple, but it takes practice.  Yes, I said practice. Also note, the -ing word can be kind of hidden if you put in the middle of the sentence. Which will make it a little stronger. Just don't do it on every line. There are instances where these words are necessary. Just don't put them at the beginning of the sentence.

Thanks to Les Edgerton for the tips and examples. (don't forget he wrote a great book called, Hooked. I've used it and its great for writing your first chapters.)

Now I must go grab some Raid and kick some -ing/as butt.

Happy writing! Friday is Fun facts day (plus some catch up stuff) and I will announce a date for the next Writing the Next Line. I apologize for all the crazy sizes. When I cut and paste it does this. Crazy blogger!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Overwriters Anonymous

Hi. My name is Christine and I'm a overwriter.

I don't mean to do this but for some reason my brain is addicted to overwriting and forces my fingers to type the words that just make my manuscript melodramatic and cliche. It is a hard habit to break and I'm looking for ways to fix my addiction.

What is overwriting? Well, I will give you an example...each day a black hole has grown, pulling me deeper into darkness.
A little flashy, yes. You see, too many adjectives and adverbs just candy coat what we are really trying to say. We know not to do this but sometimes it just happens.  I've noticed I tend to do this when I force my story or I try too hard to follow the rules.  It's something I need to learn how to stop. I also learned that overwriting can lead to losing your MC's voice. It masks over it and the poor thing gets lost.

Here is a great blog post from Nicola Morgan --overwriting post.

That's right, overwriting was the number one complaint on my manuscript. I went to the Philly SCBWI conference on Saturday and had my editor critique.

First, I want to thank all of you for your encouragement and advice. It helped me so much. I really don't know how to thank you, seriously. From your comments, I had my questions ready and I found out a little bit about what the critiquer goes through to prepare for a critique such as this. This made me feel a little more at ease. Not entirely, but a little more.

Second, the critique. I was nervous. I will not lie. The critique actually went better than I thought. I do have a lot of thinking to do and re-writing but in general it gave me validation. It made me believe that this story may have a chance. For this critique, I was required to send in my first 10 pages and a synopsis of my entire story including how it would end. The editor liked my idea and my synopsis which made my year. To have an editor say that to me was glorious. It made the negative points seem like nothing. **Which is not entirely true, it just made them easier to swallow. 

I do have some re-writing. The general idea of my first chapter is fine, I just have to strengthen my MC's voice (which I know I lost because this is my 12th revision of my first chapter), get rid of the overwriting, some grammar stuff and try to adjust the voice on some of my other characters.

So basically, I'm happy. Sure, I have a ton of work but that's okay. I'm learning, growing and strengthening my craft.  I'm really glad I did it. I better get to work.

Are you an overwriter?

Any advice on controlling overwriting?

How was your weekend? any new goals?

Thank you again guys. You support is awesome.

Have a great day! Oh and on Wednesday, I'm going to post another addiction-- "-ing" words. Little pests.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters.

Today is the day of the Great Blogging Experiment--a brainstorm by those friendly/awesome bloggers Elana, Jen and Alex.

The Topic: Writing Compelling Characters.

Let's break it down. Shall we...

Writing--I think we all know what this is because we are doing it.

Compelling [kəmˈpɛlɪŋ] adj.
1. arousing or denoting strong interest, esp admiring interest
2. (of an argument, evidence, etc.) convincing

Characters-char·ac·ter (krk-tr) n.
1. The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another. See Synonyms at disposition.
2. A distinguishing feature or attribute, as of an individual, group, or category. See Synonyms at quality.
3. Genetics A structure, function, or attribute determined by a gene or group of genes.
4. Moral or ethical strength.
5. A description of a person's attributes, traits, or abilities.
6. A formal written statement as to competency and dependability, given by an employer to a former employee; a recommendation.
7. Public estimation of someone; reputation: personal attacks that damaged her character.
8. Status or role; capacity: in his character as the father.
a. A notable or well-known person; a personage.
b. A person, especially one who is peculiar or eccentric: a shady character; catcalls from some character in the back row
a. A person portrayed in an artistic piece, such as a drama or novel.
b. Characterization in fiction or drama: a script that is weak in plot but strong in character.

Yeah the character definition was a bit long so I cut it. I think you get the idea.

What is the main reason why you should have a compelling character?
 Reader's interest. That's right-- a compelling character is what drives your story. No interesting characters, readers move on.
It can also help a weak story-you have a compelling character-- it will hold the readers attention. Making them overlook the weakness.

So then how do you write a compelling character? Good question.

First try and think of what characters are compelling. What characters made you want to read and read till you finish the book.

There are many trust me--I had a hard time picking one. The one that sticks out is Katniss from The Hunger Games. I had to know how and if this girl would survive. But why?

1. I felt for her. She struggled in her daily life but made the best of her situation. Her family wasn't picture perfect and she put herself in front of harms way so her sister didn't have to. Empathy. I felt it.

2. She had to overcome one problem after another along with the mother of all problems. Weird bugs, fire, mud, heat, dehydration, starvation, you name it, they threw it at her along with the whole possible love thing. I kept thinking what else could happen to her and how would she get through it.
The mother problem-to survive.

3. I'm sure Suzanne Collins drew some of these characteristics from life somewhere along the line. I don't know her personally but I know I draw from life (write what you know.) It helps make the character real so the reader can relate. Katniss had real life issues --Mother who wasn't always there, dad died, loved her little sis and was figuring out boys.

 **I tried to be a little vague on the details incase you didn't read the book and want to.

Any thoughts on writing a compelling character?

What characters are compelling to you?

So there you have it my take on Writing a Compelling Character. This was fun and I can't wait to check out the other participants.

Monday, I will update you on the conference I'm attending tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Face to face.

Critiques. I've spoken about them before and in the end they are supposed to do one thing. Help us become better writers. For the most part I like critiques. The bad ones hurt but I rather know things now then when I query. The good ones boost the confidence. I like them because this is my classroom-- I'm learning and it's the only way I know where I stand. I do follow some self help books, but to me, doing is the only way I learn.

Most of the critiques I've gotten are via email which is great. I have a few CPs who help me tremendously. Their feedback is priceless. In fact, I don't think I would have made it this far without them.  My one CP and I meet every so often face to face to go over our stuff and brainstorm. This is even more helpful because we are talking it through. I can hear her tone of voice and see her expressions. Since my other CPs are spread across the country, we Skype every so often to go over our work and brainstorm. You get to talk things out and really hear what they thought.

I have had one agent critique which at the time made me feel like hiding in some mountain near the black forest but I got over it. I'm glad I did it because I know more now. It was via email so I didn't have to see this person which to me was a good thing. Not that I didn't want to meet them or see their expression, I was just embarrassed they had to read my mountain of mess.

On Saturday, I'm attending the Philly SCBWI conference with fellow blogger buddy and CP, Kelly. I'm glad she's coming with me because I'm getting a critique by an agent or editor--face to face. Dun dun dun da.  Yeah you hear that scary music. I'll admit I'm scared. I'm sure whoever is critiquing my sorry 10 pages is scared too. This will be my first agent/editor critique face to face so--yeah--I have to make the best of it.

Painting by Kaitlyn McCane (she coming with me too.)

Here is my current tactic on trying to remain calm. I'm looking at this as a learning experience. I'm no literary genius (we all know this) so I must put in the time and work my butt off. I'm trying to keep in mind that they will tell me what needs improving and I will go from there. Of course, I've had a nightmare or two where they take their red pen and put a big X on my pages shaking their head no but-- hey, I'm human.

So, I have been trying to come up with questions to ask to make the most of my fifteen minutes. Here is where I look to you for advice.

Any advice on how to make the most of my fifteen minutes?

Any calming techniques?

Any questions I should avoid asking? Any questions that are a must?

Thanks guys. Friday, I'm taking part in the experiment that Elana, Jen, and Alex are conducting. It should be interesting and fun. Oh and check out this contest!! Angela Ackerman you rock! Have a great day!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend and winners!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Thanks for all of your birthday wishes. You guys are the best. Also, welcome to my new blogger buddies. I hope to visit your blogs soon.

This weekend, I did very little on WiP. It was good. I actually watched TV and finished a book. So a good break. I was worried that all creativity may just leave me and never come back but I don't think that will happen.

I'm assuming the reason you came here today is to find out the winner of my little contest.

The winner of Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon and candy is

**drums rolling**

Cinette Santangelo
I also was giving away (3) smaller prize packs (each containing a bookmark, keychain (for the book Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) and candy. The winners are:

JC Martin

Crystal Cook

Erica Mitchell Spickard

Surprise, I have some extra bookmarks to give away. I picked up a lot at the book festival I was at. You can't have enough bookmarks.
The winners are:
Alexandra (Redisch) Crocodile

Nicole Zoltak

Summer Ross

Angela McCallister

Jamie Burch

I wish I could give prizes to everyone. Thanks to all of you who entered. Congrats to all the winners.  I will be emailing you shortly. BTW-I used for this contest.

So how was everyone's weekend?

Any new goals?

Have a great day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fun Facts Friday

So today is the last day to enter my contest. Go here to check out the details.

Here's how my week went.

1. Daughter started school.  **smiling**

2. As soon as I utter the words "back to school",  every person in the house sniffles and coughs. Yes, we all got colds. **not smiling**

3. The dark indecision cloud hovered over my house for days.

4. My one cat whined while the other layed sprawled out on the window seat--reminding me that cats from the same litter could have different fathers. That would explain the difference in my two tigers.

5. McDonald's still has smoothies. Yes, I got one. Yum.

6. Peanut butter and nutella make a great combo when you need comfort.

7. Can't figure out why I feel huge when I barely ate anything all week. Maybe the nutella and peanut butter had something to do with that.

8. Posted my two chapter ones on Teen Fire got some feed back to help with my indecision.

9. Revised the first three chapters and put two different chapter ones before each of them to see which one I liked.

10. Entered a writing contest and didn't win. Not that I thought I would--it just added to my week of crap.

11. Diagonsed myself with ADD and a severe case of pushing myself to write--outcome: writing crap.

12. Got more feedback regarding my chapter 1 and got an idea.

13. Revised the first four chapters with my final decision. Yikes!

14. Pessy is kicked my butt for most of the week. I think Opti went on vacation.

15. Realized Friday (today) is my birthday. Making me another year older, making me wish I realized this writing journey sooner.

16. Received a package from LuLu.

17. Opened the book Lightning Spliced by Zellie Blake. Softly smiled and read the introduction.

18. Confusion set in because I believe things happen for reasons but don't  understand why some things happen.

19.  Read the introduction again.

20.  Pushes me to continue. Life's too short and regret is not something to live with. You never know what is around the corner so live each day to it's fullest.

With that said go live and enjoy. Do what you believe and always remember to follow your heart.

Oh and yes today is my birthday but it's also blogger buddy Kimberly Franklin's. Go give her some b-day wishes. I think I'm her age in my head. ;)

Have a great weekend! Contest winner will be announced on Monday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Writing the Next Line Recap

Don't forget my contest ends Friday September 17th.

Alexandra Crocodile is hosting a contest--some cool stuff to be had. Check it out!

Laurel from Laurel's Leaves is hosting a contest --Too, oh too cool contest. Ends September 19th.

Here is the recap of Writing the Next Line. I posted a short piece and you guys added to the story. This is awesome. You guys always do so well. You would think we like writing or something.
The authors--Theresa Milstein,Kelly Lyman, Amie McCracken,Piedmont Writer , Matthew Rush, Erica Mitchell-Spickard, Talli Roland, Amie B, Kat O'Keeffe, Jen

I pushed the scraper against the wall trying to lift a corner of the ugly brown flower wallpaper.
I applied more pressure to the handle."I swear this is never going to come off."
"It will, you just have to use your muscles." Ryan laughed.
"Thanks for helping me, but I don't need you giving me orders." I squinted, pointing the scraper at him.
Ryan shook his head smiling. "Can I try?"
"Sure. Let's see your muscles flex." I teased.
He took the scraper from my hand and pressed it into the wall. The edge of the blade scratched the surface of the paper. He grunted, pushing the small tool harder into the wall.
"I think I got some." He gritted through his teeth.
"Don't hurt yourself." I smiled.
"Uh oh." He stepped back as plaster crumbled to the floor. When the dust cleared a large hole formed.
"Uh oh is right." I looked over at him, his eyes wide in surprise.
"I'm sorry, Abby. I'll fix it." He scratched his head.
I glanced back at the hole, squinting, because I couldn't believe my eyes. "Is that a small door?"

Ryan tilted his body forward, which almost made him tip over because of his crouched position. "Yeah, it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland."

We looked at one another. Without saying a word, we used our hands to remove the plaster, which easily disintegrated like dismantling a sand sculpture.

He lifted a bottle at the base of the door, his mouth agape. Reading the label "Drink Me", I murmured, "Abby in Wonderland."
I shrugged my shoulders and raised the bottle to my lips. With my head titled back and eyes shut tight, I swallowed the thick, bitter liquid.

Within seconds, my world changed.

Ryan was shrinking away from me. I held my hand out to him, but he looked past me like I wasn't even there.

The room spun and a kaleidoscope of color surrounded me. I reached out blindly for Ryan but I couldn't seem to find him.

My perception flipped inside out and suddenly I was looking at myself ... from outside myself. Ryan was staring at me, with a terrified look on his face.

Then my consciousness returned to my body and Ryan calmed down as the plaster around the hole continued to crumble at an alarming pace.

Another message began to reveal itself in the plaster. I had enough time to read it before it crumbled away.
My eyes filled with tears as the message fell to the floor. Ryan looked terrified. We had to make a decision. Fast.

I grabbed Ryan's hand and pulled him through the tiny opening. The rough door-way scraped my shoulders but I forced us through. Inside, it was musty, dark and warm.

It smelled like mushrooms. Which made me really hungry for some pizza.

God, I would've killed for some pizza. Cheesy, melty, fresh-from-the-oven pizza...

Where was I? Oh, right. I walked through the tunnel, quickening my pace when I saw a flicker of light up ahead.

Following the flicker of light I could feel Ryan trembling, not exactly a place I wanted to be where we were both frightened.
Beautiful colors shaped as we walked, a path of tiles, I only wondered where it would lead.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Difficult decisions

If you missed it, go here for my Fall Giveaway.

Please check out Crystal Cook's Contest. She is an amazing artist as well as a great writer. Please check out her art blog for a chance at a custom portrait. Ends September 30th.

Please go here to read Elliot's 100 Follower tribute. So awesome. You rock Elliot! Check out his book title and release date --yes I said go-- after you read my post. :)

How was everyone's weekend? Full of productivity, I hope. :) My weekend was full of --let's just say it--craziness. I apologize for not commenting lately. We all know it's that time of year-- schedules shift, kids back in school, etc. Plus the hubs was off last week so not much writing or blogging got done. Not to mention reading. I have a book due for the book club I'm in and I'm not even half way through it. Things happen. Life gets in the way.

Still through it all, I couldn't stop thinking about writing. My brain constantly thought of ways to make my WiPs better, MCs spoke to me and a few new ideas started to filter in. My brain is packed. I hope to lessen the load this week.
To top it all off--the hubs and I made a decision to redo our kitchen. I couldn't believe he brought it up but hey I'm not stopping it. So this made my mind go into a tizzy--yes I said tizzy.

You would think that since I'm an interior designer I would be all over this which I am but the issue is--I sometimes have a hard time making decisions for myself. I can redo a whole house for someone I don't know and they love it but when it comes to me and my space--I stare at the room like a deer in headlights. Come to think of it, this is the way I'm feeling about everything I'm doing lately.

WiP#1 has got me stumped. I know what most of the story is --I have a finished first draft (not a great one but the bones are there.) The problem is I feel like I have to get the beginning right to finish my revisions. I have written chapter 1 at least 10 times. The last two revisions I love but I have to pick one and well I'm not sure which one I like better. One would allow me to stay in one POV the other will make me write the whole story from two POVs. I know it's a decision I have to make but one that is very difficult. Just like selections for my kitchen.

I know my CPs have read WiP #1 a million times (God bless them) and I know what their pick is. :) I love you girls. Their input is helping me make the decision.

How do you make difficult decisions for your manuscripts?

If you are a Teen Fire member--I posted on the writers forum the chapter that most likely will be my chapter 1. I would love your input. I'm only leaving it up for a week so if you get a chance your input would be greatly appreciated. Maybe next week I'll post the other one just to see the opinions.

Hope you guys had a great weekend! I'll post the recap of Writing the Next Line on Wednesday. Now go to Elliot's and Crystal's sites!:)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blog Love. Yes, a contest.

So here it is. Here is my cute little contest. I decided since you have put up with me this long, you deserve a chance to win something. I'm not sure when I will have another contest so this may be it for a while.

To hopefully make it somewhat easy on my self, I'm using the form below. **fingers crossed**I hope it works. :)

It seems like September is a time to rethink goals and what not-- so the big prize will help guide you in your revisions. A copy of Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon. This is helping me a ton so I would love to spread the love.

Since Halloween is close a small bag of candy corn will be included to help your sugar level or M&M's if you choose.

I also have some small little prizes for three runner ups (I'm not sure that made sense.) I know we can all use book marks so I have a few to give away along with a couple of keychains from the awesome series The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer. Her new book comes out in two weeks. I'll give (3) sets away (Each set to include (1) book mark and (1) key chain along with a little bag of candy corn or m & m's.)

There you have it. Contest ends September 17th at 11:59 P.M. I'll announce the winners September 20th.

Good luck and have a great weekend!

Please go here.

I was saddened to learn that a fellow writer has passed. If you have used Chimera Critiques you would know Zellie Blake. She has been battling a rare form of cancer for a while and on Sunday she passed away. I am deeply saddened by this, she was such a wonderful person.

Please check out her website. Her book Lightning Spliced is for sale and proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
You can go to her LuLu site to purchase her amazing story.

Just go and check it out, please.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Thanks to all of you who participated in Writing the Next Line. You guys did awesome. I will post it later in the week. Hello to my new followers, I will be visiting your blogs soon.

September is a fun month for me. It's my birthday month. Not that I really want to celebrate birthdays anymore. Just the thought of another year older makes me feel old. It also marks one year that I decided to take my writing to a whole new level. That's right. Last year at this time, I decided to take my writing, seriously. It makes me happy and I thought why not. I'm only getting older.

September marks one year that I started writing WiP #1. I had written scenes for it way back in April 2009 and when I say written --I mean in a journal. In fact, everything I had written to that point was in a journal so taking the leap to typing it was a big step. I'm amazed how much I've learned since then and I know I have a lot more to learn. I wish the revisions would speed up a little but I'll get there. I just want it right.

So, I set a goal to finish WiP #1 by the new year. I'm hoping I can. If I don't --oh well. I just hope it's ready by this time next year. I hope to query then. I think it's do able.

Since you folks have put up with me for this long, I decided to hold a contest. A small one. I'll give full details on Friday.

Any new goals for you?

The hubs is off this week so the posts may be quick. I hope everyone has a great day!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Writing the Next Line.

Welcome to Writing the Next Line. This is not a new activity by any means so I can't take credit for it.

The Rules: In your comment you must continue the story so whoever is first to comment must continue from where I left off and the next person to comment must pick up from where the last comment left off and so on. Please keep each comment 1-2 lines but come back as often as you like. This post will be up for a couple of days so keep the story going. When I return I will put the whole thing together and post it. Should be fun! The story starts below:

I pushed the scraper against the wall trying to lift a corner of ugly brown flower wallpaper.
I applied more pressure to the handle."I swear this is never going to come off." 
"It will, you just have to use your muscles." Ryan laughed.
"Thanks for helping me but I don't need you giving me orders." I squinted, pointing the scraper at him.
Ryan shook his head smiling. "Can I try?"
"Sure. Let's see your muscles flex." I teased.
He took the scraper from my hand and pressed it into the wall. The edge of the blade scratched the surface of the paper. He grunted, pushing the small tool harder into the wall.
"I think I got some." He gritted through his teeth.
"Don't hurt yourself." I smiled.
"Uh oh." He stepped back as plaster crumbled to the floor. When the dust cleared a large hole formed.
"Uh oh is right." I looked over at him, his eyes wide in surprise.
"I'm sorry, Abby. I'll fix it." He scratched his head. 
I glanced back at the hole, squinting, because I couldn't believe my eyes. "Is that a small door?"

There you have it. Have fun and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Does your day balance? and a reminder.

Thanks for all your advice on Monday. I'm thinking about the title of WiP #1 and some ideas are flowing.A funny thing is happening with the chapter I wrote in my other MC's POV. This baby may set my head spinning because I may be writing more chapters from his perspective and mixing them in. My god! Does it ever end? You're sick of me talking about this--I know.

Balance and schedules. We all deal with this on daily basis. I had written a long winded post about this and --well--I saw so many other posts that were written so much better. I have been struggling with this subject ove the past few months and I think I'm getting to some sort of balance by coming up with a schedule. I'll try and clean my post up and put it up next week. I'm not quitting, I'm just tired. Little guy is not sleeping again. Sorry.

So here are a few posts I have read that have stuck with me.Check them out!

Ali Cross-Post on scheduling. This girl rocks. I don't know how she does it. Her post is really great.

Roni Griffin--Post on balance. Something I battle with everyday. Yes, she is awesome.

Crystal Cook--Post on time management. This is from about a month ago but it has stuck with me. Crystal is awsome.

***Don't forget Writing the Next Line is Friday, September 3rd. It's fun-- more of a writing exercise.***
Here are some sessions from the past:

Session 1    Recap

Session 2    Recap

Session 3    Recap part 1 and Recap part 2

Please tell your friends it will be fun.

A contest to check out-- Kathi Oram Peterson--The Stone Traveler blog tour contest Ends September 30th.
Neat prizes including a Kindle.

Another contest by the lovely Theresa Milstein It is her one year blogiversary. She is giving away a signed copy of Mockingjay. Yeah, you heard me. Theresa walked in 103 degree heat for this people --get over there. Ends September 6th.

And yes, I'm planning a simple little contest because you guys rock. So, stay tuned.

I guess this is more of a mid week wrap up for me. Have a great day!