Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Make sure to get your rest

First, I have to say, if you can meet up with CPs and writer friends, do it. I met up with Kelly and Kate (KM Walton) the other night and it was so much fun. It also was inspiring. Thanks Kate!

So with my new found inspiration, I was ready. I was ready to start tackling the next part of my WiP. The house was quiet, kids were in bed, my journal full of notes sat by my side, even my cats zipped up their little mouths.  Yeah, perfect writing conditions. I opened the document, and read the chapter I wrote over the weekend. Something weird started to happen. Words started to look like this--drunwpk sheknt. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes.

Maybe if I start typing, things will start to flow, I thought.

After skimming my ideas, I let my fingers do the walking. Funny thing happened, because the sentence looked like this--His lips smeared up downnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

The problem: Writeriss Tiredness. Unfortunately, this can happen to all of us. It can strike at any time and completely ruin a manuscript.

They symptoms:

Words blurring together and forming a new language. Although, you may want to take note of the new language. It could come in handy for a future manuscript about a distant planet where cats use humans as pets. (tired mind thinking).

Sentences that completely blow every grammar rule out of the water.

Swaying, waking up with your face on the keyboard. Never good. I don't think square imprints on the cheek is in style. Yet. ;)

Solution: Recognize when you're tired. It's really hard to tear ourselves away from the screen that helps us create, but no good can come of it when your sleepy.

A dose of caffeine could help, but for how long. You could wind up having 10 cups of coffee, which could lead to the dreaded-- hands shaking condition. Try typing with that going on.

Get into those PJs and hit the pillow hard. It killed me to do it, but I did. I gave in to sleep. It actually will help you be more productive the following day.

Hey, you never know what could come from sleep. Lots of ideas are always swirling around, maybe one will pop out in a dream.

So am I missing any symptoms?


Have a great day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Really, it's Monday

A little Monday inspiration

Thanks for all of your comments on Friday. Finding the right tense can be challenging, but I think I figured out my own way of doing it. I actually have two beginnings to my WiP. One favors past tense and the other favors present tense. I know, I'm crazy. I'm probably doing a lot more work than needed, but I think it's necessary for me so I can see which one fits and what feels comfortable.

I did do more research over the weekend to strengthen my writing. I was directed to some great links along with just stumbling across some. Yeah, my weekends are usually family oriented, but weekend nights. . . once you have kids, (mine are still small) things tend to change, and you find yourself with a beer and a laptop. I did manage to hit 10,000 words in the past tense version (of new WiP) and I need to do more brainstorming, which will come. I'm not sure how you work, but I'm finding that I write in spurts. The story and the characters show themselves to me in vivid fashion. Then the brain dries up for a few days, almost like a scary tease that nothing will come again. I shut the computer down, quit looking at the blank screen and it comes.

I thought I would share the links I've found.

Grammar Girl-The current post is on mixing verb tenses. I've used this one before.

Les Edgerton- An interesting post on adverbs and adjectives in writing. His posts never disappoint.

Nail Your Novel- Inspiring post on writing.

Rules to Write By--Thanks to Las Vegas Writer (Natascha) for directing me to her website. She had to design a grammar website for a class she took. Great job Natascha! This was very helpful.

I'm trying to set myself some goals, which I'm cringing at. I know in the world of having an agent, (hopefully, one day) I will need to work with deadlines so I'm trying to give myself some just to keep things moving. I'm hoping by May to have this first draft done. That's a tall order and a lot of pressure, but I hope to keep it moving. That way it can sit and brew (I still have beer on the brain) before revisions, and I can go back to WiP #1's revisions.

So how was your weekend?

Any goals for the week?

Oh and has anyone seen Red Riding Hood? I know looks a little cheesy, but Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons. I say no more.

Hey, don't judge. Have a great day!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why are you so Tense?

Tenses. They are my number one weakness. My Darth Vader, if you will. I never really paid attention to them before, and now, I switch them on and off like a light switch. I haven't found the all out answer on how to stay in one tense while writing except. . .practice. I did a little research, which helped some. I am also proud to say, I'm beginning to recognize it in the books I read. Like I said, never really paid attention to it before. I know you are possibly smiling, maybe laughing. "She's a newbie," you shout, but we all start somewhere and I'm sure you have been at this point before.

When I'm writing, I'm usually concentrating on the character, voice, heart, does this chapter relate to the story, you know, all the rules. I never really know what tense is best so I guess my mind just switches back and forth from past to present then back again. Maybe it can't decide. I've been told to write the story then go back and fix tense in line edits. It makes sense, but I would love to know if there are any tricks to fix this as I go along. I tend to write in first person POV. I have written in third person, but I like first person better. It feels natural for me.

Now, I know it's all up to me in the end until an agent or editor gets their hands on it (one day, I hope). I can't help but wonder the best way to approach my little issue.

Let's review the little thorns in my side:

Present tense--I've been told when writing action, this is the best tense. Since I write a lot of action and tend to have quick pacing, this could be the best tense for me.

What's present tense? Here it is in simple form. It's what's happening right now. Example--I run towards the door.

Books with this tense--The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (she's brilliant) and Matched by Ally Condie.
Past Tense- This is the tense you probably see most often and the tense that I tend to switch to.

What's past tense? Well, it happened in the past. Example--I ran towards the door.

Books with this tense--Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
In YA, it seems there is more and more present tense. Neither tense bothers me as long as it's written well. I also read that present tense is a cop out. Not sure of your thoughts on this. I guess in the end it takes lots of practice and what I feel is best for my story.

Here are some links to posts I've found to be helpful.
Kidlit- So Tense about Tense!

Nick Dawes writing Blog

Ask Betty:Tenses

My questions:

Any secrets on writing tenses (basically staying in one tense while writing)?

Have you written in one tense then switched it to another tense after you wrote the whole thing?

What's your favorite tense to read or write?

Any books you would like to share in the present or past tense?

This may be a silly question. Can something be written in more than one tense?

This post wound up so much longer than I planned. :) I'm sure you may have better examples. If you do, please share.

 Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thinkin' high school

I think many of you have been thinking of high school lately. I've read two posts over the course of a few weeks that takes us back to those years. It got me thinking of my awkward teenage days. My new WiP has me thinking of it, too. I have a skater boy in it, and being that skater boys peaked my interest way back when (I married one), I couldn't help but think of the music that I listened to then. Since music is a huge part of my writing, I needed some skater angst to listen to.

I did start listening to Blink 182 again. Yes, I know not fully skater boy music, in fact, they probably would laugh at me, but for some reason it helps my characters show themselves. Plus, I have a crush on Tom Delonge (don't judge). Sure, I could pull out some Fugazi, Minor Threat, and newer band, Thursday, but I'll start out slow.

I also started to think about what I listened to in high, and not much has changed. I still listen to a lot of the same stuff. I still go see Depeche Mode in concert. Yes, they are old, still tour, but mix their old stuff with their new stuff. Joy Division was another favorite. "Love will tear us apart" makes me stop and zone out. The Cure (robert smith still wears his hair the same way.  I thought he would've lost it), and bauhaus (never disappoint). Going to Philly, catching a show at the Trocadero, cruising South Street to stop at Zipper head--were the typical weekends. Okay, I admit, I wore a lot of black and most of my friends had different colored hair, but I wouldn't change it. It was fun.

I do try and keep up with music, because I love it so. My soundtracks above show the stuff that gives me goosebumps when the first note is played. Silversun Pickups, Civil Twilight (major goosebumps), Mumford and Sons, and Muse have been repeated so much that my kids now request them. Except Mumford and Sons for language purposes. These bands have helped me see my characters, allowing me to bring them to life.
So, what am I getting at? Thinking back, taking a moment to cringe at what I wore, but savor some of the memories that I want to remember. Sorry, I'm not posting a high school photo. I may save that for another day. :) It's funny how a character that I made up, could bring back so  many memories.

Oh and I'm not discussing how long I've been out of high school. You probably could figure that out on your own. ;)
What did you listen to in high school?

Any funny high school moments?

Have a great day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Keeping it real and finding the heart

Thanks to Simon and Frankie for another fun Philly lit night. I was so sad I had to leave before dinner. :(  Definitely will stay next time.

Another thing that was super fantastic this weekend is-- I got my first ARC. Yes, I'm excited, so keep watching for my review.

I basically took the weekend off from writing. Well, I never fully take off because I think about my stories constantly, so my brain wasn't fully in vacation mode. The end of last week was sort of rough and I had to re-evaluate some things, including myself. Blogging can get in your head, reading other writers progress was making me compare myself and that's just bad. So, instead of totally curling up into a hole, I'm plugging through. All of this nonsense actually helped me come up with the heart of my story, which is the problem that put me in a tizzy last week. I needed to find the heart.

The heart is why you're telling the story in the first place. What makes the character change and why? Why should the reader care? This has to be evident in the first chapter and what made me so crazy last week. The funny part is-- I've been feeling and dealing with what my character is going through for many years. I guess that's why I'm pretty determined to write it. Crazy, how things come about.

So, this week I will be digging deep into this character's head to make the first chapter make sense (hopefully), and then write the rest. Whew.

Have you found the heart of your story?

How was your weekend?

What are your goals this week?

Have a great day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday questions

Well, not much has happened this week in terms of my new idea. I got stuck and I'm not happy with recent chapters. I wrote some of the end, thinking that would help, but not so much. I'll get there. It may need to sit for a few days and stew. Today it's 70 degrees here so I may soak in some rays. My mind needs a little vitamin D. I decided to keep this short and to pose a couple of questions.

How long did it take you to finish your first WiP?

How long did take you to say I'm ready to query?

I'm no where near query time, but I'm curious. I'm hoping to write this weekend, but I need to re-group this one. I don't know if I want to continue it right now. We'll see.
Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A tip for critiques

As you know, I like feedback, even though my stomach knots and nerves frazzle. Feedback is the way I learn, and a critique is the best way to get that feedback. I have a few CPs and I love them. They are awesome. Once I found them, we started sending our precious manuscripts back and forth in chunks.
But what do you say in your email back? Sure you state what you thought works and what might not work with possible solutions, but can you really say what you want to say in an email?

Tone of voice is hard in your writing, but what about an email? Sure, it should be just as easy to not sound mean or flat. I think I'm okay at doing this, but sometimes things are hard to explain in a simple email. I know you're laughing at me. Is she serious? Why can't she express herself in an email of a critique? She thinks she's a writer? Okay, stop please. Here's my point.

With critque parters all over the world, email is the easiest, but in some instances when I want to talk to them to really understand what they meant when they gave certain advice, I turn to Skype, yes, Skype. Some of you may use this already, and I think it works great. I started using this when my husband would travel and the kids wanted to see him. Then, one of my critique groups used it. Four gals from all over the country discussing our little loves. Now, you don't have to use video, so if you want to sit in your PJs or without makeup then shut the camera off.

Just recently I used it with my CP, Kelly. She's local and we usually meet up at the local B & N to discuss our stuff, but when a frickin' monsoon hit that flooded out streets, we were stuck. We decided to use the Skype and it worked great (as long as the power stays on.) To me Skyping helps to see the person's expression and to hear their tone of voice, even brainstorming is a lot easier. So, If you haven't tried it, I would recommend Skyping. It works for me.

Anyone use Skype?

Any other tips for CPs?

I'm hoping to get some writing in today. I'm super tired so sorry for the babble.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's a party

So, if you don't know already, Carolina Valdez Miller has signed with an agent! Carolina is one of the sweetest and most talented writers out there. It doesn't surprise me how much love is going around for her. She is one of the first people to follow me and helped me get comfortable in the blogging world. This girl is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen (trust me, I've seen when she posts-- sometimes 2am.)

You know what this means--get your butt on over there and give her a hug. There are several, and I mean several, contests for this sweet lady. Get on over to her blog for the run down.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday inspiration

**Is anyone having a problem with the dashboard not showing the blogs you follow? I've been trying to get them back and no luck. Ahhh. I was following lots of people and need the dashboard. Help.**

Thanks for all your comments on Friday. It was a great discussion on language in YA. I will be responding to the comments shortly. I had a great writing weekend. I manage to release 2,000 words from my brain. It's amazing how the second novel goes. I feel like this one is more planned out and I know what to look for when I write. Funny. So, remind me when I'm in revisions of my excitement. Last week many of you bloggers inspired me by your posts, so I figured today I will leave you with some quotes to get the week moving.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."  Mark Twain
"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." E.L. Doctorow

"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing."  Oscar Wilde
"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible." Arthur C. Clarke

"The best way out is always through." Robert Frost

"Winners never quit and quitters never win." Vince Lombardi

"This is for writers yet to be published who think the uphill climb will never end. Keep believing. This is also for published writers grown jaded by the process. Remember how lucky you are."- Terry Brooks

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."- George Eliot

"If you've FINISHED writing a novel you are amongst the elite!!! You ARE NOT A FAILURE IF YOU CANNOT LIVE OFF YOUR BOOKS. You only fail by NOT TRYING." Nadia Cornier

“A window of opportunity won't open itself.” Dave Weinbaum

“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison

I may have gone overboard. I need inspiration all the time.

How was your weekend?

Any goals for the week?

I plan to just keep writing and hope my brain keeps going. Have a great day!

Friday, March 11, 2011

What the F---

What the Freak it's Friday. Gotcha, didn't I? I know you were thinking of another word. I've been thinking about bad language in YA. One of the books I recently read had some, and it didn't bother me too much. I know this is a big deal to some. It's a big deal to me, especially the mother word, but  in in some cases it's realistic. Trust me, I don't want my kids potty mouthing it up, but I have to face reality. The words are out there and they are bound to hear it, most likely in their teen years, from their peers.

I watch what I say (I'm not a natural potty mouth, but sometimes curse in German under my breath. Yes, these were some of the first words taught to me in German by German Exchange students when I was a teenager, my point.) I do watch what my kids watch or hear (which will be until their 18 and they will roll their eyes, but it's for their own good.) But I know these words are spoken. Example, a couple at the grocery store were arguing, using the mother word. Now I didn't make a big deal, because you never know what a 2 1/2 year old will repeat. I did give a slight look to the couple, like-- really must you use that here look, but they didn't seem phased.

Anyway, back to YA. I will watch what my kids read, but I have to understand and hope that if they sneak a book they are not aloud to read that I've taught them to use their best judgement and good moral values. Basically, I will hold my breath and hope I've raised good kids. I can only do so much.

Like I said, I have to be real. I tend to like the book better if it's not used, especially the mother word, but what are you going to do. I think the key is not to overuse it. It has to fit the character, otherwise it will stand out and slow the reader down or have the reader make a sour face and put the book down. I don't like it when the F word is thrown across every page and it's not needed other than for shock factor (this also goes for sex scenes.)

Personally, if it's not in there, I'm happy, but I know it's out there and used. I haven't thrown the mother word in anything I've written, and don't think I will, at least not yet. Call it an inexperienced writer or whatever. My characters just haven't needed to use that word. Maybe I'm like a mom and hoping my kiddo MCs are good kids. Who knows?

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you use language (the mother word) in your YA?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Forecast-- lots and lots of Brainstorms.

Brainstorming is one of my favorite parts in writing. Getting the idea and forming the little bugger the way you want can be trying on the patience, but coming up with ways to make your MC suffer--love it. Since I started my new WIP, my brain has had a massive thunderstorm that's constantly spitting out lightning. Yes, I've gotten stuck and will still get stuck in parts, you know when the sun comes out and the storm clears. I've learned to let it sit for a few days because another cold front will come through, stirring up more ideas on how to continue.

Another method I use-- bouncing ideas off of my CP. This is when the storm becomes a super cell. Hopefully, Barnes and Noble has flood insurance. When our brains merge, the flood of ideas will be raining all over. I know this is a silly way of thinking about this, but likeI said, it's my favorite part, because your story can go anywhere, your characters can do anything, nothing is concrete. So fun.

How do you brainstorm?

Have you had any brainstorms lately?

Since I've been brainstorming, my commenting will be slow. Sorry. I can't stop a storm. Have a great day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wicked Nightmares

So, I started a new project this weekend. I only have 3,000 words, but that's a lot for me. I'm loving it. I decided to save up my energy for that big war scene. I might tackle that next week. With all the junk in my head, I've been having a hard time sleeping. Not to mention my kids don't sleep, that well. One's five and one's 2 1/2. If one sleeps the other one is up and vice versa. My son also thinks it's hysterical to wake up at 5 am. The kids not sleeping, I'm used to, me not sleeping because I can't shut my brain off is another thing. Here's the issue. When I finally do sleep, I sleep super deep, super fast, which results in some wicked real nightmares. It started when my kids were infants and I was up every 2 hours.

The majority of these nightmares usually involves my kids. Not pleasant and extremely unsettling. One re-occuring one is my daughter being ripped from an airplane. Yeah, the roof flies off and she goes with it. It's horrible and disturbing, but feels extremely real. Now, I also chalk this up to being a parent. You can't help,but think of some of the horrible things that can happen to your kids.

Another theme of these realistic nightmares is my writing. Okay not as horrific, but still unsettling. I keep having nightmares of failure, people laughing at me, telling me I'm a joke and they were just being nice when they critiqued my stuff. It bothers me a lot. Maybe it's that doubt and insecurity that lurks in the shadows, ready to pounce on your weakest moment, sucking any optimism you have from your soul. It's part of the process and maybe it's because I started of a new project. I think I work hard. I  think I'm somewhat accepted. Do I have what it takes? I don't know, but the feeling is real and it stinks. I really don't like waking up feeling that way. Not a good way to start the day.

One thing that keeps going through my head is "The porch test." A speaker at a recent SCBWI conference spoke about this. The speaker told us to imagine ourselves in our 80s sitting on a porch, reminiscing about our life. I don't like to think of myself in my 80s (I fear getting old), but I played along.

The first visual is you got that agent, got that publishing deal, and became famous. You are probably extremely satisfied and happy.

The second visual is you went for your dream, wrote all the stories you wanted to write, but never got published. You're satisfied because you tried. No regrets.

The third visual is you never tried. You're miserable and grumpy. Regrets galore.

I thought it was a pretty good exercise. Uplifting. I know I don't want number 3 and I know if I keep traveling on number 2, well, I guess I would be fine with that. It stills doesn't help with doubt, though.

Now, I know my goal. I know what I want. Can I get it? Time will tell. I just want to sleep and get away from these stupid nightmares that push me down. Maybe I should try dreaming of my characters, they talk in my head all day. Maybe they go to sleep at night. At least someone is sleeping.

How do you get rid of nightmares?

How was your weekend?

My goals this week: Trying to write the new story. It's so much fun. The soundtrack is developing too. Lots of Blink-182 and punk rock.

Any goals?

Have a great day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fun Facts Friday

Another edition of fun facts. I hope you had a wonderful week.

1. I'm being interviewed at Michelle Merrill's blog today. It feels a little crazy, getting interviewed, I'm no one important, but it was fun. Check it out.

2. Thanks to Alison Miller for the Stylish Blogger award, Michele Gregory for Friends of the Journey Blog Encouragement, and Beth  for 7 Facts Award. I'm so honored. I hope to give each award attention soon. Sorry if it takes me a while. I just wanted to thank you for them.

3. If you read my facebook page, you would've seen my rant about a car parking so close to me that I had to contort my body to get my son in his car seat. Seriously, is there a reason to park so close? Did the person see the car seats? Obviously not.

4. It was a slow week for revisions, but that's okay. I'm storing up my energy for the next roll I have.

5. Thanks for all your advice on writing a war scene. I think this is why I need to store up my energy.

6. Check out this contest from Erinn. The Life is Awesome contest ends March 18th.

7. You must. I repeat, MUST, go and check out this:
Lots of wonderful authors in here and all proceeds go to the American Society of Journalists and Authors Writers Emergency Assistance Fund. Plus, Simon Larter is in there. So you know it's good. Click on Simon's name for info on getting the book.

8. To all of you with a laptop and a cat: Please make sure you close your laptop when you leave the house. I came home one day, and my cat re-named my document this :() and I had 10 pages of ((((()))))lllll;;;;    yeah ,not fun. Plus, my "L" key was stuck down. I guess my cat's trying to be a writer as well.

9. Go check out the new title of her book and Dear Teen letter from KM Walton. So cute and the title is awesome. Go Kate.

10. Any weekend plans? Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Preparing for war

I got my tunes, my mind is clear, and my characters are at war. One of my WiPs involves a war. Full, blown out war. This is where I'm at in my revisions. My first draft sadly described this, so now I'm filling in the details of this war. I'm trying to come up with words to describe the sights, sounds and smells war. I've never been in a war, so I have to leave it up to my head or the History channel. Research, as usual, is key. I can write a romance scene quicker than I can blink, but war and fighting, well that takes a little more effort. So, other than research which I'm engaging myself in, and some rockin' kick butt music, I want to know your thoughts on writing a war. I think I'm getting better at one on one fights scenes, but hundreds of people. . . eh. . .yeah.

Any advice?

Any interesting words to consider?

I'm writing a war scene, so I'm keeping it short. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Launch day

Nothing like supporting a launch. Not the space shuttle, silly. This---

Go give the gals some support. Congrats Lisa and Laura! 
I can't wait to get my hands on this. You girls rock.
Have a wonderful day!