Monday, April 30, 2012

Emotional characters

After my weekend, my emotions are all over the place. I had a great one with my family. With writing--not so much, and I'm not going to go into detail. Do you cry during movies, books or TV shows? If so, what makes you cry?

C'mon admit it. The character, the story  . . . maybe the combo. Before I was a mom, I didn't cry much at anything. I wasn't a very emotional person. Okay, maybe a depressed one, but entertainment usually didn't make me cry. After I had my monsters, I can cry when a butterfly lands on a flower. Sometimes, I have no control. There are certain movies that I watch over and over and I cry like a baby (How To Train Your Dragon and Tangled). Seriously, I cry. But why?

The writer created a character with emotion. Something they did plucked an emotional string in my head. Sure, in movies there are factors of dramatic music and the actors voice, but somehow they pulled you in and made you care.

There is a book that turned on my waterworks--THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. You may have heard of it. The thing is--I love books with voice. Lots of voice. I loved being pulled in to see what this character sees, to feel what they feel. Yes, it must be technical (follow the grammar and plot rules), but without voice and emotion, there's nothing but scenes flipping like a slideshow. So what did John Green do?

He made me care about the character. He gave that character emotion. He showed us what she felt by making us feel it (making me cry). Complicated? Yes. To write emotion is not easy. Trust me, I'm still working on it. You have to put yourself in your characters shoes and ask yourself how would they react at that moment? Feel it.

I haven't found the right formula, but I'm getting there.

Check out this link for some info:
 The Writers go here to check out the post on The Emotional and Psychological World of You and Your Characters


Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints by Nancy Kress

Do you have any thoughts on creating character emotions?

Any self help guides of web pages you would recommend?

Have a great day!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Outside the box

As a designer, I have to constantly come up with things for clients--space plans, color schemes, accessory designs. I have to keep trying different things to please the customer. Thinking outside the box can be hard. It's leaving the comfort of our warm bubble and stepping into foreign territory. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone and think of things that we would never dream of. Even if it's when you get stuck. Like right now, I'm writing this post and I'm trying to figure out how to say what I want to say. As writers, we are constantly pushing ourselves to come up with something that's different or totally new. 

I've been told I'm a good brainstormer. Really, I like to make things up. My mind is constantly on. It doesn't stop. Yes, sometimes, it's hard to go to sleep and I have more ideas than I have time. I'm finally at a point where it's not overwhelming and I'm actually able to focus on one at a time. It's a continuous cycle of thinking outside the box.

How do I do this? It's simple really and some of you may already do it. Ask yourself questions. Yeah, you heard me. Questions. The main one I ask is What if? What if this story took place in another dimension? What if my character was boy instead of a girl? What if the box the girl got for her birthday was magical and transported her to another time? What if she had blue eyes instead of brown?

See what I'm getting at. If you start asking questions, things may become clear or help add an element of a story you may have never thought of. You can do this at any point of your progress--brainstorming, first draft, revisions--whenever. Of course, you have to know when to stop otherwise you will ask yourself questions till the world ends, and nothing will get accomplished.This is sometimes the hard part, but I think if you follow your gut you will know what works and what doesn't.

So take a part of your story where you are stuck and ask it questions. You might be surprised by the answers.

Do you think outside the box?

**Go check out the cover of K.M. Walton's EMPTY to be released January 2013. There's a contest too. It ends May 4th.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Learning to be a mom

I'm not a great mom. Trust me, no one is giving me a mom of the year award. I know, hard to believe, but I see other moms who are so much better. Downer, right? The thing is I'm not a natural at it. I thought for a long time that kids were what I wanted, and since my mom did it and did it well that I could too. The fact is--we are all different. I like kids when they are about 6 and not super needy. I know selfish, but I'm being honest. I've had to learn how to be a mom through life, through doing, and living it.

There's no book that tells you. Oh sure, there are million out there, and I've read quite a few, but guess what, they all don't apply to your situation or you child's behavior. You can take some of the advice, but don't follow it word by word. Same goes for other people's advice (take your own mom for example). There's only so much that applies. Different times, different situations, different feelings. I love my kids and I love being around them, but the way my mom makes it sound I should love it more. The truth is I need time, to myself. I just do. It helps me stay sane, but for others it may not.

Same goes for writing. No one can tell you how to approach writing a novel. Yes, there are certain guidelines and rules, but let's be real, they can be broken. There's also tons of self help books. I've read some, and they can help, but you have to decide how. You have to live life and learn. The grass may look greener in someone elses' field, but you don't know their situation. I'm sure they have weaknesses, or faults or just different everything. Just like many things in life, you learn through living and figuring out how to do things the way you need too.

I read something recently that, in so many words, said that writing was just a hobby if it took you more than a year to write a novel. Seriously? I'm serious about my writing. I know deep down I'm not stopping--ever. Yes, I write slow, I have other things in my life that I can't ignore, so if it takes me a year, it takes me a year. Not that I like how long it takes (I'm only getting older), but that's how I can. Just like being a mom, I do what I can and I figure out how I can do it--my way. I also try to figure out how to do it while chasing my passion. There is no right answer.

This can also apply to any aspect in life. I just happen to be a mom a lot, like all the time, I can turn it off or clock out, I've tried. :)

Do you believe the school of life shapes how you can juggle your situation and the way you learn?

Have a great day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fun Facts Friday.

Another week, another Friday. On with the facts.

1. I'm excited for my new project and am in the "I love you" phase. Yeah, I know it's only a matter of time till it's the "I need a break from you" phase.

2. I got to meet Beth Kephart (YOU ARE MY ONLY), E.C. Myers (FAIR COIN), and Elisa Ludwig (PRETTY CROOKED) this week. They were signing at an Educators Appreciation event at the Barnes and Noble in Exton. They were there with K. M. Walton (CRACKED), Dianne Salerni (WE HEAR THE DEAD), and Amy Garvey (COLD KISS). Wonderful folks. Now go check out their sites and their books. Let me give you a hint--all of them are awesome. Oh, I can't forget the two lovely authors with adorable picture books--Monica Carnesi (LITTLE DOG LOST) and Ame Dyckman (BOY + BOT). Yes, full of awesome!

3. The Simon Larter has a story published in the Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6. Go check it out.

3. Trying to figure out your style--go check out this post from

4. Need inspiration--Check out this post from Writes by Moonlight.

5. A couple of more posts I need to share. I don't usually find this many, but hey, it's been that kind of week.

A post by the lovely Stina Lindenblatt on Subtext.

How to deal with patience on the road to publication from Novel Rocket.

What to look for in your final edits from Nail Your Novel.

6. I've also added to my book collection, Edgar Allen Poe--Complete Tales and Poems. I have hearts dancing all around when I look at it, and they're not in the floorboards.

Do you have any fun facts to share?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do writers socialize?

Are you social? I think the view of writers is that we sit all day and write--by ourselves. I can't say this point is entirely false. I do want to spend my time writing and alone, but I do like to socialize. I like to go out and have a good time. I can even communicate with people who have absolutely nothing in common with me.

Do I feel comfortable doing that? Not always, but I do it now and again. Even in the mommy world, I don't always feel like I belong. But it does provides material for some great stories. The most comfortable social interaction is with other writers. Why? Because they get me (for the most part, I might have some quirks, but don't we all). They know what it's like--the feeling of the good and the bad times.

Even if you don't like to venture outside, you can still socialize. The internet seems to have quite the party. Between, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, blogging, etc. The Cyber highway can be full of peeps to talk to. Although, you really should see someone face to face, you know, a real person. Staring at a computer screen may burn your eyes out.

Conferences are good, but can be expensive and overwhelming especially if you're shy. Are you? No worries.Check for local writing groups or book clubs and bring someone you know. They are a great way to get out and meet people and usually are less crowded.

For example, if you are in the Philly area there is a Philly Lit Meeting this Saturday (21st) check out the info here. There's also a Philly Book Club meeting on the 22nd. See? Events.
All you have to do is research.
My thought is that it's healthy to get out and speak to an actual human. Trust me, I have characters speaking to me all day (besides my kids) and I need some reality check.

Any events you are attending?

Tell me if you like to socialize?

Have a great day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Comfort food

My weekend was a bit...disappointing, and yet, eye opening. I'm not going into full details. Trust me, totally not worth it. So, I will make this short. While querying, you need comfort food or comfort something (could be alcohol). I'm not saying go off the deep end here, just something that soothes your mental state.

For me. Chocolate and lots of it. Of course, this household has tons, thanks to the Easter bunny. Also, ice cream. I did have a beer or two, but I didn't go crazy.

Now, I have to exercise double time to get this off, but at the time it felt good. It helped.

Another thing that helped were friends who understood. That was the best comfort of all.

Thanks guys. We will all have moments on this journey and it's always nice to know someone is there to listen.

So, what is your comfort in time of need?

Any goals this week?

I will be focusing on something new and something I've finished (revisions). The whole bounce back and forth thing. I'm writing on and looking forward.

I will have info soon on the blogfest for Elana Johnson. She will also be guest blogging, right here, in June.

Have a great day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th Fun Facts Friday

I'm thinking slasher flick, but hey, it's what goes through my head. Actually, so far Friday the 13th is going okay. If you ask me later, I may have a different story. I'm superstitious to a point. I think some people avoid leaving their house. Me? It's another day of possibility. So here are some facts.

1. Thirteen is actually my favorite number. This number seems to come up in some form or another and usually winds up being good.

2. I do own a black cat so it crosses my path--a lot. And I don't have a lot of bad luck with that.

3. I do avoid walking under ladders. Hey, I'm afraid something will fall on me.

4. paraskavedekatriaphobia--is the fear of Friday the 13th

5. Some tall buildings do not have a 13th floor. Many cities don't have a 13th street.

6. Witches coven --13 members

7. Got 13 letters in your name (Jeffery Dahmer, for example), you will have devil's luck.

8. Friday gets a bad rap regardless of the actual number of the month. Lots of legends and myths. One is to never change your bed on Friday, you will have bad dreams.

9.  "Friday" was derived from a Norse deity worshipped on the sixth day, known either as Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya (goddess of sex and fertility), or both.

10. The goddesses above associated with Venus (goddess of love). At the time, the sixth day was lucky. This all changed when Christianity came along. One of the goddesses was recast as a witch and her day became associated with evil. Funny, the cat was her sacred animal.

11. Thanks to this website for the article by David Emery. I referred to it for information. 

12. Another link for a bunch of superstitions. It's quite interesting. 

13. Maybe the solution is to stay in and write. 

Are you superstitious?

Have a great weekend! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Organizing your queries

How cool is that? And pretty too.

A while back I did a post on developing your query and I included some helpful links. Go here to check it out.

Today, I thought I'd talk about queries after they are polished and ready to go. What do you do?  Yes, you are going to send them out, but how and what do you do with all the info. You don't just send them out to anyone who will listen. It takes time, research, and organization.

The very first thing (if you haven't done it already) is to research agents. You don't want to send your pretty YA to a picture book agent. It's a waste of every one's time. Research the agents you want to send your baby to. That's right--research. Don't run away. If I can do this, you can too. This can be done while you are polishing your query. Simply look up who you think would be the best fit. Where ? It's called the Internet, people, and there's lots of info on it. So check out these sites that may help you make a list of agents that could change your life-- Preditors and EditorsAgentQuery,, AgentQuery Connect (this website is great for query advice too), and Pub Rants. I know I'm missing some so please add below. Also, check out my query post from before--see above.

Next, set up lists of the agents you like. I set them up in an A,B,C list with my top picks in the A column and so on. This can be done by hand (you know, pen and paper) or Excel spreadsheet.

When you are ready to send, check the submission guidelines on the agency's website. Some require just a query, some a query and synopsis, some a query, synopsis, and sample pages--just make sure before you send.

The one thing to keep in mind is to keep all queries that are sent organized. I've been using You can research agents and keep a log of where you send your queries. Parts of it are free. They also offer a premium package. You can make a note of when you sent the query, and how long the agent usually takes to get back to you. Also, you can get info from others who have queried that agent.

So you're ready to hit send, but how many do you send at a time? My advice--send only a handful. For example, send two from your A list, two from B list, and two from C list. This way if an agent gives you helpful advice, you can fix it before you send out more.

Then wait, and wait, and wait, and wait--you know that patience thing. Trust me, people are busy. When you get a response go from there. If it's a request for a partial or full--go you, and follow the agent's instructions. If it's a rejection (I'm whispering here) then eat some chocolate and send out another query. Make sure you mark on your chart what you are doing to keep track. Rinse and repeat, right? Then go and write something new. Start a new project or revisit an old one. Keep writing!!

Do you have any query organizing tips?

Who has sugar overload from the weekend? *raises hand*

Have a great day!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fun Facts Friday

I have to say Spring Break with kids is exhausting and I'm looking forward to a normal routine. On with the facts.

1. I had a new idea keep me up and I'm super excited. Yes, my slump is over and I'm finally beginning to focus. It's refreshing.

2. Lots of chocolate will be eaten this weekend. Especially:

3. I love that the weather is warmer, but I need to get back to exercising (and limit the chocolate eating). Bathing suit season is coming--yikes. Do you like how I posted huge pictures of chocolate and then I talk about exercise?

4. I'm trying to figure out how to write a one paragraph synopsis. It's a lot of info in a small package.

5. Anyone watch Grimm on Friday nights? It's getting good. Although, I think the sidekick is funnier than the lead.

How was your week?

What's your favorite chocolate?

Any weekend plans?

Have a wonderful weekend and Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting this group. Please go visit the other blogs that participate.

I don't have much today. I have a brain freeze. Really, it's like a blizzard in Antarctica in my head. I'm trying to work on something new, but my perfectionist side thinks back on how I can tweak the MS I'm querying to make it better. I need to get away or something. I'm trying to read a lot, watch movies, but none of it's working. I think I need to shut off from the world kind of thing, but I can't. Maybe I should go see The Hunger Games again.

I'm one big walking swirl of weird emotions. From feeling like I-can-do-this to I'm-not-even-close (which you probably think is what happens to me all the time). It's something that will pass, I know. I'm just trying to get it to pass. My new characters come at the most inconvenient times so I have to push them aside to continue with life.

I'm going to reread this-- Mindset: The New Psychology to Success by Carol Dweck. It usually helps when I get stuck in a brain snowstorm.

Let's hear from you: What is your week like?

Next week: I will be posting about how to keep organized while querying. Stay tuned.

Have a great day!