Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Contest and Interview

Julie-Anne over at Thoughts of a Scott is having an awesome contest. All you have to do is follow her blog and then name some Tim Burton films.

Easy, right?

She's giving away a copy of my book when it's released, and then I'm throwing in something special, too. Something right out of my book.

Go take a peek. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At what point do you just go for it?

I wrote Fractured Light in 2009. I went through the normal writing process of editing several times and having others look it. I even set it aside for a few months then pulled it back out to edit again. When that was finished, I began the query process. At one point I had an agent ask me to rework the first one hundred pages, which I did.

Where am I going with all this? Not sure, but hang in there.

Last week my editor gave me a proof of Fractured Light to look for any final mistakes. This is the first time I've looked at it in eight months. Gulp. Cringe. Barf. I had mistakes. Not necessarily typos, but things I didn't even know were wrong at the time I wrote it. The mistakes are subtle; the normal reader probably won't notice. But I did.

I fixed what I could in the short amount of time I was given. Hopefully I've made it better, but if I could really get my hands on it I'd do more.

I've learned a lot about writing this year. Things I already knew but didn't fully grasp how to apply them.  Things like filtering, participial phrases, and dialogue tags. I think when it comes to writing you're always learning and you can always get better. But at what point do you say, "I'm done! I can't take it anymore."?

I believe I hit this point with Fractured Light. I was so ready to move on. And I think this is important too. Your characters can suck you into their world if you let them, and you'll get stuck there for years. I didn't want to do that; other characters had begun to whisper, and I wanted to listen.

What do you think? Where's the balance between editing and just going for it?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I'm thankful for

Thanksgiving is almost here, and I have plenty to be thankful for. But before I ramble off my thanksgivings, I want you to know that I don't intend this to be a "My-life-is-perfect-and-I-want-everyone-to-know-how-wonderful-and-problem-free-my-life-is", because it's not.

And I hate those kinds of posts - the kind that reek of ooey-gooey perfectness, making the rest of us feel bad because our lives aren't so seemingly perfect: last week our car broke down, our kids yelled at us, we forgot about our dentist appointment, our spouse broke their leg and is out of work for the next six months, our Christmas bonus disappeared, our mother-in-law moved in, and, on top of it all, there's no milk in the house and all there is to eat is cold cereal. Now that's real life.

So know that just because I'm about to say all these amazing things about my life, it's not perfect. Savvy?

First and foremost I'm thankful for my family. My husband is currently enrolled in an intense nurse anesthesia program and is working very hard to get good grades. He's sacrificing a lot for his family. For me. My children are awesome and each one is special. Hard? Challenging? Heart-ache causing? Most definitely. But so worth it.

I'm thankful for my upbringing and my amazingly patient and long-suffering parents who taught me the value of hard work and the benefits of being a good person. Their lessons have brought me happiness and helped me to make right choices.

I'm thankful for my brother and sisters who have always been supportive. They're here when I need them. Especially grateful for my little sister who uplifts me daily.

I'm thankful for amazing friends who I recently had to leave behind when I moved to Maine. True friends are hard to come by, and I appreciate them even more now that I don't have any. :)

I'm thankful for my religion. It's taught me to love and serve everyone without prejudices.  My religion gives meaning and purpose to my life.

I'm thankful for my imagination, which has allowed me to realize that all things are possible.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Book Trailer


I have this amazing friend who took time out of her crazy, successful life to make me a trailer for Fractured Light. I'm quite impressed with it.

What do you guys think? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Should you write a sequel?

 I wrote my first novel convinced it would be a best seller. Because of my over confidence, I wrote it's sequel and was about to write the third in the series. Gratefully, my progress was halted by a random writing assignment my friend and I had assigned to each other to spark our creativity.

This little excersise turned out to be the first chapter in my book Fractured Light. I knew the second I wrote it I had something. So I set aside my first two novels and continued writing FL. This time, however, I was careful to tie up loose ends so it could stand alone, but left a hint of conflict just in case. As soon as I was finished, I began another novel, which was just picked up (more to come on this later).

What's interesting is my publisher recently looked at my first novel for possible publication. Their assessment of it was spot on. It was no where near ready for publication. The plot and characters needed some major work. Years ago I would never have agreed, but looking at it now I'm embarrassed I wrote something so messy. I hope to return to it one day soon because I really think it has potential, but until then I'll work on current projects.

Do I regret writing those first two novels?

Not at all. What I learned was invaluable. Sometimes you have to write crap so you can recognzie when you've written something good.

Literary agent Nathan Bransford wrote an interesting article about writing sequels. He said:

"Sometimes authors get so connected to a world they've created they develop symptoms of a disease I've previously diagnosed as acute sequelitis

Acute sequelitis is characterized by an aversion to starting fresh with a completely new project even after being unable to place the first book in a series. Authors suffering from acute sequelitis then write a sequel, then the third in a trilogy, and pretty soon have six or ten or a dozen interconnected books, the fourth of which might actually be publishable... if it didn't need the three before it in order to make sense.

If, however, your goal is to be published, writing a sequel to an unpublished, self-published, or under-published book is probably not your best strategy. Placing a book these days is really really hard. Placing a sequel to an un/self/under-published novel is virtually impossible, no matter how good it is.

Unless, of course, the sequel can stand on its own. And I don't mean squint your eyes, fudge some plot lines, and nudge nudge sure thing it can stand alone. I mean it can completely and utterly stand alone and you can credibly pitch it as the first book in a possible series. In that case, well, just pitch it as the first book in a possible series and don't mention the one in the drawer. "

How many of you have come down with a case of acute sequelitis?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

TV Shows Make My Writing Better

I admit it. I like television. I watch a lot of it, thanks to the miracious invention of TiVo. Magical hour happens when the kids are in bed. I grab my mounds of laundry, sit in front of my talking educational box and begin to learn.

Just what am I learning by watching singing teenagers, a vampire love triangle, and brain-eating zombie's? I am learning how to pace a story. I am learning how to bring tension into every scene. And I am learning how to increase the stakes.

Today's shows are geared towards audience's whose attentions are not easy to keep. Sometimes I wonder if an amazing book like Pride and Prejudice would work in today's market where teenagers and a lot of adults expect instant gratification.

So where does that leave us as writers? Somehow we need to find a balance of writing as good as the Greats while incorporating the fast paced styles of today.

What are some of the shows you watch?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Reviw of Fractured Light

My reviews are starting to come in, some on the web and a lot on Goodreads.  I want to hide but peek between my fingers, know what I mean? Such a strange feeling. People are reading 



Check one out here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nasty, Dirty Participial Phrases

I've been writing for many years. In the beginning I made the usual mistakes: use of the word "that", passive voice, telling not showing, etc. I still make mistakes, but, as you all know, the art of writing is a never-ending learning process.

One mistake that's been glaring to me lately is the over use of "as" clauses and beginning sentences with "ing" words.

For example, "Stepping over the dead body, Gina tripped." or "Gina tripped as she stepped over the dead body." Why not just say, "Gina tripped over the dead body."?

These types of phrases are called participials. A participial is a verb form that can also stand as a noun or adjective. Renni Browne and Dave King, who wrote Self-Editing for Fiction Writers ascribe the overuse of "ing" words to hack writers and profess that “awareness of them when revising will help your work look like that of a professional rather than an amateur” (156)

Remi and Browne also vilify the “as” clause as a tool of the hack writer, which might be one of your first instincts when revising your ings. This is what I did in the example above. I got rid of "stepping", but then changed it to "as she stepped". Both are weak and wordy.

So next time you're editing pay attention to your sentences. If you're beginning too many with "ing" words, or have too many "as" clauses, change them. You're writing will be much stronger because of it.

For more technical and smart-sounding information about participles, go here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Random Question

So what in the good crap Jimminy Cricket christmas do I do with all my Halloween candy?

I don't just have a bucket of it, I have a whole bloody cauldron! A huge one. I feel like Hansel and Gretel's witch.

I was told that kids in Maine Trick-or-Treat a lot so I stocked up, and then my kids went trick or treating to some neighborhood that had more candy than Willy Wonka. Meanwhile, I had two trick or treaters.

What now?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oktoberfest has ended

It's ended.

The Oktoberfest Writing Contest and October.  I just love the month and all that it encompasses so I'm always sad when it ends (wipes tear from cheek).

On a lighter note, there were some great entries. Angie has her work cut out for her! I sure appreciate Angie taking time out of her busy schedule to judge this contest. I will post the results when they are available.

Meanwhile, take a few minutes to read the entries and make a few comments or suggestions. They are always appreciated.

Tune in next time. Same bat channel. Same bat time.

Fire Halo

For Oktoberfest contest rules, go here.

“Jane, I know this is going to sound weird, but am I the only one who can see you?”

Jane's smile turned into a guilty one. “I'm afraid so, you're the only one who has ever seen me, but it makes me so happy, because I have been ever so lonely.” Her words burst out, tumbling over each other to get out.

“Why, I don't understand?” Reeny felt a little scared. Maybe Jane's happy-go-lucky exterior was just a front for something more sinister? Jane seemed harmless, but she couldn't let her guard down.

Jane's face became very sad. “I wish I knew myself.”

Reeny got out her sandwiches. “Would you like one?”

“I wish I could, but I don't need food...”

“Okay,” said Reeny taking a bite. “Please explain how you got like this?”

“Well,” said Jane walking over to the window and looking at the kids playing outside. “I so want to go outside and play, I haven't done that in forever!”

“Jane, please focus,” said Reeny. “Maybe if we sort this out you can go play outside again.”

“Somehow I don't think so,” said Jane, turning around now with a tear rolling down her cheek.

Reeny dropped the sandwich and went over to give her a hug. “You'll be okay. I know it.”

“I don't think so, because you see the reason I am stuck here is,” Jane played with her hair, “well, it's because I died.”

Reeny put the girl at arm's reach. “You might be a little pale, but I think you're far from dead!”

“I wish it was so...” said Jane with a small smile. “You make me laugh, I'm so happy you have come.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Death by High Heels

For Oktoberfest contest rules, go here.

First 300 words of DEATH BY HIGH HEELS:

Cops hate it when you vomit all over their crime scene – a mistake I had no desire to repeat. Then again, the fact that I’d just trampled all over this scene was probably a whole new mistake I should have avoided. I stared at the corpse and fought the urge to hurl. If only I hadn’t answered the door, I’d be eating dinner instead of standing in my neighbor’s apartment looking at a dead guy.

I’ve seen plenty of weird things but this had to be one of the weirdest. The guy was just sitting there in the chair. Looking at him you would think he was asleep – if not for all the blood and his guts spilled onto his lap. I tore my eyes from him and asked my ditzy neighbor the question I most wanted the answer to.

“What the hell did you hit him with?”

Lindsay dropped the strand of blonde hair she’d been twirling and glanced down at floor. “My shoe.”

“Damn it, Lindsay, you can’t kill someone with a shoe!”

“Hello, they’re Via Spiga.”

“Ugh.” I rolled my eyes. There was no way in hell she had done this kind of damage with a shoe. If she had, women would soon be saying goodbye to their much-beloved accessory. Men-even NRA members- would insist on an instant ban of the deadly yet sexy weapon.

I set my hands on my hips. “Any idea how he got this giant hole in his stomach?”

“What? No, I hit him and ran.” Lindsay’s face paled and she leaned against the doorframe.

“Come here and see if you recognize him.”

“Gross, no way.”

“Get your ass over here!” I turned towards her and spotted Lakeview’s oldest beat cop standing behind her, his gun drawn.