Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 100: Happy Day 100 Dance!

I can't believe I've been doing this writer thing for 100 days! I don't think I've ever, ever, EV-AR focused on anything for 100 days. *pats self on back*

And I must report that some great things have happened this past weekend. Can I just say Hurray for Absolutewrite.com! Lots of writer buddies have responded to my call for help! Speaking of writer buddies, a special shout out goes to Stefanie Gaither (@stefaniegaither on Twitter and her site is http://stefaniegaither.com/ , follow her, love her). Her story is great so far and I'm really enjoying critiquing it.

Which brings me to this whole crit swap thing. I have a feeling that (hopefully) looking over others' work will make me a better writer. Huh, who knew? It's not really about picking it apart and finding bad stuff, for me, it's more about finding the good stuff. Realizing what is working in their manuscript, finding their strengths and adjusting my own work accordingly. I'm not saying copying the other person, but finding the will in yourself to notice where you're lacking and making it better. Hmmm, thought provoking ain't it... (yeah, I said 'ain't' :P)

Anybody want to show their crit partner some love or tell me about your experiences with beta readers? Put it in the comments, ya'll!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 96: Fangirl Friday!

Hehehehe, I love Fangirl Friday! It doesn't take me all day to figure out what I'm going to blog about.

Okay, so, let's start with *dun, dun, duuuunnn* American Idol!

I declare that Thursday night's epi was the best and worst one ever. The worst because... well... I lost a little faith in humanity when Casey Abrams was voted off by Americans.

Um, heelllooo, America?! What are you thinking? How could you not vote for this guy? He's talented, original, and cute as a button to boot!

I guess I can't bitch too much because I didn't vote. BUT you can be certain that I will be voting from here on out! Which brings me to why it was the best epi ever. The judges used their ONE save on him! His reaction was so genuine I just wanted to ball. I now officially like J-Lo.

Ok, topic #2: Will Ferrell will be replacing Steve Carell on The Office! Not permanently but for a few episodes at least.

I say "Huzzah!". Mr. Ferrell has made a few movies that I was not that impressed with, but his stuff on SNL was genius so I think a show like The Office will be a great vehicle for him. Although, Mr. Michael Scott will be sorely missed.

Let's see what else... Oh, Kevin Costner will play Pa Kent in the new Superman movie. I can see it. Maybe he'll get his film career going again and will leave the country music scene alone.

Oh, and then there's this!

Play games, look at extras, among other Harry Potter awesomeness. I haven't delved too far into it, but I've started my account. Its also on Twitter: @HPQuest. Click on the picture to go to the site :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 95: To Get Beta-Readers...

... or not?

So, I'm half way through editing my first draft. I started typing it up, making the changes I thought needed to be made. AND it's driving me bonkers! I think I went over board, changing every other sentence, every other description. I couldn't stop myself.

When I reread what I'd done to the first 3 pages, all I could do was shake my head. I got frustrated, discouraged, and flat out pissed! I believe I need some knowledgeable input.

Here's where I start looking for beta readers or crit partners. A while back I said that I loved writing this book because the research was either fun or not needed because I already knew a lot on a certain topic. Well, I was, in a way, completely WRONG! Sure, the book research was that way but the writing research is NOT! There is so much to research as a writer and it is easy to get bogged down in it. There's agent research, there's craft research (you know, character developement, story arcs, etc.), there's query research, and on and on. Now, beta reader research is the same way. I get sucked into the forums at sites like Absolutewrite.com and I end up reading blog posts that have nothing to do with crit partners on Kidlit.com. And then, it's 2:30 in the afternoon and I have to rush to get ready (because I've yet get out of my pajamas) in order to go pick up the 4YO. *le sigh*

What's a girl to do?
I'm serious, what do I do?

See, I'm a very impatient person. When I want something, I want it now and I'll figure out a way to get it (hmmm, can you tell I'm the youngest of 3 kids and the only girl?). But, I want to do this whole thing right. So, I'll continue to read every blog post by every agent and author and publisher and editor and reader. And if any of you have advice for this spoiled brat, I'd appreciate it. Or, if you'd like to rant a little about how tough this writing gig is, let me hear it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 89: Fangirl Friday!

I am going to be in HEAVEN this weekend folks. ABC Family is doing a Harry Potter Marathon! So, before I huddle up in front of the television with my butterbeer, I thought I'd talk a little about the boy who lived and what he means to me.

Harry Potter has been a part of my life since 2000 when I picked up the first book. It has become one of those things that will never get old for me. It is something that everyone knows about me. 
"Leah? Leah who?" 
"You know, the Harry Potter nut." 
"Oh, yeah. Her."
It has brought me comfort when very few things could. In 2002, my father was fighting Pancreatic cancer. I stayed with him in the hospital the whole time. One particular day (very near the end), a lot of the family was visiting. They told me to go home, take a break, get some rest, try to relax. What did I do the second I left? I went straight to Tinsel Town for the first showing of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on opening day. When I saw that view of Little Surrey, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders for the first time since Daddy had gone into the hospital.

Of course, nothing could take away the pain and fear I was feeling then and now over losing my father, but, for those couple of hours, I was able to allow myself to try and not think about everything that was going on.

Bottom line: I love HP because the characters are wonderful and the story is fascinating, original, and sometimes heart-wrenching. 

Here's a clip that I've watched at least five times today. I also paused on different frames. I know, I'm a nerd. 

OH MY ALBUS! I mean, seriously! July, people. JU-LY! This is going to be so good. I mean, this is it. This is the end, the climax, the culmination of the whole shebang. At least, as far as we know (please, JK, write more). I loved the last book and Part 1 was great! Of course, I have my pet peeves with the movies (speaking of Peeves, I wish he was in the movies. Michael Palin would have been perfect), but I'll save those for another post.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 88: Random

Okay, so... Editing is hard! The first pages were especially hard. So much of the story has changed since I sat down that fateful Saturday to write those first 5 or 10 pages. I'm catching things that at the time I thought were genius, but now, I'm going "That character would NEVER do that" or "That comes off as an important detail at the beginning but never gets mentioned again. Delete!".

I'm sure there are better ways to do this editing thing, but my way has been working well for me so far. I printed out the whole thing and just went at it with a red pen and a notebook to take notes in. Most of my edits are about adding more description, rewording things, and making the sentences stronger, not so passive. Instead of "He began to make his way down her road." it should be "He stomped down her gravel road.". At least I THINK this is better.

I hope I'm right that I've decided to fix the most blaring mistakes first before starting on something like pacing. Right? RIGHT? Arg, this writing gig is tough.

How do ya'll approach editing and revising? What's your process?

Enough about that. I've been meaning to blog about this. Christina Dodd, an awesome romance writer, gave a speech a few years ago at an RWA conference. It is a super inspirational speech for writers and, really, anyone who's trying to succeed at something. Go here to hear it! My motto has seriously become "Keep walking!".

On another random subject, I've found that ever since I've taken this writing thing seriously, everything has a story hidden in it. Everywhere I look, I think, "That would make a great book." I've taken to jotting the ideas down. Does this happen to ya'll, too?

Okay, I'll stop rambling for today. Tomorrow is FRIDAY, thank goodness, which means it is FANGIRL FRIDAY! (*throws confetti and skittles*) I'll be addressing something very near and dear to my heart, so prepare yourselves and please join me for the geeky lovefest!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 82: Fangirl Friday

I enjoyed being a silly fangirl last Friday so much that I think I'll make it a regular post. Yipee!

First, I must talk about this amazing super awesomeness!

Come on, ya'll! Just tell a friend about it and you could win all 5 of these books... AUTOGRAPHED! *swoon, salivate, swoon some more*

kjfknknfvkjfdkjfdkjdnv *picks jaws up off of keyboard* Okay, I'll get it together now.

I've been DVRing Being Human on the SyFy channel ever since it started. The American version, that is. Yes, I want to watch the original British version but I missed my chance to record the marathon the other day.

Anyway... I LURVE IT! Stayed up until 1 a.m. watching episodes. Now, I've never been Team Werewolf. I've always been a bloodsucker girl. I even played some Vampire: the Masquerade back before I had kids. I was a paying member of the Camarilla (bonus points to anyone who knows what I'm talking about).

Knowing this, I fully expected myself to be swooning over the vamp character Aidan. Don't get me wrong, he's cool, too. BUT... I'm totally digging Josh, the werewolf.

Josh is played by an actor I've always liked who has never gotten much play, Sam Huntington. I liked Detroit Rock City, thank you very much. And 2009's Fanboys was a geek girl's dream movie, you should watch it (it also had another one of my fangirl crushes, Seth Rogen).

So, yes, Aidan the vamp is sexy and brooding and magnetic but I find his character weak and slightly selfish sometimes. I guess that just goes with the whole bloodlust thing, most of the time. Josh, on the other hand, has sacrificed so much and continues to suffer because he truly doesn't want to hurt anybody. He left his family behind, even a fiance (can't wait for her to show up).

I know I'm leaving out the other main character, Sally the ghost, whose character arc has been interesting but sort of expected.

So there you have it. Something else for me to be addicted to.

What new shows have sucked you guys in?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 81: Character Flaws

Last night was a #YALITCHAT and I totally stalked it. It was about those voices that, as writers, we all hear in our head. Those little buggers that just won't let you finish washing the dishes so you have to stop and find a notebook and jot down the idea before you forget it and then you end up getting your notebook all wet and wrinkly pages make me bonkers... sorry... got carried away.

Anyway, the chat got me thinking about what I remember most about a good character and I realized something. Very rarely do I remember a character for their good points. I always focus on the flaws. Does this make me a pessimist?

J.K. Rowling is a master at creating flawed characters and then using those flaws to further the story, to make the reader relate to them and cheer them on. Hermione Granger is the first one that comes to mind. What if she hadn't been so bossy and such a know-it-all? Well, those three wouldn't have gotten a damn thing done. Then there's sweet, meek Nevile Longbottom. Would I have literally let out a whoop of joy at the end when he chopped Nagini in two if he hadn't been such a wet blanket for most of the books? That would be a "No way, Jose."

Now I'm reflecting on my own characters. They have flaws but I don't think I made them obvious in the first draft. I realize now that their flaws have to help drive the plot. I'm so glad I realized this here at the very beginning of editing. Thank you #YALITCHAT!

What characters do you remember for their flaws?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 80: I Open The Red Pens *Dun, Dun, Duuuuunnnn*

I thought that when I finally finished my first draft it would be all unicorns and rainbows. The heavens would open up and shine down upon me, warming my writerly heart with relief.

Yeah, not so much.

I felt deflated. I felt scared and worried. Here I have this thick stack of utter crap which I must now polish and coax into a shimmering diamond. What the hell have I gotten myself into???

There are whole side plots that I know I want to add and I haven't even created them yet. I'm starting to lose confidence in my first five pages (is it really writer suicide to begin with a dream?). And on top of all this, I have to write the most amazing, spectacular query letter and a synopsis. I have to research agents, which is kind of fun at first but quickly becomes intimidating. I'm not even going to talk about all the mother/wifey stuff I still have to take care of. (But you just did talk about it, Leah. Yeah, I know. Hush.)

After discussing all this with the DH (who is completely amazing, BTW), he said, "Go take a hot shower and don't think about it for a while."

See, I have a theory about hot showers. I was watching Food Network one day. They were doing a special on spicy food and this scientist guy comes on and says something like, "The reason people like spicy food is because when the heat hits our mouth, the body interprets this as pain and sends out endorphins to help us handle it." I believe the same thing happens when you take a nice, hot shower. I believe this because during that shower I thought something I hadn't thought in weeks.

"I have a good idea. This is a good story. I just need to improve it."

Later, after everyone passed out, I grabbed my newly printed stack of utter crap, opened the brand new pack of red pens, and began reading. Next thing I knew, it was forty minutes later and I'd practically covered five pages in red ink. Let's see, 187 pages divided by 5 is 37.4, 37.4 times 40 minutes is 1496 minutes which is 24.93333333333 hours. This shouldn't be too bad.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes I freak out but in the end I know that I just have to do the thing that I'm freaking out about and get over it.

Suck it up, Miller! You better get back to reading every post on QueryShark and EvilEditor! You continue to stalk all those agent blogs! And, for the love of all that is holy, don't be afraid to strike through that entire sentence you slaved over last month because it just doesn't serve the story!

Good work out there, Miller, now hit the showers.

*As a side note, I'd like to give a big shout out to Myra McEntire whose blog is great. To know that she's about to release her first novel and it wasn't long ago that she was dealing with the same things I'm dealing with now, well... It just makes me feel a ton better. Plus, she's hilarious.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 79: Let The Celebration Begin!

I finished my first draft. Yes, you heard me right. I did it!

I don't know what to say about it. It was two months of frustration, epiphanies, and late nights, among other things. I'm lucky that my husband didn't divorce due to neglect. I'm lucky that any house work got done, at all.

I believe I'll let it simmer for a week and start researching agents. So, watch out all you agent blogs, I'm coming for you!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 75: Fangirl Friday

I was sitting here staring at the blank post thingy, trying to think of something writerly to post about. Though I'm sure there are a ton of things I could post about, I can't think of a darn thing. So, I'm just going to do something different.

It is Mardi Gras weekend down here on the bayou (I don't really live on a bayou but I have been to many). So, LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER! (hands out Mardi Gras beads. Seriously, take them. I have like 3 Wal-Mart bags full from previous years! Please take them!)

My brother is going and more power to him. I've never been to NOLA for Mardi Gras and I never intend to. It scares me...

To celebrate this four day weekend I'm going to indulge my inner Fangirl. Here are all the things I'm excited about that will be happening soon:

*Expect lots of fangirly screams and SPOILERS

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 73: No, I Would Not Like Some Cheese...

So, here I am, just three or four more scenes from finishing my first draft and it is so hard. Not because I don't know what happens. Of course I know what happens. I've known that since I wrote the first word. Its because life is interfering.

Life, as in money troubles, keeping the house clean, giving my family the attention it deserves, money troubles. Oh, I said that already, huh? Anyway, all these things are weighing on my mind making it incredibly hard to focus on the imaginary world I've created.

What's a girl to do? And why didn't anyone tell me being a writer is tough? Oh, that's right, EVERYBODY has said this. It is addressed in every blog I read. *sigh*

*think, think, think*

Let's see, I have a few more hours before I have to pick up my son from school. Plenty of time to focus on pumping out a couple thousand words, right? Also plenty of time to fold some clothes. There's nothing I can do about the money situation at the moment. And the only family member here is my youngest son who is currently watching his favorite show.

OK, 2 hours of writing, 1 hour of laundry, pick up kid, do dishes, pick up living room, start diner, and while doing these chores I will multi-task by thinking about the rest of the book. Maybe if I stick to this plan, I won't spend the whole day worrying about junk I can't do a darn thing about (I have a big tendency of doing that, I blame my mother. You know its true, Mom. I love you, though.).

So there you have it. My whine, whine, bitch, bitch post. Hopefully, there won't be anymore of these...*crosses fingers*

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 72: Good To Be Informed, Right?

Ah, the internet. It is a never ending stream of information. It is an ocean of knowledge. It makes me want to pull my freakin' hair out!!!

I've read I don't know how many "How to get your book published" blog posts. The good ones, done by people I like and pretty much trust their opinion (Kiersten White and Gretchen McNeil to name a couple), seem to say the same things. Write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, query, query, query, and, above all, don't give up. Great advice that I intend on following! It's the query, query, query part that gets me frustrated.

I go through spurts of wanting to learn as much about the publishing industry as I can. I visit recommended sites like Agentquery.com and Querytracker.net and I search for YA agents. Agentquery gives me 346 and Querytracker gives me 342 (*at the time of this blog's posting). So, I start at the beginning, going to the first agent's blog. Lots of info to take in there which is good since a querying writer should investigate any potential agents thoroughly so said writer can tell if they will gel with said agents. I glance at her blogroll and notice a plethora of other agent and writing blogs.

"Oh, that looks good. I'll check it out," I say.

Before I know it, I have twenty tabs open and I feel more confused than when I started! *sigh*

After having this particular scenario happen multiple times in the past couple of months, I've realized some things.

1. I need to focus. Don't get distracted by the shiny blog about publishing trends or the fun website that can tell you what famous author you write like (I'm like Stephen King, woot!).
2. This calls for more new office supplies. (I can always find a reason why a new endeavor deserves a brand new notebook. Preferably one with college ruled paper, spiral binding, and very stiff backing. I hate a floppy notebook.)
3. This is going to take FOREVER!

So, I'll leave the agent sites alone for today because I haven't bought my new notebook yet (this purchase will also include some type of chocolate, I'm sure) and I'll get back to what really matters: THE WRITING. Because it doesn't matter how much research you do or how convinced you are that you've found the agent that will "get you". What matters is that you write that book! The book that will have agents chomping at the bit to represent you!

Well, a girl can dream...


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