Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Saturday, January 30, 2010

WOOOOOO!!!!!

I wish I had something terribly articulate to say this morning, but scanning through six pages of pitches and watching so many of them fail.... I honestly didn't want to even look this morning. I had six pages of dread and anticipation sitting in my stomach.

So... my excitement this morning is also partly relief and a rush, but I'm still very excited.


It's also probably tacky and so on to be so excited, but I'm tacky and so on... and I'm wearing pjs with skulls on them so clearly tacky is my realm.

Okay... deep breath. I should really do a good thorough scour of Scorched today... after I'm done dancing around and eating cupcakes.

WOO! Wahooo! Woo!

and more dancing around!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Terror in Real Time

So, yesterday, I accomplished very little... as the Husband can attest to. (But, wisely, should not.) I did get a lot of sleep, but I think a lot of that was because my stomach was empty. I also managed to submit a pitch for Scorched in a pitch fest. They're going through the pitches today and commenting as they go.

I pitched to Caren and I'm on page seven. I've been following Elana on Twitter, though. Anyway, I've learned a lot just from reading their thoughts on the pitches they've already sifted through. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I can just totally see a "It's been done" in my future. So, that'll be my day. A lot of "refresh... waiting... waiting... refresh...."

Oh... and T is home. He was complaining of a stomachache. I'm still dizzy enough that the idea of going to pick him up from school sounded miserable... not to mention I didn't want him hurling at school. He's been antsy and hyper, though, so I suspect he's fine.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm not crazy... I'm just a little unwell.

Okay. Make that a lot unwell. Around this time yesterday, I was praying for death. I'm better than that. Comparatively--I'm ready to run a marathon. Comparatively. My body has these awful shivers and my head feels ready to shatter from having no food in my stomach. Still... I'm going to live. I know it. Woo! Okay, enough excitement, back to my blanket nest and moaning.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Chuck or not to Up-Chuck... that is the question.

Hurled my little brains out this morning until an empty stomach finally let me sleep... for more than a few minutes at a time. I'm not saying it was having to cut 4K from Scorched yesterday that caused it.... I'm not saying that.... (Wendy raises a sardonic eyebrow.)

LOL. An empty stomach is a truly beautiful thing to have in my world right now. I'm going back to work on Scorched with my bucket nearby. I might get a little crazy in a bit and have an ounce of ginger ale. Woooo!

I hope everyone else's Wednesdays are going better.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rest In Peace, Darlings. I loved you best.



I know what you're thinking.... How long did it take Wendy to sketch that tombstone just for this post? LOL. I know, but seriously, it was fun and I didn't want to use an actual tombstone--partly, because it's insensitive and tacky but, mostly, because I couldn't find one I liked.

"Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it--wholeheartedly--and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings." Arthur Quiller Couch

So, I'm faced with the ugly process of killing darlings today in order to get Scorched ready for ABNA. Ugh. I don't want to do it. I really don't. The only way I'm going to be able to do it is to create a new manuscript entirely and leave a copy of my full-bodied Scorched behind. Sob. Sniff. I know. I know. It has to happen. It'll be better for it.

I just need a moment. I swear... just a moment.

Okay. I'm ready. Deep breath. Seriously, I can do this. I can cut into the beginning until I find the right hook. Really. Maybe. I can actually look at GwOE and Diana's beta critiques without weeping openly. (BTW, they word-for-word agreed that the hook came too late... among other things.)

I can do this.

I found a fairly amazing blog post on this subject, btw. I'm snagging a bit for your reading pleasure, but the whole thing is brilliance on a stick. It's a really cool method of killing darlings:


Here's a writing tip some of you might be able to use: After finishing your first draft, find the highlighting tool in your word processor and then start reading, using the highlighter to indicate all of the sentences, paragraphs, and scenes that are absolutely essential to your story. (I use a yellow highlighter to remind myself that those parts of the story are "golden.") When you finish, delete everything that isn't highlighted. Save it in a Dead Darlings file if that makes you feel better, but I predict that after a while you'll stop bothering with that.

Now you're left with nothing but story. Your manuscript is still in very rough form, but there's not a boring bit in there because you've taken all of the irrelevant stuff out. Now you're ready to revise and polish. I go through many drafts on a book, so I do a highlighting pass after finishing my first draft, then do it again when I'm nearly finished with the manuscript. After some more tweaking and polishing, I use the highlighting tool a third and final time. When the manuscript is all golden, I'm finished. (Two notes: First, the highlighter is invaluable to me because except during that first pass, I'm not starting at Page One and progressing to the end of the manuscript. I jump around, working on whatever scenes and chapters I'm in the mood to work on. The highlighting tells me what I've finished and what still needs to be looked at. And second, on the last highlighting run I'm just deleting words and sentences, not whole paragraphs and scenes. It's all pretty painless by that time.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Have your characters brushed their teeth today?

So, I'm reading this book by Patterson called "Sundays at Tiffany's" and I'd read that most people that gave it bad reviews did so based on the fact that things were never explained. This should have sent a red flag up in the air for me. I assumed I'd be able to get "past" whatever they were talking about. Well, I haven't finished the book, but I know what they're talking about. If you have a man, an imaginary friend, have the ability to be real at times... there are certain things that need explanation. This is true of any alternate universe in my opinion... and it's one of the things that a lot of authors skip across.

1. Money. If your character is using money, you should explain how they get it. You can't just have him appear out of thin air and toss across money like he has a full bank in his pocket. This really bugs me when I'm reading a book in which the character has no way of earning money. There isn't a lot of money in Imaginary Friending.

2. With creatures non-human, there should be some bodily needs explained. Do they need to eat? Personally, I always found it weird that in Twilight--Edward never needed to take those mortal moments that Bella always seemed to. He didn't need to pee? Vampires don't need to pee? They drink blood.... He seemed to have equipment that could serve that purpose.

Okay, so his fangs apparently never wore out or needed dental work--but the dude was drinking blood... what kind of breath would that inspire? He could brush his teeth. Plus, maybe a shower every so often wouldn't be amiss. I'm not saying that there should have been peeing moments in Twilight, but she kept mentioning Bella's as if she was some human freak job because she did.

3. Clothing. Seriously... clothing. If you have a shapeshifter, they're going to be naked most likely whenever they shift back. If you have an imaginary friend that is sometimes visible... why is his clothing disappearing with him? Does he have control over the visibility of his immediate area? Plus, if your whatever gets in a fight while wearing clothing--even if they/it are invincible--is their clothing?

4. Sleeping. Either they need sleep or they don't, but don't gloss over it. If you have a human... you can't have them going a week without sleeping.

5. Family. They didn't spring from the earth--unless they did. Either way, you should explain the presence or lack of family in a person's life and if you don't feel like complicating your roll call with their characters--still... kill them, have them be estranged, or whatever... but there should be some explanation.

6. Why does everyone speak English? Did anyone find that odd about some of the science fiction shows of the past? Every alien seems to speak perfect English?

7. With critters and non-humans, procreation might be of note. (How are more of them created?) Whether it's knocking boots or turning them via a bite... sometimes it's kind of important.

8. Their lives and jobs and school. Even if you want your characters to interact frequently--they should still have lives. Friends (tv series) always did this and it annoyed me. They seemed to have a ton of spare time to sit around during some episodes.

9. Lost time. I've been struggling to insert the passage of time in my books, so I've been paying more attention to how writers create time jumps so that they're not writing an itinerary of a characters events... and also so the novel doesn't occur over a forty-eight hour period. Some authors do it well... and some just really don't. You can't just skip time without reason... as if the days don't matter. This especially annoys me in first person YA books. When you're a teenager, every day matters.

These are some of the things that bug me as a reader. Maybe I'm nitpicky, but there are rules... sometimes you've created your own details due to the world you've set up... and sometimes they already exist. You can't skip across them and hope that no one notices.

The details... the devil is in them. There was a long but rather brilliant post by Kristin Cashore the author of Graceling. It talks about all the nitpicky little things better than I have.

Still, I'm left wondering... shouldn't vampires have to pee?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Inferiority--The Wolf You Feed

So, I was feeling discouraged again about this whole process, and it seems to be a weekly pit I fall into. I'm sure that's common among the unpublished and querying, but maybe I'm wrong. It's hard for me to get rejected and get back up again and keep submitting. On the other hand, writing has become as necessary and natural as breathing, so I feel like I need to justify the time spent to myself and to others. So, I was looking for inspiration to keep going... to keep at this... to keep putting myself out there.

I heard an interesting story today in church that I wanted to share:


A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Flashing Friday (Painting/Honor and Reeve)

First of all, I feel better. Wow. I feel so much better. I'm not dizzy. My brain feels all clear and fantastic and I feel like eating real food today. Non-cracker food. (Why do I feel like I ought to explain that isn't an ethnic slur?) I'm so excited. I just felt like death on a stick all day yesterday. I don't know what that was or how I came about it, but I'm hoping that It'll be gone today. That was horrible yesterday and trying to relax just seemed to make it more obvious rather than make it better. Ugh. Anyway, I'm hoping... it's gone.

Secondly, I'm a huge slacker. I haven't done any Flash Fiction this week. I loved some of the prompts. I went to check them out yesterday and just trying to concentrate made me want to hurl. Geez... the sound of text messages coming in made me want to hurl. I was like this freaky little Gollum on the couch yesterday just lurking on Twitter while curled into corner. "We hates everything. We twitters, but we hates everything." If you don't believe me, you can ask Diana... I believe I sent her one of the whiniest, grumpiest emails in the history of emails. The phrase "What fresh hell is this?" was used. (I only drag out Shakespeare when I'm really grumpy for the record... or when I'm patronizing....) So, instead of flash, I'll be posting something personally revealing. Woo woo! Prepare to be flashed.

Here is a painting I did that I gave to my mom for a room she's decorated with a castle/medieval theme:


The book he is reading says, "How to Train your Princess to do Simple Tricks." It's one of the paintings that shows how strange my sense of humor is at times.

But, wait, there is more flashing to be done. I've been posting tweets from my Honor books, and post 140 characters of quotes is annoying the.... well, it's annoying. We'll let you fill that in with whatever you feel like saying today. So, I thought I'd post a section that I was already posting from last night that requires very little explanation. It's from Place of Honor (Honor #3.) It's long and imperfect, but no one is forcing you to read it, so quit your whining. (Okay, so there is still the tiniest bit of cranky left today.)

Anyway, it starts with Honor throwing a coin in a fountain:

I veered over toward a fountain. Reeve handed me a penny before I even asked. He found my desire to wish on stars and pennies to be amusing for someone who didn’t believe in fantasy.

It was one of the few sweet and non-violent impulses that I allowed myself. There was some part of me that wanted that kind of magic to be possible. It had to be. Right?

I stood with my back to the fountain, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.

‘What do you wish for?’ he asked inside my head.

I peeked one eye open. “I’m not supposed to tell you.” I closed my eye and took another deep breath.

‘Why?’ he asked. I could feel he’d gotten closer to me and it made my heart jump around a little.

“It won’t come true if I say it out loud,” I said.

‘So…. Don’t say it out loud. Just tell me.’ His voice in my head sounded warm and deep.

“It’s against the rules,” I whispered while frowning at him. I could tell he was prowling around in front of me trying to force me to open my eyes.

‘What rules?’

“THE rules,” I explained. “The unwritten rules regarding wishing on anything….”

‘So, you’re saying that someone thought of our situation when coming up with unwritten rules?’ His tone was amused.

Reeve was really close now. I could feel the warmth from his body. It made me shiver.

He chuckled.

“Yes, they knew someday two people would come along who could hear each other’s thoughts and one of them would be vastly annoying about cheating on the wishing rules,” I said.

I scrunched up my nose. I was going to have to try extra hard to block him out so I could make a wish. Actually, most of what I wished for was right in front of me trying to annoy me enough to kick him. I frowned and said, “Actually, the frustrating thing is that if I did tell you what I’d wish for, you’d be forced to try to give it to me. That ruins wishes.”

“Not necessarily,” he said. “Maybe it’d be something I wanted to give you.” He said it in a husky voice that made me wonder what he had in mind even while I shivered again.

“Are you cold?” he asked amused… knowing that I wasn’t.

“Well, if that was the case, if you wanted to give me something, then you could do that without me forcing you to,” I pointed out.

Then, an idea for my fountain wish came to me. I wished Reeve loved me the same way that I loved him. I wished that with every part of myself… especially the girly part that believed in wishing.

‘You know what I’d wish for?’ Reeve asked.

I tossed the coin over my shoulder, opened my eyes, and asked, “What?” while raising an eyebrow.

He was staring down at my hips but looked up smiling. His smile was dangerously close to a smirk. That smile always meant one thing.

I cleared my throat and said, “Never mind. I think I know.”

‘Did you ever decide which step seeing you naked was on this path to mating? I’m guessing we’re not going through these steps very quickly. How many steps are there? Ten? Fifteen?’

His questions sounded vague and thoughtful. I got the feeling he might know more about the steps, so I decided not to attempt a stumbling and embarrassing guess. I didn’t have much input to give. I was four years old even if my memories of the world seemed a little older. He was four hundred and five. He must have gained some carnal knowledge in all those years.

He’d read books. Books had ‘stuff’ in them. I’d read a very interesting book that I’d borrowed from Pamela in which a vampire was the lead male character even. Most of the ‘pertinent’ descriptions had left me feeling a bit ill. I like to think that made me practical and rational. Seriously, who throws around the words “heaving”, “swollen”, and “engorged” thinking it sounds sexy when you could use those same words to describe viewing a case of gangrene. I think the fact that I was repulsed just goes to show you that I saw a more universal application of the adjectives in use.

I looked at Reeve who still had a serious look on his face.

I found it strange that he was wondering about seeing me naked again. I couldn’t figure out what the draw was. I was short and scrawny.

Reeve looked over my body as if considering a puzzle or writing up a checklist, and I shifted uncomfortably.

What if, once he saw the full me, he wasn’t interested anymore in me at all? Maybe he’d get tired of me…. Maybe he secretly wanted someone more like Callie. She looked so statuesque and perfectly perfect. Reeve was perfect. He was huge and muscled. I stared at the frown on his sculpted mouth.

Did it matter if there were any steps beyond kissing? Kissing was pretty amazing. My stomach jumped around like a wild thing trying to fly every time. Why clutter up something perfect with crass groping or my nakedness?

Reeve finally said, “From what I’ve seen, I think there are probably nine steps.’

“Yeah?” I asked aloud. Wow. He must have really thought this through. I might have made up a step just to make it an even ten, though. Reeve wouldn’t. He was strictly honest… sometimes to a fault.

Okay. So he wasn’t perfect… but I didn’t hold his honesty against him.

“I think we’re on two,” he calculated.

Two? Two wasn’t very far. Was he telling me this because we were taking too long?

“Your point?” I asked crossing my arms.

“I just told you,” he said in confusion. “I think seeing you naked is around step seven.”

“Step seven? What are steps uhh….? No. Wait. I don’t want to know. Let’s just get going.”

I started walking and then turned to see him looking at me from behind while walking very slowly.

“You’re starting to make this creepy,” I warned him while putting my hands on my hips.

“I find you fascinating,” he said honestly.

I felt my cheeks flush and my heart start thumping. I felt flattered and terrified. Was that the same as saying he loved me? Probably not. I wondered what step that was. Maybe it wasn’t one in Reeve’s mind. My heart started thudding… from dread.

What if he really didn’t love me? Now that I thought about it, fascinating wasn’t the same as a declaration of affection of any kind.

A snake swallowing a rat was fascinating in a grotesque way. That really clarified the definition in my mind. Fascinating could be documentary-worthy. Then, there was that woman with the world’s longest fingernails in the world record books. That was fascinating.

“It would be nice if it was before step seven. Maybe we could skip steps?” he suggested, dragging my mind away from vile topics.

“We can’t skip steps! That’s why there are steps.” I threw my hands up in the air for emphasis and to distract him from the sound of my nervous heartbeat.

It worked, because, for a moment, he followed my hands with his eyes as if they were saying something. It was wise of him, because most of my hand movements were making a statement. This one was saying, “SKIP STEPS! NO! Then we’ll get to the monster at the end of the book which is where you see me naked and freak out.”

“We can skip step five, though,” he said. “I’m more interested in seeing you naked.”

“We CAN’T skip step five! That’s an important step.” I had no idea what step five was. It could be sharing straws for all I knew. I was just not ready to jettison ahead to step seven.

“We could move step seven up so that it’s step four or five and just slide the remainder of the steps backward. We wouldn’t be skipping things that way,” he suggested.

I narrowed my eyes.

“You’ve seen me naked,” he pointed out.

I choked a little. Wow. That memory was both disturbing and good. “It wasn’t by choice. You and all the Hunters seem to think the Inner City is some sort of men’s locker room.”

“You were the first female there in five hundred years.”

“Just because you prefer for there not to be any mystery….”



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Because I could not stop for death...

It's kindly stopped for me. (Good poem...)

Seriously, though, either this is a massive migraine aura or I caught my loving husband's stomach flu from the weekend. I feel HORRIBLE.

I finished Hush, Hush yesterday. It was good. It lived up to its hype in many ways. I flew through it in only four hours or less and that's about 100 pages an hour. I like when I read that fast... it means the action/dialogue/thrill level is just right for me. Good book. It left a lot of things open-ended, but I'm guessing/assuming there is a sequel in the works. I'm also hoping that's why Nora is so young in this book.

Okay, I'm going to go lie down and hope death comes quickly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Creative Process

Most of the people that follow this blog are most likely writers so, you know, that there is no one way that writers get inspiration. For those that aren't writers, be aware that my particular process is tainted by obsessions, quirks, poor memory retention, and a slightly split personality. Actually, it's my process that is more creative than processing my creativity.

So... I was reading through Without Honor trying to figure out where I was going with that book because revision was starting to wear on my brain. I couldn't figure out what my vague allusions meant but the story was really exciting--right up until I stopped writing it. (I told you... split personality. I vaguely remember writing some of it... sort of.) Then, Hunger Games arrived in the mail. Diana has suggested that the second in that series is the Holy Grail of Writing Perfection. Plus, I've been meaning to get to Hush, Hush. So, being as I was in between projects and without inspiration--it seemed like a good time to get some reading in.

So, naturally, I woke up this morning--in the frigid cold--in the dark--with the soggy wet weather making me feel exhausted. While I was internally complaining and whining, I realized where I was going to go with Without Honor. GAH! What? No! It's the seventh book in a series of unpublished books. (Reeve is so hot!) The seventh book! (Seriously, he really is.) I only keep writing it because I have so many addicts pushing me to it. (And... well... because of Reeve) Also, Honor is sort of fun to write. (Mostly it's Reeve.) Still, I have other WIPs I should be focusing on--really. (I can still think about Reeve while writing them.) I was just re-reading Without Honor to see what I had down. (Also, because Reeve's thoughts are steamy.) Bah!

So, I'm faced with a conundrum. Do I work on Without Honor or read these books--knowing that reading other books sometimes screws with the voices in my head for a bit? So, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "It's no problem, Wendy, just take some notes." (The thought makes me snort laugh.) So, I don't work with outlines. I work with dialogued moments--in my head. I think, "This conversation goes like this and it connects to this." I also leave myself clues to the bigger picture throughout the story--clues that I don't actually know why I'm leaving them until later on. Seriously. I'm constantly surprised when things work out in the end. It's really exciting when one of my characters figures out a clue and tells me.

So, this friend of mine really wants me to read "Hush, Hush" so I'm going to take a stab at notes for Without Honor in the hopes that I'll understand them when I get there.

(For those that read Honor's stuff, spoilers might be ahead, or trying to negotiate your way through what I'm writing might make your head explode. Either way--you're warned.)

Notes:

Connection to Ares important/Priest important/"Water is drugged" "You need to live."/Thor's backstory should come in/Island--find that island again/Not a hag--get rid of hag stuff/Mutus Liber/raising dead mentioned in book five/six days/Druids/Zombies/Honor targeted due to dreams/looking at boat at Locks/Refocus on date/"I've tasted that. I nearly would have rather died," Clooney said./Elixir of Eternal Death/Some islands might have Rogues on them--eating salmon/Why did Archer get left behind? You left him behind in Clooney's scene/Figure out the passage of time business--find a way or reason to speed up time/Honor dreaming of watching Reeve fight/Reeve has first dream/Motive behind abduction not entirely evil/leave open-ended for eight/Leave Honor behind/prison should not have earth in it--maybe cement or metal/basement/bathroom--just because otherwise that's gross/Ares being a dark magi will require re-explanation of that/You have Merlin, but maybe Gandalf would be better/Guerdon?/Make sure to disarm Honor--twice over because of other weapon/Get Faith a Tuck/she gets away--she? Probably/explain princess Diana's absence/If they have Rogues--they might have Shifts/Who or what are they fighting before Clooney's scene/end on dream or Christmas/mistletoe should keep coming up--wiki it/go back through notes for that one thing that you starred that you thought was cool--whatever it was.

Okay, that was my official brain dump. That is what my creative process looks like. A garble of strange thoughts with intermixed dialogue. I had more dialogue in my head, but it's already slipping away. Okay, I have yoga right now. Ta, all.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alrighty then....

So, I'm feeling burnt out today. I've been working on revisions and contests and queries.... Looking around my house, I really need to unplug and plug in my vacuum--after I manage to find the floors. Unfortunately, I just want to go back to writing Without Honor. I went to reread and catch up in the story from where I left off--and I can't remember where I was going with some of it. I was throwing out bits and pieces of information--and some of them I knew where I was leading--and, okay, some of them I didn't. Still, when the story dropped off, I was left thinking, "Huh... wha? Where was I going with that? There must be more. This was starting to get good!!!" Grr. Anyway, I've had this problem before when I pick up other projects or do major revisions in the middle of working on a WIP. It'll work out, but it's frustrating right now.

Also, I'm noticing that the steaminess factor in this Honor book is amped up to a ten. I think I mentioned this when I was working on it, but I can't remember. Anyway, uhh... whoa. Reeve needs a cold shower. Jaime sent me an email with a "revised" make-out scene that I'll have to check out.

Man, I'm tired. So many days of dealing with all of this writing stuff made sleep impossible last night. The kids were soooooo late to school. It was so bad that it was funny. I slept through all the alarms and woke up to T babbling on and on about something to do with a website. The fact that it was actually light outside was my first clue that we were seriously late.

B is having a rough time. Her sensory system and needs aren't as obvious as T's, so I'm not sure what is wrong. She had a bit of soggy, crying melt-down in Dairy Queen last night. The husband looked to be in abject misery as he had a headache after a long day at work. Poor "the husband."
So, cleaning, laundry, dishes, and lots of caffeine are on the docket for today. Le sigh. I know that polygamy is a touchy subject when combined with Mormonism and, normally, I wouldn't bring it up or try to explain it but, come on, aren't there just days where you wish there was another wife that actually liked to clean and cook? I'm just saying.... (Okay, so I still couldn't handle polygamy but there are aspects that don't sound so bad. Sharing the geeky husband? Sooooo not going to happen.)

Okay, there is today's half-grassed post. (Did you notice how I snuck in something that was nearly a profanity? Clever, eh? I'm going to use it for the rest of the day to see if it takes off.)

Have a good Tuesday, my lovelies! Mwah! Mwah!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Monday to you!

It's a school holiday due to Martin Luther King Day--which, I have to say, though we're rural, the grade schools really, really do an excellent job about talking about discrimination and the importance of equality for all. They not only have an assembly but they go over it in classes all year. My kids know more about the civil rights movement at their age than I did by Junior High. My kids have a very difficult time understanding the whole concept of treating someone differently because of their race, though. They've been raised in an environment where that just never happens, so it just strikes them as odd. So, they've had more trouble understanding prejudice than avoiding it.

Well, as it's a holiday, you know what kind of email I received. Le sigh. I don't want to talk about it--not really. I did enter a contest at query tracker with Honor Among Thieves. This time the contest was actually open for an hour and a half and not just a couple minutes.

I'm revising Guest of Honor right now with the hopes of having it ready for a lulu run for my Mother-in-law. I'm supposed to be reading North and South. It's hard to read a book that others have said is "tough to get into."

Anyway--stuff to do--Reeve to drool over. I'll keep posting lines as I come across them on Twitter for those that are following my feed.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Supplication

Hey, I'm entering Honor Among Thieves into a contest in the morning. I've written out a few blurbs for that purpose and I'm trying to figure out which one to go with. If you've got the time and interest--just click on the picture of the Honor Among Thieves book to the side of here.

Today has already been stressful. T is out of control due to his loose tooth (he lost one tooth, but he has two more loose teeth.) He's been so buzzed that I gave him caffeine gum to chew to calm him down before church. He was good as gold for church, but he's re-amped up again, so he got another piece of gum. I'm hoping he calms down before the husband and I start screaming uncontrollably. Last night was the last straw in our patience--he was freakishly out of control. I need to get the citrus mints with caffeine in them again. It was like a miracle this morning when I found the gum--as part of a desperate search for anything containing caffeine.

(For those that are baffled by why I'm giving a hyper-active child caffeine--it has the opposite effect on the hyper-active and children prone to mania and over-stimulation. That's why the bulk of ADHD meds are stimulants for the rest of the population.)

I've been fighting headaches all week so if I'm a little more scattered than normal--that would be why. (Well, also T has been out of control all week due to his teeth.) I finally figured out it was my Twitter background causing eye-strain, so I switched it out and hopefully I'll be able to cut back on the ibuprofen.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The work-life-writing condundrum

This is a particular problem for those of us whose life=writing, "work" =writing, writing=writing. Le sigh. I'm struggling to find balance in my life right now--especially with things I hate. *cough* cleaning and laundry *cough* Ugh. I can't seem to convince myself of the importance of things that I don't like as much as writing. *cough* cleaning and laundry *cough* I know that wanting to be a published writer to earn money isn't supposed to be something we admit to... but wanting to be published writer so that I can pay people to do something that I should be doing instead of writing--sound so good. Le sigh.

Well, this weekend should be busy. I need to get edited versions of my Honor books into Lulu because they're having a sale and my Mother-in-law wants copies of the books. This means I'm editing Guest of Honor--and--wow--it really, really, really needed it.

I've got stuff going on with both Scorched and Honor Among Thieves. If you click on the books to the side--I've set up sites to keep track of those things since those are the books I'm concentrating on right now. I don't expect you to follow them or comment by any means, but if you're curious... you're welcome to. I didn't want my random babbling about them to smother this journal.

Anyway, I should get to work on some of this stuff. Have a good Saturday, everyone!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday (two out of three/Talons/hotpants)


Wow. It's been a while since I dove into
Flashy Fiction and became a contributing member of society. I'm back, though.

This first one was more of a comment than a flash fiction piece:


Prompt:

I let out a held breath. This was a it. True love. Well, except for the fact that he was a...

Mine:

I let out a held breath. This was a it. True love. Well, except for the fact that he was a figment of my imagination, my main character's love interest, and a vampire. Really, though, only two of those were a problem for me.


Prompt:



Mine:

Get in. Get the picture. Get out. Why had this fallen to me--of all people? Get in. Get the picture. Get out.

She was sitting in the corner surrounded by a dozen guys. The music was blaring and dancers kept stumbling into me. A stoned teenager made up almost entirely of piercings walked in front of me and stopped, blocking my view. The lights were obnoxious. How was I going to get a decent picture in this place?

I slid around the teenager just as she was getting up, much to the astonishment of her entourage. She glanced around, searching for someone. Her eyes fell on me. Uhh. Looking behind me, I couldn't see who she was smiling at. She was coming right my way. I fumbled in my pocket for the camera.

"TALIA, I love you!" a guy nearby screamed and two of her body guards grabbed him as he dove for her.

She didn't even slow down. Ten feet. Eight feet. It would be obvious if I pulled out the camera when she was headed right for me. Besides, I was supposed to get a picture of her new tattoo, and I couldn't see it. They'd said it was on her neck, but her hair was down. Four feet--and she stopped right in front of me.

Her eyes traveled up and down my frame. Uhh. Okay. I was a desk monkey. What was she looking at? If Nick hadn't gotten swine flu, he'd be here. This was his job--he was the photographer. I barely knew how his camera worked. What was I doing here? Oh yeah, the ten thousand dollars--and our rent being due--overdue.

She closed the remaining few feet and slid her hands up my chest and around my neck. Holy... freak... Talia was touching me. She leaned in, her lip-sticked mouth touching my ear, her warm breath against my skin, and she said, "I know what you're thinking. Talia Talons is right here--right now. You know what I'm thinking?"

"I have no idea."

"I have a thing for nerds, and my bus is outside. Let's go get you out of this tie."


The next morning was surreal as I stumbled into my apartment. Nick was lying on the couch wrapped in the Snuggie my aunt had given me for Christmas. His face still looked unnaturally pale as he asked, "Was his information good? Was Talia there?"

"Oh yeah." I swallowed and blinked. I wasn't sure that I wanted to share the pictures, though. I was in most of them... and a few were just of me... and my tie. Talia had really enjoyed taking pictures. I sort of just wanted to keep them... to myself.

"So, this tattoo. Did you get a picture?"

"Uhh, yeah."

"Right on. What was it of?" Nick asked. I waited while he coughed miserably.

"It was Tux."

"Tux?" Nick repeated.

"The uhh... Linux penguin. It's a computer thing... and it wasn't on her neck," I said. Wow. It was most definitely not on her neck. Up close, you couldn't tell where the skin was located. I could give him that one--to pay the rent.


Prompt:

Rick Thorris revved his Harley. "Hey hotpants. Wanna take a spin?"
Mine:

Rick Thorris revved his Harley. "Hey hotpants. Wanna take a spin?"

"Rick, you dog, you don't remember me, do you?" I said, easing into the drawl of my past.

He squinted at me. Not a clue. Not a darn clue. Typical.

"Cindy," I prompted him.

"Riiiiggghhtttt," he said. Clearly, he didn't remember me.

"I used to change your diaper when I was eleven. I lived down the street from you."

He cleared his throat.

I went on, "I remember thinking, my heck what are his parents feeding him? We're talking nuclear waste toxic."

A few of his friends outside started laughing at his discomfort.

"Then, there was the fact that you got gas from everything no matter what I fed you. Geez... even water. I used to double up on your diapers just to try to keep it in."

"Okay, Cindy, it was really...."

"Then, you got older... and you were a pill. You used to throw the biggest tantrums if I didn't let you sleep with that stuffed rabbit of yours. What was his name?" I was nearly being drowned out by the laughing at this point.

Rick revved his Harley again and took off.

"OH YEAH! FLUFFYKINS!" I yelled at his back as he took off. Several of Rick's friends were clutching their stomachs from laughing so hard.

"Who was that, Jess?" Laura asked, walking out of the bar.

"This guy that once stood me up for a date in high school," I said, dropping the accent. "Did you find out where the rehearsal dinner is?"

She nodded.

"Okay, cool, maybe this trip back won't be so bad after all."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Geeky Writerly Moment


Okay, so this is probably a really stupid thing to post, but I'm excited about it. I finally have hardcopies of all of my books up until now printed on Lulu. I have a bunch of betas that prefer that, and it is sometimes easier to find typos in them that way. It's also silly and time-consuming that I like to do all my own covers for fun, but I'm silly and most of my life is time-consuming. Anyway, so here they all are... all my books. Yay! I have them all in my hands--like a tangible thing. The top ones are the Honor books. Then, the Company of Him series. Finally, the strays that are stand-alones.

Scorched is still my favorite cover, I think.

Oh, and I should mention that it is especially silly to spend so much time on the covers since other than my hard-copy betas and me--no one else can get these books as they're private on Lulu. Yeah, anyway, it's still fun to see your name on the copy of a book--even if you're just printing it out to mark for typos.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WIP Wednesday-Scorched Revise


So, it's more of a revision-in-progress kind of thing. I'm thinking of using Scorched for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (hereafter called ABNA) in February. That means I need to do some solid revisions. I've got a few really odd questions.

Okay, so it's a first person narrative aimed at an older YA crowd. Poor Sidra, the MC, has a father that is a jerk and has run off with a girl just six years older than his teenage daughter. Sidra is seventeen and pissed off because of it, and she calls this other woman her dad's "superwhore." I've got mixed responses on this. I've had several people say that the word "slut" is a lot less offensive. Hang on. I'll post a quick quote. Oh... also, Sidra goes by "Scorch" and is being bullied by the superwhore's brother. So, opinions on the whole whore vs. slut thing would be appreciated if you feel like giving your opinion on something that's possibly offensive and also very weird. If you're offended by either or both, I apologize, but there is a certain level of anger that would go along with being dumped during your father's mid-life crisis. I know someone who went through this. So, here is an excerpt. Opinions welcome.

“Scorch’s dad is married to Lyle’s sister,” Penny said.

Thanks Penny. Let’s just get it all out into the open.

“He hates her because of that—because they’re related?” Asher asked.

“My father had an affair with Lyle’s sister, who is about twenty years younger than him. He divorced us, married her, and now they live in Mississippi. I think he told my mom that Bliss is knocked up, but she is trying to keep it from me. Yay. The sibling I always wanted will come from the superwhore.” Perhaps I’d been too vehement because my statement caused complete silence. I flung myself on my back to stare at the blue, blue sky. It was easier than seeing pity or whatever on Asher’s face. Okay, so maybe I’d one-upped Penny on spilling my life story. I had no idea where that had all come from.

“Bliss is pregnant?” Penny repeated.

“Yep. I think so. My mom was just about to go through in-vitro when she found out about the affair. It’s not a good subject to bring up and confirm. I’m still trying to never talk with my father, so I don’t know for sure, but that’s what it sounds like.”

“Your father is such a….” Penny couldn’t find the right word. I couldn’t find the right word. I sympathized with her plight.

“Yep,” I agreed. “I’m supposed to spend Christmas with him as part of the divorce settlement. It’s fine, though, because I won’t have to travel as Bliss wants to spend time here in Vegas with her family, so I can spend time with Lyle during winter break. I’m hoping to have my father committed to an asylum before it comes to that.”

“Wow,” Penny said.

“Totally,” I agreed.

“That’s really messed up,” Asher said, in complete agreement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In all honesty....

Which, of course, implies that I regularly lie to you.
It's true. I do.
No, I don't.
(This is why I shouldn't post at 4a.m.)

Since I'm awake, I was thinking about the query I sent out yesterday. I took a query break over the holidays, so I just don't have many queries out there right now. I was stumbling around blogs yesterday and read someone's advice that out of three agents, you'll typically get one that responds immediately, one that responds in weeks, and one that either never responds or responds in months. The follow-up advice was to always have multiple queries out there so that you always had an immediacy of a few queries.

While I hadn't intended to send out a query right away on Honor, I have. (It wasn't that the manuscript wasn't ready. It just went through it's eighth or ninth deep revise.) My intention was, for better or for worse, take another stab at DAW. (The agent I spoke with in the chat room thought I was nuts, btw, for this. I probably am. I'm a very instinctual person when it comes to my writing. Some of my instincts are insane and illogical.)

Anyway, since I'm up ridiculously early due to an oncoming migraine (it'll nail me in a few hours) I might as well send out two or three queries, right? I take queries seriously--probably too seriously. It'll take me all morning to send out just a few. It just seems stupid to send out one. Besides, I really haven't shopped Honor around. I don't know why. It's the manuscript that has fans I don't even know. One of my hardcopy beta friends sent it (and the other Honor books) to her mother in California and her mother wants to buy copies for all her friends and asked to be notified when she can. (Yes, it's bizarre. My hardcopies made some friends that I don't even know. I feel like I should have people sign the copies after they read them just so I could keep track of the random people that helped look for typos.) Anyway, I believe Honor has been read by several dozen people when you include all the people that passed it around within a family and "sent it to a friend." On the other hand, it hasn't been seen by a dozen agents. That's weird, huh? I think it's because I'm overly protective of Honor because I like her so much. I don't know.

I'm all rambly today. This post really doesn't have much going for it other than a stream of consciousness dialogue about my intentions which are all waffly.

Okay, I think I'm looking over my list of agents and formulating a plan.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Fantasy and Reality collide and explode--shrapnel everywhere! Ahhh!

I know what you're asking. What would be the shrapnel of a fantasy and reality collision?

Unicorns. Seriously, they're almost horse, but... not. Once again, unicorns are the answer.

So, in my fantasy "I'm a writer" life, I sent off a query today. (I know, shocked the crap out of me too.) I finished Diana's line edits on Honor Among Thieves last night--really this morning. Well, okay, I haven't finished the page sixty exposition that she wants pared down to help with flow. I'll do that this morning now that I have a fresh idea of what can be cut because it's explained later. That's the goal for this morning.

I also got an answer to my DAW question in a chat room last night, so I'm feeling ahead of the game this morning.

In my reality, I need to tackle laundry, dishes, and post-holiday recovery. I also really, really need to clean the kids' therapy room while they're at school. T has three loose teeth. How does that relate? We can't even cut his hair without him getting spun out of control from sensory input. Having three loose teeth is making him manic--seriously. It's terrifying. With how much it is raining outside today, he won't get enough of that energy burnt off at school. Their therapy room has swings and hammocks and a ball pit and so on. (Yes, we have a play gym inside--with two kids on the Spectrum--it became vital.)

Oh, this week I also need to get busy figuring out what I'm submitting to Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I'm thinking Scorched so I won't have to deal with the "literary novel expectation" that I think might be present in the adult category. I'd rather try to dig my way into the Young Adult category. So, if that's the plan, I need to do a rewrite on Scorched ASAP.

Okay, so that is today. It's a Monday so, per usual, I can anticipate the day falling to pieces and very little getting accomplished, but it's still good to start with a plan of blind faith and determination.

Oh--on the DAW thing, you know how I seem to specialize in holiday rejections? I'm thinking if I submitted on Groundhog's Day--there would be no way they could reject me on Valentine's Day. See! Clever, huh? I know. I'm full of clever ideas. They got back to me really fast last time for it making it to the second reader. I've seen a lot of writers wait for months to hear back from them at all. I think I got a month and a half turn around. For a full hardcopy slushpile entry, that seems fairly good. I mean, for a writer, that's sheer torture, but a lot of agents take longer than that on a query.

Okay, this morning there should be Frosting. I didn't get much sleep. The end of Honor Among Thieves still rocks my world. There were still a few places that made me cry. (It's nice to have such a poor memory. It gives you weird split personality moments to enjoy.) I still laughed in a bunch of places. Reeve is still hot. It was fun. Of course, then I wanted to move on to "editing" book two. Doh.

Okay, good morning, world. Happy Monday to all.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pop quiz--Chapters

I've got to get back to editing, but it feels wrong not post today. I'm planning on completing my thorough run-through working with Diana's comments. It's been a few months since I tackled this manuscript, and I think I've made a lot of progress as a writer since the last time I worked on it, and I'd done a thorough rewrite then. I am discovering a lot of passive stuff for a first person narrative. I've got to do a search and find after I'm done. I've written out the "markers" I'm looking for to see if I've slipped back to passive voice. I'm also finding a moderate amount of "telling" rather than "showing" that I need to work on. Plus, there are just words I overuse. Cough *suddenly* cough.

Here is my list of top-offenders of passive and sloppy writing markers:

thought, wondered, imagined, "a little", felt, looked, walked, noticed, softly, quietly, seemed, then, suddenly, "pointed out", that, smiled, laughed, chuckled, grinned, knew, liked, grabbed, "my eyes", "my face", wanted, saw, expected, brought, turned, guessed, suspected, needed, gasped, hoped, shocked, confused, awkwardly, forcefully, frustrated.


Anyway, for those that like to give an opinion, today I only have one question. The husband is currently working through Artemus Fowl books which have seriously long chapters. Each book only has around ten chapters. On the other hand, I've read books--and I think Koontz does this--where some chapters are only one page long--so the final story might have fifty or more chapters.

So, pop quiz:

1. Do you like to read books with long or short chapters?

(a.) I like books with short chapters.
(b.) I like books with super long chapters.
(c.) The length doesn't matter as long as they break at location changes, mood changes, characters changes, etc.
(d.) 42
(e.) I don't care either way. I've never really noticed a preference.
(f.) Potatoes are good.
(g.) All of the above.

If you feel the need to explain, go for it.

BTW, the scoring will be much more forgiving than yesterday's questionnaire. No scores will lead to certain death--though you can be in a lot of pain before you are actually dead for the record. 1-127 will get a balloon sent to them media mail. 128-4,650 will eat food at some point during the next 24 hours. Those scoring negative--well, it'll be a surprise, but don't go there--seriously.

Okay, back to Honor Among Thieves.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

MWF seeking writerly relationship with DAW

Except... DAW doesn't stand for anything--that I know of.

Phew, I'm whipped already today, but I'm determined to finish this rewrite of Honor Among Thieves. (For a while, I was abbreviating it as HAT--but then I couldn't find anything and I kept thinking "What's with all these hat documents?") This morning was my family's turn to clean the church building. So, two and a half hours of mostly vacuuming has wiped my energy. I'd make a lousy janitor, I think. Our turn rolls around about twice a year and it's a testament to how much I believe in my church because, with no paid clergy and manned/staffed entirely by the voluntary efforts of the members, a lot falls onto the plate of the members. Nothing less than a strong testimony could inspire me to vacuum for two hours--trust me. I'm tired.

Anyway, so, I need opinions. Anyone responding to this post will be expected to render an opinion of some kind. Got that? Good. Here are my questions:

1. What would be your upper personal word limit for an urban fantasy for adults?

(a.) 125,000 words
(b.) 100,000 words
(c.) 75, 000 words
(d.) 42
(e.) none of the above
(f.) all of the above because I'm contrary
(g.) celery

2. If you read that a publishing company had a policy of exclusivity, would you assume this included not querying agents?

(a.) yes
(b.) no
(c.) I'm waffling.
(d.) none of the above
(e.) 42
(f.) chicken lips
(g.) bacon

3. If you received a rejection that included specific and personal advice on what your manuscript needed in addition to a comment to "consider them in the future," would you revise and resubmit the same manuscript?

(a.) yes, that's what they wanted in "publishing speak."
(b.) possibly--if I felt like I'd addressed their issues
(c.) no, a rejection is a rejection
(d.) no, but I might submit a different manuscript
(e.) the voices in my head have no opinion
(f.) 42
(g.) it's a secret

4. If you did resubmit, would you include a copy of their previous comments or refer to them?

(a.) 42
(b.) yes, a copy
(c.) yes, I'd refer to them in my query
(d.) no, start fresh
(e.) no and it's all just a big conspiracy
(f.) I always wanted to be a pirate
(g.) snakes have no arms that's why they don't wear vests.

5. If you've read Honor Among Thieves, how did you feel about the exposition of the lore of "Vampire", "Mother Earth", "Father Rock", and "Vesuvius" with the Master in the council room?

(a.) It got a little wordy and could be spread in other places.
(b.) I loved it and I love you to death, Wendy.
(c.) 42
(d.) It could be slimmed down.
(e.) I don't really have an opinion.
(f.) I haven't read Honor Among Thieves--or HAT as some might call it.
(g.) chowder

6. If you've read Honor Among Thieves, how did you feel about the flashbacks that Honor has in her dreams?

(a.) LOVED THEM! Seriously, I adore you in every way, Wendy!
(b.) Some were good, but the one with (the Shift Hunts, the funeral, her waking up, her in the hospital with the colorblindness thing) could be cut.
(c.) The Shift Hunt ones should be condensed somehow.
(d.) I hated all of them and I nearly ripped my eyes out and threw them against the wall.
(e.) 42
(f.) turtle
(g.) Seriously, I haven't read it--what's with the third degree?

7. If you've read Honor Among Thieves and you're familiar with DAW publishing, do you think this is a good fit?

(a.) 42
(b.) Yes, go for it!
(c.) I think other publishers might work better.
(d.) Go back to concentrating on the agent thing.
(e.) penguins are cute
(f.) Enough already! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
(g.) I'm torn on this--literally.

Random Comments/Praise/Insults/Muffin Jokes: (Psst. This isn't multiple choice. It's fill-in-the-blank or essay.)

Okay, so those are the questions. Answer these seven. Start at the beginning and when you get to the end, stop. These seven are to be answered. If you're too afraid, go back while you still can. They are not to be answered in random order. You must be over the age of two and still breathing to be considered eligible to answer these questions. If you answer 42 to every question, I'll know that you are a geek--and seriously, could you have been less helpful?

Here is how the answers shall be scored:

Those scoring between 0-20 points will be shot. 19-37 points will meet a stranger today and fall hopelessly in love. 30-31 points will receive $20 in the mail from Microsoft. 38-1425 points will experience a Saturday in the near future. Those scoring negative points will be forced to experience the same day over and over until they get it right. Thems the breaks.

Okay, so, good luck. Oh and you will be timed--just for fun. Don't use a number two pencil on your monitor, btw. It won't end well.

(I should warn you that my muffin joke is the best, and I wouldn't even bother trying to top it.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Laurel, well played, but the establishment wins

So, I opened up my daughter's folder to find a note from the girl that had bullied her. I thought, "Oh, that's nice that she apologized." Next, I realized that Laurel had been "encouraged" to write the note.

No, it's not because I'm cynical, though, I am. Wait for it.

So, this was not Laurel's first draft and that's when I laughed. That's right. I laughed. My poor daughter was being bullied and I found Laurel's attempt to thumb her nose at the establishment hilarious and, yes, bold. A little part of me thought, "Bravo, you vicious little thing. If you're going down, check those boundaries first."

Laurel's version (pre-censoring) : B, I am sorry someone was a bully to you and I will not bully you the rest of the school year.

Post-censoring: B, I'm sorry that I was a bully to you and I will not bully you ever again.

I don't know who Laurel is, but some part of me laughs when I think of this girl rolling her eyes and erasing the whole "rest of the school year" business while thinking, "Crap! Give me a little wiggle room, will you? Ever is a really long time."

See, editors--they're harsh even on the younger, bullying crowd. Anyway, it was nice of her, and the school is watching out for it. My sense of humor might be a tad bit too broad, though, since I found it funny.

Well, it's flashy fiction Friday, and I haven't done flash fiction all week. Gasp! I know, I'm a slacker. Plus, now, I'm going back to working on Honor Among Thieves. Honor still makes me laugh and that probably indicates a split personality disorder, but I don't care.

Okay, that's it. I might tweet the lines that make me laugh as I run across them.