Tuesday, August 31, 2010

monkeysuits and cowbells!!!

poor quality photo of the last Casio kids show I went to. minutes later the monkey was in the audience.
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Come 'C' my list!

It's time for another instalment of David the Movie Snob, but we've been so busy lately, we haven't watched many movies.  Saw The Runaways (which we both disliked - though I was quite impressed that KS could play something other than Bella) and NINE (which we hated and shut off after the first 10 minutes), but I'd rather write about something we disagree about so I don't come off as a snob too. :)

So...we're going to watch another movie this week.  But for now, you just have to be content with my C-list!

Thinks I like that start with C:

  • CASIOKIDS!  A superfabutastic electronicy band from Norway.  Their first tour was to 12 Kindergarten classes around their country.  How cool is that!?  Their concerts are aMAZing!  All I have to say is: cowbell station and giant monkey suit.  You can't beat that.
  • Curry.  I can eat curry with ANYTHING!  yum. :)
  • Comments.  Okay, that's a thinly veiled request for more comments on my blog! ;)
Things I do NOT like that start with C:
  • Credit card bills.  Ugh.
  • Cockroaches.  Double-ugh.
  • "compress."  Just the word - the noun form that's pronounced like "COMpress."  ugh.  It just sends chills down my spine when I hear it.  If I'm ill, never tell me you're going to get me a "hot compress" because I might just vomit all over you.  Just for saying that word.  I feel icky just typing about it.  I don't know why...  Is it normal to dislike words just based on their pronunciation alone?  I also hate the word packet.  On the other hand, I love the word vile.
Feel free to contribute. ;)

now that that's out of the way, I'm going to investigate new options for free/cheap isolated weekend getaways for maximum writing madness...


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing fears: Commitment

Raise your hand if you're in Revisionland...

Actually, nevermind.  You don't need to raise your hand because I'll be able to tell you by the wild look in your eyes, the pale stretched skin, and the slight tremor in your hands.  Revisionland is a harrowing place!  In a recent conversation with a friend of mine about a major overhaul of several chapters, I told him, "Yesterday I slit open the belly of my story.  Today, I'm supposed to sew it all back up neatly, but the blood is still gushing and it's so disfigured I can't even see where to begin."

Revising is bloody business.

You want to know the worst part of Revising?  It's all about commitment.  Raise your hand if you're afraid of commitment.  Nevermind again.  I'll be able to tell you by your hand wavering halfway between raised and down.  Your eyes looking up, wondering "am I afraid of commitment?  Well...sometimes...maybe?"

Self-revelation time: I'm afraid of commitment.  Not so much in the traditional sense of the commitment-phobic stereotype in relationships.  I just find myself unable to commit to any decision.  I can't make decisions.  Seriously, it's pathological.  When David and I are in the video store, I make him hold the movies behind his back and I pick an arm.  When I'm at a restaurant, I have to flip a coin to decide which menu-item I'm going to eat.

Unfortunately for me, the task of writing a novel (or short story or novella or movie or TV show...) involves making an infinite number of decisions.  And the kicker: committing to them.

So, back to the exposed, gushing, disemboweled belly of my story.  The problem is that I have too many ideas, and I have to DECIDE which one is best.  This is a big problem.  I was speaking to the same sage friend mentioned above and he said, "Making decisions in your book is just like making decisions in life.  You have to trust that you are doing the right thing in life.  You have to trust that your character is doing the right thing in the book.  Whatever your character is doing is the right thing."

Armed with that advice, somehow I was able to weed through the giant mountain of ideas and find the one diamond.  Story-belly is mostly sewn up now and I think it's time for a drink!

...now, what type of drink should I have...?  Oh dear. :(

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Secret to Exercise Motivation

I've discovered it!  More on that later.

So, I've been stressing all day about finding something to write about in my blog...something that isn't already being written about in 250 aspiring-writer blogs around the net.  But, you know what?  There is nothing.  We all write and rewrite about the same things.

And that's fine.  I still enjoy reading about it because each person brings their own perspective to the topic. I just...didn't feel like I had a perspective on anything today.  So...you're getting this instead!

It's way less momentous than it sounds.

Today, in my regular run at the gym, I managed to clock over 7 minutes at 7.5 miles an hour.  From a person who is lucky to make it 10 minutes at 4.5 mph without a walking break, this was a major major breakthrough.

What was the key?  These guys.  I had seen them last fall during the Cultural Olympiad and was completely transfixed through the whole performance.  So, I bought their cd.  I rarely listened to it - apart from one instance where I used it as inspiration for a battle scene I was writing.  For some reason, I dredged it up today before my run and put it on top volume (well okay, top safe volume.  I couldn't go through 18 months of audiology classes and still blast my music!).

As I ran, I imagined myself in one of the awesome battle scenes in my own novel.  I pictured running at and attacking opponents.  I pictured my favourite warrior characters running alongside me.  This may sound ridiculous (and disturbingly violent?), but it WORKED!  It worked so well that I was giddy and had a huge smile on my face as I ran.  The people at my gym must think I'm crazy.  I might have even laughed out loud with glee.  I don't know; I was too wrapped up in the battle. :)

I probably could have kept up the pace for even longer, but my eyes started to sting and I panicked, thinking I might be going blind.  hah.  So I came home and uh...rested my eyes while writing this blog. :)

What keeps you guys running?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This morning I arrived at my first appointment, only to realize that I'd forgotten my:

  • watch
  • cell phone
  • wallet
  • water bottle
  • lunch

Also, before all of you start jumping up and down, telling me that it is not, in fact, Monday - I know.  It's Tuesday.  But, this week, Tuesday is my Monday because I cancelled work yesterday to write.  This, not all the things I forgot today, is actually what I want to talk about: 

balancing serious writing with a Real Job (not to mention a family, social life, and hobbies)

It's a lot like riding a unicycle on a tightrope while eating extra-tough beef jerky and twirling a baton.  Okay okay.  I know it's not THAT bad, but sometimes it really can get difficult for us non-(or pre-)career writers to keep it all straight.  You know what I'm talking about.

scenario 1: you wake up Monday morning with a head full of inspiration and ABSOLUTELY NO TIME to write because it's time to go to work.  ...that was me yesterday.  I caved. :)

scenario 2: all of your friends want to go out to dinner or have a party but all you want to do is see what happened to your MC in the scene where they meet the villain for the first time.

scenario 3: you finally make it to the weekend - no extra Real Job work hanging around, no plans with friends, no mom on the phone...but you have absolutely no writing motivation whatsoever.  

All of these have happened to me one time or another.  If they've happened to you too (or other similar ones...like three kids jumping on your bed while you're finishing up the final chapter and what have you) please read on for some words of wisdom from a totally unwise amateur!  What could be more useful!?  :)

Here are some things to remember:
  • Creativity, like chilli, takes time.  Sometimes you think you have a burning idea that has to be Put On Paper This Instant, but really if you let the idea simmer throughout your workday (or friends' party or phonecall with mom), it comes out with an even more delicious flavor.
  • You can't force it.  But you can try.  When you DO have time to write, but aren't feeling the Muse right then, don't give up.  Write.  Write about something else.  Write a book report.  Write down your grocery list and then describe each of the items on it if you have to.  Challenge yourself to write the worst short story ever.  Write whatever you can, just write.  You'll feel more accomplished that way, even if you didn't do any work on your WIP that day.
  • Real Life is what writing is all about.  If you spend all your time writing, thinking about writing, or wishing you were writing, what on earth will you write about?  Writing?  I should win an award for saying "write" the most times in one sentence.  haha.
  • Whatever is trying to distract you from writing is probably also awesome! :)  Make a list about why you love your Real Job (or whatever distracts YOU from writing).  You'll appreciate it more.  See my list here.
  • Sometimes it's alright to give in.  If you really need to write, call in sick, hire a babysitter, turn your phone off, and just do it.  I'm not sure this last one is the best advice...but since I ditched work yesterday to write, I'm going to pretend it's legit.  Otherwise I'll suffer from a brain wrenching case of cognitive dissonance and I'm not up for that. :)
How do you guys balance your writing with real life?

Monday, August 23, 2010

B-list time!

This has been a long time coming.  I've been busy reading excellent books and writing less nonsense entries.  But, it's time for a nonsense entry today. :)

Behold, the bombshell of a B-list!

I like:

  • bubbly water - I kid you not.  Since last Tuesday, I've accumulated 9 empty bottles, and David barely drinks the stuff.
  • books (duh)
  • beaches!
I don't like: 
  • bloody noses (eeew!)
  • broken bones (on the injury train today?)
  • bugs
Hooray for nonsense posts. :)

till next time!

ps: Anyone excited about Mockinjay's release?? :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Paragraph Review: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I know I said I'd do the Dragon Tattoo next, but I'm still waiting to get my copy of the book back from a friend.  Also, I just finished The Hunger Games and couldn't help but review it.  I thought I'd try not to review the most popular books that everyone else is reviewing, but I can't NOT give my impressions of this fantastically amazingly wonderful book that I just finished devouring. :)

THE HUNGER GAMES is the first book in the latest series by Suzanne Collins.  I'm not going to synopsize the book, since you can get that on any other site about it.  Rather, I'd like to give you my impressions.  The thing that struck me most about this book was Collins's concise writing style.  Many dystopian and fantasy novels these days tend to overflow with words and excess scenes, but The Hunger Games has just the right number of scenes, and they are just the right length.  This style gives the book a quicker pace, along with imparting on the reader the same sense of urgency felt by Katniss, the main character.  Along with the fabulous use of pacing, Collins has written this book in present tense, further adding to the reader's sense of being right there in the action.  And speaking of action, there is plenty of that.  In a story where twenty-four teenagers are pitted against each other in a wilderness arena for the viewing pleasure of the rest of the world, action would be hard to avoid.  Collins manages to weave these action scenes through with heart-wrenching memories and tender exchanges between the characters, which add to the reader's identification with all of the characters, not just Katniss.  I'm a little concerned about continuing on to the sequel, because I feel the love triangle hinted at in this book will bloom into a real plot point in the next one!  I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone interested in some well-paced Young Adult reads, even if you don't normally read dystopians.

Good luck getting it from your local library. ;)  This one is golden!

Front to back time: It actually took me almost a week, but my eye surge was in the middle.  Actual reading time was about 1 full day.

Favourite character: I hate to pick the main character, but I totally adore Katniss.  I want to be her.  She's my hero!  Runners up include: Rue and Cinna

Musical Accompaniment: Metric, The Knife, Snow Patrol

Overall Rating: 9/10  Is that too high?  Okay, fine, 8/10. :)  Room for improvement in case the next two books are even better! :)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Drowning, The novel!

Hi all,

Just wanted to let you know that I've made a facebook fanpage for Drowning, The novel.  As soon as I figure out how to link it directly with my blog, I'll let you know.  But for now, if you'd like to join, feel free to just facebook search "Drowning, the novel" and you'll find me!

It's pretty basic right now, but eventually readers will be getting updates, excerpts, and teaser material through that site!  So exciting! :)


Friday, August 20, 2010

What it's like to have X-ray vision

Well, as most of you know, I went for lasik surgery on Wednesday.  YAY!  I can happily tell you that I'm writing this with 20/15 vision - no glasses or contacts necessary.  Unfortunately (and contrary to what my post title says), I couldn't talk them into equipping me with xray OR infared vision.  Heck, they wouldn't even implant cameras in my eyes.  Apparently all that stuff is reserved for the *military* or people in sci fi movies.  Fine.  Whatever. :)

Anyway, here you can join me on my journey.  First stop, the night after:

I had to sleep with these clear plastic disc things strapped to my face so that I didn't claw my eyes out in the middle of the night. The first night was the worst because the numbing meds wore off about 30 min after the surgery, so I pretty much went home and went to bed.  Then, I couldn't open my eyes. They were watering and stinging like terrible, like someone had rubbed an onion on them.  It took me awhile to fall asleep.

When I awoke, it was not a pretty sight:

The place where I had the surgery done gave us all these very fashionable sunglasses to be worn at all times outside.  Can't go wrong there, hey fashionistas?

By midday, I was able to open my eyes better and they watered less and less.  (Please don't mind the hair.  I wasn't allowed to shower and I had been napping all day!)

By evening, just 24 hours after surge, I looked almost as good as new!l

Now I have to go out and try my new laser-shooting eyeballs in the neighborhood.  Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

what a *novel* idea

I'm just going to preface this post by saying that it may contain some very unpopular ideas.

As most of you, dear readers, know, I'm in the final stages of writing my very first manuscript ever.  Of course, my next steps would traditionally include the following:

  • drafting a query letter
  • spending almost as much time editing my query letter as I did editing my novel
  • investigating the genres, submission requirements, likes, dislikes, and bathroom rituals of every agent out there
  • selecting a few agents to whom I will send my shiny new query
  • biting my nails
  • piling the rejections on my desk
  • biting my nails
  • finally landing an agent (hopefully!)
  • revising to the agent's specifications
  • ...and, well, you know the rest.  I won't bore you.
However, now more than ever, we have so many more OPTIONS.  Unpopular options.  Options they don't tell you about on the normal forums.  In fact, on one of my (unnamed) writers' forums, when I brought up the question of what an agent and publisher actually DO these days, I was immediately shot down.  Basically, I wondered, if we authors are responsible for the twitter and the blogs and the youtube trailers and much of the book tours, why should we have a publisher?  With the new popularity of e-books, it seems that publishers who focus on hard copy books are on their way to becoming somewhat obsolete.

Crazy.  I know.  Don't shoot me yet.  Just look at Barnes & Noble, one of the largest booksellers in the US who just went up for sale.  The new e-book revolution has rattled them to the core and even their answer to it, the Nook, doesn't seem to be able to save them.  As stated in a recent New York Times article, "the threat that has the industry and some readers the most rattled is the growth of e-books. In the first five months of 2009, e-books made up 2.9 percent of trade book sales. In the same period in 2010, sales of e-books, which generally cost less than hardcover books, grew to 8.5 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers, spurred by sales of the AmazonKindle and the new Apple iPad."  

And, here's another staggering statistic found in the Guardian: "Amazon now sells twice as many digital books as hardbacks in the US."  It's looking like more and more people, both companies and independent authors, are moving towards e-publishing.  Don't believe me?  How about checking this article at Market Watch.  I could give you a slew more, but I'm sure you all have access to google.  And frankly, these days this type of article is not difficult to find. 

Not only are authors like Ray Connelly (as featured in the Guardian article above) publishing their own books digitally, but some agents are taking advantage.  One top agency caused a huge industry conflict by cutting a deal with Amazon (Kindle) for digitally publishing many of their authors' older works.  Check out the npr interview here.  

Scared?  I am.  When the market is flooded with e-publications by every aspiring author and their grandma, not to mention agents that want to bypass the publisher and publishers trying to remain afloat by going digital, how will my little novel ever get noticed?

That's a good question.  But when you think about it, is it really that much more difficult than sending a 1 page query letter to an agent who receives 150 nearly identical letters a day, hoping to be noticed?  I don't think so.  And, with self publishing digitally, you risk nearly nothing (other than your pride, which gets risked in the traditional pathways anyway!).  Not to mention, the rights to your story remain your own to do with it whatever you like.  

I'm not saying I'm going to self-publish my book, but what I am saying is...it doesn't look like such a bad option.  There may be more updates about this issue in the future if you guys are interested.

What do you think about self-publishing and the new wave of digital books?  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday night bliss

wall-e in the park + picnic dinner + chocolate = great Monday!
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The Arts "We may get some splinters"

Last night I attended the premiere show of my friends’ new dance collective.  Three friends of mine have bravely come together to form their own collective, realizing that they each have such a creative vision that it would be a shame to dance someone else’s choreography in a company.
Their first show was a little bumpy.  Of course, the dancing was excellent, but the other parts - the parts they couldn’t control - were not exactly what they’d expected.  For example, they showed up at the venue early, hoping to be able to mark their piece and perhaps do a full runthrough.  This was particularly important since they hadn’t seen the venue before!  However, they were told that the acts before them would not clear off until 7:30 (their 45 minute piece was to go up at 8:00!)  Unfazed, they warmed up and ran through the piece in a nearby park.
Another little bump was the fact that the stage they were to perform on was about 1/4 the size of a typical stage.  Still excited about their first show, they managed to rework the choreography to make it look like it had always been made for that small stage.  
Lastly, the stage was rough wood, with some nails that they’d had to hammer down and tape over in the hurry before their own piece was to begin.  Their answer?  “Yeah, we’ll be getting some splinters.”  And a smile.
I couldn’t help but think about how this one simple line applies to so many of the arts.  It’s a messy occupation, even if you aren’t messing with paints.  Art is full of mess, full of unexpected bumps, full of things we didn’t expect, and full of splinters.  But in order to get through the process to present our best final product (a novel, an amazing dance performance, a painting), we have to accept those bumps (rejection letters?  plot holes you hadn't noticed before?), acknowledge we’ll get splinters, and carry on.
What obstacles have you overcome in your art?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Eye Candy

So, I'm due for another One Paragraph Book Review, but the most recent book I read (finished today!!) was Extras, the final book in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.  I thought it might just seem too obsessive if my first two reviews were from the same author.  So, instead of a review today, I'm going to list some of my favourite books.  Not all of them are young adult.  I tend to read like...anything.

  • The Red Tent
  • The Bean Trees
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Middlesex
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  • Sing Down the Moon
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • My Sister's Keeper
  • The Memory Keeper's Daughter
  • The Kite Runner
  • A Fine Balance
  • The Outsiders
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
I think 15 is enough for now.  What are some of your favourite books of all time?  What are some books you're wondering about?  If I've read them, I'd be happy to write up a One Para review just for you, dear readers!

(Maybe when I get around to it, I'll do 2 reviews to make up for this lapse!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Awesome visit with the Brilliant Brady to the Paul Allen heritage collection. lots more pics to upload tomorrow!!
nothing like vintage war planes on a sunny Saturday.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Hooks and queries

So, I'm at my mum's now for a visit.  I had her read my query draft 2, to which she said "Oh Amanda this is amazing!"  Nothing like having your mum read your stuff, right?

I started whining about how I can't write a query for my book because there's no hook.  David's comment, in a complete deadpan, was "I can only think of so many books with hooks.  Peter Pan is one..."

...I'll just let that simmer.

Anyway, I know you probably clicked on this link thinking I'd give you the amazing hints about writing queries.  I apologize.  If you want that, go over the writoncon archives and get the info from the professionals. :)  I just had to put on this little tidbit.  now, back to the parental units.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

"I get it. I got it. I know it's good!" Music that makes my heart thump

Wretched.  You've all been there, stuck in a rut.  Feeling like last week's lentil salad.  Soggy, worn out, stinking of rot.  (okay...maybe we don't ACTUALLY stink of rot.  But you get what I'm saying.)

Anyway, I am happy to tell you, dear smelly readers, that I have the remedy!  In addition to a shower, the best remedy for transforming yourself from a wilted, stinking lentil salad into a fabulous confident You is MUSIC!  

Without further ado, I share with you my best list of Power Songs!  Note: this list is not exhaustive.  They are as follows (in no particular order till the end):

The Knife: We Share our Mother's Health
Royksopp: Tricky Tricky
Lynard Skynard: Sweet Home Alabama
Keisha: Tik Tok
Journey: Don't stop Believin'
No Doubt: Sunday Morning 

And, my top 3 of all TIME!
Metro Station: Shake it
Jimmy Eat World: The Middle
and (drumroll please!)
Guns and Roses: Sweet Child of Mine

When I'm feeling sad/tired/mad/stressed/nervous/upset/whiny or any other awful emotion we sometimes feel, I pop on one of these and I'm back to my usual bubbly self! :)  Oh, and I forgot to add, the remedy is best taken dancing around the house like a crazy person.  Yeah...doesn't really work unless you do that.

What songs pep you guys up?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Real Job gets some love

Since I've been writing like...24/7, I somehow forgot how awesome my Real Job is.  I was too busy fantasizing about myself becoming a rich famous author (hahaha) to give my job the love it deserves.  Because, it totally does deserve some love.  I had a great day at work today, which is what inspired this post.  Here are the top 5 things about my job:

5 - Umm...my office is full of toys.  How can you beat that?  I've got Operation, Lego, Buzzword Jr, Kerplunk, thomas the train set, puzzles, and just about every other toy you can imagine.  It's very smile-inducing walking into my office.  Oh, and since I'm itinerant, the trunk of my car is often overflowing with toys too.  Yeah...I get weird looks.

4 - I get hugged almost everyday.  Well ok, my boyfriend probably hugs me everyday, but that's different.  Here, I get my client-kids hugging me...and sometimes even their parents!  It's a great feeling knowing that I've made someone's day...and I love that they return the favour with hugs and smiles.

3 - Most of the kids I work with have no idea what my actual title is, so I most often get called the "Game Teacher."  What an awesome job that must be!  Oh...yeah...it's mine. :)

2 - I get to hear things like, "A lot of people come to see X, but I never see him respond as well as when you come.  Really, he never sits at a table this long for any other activity unless it's with you!"  yeah...I'm awesome.

1 - And ok, this might be a cop-out because it's so similar to #2, but I get to see things - to be responsible for things - that are life changing for families.  I get to witness the first time a child says "mom" or "I love you" or the first time the child actually LOOKS at their parents.  I get to help kids say their own names without slurring.  I get to hear kids tell me about how they finally have friends on the playground because of what we've been learning in our sessions.  You can't buy that kind of satisfaction.  And...I don't have to.  In fact, I get paid for it.  :)  Alright, no more bragging!

Mmm...that felt so good.  I so often dwell on the negatives of my job (a buffet of germs, getting hit in the head with airborn toys, having ears torn apart by world-class tantrums, having to deal with slightly crazed parents, not getting paid after driving an hour to an appointment that the family forgot, incessant amounts of paperwork...I could go on, but it would defeat the purpose of this post.)

So, there you have it.  I should do ads. :)


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Surge! (Totally non-literary post)

So, I had a consult today and a week from tomorrow I am scheduled to go under the knife.  ...or, in this case, laser.  Yay!  I'm getting lasik eye surgery!  Hopefully next Thursday you delightful readers will still be getting posts from me and I won't be blind.  Eek!  No, actually, there's like a 0% risk of going blind apparently, but it's still crazy sounding!

Here's what they do:
  1. a special kind of laser comes and makes hundreds of tiny bubbles in the shape of a semi-circle under your cornea.  These bubbles pop up a tiny flap of the cornea that can then be folded back.  (ugh...gross)  This step takes about 1 minute on each eye.  Did I mention I'll be awake for this?  Can't wait...
  2. After the flaps are made, another laser comes and does the actual vision correction part on the tissue underneath the flap.  This is where they change the shape of my eye so I can see!  
  3. The flap gets folded back over, and special tear blocks get put in my eye to help with healing.
  4. The next day, if all goes well, I should be able to drive.  I just have to put eye drops in my eyes like every 2 hours for a couple weeks.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy.
A little too easy if you ask me...Instead of just this vision correction, I was thinking maybe I could get little cameras put in my eyes.  That would be cool, wouldn't it?  Or maybe an overlay so I could see in infared?  OR, projectors, like in Repo! The Genetic Opera.  By the way, for those of you who haven't seen Repo, it's one of the weirdest bestest musical movies I've seen in awhile.  You have to go see it, even if only just because you get to see Paris Hilton as a crazed rich girl addicted to fame.  Oh...wait...that's like Paris in real life.  Well, anyway, her face falls off in this movie, so that makes it slightly better than real life.  

Anyway, wish me luck!


Days off and Doubts

I think this whole internet thing is fantastic, really I do.  Finding a community of hundreds of other writers - both aspiring and published - is such an amazing thing, and sometimes I wonder how writers like Jane Austen or J. D. Salinger survived without it.

However, having immediate access to this whole community has its drawbacks.  First of all, there is a lot of pressure to not only finish your manuscript, but also to get your name out there before even attempting to publish it, whether via blogging, tweeting, facebooking, foruming, texting, emailing, youtubing, head-against-the-computer-screen-bashing, and what have you.  A lot of pressure...lot of pressure.

whew!  So, what's the other drawback?  It might sound a bit contradictory, but the other drawback is:

Finding a community of hundreds of other writers - both aspiring and published.  Oh. My. God.  There's millions of us out there.  Writing is so easy it's not easy at all.  That's the problem.  There are so many people out there who write, and write WELL, that it's a bit of a gong show trying to get noticed.  This whole thing about queries is terrifying.  It's worse than a resume.  "Please summarize your whole novel, your accomplishments, your writing style, and your personality in 200 words or less."  No problem.

This is what happens on my days off.  I have more time to stare at my manuscript and pick out flaws, more time to read about other writers' amazing achievements, more time look over sample queries that are way better than mine, more time to over analyze all of my critiquers' comments, more time to tell myself that this whole idea of being a writer was bad in the first place.

Of course, as you can imagine, even though I have more free time on my days off, I write less.  Here is how I spend my time instead:

  • checking my email every 2-5 minutes
  • drinking way too much coffee until I can't see straight and people start to avoid passing me on the sidewalk.
  • reading everyone else's blogs ... not so bad in itself, until you add the *comparison* part of it
  • listening to Britney Spears on repeat.  Yeah.  I'm totally serious.
  • checking my twitter and facebook in between email checks
  • realizing I've had too much coffee to even give good critiques on a friend's manuscript
  • trying, as a last ditch effort to do something productive, to write an outline for my next book in pen and paper (to escape the internet threat of course)
  • waking up hours later, covered in ink, in a bed of crumpled papers.  No semblance of an outline in sight.
So anyway, the internet is great!  Now, wonderful readers, behold the one thing I've actually accomplished today: a rambling blog entry.  

Onward and Upward.


Monday, August 9, 2010

One Paragraph Review Time!: Uglies, Scott Westerfeld

So, this is the first in what will be a series of One Paragraph Reviews on my blog.  (I'll try to make them weekly, but having a Real Job and hobbies other than reading means that I might not always have a book for each week.)  This idea came about because I have a short attention span.  (No, really)  When I read reviews on other blogs, I often stop after a paragraph or two (sorry guys!) because I'd rather read a book or work on my own WIP than read a long review.  So, for those of you who are like me, I'm inventing the 1 paragraph review.  My stepdad, the Brilliant Brady Fowler, once told me that the good, the bad, and the ugly of a book should always be able to be summed up in one paragraph, no more.  So, Brady, this is for you.

My first review will be of Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld.  (Be gentle. This is the first review I've written since my last book report in oh...1990?)

Uglies was my initiation into the world of Scott Westerfield, an author who has since earned a well deserved spot on my list of top 10 contemporary authors.  (Scott Rocks!)  It is the first book of the 4-book series that bears the same name.  I’m not sure there could be a more appropriate first line for a book of this title.  Scott opens by writing, “The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”  But he doesn’t stop there; he continues on to discuss what the preceding diet of said cat must have been.  Ugly indeed.  It sets the tone for what things are like for our heroine Tally Youngblood, an Ugly waiting anxiously for her 16th birthday present: a pretty-making operation.  After her operation, she can go join her other Pretty friends in New Pretty Town and everything will be how she’s always hoped it would be, perfect.  As you can imagine, though, things don’t go as planned (do they ever!?) when Tally makes a new friend in rebellious Shay.  Shay teaches Tally some skills that could be beneficial to all adolescents: critical thinking, questioning status quo, and independence.  Armed with these new tools, Tally isn’t so sure she wants to be made pretty after all.  What follows is an action-packed tale filled with hoverboards, romance, betrayal, and authority figures way scarier than any principal you’ve ever had.  Once you read this book, there’s no going back.  Case in point: I just got the final book, Extras, out of the library yesterday.
Front to Back time-  About 5 days of intermittent reading

Favourite character- Dr. Cable!  Surprised? 

Musical accompaniment?- I mostly listened to Metric, Kraftwork, and a Swedish band called Familjen while reading this one.  Not so much to do with the book - more like what was in my ipod at that point in time.

Overall rating- Hmm...I’ll admit that it’s not my favourite of the series.  But you’ve got to read it to get to the Even Better books later on!  And, really, it is quite fabutastic.  So, it gets 7/10.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

This 15-year old is smarter than I am!

So, in getting into my own blog, I've been diving into the blogs of like...everyone else on the net.  This is the best writing-related post I've come across so far, so I had to share!

This kid's going places, that's for sure.  Enjoy!
Eight Things Every Author Needs

A - Z List (A)

I'm starting a Sunday A - Z List, where I tell 3 things I love and 3 things I hate - all that start with the same letter of the alphabet.  Feel free to join in on the comments!

Today is Absolutely Amazing A, since it's the first one:

Alphabet Soup
Ace of Spades
Art Museums (um...should clarify that my favourite thing about art museums is taking photos of myself imitating the art.  That counts though, right?)


Stay tuned next week for the Bubbly Bodacious B!


Saturday, August 7, 2010

David the Movie Snob takes on Inception

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of David the Movie Snob posts.  David is my delightful and doting other half who happens to have better taste in movies than 99.9% of humans everywhere the world over.  ...that's according to him.

Recently we went to see Inception, a movie that I - quite frankly - loved!  I thought DiCaprio did an excellent job showing the many layers of his character, but the director and scene set up really is what stole the show.

We watched it at our favourite classic theater, one that seems to never have a lineup or a full house, so we were one of two couples sitting on the balcony.  Still, though, the collective gasp of all (20?) patrons after the last scene was impressive.

Everyone gasped except David the Movie Snob, of course.  As we strolled back home in the still-humid evening, I asked him why he didn't seem surprised by the ending and he said plainly, "Well, I could have told you that's how it would end.  After, like, the first scene I figured it was all ***SPOILER!***."  Hah!  you thought I was going to give it away!

But I'll give you a hint...see if you can find a scene in that movie that shows how they got where they are.  That will make more sense after you see it!

Anyway, today we went to see Predators.  Maybe it was to escape the over-thinking deepness of Inception the night before?  I'm not sure.  You may not believe it, but one of the films that tops David the Movie Snob's top 50 is Predator.  Unfortunately, PredatorS didn't live up to its Predecessor!

...though, I didn't mind the fact that Adrian Brody seemed to lose a layer of clothing in each scene.  Pretty sure that didn't help David tMS's rating...

Speaking of Ratings:

Inception got a 8/10 from me and a 6/10 from David the Movie Snob.
Predators got a 4/10 from me (only cause of the bare chestedness!) and a 3/10 from David the Movie Snob.

Guess I'm snobbier than I thought!

Just Drive

“When all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.”
Steven Chbosky from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

My Drive is stationary for the moment, with worn wooden floors and a few too many silverfish in the bathroom.  The windows are single paned and haven’t been replaced in over 80 years.  
They sometimes leak if not closed exactly the right way.

The fireplace is surrounded by an art deco tiled mantlepiece, and from the kitchen window there is a view of the snowcapped mountain tops.  Out the bedroom window, if I crane my neck, I can almost see the starry skyline twinkling in the distance.

My Drive is my inspiration and the location from where I write.  It is my state of mind and my muse.

And these are my excerpts