Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No, honey, it's table for THREE!!

....a seat for me, you, and of course my Main Character!  We can't leave her out.  She already feels isolated enough!

Writers, how well do you know your characters?

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading this post about getting to know your characters by Scott Tracey, a YA Scifi writer, and found that I totally identified.

Full disclosure here: I spend more time with my characters than I do with my best friends.  When I'm driving to work, I think about them.  When I'm at work, I think about them.  (Don't tell!)  When I'm making and eating dinner, I think about them.  When I'm writing...when I'm showering...when I'm watching stupid TV...when I'm reading...

Honestly, sometimes I wish I could get rid of them!  Not all of us get along so well. :)

But some of them, I have to admit, I even wish they were real.  Of course that's normal.  (please don't say otherwise!)  I mean, if I set out to write a really likeable, wonderful character, of course that character is going to be the most likeable to me.  I made her, so I poured everything that I think makes someone likeable into her.

Really, though, when you spend anywhere from several months to several years with your characters, you're bound to have a relationship with them.  If I spent that much time, even with someone I hated, we would still know quite a bit about each other.

This brings me to one of my favourite quotes about writing:

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing."
— Margaret Chittenden

It's scarily true.  I remember when I first started my book (I'm a pantser, fyi), I went out to dinner with my boyfriend and all I did was complain about what my characters were doing.  While he rolled his eyes, I went on and on, "I mean, I thought F was a GOOD guy, but then he turned around and did that?  Now I'm not so sure!  I can't wait to see how the others will react when they find out.  I hope E isn't too upset about it! ..."

Some people even write great amounts of side story about each character that never actually makes it into the book.  I am one of those people.  I don't do it for every character, but if someone is giving me a rough time, like I don't know how she'd react or why she reacts the way she does, I go back and write her back story and figure out who she is on a level that extends past the scope of the book.  (And, just so I don't feel like I'm wasting time, I tell myself that all of that will be released in a little companion anthology when people read and love my book...right?)

And, since this is a post about characters, I'll fill some of you in on little details about mine that won't make it into the book.  Here's the favourite ice cream flavor of some of my guys:

Elly: Pistachio or Neopolitan
Sam: Ben and Jerry's Half Baked all the way!  Mm gooey goodness
Lauren: chocolate...but I always get frozen yogurt.
Finley: dark chocolate with raspberry swirl
Push: Ice cream!?  I don't eat ice cream.

Do any of you do this?  How well do you know your characters?  Do yours, like mine, follow you around everywhere?  Tell me some little known fact about one of your characters that isn't/won't be in your book!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wow, you've got one huge...

...cowboy hat.

If you're wondering why I've been a bit MIA lately, it's because I'm here for the week:

Yep, it's just me, the cattle, and the tumbleweeds.  This is my little work away from work, home away from home.  Every six weeks I drive over the rockies and work for a week here. Until a couple months ago, I was the only speech path in the whole town!!  This place is small, but not that small.  I'm in high demand.

Anyway, working in a place like this really puts some perspective on things.  Below are just a few tidbits that I never would have experienced if I hadn't come here:

  • On one of my first visits here, I go into the office for an 8 am appointment.  This dad walks in with his child and they're both in camo fatigues and orange hunting hats.  The kid turns to me and says "We huntin'."  The dad continues, "Yeah, we just got back from hunting.  I bagged a moose today.  First one of the season.  Had to send'im home with my friend - otherwise he'd be in the back of my truck out front there."  WHAT!?  You just hunted a MOOSE and then came to my appointment!?  Yeah.  True story.

  • A colleague of mine up here came to the city once for a conference.  I remember her walking around town (this is Vancouver, mind you) saying "This place is HUGE!  Look how tall that building is!  How do you know your way around here without getting lost?"  Also, whenever I get visiting colleagues down in the city, all they want to do is shop!

  • Another early visit, I had a new client whose address wasn't found on google maps. I knew that the mum of this client used to work at the same place I do, so I asked around to see if anyone knew where she lives.  Finally, I got directions that went something like "Take X road far out, past the reservation.  There'll be a canyon appearing on your right.  After about 25-35 minutes, there'll be an unmarked dirt road on your right.  Take that road, then turn off on the second drive, past the barn.  That's the house."  So, I followed those directions out there and pulled up in the drive just about at sundown.  Behind me I heard this crazy noise that I'd never heard before.  I turned, and there was a giant cow leaning over the fence on the edge of the drive mooing her head off.  Then, the sound of hooves echoed up the dirt road and the dad and his kid came into view, on horseback.  Dad had on the biggest cowboy hat I'd ever seen and had his 2 year old clutched under his arm as he galloped up.

  • This town is tiny.  I think the population is less than 8000 and a lot of those people live outside of town.  Yet, I still got lost for the first couple months I was coming up here.  It's because people here CANNOT give directions!  I come from a city.  I use blocks.  I know street names.  There are people who've lived here their whole lives who don't even know the name of the main street!  (It's Voght, fyi)  So, I would get a lot of this: "You know the post office?  It's like kiddie corner across from that."  Or "Turn right just past the subway, but before you get to the building that used to be the old dental office."  or, "Remember where the old general store was?  It's right behind there."  Or my favourite, "Right under the flagpole."  Where the heck is the flagpole!?

Someday, when I retire, maybe I'll start an alpaca farm up here and just knit and write and knit and write all day long. :)

Here are some more photos for your viewing pleasure:

This is the highway I drive over to get here.  I never had to have snow tires before this!

And here's some more shots of town and outskirts:

So, you'd think that in a place with such peaceful beauty, my muse would be working double-time.  Oh well, after 12 hour days of intense work, my muse is nowhere to be found!  Time to turn on the TV...


PS: None of these photos are mine!  Sorry. :(  My photos are all on my home computer, so these are "borrowed" from the net.

Do NOT join this contest!!!!

...because I want to win! ;)

This is the most superfab contest I've seen in a long time, and much thanks to my crit partner Laura Hughes for bringing it to my attention!  If you want to join in the mad race to win a THREE MONTH MENTORSHIP and many other prizes of great awesomeness, click here!

Good luck to you all me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nonverbal children help me write

Okay, I know, weird title.  But the other option was "Writing is like making love to a beautiful woman," and I just didn't think that fit my topic. :)  I want to tell you the lessons I've learned in my Real Job that apply to writing a novel as well.

  • You won't know what the problem is right away, just that there definitely IS a problem.  Often, I get referrals for children and when I see them, I know right off the bat that something isn't right.  With something like speech, though, it's often really difficult to know what EXACTLY the problem is.  For example, a three year old who isn't saying any words at all might: have a language delay, autism, a hearing impairment, a speech disorder that makes them not want to talk, pain in their mouth, a cognitive delay, a voice issue, ....I could go on and on.  I can figure out what the problem is with continued assessment and observation, referrals to other professionals, reading through my resource materials, and diagnostic therapy.  In writing (well revising I guess), it's the same.  You can read through your draft and think, "Wow, this isn't right," but you just can't put your finger on why.  Sometimes if you continue to search through your MS, read books about the craft, or get the outside opinion of a crit partner, you can figure it out.
  • Even when you know what you want to do, it won't happen overnight.  So, I saw a child this morning who's been on my caseload regularly for about a month.  I finally figured out that he has a speech sound disorder and expressive language delay, with no other obvious diagnoses (like hearing impairment).  Also, I know I want him to be able to say "m" and "b" sounds in words and I want his expressive vocabulary to increase.  Easy peasy, right?  I mean, GI Joe did tell me that knowing is half the battle.  WRONG!  Because now I actually have to fix it, and that's way more complex than just flicking a switch.  Again, same in writing.  You might know where your story is going or you might see exactly where to fix a problem in your current MS, but it's going to take time to get it exactly right.  You'll have to write and revise and re-revise until it's perfect.  And of course since we're all story tellers and not status seekers, to use the lingo of the "Maasster," perfection is what we seek.
  • Advice from experts is great, but innovation is priceless.  There's a lot of articles in speech pathology.  I'm always learning which treatments are "best" based on these controlled studies.  Like, "using this particular kind of flashcard in this way increased expressive vocabularies in five year olds with selective language impairment.  In the study, they were seen three times a day, five days a week, for 10 minute sessions with these cards.  So, use the cards."  Right, because I can see my kids three times a day all week long.  No, I see my kids for an hour a week, tops.  So, of course I take the advice of experts (not all of their advice is so ridiculous...), but generally I use what works.  Trial and error.  I might have kids who present exactly the same, but while one child might make huge gains with a certain activity, another one gets absolutely nothing out of it.  It's the same with writing.  The advice from experts is GREAT at giving you a starting point and helping you get through the difficult parts, but nothing beats your own innovation and intuition.  If you do a writing activity that doesn't seem to be helping your story grow, it's probably not the one for you.  Even if your best writing friend ended up with a whole best-selling novel from her work on that one activity.  Different strokes for different folks and you can't generalize to everyone.
  • Don't take it home with you.  For the first year of my career, pretty much all I did was talk about work.  It was all, "I have this one kid who..." and "I'm so stressed about this one family because I think...."  It was all I thought about ALL THE TIME!!!  I burned out pretty quickly, as you can imagine.  So, I learned to shut that part of my brain off outside work hours.  (Actually, lately I've been worried that I swung too far in the wrong direction...I think that part of my brain is shut off even during work hours.  oops!)  Anyway, same for writing.  Though it's really helpful to do thought experiments, like having a conversation with your MC on your morning commute (um, others do that, right? hehe), it's also important to not converse with the MC while out to dinner with your boyfriend.  He'll feel left out. :)  AND, you don't want to burn out on your masterpiece, do you?  Or miss out on the awesomeness of life, which, let's be honest, exists solely so we can notice it and file it away for our next book idea! :)  
So, I'm taking life's little lessons and trying to remind myself not to stress so much about finishing my WIP right away, or about why my little guy can't say "m" yet even though we've worked on it for 3 whole sessions!  I'm leaving my chatty MC at home tonight and going to hip hop dance class with Real People in Real Life.  (And if I'm lucky, I'll have in my head ideas for a new bestseller about hip hop dancers who learn to say "m" by the end of the night!)

What have you guys learned about writing from unlikely sources?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How The Dresden Dolls Told Me To Write

Do you believe in "signs?"  You know, like when something happens and you're like "oh that's God/Fate/The Universe/Whatever telling me something."

I don't.  Not really, anyway.  But when coincidences happen, I still take note.  Coincidences like this one:

I started writing my current WIP on December 16, 2009.  But that's not really where the story of my coincidence begins.  Let me back track, because (as my crit partners know) I love frontloading with backstory!

In 2000, I was a freshman at Boston University.  That year, I took up many habits, including always carrying a colourful umbrella, drinking my coffee black, and waking up to the Emerson College radio station as my alarm.  The morning show (I think it was called something like "coffeehouse") on WERS played some of the best music, including, as I discovered one fateful morning, the Dresden Dolls.  I awoke to "Coin Operated Boy" and knew that I had stumbled on something great.  I didn't realize it was something that would change my life 10 years later.  (Okay, it didn't exactly change my life.  But, you'll see.)

So, of course, I bought a DD cd and listened to it all the time.  I blasted my faves mostly, like Half Jack and Girl Anachronism, so I guess I never really listened to the disc from beginning to end without skipping around.

Fastforward to early 2010, where I'm sitting in bed with my headphones and computer.  I break out the old DD disc for some accompaniment since it has a dark and theatrical sound that compliments my WIP perfectly.  David is snoring next to me, but I don't hear it through the earbuds.  I'm so immersed in the scene I'm writing that I don't notice when the disc ends and I'm writing in silence.

I'm just about done with the scene, the one where my protagonist barely makes it out of a violent conflict and is taken to another world when I hear an old haggard voice say "Amanda..."  My heart leaps into my throat.  Before I can realize that the voice came from my headphones and not the middle of my mind, it finishes, "You're telling me a fairytale."

I of course listen to it two more times to make sure it actually IS on the disc and not my crazy imagination.  Then, just to double confirm, I wake David up.  "David, David, you HAVE to listen to this!  Did you hear that!?  Is it real!?"  He wipes the sleep from his eyes and stares at me like I'm mad.  I probably am, but he can't deny it is a crazy coincidence.

If I believed in signs, I'd have thought, "Of course.  I'm a born writer!  That's why fate saved this hidden track from me until now!"  But I don't.  So I didn't.  What I did do was remember that the singer/piano player in the Dresden Dolls shares my first name (Amanda Palmer).  I also remembered how I rarely listened to cds all the way through when I was in college and grad school.  So, it all makes sense really.  Not a sign at all.

Do you guys believe in signs?  In fate?  Has anything like this ever happened to you?

**Sidenote, the Dresden Dolls are doing a reunion tour on the East Coast and I'm painfully sorry that I don't live in Boston anymore!!! :(

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Bathroom Dilemma

Some of you know that I do most of my writing in coffee shops around Vancouver.  This is for a couple reasons.  First off, my job (the real one, speech pathologist) has me running all over town to see all my clients.  By the time I finally did get my office last year, I'd already made a name for myself as a speech path who does home visits, so all of my clients still want to be seen in their homes or at schools.  So, when I get a 3 hour break between clients (my schedule is STOOPID now that school has started up again), I just pop into the nearest cafe, open the lappy, and get working.  The other reason is more complex.  I CANNOT focus at home.  I do not know why.  I've always done my school work, real work, report writing, etc in cafes.  Something about the hustle and bustle around me helps me focus on whatever i'm doing.

Also, I'm addicted to coffee.  I guess that's a third reason. :)

Anyway, there are very few problems with writing in the cafe.  Apart from the occasional glare from a cafe manager who would like to preserve the "cafe culture" and hates seeing people with headphones and laptops all over the place.  I get it I get it, but really, get over it.

The biggest problem I face with my cafe-writing, is the bathroom dilemma.  I mean, after chugging down my large-dark-roast-for-here, I will need to pee.  It is just a fact of nature.  But, I have a whole little set up going on here.  My laptop, phone, and ipod are spread across the table, not to mention my workbag in the chair next to me that houses my wallet, car keys, work papers, and new sunglasses that David got me for my birthday.  Also, my second large-dark-roast-for-here is now sitting on the table too.

So.  How do I leave this to the mercy of the masses and go pee?  Usually, I ask someone nearby who looks trustworthy to watch it, but sometimes there isn't anyone nearby!  And really, how much do I trust my instinct on who's "trustworthy" or not?  Won't my luck in this respect run out eventually?

So, I wonder if readers will be able to tell at which points in my manuscript I was squeezing my legs together, trying to avoid having to pack up my whole operation just to retreat to the loo for 2 minutes.

Do any of you write in cafes?  If so, how do you handle the bathroom dilemma!?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great Contest!

I thought I would let you guys all know about a great contest being put on by C.A. Marshall.  See the entry rules here.  But really, all you have to do is follow her and spread the word about the contest and you're entered!  What do you win, you ask?


Who is C.A. Marshall?  Well, in her own words, she is a freelance editor (like I said), YA writer, literary agent intern, and tea drinker.  (C'mon, who doesn't love a tea drinker?)

So, go forth and enter the contest!  Wait.  Actually, don't.  Because I want to win and if you all enter, it seriously lowers my odds! ;)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

writer's wine!

Found this bottle at the local liquor store and had to buy it! It's exactly how I feel about revisions. :)
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.2

Friday, September 10, 2010

graphic unicorn death captured on film

WARNING: The image below may be disturbing to some!!!  View at your own risk.

My friends and I are brutal. all in the name of a birthday! was it worth it? for a twix, hell yes!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.2

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't take it personally, but you guys all suck

Did you take it personally?  Yeah, I bet you did.  WHY oh why do people preface mean statements with "I hope I'm not offending you" or "don't take it personally," or my favourite, "Not trying to be harsh but."

Yeah.  That last one I really love, because you wouldn't SAY it if you didn't already KNOW you were being harsh.  It doesn't matter if you're trying to be or not.  You ARE being harsh and you know it.  And you don't care, or you're too lazy to revise what you're saying so it comes off less harsh.

This post is about critiquing.  Have you figured that out yet? :)

I'm not like most writers.  I'll come right out and say that I love putting my stuff out there.  None of my friends will want to read my book when it's done because I keep shoving chapters and revised chapters and better chapters at them every time they come over for dinner.

(Hmm...maybe that's why no one's been over for dinner in awhile.  I thought it was just our dirty kitchen.)

Anyway, I also love getting my stuff critiqued, even when it points out bad things!  Because I can really see how my stuff can be made better by getting another's perspective.  I love getting commets like "This part could use some polishing" or "I don't think this part really fits here" or "This isn't really in character for so'n'so."  Don't get me wrong, I mean, I also love hearing "Wow this part is awesome!" and "I love this character!" too, but if it was all that, I might start to wonder about my crit partners...

What I DON'T like hearing, though, is mean stuff thinly veiled as corrective criticism.  Even if it does point out a part that needs some work, there are always nicer ways to do that than, "Not trying to be harsh but this makes absolutely no sense."  How about, "I'm not quite clear on what character 1 means here.  Maybe clarify?" or, you know, some other non-offensive suggestion.

I mean, I'm TIRED of hearing that writers need thick skins.  Maybe critiquers and editors need nicer words?  Before you all start yelling that I'm a pansy, let me give an example of what I mean.  I think that the critiques given on QueryShark are stellar.  I'm not saying do away with negative comments altogether, because hell, we all wanna get better.  But Query shark actually DOES make people's queries better.  She gives them suggestions for changes.  She points out weak parts but doesn't say "Dear god why on earth would you EVER do that!?"

Well, okay, she does that sometimes, but usually it's when someone repeats a previous mistake or does something that everyone knows bugs her.

Anyway, dear writers and readers and critiquers of whomever, please don't preface any of your crits with "I'm not trying to be harsh."  If you feel the need to use that little disclaimer, take an extra second and think over what you're about to say.  Maybe change it so it ISN'T harsh?

Oh, and speaking of disclaimers:  This post was not about any of my crit partners!  You guys are the best and I don't know where DROWNING would be without you (maybe drowning?). :)  Also, if you ever critted something in a way I didn't like, I'd tell you.  (In an email like this: "Not meaning to be harsh, but your crits really suck.") :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reader Participation Post! Favourite classics

In preparation for a future post, I'd like to know some of your favourite classic novels.  Some of mine include:

  • Jane Eyre
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Mrs. Dalloway
Wow.  I'm very girly.  Girliness is not a requirement in your suggestions!  So please, tell me, what are your favourite classics?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blast from the Past - grade 7ish

I thought, since I'm writing for a young audience, that it might be neat to include some stories of my own younger years on my blog.  Most of these stories, the one below being no exception, will probably involve some huge humiliation of your protagonist (that's me!).  Get out your popcorn and enjoy!

The year is 1995.  My favourite music is Joan Osbourne, the Beatles, and Alice in Chains (I always was eclectic).  My hair's parted in the middle and hangs in great heavy hunks of dark brown past my shoulders on each side.  I'm not ugly, but I'm not one of the big lookers in my school.  At least, I don't think so.  But who does?

Tonight is the night of the school dance.  School dances are big things for me, because I have a crush on just about every guy in the school...except the ones who have crushes on me of course.  B and J are just about the only guys in school who ever ask me to dance.  B is like oatmeal.  He's not ugly, not cute.  He doesn't really have many extracurricular activities that I know about.  He's really nice though.  Like I said, oatmeal - with no cinnamon or brown sugar.  J is the same height as I am...and I'm the shortest girl in my class.  He reads university chemistry books and usually is disqualified from the science fair because his experiments are...strange.  One year he injected chick eggs with food colouring or something and then watched them hatch all different colours.  The judges didn't really know what to make of that.  [editors note: I should tell you that both of these guys ended up pretty hot and awesome in adult life.]

Oh yeah.  My good friend E sometimes asks me to dance too, but that doesn't mean anything.  E, unlike J, must be like two feet taller than me.  He is kinda cute, and really smart and funny too...but we're just friends, really. I might have a little crush on him.  Well, not really.  I'd never tell anyone that anyway.  We sit on the bus together every morning because we're the first two stops on our bus route.

So anyway, I'm getting ready for the dance.  My friends Em and K come over and we spend hours picking out outfits and blasting Ace of Bass.  Finally, I settle on this new dress I bought.  It's a purple floral babydoll dress that I worry doesn't fit right, but Em and K tell me I look fabulous.  They also tell me the giant zit on my chin isn't noticeable, so I'm not sure I can trust them.  I'm pretty sure the astronauts can see my chinzit.  I try to cover it up with the limited makeup I have, all cheap cast-offs from my mum.

Eight o'clock rolls around and we're ready to go.  I'm in the purple babydoll, Em wears some sort of black dress that I think is overly formal, and it hangs off of her super skinny body like it's a curtain.  But I'm still jealous of her super skinny body.  K is in jeans and a cute top, as always.  My mum drives us to the school gym and the whole way we're blabbing about who we're going to dance with.

My list is long, but crowning it is the piece de resistance: Max.  I've had my eye on Max for awhile, and I'm pretty sure I asked him to "go with me" a few times, but he always says he has to think about it.  That's fair enough, right?  I'm not too bothered by his lack of an answer, I mean I can't really decide between my crushes either.  But I do know that my heart races every time I see him on the playground.  We danced once at our last dance, and it was pretty good.  I mean, his arms were at least slightly bent, putting our bodies almost in the scandalous zone.

At the dance, I don't see Max for awhile.  I dance with some other people, E, B, and J for starters.  A few times.  I spend some time on the sidelines chatting with K and Em, trying to look available, but I still haven't caught sight of Max.  When I finally do, I go straight up to him and ask him to dance.  I mean, what else would I do?  Wait around for him to ask me?  That's like, what I've been doing the whole night.  Em and K always marvel at how easily I approach my crushes.  What's there to be afraid of anyway?  So, I ask.  And he says, "Yeah.  Gimme a sec.  I'll find you at the next slow song okay?"

I run back over to Em and K.  "He said he'd find me at the next slow song!  Ah!  I can't wait!"  They're all smiles and cheering me on.

I'm so excited I have to pee, so I run off to the bathroom, hoping that a slow song doesn't happen right then.  Just as I'm finishing, a softer Mariah Carey song comes on and I sprint out of the stall back into the gym.  Right there in front of me is Max, eyes on me, and he's striding towards me like he has a mission.  I smile and wave.  "Hi!" I say in my most bubbly voice.

And then he walks right past me and greets his friend behind me.  Oh.  Oops.  Well, no harm done.

But that's when I look over and see Em and K watching me, mouths hanging open.  Em mouths "underwear!" and gestures right at her butt.  It only takes me a second, but I reach back and, sure enough, the back of my purple babydoll dress is tucked into my underwear.  In front of everyone.


So, any fun embarrassing stories for your guys's past?

Bloody Murders are Cool

Alternatively titled: David the Movie Snob takes on KICK ASS

So, before my long and blogless weekend, David and I watched Kick-Ass.  I cannot believe it took me so long to watch this movie.  When I first so the preview so many months (years?) ago, I knew that I HAD to see this, but somehow it faded off my radar until we found it at the video store last week.

Just to briefly synopsize (wow, that's really a word?): Kick-ass is about a dumbass dorky high school student who decides to be a superhero.  He doesn't have a super power, but is later helped out when he gets stabbed by some crooks and then hit by a car, leaving him with damaged nerve endings so he feels no pain.  Ta-da!  He may not have a super power, but he can suddenly take one hell of a beating.  And he does.  Several in fact.  While all that beating is happening, he runs into HitGirl and her father, BigDaddy (haha) who are actually Real superheroes, which apparently means they really kill people.  This is when Dumbass (I mean Kick Ass) realizes he's in way over his head.  In fact, I think the exact moment he realizes that is when he watches 11-year old HitGirl chop off a bad guy's leg.  Nice.

Despite the fact that this movie veered quite dramatically from what I thought it would be, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It takes a bit of suspension of disbelief, but really, it's a movie about a SUPERHERO so I think that's to be expected.  Once I got over the fact that the whole second half of the movie would involve a little girl brutally killing at least 50 people with the help of her father, I really had fun.  Oh, yeah, I also had to get over the fact that Nicolas Cage was in it...can't stand him.

David, though, didn't get over the Nick Cage or the little girl murderer.  He was not impressed.  "If it's going to be a super violent kind of disturbing movie, they should bill it as such.  Also, don't even get me started on the plot holes," was the main gist of his comments, though he went on for about 10 minutes on the subject.  He also didn't like the lame love story that they tried to stick the main character with.  Eh, not such a big deal.  I love love stories, even if they are lame. :)

The breakdown:
DMS rating: 3/10 "But my scale is actually a 5 point scale because I find it better suited to my ratings."  Right, Mr. Snob
my rating: 7/10

Friday, September 3, 2010

A long and blogless weekend

I've written before about the double-edged sword that is the internet.  As a writer, having such a community can really cut through the solitude that goes with the occupation.  However, it can also crowd ones head with a LOT OF NOISE.

And, I don't know about you, but sometimes that kind of noise just causes my mind to shut right down.  Which it has done.  Brain. Dead.  This is bad, because I want to finish my query and rewrite the middle of my story this weekend.  I have 4 days (well...3.5 now and counting down) without work, and I'm planning to use them to get this book mostly underway.

I haven't written anything yet.  I mean, I've written emails, two blog entries, a handful of tweets, comments on others' blogs.  But nothing in my WIP.

Why?  You know why.  The evil internet of course.

So, though I have reviews to write (Kick-ass, Cirque du Soleil) and some posts I want to write (mostly about contemporary writing advice and how it's going to bring down literature as we know it), I'm shutting down the blog for the weekend.

I AM going to get the middle of my book rewritten, come hell or high water, and I AM going to whip my query into some kind of presentable shape.

Starting now.

And, since I won't be around, I leave you all with someone else's blog entry to entertain you in my absence: What are we doing to YA?


Blog Awards!!!

So, as I posted before, I received two delightful blog awards from one of my favourite bloggers, Tessa Quinn.

There are rules about receiving these awards!  (See below) But they make this even more fun.  BUT, I'm going to have to change some of them to make this more fair.

I have to admit, excluding the professional blogs I read and Tessa's great blog, I don't actually read 15 blogs total.  There are about 13 blogs that I frequent most often, so those are the blogs who will receive my awards.  Because, all the blogs I read deserve awards.  Otherwise I wouldn't read them! :)  So, instead of passing the awards on to 13 lucky bloggers instead of 15.  :)  Sorry guys!

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
  4. Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.
One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are the seven things about myself:

  1. I was born in the US but live in Canada now.
  2. My boyfriend is from Sweden and I'm trying  to learn Swedish!
  3. I'm fluent in Spanish...at least I used to be after I spent a year studying in Madrid.
  4. I love to travel - as if that hasn't come across yet. :)
  5. In Real Life I'm a speech pathologist. 
  6. My favourite colour is green.
  7. I'm a terrible cook...but fortunately the Swedish boyfriend is a kitchen wizard! :)
And NOW (drumroll please), the 13 best bloggers!!!
  1. Laura Hughs - Not only a great blogger, but also my fabulous crit partner!
  2. The Gartner Gazette - I love when young people write YA fiction.  And I love with boys write YA fiction.  This guy is both! :)
  3. *Fiction Groupie* - Roni is a published author with great insight into revisions, editing, and everything else about the writing process!  
  4. M.B. Writes - Another great blog full of writing advice and inspiration!
  5. Ellie - One of my first followers!  Her blog is full of great writing excerpts and commentary on the life of a writer.
  6. duolit - A great blog about self-publishing with wonderful tips and ideas!
  7. So Sweet Lucidity - The blog of a very inspired writer that I met via Twitter.  She has wonderful ideas about book promotion and marketing.  You can also find her book fanpage on Facebook, where you can read excerpts!
  8. crazy book blog - A blog for all things writing and books.  She does reviews, but also has great links to other blogs and resources that are fabulous for any reader and writer.
  9. Musings from the Slush Pile - Julie is the most reliable blogger I've ever seen!  Somewhere between working on her own writing, teaching her children (homeschool), being amazingly funny on twitter, and having her own time (I hope!) she also manages to pump out an entry almost everyday.  And they're GOOD entries too!  How does she do it?  I know not.
  10. Ramblings of a Drifting Mind - This blog by a literary intern is full of fabulous review, mostly of YA fantasy and scifi.  (She's also a fellow Scott Westerfeld lover!)
  11. Confessions of a Bibliovore - another great blog full of wonderful reviews!
  12. The Writing Room - A great blog of a fellow writer with wonderful ideas for inspiration and motivation!
  13. More Random - One of my very first followers who not only writes in the cutest british accent, but has great humorous stories about life and motherhood.
Whew!  That took forever.  So, enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Wow!  I was overjoyed yesterday when I saw that I was given two great awards from Tessa Quinn, one of my favourite bloggers!! (And not just because she's in Iceland and I think that's awesome.)

Anyway, I'm going to pass on these awards to some equally (or probably more) deserving bloggers, but I want to make sure I get it right, so after work today I'm going to do that.  Stay tuned!!!  :)

Thanks again Tessa, I love your blog!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When mean became helpful: query tweeting

Recently, many blogger/agents, like Nathan Bransford, Natalie Fischer, and Mandy Hubbard (and I'm sure others!) have blogged about the issue of agents posting comments about specific queries into public forums.    Apparently, this isn't the first time this issue has blown up.  In the comments on these three blogs, the "infamous queryfail incident" was mentioned.  I did a bit of investigation into what that was - an agent posting what some perceived as derogatory comments into twitter.  There was apparently a big backlash, though I could not find out more about it.

Anyway, I was really pleased to see the three bloggers mentioned above actually addressing this issue head on.  I have to admit, that I have been to Slush Pile Hell, and I did laugh.  It wasn't I who pointed out how unprofessional it was, rather my boyfriend.  When I read out some of the snarky comments to him, he looked at me and said, "I can't believe you're laughing.  What if that was your query?  That's completely unprofessional, not to mention a violation of copyright laws."

As usual (don't tell him I said that), he was right.  And, according to the comments on all of these blogs and twitter pages, many many people had the same thought.  I think QueryShark is one thing.  First of all, the people who submit to her have consented  to being publicly critiqued.  And she always has some sort of general comment that can be helpful to all of us in query-writing-hell.  But, a one line tweet of a query quote followed by a "lol" does not help anyone.  Least of all the person who wrote that particular query.  And actually, it doesn't even help that agent.  Even though my response was not as harsh as some others, I did think to myself, "Wow, definitely not querying THAT particular agent."

One more final point on all of this.  A lot of agents have come out to say, "Well, I don't feel bad for poking fun at that query writer because they obviously did not do their homework and haven't put the full time into writing their query."  As if that even is an excuse!  That alone is no reason to violate a copyright law...or someone's privacy!  However, in addition to that, I'd like to point out that a lot of the comments about the query "mistakes" had nothing to do with "not doing your research."  We're supposed to be completely psychic (or stalkery?) and know that the agent doesn't like cats?  Or that rhetorical questions make them drop the query in horror?  Or that they hate the name Jenny and if you have it in a query they'll not only never ask for a full but they'll mock you for using that name?  (I'd like to point out that none of those are actual examples.  I didn't want to single anyone out...)

Oops...I guess it's clear where I stand on this issue.  While I think resources like QueryShark are invaluable, I think publicly mocking someone's hard work under the guise of "helping them get better" or "helping them develop the thick skin that all writers need" is just ridiculous.

What do you guys think?  Come on Devil's advocates, I know you're out there!