Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where Oh Where Will Charlie Go...

It's really weird not knowing where I'll be in nine months.

And no, I'm not pregnant (despite how my mother wishes I were).

Next August Husband and I will be moving. Where? I'm not sure. We have it narrowed down to the West/West Coast, though. He'll be going to grad school, and I'll be tagging along. I'm the breadwinner, after all. ;)

The options are San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; and Moscow, ID.

I know. Moscow, Idaho? That's basically Canada. Cold. And apparently the only fun thing to do up there is drink, and being LDS/paranoid about health, that's kind of off the list for me. But it is green. And homey. I Google-Mapped it. Plus Idaho living is CHEAP, and the scholarship potential is through the roof.

Seattle = culture. A big city with lots of rain, supposedly very green, though Google Maps will fool you. I love cities. But I also like sun. How many days out of the year does it rain in Seattle? On the plus side, I've heard of many a writing convention held in or near Seattle, so that's exciting.

Then there's San Jose. This was originally my first choice. Hello, it's California! The weather there would definitely be the nicest (and warmest), AND my work has an office there. Guaranteed I-can-keep-my-job. But it's crowded. And it looks kind of dirty (again, Google Maps). And I have inside information telling me all the locations I was considering for housing are kind of trashy, not to mention living expenses are through the roof. I'd have to have that awkward conversation with my boss where I say, "Hey, uh, can I have the California equivalent of my salary?"

Unless something goes awry, I imagine Husband will be accepted into all three schools. I have no idea where we'll be going. Honestly (and hilariously), Moscow is sounding pretty good right now (I'd have to cross my fingers and hope I can keep my job, because there's a good chance I'd have to find a new one). I have nightmares of moving and having to work the till in a grocery store. Again. Maybe that's why BYU mailed me a wallet-sized version of my degree. So I could weep over it between shifts...

It drives me nuts not knowing, but patience in all things. Some weird Twilight Zone warp might happen and Husband might get a good-paying job at the place he's interning right now, and grad school won't happen. Which would be weird, because I've spent the last two years thinking I would have to move for two years and my brain can only stretch so many ways. (Did I mention I've never lived outside of Utah?)

Hmm. Guess we'll have to see. (Crossing fingers that God will just pick up the phone and tell us what to do. That would be nice.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Link Blitz

Better late then never, eh? Spent Friday packing up my sister's apartment so she could move into her new house! The front is black, with a black door with blood red glass. It opens onto stairs with a black chandelier and a lavarock fireplace.

Yes, vampires used to live there.

Writer's Potpourri:

3 Things You Can Leave out of Your Query, and 3 Thing You Should Include

Literary Agents and Conflicts of Interest--A Compendium

10 Tools to Keep Your Writing Fresh

How Many Queries to Get an Agent

25 Reasons Readers Will Stop Reading Your Story

3 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Published Adulthood

Other Babble:

The octopus is smarter than you think.

Pikachu's voice actor, live.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Better late then never, eh? Spent Friday packing up my sister's apartment so she could move into her new house! The front is black, with a black door with blood red glass. It opens onto stairs with a black chandelier and a lavarock fireplace.

Yes, vampires used to live there.

Writer's Potpourri:

3 Things You Can Leave out of Your Query, and 3 Thing You Should Include

Literary Agents and Conflicts of Interest--A Compendium

10 Tools to Keep Your Writing Fresh

How Many Queries to Get an Agent

25 Reasons Readers Will Stop Reading Your Story

3 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Published Adulthood

Other Babble:

The octopus is smarter than you think.

Pikachu's voice actor, live.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Synopsis

Manuscript is with beta readers, and the bulk of my query letters have been written. Now, to face the bane of submitting:

The synopsis. (Imagine scary music . . . and cut.)

I'm not the only one who hates writing synopsis, or who feels that cold sinking of the stomach when I look up an agent's guidelines only to find he/she requires one. A query is a teaser, but the synopsis is your entire book in four pages. (And I'm a believer that epic fantasy is especially difficult to weed down to four pages. I would really, really love to see a synopsis for The Game of Thrones.)

But, a match in the darkness, I did find a helpful blog post via Suzie Townsend a little while ago regarding the synopsis; she offers three solid tips for writing one. If you're in that boat, or plan on being in that boat, I recommend checking it out.

Meanwhile I'm helping my sister move and setting up the Christmas tree. ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, guys!

In celebration, here is a CNHolmberg original:

The soy hunt.

Har har. Just humor me. ;)

I am so thankful for my husband, my family, my god, my job, my apartment, my health, and my writing productivity! (And hopefully a future contract....)

What are you thankful for?

Enjoy the holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

288,000 Jelly Beans

The beta copy of TDSF is DONE.

Took me three months to write, and three months to revise. :O Definitely the most time I've ever spent on a revision, but definitely worth the effort. So I hope.

So in celebration, here is a music video made out of 288,000 jelly beans. (The song is good, too.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Birth of Link Blitz

So lots of people have cutesy things on their blogs, like "Tip Tuesday" or "Makeup Monday," etc. I, notably, don't.

This blog post has been inspired by Roni Loren's "Fill-Me-in-Friday." Every Friday Roni posts a slew of links that include everything from Twitter etiquette to funny videos. Very useful and entertaining links. Links that I like so much, in fact, that I now follow her blog and her Twitter despite the fact that I don't read erotica (that being what she writes). I actually quite like her.

So here comes the birth of Link Blitz. How long this child will thrive is yet to be determined (and greatly depends on how much Twittering I get done throughout the week).

Let's start small.

Writers' Potpourri:

What NOT to Blog About

e-Book Cover Design Awards: October 2011

Famous Authors' Harshest Rejection Letters

Is Your Idea Strong Enough to Make an Interesting Novel?

Other Babble:

NASA Finds Giant Frozen Lake Beneath Europa

Trailer: The Hunger Games

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Best First Lines of Novels

This is something I'm very much struggling with right now--the first line of my current book. I haven't had much problem with this in the past, but my original first line both broke POV and was passive (which is sad, since when I wrote it I thought it was great.) I want the inciting incident to happen in the first line . . . but after much thought, I'm still empty handed. recently published the "100 Best First Lines of Novels" list--worth checking out. And yes, #1 is "Call me Ishmael."

Some of my favorites:

"They shoot the white girl first." #42, from Tony Morrison's Paradise 

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." #2, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

"This is the saddest story I've ever heard." #18, from Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier

Though I admit I don't see what's so special about #59...

What are your favorite first lines? Care to share the first line of your current work?

"Teague was still a child when she awoke." -Weirs, chapter 1. (Not current project, but as I said, a first line doesn't exist for TDSF yet :/)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Technical Issues (We All Have Them)

UPDATE: Issues have been resolved. Huzzah.

This is a random side-post, nothing interesting, so please lower the volume on your hopes.

I've had a handful of people tell me Blogger won't allow them to comment on posts, which is sad, because who doesn't like comments? Unfortunately, this problem is not just me being stupid and not checking a box, so if leaving a comment makes you feel amazing (and I know it does), you may have to buckle down and do one of the annoying things listed below (or click here).

1. If you're on Internet Explorer or Firefox, you'll need to enable 3rd party cookies. (Though all of you should be on Chrome. Seriously, why aren't you?)

2. Switch to Chrome.

3. Erase your cookie cache and log out (then back in. Obviously.)

I'm in the process of doing the other techy things, like template backups and whatever Disqus is. AKA I'll probably whine to Nathan and see if I can't get him to do it for me.

If you're super Blogger smart and have thoughts on this, feel free to, er, leave a comment. And if that doesn't work, you can email me at CNHolmberg (at)

To make up for the lameness of this post, here's a picture of a puppy:

   [Removed picture to avoid copyright lawsuits. I recommend Googling the word "puppy."]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Self-editing Switch: When to Turn it Off

Best-selling author Kristen Lamb recently wrote an article entitled, "Editing--Are You Butchering Your Own Creativity?" She emphasizes that no editing should be done on a novel until its rough draft is finished.
We've all done it. Turning off my self-editor was a challenge I fought to destroy, and destroy it I did (as my alpha readers can unfortunately attest to). It's amazing how many more words per sitting you can get down when you're not analyzing them. Kristen explains,
"Editing too early can kill a novel. Yes, editing can be devastating to shorter works, but doesn’t have quite the killing power it possesses when introduced into longer works. In a novel that can span anywhere from 60-120,000 words (depending on genre), editing can be catastrophic if done at the wrong phase.
"If you are writing a novel, you need to leave any kind of edit for once you have finished the entire first draft. Breathe. Get a paper bag. You will be okay." 
Her article is especially useful for anyone struggling with NaNoWriMo (almost the half way point, guys!), so I highly recommend checking it out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Writing Tips via John Brown

John Brown, author of Servant of a Dark God, has given some of the best panels I've attended at writing conventions. I sat in on a two-hour class of his regarding story construction and it whizzed by, I was so fascinated.

John has a LOT of great advice on his Web site, but I wanted to share my favorite tidbit of his: the story cycle (which, at said class, he was generous enough to print out for all of us).

He goes into detail on this diagram here.

His writing is a bit on the steep side, learning-curve wise, but he knows what he's talking about. He's really worked his way up to being published, so I recommend checking him out!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Always Wear Your Rubber Bands

Guess what I get to spend lots of money on.

Yes, I had them when I was 12. But I didn't wear my rubber bands, and my over-cross-bite has given me a lovely case of TMJ.

Yeah, I'm ridiculously excited. Here's to looking like I'm 14 again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pie Day

I have a confession to make.

I don't like pie.

Well, it's not quite that absolute. I don't like most pie. A well-done chocolate silk is a lovely treat.

But I don't like cooked fruit. (Or raw vegetables. But that's another post.)

Apple pie? Peach cobbler? Barbecued pineapple? Blech. No thank you. The taste, the texture . . . so not worth the calories. (Granted, even if your grandmother'e homemade apple pie was 100% guilt free, I still wouldn't touch it. Maybe the vanilla ice cream on top, though.)

Alas, this prejudice against cooked fruit does not stop me from participating in Pie Day (not to be confused with Pi Day on the 14th of March). Every November before Thanksgiving the girls of the family get together to make and freeze pies for the upcoming holidays. This year, Pie Day is November 12th. We make a plethora of pies, depending on what is requested, but it always includes a chocolate pie (hit or miss) and a pumpkin pie (also not a fan)*.

I wanted to try a coconut cream pie, but apparently you can't freeze those. :/ At least there's always fudge at Christmas.

In actual writing/book-related news, I'm on chapter 20 of The Black Prism by Brent Weeks and really liking it so far. I'm actually not crazy for the magic system, but the story line is rather good. Today is also the release day for Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law, his tag-on book to the Mistborn trilogy (which are my favorite books ever).

A little bird told me that the humor in said book is very similar to Warbreaker, which I unfortunately was not a fan of. But I plan on purchasing the hard cover as soon as I'm done with Weeks. :D

*While I'm insulting all your favorite desserts, I'll go ahead and mention that the one time I went to The Cheesecake Factory, I ordered chocolate cake. :O

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Leading Edge Offering Developmental Edits

As you may know, I worked as Production Director at Leading Edge Magazine for two years during my undergrad at BYU. Leading Edge is a semi-professional sci-fi/fantasy journal run by students. Not anything worth including in a cover letter, but shiny enough to be in Writer's Marketplace.

A nice thing about Leading Edge is that every story gets reviewed by three readers, so even if your tale doesn't make it, you get three separate pages of critique letting you know how the story was received and what you could do to make it better. It's very helpful; I've received some of these critiques myself.

Well, now you can get these developmental edits without actually submitting your story, and at a price that's not too shabby--certainly cheaper than hiring a freelancer. It's basically bias-free alpha readers, and worth the look, I think.

The magazine recently posted information on its developmental edits here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

When Flowers Fail: Creating Tension in Romance

One of the things I love about fantasy is that it has a little bit of everything: a touch of historial here, thriller there, a mystery to be solved. And a lot of fantasy has romance--after all, your characters are people with ~feelings~ too, and a romantic subplot can really kick a story into action (Daughter of the Forest, anyone?)

Linda Yezak recently wrote about creating conflict in romance, because let's face it, love is never easy (and it's boring to read if everything runs smooth as butter, eh?).

First, what conflict won't work for a romance? (Taken from On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels):

  • Fighting, arguing, or disagreeing
  • Failure to communicate
  • The trouble-causing interference of another person
  • A main character's unwillingness to admit that the other person is attractive 

Surprising? Those are the first "conflicts" I would have thought of when creating tension in a relationship. But Yezak claims these problems are too artificial to give any depth to the romance. Instead, she lists sources from which real conflict in romance can stem.

  • "Character/personality differences--from something simple, like he's a morning bird and she's a night owl, to something more complicated, like she's a lady of the evening and he's a man of the cloth.
  • "Situational problems--maybe she's dying, maybe he's married, maybe she lives on the east coast and he lives on the west.
  • "Conflicting goals--he wants to tear the building down and create a parking garage, but she wants to save the neighborhood hangout. She wants her client to have a bigger slice of the pie than his client, he wants to cut her client out entirely.
  • "Conflicting motives--he wants to feed the hungry, she wants a photo-op. She wants to convert the natives, he wants to sell them cheap trinkets.
  • "Conflicting backstories--she had a fairy-tale childhood, he lived on the streets. He graduated college with honors, she has a third-grade education"
Good advice, and a good place to start for that tense-loving in any book. To see Yezak's full blog post for yourself, click here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Review of THE WRITER'S PORTABLE MENTOR on Goodreads

My review of Priscilla Long's The Writer's Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life is now up on Goodreads. :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Halloween Recap (And Those Other Things)

With promised pictures. :D

Halloween was a good one this year--I had one party with the husband, Trunk-or-Treat (trick-or-treating in a parking lot from the trunk of your car), and a big work lunch and mini costume parade. :D We live in a small apartment complex off the main road, so we don't get any trick-or-treaters, so we went to husband's parents' house to watch The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (which I've seen twice in the last week. Love it, recommend it!)

First, we carved pumpkins.

Then went to the party and Trunk-or-Treat, where we used our kid-friendly costumes.

We're a tree, get it?

Then on Halloween, my artsy friend Sara Radice came over at 7:30 AM to do my zombie makeup.

OCZ is one of my work's competitors, so
 technically I'm an OCZ employee who got
 maimed by zombies on her way to work.

And while we're on the topic of zombies, here's some shots from the Undead Run we did October 15th. Try not to swoon over how good-looking my husband is.

This is my zombie pimp. Not my husband. ;)

And finally, my nerd glasses came in yesterday.

And there you go. This may be the largest file-sized blog I've ever posted here. Blogger, forgive me. :D

(Also, I earned two stars today. Wooo~)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And That is Why We Have Backups

So yesterday I wonked out my flash drive. I accidentally "ejected" the drive while I still had my MS open. Usually, my Mac just tells me I can't eject the drive because Microsoft Word is using it, but that time the Mac (name Blanche) didn't say anything. So I kept working, saving, and had a happy day.

Today, my flash drive decided that my MS was now corrupted and it refused to open it. Fortunately, I had a backup. Yet placing that backup on my flash drive still wouldn't let me open it. But once I renamed it, all was hunky-dory.

So if you don't have backups of your work, make some! I keep my current work on a flash drive (named Molly), a backup in a folder on my desktop, and then I occasionally email my current manuscript to myself to be kept in a folder on Gmail. Takes five seconds.

Backups for the win.

(In other news, my nerd glasses arrived yesterday. And then I found out my pink ones were no longer made. I've sent some panicked emails to the company to see if there are any in backstock, because I must have those pink glasses.)