Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Are you dressing up this year? Are your kids?

Costumes are the most fun part of Halloween for me (now that I've gotten over the candy craze, AKA the phase of my life where I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain an ounce). Granted, I didn't exert a whole lot of energy for this year's costume. While I thought it would be cool to get a blonde wig and go as Ann Romney (with Husband as Mitt, of course), we decided to choose something more traditional.

I'm the slightly shorter one.
We decided not enough people do the ol' sheet-with-eyeholes anymore, so we took it upon ourselves to bring back the roots of Halloween to rural Idaho. I did, however, put black mesh over the eyes for a slightly more "ghostly" look.

What costumes are blooming on your side? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, October 29, 2012

What Are YOU Planning for NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just days away, marking what might be the most exciting and productive time of the writing year. I admit I’ve never participated in NaNo, but it’s come to my attention that the challenge can be used as more than just encouragement to write. It solidifies good habits, bonds writers to fellow writers, and offers inspiration. 

But writers can use it for even more. I have a friend who is using NaNo not to complete 50,000 words in one month, but as a measure for her own, personal goals.

Perhaps you want to crank out that novel in one month. Perhaps you want your revisions finished before December. Maybe you can vow to send one query a day from November 1st to 30th. I'm still considering what goals I could set for myself. 

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? What are you using it for?

(And if you have the premise of a new story itching behind your typing fingernails and are willing to share, do spill the beans in the comments! I LOVE hearing new story ideas!)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Link Blitz

I've started building up my small publisher list for future queries, since it's a little silly not to take advantage of all the doors that are available for publishing. (Anyone else feel like a door-to-door salesman when it comes to queries? Anyone? Buehler?)

I have... 12 so far. I took some from Deana Barnhart's blog, and have added Front Street and Shadow Mountain. If you know any other reputable small presses, do let me know! Maybe we can collaborate. :)

Onto the blitz!

Writer's Potpourri:

Great Apps for Writers

If You Remember One Thing, It Should Be This: Never Sign an Unnegotiated Boilerplate Contract with Any Publisher

The Perils and Pitfalls of Writing with a Partner

How Can You Find a Voice You Never Discovered?

Who Needs a Platform?

What's a Non-fiction Writer Supposed to Do in November?

Other Babble:

Omaha Schoolgirl Dresses as a Different Historical Figure Each Day

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Recipe 
(I am pro healthy desserts, but one look at this crushed my resolve and I made it last night. Very, very good. Though I might use my own recipe for the brownie portion next time...)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Leslie S. Rose

What’s your name, and where are you from?
 Hello, I’m Leslie S. Rose. I grew up in Torrance, California within biking distance of the beach, summered in Kentucky, and now live in Santa Clarita, California, which is so NOT within biking distance of the beach.

How long have you been writing?
When I was nine, I saw this kickin’ Disney movie called, The Jungle Book and decided it would make a great novel. So I wrote the whole thing down on the lined newsprint paper you use in elementary school. Imagine my distress when I found out Rudyard Kipling had beat me to the punch. Scoundrel.

What genre(s) do you write?
YA contemporary and sci fi is where my keyboard takes me these days.

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?
I’m working on a creepy short story for the Journeys of Wonder Genre Fiction Anthology series (plug, plug, plug) about ghosts in the theatre. I spent years as an actress and designer, so I’ve clocked some goosebumpy time in dark, empty theatres. I am also a fairy tale addict, so my full length WIP is a Rapunzel retell that takes place in Hollywood.

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?
I mold young fifth grade minds and bend them to my will. The delicious children’s literature I languish in daily is a major perk. Talk about inspiration! Teaching grammar doesn’t hurt either. It helps keep me sharp mechanically. Get this, when an independent clause leads a dependent clause in a complex sentence you don’t need a comma between them? Who knew?

Who is your favorite author?
Oh, I’d rather poke my eyes out then have to answer this question, but since I need eyes to drive to the cupcake store, I’d have to say J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, I’m a Lord of the Rings fangirl.

Favorite book?
Lord of the Rings. Believe it or not, I read the trilogy aloud to my own children before the first movie came out. It took me a year. I do a fantastic Gimli the Dwarf.

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?
My heart belongs to the theatre. I go to as many shows as my meager teacher’s salary will allow. Drawing and watercolor also float my boat. Oh, and I’m a crazy reader. I usually have three books going at a time. One with actual paper pages, one on my Kindle, and one in the bathroom. No laughing.

What is something unique about yourself?
I have two titanium hips. Yes, I can jump from the ground to the top of a building and make a noise like the Bionic Woman. Okay, maybe not all the way to the top of the building. Sadly, magnets do not stick to me.

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to?

Thank you so much for having me. Here's a virtual pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Jordan/Sanderson Co-op

Image from
Monday night I finished book 11 of The Wheel of Time, Knife of Dreams. (Though I think I missed why that was the title....) That means, as soon as my inter-library loan goes through, I'll get to start reading the books Brandon Sanderson took over.

For those who don't know, The Wheel of Time is an amazing epic fantasy series author Robert Jordan started in the eighties. Unfortunately, due do a blood condition, he passed away in 2007, leaving the series unfinished. However, he left extensive notes so that another author could finish the series in his stead.

In comes Brandon Sanderson. From what I understand, Sanderson initially hadn't even been a thought in  Harriet McDougal's (Jordan's wife, and the one who selected the author to finish the series) mind when Jordan passed away, but Sanderson, being a WoT fan, wrote an amazing eulogy-type blog post saluting Robert Jordan after his death, and it caught Harriet's eye. Now Sanderson is finishing the series.

Initially, there was only one book left in the series, making 12 books total. However, Sanderson has turned one book into three, and the final book comes out in January. I plan to be caught up by the time that happens!

Those who read this blog probably already know that Brandon Sanderson is my favorite author. His Mistborn series just floors me (READ IT), and he's best known for his [incredible] magic systems (again, Mistborn). I'm very eager to see how Sanderson handles the daunting task of taking over a series that not only has hundreds of thousands of fans world-wide, but has dozens of story lines and hundreds of characters. I think Sanderson will be a little less wordy than Jordan, which is a plus. (I skip description paragraphs here and there. And everything that has Perrin in it.) SUPER excited. I really, really love this series and can't wait to see how it ends!

Have you read The Wheel of Time or any of Sanderson's books? What were your thoughts?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Next Big Thing

I have been doubly tagged by Alexia Chamberlynn and Lisa Ann O'Kane for the "Next Big Thing" interview! The idea comes from SheWrites and is meant to help female authors promote their WIPs, so I'm told. Let the blather begin!

What is the working title of your book?
THE TASTE OF ANGELS. It was SLUDGE for a while. :)

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's the accumulation of a really simple idea over a lot of time. I always thought it would be cool to have a character whose sole job was to shoot the messenger birds that fly from a castle under siege during a war. Then he misses, and has to go follow the bird into the forest, which cues the inciting incident. (I still plan on using this for a book, eventually....) Anyway, I turned that over in my head again and again, and somehow I got the idea of shooting an arrow high enough that you hit an angel. Bam, angel hits the ground. And I'm a fan of magic systems, so I thought, "Hey, how about we use the actual angel as fuel? Like EAT HIM?" And it exploded from there.

What genre does your book fall under?
Once I fix the tone of the second half, I think horror. Though I could probably market it as urban fantasy or dystopian. It's a shelf-hugger, this one.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I think Brock Kelly would make a good Jasper Tidwell (protagonist). He played teenaged Dean Winchester in Supernatural, and I admit I had Dean in the back of my head when I wrote the manuscript. Benjamin Stone could work, too.

Brock Kelly from IMDB

Maybe Diego Boneta or Alex Pettyfer for Adric, but I don't know if either is tall enough.

Diego Boneta from IMDB

Chris Olivero for Ciero Galarde if he gets a good tan.

Chris Olivero from IMDB

And for Irma Galarde... I don't know a lot of Latina actresses who can pull off teenagers, so I'll go with Naya Rivera because I know she's good at playing "pissed off." Maybe Selena Gomez.

Naya Rivera from IMDB

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
"It's about people who eat angels and the world goes to crap."

Yeah, I'm still working on my pitch, but that's it in a nutshell. ;)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm not a fan of self-publishing, personally. I'd want to go through an agency or publisher for this one. If I think it's super great after revisions and everyone and their dog has rejected it, I might consider epublishing. Maybe.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About two months. Granted, it's WAY too short, so I can't really pat myself on the back for it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Honestly, this manuscript was somewhat inspired by ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, which I also think could be marketed as urban fantasy. I don't know enough dystopians to find a comparable one, but I'm positive they're out there.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was part of it, for sure. That, and it never hurts to go outside your comfort zone--this definitely wasn't my usual genre. It was a bit of a challenge for me. :)

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Um... I'd hope the setting. That's my husband's favorite part, at least. You know, the whole evilsentientsmokethatwillmakeyougocrazylikethereaversfromFirefly type of deal. That, and I mutated the Atlantis Casino and Hotel in Reno, too. :D

I believe I'm required to assault other (female) writers for this, so BAM. Get 'er done.

Hayley Nicole Stone
Laura Christsensen
Juliana L. Brandt
Erin Summerill

Friday, October 19, 2012

Link Blitz

Been doing a lot of research on China for my next book. Was going to make it just "general-Asian-based," but I figured that would bother people with any sense of history. ;) Changed the female protagonist's name from Chun Hei to Chunhua to match.

In other news, I've gotten a lot of mail over the last two weeks that I wasn't expecting--packages and cards from friends in Utah, even friend who I don't talk to regularly at all. I am absolutely amazed and humbled by how kind my friends can be--not only did they not write me off when I moved, but they've gone out of their way to reach out to me. Tears, guys. Thanks so much. :)

Onto the blitz!

Writer's Potpourri:

How to Secretly Work on Your Novel While at Your Day Job

Writing Excuses 7.39: Death

5 Simple Reasons Why Your Query Might Have Been Rejected

Amy Rose: On Theme

How to Respond to Blog Comments Via Email: A Blogger Tutorial

5 Top Tips to Making Your Cover Look Professional

How to Write a Romance Novel: The Keys to Conflict

Of Pens & Swords (Manuscript critiques)

Some Advice from Authors on Avoiding Online Distractions

Other Babble:

Ukraine to use "killer dolphins" with pistols on heads to protect waters

STRUCK trailer--apparently the author's husband is a movie producer, so together they did a "big budget" trailer. Probably the most incredible book trailer I've seen. Thanks to Peggy Eddleman for showing me this!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Does Writing YA or MG Handicap Your Diction?

This is an interesting subject my sister recently brought up to me: does writing young adult or middle grade books handicap your diction? Novels for young readers are much simpler, of course (compare Game of Thrones to Twilight, for example), but does writing for a younger audience hinder your diction, and if so, how much?

Microsoft Word Clipart
Here are some thoughts from said sister:

"When you're writing from the perspective of an average, modern American teenager, chances are pretty good that 'fancy vocabulary' (which used to be known as plain English to anyone with a semi-decent education) will be a turnoff to readers. [...] *sigh* So many perfectly beautiful, poignant words in the English language, but younger readers understandably get annoyed if they have to consult the dictionary every other paragraph.

"...Should writers 'dumb down' their vocabulary in order to appeal to our texting, English-challenged next generation? Or are we (read 'I') as writers just not being creative enough in appealing to them?"

I believe there are limits to how you can or can't express yourself in YA, especially depending on the viewpoint of your main character. But compare Twilight to Harry Potter. Rowling's diction is certainly a head and shoulders above Meyers's. There's a wide pool to swim in, with YA. I've never written middle grade and I've only read a couple of books, so I can't make much of an opinion there.

What do you think? What perimeters do you set for yourself when writing for a younger audience? Do you feel restricted? I'd especially like the opinions of those who have also dabbled in adult fiction as well.

Monday, October 15, 2012

THE TASTE OF ANGELS Finished... ish.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL giveaway winner!)

Okay, this is embarrassing.

Remember that time I was worried CITY OF TEETH would be too short? And I ranted about it for a couple of weeks and then it was just fine?

Well, this time the book actually WAS too short. Whoops.

In fact, it's so short that I don't really want to tell you how many words it is! Let's just say I need another 11k before my query will even begin to be taken seriously. (And no, I have no desire to market it as a novella.)

If THE TASTE OF ANGELS were an epic fantasy, it wouldn't be too hard to add in another plot line or something. But it's YA, and I only have one person's point of view, and I'm not sure how to increase the word count without bogging down the story. Maybe I won't. Who knows?

This is also the book that I can't quite settle on a genre for. HURRAY. I AM SO PROFESSIONAL. (Crossing fingers that alpha readers will solve all my problems.)

BUT, the first draft is done! And I think I'm okay putting this one to the side and letting it marinate while I move onto my next project! I decided to take a drastic turn with my next story (that almost changes all of it) Thursday night, and I have most of my outline completed. I'm super excited for this project.*


Two books of YA were enough for me! I'm goin' back to my roots. (And it will be glorious.)

I'll stop talking now and get to the important stuff.

The winner of the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE POWER OF POSITIVE book is: J.L. Campbell.

Congratulations! Linda will be sending you the book soon. :)

*Initially this book was going to be YA and have the title THE HEARTS OF SPIDERS, but now with my audience and plot change, I don't think that title fits anymore. Working title is EMPIRE OF CRANES AND SPIDERS.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Link Blitz

I've had some bits of good news this week that have really lifted my spirits--a big writing ego-boost and a much-needed financial blessing. :) The Big Guy is looking out for me.

In other awesome news, I finished my seventh novel, THE TASTE OF ANGELS, last night. More on that Monday. :D

Writer's Potpourri:

5 Things a Writer Can Do to Evolve

10 Tips for Generating Killer Science Fiction Story Ideas

Teachers Write: Nurturing Creativity

Selling Our Books on Social Media--Don't Be a Personal Space Invader

Writing Crutches: Gestures

What to Do When Your Agent Quits 

Other Babble:

Big Bird Responds to Mitt Romney on Saturday Night Live

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Linda Jackson (+ Giveaway!)

What's your name, and where are you from?
As you’ve probably guessed by now, my name is Linda Jackson, and I’m from the teeny tiny town of Rosedale, Mississippi, population 1,852 (including cats and dogs). I now live in the northern part of Mississippi just outside of Memphis, Tennessee. My husband and I have also lived in Alabama, Kansas, and Missouri.

How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first manuscript 18 years ago. And, no, I didn’t start writing when I was a kid. J

What genre(s) do you write?
I’ve been told that I have a pretty good middle-grade voice. So I’ll go with that. I’m also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. So I guess I write inspirational non-fiction, too.

What's your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?
I currently have two manuscripts waiting to be read by a few agents, so I’m not actively working on anything new right now. I have a couple of stories brewing in my head, but I don’t know enough about the characters/plot/setting to tell much about them yet. J

What's your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?
My current day job, hmm… cook, dishwasher, laundress, taxi driver, butler, housekeeper, CFO, CEO, accountant, secretary, you name it—I do it.

Frankly, none of these hinder my writing. My writing is hindered when I don’t make it a priority. I could choose to write all day if I wanted to, but I don’t. I write in small chunks of time while living the life around me.

Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have a favorite author. I just love a good story that pulls me into the lives of the characters and holds me there until the end. I don’t care who wrote it. J

Favorite book?
Same as above. I just love a good story with characters I can care about.

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?
Do talking to my kids and joking around with them count? I don’t have actual hobbies. But I do love books and computers. And I like being around people, laughing, and having a good time.

What is something unique about yourself?
Absolutely nothing. Seriously, I don’t have any quirk that I’m sure someone else doesn’t have too. …like I thought it was interesting that I can’t wear a watch, because the electricity in my body kills the battery. Well, I found out other people have that problem too. So, no, not unique. Another weird thing about me is I have to have all my clocks, including the one in the car and on my cell phone, set a few minutes ahead of the actual time. (The clock in the car is ten minutes fast.) I’ve been this way since I was a kid. But, I know other people who have this fast forward obsession too. So, again, not unique—just different.

Hmm, I wonder whether my obsession with being one step ahead of time has anything to do with my “killing the time” on those watches. J

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to?

Thanks for the interview, Charlie! You’re a gem. J


As an extra treat, Linda is giving away a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul to a random commenter! Please leave your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Creature Creation

My wonderful sister Danny is attending the Muse Online Writing Conference this week, and has shared a few of her notes with me. Karina Fabian discussed creating creatures for your book. Here's some of the juiciest tidbits!

Before you create your creature...

  1. Know the story you're going to write. (Character/theme/plot/setting)
  2. What kind of creature do you want? A vampire, a ghoul, an out-right monster?

Flesh out your creature with research.

Why research?

  • To learn the original myths
  • To see modern conventions
  • To know what's been done already
  • To discover myths from other cultures

What you should consider when creating your creature:

  • What rules are hard and fast?
  • Are you going with or against convention?
  • What is the root cause? (Such as vampirism)
  • Is there an unexpected quality that changes the creature?

Have you ever created a creature for a book, or taken a new spin on a common convention? What creatures have you found in reading that you liked?

Monday, October 8, 2012

On Titling Your Manuscript

I was going to hold a poll on what the title for my current WIP should be, but then I decided I already knew the answer.

Sludge has now been re-titled The Taste of Angels.

This has, however, gotten me to thinking about titles. How do people generally name their books? Sometimes I know the title immediately (like with FOLLOWED BY FROST), other times I'm not sure what to call the book until much later, and I finally get a title by keeping a list of ideas (as with CITY OF TEETH.) The latter is generally how I name all my books--it takes a lot of time and jotting down of key words.

So, what goes into a title?

Obviously, you want a title that reflects the story, but one that really slaps a person in the face. That makes them think, "Oh, I want to read that." Like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I dare you to tell me that, the first time you heard that title, you didn't do a double-take.

Then there are the titles that sound nice. The alliteration in Glamor in Glass is quite pretty. Or the poetry of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

A new trend I've noticed in titles is creating a new word that has a pleasant ring to it, such as in Everneath or Warbreaker.

Another element I like in titles is when they include something that jars you a little. Titles that sound just a little creepy, like The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Anna Dressed in Blood, or Feed.

Another tactic is creating a title that makes others ask questions--questions that can only be answered by reading the book itself. The Girl who Circumvented Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. What is fairyland, and how did she make the ship? I am NOT a Serial Killer. Why does the protagonist feel he needs to defend himself? What makes him like a serial killer?

One of my favorites are titles that you don't fully understand until you've read part or all the book, such as Fools Crow.

On the other side of the coin, there are the overdone titles. In my opinion, this is anything that includes "The Chronicles of" and similar, or the protagonist's name. I feel like the protagonist's name better be freaking important to the story to be the title (like in The Wizard of Earthsea, not that Le Guin used the main character's name as a title).

And then there are bad titles. The first that comes to mind is A Night of Blacker Darkness (Dan Wells). Good book, but the title doesn't match the story or the tone whatsoever. Believe it or not, that book is actually quite comical.

And, just in case you are in the midst of naming a book, I'm including a couple of good links. One has the neat idea of researching on Amazon for titles, while the other suggests starting with your outline and perusing the box office.

How do you title a book? What titles do you love or hate?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Small Presses

Deana Barnhart's GUTGAA contest has me thinking about small presses. I admit I only know a few--two in Utah and one in Canada. Something worth researching.

See, I've never really considered going to a small press before. I've always set my sights on the Big Six publishers. I want others to know about my story, to read it. You don't get a whole lot of marketing with a small publisher.

Photo Credit
But what if the Big Six don't want your book? What if you can't find an agent willing to represent you and your story?

Before, I've always just taken my manuscripts, stuffed them in my back pocket, and moved on to something else.  But I don't want to back-pocket FOLLOWED BY FROST. Why? Because I think it's publishable. Because I think it's a story that deserves to see some eyes.

I had high hopes with the last two books I wrote, but after time I started to lose it, or saw new flaws in the story, or just got more excited about something else. But I'm unmovable on this book. This book needs a little more from me.

So I've decided that, if this story reaps the full set of rejections, I will take it to a small press. A lot of people start out with small presses (James Dashner, for example).

Have you ever published or considered publishing with a small press? What's your opinion on them?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Skype Baking!

As you know, I've been baking a lot recently. But before I moved to Moscow, my dear friend Wendy and I had started baking experiments together, since we're both pro-healthy (and pro-sweet-tooth). However, being 700-ish miles away, it's hard to continue our kitcheny play-dates.

Cue Skype baking.

We made Chocolate Covered Katie's No-bake Peanut Butter Pie, simultaneously. (Well, after we remembered how time zones work.) Wendy made the crust in the recipe, whereas I made a version of this crust (I included cocoa and sugar so it would be chocolate). Wendy's version was legitimately sugar-free. I cheated a little. :D

I took a bite before I remembered to snap a picture.
(Okay, two bites.)

The pie is surprisingly simple, and quite good!