June 29, 2010

Shadow Bound Swiped!

I just found out about a book (coming out in July) that has the same title as the book I'm querying. Oops.
(To be fair, I've had this title since April. Whatever.)

So, you can support this book Shadow Bound just for having a totally awesome title:

At least I know my title was marketable.
A friend of mine was asking me about the query process. She asked if I started with agents in the middle/bottom of my list and worked my way up. I always thought you should start at the top and work your way down. I'd hate to get an offer if I hadn't given my top choices a chance to read my work.
I keep 5-8 queries out at a time. As soon as a rejection comes in, I send another one out. It keeps me sane and focused on the next step.

I also keep all my rejections. It's weird, I know, but one time I went through my rejections and found one that I'd thought was a form rejection. Then I realized it specifically mentioned the reason for the rejection. Sometimes agents will have more than one form rejection. One for weak plot, one for weak characters, one for weak voice, etc... Even though they're form rejections, those can be helpful!

I only have one link to share with you: Why Rejection Letters Are Great. Seriously. It's all about the numbers. And persistence.

And I have a question for you: How do you query? Do you go top to bottom? bottom to top? How many queries do you put out there at a time? And how do you handle those rejections?

June 26, 2010

Build a Setting that Pulls Its Own Weight (and then some)

So I'm finally getting to a craft post! I found some great stuff on setting. It's something I used to not think about on the first draft. I used to forget about it or my setting would just have a few token descriptions sprinkled in and they were ordinary. Boring.

How to Revise Your Novel helped me to take a step back from my story and really see where my characters were and why I'd picked these particular locations. (Maybe you've heard that the setting needs to be the only place where the story could take place? It's true. Sometimes I did it subconsciously, but other times I had to work to make my setting count.)

As I work through the first draft of my WIP, I'm noticing that I'm SO much slower than I was with my other novels. Then I went back and read what I wrote and you know what? There's setting! Real setting. Meaningful. The setting helped build tension and character.

Katrina Stonoff wrote a fantastic article that really made an impact on me called Make Your "Where" Memorable. She helped me to see beyond the typical and bring out those details that you wouldn't expect, but that really draw the reader in.

Enrich Your Descriptions by learning how to develop you writer's eyes. There's more to a setting than what you see with the naked eye. How would you see a scene if you were a child? If you were in a hurry? If you were objective? This post goes deeper to even discuss connotation, which is definitely worth a read if you're not familiar with it.

Cynsations had a fun guest post by Deborah Halverson last week where she asks: what ever happened to description? It seems to have all but disappeared, what with writers worrying about pace and character and plot.

And this week, Greenhouse Literary posted How to Write the Breakout Novel Part 5: A Vivid Setting.
If you haven't delved into The Bookshelf Muse, I highly recommend some exploration. Scroll down the right-hand column for a list of settings. Click the link for "Forest" (or whatever is relevant to your story) and you'll be taken to an extensive list of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures you might find there. I use this site all the time to make my scenes pop.

Just a little goody for those of you who may write traditional fantasy: The Middle Ages, Chivalry, & Knighthood is an amazing go-to source for terms, time lines, maps, culture, food, history... you name it!

June 24, 2010

Snow White and Ivy Thorn: Part 2

I can't think of any fairy tales that take place in a field, but I'm not always dropped right in the middle of things. There's a castle not too far off. That's always a good place to start. There's always something cookin' up in castles, so I make my way over there.

The great thing about fairy tales is that they're vague. Apparently, this fairy tale doesn't mention any guards around the castle.

It's a pretty depressing place. Empty stone hallways, the occasional gargoyle, and it smells like my Uncle Harry's storage unit. Seriously, who designed this place?

I finally find a room with something of interest in it. (Unless you're into tapestries and closets full of ball gowns. If that's the case, you'd probably never leave this place.) This room isn't quite as bare as the others. It has some fancy red curtains and a huge mirror on the wall.

I'm pretty sure I know where this is going, so I hide behind a curtains. They're long enough to hide my shoes, but they smell like my grandma's sheets.

I may not get dropped into a fairy tale in the right place, but I seem to have a knack for getting dropped in the right time. A woman in a long velvet gown comes in. Her hair is the usual--it glitters like gold or sunshine or whatever and her skin's the color of milk. Her lips... you get the idea. She's a good-looking woman, maybe late twenties. The important thing is she's wearing a crown, so I'm assuming this is the queen.

She walks right up to the mirror, and what do you think she says? "Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"


Part 3/3 of Snow White and Ivy Thorn

June 22, 2010

Contest Winner!

The winner of the signed copy of Fairy Tale is:


I'll email you to get your shipping information. Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. You guys are great!

June 18, 2010

Excited About a New Project :)

It's Saturday. It snuck up on me, so quick post for today. Sorry folks.

I started a new project that I'm really excihed about. I want to make sure I have enough raw material before I post anything about it, but I will *eventually* post a one or two-sentence hook under My Projects. Right now it's just an idea and a few scenes.

I started writing in third person, but it doesn't quite feel right, so next week I'll try the same scene in first.

With this new project, my short fiction, and a baby on the way, I may have to cut my blogging down to twice a week. I hope not.

**Edited to add: Okay, I thought it was Saturday ALL DAY yesterday and woke up today (real Saturday) thinking it was Sunday. It wasn't until DH reminded me we DIDN'T have church that I realized. Can I blame pregnancy brain for this?

June 17, 2010

Snow White and Ivy Thorn: Part 1

So I wake up, but I'm not in my bed. It should be morning, but it's not. I mean, it's light outside and everything (I would know. I'm in the middle of some field somewhere.) But it's not like most mornings.

Usually, people wake up in their beds with light streaming through their windows. They get up, use the bathroom, get dressed, eat breakfast. You know, the usual. But today I wake up covered in dew. In the grass. Outside. And I'm not much for camping.

I get up and stretch. No, I'm not freaked out.

Oh, did I mention that every now and then I sometimes wake up in a fairy tale? Yeah.

If I want to get home, I have to either wait until the story is over (which can take a long time. Some of these things last years.) or I can go home if the story is irreversibly changed.
That's my little trick. Sometimes, I have to get my hands dirty. You'll see what I mean if I can just figure out what fairy tale I'm in.

Part 2/3 of Snow White and Ivy Thorn

June 15, 2010

Okay, You're Sitting Down to Write. Now What?

Now that you're thoroughly motivated, how do you manage your time?

Roz Morris just posted something I thought was brilliant. Not only does she have a working list of what you need to be productive WHILE you write, she also shares some advice on what a writer should do during the in-between hours.

K.M. Weiland shared something similar in her post: Improve Yourself, Improve Your Writing. Profound, and so true.

Balancing Life, Writing, and Multiple Projects by Holly Schindler via The First Novels Club. This post was exhausting to read. Will I ever be that busy with my writing? Will I survive when I do? But she gives some great tips.

And this post by Sara Lambert is more about staying motivated, but I thought it could go here: How Sara Lambert Overcame Her Procrastination.

June 12, 2010

Do You Need Some Motivation? (What Writer Doesn't?)

We all need a little boost every now and then. Most of the good stuff is posted in November, during NaNoWriMo season. (Let's face it, we need it.) But the summer months tend to dry up when it comes to mood-boosters.

Suzanne Young did a guest post on Delightful Reviews on How to Keep Writing. It's not easy.

Elana Johnson reminded her readers last month: You Can Do Hard Things.

If you tend to fizzle out in the middle of your projects, you'll appreciate Staying Faithful to Your WIP by Christopher Jackson. He helps writers keep the love for your story burnin' ;)

Writers can be insecure, especially with all the rejection we face. This article was retweeted over a hundred times and will be a classic go-to for me. Writer Unboxed: The Only Way to Know If You'll Be A Successful Writer


There Are No Rules: Read This and Tell Me What To Do (Same message, from a different perspective.)

This isn't exactly motivational, but it got my brain churning and thinking new ideas, so it still counts. Finding Your Perfect Writing Method by Jennifer Blanchard

Writers tend to be introverts, but staying indoors in our pajamas could hurt our creativity. Alexis Montgomery tells writers to Cut the Cord to stimulate that muse.

Lilith Saintcrow never ceases to inspire me and her blog post on the Importance of Dreams is no exception. She even uses one of my all-time favorite quotes:
"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of the dreams." (Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka)

and, from the same source:

If you want to view Paradise

Simply look around and view it.
Anything you want to, do it…
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
to it… (Willy Wonka)

June 10, 2010

A Fictional Character is Taking Over My Blog!

Okay, so I'm kind of between projects right now.

I've been giving some thought to posting some fiction on this blog for a while now. It wasn't until my friend Ryan Rhoads challenged me that I actually committed to doing something. (So you can thank him for this.)

My first instinct was to write short stories. It's simple, I don't have to think about or plan short stories for an extended period of time, and once it's done, it's done.

The problem is, I've done short stories before. They kinda suck. I don't know what happens to me, but my plot falls flat and it's so full of holes, I don't even want to go back and fill them in because I'm afraid I'll make it worse.

Then there's the whole time thing. I'm not sure I have time to write short stories, be a mommy and a writer pursuing a career and all those other roles that I have. Seriously, who has time for one more thing?

So, I've been putting off this thing for a while.

Well, it's late at night and I can't sleep. I can't sleep because I was thinking about this fiction thing. I still want some sort of creative outlet where I can post fiction that's available to the public domain. Something where I'm not so darned focused on getting it published, because that's not why I'm a writer. (Really.)

And then an idea came to me. (I love my muse. She's awesome, even if she only sings late at night.) Why not do blog posts? I already take the time to do them. I enjoy them. What if I wrote fiction in the form of a blog post every so often? Maybe once a week, a fictional character can take over my blog and we'll see what she has to say.

I thought it was perfect, so I'm gonna go with it.

Meet Ivy. She's going to take over my blog on Thursdays. I'll label her posts with the tag: Ivy's blog.

June 7, 2010

All About You: How Do You Do It?

I thought today's post could be all about you. If you write, what does your schedule look like? Do you write every day, or whenever you find a moment to yourself?
What time of day do you prefer to write?
What gets in the way of your writing time more than anything else?
Do you reward yourself if you reach a certain goal? What's the goal and what's the reward?

Please comment. I can't wait to see how you guys do it!

June 5, 2010

This is Just Cool: Tools for Writers

Today's cool stuff is mostly for writers.

Do you know how fast you type? Here's a typing speed test that will tell you your wpm.

If you need to be a little more organized (and who doesn't?) here's 100 Free and Useful Web Apps for Writers.

The publishing industry uses several terms that you (probably) aren't familiar with. The lovely Jessica Faust has come to the rescue with a Publishing Dictionary.

Storybook is a neat little download. I haven't fully explored it yet, but I may use it for my next novel. Their website description reads: Storybook is a free (open source) novel-writing tool for creative writers, novelists and authors which will help you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines while writing books, novels or other written works.

Blockbuster Plots has a simplified Scene Tracker, too.

Generators can help you get out of a writer's block, so of course I'll include them here. Serendipity has a slew of them, mostly geared toward fantasy and sci-fi, but useful for any writer. And just for fun, you can rearrange your text to see it in a new light using the Bonsai Story Generator.

And finally, if you need to spark your right-brain into working, try Right-Brain Writing Prompts.

June 3, 2010

This is Just Cool: For Book Worms and Word Nerds

If I ever come across something I think is interesting, but isn't necessarily informative, it goes into a separate folder. Well, for the next week or so, I'm opening that folder and sharing the wealth.

Do you like books? How about free books? Sure, they're a little older, but the Gutenburg Project has made it their mission to gather all books under public domain and put them in once place. You can get all the classics here. This site is utterly amazing. You can download over 30,000 free ebooks to read on your PC, iPhone, Kindle, Sony Reader or other portable device.

If you have too many books to keep track of, try Library Thing. It'll help you catalog everything. If you're like me and you have more trouble keeping track of your to-read list (or you want to find books to add to your to-read list), then Goodreads is the place to go. Another great place to build your list is Flashlight Worthy. It'll help you find books similar to those you already love.

It can be hard to find a good fantasy or sci-fi series (depending on your taste). The Suvudu Free Book Library gathers the first in a series and will let you read it for free to see if you like it.

Do you like oxymorons? Here's an Oxymoron Generator from WritingFix.

Ever wonder where a word or phrase came from? Here's the Online Etymology Dictionary. Etymologies are not definitions; they're explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded 600 or 2,000 years ago.

And the last link for today is Wordle. You can paste a document and it'll create a word cloud for you.

June 1, 2010

Mommy-Writers Have a Tough Gig

Being a writer and a mom at the same time is a challenge and it's been on my mind a lot lately. I've posted on writing while living your life before, but things are changing. My little girl doesn't take naps any more. And then there's the whole pregnancy thing. I wonder how long I'll have to take off before I feel human enough to set and reach writing goals again.

As it becomes more difficult to find time to write, I've come to some conclusions:
  1. I need to be well-rested. Trying to write or revise or concentrate on anything in any way while I'm exhausted is frustrating and a waste of time. Unfortunately, I'm pregnant and therefore tired all the time. One thing that's helped me is to wake up earlier than I normally would, get the basic morning routine done, and then take a power nap once everything is settled. I get the same amount of sleep, but for some reason, it feels so much better.
  2. Write when you can. I used to write during my little girl's naps, but now that those are non-existent, I've had to readjust. (It took me a couple of days to find something that worked.) I write at night. I'll give up tv to make it happen, even though it helps me unwind at night. (By the way, I noticed that writing also helps me unwind so this is an epic discovery for me.) (Oh, and giving up tv is much easier now that Lost and 24 are over. Just sayin'.)
  3. Beg, steal, and bargain for writing time whenever you can. I give DH shoulder rubs, he takes the kid for a few hours on Saturday. It's totally awesome.
  4. Set goals (or you'll fall into a pathetic slump). Complacency is the enemy of the self-motivated writer. I give myself ambitious deadlines and use spreadsheets to track my progress.
  5. Take breaks. Between projects and during. I know this sounds contradictory to #4, but I'd be a useless glob of bio-matter if I didn't take Sundays off.

If you want to hear a more experienced voice on the subject, Galleycat offers some help for those writing with children, including helpful links and advice from Clive Young, Maggie Stiefvater and Adrienne Maria Vrettos.

And straight from S.A. Larsen (hi!) at the Writers' Alley, come 10 Ways to be a Mom and a Writer.
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