Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Annoying Adverb-tising

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."~Stephen King

Today at work I realized how much my writer experiences effect me. Writing, editing, beta reading, and more editing tend to sharpen your senses. I've learned to look for things like tense changes, over usage of "was," too many adverbs, etc.

Apparently, (see how easily they sneak in there?) my brain has been conditioned to listen for adverbs too.

While listening to a resident explain why his rent would be late this month, he drove me nuts with adverbs. "Unfortunately, we really had an exceptionally rare situation..." It didn't stop there. He may have broke the world record for most adverbs used during a conversation. And I was painfully aware of every single one.

He's that guy that needs a word count limit on his story. Otherwise, he'd take 200k words to say something that would have been more effective and engaging if cut down to 80k.

Stephen King would have smacked him. I wanted to smack him, but I'm no Stephen King. If I was, I assure you, I would quit my day job.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to edit the world and people around you? Or am I the only writer who carries her editing habits into real life? Better yet, have you gone through your MS and removed all unnecessary adverbs? Really? Surely, you can find a few more to cut.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Music of My Soul

Igot tagged the other day by my kick butt beta buddy Marie. She has an awesome (and funny) blog called Booknapped. If you don't follow it, you're missing out. The girl has moxie. In more ways than one. ;)

Now, to complete the task given to me by a virtual "tag you're it." I must list 7 of my favorite songs. As Marie stated on her blog, this task is nearly impossible for me. I have SO many great songs in my jukebox of a brain. Music moves me. It feeds my soul. Stirs my emotions. Rocks my world. Makes me dance. Inspires me.

Here are 7 that touched me and stayed with me. Trust me, there are 818 more I'd like to add to the list. But I never get tired of hearing any of these songs. And like most lyrics, I've found a deep personal meaning in them. They are in no particular order. I love them all for different reasons. Without further ado...

32 Flavors- Ani Difranco
“Squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some.”

Sound of Pulling Heaven Down- Blue October

“So rest assured I have the key to every opening
To every wishing well that's deep enough to dream.”

"In my dreams I'm dying all the time
As I wake its kaleidoscopic mind"

Are You Out There-Dar Williams

"And when I turned your station on
You sounded more familiar than that party was"

Come Home-One Republic
“There’s someone I’ve been missing
I think that they could be
The better half of me
They’re in the wrong place trying to make it right”

Angels on the Moon- Thriving Ivory
“This is to one last day in the shadows
And to know a brothers love
This is to New York City angels
And the rivers of our blood
This is to all of us.”

Israel Kamakawiwo Ole' - Somewhere Over The Rainbow

“Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can't I?”

Now I must tag 7 people so we can share our love of music. I'm picking 7 different personalities because I like variety. And I'm hoping to learn about some new good music from all of them. (Follow all of them if you don't already. They're fabulous!) My lucky seven are:

Becca Brown
Jenn Johansson
Katie Salidas
Tess Hilmo
Jessica Nelson
Lady Glamis
Susan Mills

Monday, September 21, 2009

Simon & Schuster Know Me

on't go gettin' all excited (or envious). No, Simon & Schuster did not buy my story. They sent me The Hollow, by Jessica Verday.

I won it in their Labor Day Twitter contest. I had to tweet a photo of me reading one of their books during my long Labor day weekend. Winners would receive a S&S novel sent to them. Here was my entry...

And, I won! I didn't know which of their many fabulous books I'd be receiving until this beauty (The Hollow) showed up at my door step today. I haven't read it YET, but it's exactly the kind of book that would seduce me to pick it up off a shelf at Borders. It's even thick! Over 500 pages!

As a writer, I understand and adhere to the word count guidelines of genres. But I have to admit, I enjoy long stories. I feel so much more satisfied purchasing a hardcover, 400-500 page book, rather than a 250 page paperback. There's just a nostalgic feeling to the bigger books. Call me old-fashioned, but in our high paced, instant gratification society, I WANT a long story to lure me away from reality for awhile. If it's too short, I feel deprived.

The Hollow is my kind of book. Enigmatic, intriguing description, pretty cover, and the potential to give me more bang for my buck. Oh, wait, I didn't pay any bucks for this book. Even better! (But at $17.99 it's a steal. I definitely would have bought it if I hadn't won it.)

I swear, it's like Simon & Schuster know me and hand picked the perfect prize for me. Love those S&S folks. Go buy their books!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Do you ever read a book or watch a movie and think "Aw crap! I used that idea in my story!" It can be something simple. A phrase. Trigger event. Name. Clothing style. Anything. Do we see the similarity because we wrote our story and know it so intimately that we can pick out any minuscule resemblance to our own characters or plot?

Are there any truly original ideas left out there?

My story begins with a car wreck where my MC loses her parents and brother. It's been done before. I know that. If I Stay is a great book and has the same trigger event, but what happens after that crash beginning is a very different story.

I can defend that argument until I'm blue in the face, but will it matter when an agent reads my first chapter? Will they think "Seen it before." And hit the auto reject button? Do I change my opening scene so it starts with a train wreck, or a bombing, or something else that isn't so trendy or popular right now?

I discussed this with a good friend last night and he told me, "There are no original ideas anymore. You wrote your story the way it is for a reason. Leave it."

While I am a huge believer in the everything happens for a reason concept. I've evolved enough as a writer to know there are times I should bend so my story doesn't break me. I have no problem weaving a new pathway to death's doorstep for my MC's family. Not to sound heartless, but I just need them to die. If car accidents aren't considered "fresh" right now, I've got many more tragic events in my large briefcase of an imagination.

But how do we know what to change and what not to? If I write a new opening scene where the family plunges to their death in a faulty Ferris wheel cart, will I read a book about carnivals next month and decide amusement park fatalities are too overdone?

Where does it stop? I see similarities between stories everywhere I look--and read. As writers it's our job to create something new and different, but has that become an impossible task? Or just nearly impossible, with a lot of research required to make it fresh?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Hokey Pokey

Warning: This is a long post. It's self-indulgent. Run (click away) while you can.

THE HOKEY: aka why I AM cut out to be a writer:

My Imagination
I had one heck of an imagination as a kid. Back then, my parents called it lying, and punished me for it…a lot. However, if I just put a disclaimer that “this is fiction” before my tall tales, it becomes a story instead of a lie. And nobody punishes me (except myself when I think it’s not good.)

My People Watching Skills
…are Olympic league status. If they’d make people watching an Olympic sport, I’d win a gold medal. Because of my PW skills, I notice stuff. Then I make that stuff part of my characters' personalities. I create stories from the stupid, quirky, and fascinating things people do.

My Grammar
…ain’t that bad. I’m no English professor, but I’m pretty sure I grasp the general concept and rules behind sentence structure. I could definitely improve my skills. There is always room for improvement. Or at least that’s what the cliché Gods tell me.

My Common Sense
I could never be one of those aspiring authors that gets a rejection letter and writes the agent back telling them they don’t know what they’re missing out on. I would never be so stubborn as to think my MS is perfect and not take suggestions or critique on how to make it stronger. What’s that cliché Gods? Oh yes, it is worth repeating; there is always room for improvement. Which brings me to…

My Humility
I know I’m no Stephen King. I know I haven’t written the next Harry Potter. I know that even if my book ever does get published, some people will hate it. BUT, some people might love it. And through all the hokey and pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

Now with all that being said,

THE POKEY: aka why I AM NOT cut out to be a writer.

My Imagination
Do I really have anything to say that hasn’t been said 100 times before in every way possible? My imagination is good, but can it compete with the other millions of writers out there?

My People Watching Skills
I watch and read the stories and struggles of all the writers around me. I met people at a writers conference that have been writing for decades without ever being published. I’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve read the statistics. I’ve seen with my own eyes that it’s next to impossible.

My Grammar
…ain’t that good. My writing is nowhere near perfect. A friend told me “It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what editors are for!” But she’s wrong. The writing has to be phenomenal--especially in this market. Use too many adverbs, say “was” too much, misuse commas and colons and you’ve signed your own form rejection letter. Fact is, there’s just too much talent out there, and many aspiring writer’s DO have perfect manuscripts.

My Common Sense
Fewer deals are being made. Agents are taking on fewer clients. Due to the recession more people than ever are trying to write a book and get it published. The odds of getting an agent are slim. The odds of getting published? I might as well take up a career in getting struck by lightening. I know my odds, and they aren’t very good.

My Humility
There’s always been that voice inside of me that doubts myself. Me? Become a best selling author? Have a following of fans that wait on the edge of their seats for my next book to come out? Readers will line up to ask for my autograph? Yeah, right.

So, which is it? Hokey or Pokey? Am I a writer or aren’t I? Truth is, it’s not a question. It’s not a decision I made. It just sort of happened. I didn’t have a say in the matter. My story has been written. And so far, it’s part of a trilogy, so I have to keep writing. If for no one else, then for my characters. I can’t just leave their lives unfinished in a make believe world I created. How cruel would that be?

Some days there will be rejections, tears, and harsh criticism. Other days there will be a beta reader that says “This is a perfectly perfect paragraph,” or another reader tells me they loved Nathan more than Edward (True! I swear!) Those are the days that keep me writing. The moments when I stare at my emotional mess of a crazy fantastic story and smile.

Maybe my stories won’t ever get published, but maybe they will. Cliché Gods assure me that “Only time will tell.” Until then, however far THEN may be, I will keep trying to be a better writer (self-doubts and all). Because what if, one day, an agent does love my story? And then a publisher loves my story. Maybe one day all of this work will result in a letter from a fan that says “Thank you for writing this.”

THEN, all of this hokey pokey will turn itself around.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jealousy vs. Happiness

am grateful every day for my amazing beta readers. There is a small group of us that have become very close. We turn to, confide in, critique, inspire, and lend support to one another. They are fabulous. Seriously. Some of the stuff they write blows my mind. And almost all of their suggestions or comments on my MS (no matter how harsh) have improved my story IMMENSELY. Because of their greatness I've always wondered what would happen when one of my Writing Posse got an offer from an agent. (It was inevitable after all!) Would I be happy but also a little envious? Would I be jealous? I love my WP gals, but I'm only human.

Yesterday I found out exactly what happens.

I saw the email come across my phone screen. The title was "I just got a call." My heart raced. I knew what it meant before I hit the read button. And when I did read the rest of the email I LITERALLY teared up and got goosebumps. GOOD TEARS. The "oh-she's worked so hard and is such a great person she so deserves this" tears. One of my Writing Posse members got offered representation!

So, without further ado, blogging world meet Natalie Bahm.

She's been a lurker on blogs (wise decision to spend more time on her story and less time writing a blog. lol) But now, my WP and I have demanded she start her own blog so the rest of the world can experience how fabulous she is. We've been keeping her to ourselves for much too long.

Go say hi. Take good notes. And follow her journey through the would of a debut author becoming published. Cuz I have no doubt publishers will be snatching up her story right away.

Ps...Happiness kicked Jealousy's butt. Jealousy never stood a chance. And a little envy never hurt anybody. ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day Jobbery

I haven't had time to blog lately. Or read blogs. Or comment on blogs. Or edit as much as I'd like. Or write as much as I'd like. Why? Because of my day job.

If you don't have a Facebook or twitter account, I probably don't know what you've been up to for the past few weeks. I want to know, I really do, but there aren't enough hours in the day. One liner updates or emails that get sent to my phone are the only connections I've had to my writing world buddies lately.

Today on FB I replied to one author friend who said just as he started getting into his WIP, he had to go to the day job. My reply (as I'm rushing out of the shower getting ready for my own daily office grind) "Day jobbery stinks. soon as I win Powerball I'm donating a million to some of my fav writers with day jobs so they can quit and write full time."

Don't get me wrong, I like my day job. I work with an awesome (and funny) group of people. I just wish it didn't take up so much of my day--week--month--year--life! It puts a HUGE damper on my writing time. Not to mention, I have a 9-6 schedule! Whatever happened to 9-5? That extra hour would really help. I envy those writers that can stay at home all day and write to their hearts content.

Come on Powerball...I promise, I'll be generous and better the literary world one writer at a time.

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