Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stephenie Meyer Stumped Me

This morning I read about Stephenie Meyer’s new novella that’s being released on June 5th. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella.

It’s the story of Bree Tanner, one of the newborn vampires featured at the end of Eclipse.

Umm, who?

Apparently I wasn’t paying attention to the thirdary (yes, I’m making it a word) characters, because I don’t remember Bree. If Bree was a secondary character I might know who this novella is about, but honestly I barely remember the newborn vampires, much less that they had names.

Does this mean I’m a bad reader? Or, does it mean that any character in our stories has the potential to evolve into more important characters with their own story to be told.

My uber fantastic writing group pointed out a character in my latest MS that didn’t need to be there. I gave this character her own whopping big POV and everything. Then I found out I had to kill one of my darlings. My story would be better for it. When my writing group speaks, I listen.

Goodbye precious darling. I bid you adieu.

Maybe some day, if my WIP gets published, my story will turn into a series. My recently killed darling could appear in book 2 with her own big role, issues, arc, and all that other fun stuff. She’s a fabulous character. She has a great story to tell. BUT, not right now. In my current storyline she became a distraction, and interruption, and if I would have insisted on keeping her she most likely would have been forgotten by readers.

Kind of like Bree Tanner.

I’m sure many readers do remember Bree, so I’m not knocking her role in Eclipse. I think I may have skimmed over any scenes that didn’t include Edward, Alice, Jasper, or Emmett. And really, I was just trying to find Edward most of the time.

I’m sure this new novella will be great. It’s that next quick fix of Twilight that fans need, and I’m sure I will read it so I can find out who the heck Bree was and what’s so important that she has her own novella. BUT, my real—and most important—question is, will Edward be in this book?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


First lines are important. They set a tone. They make a promise to the reader. Most of us already know the regular rigmarole about first lines. If you don't know the importance of them, there are much better and more informative posts out there than this one. Start Googling.

This is more personal.

As so much of our writing usually ends up being. At least in my case.

The first line to my sea monster story is:

I had to choose between the angel and the mermaid.

Love it? Hate it? It doesn't matter. Unless an editor or agent tells me it's gotta go, that's the first line. Many have said they loved it. We already know I love it, or I wouldn't have wrote it. But now I'm going to let you in on some inside scoop.

(My writing group might be mad when they read this because I didn't tell them first. Although, if they listened carefully during our dinner at that restaurant in NYC when I talked about my next story idea, they will understand.)

My first line has a deeper meaning. In the story, it is the first line of my MC, Yara.
In my life, it was the decision I was forced to make before I started writing Yara's story.

Months ago, I had two ideas in my head. An angel story, and a mermaid story. I had to choose.
I chose the mermaid. (That line is in the book too.)

A few times I wondered if I had made the right choice. The angel story still tugs at my mind a lot. I've jotted down a few scenes here and there, and yes, it will be the next MS I create, but I am so glad I chose the mermaid.

It was her time. It was my time to tell her story.
I loved Yara so much I had to bond us with the same first line.
It could be her thinking it, it could be me thinking it, because both of us had the same choice to make, just in different contexts. And both of us are happy with our choice.

I'll admit, I gave double meaning to this one on purpose, but sometimes the personal touches hidden in my stories are by accident.
What about you? If readers studied the lines of your writing carefully would they discover more of your personal story?

Monday, March 22, 2010


My current WIP is about sea monsters. (No krakens--yet.) I'll elaborate on that some other day.
Over the weekend I released my MS--and all the monsters my pages contain--out into the world for my writing group to read. I also read some of their stuff. No literal monsters in their pages, but I think we all learned a valuable lesson this weekend:

The "monster" being your writing. That vicious beast that demands all your attention, needs to be fed daily, can't be exposed to sunlight--oh wait, that last one was gremlins. Never mind.

Your monster SHOULD see sunlight, or moonlight if you're a night owl. And go ahead, feed it after midnight, as long as it's not a mogwai.

One of my fabulous writing partner/friends, Megan Rebekah and I discussed how we always get new ideas or inspiration after we send out our pages for someone to read. We had a funny email conversation about it, so I thought I'd share it with you folks. (This is inside scoop. Behind-the-scenes wisdom. Some day people will pay good money for these gems of knowledge. Well, probably not, but Meg thought it was pretty funny, and afterward so did I.)

Me to Meg:
I'm telling ya, sending your MS out, even if its just a couple scenes, really gets things moving. I don't know how or why it happens, but it does. Maybe it's because someone besides us will DEFINITELY have an opinion about it. It's not just some little fuzzy creature hiding in the shadows of our computers. It's out in the open, people are watching it stroll down the streets, and we know they're going to comment, so our brains start working overtime to make it more lovable.

Every time I send something to you girls, or give it to my roomie, or best
friend, or mom to read, ideas start shifting. I say even if you think your stuff is crap send it out, because that's when magic starts happening.

Meg's reply to Me:
OMG that's so awesome. Now I'm picturing Anomaly skipping down the sidewalk--a giant stack of paper with legs and arms--while everyone stops to watch and read it.

So, if Zeus were here, he'd say, RELEASE THE KRAKEN!
But I'm no Zeus, so I'll tell you to RELEASE YOUR MONSTER!

Whether it has breath that smells like a thousand corpses, or it gives people a warm and fuzzy feeling (isn't the lil blue guy adorable?)
Let your monster out into the world and watch what wonderful chaos ensues.

What do you think? Do you share your monsters (
writing) with others often enough? Do your monsters take on new life after you release them into the universe? Do they morph and evolve based on people's comments?

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Why don't the good causes ever get the help they need?
The little guys.
The underdog.
I like rooting for the underdog. I'd love to see an independent bookstore succeed. Picture Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan), in You've Got Mail, with her Shop Around the Corner. Weren't we all heart broken when she had to go out of business because of the big old Fox Books Superstore?

Here's our chance to help a Kathleen. Picture her, standing in the back corner of her store, holding her wouldn't-hurt-a-fly fists out in front of her (actual scene from the movie--and my favorite.) Ready to fight for her store. Ready to "go to the mattresses!"

Except reverse it. There's a book lover trying to OPEN her dream bookstore. A place where children, tweens, teens, adults, book clubs, writing groups, can gather or visit. Where wannabe authors can learn how to write! A place to buy books, read books, write books, discuss books...well, you get the picture.

The kind of place most of us writers would call a little slice of Heaven. AND for all you Utah folks (I know there are many of you) it really would be a shop around the corner. She's from Utah.

Fire Petal Books. One book lover's dream to open a shop where she can spread the joy of all things reading and writing. But she needs help. Go check out her website, watch the precious trailer, and then donate. I stumbled across Fire Petal when a literary agency tweeted about donating to her. When I went to check it out, I couldn't believe more people hadn't donated. She only has until MARCH 21ST to raise the minimum amount to keep the dream alive through Kickstarter. So go! Donate. Even if it's only $5. The more you donate the more fun stuff you can receive: a mug, discounts on orders, writing classes, critiques. It's amazing!

I don't know this woman. I've had no communication with her. She hasn't asked me to help spread the word. I simply believe in people following their dreams. This one moves me because it's all about books. And what's more worthy of donating than the love of books?

Please. Go. Donate. I'm getting my taxes done today just so I can see how much my refund will be. The higher my refund the more I'm going to donate. But we have to hurry. March 21st is Sunday. There isn't much time. If you want to help even more, tweet about Fire Petal. Post it on your own blog. Tell people on Facebook. I'll make it easy for you to post a link back to this post. Feel free to copy and paste this one: http://tiny.cc/fireP

I truly don't understand why so few have donated. How come more of us writers haven't heard about this?

Come on, for the love of books. For the love of people following their dreams. For the love of wanting to give back, to help kids through literature. For the love of Kathleen Kellys everywhere. Go donate. If for no other reason, we could all use a little good karma to help us achieve our own dreams. Good deeds comes back triple fold, people. Keep that in mind. ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010


“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~Martin Luther King

So true isn't it?
I've been neck deep in editing all weekend and thought about writing a new post but my mind is running amuck elsewhere. Then I read the lovely Katie Ganshert's post about getting overwhelmed as a writer and I remembered one of my favorite posts about the same topic. Between my post and Katie's I'm hoping we can remind any discouraged or frustrated writers to never give up (if writing is what you REALLY want to do.)

So, I'm cheating. This is a repeat post from last year but it still applies to me today and I believe wholeheartedly in every word...

When I first thought about writing a novel I thought about MLK's quote and stepped. Blindly.

Staring up at the spiraling, intimidating, long path in front of me.
Wondering if all this climbing and stressing is worth it.
Is it foolish to believe I'll ever reach the top?
It looks impossible from way down here.
With such a long, long way to go.
Pushing through the pain.
Tripping & Stumbling.




Climb blindly.
But enjoy the scenery.
Make each step mean something.
Realize turning back is also giving up.
Set small, reachable goals, but keep dreaming big.
Don't compete with others climbing the stairway with you.
Learn, grow, and expand your support system--and horizons.
Put one foot in front of the other, passionately, even when it's hard.

Remember, we don't have to see the whole staircase. Keep in mind, we're not alone on this journey. Rest assured, the top is probably nothing like you think it will look like anyway. Besides, there is always another staircase waiting to be conquered. Keep climbing. Blindly. But with faith. Oh, and breathe. Just breathe.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


If you are in Belize and stumble upon the famous Blue Hole, then yes, you can ooh and ahh and appreciate the beauty of a mysterious, massive, super deep hole. If we're discussing novels, the smallest holes can make a reader flail and send out a SOS.

I'm currently reading a YA novel that many people are raving about. I cannot positively rave about it. Therefore, I won't mention the title because my mother taught me, if you can't say something nice...

As writers don't we owe it to ourselves to catch the holes readers will find while reading our story? Or, if we can't see the gaping holes, shouldn't our betas catch them? My betas would. (But they do have unexplained superhero powers.) Or how about that editor? How did they not point out the polka-dotted elephant in the room?

e.g., If a handsome stallion wants to stop shape-shifting into a savage unicorn because he loves a mare and doesn't want to risk stabbing her with his horn during their frequent leapfrog romps, don't make the unicorn mutation trigger be something easily fixable. Because as a reader, if the stallion turns into a unicorn whenever it rains, I'm going to have lots of solutions for his problem. I won't need to read 300 pages to find out if the stallion and mare will be able to safely play leapfrog forever and ever. Plus, I'm going to be annoyed when the stallion gets angry at a character for suggesting the leapfrog-loving horses move out of Seattle to a drier climate and stay inside on rainy days.

You get the point (no unicorn pun intended).

I'm editing my latest WIP right now and it's a YA fantasy so I am on red alert for plot holes, unexplained polka dotted elephants, and unbelievable world-building.

What holes have you read or seen that drove you nuts? And don't say, "the two main characters fall madly and eternally in love with each other 5 minutes after meeting." (It makes me roll my eyes too, but sometimes the author has a limited number of words to get them to the leapfrog stage.)

Monday, March 8, 2010


My brain is swollen from editing. I would blog about my progress, but I've used up all of my creative oomph for the day and I worry my eyes are no longer able to catch any glaring errors I might type. Instead, I will let my new favorite sage, Taylor Mali, entertain you with a message about the importance of proofreading.

*Warning: If young and impressionable children are within hearing range, you may want to watch this later. Some lines are rated PG-13. Maybe R. I don't know what the guidelines are these days.*

I know. I heart him too.

What's the most funny or embarrassing mistake you've made in your writing because you didn't proofread thoroughly? You may also list non-personal examples.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


March will be all about editing my novel. I love the editing process. I'm pretty sure Daft Punk does too. Why else would they make a song consisting almost entirely of editing verbs?

Technologic is my song of the month. Some of the words don't apply to me, but most do. I might write a few of them on my hands (like the guy in the video) as a reminder of what to do in the days ahead.

Take notes. They give good advice.

I have created cliff notes for those who don't have time to watch the video. Important directions are in bold, or red, or both.

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick - erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag and drop it, zip - unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam - unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch - update it,
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax - rename it,
Touch it, bring it, Pay it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, start - format it.


(The REAL video for this song is a bit creepy. If you're a horror writer check it out.)

As you can see from all those verbs, I will be busy. I'm sorry if I slack off on blogging or commenting.
How's your writing coming along? What's your goal(s) for the month? Do you have a song that motivates you?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


UPDATE 3/3: You missed the query critique. Sorry. But...

Weronika Janczuk is having an AMAZING CONTEST where you can win books, critiques, and more! Go check her out and follow her blog. She is going to be one of those literary world superstars and we can all say, "I knew her back when."

If you want to see what you missed keep reading, but please don't get upset if you wanted to participate. I don't want all that guilt on my conscious.

YOUR STORY DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COMPLETE! Or polished, or edited, or ready to submit. All you need is a query and your first 10 pages. If you have that and can follow simple directions then you are guaranteed feedback.

The extremely generous Weronika Janczuk is offering to critique ALL queries and sample pages that hit her email box TONIGHT between the hours of 6-8pm (EST). Quick! Run! Type fast! Send it to your betas to be proofread. You're running out of time! Even if you won't be ready to query for another 6 months, wouldn't the opinion and feedback of a gatekeeper for a literary agent be PRICELESS to you?

Mmm hmm, I thought so.

Even if you don't seize the opportunity to get feedback from Weronika, go follow her blog because she's fabulous.

Why are you still reading this? Go! Follow her!

Monday, March 1, 2010


My lovely friend, Dominique, posted a great video/poem on her blog. She said it was genius, and I couldn't agree more. Before you watch the referenced brilliant video, let me explain why I wanted to reach through my computer screen and hug Taylor Mali.

As a YA writer, I sometimes wonder if I'm classifying myself in the correct genre. My stories blur that fine line between YA and adult. My teen characters will never be the types to, like, totally talk in that teen slang stereotype. My fictitious crew are more "mature" than most regular teens, but you'd need to read the books for that to make sense and not offend anyone. Even if my stories didn't contain characters living fantasy lives that gave them much more life experience than real-life teens, I would still give teenagers more credit. Not ALL of them say like, or totally, or whatever, or repeat the newest popular phrase or word every other sentence. I believe teens can read a story and relate to the characters emotions, decisions, trials and tribulations, etc. without having to throw in ten pop culture references and forcing their speech patterns to sound like what's popular.

First of all, that kind of writing will date your novel.
Secondly, teens and fads change fast. One old man sings a funny song on American Idol and all of a sudden the newest saying in high schools revolves around "pants on the ground." If you aren't psychic and don't know what will be popular in a year or two (because that's how long it will take your book to make it to print even if you signed tomorrow) it's next to impossible to sound current for that exact moment in time. Plus, don't you want people to read your book years or decades from now and not feel like they are flashing back to the year 2010? (Unless that's the point of your book, then by all means, make 2010 as nostalgic as possible.)

Third, --and this is the most sad, but also kind of funny--adults are starting to sound as bad as teens. (I mean that in the nicest way. I know I'm guilty of it at times.) BUT, as a writer, I hope I can write better than I speak. That I can figure out a way to make my stories and characters feel real and believable in more effective ways than by creating lazy dialogue lines. Please, good literary gods, give me the power to provide my readers with more than that.

I'm not out to change the world by taking a stand against excessive and improper use of adverbs, the word like, or adding ya know? to the ends of sentences that aren't questions. I just want my characters (or at least most of them) to be articulate. I want them to speak with conviction. I want to help make declarative sentences cool again and inspire meaningful speaking with well-spoken dialogue. Not so much that I become a historical writer, using only proper English that doesn't sound current (they have another fabulous genre for that), but enough that I can read my stories ten years from now and be proud that I only slipped in a few current bad habits into my characters speech patterns.

*Steps down off soapbox* Watch the video. You'll not only be entertained, smile, and nod your head in agreement, you'll understand what I'm trying to say...ya know?

Popular Posts


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Blog Archive

Write. Read. Imagine. Create. Learn. Love. Live. Repeat.