Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Season

Well... Halloween’s over. Not sure about you guys, but we take that holiday very seriously in my house. Maybe it has something to do with my deep-rooted love for costumes… maybe. I might have been the kid that wore her cowboy costume to school on a day that wasn’t Halloween. Dead winter, in fact. I remember because it was a pain in the butt to trade those chaps in for snow pants at recess. But that brings me to my next point. Now begins The Season.

I can now absentmindedly hum Christmas carols at work without sounding like a complete premature nincompoop. I still can’t sing them mindedly until after Thanksgiving, but that’s alright. Only three weeks.

I’ll be honest though. I got in the holiday spirit a little early this year. At work, we were sent one of those catalogs full of Christmas card options. I flipped through it one day on my lunch hour and there was this one picture that jumped out at me. It’s probably the most cliché scene ever. One of those Thomas Kinkaid types, with a snowy farmhouse at sunset and sleigh rides. But it wasn’t really the scene that got me. It was the sunset. The orange glow setting below the silhouetted snow-covered trees. It reminded me of winter nights at my dad’s house, sitting on the vent, trying to get warm and looking out his large back windows at the sunset. We didn’t own a farm house or have sleigh rides pass our front door. But that was my sunset.

Have you ever stumbled on something cliché that even though you knew it was cliché, it made you a little nostalgic? What makes a cliché personal? Is it your own experiences, or is it something in its delivery?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The In-Between Time

I’m back! Well… actually I never left. I’ve been lurking in the blog shadows – not nearly as creepily as that makes it sound.

Anyway, adjusting to the working world and still finding the time (and energy) to write is tough. I’m finding it difficult to exist fully in both realms – that is, my imagination and the real world. When Imagination takes over, it takes over completely. But I can’t let it the way I used to. I have to exist Monday through Friday until five in the real world. And slipping behind the veil again is not as simple. I don’t know about you guys, but for me, it takes me awhile to settle back into myself (having acted the part of a normal person all day) before I can drift off into Christine World – as the people who witness the transformation like to call it. Not that I mind acting like a normal person all day – it’s fun. And a refreshing breather from my own head. It’s easy to get lost in there.

And in some ways this writing break has been good for me. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all the editing and needed a pair of fresh eyes. I started up again last weekend and I’m pretty pleased with the progress I’m making so far. But really, I’m just glad I have something to edit. I’m not quite ready to start writing again yet. I’ve got several new story ideas rolling through my head and as soon as I decide to latch onto one, I just know it’ll suck me in completely. And I’ll admit… for now, I’m enjoying this freedom.

Do you take advantage of the time in-between stories? What do you do with it? Or is the call of your next story too strong to take a break?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why Do You Write?

*WARNING: this post may contain sentimental themes inappropriate for cynics

The simple and probably boring answer would be because I have to. That I can’t help it. And while that’s all good and true… for me, it’s more than that.

I have one sibling. She’s ten. And happens to be every bit as much of a bookworm (read: nerd) as I am. *cheers*

I’ve been staying at my mom’s house for the past week. There are many advantages to this. Free food… not having to cook said free food… clean laundry… and my sister. We started reading a book together last weekend, taking turns chapter by chapter (yes, using strange voices). So far, it’s proved to be a very good book, and has enchanted my sister so far as to inspire her to draw pictures of the main characters, and start writing a new story of her own.

This is why I write.

And maybe why I love writing children's fiction. Adults are better at disguising their inspiration, or talking themselves out of it. But with kids, they get an idea and just go for it. They’re a lot braver in that sense. And so much more willing to try new things. And that’s why I write. To inspire others. Because I still feel that sometimes. And I know there are very few feelings that rival this falling-so-deeply-in-love-with-a-piece-of-art-that-you’re-inspired-to-create-your-own thing. And I hope that some day some kid will feel this after reading one of my books.

Why do you write?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

La Germinal

I’ve been a bit MIA for the past few weeks, and I’ve missed you all! *waves* I recently started a new job and I’ve been taking some time to settle in, adjust to the new schedule and all that.

And yes, that includes a break from writing. *quivers*

It’s interesting. Before I started working again I’d hit a sort of slump, writing-wise. I had a few story ideas rolling through my head while I edited my current WIP, but I wasn’t in love with any of them. And then one day, riding the L home from work… POOF! NEW STORY EXTRODINARE! I haven’t done anything with it yet. I usually like to mull the idea around for a little bit before I actually start writing it. And I’m trying to be a bit more organized this time. IE come up with the plot before I get half-way through.


Heh… Yeah. I’m a dreamer.

But really, it’s amazing what can come to you when you’re crammed like a sardine in a subway car. And by that, I mean, when you’re out actually EXPERIENCING things. Sometimes I forget that my imagination needs a little fuel, and that doesn’t always come from sitting in front of a computer screen.

I also notice that my inspiration level depends on the time of the year. Maybe it’s coincidence, but the last three books I’ve written have all been started at some point during the spring. The time of rebirth and rejuvenation. I guess it makes sense. I think a lot of writers are more sensitive to things like environment and seasonal changes. *listens for crickets* No? Just me?


I love this time though. The time before I actually sit down and start writing, when the idea is just a seed that can grow into absolutely anything. I’m curious though. Does the time of year affect you at all? How do you come up with your story ideas? Do they just come to you or do you actively brainstorm? Do you enjoy the brainstorming or do you feel panicked without a plan? I’d love to hear from you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Followers, Friends, and Pen-pals

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately. How social networking, well, maybe even just the ease of the internet has changed the nature of friendships, acquaintances, work partnerships, etc. Most of my friends live far away now. I’ve got one in India, two in California – and one of those I’ve never actually met in person *waves*. You see, that’s what I’m talking about. Today, it’s possible to make great friends without ever meeting them in real life.

The way you communicate is just a little different. There’s less room for subtlety. You have to be blunter about your thoughts and feelings, which, I don’t know about you guys, but I find it actually kind of freeing. There’s less opportunity for those silly games people play that were always supposed to end in high school (but never do). You don’t have the luxury of facial clues to tell you how someone’s feeling. You can’t judge tone of voice from an email. So you have to pick up subtleties in other ways. Through an emoticon or two, and through their writing. Perhaps this is a writer’s dream. I’ve always been better at expressing myself through written word than in person.

I’m not really sure what my point is, or if I even have a point. I just think we’re lucky to live in an age where all of this is possible. What do you guys think? Has twitter/facebook/email changed the nature of relationships? How do you feel about it?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice Contest!

Hey guys! Have you signed up for Brenda Drake's Show Me the Voice Contest yet? If you haven't, hurry up and do it! It's an awesome way to get crits from your peers. And winners get critiques from lit agent Natalie Fischer!

Anyway, here's my entry. I'd love some feedback!  
Because of everyone's EXCELLENT feedback, I've made a few changes. Namely, the opening sentence/paragraph. But a few alterations throughout, as well. So, the updated version is in bold below. Scroll all the way down if you're interested in comparing it to the original (in black).

Title: Cloudburst
Genre: YA Fantasy

For me, blue has never been a peaceful color. It’s the color of water. And a blaring neon reminder of the things I can, but shouldn’t do.
            I was having an even harder time than usual resisting those things this morning.
I glared at the beads of condensation rolling down the window. The itch was strong enough to make my hands shake. I stretched my fingers and rubbed my palms across my jeans. I wouldn’t give in.
A fat droplet caught my eye. It oozed down the glass, shedding a thin, wet trail. It gorged on the smaller beads and ballooned.
Any minute now, it would burst.
I gripped the window frame. A sweat broke across my back. I ached with anticipation.
There was a place in my chest, just below the ribcage that hummed whenever I was near water. Now it swelled to a throb.
I licked my lips. Another bead and the droplet was too heavy. It pealed away from the glass. A shudder raked my spine. It spattered. I felt the jolt deep in my gut.
I sighed; a sound so low it was almost a moan.
I flinched. Forcing a smile, I spun and looked at Mom.
She didn’t see, did she? What would she have seen? I didn’t even do anything. And even if I had, she wouldn’t notice. She wouldn’t know what to look for.
I swallowed the lump that’d lodged itself in my throat. “Why would I be nervous?”
            “First day of your Junior year? Seems like a pretty good reason to me.”
            Oh, that. I shrugged. “Maybe a little.”

And here's the original:

I glared at the drops of condensation rolling down the window. They shimmered in a way that had nothing to do with the sun. In a way I always suspected only I could see.
At least, I don’t know anyone else who has these urges.
A fat droplet caught my eye. It oozed down the glass, shedding a thin, wet trail. It gorged on the smaller beads and ballooned.
Any minute now, it would fall. Burst.
I gripped the window frame. A fevered sweat broke across my back. My heart sped with anticipation.
There was a place in my chest, just below the ribcage that hummed whenever I was near water. Now it swelled to a throb.
The droplet consumed another cluster of dew. I licked my lips. Another bead and it was too heavy. It pealed away from the glass. A shudder raked my spine. It spattered. I felt the jolt deep in my gut.
I sighed; a sound so low it was almost a moan.
I jumped. My cheeks burned. I forced a smile as I spun and looked at Mom.
She didn’t see, did she? What would she have seen? I didn’t even do anything. And even if I had, she wouldn’t notice. She wouldn’t know what to look for.
I swallowed the lump that’d lodged itself in my throat. “Why would I be nervous?”
            “First day of your Junior year? Seems like a pretty good reason to me.”
            Oh, that. I shrugged. “Maybe a little.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

First Chapters

First chapters are hard, right? RIGHT? Good. Glad we’re all in agreement. Because let’s be honest, a first chapter can make or break a book. Or at least they determine whether someone keeps reading.

The funny thing about first chapters is that they’re usually the last ones we write. Your book probably isn’t ‘done’ until you’ve rewritten the first chapter about fifty times. Maybe that’s hyperbole. Maybe not. *shuffles in front of over-flowing trashcan* *kicks crumpled pieces of paper under desk*

We have to pack so much stuff into them… but at the same time make it look like we haven’t. A dash of back-story. BUT NOT TOO MUCH because people will lose interest. Action, but not too much of that either. You gotta make your readers care about your characters before you send them to the guillotine. You don’t want them saying, “sure, hack off that head, I don’t care.”

So how do you do that? How do you make them care? Is it internal dialogue? External dialogue? Setting? Descriptions? Action? Tension? Characterization? Voice?

I think it’s different for every book. It’s the way you sprinkle all those different aspects in, like your very own recipe. But I think every good first chapter has at least a little bit of all of those. It’s finding the right balance. And of course, it all really does boil down to character. You’re basically asking your readers to take a really long road trip with your characters. Do you think they’ll agree to get in the car without knowing them first? And if it looks like you crammed too much into the back seat, or if the air-conditioning is broken, or if the radio’s busted so it only gets AM stations? Well then, good luck. The only one who’s gonna get in is that creepy-looking hitchhiker standing there with his chainsaw.

What do you think makes a good chapter? What keeps you reading? And what makes you want to stop?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Birthday Sweets

Hi everyone! Just a few announcements. For those of you who didn't hear my excited squeals all the way from Chicago (in wherever you are) over the weekend, today is my birthday! Being the generous creature that I am, I've decided to share it with... MY NEW WEBSITE! Check it out. I'm painfully proud. Even though the site seems to be having updating issues today... that or that typo I'm trying to get rid of really wants to stay.

I also received a sweet award over the weekend. Literally. Thanks to Morgan Lee over at FantasyFairy, I'm now a proud new owner of the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award!

Now, of course there are a few fun rules that come with accepting this award.

1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
2. Share 4 guilty pleasures that you have.
3. Pass the award along to 6 other sweet blogs

So thanks again, Morgan!

Now for the part you've all been waiting for, I know... My guilty pleasures! I'll be honest, I don't feel too guilty about these, but I've decided that I probably should.
  1. Chocolate. Of any sort. Cookies, cake, candy. I limit myself, but sometimes the craving us just too strong.
  2. Coffee. I love the taste. It's hard on my stomach, so I try not to drink it, but sometimes it just can't be helped.
  3. Sweaters. Date night? This bulky turtleneck doesn't make me look that frumpy. And if it does? Sorry, Sweetie.
  4. Writing. Now, that's only recently become a GUILTY pleasure. And only because lately I've had so many other things I should have been doing instead. But... I don't feel that bad about it.

Now, I’d like to pass this award onto:

  1. Barbara Kloss over at Scribbles & Jots 
  2. Sarah J. Schmitt
  3. Lori M. Lee at You are the Unicorn of My Dreams
  4. Erica M. Chapman at Laugh.Write.Play
  5. Diana Paz
  6. Demitria Lunetta
Thanks for stopping by and have a Happy Monday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Contest Alert!

Hey you guys! There's a really great contest going on over at Beyond Words right NOW. Agent Michael Carr is doing the judging, and it's open to the first 75 entries so go get yours in! Here are the rules:

1) The contest is now live!
2) It will be capped at the first 75 entries or, if we don't get 75 entries, it'll cut off at Midnight GMT on the 7th March.
3) You have to be a follower of my blog to enter.
4) You have to blog about this contest and post your link along with the twitter pitch. (If you don't have a blog, then Twitter or
Facebook will do. But only if you don't have a blog - not instead).
5) Alongside your 140 twitter pitch (you'll be disqualified if it's longer) you'll be asked to submit the first three sentences of your manuscript - so make sure they're polished and ready to go!
6) Once the contest opens, it'll be first come first serve to enter. Anything after 75 entries won't be counted.

Pretty great, right? So what are you waiting for?!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm a Stylish Blogger!

Hey guys, take a look at the side bar. See that shinny award hanging out over there? No? ... It's possible I set it up wrong, so just in case, here it is again!

It was so generously awarded to me by the lovely Brenda Drake over at Brenda Drake Writes...under the influence of coffee. Now, this award comes with a few fun rules. In accepting it, you have to:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave the award
2. State seven things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to any recently discovered great bloggers

So... thank you Brenda! Seriously, you guys should check out her blog. It's awesome, and she has another contest coming up on March 1. Personally, I can't wait!

I'd like to pass this award along to Sarah J. Schmitt over at Journey of a Writing Hoosier where she discusses books and writing - basically all the fun stuff.

Now, onto the seven things about me...
1. I wrote my first novel in a glittery green notebook when I was 12 and it was awful. I've since hunted for said notebook, but I think it crawled away to die with whatever was left of its dignity many years ago.
2. The background of my computer is a scene from Howl's Moving Castle, one of my all-time favorite movies (and books). If you haven't read anything by Dianna Wynne Jones, you should correct that immediately.
3. I will be 24 in a couple of weeks and I'm still getting used to being 23.
4. I met the love of my life when I was eighteen and we've been together ever since. (that's almost 6 years, for those of you mathematically-challenged-writer-folk.)
5. I draw to get a feel for my characters and I've recently started thinking about my next project. Last night, said boyfriend, apparently feeling ignored, looked over my shoulder at the picture below and asked if I like that man with the Adam's Apple the size of a testicle more than him. LOL. The answer is no.

6. In drawing, the thing I struggle with most is feet.
7. Aaaand last but not least, I have one sibling, a little sister about the age of the little girl in that drawing. And she's probably my best friend.

So that's it! Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

Monday, February 21, 2011

DNA Writers Contest

Hey guys, so just in case you haven't heard, there's this awesome contest going on over at the DNA Writers blog. Go check it out. Right now. You'll thank me later.

But seriously, they're all being so generous with their time. And all you have to do is fill out a short form. Prizes include:
  • Brenda: Free $25 Amazon gift card.
  • Shelley: Free book from the Book Depository under $15.
  • Erica: Free book from the Book Depository under $15.
  • Cassandra: Free 10 pg MS critique or 4 pg synopsis critique.
  • Diana: Free $15 Starbucks e-gift card.
  • Janelle: SIGNED paperback of Lisa McMann's WAKE
GRAND PRIZE: Full substantial edit of 80k or less (MG or YA only) from Kari!
Me? I want the 10 pg MS critique. And of course the grand prize, but who doesn't? It's awesome! So wish me luck and go enter!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cures for the Writing Funk

It seems to me that for the last few days, there’ve been some writing funks lurking around the blogosphere. Myself included. Not because of anything in particular, just a general lack of confidence and feeling of hopelessness. Maybe querying has something to do with it. Putting yourself out there is hard, and it’s easy to convince yourself that everyone and their mother will shoot you down. Could be the weather. I think as writers, we’re generally more sensitive to shifts in our outward environments. At least I am. And this bleak weather definitely does nothing to improve my moods.

I was reading a post about this over at Operation Awesome yesterday. So how do you pull yourself out of such funks? I didn’t know. And then last night I found the answer.

Coffee ice-cream.

I ate an entire container of it at 11:30 at night. Not the brightest move in the world, but my boyfriend’s friend was over and they were using our bedroom TV to play videogames. We weren’t going to bed any time soon.

So I plugged in my headphones to drown out the sound of Spiderman’s web-slinging and decided to take another crack at writing. I’m guessing it was a combination of the coffee ice-cream and forcing myself to keep at it, but I actually started to feel better.

So I thought I’d compile a list of cures for the Writing Funk. Feel free to add to it if you think of anything!

  • Coffee ice-cream. Try it. You can thank me later.
  • Wallow-music. It’s different for everyone, but whatever makes you feel better when you’re down.
  • A good book. Nothing better to take your mind off things. Unless, of course, it starts to remind you of your mess of a WIP. In that case, try…
  • Mindless TV shows. Self explanatory.
  • Exercise. They say it helps clear you’re head. Try at your own risk.
  • Cleaning. I can’t think straight when my surroundings are a mess. An early spring cleaning is a good way to order my thoughts. The act is refreshing and it’s mindless enough that you can mull over ideas about WIPs.

Can you think of anything else? Write it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Writing Heroes

We all want to be heroes. We all want to think that we’re the kind of person who would stand up and fight. No one wants to be the one who ran away, even if staying means you’re probably insane.

But the truth is… we’re writers. There’s a reason we write about other people’s heroics. There’s a reason we don’t put on capes and prowl the streets in search of crime. Heroes are stoic, composed. Writers? Well, we aren’t typically known for being calloused. Unless you count the funny looking bumps on our fingers where we hold our pens.

So where do we get this hair-brained idea that we know how to write about heroes?

We might not dress up in capes or save the world, but like our beloved characters, we know struggle. We know rejection. Heck, maybe the whole publishing industry is set up the way it is just to help us become better writers. There's no way our struggles won't spill over into the lives of our characters. And who wants to read about a character's smooth sailing?

The good news? The battle never ends. There will always be people who think we’re crazy for doing what we do. But anyone who pursues a dream that might be a little “unconventional” knows that the hardest battles are fought within ourselves. We can have the support of the world, but there will always be that little voice in our heads telling us we’re insane. The struggle is in refusing to listen to it. And that is good news, because without it, we'd be writing about sunshine and rainbows and forget there was ever a storm.

So go ahead. Write those heroes. You’ve earned it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's it Called?

Ever since I finished the first draft of my manuscript, some eight months ago, I've been searching for a title. Originally, it was The Kingery Ring Conspiracy, which I thought was okay... But after all my revisions, it didn't really fit anymore. And I was worried it was too Middle Grade. So I've spent the last few weeks calling it this or that, hoping something would stick. And I think I finally came up with something I like. So here goes... *drum roll please*


Be honest. Like it? Hate it? *bites nails* Either way, it's something to work with while I query. Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Hazards of Writing

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! But seriously, didn’t we *just* have last year’s like… a month ago? I can’t believe how quickly this year went for me. I don’t know if this happens to you guys, but whenever I’m writing, I feel like the days pass so much faster than normal.

January 2009, I started my WIP. After many, many edits and rewrites, I finished it about a month ago. And this is really the first time I’ve resurfaced since I started the thing. And I’m realizing that that rewrite I did a month ago was actually more like six months ago. And that first round of edits? More like nine. Apparently I’ve been swimming in a writerly fog.

I think the feeling comes from living in two worlds. It’s like in those fantasy novels when a character finds a hidden world and discovers that time passes differently there. What might be just a few seconds in fantasy world can be years in the real one, and vise versa. I feel like one of those characters. I’ve lived so completely and for so long in the world I created that coming out again feels… strange. Everything is a little less familiar. And I can’t for the life of me figure out where all those days went.

Does that happen to you guys? Does time lose you when you’re working on a project?

Monday, February 7, 2011

It was a Dark and Stormy Blogfest

Hey guys! So Brenda Drake is hosting this super cool blogfest over at Brenda Drake Writes. Go check it out! There are three awesome prizes offered by literary agent Weronika Janczuk from D4EO literary agency. To enter, all the entrants are posting the first line from their completed manuscripts.

Here's mine:

YA Fantasy
The Kingery Conservatory of Elemental Enchantment

I grabbed my backpack and glanced out the front window, half expecting to see a pair of eyes watching me from between the trees.

I changed it after some great feedback. I actually originally had it in two sentences, but for some reason started to second-guess myself and mushed it into one. I suppose I should have just trusted my instincts the first time around :-)

Anyway I've returned this to my first paragraph:
I grabbed my backpack and glanced out the front window, half expecting to see a pair of eyes watching me from between the trees. Which of course, was ridiculous, since it had only been a dream.

Thanks for all the feedback. Keep it coming! And good luck to all the entrants. This should be fun!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pay It Forward

Shelli is hosting this awesome Pay It Forward blogfest/contest at her blog http://faeriality.blogspot.com/2011/01/need-agent-pay-it-forward-contest.html in which she and her participants recognize a person (or people) who have helped them in their writing journey or personal life. Go check it out!
Everyone always says that when it comes to people reading your manuscript, you shouldn’t trust your family. And I get that. I mean, my mom has mine listed under her favorite books on facebook. But my grandfather isn’t like that. He’s honest, brutally so sometimes. And I always know that when he praises something, it’s for real.

            So, if there’s one person who’s been the biggest help to my writing, it’s him. He is the one person I can count on to give me honest feedback. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. If something isn’t working, even if he’s not sure what it is or why, he tells me. He doesn’t dance around anything or worry about it hurting my feelings.
I have critique partners, and don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but sometimes people get so caught up in the “complement sandwich” that they forget the layer of criticism. Or they’re too worried about offending you to be as harsh as your writing needs them to be.
            But honestly? We’re writers. If we can’t take the criticism, we should probably start considering another profession. Beta readers, critique partners… they’re just the beginning.
            I was about fourteen when I let my grandpa read my first novel. It was a train wreck. I mean, I was fourteen when I finished it, so really, I must have been twelve or thirteen writing it. I had every right to write a mess of a book. But he waded through it patiently, offering advice and correcting my disastrous grammar. He was never mean (still not) but he was always honest. And it’s that honesty that’s helped me grow as a writer.
            It stings sometimes, and I remember my fourteen-year-old self struggling with separating myself from the writing. Because that’s what we have to do. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but our writing is not us. When someone criticizes our writing, they’re not criticizing us. It’s the reality of writing. And without my grandfather, I wouldn’t be half as prepared.
            The thing is... he’s sick. We’re not sure how much longer we’ll get to have him. And I can’t imagine writing without him. I know he’s my grandfather and I shouldn’t expect him to be around forever. But I wish he could be.
This is going to sound so cheesy, so I apologize in advance. But it’s true when I say he’ll always live through my writing. His words and advice are entombed there. He’s played such an active role in helping me grow that only way I could ever hope to repay him is to just keep writing. And I will.
            Is there anyone that’s helped you along your journey? What did they do for you?

And here's my four sentence pitch entry for Shelli's contest:

When 16-year-old Jemma Stone is attacked by a cult of men in wooden masks, she flees to the safety of Kingery Conservatory of Elemental Enchantment, the school where she will learn to harness her ability to manipulate the four elements. Only, Kingery isn’t as perfect or as safe as it seems. There’s a darkness in its past that threatens to creep out of the shadows. And when the masked men start appearing at Kingery, Jemma must figure out why they want her dead and what it has to do with the school’s sinister past before they succeed in killing her, or worse, the person she has come to love most.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finding Twitterland

I’ll admit, I was once one of those people who thought twitter was just an excuse for self-obsessed losers to listen to themselves talk. I didn’t need a group of followers to feel validated. So I resisted. And resisted.
It wasn’t until I went to my first writer’s conference a few months ago that I changed my mind. If you’re a writer and you’ve never been to a conference, I suggest you fix that. Immediately. Not only were the panels and classes and critique sessions immensely helpful, but the people there… the other writers… never had I been somewhere surrounded by such a large group of people who got me. A group of people who understood staying up until three am to finish a scene, who spend 90% of their free time writing and the other 10% thinking about it. I found a community there that I never imagined existed. And after I came home, I missed that. You can talk to your friends and family about writing, and (hopefully) they’ll be interested and encouraging. But unless they write, they won’t understand.
            So I began searching for a way to stay in touch with that community. I visited blogs and websites, and one thing I found in common was that just about everyone was on twitter.
            In the back of my mind, I always knew I’d have to join eventually. It’s great for getting a following. But I guess I always figured it’d be when I found an agent or a publisher and they forced me to sign up to establish a platform.
            But the thing I didn’t realize was that there are so many advantages to signing up before all that. I’ve learned more about different agents and querying and the whole publishing process in general in these last few months on twitter than I had in all the research I’d done before. And I’d done a lot. I didn’t realize how out of the loop I was until I found the loop.
            Twitter connected me to a community. The feeling I felt at that conference isn’t gone. There’s such a strong, welcoming community of writers out there. *waves* I wish I’d signed up sooner.
            How has twitter helped you guys? Or is there something else that’s helped you on your journey?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Good Use for Semicolons ;-)

Friends, followers, lurkers, lend me your ears… Okay so I thought I’d do a short rant – I mean, post, on grammar. The kind you might find on Twitter or on Facebook. Mostly Facebook, I guess, because you probably wouldn’t squander one of your 140 characters on an incorrect punctuation mark, or on any punctuation mark for that matter. No, I’m not talking about shortening you to u or a missed period. That’s fine. It’s social media. I’m talking about the people you may or may not be Friends with who go out of their way to try and make it look like they’re grammar experts. The ones that try so hard and fail so miserably. It’s not misspelled words. We all make mistakes. I’m talking about the posts that think they’re so clever with their 50 word sentences broken up with semicolons instead of commas and periods. Semicolons. Professionals find rare occasions for them in NOVELS. Do you really think you need five in one sentence? The sad thing is, these people must think they do. Otherwise, why use one at all? Basically, what I guess I’m trying to say is don’t use semicolons on Facebook or Twitter because it makes you look a like a jerk*. End rant - er - post.

*My apologies to anyone who has used one correctly. Please continue to do so.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Makes You Stronger

One of my goals for the new year was to start a blog. And here I am, not even into February and I’m already doing it. *pats self on back* Honestly, other than being busy finishing my WIP, it’s only taken me so long because I’m convinced I have nothing worthwhile to say. That might seem strange, me being a writer and all, but I write FANTASY. I make things up. It’s what I’m good at. And this writing about real stuff thing? It’s kind of wigging me out. So if I start telling you guys about how I met a fire-breathing, pink-spotted, pint-sized talking giraffe yesterday, I apologize. Old habits die hard. But hopefully it’ll be something less lame than what I just mentioned.
            Anyway, I thought I’d christen my blog with a post for you guys get to know a little bit about me. Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night in 1987, I was born… just kidding. Let’s skip ahead 22 years.
            I started writing my current WIP about a year ago. I was working at the time as a hostess in a fancy Italian restaurant. Not exactly my dream job, but it paid the rent. And then the best possible thing happened to me. No, I didn’t find an agent or get published (yes, that would have been better, but I wasn’t ready for that yet). I got sick.
            I have either Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, the doctors aren’t sure. They’re basically the same thing, anyway. And I was in the middle of a terrible flare-up (that’s what they call it when the disease is active). I can’t really explain the hell that is a flare, but imagine this. The moment you walk into a store, a restaurant, a museum, you make plans. You chart your course to the nearest bathroom in you head, and you hope it isn’t one with a single stall. Just in case there’s a line.
            It doesn’t sound like the greatest thing ever, I know, but I’m getting there. So when you hit that rock bottom, where every day is an absolute struggle and all you want to do is crawl into bed and hide for the rest for your life but you can’t because you still have to run to the bathroom every fifteen minutes, something happens. Or at least, something happened to me.
            Let me back up just a bit. I wrote a novel for my senior thesis and hadn’t written anything since. Not a single word. I’d hit a dry spell. My mind was an inspirationless desert. (yes I will be making up words, get used to it) For almost a year. And that’s a long time for me to go without writing.
            So amidst my sick fog, I decided that that was enough. I needed to start writing again. And like that, some of the fog lifted. I had an idea. Now, let me clarify. Health-wise, I wasn’t getting better. If anything, I was getting worse. I was going to the doctor’s every other week it seemed, conferencing, getting tests, trying to get this thing under control. And eventually, my doctor decided to put me on prednisone.
            For those of you that don’t know, prednisone is a medicinal steroid that makes you swell up like a balloon. And a less common side-effect, it makes my joints swell too, which made it really hard to stand all day. So I quit my job.
            Long story short, I was determined, and I wrote a 130,000 word novel in about three months. Yikes, I know. After several revisions, it is now 79,000 words, a much more respectable number for YA fantasy, let me assure you.
            And I’ve begun THE PROCESS. *shudders*
            Only year later and I feel worlds away from where I was last year. I’m healthy. And I’m hopeful. And I’ve started a blog.
            Have you guys ever hit a low that made you stronger? I’d love to hear about it!