Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hook First - Then Line and Sinker

Sometimes you find nuggets of joy on AW, so when I found this blog, I decided to join in on the fun to see how my first paragraph would fare in their contest. I didn't win, but I got a healthy amount of votes that (if I remember right) landed me third place in that particular group. Yay.

One commenter hoped that I might enlighten them as to what is going on to create such a first paragraph/line, and I figured I'd share. After all, why not? I've already delivered Lucan upon a bunch of you guys, so the opening of Illusion's Trick is no big deal, especially since it is in need of some major repairs, and not much of this may survive. I even edited what you'll read below because I couldn't stand putting up the original version. I agree with several commenters that the first line isn't *quite* right, though whether it's because of "while" instead of "when" or something else, I'm still not sure, so I've just left it intact for now until I figure out what I want to do with it.

Anywho, this is where the first line leads, and if I had more "oomf" in me today, I'd supply a fast synopsis/pitch, but I don't remember where I scribbled it down. Oh well.

When other girls at the ages of five and six dreamed of being rescued from high towers by knights in shining armor, I dreamed of being kidnapped.

Sorry, before I give the wrong impression, let me qualify that. Yes, I did dream about being kidnapped, but not in the typical sense. I didn’t imagine strange people snatching me as I walked home from school or getting dragged off into a dark van or any equally disturbing scenario. I loved my family (and still do). The idea of running away into the real world scared me. No, I just thought it would be fun to be whisked away into a fantasy land. I dreamed that somewhere, somehow, a prince from a distant land completely unconnected to ours saw me and became so enamored he ordered his men to carry me away.

And they did.

And by the way, for those of you coming in from the first line contest (if anyone is), the boy eventually reappears much later when the girl here (Gabrielle) is grown. His name is Lucan, and you can read a juicy tidbit involving these two which was my post for the No Kiss Blogfest.

Hades and Persephone ~ View this in full here and check out Sandara's other amazing works. (Lucan isn't this dark, I just tend to associate him and Gabrielle as opposites attracting...deliciously.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1st Draft: Finished

The completion of a first draft is at once a triumph and a depressing moment.

Sure, you've written those magical words - "The End" - and at the time they seem to tie up everything in the story into a neat little bow.

And yet, now that you've finished, you get to go back and look at all the glaring mistakes. All the things you did wrong. All those tiny plot pieces that need to be fixed. All. Those. Things. They're just sitting there, lurking, waiting, and you have to go back and look at them all and fix them and it seems like you're writing the damn thing all over again.


And then, of course, if you have a critique partner (or two or three), they get to point out all the screw ups you haven't seen. All the things your audience would see and wonder about (which is why you have the critique partners and betas in the first place). So you sit back and read their comments and get all pissed. Not because they're pointing out stuff, but because now you have to go back and fix it and you just want to be done already so you can start querying, and yet at the same time you know you can't because querying what you have now would just be like shooting yourself in the foot because no agent/editor in his/her right mind would take your book.

It's a prime headdesk moment.

I suppose I can't complain. It's just tiring. Yes, I've just finished a first draft (ok, I finished it yesterday), but now I have a list of things to do, a list I've been compiling that just seems to continue growing. And I don't want to go back and fix it. I'm tired. Again, for people who don't think writing is work, you can go $#!% off because it is, and I'm tired and I can't do it anymore. True, I shouldn't complain, being that this draft is a record breaking 3ish months for me (though honestly, I think if you condense the days I actually worked on it, it's more like 2 which is RIDICULOUS for me, but hey, that's what happens when a muse sits on your shoulders and doesn't. Leave. You. Alone.), but still.

Other writers understand, I'm sure. That moment where you've written so much for so long you can't write anymore lest you puke all over your manuscript or set it on fire or just yell, "I HATE YOU" at your computer screen. Yeah. I'm at that point now. Which is kind of depressing since I was having such a grand time with this story. But alas, now I see its flaws and it's bumming me out.

But hey, whatcha gonna do? (and yes, I will accept calling the Ghostbusters as an answer)

Until then, enjoy this interview with Jill Myles on writing sex scenes. I haven't read her book yet, but it's on my list.

Yep. That's me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dos and Don'ts (Mostly Don'ts)

As a member of the Absolute Write Water Cooler (where I tend to go to procrastinate, so in hindsight, maybe joining wasn't such a great idea), I often mosey on over to more people's blogs. Often more than I would under normal circumstances. Procrastination. What can I say?

But I have found a few fun nuggets. The other day I found this by Kate Hart, aspiring YA writer, and it got me thinking about how I react to certain questions people put to me when I tell them I'm a writer. First off, do these. But that's pretty much after you're published, so those don't really apply to me (yet). For now, keep these in mind when it comes to questions not to ask:

  • "So what's the book is about?" Frankly, I hate this question. I'm willing to tell you what genre it is, and that's pretty much it. Summing up my book(s) to people on a constant basis ruffles my feathers. Mostly because I'm uncomfortable divulging summaries about works that are fantasy or SF since basically everyone asking me doesn't really read those genres. Likewise a lot of people that don't tend to think poorly of them, which leads into the next point.

  • "Are you seriously writing that?" Exactly what Kate said: Don't be condescending. Nothing sucks more than a person who disses on your book/genre/the fact that you call it work. I've been lucky in that I've only ever experienced one jackass who stated that he thought F/SF was lame and then for some bizarre reason proceeded to grill me about my book. I can't remember the last time I was that uncomfortable. And yes, writing a novel is a pain. You write over 70,000 words and see how easy it is. Just because we choose to do it and yes, it is fun sometimes, it doesn't mean it's all candy and roses. Why else do you think not everyone aspires to be an author?

  • "Can I read it?" I've actually let two people that have asked this question read my work. I trusted them for several reasons, 1.) I was in high school and they were good friends 2.) they weren't writers so they sure as hell weren't going to steal it 3.) the writing was far from being good enough anyway, 4.) it was all handwritten. These days, I again agree with Kate. Read my book when it's published, okay? I'd like to get paid for all my hard work too, you know.

  • "When will it be published?" I guess since I said you can't read it now, you want to know when you can. Look, if a person says, "I'm writing a book," please pay attention to verb tense. You took basic English in school right? You should know that "writing" means in the process of doing so. That means it's not finished. Only when you're told that the book is going to be published by so-and-so publisher can you ask for the date.

  • "When are you going on Oprah?" I thought this one was actually kind of funny. If anyone ever asked me that, I'd probably look at the person like he was a moron. Take a look at Oprah's book list and tell me when she's ever read a F/SF book. Either way, yeah, don't ask this because it's truly a stupid question. Oprah picks the books to read, not the other way around. And they're usually depressing or generally emo in some way.

  • "So will you be like [insert ultra-famous author here]?" No. Not unless I'm the next luckiest sonofabitch that walked the Earth. For some reason, people tend to think that just because a handful of authors make 6 figures (or more), the majority of authors do. In fact, the majority of authors DO NOT and have to bust ass to keep producing books for readers just to make a comfortable living. Hell, you're lucky if your book ends up as a modeled title (a certain number of books has to be in the store) at Barnes & Noble.

  • "Why don't you write about [subject in no way related/similar to what you're writing]?" Because I don't like it or I can't do it. Personally, I just can't do mystery and am awed by people who can come up with new scenarios as to why there's a dead body in the next room over and over and over again. By the way asker, you may be working in an office - why don't you work on a crab fishing boat instead, hmm?

  • "Is that sex scene autobiographical?" I laughed when I saw this one. I've never been asked this and though I might be a little "..Uuuh...." if I were, I could easily answer. NO. (I was watching you.)

  • "Do I get a free copy when it's published?" NO. GO BUY THE BOOK. I'm not a fan of this question, yet I hear it all the time, or I hear it in statement format, "I'd better get a copy when it's published!" Yeah, sure. I just took a year or longer to put this together, spent God knows how much on stamps and paper and ink and envelopes just to land an agent, waited another year or more for the agent to sell it, and another year or longer for it to actually come out in it's published form. I don't understand why people, even if only marginally acquainted with me feel they're entitled to free stuff. But I always smile and laugh and say, "Sure." (Though the real answer, again, is NO.)

  • "Why isn't it dedicated to me?" I've never had this question either, or any varation thereof, but I'd probably just look at the person as though he had issues. Don't be a greedy prick. Writers take inspiration and strength from all walks of life. And by the way, how do you know you're not in the dedications? And if you're not in the first book, how do you know you're not in the second? Either way, if you're not, then you obviously aren't special enough. Get over yourself.

  • "Is it any good?" Again, never had this question. Most of us writers tend to think it's good. We'll know the truth when we find an agent or editor. Until then, yes. And when it gets published, then yes. How the hell do we know what you'll think of it?

  • "Am I in it?" Kate said she hates this question. I got this all the time and it always made me laugh. I think I may have ranted about this question sometime in the past, actually. When you hear this question enough, then yes, it can get annoying. What people fail to consider though, is that you might be in the book. And you might be a character that dies. Eh? How about them apples? I use friends and create characters for them and once handed them out as Christmas gifts. Hell, I eventually wrote a book using all of them (needs revising). Generally speaking though, don't ask this because 99% of the time the answer is going to be a resounding NO. Even if the person you're asking dances around the question. They're dancing around it because the answer is either no, or they killed you (or just seriously f*cked you up).

Print this out writers, and pass it around to your friends and family. Maybe they'll never bother you about your writing again. Haha. And for non-writers, well, now you know better. ;D

Thursday, January 14, 2010


War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
I won I won I won!!

Freaking A! Shara got 43 entries and used a randomizer website to pick two winners and joy of joys - one was mine! While I admit I've already read this book, I thought it would be oodles of fun to read again - especially now that it's got an updated cover. You know what this book kind of reminds me of? A little bit of fairy-tale goodness and Labyrinth all rolled up into a sheet of rockin' 80s music. Haha. That and I adored the phouka. He gave me a bit of inspiration for my current WIP,in fact. *yay!*

Man. I seem to be winning mail roulette a lot lately. All I need now is to win "steady job" roulette and I'll be good as gold. Until then, it's back to freelancing!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shara's 2009 Top Ten GIVEAWAY!

While at Seton Hill University to get my MA in Writing Popular Fiction, I met a girl by the name of Shara. An upbeat, outgoing person and a voracious reader, every year Shara does a giveaway from her Top Ten list.

That's right. You send her an email, and if you win you get a free book.

How awesome is that??

I thought I'd spread the word, as she encourages people to do. So go visit her site, poke around to see which book you wouldn't mind having on your shelf, and put your name in the hat. A few years back I won The Now Habit by Neil Fiore, so if you're wondering if this Shara person really does give away books, she does. Whee! I've already sent my entry in and have my fingers crossed!

Check out the GIVEAWAY: 2009 Top Ten List!

Be sure to act fast, because the giveaway ends January 13th!

Yay free books!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Research (and lots of it)

I find myself more inclined to update this blog now that I have followers. Makes me feel special. Hah. One never really knows how many people may be reading their blog, but now I know that a few people do, and what better way to keep them around than by providing content to read? Granted, it may not be timely content, or always useful (as this is my writing blog and can be quite casual), but it's something to read nonetheless.

So the other day I was thinking about all the weird and seemingly random research I've had to do over the years for my writing. Put all together, it's just....weird. I mean, regularly a person wouldn't ever need or even desire to look up half this stuff, and yet when you become a writer, research is important, even necessary, no matter what you decide to write about. Some people may think that writers of fantasy or science fiction or even romance don't have to do research, but they couldn't be further from the truth (and we know it). So I've decided to compile a list of all the things I've researched (that I can remember), and while I'm at it, I encourage others to showcase their research as well, and maybe we'll remind people about all the work we put into our novels, no matter how ficiticious or ridiculous they may be.

  • Future weaponry (I intend to put a thank you to the FBI in that novel; thanks for not knocking down my door and arresting my ass for all the stuff I've looked up)
  • Different species of deer
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Poison plants (one of the reaons I'm itching to get my hands on Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart)
  • Weapons from past centuries (swords types, distance weapons, the effect of various weapon on various types of armor, metals, you name it)
  • Quantum Physics
  • Theoretical Physics (Michio Kaku is my hero)
  • Human biology
  • Medical advances and future ideas
  • Cell biology
  • Pathogens
  • Nanotechnology
  • Wolves
  • Castle fortifications
  • Fighting styles (using both my firsthand knowledge and examining other styles)
  • Clothing (time frames vary from medieval to possible future fabrics)
  • Hiking equipment (making sure they still make 'em like that)
  • Mythology (fairy rings, gods, legends, creatures, etc.)
  • Magical properties of items (flowers, stones, plants, etc.)
  • Languages
  • Rock climbing without present day equipment
  • Seafaring vessels

That's all I can think of right now, though I'm sure there are more things I've forgotten.

It can't be tiring sometimes, all that research. And let me say, science fiction is more of a pain in the ass than any other genre I've dabbled in. Especially when you get Earth involved.

Good reference books are priceless.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

On the Red-Eye

...You know you're having a good writing time when it's past 3:30 in the morning and your brain says, "You should go to bed now" and the rest of you says, "Yeah, but let me finish this scene first."

*plays some air guitar while I'm at it*

Heheh. Yeah.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Answer the Question!

I discovered this on another writer's blog, and though I have no one to tag (yeah, it's one of those), I figured I'd do it anyway just for something fun. Enjoy, my nonexistent readers.

What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Does it have to be completed? Because the last thing I wrote was a huge freaking chunk of what's temporarily called Kingdom of Red (kissing scene in the Dec. 21st post). As for the first thing I wrote that I still have, I honestly couldn't tell you because I've kept a LOT of my junk. I think I'll go with Book #4, which is actually a completed manuscript of 347 pages I wrote when I was in high school. I'm currently revising the hell out of it.

Write poetry?
Not as much as I used to.

Angsty poetry?
*snicker* Not as much as I used to.

Favorite genre of writing?
Fantasy. Always.

Most annoying character you've ever created?
To me or to the reader? I have a scientist named Renard who annoys the hell out of everyone, but I love him. ...I don't actually think I have any characters that annoy me personally...

Best plot you've ever created?
The whole storyline involving my evil, evil dragon. I mean, he is bad.

Coolest plot twist?
I actually have Hell rise up and basically kill everyone. The Apocalypse, only not what we here on Earth would have expected (as this takes place elsewhere before spilling over here). Maybe not really a plot twist, but it's certainly different from everything else that's happened to those poor characters!

Write fan fiction?
Just twice, when it's in my brain so much I need to get it out. Doctor Who and Pirates of the Caribbean. Otherwise I'll just dream the storyline away and be done with it.

Do you type or write by hand?
Both. I used to write by hand exclusively, but sometimes an idea barges in so violently that I can't write fast enough. Usually I can't think when typing a story (weird blockage of ideas...very strange), but if they're strong enough, then it works. Strange, I know, but that's how it works.

Do you save everything you write?
Yes...just in case. *shrug*

Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Depends on the idea. Some stuff I write just for shits and giggles, so it's easy to abandon. Other things might come in handy. I have a few short stories that some might consider abandoned given the amount of time I've let them sit, but I think that if I just went back and altered some of them (a lot), they could be good enough to submit to places.

What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
Book #2. I have to revise it like nobody's business, but I still love it and it was a blast to write. Almost 500 pages in a year. Haha. Yeah, needs some work.

What's everyone elses favorite story that you've written?
I don't know. Not many people have read these things because they're all executed poorly in terms of writing style (POV, verb tense, adverbs, etc.). But at least everyone seems to enjoy my dragon. >=D

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
No angsty teen drama. I was able to avoid that crap in high school (more than others at least) so why revisit it? But romance, oh you betcha.

What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Any place other than Earth. Even my humans from Earth are never seen on it. HA!

How many writing projects do you have going right now?
I have one I'm submitting to every freakin' agent under the sun. I have two others I'm writing, and I've just started to revise an older one. But if you really wanted to get technical about it, the total would be seven (four need revising, I'm actually in the process of writing two, and I'm submitting the one). And that's if you don't count the others with large chunks done.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Does a scholarship count? If so, then yes, $500.

What are your five favorite words?
Gosh....I honestly don't know. Though I do like "glittering." I love the visual it evokes.

What character have you created that is most like you?
Caroline and Gabrielle....probably why those are the two written in first person.

Where you do get your ideas for your characters?
Oh geezo...everywhere. Friends, family, my crazed imagination, movies, music, and sometimes they evolve as they go.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Just once. A short story that may not be savagable in the end. Daydreams on the other hand, oh yes.

Do you favor happy endings?
Absolutely! Evil never wins in my books. Even if I have killed off the main characters in two books. But I often have a "bring-back-to-life" plan for certain occasions. Except for one of them...heh.

Does music help you write?
YES. Go take a look at my Epinions page and take note of how I've reviewed over 70 soundtracks and then you'll know just how important music is (and not always soundtracks either!)

Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
"Werbowski is in a fucking coma, Renard! He's got a good chance at being a goddamn vegetable for the rest of his life!" (Scott was so mad - I love it).

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes for both, though I'm not perfect. I often forget commas between compound sentences using "and" and probably some other things grammar Nazis would get me on. Which is why I like grammar Nazis to look at my work from time to time.

Best mug ever. (mine)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The No Kiss Blogfest!

Welcome back (if you visited the first time) - this time to the No Kiss Blogfest! Inspired by the previous Kissing Day Blogfest, we're now totally celebrating in the "almost kiss."

I almost posted this one last time, but wanted to do an actual kiss. Now I'm glad I did that, because now I get to post this one under a more appropriate blogfest - and it's one of my favorite parts of this particular WIP, Illusion's Trick.

Ladies, meet Lucan.

I exhaled a long breath. Relax. Nothing weird will happen this time. I closed my eyes and stood motionless beneath the hot shower spray.

As soon as I’d finished the thought, a pair of hands slipped around my waist.

I shrieked and stumbled around, pulling away and banging my shin into the faucet as I spun around to slam my back into the tile wall. He was here. In my shower. Standing quietly in the water and…ho…my God…he was naked.

He smiled, that slow, know-everything-about-me smile. “Hello again, Gabrielle.”

“Wha,” was all I could get out, a noise between a question and a shout.

He was…impressive. Lean with a musculature that spoke of strength and latent power like one of the mixed martial arts fighters I always watched on TV. A jagged, violent-looking scar ran around his side, slicing down from his ribs to curve over and end at his abdomen. Another cut down the inside of his right arm, from elbow to wrist, and another, thinner and more faded scar scored over his left bicep. I wondered what he’d done to receive them. A bit of mirth found its way into his smirk. At my expense, no doubt.

I straightened. I was naked, he was naked, but I refused to cower against the wall in my own shower. I couldn’t let myself feel like the only vulnerable one when we both wore the same thing—nothing.

“What are you doing here?” I demanded, trying to look at his face and not the rest of him.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t wanted me here,” he said, cocking his head ever so slightly.

The non-stranger, stranger in the shower scenario. God damn it. I managed to hold back the maniacal grin that threatened to appear. How could I have forgotten that one?

“I can’t just accept a strange man in my shower like this,” I said. Quite a pathetic statement, actually. While in my dreams it was partially true, I always acquiesced in the end. Now that it had become a lot more real, I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea.

“I’m not sure you have much choice at this point,” he said, watching me intently. What a gentleman—he had me naked and yet he kept his gaze on my face. An improvement for him, I decided.

“Or,” he continued, “I could wait until you’re finished and be the one to approach you then.”

“What? I don’t have any other shower fantasies.”

“Don’t lie to me,” he said. “I know for years you stepped out of here only to pretend you’ve stepped out of the rain onto the threshold of a strange house.”

I gaped at him. By God, he was right. I meant to speak, but only made a sort of choking sound. This guy knew everything! Even I’d forgotten that one!

“Damn,” I muttered, stuck between irritated and impressed. I shifted more toward irritated since I was starting to get cold. His highness had scared me into the corner and now took up most of the water. I began inching my way along the edge of the shower back into the spray.

“Well,” I said, trying to figure out how to convince him to move, “you could. It would be more polite.” Because then I’d at least have a towel.

Suddenly his hands slapped the tile on either side of me, trapping me against the wall. He leaned forward.

“I like this one better.”

His face was inches from mine and…was he moving closer? Shit. Not again. I tried to conjure up last night’s conversation, his smug grin, his underhanded comment about taking me without my immediate permission. It wasn’t working.

“I hate you,” I said, a lame attempt to rile him up enough to get him to back off. His lips brushed my temple.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t lie to me,” he whispered.

In my mind I cursed to no end. I thought I’d managed to get over falling to pieces around him, but here I was, feeling weak and losing all resolve just like before. He did nothing more than trace the contours of my face with his mouth, lying in wait for some small signal from me to do more. I wanted to reach out and dig my nails into his back and drag him closer, wanted to feel him against me, to kiss him just to know what he tasted like. Instead, I kept my hands at my sides and scratched the tile, scraping a thin film of soap scum under my fingernails.

Mmm, tasty. This photo is property of Mercuralis. For heaven's sakes, if you want to see some super sweet art, check her out!