Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Monday - Reason #5685 Why I Love Glee

*sigh* Careful, watching this might cause your heart to explode with LOVE!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I'm thinking of all the things I'm grateful for. Since this is a writing blog, I'll share some of the writing related things that fill me with joy and gratitude.

Like Kristi, I'm grateful that I have the time to write and the support of my family who help and encourage me to find and make the time to meet my writing goals.

I'm grateful for the awesome crit partners I've met in the last year and who I'm also fortunate to call my friends. (Lacey, Kristi, Natalie, LOVE you guys!)

And most of all, I'm grateful for the amazing, generous, supportive, open-minded, open-hearted, talented, giving members of the YA writing community. I am constantly overwhelmed and awed by the effort this community puts into helping others whether it's in becoming a better writer, or living a better life. I am so proud to be a part of this group of people and to do my tiny part in helping others and sharing the love of great books to anyone I can.

Since this is a time of being grateful, and the season of giving is just around the corner I wanted to share a link to the Season of Love and Hope Auction benefitting children's writer Bridget Zinn who is battling colon cancer.

TONS of amazing authors and publishing people have donated some seriously awesome things like critiques and ARCs and vacations so check it out if you have the time.

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading this blog. I'm so grateful for all of you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why I Heart Pretty Little Liars and ABC Family!

So you might remember last month, when the folks from Pretty Little Liars and ABC Family sent me a pretty much lifetime supply of orange M&Ms (seriously, we're still eating them). Well, they've surprised me again this month and it's AWESOME!

Today the UPS man brought me...


How cool is that? I felt like Oprah or something when I saw the Little Pie Company Of The Big Apple label and opened the box to find a fresh apple pie, packed in ice! Just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Seriously, (it bears repeating) how cool is that?

As if ABC Family hadn't already impressed me by choosing to make PRETTY LITTLE LIARS into an AWESOME TV show, and making me a Secret Keeper, surprise food gifts is totally putting them over the top.

And what would a gift from Pretty Little Liars be without a clue? Want to see another sneak peek of the upcoming Winter Season? Go here:

Also check out the Pretty Little Liars Blog where you can enter to win cool prizes, get character low down, read cast interviews and more!

The new season starts JANUARY 3RD but you can catch up on what A's been up to (besides sending me treats) and any episodes you missed right now ONLINE or during the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS MARATAHON on ABC FAMILY also on JANUARY 3RD! If you haven't seen the show yet, you should definitely check it out! It's good clean dirty fun!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In My Mailbox -46

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Just one this week. I loved STOLEN by Lucy Christopher so I thought I'd check out her new one even though it's for a bit younger age group.

Flyaway by Lucy Christopher

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Save Some For Later

Now that we've been doing Tangled Fiction for a couple months now and I've had the chance to write two story starts for Natalie and Lacey to finish, I've made some discoveries about plotting and revealing information.

When you're writing something that someone else has to continue without knowing what's supposed to come next your first instinct is to put in enough details to explain what it is you're doing. But you soon realize that if you do that, the next writer either has nowhere to go because you already gave up all the cool info and twists, or is locked into your idea, which is the opposite of collaboration (unless you use James Frey's definition of the word) and what you've written is mostly telling and infodump with perhaps a side of interesting character.

You learn that in order to give the next writer a chance to shine, and to give the story a shot at being all it can be, you have to leave threads dangling and hint at things without explaining them. You have to trust your partners, and your readers to pick up on the subtle cues, and to want to keep reading to find out what they mean.

In a word, you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing when you write a book all by yourself!

You know that feeling you get when you're starting a book, (or short story, or introducing a new character) where you feel like you have to get ALL the necessary info out so readers will get what you're doing and LOVE it? Well, that feeling is wrong. Those writing books - the ones that say don't reveal anything until it's absolutely necessary are right.

It took until I had to take an idea, set it up, and then let it go for me to really understand how that works. When I write an opening to one of our shorts, like my most recent one, KISS OF DEATH, I start with an idea:

What if there was a girl so beautiful that every boy who saw her was compelled to kiss her? What if her lips were poisonous?

Then I have to do some world-building, some plotting, and I have to make sure I leave something for the next writer. In the case of KISS OF DEATH I had A LOT of ideas. There was so much I wanted to (and did in the first draft) explain. I knew how Rosemina came to be cursed. I knew what she did all day while she was home alone. I knew what the Queen really thought about her. I knew what happened after my section ended. But I cut all of those things because they would work better if they were revealed later on or in an active way. I trusted that I had an interesting predicament (Everyone wants to kiss her. Everyone that kisses her dies. And because of that, people want her dead.) and that people would want to keep reading to find out what happens next.

This is the key when plotting your story and maintaining your pace. Drop hints. Dangle potential plot twists, make your reader excited and curious to see what happens next. Let them form opinions about why a character says or does something, and then reveal the info when it will be the most active, the most important, the most mindblowing thing that could happen at that moment. Save something for later. (And, as I always say trust your reader It's scary, but you'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

It's Teaser Tuesday! I thought I'd post something for a change. Here's the first two lines from my opening of this week's Tangled Fiction short KISS OF DEATH! (Did I mention we're doing them weekly now?)

"Rosemina first encountered her curse at age five when the neighbor boy chased her behind the rosebushes, pressed his sticky, candy-covered lips against hers and promptly fell down dead. To this day the taste of chocolate and the scent of roses are synonymous with death in Rosemina’s mind."

Read all of Part One on blogger or on livejournal!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Music Monday - In Which I Suck At Blogging

So I haven't done a real post in over a week! I suck!

It's a hectic time of year for me. I just started an extra seasonal job. (At a bookstore! Yay!) I'm dedicated to finish my revisions by the end of this week. I still have a weekly writing post at Sisters in Scribe. And with Tangled Fiction now doing weekly stories, I'm writing, or thinking about writing, or stressing about writing ALL THE TIME. Which I love, but whew! It doesn't leave me much time to blog!

If you've been wanting to read our shorts at Tangled Fiction but hate waiting all week or reading it in pieces, we now have a Story Archive where you can read each full story in one complete post!

Also for those of you who've been reading and demanding kissing, I deliver with my opening this week. Check it out: KISS OF DEATH Part 1 (or here at the Tangled Fiction Livejournal Community)

Just remember, be careful what you wish for!

In other news, I'm planning on doing another HUGE contest like last year's (but with even more 2010 books!) next month to celebrate the end of the year and the end of my revisions!

And finally, since it IS Music Monday after all, here's a song I've been listening to lately! It's about stripping away things you don't need, and it puts me in a happy revising mood.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In My Mailbox - 45

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Just two this week, but both 2011 releases that I'm excited to read! Especially Angelfire since Courtney is from Michigan and Michigan writers rule!

Angelfire by Courtney Alison Moulton
Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Five

The first of our new weekly short stories at Tangled Fiction is complete! I posted Part 3 of IN THE CARDS this morning. (And at the Tangled Fiction Livejournal Community) Check it out and let us know what you think!

I decided to put NaNoWriMo on pause. I'm thisclose to finishing my revisions on IMAGINARY HEART and I don't want to lose the momentum. Once my revisions are done and sent off I'll think about my NaNo project. Good luck to everyone who's pushing through!

I know I need three more things but my brain is on my revisions and I got nothing. Hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kill Your Darlings - The Movie Musical Edition

I'm in the midst of serious revisions and feeling a little loopy, which is why this post is about revisions and one of my all time favorite things, random musical movie moments! And um, how those two things relate to each other.

We've all heard that saying "Kill your darlings." (Or murder them, whichever.) Essentially it's saying any time you have something you find especially clever or that's close to your heart DELETE IT because it probably doesn't fit with the rest of what you've written or even belong in your book. This is killing your darlings to the extreme, but you get the idea. I think it's easy when your book is about A, and all your scenes are focused on A, to slip off into tangent B and then think it's brilliant just because it's so different from the rest of the book.

It's at that point that you must stop and really look at the scene about B. Does it have anything to do with the plot of your book? Is it there just to be awesome? Will it stop readers in their tracks as they wonder when this dark thriller turned into a slapstick comedy?

How does this relate to my love for random spontaneous musical scenes in movies? I'll show you!

Take the 80s classic TEEN WITCH. (Shut up. It IS TOO a classic!)

This is the blurb for TEEN WITCH:
Louise is a shy misfit with a huge crush on and no chance of dating Brad, the hunky star of the high school football team. When Louise discovers on her 16th birthday that she's descended from Salem witches, she uses her newfound powers to become the most popular girl on campus! But when sparks fly between her and Brad, how can she be sure it's true love and that he's not simply spellbound?

You'll note that nowhere in the description is the movie called a musical. Yet, fairly early on, we're given this:

(Take a moment to recover from the 80s explosion. I'll wait.) I remember even as a kid, the first time I saw this I thought, WTF is this a musical? BUT IT WASN'T. It was just a movie with a scene where everyone broke out into a choreographed dance routine for NO REASON OTHER THAN THAT IT WOULD BE SHEER AWESOME. And as you can see, it was, but that's not the point.

The point is, as a first time viewer, I was confused. I kept waiting for more dance routines, but there really weren't any. And in the end I was sort of disappointed about that. And I wondered why that scene was in there anyway. Just to tease me with a glimpse at how awesome Teen Witch would've been as a real musical?

So as you can see, if Teen Witch was a book, as much as I love the random dance scene, because I love random dance scenes, that particular darling would have to go. It sticks out and it's distracting because it doesn't really belong.

Do you have a scene like this? So full of awesome it could be it's own book? So unrelated to what's actually happening in your plot? You might have to save it for a different project. Put it in a drawer and when you're sad, take it out and read it and know that it's proof of your magnificent talent.

And now, just in case I have thoroughly depressed you by telling you to take out your favorite scene, here's my all time favorite spontaneous musical scene. I SO wish this would happen while out at a restaurant in real life!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Music Monday - NaNo edition!

Happy first day of NaNoWriMo! I've already done my writing for the day and got my first 1388 words of GRAVITY down on the page. I'm going into NaNo this year fairly blind so it will be interesting to see how long I manage to keep up my wordcount goals.

Today's song is one featured on my NaNo playlist. It is one of my all time favorite songs from one of my all time favorite movies. It's potentially NSFW (there's a couple f-bombs in there) so listen at your own risk.

Talk Show Host - Radiohead

Also, today is the first day of our new weekly short story format over at Tangled Fiction! Part one of our new story IN THE CARDS by Lacey is up now. Natalie will be posting part two on Wednesday and I'll be finishing the story on Friday. So if you need a break from NaNo, be sure to check it out! (It's also up on the Tangled Fiction Livejournal Community.)
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