Monday, December 24, 2012

Blogging Break

I'm taking these next two weeks off.

I need a breather and some relaxation time; what time better to get those than these two hectic weeks? I'm going to relax, hang with some cousins, and edit/write some more. It's going to be FUN! Annndd, I get to see what books my family got for me :D NO MORE SUSPENSE!

See you in January!

*</:0)3 (That's a sideways Santa. I made it, copyright and everything (not really, but pretend).)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Secret to Strengthening Your Climactic Scene

Now, the world might end before this post goes up, but I'm going to write it JUST IN CASE. Look at me, going above and beyond. Be proud of me, anti-procrastination gods.

If you think your climax is missing that punch, if you feel your climax needs to be epic, or if you just want a darn good climax (I'm talking about writing, you perverts), heed this secret:

If you want to strengthen your climax, use preparation.

Preparation? What does preparation mean?

Here is one amazing example:

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is enrolled in a tournament which has three parts to it. Almost the ENTIRE book is spent preparing for the last leg of the race; everything revolves around it. But, neither Harry nor Hermione knows what would really happen in the third leg. Rowling spends a good deal of the book simply gathering excitement for it.

The reader knows something will happen in the last leg. The reader knows something big and something unexpected will happen even if the characters don't know it themselves; this gathers nervous steam for the climax.

Now, making this work requires having your climactic scene coincide with a big event in your novel; the last leg is the climactic scene in Goblet of Fire. This coinciding trick makes the reader anxious for the event to come. It is like seeing a man far in the distance running towards you. Whether the man carries a knife or a gift, you don't know, but you are still nervous for his arrival.

Make the reader anxious for the arrival of the climactic scene. That idea is the base for this secret.

In my own novel, the climactic scene coincides with the 700th birthday of the most important person in the city. It is a huge, huge deal; this guy literally built the city. There is a good bit of the characters talking about this event and preparing, and this goes a long way; the reader begins to get nervous for the event.

That is what the writer has to accomplish. Make the reader nervous and excited for the climax and your book into a simmering pot. Make the reader unable to stop reading even if there are 'relaxing' scenes in your novel. Make the reader pick the book up again after putting it down.

And, make them excited/anxious.

Hope I helped, guys!

What are your favorite plot techniques?


Monday, December 17, 2012

A Great and Cheap Gift Idea for Writers/Readers

WOOO!!!!!! It's holiday time! That means music, trees, snow (please, please come, snow), and in general, happiness. But everyone gets in a conundrum when they think of what to get for their friends, family, and acquaintances.
I do not own this picture. But in a week or so, I MIGHT
own what is inside :)
Are you in a fix as to what you will give to that special writerly friend, that amazing reader, or your fantastic critique/book group? Maybe your family and friends like books as well (even if they aren't writers)? Here is an idea for you.

This was an idea we implemented in my family:

Everyone buys one book for the other! WOO!


No, seriously, it is actually quite awesome. Each person has to pick out that one amazing book for the other and has to think about what the person might enjoy. It is like bonding over books, and seeing just how well you know the other. And it is fun to put other people in suspense (except if it is me. I don't like being in suspense).

First off, it is cheap (it is usually less than twenty dollars for a book, and you get free Amazon shipping during this season for orders over $25 (or something)). Secondly, it is more personal. I love personal gifts more than impersonal ones; it's the thought that counts. You will remember the person who gave you a book more than you will remember the person who gave you a gift card. Gift cards, money, toys, and tools are transitory -- they lack an emotional impact or get used up. Books don't. Plus, we writers love books :) It's a direct shot straight into our hearts.

If you are far away from your critique partner or family, send a Kindle book or use Amazon shipping to send the book straight to the recipient. This idea is amazing because it will feel as if there is no distance between you guys at all. It will be more personal.

I, for one, can't wait to see what my family gets me (and I can't wait to see their expressions when I give them their books). I'm going to have a pretty darn good time!

Get shopping guys, you've got only a week or so left!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Secret to a Great Book-to-Screen Adaptation

I do not own this picture.
I AM SO EXCITED TO WATCH THIS MOVIE!! I am going to see it tomorrow (Saturday) night, and I can't wait. Why? Because the Lord of the Rings movies are the best book-to-movie translation I have ever seen. I actually found the movies easier to get through and to comprehend than the books, and yet, the movies captured the Lord of the Rings spirit.

I'll give this Secret by having Lord of the Rings as an example, partially because it is an AMAZING example, and partially because I'm super excited about The Hobbit.
So what does make a good book adaption?

This mastery lies in the fact that a lot of the actors and actresses, and screenwriters and directors are big fans of the book. This is CRUCIAL to a good book-to-screen adaption, and it is evident in the movies.

The second reason the Lord of the Rings movies are so good is because of the director, Peter Jackson.

I paint, and you artsy people out there might appreciate this quote from my favorite painter: "One can freeze frame Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” at almost any point and see a master designer’s work." Basically, every frame of the movies could be made into a darn good-looking painting. That is INCREDIBLE. Whenever I watch the movies, I try to find a frame which does not show good design, and I cannot find it. This is why a good director (who matches the tone of the book) is so important.

The first thing I wondered when I heard of this movie (The Hobbit) was who the director was. If Jackson hadn't been directing this movie, I would have been incredibly wary (and that's an understatement). But he was the director, and all my worries vanished. This is the power of a good director.

If any of you worry (like I do) if your future books will be turned into a bad movie, remember two things:

1. The people who work in the movie should be big fans of your book and should share your vision. I can't tell you how important number 1 is. Just think: if the people working on the film do not share the book's vision or do not LOVE it, how can they make a good movie off of it? Try not to agree to a movie contract just because it is the 'only' offer. For me at least, no movie is better than a bad one.

2. Pick an awesome freaking director which matches the tone of your book. LOTR has an epic tone, and Jackson's style of direction depicts this. Each director has a different style; most would be able to pick Jackson's out of a line-up.
Think of the good movies based off of books (Perks of Being a Wallflower, Harry Potter, etc.) and then think of all the bad. There is a LOT of bad. Don't be one of those; remember the two tips above :D

As a caveat, do NOT go all totalitarian and try to control everything; books and movies are two separate mediums, and most directors know more about movies than most writers. If you trust the director you signed with (as you should....), then trust him/her. Give a few helpful nudges along the way but let the movies and the books be their separate entities.

Now, back to writing (so we can make movies off of them ;) ).

Any concerns about movies based off of your books? Would you, or would you not agree to make a movie off of them?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Horrible Thirst of Publication

It is so, so hard sometimes. It gets depressing, hopeless, frustrating, trying to do this insanity which we call writing a book -- and getting it published.

It is SO hard.

Right now, I want to feel my book in my hands. I want to see the cover, I want to read the blurb, I want to crack the spine. I want my book.

It is hard to wait, and wait, and wait even longer. Is it so bad to want to have your book published?
It seems like the writer's life revolves around this prospect, and anything less would be a disappointment. My constant fear is that something will happen and I won't get the chance to publish my book or send a query. I can't handle that uncertainty.

If you self-publish, you go headfirst into it. If you plan to traditionally publish, you go headfirst into it. But it is so tempting to divert from your path and just throw together a slipshod manuscript, a disgusting cover, and publish it on Amazon (which gives the serious, constantly-badgered self-publishers a bad rep). It is so, so tempting.

How can you combat this thirst?

I feel better just writing this blog post; I've calmed down. But in the back of my mind I always wonder if all this hard work is for nothing; if I will have to write a different book and start this all over again. Why do we put ourselves in this industry where rejection and waiting are the norm?

We love books. We love writing. I think that is the answer; and for me, another motivator is this wonderful writer's community. You guys keep me sane. Truly. I can't imagine what I would have done if I hadn't met you.

The most that we can do is go on, write more, and move together in the darkness until we see a light. Control the one thing we can control -- our books -- and hold onto it like a life jacket. It will entail, usually, years and years of work, years and years of pain, but we will love it all when we see the light, because we love writing and we will do our most for it.

I dislike that answer as much as you guys, but there isn't much we can do but work on our books constantly, productively, and hopefully. It's the hope and the blind faith that gets me, but the thing more depressing than a rejected writer is a writer that has given up.

I don't want to be that writer. I will find my patience by working on my book and rekindling the spark that is being suffocated. Our books will give us patience, and our passion will guide us through.

Friday, December 7, 2012

#1 The HUGE Importance of "Show, Don't Tell"

This is post 1 of my new blogging series, Myth Busting Writerly Quotes. The point of this series is to evaluate just how "legitimate" famous writing quotes are. If they are the real deal, I will Validate them. If they aren't, I'll Refute them. If they are almost there, I will Mine them (like Mining for gold. Hehe).

Show, don't tell. This is arguably the most famous of all writing advice out there; even non-writers know about this (and if you know how isolated the 'mechanics' of novel writing is from the rest of the world's vocabulary, you'll understand this is a big deal).

Does it stand up to the incredibly weight it carries as the most important writing advice of, arguably, all time (apart from "Just write")? Will I Validate this quote?


If you want to make your books as realistic as possible, you will utilize this quote. This "if" is important for me to state because goal-reaching advice only works if, well, you want to reach that goal. 

The power of this quote comes from two very important ideas.

The first is basic science and logic.

When you walk into a snowstorm, do you see/hear/feel/taste/smell the fact that it is cold? No. You feel the wind and the snow stabbing into your skin.

When you taste a candy, do you see/hear/feel/taste/smell the apple flavoring? No. You taste the tartness and the sweetness, and then you realize, "Dang, that was apple."

When you see a building, do you see that it is a Greek temple, or do you see the pillars, the white marble, the steps, and then realize that it is a Greek temple.

People do not see/hear/feel/taste/smell abstract ideas. They sense details that LEAD to these generalizations. 

If the only things people could ever see/hear/feel/taste/smell are tangible, concrete things, how can your characters sense generalizations? 

The details lead to the generalization. So give the reader the details. Your reader should become your protagonist in order to be truly immersed in your story; let the reader make the generalizations by offering just the details.

The second reason this quote is so important is to get, well, good writing.

Good writing can send shivers down your spine. Good writing can make you feel the way the protagonist does. The best way to do this is to "Show, not tell." There is a reason I constantly put see/hear/feel/taste/smell above. One of the best ways to get good writing is to rely on the five senses, and that means showing.

Which of the following two quotes involve better writing?

"I recoiled when I touched his hand. He was cold."


"I felt his icy hand and recoiled as if my hand was plunged in snow."

APPEAL TO THE SENSES! It will lead to much more powerful writing.

Now, all writing rules can be broken and do get broken. But be cautious with breaking this one. Maybe only break it a few times when you need to rush through a scene... but even then, I wouldn't. Instead of saying (this is a fast scene): "I ran through the street and past the library, desperate to get to my dying child," how about, "I sidestepped screeching cars and pushed past a man who carried a stack of books from the building to my left."

Sight (man, books), touch (pushed), and sound (screeching). Taste and smell are always the hard ones, but appealing to the senses make your writing come alive.

When you are in an action scene, you actually will "see" less of the surroundings. You won't stop to think if it is a street or a library -- you will only see/hear/feel/taste/smell the cars, the man with the books, etc. You will rely on your five senses.

If you want to speed past a scene just to get through it without bogging the reader down with description, just offer choice description -- the unique details. Let the reader paint the rest of the picture.

"Show, don't tell," has earned its spot as one of the most famous writing advice of all time due to the logicality behind it (how can someone see a Greek temple without first seeing the pillars?) and the fact that it results in good writing.

"Show, don't tell," in my opinion, is VALIDATED.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Secret to Winning NaNoWriMo

A brief note before I delve into this post:


Moving on. (Actually, I'm still brimming with joy.)
HA! This picture I do own (or, I'm
allowed to use, anyway).
 NaNoWriMo is all about writing 50,000 words in a month. Ideally, this means a full novel, but most novels do go longer. Writing 50k in 30 days is no mean feat; to achieve it, one must write 1,667 words each and every day.

Or do they....?

In this post, I will share with you my secrets to beating this crazy thing we call NaNoWriMo, and if you didn't win this year, hopefully you can use this post for your journey next year (if you sign up again). Many people want to know how to win NaNoWriMo.

The 7 Secrets to Winning NaNoWriMo

1. GET AHEAD. This is the most important secret I have to share, and since I don't like extreme statements, that's is a big deal. Go for 2,000 words a day. If you have ever tried NaNo, you can atest to the fact that once you start writing, you can't stop. So why not write just one page more? There will be days when you do stop writing: bad days, lack of sleep, other plans, etc. November includes Thanksgiving, after all. If you get just an extra 333 a day, you will have a cushion of 9,990 words at the end of the month. This means you can take almost 6 days off! That is a heck of a lot of time; 20% of the entire month.

Because I usually did not get ahead and stayed with 1,667, I had days where I wrote 2-3K just to catch up. When my NaNo was down to the wire and I had 1,568 words on November 30th, I thanked my stars for the nights I wrote ahead. I finished my NaNo by writing 1.7K (which I wrote technically on December 1st after 12 a.m. Shhh.) Getting ahead is the most important thing you can do.

2. Write crap. And I don't mean crap like, "Oh, my writing is so bad but I'll shut my inner editor off just to write it." Not that kind of crap. By crap I mean scenes you will never put in your book.  Every word, every scrap, every sentence you have ever written helped you become the writer you are today. However, do make sure the crap you write in November has some purpose for your book: maybe back story, a love scene, a past event, or history (which is what I used, giving me about 4k). That way, it won't feel like cheating.

What this will do is invigorate your muse. My muse was exhausted, and I needed to write something new, something fresh. So I wrote this historical scene which plays a vital part in the structure of my world. I do not regret doing this at ALL. The scene I wrote gave me so much world building information which I plan to utilize. Use NaNo to make your world and its people as amazing, rich, and complex as possible.

3. Use the community. Check the NaNo blog and the 30 Covers, 30 Days. Participate in the forums (but don't waste time there). Update your word count every night. If you get involved, you'll want to win. You'll get inspired to keep trucking and to keep going. You'll realize you are not alone in this. The writing community is one of the best Internet communities out there.

4. Writing something. I wrote 300 words, but I still wrote. Only one night I wrote nothing, and that was to get sleep. I even wrote on Thanksgiving. If you write every day, you'll get in the habit of doing it. If you stop for one day, the next day, you'll think, "Oh, maybe this day too," and then it'll be a week in, 10k words lost, and you'll be in a rut to win after that. Force yourself to write. You control your muse, not the other way around.
5. Do word sprints. Word sprints are the fad in the NaNo community, and for a reason. If you are falling behind, want to get ahead, or want to make the most of your time, do the sprints. I usually took an hour or two to browse the Internet (as I must) and finish my 1,667 words. I wrote more than 3k in one hour during a sprint. With a deadline, you won't be distracted, and then you can spend the rest of your time on Twitter and stuff.

6. Don't give up. So what if you missed a day of writing? That just means a few extra words for the rest of the month. You can be the person who digs themselves out of a 10k rut. And, don't be discouraged if you are far away from 50k, because the main thing is to:

7. Have fun. Something realize is that NaNo is not only about reaching 50k; it is about writing. So even if you are at 1k on November 29th, keep writing! Everyone is a winner in NaNoWriMo, even if they only brainstormed an idea for a new book.

Winning NaNo was definitely something difficult, and I have to say, getting 50k was an amazing feeling, mostly due to the overwhelming realization that I could sleep now. If you did not win this year, don't feel down. Don't be upset, discouraged, or anything. You wrote. You participated. And that's all that matters. If you decide to do it next year (which I might), keep in mind the above points.

Hope I helped! If you did it, how was your NaNo experience this year, or in past years?

And don't forget to subscribe. It'd probably make my day :D

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Final Day of NaNo. PUSH THROUGH!

As of right now, Thursday night, 10:42 pm, I have 3,151 words left to reach 50,000 words for NaNo. It is November 29th, so I have two more days (counting tonight) to finish this up.

Why does it get so much harder when you are so, so close?

Case in point: right now, instead of writing, I'm blogging. And the thing is, I KNOW I should be writing because I need to make tomorrow as easy as possible.

I've been working towards this for an entire month, and now, when I'm only a few thousand words away, I feel like giving in. Hopelessness feeds on itself; the worse I feel, the worse I will feel. I'm experiencing Writer's Lag at one of the worst possible times ever.


I need the motivation to break through the finish line.

I need to tell myself that there are only two more days, two more days, two more writing sessions, and you are DONE. No more sleepless nights (trust me, this month has been bad for my 8 hours). No more panicking over missed days.


This is the home stretch, so this post will be short so I can get back to writing :) COME ON, I CAN DO THIS! WOO!!

I'm my own cheerleader.... The awesome life of being a writer.

This really sounds so stupid as I'm writing it in my bed and cheering inside my head. Trust me. You all will read it later, but I'm kind of writing to myself right now. It sounds really stupid.


Ok, bye! Wish me luck!

ETA: I just finished up writing for the night at 12:09 am, Friday morning (this is actually good, relatively speaking, for me). I have 1,568 words to write tomorrow, and I am DONE. AHH!! SUPER EXCITED!!! Wish me luck (again)!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Being Thankful for Pain

Pain is something almost all writers are intensely familiar with. Not only do writers (creative people in general) have a higher tendency for depression, they throw all their hopes into an industry which sends out rejection letters like Santa does gifts.

Being in pain is nothing new, however, each person feels their pain in a way separate from everyone else. Pain drives us to write (atleast, it drives me to write). Nathan Bransford said that we writers need to have something pushing us to express our thoughts because why else would we write? We need something to get our gut.

Pain is horrible. It is crushing and hard, depressing and hopeless, and also, a cause for gratitude. Without pain, I most likely would have never taken up writing to the extent I did. Without pain, I would not have embarked on one of the best experiences and journies of my life. Pain is a gift.

And so, here is my Thanksgiving post, a little late (due to my Smoky Mountains vacation :D).

I am thankful for all life has to offer me, because without the experiences, I would not be the person I am today -- and I like the person I am today.

I am thankful for the wonderful writers' community for being the best thing that has ever happened to me as a writer.

I am thankful for my friends and family, who gave me the support I needed and the help I wanted, even if they didn't know just how much I appreciated it.

I am thankful for my life and grateful for everything I have -- many people aren't as lucky, and I can't underestimate that.

Pain is a gift if you learn to use it correctly. Pain can inform your writing, but as Bransford also said, writing is not therapy. Therapy is therapy. My point is, don't underestimate the benefits of pain. Everyone experiences it; it's what you do with it that matters.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving guys, and I hope you all had a great time :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

5 Ways to Catch Up with Your NaNo Word Count

WOOO!!! NANO!!! *Cheers* *Throws confetti*

Oh wait.

I'm going to be on vacation from Thanksgiving Day to Sunday night. Holy crap, holy crap. Not so fun now.

Many of us won't be getting much done on Thanksgiving Day due to family, friends, etc. To add on, we might be (or will be) in a hole when it comes to NaNo. Then, we must write frantically the next days to catch up.

Here are the ways to salvage your NaNo Word Count

1. If you know there is no way you will be able to write for a few days, PLAN AHEAD. I'm trying this right now, because I'm going to be hard of writing for three full days during Thanksgiving weekend. The trick is, you must plan ahead for this kind of stuff. The week or so before your planned absence, write 2.5K a day or more (depending on how many days you'll be MIA. I'm panicking for this 3 day absence. Help!).

2. Shoot for 2K a day. Things happen: social life, Thanksgiving, football, sleep.... Maybe you just want a day off. Or maybe one day you lose your laptop, or your power goes off (Superstorm Sandy, anyone?). The thing is, expect the unexpected. If you go for 1,667 words a day and you miss writing on November 29th, you'll have to write over 3,000 words the next day to get 50K. Even an extra 200 words a day accumulates to a 6,000 "safety" zone at the end of the month.

3. Do word sprints. The hardest thing for a writer is to write that first word. I usually surf on the Internet for an hour or so before I even write. Word sprints help. They force you to write on time, and in fact, last Tuesday during a 1k1hr with some other writers, I actually finished my word count BEFORE 1 a.m.! (That's insane for me. It was literally shocking.) I finished at 11.30, and to top it off, I wrote around 3,000 words. I was hesitant to do sprints, but I realize they  help a LOT if you are lagging, especially when you have only a week left to finish NaNo.

4. When you lag... write. I'm not sure how I feel about the "cheating" writing system (such as have your MC say everything with a lisp, or have one character ramble on) in order to up your word count. This is because this does not help your novel; in the end, we want good novels. I do, however, like the "cheating" method if you use it to your advantage.
  • Have one character 'speak' the entire plot outline. I actually used this when I wasn't sure where my character arc was going. This is especially helpful to NaNo novels because most of these novels are pantsed, and we all know this can be troublesome. Just throw in a, 'Ocula said, "___"' where the ___ is your plot outline. This helps your novel by providing it a plan, while raising your word count at the same time.
  • Write a bunch of back story. Have your characters meet in a circle and tell each other about their life stories, or even give a history lesson of your world. The only way for an author to create an illusion of reality is to, well, know what the heck is there. The reader does not need to know the details, but if you do, the reader will be able to tell. Trust me. (Think Tolkien and Rowling.)
  • Have fun! Writing is MUCH easier if you are writing something you enjoy. Please, if you wish, you can "cheat" and raise your word count but try making it (at least) partially beneficial to your story. It helps in the long run and you won't delete every bit of it in December. But all of this doesn't matter. Write unnecessary scenes if you love it. Describe a place in your world, branch into a "What if?" or anything you love. Have fun, and you will write much more -- and more importantly, you will love being a writer.

5. Just write. NaNo is an incentive. Don't lose sight of the fact that the main theme in NaNo is to write. Even if you are so far behind, even if there is no way you will "win" NaNo, keep writing. This month is a GREAT month for writers, so take advantage of all the good feelings going around! What's to be scared of? The fact that you'll write a lot? Don't worry too much about winning or losing. I need to tell myself this too, so don't think you are alone ;)

Have fun guys, and please, wish me luck in my three day absence! (I actually wrote this blog post last Tuesday.) I'm in the Smokies from yesterday through Sunday, and I hope my NaNo won't be too damaged. (I'm bringing some writing stuff, but I don't want to write in front of my cousins... awkward.) I'm going to try getting to everyone's blogs (if there I find Internet), but I apologize in advance if I don't :(

Happy Belated Thanksgiving (....and don't go crazy today with the shopping.....)!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Announcing a Vacation

YAYYYY! I'm going to be in the Smoky Mountains with my lovely from Thursday until Sunday night. I DO have blog posts scheduled for Friday and Monday but unless I get WiFi up in the mountains, I won't be able to go around to everybody's blogs. I'll be doing all by blog-visiting today, and I'll try catching up on Monday. I'm sorry guys :(

Thank you though for understanding (and if you didn't forgive me yet, I'll bring you a leaf or something from the Smokies. Deal?). AND HAVE A FANTASTIC THANKSGIVING! (I have no idea what I'm going to eat, being vegetarian and up in the mountains on Thursday... so wish me luck!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

A New Blog Series! Myth Busting Writerly Quotes

Yay!!!! A new blog series for this blog!!! Woo!!!!! *throws confetti*

I'm obsessed with quotes, and I've been thinking, "Why haven't I been blogging more about them?" So that was the inspiration for this blog series. Nothing too fancy of an inspiration, but a bit of back story for those world building fans out there (I love you).

The premise of the series is this:

There are so many quotes that writers hear, but how on Earth can they all be true? Some say show, some say tell. The reason for this is that no one has (or probably, will) discover the 100%, undeniable 'secret' to writing a best seller. Thus, there is a lot of advice out there, which is more or less an amalgamation of guesses at what could be true.

Show, don't tell.

No back story.

Don't start with a dream.

The way to becoming a writer is to write.

Don't expect masterpieces from first drafts.

Plot or Pants?


Which ones are true? Which ones are false? Which quotes can be twisted to reveal all the nuggets of wisdom they have to offer?

I, ever your humble servant, will try to answer these questions for you in a way that will draw from my own writing experiences, from advice given by industry professionals (agents, editors, published authors, etc.), and from advice from my fellow writers who aspire to be published.

I will either give each quote a status of Busted, Proved, or Mined (like mining for gold, a.k.a. dug deeper into the quote to get more from it. Usually, writers don't dig deep enough to understand all the information they can truly achieve from a quote).

Rest assured, I will be listing my sources and whatnot so you can verify my claim (please, don't take any opinion as fact until you've heard all the viewpoints).

Are you guys excited? I sure am :) These "Myth Busting Quotes" posts will probably happen once or twice a month. I truly hope that both you and I will learn a TON from these posts :)

However, I need your help. What quotes do you want to see analyzed? Give me ones you think are a doozy. I'll try my hardest to handle them, and will write up posts for every one in the coming months. Thank you!

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Defense of Non-Writers

We've all seen it, and only we would understand it. Ever heard of the Twitter hashtag, #thingsnottosaytoawriter? Here are some of the better ones if you missed it.

I dread telling people I'm a writer in real, non-Internet life. The most I ever say is, "Yea, I'd love to be a writer" or "I like to write." I rarely ever, ever tell people that I am actually writing a book because I hate hearing things like, "Oh, can I read it?" or "Ah, it's not published yet? Why don't you just self-publish it?"

Non-writers don't understand how hard being a writer truly is. It's not just putting words to a paper. Ernest Hemingway said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Revealing this side of our lives is like opening ourselves to people who think writing is some magical fantasy when it clearly isn't. It's hard, being told that writing is not the grueling task it is. It's frustrating, and you can't reply because they wouldn't understand unless they actually wrote.

But would they?

I'm starting to feel that I SHOULD tell people that I write books (I probably won't, though. I'll chicken out. But I'll know that I should tell people.)

It's not because I don't hear painful things from people who don't realize what they are saying. I do hear it. I hear it a lot.

It's because all those negative words disappear in a heartbeat when you meet that one person who understands; and that person can come from anywhere.

It happened twice to me.

It came from someone I know, just today. When I told her that I had no current plan to make writing my "legitimate" paying career, she looked at me and asked if I truly liked the 'serious' job. She knew as I knew that my one true ambition is to be a writer. She had read some of my writing before (not my books), and what she had to say about my writing made my day, and probably my year. It couldn't have come at a better time either, right when I was getting so down about my book and getting lost in this NaNo hoopla.

The second time happened a few months ago when my cousin was getting married. First off, my cousin knew I was writing a book; he had seen my Word document and saw through my desperate pleas that the 300-400 page document was "nothing". He hadn't told us until a few weeks before he proposed about his plans, so I was chiding him about not revealing important information. He whispered to me that I hadn't told him about my book, and I sputtered and said that it wasn't anything big. He then replied that writing a book was as important and life-changing as marriage.

I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I never felt that any non-writer would understand until that moment when I realized he understood perfectly (I hope, unless he was just making things up). The first incident that happened just today will replay in my mind over and over, because she had hope in me when I was losing it. Seeing real live people believe in your writing is something unimaginable.

Telling people about your writing is hard. That's why I don't do it. In fact, I doubt that almost anyone outside my core family knows that I'm actually writing a book (other than you guys); even the woman today didn't know, and I chickened out from telling her. Maybe I'll tell her when I actually finish.

Either way, the most encouragement I ever received from non-writers was from these two people (maybe they are writers too, but they just hide it?).

Telling people about your writing can be horrible when you see their reactions and hear what they say. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding things you ever do in regards to your writing. All the ignorant comments of non-writers made famous in #thingsnottosaytoawriter will be wiped away with one sentence from someone who truly understands, if only you reveal yourself.

(Again, I bet I'll chicken out. But these accidental revelations are amazing ;) )

(If you need some writing inspiration, check out this site. If you didn't know, I LOVE quotes.)

How do you feel about this? Do you like revealing your love for writing to non-writers?

(I am so close to the 50 follower point! Just one more, just one more....)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing

(Yes, this is an Emergency Post, because I posted on a Wednesday. Crud.)

The wonderful Debra McKellan tagged me in this, so here I go :) Thank you! Now go visit her blog :)

1- What is the working title of your book?

Pure Sea, Grey Waves for my YA Fantasy (This took FOREVER to come up with.)
Saving Penelope for my Adult Contemporary, but this post will concentrate on the above book :)

2- Where did the idea come from for the book?

Oh gosh, this is a long story, but I'll cut it short for you. First of all, I'm a painter, and a few years ago I painted a scene with a golfer golfing in space. Well, that scene (literally) became the start of my novel, and then, I either had a dream or a daydream (I can't remember) of a big beast floating around in space. The original golfer idea was cut out entirely, but that gave birth to the idea of an underwater world on a different planet.

3- What genre does your book fall under?
YA Fantasy :)

4- Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Well... they are a species of underwater creatures... so, maybe Ariel? Ursula? I'm thinking Jaws, that might be a good one, or maybe Nemo. Any other ideas? (Ignoring the fact that my creatures kind of look like humans, hehe.)

5- What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

AHHH!!! NO! I REFUSE! Fine, here it is (my Twitter pitch. I have NaNo to do, I don't want to go crazy honing a one-sentence full pitch).

In an underwater city where prejudicial law tears Alphi and her only friend apart, she turns her wand against the royal tyrants -- her own family.

6- Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully, I will get agented. I don't have the skills to tackle self-publishing (I'm at a loss on how authors do it. I have tons of respect for them).

7- How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Two years :) Yup. However, right now, I'm doing a full rewrite on it.

8- What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh gosh, I really don't know. Maybe in terms of character arc, A Tale of Two Cities? (ONLY in terms of character arc. I am nowhere near as good as Dickens.) If you know a story with an underwater world, please tell me, because I need comp titles for my query :)

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

JK Rowling kind of gave me the desire to write for publishing (I had been writing a LOT before I read Harry Potter). However, the actual material in this book is inspired by my inspirations (see Question 2) and my own life experiences. Writing this book was sort of like therapy for me (and still is). However, I might not have chosen magic if not for Harry Potter. I love magic.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I think that one of the biggest compliments I could ever get about this book is that it made someone cry. Pure Sea, Grey Waves is all about redemption, pain, and breaking through it all. It's about hope. If this book lingers in someone's mind at night, I would be very happy.

Oh, and the book is magical. And underwater.

Tagged for next week (Week 24) are other awesome people/writers. Check out their blogs next Wednesday when THEY have to answer these questions.

(I'm a little late to The Next Big Thing, and although I tried to find people who haven't been tagged, I apologize if you've already done this before. Sorry! :D)

Kela McClelland
Brighton Luke
Utsav Mukerjee
E.B. Black
Kendra Conine
Morgan Shamy

Thanks again, Debra, for tagging me in this!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Your Novel's Most Important Quote

I LOVE quotes. I can go for hours just looking up quotes, because I love them so much -- they mean so much to me. As such, I like to think of your novel's most important quote as your novel's thesis, and the way to find it is this:
What quote would you put before in the pages before your book starts?

You've seen this in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; JK Rowling included two poems; one by William Penn, and one by Aeschylus before the first chapter. Odds are, you've seen this in tons of novels (I just can't think of any right now -- call me stupid) and you might put one in yours.

If so, I applaud you. *Clap clap clap*

It doesn't matter if your future agent, editor, beta reader, etc. decides to cut it out in the end. This is much like what writing the query to a work in progress does to your plot; the query gives your plot a guide. As such, the quote gives your novel a theme.

Themes are important. About every single novel has a theme to it which is the book's message, angst, 'truth,' whatever you wish to call it. The theme is what makes the book live on in the readers' minds after they have finished it. The theme is what the reader stays up at night thinking about.

This is why finding a quote to sum up your book is so important; it guides the theme of the novel, and gives your book focus.

Now, probably, you don't have some amazing quote just yet to some up your novel, and if you do, it is truly wonderful (I mean it). But if you are at a lost to find a quote for your theme as I was (and am), I suggest you go to this website, which lists out quotes in terms of topic. Or, as I usually do, just search, "Quotes about love" and you will get links to websites chock-full of quotes for your budding romance novel.

Let me take a gander here and list some quotes for famous books:

A Tale of Two Cities:

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.”

― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Great Gatsby:

"Love is blindness."
--- Jack White

And so on and so forth. (Don't attack me for the above quotes. I just threw something out there so you can get a picture of what I'm talking about. The quotes sum up the theme of the novel.)

My current manuscript (YA Fantasy) is split into two parts, Part One consisting of the MC going around (more like being forced) to different places and being desperate to find a place she feels... happy. Meanwhile, she's bombarded with insults saying that she is stupid for thinking in the way she does.

My quote for Part One is:

"Not all those who wander are lost."
--- J.R.R. Tolkien (Whoa, really? I never knew he invented this quote! I just Googled to check.)

I still have to find my Part Two quote, and my Part One quote might change. If you want (just as an exercise) you can put a quote for every single chapter (if you are in dire need of a focus for your novel).

That's the beauty of this system. You just go along and you come across the perfect quote, and you feel all happy because you know that's the one -- and it might change when you find another quote.

It's a remarkable feeling to find the quote that completely understands your novel, and that's what you have to find: the quote that understands your novel.

I wish you the best in your search :)

Do you have any quotes you are thinking of for your novel? Do you have an addiction for quotes like I do (I really do)?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Writing Crap

"The first draft of anything is sh*t."
                                                      -- Ernest Hemingway.

Writing crap is important.

It just is. Almost everyone will write crap if they are serious about writing, mainly because as they write, they grow better and better. Their beginning works are crap.

This is especially important during this month due to NaNoWriMo. We have to get 50K, and that means we don't have time to edit, look over things, etc. So what do we do?

We write crap.

We don't edit and we don't look things over when we draft; especially when we draft in November for NaNo. And it hurts. It hurts me, at least.

One of my biggest fears is that my MS will be turn out to be a whopper and I will have a hard time editing it down to a decent word count -- much like the first time I wrote this MS. I don't want that to happen and it's hurting my writing flow; sometimes I'm scared to even write. The solution?

I write crap.

The best magic happens in the editing phase. In drafting, we just need something to work with -- we can't sculpt without the marble. The marble block is our first draft in whatever shape or form it is. We can carve out our masterpieces from these blocks, but we need the block to begin with. It does not matter if the block is enormous, or a bit bumpy -- we can carve the crap away.

It's important especially in the drafting stage, because this stage is all about creativity and flow. Drafting will require all the ideas you have, so why hold back? You can get rid of the crap while editing.

Acknowledging the fact that you can and should write crap is freeing, as is the idea of not taking your first draft seriously. I need this message stamped into my brain, because I keep getting chills at the thought of a Dickens-sized novel on my computer. I need to keep my draft creative and fun, and I can't take myself seriously -- at least when I draft. Wish me luck.

Have you faced this problem?

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- DON'T Write a Book in a Month

Yup, you heard me.

Because books are like these:

Don't own this photo.

And these:

I actually do own this. So HA, photo copyright lawsuits!

Unless you are writing for the MG audience or you write novellas, your book will NOT end up in the 50,000 word range that is National Novel Writing Month's goal. They will be like the above books: bigger, thicker, and longer (...).

For me, at least, I like doing all the drafting and creative work in one go. Usually, this means I have +100K novels, but I do edit the life out of them in the next phase (my most prized shortening is 136K to 85Kish).

For most of us, our novels will not end up in the 50K range. If you do decide to get a book done in November, I bet (or suggest) you:
  • are a writer that loves to flesh out the skeleton of a draft; you like adding more than deleting
  • you are doing NaNoWriMo for fun, or as an exercise/study in writing (This would have saved me the wreck of a MS that was my first MS. And my second, to think of it. Sigh....)
  • your genre/category permits you to have a shorter word count
Because if you don't like fleshing out the bones, then your post-NaNo experience will be a nightmare. Don't try squeezing in a healthy 80K novel into 50K words by cutting subplots or adding placeholders ("Main character kills bad guy"). If you do enjoy fleshing out your novel, keep going with NaNo's goal. However, if you are like me and want a relaxing and mindless editing job (relatively speaking), don't squeeze your book. It's book suicide.

Squeezing a manuscript means twice the work: draft twice as much, labor twice as hard -- not pretty.
But I love NaNoWriMo. Even though I'm against its goal for a full novel, I sure as heck need a push to write 50K. Honestly, it's not really "rushing" to write 1,667 words a day. Writing a book in that word count is rushing. I can do 1,667 words, but I need a push. NaNo is that push.

I am recommending NaNo to everyone here. Start right (or write, hehe) now; it doesn't matter if you are late to the game; just get 1,667 words a day. Do it even if you are not drafting; up the word count to 2,500 and edit that much of your novel each day. Heck, do a NaNo in December.

Just do it. That's all NaNo is about, and in November, NaNo gets you with one of the best communities on the Internet. November is a great month for writers.

But don't try suffocating your novel if that's not for you. Try to shoot for 50K this month, not to finish the whole book.

Heck, even Water for Elephants (with a newish movie starring Robert Pattison) was a NaNo novel -- and its published word count was 100,483 words. That's double the NaNo goal.

Don't kill your works of art and future NYT best sellers in the awesomeness that is NaNoWriMo.
(And it truly is awesome. So do it!)

Have fun NaNoing, and find me there as well, under SC_Author :)

Do you have any advice for NaNoers?

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Start of NaNoWriMo -- Add Me!

Officially, yesterday, the "Thirty days and night of literary abandon!" has started. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited. I needed a push to write.

Let me tell you a little story.

Every start of the month, due to a teacher's enlightening knowledge, I try to have "rabbit, rabbit" be the first thing I say when I wake up for good luck during the month. Although I don't believe in luck, I DO believe in placebos. Call me a self-mutilating ignoramus, I don't mind; this works for me.

However, I rarely ever accomplish this "good luck" goal, but yesterday night, I was spazzing because I was thinking, "It's NaNoWriMo, I need some placebos!" So I said "rabbit, rabbit" at midnight (I was still up) but I knew it didn't count. So I went to sleep. What would you know, randomly (or this might have been a dream), I woke up at 3:30 am, said, "rabbit, rabbit" after being a little confusion, and went back to sleep.

NaNoWriMo has permeated my existence for this month. Yesterday, I actually skipped an obligation so I could write! I KNOW! I'm feeling like an actual writer!

I'm getting more writing done and I have more energy when I write; I'm not experiencing the cruel killer that is Writer's Lag. I'm loving it. It helps that I'm not technically drafting, I'm rewriting a MS from scratch, so I know where I am going. (I would suggest outlines for those who wrote themselves in a corner. Just rip off the bandage and do it, especially in the craze that is NaNoWriMo.)

The best thing about this is the positive pressure from the community. How many times have I said the writer's community is one of the best? Not enough. I LOVE YOU GUYS.

SO, please, please, please (dang, that's the first time I used bold in this post! That's like a record.) add me on NaNoWriMo. I'm SC_Author, and I hail from Hogwarts (I shouldn't have told you that. Shoot. Ah, you guys wouldn't believe me anyway. Muggles.... Saving my life every day.)

How is your NaNoWriMo starting? Everything you hoped, or less than your expectations? Share!

I'm on word 1,774 from Day 1 writing (I have 20K from previous). Yay :) My goal is 70K by the end of November.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Most Underrated Genre is....

Lit Fic.

Yup. People say it's a tough market; it doesn't sell; it has to be incredibly, incredibly wonderful to be published traditionally.

Well, every book (we hope) has to be incredibly, incredibly wonderful to be traditionally published.

The thing is, Lit Fic is on the undeniable rise, and I would venture to say that, if done well, it is one of the most popular genres out there. (One of. Not the. DEFINITELY not the.)

"What?" you all say. "Lit Fic? What of paranormal romance, and fantasy? You lie!"

Well, here is the catch. Lit Fic is on the rise in one specific category:

YA Fiction.

Yup. I said it. YA Literary Fiction is on the rise. Teenagers have always been smart and strong; only now is the publishing industry really understanding that. And, most teenagers want to know how to navigate this world. That's a fact.

You've never heard of this genre pairing, I bet. I actually feel YA Lit Fic is hiding under the skirts of something called "coming-of-age" stories or "adolescent" books. (The Catcher in the Rye, The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and.... The Perks of Being a Wallflower.)

That last book recently made its movie (amazing, amazing movie) debut and is causing currents through the teenage audience. Almost every teen is talking about it; almost every teen has watched the movie. And, that book is an epistolary literary fiction novel. (I think.)

Teenagers are smart, and they want to know about this world even more than adults do because they are being flung off the cliff into the adult world; of course they would want to know more about know the world, and their frustrations are caught in YA Lit Fic.

YA Lit Fic is on the definite rise, but one must write it well for it to succeed; that's why there aren't loads and loads of Lit Fic on the shelves. Teenagers are experts at picking out false voices and phony messages.  It must be done well, but once done well, they succeed. Most of the most famous YA novels are in fact of the Lit Fic variety; The Catcher in the Rye, for instance.

Lit Fic is probably my most favorite genre... eh. I don't really have a 'favorite' genre. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE books with aspects of Lit Fic. If a book does not make me think in the way Lit Fic does, that book probably won't be in my favorites. I love Lit Fic themes -- I doubt I ever will write something without Lit Fic themes.

I do, sincerely, believe Lit Fic can become more successful in the adult market as well because there are so, so many more technical, 'adult' themes (like politics, health care, etc.) that can be explored. The current bubbling American social climate is just ripe for this. There hasn't been a 'classic' American novel written of this time period. Why don't we write it? It's amazing, this genre, and I'm just waiting for its rise.

So if you are a fellow tragedy, character, Lit Fic lover, don't give up yet. It's coming back; we just have to write something that makes Lit Fic come back. I might do a post on the Secret to making Lit Fic work later on, so subscribe, and keep in touch :)

Do you love Lit Fic? Do you feel there is a niche for it in YA literature?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Secret to Overcoming Writer's Lag

writer's lag: n. a period of time when a writer just doesn't write for no apparent reason at all other than lethargy.

(Honestly, I have no idea how proper dictionary formatting is, so let the above formatting be adequete.)

Writer's lag is not writer's block. Lag is when the writer just doesn't write; they blog, they Tweet, they social-network-ize, they read, everything. But when they remember they should be writing, they get all fidgety and guilty. Yea, that sounds like me right now. I should be writing right now, and instead I'm blogging because I can't open the word document.

I just came across this quote on Twitter:

"The secret to getting ahead is getting started." -- Agatha Christie. That should be my motto, and NaNoWriMo's as well. That is one awesome quote.

Here are the steps to the secret of overcoming lag.

Step 1:


Just pull up the word document, and type the first word. It doesn't matter about the scene coming up and how you will set it up and how oh-so-hard it will be and how you don't know where to begin -- stop. Write the freaking first word.

Everything flows SOOOOO much faster after that first word. The 2nd hardest thing to do is pull up the document; the hardest is writing that first word instead of Youtubing Adele music videos.

However, we writers (at least, me) have only a little self-discipline, so we need something more tangible.

Step 2:


Just sign up.

If you're struggling through your edits and drafting because of writer's lag, sign up for NaNoWriMo. This is the perfect time to be a lagging writer because November is coming up! So start smiling, you lag-writers (me included), because this opportunity just fell in your lap.

If you get lag in March, pretend you have a PerMarchWriMo (Personal March Writing Month). Have as many as you want, and post a sign saying "1,667 words" (or maybe even 2,000) above your workspace.

Just do it. Don't overthink it.

(See Step 4)

Step 3:

A community.

If you don't have one, I strongly strongly strongly (STRONGLY) suggest you join one. Maybe you have a writers' group around your library? Maybe you can create one? Maybe you can just talk to your non-writer friends about it? Or maybe go here or here or the many other writerly websites around the Internet. ANYTHING! The groups will spur you on and keep you going; I owe Agent Query Connect a HUGE debt of gratitude for keeping me going. Huge. Also, many famous writers have had famous writerly friends: JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis; Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and many more.

Step 4:

Don't over think it. That is usually the root cause of writer's lag. Don't think, "Oh gosh, 2,000 words, oh gosh, will I have time, should I wait until night to start it, because my cousins are coming over in thirty minutes." Just write. Don't over think it!

The biggest, BIGGEST hardship in writers' lag (not block) is pulling up the word document and typing that first sentence. It's dreadful and foreboding. All you need to do is get comfy, pull up the laptop, and don't over thinking it. Just do.

Now I need to take this advice :) I'm hoping NaNoWriMo will spur me on, and I'm signing up as soon as I finish up this post! Wish me luck!

Have you guys ever experienced writer's lag? How do you overcome it? And who's doing NaNoWriMo?

Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Create Memorable Characters

Memorable characters are crucial. They will ensure that your book stays alive through the ages; we take it for granted, but it is an achievement that characters such as Odysseus and the giant Polyphemus in Homer’s The Odyssey are remembered after thousands of years. It's a HUGE achievement (punny).

Now image one of your characters surviving until the year 4,000. Pretty insane, huh? That's what Homer did.

Literally, and logically, your character won’t live on if they aren’t remembered. Plain and simple. I tackled the how-to's in this post. And this one. And this one.

So if you want to know the HOWs of creating memorable characters, take a gander at those three links. This post will be all about the WHY.

It's like in math; once you understand the concepts, the details come to you. If you try haphazardly to memorize the details (insert quirk here, with a dash of fatal flaw -- or was that a helping of description?)  you'll end up floundering.

Memorize your favorite character. Learn every bit of them.

Once you KNOW your favorite character, basically 'discover' the rules on your own, and learn the methods the author used to create that character. Why do you love him/her/it so much?

My first and foremost favorite character is Albus Dumbledore. Yes, I even have a picture of him as my desktop wallpaper for the past few years; no sentimental family picture or pretty nature scene.

I don't own this.
(And this isn't the same picture as my desktop wallpaper.)

My second favorite has got to be Sydney Carton. I don’t want to spoil A Tale of Two Cities for you, but he is FANTASTIC. I love him, and I’ve studied him intensely for my own book.

(Sorry, no picture, because, well, I wasn't fond of the black-and-white movie, probably since I'm not used to black-and-white films, haven't seen the color one, and don't want to do injustice to Sydney. So enjoy this picture of a musical panda. I don't own this picture either.)
 I love, love, love, LOVE characters like Professor McGonagall and Ms. Pross. They’re old and strict, but, heaven help the man who threatens their loved ones. That kind of love and sacrifice is amazing to me.

I don't own this. But she looks so awesome!

I love Jay Gatsby as well; he’s tragic, and I love tragic characters (as you get tell by my choices).

The point of this is to try and inspire an in-depth study of your own favorites; what makes you love them so much? How can you use this knowledge in your own books? And, most importantly, what will make your character memorable enough to be talked about in year 4000?

There is a thing in painting (I paint) where artists basically copy a painting. There is no way this copy would be allowed in a contest or be allowed to sell the piece as an original. However, these studies help the artist master a skill they are weak in. Copying can incredibly helpful, but not profitable; don't call them originals.

Learn from the originals, but don't expect to send out queries for a book with a MC that is a carbon-copy of a famous character. Learn about characterization from the masters, not copy.

JK Rowling and Dickens are two of the greatest characterizers (dictionary, please?). With Rowling, we remember Professor Sprout, Snape, James and Lily Potter, the Malfoys, Umbridge, Lupin, and so, so many more. Same with Dickens (maybe on a less pop-culture scale in the present). We take it for granted, but in other books, we get confused if there are even a dozen characters. Rowling had hundreds (there's a list). Both of their secrets are revealed here.

Who are your favorite characters? How can YOU learn from them?

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Books do Famous Writers Love?

Well, obviously, the masters of writing had their favorites, and surprisingly, these were classics as well.

Here are some of them:

Leo Tolstoy: The Holy Bible and Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau were his favorite books. He said, "Rousseau and the Gospels are the two strongest and most positive influences on my life."

Mark Twain: Joan of Arc was his favorite book, although he did say that he reread A Tale of Two Cities at least once a year (he's my kind of guy in that aspect).

Ernest Hemingway: He had quite a list of favorite books, saying that he would "rather read again for the first time... than have an assured income of a million dollars a year" the books in the link above. Of his favorites, however, the works by the Russian greats (Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky) showed up a good few times.

JD Salinger: In 1995, Salinger answered that his favorite book was The Landsmen by Peter Martin. I know; I hadn't heard of this either, and it's Amazon page has only one (albeit, 5-star) review. However, Salinger was so passionate about this book that he lent it to the asker of this question, with a little note as well. Salinger is one of my most favorite authors, as a person and a writer.

Now, how about the more modern writers?

Suzanne Collins: Not really specific, but she loves works by Thomas Hardy, and she's reread The Lord of the Flies, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1984, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Germinal, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and A Moveable Feast to an "embarrassing" degree.

Stephanie Meyer: The best I could get was her favorite heroines: Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), Anne Shirley (Green Gables), Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre...), Harriet Morton (no idea), and Jo March (Little Women); Dashti of Book of a Thousand Days is on her list as well.

John Irving: Great Expectations by Dickens was his favorite. (Yes! A straight forward answer!)

Dan Brown: His favorites were a lot of nonfiction, but he has some fiction in there as well, such as Of Mice and Men. Check out his list.

And, of course:

JK Rowling: (Whose favorite book I didn't even have to look up :D)  Emma by Jane Austen. Her favorite childhood book (I had to look this up to be sure) was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (I knew it! Just forgot the name.) "Goudge was the only one whose influence I was conscious of," Rowling said. To see the rest of her picks, click here.
So that's all, folks!

My own favorite books are:

1. Harry Potter -- JK Rowling. These books are what got me writing, so it's placement at the top is a huge debt of gratitude. Plus, these books are just freaking fantastic, in literary qualities as well as creative.

Oh, this is tough. OH this is tough!!!!! How about I have two second-place favorites?

2a. A Tale of Two Cities -- Charles Dickens.

2b. The Catcher in the Rye -- JD Salinger. This is my go-to book when I'm not in a good place, and I would not edit even a word of this book (I only feel this way about this book).

But A Tale of Two Cities is my other favorite to go to whenever I want to read that last page again (and again), the most beautifully written page of all time, I think, with one of my favorite characters, Sydney Carton.

(Les Misérables will probably be coming in this list soon; I just have to finish it.)

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower -- Stephen Chbosky. I watched the movie, then read the book, and although I thought the movie was better than the book (I KNOW! But Chbosky played a big part in the movie as well.), I still loved them.

5. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling. Yup, sorry guys, I really loved that book.

6. The Great Gatsby -- F Scott Fitzgerald. I just loved Gatsby (the MC) a lot.

Well, this is depressing. I need to start reading more classic books. Off to Les Mis and Great Expectations....

How about you guys? What are your favorite books?

Monday, October 15, 2012


Good gosh, I didn't want to get all depressing for today's post, but I saw a video Sunday night and I couldn't stop thinking about this issue. Although this does not relate directly to writing, it is a huge, HUGE part of the current YA trend going on; probably one of the central themes in so many YA books. Thus, it is necessary that we understand it.

Bullying was never a problem for me in high school, but I saw so many other people getting bullied.

People think that bullying is just beating someone up, and thus, writers write this thinking this way. Bullying is not just the beating people up. Bullying is everything that comes before.

No matter how many times people vow they will never bully, post comments on videos and Facebook saying, "Bullying is so horrible," they will end up, two seconds later, attacking Mr.Snugglepuff3 on Youtube -- strangers they never met and have never seen.

Bullies and abusers do not think what they do is bullying; they do not recognize it for what it truly is, and so, everyone bullies.

And then, so many teenagers kill themselves, and the only solution we can think of is, "I told them to take The Catcher in the Rye off their shelves, and now look what happened." Do I believe books have a part to play in influencing the teenager's mind? Yes. Definitely. Sometimes in a negative fashion? Yes.

But these books only magnify the feeling anyone has; the feelings must be inside to begin with. Good gosh, we just don't realize nor understand just how our actions can affect someone on the other side of the screen.

Out of sight, out of mind.

People are starting to realize bullying is not cool, or whatever. But the worst part is seeing one person who proclaims the horrible aspects of bullying, who devotes an epitaph online to commemorate a deceased person... and two seconds later, in 'real' life, laugh and abuse-comment at strangers.

We all need to be more responsible for our own actions. No matter who is on the recieving side, there is no justifying any action which leads to someone committing suicide. One of the worst things is seeing people 'justifying' their actions, AFTER the suicide, by using their prejudiced views of the victim.

Good gosh.

Just think, what if next time you witness something, it's all a part of this show?

And even if it isn't, standing up for someone in a less fortunate place than you is a huge deal. As I write all this, it's partially for me; I've only spoken up when I know I won't come in harm. I want to be able to stand up when doing so would lead to my harm, but I'm not sure if I would be able to. I would be too scared.

I'm sorry for going all depressing on you guys. I hope you can forgive me :(  We all just need take a little more care of our own actions.

"No one errs or does wrong willingly or knowingly." -- Socrates (Also the quote that preceeds my WIP :) )

If you do write about bullying, truly understand it, and, expose it for all it is.

Thanks for listening to me, and I'll see you Friday :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Secret to Great Book Cover Art

No matter how much lee-way an author has (traditional authors usually get to have their minute 'say' in the cover, but only nominally), there is one INCREDIBLY important aspect to a book cover which people usually glance over:

The tone.

You don't know just how make-or-break this can be.

Let's take for example The Casual Vacancy, since I just read it and it is a perfect example of what I am talking about. Milk your book cover for ALL it can give you. And here is the kicker/secret:

Your book cover can mask major 'faults' in your book.

The Casual Vacancy was incredibly grim, morbid, and depressing. If I had to read it without the jacket copy (I can't believe I'm saying this) but I bet I would have been much, much more depressed by the book than I was. The reason I wasn't was because of this beautiful little deceptive angel:

That book cover is NOT morbid.
That book cover is NOT depressing.
In fact, it is downright happy and cheerful.

Thus, I read, expecting something not depressing, not morbid, not cruel. And, thus, I found things that were happy and cheerful.

Here is a little method to cheat your way out of your book's one-major-unworkable-mood-related flaw, if you so please. Say you are writing a tragedy, or a very, VERY depressing book (I am). If your book cover is light and colorful, it will balance out the possible negative effects of the book's sadness. Now, this happened to me for sure with The Casual Vacancy, and I suspect it happened to many other people, but don't take it as a hard-and-fast rule.

This is NOT to say that you can write the most morbid, depressing, frustrating book in the world, and expect the book cover to make it uplifting.

The book cover only gives the book the small push it needs to get the message closer to the author's intention.

Say you've written a Bella Swam protagonist who has that bit of courage inside her, but you are afraid the reader won't understand it; make the cover display the heroine as a strong lady, and the reader will pick up on all her (possibly, small) displays of strength.

It is the ultimate trick, the ultimate technique. (I resist saying 'cheat' because I do not think it is a cheat at all -- only a method to point the book towards its true direction.)

Again, the cover only gives the book the push it needs to get the message closer to the author's intention.

This is a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL technique to give your book the push it needs.

If you are afraid your book's message will be taken in the wrong direction, make the cover opposite to the supposed theme, and closer to your intention.

If the reader comes to the book with expectations, if he/she comes to the book looking for something, he/she will find it.

This is what makes the book cover a work of art; this is what gives it, truly, a life of its own, complementing the life of the book. This is what makes it the ultimate book cover -- when it complements and helps the book and author.

Happy book covering :)

Should the words stand on their own merit, or can the author rightfully bend the packaging to make the product (the book) more appealing? Is this deceptive?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cover Reveal! GRAVE INTENTIONS -- Lori Sjoberg

Well, well, we have here the lovely Lori Sjoberg, writer and fellow AQCer :)

Her new book, GRAVE INTENTIONS, is graced with....

(Drum roll, please.)


beautiful cover! (The inclusion of the scythe mans it up a bit for me. Awesome touch.)

*Applause, applause*

Here is a little interview with Lori about her new book :) It sounds to DIE for (you'll see my cleverness in this when you read the interview. My humor is killing me).

Now for Lori:

1.  Give me one word describing your book. - ONE?

You're killing me here. (Yay :)  Score one for me!) Okay, I would say the one word that best describes Grave Intentions is "Rebirth."

1a. OK, now you can go a bit more in depth :) What's your book about?

 Grave Intentions is the story of David Anderson, a Grim Reaper who's lost his grip on humanity, and Sarah Griffith, a mortal woman who fears she's losing her mind.  When their lives become entangled, each experiences a rebirth of sorts.  Sarah breathes new life onto the dying embers of David's humanity, while David opens Sarah's mind to a reality she's never considered.  And just when things are looking great, Fate throws a wrench into the works...

TOLD YOU my above humor was clever!!!

2. What part of the cover do you love the most?

Two words: Man Cleavage. Is that some major eye candy or what?

3. What is the story behind this book? In other words, how was the writing journey, and what difficulties did you face in writing it?

I'm one of those writers who doesn't write in chronological order.  I write whatever scenes pop into my head and eventually stitch them all together to form a cohesive story.  For Grave Intentions, the end scene was the first to come to mind, so I had to reverse engineer the rest of the story.  That meant trying to figure out who these characters were, and why they were doing what they were doing.  (David came to me pretty quickly, but Sarah took a bit of fine tuning before I was satisfied with her character.)  Once that was accomplished, I wrote a very general outline and went from there.  The process proved difficult at times, especially when trying to stitch everything together and some of the pieces don't fit.  There were several scenes that simply had no place in the manuscript, so they're forever buried deep in the recesses of my hard drive.

4. What is your favorite scene in the book? (You CAN tease.)

At one point, Sarah assumes that David and his male apprentice are actually a couple. When David finds out, his reaction is priceless. (Actually, my favorite scene is the final scene, but I don't want to say anything to give it away.)
My favorite scenes are usually the conclusions as well.

5. Which is your favorite character? Why?

The heroine, Sarah Griffith.  I loved writing her because she's smart and strong, but far from perfect.  Her family has a history of mental illness, which is one of the reasons she's pursued a career in medical research.  She's fiercely analytical, and refuses to believe in ghosts, or ghouls, or anything that can't be scientifically proven.  Imagine her surprise when she discovers her next door neighbor is the harbinger of death.  

6. If you could compare your book to any other book in the world (or other worlds), which would it be?

 Jeez, that's tough. I haven't read any books that share enough of the same elements to draw an in-depth comparison to Grave Intentions. On A Pale Horse has some similarities in regards to the physical incarnation of death, while No Rest for the Wicked has similarities in character arc and tone. 

7. What do you feel would be the best compliment to receive on this book?

 That s/he loved the book so much they put it on their keeper shelf.

8. Main drive of your book: Characters, or plot?

Characters. The plot serves as a catalyst for Sarah & David's character arcs.

Ooh, I like the sound of that! That's one of my favorite types of books.

9. Best sentence ever from your book. (Hehehe, I'm evil.)

I'm going to cheat and use two. Not sure if they're the best, but I love the way they set the tone for the scene, and David's attitude about being a reaper:
"And then everything grew quiet, leaving only the smell of burnt rubber and the faint whimper of the dying."

"Time to get to work."

10. Lastly, what is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches. It's a meal and a snack, all rolled into one. What more could you ask for?

That's the end :) Thanks for allowing me to host your reveal!

My pleasure. That comparison question was brutal! Thanks again for the opportunity!


After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Lori worked for nearly a decade in retail management. When that got boring, she switched to financial planning, and then insurance. The writing bug bit a few years later. After completing her first manuscript, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at work, and the creative half writing paranormal romance. When she’s not doing either one of those, she’s usually spending time with her husband and children of the four-legged variety.

You can socialize with the amazing Lori on:

Her Website
Her Twitter
Her Facebook

(And read her full bio on her website. It's funny :) )

Hope you had fun! What are your thoughts on the cover?