Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We should all be a bit more like Betty White

Tip of the Day: Kristina’s book My Fake Boyfriend Is Better Than Yours comes out today!! Congrats Kristina! Everyone else, make sure to check it out.

After seeing the new commercial for the movie You Again my husband informed me that even Betty White tweets and updates her Facebook status more than I do.

My response: “But everyone wants to hear what Betty White has to say…because Betty’s the New Black.”

I might not have put it exactly like that, but basically my thinking on the subject is that I really don’t know what to say that people would actually care about.

His response was that most people on Twitter and Facebook write stuff that no one cares about. But there is still an off chance that at least one person will actually find your deep desire to find a Tim Horton’s bagel interesting. Or really want to discuss how much they are also looking forward to “The Situation” being on Dancing With the Stars.

Which I guess is true.

But half the time when I think of funny things or want to share something with someone, I just don’t even think to Facebook it or Tweet it. Which means when I actually sit down to try to think about stuff to put on Facebook…I have nothing. My mind is completely blank. And then I think well if I don’t have anything good or clever to say that I probably shouldn’t say anything at all.

A few weeks ago Lisa brought up the subject of having an online presence as an author and how a lot of people with popular blogs really have to work at it. Which I think is also true for Facebook and Twitter. The people's updates that I most like to read are from people that you can see really make an effort and try to get witty, clever, or funny with everything they present. And if you are using social media to help present yourself as an author I think it’s important to take that extra step and work at it. But at the same time, if you don't do anything just because you don't know what to do that's probably far worse. Because you aren't letting anyone even get the chance to get to know you as an author and a person.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that from now on…I’m going to try to be a bit more like Betty White!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 30, 2010

Do You Really Have to Write?

Tip of the Day: So busy! My new Android phone can take notes and to-do lists; I just have to figure out how to use it. If you have an Android, start with AppBrain.com, the online app store.

On Friday, Lisa opened up a very interesting discussion on whether you could quit writing and under what circumstances. Enough commenters said that they could never stop writing, even if they could never get published, to make me wonder. What are people writing that inspires them to keep going without an audience?

So imagine a world where there are no publishing houses. You can't get paid for your writing, novels or magazine articles or nonfiction. This isn't a doom and gloom, we're all indies in the future rant. I'm imagining an alternate universe for the sake of figuring something out. (I think I've been reading too much sci fi.)

So you can't sell your work. What would you write?

Would you write for your friends, like David Levithan wrote Valentine Day stories for his friends every year when he was younger? Would you start creative writing workshops for other writers? Or for teens, like Dave Eggers' 826 Valencia project? Would you write fanfic for an appreciative audience, or would you write nonfiction inspiring people to learn something new? Or would you just write for yourself?

I'm not sure how much I'd do differently, really. I might take more time off to try new things, like poetry, that I'm currently convinced I suck at. I might be more inclined to write nonfiction without the pressure of needing a platform in today's market. I'd be more of a dabbler, which means I'd probably be less good at writing novels.

Hmm, interesting thought.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 27, 2010

On quitting and writing and disagreeing with Stephen King

Tip of the Day: Have you entered the Contemps challenge yet? Agree to read 18 of the 21 contemporary YA novels releasing over the next year, and you have a chance to win all 21 books! Details about the challenge are HERE.

I caught a discussion going on yesterday on twitter about this blog post. To summarize, a guy who's been writing for 15 years is hanging up the towel. He had one book published years ago, has written three more since that his agent has tried to sell to no avail. He says, in that blog post, among other things:

"Someone wrote – King again, I think – that a writer is a person who will write no matter what. In other words, if you lock them up in a cell without pen or pencil, they’ll write on the wall in their own blood. I didn’t believe that when I read it and I don’t believe it now. Even Stephen King comes to a point when the blood dries up. Writers are people. We – they – would want to play football if they were footballers, not sit on the subs bench; they would want to have a workshop, tools, and customers if they made furniture for a living; writers want to be read.
Fifteen years is a fair crack of the whip. As of now, I am no longer a writer of fiction."
And it got me thinking. I love writing. I do. But I don't think I'm one of those persons who would write stories just for myself. I might write journal entries. I might write poetry. But I don't know if I would continue writing novels if I didn't think there was a chance someone else might read them.
Some on twitter didn't think he should give up, saying the only difference between published authors and non-published authors is sticking with it.
I say - if it doesn't bring you joy anymore, don't do it. Life is too short. When I read his blog post, I can tell this isn't a decision that was made lightly. He feels like it's time to move on. And I respect that.
Anyway, today I'm curious. Do you agree with Stephen King? Do you think "real" writers write regardless if anyone will ever read it? And do you think at some point, the toll of rejection could cause you to stop writing? I'm pretty sure it would me. Who wants to live in misery all the time, feeling like they just aren't good enough? Not me, that's for sure. I get that it can take a long time to break in, and you shouldn't give up easily. But after fifteen years? I wouldn't blame you one bit.
~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On Rejection

Tip of the Day: Check out this super cute site for tweens--AllyKatzz.com.

I haven't been rejected in the writing world (lately anyway. Oh, I've been rejected lots and lots and lots, believe me. Just not lately) but I've been feeling rejected with other things the past couple of weeks and it's been bumming me out. Then I came across this randomly old article by Frances Lefkowitz in a magazine in my bathroom, Body + Soul, October 2009 issue (yep, my bathroom magazines need some refreshing) and it got me thinking. It was about how times are hard for a lot of people and how you can basically drown in your sorrow and mourning and just walk around feeling rotten or you can adapt and move on to better things. She said, "Successfully adapting to adversity means moving, when the time is right, from mourning and regretting to focusing on the options and opportunities before us." She goes on to talk about how going through these hard things/times etc. allow us to open up to new wonderful things, new possibilities, things we may not have thought of before. You can get new strength, new appreciation, better relationships and so on and so on. I won't spill it all in case you want to get a hold of an October 2009 issue of Body + Soul too. :-) Anyway, this all made me think about writing and the rejections we get as writers. It hurts when someone tells you sorry, I can't represent you. Or nope, that book isn't good enough to publish, it'll never make it in the market. Or we can't stock your book in our stores because we don't have confidence it will sell. Sucky sucky things. But if we don't go through these things it wouldn't be half as sweet when we do get that agent, publish that book, and see one of our books in the "big" book store. And it also makes us work harder on future books. I know I'm always trying to make each book better than the last and I'm sure most authors feel the same way. So rejection isn't really a bad thing, we can take it, cry for just a short minute or two, and then learn from it, grow from it, and do bigger and better next time.

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why Suzy C Succeeds (or She Sells Best Sells By the Sea Load)

Tip of the Day: Put your copy of MOCKINGJAY on hold at your library today if you haven't already bought it!


The sound above is both a happy sigh and a sad scream that I've read the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy.

What I realized after talking to my manpanion about MOCKINGJAY is that one of the reasons those books are so addicting is Suzanne Collins' ability to create characters that are both consistent AND unpredictable. You get to know and love the MC, think you know how she will behave, but then she's thrown into a bad situation and comes up with her own perfect solutions to them that you never saw coming -- yet fit perfectly with what the MC would do.

Yeah. Figure that one out. And keep that in mind as you read MOCKINGJAY and tell me what you think about it -- or how Ms. Collins does it (other than her brilliance).

Happy reading!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Old Friend

Tip of the Day: Kristina has her wonderful middle-grade book My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours coming out next week. To celebrate she’s having a contest on her blog where you can win a fake boyfriend. So much fun! Make sure to check it out, and be the envy of all your friends if you win a gift from your very own fake boyfriend.

It’s been a few months since I’ve worked on my last project. At the time, I stopped in the middle of a good editing run (um…thinking back now, that probably wasn’t the wisest idea. Oh, the joys of living and learning :)). Now it’s back to work, and it feels like I’m visiting an old friend but don’t have much new to add to the conversation.

I imagine published authors feel this way too when they have to go back and do edits and line edits on a book they may have written over a year ago. It’s hard to switch your brain back into a project so quickly, especially when you’d rather be working on a bright, shiny new project. The temptation those projects bring can easily take your eyes off your old, reliable book that needs a bit of work.

And as hard as it is to not move on, I need to roll up my sleeves and get back to work, get to know my book and characters again, and refresh my memory. For now, I’ll just wait and listen to my characters until I have more to add as I catch up with an old friend.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 23, 2010

Have You Seen My Manuscript Bag?

Tip of the Day: This is the perfect time of year to plan a trip to your local Farmer's Market. With fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and onions, you can be a "localvore" and make sauce to freeze.

Have you seen my missing manuscript bag? It's a cheap, camouflage messenger bag I got on sale at Clare's. I bring it to conferences and in-person critique group meetings. I've lost some very valuable things! It contains:

1. Critiques from my crit group members, and possibly some that I owe members. I know, hard copy seems so 1980s, but it really comes in handy during revisions. I'm not that great at switching between too many screens. I scribble notes from several electronic critiques onto one hard copy critique from a trusted reader.

2. Conference handouts, including editor's addresses and secret conference "passwords."

3. Books my crit group members and I trade. There's a novel from Deena I really wanted to read in that bag!

4. Notes from crit group meetings, like story ideas, title brainstorming, gossip, and the name of that website "I have to check out."

5. Hand lotion, pretty pens and fancy paper clips.

So if you have seen this bag, please let me know right away. My husband knew I was worried, so he searched my car for me. Then he left the hatchback light on overnight. Sigh. Thanks anyway, sweetie.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 20, 2010

Monkeys would do a better job promoting than I am!

Tip of the Day: My new picture book, LITTLE CHIMP'S BIG DAY, is showing as shipping from Amazon. If you have little ones, I hope you'll check it out! 

I think I'm supposed to be promoting my new picture book, and I'm totally and completely lost as to how to do it.

I know some people do book trailers, but I don't have the money to hire someone and I don't really feel skilled enough to do it myself. Besides, unless it's really creative and I can think outside the box, I'm not sure a book trailer for a picture book is all that effective.

If I had postcards done, I don't know where I'd send them.

The only thought I had was I could try and get in touch with Sara Gruen (WATER FOR ELEPHANTS) who also has a book coming out Sept 7th called APE HOUSE and see if she would take me on tour with her. She could sell her monkey book to adults and I could sell my monkey book to kids.

Something tells me, she probably wouldn't take me up on it though. But what a good idea, huh? We could call it the Monkey Tour! Or, uh, monkeys on tour. Ha!

It's hard to feel motivated about it too, because a big part of me feels like people simply don't buy picture books anymore. At least not hardcover ones from an unknown author anyway.

So, if you were me, what would you do? Put on a monkey suit and walk around town? Spam your facebook friends every day for the next month with stuff about the book? Other ideas? Not a thing?

Can I just say that I really don't like promotion much?

But yay - a cute picture book with adorable illustrations and fun, rhyming text!! That part is fun. The rest, um yeah, not so much.

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spinning Round and Round

Tip if the Day: My first booksigning for My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours is 9/11 from 2-4pm at the Borders in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Come see me!

Today's blog post might be a little swirly like this water slide:

because my head is spinning with last minute promo stuff for My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours! It releases in a week in a half (YIKES!) and there are e-mails and interviews and launch stuff literally piling up around me. So what do I do?

Go on vacation of course! Me and the family just got back from Wisconsin Dells. The picture above is one of their water slides (the Tornado) that was at the huge, fun water park where we stayed. I didn't go on it (wimp!) but I did go on a lot of the water slides with my 5yr old. And I was scared each time! The kids were fearless of course. My 7yr old loved the tornado but my head is already so spinny these days I didn't want to see what happened if the rest of me spun around like that! A vacation was a nice break from everything and my phone didn't work in the lodge so no e-mailing, texting etc. Wow! Not usual for me. Of course now I have a million things to respond to but that's ok. It's back to work time! I got my first author copy of Fake Boyfriend and it's sooooo cute! I love it. Pop over here for pics. And I'm running a fun contest starting Tuesday so please stop by and enter. Here's a hint: you can win a REAL fake boyfriend of your very own!! And who doesn't want that? :-)

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yearbooks: Oh the Horror (or Memories for a Lifetime?)

Tip of the Day: Check out this new website that Lisa belongs to -- Contemps!

On Sunday night I was working on my wip when I hit a brain dead zone. My eyes wandered the Writer Room and hit upon my high school yearbooks, books that had been buried under my bed until I moved this past May. I thought maybe if I jumped into some Deena-As-Teen moments from the past, I'd be reinvigorated for my writing.

I randomly pulled out my junior yearbook and flipped it open to the inside cover. Various patterns of handwriting covered the page, some entries signed with just a first name from a person who I can't recall. Other entries were from girls I still am friends with now, but whose promises of "I will never forget XXXX!" made me wonder, what the heck was XXXX?

In high school, everything that happens is so important. All moments are things to be remembered, cherished, and laughed about years later. We are so sure we will "never forget."

But then we do.

When writing teen fiction, that's something for me to recall. That the little things are important. That the "me" time, the small quiet moments between friends, mean everything. That a tiny wrong can lead to a big hurt. That perspectives are smaller due to the restriction of age.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Networking...can we be friends?

Tip of the Day: don’t want to pay full price for a great writing book? Check out some of these e-books by Darcy Pattison.


Not my favorite word in the dictionary. In fact it would probably rate in the bottom five percent of my least favorite words (If I were to actually compile a list like that, which trust me despite the fact I love lists…I don’t like them that much).

But it’s something that’s important in every business.

For some people it comes naturally. They just randomly talk to strangers who happen to be neighbors to the best friend of the cousin of Suzy Q, who just happens to be a big shot in the business you work in…and magically you’ve made contacts. Bravo. Good for you. The network gods must love you.

For the rest of us, like I mentioned last week it’s hard to talk about what we do. How do you casually bring up that you brainstorm story ideas all day and constantly work with trying to figure out where commas go in sentences? Especially if you are a secret writer?

In publishing, networking might not be as important for the writer, since you can blindly submit your query letters into the slush pile of many agents and editors. And it’s like you are letter-networking, which can be just as effective. Then you can get an agent who’s done most of the networking for you and already has great contacts with lots of editors. Problem solved. And having a professional on your side seems much more appealing than having your friends and family pimp you out, which seems to be happening with me lately and everyone and their brother is trying to find me a job (love you family!)

But despite getting an agent, which is one of the best networking tools you can have, you still need to network on some level. To get publicity for your books, to meet critique partners, to get reviewers to talk about your book, etc. And also without friends in this business it can get pretty lonely.

Most of us network at writing conferences and online—on blogs, in writer forums, facebook, etc—without even realizing we are making friends that can help us with our own writing: either through critiques, making connections with other writers, or other means.

Now that I think about it, networking has never been easier than it is now through the Internet. Not only do you not have to think of a conversation starter, but you can take a few minutes to come up with a witty response to someone’s blog or forum post. So maybe networking isn’t such a bad word after all. Who knows one of those times could pay off and be just the edge to break you in! Either that or Great Aunt Cindy is going to talk to the right person one of these days!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 16, 2010

Commas Intermediate

Tip of the Day: A good grammar guide is expensive! Have you priced the Little, Brown Handbook? $63 on Amazon! If you have one from college, hang on to it.

Lately fellow writers have been saying to me that punctuation is not their strength, and I've noticed a lot of comma misuse in my critiques recently. I don't notice this comma misuse in published books. I'd notice it if it were there. I'm like that. So somewhere along the line, these commas are getting fixed by someone.

(Mostly what I notice in published books are missing articles, such as "She fell off Empire State Building." Those are hard to catch on manuscript.)

Most people overcomma so it stands out. It's harder to see something that isn't there, so when in doubt, it's probably best not to use the comma. Here's what I usually see:

She went to her favorite gym so she could be seen, and to her favorite ice cream shop afterwards.

That comma should not be there. She went ... to her favorite ice cream shop. No comma! I guess you could stick a comma after gym to set off the clause "so she could be seen." But why? I mean, if you're sticking commas in, you should know why. You know why you stick every word in. You agonize over "just," admit it. You search for "just" when your manuscript is done and go through the "No, I really need this just. OK, can I get rid of the next one?" dance. Alright, it would be crazy to do that for commas, but you should still have an underlying reason for using them. They aren't used for pauses in conversation.

Every once in a while, I critique someone who hardly uses commas at all:

She went to the ice cream shop and her best friend ordered chocolate ice cream which was her absolute favorite even though it was boring compared to their mocha marshmallow.

Once the subject changes, use a comma. She did something, and then her best friend did something. That sentence could use another comma before which, but I don't really care. The missing comma when the subject of the sentence changes bothers me much more.

If the person performing two actions is the same and her name isn't repeated (She worked out and then ate) don't comma. If the person is different (She worked out, and her friend ate) comma.

I never know if I should mark this stuff on critiques. Do people care? Do they want me to critique their grammar or is that distracting from the critique of the story? I don't want to let anyone down by refusing to point out a comma they might have missed before they send something out, and I don't want to insult anyone by marking their manuscript as if I were their sixth grade English teacher. Mostly, I don't mark it unless someone tells me they're sending the piece to an editor or agent this week.

The thing is, if I have a question about whether a comma should be there at work, I have resources to look it up. Most people don't have those resources at home. Here's my question: if you had something like the Little, Brown Handbook available free online or cheap in hard copy, would you use it?

I would. It would be a great distraction from more writing!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thinking about third person POV

Tip of the day: A new and exciting blog is coming next week! Follow @YAContemps on twitter and all will be revealed SOON!

I can't believe it's the middle of August. How did this happen?

I haven't been writing lately. Just enjoying summertime, hanging out with my kids, working on a group project that's been taking lots of time, etc. But all the while, I've been trying to decide what my next project will be, so come September, when the kids are back in school, I can dive in.

I think I've finally found the next idea. That is no small feat. Ideas are hard for me! Of course, we'll see, because there are those things called false starts where I go 10-20 pages and decide the story isn't for me after all.

Anyway, at this point I know the story is YA. I know the basic premise. I know the title. I think I even know the first line.

What I don't know for sure is how I'm going to tell it. When you have a story idea, how do YOU decide how you're going to tell it? Is is the way the voice comes to you in your head? Or is it more than that? Something tells me it may be best to tell this new story in third person. Maybe even third person omniscient. What does that mean?

It means the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters in the story, as opposed to third person limited, which is just one character's perspective.

It scares me to try writing a book this way, because I think you have to be a beautiful story teller. Or at the very least, an interesting one. Probably two of the most famous books told in this manner are THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak and THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS by E. Lockhart.

I put them on hold at the library so over the next month I can reread them and study how these authors wrote these amazing stories using an omniscient point of view.

I'm curious - how do you feel about third person in general, and if you've read the above books, what do you think of third person omniscient? Most YA today is written in first person. And yes, so far, all of my YA novels are written in first person. But I like stretching myself, trying new things. It keeps things interesting!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This is me:

At least it's a visual representation of how I'm feeling this week. I have an end of the week deadline on Pumpkin Princess line edits so I'll be back next week!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To Write or To Retreat? (or Enjoy the Silence*)

With apologies to Depeche Mode (XOXO)*

Tip of the day: There are four days left to register for this SCBWI novel-writing retreat in the Adirondaks!

The Falling Leaves Masterclass Retreat at the Silver Bay YMCA in the Adirondaks of New York looks lovely. (See link above.) Beautiful setting in fall, driveable location from home, five editors to chat with, one of whom will crit 20 pages of your novel....ahhhh! Bliss! I am SO CLOSE to just sending in my registration to hope I make it in. In fact, my fingers are twitching now as I resist printing out the registration form.

The reasons I'm hesitatnt to reply? Here's my thoughts:

1. The weekend before I will be in Albuquerque for the YALSA Symposium, so how many YA writerly/readerly/librariany indulgences do I need and/or want to travel to? Will things at work get crazy if I take off that much time when I know the end of the huge art contest is around then?

2. Will I be satisfied with just a 25-minute critique from an editor who may not even be interested in my type of writing (from the luck of the pairing draw)? Will it feel worth it when I have an agent who might be able to give me similar feedback?

3. Do I need to spend $350 or so to be surrounded by YA writerly folks and to actually get some writing done?

4. Would it be more useful to just block off that weekend at home for my own writing time, tell the manpanion to stay out of the Writer Room, or would I lose my drive and wish I was at the retreat?


Readers, what helps you decide what events like this to attend?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Full-time writing...here I come

Tip of the Day: when you start to feel too old, hang around people half your age. Not only great research, but sometimes makes you feel young again!

Last night I met some of my new neighbors, and they asked the ever popular “what do you do?” question. My answer then was, “I’m currently unemployed.” But in my head I’m choosing to think of myself as a “full-time writer.”

Since I’m not technically making any money off my employment, I don’t really like to tell people I’m a writer. Even though the amount of effort put into making a book definitely feels like work. Sometimes really hard work.

So why don’t we always feel like sharing that with people?

In my case, I don’t want to have people follow up with questions like, “what have you published?” or then in a few months come back and ask, “so do you have any books out yet?” Because the general public doesn’t really understand the publishing business and how challenging it can be to break-in. And sometimes it takes months to make any progress, so chances are you are probably working on the same book you were a few months ago. Not really anything exciting to report or have to explain.

So for now, I will be a secret full-time writer.

Except now all you know my secret. Shhh…don’t tell.

Only problem is my office currently looks like this:

So my first official duties at my new job are to clean this mess up.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Is Almost a Disgusting Post

Tip of the Day: How is revising a novel like a toilet? Check out Carmella's post at MigWriters.

As a general rule, I don't like to write that my main character almost did something. She shouldn't almost trip up the front step; she should slam into the front door. But I make an exception for a couple of things.

We all know what it's like to nearly vomit, and I don't want to read about that. Really. "She almost threw up" is good enough for me.

Strange things come in threes, and by coincidence, I think the last three books I've read have had characters--well, to be kindergarten polite about it, pee their pants in fear. They were secondary characters, so I couldn't get in their heads to hear that they almost peed. No, I had to see it. I would rather not have.

I'm all for realism, but if it should go in the toilet, can we almost see it instead of actually see it? Unless your main character is flushing her ex-boyfriend's love letters down the toilet. That I want to see.

Anyone disagree with me? Or feel free to add something to the "let's almost and not actually see it" list. (I'll refrain from adding a picture to this post!)

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 6, 2010

Some thoughts on blogging

Tip of the Day: A really good berry muffin recipe right HERE.

I've been reading a few up-and-coming authors' blogs for a while, paying particular attention to the topics of their posts and why they have hundreds and hundreds of followers and get more comments than any other author blogs that I've seen.

And here is what I have concluded.

People like funny.

People like perky.

And people LOVE witty.

I actually talked to one of these authors recently about her blog's success, and she told me what I had suspected all along.

She works at her blog. She is intentional about what she puts out there, and only shows the world a very narrow slice of the pie of her life. She knows people don't want to read negative stuff. People don't want to read about depressing stuff. And people *really* don't want to read all-promo all-the-time-time stuff. They want to be informed or entertained. And so that's what she does, over and over and over again.

I'm guessing writing a funny, perky, witty blog post five days a week takes a lot of effort. Will it pay off when the book hits the shelf? My bet is yes, it will. Because you read these blogs that are thought out and well written, and they show us these wonderful people, and we want to be THEIR FRIENDS. And guess what? We like reading books our friends write!

My personal blog has been lacking in good content lately. I've been doing other things - exercising, hanging with the kids, making muffins and pies, going on walks, reading books. I've been blogging for 5+ years now, and I think perhaps I'm a little tired. Okay, a lot tired. And so I'm giving myself a break. But when I see what these authors are doing, how they've hooked readers to keep coming back for more and how that will most likely transfer to book sales, I start to wonder if there's a way for me to do that.

Except there are kids to play with, walks to go on, books to read and workouts to do. In the end, is there a payoff for the time spent blogging? Like, a big payoff? What do you think?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Writing Kissing Scenes

Tip of the Day: This season's Big Brother After Dark (the midnight to 2am live feed of Big Brother that shows on Showtime every night) is so not worth staying up to watch. BORING! The Big Brother season itself is pretty boring this year but the After Dark is really bad stuff.

Ah, kissing scenes. We all love to read them but writing them? Hmm, sometimes it's hard. After careful review of all my kissing scenes in my books, I've found I like to write about first kisses. I like all the tension and build up and the "Oh yes, it's finally here, we're going to have that long awaited first kiss!" kinda stuff.

But the heavy making out leading to other stuff kinda writing? Hmm, not sure I'm up for that. I think I'd be blushing the entire time I wrote which would really be noticeable at the Starbucks where I do my writing I'm sure. And maybe it's the Italian catholic in me but I'm know I'd hear my mother gasping in horror and then saying my full name in my head too.

How do you guys write your kissing scenes? Does your mother scold you in your head too? Do you think oh dear, Grandma and Auntie Edna are going to read this and there WILL be e-mails? Or are you the type that says forget them all, I'm going there!

Kristina, Miss See Me on the Shelves

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've Done This Before? (or Just Little Bits of History Repeating*)

*With apologies to Miss Shirley Bassey

Tip of the Day: The new season of Project Runway -- with 90-minute episodes! -- continues with episode #2 tomorrow night!

My revised MG novel was rejected recently, and while it is an even more fabulous novel than it was before I integrated the revision suggestions, and there are a few more editors with their hands on my hot little manuscript, I am writing the next book.

I LOVE the next book.

I can't wait to share the next book with my agent!

I don't think I'm going to finish my first draft by mid-August the way I hoped. I did write 7000 words two weekends ago. And the first 1/3 of the book is really polished (thanks to CP feedback).

But when I'm here on word 51,000 out of at LEAST 65,000 (60k was my original anticipated word count), I wonder how the heck I finished all those other novels.

I've done this...seven times before. Seven! Really? Man, I'm pretty dedicated to this writing thing, lol! And every...single...time when I reach this point of being so excited about the ms that I want to share it, yet feeling so bogged down by it and like it'll never be ready for outside eyes, I wonder how I did it the times before.

And if history repeats itself, I WILL finish this WIP and it will be fabulous. :) Even if I'm short of my date goal.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Writing Handicaps

Tip of the Day: softball is a dangerous sport.

My current mode of transportation this week has been lots of fun getting used to!

Walking around with these makes me realize how much I appreciate having my feet in normal everyday situations. Because walking in crutches is not the easiest situation, especially if you are balance-challenged. At first it was a bit hard to get used to and I still almost fell while trying to get down a step this morning, but all in all I am getting better.

But having to move around with them has me thinking about handicaps in general, even related to writing. We all have writing handicaps, or things that might hinder us from writing. It might be as large as dyslexia or a physical impairment that makes it challenging. Or merely something that you aren’t as good at—such as having difficulty deciding what to write about, writing effective dialogue, creating compelling imagery, etc.

As I’ve learned this past week, complaining about it and dwelling on it does absolutely nothing. Was it annoying having to walk in crutches during a move, where there’s a maze of boxes blocking all paths, you have no idea where anything is, and your old apartment still needed to be cleaned. Yes, very annoying. But things still needed to get done. And the only way to get things done was to take it one step at a time and work on getting better with my current limitations (with the help of my amazing husband, of course).

Same thing applies with writing. I have a really hard time creating visuals in my scenes. My scenes often come to me as streaming dialogue. I have to make a conscious effort to add in visual clues throughout the entire chapter to get the reader into the scene. But I’ve been working on it every book. And now when I start writing my first drafts, I do include more visuals and it’s become easier to do from the start. Getting feedback and learning what to improve has made this possible. Otherwise, I might not have even known things weren’t coming through to the reader effectively.

So working on writing flaws can seem challenging, but if you want to be a published writer it doesn’t help to just dwell on all the things you can’t do or can’t do as well as other writers. Just remember how lucky you are to do the things you can do well, and then work on improving all the rest. With time, it should hopefully get easier.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 2, 2010

What Exactly Is a Story Idea?

Tip of the Day: Having trouble coping with life's difficult questions? Try the web comic Basic Instructions.

I'm back from a long vacation touring North Carolina and Virginia. Vacations get me thinking in different ways and I'm always on the alert for a good story element. This year I became interested in hawks.

That's a picture of a judge in North Carolina who brings his hawk to court with him. North Carolina is really into hawks. It's hard to name a predator with such a strange relationship with humans. Now, my daughter has been bugging me to write a book about animals, but all the good ones are taken. There are a million books about dogs, cats, wolves, bears, dolphins, and owls. (Trust me, she's read them all.) But maybe not so many books about hawks, am I right?

The trouble is, I don't have a story idea. I have, I don't know, an interest.

So what is a story idea? Is it a plot, or is it a character with a goal and a problem? Can you rattle off a good story idea in ten words or less? If so, why don't the ideas come to us that quickly?

I go through this long process where I come up with characters and settings and challenges, and eventually, months and chapters later, I can distill this mishmash into a sentence. This is totally backwards. I should be able to come up with the sentence first!

Not that I haven't tried to formulate the sentence first. It just never survives the first few chapters.

But I think one day, it will happen to me. I'll be driving or folding laundry and presto! The perfect storyline will pop into my head, just like that. All these years of experience will have brought me to that point. And it might have hawks in it. And I will do an outline and (here's the key part) the story idea will be so good that I will stick to the outline!

Sigh. Vacations are all about daydreaming.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages