Monday, May 24, 2010

University and Shiny Contests

Okay, I'm sorry, guys. It seems that me and regular blogging just do not get along. I blame my mountains of calculus work (onlythreemoreunits onlythreemoreunits) which, sadly, I must actually do so I don't fall below the minimum admissions average for my uni program and wind up trying to sell sewer rats on a street corner. I hear the benefits in that profession are rather lousy.

It's official, by the way! I accepted my offer of admission to Software Engineering. Life savings to be forked over in a couple weeks. Closet-sized dorm room and unidentified species of shower-fungus, here I come!

Oh, I try so hard not to think about those communal bathrooms. *cowers*

But anyhoo, speaking of post-secondary education and thereby dancing around the issue of rampant sexual escapades...Okay, no, that segue's not going to work. Even though Race's awesome book is called The Virginity Thief, it's not about wild nymphomaniacs. It is much, much cooler than that, as is apparent in the summary on her website.

And speaking of Race and the awesomeness she spreads around the interwebs (segue attempt #2), she is holding a massive contest over on Creare! Only three followers away from the next goodies bracket!!! (And only 38 away from the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card, three novels, and an armful of pretty reading-related paraphernalia. HECK YAH!)

So y'all should scuttle on over there and have a look at that while I trudge off to work on more calculus. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy Fuzziness

The fabulous Caitlin has given me a reason to do another blog post! Yesterday, she bestowed upon me this shiny award:

I do love getting these things. They make for such warm and fuzzy feelings. Especially when there are pictures of yummy cupcakes on them. :) *huggles Caitlin*

Anyhoo, apparently I'm supposed to list a few things that make me happy. So here it goes!
  1. Chocolate. Especially when it comes in the form of mousse cake. *drools*
  2. Good music. The sort that wants to make me get my butt off my chair and dance around like a nut. It's even better when it comes on the radio after I've left my ipod at home.
  3. Laughing so hard I cry. Because endorphins are fun. And healthy!
  4. Swings. Like the sort found in a playground. The bigger the better. I could swing for hours when I was little, daydreaming about my characters, and secretly I still can.
  5. And last, most obviously, and certainly not least in any way: writing! And all the sweet, funny, and delightfully crazy people it has let me meet.
Speaking of whom (I probably just committed a grammatical crime), I would like to pass this award on to a few of those lovely people.

Because one more thing that makes me happy is beta-reading books and pieces of books that I absolutely love and knowing I won't have to wait too long (by the publishing world's standards, anyway) to see these books on store shelves. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Abyss

Dear Readers of Becca's Blog,

While revising, Becca slipped and fell into The Deep Dark Writerly Abyss. Hence her recent absence.

Be warned: the edges of the Abyss, so often necessary to traverse while traveling through Revision Land, are very slippery. This is due to an abundant growth of misplaced commas and overused emdashes.

Conditions inside the Abyss are fittingly abysmal. Survivors report secretions of noxious fumes, said to lead to Writer's Block, insanity, and impulsive use of the delete key. Some claim to have seen horrific carvings in the walls -- the words from their manuscript's revisions!

The Abyss walls are sheer and in some vast chasms impossible to find. Hope of climbing out is minimal. Experts advise that fallen Revisers re-read warm fuzzy comments left on snippets, eat large quantities of chocolate, and write only when suitable amounts of sleep deprivation have knocked out their Inner Editors. Such measures increase one's ability to resist the effects of noxious fumes, and as such increase one's chances of finding a path out of the Abyss.

The following message was delivered earlier today from the depths of the Abyss via carrion bird.

Dear Blogosphere,

Am still alive. Hope to be back soon. Would very much appreciate if someone tossed down essentials. (ie. mousse cake, marshmallows, ice cream, toilet paper.)



Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Word About Revisions

In case anyone didn't hear me banging my head against the wall when I finished my WIP and tallied up the word counts from the six (count 'em, SIX) documents I had broken it into...the thing turned out to be 244K.

*glances around*

Hmm. With so many agents prowling the blogosphere, maybe I shouldn't be admitting that aloud.

(DISCLAIMER: This 244K mutant was a complete fluke! I do not usually produce books that are so monstrously long! And I am fixing this one! Honest! Hence the reason for this blog post! *stops abusing exclamation points*)

Anyhow, as I'm sure you can imagine, trimming hacking and slashing a 244K novel down to size involves some pretty massive plot changes. Subplots must be amputated. A crowd of minor characters must be evicted. Entire chunks of plot are being tossed to the curb and the jagged ends of what remains are being smoothed and soldered together.

Or so I hope.

All I have right now are pages of notebook paper covered in doodles and word webs and notes that say THIS CHARACTER HAS NO PURPOSE! CUT HIM! But soon (today possibly) I'm going to have to actually start the writing part of rewriting, and it's a strange feeling.

My book-world seems to be existing in two parallel universes. In one universe - the bigger universe - my MC spends several months and four chapters at her grandparents', safe and sound. She also has a best friend named Rory who helps her and comforts her when two lesser antagonists start antagonizing her and life generally starts going to hell in a hand basket.

In the second universe - the new, sleeker, shinier universe - my MC does not get any time to be safe and warm and well-fed at her grandparents'. Instead I'm chucking her into the midst of misery straight off, my two lesser antagonists have been replaced by one bigger, meaner, scarier antagonist, and Rory is sulking in a corner of my brain because he was taking up too much page space and preventing me from completely overturning my MC's mental state.

Now, this all sounds well and good, right? (Right? Right?! Someone tell me I'm doing the right thing here! Because Rory is sweet and sensible and I love him and I just about had to use the jaws of life to get him out of that plot line!)

Ahem. And that brings me to the point of this post: sometimes revisions can be painful.

I've never made so many changes, or such drastic ones - but that's because I've never spewed out such a gigantic book. But these changes (I hope) are for the better. Even if I have to cut characters, subplots, and dialogue that I loved. Even if I'm madly juggling right now to keep stakes where I want them and mash timelines into shape so that everyone is where I need them to be when I need them to be there. Eventually, it will all come together into one shiny novel, that is better and sparklier and yummier than the old one. (Right?)

And then I shall send it out to betas and revise some more!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flashback Friday

The lovely ladies over at GotYA are talking about the books they grew up with, so I thought I'd join in!

The Harry Potter books were some of the first proper novels I read by myself. They had me looking out the window on my 11th birthday, hoping for an owl.

I've been a Lord of the Rings fangirl since I was about 7. I started reading the series for myself when I was 11 - after I didn't get that letter from Hogwarts. ;)

And then there's A Series of Unfortunate Events. My mom read these books to my sister and me before bed, so I'm quite fond of these books. We only made it to the sixth, but I think I'm going to have to read the rest!

I'd also like to mention some of the picture books that preceded the chapter books.

The Berenstain Bears,

Amelia Bedelia,

and The Mitten. Lovely illustrations in this book!

And that's it for me! *scuttles off to see what books everyone else remembers*

Oh! One more thing! Check out In Which a Girl Reads! She's giving away awesome books! :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but last week I came across a word that I already knew, but had forgotten about. Poor forgotten words! They're usually such fun words, and grievously underused, in my opinion.

For example:

fusty |ˈfəstē|adjective ( fustier , fustiest )smelling stale, damp, or stuffy : the fusty odor of decay.old-fashioned in attitude or style : grammar in the classroom became a fusty notion.

As in fusty old grandparents, which is the context I heard it in last week. ;) Or:

tallyho |ˈtalēˈhō| (also tally-ho)exclamationa huntsman's cry to the hounds on sighting a fox.

I actually didn't know the exact use of that word until just now. I thought it was some sort of greeting. Silly me!

My friend and I used to listen to the Slumdog Millionaire version of Jai Ho and think they were saying "tallyho". We were ever so disappointed when we found out we were wrong. (Although one would have expected us to clue in sooner, given the name of the song. XD)

Anyhow, this concludes my blathering for today. Ta, lovelies!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just Another Little Update

To tell you that the universe must apparently remain in balance. When something goes up, it must come down. After a bout of bad luck comes a bout of good. After you get accepted into your first and second choice universities, you are going to be burned by boiling oil and then your desk lamp will go kaplooey.

Which is to say, YESS! MY FUTURE IS NOT DOOMED! I got two acceptance letters yesterday from my top two choices of uni programs. *dances around*

Mind you, my top choice program has astronomical tuition fees and no scholarships, whereas the my second choice is $5000 less in tuition and is offering me at least $4000 more in scholarships, so now I actually have to put some thought into where to go, but who really cares because I GOT IN!!! *gloats*

I gloat because the number of pasty white females who get accepted to this program is remarkably small.

But anyway, yes, long story short: educational future not doomed. Financial future obscure. WIP still not finished. It just goes to show how much of a mutant this thing is when I've been saying for a week, "I'm almost done, I'm almost done!" But I suppose the ending must be proportional in size to the rest of the book. ;)

Anyhow, that's all I've got to say! Ta for now!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Random Update on my Uneventful Life

So, I realized I haven't blogged in two weeks. I blame this on three things, first and foremost the never-ending supply of calculus work that perpetually hounds me. Secondly, I spent March Break at my aunt's and my cousins tend to keep me away from the internet. And thirdly, I've found myself with very little to talk about.

I considered blogging about the alarming trends in some YA love interests, and I might yet formulate some coherent thoughts on the matter, but for now, everyone should go see what Para has to say. She's much more eloquent about it than I am. ;)

In other news, I drove a standard for the first time while I was down at my aunt's! (A standard car, that is. With a clutch and a stick shift and all that nonsense.) Now I can properly appreciate the convenience of automatic transmission. Seriously. I was only driving around a parking lot (with one poor unsuspecting car parked in the middle) and I thought I had too many things to think about. Clutch in, car on, shift to first, clutch off, gas on, stall out, fml, car not starting, wtf, oh right forgot about the clutch...and so on and so forth.

And oh, the poor puppies in the backseat! Or on the back floor, I should say, after I stalled out for the first time. Heheh.

I am in awe of those people who can drive a standard car an actual traffic-filled road and not die.

And on a more writing related note, my mutant WIP is SO CLOSE to being finished. Monstrous word count to be announced.

I think I'm going to ignore my Calculus and go work on it now.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Trouble with Multiple Characters

I'm reading this zombie book right now, and it's one of those books that shifts focus amongst several characters. Sort of like split POVs but in third person. (I hesitate to say there are several MCs because there are so many and the focus is evenly distributed.) In any case, I've come to the conclusion that this style is very difficult to pull off well.

And I have to say I've tried it. When I was 13 I wrote a multi-MC book. It didn't really work out for plenty of reasons -- lack of character development, total angst-fests on every other page, plain old bad writing, and, I think, the whole multi-character thing, to name a few.

I had five "main characters" to begin with, but a few chapters in it became clear that I was developing a favourite, and this favourite was dominating the page-space. Eventually one character disappeared almost completely when his plot sputtered out and I got bored.

Obviously, the author of the book I'm reading now is not thirteen, and as such did a much better job of planning out the plot distribution. But the problem of favouritism remains, not from the author, but from the reader. I've started to like some characters better than others. I can relate to Character A better than Character B and Character L's problems are way more interesting than Character M's. As such, I want to read about Character A and L. When Character B and M show up for their respective scenes, I find myself skimming, waiting for the story to get back to something I care about, which isn't all that great.

This brings me to another problem. With so many characters to cover, there's not a whole lot of time for character development. There's a lot of telling rather than showing, and I'm not interested in Characters B and M because the author doesn't have time to make me interested. If Character A didn't happen to be in a situation I can relate to, I probably wouldn't care much about her either. If I hadn't been told that Character B had political views that were the complete opposite of mine (or if there had been time for him to show me he had some redeeming qualities), I might actually be sad when his brain got eaten. In other words, the reader suffers a certain lack of emotional investment in the characters and their lives.

These are all bad things. It makes it too easy for me to put the book down. In fact, at times, when I look at the number of pages there are left, I think I might not even want to finish it. Anf of course, the absolute lastlastLAST thing an author wants a reader to do is put the book down and never pick it up again.

So to sum this all up, the trouble I run into with multi-MC books is as follows:

1) Readers (and sometimes authors) develop favourites.

2) Readers (and sometimes authors) have some characters that are definitely less than favourites, and must suffer through scenes that involve those characters and no others.

3) Chronic amounts of telling are often present in an attempt to quickly develop characters and relationships in the limited amount of page-space.

4) Readers have a lack of emotional investment. In other words, they don't really care what happens to any of the characters - even their favourites - because they never had time to really get to know any of them.

5) Zombies jumping out of shadows, chasing after the protags, and eating their friends' brains gets old quick, and never comes across in a book as well as it would in a movie. (Because movies have soundtracks and can have various stringed instruments screech at deafening pitches when the zombie jumps out, thereby giving the viewer a heart attack. Authors do not have the luxury of sound effects.*)

That last point is obviously specific to the book I'm reading it, and I only added it because I felt like 5 was a nice, round number. But on that note, my lukewarm response to this book is probably based on a number of factors, many of which may stem from the above multi-MC-based problems, but none of which are unavoidable. That is to say, I'm sure some people can pull off these sorts of books without having these problems.

Just not this author. Or me. Or the author of that other book I read when I was ten and got so, so confused by the fact that I was reading about a different character in every chapter.

Ahem. Anyhow, there's my rambly two cents on the matter.

* Stay tuned for next week's blog post, entitled Why Books Should Have Soundtracks. ;)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lovely contests!

Hello, my lovelies!

I am blogging for the sole purpose of trying to win a shiny free book from Choco, over on In Which a Girl Reads. The contest ends at 11 (EST) tonight!

Me? Leave things to the last minute? Never!

Okay, seriously, I delayed because I was hoping to find a slightly less obnoxious way to post about this. But my blogging muse is on vacation, so this will have to do.

So, um, yes, that's about all I have to say. Go check out Choco's awesomeness!

And if you're bored you can listen to this song, because it makes me want to break into weird, empowered dancing when I hear it. For what reason, I do not know.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shiny Awards for Shiny People

Well! Sumayyah's got perfect timing! I haven't been able to think of anything to post about for days and days. Now she has given me warm and fuzzy and shiny awards! *huggles Sumayyah*

The first is the Creative Writer Award.

Upon receiving this award, I am told I must list 10 things that brighten my day. So, here we go!

1) Writing. (Figured I ought to start with the obvious.) It gives me such a happy buzz and my characters are always so entertaining and if not for writing, I never would have met...

2) The twifties! Who are all such amazing and wonderful people and shall live in a twiftie castle after they have taken over the world with their awesome books. Mark my words! It shall happen! :)

3) Music. Good music can get me out of any foul mood and motivates my muse.

4) Yummy food. I love yummy food. Gruyere cheese, and salmon wellington, and that creamy salmon thing with gherkins, and tuna melts, and chocolate chip pancakes with peaches and a hotdog/sausage...Om nom nom nom!

5) Nice weather. The kind that isn't too hot and isn't too cold and makes the air smell sweet and fresh and inspires me to actually leave my hermit-hole!

6) M*A*S*H. I don't know why exactly, but this show always leaves me with a happy, fuzzy feeling. I luuuurves it.

7) Humming one note of an entirely random song (i.e. that song the captured pirates sing at the beginning of the third Pirates movie) and having my little sister join in with me.

8) Swinging. Like, on a swing set. I used to swing for hours when I was little, daydreaming about my characters (then total LOTR rip-offs). I still love it. I just can't always find a convenient swing set.

9) Not having anything that I have to do. It's a lovely feeling, to be able to write without a little voice in the back of my head telling me I really should be doing something else.

10) Spending time with my aunt and cousins. They're gonna give me laugh lines by the time I'm 20, I swear. My face is stuck that way the entire time I'm down there.

And there we have it!

The second award is the Sunshine Award which is bright and happy and prettiful:

The rules for the Sunshine Award are as follows:

1) Put the logo within your post or on your sidebar.
2) Share the love and pass the award to 12 other bloggers.
3) Link the nominees inside of your post.
4) Comment on the nominees' blogs to let them know you've just given them props. :)
5) Give a shout-out to the person who nominated, and post a ling to his/her blog as well.

Now, I'm going to do what Sumayyah did and pass both these awards out to the following 12 people -- some of whom have already gotten them, but they're so awesome they deserve doubles. ;)

In no particular order:

1) Caitlin because she writes with such a beautiful voice and comments on so much of my rambling.

2) Amna (whose blog I all of a sudden cannot find to link! o.O) because she makes me giggle so frequently.

3) Choco because she makes shiny literary magazines and posts so much awesomeness on her blog.

4) Vero because she understands what I'm complaining about when I say it's freezing up here, she's going to send lovely chocolatey care packages to our deprived southern neighbours, and because everyone should go look at her shiny new blog layout!

5) B because she just recently started an amazing blog and already has a big ol' following (as she should!)

6) Race because she snared an agent with her awesomeness and has a shiny new website that must be shown off!

7) Margo because she's part of an amazing crit group and she writes awesome books about kelpies!

8) Bee because she made me feel all warm and fuzzy about my attempt at a plot summary and she must be encouraged to start blogging again! *facepalm* She is blogging! With much more regularity than me! XD I somehow managed to misread the date of her last post as May 3, rather than March 3. Oooops.

9) Emilia because she SINGS!

10) Leasie because she recently completed the first draft of her WIP, Mortal Affairs and the snippets I've read are awesome!

11) Krista because I just stumbled across her blog (YAY! She blogs!) when I was Googling around for Amna's and cannot leave such an awesome Opwifter out.

12) Dystophil because I also just found HER blog and she's been sticking with the same (awesome) WIP for YEARS! I is awed.

And now I really must be off to bed because 12:22 has somehow crept up on me and I actually have to get out of bed at a reasonable time tomorrow.

*scuttles off*

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Product of Procrastination (With Summaries and Cover Art)

In the name of being completely unproductive and not getting a word closer to wrapping up my sad excuse of an ending, I've spent most of the last 24 hours scouring Google and fiddling with Photoshop in an attempt to create a book cover for my WIP. After all, procrastination is the key to success in whatever goal you're pursuing for the express purpose of not doing something else. In other words, I wound up with two pretty pictures that I'm momentarily happy with.

And to go along with my pretty pictures I've spewed out a summary, which is really quite overdue. I've been yammering for months about this mysterious WIP, commonly known as The 200K Monstrosity. This summary is a tad misrepresentative, as it leaves out rather large parts of the plot and makes things sound cooler than they actually are (which may not be saying much). Anyhow, any attempt to explain my WIP accurately resulted in an obscenely long synop, so I settled for this. I'm beginning to think I might have the right idea with the synopsis - as in, maybe I should cut the parts I'm not mentioning and tweak things to be more like they appear to be in the summary. But I digress!

Without further ado, I introduce you to my big-boned WIP, FIRE AND ICE (working title).

Fifteen year-old Mina Iglacious has lived a sheltered life. She has never felt the effects of war, even though her country has been warring against its neighbours for the past twelve years. Isolated on the northern tip of the Peninsula, her village has been safe from the bombs, famine, and draft notices that destroy the people living inland.

But all good things must come to an end.

When their enemies ally with an adjacent nation and launch a fleet of warships to attack the country's unprotected northern front, Mina's home becomes a battleground and her own country's military become a threat. After over a decade of savage warfare, the army is desperate for new recruits. They will take anyone - elderly men, women, children. Mina.

Flung into the frontline fighting, Mina's only chance for survival rests in the hands of a young captain with a catching smile and knack for dodging bullets. But he also has a tendency to say things that shouldn't be said - things that could get him shot for treason if the wrong people heard. His officers say it's only talk; he's been in the fighting for a long time, he's lost a lot of people, his head isn't on quite straight anymore.

But eventually it begins to look like more than just talk and Mina has to figure out which side everyone is really on - and which side she's on.

Duh duh dummm! And there it is. A summary that is almost as flawed as the book itself. And my first cover seems to have lost its bluish tinge. But c'est la vie! I'm still quite fond of it. And writing this summary has given my muse an energy boost! I had best run off and write before it gets lazy again!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


After reading Sumayyah's blog post and completely agreeing to the point of wanting to amass a non-angry-but-rather-enlightened-and-empowered mob to march through the streets shouting the message, I started to get a vague little idea.

Valentine's Day, for all its misleading marketing schemes, is not a bad thing. I mean, it causes stores to be flooded with very yummy chocolate, which, theoretically, will all be discounted by Monday. Who can complain about cheap chocolate?

Also, it's a time to tell people how much you love and care about them. These people should not be and are not limited to one's significant other, but also include siblings and BFFs and parents and grandparents and so on and so forth -- all those people who have been with you through thick and thin, who have taken care of you through sickness and in health, who have given you pocket money and let you mooch off them when you had none.

Go give those people a hug and, if you haven't eaten it already, maybe some chocolate. They deserve it. :)

And that brings me to the point of this post. By combining these two parts of Valentine's Day (the yummy chocolate and the idea of telling someone they're appreciated), I have come up with this:

The ILYCYAAYB Award! (Which stands for the I Love You 'Cause You're Awesome and You Blog Award.)

Now, I have no idea if I'm allowed to do this -- make up my own random awards, that is. But I'm darn well going to try!

I hereby declare it shall be awarded to 5 people who I love 'cause they're awesome and they blog. And then, ideally, those 5 people are free to and encouraged to give it to 5 people they each love 'cause they're awesome and they blog, and so on and so forth, forming a big web of luvvles and fuzziness in the blogosphere.

And so, without further ado and in no particular order, I hereby force the ILYCYAAYB award upon the following 6 people (because I just invented a new rule that says you can give it to SIX people on Valentine's Day, 'cause I kinda couldn't narrow it down to five. *shifty eyes*):

Sumayyah! Because, you know, her post gave me this idea and she makes really pretty banners and cover art for other people's awesome blogs and books.

Amna! Because she writes awesomely hilarious books about really smexy Huldus and leaves so much warm fuzziness on my babbling blog posts.

Parametric! Because she is the madly-skilled all-knowing TWFT ninja, and she writes such delightfully dark teasers.

Race! Because she posts awesome videos on Random Day and writes about guys who are not only hawwwt but genuinely sweet and oh-so-lovable.

Emilia! Because she writes awesome books and actually comments on my mindless babbling and she makes really awesome cartoons.

Choco! Because she makes such awesomely shiny e-magazines filled with awesome twiftie writing and she read seven books in a week, some of which were really long.

New Rule: you must explain why you love each person and that explanation should, if at all possible, contain some variation of the word 'awesome'.

And there we have it!

Happy Heart Day, everyone!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Characters Who Lie

Are such a pain!!!

(This refers to the secondary characters and love interests who lie to the MC, not the MCs with dishonest streaks, since the latter can be a great deal of fun.)

Anyhow, when writing a first person POV, facts presented by other characters typically have to be taken at face value. Unless the MC/reader has already seen/heard something that contradicts what the other character is saying, or unless that character is a notorious liar, the things they say are pretty much accepted as truths.

On the one hand, this can be used to create some shocking plot twists. On the other hand, if you knock the reader's feet out from under them too many times, they're going to get annoyed. Even if you only do it once, if a shocking plot twist had no foreshadowing - a couple of events/bits of dialogue the reader can look back on and think, "Oh, now I get it!" - I think we run the risk of jarring readers out of the story and perhaps into closing the book.

And yet, if the foreshadowing spells out that Character B was lying to Character A, to the point where the reader is banging their head against the wall, shouting, "Why haven't you clued in, Character A!?!?" that's not good either.

Surely the possibility of a happy medium exists, but I find it can be very hard to achieve. We, as the authors, know everything. Sometimes it's hard to gauge what a clue or bit of foreshadowing will tell the reader. Is it enough? Is it too much? And then there's always the problem: would this actually happen?

Would Character B actually slip up and say something to make Character A suspicious? Would they leave the mysterious note lying around where Character A could find it? Would they be creeping around, going about their mysterious business outside Character A's window late at night?

In plenty of cases, yes, they might.

But personally, I've found myself having to say no a lot of the time. This is because, in my WIP, I'm dealing with not one but two very good liars. I've got one ex-Intel agent who was trained in the art of deception, and one military captain who's been lying to people like my ex-Intel agent almost constantly for the past seven years. Furthermore, both their lives are on the line, so they're going to be darn careful about what they say and do.

It's had me really quite stuck for a while, and it doesn't help that my MC isn't the brightest crayon in the box, so she doesn't question things too much. Which might drive my future betas insane - I really can't tell -- but anyway!

There was a point to all that ranting and babbling. Honestly, there was!

I want to know what you think of all this. What sort of hints do you give your readers about the things other characters are hiding? What sort of hints do you want as a reader? How clear/obscure do you like things to be, how long can you tolerate mysteriousness dragging on, and/or how badly annoyed are you when an author rips a plot line out from beneath you and turns it around in the opposite direction?

Let me know! I'm curious. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stories We Never Hear

Eek. There's been a bit of a lull in my blogging. See, I was busy waging war against a cold that was trying its very hardest to sink its claws into me. I think it's safe to say I won. With the help of several gallons of orange juice, the cold has been vanquished!

Speaking of wars, while I was guzzling OJ I watched a lot of documentaries on the history channel. Keep in mind I was probably slightly inebriated due to mass amounts of citrus and a crazy-busy immune system, but I saw this show on Vimy Ridge and it kind of struck a chord with me.

Under Vimy Ridge, there are a series of tunnels. In the days and weeks preceding the battle, they served as living space for thousands of soldiers - soldiers who were my age - many of whom would never make it home.

The tunnel walls are made of chalk-based rock, and are easy to carve into. Thousands of soldiers chiseled their names, hometowns, girlfriends', wives', and children's names into the walls, along with intricate designs. (Almost none of which I can find on google! Grr!!)

Three thousand five hundred ninety-eight of these people died.

In the documentary, they traced some of these names and found old letters and military records, and in some cases were able to talk to family members, and it gave a little glimpse at who these people had been and what they had done - what adventures they had, what they cared about, what they achieved. And it got me thinking about the stories we lose when people die.

My great-grandpa was a sniper in WWI. On one mission or another, he was creeping around behind a barn, and ran into a German sniper. They sat down and had tea together.

If my great-grandpa had died, there's a very real chance that no one ever would have heard that story. As it is, I can retell it in three lines. I'm sure there was more to it when he first told it. But I'll never know what that 'more' consisted of. I'll never know what they talked about, or why exactly they sat down and had tea together - two soldiers on opposite sides of the war. It's gone. (Unless maybe there's a German teen somewhere whose family does a better job of preserving stories than mine.)

When I look at old photographs, I find myself wondering about these sorts of little stories. Who are the people? What are their names? What did they do? What stories did they have to tell? I'll never know.

Luckily, I'm a writer, and I can make some pretty imaginative guesses. ;)

This hereby concludes today's gloomy blog post.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yay for Blog Posts that Don't Involve Thinking!

Because I can't think of a word beginning with F that would somehow relate to contests and therefore create some nice alliteration when paired with Friday.

But there are lots of contests going on right now!

Sumayyah's giving away prettiful banners and cover art at The Raven Desk. Only two days left!

Also, Race is giving away a copy of The Secret Year over on Creare.

I think one day when I have a job/some other nefarious money-acquiring scheme, I shall host a contest. They look like such fun. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This Thing Called Writing

It started in Grade 1. (or grad 1, as I so thoughtfully wrote at the top of the page)

My writing is nearly illegible, but I seem to have been writing about some made-up adventure with my friends and...The Three Musketeers?

at ferst reses Dartanyen [D'Artagnan, I assume] was missing from the rok we mett at evry reses

And then sadly my writing gets too messy to tell what sort of misfortune befell poor D'Artagnan. (Rest assured it was something awful and probably involved the Evil Vice Principal.)

But this unreadable passage marks the beginning of my career as a burgeoning story teller. From the garbled writing in my Barbie and Secret Garden notebooks, to the wild tales I told in my Daily Journal at school, to the maybe-almost-publishable wordage I spew out now, I've never been able to stop writing.

Sadly, as is clearly evident by the above passage, no one is born with the ability to write like [insert amazing author of your choice here]. We have to write and write and write and write and commit an obscene number of writing faux pas before we get anywhere.

I've been reading a lot of awesome blog posts about the mortifying excrement stuff writers came up with when they were younger, and it got me looking at some of my old notebooks and Word documents. It was rather amusing to say in the least. I had no idea what sort of atrocities I was committing.


Shameless self-insertion Harry Potter fanfiction! (Age 7 or 8)

"Wake up." I heard my mom say softly. "I'm up." I said sleepily only half awake. I heard my mom walk out and down the stairs. I yawned, stretched and sat up. I crawled down the bed and took my white T-shirt with the gold star on the sleeve off the bottem of my bed. Then I reached under my bed and felt around until I found my jeans. I got dressed and went down stairs.

As I went downstairs I could smell my dad making pancakes and toast. I sat down at the table and started to eat the 3 chocolate-chip pancakes and apple juice I just got.

The table was realy crouded. In-fact there were 16 of us at the table! There was: me and Harrys friend Hermoine, me (Rebecca) [in case there was any hope left that this wasn't a shameless self-insert], my brother Harry, my dad (James), my mom (Lily), and my cousins [insert Weasley family here]...


Shameless self-insertion LOTR fanfic! (Age 9-11) (At least I had the decency to give my author surrogate her own name this time.)

I seem to have left the resulting document on another computer. Suffice to say I dragged the Fellowship and my elf-self through all sorts of revamped LOTR plot lines and also plot lines from almost every other book I read over the course of these 2 years. *facepalm* I should also tell you it was 100+ pages written in size 10 Comic Sans font, and I thought it was cool to have huge blocks of text rather than use paragraphs.

Evil Plan Prologues (Age 12)

Lord Lavince looked out into the blackness of the night. Not even a hint of breeze touched the leaves. Nothing stirred. His guards were silent as they assembled behind him. The time had come to put the first stage of his plan into motion.

The plot was seamless, a thing of true perfection. A malevolent sneer darkened his face as again he thought it through. Although dealing with hunters, Sitka’s group in particular, was risky, he had no doubt that they would join him eagerly. They would not turn down the chance to see King Alistar dead, even if it meant allying with a vampire to do it. The werewolves were getting restless. It would not take much to make them forget the old peace treaty, and then a war like no other would erupt, and it would not end in the vampires’ favour. Not when he applied the potion, which that twisted mage, Shauvier, had provided for him. The poor fool. The werewolves would be totally obedient, completely under his command. They would follow his orders, and his orders alone. The potion would strengthen them greatly. The vampires would not stand a chance.

This was my first real book, spewed out during sixth grade. It was called The Undead Prince and it was about (can you guess?) a vampire prince. This Vampire Prince was was kidnapped by an evil vampire lord. Evil Vampire Lord (hence forth known as EVL Hehe that almost spells evil) planned to take the vampire throne for himself, and wanted to keep Vampire Prince alive for some nefarious purpose while he did it.

So Vampire Prince was given an amnestic drug and thrown into the human world, where, of course, he wound up in a grade 8 class (because high school was far outside my range of experiences at this point) and met my inexplicably curious MC.

I later explained this curiosity by revealing that...

My MC was the great-great-great granddaughter of the magical world's most powerful sorceress, but didn't know it until she got stuck in a plot corner and needed to blast her way out of a mountain dungeon.

So anyhoo, let the Epic Quest to Save the Vampire Kingdom commence!

Once it was all said and done, The Undead Prince was a whopping 155K, with a rather decent ending, if I do say so myself. In fact, I think 13 yr old me was much better at endings than 18 yr old me. It all tied together nicely, at any rate.

My mom read it, assured me it was brilliant, and (horrifyingly enough) helped me get my sticky little paws on an agent's email address. We somehow convinced her to read the thing, and she was really quite nice in the sense that she read the first fifty pages and made several helpful comments about character development and so on.

I got as far as several chapters into a third book before realizing the aforementioned agent was not crazy and these books were crap.

After that, I decided to try my hand at contemporary.

Hello, Teen Angst! (Age 13)

Tangled was a story about six five teenagers with extremely angsty lives - Damian, Jake, Amanda, Renae (not Renee! No, no, no!), and Daniel (who I completely forgot about by the middle of the book). Originally there was supposed to be a third girl, Isabelle, but she was rich and had a rather happy home life, so I got bored with her and cut her out.

Damian, judging from the amount of page time he got, was secretly my favourite. He was also the token bad-boy who was supposed to really not be that bad. Suuure, he was a drug dealer, but he really needed the money and secretly encouraged people to stop buying the drugs. And yah, he was involved with some creepy organized crime guy, but again, he really needed the money and just in case you were thinking he could get a regular job I'm sure the bad guy would totally hunt him down if he tried to quit. AND his little brother has CANCER so HA! You HAVE to sympathize with him!! MUAHAHA!


In all its 125+K glory, this book also made a few tremulous steps into the world of publishing. I actually convinced an e-book publisher to look at it, but they weren’t too happy with the 179 instances of the F-bomb.

The Big Move (Age 15/16)

I actually had two of these books. One was about a girl who moved from BC to Texas (watch me walk all over every Canadian and American stereotype ever invented), which I wrote during grade nine and never finished.

Then there was this one.

I am about to die.

Huddled in my mother's old Chrysler Concorde, looking up at my new school, I was dead sure of that fact.

There were too many kids, too many windows with cardboard taped over them, and too many security guards standing by the doorway for me to feel even faintly hopeful that I might make it through the day alive.

I wanted my mother to turn around and drive back to the house. I wanted her to look at the school and say that there was no way she would let me set foot inside a place like that. I wanted her to tell me we were moving back to Riverglen before we all got shot.

But she didn't.

In fact, she was already getting out of the car.
I actually finished this one (YAY!), and at approximately 95K it was my first almost-normal-length book (YAY!). I called it Life is only Ugly until you find its Beauty. (I’m sure that was supposed to have some deep metaphorical meaning.)

Sadly, it has no chance of ever being published. It’s about a girl who does the Big Move from a small town to the rough end of a big city and she struggles to adjust and meets this cute guy in her art class. But I'm from a predominantly upper-middle-class suburban neighbourhood. I can’t really pull off drugs and gang violence and randomly crooked cops all that well.

I did zero research, pulled the ending out of my rear, and my MC and Cute Art Guy don’t even get together in the end! (Because there’s something weird about Cute Art Guy. He’s an extremely gifted artist, but he’s sort of in La-La Land all the time. As the author, you would think I’d know why, but I never really dug around for an explanation. :P)

After this, I moved onto...

CPCS - Chronically Passive Character Syndrome (Age 16/17)

And I still haven't gotten over this one.

The Boy Who Stole My Heart Car came in at 54K! It doesn't send agents running for the hills! In fact, they seem to like the premise, because I queried a few (read: 4) and most of them (read: 3) requested a partial.

But none of those partials did very well, because my MC is passive to the extreme and I wind up totally glazing over the whole LI-is-a-car-thief thing. *headdesk*

I have plans to fix this one up, though. I think it's salvageable.

Next came...

The Mutation also known as my WIP

It's going to wind up being about 200K. 'Nuff said.

But really, I should have seen this one coming. Look at the word counts that have preceded it. 175K at age 12, 125K at age 13, and there was secretly a 139K attempt at contemporary during my grade ten year that never even got near finished!

I think it's been proven: I have a disease called Longbookitis, I'm still committing plenty of writing faux pas, and the road to being a published author has a very loooong learning curve.

Wow, that turned out long.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

I've been trying to post for the last two days! But Summary Sunday didn't work out so well. I tried to write a summary of my WIP. Really, I did. But it kept mutating into this monstrously long thing. Sort of like the WIP did.

It also revealed some potentially chronic plot problems and the only borderline-almost-decent summary I cam up with completely misrepresented the story. In other words, I made the plot sound way cooler than it actually is. Which makes me think some massive overhauling might be in order during the editing process. Maybe I have the right idea with the summary. It would probably shorten the 200+K mutation into something that won't send agents running for the hills.

But until then, I shall tease. It's a bit rough, since I spewed it out between the hours of 3 and 5am. Hope it's still enjoyable! :)

Context: The military is camped out in my MC's hometown, and everyone has been freezing to death for the last few nights because they don't have proper winter gear. It just occurred to my MC that her family has tons of warm clothes, so she went scuttling off to her old house, assuming her father (who she has seen around camp) still lives there.

My parents' room was still lived in. My father hadn’t made the bed and there were socks on the floor. I went to the closet. My mother had always hidden our birthday presents in there, up on the top shelf.

My father’s military uniforms were hanging nearest the front. I brushed them aside and grabbed an armful of sweaters, scouring the corners, floor, and shelves for the missing jackets.

Downstairs, I heard the door open, and the sound of feet on the hardwood floor.

If my father was off shift, we were late for ours.

Then, “Ay!”

My heart missed a beat. That voice was not my father’s.

Mina!” Rory’s voice was pure panic and in the instant before I bolted my eyes landed on the insignia on one of the dark green jackets I had thought belonged to my father.

Three inverted chevrons with a line over top – a colonel’s rank symbol.

I ran.

I flew out of the room and raced for the stairs, snagging the clothes hamper as I passed.

Below me there was a bang and a thud – Rory hitting the wall and then the floor. I leapt out of the stairwell swinging. The hamper smashed against something solid and a man in an SO’s uniform – a major – toppled, his baton skittering out of his hand and across the floor.

I clutched at Rory’s jacket, but he was already on his feet and hurtling towards the door – towards the man standing in front of it. The man – the colonel – could only gape as Rory and the box of mittens slammed into him and sent him crashing into the wall. Then Rory and I were past him, out the door, leaping off the porch and tearing up the street.

The hamper was big – awkward – heavy. It slowed me down. Rory got further ahead.

Then something caught my arm and wrenched me around. The hamper slipped from my hands, spilling onto the road. I was nose to nose with the major I had just knocked over. I had a brief glimpse of his snarling red face, saw his arm move out of the corner of my eye, and then my head was snapping to the side and fire was spreading across my cheek and over my eyebrow, up to my temple.

There was a crunching thud and I was sure it was the sound of every bone in my face shattering.

The grip on my arm loosened and slipped away.

My head spun and all I could see were colourless splotches. I threw my arms out, not knowing which way the ground was coming at me.


A hand caught my wrist, steadying me instead of making bruises.

My vision cleared and I found Sade. The look on his face was as horror-stricken as I had ever seen it. My gaze sunk to the major, sprawled on the ground between our feet.

Halt!” The colonel stumbled outside, revolver drawn and pointed at us.

“Go!” Sade shoved me forward.


I threw my arms over my head and ran.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Flaws and Poll Summary

Okay, it's time to get that poll out of my sidebar, since people can't vote anymore and it doesn't fit nicely at all. :P

The poll results were as follows:

What makes you swoon over the boys in books?

Their gorgeousness 4 (50%)
Their complete devotion to the MC 4 (50%)
The romantic things they do/say 5 (62%)
Their ability/willingness to protect/stand up for the MC 5 (62%)
The badass-ness 5 (62%)
Their sensitive side 5 (62%)
Their wit 6 (75%)
The fact that they sparkle 0 (0%)

Number of votes: 8

(Edit: I apologize for the fugliness of the poll. *headdesk* It refused to line up nicely justified the other way.)

All in all, it looks like things were pretty close to tied (with sparkly-ness being the obvious exception. No Edward groupies here, apparently. ;D).

This seems to suggest that the love interest in books can either a) have one of a million possible personalities and still have a fair shot at making someone fall in love with them or b) be a mash-up of all the characteristics mentioned in the poll and be named Gary Stu.

And so my point is, as wonderfully gorgeous and romantic and funny and tough-yet-sensitive we can make the LIs in our books, they must have a flaw!

Okay, so I'm kind of stating the obvious, but I needed to give people something to comment on. Tell me: what kind of flaw(s) does the LI in your WIP have?

(Interesting how it seems safe to assume that everyone has a love interest in their book. I suppose because we're all writing YA? If it was MG, it might be a different story... But I digress! Tell me about the flaws! ^_^)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Second post of the year! New Years resolution to blog regularly going well! :)

Slightly longer snip this week, from my good old monster of a WIP. *suspects she really ought to get around to posting a summary of this thing* Hmm. Maybe I'll have a Summary Sunday?

Anyhoo, here it is! Hope you enjoy!

Sade looked around. “You know I haven’t actually got a clue where I’m going.”

“Where are you trying to get?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Away.”

So I lead the way down to the shoreline, and when we weren’t allowed past the makeshift blast walls, we wandered towards the arm of land that encircled the westward side of the bay. Technically we weren’t allowed out there either, but Drake was watching that strip of wall and he ignored us.

There was nothing but rocks and a few sparse tufts of grass out there. A cold wind blew inland, whipping my hair around. I could hear waves crashing on the seaward rocks. Errant drops of spray spattered my face. A haze hung over the bay, greying out the islands. Baltic was nothing but the faintest outline in the fog. It was hard to imagine that it was garrisoned by five thousand enemy soldiers – that there were walls, cannons, and long range guns built into its shores and mines beneath the ice.

Sade was looking out to the sea. I followed his gaze, and after a moment I made out the grey blurs of battleships, lurking on the horizon. We could only see the foremost ones, but I had no doubt there were as many here as there had been on the east coast – maybe more.

I glanced at Sade, thinking of his reaction when we had seen warships before.

He caught my eye, and he must have spotted the anxious look on my face, because he smirked and said, “I’m fine, love.” He looked back towards the horizon. “Just caught me by surprise last time.”

“Oh.” I eyed the ships' shadowy outlines. One of them was moving, ploughing southward through the ice. The ice would be thick out there. The sound of it cracking and groaning and shattering rolled across the water and into our ears. “At least they’re not very close.”

“They don’t have to be close,” he said, turning and heading for the land’s tip.

I followed.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Morose Monday

Look! Look! I'm keeping up with my New Years resolutions! I'm blogging! (Even if, in this post, blogging has become synonymous with whining. :P)

So anyhoo, this Monday is morose, of course, because Christmas holidays are over and even though I don't have to go back to school thanks to that whole I-graduated-last-June thing, I do have to get my rear in gear and finish these online courses I'm taking. I also have to acquire a bulldozer and do something about the piles of mess that have accumulated in my room. o.O

Furthermore, I'm back home after being at my aunt's for two weeks. My aunt typically has 2-12 people in her house at any given time. My house typically has one person: me. And my dog. Whose gastrointestinal system is not as, er, fresh, as it was when she was a younger dog... Anyway, it's all rather lonely in comparison.

But! On the upside, being alone in a house means I don't have to listen to my music through headphones. I can blast it as LOUD AS I WANT!!! Er, as loud as my speakers will let me before they asplode, that is.

And so on that note, I shall scamper off to clean.