Wednesday, December 29

Book Update

So far this year I've read 81 books. That number might increase by one or two before the 1st, but I'm not sure. Anyway, here are the books I've read since I last updated my list on here:

  • Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles (5/5)
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (school book)
  • The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe (school book)
  • Torment by Lauren Kate (3.5/5)
  • Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles (5/5)
  • Three Nights With A Scoundrel by Tessa Dare (4/5)
  • Gone by Lisa McMann (2/5)
  • Becoming by Tina Lynn Sandoval (critique)
  • Seduced by a Highlander by Paula Quinn (4/5)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy (re-read for school)
  • A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations by Olive Dickason (school book)
  • Ten by Tina Lynn Sandoval (critique... but still a 5/5)
  • Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes (school book)
  • Tempt Me, Taste Me, Touch Me by Bella Andre (3.5/5)
  • Matched by Ally Condie (5/5)
As you can see, I haven't read much since the last update. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time. However, I got a lot of books for Christmas and my birthday, so I'm hoping to get some reading done soon.

What good books have you read recently? Have you read any of the above books? What did you think of them?

Tuesday, December 21

Muah hahahahaha!

As of today I am now legal everywhere! Yep, that's right. Today is my 21st birthday. Yay!

I can't believe how quickly the semester went. The last 4 months have been crazy! I know I haven't been posting, but I've been so busy. I promise I will post in a few days with some updates on everything. However, for now I must go get ready for the day!

xo

Thursday, November 25

Update

Hello everyone! Yes, it's me. I'm back...ish. I thought I'd give you an update on how I'm doing!

Okay, so the swelling finally went down a few days ago. It was getting crazy there for a while. I could barely move my fingers, that's how swollen they were.  As well, I'm no longer on the antibiotics, thank-freaking-God. They were doing crazy things to my stomach and making me so dizzy. Now, pain I can deal with. Dizziness I can't. If someone even so much as moved the wrong way, my head would spin. Not fun.

Anyway, now that the swelling and dizziness are gone, I'm left with... pain. It's not as bad as it was a few days ago, but it still hurts quite a bit. Whenever I shiver, I get zaps in my arm. It's really freaky. But it makes sense, since I did have surgery on a nerve. However, the worst times are when I'm just sitting there minding my own nerve-y business when BAM, it freaks out and sends shooting pain up and down my arm. It's just lovely.

In a week I go see my surgeon and find out exactly how everything went. I imagine he'll take this bandage off my arm (I'm praying he takes it off my arm) and gets rid of the stitches. And yes, I will take pictures to show you all, lol. Unfortunately, since I'm going back to school next Tuesday, that means I'm going to be stuck with the bandage for at least 3 days of classes. Grrr.

In other news, winter has arrived here in Alberta. The same night I got home from the hospital, it started snowing. And snowing. Oh, and snowing some more.  And then it got cold. On the 23rd, we were actually the 2nd coldest place on Earth. Not even kidding.  So remember that whole, I shiver and I get pain, thing? Yeah. Think about that for a moment.

But to leave today off on a happy note... I SAW HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT 1. ON MONDAY! Gah. It was SO worth the pain. I sobbed like a freaking baby. I just wish we'd been able to go opening night, but the dizziness would have kicked my freaking ass all over the theatre.

Oh! Another happy thing that happened since we last spoke... I got a scholarship! Woot woot!

xox

Thursday, November 18

In The Beginning... A Guest Post by Tina Lynn

Hello all! So here is the final guest post for this week. I hope you've enjoyed them so far!  Today we are going to have my third critique partner Tina Lynn from Sweet Niblets talk to us! Tina is currently kicking butt on her NaNo story, Ten.

***

In the beginning

Yeah, I know. Stressful, is it not? Those three words sound off in my ears as I read them, like the peal of some enormous bell shaking me to my very foundation.

Okay, so I’m melodramatic :D

Anyhoo, about beginnings…

There is a lot of stuff out there. Your first chapter has to pop. <--- Make sure to read that last word with the proper enunciative respect. (Yes, totes just made up a word. I do that.) Oh, wait…forget the first chapter. Your first paragraph has to really draw them in. *ahem* Excuse me. I’m sorry. Totes backpedaling here, BUT IF YOU DON’T GRAB THEM BY THAT FIRST SENTENCE YOU’VE NEGATED THE MERIT OF THE REST OF THE ENTIRE BOOK!

Now that’s pressure. *A lot* of pressure.
So, here is my superawesomenevertobeforgotten advice.

Let. It. Go.

Hello! You are just starting to write the darned thing. You barely know your characters yet. (And for those that have mapped out elaborate character sheets…admit it, you barely know them, either). As the story unfolds, we get to know them. Learn their quirks, turns of phrase they like to use, how they react to things. They reveal secrets to us, secrets they entrust to us and us alone. You simply don’t know them well enough in the first sentenceparagraphchapter. You. Just. Don’t.

So, relax, push through to the end, and when you get there the beginning may just open itself up to you. (I accept no responsibility if this is not the case).

And if you are one of those lucky, lucky folks that can get that perfect beginning the very first time around, I hate you you are a freak an anomaly. And a very lucky one at that. (Insertion: I think Tina might be talking about me, guys. Oopsie).

Yeah, so that’s my (hopefully encouraging) post on beginnings. Wave to Natalie…and be sure to offer up Get Well Wishes and Chocolatey Dreams for her. Of course, she’s probably totes stoned out of her mind. (Has to be to ask *me* to be a guest blogger.) So, she may not do anything but watch the words float off the screen and swirl around her head…and giggle…and bat at them like a kitty cat. Scratch that last, her arm is in a gigantic cast.

So, what are your thoughts on beginnings? Dying to hear them.

*blows kisses to Natalie*

Natalie Update: Pictures!

Lynne here: So my little poopski is still in a lot of pain and general discomfort in her arm.  As you can tell the right hand (shown on the left side of the photo) is somewhat larger than the left.  The hand has been compared to: a meat cleaver, Mrs Dursley (Harry Potter's aunt in HP3 as she was turning into a giant floating balloon) and the hand of the dead fat guy in 'Seven'. Pretty. 
We've had a sweep of winter come through, so Nat's been wearing mittens on her gimpy hand, which looks suspiciously like Cookie Monster (shown here). 
Beautiful flowers she received from Christopher and his family (Martha, Jim, Adam, Natalie, Kip, Lyndsay, Granny, Pawpaw) Thank you!)
She is holding up well despite the nausea, dizziness, swelling and pain.  
Bye for now, Lynne

Wednesday, November 17

Perseverance Through the First Draft: A Guest Post by Melissa

To continue the guest posts this week, my critique partner Melissa from Chasing the Dream is here to talk to you all! Mel is currently revising her first novel, a YA Dystopian.

***

I was going to title this post “How to Keep From Setting Your First Draft on Fire,” but I thought to myself Hey, that’s not a good way of thinking. And I promised Natalie I was going to write about perseverance while drafting, so what better way to begin by having a positive title? ;)

Anyway, writers generally have two ways of thinking when they’re working on the first draft of their WiP: they love it or hate it. Then there’s folks like me who do a little of both. Seriously, some days I’d fly through a chapter, loving every word that flowed from my fingers. Others, I’d sit and stare and stare and stare some more, hating every word I’d written. Then I’d get discouraged and procrastinate (my procrastination methods of choice are Twitter and blogging). Sometimes the procrastination would last for days. *whispers* Or weeks. Trust me, you do NOT want to do that. So here are a few ways to keep yourself going until that first draft is done.

1.  Tell yourself to keep writing, no matter what. Yes, I know it’s tough, but if you stop for a very long period of time it’s even harder to start writing again. If you feel you absolutely have to take a break, make sure it’s only for a day or two. Keep the writing momentum going.

2.  Get some cheerleaders. Not real cheerleaders, but folks who understand how important writing is to you. It could be anyone: spouse, friends, siblings, your kids, or critique partners. In my case, I couldn’t live without my CPs. They’ve talked me down from the ledge more times than I can remember =)

3.  Reward yourself. Set a daily or weekly goal of what you want to achieve and pick out something you really want. If you meet your goal, watch that movie you’ve been dying to see or buy something you’ve been eyeing in the stores for a while.

4.  Understand that the first draft is going to be bad and accept it. If you listen to the EIE (Evil Inner Editor) too much during the first draft, you’ll never finish. You’ll avoid letting others read your work in fear of causing them permanent eye damage, therefore making them to hate you forever and ever. Not so. By embracing whatever comes forth, you will keep the writing momentum going (see number 1). Then you’ll end up with a draft that CAN and WILL be fixed.

5.  Realize your draft is going to shine during revisions. First drafts are for getting the story out of your system. It’s getting the framework down on paper. It’s putting the clay on the potter’s wheel. Revising is when your story will really take shape and become its sparkly best. After all, diamonds don’t look like they do in the jewelry store when they’re first mined, right?

There you have it folks. These methods may not work for everybody, but they’ve helped me.

Do you have any methods to stay positive while drafting your books?

Tomorrow, Tina Lynn from Sweet Niblets is going to blog about beginnings, so don't miss it!

Tuesday, November 16

Character Development: A Guest Post by Diana Paz

Hello guys! So while I'm recovering I have arranged for my three critique partners to do guest posts for you this week!  First up is Diana Paz!

***

Hi everyone, I’m Diana Paz. ~waves hello~ Natalie is recovering from her surgery and as her devoted and adoring friend, I’m here to help with a guest post about character development.

I’m *not* a character development wizard, not by a long shot. But when Nat asked me about guest-posting, I remembered some great workshops I took while at the SCBWI conference last summer. My character development notes are all jumbled together from two workshops, one by YA author Carolyn Mackler and the other by Claudia Gabel, an editor at a YA imprint at Harper Collins and also a YA writer herself.

They both talked in depth about character development and creating believable characters. Here’s what I learned:

Know what your main characters want. What they want will drive their actions.

 Understand your character.

  • Claudia Gabel suggested writing up character “resumes” that included everything about the character.
  • Not only birthday and favorites, but hobbies, most liked and least liked people in their lives (and why), whether they read magazines, what kind of TV shows/movies they watch. Go on and on! Music, holidays, there’s no limit. She said for her own books, she easily had ten to twenty pages of character background!
  • Think about how your character reacts to situations that don’t relate to your book/story. What does he/she do on a rainy day? What is his/her reaction to witnessing a shoplifter? How does he/she tackle a boring assignment/chore/job?
By knowing what your character wants, and understanding your character, you’ll be able to create scenes that are genuine to that character. And your character will feel believable, making the entire scene, chapter and book believable.

By the end of the book, there should be a notable shift in what your character wants. Character growth is show when he/she no longer wants the same thing--or wants the same thing but for different reasons.

Dialogue should be unique to each of your characters, especially main characters. Dialogue should *not* be interchangeable.
  • If you’d be able to have a different character say the same thing a main character says, in the same way, the dialogue isn’t unique enough.
  • Without attribution, a main character’s speech should be recognizable.
  • All this happens because you as the writer *know* your character.
Try to sum up your character in two words, one adjective and one noun. For example, willful snob, rebellious loner, overbearing busybody. Just like you can think of one or two words to describe your closest friends, you should quickly be able to do so for your characters.

I really enjoyed these workshops and this conference, and I learned a lot. I’ve noticed that after writing up character resumes, scenes flow a bit faster. I’m more in tuned with my characters, and I know more readily their reactions. I hope that by understanding my characters that much better, my story overall will be that much stronger.

***

Thank you Di!  Tomorrow we have Melissa from Chasing the Dream coming in, so make sure to stop by!

Monday, November 15

Surgery went well...

Hello everyone!  My name is Lynne, and I am Natalie's mom.  She underwent surgery to her right elbow this morning, and is now home and resting.  Yah pain meds!!  Yoohoo!!
The surgery went well and according to the Doc- was in the nick of time as the pinched and trapped ulnar nerve (elbow) doesn't appear to have suffered permanent damage (only time will tell).  Her lower arm and hand are pretty swollen though and she is groggy from the anaesthetic. 
Her spirits are good - affirmation that she had a serious problem in her arms is a comfort - no you aren't crazy (about that anyhoo ;-) I love you!). 
Left arm is next, no date set yet - but we are in Alberta Canada - so a couple months for necessary procedures is not uncommon - universal health care isn't all it's cut out to be.  Oooohhh here's 2 examples from today alone:  we had to sanitize her arm ourselves.  Yup you heard me - here's a spongy thingy- go scrub that down for 10 minutes. She also had to walk into the OR and hop up on the bed herself.  It was set too high up and they didn't want to waste the time to move it down, so an intern did finally help her up.  We were almost expecting them to insist she make the bed and wash the linens when she was done.  The nurses and staff and surgeon were excellent and very nice though, so that's good.  Ok, so I have rambled on enough for today. 
Thank you to everyone for your well wishes, they mean a lot. 
Bye for now!
Lynne 

Sunday, November 14

Surgery Time!

Okay my lovelies, this will be my last post for a while. I need to be at the hospital tomorrow (Monday) at 6 am. My surgery is slated to begin at 7:40 am. Eeeks!  I can't say how long I'll be away, but my mum will keep you updated!

This week I have arranged for my critique partners to come in and post for you guys, so make sure to stop by!

If you'd like to say hi while I'm away, feel free to email me: nataliemurphy [at] live [dot] ca

nat
xo

Saturday, November 13

How To Pitch An Editor: The Session

Finally, the last post is here! Yay! If you missed the other two posts, they are here and here. So today I'm going to talk about what to do during the pitch session!

Here we go!
  1. First thing's first, introduce yourself and shake their hand! Remember, you must be professional.
  2. Don't just dive into your pitch. Stop, pause. Ask them how their stay is going. Talk about the weather or the conference/workshop you're at. They've been hearing pitches all day, so you want to stick in their mind (in a good way).
  3. Once you've chatted a little bit, start your pitch. Do it slowly. Make sure to breathe and look at them (but don't do the creepy stare-down thing, lol).
  4. Next is the question/comment period. Don't be afraid to ask them questions, too. This is a great opportunity to just talk to them-- use it!
  5. Regardless of whether you got a request or not, thank them for their time.
And now, the part you've all been waiting for... *drum roll*

My own pitch session went extremely well. She was really enthusiastic about my story and requested pages (yay)! We talked a bit about the difficulties in selling a medieval and she gave me some encouragement and advice =)

So there you have it guys! I hope you enjoyed the posts and learned something!

Remember, next week I'm having guest bloggers, so make sure you stop by and show them your support!!!

Friday, November 12

How To Pitch An Editor: Forming The Perfect Pitch

Alright, so Wednesday's post was all about the basics behind a pitch session. If you missed it, the link is right here. Today I'm going to talk about how to form the perfect pitch!
  1. Do not give them the whole plot of your story. This is not the time for a synopsis. Remember, a pitch is like a query. You'd never give the ending away in your query, so why would you in a pitch session? You want to grab their attention, not spill the beans on everything.
  2. Start with your hook. This is generally one line that shows the high concept of your entire story. This gives the agent or editor a hint/introduction to what you're going to be pitching them.
  3. Use your query letter to form your pitch. I learned that forming the actual pitch isn't all that hard if you already have a query letter written. (If you don't have one written, get on it). Simply look at your query and cut it down. Get rid of sentences that don't need to be there for an oral reading. This is also where you can add a few explanations that you couldn't have in your query letter due to length restrictions. Make sure it's snappy and exciting. When said out loud, it should run about 2 minutes in length, but it depends on your session time limit. Mine went 2 minutes and I had 9 minutes total.
  4. Cue cards are your best friends. Once you've prepared your pitch, write it down (or print it out) one cue cards. This helps you from getting lost, trust me. Agents/editors don't mind you having paper with you--they prefer it. On mine, I'd broken up the paragraphs and put specific sentences into bullet points. This helped me remember to breathe (lol) and also provided me with great opportunities to pause and look up at the editor (remember, you can't just read it, you must present it!)
  5. Write down important information (character's names, story title, etc...) at the top of your cue card. Trust me, you may forget.
  6. Be prepared to answer questions-- any and all. This goes back to the number one rule: know your story!
  7. Practice, practice, practice! Practice your pitch, your answers to questions, your acceptance of a request and your acceptance of a rejection.
There that's not so bad, right?  Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the actual pitch session itself!

Did anything surprise you? Scare you? Help you?

Thursday, November 11

Lest We Forget





They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget...

-- Laurence Binyon

Wednesday, November 10

How To Pitch An Editor: The Basics

As some of you know, I pitched an editor at the workshop I attended a few weeks ago. It was the most terrifying thing I've ever experienced in my short writing career. While there is no antidote for that (anyone who says there is is lying), I do think it helps if you're prepared. Therefore, I thought I'd share with you guys how I prepared for this scary event and what happened.

Basic Things You Need To Know First:
  1. Your story. Inside and out. This means your story must be completed and every plothole and character snag fixed up. Think of the pitch as a query letter. You wouldn't query with an incomplete story, would you? So why would you pitch an incomplete story?
  2. Your time limit. Most pitch sessions run from 8-10 minutes in length (mine was 9). While this does seem like a lot of time, it's not. You must plan accordingly. You have to give your talk and leave time for them to ask questions.
  3. The Editor/Agent.  I don't mean you need to know them personally, but you need to know what they're looking for. Agents are easy to research, but editors aren't. I scoured the Internet for information on the editor I pitched (Avon's Tessa Woodward) and came up with next to nothing. However, what I did find encouraged me to pitch her. If you pitch a genre they don't represent, you just wasted your time and theirs. Not to mention you just turned a few of your hairs grey for no reason.
  4. Editors and agents are humans too. *Gasp* I know, shocking right? But it's true. They're still human, even if they hold our dreams in their hands. And from my experience, they're really nice, so give them a chance. Even if the pitch doesn't go well, stop and talk to them. Pitch sessions aren't just to get your story out there. They're also for networking, so use that to your advantage.
  5. Editors and agents know you're nervous. Trust me, they won't hold it against you. I promise. As long as you've done your research, they won't be upset with you if you stutter, choke, speak too quickly, or burst into tears. And for the record, I did none of those lol.
See, that wasn't so bad was it? Small baby steps, that's what I say! Friday I will post on how to actually write and prepare for your pitch. Then Saturday I will talk about the actual pitch session itself *gulps*

Have any of you guys pitched an editor or agent before? Did any of the points above surprise you?

Tuesday, November 9

A Much Needed Update!

Okay, so apparently I haven't posted in a very long time. Sorry 'bout that guys. I guess when I said I was busy, I wasn't kidding. I've been going non-stop for two weeks now. Man, I need a breather.

Anyway, I thought I would try and post this week for you all!
School:
  • This is where most all of my time has gone. I am now past the halfway mark and sprinting to the finish line. All of my grades are still in the "A" range, so I'm happy. Exhausted, but happy.
  • I only have 4 essays left for this semester. Since I had a total of 15 to start the semester, this is amazing lol (this number isn't counting the small dinky "long answer" types of essays. If I counted those, we'd be here all night)! By the end of this week, I'll only have 2 left to do after my surgery.
  • I finally got my final exam schedule! I have one at 8am on the 13th of December, one at 8am on the 16th and one at 2pm on the 16th. My other class is a take home essay. So I'm done by 4pm on the 16th! Woohoo!
Personal:
  • My surgery is in less than a week now. November 15th is creeping up real close!  I don't know the exact time yet, but I'll find out on Friday. I do know I'll be staying at least one night at the hospital. I'll keep you posted.
  • In other news, since my final exams are finished early this semester, I'm going to be going to Virginia for Christmas early this year! Yay! We haven't booked flights yet, but I imagine we'll do that this week sometime.
Blog News:
  • While I wont be here for a few days (duh) I do have some guest bloggers coming in! Yay! I'll post more later this week about what they'll be talking about so make sure you stop by!
  • As well, I've suckered enlisted my mum as a blog helper while I'm out of commission. She'll post updates on here for you guys so you're not in the dark about how I'm doing.
Writing:
  • Yes, *gasps* there is writing news. Querying is still going strong and it's going really, really well.
  • I've opened up my super shekret YA project again. Yay! I'm currently fixing up the beginning and changing a few things. I'm having a lot of fun with it, which is all that matters.
  • I entered a total of 3 contests the other week (one being the coveted Golden Heart). Phew, that was a lot to put together but I'm glad I did it!
  • I filled out all the forms to become a PRO Member of RWA. Yay!
  • I officially joined CaRWA (Calgary RWA).
So there you have it, a super quick update on everything. Wednesday, I will do a post on How to Pitch An Editor: The Basics so make sure you stop by!!

Friday, October 29

Post Cancelled

Sorry, but today I am too busy to post about pitching an editor. I will post another day.

Wednesday, October 27

Avon Editor Tessa Woodward On The First 3 Pages— Workshop Notes

Alright guys, so during the workshop there was also a panel where Tessa Woodward, Avon editor extraordinaire, did a critique of people's first 3 pages. It was sooo interesting. Here are some big picture things she talked about. Remember guys, she's an editor. I'd definitely take what she says seriously!
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Editors can't judge a book by the first 3 pages! She said she has signed a debut book and then had the author delete the first 100 pages! So there is hope =)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • In the first pages, get rid of repetition of any kind: Repetitive words, phrases, actions, and sentence structures. We need to get right to the action/importance of the beginning.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Along the lines of the previous statement, she said you must vary how you start paragraphs. In one critique she did, the person started 4 paragraphs in a row with "I".
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Don't be afraid to use he/she instead of names! Like "said" he/she is nearly invisible to readers, so don't be worried about using too many (of course, within reason).
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Everyone says to make your story realistic, but Tessa strongly stressed that your story shouldn't be too real. We read books to escape reality, not to read our lives being repeated on paper. Get rid of mundane sentences, especially with dialogue.We don't need to hear every single thing that goes on.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • With regards to dialogue at the beginning... it must be very, very, very important. Most dialogue, especially at the beginning, doesn't tell the reader much of anything. It's filler.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Don't do all dialogue on any page (beginning, middle, end), especially when the sentence structures are so short. White space isn't good! Add more internal dialogue if this is the case for you. Or, look at the dialogue. Is it really important? Does it add to the story or the scene? If not, get rid of it.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Your first line should be simple! Don't trip up the reader right away, LOL!
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • The first couple of pages should give the reader organic details (who, what, where, why, how). This is especially the case if you're working with a world that isn't common. So if you write paranormal, sci-fi, urban fantasy, etc... make sure these things are apparent to the reader right away.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Show don't tell! This one is duh, but she finds it so often. However, she also said that you can over show. We don't need to know every facial expression. You can simply say, "He gave her a disgusted look." As well, we don't need to know every single action.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Active, not passive! Once again, duh. This is the biggest indicator of a new writer.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
My take on Tessa:
Omg! She's so sweet! I adored meeting her. Anyone with her as an editor is extremely lucky.
--------------------------------------------------------------------



So what do you guys think? Anything surprise you?

*Make sure to stop by Friday for my experience on pitching an editor (Yes, it was Tessa!)*

Monday, October 25

Agent Laura Bradford On Queries—Workshop Notes

Hello guys. So this week I thought I'd do a series of blog posts about what I learned at the workshop on Saturday. Today, I'm going to talk about queries and what Laura Bradford said about them.

Alright, so the first event at the workshop was a 2 hour critique period where Laura went over several queries. Below are all things she talked about:

--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • In a query, she wants to know more about the story than your credentials. While this makes sense, you wouldn't believe how many people made this mistake.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • You must, must, MUST state the genre. She doesn't want to guess or assume what your genre is.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • If you do state your genre, you must deliver on that genre. Don't say that it's a romantic suspense with minor paranormal elements and then not mention a single paranormal element in the query.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Do not make bold, all encompassing statements. They drive her insane. They're also pretty arrogant.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • While some agents don't want the query to go over 250 words, Laura said to use all of the space on the page. It's there for us to use, so use it!
--------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Hook by your characters, not your theme!
--------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Make sure the character relationships are clear!
--------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Include the associations you belong to (RWA, SCBWI, etc...) In her words, this generally tells the agents that you're "not a wing nut." LOL!
--------------------------------------------------------------------

  • If there is something in your story that might make an agent say no right off the bat, don't mention it! Obviously, don't lie. But if you keep some things to yourself, she may request pages and fall in love with it, regardless of any issues. However, once again, don't lie!
--------------------------------------------------------------------

  • If you write romance (Adult or YA), always include the romantic tension / how the characters feel about each other in the query letter.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

  • Know your genre inside and out, especially regarding word count! This is one of the biggest reasons why she rejects a query.
--------------------------------------------------------------------My comments on Laura: She's hilarious! Seriously. She was nice, informative, and very chatty. She seems like a wonderful agent. Her submission guidelines are here if you want to query her.


--------------------------------------------------------------------


So what do you guys think? Was anything surprising to you?

*Make sure to pop in Wednesday for Avon editor Tessa Woodward's comments on the importance of the first three pages!*

Friday, October 22

Writing Update

Since it's been a while, I thought I'd give you all an update!

--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • So as I'm sure most of you know, I've started querying. I'm not going to go into stats or anything like that, but I will say it's going well =)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • In other news, on Sunday I opened up a new document and started my next medieval. Yay! To try something new, I'm not going to worry about word count this round. Near the end of my last story, I didn't write a certain number each day. Instead, I had a goal of finishing two scenes that day or whatever. It really worked for me, so I think that's the way I'm going to go, at least for now. I will, of course, keep you guys updated on how it goes.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
  • In addition to not worrying about word count, I think I might also try to write a "back cover blurb." I've heard it can make writing the query later easier, so I thought I'd try it out =)
--------------------------------------------------------------------


  • And lastly, I am now attending a workshop on Saturday hosted by the Calgary RWA. Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency will be there, as well as Avon editor Tessa Woodward. I'm nervous but excited. (But secretly pretty nervous, LOL). I will make sure to take lots of notes for you guys =)
So how are your stories coming along?

Thursday, October 21

School, Surgery, and Snow

So I've been a littleand by little, I mean a lotneglectful of my blog. Sorry guys, my life has been hectic! Anyway, I thought I'd take the time to give you guys an update on how I'm doing this semester.

School:
  • It's going pretty well so far. I'm sitting at an "A" in all of my classes. Yay!
  • My Children's Literature class is way too freaking easy. I picked the class as a fun elective. You know, quick and easy. Yeah, well, I wasn't thinking that one through. The homework is so easy I put it off most days. Not good.  I actually think I've mastered sleeping with my eyes open. Hey, at least I've learned something!
  • Just last week I attended the Under the Western Skies conference for my Eco Literature class. No, I didn't have a choice. I had to attend a panel and then do a presentation on it. Thankfully, the panel I went to (Environmental Pedagogies) was good. I didn't have high hopes for it, but I thought it was interesting. However, nothing was going to make me go to more of the conference than I had to, LOL!
Surgery:
  • Oh boy, where do I start? As some of you know, I'm scheduled for my Ulnar Nerve Transposition Surgery November 15th. To make this simple, the ulnar nerve runs from your neck down your arm to your hand. Sometimes (like in my case), it gets pinched at the elbow. This causes pain, numbness, and loss of hand control. In general, it sucks. Unfortunately, my surgery is during the semester and there's nothing I can do about it. I'll miss at least a week of school, perhaps a bit more.
Snow:
  • This one is pretty self explanatory. It snowed last Friday. Snowed. SNOWED! *sobs* Anyone want to switch locations with me? It's pretty here? We have the mountains?
So how are you guys?  =)

Wednesday, October 20

Early Morning Text Session Gone Awry

This was a text I received earlier today from a fellow student at my university. I typed it out word for word what she sent me. Can you decipher it?

"I will take a jon later tip afternoon and get Back to you"

I received this text while heading into the city for the day. For the life of me, I do not know what she was thinking when she texted me that. Anyway, I texted her back with the appropriate "Huh?" and this is what she meant to say...

"I will take a look for the NEP scale and get back to you."
LOL! Yep, quite a difference.

Monday, October 18

Yep, That's About Right


To make image larger, click on it.


My dad showed me this. Man is he ever right, LOL!

Monday, October 11

Proud To Be A Romance Writer

As you all know, I write hot historical romance novels. I make no secret of my love for a good romance story. I often can't enjoy a book without some sort of lovey dovey action going on. I freely, openly admit it. And yes, I dare anyone to make fun of me for it.  I fit none of the typical "lonely, old, dumb" stereotypes. Most romance readers don't.

But I digress from the purpose of this post. My lovely friend and occasional critique partner Diana Paz has written an excellent blog post on this subject. I urge you to check it out and leave your thoughts =)

xo

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
I hope everyone has a wonderful day  =)

Friday, October 8

A Kiss




"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech 
when words becomes superfluous."
-Ingrid Bergman

Monday, October 4

Books I've Read Recently

  1. His At Night by Sherry Thomas (Another fabulous book! 4.5/5)
  2. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford (school book: classic! I loved the movie as a kid)
  3. Curious Incident Of The Dog by Mark Haddon (school book: I loved this book)
  4. 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury by Jack Prelutsky (school book)
  5. The Duff by Kody Keplinger (3.5/5 I liked it and will buy more books from the author, but there were some fundamental things that bugged me).
  6. Tempting the Marquess by Sara Lindsey (3.5/5)
  7. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (4/5)
  8. Firelight by Sophie Jordan (5/5)
My total for the year is now 66 books.

I've also been busy with several other texts for school: Chaucers' The Cantebury Tales as well as Margery Kempe's The Book of Margery Kempe (ugh). For history, I'm slowly slogging my way through the readings (they're about 50 dense pages a week, sometimes more). In addition to all of that, I'm also reading the CoursePack for my Eco Literature class (it's quite large... and also dense).

So what about you guys? Have you read any of the above books?

Friday, October 1

Imagination

At the Library
by Nikki Grimes

I flip the pages of a book and slip inside,
where crystal seas await and pirates hide.
I find a paradise where birds can talk,
where children fly and trees prefer to walk.
Sometimes I end up on a city street.
I recognize the brownskin girl I meet.
She's skinny, but she’s strong, and brave, and wise.
I smile because I see me in her eyes.

Thursday, September 30

How I Pass The Time...

*checks email* *sighs*

2 minutes later...

*checks email* *sighs*

2 minutes later...

*checks email* *sighs*

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Yep, that sums it up nicely =)

Wednesday, September 29

My Critique Partners

1. My Mum—She's my Alpha (person who reads the story while it's still being written). I know everyone says you can't trust your mother to crit for you, but they haven't met mine. She's always honest. If something isn't working, she tells me so. While she doesn't catch some of the writerly things, she is an avid reader. She knows if a story is working and if it isn't. As well, she listens to me whine and complain when I'm having an awful day. That's always handy =)

2. Tina—My second line of defence against suckage. She's great for brainstorming and helps me out tons (probably more than she knows). She's always asking me questions about my story, which helps me think about things in a different way. Her crits are always amusing and very thoughtful. Like me, she tends to comment on whatever she's thinking at that moment, which I find extremely beneficial. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her critiques.

3. Mel—My newest critique partner. While Mum and Tina look more at content, Mel is definitely my go-to girl for line edits. She spots repetitive words like nobody's business. I don't even know how she does it. As well, she looks for consistency errors. She often asks hard, but wonderful questions. In addition, she's great at brainstorming sessions. Quite frankly, after she's been through my chapters, my story feel so shiny and clean.

4. Chris—While not an official critique partner, my fiance is very helpful. He helps tidy up sentences that aren't working and helps out with grammar (a lot).  =)

In addition to these four wonderful critique partners, I also have several betas who read for me. As you can see from my CPs, each of them have their own specialities. If you remove one, I lose that aspect of a critique. All together, they are perfect critique partners.


So do you have critique partners? Betas?

Tuesday, September 28

Critique With Tact

So today I thought I would talk about how to Critique With TactI'm sure most of us have learned the hard way how damaging a bad critique can be. Unfortunately, no one can prevent harsh critiques from happening, but we can talk about how to give a good critique.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

No matter how much you may dislike the chapter or story you are critiquing, you must find something positive to say! This is non-negotiable. Remember, a smile and a nice comment can go a long way. Don't underestimate that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Point out what you do like! Writers need to know this just as much as they need to know what you didn't like.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Before you decide to do a critique for someone, find out how they tend to deal with critiques. If they are known to get whiny and/or cranky after a critique, it might not be a good idea to crit for them. Remember, you can say no if someone asks you to crit for them. It isn't selfish to say no. You're likely saving yourself and the other person a lot of grief.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

When you're critiquing for someone, keep in mind what stage of revisions they're at. If they're just starting revisions (or aren't finished their story yet), line edits aren't going to be very helpful-- they'll be overwhelming! If you're not sure what sort of critique they're looking for, ask them! Some (like myself), like to have everything laid on them, while others can't work like that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Be honest, not harsh. If you think it's going to be a harsh critique, go back and reword your comments and add more positive things. I know I've had to do this a couple of times. But guess what? I'm still friends with these people and they didn't make voodoo dolls of me (that I know of), so clearly it worked.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Be aware of voice differences between yourself and whoever it is you're critiquing. Some changes you'll want to make are going to be voice related. Stop and think before you make any changes or suggestions to their story. A critique should be thoughtful, not hasty.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Ask questions! If you're reading and stumble across something you're not sure of (either about their story or writing-wise), ask them! For one, this shows you're actually interested in their story and paying attention. It can be very flattering to know someone cares enough to ask a question. As well, your questions might help them out. I know my critique partners have asked me questions that made me scratch my head thinking, "Huh. I never thought of it that way before."

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Find your critique voice. Agents and editors always talk about finding your writing voice, but you also need to find your critique voice. This is extremely important and can help you out a lot. For example, I often add humour to my crits. I will go to any lengths to make sure I don't hurt their feelings (we're friends first and foremost). However, that doesn't mean I don't give tough critiques. Trust me, I do. But I've found a way to make sure it doesn't necessarily seem like I am.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

So what about you? Have you ever received a harsh crit? Do you have a critique voice?

Tomorrow I'm going to talk about my critique partners and why it's important to have all of them.

xoxo

Monday, September 27

10 Things You Should Know While Revising

Hello all! So today I thought I'd talk about things you should keep in mind when revising.

1. One of the most important things to remember is that not everything will happen according to your plan/schedule. Set realistic goals for yourself. Don't worry about how long it took your critique partners to revise their manuscripts. Don't even worry about how long it'll take you to revise. Simply sit down and do it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

2. I know this one can sometimes be difficult for writers, but ask for help. If you happen to be stuck on something, don't be afraid to ask for help. If you don't have critique partners / beta readers, get yourself some right now. No writer can do this solo (IMO). At some point, every writer needs feedback.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

3. While revising, you're going to find words you tend to use over and over again. When I did revisions, my biggest one was "jump." Except for one or two, I deleted all of them. I'd suggest you do the same. Along the same lines, the word "that" is a word often used but not needed. Do a search and destroy for repetitive & unnecessary words.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

4. In my opinion, the quickest way to kill a story is passive voice. Most people claim passive voice gives them a lyrical edge. This is not true. I know it's really difficult to break out of the habit, but it can be done. It just takes a lot of practice and some gumption. My first two stories were packed full of passive voice. It was hard to accept that I had a problem (lol) but I've since learned how to spot them. You can too! If you are having troubles, the best way to find passive voice is to look for the "was"  "ing" pairings. Of course, there are many others, but one step at a time =)

--------------------------------------------------------------------

5. SDT (show don't tell). While I am a big advocate of this, I also believe you can over show. There are times when you can simply say, "She gave him a coy glance." rather than the whole spiel on her exact facial expression. Part of writing a book is finding the balance between showing and telling. Readers don't always want or need to know everything.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

6. Be prepared to kill your darlings. I don't care how clean your first draft is, you will need to delete a lot and change even more.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

7. Go into revisions with a critical eye and keep it throughout the whole process. If it helps, pretend it's someone else's story you're critiquing.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

8. At several points in revision, you'll want to quit. When that time hits, stop and take a deep breath. Spend a few days away from the story. It'll help, I promise.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

9. Revisions are the time to get nitpicky. While you may have let things slide in the first draft, you can't let them slide now. Even if it seems like you have a dozen huge issues on each page, you need to fix them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

10. Lastly, this isn't going to be your final draft. It took me 6 rounds of revisions before I decided it was ready to query. And I know it's not going to be the final draft. If I get an agent, they'll likely want to make edits. Same with an editor.

--------------------------------------------------------------------


If you have any questions just let me know! I'd be glad to go into more detail if you need me to. Tomorrow (Tuesday), I will be talking about how to Critique With Tact, so be sure to stop by!

Sunday, September 26

=)

I would just like to reiterate how happy I am that I don't live in residence this year. There's no drama, no fights, and most of all, no immaturity. Well, there is, but I'm not part of it!! Yay! I get to pick who I hang out with and they're all hard workers, intelligent, and funny. I love it! School is stressful enough for those of us who actually go to class and do our homework that we don't need the high school drama chasing us around too. You know?

Anyway, I just wanted to put this up. I'm so much happier than I used to be and I wanted to share it =)

I hope you guys have a wonderful Sunday! Tomorrow I will post about 10 Things You Should Know While You Revise, so make sure you come back and check it out!

xoxo

Saturday, September 25

Tuesday, September 21

Questions

Okay guys, I'm drawing a blank on what to talk about.  With school sucking up so much of my brain power, I can't come up with anything to post. Therefore, I am opening the floor to you guys! You can ask me  anything you want. However, I do reserve the right to not answer something =) As well, if you can come up with a topic rather than a question, I'll take those too!


So, anything you want to know about moi?

Monday, September 20

Inspiration

Bear the pain of longing silently, my heart,
for this is the cure.
The ultimate sacrifice is to curb your desires
and surrender the ego

–Rumi

AHHHH!!!

I just sent my first query!

*runs around screaming*

Saturday, September 18

Finished My Query

I finished my query today!  It took me an astonishing 16 days and 13 drafts before I finally got it just right. Yay!!! I'm pretty sure I managed to annoy everyone helping me—sorry guys! I do appreciate all the help you gave me ♥

Now, I just have to finish my synopsis tonight (which I have found much easier to write). I have 4 more paragraphs to do and then I should be ready to submit to agents in the next few days. Crazy, huh? Looking at my schedule, I'm not all that far off. I wanted to query by September 9th. It's the 18th right now, and I'm thinking I'll query either tomorrow night or Monday sometime. Not too bad eh? Stayed pretty darn close to my goal, I think =)

Anyway, I promise to keep you guys updated on how everything goes!

So how have you been? Any exciting news??

Saturday, September 11

I Survived



Yep, so I survived my first two days of school. I have been to all of my classes and caught up with my socializing. That's one benefit to being a fourth year English major. I know everyone in all of my English classes, LOL! Some people might not think that's great, but this way we can have really lively class discussions =) (Yes, I'm aware how nerdy that came across).

Anyway, as a refresher, here are the classes I'm taking this semester. Beside them, I'll make a note of what I'll be calling them on here, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Communications Through History— I'm actually dropping this course. It's online and my professor is insane. He's called me twice already. Twice. My professor. There's more to it, but that's all I'll say for now.
  • Children's Literature from 1900 to the Present—Children's Lit
  • Literature in the Age of Chaucer—Chaucer or HOLY CRAP I DON'T UNDERSTAND *breaks down sobbing*
  • Select Topics in Literature of the Long Twentieth Century (1865-present): Literature and Ecology—Eco Lit
  • First Nations In Canada: Co-Operation, Coercion and Confrontation—History
So there you have it. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go to bed. I'm exhausted. Who the hell invented 7 am anyway? I mean really. It's not needed. No one likes that time, right? I'm thinking we should just get rid of it. All in favour say aye!


*Query Update: I forgot that I haven't really posted since my big query freak out. Sorry! You'll all be glad to know that my query is going quite well now. I went through a hundred drafts (okay, you got me. It was only 99), and I think it's pretty good now. We'll see once I get some feedback!*

Wednesday, September 8

Friday, September 3

Music To Write To

Query Blues

So I started writing my query last night. The entire experience was awful. I tried to look at agent blogs and writer blogs, but it didn't work out so well. Whoever says writing a query isn't hard—and I’ve learned there are a lot of you people out there—should be taken out back and pelted with snowballs.* Repeatedly.

Quite frankly, I don't care if other people think it’s easy or difficult. I think it’s hard, therefore it's inconsiderate for others to undermine my troubles by telling me it’s easy. People mean well, but they have to realize that every writer is different, which means the query process—from start to finish—is going to be different, too.

For that reason, I'm not going to sit here and tell you query-virgins out there that this “simple” 250 word letter is easy if you follow the appropriate steps. *snicker-snorts* No, I won't do that to you. However, I will warn you that you may be just like me and find it extremely difficult to write. If that's the case, I'M SO SORRY. We can cry on each other's shoulders if you want?


So what about you guys? Are you query-virgins or are you a pro at it? Do you find writing the query easy or hard? Have any tips?


*If you don't think I can find snowballs in September, think again.*

Wednesday, September 1

10 Things You Should Know Before You Revise

I find everyone has a different take on the revision process. Some people believe it's easy and some people believe it's harder than writing the first draft. It's different for everyone, so both opinions are true. However, there are some things that are universal. Regardless of how you write,  these rules apply to you.
  1. Your second draft will take you longer than you think. Much, much, much longer. Set realistic deadlines. A couple of days is not realistic. People will laugh at you. Myself included.
  2. Your second draft will be just as hideous as your first, but in a different way. That means you shouldn't worry about being perfect. I promise you, it's never going to be perfect. I also promise you, this isn't your final draft.
  3. It doesn't matter what your writing style is, you'll need to do at least four drafts.*
  4. You will lose a ton of words by tightening and getting rid of passive voice in your story. If you "tighten" and you haven't lost a lot, you didn't do it very well. Trust me. Do it again.
  5. You will need junk food to make it through, even if you're a health nut.
  6. Don't plan on having any energy while revising. Even if you're one of the people who think revision is easy, you'll still be exhausted. You're editing your own story, after all. That's never an easy thing to do. Prepare for it. If you're not tired, you're either a freak and have too much energy, or you haven't torn your story apart enough.
  7. Find people who will listen to you whine and complain when you're having a bad day. Since it's not wise to throw a hissy on Twitter or Facebook for the whole world to see, you need an outlet. They're it. Once you're done revisions, you might want to send them thank-you gifts for putting up with you. Seriously. You're going to be so thankful they were there to help you. I know I am.
  8. While sympathy is always great, make sure you also have people who will smack you and tell you to get to work. If all you get is sympathy, you won't get any work done. You need a hug and a swift kick in the arse. Trust me on this one. It's even better if you can find both in one person. I happen to have three: Tina from Sweet Niblets, Melissa from Chasing the Dream, and of course, my mum. Without them, I wouldn't have finished the first draft, never mind the second or third.**
  9. Be prepared to hit The Wall. This might mean being ready with good books and lots of chocolate, or it might mean taking long naps and staying in your PJ's until 5 pm (true story). Whatever you think will help you specifically, prepare for it now.  After talking to numerous other writers, I've managed to narrow down The Wall's location to about a day or two away from the end of the final draft. Yes, cruel isn't it?
  10. Finally, take breaks. It's not a bad thing to take a few days off here and there. In fact, it's smart to take a break. Revisions are hard. Don't make it harder on yourself by burning out in the first couple of days. It also helps to work on a new story while you revise, that way you're still being creative on the side.
*Yes, four. This includes the last minute readthroughs.  Many people go through eight or nine drafts, so be happy if it only takes you four.*

**I'm one lucky duck, aren't I? Writing relationships are invaluable. If you don't have them, make them right now.  It's not just about having your stories beta read or critiqued (though, that's important too). Writing friends help you. They know what you're going through. More often than not, my writing pals (and my mum) help me through my dark spots and make me laugh. What's more important than that? Nothing.**

Friday, August 27

Books

Books I've read in the last two weeks!

Note: SB stands for "school book"
  1. Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas 5/5  (Omg, I adored this book. I sobbed like a baby)
  2. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (SB. I loved this book. So cute!)
  3. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer (SB. I hated this book. Writing is fine. Story? GRRR!!!)
  4. Monster by Walter Dean Myers (SB. This is a very powerful book)
  5. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles 5/5 (OMG! I LOVE THIS BOOK! GO BUY IT!)
  6. Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles 4.5/5 (Loved!!)
  7. The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (SB)
  8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 4/5
  9. Demon From the Dark by Kresley Cole 5/5 (OMG. Another amazing book by KC! Love her!)
Okay, so this year I've read and finished 58 books so far.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them??

Saturday, August 21

Box Entertainment

While I continue to drown in edits, here's an amusing video for you guys. If you haven't seen the other Simon's Cat videos, go on youtube and find them. If you know cats, you'll love these.

Wednesday, August 18

SDFHSDGSF!!!!

Yep. That pretty much sums up my revision experience right now. I finished the first round.... gosh, I don't even remember how long ago. Since then I've printed the first 200 pgs and am doing redpen edits. I do love editing on paper. I seem to catch a lot more. However, it's very time consuming. I have to read/edit on paper, then I have to enter the changes into the computer/highlight problem sentences I couldn't fix or have a question about to work on later. I'm getting a lot done, but it's slow. You have to have patience for this round.

My head hurts. I want to take a nap. Have I mentioned I've only been awake for an hour?

Lord, this is going to be a loooooong day.


So how is your story going?

Thursday, August 12

Much Needed Update!

Okay, so for the last 8 days I have lived and breathed revisions. It's all I seem to do now! Anyway, I shall endeavour to break it down for you:

After finishing the first draft July 31st, I managed to last three whole days before I dove into revisions. It doesn't seem like a lot of time to most people, but OMG I almost didn't make it. If it wasn't for my YA, I would've started August 1st, LOL. I'm glad I didn't though. Revisions are a major headache. I always feel exhausted after a round, even if the chapter is clean. It's hard work. You can't simply read your material-- you have to critique it as you go. Talk about tiring.

Since August 4th, I've revised 22 chapters out of 31, or 300 pages out of 372, OR 84,028 words out of 103,853. I'm quite impressed with those numbers, if I do say so myself. I tend to write very full drafts, so most of this has been tidying up sentences and getting rid of overused words.

Now that I'm on the home stretch, I'm thinking this is only going to take a few more days. My last chapters were uber clean, so I'm not expecting to have to do a whole heck of a lot.  Most of my changes, plot-wise, were in the first few chapters. Thankfully, they weren't all that hard to change, so yay!

Once I'm done tearing my manuscript apart, I'm going to send it to my betas. While they are reading, I'm going to work on the synopsis and the query (ugh, make the headache stop). I also think I'm going to print out the whole manuscript and read it that way.

Basically, my dream goal would to send the first query out BEFORE school starts on September 9th. Is it possible? Yes. Is it going to happen? Who knows. Either way, I'm nearly done my second draft!!

Lord do I ever need a drink.

*For those who have asked, the largest my manuscript got was 106,270 words. I know, that's a lot.  The lowest it's been since I started revisions was 101,000 but I needed to add stuff for the plot, so it went back up, lol. Honestly, for medieval romance I'm not worried about a higher word count. That's very, very common.*

Thursday, August 5

Books I've Read Recently

  1. The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy (3/5)
  2. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (5/5)
  3. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare (5/5)
  4. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (5/5)
  5. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (sad book but good!)
  6. Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers (Mary Poppins is evil! It shocked me)
  7. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (good lesson book)
  8. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (5/5)
  9. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5)
  10. Wake by Lisa McMann (4/5)
  11. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5)
  12. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (4/5)
  13. Wings by Aprilynne Pike (3/5)
  14. Evernight by Claudia Gray (3/5)
  15. Fade by Lisa McMann (4/5)
  16. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (I know lots of people love this book, but I seriously hated it)
This brings my total for the year up to 49 books.

Have you read any of the above books? What did you think?

Monday, August 2

Wordle

Wordle for my medieval romance.
I should really get around to naming it at some point.
Oh well.


*Click on the picture to make it bigger*

Sunday, August 1

OMG! I'M DONE!!!!

*Warning: This post will contain lots of exclamation marks and random squeeing*
I'M DONE MY NOVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!
*SQUEES*

Yes, that's right people. I'm done my medieval romance. I finished July 31st, at 11:38 pm.
That, my friends, is exactly 22 minutes before my August 1st deadline.
*SQUEES*

I DID IT! I REALLY DID IT!!!!!

Progression of my novel:
  • November 2009— The story idea came to me
  • February 19th—Began plotting the story
  • February 21st—Wrote the very first words
  • February to April: I dealt with midterms, term papers, and finals all while trying to write.
  • When summer started on April 27th, I had written 18,831 words.
  • I finished the story July 31st at 105,864 words. 
  • That is 87,033 words in 3 months—a month of which I was on vacation. *SQUEES*
Now starts the uber fun part: revisions! I'm actually so excited about it. For the last 20,000 words I've been keeping a list beside me of things I need to double check, change, or delete (I know of at least 3000 words right off the bat I can get rid of). I'm going to step back for a few days and let my alpha read it as is right now. After that, I'm diving in. Honestly, I'm not sure I'm going to have such a hard time when it comes to revisions, but we'll see. Once my alpha is through and I've revised, I'm sending it to my darlings: Tina and Mel. While they're tearing it to shreds, I'm going to write my synopsis and query letter.

*SQUEES*

xo

Friday, July 23

AHHH! Exciting News!!!



My super good friend /sometimes beta / awesome alpha, Tina Lynn, just got her very first partial request on her very first query letter ever sent! OMG! I'm so excited for her! I feel like a proud parent, LOL. Her story is amazing, so it's no surprise she's already getting attention!

Love you Tina! You deserve this.

xox

Thursday, July 22

Like This...

So today I'm going to continue this new tradition of "Things That Have Inspired My Medieval Romance." This time, I'm posting a poem. One stanza in particular actually inspired this entire story. I'll leave it open for you guys to guess which one.

Now, there are many translations of this poem, so if you've read it before and it seems different, that's why. I went through a medieval Persian poetry kick (I'm odd, I know) and I fell in love with Rumi. So of course, I immediately bought two of his poetry books.

Anyway, I highly suggest you read this out loud and give each beat its due. This is a highly sensual poem. If you don't get that then you're reading it wrong, LOL!


Like This...
by 13th century Persian poet, Rumi

If anyone asks you what the virgins of Paradise are like,
show your face, as if to say,

"Like this..."

If anyone asks you about the rising moon,
go up to the roof, as if to say,

"Like this..."

If anyone boasts about the fragrance of musk,
just let down your hair and say,

"Like this..."

And if they say, "How do clouds part to reveal the full moon?"
undo the ties of your robe one by one and say,

"Like this..."

If anyone asks you how Jesus brought the dead to life,
kiss us publicly on the lips, as if to say,

"Like this. Like this."

And if he says, "Tell us what it's like to lose your life for love,"
present my soul to him, as if to say,

"Like this..."

Whoever out of compassion asks about my stature,
reveal your bent brow, meaning

"Like this..."

Some say the soul leaves the body,
then returns to it again;
show those in denial how you come back home,
meaning

"Like this..."

From every direction that you hear the lovers' lament,
it's all our story, by God, meaning

"Like this..."

This bruised chest is a refuge for any angel,
look up tenderly toward the sky, meaning

"Like this..."

I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret,

"Like this..."

And if they cynically assert, "How does anyone reach the Truth?"
place a candle of purity in the palm of each one's hand, meaning

"Like this..."

I said, "How does the scent of Joseph travel from town to town?"
The scent of Truth wafted up from the world of Hu "like this..."

I said, "How could the scent of Joseph give sight back to my eyes?"
Your breeze gave light to my eyes, like this...

The Sun still shines generously from Tabriz.
It rises up in loyalty and tenderness, like this...


So what did you think? Can you guess which part inspired my story??

Thursday, July 15

Writing Update

Medieval Romance:


Current word count: 79,000
Approximate length: 100,000
From July 6th- July 15th (with 2 days off) I've written : 14,000 words
If I keep this up I should be done the first draft around July 24th. Like I said, I just want to be finished before August.

Thoughts:

Okay, so I took two days "off" from my 2000 a day goal since I last updated. The first day was Saturday. I was really busy that day with non-writerly things that I decided to not write to save myself some stress. I did plot though. However, what I plotted only got me to Monday night. Hence the midnight panic post, lol. Tuesday I sat down and went through a scene I wasn't very happy with and filled it out some more (thereby getting my 2000). Wednesday, is the other day I took "off". I sat down and wrote 8 pages of plotted notes and 1 page of jot notes. This should suffice for the next 6 or 7 days. However, I don't think I'll have a panic post again. I now know exactly where I'm going and how to get there, so yay!

In other news, I know for sure who the Big Ultimate Bad Dude (BUBD) is. Yes, I know, I'm sure many of you are sitting there going, "Shouldn't you have known that already?" Maybe, or maybe not. I had it narrowed down to 3 candidates. Since the BUBD doesn't make an actual appearance in the story until the climax, I really didn't have to worry about it. But that has all changed. During my plotting, I realized who the exact perfect BUBD is. And since I didn't realize it was him all along, my writing doesn't give it away. During revisions I'll have to go through and make sure everything flows and makes sense, of course, but at the moment I think it's perfect. My #1 beta agrees.

YA news:
Current word count: 8646
From July 6th- July 14th I've written: 1550 words. Wooo...?

Thoughts:

To be honest, I've been focusing so much on the medieval that the YA has taken a backseat for now. Though I wish I was farther along, I'm okay with the progress being slow. My medieval is the main focus for me right now, especially since I'm SO CLOSE TO THE END! However, I do still adore the YA and look forward to working on it in August while I revise, query, and subsequently plot the next medieval.

Wednesday, July 14

Linger is an apt title


I just sobbed my way through the last 30 pages of Linger by Maggie Stiefvater, the sequel to Shiver. It's not technically out yet (not until July 20th), but a bookstore in Calgary had a bazillion copies, so my parents stopped by and picked it up for me when they were running errands. Linger started out slow, which worried me greatly, but it built to such a beautiful story that I'm not even sure I can describe it. It was a book that will forever stick with me. The amount of emotion hidden in the innocent, whimsical green ink is unexpected, but breathtaking.


*I will post my usual writing update later today, after I've had some sleep*

Tuesday, July 13

*Insert Panicked Scream Here*

Okay, so I'm starting to feel a little a lot panicky. I am a planster by nature. My mind works best when I have a general outline of the next few chapters. Just enough to let me know where I'm headed. Unfortunately, I have run out of my plotted scenes. I am staring at a blank page. It's terrifying. I know all I need to do is lie down and plot out the next few chapters, but even the thought is making me freeze. I suppose it's because I need to start working towards the big climax. Then after that, I need to start tying everything up. The prospect is daunting. A lot needs to be resolved. Mistaken identities need to be revealed. Bad guys need to be bad some more. Pain and suffering needs to be handed out to my characters in multiple ways--again. Bad guys needs to be uber bad and eventually dealt with. Rejoicing needs to happen all 'round. Romance needs to be happily finished up. Then revision needs to begin.

Please. Someone shoot me now and put me out of my misery. I promise I won't haunt you.

Sunday, July 11

Review of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, so since I promised I would post reviews of the YA books I pick up, I thought I'd start with this one.


For author website, click here.

Genre: Ya Paranormal-esk?
Grade: 4/5

Back cover:

the cold.

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat.

Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.

the shiver.

For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human-- and Grace must fight to keep him-- even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.


My review:

I wasn't quite sure what to think when I started to read this book. For one, with werewolves involved I thought this would have more of a paranormal feel, but it doesn't. The voice is completely different from anything I've seen in the YA genre and it threw me off a bit. However, that being said, I loved this book. I read it in one sitting. The language is extremely poetic and enthralling. The plot is interesting and not at all what you'd expect. I enjoyed reading both Grace's POV and Sam's POV. I think it added more depth to both characters. I honestly cannot wait for July 20th when Linger, the second book in the series, comes out.

Additional Notes & Warnings:

I've heard from numerous people that Sam's character comes across as whiny and suicidal. I did not think he was either while reading the book. He's very poetic and a very sensitive YA hero, but I think it fit the character perfectly.

As well, since I promised to make a note of these sorts of things, there is sex in this book. It happens once and there is absolutely zero detail. The author does make a note of saying they did use protection in the next chapter, so these characters aren't stupid. Honestly, I had no problem with the sex. Teenagers are doing it, so it's not unrealistic to have it in a YA novel. At least Grace and Sam are in love.

Have you read Shiver? Did you enjoy it?

Thursday, July 8

You Can Stop Sharpening Your Pitchforks!!

Wow, two posts in one day, eh? Lucky ducks ;)

Anyway, all of you can stop plotting to fly up here and torture me until I give in. I bought The Hunger Games today at Chapters.  Yes, yes, gasps all around. I know, it's shocking, right? I have not read this book. However, due to a number of alarming Twitter threats from numerous people *cough* Jonathon, Tina, Kristen, and Melissa, to name a few *cough* I decided to relent and buy the book. I figure since I'm writing YA now I should see what all the hype is about with this series. Right?

And for you sceptics out there, I took pictures as proof:





So there you have it. Please don't kill me.

Here are all of the books I got today: 
  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (for self-preservation purposes)
  2. Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (I LOVE this series)
  3. Tempting the Marquess by Sara Lindsey
  4. My Dangerous Duke by Gaelen Foley (one of my favourite romance authors ever)
  5. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (school book)
  6. Monster by Walter Dean Myers (school book)
  7. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes (school book)
In other news, when I got back from the city I sat down and wrote the 2000 words for my medieval romance! Woohoo! I am now up to 67,000! Go me.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...