31 January 2011

Awesome or Lame (with Sauce)

When I was at Dave Farland's Death Camp last November, Mr. Farland gave me a few bits of advice. One of them was to make my book into a trilogy.

My first reaction was to laugh—out loud. Pointing at the same time would not have been amiss. Three books? THREE? Hah, I was having enough trouble coming up with an outline and ideas for one. Naturally I smiled, nodded and said I could probably come up with something. The duality going on in my head went something like this. “Is this guy crazy? There is no way in h#@* that I can do three books with this idea. Two maybe. Maybe. But not three. What do I look like, an idea machine?”

Well, because one should listen to New York Times Best Selling authors when they give you advice, I put it in the back of my mind and did not hit the eject button. Even though I was still laughing at the mere thought of a second book, and ROFL at the hint of a third.

Lucky for me, when I was doing some research on locations for my novel, I actually had a few good ideas. Saturday afternoon I got out a notebook (I still have to do brain storming on paper and with a pen. Not sure I'll ever break that habit.) and started to brainstorm. The top of the page says “What I have to work with”. The list is rather long. Not only that, some of it has potential to be very interesting.

Wow, how did that happen? It doesn't mean I can spit out an outline in a week. That may never happen for me, but I'm glad to say that the ideas are brewing and stewing and may just cook up into something good. Maybe even something awesome. Or lame sauce. That's always a possibility.

28 January 2011

Query Letter-Round 1

Dear Agent, does this make you want to read my novel?

Lysandra Blake hasn't always felt the need to rip people's eyes out of their sockets. Two weeks ago her most pressing need was completing her art project before Friday. Now, after brutally attacking her mother, she sits in a psych ward, wondering what happened to her life.

Guild ridden and questioning her sanity, Lys has all but given up, until Mr. Mason comes along. He reveals that Lys is addicted to a rare and deadly drug. Lys doesn't want to die—she just wants to be normal again—so she accepts Mr. Mason's invitation to his rehab camp.

It quickly becomes apparent that there is more to camp than meets the eye. Before Lys is able to discover its secrets, camp is attacked, her and five others are kidnapped and they figure out that they're not addicted to a drug. They're addicted to magic. And the guys who kidnapped them kill magic users.

But magic isn't all unicorns and castles, it's addictive. Each time she uses, Lys goes through a soaring high followed by an abysmal low. Mr. Mason asks for her help against the people who kidnapped her. They plugged the magic that is supposed to flow into the world, and he wants to set it free. To do this, Lys will have to tap further into her magic than she has before, and she's not sure she's willing to sacrifice her newly returned sanity for Mr. Mason, the boy she's falling for or anyone else.

NEW SIGHT, a young adult contemporary fantasy novel, is complete at 91,000 words.

Round 2 coming soon . . .

25 January 2011

Making Money

If only I had my years supply of, er, feminine hygiene products.

I know, seems random (and sorry to any boys out there who are mortified by the subject) but really, I could be making a boat load of money on e-bay.

Ladies, we all know that whatever your preferred product for feminine hygiene is, when the time comes to use it, it had better be around. Last month I went to the store in one of those lovely emergencies and found that this particular store was out of my preferred brand. I had to buy another kind and griped about it for the next four days. Between searching every pocket, pouch, purse and bag that I own for strays.

A week later I went to my normal store and found that they were out too. A week after that I found out that everyone was out! Apparently there was some sort of manufacturing interruption (whatever that means) and most of the stores in the US are out.

Well, lucky for me, the Walgreen's between my house and the freeway had three boxes left. I found them today and bough all of them. The funny things is—they were on sale! Little did they know that they could have charged twice as much and I would have paid it.

If I'd had my years supply (like I've been thinking of doing for the past year) then I could be selling boxes of OB tampons on e-bay for 3-4x the usual cost. Plus I could charge shipping.

Totally missed the boat on that one.

23 January 2011

Learning Curve

Last April I made a goal to have a novel ready to present to an agent at LDStorymakes 2011. The idea for said novel came to me about 2 weeks later. By the end of May I had a world built and an outline ready. The second week in August I had the first (very) rough draft of a manuscript completed. I was supposed to have it revised once before I went to Death Camp the first week in November. Tried, choked . . . died . . . didn't happen.

I started afresh at Death Camp. A new outline, and about three weeks later, I had the first section written. Three or four weeks after that I had the second section written. Four weeks after that I'd re-edited (with the help of all the comments from innocent victims I called readers) the first two sections and finished it to the end. That was last Friday.

I don't really know how long it should take someone to write a novel, but I feel like it took me WAY too long. There was definitely a learning curve—and not just for one thing. For everything. The really depressing part is that I'm not finished yet.

So what did I learn? Plenty. First off, I would never send the manuscript for people to read in chunks again. Although I may send the first few chapters just to get some feedback on the basic idea and beginning. It was too hard trying to revise part two while comments and redlines were pouring in for part one and I was trying to make sure part three still worked.

This isn't my first novel—I've written three others and Nanowrimo-ed two more. Unfortunately, this time I neglected to make character sheets for all of the characters in the book. I have basics written down through my notebook, (I seriously brainstorm better when I write things out with pen and paper) but I never did make official character sheets. This is important—I know it's important—and I neglected it. My bad. It won't happen again.

Outlines are awesome! Even though between my first and second revisions I completely changed the middle of the story, having an outline made writing so much easier. I'm not chained to it, but the outline helped me to keep writing when all I wanted to do was toss my laptop across the room. In the next couple of weeks I plan to go through the novel with a fine tooth comb and capture all of the try-fail cycles and put them on a chart so I can see if there are any imbalances. I probably should have done this long ago, but I didn't feel I had to have it to finish the novel. In a few weeks I may be telling everyone that I'm dumb and should have just done it in the first place.

One of the most ground breaking moments of this entire process for me was when I couldn't figure out what my protagonist should be doing. It was killing me until I read Dave Farland's Daily Kick about outlining. He suggested you should outline your villain's story as well. This is what actually re-started my drive to finish this novel. Just as soon as I saw what the villain needed it was easy to put the protagonist where she could affect him the most. I know, sounds dumb, but I'm slow sometimes. Most of the time.

One thing I feel I did right was my world building. When I started, this was going to be on a totally different world, but in the end I decided to use our world. Easier for me. Our world with some twists, which is always nice. I spent a great deal of time working on the magic system of my story and the history behind it. Parts of that came in handy throughout the novel, and will continue to do so in books two and three.

I'm a self-confessed freak about goals, deadlines and practically killing myself to get them finished. There were about half of the deadlines on this project that I didn't make. (Which, I'm not going to lie, made me pretty mad) However, the half that were made, were made through sacrificing other parts of my life, encouragement from people around me and pure determination. Goals and self-imposed deadlines will continue to be an important part of my writing process.

That's all I've got right now. There is more editing in my future, and then the really scary part. Trying to get published. If the query letter doesn't kill me this week, I'll have hope for the future!

16 January 2011


Now that I've proclaimed myself a “writer” (which in point of fact has nothing to do with being published or recognized as one) I find that I get a little gun shy when it comes to typing. Not typing per se, but sending out e-mails, query letters, blog posts , facebook updates and all of the other things I type in a day. People think that a writer should always write good. Well. Whatever.

You should read my journal. Well, it's boring, so I wouldn't recommend it, but in there I just ramble on and on—creating run-on sentences, spelling errors, grammatical fo-pas and dangling participles that I know would make my English teacher friend cringe. (Okay, I won't lie, without Googling I wouldn't remember what a dangling participle was. Maybe I just made one! Go me.)

Maybe brilliant blog posts and e-mails will someday come naturally. After I've written the one million words of crap that every writer has to expel before they get to the good stuff. I'm not sure I'll ever be grammatically correct, nor will I ever stop using incomplete sentences. Does that make me a bad writer? Some days it's why I don't blog. You know, typing something that is supposed to amaze the whole world every day gets a bit tiresome. Especially since I don't really care about amazing the whole world. That's on next year's list of things to do.

Ah, I see I'm rambling again. Frankly I'm surprised that I've typed this much. In the past 24 hours I've put at least 8 hours into editing my novel. What with sleep, showering, church and a family function, that's no little thing. I told a few people that it would be finished by Friday so that they could read it and give me feedback. Now I've really put myself on a deadline. You might not hear from me until Saturday.

12 January 2011

An Update

The novel writing still goes forward. If you'd asked me Sunday, I might have told you that I'm never writing another word of fiction in my life. Once I calmed down, and actually made yet another plan for editing, I felt better. Now I'm 1/3 through the book leaving a slew of what I hope are awesome edits behind me.

Tonight I went down to Sam Weller's book store downtown. Is that how you spell it? Anyway, that place is awesome. As I wandered through rooms, rows, racks and corridors of books I felt like I was on a Wiki walk . . . only with paper instead of clicking on links. It took me almost twenty minutes to find my friend who came with me. Luckily someone remembered directing her towards the mystery section.

The reason for my outing to Sam Weller's was that a whole gaggle of Sci-Fi and Fantasy writers were there signing books. I had Brandon Sanderson sign his entire run of Alcatraz books. I also got another copy of Monster Hunter International—since I have no idea where mine went. Larry Corriea (author of MHI and MHV) gave me a MHI patch for having bought another copy and for encouraging new recruits. Made me happy.

Then I remembered my favorite line from Monster Hunter Vendetta. The book itself was violent, cheezy, funny and full of monsters that I had to google. I loved it. It made me laugh, it made me cry and I'm excited for Monster Hunter Alpha to come out. Oh, sorry, back to my favorite line.

These two men, who hate each other, work together to kill the bad guy. One of them gets hurt—this is what the other one says.

“I was wondering if Franks . . . is he okay?” We had blown up a god together after all. Now that's male bonding.

Funny. Trust me. Funny.

08 January 2011

Back to the Grindstone

Wait, I never left.

Seriously, this novel writing thing is either going to make me rich or kill me. I'm voting for the latter of the two, since getting rich isn't happening at the moment. And considering I need to both finish and like the novel, I'm not sure that it's even a remote possibility.

And now I'm just whining. People were even nice to me about the novel today! (Thank you Death Camp Writing Group) I still feel better about running around outside in the freezing cold with flip flops on for an hour than opening up the novel and re-typing parts of it . . . again.

Kempo has been like this too. I have techniques that I learned six or seven years ago. They're simple. How many “hidden” secrets of Kung Fu can be in a move with a block, a kick and a punch? Well, let me tell you, if I went into even half the crap, er, sorry, inspiration, that Sensei goes on about (most of which goes over my head, I'm not going to lie) I'd be here all night. Which would be a good excuse to not work on the novel . . . Oh! Distracted again. I thought I knew how to kick, punch and block, but some days I wonder. And please don't quote the “Your cup is full” line at me. Just don't.

I feel like that about writing right now. I can type a sentence, but are any of them any good? One out of twenty? Perhaps I need a new hobby. Or some chocolate. I'm trying to get un-fat, and the lack of sweets has me a little grouchy today. That and the prospect of fixing my novel. I wish I had a co-writer, so I could say “It's your novel!”, like people do with their kids or their dogs. Maybe next time.

Oh, and just to save me from a beating, the Kung Fu is awesome! There is always something more to learn.

06 January 2011

My Poor Kemp Class

I got a little carried away. You see we do this ridiculous, er, I mean really good for you, exercise that Sensei refers to as “The Gunboat”. And because I love it so much, I will describe it for you. As a matter of fact, you should follow along.

Sit on the ground—legs straight out in front of you. Put both arms straight out in front of you as well, parallel to your legs. Now very gently lean back until your legs are 45 degrees off the floor. That means your back should be 45 degrees off the floor and you are perfectly balanced on your tail bone. Yes, I'm serious. You can bring your hands closer to your legs if you need to for balances sake. Have you fallen over yet? I do it all the time. Alas, my gun boat sinks almost every class.

Okay, so you're in your boat, and it's still afloat. Good. No, wait! Bad guys off the port bow! Turn your arms so they come out from behind your legs (sneak attack, of course . . . duh, ninjas) and point 45 degrees. Now you have to fire said guns. This is where I may have, uh, gone too far.

You see that shirt at the beginning of the post? I have one of those. You're all shocked, I can see it in your eyes. Close your mouths, we're moving on. So I have one of those shirts, and the other day when Sensei said we had to fire, I said, “Pew Pew!” Now everyone has to do it. Oops. :)

03 January 2011

Doubling Statistics

Tonight I went to a water aerobics class. I've done this before, recently even, but it's been a long time since I went to the deep end class. (Yes, I went to the gym on the busiest day of the year. Back off, I was there two weeks ago too.)

The first thing to know about the deep end class is that if you want to survive the hour you'll most likely need a floater belt. Don't get me wrong, you can do the whole class without the belt (I've tried. I didn't die, but I did swallow a lot of water. And I've got some serious, built in floating devices on me.) but it's not advisable.

So I knew that. What I didn't remember was that the deep end is a lot harder than the shallow end. I was tired after five minutes! All those punks upstairs on the bikes, ellipticals and treadmills had nothing on us tonight. They should get their pansy butts down to the pool. Oh, sorry. Ranting.

Well, after successfully wearing us down, the teacher brought out a blow up beach ball about a foot in diameter. Then we played water polo.

Now I played water polo for one season in high school. I was horrible. My crowning moment was when I scored. Once. It was a lucky shot . . . a very lucky shot. Still, I scored and I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

Tonight I doubled the amount of goals I've ever made playing water polo. Yes, now I have two goals in 30-something years! Go me -) There will be no mention of the fact that the class was full of, well, water aerobic people. There were some fast people, which was cool. No, I was not one of the fast ones, but I tried. It was fun. Thanks to the kid who threw me the assist. He was all over the place. Perhaps I should consider a career change . . . hah!