31 July 2011

Good Deed Gone Bad

Today is Sunday. I generally go to church on Sunday. I'm lucky enough to live close enough to my meeting house that when the weather is good, and services start after 9am, I walk. Oh, and if I don't wear big heels. Big heels=driving.

Anyway, this morning I got up, got dressed and walked toward the meeting house at my usual time. We haven't had much of the crazy bad heat that we can get here in Utah (no week or more in a row with the highs over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and air so dry that your skin withers up and cracks if you even think about going outside) but it was still pretty hot out there. When the time is before noon, and I can already feel the heat pulsing up off of the asphalt, I know that I am going to be grateful for central air. It's Sunday, one should be grateful . . . right?

Between my apartment and the church building lies a retirement center. So I'm walking toward my church, and there are two older ladies walking back to the retirement center, headed straight for me.

First off, there are two of them and one of me. Second, one of them not only has a walker, but also an eye patch of some sort on under her sunglasses. Now my mother is legally blind in her left eye and I can't tell you the number of times I had to endure the speech about how I had to help her because she didn't have any depth perception. So that comes to my mind, as the ladies come toward me and I notice that the spot we meet will be at a fence.

We're too close for me to speed up to miss the fence, so I did a good deed (avoiding any possible issues with the walker, depth perception or being outnumbered) and walked off onto the grass.

Did I mention that I put on some strapy sandals this morning?

First step and I felt the squish of newly watered grass. Ugh. Soggy sandals. Wonderful. So I went back toward the sidewalk. Not onto the sidewalk, because the ladies were still passing me, but close. I stepped right next to the fence. Right at the corner of the grass. Right near a sprinkler head. Right into a squishy, patch of water and mud.

The splash, followed by the sucking sound as I withdrew my foot, told me everything I needed to know. Yuck! Mud, water . . . twenty feet from the church. Good thing there was grass right there and the bathroom is close to the door.

Figures. I try to be nice and what do I get? Mud for my efforts.

On a brighter note, I had to laugh out loud when after church I saw five or six kids running, screaming from one little boy. A little boy who had his pants down and was relieving himself onto the steps outside. I felt like I was back in Europe. Funny. Glad I'm not his mom.

27 July 2011


I think I'd have to agree with Stacey (and Robin, even though she doesn't know the specifics). In the last book I didn't feel like there was a protagonist. Certainly not a hero anymore. The first book portrayed Katniss so strong and determined (as a matter of fact I just watched a presentation by John Brown about the first book and how the author drew us into Katniss' story with every trick in the business), and by the time the third book came around she had nothing left. There were a few moments in the story where I thought she was going to bust out of her funk and kick some serious trash. But no. Each time I read on, disappointed about her continuously horrible decisions.

And she's extremely selfish. I had the same problem with the main character in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Flawed heroes are fine, but by the end of the story, if they haven't conquered their issues/fears I'm not happy.

Oh, and every single character I actually liked got killed or brainwashed. Grrr...

Now don't get me wrong, if all that crap had happened to me I'd probably be stark raving mad too, but the author didn't convince me that Katniss was totally crazy. She told me, but didn't show me. Or I missed it. Either way, I expect more of my fictional heroes. I didn't love the end of Lord of the Rings either. Frodo can never be happy until he goes off to live out the rest of extremely long and only semi-depressing life with the elves? Ugh. Yes, people might hate me for saying that, but there you go.

My sister finished the Hunger Games series a few months ago. She called me (I'm betting not minutes after she finished the book) ranting that I should NEVER do that to all of my characters. There was no one left to like, respect or root for. Two months before that she told me she loved Katniss and I should make the protagonist in my book more like her.

So yeah, it's not just me. Of course we are related, and rather similar (minus the affinity for hair bows she still secretly has) so it's not surprising for us to have the same reaction to things.

Kudos to Suzanne Collins. You go girl! Just don't expect me to follow you. :)

25 July 2011


Yes, I've been thinking. Don't worry, I had some ice cream to cool down my brain. Everything is okay.

So this is my topic of thought. Why did I absolutely HATE the last book of the Hunger Games?

Don't get me wrong, the author can spin a tale. She's amazing. But I hate that last book. Anyone else read it? Love it? Hate it?

I'm going to keep thinking and answer tomorrow.

Feel free to rant.

24 July 2011

Parde fun!

It's that time again. 24th of July parade here in Salt Lake City. I spent two days last week at the preview party for the floats. Here are a couple of pictures I took. For more, tune in tomorrow morning and watch the parade on TV! Unless you're one of those people that is sleeping out tonight on the parade route. Good luck to those people.

And do those flying eggs remind anyone else of flying monkeys? Just wondering.

20 July 2011

Oh the Pain!

It finally happened. The long awaited event that could be pivotal to the next step in my life. The inevitable ending to my latest activity.

I got my first rejection letter. Well, rejection e-mail. Snail mail would be even more painful. And take longer.

I should be excited that it was personalized, but the fact that I met the agent at a conference probably upped me to the non-format rejection. That and it doesn't take terribly long to type like twenty five words. Still, I'm glad the agent looked at my novel. This was my dream agent because of their connections in Europe, but something else will come along. I've only just begun this section of the journey.

At least that's what I'm telling myself today. Like Dory the fish, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . .”

Even though I have, over the past week, prepared myself for the beginning of the rejection pile, it still hurt. Not as bad as it could have, but enough to sting. I guess I'll need to get over that pretty quick. The next one could be here any second.

Okay, I'll stop rambling now. Time for moving on.

But before I go, just a report that plotting on the next project continues. It feels easier this time around, which is nice. Gives me hope that I'm doing something right.

Don't crush the hope. Just leave it people. Or ninja girl will come after you. Swish, swish. There she went!

19 July 2011

Secrets Revealed

Today we learned the secret to Sensei's torture, er, I mean training regime. He told us that every weekend, two of his friends go and visit Satan. They bring back the latest and greatest in, shall we say, motivational techniques. They show Sensei, who then uses them on us.

This explains so much! I mean who thinks up stuff like this:
Lay down with your back on the floor
Make your right hand into a fist
Put your thumb joint on your forehead
Place your left hand, palm down, on top of your fist
Now raise your head off the ground an inch or so
Then push down with your left hand while you keep your head up with your neck muscles

Really, go try it. After forty five seconds I couldn't even lift my head off the ground anymore. I probably looked like a newborn baby, with my noggin all flopping around, randomly threatening to pop off my now very sore neck.

I wonder if we should feel privileged to be subjected too such a professional regime.

I'm feeling something, but it's more like the need for some ibuprofen. And maybe some ice.

Neck massage, anyone? Anyone? Is this what you use boyfriends and husbands for?

17 July 2011

Ping Pong Brain

I've begun the querying process for my novel. Yay!

I've started my next project (another Young Adult book, this one has a little bit of a Dystopian feel to it. Very dark, but very cool. I get to use my limited Kung Fu knowledge in this one). Yay!

This past week I've been trying to hammer out the whys and such for this new stories plot. Or would that be story's plot? Er, not sure. Brain is fried. Just bear with me here. Plot.

This morningI was putting together my “you should really get this done” list and a series synopsis for my first novel wormed it's way onto it. I've been thinking about it for a while, and I should really have one ready since I've send out a few queries with the “this book stands alone bit is part of a planned trilogy” line in it. Who knows, perhaps someone will actually want to know more about it. That would be very cool, by the way. I might even do the dance of joy. Okay, I would do the dance of joy, but in private, where no one would be scarred for life from watching it. I don't dance. Just trust me.

So this afternoon I thought I'd try to put a series synopsis together for my first novel. I've tossed quite a few ideas into my notebook (have to brainstorm on paper with a pen, still can't do it as well on the computer) and have a decent plot for the second book going on, not so much for book three. Just a handful of ideas and how the whole thing ends.

I didn't think I could put a synopsis for the entire series together, but after I used the 7 point plot system for the story, I found that I'm in better shape than I thought! I just typed up the synopsis, and I like it.

One author I heard in an interview said that she did a series synopsis for her agent, wrote the trilogy, went back to the synopsis and was pleased that she stuck pretty close to the overall plot.

I want to be able to say that someday.

Going back and forth between plots hurt my head a little bit. I had to eat some ice cream to cool it down. Maybe I should go get some more of that. Or a Creamie.

No, a cool glass of water won't be good enough.

16 July 2011

Hard Magic

Book Blurb:
Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye—and an ex-con. He’s free because he has a magical talent, being able to alter the force of gravity in himself and objects in his vicinity, and the Bureau of Investigation calls on him when they need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical talents. But the last operation he was sent along to help with went completely wrong, and Delilah Jones, the woman the G-men were after, who just happened to be an old friend of Jake’s in happier times, had a lot of magical muscle with her, too much muscle for the cops to handle, even with Jake’s help.

It got worse. Jake found out that the Feds had lied to him about Delilah being a murderer as well as a bank robber, and they had lied about this being his last job for them—he was too valuable for them to let him go. And things were even worse than Jake imagined. There was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users, and Jake had no idea that he had just attracted the attention of one side, whose ruthless leaders were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live . . .

First off, you should know that I've loved everything that I've read from Larry Correia. Not because he's a brilliant linguist, not because his stories have the most intricate plots I've ever had the privilege of reading, and not because I'm a huge fan of monsters, guns or magic. I love his stuff because it's cool. (Oh, and I don't mind the monsters, guns or magic)

The characters in this book made me laugh. I cried. I cheered. I winced a few times in sympathy. The plot isn't anything spectacular, but there were enough twists to keep me happy. I loved the witty banter and all of the action. I also really liked how he used so many points of view. It's not standard to jump back and forth between ten or fifteen people's thoughts, but it let me get to know a lot of the characters. Once in a while it got confusing, but by the middle of story I had the hang of it.

Is the book well written? Naw, not really. I know he got pushed pretty hard to get this one out in an expedited fashion, and it's apparent. (Granted, if I wasn't trying to become a published author myself, I probably wouldn't have noticed much of it.) However, I didn't care.

Kudos for Larry Correia. Fun book. Great characters. Guns, monsters, magic, action, pirates, a dirigible fight . . . just what some of us are looking for in the entertainment category.

14 July 2011

Off to see Harry Potter!

I should perhaps wait until after I see this movie before blogging about it, but I decided I'd live on the edge and do the unexpected.

You see, I'm not here to talk about the movie. Although I'm sure it will be action packed, a bit too long, confusing, emotional and (as always) not as good as the book.

I've never tried to write a screenplay. It's on my list of things to do, but right now it sits somewhere in the realm of “clean out garage” and “run half marathon.” But from the little I've gleaned, converting a book (especially a series of books) into a movie or movies is well beyond difficult. I'd categorize it as near impossible. Especially if you're trying to keep close to the book. The two medias flirt, but they don't marry well.

J.K. Rowling (no matter who says what about her) influenced a generation of readers. Not just a school, not just the 13 year olds—a generation. And who knows how many people picked up a book just because they'd heard that these were good? And how many of those people got back into reading? I hope a lot, because I need readers for my books. :)

I have to admit that I didn't love the last Harry Potter book. I thought the author cheated with the whole Deathy Hallows thing—tossing it in to close the plot. However, I read it and can't argue with the fact that she finished what she stared and did it with a bang. (I can't even keep the plot for ONE book straight, let alone seven!)

This movie represents the end of a generation of entertainment. All we have left now are the books, DVD's and Harry Potter Land. Nothing new. Nothing more. Well, for now anyway.

So I go to this movie tonight with a little bit of sadness in me. Both for the end of the fun, and the death of Fred. I called it in the second book. I knew she'd knock one off eventually because there were two of them. Still unhappy about that. I'll probably cry.

12 July 2011

Ack and Yikes!

I'm not ready. Well, I'm ready, but I'm not prepared. Not prepared for my first three rejection letters.

Yes, I finally did it. After fourteen months, from the inkling of the concept to the final self edit last week, I've officially sent off my first three query letters.

I'm seriously considering running in the other room and hiding under a blanket.

Does anyone else ever feel like that? It must stem from all those blanket forts I made as a kid. Hanging out in them always made me feel safe. Sitting in this chair, with my laptop running and the possibility (albeit not likely tonight) that a rejection letter could come across the net at any second is making me paranoid. i signed out of my e-mail.

Sure, sure, I could get an acceptance letter, but I'm thinking I'll gather a hefty pile of polite rejections before that. I hope not, but let's go with realism for a few minutes, shall we? Okay, minute is over.

One author I know always sends her queries to agents and publishers at midnight, so she won't get rejection letters in less than fifteen minutes. I may have to adopt that plan. I'm glad I've got Kung Fu class tonight. Trying to kick a moving target or do funky push-ups (haha, as if I can do a single good one) will occupy all of my brain power for about an hour.

So what's next? I've already started on a new project. A new/old project. The story's been rattling around in my head for years. I used it for my Nanowrimo in 2009, so at least I've got some fodder to work with. I re-read the Nano yesterday, and I must say that I'm excited about working on it.

Back into the fray!

10 July 2011


I receive Dave Farland's (aka Dave Wolverton) Daily Kick in the Pants for writers over e-mail. He's a savvy businessman, and knows more about the field of writing and Hollywood than any other person I know. He's tried almost everything. So when he gives advise I tend to listen. Well, as much as I listen to anyone that is.

So this morning I opened the latest Daily Kick and found this:

David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Your Work as a Fire Hydrant
Last week I was talking with a phenomenal screenwriter, and he said something that I should warn new authors about. He said, “You know, every time I write a screenplay and take it out, the producers and directors will always get to the very best scenes, and they’ll try to figure out some way to ‘make it better,’ to add their own little twist to it. Why do you think it is that they can’t resist that impulse?”
I know the answer. It’s said that in Hollywood, “A great screenplay attracts producers and directors the way that a fire hydrant attracts dogs: everyone wants to leave his mark on it.”

First off, that makes me laugh! And the cruel, ironic truth behind the humor makes it even more funny.

He goes on to mention that people in your writer's group can do the same thing.

I've had this happen.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it when I get to talk about my work (er, writing) with fellow authors, and I revel in constructive criticism. Most of the time anyway. I've even gleaned a few awesome ideas from people in my writing group. That's what we're there for, right?

However, when someone tries to insert their voice, their ideas or their ideals into your story you need to let them know they're out of line. Be nice (no fighting kids) but don't hesitate to make sure they know that they've gone over the line. Most people will realize their mistake and admit that they got carried away. I've been on both ends of this, and I appreciated it when someone called me (nicely) on it.

Your story is your story. Consider other people's comments, digest them for a while, and then decide what to do with them. Not every change that every person suggests needs to be (or ought to be) implemented. I learned this the hard way.

Knowing me, I'll probably have to learn it again. And again, and again, and again . . .

If you want to get Dave Farland's (mostly) Daily Kicks, go to his website and subscribe. The link is about half way down the page on the left.

06 July 2011

How Does it Feel?

I just finished revision 4.5 of my novel. Since I've “finished” it 4 ½ times before this, I wonder why this round feels different? After thinking about it for a few minutes, I think I have an answer.

First off, I got some great feedback from people at LDStorymakers in May that I applied to this revision. Having direction for my rampaging rewrites helped a great deal.

Second, this time I feel like the story is tight. It's not perfect (I'll always say that, mostly because it's the truth) but I'm good with it. The characters have finally come together. The plot makes sense. I think I answered everyone's stray questions. All in all I'm happy with it.

Third, I'm reading a book that's a great story, but the writing isn't all that. The fact that I could see this and then apply it to my own story makes me happy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I've got a ways to go, but after 14 months of working on this novel I hope I've made some good progress. Some awesome progress, actually.

Now for a summary and to fix my query letter. It's always the little things that get you, right?

04 July 2011

All American

The 4th of July is, for most people, a holiday steeped in family traditions. At least here it is. When I was a kid we always went up to our cabin, got sunburned swimming in the lake, watched the fireworks from the marina and had hot dogs. Some people go to parades, cultural celebrations, family reunions, camping and a myriad of other activities.

I feel like today I did a good job of covering a lot of the 4th of July basics.

This morning, on my day off, I got up at the butt crack of dawn, put on my Visas Marr (Star Wars 501st) costume and made my way to the balloon launch at Provo, Utah's Freedom Festival.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for Star Wars. And a giant, Darth Vader head balloon will definitely get me out of bed on my day off. Plus parading around in costume, surrounded by people who want to take pictures, is awfully fun. I'll never be famous (for sure not rock star famous) so I figure I can get a little excited about people wanting to take my picture. Especially when all they can see is my nose, mouth and chin. It's really fun. I won't lie. The guys in armor and helmets have a very good time.

The winds were not in a cooperating mood this morning, and for a few minutes they weren't sure that they could even inflate D. Vader, but the Belgians are pretty much awesome, and against the weatherman's advice they did it.

We (the Star Wars geeks) played crowd control as the balloon got unrolled and then filled. The thing is HUGE. Something like sixty feet across and eighty high. Or maybe the other way around. Either way, I had to tell my section of the crowd to step back at least three times, and even then the side of it brushed up against me.

The balloon pilots/operators are great. They got Darth Vader up for about five minutes before the wind came along and they had to deflate him. Half of the crowd almost got buried, because the wind forced them to deflate in a different direction from where they inflated. Oops. A few, small children (and a handful of geeks) were lost for a few seconds, but they got out okay.

And now we can all say that Darth Vader's head almost buried us alive.

What's not 4th of July about that?

Maybe I should mention that one balloon did get up. We said the pledge of allegiance to the flag, sang the national anthem and then got the balloon safely back on the ground. Darn storm clouds.

Although I do have to admit that the clouds were a heaven sent blessing. We also marched in the parade. I didn't have any problems, but if the sun had been out we would have all cooked alive in our costumes. Yay for pleather, armor and helmets!

I'll try to post some pictures soon.

02 July 2011

Time Lost

It's been a long time since I watched a movie that made me think, “Wow, I just lost two hours of my life.” Usually I can find one, two or a whole handful of redeeming bits and piece of a movie—at least enough to justify watching it.

Not tonight.

The movie looked funny/cute on the trailers. Maybe you remember it? The Other Guys? Yeah, that's what we watched tonight.

Now I'll be the first to admit that crude humor doesn't amuse me. I roll my eyes and wait for it to be over. Just me, yes, I am aware that I am strange.

I expected more guy humor out of this show. Guy humor (aside from the over used sex jokes) cracks me up. What can I say? Guys make me laugh. I didn't get it.

I expected the movie to make me laugh out loud at least five times. It got two. And one was pretty weak.

I expected to at least like one of the characters. Nope. They all fell on the far side of either the “too stupid to be believable” or “when will this guy stop talking” line.

I expected to want to watch the whole movie. Again, nope. About a quarter of the way through I wanted to stop it and go read my book. But I'm no quitter. No sir. Does that make me dumb? Yes, I believe it does.

I find in stories, even stories that I don't like, that if there is one character that I can either empathize with, connect to or believe in I, as a reader/watcher, can and will forgive a multitude of plot, acting, pacing, writing and/or story telling sins.

This movie didn't make the cut.

And now I'm thinking about my own work and hoping that there is a character in there that most people can like. Someone who they'll read the story for. Because it's certainly not about me as the author. No, no. The story belongs to the characters. It's their world.

And let's face it. Authors aren't always very nice to their characters.