26 February 2012

Practice Makes Permanent

I once had a Sensei—the kind of guy you would never, ever want to upset in any way because I'm pretty sure he could kill you with his stare if irritation—who would spit out the greatest pearls of wisdom. Like a one-line-wonder with Kempo advice. One of my favorites is still:

Practice makes permanent.

Growing up I heard practice makes perfect. I suppose perfect practice makes perfect, but either way, the practice makes permanent.

For Kempo it is 100% true. Our dojo has been through a rather large handful of instructors, and each one has their own style of teaching. Not only that, each of them does something as simple as a kick with slightly different nuances. Which, can I just say, makes perfect practice practically impossible.

And I swear, every single time I put a great deal of effort into learning or perfecting a technique (see, there's that perfect word again) I end up practicing it wrong in some way. My instructor will correct me, and then it will take months for me to remember to do it the right way.

Unfortunately, not practicing is not an option. So the vicious cycle continues and I always have something new to learn.

The same thing happens in writing. Read something your wrote last year, and you'll find that you've got pet sayings, the same gestures and probably a really annoying sentence structure every time your main character walks into a room. (Or something, right?) You've written it dozens if not hundreds of times. Breaking those dang habits is so annoying! But also important.

So don't stop practicing, but listen to your writing group, read a book on writing, find a bad habit you have and fix it. And don't freak out when you find yet another issue you need to work on. Life would be boring if we all did it right the first time. Where would the funny stories come from?

22 February 2012

His Majesty's Dragon

By: Naimo Novic

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire. (Borrowed from Amazon)

I literally picked this book up on a whim. I had one audio book from the library in my hand, and for whatever reason decided that I could use another. So I sauntered down the aisle, pretty much looking for the fantasy or sci-fi stickers they put on the CD cases, and stumbled across this.

Dragons. Napoleon. Sure, I'm in.

I don't actually know anything about the Napoleonic Wars, only that Napoleon was involved, so as for the historical accuracy—I've got nothing. However, Naomi Novic drew me in with the first chapter and I never got bored. The main character is so stoutly British as to be amusing to me (I am American—talking back is one of my favorite past times) but I loved him and cheered for him at every turn.

The dragon, Temeraire, is hyper intelligent and all sorts of interesting. I pretty much want one of my own. Only I don't have any cows or lambs for a dragon to eat, so that might not work out very well. I'll have to work on that.

Being an action junkie, I wanted a bit more of the war side of the story, but the lack didn't distract at all. I'm just need my action fix! MHA, here I come...

This is the first of like nine books (not all written yet), and I'm going to have to see if the library has book 2 on CD. If you haven't checked this series out, give it a shot. You might like it!

18 February 2012

Words of Wisdom

I think I may have mentioned that an author at LTUE last weekend said, “You haven’t written your best book yet.” Tracy Hickman said it, if I am not mistaken.

I really liked not only that he said it, but how he said it. He looked at the crowd in the room, narrowed his eyes a little bit and shook his head before he spoke. Like we’d all been thinking some sort of self-depredating, naughty thoughts about our writing capabilities.

As I’ve thought about this comment, which I totally believe is true, I’ve also realized that it can be applied to most aspects of our lives. If you’re a runner, and you’re still working at improving, you probably haven’t run your best race yet. There is always, always, always more to learn and incorporate.

At one point in my life I thought that learning something once meant that I knew it. Primarily in my Kempo class. I would learn a form and think, “Great, that’s cool. I’ve got that.” And then Sensei would come along a few months later and point out something that I’d never noticed before. Not because I’m blonde (which I am) but because I didn’t have the foundation to understand it before.

So just remember, the best is yet to come!

14 February 2012

More on Fun

This past weekend I spent three days at Life the Universe and Everything (LTUE), a local writing convention here in Utah.

One of the more seasoned authors (and I feel bad that I can't remember which person on the panel said this) gave some really great advise.

He basically said, before you write everyday, meditate for a few minutes on how much you like writing and on how awesome this part of your story should be.

He mentioned specifically that it should be FUN!

Fun, fun, fun.

I just spent about an hour on a rather dark, angsty story that I've been trying to write. I think Single's Awareness Day coupled with me trying very hard to be good and lose some weight, has made me a bit cranky.

However, the cranky churned out some great writing, which in turn was (I have to admit) quite fun. In a sinister sort of way.

Forget Cupid.

Someone eat some chocolate for me.

10 February 2012

LTUE Day 2

Just a few bits and pieces that I picked up.
In no particular order:

Start your story by knowing the end first.
Your beginning hook should be the opposite of your resolution.
Take 20 seconds to Google a fact to make sure you have correct information in your story.
The word “that” is overused.
If you really want to do something, no one can stop you.
If you don't want to do something, no one can help you.
Never sacrifice what you want the most for what you want in that moment.
Do things happen to you, or do you make things happen?
Shoot the sheriff in the first paragraph.
Show the banana peel.
When reading aloud, speak at half the speed you think you should.
The sound “ga-ga” comes from a different part of your mouth than the sound “du-du.”

Those are just a few of the things I gleaned from today. Also, I got up the nerve to talk to a few authors, hand out a few cards for Babes in Spyland (I really should have made a t-shirt or something so maybe just one person would ask me about it) and tried to meet new people.

Look at me go.

I'm tired. :)

09 February 2012

LTUE Day 1

Sitting through an entire day of Writing Geekdome is both exhilarating and exhausting. I've been to quite a few of these writing conferences, so I've heard much of what is being said before.

My goal these days is to dive for those gems. Those bits of advise that, now that I have been writing for a while, I am ready to receive with an open mind and a desire to improve my craft with.

While I heard loads of good things today (and kudos to the LTUE committee who brought in a lot of great presentations) I think I can narrow down the best advise I gleaned here.

J. Scott Savage, whom I do not know personally, gave a presentation on using reviews to help your writing.

I thought it would be more about critique groups, but instead he used actual reviews from professionals, bloggers and the like. For a few minutes I wondered if I should get up and leave—I don't have anything out there to review yet—but then he got my attention.

He said to think of your current work in progress, or the novel you're about to query, or are at this time editing. Now think of five novels that are like it. Be certain to have these comparison novels in the same target age group, same genre and as close as you can get to the same feel.

If I'm writing a novel about a girl who wants to rip people's eyes out of their sockets, I wouldn't pull up YA paranormal romance to compare it with. Unless some voodoo priestess is controlling her and a Travis, a shape shifter whose preferred animal is a crocodile is going to be the one to save her.

Yikes, that almost sounds like a plot.

If you're mind goes blank, check out Good Reads, Amazon and/or Google. Find these novels and look at the reviews.

Ignore the one star and five star reviews. Single stars are likely from the wrong audience (think Twilight girls reading Tom Clancy) and five stars are probably from friends and family of the author. Two stars might be useful, while four stars are mostly people who thought, “Yeah, I liked that book.”

It's the three stars you want to focus on. They liked the book okay, but it lacked . . . fill in the blank. Or there was too much . . . insert here.

Gather a bunch of them, go through them and turn back to your own novel.

Does your novel suffer from any of the same problems? If so, figure out how to fix it. These are things people notice—it's worth taking the time to find them and get them out of your story.

Very cool advise. I'm on this next week. :)

07 February 2012


I envy people who can have fun wherever they are, with whoever they're with and whatever they're doing. I also envy anyone who never got as far out of shape as I have. Never again in my life will I think that doing fifty push-ups is fun. Even if I can at some point do them.

Wait, I never could do push-ups.

Back to my point. Parts of life are meant to be fun. The other day I helped out with the kids class at my dojo (ages 4 to 9). We had them running, kicking, punching, crawling, crab walking, hopping and jumping . . . they loved it. Most of them giggled and laughed the entire time. Even when they were supposed to be quiet—which is totally normal.

Two hours later we had the adults class, and for a brief moment I thought about having them do the same drill. Then I remembered that adults forget to have fun. To them (me) it looks more like work than a good time.

I think as a writer (my hobby/passion) I sometimes forget that creating a story is fun. Not should be . . . it is fun. Following characters around as you get to know them. Taking them on crazy adventures that most of the time land them in a situation you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and then figuring out how they get out of it is fun!



Once I'm in the trenches of getting feedback, editing and rejection it's not so fun anymore. The beginning is fun. Holding that finished, printed manuscript in my hand—stroking it lovingly and glaring at anyone who looks like they might say anything against it—is fun.

That middle part isn't always a good time.

So keep it fresh. Have some fun. If I'm grouchy about editing or whatever, I'll take a scene I really love and write it again. It's amazing what little things my overly active subconscious will slip in there. Not always good, but amazing. There's a difference.

If you're bored, do a crab walk to the bathroom. You'll laugh, and I'm sure your family will get a kick out of it. If you're stuck in your writing, make it fun for a few minutes. Find your groove and stick to it!

05 February 2012

Babes in Spyland

Hey all,
I've got a series coming out this week on Big World Network.
Babes in Spyland: The Truth Hurts

Evil masterminds beware, the Super Secret Agency is coming for you!

I'm pretty excited about this, because the entire point of the story is to make people laugh. As a writer I want people to feel that the time they spend reading (or in this case you could listen as well)my stuff is worth it because it's entertaining.

If you don't at least chuckle while reading any episode of this story I will throw myself on my laptop in shame.

No fair keeping a straight face on purpose. Feel free to roll your eyes though, I'm good with that. :)

The first of twelve episodes comes out on Monday. Brighten your day by downloading either the free text or the audio file from

Happy reading!