23 January 2013

The Next Big Thing

“THE NEXT BIG THING” is designed to raise awareness of our work, or work in progress. We do that by answering ten questions about it. We graciously thank the person who nominated us, and tag four to six other authors whose work could very well be THE NEXT BIG THING.

What is the working title of your next book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Strangely enough, it came to me in church.  Which isn't normal.

What genre does your book fall under?
YA Science Fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Alex Pettyfer for the protagonist, Liam Hemsworth as the awesome side kick (if he can do funny) and maybe Alyson Stoner for the romantic lead. Yes, I had to look all of those people up. I'm a little old for knowing who is who in the teen acting world.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a galaxy entrenched in a civil war, sixteen year old Dalen takes his father's Fighter and enlists, only to find himself a reluctant guardian to an ancient force that could pull the Sphere apart.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope it will be represented!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Two months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I'd like to say it's like Ender's Game, but I'm not that cool yet. I did read a book called Insingia, which has some of the same feel I'm going for.  My story isn't hard Sci-Fi. More adventure and cool technology.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The deep roots of my idea came from a scriptural story about 2,000 Stripling Warriors. I know it sounds insane, but so far it's working!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There are a handful of punk teenagers, plenty of humor, giant mechas, ancient relics and lots of fighting...all in space. There is lots of space involved.  It's going to be great!

* * *
Here are the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing! They will post next Wednesday.  Check them all out, I plan to ride their coat tails to fame!

R.K Grow
Taryn Taylor
Jordan Ricks
Tony Duston

17 January 2013

Gorilla Glue?

Anyone ever used Gorilla Glue? That stuff can permanently stick almost any two objects in the world together. And it has gorilla in the name, which means it's tough, manly and possibly hairy. What's to stop you from jumping in your car and buying some today?

I wonder if they make any that's safe to put on my brain.

No, I'm not trying to zombify myself. My mind won't focus on writing right now, and I wonder if glue would help. Actual gorillas would be distracting—like shiny objects, but louder. However, I desperately need something, because writing is not getting done.

Anyone else have this problem?

First you look at the computer, glare, run through what you should get finished tonight in your mind, decided that a snack would be just the thing to settle you into story telling mode, turn away and go into the kitchen. If you make it back to the computer, which is about a 50/50 chance for me, you sit. I fiddle with the mouse, and somehow the cursor seems to make its way to the internet icon, where it double clicks of its own accord. The next fifteen the sixty minutes is then sucked from my life, never to return—filled with cute kitten pictures and a snarky remark in Facebook. Or three. That's when I notice the time, shut the computer down and go to my next activity.

So how do you focus?

I've found a few things that work for me. (They're not working tonight, obviously, but I'm justifying this as “writing time.”)

1-Think about what I'm going to work on during the day, so when I get home I ignore the call of the toilet, sit down at my computer and start typing before it's even booted up all the way.
This really can work, it keeps me excited about my wip.

2-Re-read what I wrote last session as a warm up into this one.
Sometimes I forget I had a brilliant idea last night, and if I don't re-read it, then I'll completely miss it. This also gives my editor brain a chance to kick in for a second, which usually helps my writing brain to wake up. Also, if you leave off a writing session in the middle of something exciting, it can be easier to pick up where you left off.

3-Avoid distractions
Turn of the web, leave the snacks in the kitchen, shut the blinds, put in your headphones, remember to start the music (no podcasts or audio books), assume your writer's position and go.

4-Decide that you are NOT going to let the thought of a dirty bathroom, piles of laundry, unfinished projects or all of the shows on your DVR lure you away from writing. Forget about that stuff for a few hours. It will be there when you get back.
This one gets me every time. You see, I got on my computer tonight to write, got distracted by an e-mail from my publicist and decided to blog instead of working on my wip. Before I sat down I trolled the kitchen for a good five minutes looking for just the right snack—because without food I surely can't be expected to use my brain.

5-As so many professional authors say: Butt in chair, eyes on screen, hands on keyboard and type.

Just start typing. See what pops out. Not every single word that comes up on your monitor needs to be awesome. A few lines of crap will be fine for now, you can fix them later. Just get the words on the page.

There isn't a real secret cure for this problem, although now I am considering the Gorilla Glue for the brain option. So often the reason I can't write is because I'm stuck in some aspect of my story. Either it's boring, or I'm missing a key plot point, or my characters have rebelled because I've pushed them too hard and they've had enough and gone on a cruise.

Obviously tonight I'm not going to get very far, but I hope you do!

Anyone else have a cure for the brain that's holding out on you?

13 January 2013

An Exercise in Character-Round 4

Our main characters have responded to and then re-posted this on Facebook:

If no one reads my wall, this should be a short experiment. Lol. If you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word! Then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you. Please don't add your word and not bother to copy... You'll spoil the fun!

Last time we went into people our character would either respect or have to listen to. This last one is always fun...what would their enemies say? Thinking about this is key, because as an author, you need to be able to take every side of every part of your story—not just the rosy parts and the bits that make you laugh. Understanding all of the characters in your story is important. And expanding your thought process to how they feel about one another can lead to some very fun inside jokes, plot points and perhaps even relationships—not always the good kind.

Super Secret Agent Bunnynose has many enemies. She and Agent Amphibian Queen have taken down their fair share of evil masterminds. These are just a few of the words they might leave:
Toxic Fumes
Barrel of a Loaded Gun
Underground Lake
Kiss My...

They are all very upset evil masterminds, and would all take hours and hours to come up with just the right response, and of course go over the specified word count. They're also plotting ways to kill Bunnynose. Just FYI.

These are just her big enemies, people who simply don't like her because she can kick their trashes in a fight would have an entirely different set of words to say. “Ouch” may be the prominent response.

Hopefully you get my point.

Go forth! What single word description would your character's enemies use of their first meeting? Or about them? Be creative and break it down. Happy writing!

12 January 2013

An Exercise in Character-Round 3

Our main characters have responded to and then re-posted this on Facebook:

If no one reads my wall, this should be a short experiment. Lol. If you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word! Then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you. Please don't add your word and not bother to copy... You'll spoil the fun!

Last time we dove into how the character's closest friends would respond.

This time lets try people they have to listen to: parents, family, boss. Or someone the character respects.

Agent Bunnynose's family is her fellow agents at SSA. But if her boss, Supervisor Mud, were to respond, it would probably be along the lines of, “unfortunate.” They like each other, but Bunnynose tends to bend orders in creative, and sometimes dangerous, ways.

If her mother did post, it would read something snarky (Bunnynose had to get it from somewhere) like “birth.” Siblings would playfully deny the relationship, and her dad would refuse to waste time on Facebook.

What about your character?

11 January 2013

An Exercise in Character-Round 2

See the last post for the start of the exercise.

You've established how your character would respond to the Facebook post:

If no one reads my wall, this should be a short experiment. Lol. If you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word! Then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you. Please don't add your word and not bother to copy... You'll spoil the fun!

For the sake of further character development, let's say that your character decides to re-post this as is. And if they refuse, someone does it for them.

So now there are a few groups of people who would respond. Let's start with your main character's closest friends. What word would they use? How did they first meet? This not only tells you about your main character, but gives insights to the lesser ones as well.

Agent Bunnynose's closest friends:

Amphibian Queen (partner at Super Secret Agency)-Frogs

Milkshakes (fellow Agent)-Bribery

Sugar Lips (fellow Agent)-Secret Room ...yes, she would leave more than one word.

They are cryptic, but in my mind there is a hilarious story behind each one.

So have at it. Pick one or a dozen of your main characters closest friends, and see what they say.

10 January 2013

An Exercise in Character-Round 1

I always struggle with characters in my writing. They either all sound the same or they all sound like me. Granted, I'm pretty funny, and somewhat interesting at times, but eight of me gets real old, real quick.

As I finish up season 4 of Babes in Spyland, and I'm gearing up to go back into novels, I thought I should perhaps take some time to learn about building characters. Facebook gave me the greatest idea, so I thought I would share it.

Join me over the next four days while I go through this exercise to see if I know Agent Bunnynose (Babes in Spyland) as well as I should. Do you know your characters?

Last night a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

If no one reads my wall, this should be a short experiment. Lol. If you read this, leave one word on how we met. Only one word! Then copy this to your wall so I can leave a word for you. Please don't add your word and not bother to copy... You'll spoil the fun!

First exercise in character...what would the main character of your latest project do? Assuming that they were active on Facebook, of course—don't get all technical that in some fantasy world without electricity that Facebook doesn't exist; use your imagination. Let's also assume that your character views this person as a real friend.

Would they:
Leave a word and re-post it as instructed?
Ignore it?
Roll their eyes.
Get teary from the memory of the first meeting?
Leave a whole sentence just because the directions say one word?
Or something else entirely?

And, most importantly, why?

Super Secret Agent Bunnynose would glare at the message, noting that she would not use lol in that context, and sigh. If she was in a good mood, she might leave a word. Probably something snarky. No sentimental nonsense. Her goal with the whole thing would be to make her friend laugh. A good snort would be ideal. Bunnynose would probably not re-post it, because she's got better things to do than have her phone go off every six seconds with Facebook updates. She's trying to save the world from a mad genius at the moment people. If she did re-post it (due to a chocolate milkshake induced euphoria) she would probably change it to “Leave one word describing the first time we got into a fist fight.”

What about your character?

02 January 2013

The Sweet (Buttery) Taste of Success

A year ago this month, I received an e-mail from Big World Network saying that they loved my submission (what would become Babes in Spyland) and that they wanted to publish it as a serial story on their website.

I keep a journal, and write pretty much every day, so I pulled out last year's and took at look at the entry. There was an overabundance of Squeeing, as well as a great deal of shock that the silliest thing I've ever written is what they were interested in.

At this point last year I'd been querying my novel, New Sight, for about six months with no success. I sent Babes in Spyland to Big World Network on a crazy whim, with the plan that if they didn't want the story I would put an episode up a week on my blog. I'd always wanted to do a serial story, and this was, I supposed, my chance.

Now I haven't made millions of dollars from Babes in Spyland, but I have heard from a few people that I don't know who love the story. I even know a girl who is now writing her own version of it. And I have to admit that I'm jealous she used the name Agent TMI before I did. Oh, and the first fan art I saw made me cry,

Earlier this year I heard Kevin J. Anderson speak about his popcorn theory. To break it down, he told us that early in his career, he decided to dabble in as many areas in writing as he could—thus tossing a lot of kernels into the pan—and see where that got him. Well, go check out the guy's website and see for yourself where it got him. He's written in the Star Wars universe, the Dune universe, he's made several of his own universes and the guy just keeps on going. All because he tossed as many kernels into the pan as he could.

I feel like Babes in Spyland is that for my career—a kernel. It's nothing big. I love it, and have used it to learn how to keep a story down to a specified length while preserving good characters, humor and a plot that makes sense. If I'm not laughing as I write it, then it needs to be fixed. It reminds me that writing is fun, and that I'm here to entertain people. And if I cracked someone up, then my mission is accomplished—kernel popped.

Season 3 of Babes in Spyland concluded a few weeks ago. Season 4 begins in February. There will be 5 seasons total, and at the end if it I expect to feel like I've accomplished something. Sure, each time I read an episode that's already published I see things I could fix in it. And yes, there are a few subplots that I wish I'd explored more, but all in all I'm terribly grateful for Big World Network and their willingness to believe in me and my story. Agents Sugar Lips, Milkshakes, Bunnynose and Amphibian Queen thank them as well.

So this is a new year, what kernels are you going to toss in?