Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I said I would post my Top 10 writing experiences on New Year's Eve, but as it seems that most everyone is still on a blogcation, I will save it for Monday.

Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve and Day and I'll talk to you lovely writer folks in 2011! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Did you survive Christmas?

Hello writer friends! I survived Christmas and if you're reading this, you did, too! Hooray!

I love Christmas, but it does seem to get more stressful every year. I hosted two Christmas meals for different sides of the family this year, and I found myself running around on Christmas Eve trying to find some silken tofu to make a chocolate tofu pie for my cousin who can't eat dairy... I didn't realize how early the stores were closing (has Walmart always closed at 7:45 on Christmas Eve?). My tofu search was unsuccessful, but luckily everything else turned out well.

This is what my husband got for the kids:

He's an Irish Setter. Since my husband and I both have a lot of Irish blood, we named him Murphy, a fine upstanding Irish name. We also both love the Dropkick Murphys, so his name is a double ode to Ireland.

Also, I received the Christmas Blog Award from Michael Di Gesu for my Be Jolly By Golly blog post. Thanks, Michael! Since I love Christmas, in the spirit of the season I am passing this along to all my followers who participated in the Be Jolly By Golly blogfest! Heck, even if you didn’t, but posted something awesome about Christmas and think it rocks, then I award it to you. I really loved reading everyone’s awesome holiday posts.

Also, thank you so much to everyone who commented on my Heifer post! On Thursday when I get paid, I will be making a donation of $1 for each comment I received on the post, and combined with my usual annual gift, I am going to purchase a Promise Gift Basket. This gift basket provides chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits to people in developing countries, and Heifer teaches them to use the animals to build a sustainable business. I was so excited to discover that Nate Bransford and other writers are involved with this organization that I am so passionate about! It was a great idea to do a comment charity fundraiser, and I think I will definitely make it an annual tradition!

On to writery topics, today I reviewed the Writer's Digest Top 10 writing articles of 2010. Two things from two different articles really popped out at me, so I thought I'd share. The first tip was from an article by Steven Goldsberry, an author. He said not to save the best for last - always start with your best. This seems really simple - a lot of you may be going, "well, duh." But this is actually one of the mistakes I addressed in my most recent rewrite. My best parts didn't occur until later in the book. Steven said the better you do at the beginning, the better you continue to do. So, it's not like you should write your best and then the rest can suck. But basically, start with amazing and the fire will continue to grow.

The other piece of advice was actually extremely relevant to me, right now, today. Because today I have been polishing up my novel, trying to add back in some word count after I axed twenty pages off my ending. Robert Lee Brewer, the editor of the Writer's Digest newsletters, said that writers often worry about the wrong details, like word count. He said that while some parameters apply, trying to pad to get to a certain number is often unnecessary. If a manuscript is perfect, don't pad just to get a higher number. Not that mine is perfect :~) but I realized I was trying to reach an arbitrary number when the story is complete as it is.

What great writing advice did you receive in 2010? Any exciting epiphanies or breakthroughs to share? I'd love to hear them. For my next post on New Year's Eve, I'll share my Top 10 writing experiences of 2010. TTFN!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Join me and Nathan Bransford and friends in fighting world hunger!

Okay, so I lied about not posting again before Christmas.  I've just seen that Nate Bransford is doing an awesome fundraiser on his blog for Heifer International, an organization I have been donating to for years!! 

Heifer gives different animals to people in developing countries around the world and teaches them to run a sustainable business with the animals.  For instance, you can donate honeybees to a farmer and Heifer will teach them how to beekeep and sell honey and wax.  They also require the recipients to share the offspring of their animals with others.  This organization rocks so hard!!

So, Nate and his wife are donating $1 for each comment on his blog post up to $1,000.  I can't do that much, but I'll do $1 for each comment made before 11 PM on Thursday the 23rd, up to $100.  So, please comment on this post to increase our gift to Heifer! 

Check out the Heifer website here.  Thanks for the awesome idea, Nate!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!

Happy holidays writer friends! I hope you have all had a good week. Mine has been a very busy week of holiday parties and many dashings about trying to get all of my shopping done.  Not quite finished, but hopefully I will be soon. 

So, this is my first blogfest! I am super excited. Thanks Jen and Melissa for the great idea. All of the participants were asked to provide a Christmas recipe and also pics of their Christmas tree. Check out Jen and Melissa's blogs to see the other cool participants!

I searched for some Christmas drink recipes, and couldn't find any that I really liked, though I did find some ridiculously awesome names.  Can I interest anyone in a Christmas Elf's Revenge, Sex Under the Christmas Tree, or Christmas Nipple?  I decided I wanted a red drink (of course) and I like fruity martini type things, and then I got really pie-in-the-sky and wondered if there was some cool drink out there named for writers.  Well, I didn't find one, so I made one up.  Here it is:

The Writer's Christmas Stress Reliever


- 2 ounces Absolut Vanilla
- 2 ounces cherry syrup
- 2 ounces pomegranate juice
- Spritz of lime
- Fresh raspberries to garnish


- Mix all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice
- Shake
- Pour into a fabulous martini glass
- Throw a bunch of raspberries in
- Drink and relax

Now, here are pics of my Christmas tree.  I must confess that these were from last year, but my camera has been on the fritz and I haven't taken pics yet this year. Thus, my beautiful Tangerine kitty is in this picture. He died earlier this year so we will miss him this Christmas. Mocha the very cooperative pony is also starring in my pics.

So, I also went a little OC on Google images last night because I wanted to find more cool pics to include. But, what's Christmas if things don't get a little over the top? To me, Christmas is about the magic. Not only is the whole Santa thing terrific and fantastical, but it's the one time of year when everyone really comes together and tries harder to get along and think of other people.  The whole season is infused with specialness. So, my pics are all about the wonder of the holidays. Starting with castles, naturally.

**Photos removed since peeps have been getting sued for posting photos on blogs**

I will not post again til after Christmas, but I will be visiting everyone's blogs!! Have a lovely and awesome holiday, blog friends! Drink lots of eggnog! Eat lots of yummy food! Give and gets lots of presents! Be thankful you can do all these things! Feel the magic!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Delicious vintage blog makeover!

Whilst perusing my fellow bloggers' sites this weekend I came across a cool template, which led me to ShabbyBlogs where they have all this amazing free stuff!  I love vintagey themed things, and they have it galore over there.  So, I chose a Christmas background for this month and I'm already trying to decide what I'll change it to in January.  They also have cool blinky buttons, which you'll see I've sprinkled liberally through my sidebar... the one at the top is actually a set of quotes I have up in my bedroom, so I was stoked to see it available for my blogging home.

Anyways, editing updates: I sort of finished my major rewrite last night.  By sort of I mean that I got all the way through to the end, connecting all of the new scenes I wrote so that everything is integrated with no gaping hole plots.  But one thing I realized I had to do was remove a lot of pages from the end - I had about a 45 page wrap up after the final climatic scene, and that just won't work.  So, I slashed ruthlessly down to 20 pages, which is still sort of a lot, but it works.  Now, I just want to go back and plump a little here and there earlier in the book to bring my word count back up.

Speaking of makeovers, I've also decided I want to change the name of my novel, because I don't think it's snazzy enough.  I spent some time last night making a list of keywords for my book and some possible new titles.  I also wrote a brand new query letter in like five minutes, which is amazing for me (usually I agonize about it for several hours).  So, I guess I kind of did a total novel makeover, with lots of juicy new scenes, a new name and a new query.  I'm going to wait until after the holidays, and then it's round three of querying!

So, writer friends, how are your projects going?  Are you writing?  Editing?  Querying?  Waiting for your book to be published?  What are your writing resolutions for the new year?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter is here!

It is freezing in Florida.  So says the native Floridian who's never lived through a 'real' winter.  Seriously though, it makes me very unhappy when it doesn't get above 40 degrees in the middle of the day and in the morning when I have to feed my equine friends it is 20 degrees.  Yuck.  And we don't get any nifty snow or anything.  Those of you that have survived colder temperatures are welcome to chastise me :)

On to writerly stuff, I have received a delightful award from the super cool Joann Swanson!!  Thanks, Joann!  Joann is one of the Killer Chicks, and I haunt her personal blog and the Killer blog on an extremely frequent basis.  Both blogs have really great writerly topics and plus Joann's has ravens (or are they crows?) which I love.

So, award recipients are asked to share 7 things about themselves.  My last sharing was random stuff, so this time I decided to do a theme on my writing life.  Here goes:

1) I started writing at such an early age I can't remember, but it was roughly 5 or 6.  I wrote a poem about a white Christmas pony, which was specifically designed to manipulate my parents. It was unsuccessful.
2) The first novel I started writing was when I was about 12.  It was also about horses.  I never finished it.
3) The third (I think) novel I started writing was when I was about 14 or 15.  It was high fantasy, because I was big in my Tolkien/Tad Williams/Dragonlance phase.  It was pretty unoriginal but I got to about 150 pages I think. 
4) I started a bunch of other books and wrote a lot of random poems (one was about being pissed off at traffic and eating peaches in my car) while in my teens.
5) Life intervened!  I became a young mother and didn't do much writing as I spent my early twenties chasing after a very rambunctious and completely awesome kid who I'm proud to call my son.  He is almost nine now and reads 300 page middle grade novels.  Yes, I'm totally bragging.  He rocks.
6) My current WIP starting percolating in my brain a really long time ago.  Like 7 or 8 years.  I finally started writing it about 2 years ago, finished the first draft about 10 months ago, and have been editing and getting rejected by agents ever since.
7) I've started the second book in the series, as well as a couple other future projects which I switch to when I get bored or need a break from my main WIP.

I guess that was sort of a timeline really... anyhow, here are the new recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award - they all have lovely blogs which I encourage you to stalk:

Nomes at inkcrush
Lisa at Read, Write, Repeat
Maria at Read, Write, Romance
David at The Cosmic Laire
Ivy at The Happy Whisk
Writing Nut at Writing in a Nutshell
For those of you that didn't see my last post, I was in a tizzy about this really cool agent auction over at Miss Snark's First Victim.  People got to post their first 250 words and be critiqued by fellow writers and agents, and then the agents bid for pages, and it was super fun and informative.  Would anyone be interested in doing a similar thing here, posting your first 250 words and getting feedback from everybody?  Obviously there won't be any agents so it won't be as exciting, but I thought the feedback could be helpful.  Let me know your vote!
Finally, I just wanted to apologize ahead of time if I am not visiting everyone's blogs as much in the next couple weeks or so.  I have been insanely busy at work, and even though I met my deadline that I was sweating about last week, I am consistently finding myself in a zombie-like state upon arrival at home and probably will be like that until the end of the year since this is our busiest time. 
Stay warm writer friends!!  Use the mind numbing cold to drift on new planes of thought and have inspired feverish writing sessions!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oh my gosh do you want to read something totally addictive?

I am at work right now taking a lunch break (crazy right?) and absolutely had to share the fun I was having... over at Miss Snark's First Victim, there is an auction going on between 13 agents over a number of book excerpts.  The chic that runs this blog had a contest for writers without agents to submit their first 250 pages and then the agents bid on them (how many pages they'll read).  Bidding started today and the competition is fierce!!  I read all of the submissions over the weekend, so it's really fascinating to see the ones that are getting battled over and the ones that aren't... I must say my favorite ones are getting crazy bids, though some that I didn't think were that great are too!  Super intriguing, check it out

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Exhaustion, Christmas and Writerly Stuff

Oh, what a week my blog-friends. I worked from 8 am to 7 pm Monday through Thursday without taking a lunch break or anything... the good news is I made my deadline, though I was a total zombie. I actually left work at 4:50 on Friday, and it was like "Oh, daylight, and I'm leaving. Totally bizarre." I had a massive earache going on at the beginning of the week, too, so I survived on Tylenol and episodes of Weeds, which is my new favorite TV show. Not a lick of writing took place, which was a bummer.

So, this weekend I've been trying to recover. Yesterday was busy because I was running errands in town and then at the local winter festival with my son for a few hours. Today I did some major house cleaning because it had gotten completely OC, and then early this evening we dragged out all the Christmas stuff. Santa and his elves have officially laid siege on my house. It is now full of holiday goodness. However, while decorating I noticed the curious/evil gleam in Literary Kitty's eyes as she crouched by the Christmas village, quietly observing this strange ritual of the humans. Think: Jurassic Park when the velociraptors narrow their eyes as they watch their prey. Her eyes were gleaming with devious feline plans involving the torture and assassination of various Christmas ornaments and carefully wrapped gifts.

Now, I am going somewhere writerly with this, I promise. Earlier I was spritzing and vacuuming and washing dishes. Heck, I even contemplated mopping pretty seriously for about five minutes, but then decided to eat pie and write instead (it's the thought that counts, right?). I started thinking, getting ready to clean the house is like getting ready to start a writing project. Sometimes it seems too huge of a task, too overwhelming. There are a million things swirling about in my brain. So, for either task, I break it down into steps. When writing, I actually write down these steps, like a to-do list. For instance, when I was starting my most recent major edit, I did a little brainstorming about what I was going to change, and then ideas started popping and I felt overloaded. So I typed up a quick list of the new scenes I was going to write, and where I was going to work them in and how I was going to connect with or add to existing scenes.

Once I have my list, then I have to pick a place to start. For me, this isn't always a chronological progression through the story. Sometimes I'll go ahead and write those scenes that are clawing at the inside of my brain. Later I'll go back and write the connecting pieces. The important part for me is to make a decision, and then take action. I can’t let myself get overwhelmed by the whole ordeal, I just pick a room in the house/scene of the novel and go for it!

So, how do you guys go about starting projects? What keeps you from getting overwhelmed?