Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another Lesson From Disneyland- What To Expect



My daughter has big plans to go on Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad in December when we visit Disneyland. Granted, the monkey is only going to be four, but she meets the height requirement for both.

However, based on my Space Mountain debacle, I plan to give her a taste of what to expect. Today we trolled YouTube for some videos of the rides. Who knew a home video of Splash Mountain could be so riveting?

(Okay, I didn't think it was that thrilling, but the monkey sure did. She wanted to watch it over and over and over. And over.)

Now she knows what to expect.

I have an idea from a book's cover art and the dust jacket blurb what I'm getting myself into. Usually. Sometimes I have no clue. The blurb for Little Bee by Chris Cleave is intentionally mum, but the book was AMAZING. I didn't mind being on the dark on that one.

However, when a book says it's one thing (historical fiction) and turns out to be another (Gay lesbian fiction or erotica or fantasy... or all three) that's where I get persnickety. I'm pretty open-minded about reading just about anything, but I want you to tell me up front what I'm going to be reading. If you fling a genre change on me half-way through I'm going to be ticked.

I don't think any author wants truly ticked-off readers. That's just all-around bad.


Okay, folks- now I'm off to my couch, trying to fight a rather persistent cold bug. (This is the monkey's first year in preschool and she's a walking petri dish. Blecch.)

Happy weekend, everyone!
Photo from Disney Vault.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Compelling Characters- Sue Sylvester!



"...I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then on some dark, cold night, I will steal away into your house...and punch you in the face." -Sue Sylvester

As a reader, I love it when a character plays with my emotions. We all know the type- the woman we love to hate, but really want to succeed (Scarlet O'Hara), the love triangle that has us all torn to bits (Katniss, Peeta, Gale), and the bad guy who we honestly like (Sue Sylvester).

I'm watching the first season of Glee on DVD. (I wish I could get the text to do the high pitched "glee!" from the beginning of every episode, but you're just going to have to imagine it.)

I love Sue Sylvester.

She's the cheerleading coach and an absolute b*tch, but she's hilarious. Like spit-my-chocolate-peanut-butter-ice-cream-all-over-my-white-couch kind of hilarious. You can't help but like her (although you'd probably never want to meet anyone like her in real life). She's not pure evil (but oh-so-close!) because she's got two things going for her.

1. She's funny.
2. She has a sister with Down's syndrome she absolutely adores.

Now you may think the latter piece is a cheap trick on the part of Glee's writers, but I'm telling you that it works. Just when I start to think Sue's becoming a cariacture of a villain, there's a scene with her reading a picture book to her sister. And then I get a little teary eyed.

That's the thing with characters- they have to be human. No hero can be too perfect and no villain can be too bad. They have to be a little bit of both.

Now, if you haven't checked out the rest of the Great Blogging Experiment, head over to Elana Johnson's blog for all the other links. Happy weekend!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Start of Book #3

I've taken the plunge and started writing Book #3!

I'm beyond excited about this one. It's historical fiction about another amazing, yet under-appreciated female ruler. I'm seeing a trend here- all of my books are about women who have been shoved into the corners of history simply because they were female. It's about time their stories were heard.

And this new woman definitely has her own voice, so much so that her novel is my first foray into writing first person POV. I think the sum total of my first person writing before now capped at 500 words. But her story was in first person as soon as it started unraveling in my head. It just flows out my fingers and onto my computer screen.

Yep, that's about as perfect as Reese's chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

I enjoy reading both first and third person, but have always written in third. I had a friend once who refused to read first because she didn't want just one person's perspective. Do you have any first or third person hang-ups?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Query Letters Workshop

I'm not going to lie. I love writing queries. I love queries as much as I hate writing a synopsis and that's about as much as I hate getting shots.

(Okay, I pass out when I get shots so maybe that's not accurate, but whatever. You get the point.)

One of the discussions I went to at last weekend's Alaska Writer's Guild Conference was Janet Reid's query workshop.

Janet had us write queries off the cuff. Scary! I'm not going to recap everything she said- most of you follow Query Shark as it is. (And if you don't, you should!) Here's her formula for a hook.

Start with your character's name and tell what choice they have to make.

Easy peasy, right? (Okay, we all know writing queries isn't exactly easy.) But really, that's pretty straightforward.

What about you? Do you like or loathe queries? Any advice you'd like to share on writing those oh so important letters?


Also, Carolyn Schriber is celebrating the release of her novel Beyond All Price. There are nifty workshops and sorts of cool info- yours truly might have done a little interview. Check it out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Conference Shake-Down

Saturday I attended the Alaska Writer's Guild Conference and had the opportunity to listen to uber-agents Andrea Brown and Janet Reid (who happens to be hilarious). My brain is still percolating with all the great info I learned from both lovely ladies, but today I wanted to share info from Janet's session on What Agents Want Authors to Know.

1. Know What You're Writing
Is your book fiction, non-fiction, or memoir? It can't be more than one! (Unless you're James Frey.)

2. Know What Agents Do
They know the ins and outs of publishing, plus how to negotiate contracts and royalty statements. They are not an editor or a sounding board.

3. Know What Publishers Do
They add value to your work (marketing, editing) for a big chunk of the $$$.

4. Recognize non-legit agents and editors
These scammers are asking for $ up front and don't add value to your work.

5. Make Mistakes
Learn from your mistakes the first time and try again! (Or maybe not the first time. But eventually learn from your mistakes.)

6. Read!
Read a lot of books- at least 200 in your genre.


The conference was great- I'll post more later this week!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Conference!

This weekend I'm off to my second writing conference. Yay!

I was a wallflower at my first conference. Or better yet, a fly on that wall. But this time I'm talking to agents and plan to soak everything up to report back to all of you next week.

I've also had a little bit of good news this week in regards to writing. Double yay! I'll take all the good luck vibes, leprechauns, and lucky stars you can send my way. Unicorns too. Just because I like them.

See you all next week!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finish the Hike!



I love hiking. So much so that this summer we dragged our three-year-old on a ten mile hike through Samaria Gorge in Crete.

Now, I'm a tough (read: obstinate) Alaska girl- the guide books said to wear sunscreen, bring water, wear hiking shoes and a hat, blah, blah, blah. I wore sandals and a skirt. The locals were astounded when we said our daughter was going to hike the trail.

Did she make it to the end? Heck, yes!

(Did my husband carry her the last four miles? Heck, yes!)

But the point was that we did it. Together. The last few miles went on FOREVER. (In ninety-plus degree temperatures to boot.) But it was awesome.

Now whenever my daughter gets whiny we just remind her that she hiked Samaria Gorge without whining once. (Yes, there were ice cream bribes involved, but seriously- I needed bribes too.) And then we all swam in the Libyan Sea- utter heaven.

I feel like I'm hiking the last couple miles with HATSHEPSUT right now. I've come so far, but now it's just one foot in front of the other.

I will survive. And when I get to the end I'm going to eat a lot of ice cream and swim in the ocean. Okay, I'm actually going to drink a bottle of really expensive red wine, but whatever.

Finish the hike! It's not like we can stay on the trail, right?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Haiku Blogfest!



The HAIKU BLOGFEST is here!

I'm super excited to see what everyone has come up with- the links are down below and of course, you can still sign up. The blogfest runs Friday and Saturday!

Here's my entry for Hatshepsut:

Woman on man's throne,
Monumental, strong, silent,
Egypt's female king.



And here's one of my favorite haikus- I found it on a greeting card a long time ago:

Snowflakes on petals,
the beautiful blossoms laugh,
loving the surprise.


Enjoy the blogfest, everyone!


Photo from Internet Zen.