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Monday, May 30, 2011

Writing Is NOT Like A Box of Chocolates: A Meme

Writing is like being god.

Not only for your characters, but for yourself as well. 

There's something in holding a storyline in your head that allows you to pull your mind back and see the bigger picture in things. See how the pieces fit, understand more than you realized possible. Patterns in your story emerge-- but the amazing thing is how you begin to see the patterns in your own life.

How you set yourself up, make yourself fall. Redeem yourself.

In the short time that I've been networking with other authors, I've never been more profoundly affected than through their stories of redemption. Trial by fire and perseverance-- that is what makes writing great. 

Writing isn't easy. If it was, everyone would do it. Everyone would be superstar authors. Most of us don't write for the fame or the money-- we write for the words that haunt our minds. For the places that need to see the page. For the characters who's lives are inexplicably tied to ours. 

We write to give those places, people and words a place to be born. To us, the real world-- our world, would be empty without them. 


Cherie of Ready. Write. Go. tagged me for this meme Writing Is NOT Like A Box of Chocolates. The goal is to come up with a metaphor--anything but chocolates--to answer the question, Writing is like...? I hope you enjoyed my own vision above.

The rules are simple:

*Come up with the metaphor.
*Tag 3 people.
I'm tagging these crazy people because I know whatever they come up with will be extraordinary.

1.) Kara Malinczak
2.) Kendall Grey
3.) Gina Lamm

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing binge!

My ass is still numb.

So, what's the hangover look like after a 7 1/2 hour writing binge? 

A little something like this-------->

But I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 

I should have been critiquing a chapter for my new group... I should have been working on web banners... I should have at least attempted it.

I just... couldn't

I feel awful about it, but there you have it.

The epiphany struck me and I had to take it and run. There's always tomorrow for real world work stuff, right?

So there I was, peacefully minding my own business and the pieces fell into place. (LOVE when that happens!) I saw what I was missing in the climax of my story and how I was going to change it. It just so happened, my fingers agreed with me.

When I say that it was 7 1/2 hours, though... I mean it. I survived on water and a bag of carmel corn that whole time. That's healthy, right? It has corn in it? (Probably processed GMO corn... For the love of all that's holy, don't tell Jillian! It was baaaad, I know!)

But I hammered out two chapters and I'm proud of them. Come to find out, if you want to get into the inner workings of evil, just listen to Disturbed on a continuous loop. Works wonders! HA!

At any rate, I felt the need to share my joy and fill you in! 

Hope you all have a kick ass Memorial Day Weekend! 

I know I will! ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is it drafty in here, or is it just me?

Looks a little drafty.
Happy Miscreant Monday, everyone! 

Well, my goddamn deadline is all but upon me and I'm happy to say that this time, I freakin' nailed it! I finished running through the last chapter yesterday (three whole days early)!


(I hate that I have but face after something as great as that...but I do.)

It's drafty in here. Perhaps not this drafty----------------------->
But drafty enough.

There's a few spots that are plaguing my brain and I can't seem to let them rest. Particularly, Chapter 2 and one of the final scenes. Overall, it's nothing terrible. Yet... they plague me-- following me around like a massive hangover. I gotta make them right. They have to be as cool on paper as I see in my head.

I know I can make them better.

I realize this is the first draft, so it's supposed to be drafty, but I fancy myself Wonder Woman, alright?
(Where's my damn golden lasso and invisible plane when I want them?)

While I could say that I have 3 more goddamn days to make it perfect, I'm gonna call it. The first draft is done and I'm entering phase 2-----> ├╝ber editing (otherwise known to me as perfecting).

Maybe now I can regain a semblance of my previous [in]sanity and allow myself to chill a bit. Who knows? Maybe something wicked will plop into my brain and make it even awesomer yet! (yes, that's a word!)

Thanks for all of your support, everyone! You guys simply rock! 

For those of you interested, my plan right now is to be querying by September or October at the latest. The inception for this book came to me on October 10 last year, so that's the ultimate deadline, if all else fails!

Wish me luck on this new phase... it's a little daunting! ;)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Well, bowl me over

Guess what, guys!?

I'm almost done with my first draft!  

Holy freakin' flying monkeys! As it stands, I have one more chapter to finish editing for this round and I'm super stoked! I'm actually gonna make this goddamn deadline! Who knew?

Well, okay... you guys did. You kept reminding me and pushing me forward, so THANK YOU! Without people like you (and uber cheerleader, beta reader extraordinaire Sherry, my goddess of a mother and saint of a husband) I wouldn't be closing in on this deal as excited as I am.

Of course, there will still be more cleaning to do... wordings, sentence structure correction, tenses, etc. The good news is, I have a critique group who I'm thrilled to be working with in the upcoming days--> (Uber Kick Ass Fiends, unite! Or is it untie? I forget.) With their amazing eye, I've no doubt, my book will be ready for querying soon. (Thus begins a whole new kind of terror.)


On a fantastic side note, I've had some wonderful bloggers tip their hats to me lately and I wanted to give a quick HALLA out to them for being so amazing. I haven't had a whole lot of time to think up new things to spew about myself (been working to meet that goddamn deadline) but I still want to thank you.

Each of you deserve this award.

Sooper sweet bloggers------>
First, to Anita for being so amazing all the time.

Second, to Sophie Li who started the blogger award trend with Anita & I thank them a million times over for taking notice.

Third, to Cherie, who is always a rock star. I love her to pieces.

Third, to Orlando for being as great as he is and bestowing a sweetie blogger award.

Fourth, to L. Carroll for her amazingly sweet words about my blog today.

Sixth, to Jack Flacco for his amazing attitude and writing.

There are so many other amazing people who I've met who could easily deserve this award as well. You guys astound me every day and I hope you know how much your support (and sometimes chiding) means to me.

I'm convinced that the writing community is the absolute best.

Now... off to cure cancer. Meh. Maybe I'll just finish my first draft. ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Go ahead, be wrong

Recently, this notion of being wrong has really been on the forefront of my mind.

Everyone, it seems has an opinion and likewise, it seems, everyone's opinion is the right one. Right?

If you don't agree, well, then you must be an idiot. Right? Right?  {insert eyeroll here}

An amazing book blogger and fellow Twitter fiend, Kara was recently attacked for her opinion and review of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse V. Now, while the situation that unfolded is neither original nor entirely surprising, it's got me thinking...

Why do we want to influence others in order to prove ourselves right? What if *gasp* we're wrong?

There's a fascinating video on this subject, which I would encourage everyone to watch. (Thus, it's here!) It talks so much about the values of being wrong and why, in the end, we're better people for it.

The gentleman who slammed Kara for her review was, in my humble opinion, really just attention seeking. It happens. But on his blog, he raised an interesting question... does an artist (in his case an indie-author) need to be nice in order to sell their books?

In a word. No.

I am a firm believer that each person needs to be true to themselves and their inner voice. If his is being harsh and abrasive-- at times, alienating people, many who may have otherwise read his stuff... well, that's his prerogative. Others will surely take the place of those he's lost. And that's okay.

He also posed the question: Should an artist be viewed separately from their art?

I, personally, don't know that they should. There are many stories who's authors I adore. People I aspire to be like. Does this man not look at Vonnegut as someone to aspire to be? How then, is that separating the art and the artist?

Art is the expression of the artist. It always comes from somewhere inside them or it wouldn't be believable.

It wouldn't be worth experiencing

Monday, May 16, 2011

Never thought I'd say it.

But I'm terrified.

100%, heart-pumping, turn-and-run-the-other-way... terrified.

I'm finishing up the last scene I have to write from scratch and technically, I'm only about 2,000 words away from completion. I have a few smoothing over things to do with the chapters that follow, but I've been working on them, too.

2,000 words. 

That's all that stands between me and my first draft.

I've had the scene in my head for months, but I've avoided it like the plague. I'd like to say it was all for the sake of keeping my alpha and betas in the dark. But really, I think I've been scared all along. Scared to finish that last little bit.

Am I the only bizarre one who feels this way?

It's like knowing you're coming up on your due date and at a certain point, that kid inside you will be coming out. There's not a damn thing you can do to stop that process. It's gonna happen.

Impending DOOM!

The good news is, now that I know, I can embrace the fear. Use it to my advantage in this final scene and sprint to the finish line.

Like my hero Jillian Michaels always says:
"You don't get to the finish line and quit. That's when you finish strong."

So that's exactly what I intend on doing. Swallowing down this fear, finishing up the 1st draft and meeting that goddamn deadline.

See you on the other side. ;)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Do I seem neurotic to you?

No, wait. Don't answer that.

So my awesome family doctor (whom I love dearly) told me at my latest visit (Come to find out I probably have have Valley Fever, YIPPEE!) that when he first met me, I seemed neurotic to him-- but I'm better now.

For the love all that's blissful & holy! I laughed the entire trip home! (The things that man doesn't know! HA!)

On the flip side, he corrected himself, saying that he thinks he TOO is a bit neurotic. He has to do things in a certain way and that's just simply the way it has to be done.

It made me curious. (Yes. You should all be afraid.) defines neurosis as:


  [noo-roh-sis, nyoo-]  Show IPA
–noun, plural -ses [-seez]  Show IPA. Psychiatry .
Also called psychoneurosis. a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective evidence of disease, in various degrees and patterns, dominate the personality.
a relatively mild personality disorder typified by excessive anxiety or indecision and a degree of social or interpersonal maladjustment.

Obsessive thoughts... "must write book, must write book, must write book" Check.
Compulsive acts... must write book, must write book, goddamn deadline, must write book. Check.

However, I do not have anxiety (OMG! MY DEADLINE'S LOOMING), nor indecision (Wait, should I say that?) nor any social or interpersonal maladjustment. (You all like me, right? RIGHT?)

But it makes me think that to one degree or another, we're all flippin' crazy.

The only difference is, are you my personal brand of crazy?

Well, I hope so, 'cause you're reading this and I love you for it.

Side note: try saying Coccidioidomycosis without giggling. I can't.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

This is my brain on drugs.

If I were on drugs, I'd look like this on a continuing basis. Just because it's funny. 
(This hilarity is brought to you from my daughter, who, ironically, was not on drugs. She's just strange.)


Having this obnoxious cold thingy makes me think about the brain (of course!) and how we perceive the world around us. So many things influence the brain and how it can cognitively function. Though I've always been interested in this process, I've never been so aware of it in myself until I started writing on a daily basis.

Simple things, small things, affect how well I connect to my story:

  • Not enough sleep      <------ Check out the studies that back me up!
  • Forgetting to exercise
  • Drinking too much coffee
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Having a drink the night before
  • Taking cold or allergy medications

Just one of these alone can mess with how quickly my brain reacts to the world of Pendomus... Can you imagine when multiples are at play?

Sometimes I wonder if this idea of writers block really boils down to something this simple:

I'm not at my best today. 

So then I ask myself: Which areas of my life do I need to concentrate on in order to regain balance? I'll take a closer look at my week, for example, to see where I've been out of sync. Typically, it's because I've become neurotically obsessed and have forgotten to do something simple, like feed myself.

I've been sick on and off for the past month-- which has become increasingly annoying. (Thank you small children in school and seasonal allergies!) There have been a couple times when I've finally given in and taken cold medicine. Every time, I feel like being up and dressed is about the best I can manage and it's not a good way for me to meet my goddamn deadline. Not to mention, slacking off is not something I enjoy. I'm a doer and I don't feel right (on whole) when I'm not DOING. 

However, I know there are times when that's exactly what I need. A complete and total lack of doing. Why? Balance. Generally speaking, life is about this often elusive balance thing. Finding that awesome blend between work and play. Between enough and excess... 

When I go overboard in one direction or another, it's like my subconscious way of bringing me back around. A problem manifests physically (like low immunity) or outwardly (like a crazy ass disaster of a house) and at some point you reach a precipice and need to either back off or drop over the edge. 

Do any of you ever feel this way? Wonder how your actions in the moment, hell even the night before, are affecting your day today? Am I the only strange one to watch for these patterns and notice the difference? 

Though I've struggled with this lack of doing for the past weekend, it was the best thing I could've done. Sometimes, when you just let go -- that's when you find what you're really seeking. Out of nowhere a new pattern emerged and I saw a new ending to my story - one that's so perfect, I don't know how I missed it before. Probably because all it boils down to is sequence. I had all the pieces, they were just in the wrong order!

Now, I'm in the process of correcting that and I think, in the end, it will make for a better book.

Plus, I'm off the DayQuil, on the writing sprint toward the finish line and come Hell or High Water, I will reach that goddamn deadllne. ;)

Friday, May 6, 2011

A little more about me...

Book Blogger extraordinaire and fellow Twitter Fiend Kara nominated me for a new award and evidently wants to know 7 more things about me. I'm not really certain I have 14 interesting things, but I've had just enough caffeine that I think I'll give it a go.

{Don't worry, my ordinarily ranty posts will resume in the next day or so, as I am beginning to feel somewhat human. :D }

Yay for colds! (No, not really... but I feel like if I wish them happily on their way, maybe they will listen?)

This is how this crazy bloggy award thingy is supposed to work:

1. Thank and link the person who nominated you (which I already did).
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to five new-found blogging buddies.
4. Contact the winners to congratulate them.

Like I said the last time, I know time is limited... Take this as the compliment it is and do with it what you will, my awesome nominated folks! (Keep reading to find out who they are!)


7 more things, eh? Okay... here goes!

1. I don't like chocolate. It's weird, I know. A woman who really could give or take chocolate... But that's how I roll. For whatever reason, it's just sort of meh. I can take it or leave it and most of the time, I leave it. Especially if it's just straight up chocolate. Bleck. Now, add some caramel or sparkly something or others... I may give it a try. ;)

2. My favorite flower is the gladiola. Yeah... no funeral arrangement is complete without this flower. (What's up with that??) But I love them. They are simply amazing and don't stink up my whole house with some overbearing, nasty stench. (i.e. Easter Lillies) Besides, they're pretty.

3. My first concert ever was to go see Barenaked Ladies at the Excel Energy Center in Minneapolis a decade or so ago... 

You will notice these fine gentleman are not ladies. But they sure are naked. 
Not to mention, frickin' hilarious live.

4. When I was in preschool, my absolute favorite "station" was the hammer and nail station. I would hit those 10 very real nails with the heavy hammer over and over until I felt I had done each of them perfectly. (At least, according to my perfectionist 5 year old brain.) To this day, I love to build things. I love the accomplishment of turning nothing into something. Coincidentally, my husband gets out of a lot of household projects for this very fact. 

5. I freakishly love to mow. I think it goes back to the accomplishment thing. I like taking a tangled, overgrown yard and making it pretty. 

6. In the spirit of sorting things out... I will share a secret about my book: I did not do an outline. Now, I mapped and planned the world for a month before starting... I knew certain things that needed to happen (but not necessarily when) but I knew why. The rest of the story wrote itself. In fact, even some of my main characters, quite literally, popped into my head as I was typing. It was sort of a -- "Oh, who are you?" -- kind of feeling. But I found I liked it. By the time I got to the climax of the story, synchronicity that I couldn't possibly outline started to click into place. 

7. I'm a morning person. Always have been. I'm up between 5 and 5:30am to either sit down and write or workout. It depends on the day. However, I do not have the same bounce in my step to get up and workout that I have when I'm getting up to write. Huh... wonder why that is?

Anyway... here's the nifty award Kara bestowed upon me. (And some other amazing people who you simply must check out!)

Now, these are the 5 additional bloggers that I feel should acquire the same standing:

1. S.M. Reine (because her new book just came out and she's awesome.)
2. Kate Cox (because she's a dear friend and an awesome artist.)
3. Maggie Desmond O'Brien (because this 16 year old book blogger is smarter than most people I know.)
4. TL Jeffcoat (because he's awesome.)
5. Shay Millar (because he's a good friend and is working on his series right now - the Miasma Angels)

There you have it! You guys rock! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog awards that make me smile...

...And scratch my head.

I'm still new to this blogosphere stuff... But in one week, I've been graciously offered two different blog awards by fun and fabulous fellow bloggers. While I have no idea what they mean or why I was given them, I find them highly entertaining. Plus, they've managed to lift this cold-medicine-induced zombie's spirits. 

Since I don't have the brain power at the moment to do anything other than thank them both, that's what I intend on doing! 

To the amazing Anita, thank you so much for the Artsy-Fartsy Blogger Award yesterday.

It was quite a surprise, but very much appreciated. Like I said before, I've been sick and it was lovely to feel like what I do made someone else smile. So, thank you!

Then this morning, I come to find out that Sophie-The-Sweet also gave me an award

Though I don't think either of us know what it means, it was cute and I also wanted to tell her thanks! 

Both of these fine women are worthy of checking out their blogs and getting to know. They have a wealth of knowledge and I enjoy their takes on things. 

With this Versatile Blogger thingy, you're supposed to list 7 random things... Since I sorta did that already, I'm just going to point you to my other post. (Partially out of laziness and partially out of DayQuiliness.) 

But then there are other rules... something about needing to pass the torch and all that. While I agree that it's awesome to show respect and love to our fellow bloggers, I want you to know this: I get that time's limited. Don't follow the rules just because they're the rules. Rules are meant to be broken. 

That said... 

I'm still gonna nominate 5 amazing bloggers and people I've had the privilege of meeting these past few months... They are working on amazing things (or have amazing things ready for you to discover)... 

Go check these fine people out!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Readers... Alpha, Beta: What's the difference and where do I find them?

So I've been thinking a lot about readers lately. I'm still finishing up the first draft of my novel and getting to the point where I'm really considering taking on new readers. I've had a total of 5 readers so far; 4 Alphas and then my cheerleader, Alpha/Beta Extraordinaire, Sherry.

Each of these tremendous folks have agreed to read the story again from start to finish. It's possible when all is said and done that I may even tweak a couple Betas outta my Alphas. (Get your head out of the gutter!) HA!

Oh, wait, that was me. My bad.

Anyway... What's the difference?

Well, from what I gather (and feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken) Alpha's are straight up readers. They're the people who cheer you on when you could be bombing horribly because they like you too much to hurt your feelings. (see also: your significant other and your Mom)

Beta's on the other hand are the brutally honest critique people. They're essential to making sure your ducks are in a row and not swimming up shit creek without a paddle. Or something like that. Depending on the Beta, they question your motives, your characters, your plot lines, your word structures... they question it all.

Here are my questions to you fine folks...

Did you use Beta Readers? If so, where did you find them? Were they the people lurking in the dark spaces behind your staircase or did you seek them by more scholarly means? Is there a website that is reputable for such a thing? (I haven't yet gone googling, but I will resort to it, if necessary... I just trust you guys more than the monolith of search engines.)

Another concern - albeit conceited and somewhat paranoid - Did you ever worry about sending your work out into the ether? The internet is big, wide space and what happens if your masterpiece gets into the wrong hands? (Think Sauron!) What if it gets stolen/copied before you have a chance to birth it yourself?

I can lock the PDF file until dooms day, but it's a pain in the ass for the Beta who has to retype all of the corrections because they can't copy and paste.

Am I the only crazy one with these thoughts?

At any rate, I'd love your feedback, thoughts and experience yet again. Your wealth of knowledge makes my day. Truly.