Thursday, January 31, 2013

An open letter to Blueberry

Dear Blueberry,

I don’t know when it happened, but you’re in everything. I love you dearly, so I totally understand why people want you in their muffins, granola bars, as the juice to help freeze strawberries, and garnish for desserts. There’s just one problem: You make me sick. It’s me, not you. I think you need to know that, Blueberry, but I feel like we need to see other people. I’ve meet Currant, and I have to admit, you two have a lot in common. But Currant treats me better. Currant doesn’t make me sick and can be found in tea. I know you two look alike, but trust me, you are very different creatures.

I’m sorry it has to end this way Blueberry, but I just can’t take it anymore.

So, could you stop getting into those mixed berries, because I love the other berries, I just can’t handle you anymore.


Former Blueberry lover

I know I’m not the only one out there, but when I tell people I’m allergic to blueberries, they usually laugh. Not at my allergy, but that it’s such a strangely specific allergy. They ask about it repeatedly. “Blueberry? Really? I mean blueberry?”

“Yes, Blueberry.”

So this morning, at the coffee shop I usually go to on my way to work, they had baked goods. Of the six varieties, four had blueberries. Four. Of the non-blueberry selection, one had espresso beans, and the other was a cranberry orange peel (with giant bits of orange peel).

Anyone else have this problem, or am I whinging unnecessarily?

Monday, January 28, 2013

What happens in Vegas… (the Desert Divas win)

Just after being sick, I went off to Vegas to skate in a hockey tournament with the Desert Divas. Usually when I go to hockey tournaments, we get beat by a wide margin. But this time, we took home the prize in our division. For the first time in a really long time, I got to travel and not worry about anything. I’m sorry I was absent from the web, but I had a blast.

Our goaltender for the tournament brought along her husband who takes very professional photos, so I’ll leave you all with some hockey picks. (I’m the one in the yellow socks, it’s a long story). These are probably some of the best hockey photos I've seen, and some of them are even of me!

I'm the tall one on the right.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Something I enjoyed

I thought I had a post, but it turns out I'm just sick.

I've been sick for a while, and I'm starting to think my judgement may have gone with my health.

As such, I'm going to leave you all with a book recommendation:

I just finished Soulless by Gail Carriger. It's not a new title, but if you haven't already stumbled across the series, I give it a hearty shout out. Two thumbs up. It's corsets and vampires told from the point of view of a spinster who is vexed most by having a father who was both audacious enough to be Italian and worse, dead.

I had a blast reading this silly book, and I hardly know why. It took just a few pages for me to become completely swept up in the adventures of a parasol wielding spinster, and if you enjoy an entertaining read with vampires, werewolves and smart heroines, then you'll love this.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go thank the gals at my local bookstore for pointing this one out to me. So much fun!

Monday, January 21, 2013

My two favorite words

The End

Okay, I really happen to hate those words in the context of someone else’s book, but in my own, I love writing those words. So, as you might have guessed, I got to type those words at the end of a really long first draft process this weekend.

I love to run stats because I’m a total nerd. I was pretty much born a nerd. When I was seven my brother said, “Whatever you do, don’t talk like that when you get to Pomolita [the middle school we went to], everyone will think you’re a nerd.” And I am. So here they are, the stats:

Genre: YA Fantasy (it’s a portal fantasy, so that’ll limit my potential agent audience)
Words: 112,000 (but I’m probably going to replace about 100,000 of them, so still a ton of work to do).
Start Date: June 16th, 2012
End Date: January 19th, 2013
Words per day: 525 (I didn’t write on it for 120 of those days, so it’s really 1200 words per day)

Times I considered giving up on this novel: 0
Times I worried that it wouldn’t matter because this book could never be The One no matter how much I revise it: 112,000

Right, so after finishing a novel there’s something you have to do with it. Put it away. I’m putting this one away and I’m not going to open it for six weeks. In the mean time, I’m going to take a stab at my absolutely unpublishable novel, and see if I can do anything with it. And once that project is moving or not, it’ll be time to start my next project. It already has a name, but I think I’ll hold off on the details just yet. In the mean time, I have to go bask in the glory of the awesomeness that comes with finishing a novel, you know the part where you’re all “I’m done! I’m done!” even though, it’s really just the beginning of the road. Man, novel writing is hard, long work. Why do I love it so much?

So my question of the day is, considering that finishing a first draft isn’t the end, do you celebrate finishing a first draft and, if you do, how? Let me know.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday, thank godiva you're here!

It’s been a big week over here at the lair. First week of classes, and of course, working on stories and getting more writerly experiences. It’s been wonderful and terrifying and all the things.

Since I don’t want to get into it all (really, I just want a glass of wine and some St. Andre’s Brie), here’s a picture of my tea thieving cat.

Sure, he's cute, but if he ruins another cup of tea by dropping his catnip mouse into it, there's gonna be some screaming...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That Voice, you know the one

I know all the parents in the audience—and not a few of you older siblings—will absolutely understand when I say, some children’s toys are obnoxious. Blinking lights, ear piercing sounds, you name it, those things were designed to make other people crack.

Someone once gave my sister’s boys these key chains. If you pushed the button, they lit up and played an annoying song. I’m sure you can imagine how pleased she was when her boys decided those key chains were the funniest things on the planet (times two, of course). I’m not certain how the boys managed to live, but this is where the story gets ugly. Children will be horrified, and parents will say, “No jury in the world would convict you.”

My sister’s husband saw one of the key chains sitting in the drive way. If he didn’t swerve the truck out of the way, he would surely run over it. He hit the key chain. Then he backed over it, twice, for good measure. He went to the store thinking that damned key chain was done and gone. It’ll teach the kids to leave their toys in the drive way. Ha, ha. Triumphant father drove over the key chain on the way home too.

When the boys came out to greet him, one of them saw the key chain. “Oh no!” he exclaimed as he ran out to grab the key chain, heart in throat at the loss of his beloved toy. He retrieved it from the driveway, and hit the button. The light went on, and the song played. All was saved. My sister’s husband glared at the keychain.

The key chain fell in the sink, was stepped on by the horse, chewed on by the dog, and, after my sister had warned them to pick up their things and it was left out, the key chain was put into a bowl of water and frozen.

Yes, frozen.

In the freezer it stayed for over a year as the family recovered from the parental hysterics (they hated that toy!), when my sister’s husband had gone on a fishing trip. When he returned with much fish on hand, they needed to go through the freezer to make room for the fish. Everything came out of the freezer, including the key chain.

It thawed, and one of the boys saw it. “Oh hey, there it is, I’d been wondering what had happened to this.” And before either my sister or her husband could get to it, he’d pulled the key chain out of the bowl that had encased it for a year, and he hit the button.

As the stupid song began to play, my sister deployed her husband for the hammer. Yes, the hammer. He smashed the key chain with the hammer… and you know what? The key chain got stuck on. As in, it couldn’t stop playing the first five notes of the song. Over and over and over.

Last week, as I was bemoaning the drudgeries of rewriting a manuscript, when Elizabeth Seckman made a comment:

“And the whole time the little voice never does go away that's whispering "you suck". I wish I could pull the plug on it, but I think it has a battery too.”

Whenever I think about the voice that nags the crap out of me (and it does!), I’m reminded of the key chains. Annoying song I can’t stand, a limitless supply of power, and my complete inability to turn it off. I don’t know if there’s any real cure for that little voice, but you can change its song. Give it a couple of lines, treat it like a canary and see if that stupid voice will sing some of those lines back to you (and hopefully not in an ironic way).

And just remember, everyone has that little voice.

Oh, and the key chain ran out of batteries after two weeks stuck in the on position, but it had to be banished from the house during those weeks. I’m sure you can imagine why…

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Process of Writing a Novel by Elizabeth Seckman

Today Elizabeth Seckman is taking over as part of her Healing summer blog tour. Check out her blog here. I absolutely love reading up on Liz and what she's doing, so go check it out, you will not be disappointed. Liz recently released the second book in her Coulter men series, Healing Summer, and as part of her blog tour, she decided to stop here! (I'm so excited!)

 I’m sure you have all figured out by now that I’m absolutely obsessed with the process of writing a novel. I think it’s because I’m hoping that someone can tell me, “No, no, no, if you just do it like this you’ll write a perfect novel on the first go round!” Admittedly, I’d probably tell such a person to stick it in their tax file (you know, where the sun don’t shine…) and keep writing just the way I like. In the meantime I love listening to other authors talk about how they craft novels, and this is what Liz said when I asked her about how she crafts her novels.

My writing process is probably much like most other writers. It starts with an idea, which I allow to grow on its own. I don’t usually write anything at this point. I just ponder on it while mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. Once it starts to jell into something that resembles a plot, I write down a quick synopsis: the story in a nutshell. 

Then I make a timeline. I want the story to start here and end there. I decide what I want the characters to learn…you know that theme teachers hounded us to find in stories? Well, I like to decide early on what that will be.  

So, now I know what my story is about and I have an outline. I’m almost ready to write.
For each new story, I get a spiral notebook, a folder, and a coupon holder. In the notebook, I make notes and ideas for scenes…maybe bits of conversation. In the folder, I keep research and other tidbits that might be useful later. In the coupon holder, I keep note cards with character sketches and details (I got this tip from a fellow blogger and it’s genius!). No more forgetting a minor characters name, viola…at my finger-tips!

Now I write. The first draft is done without edits. I go straight through. Beginning to end. At times, an idea I think would work great in an earlier chapter will strike… I’ll scribble that in my notebook…”need to add back story for twist in chapter ten in chapter two”, or something like that, but I don’t go back. It’s the forward progress rule. All things move forward. 

Then I’m done, all but the twists. Add those and I’m really done.

I put it away and go on to another manuscript.

After about three months, or when I’m certain the story is good and cold, I read back over it. Not to edit, but to read. What parts of the story are good…what has to go. Here is where I cut and chop and get the plot the way I want it. I squeeze in my red herrings, my foreshadowing, and other literary mumbo jumbo I hope makes me look smart.

Then I put it away again.

Once it’s again cooled, I start to edit. This time, in my notebook I write a summary of each chapter and make a note of anything that needs researched or fact checked.

Then when I think it makes sense. I send it to readers. Not Betas. Readers. You know those non-writer types who just read for fun? I want to check the plot before I worry about the style. Do readers like the characters enough to care what happens to them? Are the plot lines believable or are they trite? I ask readers to note all the places they stop reading and why. I only want them to put it down because their kitchen caught on fire.

Once I have their feedback. I tweak the story. 

Then I send it to my Betas. Then I edit it again. And again and again.

I admit, this is the process I strive for, but I find I still do ninja edits, you know where you go back in during the hands off phase and tweak things. Thanks to Liz for coming over to talk about her process! Healing Summer is now available here and here, and don’t forget to check out Elizabeth at her blog and on facebook. Thanks again for stopping by!

Healing Summer

Maybe Love, Not Time, Heals All Wounds
Ditched at the altar…biopsied for cancer…Mollie Hinkle is having a bona fide bitch of a summer. When life sucks so hard it takes your breath away, what's a girl to do? Pack a bag, grab a few friends, and leave the past and the worry in the rear view mirror. What wounds can’t be healed by a drive across the Heartland, where quarter flips at cross roads determine the route and the future? All roads lead to Craig, the second son and bad boy of the haughty Coulter line. Has fate brought her to the miniscule Montana town to find happily ever after or will it just break her heart?
“Healing Summer” is the second book in the Coulter Men Series.

Found here on Amazon and Goodreads  

Healing Summer Blog Tour 

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