Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday got away from me or GO SEE MALEFICENT!!!

As the title might imply, I went to see Maleficent. And IT WAS AWESOME.

Allow me a moment if you will, to explain why... without spoilers.

I've always had a thing for villains. In fact, most of my stories start with the villain. Sometimes, the most interesting person in the room is the villain. For Real, especially for me.

Part of this was because I never quite fit in as a kid. I liked the frilly stuff the princesses wore, but it was impossible to wear those dresses and ride a horse, so out went the dresses. I could beat the guys at all my favorite sports games, but I was never invited to "be one of the guys." The girls thought I was weird because I was all sporty, and the guys thought I was strange because I WAS a girl.

And for this: I was outcast.

And you know who is always the outcast? The villain. I saw it early on, and I chose the villain's path (shakes fists at those fools at the university). I've even claimed that Peter Pan is a tragedy told from the very unorthodox POV of the antagonist's sidekicks.

And Maleficent did something very beautiful with the Villain. They gave the villain the opportunity to not only be redeemed (I'm a BIG Zuko fan, FYI), but to also get to have a complicated relationship.

Also costumes. And badassery.

So yes, a well told story that hit all the feels (and well), and managed to take a classic story, spin it on its head and make something really beautiful. Now, don't mind me, I'll be seeing what I can do to reproduce a set of those horns!

(hey Disney, can we get a retelling of Chernabog tale next?)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Princesses or Roller Coasters

An opportunity came up. I took it. With less than 48 hours notice, I planned and packed my family up for a trip to Disneyland.

I love the mouse. I'm sorry if you aren't a fan, but it's my jam.

So we're driving over the grape vine, when I notice: hey, my throat is a little sore. Maybe I'm allergic to LA (yakno, with all the smog and stuff). But never you mind, we are on our way to D-land. By five o'clock on the day of Disney, it was clear: I have a cold.

We had a blast. When asked what her favorite part was, my daughter said "Meeting the princesses!" So that was totally worth it. After getting off Big Thunder Roller coaster, she said "Well, if we can't go meet more princesses [fantasyland closes for the fireworks], then we need to get on a roller coaster!"

Yup, that's my daughter, inadvertently summing up my life. So, words of wisdom from a five year old.

And just one picture, because, like I told Marry Poppins as I was taking the picture, I wish I was the one in it!

Practically perfect in every way.


(someday, I'm going to go to Disneyland with my own autograph book and take pictures with all of my favorite princesses)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pitcharama

Title: ACNE, ASTHMA, AND OTHER SIGNS YOU MIGHT BE HALF DRAGON

Author: Rena Rocford

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 70k

Synopsis:



Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, Allyson just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon's fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures who hide within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he's been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson has to choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

WRiTE Club is upon us!

I totally forgot to tell everyone about WRiTE Club. And then I checked my history and saw that I had told everyone about WRiTE club. I'm losing it (but did I ever really have it?)






Since the WRiTEs haven't started yet, I can still talk about WRiTE Club (for like another hour or two!).

What it is: It's a flash fiction contest with absolutely nothing on the line but bragging rights (I almost wrote "writes." Tired writer is delirious when nearly ready to send out to betas!).

How it works: Two 500 word stories go head to head. Anyone who shows up may vote--except the WRiTERS... wait, but it's all anonymous. hmm. Well, the hope is that enough people would show up to vote that there wouldn't be a WRiTE that close. We'll see.

So, go to DL Hammons Blog as the WRiTEs are about to start. Read through and cast your vote! Yes, YOU!

"But I didn't enter."

Doesn't matter, you can still VOTE!

So go over to the competition and vote... you know, after the first WRiTe goes up. And come back for more! There will be 2 WRiTEs per week, so come back for more. Vote, read, make friends and watch as the EPiC battles unfold for the ultimate bragging.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Scheduling Blues

I'm in that horrible place between. I've finished up some projects. I'm polishing some other projects, and since I was more or less at the end of some things, I thought it would be a good idea to try writing out a schedule, because, you know, someday I'm going to be on deadline and all that.

I wrote it out. I prioritized all the projects currently on my plate (where did they all come from???). I laid out my plan like a big girl. I printed out a calendar to mark it up and everything. I marked how long this project would take, and the one after that. Then I printed out another year of calendar space so I could keep going.

I stopped the madness when I got to the third year.

Because, let's face it, I can't stay on schedule for more than a couple of months. I'm not saying I can't finish things. Nope, not at all--finishing isn't my problem. I have some sort of crazy MUST FINISH PROJECT gene lurking in my head somewhere. No, my problem is that no matter how hard I try I can only work on ONE project at a time.

Like for real.

I thought I could just swap between two projects in a week, but NOPE. I can do it under exactly ONE condition: I can swap if the project I'm leaving is done. D-O-N-E.

So my master schedule is already off the table (though, I think the only casualty was a short I was never that enthusiastic about). And I find myself feeling like an amateur. I mean, I should know better than to try to put my creativity on a schedule, but I hate that sort of fruit loopy writing process where people are all "I'll get it done when I find the inspiration." Except, I'm the one with fruit loops in my bowl.

I want schedules people! Nice organized lists with achievable goals I get to cross off everyday. I might be obsessed with efficiency. Clearly I need to make peace with my process, but I want some organization. How do you handle your writing schedule?

Good thing I decided to go into a field where everything is right on schedule, runs like a well oiled machine, and never takes longer than it should.*










*That was sarcasm, just in case you needed a calibration.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

IWSG: Rejections are good for you! (please don't shoot me)


Sweet Mother of the Internet, what happened to May? Swallowed in a vortex of Everything Else Going On, I’m sure, but I find it startling when whole months just disappear on me. But since it is a new month, and it’s Wednesday, that means it’s time to check in with Ninja Captain Alex and this month’s co-hosts C. Lee McKenzie, Tracy Jo, Melanie Schulz, and LG Keltner!


That’s right, it’s time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I’m feeling a little up right now, so I’m going to pass it along. This is probably going to sound like one of those afterschool specials about becoming who you are, and learning to ignore peer pressure. I just want everyone to know that I’m not always so upbeat. I’m not always so optimistic in the face of rejection, but today, I have some wisdom for you.

My very favorite fencing coach loved to quote Conan, Bruce Lee movies, and Monty Python. During class, he would ask one of the n00bs “How many lunges does it take to get it right?”

They would guess some crazy number around a thousand (it sounds round and the thought of doing ten thousand lunges when your thighs are screaming at you hurts too much to admit). He’d say “wrong!” then turn to one of the students indoctrinated in long nights of watching B movies on HBO and ask, “How many lunges does it take?”

“All of them, Maestro.”

Rejections are sort of like that. The idea behind “all the lunges” is that your body will be sculpted by each and every lunge, hopefully manifesting in a perfectly—or at least effectively—executed lunge in the heat of battle. Which is to say, each lunge brought you part of the way to where you are, incrementally closer to your goal. Rejections are like that too.

I came to a realization many years ago that a particular project I had wasn’t ready. I’d been querying the project. I LOVED the project, still do—in fact it’s next up on my edit list, long story, and I don’t mean word count—but in its early incarnation, it wasn’t ready. That wasn’t something I was able to see at the time.

For obvious reasons, that project got a lot of rejections. Those rejections helped me see my manuscript from someone else’s point of view. I grew.

Then I sent out more work, and I got more rejections. Many more rejections, but this one was different. I could feel the difference in the way I was being rejected, and more, after a little time away from it, I could feel how stilted and jumbled the manuscript was. (I also love that story, and may someday redo it in a way to make it publishable—I miss my motorcycle racing gryphons *sigh*).

I moved on to another book (sweet mother of science, there really is a trail of literary bodies in my wake!), and the rejections had changed again. These rejections made things sound fixable.

Fixable?

I’d abandoned projects before because I wasn’t sure what would make them better. I’d tried everything I knew how to do, and still they were flawed, somehow stuck in that place that lacked high concept AND compelling writing. Then my rejections moved to “I like this but…” That was a major breakthrough. I took the manuscript out and edited, revised, edited some more (you’ve heard how my process lacks those qualities of efficiency, yeah, this was like that).

That is to say, it took rejections—lots and lots of rejections—to put myself into a position to look at my manuscript with a more honed and professional eye. Sure, it still wasn’t the MS creating fans like the twihards, but all things in time (no, I'm not dreaming of that kind of fame, that's crazy with a capital K). And with each rejection, I gained something. Dare I say, I grew from them?

At that moment, I realized, I’d became a better writer because someone said no to me.

Mind blown.

When I was working on that first project, I cried a lot. I felt like I’d read a lot of really bad books that had been published. I felt like mine was “good enough.” I constantly said “If only someone would take a chance on my book and read it, they’d fall in love.” Or “My book is better than that published book by five-books-a-year Bestselling author.”All signs of beginner's angst.

But when no one said yes, I had to take a serious look at why. It wasn’t because I had enemies in the business. It wasn’t because people were judging me on my looks (at first I was very careful to not have pictures of me on the internet because of my work). So if they didn’t know me, and they weren’t just saying no cause I was, you know, fat (my default reason for most rejection in my life up untill that point) then why were they saying no?

Oh, right. They were saying no because the writing wasn’t that good.

So I dug deep, figured out some things and soldiered on.

Later when the rejections kept coming, I looked for other things in my craft: awkward writing, better word choice, the eradication of Just, Little, Pretty, and That. And each No drove me forward like my fencing coach yelling “Another!”. (Now I imagine him throwing a coffee cup to the ground a la Thor, but we never fenced on Thor’s days).

I’m not going to lie, rejection hurts, and even when it’s making you better, it still feels like you’re asymptotically* approaching your dreams. Even though it hurts, and even though it sucks to see a big field of no (especially when all around, you see the sea of yeses from people landing agents and book deals—or bypassing the whole system for selfpub and or kickstarter) rejections are a healthy part of the system.

A: if it were easy, everyone would do it.

B: If it were easy for you, you wouldn’t grow.

C: Okay, well, I don’t have a third piece of evidence because they hurt, and they suck, and I’ve cried over rejections, and not that pretty movie cry. Nope, that’s not my speed, deep ugly I can’t breathe crying, that's for me. But rejections change you. They mold you into the writer you will become. That’s usually better than the writer you are today. Go get some rejections! Wait, that didn't sound right. I suck at pep talks today.

And if this just makes you want to throw things at your computer, I get that feeling, too. Just remember that a shotgun to the screen, while beautiful to imagine, is actually quite messy (just imagine how I know that).



*An asymptote is a curve that approaches a particular line, but Never. Quite. Touches it. So yeah, sorry, math metaphors. It’s usually not contagious until I’m making vector jokes, but quite frankly, I'm all out of direction.