Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Building A Platform

I did it! I joined Rachel Harrie's Third Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign!

I’m so excited about meeting new people, sharing ideas, and learning more about what I do.

I heard about the Campaign on Sommer Leigh’s blog a couple of days ago, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to sign up for something so big (well, it’s big for me, anyway). I’ve always struggled with social interaction on the Interwebz, thanks to Internet Stage Fright, so I put off signing up until the last minute (today). I finally decided that it’s probably going to be an awesome experience and I would be a dummy to pass it up.

The best part is that participants get to join genre-specific groups to help direct them to like-minded writers. I’ve decided to join the Young Adult, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Urban Fantasy, and Beginner Bloggers groups. There’s a good chance I’m going die of blog overdose in the next couple of months because of this, but I don’t care. It’s going to be fun and totally worth it!

I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Character Development Through An Artist's Eyes

Being an artist, I tend to understand things better through visual representations. Because of this, I sometimes like to describe my character development through color.

Here’s how my main character in Brilliant Idea #2 develops throughout the plot. It only covers the beginning, middle, and end, because I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline just yet, but I think you can probably get a general idea of what’s going on.

1) Softer tones represent naivete and youth.

2) Bold dark tones represent chaos, discomfort, and discord.

3) Bright colors represent growth and new life.

Something about that last one reminds me of Cake Wrecks and really makes me want to eat a cupcake.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why You Should Back Up Your Work

Around this time last year I was just about to finish up on the very first edit of my very first manuscript. (Yay!) I was only a few chapters from the end and (Ack!) the hard drive on my laptop died. I lost all of my edits and the last three chapters of the manuscript. (Boo!)

Lego Twitter Fail Whale by tveskov

By then, I was so over my manuscript that I didn’t care that it disappeared into hard drive heaven. I didn’t lose any sleep because I was in the loathing stage of our relationship and, as I’ve said before, that usually occurs about the time I really start digging into the editing process.

Honestly, I was happy to move on because Brilliant Idea #2 was pounding on the door and I was raring to get started on it. In the end, I’m glad I decided to forget about the lost manuscript. I was able to take a break from obsessing about it for a good long while and, because of that, I’m completely over the loathing stage and back to being infatuated. Right now, though, I’m forcing myself to finish editing Brilliant Idea #2 before I get side tracked again. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and I NEED a finished manuscript like a pirate needs orange juice.

So now that I’m back on board with my first manuscript, I’m having some serious regrets about losing all those hours that I spent slaving away on my manuscript. Can’t believe I let something that like that slip through my fingertips.

I think it goes without saying people, back your stuff up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Think I Have Editor's Block

The last couple of days have been like a giant traffic jam of workflow. I haven’t gotten nearly as much accomplished as I intended. I like to blame it on Netflix for adding four seasons of Mad Men to Watch Instantly, but I know it’s my fault for getting distracted so easily.

I think I’ve figured out my problem, though. I’m pretty sure I have editor’s block. I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block, but I’ve always had issues with editing. I would almost rather have the flu than edit my manuscripts. One of my biggest pitfalls is taking a look at the big picture and getting bogged down in the details. I tend to do that quite a bit and it's about then that I start despising my work and getting burnt out.

Also, I tend to get bored when I’m not constantly exploring my characters and their journeys. That’s my favorite part. Let’s face it though, I can’t do anything to change the writing process. Editing is a very necessary component.

Every once in a while, though, I come across something I wrote and I think, “Did I write that? Holy cow.” Those little moments inspire me to keep slogging through the mud, and give me hope that, in the end, I’ll have a sparkling manuscript that I can call my own and be extremely proud of.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do You Love Zombies, too?

If I could be someone else I would be a superhero zombie warrior:

I would live in a post-apocalyptic world.

I would never be bitten.

Biohazard by Francisco Javier Argel

I would defend myself with ballpoint pens.

Pen Attack by illustir

I would live off of acorns, pecans, and blackberries.

Pecan Grove Field by Proleshi

I would carry a bow and a sword.

Link by Dunechaser

I would use hairspray and a lighter in a pinch.

I would live in a treehouse.

Wolkenkukucksheim by glasseyes view

I would ride an electric car because it’s so quiet.

Melex 212 by Karwik

I would ride a vintage enduro when the battery in my electric car died.

1972 Yamaha RT-2 360 Enduro by twm1340

I would ride my moped when the vintage enduro died.

I love zombies. Sometimes I imagine what I would do if a zombie outbreak happened in my town. I live near a nuclear plant so sometimes I think that’s not too far fetched an idea, but until the nuclear reactors go, I’ll settle for writing about them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is News Media Fiction?

Last night I had an interesting conversation about news media.

The topic came up and eventually led to a long discussion about whether or not news media is a form of fiction.

Arguments included:

News is Fiction: Most news doesn’t affect you in an immediate capacity.

News is Fact: It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t affect you personally; emotional reaction matters, too.

News is Fiction:
Emotional reactions don’t produce anything tangible.

News is Fact:
There is value in emotion.

News is Fiction: The only things that are real are the things you experience in person.

News is Fact:
It doesn’t make sense to disconnect yourself from the rest of the world because you don’t experience everything personally. Eventually, some events will trickle back to you.

News is Fiction: News isn’t always accurate.

News is Fact: News is how I learn about what happens in the world.

We traveled down the rabbit hole for a few more hours and in the end, we decided that both ends of the argument carried some legitimacy.

The interesting thing about the discussion is that while news is based on factual events, it isn’t always accurate and unbiased. It tells a story, though, and stories are what draw an audience. There are people working behind the curtain that are really good at making this happen. Take reality TV and the Casey Anthony trial, for example.

More than anything I think it’s important to understand the mechanism and use sound judgment when deciding how to react.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Books Made Into Movies

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about books that were made into movies so I’ve made a list of my top twenty favorites. Let me start by saying that I’ve seen a bazillion books made into movies so in order to keep this list short I’ve only included the ones that I’ve read.

Also, be warned. There’s quite a bit of chick lit. (What’d you expect? I’m a girl.)

20. Starship Troopers
So the movie is a little cheesy. Okay, it’s very cheesy. The thing that I like about it is that it’s kind of an homage to Robert Heinlein’s sense of humor. Sure, there are a couple of made up subplots, but the thing you have to remember is that there isn’t much of a plot in the book to begin with. They had to do something to make it flow a little better.

Funny thing is, the first time I watched the movie I hadn’t read the book so I turned it off after twenty minutes. However, after I read the book the movie seemed completely different. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still cheesy, but at least now I get it.

19. Twilight
This is one where I read the book after seeing the movie. I love how indie-cool it is and how everyone is so pale and rosy-cheeked. I love the awkward piggyback scenes, the cool music, and the low-budget feel.

18. Brick
Really love this movie. It kind of came out of nowhere and blew me away. And so did Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That was the first time I’d seen him since his role in 3rd Rock from the Sun. He was all grown up.

17. Northanger Abbey (2007 TV)
This one is a good example of how a film gets it right by capturing the spirit of the book. I can still see Catherine looking up at Henry with those large innocent doey eyes. Jane Austen is smiling down on from heaven right now, I’m sure.

16. Mansfield Park (1999)
Okay this one’s a little strange, I’ll admit. The movie has subplots in it that come out of nowhere. They weren’t in the book, but boy do they make the movie dramatic. I still like it, though. It’s one of the grittier novels that Jane Austen wrote and it still has all of the trappings of a good romance.

15. The City of Ember
I loved the costumes and set design for this movie. As often happens with books made into movies, things were different, and maybe in this case it was for the better. It’s still a great movie, though, and I love Saoirse Ronan and Bill Murray.

14. Wuthering Heights (2009 TV)
Oh, the tears. So many tears. Good grief the Bronte sisters knew how to make a person cry. P.S. I love Tom Hardy in this role. Made me love Heathcliff even more.

13. Jane Eyre (2006 TV)
Out of all of the actresses that have portrayed Jane Eyre I empathize with Ruth Wilson the most. Her confusion, frustration, and passion ooze through the screen.

12. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
This is another one of those movies that people thought didn’t do the book justice. I disagree. Of course the movie wasn’t perfect. They never are, but I think it captured the spirit and humor of the books perfectly. Plus, puppets. You can never go wrong with puppets. Look at Labyrinth.

11. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
This is the first time I really thought of Harry as grown up. It touches me in a way that the other movies don’t. Of course, by book six, the stories had gotten more and more character driven. I feel like this one really hit the nail on the head, though. It was a perfect set up for The Deathly Hallows.

10. Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban
Two words: Time Travel

9. Lord of The Rings
New Zealand, vistas and hobbits. What more is there to say? Oh yeah. Elves and wizards.

These movies are so epic. And I have to say (and you will judge me for this) I think I might like the movies better than the books.

8. Clueless
Ah, Cher. If only I had a fancy closet like you.

The directors, writers, producers, etc. did a good job of recreating an Emma that modern girls can understand and relate to. Although, I hate to think that modern girls can’t understand Austen’s Emma.

7. Emma (1996)
I don’t care what people say I love Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma.

6. The Princess Bride
I loved this movie so much growing up that sometimes I watched it three times a day. I even quoted it in my highschool yearbook even though everyone else quoted Thoreau and Nietzsche. Who doesn’t love this movie?

5. Sense & Sensibility (1995)
Wow. Merchant Ivory. ‘Nuff said.

Some of the best actors of our time are in this movie: Sybil Trelawney, Severus Snape, Poppy Pomfrey, and a couple of other famous people that weren’t in Harry Potter: Rose Dawson and William Thacker.

4. Anne of Green Gables
There’s no one quite like Anne Shirley. Megan Follows is perfect as Anne.

When I was younger I connected with Anne so deeply that I felt like I knew her. Thanks, Lucy Maud, for teaching me about kindred spirits.

3. Pride & Prejudice (1995)
Swoon. Seriously. That Colin Firth. Love him. And doidn’t Jennifer Ehle have eyes just like the ones that Mr. Darcy talked about in the book?

2. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Double Swoon. Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley. I love the cinematography in this one. And the costumes are incredible. They did a good job of showing how grimy everything was back then, all the way down to the greasy hair, cracked walls, and bugs flying around.

1. Wives & Daughters
This is my all time favorite. I could watch it over and over again. I love Justine Waddell as Molly. She was so innocent, good, and pure. She had me rooting for her character the entire time and secretly wishing I could claw Cynthia’s eyes out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cover Art That Makes You Smile

When I’m at a bookstore, I can spend hours staring at the books on the YA shelves. I literally salivate when I walk the aisles thinking of which books I’m going to read next and how nice my book is going to look one day when it gets its own cover and it’s sitting pretty on the shelf next to the others.

One book, Zombies Vs. Unicorns, has a cover that has always sucked me in, so naturally, one day I finally broke down and bought it. When I say “sucked me in” what I really mean is that I couldn’t stop coming back to it no matter how hard I tried to ignore the little zombie and unicorn duking it out on the front and the super cool illustration in the background. That really says something about the cover, doesn’t it?

Being an artist of the graphic design persuasion, I fully understand the point of cover art so I get seriously peeved when someone misses the mark and, conversely, I do a mental happy dance when they get it right. I also get a good kick out of classic covers that are redone as part of some huge marketing campaign like this one that was redone for Wuthering Heights. (Bet you can’t guess where it’s hanging out on the shelves):

Really, though, I do enjoy redesigned books covers. The Penguin Threads Classics cover redesigns by Jillian Tamaki that are coming out in October of this year are some serious eye candy. You might have to shield your eyes from their stunning gloriousness.

Also, I might have to buy them just for the pretty.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You Can't Command+Z Everything

Yesterday, I was fiddling around with fonts on my Mac and I somehow managed to jumble up every single Word document I’ve ever saved on my computer. I was editing Chapter 7 of Brilliant Idea # 2 when everything crashed.

My initial reaction (like most graphic designers) was to hit Command+Z, but seeing as how life doesn’t operate like a computer, I opted for something a bit more sensible. I restarted Word and auto recovery kicked in. Unfortunately, it crashed again before I could hit save, thus leaving me out an entire day’s work. As predicted, it sent me into a flurry of panic. How was I supposed to do all of that work again?

If only I had saved my work. Yes, if only I had.

So, I woke up this morning and tinkered around a little bit with my fonts and, lo and behold, I fixed it! I can finally move forward with my work!

I supposed I should hang my head in shame for not being more responsible. After all, one of the cardinal rules of just about any vocation is “always save your work”. But, eh well, I fixed it, and I’m human. Sometimes I mess up.

Now all I have to do is re-edit Chapter 7 and wait for my blood pressure to return to normal.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When Everyone Wants the Same Job

I’ve applied for the same job at a local publishing company at least six times in the last few years. Everyone wants to work for this company. That’s no exaggeration, friends. Everyone wants to work there. They have a superfun laid back atmosphere and they let you wear jeans to work. (Gasp.)

In the past, I’ve managed to land one interview and I’ve received two rejection letters encouraging me to reapply in the future. Lately, they’ve had a slew of openings and when a new one is posted I send in my resume in hopes that it won’t go to the bottom of the slush pile. I usually change my resume up each time, hoping that something will catch their eyes this go around. And if it doesn’t, I’ll keep sending in my resume until I get the job or they put a restraining order on me. You see, I know I’d be awesome at the job so I’m just reminding them that I’m still here, ready and waiting to do my part in helping their company succeed.

Occasionally, a tiny voice inside my head tries be a Debbie Downer and tell me that their H.R. department probably thinks I’m a crazy stalker (this could quite possibly be true) and when they see my name they automatically shred my resume, but I ignore the voice because I have a legitimate strategy. I want to show them that I’m dedicated and I go after the things that I want and I don’t let rejection or failure stop me from doing my best. I just figure out what’s keeping me from succeeding and I revise, revise, revise.

So what happens if I never get a call back? Simple, I’ll get a job somewhere else and be just as happy. At least I know I’ve put forth my best effort and I’ve gained a ton of knowledge from the experience.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Addicted to Writing

If I ever had to take a test to determine whether or not I’m addicted to writing it would go something like this:

Do you take a notepad with you everywhere you go specifically for writing down ideas? Of course.

Do you sleep with said notepad next to your bed at night? Naturally.

Do you take notes in the dark so you don’t wake your spouse, even though you can barely read your handwriting the next day? Whoa. How did you know that?

Is the nicest, most well kept room in your house your Writing Cave? Obviously.

Do you loose sleep at night because your brain won’t stop thinking of awesome ideas? All the time.

Do you spend money on books and writing supplies instead of food? Sometimes.

Do you forget to pay your bills on time because you’re too busy planning a literary coup? Maybe.

Do you occasionally forgo personal hygiene in order to conserve precious writing time? Let’s not go there.

Do you forgo nights out with friends in lieu of a nice quiet evening at home with your laptop? None of your business.

Do you pretend to listen to your spouse when you’re actually fixing a plot line in your head? Listen, this is really getting out of hand.

I would fail the test, but I’m okay with that. Being a writing addict is fun.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Editing My Manuscripts

Right now I’m in the process of editing my manuscript and let me tell you, I would rather stand outside all day in the August heat and roast like a pig on a spit.

I suspect I’m in the stage of writing that involves utter hatred of one’s own work. I’m not kidding. I don’t even like to look at it for fear that my brain might implode. I go through all kinds of crazy emotions when I think about my manuscript (frustration, annoyance, embarrassment). And most of all, I think that maybe I should definitely throw it in the back of the closet in hopes that I never have to lay eyes on it again.

The funny thing is, I went through the exact same thing with my last manuscript, POS#1. I thought it was complete junk when I finished the first edit so I threw it in the back of the closet, but now, after looking over it again I’ve decided to rework it as soon as I’m done editing Brilliant Idea #2.

Apparently, my relationships with my manuscripts go something like this:






Then, I toss it in the back of my closet and ban it from memory until I stumble across it again a year later.

There’s definitely a pattern forming here. I just need to finish editing these two manuscripts before Blow Your Mind Idea #3 comes along and upends everything.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

When I'm Not Writing


This weekend is the biggest moped rally of the year in the world and I’m probably not going. This saddens me, but honestly, the last thing I want right now is have blazing hot air blast me in the face at 45 mph. Imagine aiming a hairdryer at yourself and turning it on full blast. That’s what it’s like.

The thing about moped rallies is that there’s nothing else quite like it. Basically, about three hundred 20 and 30-somethings get together and ride mopeds around the entire weekend and act a little crazy. We get quite a lot of strange looks from people that are wondering what we’re doing, but we’re used to it so we don’t mind.

Really, though, I’m torn. Maybe I’ll decide to go after all.

Here's a promo video they did for last year's rally:


I just finished Mary Oliver’s A POETRY HANDBOOK. It was fantastic but I’m not gonna lie, I’m ready for some fiction. The reading was so heavy and dense that now my brain is exhausted. Funny thing is, the next book on my self-education list is A HANDBOOK OF CRITICAL APPROACHES TO LITERATURE. I might have to come back to that one.

On a brighter note, I’ve got quite a few YA books on my list to buy the next time I’m at the bookstore. I’m pretty stoked about having some fresh blood on my bookshelf.

Also, I decided today that I’m going to add Georgette Heyer to the list. I’m surprised I haven’t read any of her books yet. That’s something that I’m hoping to remedy rather quickly.

Earlier tonight, I read Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade”. My husband has recited it to me several times before, but there’s something about seeing the words written on the page that make the experience so much more intense. I could hear the cannons fire, feel the soldier's fear, and sense the brutality and futility of the situation. It’s incredible when that sort of thing happens in less than 300 words.


Lately, I’ve been messing around on Pinterest. Let me tell you, it’s so easy to get sucked in to that website. Especially if you’re into looking at bazillions of pretty pictures for hours and hours on end.

It’s actually a great place for inspiration and considering I’m also an artist, it’s like crack.

You should check it out if you haven’t already.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dealing With Rejection

As writers, we will have to deal with rejection at some point in our lives. (Unless you never come out of your Writing Cave.)

However, I think it's important to remember that rejection can provide some important life lessons.

For example, let's take a quick trip down memory lane and see how one person decided to deal with it:

Scene: A crisp fall evening. Two students are walking through campus.

Young Effy: I suspect that you are planning to ask me out on a date. Since I'm not interested in dating anyone at the moment, I'd advise you against doing so, because I'm going to say no, and I'd hate to hurt your feelings.

College Boy: I know. I'm still going to ask you out.

Young Effy: I don't think you're hearing me correctly.

College Boy: I heard you correctly and I don't care. I'm still going to ask you out.

Young Effy: *harrumphs and crosses arms*

You see, College Boy has no fear of rejection here. Absolutely none. He even knows that there's a good chance Young Effy will turn him down, but he doesn't care. He's taking life by the horns.

So what happened to Young Effy and College Boy? After a while Young Effy finally caved and went on a date with College Boy and, guess what, now they're married.

Don't let the fear of rejection keep you from going after the things you want most in life.

Now, go finish your manuscript and send a query letter or two. Or twenty.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Teenage Mind

In an attempt to better understand a teenager's mind I've been doing a little research by reading the diary I kept when I was sixteen.

And HOLY cow. It's hilarious.

When I'm not completely mortified by the things I said, I'm dying laughing. You would, too, if you read some of things you wrote when you were so young and full of life (and attitude and sass.)

I read somewhere once that the human brain doesn't fully develop until people are in their early 20s and I have to tell you, my research has pointed to this.

Let's take a quick look at our specimen:

March 2

Dear Myself,

Goodness, what the heck am I going to do with myself? I must be the biggest dummy in this entire world.

[Subject shows early signs of bad grammar and self-loathing common with age group.]

Well, to start things off I guess I'll tell you about Fred* It all started one Friday when he asked me to the 70's dance that our school was having that Saturday. So I went with him and had a good time and he asked me out again. So we went out the next Saturday and the next and the next and the next.

[Subject encounters Variable A. Subject now in danger of losing sound judgment and logical thinking.]

Then we spent Valentine's day together. I guess I could say that I care about him more than I cared about anyone else in the world.

[Study terminated. Subject completely infatuated and talks of nothing else but Variable A for the next seventeen pages.]

I think we can easily deduce that teenage girls think about boys a lot.

And I mean, A LOT.

But I already knew that.

*Names have been altered for posterity's sake.