Sunday, February 28, 2010

Defy Gravity

Currently reading - Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

How can you watch Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth and not be inspired?

Embedding for this has been disabled but click on the link. You won't be disappointed.

And if you live in Houston, Wicked's coming here again this summer. Save your pennies!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Lady or the Tiger or. . .

Currently reading - Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

One of my favorite shorts is Frank Stockton's The Lady or the Tiger? While Mr. Stockton created his story as a thought exercise on human nature, the writer in me wants to take the story a step further. Why not explore all the possible permutations of the princess's choices?

If the princess is truly a barbarian and truly as intelligent as Mr. Stockton claims, why didn't she come up with a better plan? Free her lover and they escape to another land? Take the place of her rival behind the door after letting him know which door to open? Take the place of the tiger? Hold her father hostage to save her lover? Lead a rebellion against her father's unjust policies?

If you were writing the story, what would you have the princess do?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Editing Methodolgy

Currently reading - Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

How do you edit? Do you have to cut out whole chapters? Do you need music while writing and silence while editing? Vice versa? Do you need to print out the ms and mark it up with a pencil? Or can you edit on the computer screen? Do you use a different method with your own work than you would for reviewing a crit partner's manuscript?

Honestly, there's no right or wrong answer. Everyone's writing/editing style is different.

For my first draft, I have a tendency to write something my crit partners compare to a screenplay. Dialogue and action are there, but little to no emotion, introspection, etc.

The first editing pass involves reading the ms on the laptop screen and taking notes on a lined, legal pad. I clean up the obvious typos as I go, but generally I don't do too much actually editing. Instead, I look at overall flow and consistancy, recording any problems and possible fixes. Then I mark what the POV emotional reaction should be at this point of the story.

For example, when I started on AV&T this morning, I noticed I mentioned Jacob was Thomas's neighbor, but I hadn't said anything in the first sixty pages about his relationship with Anne when they were kids. I'll need to layer additional hints in when I start the second pass, which is when I'll fix the inconsistencies and add the emotional texturing.

I surprised myself by how much emotion I manageed to put in my first draft. Not like me at all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Inspirational Video

Currently reading - Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

I didn't realize how much this video inspired the cute meet between my Amazonian demi-goddess and my soon-to-be-a-vampire Texas Ranger. I was listening to Ant's Manners & Physique tonight, especially this song, my regular reminder not to give up the dream. *chuckle* I think you can guess which girl is supposed to be my heroine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stalling Activities

Every writer has her stalling activities for avoiding a task she doesn't want to deal with. I've found a new one--sending out queries.

*shakes head*

This is a new one for me. As I said in my last post, I'd planned on starting the edits to AV&T this week. I literally have not looked at the ms since I finished the first draft. I'm a little afraid to. I was tickled with the first version, coming with what I thought were clever little bits. Now I fear my cleverness is, well, pretty fucking lame. I don't really know though because I'M SCARED TO OPEN THE FREAKING FILE.

So what did I do? I sent out the next set of queries for ZL.

*shakes head again*

Normally, I have the opposite problem. Jump into the edits to avoid the queries.

So what am I going to now? Um, I think I hear some chocolate calling my name. . .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saving Your Sanity Through Caffeine-Induced Editing

Currently reading - Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange

I'm a little behind on my writing schedule, having planned to start editing Amish, Vamps & Thieves last week. Dang taxes and GH judging are taking longer than planned, plus I needed a little down time. Woring two day jobs and homeschooling GK while launching a writing career is not conducive to a sound mind if breaks are not taken.

Luckily I have three days off from Day Job #1 starting tomorrow, plus a B&N gift card (must have liquid caffeine for any writing activity), so editing shall commence shortly. Now if I can just find my note-taking legal pad in my receipt-strewn office. . .

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cooking Up a Story

My mom's side of the family cooks without a written recipe. My dad's side wouldn't think of cooking without one. And then there's DH who's still learning to cook because his mom's idea of cooking means anything that comes out of a box.

Great-Grandma Leona's recipe for meatloaf or Grandma M.J.'s recipe for sloppy joes drive DH crazy because the general rule of thumb is put stuff in "until it looks right."

Seriously, this is how I learned to cook. I can whip together creations like pies and cookies by this method. But the thing is I learned what each ingredient contributes to the mix. I'm trying to convey those concepts to GK as I teach him. He's figured out most carb recipes start with flour, a liquid, and a fat, but it's the ratios that make different products.

Flour provides thickness and texture. Liquids add moisture , of course. Fats and oils emphasize flavor and establish tenderness. Knowing the ratios and deciding the addition of other ingredients, such as eggs for cohesiveness, makes the difference between gravy and cinnamon rolls.

Writing's no different. You need to know the basics (POV, plotting, grammar) and the ratios to put together a story. Once you've mastered the key elements, then you can start experimenting with flavors.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Basics of a Query Letter

Sometimes writers overthink their queries. I know I've been guilty of doing it. Yes, you want the right tone, but start with the facts and build from there.

I strongly suggest starting with the journalististic who, what, where, when and why. Here's an example from an actually query letter that garnered requests.

"Only something seriously nasty would drag Dr. Bebe Zachary (Who) home to San Francisco (Where). If her grandmother’s accidental overdose weren’t bad enough, her cousins have filed to overturn Grandma Petrov’s will and lost the coven’s Book of Shadows in the process (Why). The only way to get the politically incriminating Book back is to buy the wardrobe it’s hidden in at the estate auction (Why). Except she’s outbid by the only thing more infuriating than her idiotic cousins--a vampire (What). And not just any vampire, but the coven master of the western United States, Caesar Augustine (Who)."

Notice the only question I don't answer is when. That queston is answered through circumstantial evidence by stating the U.S. exists and Bebe is a doctor. Without additional information, most people will assume the manuscript is contemporary, which it is.

If you need other opinions on your query, Rick Daley's The Public Query Slushpile is a marvelous place to get feedback from peers in a safe environment.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Urban Fantasy Recommendations

Currently reading - Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris

Last week an RWA chapter mate asked for recommendations on urban fantasy books for a critique partner of hers. Here's a portion of the e-mail I sent her:

"There's not a whole lot out there as far as how-to's for urban fantasy. I'd suggest as well as -

How to Write the Break-Out Novel by Donald Maas
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

The best thing to do though is to read the genre. My recommendations would include (with the first book in the series in parantheses):

Jim Butcher - The Dresden Files series (Storm Warning)
MaryJanice Davidson - Queen Betsy series (Undead and Unwed)
Charlaine Harris - The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries (Dead Until Dark)
Kim Harrision - The Hollows series (Dead Witch Walking)
Mark Henry - Amanda Feral series (Happy Hour of the Damned)
Lilith Saintcrow - Jill Kismet series (Night Shift)

Lots of other good ones out there, so tell your friend not to limit herself/himself.

Also, some agents are looking for books with a male protagonist since the field's dominated with female protagonists thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Anybody else have some suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to Explain Genres

A new writer asked me the difference between genres and literary fiction the other day. I wish I had this with me. The marvelously funny Jay Lake does a much better job than me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Hate Real Life Sometimes.

Still reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

Last week was . . .

Oh geez. There's no words without sounding like a whiny baby. Let's just say a lot of personal stuff hit the fan. But the topper was a dear friend's husband ending up in the critical care unit of a local hospital. Her issues pale in comparison to mine.

So I dealt with most of the personal stuff by Thursday, and focused on finishing the current wip. Needless to say, I haven't blogged or read for the last week, but darn it, I'm one scene away from finishing ZW. Once I'm done this afternoon, I'm finshing my Kitty book!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More Hawaiian Music

It's been eleven years since I've been to the islands. I miss them.

Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu does a fabulous job of blending traditional Hawaiian chants with modern forms. You may not recognize his name, but you've heard his stuff if you've ever watched Lilo & Stitch or heard the soundtrack.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

My favorite version of this song. Rest in peace, Izzy, and thank you for the beauty.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Girls (and Boys) Just Wanna Have Fun!

This video shows how talented the kids are at the University of Quebec in Montreal. How many directors in Hollywood could pull off such a long continuous shot?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Amazon vs. Macmillan

Currently Reading - Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn

Sad to say, but the writers are the collateral damage in this smackdown. I urge everyone to go out and buy a Macmillan book (not from Amazon, of course) and support these amazing people.

For a more complete picture of the issues, check out Jay Lake and Tobias Buckell's blogs.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recharging the Imagination

Whenever I'm at a loss for ideas, there are certain things I turn to for inspiration. Tullycraft is one of them. Enjoy!