I write like
Jack London

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bollywood Extravaganza

This week's offering from The Guild was another music video laughfest. Honestly, tell me how you cannot bust a gut watching this. GAME ON!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Free Read by Seth Godin

Whether or not you're a writer, read Seth Godin's blog. Seth has a unique way of looking at the universe that will expand your mind without the use of LSD. Part of the problem all writers have is creating something different enough to attract a buyer, but not so different that the work scares the buyer. Seth got me to analyze my current wip in a new way that I hope makes it more attractive to an editor.

Seth has a free e-book, Insubordinate. It's short. Go read it. Then tell me what you think.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

WINNER!!

Drum roll, please?

The winner of the Carly Phillips package is . . .



MICKEY MAC!!


Mickey Mac send me you snail mail in an e-mail to soharden (at) swbell (dot) net.

Thanks to everyone for dropping by with their jelly bean flavors. And a special THANK YOU to the fabulous Carly Phillips for letting me harass her with weird questions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

3 Questions and a Contest

Today’s guest has come a long way since she stopped practicing law. (Yeah, I realize there’s a certain theme in most of my interview subjects. Smiley) Please welcome New York Times bestselling author, Carly Phillips!

Hi Carly! You’ve come up with some unique promotional ideas for your books, such as the cookie lips you sent to Kelly Ripa. What other two personal qualities do you attribute to your wild success?

Perseverance and a desire to succeed!


Your latest book, Kiss Me If You Can, comes out today. Do you still get nervous on release days? And please tell us a little about Kiss Me If You Can.

Always. I always get nervous on release day. Smiley KISS ME IF YOU CAN is the first in the Bachelor Blog/Most Eligible Bachelor series. When an online blog teams with a New York City newspaper - with the sole purpose of helping the bachelor in question find the woman of his dreams. The stories are fun, sassy and of course sexy! First up is KISS ME IF YOU CAN:

When jaded crime beat reporter and aspiring mystery writer Sam Cooper ("Coop") stops a jewelry store robbery and is given a ring as a reward, he is labeled a hero and becomes the newest Bachelor in the infamous Bachelor Blog. Lexie Davis is a free spirited web designer with no roots and a love of travel who wants to purchase the ring for her beloved grandmother’s 80th birthday. But as Coop discovers, the ring is stolen property, and when his apartment is vandalized, it becomes obvious someone wants the ring back. As Lexie and Coop team up to uncover the ring’s past, sparks between them fly. Add a cast of secondary characters working to derail the duo’s efforts and drama when Lexie’s unorthodox family history is revealed. When all is said and done, can Lexie overcome her fear of settling down, especially when she discovers Coop wants to write her grandmother’s story as the big break in his burgeoning novelist career?

I really loved writing this story and I hope readers feel the same when they read it!

Next up is LOVE ME IF YOU DARE on August 31, 2010 and it’s a direct sequel to KISS ME.

For those who love bookclubs, please check out the Bookclub I’ll be doing at my
Plotmonkeys blog for KISS ME IF YOU CAN.


On your website, you mention eating lots of jelly beans during the road to publication. I have to know, what is your favorite flavor of jellybean?

I haven’t treated myself to these in years, especially since the candy store in our local mall closed! But that’s easy. I LOVE to mix Strawberry Shortcake and Coconut. YUM!


Contest:

Okay, Dear Readers, Carly’s latest, Kiss Me If You Can is in bookstores now. Like right this minute. For more info on Carly’s books, check out her website.

Today, we are giving away a copy of Kiss Me, along with her entire Lucky series: Lucky Charm, Lucky Streak and Lucky Break, to one lucky blog reader.

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment stating your favorite flavor of jellybeans. And yeah, it’s okay if you don’t appreciate the bean, but I need an alternate candy suggestion. I have to take my sugar vicariously through y’all. And please, PLEASE, if you comment anonymously, leave a contact e-mail!

Per usual, comments will be closed on Thursday, July 29, at 11AM CDT, and GK will draw a name from his Capt. Rex helmet. The winner will be posted at noon.

Legal Felgercarb:

The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada due to U.S. postal regulations. To the FTC Nazis, Carly has not paid me in lip-shaped cookies or in any other form of legal tender or trade.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Business Tip No. 2 - The Dangers of Gossip

Currently reading - Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Friends and acquaintances here in Houston are packing up (some are even on planes already) to head for the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Orlando, Florida this week. Whether you're a newbie or a pubbed, one very important thing to remember while you're at the conference--WATCH WHAT YOU SAY.

I'm not saying be less than honest, but don't have a case of diarrhea of the mouth. And whatever you do, don't say anything negative about a person. If you're having a difficulty with, say an agent or an editor, there are appropriate ways to handle any differences with that person. Loudly proclaiming that person an asshole in the middle of the hotel bar after a few too many wine spritzers is not it. And trust me, Murphy's Law dictates that the person you're dissing to your best bud while you're in the restroom WILL BE in the stall next to you.

Unfortunately, this stuff happens in every industry. Last night, I had the joy of watching the new girl at the day job make enemies and generally look like a total bitch by not handling a relatively minor matter with some discretion.

So keep that in mind when you head to any conference. And if your best bud tells you to cool it while you're out in public, please listen to him/her. The career you save may be your own.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Love This Blog - Alot!

If you haven't done so, I highly recommend checking out Allie Brosh and her blog Hyperbole and a Half. I just wish my English teachers were half as amusing. I like Allie. I like her

Friday, July 23, 2010

Some Good Advice From a Friend - Part 3

Here's Part 3 in Jenn Bray-Weber's series on submitting and pitching.

Just to add to Jenn's wise words: It doesn't matter what YOU want to read. It doesn't matter how great YOUR book is. What matters is what the editor wants to buy. Welcome to Economics 101. Sometimes it sucks.

So, what's on your bookshelf? How recent is the latest book?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some Good Advice From a Friend - Part 2

Here's the link to Part 2 in Jenn Bray-Weber's series on submissions and pitches.

I have to agree with Jenn. Submissions = resumes and pitches = job interviews. If writers don't approach the task from that mindset, they're fooling themselves.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some Good Advice From a Friend

Since I have the Sword of Damocles (um, a column deadline) hanging over my head, I'll direct you to a pithy blog series by Jenn Bray-Weber over at Musetracks about searching for an agent. Smart lady, smarter advice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Well, Shit!

Currently reading - Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sometimes life hands you a bowl of pudding with maggots crawling in it.

SFF author Jay Lake has been documenting his struggle with cancer at his blog. After two surgeries and a round of chemo, Jay had a CT last week only to find another tumor had developed. In the middle of freakin' chemo.

I'm just a fangirl. I don't know Jay, his family or friends personally, but my heart goes out to them. DH went through something similar fifteen years ago. It's frightening in ways you can't describe. Someone you love is subjected to the most horrifying pain and anguish. The only thing you can do is hold them and cry with them and pray that when you get through the tunnel, they're still with you.

Hold your loved ones close to you, and tell them what they mean to you.

And please go out and buy Jay's books. He's a hell of a writer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Movie Mania Monday

Currently reading Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I haven't done a Movie Mania in a while, but since I managed three first-run movies in the theater this weekend and because Zita asked nicely, here we go:

Friday - Twilight: Eclipse

The director followed Meyer's plot and severely sliced out the Bella whininess, so this turned into a decent movie. I'll admit I'm prejudiced because this is my favorite book of the series. I also think Meyer gave the movie people a preview of the Bree Tanner novella because they used scenes from it to flesh out the story. The snarkiness between Edward and Jacob in tent was still the best scene. And rather than this turning into a gore fest, it looks like the director and the fx crew actually read the book (a novelty in Hollywood). The vampires broke like the stony material they were supposed to be.

Kudos include the added scenes of (1) Bella's actual graduation, for Jessica's valedictorian speech and for the hilarity of Carlisle and Esme faking the happy parent thing for the millionth time and (2) Charlie and Bella having "the Talk." The only bone I have to pick is the movie ended with Bella's admission she needed the ring before telling Charlie about the upcoming nuptials, insteadof Jacob receiving the wedding invitation.

Overall, I'd give it a B.


Saturday - The Last Airbender

*face palm* There are no words to describe the awfulness, and this is while totally disregarding the race casting controversy. DH, GK and I are diehard fans of the original series, and even GK bitched up a storm on the car ride home. Jackson Rathbone, who was so believable as Jasper in Eclipse, couldn't save this piece of crap, and he was the best actor out of the leads. I'm willing to forgive M. Night Shamylan a lot, but not this atrocity. If I graded on a curve, Airbender would a D- only because Happily Never After was so much worse. (The guys have never forgiven me for dragging them to HNA, and I'm still apologizing years later for wasting two hours of their lives.)


Sunday - The Sorcerer's Apprentice

By far, my favorite movie of the summer, and not just because I love Nick Cage. Bruckheimer, Turtletaub and the rest of the cast and crew bring a solid, compelling story of good vs. evil to the silver screen, one I can enjoy with my kid. Alfred Molina added a touch of humanity to Horvath with the same grace he did for Doc Ock a few years back in Spiderman 2. Jay Baruchel was pitch perfect as Dave, the apprentice. My only wish was that they did a little more with the Fantasia-inspired mop scene, but I'm sure budget conderations got in the way.

My major gripes:

1) Magickal theory lacked some consistancy (one of my pet peeves) though I loved Balthazar's scientific explanation of magick.

2) Who the hell did Alice Krige's make-up and what were they thinking? Seriously, I kept expecting her to say "Resistance is futile" every time she was onscreen. C'mon, people, she's playing Morgana Le Fay in this movie, not the fucking Borg Queen!

Overall, a A- and a definite addition to the home library.


Anybody got an opinion? Seen anything good lately? (Though if you saw Inception this week, PLEASE NO SPOILERS! I haven't watched it yet.)

FTC Warning: I paid for these movies, and the popcorn too, with my hardearned dollars. I can say what I damn well please about them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Forget Edward and Jacob. Nick's the Best!

Now you know what I'm seeing today. I just hope it lives up to that freaky music.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Progress

Currently reading - Born of Night - Sherrilyn Kenyon

I love it when I make progress. Of course having a three-day weekend once in a while helps.

Roughly, 1,500 words have been written on the current wip today bringing the total over 22,000. In fact, it's the only fiction writing I've accomplished this week. Finding the time to write lately has been difficult with the packing, not to mention the daily minutia, but the family room has got to be cleaned out in order to install the new door, paint and lay the flooring.

Granted, 1,500 words may not seem like a lot by some people's standards, but every little step forward is a step toward the end of the journey. I think I've finally learned to accept this philosophy. I've been a very competitive person my entire life. Uber-competitive. Like in a AAA personality. Any wonder I had to quit practicing law thanks to extreme high blood pressure?

Understanding your own writing process is one of the hardest things for any writer to learn. It's taken me nearly seven years to develop my process. Have you discover your process and how long did it take you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

WINNER!!

And the winner of the paranormal package is . . .

ZITA!

Please e-mail me at soharden (at) swbell (dot) net with your snail mail and your choice of Edward or Jacob.

Thanks to everyone who participated. We'll definitely have to dish about Vampires Suck when it comes out August 18th.

When You Can't Stop Learning

Currently reading - Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Bob Mayer had an interesting post at Genreality yesterday about how beginning writers focus on the wrong things, i.e. worrying about the business side before the craft is up to snuff.

But something he he said still resonates in my head this morning. We should be reading other writers and watching other shows and movies. Pick apart the story, analyze, figure out what works and why.

He's totally correct. I've read The Da Vinci Code and the Twilight series for exactly that purpose. Quite frankly, if those books weren't so successful, I probably would not have picked them up. Dan and Stephenie must have done something to garner that kind of response from John and Jane Doe, right?

Here's my problem though. I can't stoooopppp!

Seriously, DH and I took GK to see Toy Story 3 over the Fourth of July weekend. At the post-movie restaurant, DH asked what we thought.

GK: It was good.

Me: The opening montage was a nice touch, similar to what [Pixar] did with Up. I loved the prison break-out theme in regards to the preschool. I was shocked Mattel's board didn't have a collective aneurysm over Ken running a gambling racket, but Barbie's love redeemed him at the end so I suppose the shareholders wouldn't bitch too much. I thought the black moment was a little too intense for the smaller children, but they tied the story off nicely with Andy playing with his toys one last time.

DH: OMG! You really can't just sit back and enjoy a movie anymore, can you?

Anybody else have this problem? Do we need to start a support group?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Contest Just Because of This Clip

Currently reading - Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

OMG! I write vampire stuff, and even I can make fun of the genre.

But when I saw this preview on my buddy Colleen Thompson's blog, Boxing the Octopus, I laughed my ass off. Vampires Suck was not on the list of summer movies I reviewed back in April, or I would have penciled it in as a must-see on my calendar. So when August 18th rolls around, I WILL be in the theater!

In celebration of vampires and vampire mockery, I'm having a paranormal contest. The books will include Kerrelyn Sparks's The Vampire and the Virgin and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Seize the Night. I'll give the lucky winner his/her choice of Team Edward or Team Jacob bandages. (Yeah, bandages. I saw them in Target and cracked up.) To enter, tell me your all-time favorite vampire movie in comments. And please, PLEASE remember to leave a name and/or e-mail address if you comment anonymously. (See rules and fine print below the clip.)





Legalese BS: This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Comments will close at 11AM CDT on Thursday, July 15. All entries will be put in the notorious Captain Rex helmet and one entry drawn. Winner will be posted at noon on the 15th.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CONTEST!!

But not here! Nope, no comments here will count as a contest entry.

Go to Killer Fiction where I'm guest blogging to read my crazy story about how I won 62 effing auctions during last May's Brenda Novak Auction for diabetes research.

Leave a comment there for a chance to win a beautiful bag full of books and other goodies.

Sorry, folks, but my computer's still in the shop, or I'd have freakin' a picture for you.

Monday, July 12, 2010

T Minus 1 Day And Counting. . .

Currently reading - Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Tomorrow is the Season 4 premiere of The Guild. As I said before, DH and I LOVE THIS SHOW!

In fact, DH loves it so much, he went out and bought a new router just for the Xbox with his own allowance. That's right. Not the household fund. His allowance.

Which means we can watch the premiere on the TV. (Quit snickering. It's a very old TV.) Now that's commitment to a show.

Anybody got an opinion on the storyline for this year? Think Fawkes really likes Codex? Or is he using their relationship to extract revenge for his guild's loss to the Knights of Good?

(Edit: DH pointed out I didn't object to watching the entire Seasons 1 & 2 over the last couple of nights through Xbox Live. Tonight we'll watch Season 3 after GK goes to bed.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Business Tip No. 1 - Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Currently reading - Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

This isn't really a business plan thing, but considering how often it occurs, it's worth mentioning.

I've been lucky. A number of published authors have taken me under their wing and given their feedback, advice and assistance freely. These folks truly believe in "Pay it forward."

A few months ago, a new member of a writers group I belong to asked me to look at some pages, so I said, "Okay."

This isn't the first time I've been approached. It won't be the last. A few folks never came back to this organization when I didn't justify their brilliance. Others become fixated on the wrong things, like having a perfect first chapter.

And others? Well, they become defensive, like this particular person. I don't get their writing. If I read more, then I'd understand their story. I just don't understand this genre.

Any of this sound familiar? Yeah, I see a lot of similar complaints in agent and editor blog comments too. And unfortunately, this is why a lot of agents and editors won't give us writers any feedback. They've been bitten by our ilk too many times.

Here's the thing. I'm definitely not a gatekeeper. I do want to see this person succeed. But this means putting the effort into your writing, figuring out what does work, and fixing what doesn't. All I'm doing is giving an opinion of what I see working and what isn't for me. It doesn't mean I'm totally right or totally wrong. It's just an opinion.

After the new writer sat on my critique for a day, this person sent me a second e-mail saying 'Thank you.'

So here's my proverbial two cents: if you get a critique from anyone, simply say 'Thank you.' It doesn't matter if they're spot on or way off their rocker. They took the time to look at your project because you asked them to, so they deserve a little common courtesy.

Now if someone bullies you into letting them critique your writing. . .

Well, that's a whole 'nuther problem, isn't it?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

TOP Secret!!

Currently reading - Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

Guess what? I'm guest blogging on Tuesday.

Really?

Yep, really. So my super special contest for this week will take place at this other blog

Where is it you ask? C'mon! Seriously? Where else would it be but Killer Fiction!

Stay tuned. I'll have more details Tuesday morning at 8AM.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rain, Rain, Stay Here. . .

Currently reading - Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison

The Houston area has been hit with the second tropical system in less than a week. Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Mother Nature dumped the remains of Hurricane Alex on us. It was Tuesday before the yard was dry enough to mow the towering St. Augustine grass.

Now a second wave that never made it to named status is alternately trickling and pouring more precipitation.

Am I complaining? Heck, no! It's perfect weather for curling up on the couch with a glass of iced tea and a good book.

So let's pretend I don't have a towering TBR pile and a column deadline. Anybody have recommendations for a good adventure book in any genre?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Murphy Is the One True God

The blog's been dark for the last couple of days due to a string of mishaps culminating in the ICU status of my beloved 710m. Will she pull through, my companion, my link to the rest of the world? We're awaiting the prognosis of the doctor.

DH tried to ghost the hard drive to a spare laptop. It barfed on the partitioning. So I've got a half-assed version of my professional life on the 700m. Hey, deadlines wait for no computer, right?

In the meantime, this week's contest in cancelled due to lack of a car to get to the freakin' post office. So sorry, folks!

Please stop by next week. I've got an amazing contest planned.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

We've got meat to barbeque, Toy Story 3 to watch, and fireworks to blow up! Hope y'all have a safe and happy Independence Day.

And remember all those radical, liberal idealists who brought you your freedom.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Business Plan Part 12.5 - Back-ups

Currently reading - Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn

Angie left a comment on yesterday's post about necessary equipment that I really should have mentioned. So a major thanks to Angie!

If you're using a computer, then back-ups are an absolute necessity. No one wants to re-write three chapters, or the whole manuscript, that were lost due to an effed-up hard drive.

Angie mentioned flashdrives, also known as thumb drives, jump drives, memory sticks, etc. I've got two, Skipper from Madagascar and Darth Maul.

Darth Maul is actually a black and red 4GB Dane flash drive from Target. It was roughly $10 plus tax. Skipper was a a special card from Hallmark released in conjunction with Madagascar 2 a couple of years ago. He only has 1GB of space, but I find a penguin butt sticking out of my laptop highly amusing. (Yes, I am the weirdo who laughed hysterically at the Garfield tails sticking out of gas tanks and trunk lids back in the '80's.)

It's also not a bad idea to have an external hard drive for backups if you can afford one.

Some folks I know e-mail their wips to their own accounts. Other have space on remote servers for storage.

One caveat I would stress is to have offsite storage for back-ups. You never know when disaster might strike. I've known or have heard about authors whose homes have been destroyed by fire or hurricane and lost all their work.

There's lots of options, so check out which ones work for your style.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Business Plan Part 12 - Equipment and Supplies

Currently reading - Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn

This is one of those subjects that takes the concept of "subjective" to the extreme. So please take what works for you and discard the rest.

Much of what a writer considers equipment depends of personal drafting preference. Neil Gaiman uses a blank journal and a fountain pen to write the first draft of his stories, whether they be novels or screenplays, in longhand. Frankly, I was a computer jockey for too long, so my typing speed is way closer to my thinking speed. I've tried Neil's method. It drives me bonkers.

Pens and notebooks

Even if you don't draft by longhand, or shorthand for that matter, you'll need something quick and handy to jot down that flash of inspiration. (Really, does anyone actually use shorthand anymore?)

Computer

More and more agents and editors are accepting queries and submissions by e-mail. (And some, only by email!) You don't need a machine with a lot of bells and whistles. A decent brand-new notebook can be had for $500. If that's out of your price range, check with a pawn shop. Free e-mail accounts abound, but be aware they come with a lot of spam.

For word processing, the industry standard seems to be Microsoft Word. If you absolutely can't handle the thought of givnig Bill Gates more money, make sure your word processing software can save a file in RTF (Rich Text Format).

Printer

If you can afford it, I highly recommend a laser printer. Ink printers are fine, but what happens when the postal carrier drops your opus in a puddle? Yes, the inital outlay is greater, but a terrific machine can last for years.

Wait a minute, you think. She just said that practically everything's done electronically these days.

Yes, I did. I can count on two fingers the number of agents who requested anything from me by hardcopy in the last year. But there's a number of other uses for a printer besides spitting out manuscript pages. Labels, bookmarks, business cards, etc.

Extra Ink/Toner Cartridges

You're printing out pages for your critique group, you're already five minutes late, and oops! There goes the red light saying you're out of ink/toner.

Tyvek Envelopes

Seriously, nothing beats these puppies for durability when you do have to send a manuscript by snail mail.

Postage

If you live out in the boonies, keep an account with the U.S. Postal Service. Even if you don't, an account is so much better than standing in line at the post office. You can order supplies, like shipping labels, online too.

Reference Books

At least have a decent dictionary and thesaurus on hand. A copy of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style for grammar brush-ups is a good thing to have also.

These are what I consider the must-haves of any writer. Anyone else have something they'd like to add?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

WINNER!!

The winner for the Cindi Myers book and poster is. . .

Virginia!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and a special thanks to Cindi Myers for spending time with us!