Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Sorry for getting this post up so late! Not only am I completely wiped out from Vegas, but my husband and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 5:30 this morning so that we could go catch the last day of the Tim Burton exhibit at the LACMA before going to work. But enough about me--as selected by, here's the winner of my giveaway:

Penelope Lolohea!

Congrats Penelope! I'll contact you about getting your new book to you. I so wish I had enough copies to give to all of you, but at least you'll only have to wait two short weeks to get your hands on it. 

In other news, it's Halloween today! Anybody have any fun plans? I might have to drop by a party, but all I really want to do is catch up on my sleep. And tomorrow the NaNo madness begins--who's participating? I really wanted to, but I've decided I'm going to buckle down on my final polish of the current WIP, and save my NaNo idea for another time. Plus I'm going to a week-long work conference the week after next, and I may be crazy, but not that crazy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Quick Note

What I meant to post
Have you signed up for my giveaway yet? I think I may have committed some false advertising, because the copy of SHATTER ME I have here does not have the sparkly girl cover that I posted--I received the stark white, Art And Design To Come version. But it's what's inside that counts, am I right? Anyway, you've got until midnight tonight to sign up. I'll post the winner on Monday, because I am headed to Vegas, baby! My husband is a big fan of electronica music, so we've got tickets to see Avicii and Tiƫsto. Not #1 on my to-see list, but we're going with a couple of friends and it should be fun. (Speaking of my to-see list, I think I forgot to post about going to see Roger Daltrey perform the entire Tommy album from start to finish a few weeks ago--now that was amazing.)

ALSO, if your creative juices are flowing and you've got a good scary story tucked up your sleeve, I encourage you to enter Liz Briggs's Halloween Spooktacular contest. Your creepy 500-word tale of horror could win you a critique of your query and first 10 pages courtesy of Bradford Literary agent Natalie Lakosil (formerly Fischer). So get busy writing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

'Just Because' Giveaway--SHATTER ME!

Today I have something to give to you, my reader friends. Tell us what it is, Rod!

A signed ARC of Tahereh Mafi's SHATTER ME!

That's right, I'm going to mail this book to one lucky person. I'm not celebrating anything in particular with my giveaway--just had a good week and feel like spreading some love. Please fill out the form below by next Friday, 10/28. I will even mail this book overseas, because my love for you, dear reader friends, knows no borders.

This giveaway is now closed, thanks!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Monday Rundown

It's been a heck of a Monday so far, and I am only capable of bullet points and random thoughts:

  • Oh happy day--I was the recipient of an unexpected writing cave day on Saturday, when my husband went to work for a 9:30 a.m. meeting and ended up staying there until 1 a.m. Poor him, but I got LOTS done, hooray!
  • I accidentally fell asleep in my contacts last night, and the punishment for that is being forced to wear my glasses today. I don't know if there's anything I dislike more than wearing my glasses. It's not a vanity issue, I think glasses look stylish. I just can't stand the way they feel on my face.
  • Have you purchased the domain of your name yet? Why not? It costs a few bucks (I think I spent $60 for a five-year contract), but feels good to own it if you're worried about some doppelganger snatching it out from under you. Even if you're not ready to put up a site, you can just make it redirect automatically to your blog until you are. 
  • Are you still using password verification for your blog comments? I turned mine off a while ago after reading a rant on someone else's blog, and since then I've only gotten one spam comment. I'm not saying it's wrong to use it, I'm just genuinely curious if anyone has had trouble with spam on their blog. Watch, now I've invited doom down on my head and will probably get a zillion spam comments in the next week...
  • And finally, here's my revision tip of the day: Try editing your doc in two-page view. It makes it look more like a paper book, and for me that really helped to see how my pages were flowing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip: Writing Journey

The ladies over at YA Highway are asking a pretty personal question this week:

What has your writing journey looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic jams and detours? Where are you going next?

Like most of you reading this, I've wanted to write stories ever since I first got hold of a pencil. I wrote in fits and starts over the years, taking a long hiatus in my early twenties, but it was never an option that I wouldn't write a book someday. And then I realized that if I was going to write a book, I had to actually do it. I spent a year or so putzing around on a story that I eventually realized had no real plot, and then I wrote a few pages of another idea that I thought had potential, but also: no plot. Adventure stories are what feels right for me, but when your adventurers are kids, they need to have special circumstances or else logic will come calling, asking Why don't the adults here just stick these adventure-loving kids in juvenile detention and be done with it?

I sat down to figure out this problem in a cafe while waiting for my husband to meet me, and a bunch of ideas came tumbling down at once. I remember getting very excited, beating my pen against the table. I was listening to my iPod but the only song that I recall hearing is Britney's Toxic. What can I say--it was in my running mix, okay? Still I didn't write the book. Occasionally I'd find the motivation to get my characters to the next scene, but I wasn't serious. It took, of all things, a New Year's resolution to get me to write the whole thing in 3-4 months.

And then what? I polished it, I let a few friends read it, but in my gut, I knew it wasn't ready. I wrote a query letter that I didn't send (thank the heavens above--I will never share that catastrophe with you). My husband commented, It's a story about people reacting to stuff that happens to them, and that's exactly what it was.

Looking for a way to get to the next level, I joined SCBWI. I went, all alone, to my first writer's conference. I started to feel a little bit more like a real writer. And then I found the perfect critique partner, Liz Briggs, who told me on one of our first meetings, "Your character doesn't do anything. And nothing's happening." (She later told me she was terrified to say this and thought I would hate her and run away. Ha! No way, Liz! You're stuck with me!) She helped me figure out where my story was, pointed me towards helpful blogs and craft books, sent me threatening messages when I hadn't revised a new chapter in a while.

It's been about a year now, and I'm almost finished with content revisions. I've cut almost a third of my word count, changed my target age group, empowered my main character. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my other critique group, the Damn Fine Writers, who are mostly offline but also give me great notes and encouragement. I wish the process had gone faster and that I could make more time to write, but if wishes were horses, etc etc...

Where am I going next on my journey? Well, pretty soon I'll try out querying. I tested my (much revised) query in the WriteOnCon forums and it did pretty well, but I know there will be plenty of rejections in my future. I'm pretty confident, though--I know I've still got lots of room for improvement, but I'm learning, and I'm having fun. So maybe it won't even be with this book, but I like to think that someday I'll see my name on a bookshelf.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Updates

Fall in the U.P., photo shamelessly ripped off from a Facebook friend
Whoa, it's already one-third of the way through October and I haven't posted yet this month. Shame on me, but to be fair I've been devoting most of my free time to revisions, so that makes it ok, right?

Fall has fallen in L.A., starting with a lovely rainstorm last week and crisper mornings ever since. Mornings on the hardwood floors are chilly, but the cat, who had forsaken us for his glamorous new kitty condo, has returned to sleeping curled up between my feet at night, which I missed. Fall is also when my baking gene kicks in, so we've had gingerbread pear cake and focaccia, and I've got a bag of festering bananas that I'm hoping to make into banana bread tomorrow, if I can get up the motivation to try this recipe. I may have ordered a new bread cookbook. And a copy of this book, which I think looks completely fascinating.

Chilly weather gave us an excuse last week to try out the fireplace in our new home (built 1911). Thank goodness my husband had the idea to test things out with a piece of newspaper before lighting a Duraflame, so that we were only mildly smoked out when we discovered the chimney is sealed off. And that was when we learned that the giant chunky grate in our fireplace has a bio-ethanol burner built into it. Oops. One shop-vac cleaning and a liter of bio-ethanol found under the cellar stairs later, and we had a cozy fire. Brings to mind that excellent Wedding Singer quote, "Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY." It's okay, landlord, we'll figure this stuff out ourselves.

I haven't been very good this past week at reading blogs or answering email, so if I owe you a response, please know that I haven't forgotten about you. My goal is to get all caught up this week, and also to finish my revisions. By Friday. But for now, I must bid you adieu and find a way to relocate the happy creature lying half on my keyboard and breathing his hot hot cat breath into my ribcage.