Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting ready for Betas

For those of you who've sent your WIP out to beta readers, how did you do it? Did you send them any instructions? Any list of questions or things to keep in mind/look for?

I didn't know what to include, so I sent the proof copy (duh!) along with a package of index cards and a small pack of sticky notes. My hope is my super savvy reader can just throw an index card into the book anywhere she has questions and use the sticky notes for anything else. Scenes she liked, things that didn't work for her, where she lost interest, etc.

I like the index card route because I only have 2 printed copies of my book and I'd like to keep them clean instead of all marked up. Call it pride, that's not too far from the truth.

If you've sent your book out to readers, do you include anything else? I'm nervous and excited at the same time and I want to make sure I get useful feedback. If you have any tips or suggestions, please share! I'd love to hear your experiences!

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Title: Campaigner

It's FINALLY time!!

Oh, nelly. I really did it this time. I went and signed up for Rachel Harrie's Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign (formerly called the Crusaders).

I've known about this platform-building concept since the Second Crusade/Campaign, but I was A) too late to the party and B) too unsure of what it all entailed.

Actually, I'm not sure I still understand what I just signed myself up for. From what I'm reading on Rachel's blog and around the blogoshpere, the Campaign is a place for fellow writers to meet each other, share some blog love, and work together to help build the online platform and presence of fellow writers.

I'm nervous because I'm not sure how "advanced" one has to be in order to be successful. I'm still new to blogging and I'll be the first one to tell you that I fell by the blogging wayside this summer. So I'm not sure how to do this, but I'm hoping to just jump in feet first and meet other writer bloggers.

So, fellow writers. Who's with me? Anyone care to join the Campaign, meet other bloggers, and show support to your fellow authors? Then please follow the link and sign up! We can campaign together!

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Luuurve and Writing vs Storytelling

First of all, I'm in love. It's Birthday Week over here in my corner of the blogosphere and my mom sent me a Black and Decker food processor. I opened it up, pulled it out of the mega box, and have it in a place of honor on my counter. I love it, even though I'm slightly intimidated by the fact that it's bigger than either my coffee pot OR my KitchenAid mixer (which I also covet, BTW).

I feel so adult. So legit. I am finally a Woman Who Can Cook Things. Or something like that. But like I said, it's a bit scary. It has suction cups on the bottom. SUCTION CUPS, PEOPLE! Seriously.

So, um, any idea what I can do with this? The instructions tell me how to use it, but I'm not sure what to use it for. Understand? Any foodies out there who love their food processors are encouraged to chime in. I also welcome recipe suggestions. Just sayin'.

Anyway... On to the blog.

Are you a writer or storyteller?

I fancy myself a storyteller. I like to share my stories and bring my friends along for the imaginary ride. I don't worry about the plot arcs, character development, or themes. Instead, I tell stories. There are characters. They do things. They go places. It's extraordinary, if only you could see how cool it is in my head.

But I'm not as good with taking that knack for storytelling and turning it out into written (or typed) words. There are too many questions. Too often I stop and ask myself, "Okay, wait. How did that happen? What about over there in that other scene--is that realistic?" The inner critic points out inconsistencies. And she wants to know all the backstory stuff. How did the world end up like this? What's the history? How'd it happen? When did it happen? Will it happen again? Why? How? When? Repeat...

I get lost in the mechanics of writing a story, especially when it comes to the technicalities, or the finer points. But when given the freedom to weave a tale fantastic? I'm your girl.

Do you think there's a difference between the two? Are you a better storyteller or a writer?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Crafting the climax of your story

(caveat: This topic was brought up over on Nathan Bransford's forums back in July and has been in my head ever since. You can read it here.)

I struggled when working on the ending scenes to my WIP, Journey to Andryea (working title). I had all the important stuff charted out on pages of notes, like who had to be where, who had to admit what crucial piece of info, or how did the events affect the MC's journey?

After enough procrastination, I finally sat down and started pounding out the ending. I knew how I wanted it to go, but I didn't know how I wanted to do it. I admit it's still a bit rough in some places, but for now, it's at a place where I can put it down and work on something different.

Then I read a thread over on the Bransforums about how authors deal with the "end" of the final climactic scene. The thread starter pointed out that she could either start the next chapter after a passage of time, or immediately after the crucial moment, but wasn't sure which one to do. People suggested the author write out both endings and go with what felt right. What a novel (excuse the pun) concept!

If we all know that you're not supposed to start out a book in a dream sequence because it lulls your reader into a false beginning, then is it also taboo to end the climactic scene of your book with your MC falling unconscious? I thought back to JtA and realized I did exactly that.

In order to wrap up the climax and get all the key players back to their respective places on the novel chess board, I had my MC pass out/end chapter. The next chapter began two weeks later. And she awoke from a dream.

Two weeks later AND a dream!

Author fail. Knowing that the large climactic battle scene was one of a community's overall survival, two weeks seems like a large break in action before my MC returns. This was a technique I used so I could fill in the "then what" scenes with conversations.* In this situation, I needed to quickly tell the reader how things were getting back to normal while I focused more on the threats and plot lines related to the characters. A few pages later, the story ended with a clear place to pick up in the next book.

How about you? 
Does it bother you when there's a gratuitous passage of time just so the author can nicely wrap things up? Or would you rather skip the 2 weeks and pick it up later, after things are wrapped up?

* = this is also commonly used in TV shows where a year will pass. Recent examples include True Blood and Bones. If you're fans of either show, let me know if the technique worked for you. So far, I don't have any real complaints about either one.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Does your reading change with the seasons?

I know some people read more in the summer. School is out. Vacations are scheduled. The days are longer and life seems to slow down. But soon, summer turns to fall and life gets in the way of our reading time.

Practices, potlucks, meetings, conferences, Lord help me, even snow. Time slips by and before you know it, we're facing Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, spring break, Easter, graduation. Only THEN can we relax with summer and break into the pile of books that has been slowly growing over the past months.

I'm totally the opposite.

I'd much rather read during the dark days of fall and long, chilly nights of winter. What else am I going to do, shovel? (*snortchuckle*)

I find myself wishing I had more time to read in the summer, but I make myself feel better by slowly creating an All-Star TBR list. Not just those token books I've picked up over the years that I think I might one day read. No, the biggies. The ones everyone has talked about all summer. The ones I haven't gotten to read because I'm still trying to get through Game of Thrones there are too many other fun things going on. Barbecues. Swimming in the lake. Getting together with friends. Running outside. Bonfires. Walking the dog. Soaking up the Vitamin D. Mowing the lawn. Weeding the garden. Playing.

I'm biding my time until two things happen. A) I finish GoT [only 320 pages left *facepalm*], and B) I can declare it fall. The sooner those two things happen, the sooner I can tackle my All-Star list, which is suspiciously filled with recent YA novels and one sentimental cozy murder mystery.

I. Cannot. Wait.

I'd write more, but I have an adirondack chair outside, this monster book to get through, and one more hour until my evening begins.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday fun with undies

First, song I'm listening to on repeat today: Cheers by Rihanna

Second, I think I'm going about this healthy lifestyle thing backwards. The other night on my way to the gym, I stopped by the liquor store and picked up a 12-pk of beer, a new bottle of Jameson, and a pack of smokes. Then I went to the gym, lifted til my limbs were jello, PR'd my latest treadmill 5K in anticipation for my 5K race this weekend, then went home where I proceeded to have 2 smokes and 2 drinks.

Yeah. Moving on...

I'm not sure if I'm slightly creeped out or flattered. Probably flattered. Never before has anyone cared so much about my undies until this week when Caitlin over at Logically and Claudie A both tagged me for this underwear meme rolling along the interwebz!

First and foremost, as Claudie also pointed out on her blog, get thee over to Caitlin's post and giggle with me at pirate underwear and what saying her undies would have printed on them. I read that and instantly agreed. Nicely played, Caitlin. Nicely played.

Now then. On to the questions...

What do you call your drawers?
Very simple, undies. NOT panties. The word panties is one of those really gross words that creep me out. Moving on...

Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?
Um, no? Who gives their undies nicknames? Holy? (lol) Lucky? Scratchy? Not me, thanks. Though upon further thought, the idea of a chastity belt is fun. C'mon, I know you're thinking about the Everlast Chastity belt.

(Public Service Announcement: don't google chastity belt while at work. Carry on.)

Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your bloomers?
No, and that's so funny to me. Almost everyone I know has had a dream where they're naked in a public place. I've never had that. I wonder what that says about me? Someone tell me what naked-in-public dreams mean. I'm the opposite of that.

What is the worst thing you can think of to make long johns out of?
To this hearty MN gal, long johns are long pants made of flannel that go underneath your regular pants when it's 20 degrees below-oh-my-god-why-the-hell-am-I-still-living-here? So, just in case anyone thought long johns were a cute name for undies, they're not. But the worst thing to make them out of? Hot wax cuz how are you gonna get that off? *riiiipppp*

Or mosquitos. I'm itching phantom bites just thinking about it...

If you were a pair of small clothes, what color would you be, and WHY?
Leopard or zebra print with lace because I can't quite think of anything tackier and I enjoy being slightly tacky. Sometimes.

Have you ever thrown your bloomers at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your bloomers at, given the opportunity?
Goodness, no. I like my undies. But if you forced me to toss them? I think I'd have to agree with Margo over at Urban Psychopomp and fling my undies sling-shot style to Alexander Skarsgard. MmmMmm... Give me a moment, please...

You're out of clean drawers. What do you do? (OMG... how many questions are there?)
Laundry, of course. But really, I have more undies than shoes. If I've run out of clean ones, I have bigger problems. Like, I'm dead.

Are you old enough for Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?
Absolutely! I had the Wonder Women ones and I LOVED them. I won't lie, I used to pretend I was Wonder Woman, breaking free from evil captors using my awesome lasso. You would too if you were 8 and had those jammies. I know it. Don't lie.

If you could have any message printed on your long johns, what would it be?
Hmm... messages on my long johns? "Holy feck, it's cold" running down one leg and "FML" on the other leg. If I have put on long johns, you know the end is nigh and we've reached desperately cold DEF CON-level temps. It really will be a cold day in hell when I put on long johns because really, who wants to put on flannel pants UNDER their jeans? How are you supposed to sit, walk, or look cute?

How many bloggers does it take to put small clothes on a goat?
I am now officially too preoccupied with Wonder Woman clothing for adults that I simply cannot continue. Did you know they sold non-hooker-looking WW Halloween costumes? Um, hello awesome?! Off to spend hard-earned money on comic wear. Don't judge.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Searching for faith

In whom or in what do you have faith?

I don't mean faith in a religious connotation, though that absolutely is an element of faith for many people. For you as a person, where do you find or put your faith? The calm certainty that says, "this is good" or "I am enough."

I've been struggling lately with the idea that I'm sorely lacking in faith in multiple areas of my life, both inside and outside. Perhaps instead of finding the few places where I put my faith, maybe it's easier to list the places where I know it isn't

I don't have faith (or enough faith) in my ability to become a published author, lose another 20 pounds, and go after my dreams. But even more, I don't have faith in my ability to be "enough" for those I care about. Funny enough. Understanding enough. Normal enough. Caring enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Independent enough. Talented enough. 

Enough, already! 

By doubting myself, it feeds the vicious cycle where I then doubt the sincerity of people who have faith in me. That is so unfair to them and I should give them more credit! For example:

My friends aren't going to ask to read my 250+ page proof copy because they have extra time and don't know what else to do with their month. No, they're busy but still want to read my book because they care about me and want to celebrate my hobbies and successes. Why is that so hard to believe?

The guy isn't asking me over for dinner just because he feels obligated. No, he's asking me over for dinner because he wants to do something nice and enjoys my company. Why is that so hard to believe?

I feel like I'm waiting for everyone to jump out at me and yell, "Surprise! We had you fooled! That book sucks!" Maybe that's the real fear, looking like a fool, especially after I've opened myself up to possible ridicule. Growing up, I hated to be teased. Maybe this is just the grown-up manifestation of that same feeling?

Is lacking faith a direct inverse to having an abundance of doubt? And if so, is the solution to feeling like I am not "enough" to simply eliminate the doubt? 

Lol @ "simply eliminate the doubt." Sure, take two of these and call me in the morning. No, I know it's not that simple but I still want to know:

How does one create faith in themselves? 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gmail set up and an award!

Happy Mental Health Friday, blogosphere! 

That's right, I'm taking the day off of work. The past 3-4 days have been brutal and yesterday I said enough is enough. I'm taking back control of my brain and my emotions and so-help-me-God, I'm not crying in my office any more this week. Take THAT, crazy brain!

Do any of you use Google Mail (gmail)? I have my personal gmail account and my blog gmail account (tlconwaywriteshere [at] gmail [dot] com) and I think I have it set up so my blog email is sent directly to my personal email account so I don't need to log out of one and into the other, but it's not working. 

If you have one gmail account directly default into the inbox of another gmail account and are willing to help a fellow writer blogger out, please let me know. You can email me! Hahaha... I crack myself up. No, seriously. Email me with how you did it, please!

In the world of things much more fun and exciting, Nicole over at Write me a World gave me a blog award. Thank you, Nicole! *high five*

The Liebster Blog award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, so time to spread the love! Naturally, the rules...

   1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
   2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
   3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
   4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
   5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

Okay, so here is the incredibly humbling part. Not only was Nicole kind enough to give this to me, but in doing so, she inadvertently pointed out to me how few new blogs I actually follow. Le gasp! This needs to change, so thank you again to Nicole for the award. None of the three listed below have a friend follower gadget, so I can't say for certain the number of followers, but don't let that stop you from checking them out!

1. You may know her as Cookie over in the Bransforums, but Caitlin has a lovely new blog that you should check out. Check out her most recent post on music that tells a story and tell me you don't have The Beatles stuck in your head!

2. I stumbled across another budding blogger through the Bransforums (can you tell I spend a lot of time there?!) that I think you should check out. Jen over at The Story Scribbler has a beautiful blog with interesting posts on books and writing.

3. Finally, I'm giving this award to Charlee Vale. You need to check out Charlee's page, her awesome graphic header, and then go read her reviews on some of the hottest YA books so far this year. Her recaps are always super helpful.

Finally, shame on me for messing around with my font and text size. Sorry if this is as small as I think it is. I'm trying to get back to what was normal but I really need to get this posted!

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