Friday, December 31, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Epic Things I Learned In 2010

Since the new year is upon us, I figured I'd make a list. Because... you know... lists are cool this time of year and stuff...

So. Here's my list of Epic Things I Learned In 2010:


#1: Blogging is awesome.

#2: The people behind the blogging are awesome.

#3: Writing a book is awesome and evil at the same time.

#4: Blogging about writing a book makes people either: a) think you're awesome; or b) think you're super lame. 

#5: Critique partners are awesome.

#6: Starting a writing blog with said critique partners is awesome.

#7: Getting partial and full requests by agents is awesome.

#8: Getting super kind, personalized rejections by agents is awesome.

#9: Getting into grad school is awesome. It's the staying there and working hard that sucks.

#10: Finally finding myself is by far the most awesome thing that's ever happened to me.



There you have it, folks. 2010 was... oh, what's the word?

Awesome.

2011, don't let me down. :D


And to make sure 2011 kicks off the right way, I've signed up for TWO awesome blogfests. They are:

1) Katrina's New Year's Revisions Blog Party on January 1st

and

2) Frankie Diane Mallis's No Kiss Blogfest on January 2nd

See you there!


And Happy New Year, everyone!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fess Up Friday: My Christmas (And Birthday) Wishlist

So. Tomorrow is Christmas. The day after that is Kwanzaa.

And my birthday :D

Here is my wishlist for both occasions: (feel free to send whichever gift you can!)


My husband, Jensen Ackles. (duh)


My lovers, which include:



Jesse Williams

Chace Crawford

Sam Worthington

Garrett Hedlund

Channing Tatum



(there are more, but that would make this post too long. And, you know, stalker-ish...)


Instead of getting those lovelies, I'm stuck with... *epic drumroll of doom*



My five-year-old cousin. Who wants to kill me in my sleep. Or steal my candy. Perhaps both.

*sigh*


Now fess up: What's on your wishlist??

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To Get Back To The WIP When You've Been Away For, Like, Forever

So. My "vacations" have started. I say "vacations" because:

1) The students at my university are on strike (tuition fee skyrocketed and overall dictatorial crap coming from the suits upstairs)

2) Two of my three classes have projects due in January, and I haven't wrapped them up. BUT I'll be completely ignoring them from today till December 27th. After that, back to work.

Today's post is about going back to work on something else--le WIP.

I only have the first three chapters done, and ONE LINE in the fourth. Yep. I'm pathetic. My goal for this month is to get at least four more chapters done (and to finally pass that wretched 10k mark). 

So how do I get back to work on my abandoned WIP after a month and a half of ignoring it?

1) Le playlist

For every manuscript I start, I create a playlist. This WIP in particular has two--one for the main character, one for the love interest. I love both playlists with a burning passion. Because their songs are EXACTLY what the characters are feeling. No other manuscript has gotten that lucky. So I spend a good deal of time listening to the songs and getting back into my characters' heads. Then I wait for the point in which I can't tell myself apart from my fake people.

2) Le outline

This is the first WIP that has had an outline before I start writing. Usually, I outline as I go to avoid getting stuck. But no, I changed the name of the game, and I'm super happy I did. In fact, my playlists have helped me to FINALLY figure out the ending. I had a particular version I was quite fond of, but when I listened to a song from the main character's playlist, I just... got it. So my plan is to jot down everything I've come up with these past few days, then see if the story flows well. By adding or removing details, I force myself to immerse every single thought into the world I'm creating. 

3) Le other books on my to-read pile

I've been reading like a maniac these past few days. Books that are similar to my WIP. Books that totally aren't. The point? I've been reading. Other stories always make me crave to write my own. Doesn't matter the genre or target audience. I'm not sure exactly why, but it always works like this for me. So I make sure there are plenty of books around when I'm drafting, just in case I lose steam. And yeah, that happens a lot. *blushes*


So there you have it. Music, outlines, and books help me get back to work. 


What about you? Any tips you'd like to share??

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interview Alert! A TOUCH MORTAL'S Leah Clifford!

So, this Sunday, my other home Operation Awesome is featuring an author you should know about.

Which author, you ask?

Oh, no big deal. It's just Leah Clifford, after all. Part of the YA Rebels. Author of this:






Which is about this:



Eden didn’t expect Az. 


Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings. 

Yeah. 

So long happily-ever-after. 

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven. 

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own. 

And that’s only the beginning of the end.



Want to ask the ever-awesome Leah a question? Stop by the OA blog this Sunday and drop her a line. Leah's going to be checking in to answer YOUR questions, and I've been told she's fair game for anything, so go wild. 

And pretty please go buy A TOUCH MORTAL when it comes out February 22nd, 2011. 

See you Sunday! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Congrats, Kody!!

Aside from being awesome, Kody Keplinger is the author of this book:






Today the blogosphere is buzzing about some great news for Kody: she just sold another book to Poppy!!! 

*throws confetti* 

*eats cake on her behalf* *lots of it*

Here's the official announcement from Publishers Marketplace:


Nineteen-year-old Duff author Kody Keplinger's LUSTSTRUCK, a contemporary reimagining of the Greek play "Lysistrata," that explores the issues of teen sexuality as high school senior Lissa decides it's time to end her school's ridiculous sports rivalry once and for all with a hook-up strike, to Kate Sullivan at Poppy, for publication in Fall 2011, by Joanna Volpe at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation (World).


Reimaginings of Greek plays? Hook-up strikes? 

I am so there.

So here's to Kody and her awesomeness. Fall 2011 can't get here soon enough :D

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Book Madness: THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

Folks, I am on a serious dystopian binge. Just ask my to-read pile. Equal opportunity reading is not in my game plan these days. *ducks from knives thrown by other books*

As part of my binge, I finally bought The Book.

What is The Book, you ask? The Book I've been dying to read for a whole year. Yes, that doesn't sound like a long time, but I am a very impatient person. One year = lifetime. So yeah, as soon as I bought The Book, I actually squeed. In front of the cashier. Who retreated four steps back.

Anyway, this is The Book:



THE GIVER by Lois Lowry


Le blurb:

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.


As you can see, this is one heck of a deep, moving story. And thought-provoking. And awesome.

Jonas is officially the Best Person Ever. He's so eager to learn, but he's afraid of knowing too much. He's always worried about a particular rule the Community enforces: the precision of language. You must say exactly what you mean to say at all times. No hyperboles or similes or metaphors. Exactly. What. You mean. 

Can you imagine writers living in the Community? The suicide rate would go up for sure...

Anyway! I'm officially recommending this one to all of you fine people. I wish I could talk about it more, but I don't want to ruin the experience. Trust me when I say it's a lovely story with excellent writing and killer tension. And I almost cried three times!

So. There you have it. How I spent my weekend (aside from slaving over two stupid research papers). 

Fess up: what did you read this weekend?

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Critiquing Stages a la Taylor Lautner's Body

Remember that time I talked about how Robert Pattinson's hair reminds me of writing? Or how Kristen Stewart's face nails my brainstorming process perfectly? Well, this week I had another totally useless epiphany--the feedback I give my crit partners is a lot like Taylor Lautner's body.

I know what you're thinking: "Amparo, stop looking for excuses to put up half-naked pictures of Taylor Lautner!" Believe me when I say this is not the case. There is a VERY VALID REASON, as you will see in a minute. *blushes*

All right. Let's get to it. Here are my critiquing stages a la Taylor Lautner's body:


Step One: My crit partners are very productive people. I am impressed by them. I am also jealous, but that revelation does little for this post. Anyway, my crit partners write their glorious manuscripts and send their latest babies to me. Once I am able to pry my face from Alexander Skarsgard's abs, I download their babies and read. In this first read, I simply focus on giving my uber-positive comments. Basically, I gush my brains out. Or make jokes. Sometimes both. The point is, I only highlight what makes the manuscript fun to read and easy to understand. My critique starts off a little on the light side, and sort of looks like this:






Step Two: I am a sucker for dialogue. Specifically, how it shows me who the character is. Voice is really important to me, and I'm super lucky to have crit partners with kickass voice. First, I focus on everything dialogue-related: whether what is said by Character A makes sense, does it clash with a previous action and/or interior monologue, is the scene dragging because the convos don't increase tension or give relevant info, etc. Then I dive in to the more style-related stuff, like whether there's too much passive voice, how well the words are flowing, the clarity of the setting/emotions/conflict. Little by little, my critique gets juiced up into something more meaningful. And, you know, a little thicker:






Step Three: After I read their pages, I give my overall impression at the end of the sample. I talk about what I loved best first, then I highlight the parts I think could be improved. By doing this, I feel like I'm giving my crit partners a more detailed version of what I scribbled on the Track Changes along the manuscript. But that's not the most important part, though. I find this Big Picture necessary because it gives me the chance to explain the Why better. Why I think some parts can be improved. Why I think the voice is awesome. Why I think the pacing should be tighter. Believe it or not, critiques are all about the Why. Without it, your partners will simply think you're a snob with no heart. The Why is what makes any manuscript better, folks. Use it. And when you do, you'll see that your critique bulks up to a point where it's fully fleshed out and uber-tight:






See? VERY VALID REASON for writing this post, right? Right???


Quick reminder: The results are in for Operation Awesome's December Mystery Agent Contest!! If you entered, believe me when I say you will NOT be disappointed!! Woot!


Now fess up: what's your critiquing style?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beth Revis's Epic Contest Of Epic!!!!

Yes, I'm aware that I'm posting twice in one day. You should be aware that I have a good reason why.

The post title speaks for itself, folks. The ever-awesome-and-talented Beth Revis is throwing a contest that puts all others to shame

How many prizes are there? 100.

Yes. One. Hundred. Prizes.

You could win one of them.

Just go to her blog and sign up. Simple as that. 

What can you win?

ARCS and a Hardcover Copy of her debut novel, Across the Universe

Bookmarks (from her book and other authors)

Bookplates

Buttons

In other words, VERY AWESOME STUFF.

Why are you still here??? Go, go, go!!


And please remember to read Karsten Knight's EPIC QUERY here

Best of luck to all who enter!!

A Query That Worked

Confession: I love queries. Writing them. Reading them. Talking about them.

That's why I gave a really loud "squee!" when I found YA author Karsten Knight's UH-MAY-ZING query for his upcoming debut novel, Wildefire. Folks, not only did this query land him his (super awesome) agent, Ms. Mary Kole, but it captures the essence and voice of his novel so. Freakin'. Well.

Don't feel like taking my word for it? Check it out for yourself here

Read it. Study it. Then go make sure yours is just as wonderful.

I know I'll be working on mine ;)


Now tell me: do queries make you panic? Smile? Both???

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Buffy vs. Veronica

Yep. You read that right. There is an epic post of awesomeness based on:





Buffy



and






Veronica Mars



My two favorite girlies on TV *sigh*

Where is this epic post of awesomeness, you ask? Right over @ YA Highway, of course.

And don't worry. It's about writing. So you can... you know... learn something and stuff...

Okay. Fangirling over. Just wanted to let ya'll know :D


Now tell me: any TV heroines you fangirl over and over and over again???

Monday, December 6, 2010

All About Hype... and a Blogfest!!

Two links for ya'll today :D

First up, I'm blogging over @ Operation Awesome. My topic? Book hype. Fun times.

Now for some exciting news--the super funny Frankie Diane Mallis is having a blogfest!!! Woot! 

It's called the No Kiss Blogfest, and it's all about almost-kisses. *swoon* If you choose to sign up (and I sooo hope you will!), you can feature any couple from books, TV, movies, or your very own WIP. As long as it's two characters about to make out... then foiled in their attempt. *le sigh*

Get ready for the No Kiss Blogfest on Januray 2nd, and sign up here.


Now spill: how did you spend the weekend? Read any good books? Saw any good movies??

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Teenage Dream: How To Hone Your YA Voice Part Quatre

I know it's been a while since I've blogged about voice, but today I'm going back to my first love. Some of you might've read my Teenage Dream series, where I give tips on how to hone your YA voice. Well, as part of that series, I'm adding another post.

But not from me *grins*

You see, the ever-awesome Steph Bowe wrote a guest post over @ Randy Russell's blog. She gives similar tips on nailing YA voice, but I think she does a better job than me. That's why you should go here and read what she said. Trust me--it's really helpful. 

Especially since she's a teenager herself *bonus brownie points*

And since I'm currently on the lookout for TONS AND TONS of books to read this Christmas, tell me: which YA novels have you read and loved recently??

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mystery Agent Contest TODAY!!




Hop on over to the Operation Awesome site and submit your one-line pitch!

Remember: no NaNo novels, no picture books, erotica, or Christian fiction. Other than that, you're good to go. Contest will close once we have 50 entries, so hurry up!!


Best of luck to everyone!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Dumb Bitch Problem

So. My little brother watches horror movies. Lots of them. 

I'd watch them, too. But... they sort of... you know... scare me. And unless you're a horror movie that's totally brilliant and fresh and original, I'm not going to watch you. Sorry.

Going back to my little brother, though. We were discussing the overall suckiness of horror movies lately (won't name names, but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!). For reasons I still can't figure out, I told him about The Mortal Instruments series by the ever-fabulous Cassandra Clare. I totally stood up for Clary, her protagonist, by saying she's an assertive young lady with a good head on her shoulders. 

Then I told him about another YA girl protagonist. Who is her total opposite. 

And no, it's not Bella Swan. Cut the girl some slack!

Anyway, this other YA girl does stupid things. Like walk into alleys. Alone. At night. My brother laughed, then said, "well, that's the same as with horror movies. Some people call that kind of girl the dumb bitch."

I stared at him. And stared. Then stared some more.

People referring to girls as dumb bitches? Doesn't shock me.

And that's the problem. 

Seriously, the words "dumb" and "bitch" aren't exactly flattering, right? They're what I hate most about this lil' old society we live in--labels. Labels suck. Hard. We all know this. 

So why do we keep using them?

That's only Problem #1. Problem #2 is why I wrote this post: there are authors who write about the Dumb Bitch. I don't have a problem with a character who is naive or sheltered or trusting. I DO have a problem when that naive/sheltered/trusting girl never learns a lesson. She stays her same naive/sheltered/trusting self all the way to the end. Say it with me, folks: "why???"

I, unfortunately, can't answer that. Every writer has his or her reasons for writing what they write. And they sometimes fall victim to the Dumb Bitch Problem. They keep putting girls in these little boxes where they fit nice and comfy, keeping them there until Hot Dude comes and saves the day. Or, in the case of horror movies, Creepy Psycho Killer finishes them off thirty minutes into it. Dumb Bitches must die first, after all. 

So please, folks, try to keep your girls out of this box. Or if you really want to put them there, make sure their journey isn't static and predictable. Let them take risks on a whim, but also informed and carefully thought-out decisions. Let them grow up, just like the Real Live Girls reading your books are. 

They deserve better than someone who sucks at life. 

They deserve someone who... oh, I don't know... hates labels. Preferably, ones like "dumb bitch."

Okay. Rant over. *sigh*



***Don't forget! Tomorrow is Operation Awesome's Mystery Agent Contest! Get those one-line pitches ready!! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Post-NaNo Editing Checklist, Mystery Agent Contest And A Video!

Today I'm over @ Operation Awesome giving out revision tips for all you NaNoers out there. You can check it out here.

Be sure to stay tuned this Wednesday for another Mystery Agent Contest over @ OA!! So pretty please polish those one-line pitches, folks!! Mystery Agent is looking for YA and adult (all genres except for Christian fiction, erotica and picture books). Best of luck!

Also, I really really really wanted to share this. The fabulous Myra McEntire had this on her blog yesterday. It made me laugh. A lot.

I hope you do, too :D

Le video:




Hope ya'll had a great Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Thankful For...

1) Jensen Ackles





2) Cookies. Ice cream. Cake. Cheesecake. The works.

3) Shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural,  The Vampire Diaries, Smallville, and Veronica Mars. Oh, and Fringe and Bones and... Well, a lot of shows...

4) Books like Looking for Alaska by John Green, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen.

5) A brain that comes up with books that will n-e-v-e-r be as great as the aforementioned, but are fun to write nonetheless.

6) People like Katrina and Lindsay, who read said not-as-great books and somehow keep being nice to me.

7) People like you. For reading my randomness. Me hearts you.


Disclaimer: This list has not been compiled in order of importance. Just felt like talking about Jensen Ackles first. Because... you know... he's Jensen Ackles. 


Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yep. Shiny New Idea = Latest WIP

It's official. Yesterday I sat down, put on the earphones, and did the unthinkable.

Well, it's not so much 'unthinkable' as it is 'unavoidable'.

You see, I am a wuss. Big time. I am afraid of blank Word documents. But I am only afraid of them when I'm expected to write something on them. Like, actual words. That make sense. 

So yesterday I sat down, put on the earphones...

and started a new manuscript.

*le sigh*

I have been outlining this latest baby for about two months (did I mention I'm afraid of blank Word documents??). The outline STILL isn't finished, but I don't care. It was just my excuse to not start writing this sucker. But I have to stop being scared. It's time to write. 

So far, I have 1k. Only 64k more to go :D

What about you? How far along are you with those NaNo WIPs? 

Oh, and quick reminder, today's my day over @ Operation Awesome! I'm talking about why you should keep going when the going sucks. Fun times.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why I Love Harry Potter: LOL Characters

At last, we come to my Reasons Why I Love Harry Potter conclusion *sobs* This last reason is one that really takes the cake for me. I mean, yeah, Rowling's series is packed with gloom and doom, right? Voldemort is a nasty piece of work, isn't he? The Death Eaters??? Professor Freakin' Umbridge?????

That's why I appreciate Rowling's balance--she gives us the darkest of the dark, and the brightest of the bright.

She makes us laugh moments before we're forced to cry.

These are some of the best examples (to me) of LOL characters in the series:



The Weasley Twins

Naughty + Sneaky + Sarcastic = Awesome





Luna "Loony" Lovegood

She says it like it is. Believes in things/creatures everyone else knows doesn't exist. Has a heart of gold. What's not to love?




Rubeus Hagrid

A kid in a grownup's suit. With a kickass bike. And a really bad hair day... every day. 





Dobby the house elf

Refers to himself in the third person tense. Is more afraid of dirty laundry than his Death Eater ex-master.  Gets seriously. Pissed. Off. When people talk trash about Harry. Can we clone him??


There they are, folks--LOL characters top off what makes the world of Harry Potter an epic win. 

Anybody else who makes you laugh out loud??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why I Love Harry Potter: Romance Takes Time

Romance. Me hearts it.

BUT I like my romance slow. Complicated. Full of WTF moments.

I like my romance real.

That means no blink-of-an-eye, I-just-met-you-and-you're-the-one kind of thing. Sure, people have gut feelings when it comes to meeting a person for the first time, but books shouldn't all be in favor of the Insta-Love formula. True love builds, piles on the layers, and stays strong amid the nastiest of storms.

This is why J. K. Rowling nailed it for me, friends. Because she created two characters that took. Their. Time.


Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger


As a reader, I was c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y waiting for these two to see the light. Tons of fans responded very well to the way Rowling handled the evolution of their relationship: BFFs first, then something more. Some harmless teasing here and there, frequent arguments regarding house elf rights, the occasional love triangle with Hot Foreign Quidditch Player and Incredibly Annoying Stalker Girl, and you've got yourself a romance that spans the seven seas.

And seven books *brain explodes*

Folks, romance takes time. In real and fake life. Nothing beats reading that fateful moment where two perfect-for-each-other characters finally take the plunge. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why I Love Harry Potter: Severus Freakin' Snape

I've already talked about world-building in Harry Potter and how it rocks. Today I'm going to talk about something else that rocks.

Severus. Freakin'. Snape.



 I'm too sexy for my robes... too sexy for my robes... 


Hero. Villain. Readers are always wondering which side he's truly fighting for. Aside from the ever-awesome Lord Voldemort, he's the richest and most complex character in Rowling's novels. *dodges bullets from Dumbledore fans* Yes, Dumbledore is rich and complex and uber-smart and incredible, but you know from the start the type of person he is--an honest and kind advocate for justice. 

Snape? Not so much.

It might be all that black wardrobe action. It might be the abrupt ways he cuts off his students (i.e., Hermione). I don't know 100% what it is about him that appeals to fans, but I do have a theory.

He's a badass with a heart.

Deep down, there's something beating in that body of his.

Very. Deep. Down.

And that's why he's so much fun to read about--you're always looking for that moment when he'll show his heart to the world. When it happens, it. Is. Epic. 

What about you? Got some love for Snape? Or do you wish someone would Avada Kedavra his boo-tay?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I Love Harry Potter: World-building

Reminder: Go check out Laura Diamond's awesome guest post over @ Operation Awesome today!!


The countdown begins, my friends. The Deathly Hallows Part I premieres this week. No, I am not teary-eyed yet *wipes eyes quickly*

So. Today we start with Reason #1 on the Why I Love Harry Potter list.

Which is...

World-building.




 Come on, now: an orphan kid who discovers he's a freakin' wizard? And there's, like, a special school for his kind? With games that involve stealing dragon eggs? And flying on broomsticks????

I. Am. Sold. 

But I wasn't sold so easily *blushes with shame* The minute my middle school BFF told me about Harry Potter, I went all indifferent and "meh." Then I gave the book a chance and bought it. And read it. And wanted to be exactly where Harry was. His reality was my fantasy, one I never saw coming. Everything about Rowling's world is just plain beautiful, even the not-so-beautiful parts (i.e. all the Dark Lord stuff). Sometimes I feel like Hogwarts is just around the corner, Hogsmeade is a couple steps ahead, and Godric's Hollow is a one-hour bus ride away. 

And that, my friends, is excellent world-building :D

What about you? Any books who have such excellent world-building that you feel like they're real?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Saying Goodbye To Harry

So. Harry Potter. I love him.

Not just the character, though. His friends. His enemies. His world.

In honor of the Deathly Hallows, I'm taking next week to weep my eyes out. That's right--a full week of Harry related posts. Even though I am SO not ready to say goodbye. I felt super sad when the last book came out, but I knew there were still three movies left, so I didn't feel like I was saying goodbye back then.

But now there's no escaping it. It's time...

*bawls*

This week's question: are you sad that there'll be no more Harry after July? 




*bawls again*

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

3 Reasons Why Your Internal Editor Rocks

Yes, NaNo is still happening, folks. No, I'm still not participating. *hangs head in shame*

BUT I figured I'd take more precious blog space to talk about something people usually freak out over. 

The Internal Editor.

*cue girl shrieks from scary movies*

What is the Internal Editor? Well, it's just like regular people--it can either be your friend or your enemy. The reason? It tells you what to do. While you're working on Draft #1. Which is supposed to suck.

Internal Editor will stop you every once in a while, maybe every two pages or so, and go, "Yo! This scene blows big time, G!" Yes, Internal Editors can be from the ghetto :D 

Anyway, while some people shut their Editors off during the first draft, I'm here today to defend the opposite. 

Here's why:

1) Your word count... well... counts.

You have a goal to reach 2k in an hour (I hate you...). But during first drafts, you simply type whatever comes to mind without caring about the coherence/structure/awesomeness of what you're typing. You just want to meet that freakin' goal. But if Internal Editor steps in, you get the best of both worlds. You get to 2k, and every word counts. It's not fluff or boring or stupid. It makes sense for your story, and you'll be able to push forward with a better outlook on what's to come. 

2)  Your writing/story improves along the way.

The more you read your own work and spot weak writing, the sharper your skills get. Typos, info dumps, inconsistent characterization--you can catch it all while it's still hot, and take it out immediately. Also, your story's thread is kept intact. You don't go off course by simply writing for the sake of writing something. You keep track of what you want to convey, and force yourself to stay faithful to it. By doing so, you get a clearer view on what your acts should consist of, what the chapter/scene goals are, and how everything will lead up to that ever-important climax. Sounds like hard work, but it's not--you go little by little until there's a whole bunch of awesome at the end.

3) Less hair pulling after you type THE END.

Every draft needs to be edited after it's done. I don't care what anybody says. There's no such thing as a perfect first draft. *rolls eyes* Even if your Internal Editor works along the way, you still need to have other people read and critique your baby, as well as a pair of your own eyes in the freshest state possible. BUT if the Internal Editor has been pulling its weight along the ride, those revisions you're dreading will be less than the amount you would've endured without it. And what could be better than less work??

So. There you have it. Internal Editors rock.

What say you, blogging buddies? Do you let your I. E. out while you're drafting, or do you shut the door in its face?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Book Madness: FOREVER by Judy Blume

It's been a while since I've talked about books. The people who write them seem to get all the attention (and with good freakin' reason). But I'm changing that today. 

Why?

Because Monday Book Madness is back!

And the featured book is:





Le blurb:

Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year's Eve party. They're attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they've decided their love is forever, they make love. It's the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine's parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart...


I am so glad I read this book. Definitely one that needed to be read while I was still in high school. *face palm*

That blurb doesn't do this book justice, though. Yes, those things happen, but seriously? It's a story about The Difference.

What's The Difference, you ask?

Well, The Difference between thinking about what you want your life to be, and living it. Sometimes those two things gel well together. Sometimes, that's not the case. 

But it all happens for a reason.

And that's why I loved this book. Doesn't matter if you're a teen or not, life surprises you. And there's nothing wrong with that as long as you learn.

Even if you can't stomach explicit sex scenes or touchy subjects (like depression), you should give this one a try. Plus, it's freakin' Judy Blume. If anyone deserves a chance, it's her. 

Now tell me: what did you read this weekend??

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Tweet To My 16-Year-Old Self

Yesterday I discovered a rather awesome hashtag going around on Twitter. It goes a little something like this: #tweettoyour16yearoldself

Mouth. Ful.

Anyway, I thought I'd join in on the action for Fess Up Friday. The perfect tweet for my 16-year-old self (who had major issues, mainly because of my undying love for NSync...) (whom I no longer love...) (seriously...) (why are you staring at me like that??) would be this:

shut the f**k up and keep writing

The 'keep writing' part is obvious, right? Right.

First half... not so much. Was I a talker? Nope. I was more of a listener. Still am, I suppose. But I did talk to the mirror a lot. And to pictures of myself. 

What did I say?

Things were never going to get better. Suck would follow me for as long as I lived. Life was just an oversized version of high school, where people look at you weird if you scribble on a notebook outside of class. If you quote your favorite authors. If you write (rather sucky) poems for your friends on Valentine's Day. 

My 23-year-old self has every urge to go back in time, punch my wimpy boo-tay into shape, and tell it to keep writing. Even if it goes nowhere, at least I'm happy. 

Now it's your turn: what would you tweet to your 16-year-old self?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Attention All Writers: Own It

A lot has happened this week. In my life. Around the blogosphere. Everywhere.

I'm not here to talk specifics, but I will mention one thing that's been bothering me lately. In fact, it's always bothered me. 

What bothers me, you ask?

Not owning it.

Voicing opinions is one of the most freeing things a person can do. It can also hurt feelings, or just plain piss off others. Even so, if you don't say what you mean, the only person who suffers for it is you. That's why we should own up to what we say and think. Never backpedal and go, "Oops! That's not what I meant! I've been misunderstood!" 

...

It's a totally different thing to hurt feelings and apologize for it. That is acceptable in my eyes. For example, if you say you hate Neil Gaiman's books (what is WRONG with you???), that's okay. But if you say, "everybody who loves Neil Gaiman's books should shoot themselves in the face," that's not okay. Opinions are meant to pave the way for constructive dialogue between two opposing viewpoints. Not to spew hateful and incredibly judgmental garbage. 

Then there's my pet peeve: backpedaling after you get serious scorn action for saying exactly what you meant

You hate Neil Gaiman's books and think he's no horror expert (again, you have issues). You recommend another writer who rocks way more than peanut butter sandwiches. Neil Gaiman's fans go on a rampage defending his awesomeness. You realize you've gained several enemies that will most likely send you viruses through emails. Then you change your tune and say you're sorry. 

...

Writers, own it. Whatever it is, just own it.

Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5 Reasons Why I'd Kill To Do NaNo

So. NaNoWriMo has arrived.

And I won't be a part of it.

*blinks*

Trust me when I say I have very boring reasons for skipping out. They make me want to punch them square in the face and laugh when they smack their boo-tays on the floor. 

Anyway, I'm skipping out. Against my will. That's why I figured I'd tell you why I think NaNo would be awesome for me. I've narrowed it down to 5 non-boring reasons:

#1 It forces me to write. Every. Day.

I know, I know--you can't force the creative juices. You'll end up with a steaming pile of guano. BUT I'm an exception, my friends. No, I don't end up with roses and pearls for a manuscript, but I do end up working very well under pressure. It's my favorite way to do anything. Bottom line: Whatever I produce is better than not producing at all. 

#2 It's my chance to forget about The Rules (for just 30 days...)

The point of NaNo is to come up with 50k words. That's it. They may suck harder than Rob Zombie's movies, but at least it's a book. Or half of it. 

#3 Everybody cheers you on.

That sense of  sitting at the cool kids' table I've gotten from blogging and critiquing is multiplied a bazillion times through NaNo. No, I've never actually been a part of NaNo, but I've read many testimonials around the blogosphere. I'm always in awe of people who take time to help, and/or root for, strangers. 

#4 It takes my mind off very boring things I shall not waste my time discussing.

I think that one explains itself.

#5 Whether or not you "win" by reaching 50k, you started a book.

Writing a book isn't a piece of cake, right? Then you shouldn't downplay your success by going all self-deprecating and shouting, "I didn't make iiiiiit!!!!" 

Guess what? The only person who cares if you made it or not is you. 

And my advice would be to not care. This isn't a contest, my friend. It's the cool kids' table :D

Tell me: are you doing NaNo this year?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mystery Agent Pitch Contest Starts NOW!!

You know what time it is, folks. Operation Awesome is throwing another one-line pitch contest!!! With a mystery agent!!! Who reps YA and ADULT FICTION, too!!! And the winner gets to submit their FULL MANUSCRIPT!!!

*brain explodes*

What the heck are you still doing here? Head over to the OA blog and share your one-line pitch with us! The contest closes after we receive 50 pitches, so make sure you don't get left out!

Best of luck to all who enter!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fess Up Friday: What Makes Fantasy Awesome

Today we have a special guest to the Operation Awesome blog! The wonderful Janice Hardy, author of THE SHIFTER and BLUE FIRE, is stopping by to talk about what makes fantasy awesome! Run over and check it out!

In honor of Janice's guest post, I'm going to throw ya'll a question related to what she shared for this edition of Fess Up Friday. 

Tell me: what makes fantasy awesome to you?

For me, it's all about Janice's #1 and # 10 picks: magic, and the 'anything is possible' attitude.  I love getting sucked into settings that I never dreamed of. The allure, to me, comes in the shape of that ever-awesome 'what if?'

What if dragons really did exist?

What if I could transport myself to the next continent by drinking a potion, or flicking a wand? 

What if Alexander Skarsgaard was shirtless all the time???

Okay. That last one doesn't quite make sense in this post, but it's me, after all. Had to say it...

How about you? What makes fantasy awesome in your eyes?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Awesome Query Chat With Elana Johnson TONIGHT!

Just a reminder today, folks. Not only is it The Vampire Diaries night *sigh* but the one and only Elana Johnson is stopping by!!

What? Everything you need to know about queries. Killer ones. Sucky ones. You name it. Elana will be dishing out tips and answering your questions. How insane is that???

When? 9 p.m.

Where? Operation Awesome blog. *fist pump*


See you there!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Writer Excuses: Why I'm In Favor Of The 'But I Was Just' Syndrome

Reminder: Join me over @ Operation Awesome's Query Chat with Elana Johnson this Thursday @ 9pm!! 


Now for today's post.

If you write, you know excuses are awesome. Especially when you're on a deadline. 

Some people like to crack the whip on writers who procrastinate. 'Don't leave it for later,' the whip bearer says. 'Just keep writing.'

To that, I say screw it. Excuses can work for the best, you know. 

But the key in using an excuse is to find the right one

Take me, for example. I tend to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'you're going to write today.' Out of the corner of my eye, this face flashes on the TV screen:




Or this one:



Or this one:




And I immediately say, 'OMGhessofreakinghot!!!!!!'

Then I say, 'excuse! I have an excuse!'

Then I check my word count, kick myself and say, 'nope. Not a good enough excuse, Amparo. You should be ashamed of yourself. Now wipe that drool off and get to work!'

Unfortunately, good excuses don't have anything to do with hot men. *whimpers* They do, however, have something to do with how you feel. About yourself as a writer in X genre. About the direction your manuscript is taking. About your character's voice. 

To me, anything writing related is a good excuse to stand aside. 

If you keep pushing through the frustration, it will most likely reflect on your manuscript. Remember when Stephenie Meyer got pissed because someone leaked chapters of MIDNIGHT SUN on the Internet, and said if she were to keep writing the story, all the Cullens would've been murdered by James?

Yeah. That's what I mean.

So instead of turning a homicidal vampire on your characters, take a break to think things through. Your story will thank you for it in the end.

Quick quiz, everyone: which excuse is better?

'But I was just checking if Ian's/Channing's/Alexander's abs were still there!'

or

'But I was just brainstorming ways to stop that homicidal vampire from killing the Cullens!'


Think carefully. You will be graded for this! :D

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Open Letter To YA Heroines

Dear YA Heroines,


It's been a while since I've thought about you. Usually, I just spend my time swooning over your male counterparts. Or wishing they were dead. It's a toss up, really.

But lately I've been reading things like this, this and this. Things that make me think, which has given me severe allergies in the past. I mean, can you imagine? Me, thinking. Hmm...

Anyway, let's get to the point. YA Heroines of the world, I heart you. I really do. But you have to step it up. 

What do I mean, you ask? 

Simple. I mean stop being so predictable. Stop apologizing for doing exactly what you wanted to do. Stop pretending you don't think about sex. Or that you don't like it (if you've had it, of course). Stop being nice simply because you have a vagina. That doesn't guarantee ANYTHING. Neither does having a penis.

Why?

Because you are whoever your creators want you to be, not what people expect you to be. 

You are whoever you need to be in order to find happiness, not fit the mold. 

You are free to shout instead of whispering. To jump instead of tiptoeing. 

But you're also free to whisper and tiptoe if--and only if--that's WHAT YOU WANT. 

I am sick of people complaining about you, YA Heroines. It makes me do painful things like thinking. But it also gives me something to say after the pain goes away.

What do I have to say?

This: there is no one way to have a vagina. Or a penis. 

Get over it.


Sincerely,

The Girl Who Played With Stereotypes


P. S. I'd like to thank Sarah LaPolla, Kirsten Hubbard, and Natalie Whipple for giving me the best headache of my life. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fess Up Friday: Scared Stupid

Before we dive into this edition of Fess Up Friday, go check out Nancy Herman's amazing success story over at the Operation Awesome blog!! Our contest helped her land an agent!! Woot!

Okay. Back to business.

Two things led me to pick this week's question. You can blame:

1) The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff 




*shivers*

and 

2) This post by my buddy and crit mate Katrina

Thanks to them, here's what I want to know this week: what do you think about YA horror?

This particular question is haunting me for a ton of reasons, one being that my Shiny New Idea belongs to this genre. Don't be fooled, though--I am the biggest freakin' coward in the universe. And yet, I love reading books that creep me the eff out, as well as watching movies that don't let me get a good night's sleep. Sadistic much? 

*nods*

There's something about ugliness that hooks me. Brenna's book is the perfect example. Here's the blurb:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

If you're a fan of Tim Burton, this book is for you. If you're not, it will turn you into one. Pinky swear :D

What about you, blogging buddies? Have any love for the scary?