Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WIP Fire. Or... How To Get Your Groove Back

So. A while ago, I wrote a post on how to get back to your WIP after being away for, like, forever. Today, I'm sort of discussing the same thing, but not exactly.

*scratches head*

I'm currently working on the second draft of my WIP. I say second draft, but really, it's a HUGE rewrite. The task is much more daunting than I had expected, folks. 

But I love it.

Well, I love it when the words flow easily for me. Those other times? Not so much.

So here's an extra tip on how to get your groove back after a while of not writing a particular project:

4) Give yourself permission to brainstorm

I often stare at the screen for waaaay too much time, not knowing what the heck to write. But if I don't write something, I feel guilty and lazy. Here's the deal: if this happens to you, DON'T FEEL GUILTY AND LAZY. Brainstorming is work. You're thinking about improving your WIP. How to inject sense into the thing. These days, I spend more time brainstorming than I do writing. And when I do sit down to write, the pages fly by because I know where my story is going (keep in mind, this is a second draft. First drafts can be trickier). It takes me less than an hour to meet my word count goal of the day. All because I didn't force it out, and took my time to ponder first. 

Folks, embrace the pondering. It is awesome.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go ponder how to tackle my homework... *sobs*

Reminder: Don't miss Operation Awesome's next Mystery Agent contest! Be sure to check it out this Friday, Aprils 1st. And NO, it's not an April Fools joke :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

My 1st Blogoversary Book Giveaway WINNER!

At last, the random number generator has spoken!!!

The winner of my 1st Blogoversary Book Giveaway IS...


*more drumroll*

*even MORE drumroll*

*evil grin*

Laura Diamond!!!

Congrats, Laura!! You get your preorder pick of Elana Johnson's Possession!! *fist pump*

Email me your mailing address to aortizzle (at) gmail (dot) com!!

A huge THANK YOU to all who participated!! Rest assured, this won't be my last contest, so make sure you stop by in the coming months!

Now tell me: which books are you reading right now?

Friday, March 25, 2011

If You Do One Thing Today, Read THIS:

So. I love Kody Keplinger. A lot.

Now? I love her even more.

Exhibit A: this amazeballs post, which touches on a subject I take very seriously. Yes, she discusses rape. But what I take even more seriously than the consequences of such an atrocious act is The Other People. 

You know, those who love to say, "she had it coming."

*takes deep breath*

Folks, go make my Friday and read that post. Pretty please.

And DON'T FORGET! My Blogoversary Book Giveaway ends on Monday the 28th, so hurry up and enter!!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Genre Hopping: How Do You Cope?

So. I'm working on a manuscript that belongs to a genre (you know... as most manuscripts do...).

I have another WIP on standby. And it's in another genre.

I keep going back and forth between the two, brainstorming ideas for both plots.

All. The. Time.

Folks, I am going insane. 

To the point where I was actually humming a Justin Bieber song yesterday *facepalm*

That's why I wanted to ask ya'll a little question. You know, for the sake of my sanity. If you're a genre hopper like me, how do you cope with getting ideas for both at the same time? How do you choose which manuscript to set aside in order to work on the other? Or do you schedule time to work on both?

And more importantly: Is there a procedure, like some type of brain surgery, where doctors can remove the cells that cause humming Justin Bieber songs???

Any and all help will be VERY much appreciated. :)

Oh, and don't forget! You can still sign up for my Blogoversary Book Giveaway

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Would Have Given ANYTHING To Be Like...

The fabulous and uber-talented Kirsten Hubbard wrote a book. It's called Like Mandarin. It is on its way to me as we speak (hurry, FedEx!!!!). But I've read snippets on her blog, and oh. My. Lord.

As Michelle Hodkin said, "she is f*cking talented."

In honor of Like Mandarin, Elana Johnson and LiLa Roecker are throwing a non-blogfest. All you have to do is share a little secret:

So. I have two answers. One is the person I wished I was in high school. The other is the person I wished I were now (aside from Mrs. Jensen Ackles, of course...).

In high school, I would have given anything to be like...

Kurt Hummel from GLEE

Yes, he's a dude. Bear with me. He can sing. And dance. And has great hair. And great clothes. But the real reason why I wanted to be like him?

He knows who he is.

At seventeen, I didn't have a clue who I was. Other people knew waaaaay earlier than me. They'd encourage me to keep writing plays, acting in our school's theatre group, and reading books no one had heard about. But I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be pretty. Fun. Fearless. The girl boys couldn't stop looking at. 

I wanted to be like my friends. I convinced myself I was like my friends. 

Kurt is the total opposite of me, but his confidence blows me away. Of course he gets sad, but he doesn't regret being the way he is. He just regrets that very few others can see how happy he is with himself, and that he'll never change for anyone. 

He would've slapped me across the face if he'd met my seventeen-year-old self. But hey, she totally deserved it :)

Right now, I would give anything to be like...

Kirsten Hubbard. Duh.

At this point in my life, I know who I am. I'm a Literature grad student who finally owned up to loving books and theatre. I'm obsessed with movies and TV, especially with characters and premises. 

I'm a writer.

But I'm not nearly as good as Kirsten. 

I'm still learning, and she's one of my teachers. She doesn't know it, of course, but I hope I get the chance to tell her face-to-face how much her prose pushes me to be better. To not settle for 'okay'. To see  beauty where others see nothing special. 

Kurt and Kirsten, thank you :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Know Your Flaws... And Make Them Strengths

 So. There's this TV show you may or may not know about...

Some people call it SUPERNATURAL.

I call it Best Thing EVER.

Anyway, SUPERNATURAL is usually heavy on the grim and gritty, but the creator and executive producers always make sure to toss in a few episodes to lighten the mood. Recently, they aired this kind of episode. It's called "The French Mistake". 

In this episode, brothers Sam and Dean are sent to an alternate reality. Not only do they discover they're actors playing two dudes called Sam and Dean on a TV show, but their real names are Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.

Which are the actors' real names in real life.

Oh, and they also discover their angel BFF, Castiel, is some dude named Misha Collins.

And he's obsessed with Twitter.


So, the point of this post is to show pics of my husband and brother-in-law illustrate a couple things about the art of writing. In "The French Mistake",  SUPERNATURAL pokes fun at itself. Hard. Some jokes the show made involved:

1) Low ratings

2) Episodes and storylines the fans h-a-t-e-d 

3) Disputes between cast members (due to diva-like behavior)

3) Disputes with the network's president

4) Creative differences between writers and executive producer/creator, Eric Kripke

5) Kripke's outlandish ideas for new TV shows

6) Jensen's breakout role in DAYS OF OUR LIVES (don't ask...)

7) Jared's marriage to actress Genevieve Cortese, who played a villain on the show 

8) How corny Jared and Jensen can be in interviews

9) How corny Misha can be all the time

Some of those jokes were just that--jokes. But other things, like the low ratings, fan-hated episodes and storylines, and network disputes, are real. SUPERNATURAL took what doesn't work and turned it into something useful. According to about a zillion blogs, "The French Mistake" is now one of the show's best episodes.  

Which leads me to writing.

Spotting your flaws isn't easy. Sometimes it takes a lot of writing and reading. Sometimes it takes other pairs of eyes to spot them for you. What matters is that you give yourself permission to suck, then take that suckage and transform it into brilliance. Don't get discouraged because you're not doing your best, or because you think you're a long way from improving. You'll never get better if you don't keep going. 

One day, you'll look that suckage in the eye and say, "Suckage, you've been PWNED!!!!!!"


Now tell me: do you have any writing flaws that are frustrating you? If so, how do you make them strengths? 

Monday, March 14, 2011

First Page Phobia

Confession: I am terrified of first pages. 

Like, shiver-till-my-nerve-endings-fail-me terrified. 

That's why I've been rereading books in my WIP's genre. And my favorite books in general. I check for overall tone, flow of words, and characterization. To me, the best first pages/chapters give you a sense of everything that's happening and a sense of what's to come later on. Ever heard how agents refer to that opening line as a guarantee? Well, I think the first page strengthens that guarantee. It reinforces the point the author wants to make with the image they create with the opening line. 

No pressure, huh?


I guess my my main concern is cramming too much into one place. To me, nailing that perfect balance takes two things:

1) Practice

 2) Patience 

Oh, and critique partners help A LOT, too :)

So yeah, my advice is simple: work x100000000 on that first line/page/chapter/wholemanuscript. Beat the fear with perseverance. And eat some chocolate while you're at it. 

Okay. That last thing doesn't really do anything for your WIP, but... it's... important?

Now tell me: do you have first page phobia? If so, how do you deal with it? 

Oh, and DON'T FORGET: my Blogoversary Book Giveaway is still in full swing! Enter to win a book or preorder from my to-read pile!  

Oh, oh, AND!!! Today I'm discussing YA Boys and Actors over @ Operation Awesome. Go. Swoon with me. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

My 1st Blogoversary Book GIVEAWAY: Your Pick!!

So. Exactly one year ago, I started this blog.

*tosses confetti* 

*dances to every Lady Gaga song* 


I soooo cannot believe it's been a year already!  A YEAR. You, my pretty little followers, have made the journey SUCH a blast for me. That's why I decided to celebrate with... what else?

A book giveaway!! 


Okay. Here are the rules:

1) One lucky winner will be chosen randomly 

2) The winner will be announced on March 28th

3) You must be a follower to enter :)

4) You must leave a comment on this post telling me which YA book you'd like to win

NOW for the super awesome YA books! The lucky winner will get their pick of one of these super awesome babies:

OR one of these preorders:

You can blog/Tweet/put the contest on your sidebar, but I won't make those part of the rules to enter. Easy, peasy. 

Remember to leave your pick in the comments!!! And THANK YOU for giving me the chance to express my lil' old self :)

Happy Monday!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten BLOGFEST!!

So. Another day, another blogfest. Trust me, this is one of those blogfests I could NOT miss. Why? Well, it's about one of my fave things ever: TV.

Folks, I give you the GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN BLOGFEST!! It's hosted by the awesome team of Erinn, Pam, Quita, Alicia and Holly. 

What: I must post my top 5 shows that are no longer airing new episodes. 

As Ryan Seacrest would say, "Dim the lights! Here we go!"


HI-larious actors. Sharp, witty writing. Six unlikely best friends/neighbors. I'm sold. 

I actually started watching this show at an age in which I had to ask my mother what certain *ahem* words meant. Best WTF face ever.


Okay. Dialogue? Unrealistically sophisticated. Drama? Too... dramatic.


And the acting. And the character arcs. And the humor. Best rollercoaster ever.


America Ferrera is a gift from the acting gods. She's so talented, I'd watch her monologue the bejeezus out of a laundry list. 

This show flaunted her sense of humor and dramatic chops in the perfect balance. 

And the clothes!! Me likes purrrty clothes... 

I do regret Betty and her soulmate boss stayed in the platonic stage, but still. Awesome show.


If you know *anything* about me, you saw this coming ten miles away. 

I discovered this amazeballs show three years after its cancellation, but OMFG I love it. 

Just. Plain. Love.


First TV show I became obsessed with. Ever. Nuff said.

Oh, and Sarah Michelle Gellar is awesome.

Oh, and David Boreanaz is hot.

OH, AND SPIKE!!!! *fist pump*

So there you have it. My Top 5 Obsessions I Can't Breathe Without Fave Shows Off The Air.

Can't wait to read the other entries!! *rushes off to check 'em out*

Thanks to Erinn, Pam, Quita, Holly, and Alicia for hosting this super awesome blogfest!

P.S. I cannot believe I quoted Ryan Seacrest on my blog... O_O

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Outlining With Robert Pattinson: The Turning Points

NOW we get to the good stuff, folks. Yes, I already confessed I love writing the inciting incident, but there are other parts of the story that I believe are just as much fun.

Which parts, you ask?


Just like the inciting incident, the turning points change the name of the game for your main character. They introduce a complication that freaks him/her out in such a way that they feel like the end is nigh. Think of the turning points as things your antagonist does to thwart your MC's goal, and with each one that appears in the story, the level of difficulty for achieving that goal gets higher. 

Personally, I stick with three major turning points, and a lot of minor turning points along the way. The minor ones can deal with the main conflict, the subplots, and theme. The major ones deal primarily with the story's main conflict, and has to force my main character to grow in some way. 

During the major turning points, your main character is shocked out of their minds. Peeing-in-their-pants afraid. And they walk around looking like this

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHH!!!!!"--direct quote from your WIP

So there you go, folks. Turning points can make Robert Pattinson cry.

Next week, I'll be discussing something that might make him bite off your bed's headboard: the climax :)

Now tell me: how do you feel about writing the major turning points?

Reminder: The amazing Erinn is having a LIFE IS AWESOME contest!! There are 3 epic prizes you don't want to miss out on!! Contest runs till March 18th, so go sign up NOW!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Self-Imposed Deadlines: Why They Rock

So. My current WIP is in first draft stage. It doesn't have a coherent, logical ending. I haven't finished re-reading it in full, or wrapped up my revision outline. 

But I'm going to start working on Draft Numbah Two this week. 

Folks, I love this story. It is a mess. A big one. But I love it.

And I REALLY want to fix it. Like, now.

I have a self-imposed deadline of completing Draft Numbah Two by mid-April. No one else is asking me to finish this manuscript by that date. I'm forcing myself to do so.


I haven't written a new word in a month. A MONTH, people. And before that? I was stuck in Shiny New Idea Brain Storm for THREE! *hangs head in shame*

So yeah. I need to get back to work. Or else... die?

This is why self-imposed deadlines rock. You know yourself pretty well, right? You know what you can and can't do. How long you'll probably take to work through the mess. These kinds of deadlines usually work because you're doing things at whichever pace you feel like. Sure, some of use get ambitious and aim for four revised drafts in 48 hours, but still. You're thinking hard about what you can achieve, and that's better than STARING AT THE COMPUTER SCREEN without typing A SINGLE WORD for THREE MONTHS.

Yes, I am shouting at myself. Please don't leave. I swear I'm normal. Sometimes.

Nobody knows your writing process better than yourself. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, then tackle the weaknesses first. If you do the opposite, you risk having to cut EVERYTHING later on because the messy parts are so messy, your good parts don't make much sense in the story. Take as much time as a) you need; b) your story needs. That means even after you meet your deadline, your story might still suck. Wait a while, then jump right back in. With another deadline in mind, if possible. 

FYI: I'm not a huge fan of giving your first draft a deadline, but you can certainly do so. I think, with revisions, deadlines are helpful. You get organized as a writer, and your story benefits from it. Double win.

Now tell me: do you have any self-imposed deadlines right now??

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mystery Agent Contest Starts NOW!

Hop on over to Operation Awesome and share your Tweet-style pitch!! Our Mystery Agent wants to see the first 75 entries, so hurry up before the slots are filled! 

Best of luck to everyone!! :)