Monday, June 28, 2010

My Writing Stages a la Robert Pattinson's Hair

Confession: I've watched the Eclipse trailer way too many times. It seems everywhere I turn, Robert Pattinson is right there. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but it overwhelms me.

That is, until I see his hair.

Okay, okay... Who hasn't seen his hair, right? There are people who even keep tabs on the darned hairstyles and everything. But I saw it in a different light. Those brown locks that make tweens squeal their throats out made me remember something.

The writing stages of my manuscripts.

Here's what I mean:

First draft: Some writers outline, some don't. My first drafts are a no-man's land. I don't outline, don't plan ahead, just sit down and write. No idea gets left behind. Typos run amok. Once I finish the draft, it looks like this:

Second Draft: I read through my manuscript in order to fix plot holes. Maybe a scene should be cut because it's not right for the tone or the pacing. Maybe my main character is a sweetheart and shouldn't stab that pesky villain after all. Overall, I tackle big picture problems. My second version looks a bit like this:

Third draft: Line-editing begins. Grammar issues? Gone. Passive voice? Hasta la vista, baby. I pay careful attention to how well the sentences flow one after the other. If something feels off or forced, I cut it. The end result is similar to this:

Fourth draft: I edit according to critique partner and beta feedback. They take care of telling me if something rocks or sucks. One beta in particular enjoys asking questions. A LOT. That's cool, though--the manuscript turns out to be stronger because of it. It ends up being tighter, shorter, and less of an eye sore. My baby finally grows into a clean-cut version of what started out as an idea:

There you have it, folks. Robert Pattinson's hair reminds me of writing.

Am I nuts or what?

Now tell me: what do your drafts look like?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fess Up Friday!

Okay, folks. Another trend question headed your way.

Today's topic: What do you think about fairy tale retellings?

Sucks to say it, but I haven't gotten my hands on any as of yet. But I do find retellings interesting, especially if I love the original fairy tale.

Well... I sort of love all of them, so... Yeah...

Anyway, here are two books I'm dying to read:

Cinderella and Red Riding Hood? Count me in! :D

What say you, blogging buddies? You in or out of the retelling craze?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why Must You TEMPT Me?!

Seriously, the world is cruel.

It likes to torment me with unattainable awesomeness.

Case in point:

These are all books I can't wait to read, but can't afford right now. To make matters worse, there are a bunch of new books arriving in the next couple of weeks!

Temptations everywhere!!


For my sucky bank account, world, I curse you. A lot.

What books are you dying to read this summer?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What My Synopsis Taught Me

Confession: I am a pantser.

Outlines? Not for me.

So when it was time to crank out that dreaded synopsis for my WIP, I figured hell was coming to town. It did, but not the way I expected.

You see, I followed a game plan:
1) Write about major characters.
2) Write major plot points.
3) Write ending.
4) Add "voice".

Steps 1 and 2 went well. But as I got closer to the end, my synopsis showed me something I hadn't seen before.

My ending sucked.

By describing what happens in my story, I learned it was pretty flawed. Characterization was okay, but plotting downright sucked toward the final pages. So how did I fix it? I took out the epilogue, which contained a cliffhanger scene. I plan on using this scene in the sequel (if there's ever one...). I went back and rewrote other scenes in order to create a little doubt regarding the twist reveal, but not in a way that leaves the story ending in a WTF moment.

Now my synopsis looks like it's about one book, not one and a half. It does suggest a sequel, but it also shows that this story can work on its own.

There you have it, fellow pantsers: synopses can change lives.

I mean, stories...

What has your synopsis taught you?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are those for little ol' me???

You guys rock. Seriously.

I thought getting one award last week was cool enough. Now I have two more. *sigh*

First up, the super nice Katrina created one for me. That's right, she created an award! For me! FTW????

Here it is:

I read her kick-ass MG manuscript last week and loved it. In case you wanna know what it's about, click here to read her query (and to see why lit agent Mandy Hubbard loved it!). This is a pretty rockin' example of a query, so if any of you are struggling with yours, go take a look.

Next up, here's another goodie from super cool teen blogger Cara:

I pass this bad boy on to:

Katrina Lantz

Love you, ladies!

Now I'm off to work on my stupid synopsis. Hope everyone has a rockin' week! And congrats to the winners!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fess Up Friday!

Okay, peeps. Time for another Q&C: question and confession. (I know. I'm lame.)

This week's trend question is: Do you like literary mashups?

Confession: I haven't read any mashup books yet, but I'm dying to. According to what I've read around the blogosphere, some people love them, others don't.

Just like with every other published book.

So tell me: where do you stand? Love 'em or hate 'em?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh, look! Another shiny award!

Thanks to the super sweet and funny Renae Mercado and Kelly Dexter, I now have another award!!

Isn't it pretty? Thanks, ladies!

Okay, here are the rules I must follow:

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2) Share 7 things about yourself.
3) Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4) Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Seven things about myself:

1) I'm about to start my Master's in Literature, and I'm scared out of my wits.

2) I'm obsessed with Doritos and ice cream. (If you aren't, please help me!)

3) The movie theater is my best friend. Especially during the summer.

4) I'm allergic to soap operas, regardless of James Franco's recurring role in one.

5) Puppies are my favorite happy medicine.

6) There isn't a Tuesday when I don't check if the new free song on iTunes is worth it. What can I say? I like good freebies.

7) You're all probably sick of reading this, but my #1 goal in life is to make out with Jensen Ackles. :D

And now, here are the blogging buddies I've chosen to tag:

Congrats to all of you!!

P. S. I have a penmanship meme coming soon. I'll be uploading it right after I manage to tame my wild scanner :D And please come back tomorrow for Fess Up Friday!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10-Step Program For The Query Wuss

Step #1: Butt in chair.

Step #2: Chocolate. Or cookies. Or both.

Step #3: Write the names of your main character and antagonist. If you can't figure out who's who, slap yourself across the face. Twice.

Step #4: Write a one-sentence hook that will entice agents/editors to read the rest of your query. For example: "Seventeen-year-old Tom Cruise doesn't believe in aliens--until a mysterious cult jumps him on the red carpet while chanting 'Scientology rocks, biatch!'."

Step #5: Write two-three sentences describing the main character. Physical appearances need not apply, unless it's important to the plot. In that case, slap yourself again. You're ripping off J. K. Rowling.

Step #6: Think about what main character wants vs. what antagonist wants. Write as much as your mind can come up with, then delete all the bull#!^% until the essentials are left.

Step #7: Explain what's at stake if main character loses. This makes agents/editors care about it. They want to hug it, take long walks on the beach with it, maybe even cook it dinner. And that, my dear query wuss, is the goal.

Step #8: Make sure your "voice" is reflected in your writing. If you're thinking about printing the query and talking to it, don't slap yourself. I'll do it for you.

Step #9: Convince yourself that your query rocks. Wait fifteen minutes, then convince yourself it sucks. Wait fifteen more minutes, then go back to thinking it's awesome. Repeat for at least three months.

Step #10: Hit send.

Sounds easy, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

May I Recommend...

Based on the answers of my first ever Fess Up Friday, most of you are sick of Twilight, but not of vampires. (And Lydia hated Wicked Lovely, which made me smile!).

If you ARE one of those sick of vampires, leave before your eyes burn!!!

Why? 'Cause I've got a vamp book recommendation for ya!

Trust me, I wouldn't pimp something I'm not willing to read.

Here's the blurb:

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

Sounds familiar yet fresh, right? I'm looking forward to see if Cronin lives up to the hype.

Do you have any book recommendations for me? Feel free to share!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Introducing... Fess Up Friday!

At long last, I've chosen a weekly feature for my blog. My last post showed me how much I enjoy reading what others think of the market, be it adult or YA. Because of that, I'm going to post a question regarding trends every Friday. I'd love to hear from you!

So here's my first question for Fess Up Friday:

Are YOU sick of vampires?

My answer? No.

Don't think I ever will be. As long as the premise takes me somewhere I've never been before, and the characters speak to me, I'll still be a fan of the undead. I don't know where it started, maybe Buffy's to blame, but I love my vampires. Sorry, saturated market!

Now it's your turn to fess up!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Attention All Writers: Whaddaya think?

Hello, writers! *waves hello*

This post is all about you, so I won't waste any time speaking my mind today.

Does an unlikeable main character make you put the book down?

If so, what is it about said character that makes you break away? If you're the type of reader that doesn't lose interest because of the character, what is it about them that makes you stick around?

Here are some examples of books with unlikeable main characters that have received a lot of buzz.

In the adult genre:

In the YA genre:

Confession: I haven't read either of these books. However, I've read several reviews and comments from readers who struggle with the main characters' actions.

I'm pretty curious: whaddaya think? Love 'em or leave 'em?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tie Me Up, Baby

I saw a movie this week. Actually, I saw three, but two were on HBO.

The one I went to see at the cineplex disappointed me. Why?

Too many freakin' loose ends.

I spent 30 minutes after the movie was over wondering WTF had happened to several subplots. They seemed to have been forgotten by the screenwriter/director/producers/actors. The audience, however, noticed a couple things were MIA.

How many times has this happened after you've finished reading a book?

How about after you finish writing one?

I've been fortunate enough to read books that tie up a lot of loose ends. As for writing them? Not so much. But I don't call it quits until I wrap everything up. That's when I feel like I'm actually talented--when things are all over the place and I get to organize them. I usually go about it in sections, depending on the significance of the subplot. Little ones go first, then the big kahunas get my full attention later on. After I've finished, I read the whole manuscript again to see if I missed something. If I didn't, I sing all of Madonna's hits around a campfire while playing the ukulele.

Well... That doesn't really happen, but you get the picture...

Here's the deal: you can make the MC lovable, the antagonist swoonworthy, and the plot action-packed, but that pesky brat of a denouement will keep honking your horn until every plot hole's been covered. Oh, the joys of writing...

So tell me, what's your game plan when that loose end keeps screaming 'Tie me up, baby!'?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Parents In YA: Who Would Be Yours?

In the past few months, I've read a ton of posts regarding parents in YA literature. Some readers get sick of "conveniently absent" parents, or the "mentally checked out" ones, like alcoholics/drug addicts/work-obsessed/whateveryoucancomeupwith. Others think creating parents who are extremely supportive and understanding of all their kids' choices is an unrealistic depiction.

I tend to favor parents who make sense in the particular story. If the main character is a teen who breaks curfew and flips off everyone that pisses them off, I like to see: a) parents who lay down the law, if the MC goes through a drastic change at the end of the story because of their teachings; b) parents who suck at parenting, if the MC goes through a drastic change on their own and learns through trial and error.

Bottom line? Characters should fit the story you're trying to tell.

To that end, I've been thinking about who would I choose as my parents if I were in a YA novel.

Not surprisingly, I chose two writers.

Screenwriters, that is.

My dad? Joss Whedon. JOSS. FREAKIN'. WHEDON.

Why? Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That's why.

Oh, and Dollhouse. And the Runaways graphic novels. That's also why.

My mom? Diablo Cody.

Why? Juno. Her sarcasm. Her perseverance.

And her hair.

So tell me, who would YOU choose as your YA novel parents?