Monday, December 31, 2012

Five Things I Wish For YOU This New Year

So. The New Year is upon us. UPON US, I tell you.

This got me thinking about Things I Wish For Myself. But hey, those are for me. If I told you what they were, you'd get bored. Not because they are Boring Things. Because they are A Lot Of OMG How Many Things Are On This Caterpillar's List. 

Which is why I've decided to share what I wish for YOU this New Year. 

Oh, yes. There are five Things I want you to have. 

Here they are:


Whichever the source, I want it to give you the kind of happiness that leaves you so full that you don't fit in any chairs ever made. I want you to smile from all the gooey goodness in your soul. I want you to laugh at funny and beautiful things all the time. Because you should.

Good books

If you read this blog, you're probably a writer. Or an avid reader of books. Or a hardcore Jensen Ackles fan. I cannot blame you for any of these. I can, however, wish for you to find books that leave you stupid. Which means you cannot fathom how someone possesses such brilliance and is able to put it into words. It is this brilliance you wish to emulate, but you'll feel content knowing that you can never achieve it because you have a brilliance all your own. And your brilliance is worth respecting.


Not Harry Potter magic (although that would be BOSSYPANTS). Magic that sneaks up on you. Magic that comes from the unplanned, the unexpected. Awesome things that have yet to be discovered. I want YOU to be the first to discover them and enjoy them and make them yours. Then you can tell me all about it with a smug smile on your face.


What? I just really like candy. You should, too.

I don't need to explain this one, do I?

So there you go. Five things just for YOU.

You're welcome.

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Chain: Advice To Newbie Writers

For this blog chain round, the awesome Cole asks the following:

Christmas is a time of gift giving. If you could gift aspiring authors with one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have a ton of things I'd love to say, but the most important is one I've already shared on the Operation Awesome blog: bleed on the page.

What do I mean by that? Well, I explained it to the best of my ability in the OA post, so I'll just go ahead and show y'all what I wrote:

When I say I want you to bleed on the page, what I mean is, whatever you write (short story/poem/novel), please write it from a place that makes you feel. It can hurt, make you laugh till you cry, or both. Doesn't matter. I want you to sit down and write something that costs you. Something that stirs the deepest parts of your core and never. Lets. Go. Most importantly, I want you to write something that forces you to pour everything that makes you you on that page. 

I'm not asking you to seek publication, or to write something suitable for publication. I'm not asking you to follow trends, or write something you think will be a trend in the coming months. 

I'm asking you to write for yourself.

Confession: I wrote for myself this year. I ended up with a (messy) first draft of a book I thought I could never even begin. Now I'm revising it. Horribly slowly, but revising it. 

And I'm the happiest I've been in a while. 

So yeah. Follow all sorts of guidelines in terms of manuscript format, hone your writing craft as best you can, but always bleed on the page. It's hard, but oh is it worth it. 

Thanks to Cole for this topic! Make sure to check out what she had to say, then stay tuned tomorrow for Margie's take on it

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blog Chain: Why I Don't Like The "Dark" Label But Love Everything Labeled "Dark"

This blog chain round is perhaps my favorite so far! The awesome Christine asks the following questions:

I've been described as a writer of highly emotional and dark stories. So much so, that some could not read Transcend saying that while it was "beautifully crafted and written", the story was just too dark. So I ask you...How dark is too dark for your asthetic? And is writing "dark" and "emotional" a "bad" thing?

Confession: I am a passionate hater of describing all evil or difficult or sad things as "dark." Here's what the trusty has to say about the word "dark": 
1. having very little or no light: a dark room.
2. radiating, admitting, or reflecting little light: a dark color.
3. approaching black in hue: a dark brown.
4. not pale or fair; swarthy: a dark complexion.
5. brunette; dark-colored: dark eyebrows.

Notice how none of those things are evil or difficult or sad. Yes, it's the popular way of describing those things, be it in literature (the Dark Lord a.k.a. Voldemort from Harry Potter/Sauron, the Orcs and the Uruk-hai from Lord of the Rings), film (Pitch from Rise of the Guardians is a recent example), and history (the Dark Ages as opposed to the Enlightenment). The reasons behind this constant use of "dark" as "OMG STAY AWAY FROM IT!" are plenty, but I've chosen not to go into them for fear of derailing myself. 

So. Back to Christine's questions. Nothing is too evil/difficult/sad for my aesthetic. I am a fan of stories and of storytellers. I don't care if the story's about incest or murder or the zombie apocalypse in a preschool. If the story's well written and has three-dimensional characters, I'm going to read it. I'm more of a quality person than a what's-this-about? person. A reason for this is because I learn from everything, especially from experiences that have never happened to me. It fulfills me to read these kinds of stories. They're usually the ones that stick with me long after I've read the last page. Funny/cute stories are enjoyable, sure, but they rarely make an impact on me. Unless they have depth, of course. Depth makes all the difference. :)

And do I think stories about evil/difficult/sad things are bad? Hells no. 

Look, if you have limits, by all means honor them. I know of people who can't read cancer stories because it hits too close to home. Same goes for rape. I support anyone's decision to say no to a particular premise because it hurts them. But if it doesn't hurt you? I say challenge yourself. It's not the only way you're going to grow, but it sure is the best.

Thank you to Christine for this chain's amazeballs topic! Don't miss Cole's post, and you can catch Margie's tomorrow! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Blame One Direction--My December So Far In Pictures

So. December's here. YAAAAAAY. I know it's only been a few days into this month, BUT I am so. Freaking. Stoked. And to demonstrate why, I've chosen to show y'all in a picture essay of sorts.

I am currently working on this:

Draft 2 of le WIP. Which is EXCITING and AWESOME and NOT SO MUCH all at the same time.

I bought my first ever Blu-Ray film:

I still prefer regular DVDs, though. BUT THE SPECIAL FEATURES. I couldn't resist. 

I've been planning for my January trip here:

This will be my first time going to Vegas (!!!!!!!). And my mom's going with me (O_O). 

I've also been listening to a lot of this:

and this:

I... I don't know what to tell you. It just... happened. One day, I was minding my own business and BAM. One of their songs came on the radio and I was like, "OMG CRAPPY SONG IS CRAPPY." Then I heard it again and was like, "OMG CRAPPY SONG IS SORT OF OKAY." Then I was like, "OMG CRAPPY SONG IS PERFECT FOR DANCING AND DOING BOY BAND GESTURES TO RANDOM STRANGERS ON THE STREET." 

I have been singing One Direction for weeks now. I have also been choreographing a few of their songs in my head. One day, folks, I will be in a boy band and I will be the Harry Styles of said boy band. Just. You. Wait.

I don't care if I've traumatized you My apologies if I've traumatized any of you. This is a hard reality to swallow, I know. But it is my truth, and only now as I speak can I be free at last. 

One Direction makes me do ALL the boy band dance moves, and it has made all the difference in my writing. Maybe. I think. Sort of.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blog Chain: All About The "Where"

So. Y'all know what time it is, right? Blog chain time!!! :) For this round, the awesome Alyson submitted the following questions:

 How important is setting when crafting a story? How do you choose where your stories take place? How do you research setting? Do you have to have been somewhere in order to write about it? What are some memorable settings from books you've read?

Ah, setting. Sometimes I love you. Sometimes I want to punch you in the face. 

When it comes to my projects, setting does play a key role, but the level of importance varies. In my current WIP, setting is hugely important, especially considering it's a high fantasy. It's all about the details and making sure they make sense for both the characters and what they must do within the story. As for choosing my WIP's setting, it actually came to me a long time after I first thought of the premise/characters (as is often the case). I'm not a fan of working setting into my first drafts. It takes me several drafts to flesh out the world, its rules, and how it contributes to the main character's dilemma. But I do have an idea of what the world looks/feels like, though. I have to. My WIP's setting is most definitely the only setting where my story can work. There's no taking the characters out and putting them somewhere else, which is what tells me I'm doing my job right. 

In terms of research, it depends on the project. For this one, I researched some stuff prior to drafting, and I'm still researching other stuff while editing. AND I still have lots more stuff to research. *sigh* Thankfully, I enjoy reading about elements that I'll incorporate into my story. It's the actual incorporating that makes me break out in hives. :)

One of the most memorable settings as a reader is, of course, Hogwarts. Best. Setting. EVER. My desire to trade places with Harry in the Great Hall hasn't died yet. I don't think it ever will. Also, I love THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater, and I thought the island of Thisby rocked (November cakes, people. THEY HAVE NOVEMBER CAKES OVER THERE). But I really got a kick out of reading about Paris in Stephanie Perkins's ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I've been to Paris, so I got to relive everything through Anna's eyes, and it was SO much fun. Another awesome setting was Washokey, Wyoming, in Kirsten Hubbard's stunning LIKE MANDARIN. Not a big fan of deserts, but the one in Hubbard's debut packed such a punch for me, as did her writing. *swoons*

So. That's my take on Alyson's super awesome topic! Make sure you go check out Cole's post, and stay tuned for Margie's!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Books You Should Read: SANCTUM By Sarah Fine

“My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple.”

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.

Why You Should Read It:

This is the kind of book I've been waiting for. I'm a huge fan of stories that deal with non-traditional versions of Hell, as well as with teens who struggle and hurt and make fun of things a lot. Lela Santos is that teen, and SANCTUM is that story. From page one, I couldn't stop smiling. No, the opening isn't a cheerful one. Lela and Nadia don't have an upbeat first meeting. But the way Lela's protective side comes out when Nadia needs it is refreshing. Any time a girl can help another girl out, especially in YA fiction, I just throw a fist pump in the air. Lela and Nadia's friendship has an origin, a reason, and of course, a whole lot of turbulence. 

One of my absolute favorite things about Fine's novel was Nadia. Yes, Lela is the protagonist and she's perfectly awesome in her own right, but I couldn't stop myself from wanting to know more about Nadia. She's rich, beautiful, and the sweetest popular girl in Lela's school. But she's unhappy. I applaud Fine for not writing the stereotypical "OMG I'm wealthy but OMG I hate my life" kind of character. I thought Nadia's feelings regarding herself not only rang true outside the story, but also made the ending so much more tricksy to see coming. I genuinely didn't know whether Lela was going to pull off saving her best friend from the fate she chose. And at times, I was even upset that Lela felt it was her duty to get Nadia out of what lies behind the Suicide Gates. Yes, she's in trouble, and she had no idea she'd face that trouble after committing suicide, but I believed Nadia's journey was too long for Lela to come in and shorten it. I love Lela for wanting to rid her BFF of her pain and rescue her from danger, but I also think Nadia needed to be the one to grapple with what that pain and that danger meant to her. By the end of the novel, I smiled even more at how Fine handled this part of the story.

Guess what I'm going to rave about now? No, seriously. Just guess. If you guessed that it starts with 'M' and ends with 'alachi,' you are CORRECT. Sweet mother of Wookies, I heart Malachi. HEART. Whenever an author can combine badassness with a soft, gooey center, I am sold. The minute Lela meets Malachi, it... doesn't go smoothly. Like, not even a little bit. Their scenes together are brimming with tension, but it's more than the "OMG you're so hot let's make out even though you're a total stranger with weapons" kind. Like Lela, Malachi has insecurities. They both have big hearts, even though their appearances don't suggest it. She's very much a teen from today, whereas he's an older soul (the backstory explaining why this is so was one of the most compelling backstories of any character ever). The more Lela got to know Malachi, the harder she fell (as did I). He inspires a sense of comfort while also managing to scare the crap out of me. I wouldn't want to fight him, but he can train me any time he wants. *cough* And as a final thought, all I will say about the ending is that I almost had a FOR SERIOUS heart attack in regards to Lela and Nadia, but mostly Malachi. It's the kind of ending I'm going to think about for a really long time, both as a reader and fan of this series, and as an author absorbing as much writing tips from those better than me. 

*points at Fine*

Go pick up your copy of SANCTUM, which is available for sale now! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Open Letter To Breaking Dawn Part 2

Dear Breaking Dawn Part 2,

I saw you this past Friday. As usual, my excitement level was mild. I went in knowing exactly what was going to happen, as I've read all the books. There was nothing about you that was going to surprise me. Yes, film critics and Stephenie Meyer herself had said there was a twist ending. But I was all HAHAHAHA YOUR TWIST DOESN'T SCARE ME. Besides, half-vampire baby getting ripped from Bella's womb? How can you possibly top THAT?

I had seen the trailer, of course, and I knew they'd added a fight sequence to make the movie more exciting than the book (where your characters spend A LOT of time talking about possibly fighting). Not even this was enough to give me goosebumps. "It doesn't matter that they've added a fight sequence," I said. "It'll just be a whole bunch of vampires hitting each other. Then they'll be all benevolent and call it quits because what is the use of war when we can talk it out."
Then you did it, Breaking Dawn Part 2. You surprised me. 


The theater was full of teen girls, Breaking Dawn Part 2. Do you have any idea what kind of badass ability teen girls possess? They can shriek really, really, really, really, really loudly when they're pissed off. Or sad. Or both. I am not a teen girl, but my gift has traveled with me into adulthood. Much to my father's dismay (yes, my father saw the movie with me. I know--I can't believe it, either).

What I'm trying to say is this: I almost suffered heart failure. The world almost lost one of its most deranged inhabitants. You, Breaking Dawn Part 2, gave me the joy of belonging to an audience with so. Much. Passion. The twist was... perfect. The ending was... sweet. And fitting. I didn't cry, obvi. I don't cry over anything other than Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, and when Frodo totally bails on Sam to get played by Gollum in The Return of the King. But I did feel the years in the franchise. I felt each and every movie, each and every book. And this might sound weird, but I wasn't as happy for Bella finally finding her place in the world. 

I was happiest for someone else.

This dude tried to kill himself once. This dude spent a bazillion years hating himself, his existence, and feeling empty. But on that last page, in that last scene, this dude's a man. A dead one, but still. 

Purpose, Breaking Dawn Part 2. You were all about giving your characters purpose. So thanks for that. And thanks for making me scream at the movies again (hadn't done that in a while). 

Kind regards,

The Sort Of Fan You Almost Killed.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Blog Chain: Writing Goals & NaNoWriMo

This post is a *bit* late, and I apologize to my fellow blog chain buddies!! I am sick (YET AGAIN). Seriously. It's like this stupid virus thinks I'm its type or something.

Anyway. Here's what the awesome Sandra asks in this round:

During National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), writers attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Do you set daily writing goals for yourself, either a certain word count or time spent on writing? Does this include other writing-related activities, like research, plotting, or revising? Do you focus on reaching the end of the journey (such as finishing your current project), or do you enjoy the writing process along the way?

I've yet to participate in NaNoWrimo, for starters, but I'm really looking forward to taking a stab at it in the future. But even though I'm not a NaNoer, I do have writing goals for this month of November. You see, I'm currently in revision mode (although this stupid virus has put me WAY behind). Draft 2 of my WIP is coming along sloooooooowly, and I'm afraid I won't meet my self-imposed deadline of having it finished by January 1st. My plan was to set it aside for two weeks after the 1st, then start Draft 3. 


Not gonna happen.

As for daily word counts, I don't set them. Instead, I set chapter counts. Like, one day I intend on revising one chapter. The next day, I'll aim for two. And so on. When I'm drafting, it's the same thing. I usually aim for cranking out an entire chapter, maybe two if I'm feeling awesome. I tend to write 1,000-word chapters, though, but there are exceptions. 

Research and plotting differ from project to project. For instance, I wrote a whole outline for this WIP, as well as researched some major stuff, but I'm still changing the outline as I revise, and I still have a lot of research to do. I've worked on other manuscripts blindly, too--I jump in and leave all that researching and outlining for Draft 2 and onward. I'm a tricksy one when it comes to this. 

I prefer revisions to drafting any day of the week. So when I'm drafting, I focus on just wrapping up the thing. Having said that, I do love the rush of having a story in my head and heart, then sitting down to give it life on the page. I think it's the excitement before I sit down to draft that I enjoy more than the actual drafting. Revisions are better for me 'cause I get to mess with something that's already there. It's a map of sorts. An ugly, WTF-was-I-thinking map, but still. :) 

Thank you to Sandra for a great topic! Make sure you check out Cole's post, then go read what Margie had to say. 

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Books You Should Read: MEANT TO BE By Lauren Morrill

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Why You Should Read It:

OMG, y'all. I can't remember the first time I laughed so hard while reading a first page. Okay. Scratch that--it was while reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I absolutely adore Perkins' work. And I definitely see a likeness to her in Morrill's debut. Foreign city (London). Awkward and passionate main character (Julia). Unlikely love interest (read the book and find out!). Chaos and hilarity (the search for the unknown guy who's texting Julia). You have the recipe for a romantic comedy that feels fresh regardless of its adherence to the genre's conventions. 

My favorite thing about Meant To Be was Julia's voice. She's almost as paranoid as I am, y'all. Without order in her life, Julia is pretty much a nervous wreck. She has no problem following rules and sticking to a strict schedule. But paired with Jason, the dude who keeps calling her "Book Licker" due to her passion for reading, spontaneity isn't far from the horizon. Together, these two take detours across London that force them to show their hidden vulnerabilities and strengths. Their friendship takes just a few days to develop, but it didn't feel rushed to me. Predictable, yes, but different at the same time. I kept rooting for Julia to embrace the randomness life has to offer while still staying true to herself. And in the end, she didn't disappoint me. Not even a little bit. *fist pump*

Another thing I loved? LONDON. Because obviously. I've never been to England, but it's on my to-do list. I couldn't tear my eyes away from Julia's descriptions of everything she saw, tasted, and touched. The trip to Stratford-upon-Avon was particularly exciting for both me and Julia, seeing as it's where Shakespeare grew up. *sigh* Also, Julia's love of The Beatles made the English vibe stronger without feeling like overkill. She's the perfect protagonist for this story set in one of the world's most amazeballs places. 

If you like your romance with a heavy dose of sweetness and WTF laughs, or if you like stories set in Europe, Lauren Morrill's Meant To Be is for you. Make sure you get your copy when it goes on sale November 13, 2012!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

NEW PRIDE Release Day Blitz!

So. Today's post is a special one, folks. I'm hosting author/blogging buddy Laura Diamond and the release of her novella, New Pride

New town, new love, new terror...

Now I'll leave the talking (or writing, I should say) to the awesome Laura! Take it away!

It’s here! My prequel novelette, NEW PRIDE, releases today. I’m SO stoked for it to run wild in the world.

NEW PRIDE was born from my upcoming novel, SHIFTING PRIDE (coming December 7, 2012!). In SHIFTING PRIDE, the main character, Nickie, searches for her missing father, Richard…and NEW PRIDE is all about Richard’s journey to independence and new love.


A shape-shifter without a pride, Richard Leone strikes a tenuous friendship with power hungry, Derek, from an unstable, rogue group. On a hunt in the forest, they encounter a gorgeous brunette, Molly, partying with friends around a campfire. Derek tells the rogue pride and they bristle at humans trespassing on their territory. Richard risks life and tail to protect his secret and the humans—especially Molly—while simultaneously trying to win her heart. When Molly is kidnapped, he faces taking on the rogue pride alone, but quickly finds he has to put his trust in Derek, not only to rescue his new love, but to ensure the rogue pride doesn’t wreak havoc on his new town.

Buy New Pride on Amazon by clicking here!!

***A bonus:***

I will be giving away copies of NEW PRIDE to several lucky fans! Please click the link below and fill out the form on my fan page to enter.


Author Laura Diamond:

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, horror, and middle grade. Her short story, City of Lights and Stone, is in the Day of Demons anthology by Anachron Press (April 2012) and her apocalyptic short story, Begging Death is in the Carnage: Life After the End anthology by Sirens Call Publication (coming late 2012). Her debut young adult paranormal romance, SHIFTING PRIDE, is coming December 2012 by Etopia Press. When she's not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer , and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion. She is also full-time staff member for her four cats and a Pembroke Corgi named Katie. 

How to find Laura Diamond on the web:

A huge thanks to Laura for stopping by, and CONGRATS on her release day!!! Make sure you get your e-copy of New Pride, which is on sale now!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blog Chain: From Page To Screen

So. This blog chain round is brought to you by the awesome Michelle, who wants to know the following:

There are so many book-to-movie adaptations out there. Which are your favorites? Which are your least favorites? Why? Do you make sure you've read a book before you go see the movie adaptation, or do you prefer to read it after, or not at all?

LOVE this topic. *dances* Okay. My favorite book-to-movie adaptations tend to be those who either stay pretty faithful to the book or make me love the book even more after watching it. Here are two of my absolute faves:


Super, duper faithful to the book. Also, Liam Hemsworth. *sigh*


Not totally faithful to the book, but honestly, I get SO EXCITED whenever I'm about to watch this movie. It makes me want to pick up the book and read it again, even though reading the book was a traumatizing experience for me (Harry pissed off at his friends? Dolores Umbridge invading Hogwarts? WHY SIRIUS WHY????). 

And here are two of my least fave adaptations:


I liked this movie, but it is nowhere near as suspense-y, intricately layered, and HARDCORE as the book. It did let me stare at Garrett Hedlund, though, and I shall be forever grateful for that.


This is my favorite Harry Potter book. No, really, it is. But the movie disappointed me. No Dumbledore's Army battling the Death Eaters as they invade Hogwarts. No funeral for Dumbledore. AND THAT KISS WITH GINNY WHAT WAS THAT I CAN'T EVEN. *sigh* 

As for reading the book before seeing the movie, I always try to do so. BUT only if I like what the book's about. I saw Water For Elephants without reading the book first, for example, thinking it wasn't going to leave a humongous impression on me. I ended up liking the movie a lot, and now I want to read the book! *makes grabby hands* I'm the kind of person who gets OMG excited when film rights are sold for books I love, though. I don't really worry about the quality of the movie until I actually see the movie. Or a trailer. I can be fickle like that. :)

I just want someone to bring November 2013 here already so I can watch Catching Fire. Because obviously.

Make sure you check out Cole's post for the chain, and stay tuned tomorrow for Margie's!

Now tell me: did you like any of these adaptations? Are there other adaptations you're head over heels for?? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

On Binders Full Of Women & The Power Of No Intentions In Your Writing

So. Last week, Governor Mitt Romney told the whole world he'd been handed binders full of women to consider as potential members of his cabinet. I'm sadly incapable of reading minds, but I'm 99.9% confident Romney had no intention of starting a Tumblr page mocking his alleged binders full of women. He didn't foresee a Facebook page, either.

And yet they happened.

What does Romney's binders full of women have anything to do with writing, you ask? More than I like to admit. You see, when you write those painful, gut-wrenching words on your manuscript, you do it intentionally. Every word is chosen, whether it's before you even begin the manuscript or during the actual writing process. You want those words to have an effect on your reader, and gosh darn it, you'll do whatever it takes to guarantee that effect.

But you can't control what anyone gets out of your book. The reading experience, like every other experience, is subjective. You might want to convey OMG SHOCK at a certain turning point. One reader might be genuinely shocked. Another reader might've seen it coming a billion miles away. Your intentions matter, of course, but they don't dictate what your reader will feel. 

Ask Romney if he intended to offend millions of women. I'm guessing he didn't. Does that mean those millions of women are wrong in feeling how they feel? Nope. Same thing applies to writing, if you ask me. Which is why I think it's crucial all writers embrace the Power Of No Intentions--your work will evoke things you never meant it to, and that's okay. This isn't to say you shouldn't guide your readers toward a particular feeling. You should, but there's always room for the unexpected. Don't be afraid of it. 

Sometimes, it's the unexpected that makes you and your work memorable.

Happy Monday! :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing. Or Not.

So. There's this blog hop going on. It is called The Next Big Thing. I feel silly even typing that, seeing as I have no reason to believe I could participate in such a blog hop. BUT I'm a sucker for a blog hop. So there's that. 

*sighs in defeat*

My buddy Michelle tagged me for this, so feel free to blame her. :) The rules of this particular hop are simple: 1) answer the following questions about your current WIP; 2) tag 5 people after you're done. *cracks knuckles* Let's get to it, then.

What is the working title of your book?

I tend to stress over my titles, but for this WIP, it came pretty easily. I'm calling it We Are The Uprising. But most of the time, I use WATU for short :)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Warning: long story ahead.

Two ladies inspired this WIP: Eowyn from Lord of the Rings, and Queen Gorgo of ancient Sparta. You see, I have this Christmas tradition. I watch the LOTR trilogy a few days before my birthday. In 2008, as I was swooning over Aragorn and feeling super bad for Eowyn because he didn't love her back, I thought, "Oh, Eowyn. You are SUCH a badass and you need to star in your own book/movie, woman!" And every time I watched 300, I had the exact same reaction to Queen Gorgo. These ladies were powerful in different ways, and I reeeeeeally wanted to read something with a female character that embodied those kinds of fire.

I just didn't know how to weave the two together.

Fast forward to September 2009. I started querying my first novel, and of course, I got my first rejections. So I decided to start brainstorming my next novel. Eowyn and Gorgo sprang to mind immediately. Problem? I still had no idea what kind of story I wanted to tell. I only knew who I wanted to put in it.

Fast forward to January 2012. I finally know what my story's about. So I get over my fear of serious suckage and start writing it.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA high fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

My main character is pretty much Jessica Parker Kennedy's twin, only with much wavier hair:

Her love interest is a teen, slimmer, and facial hairless Tom Hardy. You can't see it in this pic, but Tom's sporting the same short ponytail as the love interest in le WIP:


As for the rest of the characters, I have vague ideas of actors they look like. But that post is WAY too long. Trust me.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After her city's soldiers are defeated, Melania Torvajal--a seventeen-year-old maid who trades her broom for a sword--leads their wives and daughters into battle against the invading army.

It was either that or GURL THESE EVIL DUDES ARE COMING FOR YOU SO DO SOMETHING OKAY THANKS BYE. I liked this one much better, actually.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm going to query this sucker next year. Hopefully, it'll nab me an awesomesauce agent. *crosses fingers*

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? May we see an intro?

It took me five months to actually write the first draft, but since I took breaks in between, the whole process lasted seven months.

Here's the opening line so far: Papa won't let me touch the blood.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel and Kristin Cashore's Graceling. There's also a book coming out in January by Alex Lidell, and it's titled The Cadet of Tildor. It sounds like a possible match for my WIP as well. I'll be sure to check it out!

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

Please refer to Question #2 :)

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

It has gender stereotypes turned on their heads, religious people who aren't fanatics, beasts who emerge out of boulders, a magical tooth made of ice, Rammstein-inspired fight sequences, and a broken elf who hides behind his smirk.

Among other things. Naturally.

So there you have it. My WIP. I'm going to start revisions in November, so PRETTY PLEASE pray for my sanity. It is much appreciated.

Now for the tag! With the power invested in me by the state of the Next Blog Hop, I pronounce the following peeps as tagged: everyone! :) No, seriously. If you haven't done this yet, go for it. Although I think EVERYONE has done it already. So yeah.

Thanks for reading about my WIP! And have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blog Chain: What's In A Name?

Today's blog chain topic is brought to you by the awesome Kate, whose YA novel ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE sounds amazeballs and I can't wait to read!! *clears throat* Anyway. Here's her question:

What's in a name? What if Harry Potter had been Larry Snotter? What if Edward was Jacob and Jacob was Edward? What favorite books had character names that you loved or hated? And how do you come up with your own character names? 

So. One of my absolute favorite things to do is find the PERFECT names for my characters. Sometimes I find them quickly. Sometimes it takes forever and a half. Sometimes I take the name's meaning into consideration. Sometimes I just love a name so much and pick it on that love alone. For example, I once thought of naming a character Rourke because he felt like a Rourke to me--badass warrior dude. Another one of my characters is named Alejandra, which I chose for her based on its meaning ("defender of mankind") and Hispanic heritage. Bottom line? I hold names in high regard. They're my first intro to a story's characters, and no matter how shallow that sounds, it's a first impression that sticks with me. Of course, behavior and voice matter a lot, but the name is the appetizer, folks. 

And you gotta love an appetizer.

I also think it's important to take your novel's premise and tone into consideration when naming your characters. Larry Snotter doesn't sound like the name of a wizard dude who defeated Voldemort. It sounds like the parody of the wizard dude who defeated Voldemort. And while I'd totally read both books, my mood while reading each one would shift. Likewise, Edward sounds like a serious and seriously old name, which resembles Edward himself. Jacob is less heavy to me, and so is the guy who bears it. Switching them would feel super off.

Luna Lovegood is an example of a character name I love. I've always been a fan of 'Luna' and its variations, and 'Lovegood' gives me a strong hint that this girl is someone I can trust (see? Shallow!). Also, for reasons I can never explain, I love alliteration. It's just... awesome. Luna Lovegood is not only a bossypants name, but so is the character. 

A character name I could do without? PEETA MELLARK. I mean. I MEAN. Okay, I don't mind the Mellark much, but Peeta? I can't help but get hungry every time I hear it. Perhaps that was the brilliant Suzanne Collins' intention? To make me super hungry? *ponders* Geniuses work in mysterious ways, so I've learned to embrace the name. But OMG, I'm hungry.

Make sure you check out Cole's post, and stay tuned for Margie's tomorrow! And thanks to Kate for such a fun topic!

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's Here! The Announcement Is FINALLY Here!

Remember when I teased y'all about an announcement Operation Awesome was making today? Well, the wait is over!! I have officially released our super secret news over at the OA blog!!


And have a great Monday!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Announcement!!! Well, Sort Of...

So. Next Monday. You should be online. 


Because we over at Operation Awesome have an ANNOUNCEMENT. And it is a SUPER BADASS one. I wish I could tell you rightthissecond what we have to share, but nope. I have been instructed to keep my trap shut until then. Impossible, you say? ALMOST. Which is why I'm teasing you with this post :)

But trust me. The wait will be worth it. Oh, yes it will. 

*shakes with anticipation* 

So yeah. Next Monday. See you then!

Have an awesome weekend!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

That Awkward Moment When You Don't Like That Book Anymore

So. I love books. Obvi.

Sometimes I love a certain book for years. Sometimes I love a certain book for years, then one day go, "Whoa. That's... not my thing at all."

This doesn't happen often, but it's happened. Usually, it's because I've grown as a reader, and the elements I once enjoyed in a particular book become either meh or annoying. Or it could be because I've grown as a writer and have learned how to improve my craft. As I re-read That Book, I discover a lot of things I don't find as impressive anymore. It doesn't have to be grammatical/structure concerns, but also characterization and depth and emotional resonance. These are more important to me, mainly because as a writer, I devote more care to those three first and foremost. 

So how about you? Do you have That Book in your life, too? Why do you think you loved it once upon a time? Warning: Name dropping and book/author bashing isn't necessary, so please refrain from doing so. I'm in a lovely mood today. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Character + Depth Series: Values

So, so, SO sorry for posting the second part in this series later than promised! *slaps wrist* Life, man. It gets in the way sometimes.

ANYWAY. I've already discussed attitudes in part one. Today, let's talk about the second item on the psychographics list:


Here's what the Free Dictionary has to say about the word 'value':

A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable: "The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility" (Jonathan Alter).

Similar to attitudes, values deal with your character's past heavily. The present is important, of course, but the road that's led your character toward his/her present matters a whole bunch. I believe values are passed down to your character from the following sources:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. The outside world

What does your character learn from each of them? What are they exposed to on a daily basis? Violence? Love? Fear? Bliss? It's these circumstances that will teach them whether to be hopeful or disdainful, kind or apathetic. But just because your character's faced with a life of torment doesn't mean they'll choose to be tormented--some people rise above their ugly circumstances and seek prettier ones. Same goes for the opposite. Your character might have sunshine and daises for breakfast every day, but with one small flip of the switch, everything is blown to smithereens. Their family might hold on to hope and love, but your character's all about revenge or selfishness.

Similar to the attitudes list, you have to pay close attention to how and why your character processes information a certain way. Here, however, your focus will be on deepening both the how and why through the what if. What if my character hadn't lived this particular life? Would they still be remorseful/forgiving? And more importantly, how does this answer affect your novel? Do your character's values play a significant role in their choices (they totally should!)? 

So there you have it, folks. Values. Your fake people need them. :)

Make sure you stay tuned for next week's installment, which I promise I won't forget to post!!

Now tell me: how do you come up with your character's values? Are they something you enjoy brainstorming or not? 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Folks, Every Woman Is A Real Woman

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but Other Things have distracted me from doing so. I'm here today to rectify this. 

So. There's this show I love. You might have heard of it.

Project Runway is the kind of show that gets me all riled up. Some days, I agree with the judges. Some days, I don't. But I always want to hear what they have to say. Earlier this season (the show's tenth!), one of the contestants had an issue with his model. You see, she wasn't a size 2. She wasn't even in the modeling industry at all. The woman was somewhere around her forties or fifties, and according to the contestant, shapeless. As in, "fat". 

The contestant then proceeded to design an outfit that didn't flatter her at all. Simply because she wasn't the kind of woman he designs for. He didn't know how to make something sexy and flattering for a woman like her. 

Was I bothered by this? Of course. But I grew LIVID when the discussion of "real women" came up. 

You see, real women have curves. There's even a movie that says so. 

I, however, disagree. So does this woman:

 Supermodel Heidi Klum, the future badass godmother of my children

Heidi and I think along the same lines--every woman is a real woman. Every woman and teen girl has feelings, dreams, and fears. Whether they're a size 2 or 20, they should be respected as human beings with a brain and a heart (unless they don't like Jensen Ackles. Because that's just unacceptable. Obvi). If you cut a bit of a Victoria's Secret model's finger, she's going to bleed. Same will happen if you cut a bit of my finger or anyone else's. I'm sick of listening to people exalt super thin bodies as the epitome of beauty, but I'm also sick of listening to people exalt curvy bodies as the epitome of beauty. 

Ladies, we are all beautiful. Please stop hating on each other. Seriously. It's getting boring.

Now tell me: are you sick of the whole "real women" debate? Or is it something you just don't pay attention to?