Monday, October 14, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Are You Doing It?

NaNoWriMo is upon us, folks. This means some of you will spend the month of November writing about 2k words a day. 

*bows down to you* 

I wish I could participate this year, especially since I've never plunged into the NaNo waters, but I won't be able to. I'll be switching between revising my current WIP and brainstorming/plotting my next one (which I'm totes excited about). 

Someday I'll NaNo. Maybe I'll even have a quick change of heart and NaNo this year! You never know. I could end up with a finished draft of a book I was hoping to write next year. Or I could just... not write it until next year.

Oh, the possibilities...

So I'm curious: are you doing NaNo this year? Have you ever done it? If you're participating, do you have any tips/traditions you swear by? What are you going to work on? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Things I've Been Doing Instead Of Blogging Like I Should

So. I've been a terrible blogger. TERRIBLE, I tell you. My last post was in August, so yeah. TERRIBLE.

Here are a few Things I've Been Doing Instead Of Blogging Like I Should:

1) Revising the fourth draft of Le WIP.

2) Writing my Master's thesis.

3) Taking care of them:

Luna (pinned down) & Freya (pinning her down). Ah, life...

4) Eating the same dish at my latest Mexican restaurant obsession:

Nachos with churrasco. The churrasco's hidden somewhere under all that guac. *drools* 

5) Watching a lot of TV and finding new shows to fangirl over, such as:

Hellooooooo, Mr. Crane.

6) Reading very few books instead of a lot of books, which is shameful and I'm sorry.

7) Working. 

But I've had enough, folks. It's time to get back on the blogging horse. Starting with this post. I hope to be around a bit more often than these past two months. So yeah. Expect some fangirling in the near future.

Have a great week! :D

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cover Reveal: ALL OF YOU By Christina Lee!!!

So. Covers. I heart them.

I'm thrilled to say that I get to participate in the uber-awesome Christina Lee's cover reveal for her debut NA novel,  ALL OF YOU


*more drumroll*

*even MORE drumroll*

Okay, okay. Here's ze cover:

Swoony goodness, no? *fans self* Not only is the picture hawt, I am OBSESSED with the color scheme. It adds that extra hawtness to the already hawt cover. :)

Want to know what ALL OF YOU is about? Here's ze blurb:

In this powerfully emotional debut New Adult novel, Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor. He's irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin.

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she's perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother's bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, all Avery can handle is a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won't accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straight-laced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him, too.

So she needs to make a choice—let Bennett go or finally let him in.


Make sure you buy your copy of ALL OF YOU on September 17th!! And go celebrate today's cover reveal with Christina! *dances*

Thursday, August 1, 2013

YA Highway + Free Books/Critiques = Epic Giveaway Of Epicness

So. YA Highway. I love those ladies. You should, too.

One reason why: they're celebrating FOUR YEARS of awesomeness with an insane giveaway! 

ARCs? You bet. 

Books? Of course. 

Query/chapter critiques by both authors and agents? Oh, yeah. 

So hop on over to YA Highway and go enter!!

Happy Thursday :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Is What Happens When You Rescue An Abandoned Puppy Someone Left In The Fields Next To Your House

Freya, the six-week-old terror of doom

You keep her. You fall in love with her. You take pictures when she's napping.

Good times.

Monday, July 8, 2013

How To Procrastinate Revisions Without Feeling Guilty: The Vampire Academy Edition

So. Revisions. I loooooove them, but man. I love procrastinating, too. Luckily, I haven't been *too* wild with my procrastinating. I've been pretty strict about finishing this round of revisions faster than the previous one, so yeah. I have goals. They will be met. But I will also waste a little time. :) 

So. I'm sure you've heard there's a film adaptation of Vampire Academy on its way. It's called Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. I am BEYOND STOKED for it, folks. Beyond. Stoked. Imagine my delight when Richelle Mead herself went to London and visited the set. 

So. Here is my guide to procrastinating revisions without feeling guilty: the Vampire Academy edition.

1) Twitter.

You check through your Newsfeed and find this little gem:

And then...


2) Blog posts.

Naturally, you're expecting a longer version of those Tweets. Richelle goes ahead and gives you TWO blog posts. The following is an excerpt from Richelle's first blog post about her set visit:

Everyone's been asking: how does it feel seeing my book brought to life? In a word: amazing. I'm just blown away at how much thoughtfulness and detail goes into this process. You guys seriously can't imagine how much work and manpower a movie requires. The actors work so hard, and then there's a huge unseen crew who's working just as hard every step of the way on tasks you would never even guess. I may have originally conceived these scenes, but they're the ones who have to visualize every single detail--from those amazing guardian jackets to the class assignments on the student's desks. Nothing is left to chance. Director Mark Waters was so in his zone making sure everything was perfect that I felt bad when he came and said hi to me--but of course he did because he's a super nice guy, and I'm so thrilled at the work he's doing. I've been telling people for years: I make books, not movies. Movies are these guys' specialty and it shows. They've visualized the scenes for the screen in ways I never could have, and if you're picturing incredible things for this movie...well, they're going to be even more incredible than what you're imagining.

I also loved her second post, but WHOA. That bit I just posted above? It makes me feel all sorts of giddy. :D

3) Repeat steps #1 and #2.

That guiltless part I spoke of in my title? Well, it's freakin' Vampire Academy. Why would I feel guilty about procrastinating with FREAKIN' VAMPIRE ACADEMY?????? So go ahead and re-read as many Tweets and blog posts as you can. Whenever you want. Because obviously.

Happy Monday. :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tumblr What? Or, How Benedict Cumberbatch Feels About Fan Fiction

Yet another reason why I'm not revising right now.

*watches ALL the clips*

Friday, June 28, 2013

That Time I Adopted A New Puppy And Spent More Time With Her Than Revising

Luna, the Hybrid Puppy of Doom.
I'm pretty sure she was a gymnast in another life.

This is why I haven't revised/outlined as much as I would've liked.

That is all. Carry on.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Interview: Leigh Ann Kopans, Author of ONE!!!

Today is an exciting day, folks. Why?

Because Leigh Ann Kopans.

She released her debut YA novel, ONE, on Tuesday. I've been dying to read this baby for a while, and now that it's out, I can breathe fresh air once more. *jumps up and down*

Here's le summary:

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

Amazeballs, right??? So. In honor of ONE's release, I'm sharing with y'all an interview with its awesome author! Here's a little bit more about Leigh Ann:

Raised on comic books and classic novels, Leigh Ann developed an early love of science fiction and literature. After earning degrees in Sociology and Hebrew, she went on to become a rabbi at The Ohio State University. Surrounded by college students, she found her niche writing science fiction and romance for teens.

Leigh Ann, her husband, and four children live in Columbus, Ohio, which sadly lacks superheroes but does have the best football and fabulous ice cream.

And here is le interview:

1) Confession: I LOVE superheroes. Because obviously. I know you're a Marvel fan (as am I, but I can never forsake my beloved Batman), so if you could invite any superhero to dinner, be it from graphic novels or TV shows or movies, who would it be? What would you love to talk about with her/him?


So, my favorite superheroes are Jean Grey and the Wasp (which is why the main characters of ONE get their last names from them), BUT if I could have anyone over to dinner it would be Mystique, who’s a shape shifter. First of all, JLaw. (Duh.) And second of all, I’d love to talk to her about all the different people she’d been and how she was the same and different each time – how she felt, and how she was treated. And I’d like to know what it feels like, and how it affected her, to be able to change her appearance whenever, and to whatever, she wanted.

2) Speaking of superheroes, ONE is the story of Merrin, a girl who sort of has a superpower, but not really. Which came first: Merrin or the sort-of-superhero premise? Was the brainstorming process fast-paced or a slow burn?

The sort-of-superhero premise had been around for YEARS, ever since I was a little girl watching X-men cartoons on Saturday mornings.  Those shows focused on the people who had seriously awesome powers, and I wondered what it would be like for someone who had one component of a power, but not enough to make them do anything truly impressive. Especially because there was such a heavy theme of social stratification in shows like X-men, I wondered where half-superpowered people would fall, and whether they would fit in anywhere.

I actually wrote chapter 8 of the book first – the scene where Merrin and Elias discover how their Ones affect each other. The rest of the book sort of unfurled pretty quickly from there, with few snags.

3) Whether it's the ability to full-on fly or an internship at the Hub, Merrin is quite the pro at longing for things that are a bit out of reach. But even when things do start happening for her, Merrin has to deal with her wishes not being as awesomesauce as she imagined. Was there ever a time when writing ONE made you feel the same way? Did Merrin's voice prove to be different than how you originally set out to write it? 

Wow, that’s a great question! Yeah, I think all writers can identify with the feeling of struggling to make the words on the page communicate the pictures and characters in your head, right? I think especially because I had loved comics and superhero movies so much, I had this grandiose idea for the story I’d be able to tell. It turns out that ONE is just as much a romance as a story of a girl finding her superpowers, and both of those things have equal bearing on her character.

It’s funny that you asked about Merrin’s voice, because that was the element of the story that underwent the most changes in revisions. Merrin still lives in my head as this fundamentally angry, abrasive girl, which is fine – until she starts interacting with other people. My critique partners and editors helped me realize when Merrin’s personality was spilling over too much and ruining character and story arcs. She’s much tempered in the final version.

4) So. Elias VanDyne. *fans self* I love me some good romance in YA. Because obviously. What do you think makes a YA love interest swoonworthy? Which are some of your favorite YA love interests?
I think, for Young Adult love interests, selflessness and sweetness are two of the most swoonworthy things in a boy. Teen boys aren’t really that widely known for their emotional depth or focus on the intricacies of relationships, so when a boy shows that he’s listening to a girl, that he appreciates her for something other than what’s in her pants, and that he wants to be with her because  he genuinely enjoys being around her, that goes a long way. Making her feel all hot and blushy will take him the rest of the way, whether because of the way he looks, the words he says, or the things he does for her. The reader has to get the impression that there couldn’t possibly be a better boy on the whole planet for this girl – like if they’re not together, something will have gone seriously wrong in the world. (Not that that’s ever true, we just want readers to feel like that at that moment in the story.)
5) Every manuscript begs to be written in different ways. What part about writing ONE differed from your previous manuscripts? Was it harder/easier? How did ONE help you grow as a writer?

ONE was easier than the manuscript I’d written before that, my first one, because the characters were really fully formed in my mind – their motivations, their personalities, the way they looked, everything. I’m really a character-driven writer, and ONE was where I really learned that.

About halfway through the second revision of ONE, I discovered the Save the Cat beat sheet, used it for revisions, and it changed my life. Now I do a beat sheet at the beginning of every manuscript, before I even think about writing a word. From there, I make an outline. That’s right – ONE, in a way, changed me from a pantser to a plotter.

That said, I’ll never forget the magical feeling of having that first scene I wrote in ONE pour from my fingers. I’ve got to figure out a way of getting back to writing passionately, out of order, without making me feel like I’m cheating on the outline.

6) I'm a serious sucker for food. Nutella and Twizzlers rule my world. Is there anything you munch on while writing/revising? 

Coffee and chocolate while drafting, and I’m afraid I’m horrible about munchies when revising. I think that revising is such an anxiety-filled process for me, full of worry over whether I’m changing the right things in the right way, and all that staring at the screen and puzzling with idle hands makes me want to eat endlessly. These days, I’m doing that with mostly popcorn, which I tell myself is healthier than other options.

7) Are you working on other projects at the moment? If so, TELL ME EVERYTHING, WOMAN. 

Yes! I already have my February 2014 book finished, which is a YA romance. I’m in the very early stages of  a spinoff for that one, which I’m planning to publish next summer – that will be a New Adult romance, likely. I’m also in the middle of editing Chrome, which is my futuristic sci-fi retelling of the Exodus from Egypt, and I’m in the early stages of rewriting my first ever manuscript, a time travel romance, as a New Adult novel.
(I love that you were so interested. It made me blush.)

Amparo, I’ve admired you and your work for a long time. It was truly an honor to be interviewed on your blog today – thank you so much for inviting me.

Thank YOU for being so freakin' great (as both author and blogger extraordinaire) and answering my questions, Leigh Ann! *bows down* Want to get a copy of ONE?? Find it here:

Praise for One

"One balances a fully imagined, super world with deep, well-crafted characters and took me on a heart pounding, heartbreakingly authentic journey I hated to see end."
~Trisha Leigh, author of The Last Year series

“Exciting, edgy, romantic and beautifully written, ONE is a book from an incredible new writing talent that will leave you longing for more!”
     ~Emma Pass, author of Acid (Random House 2013) and the upcoming The Fearless (Random House 2014)

"I opened One and didn't put it down. On the surface it's a fast-paced superhero story combined with all the wonderful and terrible aspects of teenage life, but beneath that is the story of a girl who only wants to be more than she is. It's a fun adventure cloaking a simple but powerful truth of the human condition."
~Francesca Zappia, author of the upcoming Ask Again Later (Greenwillow/HarperCollins 2014)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blog Chain: What Is Success?

So. Once again, I'm WAY behind on my blog chain duties. *hangs head in shame* And even though I have to write a post for the chain tomorrow, I have something super special scheduled in its place (!!!), so I'll be posting it on Friday.

Okay. Now for the post I'm behind on. The kickass Cole wants to know the following:

How do you define success? Is it getting published, making the New York Times list, or just finishing a novel?    

To me, all those things can be gratifying, but the one that feels like the biggest milestone is finishing a first draft. Granted, I haven't been published and I haven't made the NYT list. I don't know what those things feel like. But if I had to guess, I'd still say wrapping up a novel is the ultimate source of that HELL YEAH feeling. Especially since I'm such a slow writer. The fastest draft I've ever finished lasted 2 months, and I haven't been able to recapture that sense of OMG THIS NEEDS TO BE WRITTEN NOW feeling again. 

So yeah. Success is many stages in the publishing world. It morphs into other stages--other pressures--writers put on themselves. But at the end of the day, it starts with a story you want to share, and the roadblocks that will try to stop you from doing so.

*cracks knuckles*

A huge thank you to Cole for this topic! Make sure you go read what she had to say, and stay tuned for another blog chain post later this week.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blog Chain: My Go-To Phrases And Scenes

So. I am super behind on my blog chain post, but alas! It is here!

*slaps wrist for tardiness*

Okay. Christine asks the following:

What are your "go-to" scenes or phrases? You know, the ones you have to remind yourself NOT to use too frequently? What do you do to keep yourself from being overly reliant on them?

Oh, Christine. Why must you embarrass me so? Some of my go-to words of choice depend on the manuscript's genre. For example, if the story is set in contemporary times, I'd stick with "whatever" and "just." EVERY character would end up saying one or both those words, and I'd write them outside of dialogue as well. You know. Because I'm smart like that. As for scenes, I love writing dialogue, so there's a lot of talking and reminiscing and not doing anything in all my first drafts. This is why I like to outline. I feel safer from the DIALOGUE TEMPTRESS that way. :)

With my current high fantasy WIP, the culprit has been "I stare at him(her), unblinking." My main character says this at least a billion times. It's... not pretty. This is less a plotting issue and more of a laziness issue. In the moment, it seems like I can't come up with any other way to describe shock or horror. But hey, that's what revisions are for! *hugs revisions tight*

Thanks so much to Christine for the awesome topic! Don't forget to check out what Cole and Margie had to say. :)

Do you have go-to phrases and scenes? If so, what are they? What do you do to stop them from taking over your manuscript?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blog Chain: On Critiques And Thick Skin

It's blog chain time, folks. This round is brought to you by Alyson, who wants to know:

Have you developed thick skin as a writer? How do you handle having your work critiqued? Do you love revising? Hate it?

So. Thick skin. I totes have it. I didn't always have it, though. 2009. That's when I contacted my first (and still!) CP, Lindsay. If Lindsay pointed something out as sucktastic, I would immediately feel like a sucktastic failure of a writer. That was more my self-esteem than Lindsay's approach to crits (because she is awesomesauce). Luckily, I've spent the past four years embracing my work as a thing that's outside of me. Yes, it came from my brain, but whatever type of feedback I get on my work isn't feedback on me as a person. If my manuscript is sucktastic, then I must fix it. Period. I can bemoan cutting a chapter/scene I thought was cool, but I'm still cutting it if it doesn't add anything to the story. That's the kind of perspective a CP can help you with. It's also a lesson I struggled to learn, but I'm thrilled I finally did. :)

As for revising, my stance remains the same. I LOVE IT. Love, love, love. I prefer it to drafting any day of the week. I'm still hard at work on my WIP's second draft, though, so I'm slower than I want to be. Especially since I have at least two more drafts to go through. I cannot wait to send the final draft to Lindsay, as well as my other CPs, Kaye and Natasha.

I feel sorry for them already. *giggles*

Thanks to Alyson for the awesome topic! Check out what Cole had to say, and stay tuned for Margie's post tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

10 Killer Queries That Worked Part 2

Some of you have read my 10 Killer Queries That Worked post. It features 10 of my absolute fave query letters for manuscripts that ended up being published. Well, since I'm always on the hunt for a new query to drool over, I figured I'd turn the post into a series. 

Welcome to Part 2! :)

Okay. Let's get to it. *cracks knuckles*

Here is another batch of amazeballs queries:

  1. Miranda Kenneally's query for CATCHING JORDAN, originally titled SCORE (bonus points: this post features an interview with Miranda's agent, Sara Megibow).
  2. MarcyKate Connolly's query for MONSTROUS, which comes out in 2014 from HarperCollins.
  3. Megan Sheperd's query for THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER
  4. Carrie Ryan's query for THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH.
  5. Beth Revis's query for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, originally titled LONG WAY HOME.
  6. Francesca Zappia's query for ASK AGAIN LATER, originally titled ALEXITHYMIA. The book comes out in 2014 from HarperCollins. 
  7. Stephanie Diaz's query for EXTRACTION, which comes out in 2014 from St. Martin's Press.
  8. Claire Legrand's query for THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS (bonus points: this post features commentary from Claire's agent, Diana Fox).
  9. Kate Karyus Quinn's (my blog chain buddy!!!) query for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, which comes out June 11th from HarperTeen.
  10. April Tucholke's query for BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, originally titled THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA (bonus points: this post features commentary by April's agent, Joanna Volpe). The book comes out August 15th from Dial. 

So there you have them! I hope they prove as helpful as the first batch :)

Have you read these query letters before? Which one(s) do you love most? Are there any other query letters you love that aren't on the list?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Defense Of Non-Badass Characters: Carol From THE WALKING DEAD

So. There's this show I love, right? I know, I know. There are TONS of shows I love. But just hear me out, okay? This is a show I've never blogged about! At least not in full-length post mode. I've chosen to do not one, but TWO posts about this show, so you know I mean business, y'all.

So. The Walking Dead. There are zombies (a.k.a. Walkers) in it. There are also non-Walker people. Among these non-Walker people, there are a few badasses. If you watch the show, you know them by heart. Michonne. Daryl. Rick (sometimes). Maggie. Carl (he's getting there). There are also non-Walker people who are not exactly badasses. At least not in the I'm-gonna-chop-your-Walker-head-off-while-doing-a-backflip-on-a-burning-stallion kind of badass way. 

One of these non-badass characters is Carol.


I cheer SUPER LOUD whenever Michonne or Daryl or Rick or Another Badass kills Walkers in stellar fashion. I understand why Michonne and Daryl are fan favorites. I would also riot like a madwoman if they ever get killed off. But I am unabashedly attached to Carol. In Season 1, we see her as the mother of a little girl named Sophia, and the wife of a jerk who beats her. She stays with said jerk because they're married and the zombie apocalypse is here and she doesn't think she can protect Sophia on her own. But when the jerk is eaten by a Walker, Carol and her daughter must fight the good fight without him. 

Season 2 Carol is even more heartbreaking. Not only does Sophia vanish into the woods after a run-in with some Walkers, she later reemerges as a Walker herself. To say Carol is devastated is an understatement, folks. The moment I saw Sophia walking out of Hershel's barn, all Walker-fied, I told myself, "Carol's done." I had the gall to think this woman had met her end. She'd been robbed of the only thing she kept fighting for. Why else would she carry on?

Carol proved me wrong, and I'm thrilled she did. In Season 3, there is a moment when viewers wonder whether Carol is alive or dead. The prison where the group is hiding out is infested with Walkers. Carol's stuck in a corridor with T-Dog, who sacrifices himself so she can escape. Viewers then see when Daryl finds Carol's knife on the prison floor, along with her head scarf, leading everyone to believe she's dead, after all. BUT SHE'S NOT. She was hiding behind a door in that very corridor, too weak to call out for help. After Daryl carries her back to the cell block where the group lives, she rejoins them and does her best to care for Rick's baby daughter/Daryl/everyone else. 


My point? Carol has been through stuff, y'all. Heavy, horrible stuff. Does she remain a victim and weep in a corner while others risk their lives for her? No. Does she grab a bunch of rifles and shoot up every single Walker she can find? No. She learns how to defend herself so she can defend the ones she loves, but she doesn't rely on this knowledge to get by day to day. Carol is not a badass in the traditional sense. She can't wield a katana like Michonne. She can't use a crossbow or hunt or ride a motorcycle like Daryl. But she can survive. Not just with a rifle, but with her heart. There's a reason why Rick is overjoyed during a moving scene in Season 3, where he sees her after the Walker attack. Carol is his friend, but she's also one of the strongest members of his group. She's stronger than him. It's her strength after so much loss, her loyalty to him after so much heartache, that Rick cherishes. In a way, I think Rick wishes he could be that strong. 

I know I do.

So there. The non-badass characters are gems, too. Carol is proof of this and more.

Do you watch The Walking Dead? If so, what do you think about Carol? Is she as awesome as I think she is?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blog Chain: The Non-Fiction Round

Blog chain time! For this round, Sandra asks the following:

We all know it's important to read fiction if you want to write fiction, but what about reading non-fiction? How much non-fiction do you read? What kinds of non-fiction books do you read, and why? Has reading non-fiction influenced your fiction writing style?

Confession: the only non-fiction books I read are either for thesis research or for WIP research. On the thesis front, there's a lot of Emily Bronte going on, since I'm focusing on her poetry. I've read biographies and critical analysis books. On the WIP front, I'm delving into the Dark Ages. Customs, clothing, food, combat techniques. You name it. I'm doing my best to absorb as much as I can. I'm also studying the Gothic language in order to put some Germanic words into the story. You know. Easy stuff like that :)

The non-fiction books on medieval times have influenced my fiction writing style. I'm paying attention to details that are helping me build a stronger, more believable world. This includes word choice as well. Sometimes I feel tempted to write things like "For reals" or "Shut your pie hole" and I stop myself. PEOPLE DIDN'T SAY THIS IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, YO. So yeah. It's a constant learning experience and struggle, but I'm confident it'll pay off in the end. 

*crosses fingers*

Thanks to Sandra for this topic! Check out Cole's take on the topic, and don't forget to see what Margie has to say!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

In Which I Confess My Solo Dance Parties While Writing

So. Writing. Hard, isn't it? 

I find it impossible to write for more than an hour at a time. Sometimes, if I'm REALLY pumped up, I go on for longer stretches. But this is rare, folks. Like, is-that-a-Yeti-with-a-chimichanga? rare. My creative juices sound the alarm and slam those breaks like nobody's business. I feel exhausted and bored. 

Which is why I have solo dance parties.

I put on songs that drive me to brink of dancing madness, then run headfirst to said madness. 

Note: I am a terrible dancer. But I do it anyway. 

It's my excuse to have fun and laugh at my ineptitude for a few minutes. It's also a great way to recharge those creative juices. Dance parties make me happy. Therefore, after the dance party is over, I will still be happy. This helps me get back to writing with a smile on my face and, hopefully, a believable way to end that pesky scene or chapter. 

Just don't ask me to record myself dancing. You don't deserve that kind of torture. 

How do you recharge those creative juices after a writing session? Do you throw solo dance parties, too? Or do you prefer something less embarrassing? 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sparklepires And Pretty Monsters: On Reinterpretation

Monsters. Myths. Urban legends. Fairy tales. These are some things that have been adapted in a bazillion ways. Storytellers take the original material, then infuse it with a shiny new twist. They could even change genres in order to explore that original material in a different setting with different rules.

Which leads me to this:

AWFUL grammatical errors aside, I am bothered by this, folks. Not because I am a rabid advocate of sparklepire rights (even though I believe they should have their rights both acknowledged and respected). Not because I prefer my monsters pretty and CGI'd all the time. This isn't why I cringe whenever I read or hear someone berating authors for their "lame" and "not scary" versions of once-feared creatures. Hell, I might find some of those new versions lame and not scary, too. 

But I have no problem with lame and not scary. I choose not to engage with these reinterpretations, and my life goes on.

I have a problem with clinging to one version of anything

Variety is the spice of life, but it's also what makes literature worth reading. Imagine if all vampires were sparklepires who watched their romantic leads while they slept. Now imagine if all witches were super smart with weird hair and poor social skills. Now imagine if all aliens were blue and had six-packs and flew on pterodactyl-looking creatures. Would you be excited to read books with this version offered to you over and over? Or would you be excited to discover new ways of looking at the same archetype/monster?

I know which boat I'm floating on. Long live reinterpretation, even if I don't like how that reinterpretation plays out in the end. 

What about you? Where do you stand on the reinterpretation spectrum? Are there any reinterpreted monsters/stories you prefer to the original?  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blog Chain: Tropes, Tropes, Tropes

Blog chain time!! For this round, my buddy Michelle wants to know the following:

What elements in your favorite genre make it your favorite? For instance, if your favorite genre is romance, what elements do you like in a romance story? A tortured hero? A spunky heroine? Steamy love scenes? Sweet romance? If your fave genre is sci-fi, what elements do you love the most (the characters, the science, the possibilities?), etc?

So. Tropes. I like a few of them. Problem is, my favorite genre (to read) is YA contemporary realism. I'm still a huge fantasy fan, but it's the contemporary stories that have my heart. Here is le list of tropes I can get behind:

  1. Cliques (because obviously).
  2. Mean girls who are more than just mean girls (a la Courtney Summers' books).
  3. An underdog protag who beats the odds.
  4. The awkwardness of falling in love for the first time ever (personal faves are Stephanie Perkins + Sarah Dessen + John Green).
  5. Vivid settings in the everyday world (Kirsten Hubbard wins at this).
  6. The bad boy with a heart of gold. This one is easily found in other genres, but to me, the contemp bad boys feel more accessible due to an extra focus on their character development. And extra character development = a happy Amparo.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of tropes, but for now, these are my faves. :) Make sure to check out Cole's post, and stay tuned for Margie's!

What about you? Are there any tropes in your favorite genre that you're head over heels with??

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blog Chain: Wuthering Heights With DRAGONS

It's blog chain time! For this round, the awesome Margie asks:

Pick a book or story and imagine it in a new genre. For example, what would Oliver Twist be like if it was a sci-fi novel. Would Fagin have been a robot? Do you prefer you new creation or the original?

Let me just say I am in love with this topic.

So in love, in fact, that my brain broke and I couldn't figure out how to answer it.

But I have found my answer at last. And it is this...

meets this...

the dragon Kilgharrah from Merlin

I think Wuthering Heights re-envisioned as a high fantasy with DRAGONS would be bossypants. Heathcliff wouldn't be some gypsy dude, but a DRAGONMASTER. And this would be a SECRET. Because in the country of Wuthering Heights, DRAGONS are the ENEMY. They are the uber-smart and terrifying beasts who threaten humankind. They must be slain at all costs. So when Heathcliff hides his DRAGON from the judgmental, posh family who's taken him in as their own, he forms an unexpected bond with the one person who understands him: Cathy.

Why? Because Cathy is a SECRET DRAGONOLOGIST. She's researched all there is to know about DRAGONS and she's convinced they're not the enemy, but she's never seen one in real life. So Heathcliff introduces her to his DRAGON. They all get along. Cathy and Heathcliff fall in love. But they can't be together because Heathcliff hates her family and what she's bound to become if she remains with them and drama drama drama.

I'd totally read that.

As long as the DRAGON gets to roast Mr. Lockwood.

Because obviously.

A huge thanks to Margie for the topic! Make sure you check out Cole's post, and stay tuned for Margie's tomorrow!

Monday, February 25, 2013

How To Get Nothing Done: The SHERLOCK Edition

So. I am sick. Very, very sick. 


Naturally, my sickness has led me to Netflix. Again. Oh, how my sickness messes with daily plans... 

Anyway. Netflix. I was browsing through a bunch of shows I haven't seen yet, trying to decide which one I'd dive into after the awesomeness that is Merlin. There's this one show that kept taunting me with its presence. The same show I SWORE to anyone and everyone I'd stay away from.

Anyone and everyone: "But it's a great show, Amparo! You should watch it!"

Me: "No. I am not interested."

Anyone and everyone: "But it's a great show with great acting! Watch it now!!!"

Me: "No."



You know what I'm going to say. You know who ended up losing this futile war of wills.

BBC One's Sherlock

Sherlock owns my soul. It owns my soul the way puppies with wagging tails and clumsy feet own my soul. It is the kind of love that is healthy and unhealthy at the same time. The kind that glues me to the TV while coughing and burning up and crying from my congestion and makes me forget I'm coughing and burning up and crying from my congestion.

The writing? Clever. Hilarious. Touching.

The acting? SUPERB (I know Cumberbatch is a favorite of many peeps, but OMG, Martin Freeman is a subtle genius).

The villain? THE VILLAIN???? I. Am. Obsessed. With the Moriarty on this show. I CANNOT even tell you. No. I really can't. I often quote him and mimic his voice and it's just not something I should be confessing. But there you go.

Also, Mrs. Hudson. *gives her ALL the hugs*

For those of you who aren't huge Sherlock Holmes fans, I'm right there with you. I wasn't excited about starting this show at all. But as a writer, a lover of stories, and a lover of stories about allies who fight against crime, I am fascinated with the tight, unapologetic plotting of twists and LOL moments. It's an art, really. An art I do not master. The relationship between Sherlock and John is far more heartwarming than I was expecting, too. They work and live together but they're not friends but oh wait yes they are but nope they're arguing again but nope they've made up but OH SNAP Sherlock has just ruined it again. 

One of the most awesome roller coasters in the land of television.

I cannot wait for Season 3---> words I thought I'd never say. *sigh*

Do you watch Sherlock? If so, what's your favorite thing about the show?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why Robert Pattinson's Twilight Hair Is Like Revision

So. I am revising my WIP. I believe I've mentioned how much I love the revision process. I am, however, rather slow. But in the Land of Why Can't I Just Finish This Draft Already, there is one thing that keeps me going, folks. 

One thing to rule them all, and in the glossiness bind them.

Robert Pattinson's hair in the Twilight movies.

*is ashamed*

*a little*

*okay, a lot*

So. I've come to a realization. You know how revision is all about adding and removing things from your manuscript? And how it's also about looking at your words through a different lens?


In the Twilight movies, Robert Pattinson can style his hair like this:

'tis an art form to brood. oh, yes it is

Or like this:

 broody mcbroodster, they used to call me

Or like this:

 broody mcbroodster--suburban edition

And his hair always looks nice. 

He always looks nice. 

These are different ways of envisioning his character, but at his core, Edward Cullen remains a messed up stalker vampire who will risk everything to keep his true love safe. My point? Revisions are for changing the way you present your story, but its core remains the same. Take a scene out. Put a new one in. These things will happen during revisions. But remember to ask yourself: why am I making these changes? How do they improve my core? 

In the case of Robert's hair, I think his style evolution is meant to suggest that he goes from boy (bedhead-us maximus) to married man with a kid (tame-us maximus). Or something. 

So. Robert Pattinson's Twilight hair is like revision, folks. It has many ways of looking good, even if they're radically different from each other. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to beat my WIP into submission.

*runs off*

Are you currently revising? If so, any tips and tricks for keeping your story's core?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Teen Girls And The Things They Love

"As soon as teenage girls start to profess love for something, everyone else becomes totally dismissive of it. Teenage girls are open season for the cruelest bullying that our society can dream up. Everyone's vicious to them. They're vicious to each other. Hell, they're even vicious to themselves. It's terrible.
So if teenage girls have something that they love, isn't that a good thing? Isn't it better for them to find some words they believe in, words like the 'fire-proof and fearless' lyrics that Jacqui wrote? Isn't it better for them to put those words on their arm in a tattoo than for them to cut gashes in that same skin? Shouldn't we be grateful when teenage girls love our work? Shouldn't that be a fucking honor?
It's used as the cheapest, easiest test of crap, isn't it? If teenage girls love a movie, a book, a band, then it's immediately classified as mediocre shit. Well, I'm not going to stand for that. Someone needs to treat them like they're precious, and if nobody else is ready to step up, I guess it's up to us to put them on the path to recognizing that about themselves."

                                           --Ben in Mary Borsellino's The Devil's Mixtape, page 108 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blog Chain: Balancing Stuff With Other Stuff

Happy Valentine's Day!!! *tosses sprinkles* 

Now. It's blog chain time! This round features a question from Lisa. She wants to know the following:

The balancing act. How do you balance your writing time with everything else in your life--including kids, job, book promotion.

This is a pretty simple post for me. I don't have kids. I don't have a job (although I'm going on the prowl for one soon). Right now, I don't have to worry about book promotion because I don't have a book coming out in the near future (but I am querying one later this year).

What I do have is a thesis to write. And a family. A friends. Lots of friends who, for some reason, like seeing me and hanging out with me. So I've come up with a bit of a system: during weekdays, I work on my thesis (proposal, at this stage) in the mornings, then spend the afternoon working on my WIP. I make it a point to revise one page, though. This usually tempts me to work on at least a second page because I'm just too amped and feel like one page isn't enough. On weekends, no thesis whatsoever. I work on my WIP and hang out with my family, or I work on my WIP and catch up with friends, or I don't work on my WIP and watch a lot of TV/read awesome books.

It's been a blast so far. Let's hope I can keep this balancing act for a little while longer. *crosses fingers*

Thanks to Lisa for the topic! Make sure to check out Cole's post, then stay tuned tomorrow for Margie's post!