Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Empty Headed

Sadly, there have been a lot of things going on in my life lately that are out of my control. Its made it difficult for me to really focus on my writing and blogging. Even poor Twitter has suffered my absense. :: mutters apologies to Twitter :: Anyway, I have nothing. No ideas really to speak of. As I say this, I know I could open up "A Place Called Earth" and get going on that rewrite, but I can't let myself become too involved with the computer screen right now. So I've decided to leave things up to you, the readers/followers/potential stalkers. What do you want to know? What have you been dieing to hear about from me? I'm giving you a whole week to get in as many questions as you can. They can be about writing, or about me (although I reserve the right to keep some things personal, thanks), or anything really. Sadly, I don't know how to solve for time travel, but if you want to ask me about that, I'll be happy to BS my way through it. :)

So here it is, the schedule of events for the answers:
Wednesday, June 2: Any question about writing will be answered.
Thursday, June 3: Any personal question will be answered.
Friday, June 4: Questions about my sanity will be answered. (-aka- any other questions)
Saturday, June 5: Any posting requests will be given a schedule date.

Also, I would like to remind everyone that the Practical Joke Blogfest is coming up in a couple weeks! If you haven't signed up yet, you should do that right now!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Check these out!

Sorry, I already need to get off topic... Even just reading it and knowing its not quite the same, seeing (or hearing) "Check it out!" always makes me think of "Sonny with a Chance." I love that show. Also, because I want you all to realize just how big of a dork I really am, I like "Wizards of Waverly Place" too. Why? Because they're honestly good family shows that teach you something. There is always a moral in each episode. It is exactly for this reason that Power Rangers and Spongebob is not allowed in my house. (Okay, there may be some bias going on there too... hard to say)

Anyway, now that I've gotten my distraction out of the way, I need to tell EVERYONE about a couple of blogs I stumbled on today. Both of them are sponsering really great giveaways of ARCs of soon to be released novels! How awesome is that? I want, I want. I really shouldn't even mention it, all the more chance for me to be a winner and not you. But, I'm just not that selfish.. So, here they are.

The first I stumbled upon was for Kiersten White. She's giving away a copy of her novel,  PARANORMALCY. I wish I could say I was surprised by the number of people that have already entered her contest, but I'm not. In fact, I'm a little surprised there aren't more. When this book hits shelves in September it is going to be a huge hit. JMO.

The second contest/giveaway is over on Frenetic Reader. An extra ARC of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer is up for grabs. From what is posted in the blog, it looks very interesting. Unfortunately, I don't know many details about this one, but still... I wants to win.

So, you should all go check these out, and maybe you'll decide that I should win and consider having these ARCs sent to me if you win. ;)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: "Blood Born" by Linda Howard andd Linda Jones

From the back of the book

Blood BornWhen the human and vampire worlds collide
Luca Ambrus is a rare breed: He is a vampire from birth, begotten by two vampire parents: blood born. He is also an agent of the Council--the centuries-old cabal that governs vampirekind, preserving their secrecy and destroying those who betray them.

When a cryptic summons leads him to the scene of the brutal killing of a powerful Council member, Luca begins the hunt for an assassin among his own people. But instead of a lone killer he discovers a sinister conspiracy of rogue vampires bent on subjugating the mortal world.

All that stands in their way are the conduits, humans able to channel spirit warriors into the physical world to protect mankind. Chloe Fallon is a conduit--and a target of the vampire assassin who's killing them. When Luca saves her life, an irresistible bond of trust--along with more passionate feelings--is forged between them. As more victims fall, Chloe and Luca have only each other to depend on to save the world from the reign of monsters--and salvage their own future together.

My Thoughts
The authors did a great job of explaining the characters and what made them the way they were. This also made it kind of hard to get into the story, because so much of it is bogged down with background information. Also, a lot of that information was repeated several times throughout several chapters (as if we could forget!) I would have liked to have seen all that information spread out a little more, giving the characters a little more mystery, perhaps.

The characters themselves were very original and I loved the premis of the story. Aside from all the info dumping, it was a good story. The only thing I saw as a problem was I knew what was coming before it happened. There weren't enough surprises. There were plenty of hints that could have made me think, "Ah! Now it all makes sense," but there was just a little too much given.

One other thing I noticed, was the characters progressed too quickly, especially given all the information given. I think more time could have been spent allowing them to grow rather than explaining and re-explaining the thought processes of the characters.

What I loved about it was that it jumped around to different characters to get into different heads, good and bad characters, even if several of the same characters were in a particular scene. I also loved the believability of the explainations. The authors did a great job of making it seem like vampires could be real.

Rating: R for adult content and language and mature situations

Recommended for: Anyone still interested in vampire novels, people who love paranormal romances, anyone looking to pass the time with a decent book.

Not Recommended for: Anyone under 18, those who are easily distracted or pay too much attention to writing flaws.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to Anne Riley for the review template!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An exercise in emotion

When I'm feeling some writer's block or worry that I'm not writing as well as I could be, one of the things I like to do is work on showing emotion in my writing. Its one of the biggest things I struggle with in my work. I love being able to read through books and find those spots that make me laugh or cry. I can go through so many of them and they are all so different, but what makes them evoke those emotions.

I had started to do exercises to figure out how someone would look when they are feeling certain emotions. What facial expressions would they make? What hand guestures would they use? It wasn't enough, but it certainly helps. When I start to feel a little stumped or something seems to be repeating too often, I pop open my notebook and look at my list. Works like a charm. But I'm still not solid on those emotional, gut-wrenching parts to the story. So, I've decided I will just start to write a small piece, focusing on different emotions and different situations. I'll try to do this every Wednesday. It would be great to get some feedback on these. Things like: Does the emotion I'm trying to portray show? How does the piece make you feel? I think it would even be awesome if any of my awesome followers would like to do the same! Just let me know.

Okay, so here is the piece for today:

She slowly scanned the room, taking in every detail. With one deep breath she walked out, letting her fingers trail against the rough concrete wall. She focused on everything, trying to absorb it for when she would need it later. It would be a long time before she would allow herself to remember this place.

When the light was behind her and there was nothing more to see, she stopped and sighed. Her empty stomach seemed to pull her back, toward the building. A pit had formed leaving her weak and hollow, but she couldn’t stop. She had made her decision and packed her things. There was nothing more to do, but to finish what she started. To leave her world behind.

Air hitched in her throat. She took one more step and her heart shattered. Tears filled her eyes to the brim and overflowed hot and wet down her cheeks. She gritted her teeth against the sobs that were threatening to overtake her body. Dropping down to the cold, damp ground she curled in on herself. Salty droplets clung to her eyelashes. She pinched her eyes shut and tried to focus her thoughts away from their current path. *She’s gone. And it's all my fault.*

She shook her head, knocking her temples against both knees. With one finally stuttering breath, she rolled onto her knees and pushed herself off the grass. Picking up her bag, she forced her numb legs to move.

Okay, so that was all I managed to write today. If you would like to do one also, just send me the link to the post!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A really awesome giveaway!

Sadly, this one isn't from me, although I am working on something for when I get some more followers. The giveaway I'm talking about is being done by Sara McClung over at . You should go over there, enter her giveaway contest and tell her that I sent you! Its very cool.

The linkie to the contest: Very Vampire May Giveaway

I think its really cool, and I've already signed up so you should all do the same. DO IT!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The little things

One of the things I have the most difficulty with in my writing is the small stuff. So many times when I do a rough draft the only thing you will see in it is the action. Sometimes you need to have some smaller things included to add to the story, though.

First of all, what do I mean by the small stuff. I think details could be included in this. What is included in the setting, what does the character look like is not what I mean by this. I'm talking about the oddities. That birthmark on your MC's bum that only one or two other characters know about. It might come into play somewhere in the plot and add to the drama. How about that broken chair leg coming back to bite the antagonist literally. How would the antagonist handle that?

Quirks are an important part of the small things. Also phrases. Characters are made by the things they say and the things they do. Do you have a character that bites their lips when they're nervous? Or twirls their hair. This goes a long way to showing what your character is feeling without having to say it. Show... don't tell. Maybe you have a character that stutters. They stand out. Or they always make an inappropriate joke at the worst possible time. These things come through and really add to your work.

Growth is something else that I would include in the little things category. It just isn't believeable if it happens all right away. When you finally get to know that character as a reader, you see when a decision they make is something that would be unusual for them. A writer would know that character even better and you can see that growth, but you have to give the character the opportunity to actually grow, and not be too hard on them if they do make the wrong decision. Remember, if you force them to make the decision you want them to, it could change the whole story.

One of my favorite things to do in any genre or style is foreshadowing. For a long time I always assumed it was only for mystery/suspense, but I've come to learn that it works for evyer story. EVERY STORY! Generally it isn't something that will come into the story intentionally until the revision, but some times the ones that are accidentally added the first time around are even better. In "Silver Bullet" which is still in the first draft phase I had described a door at a training facility. It was monstorous and made of wood with intricate carvings on it. I didn't know when I was writing the story that it would actually come to mean something more later on in the story. These are the little things that can really impact a story. 

Lots of authors use these things. I think its really amazing when an author can manage to span some of these things over a series. Personally, as far as these things are concerned, my favorite is J.K. Rowling. She wrote seven books and all these little things came into play. Some of those books were really thick, too. How did she remember all that stuff? And if she was keeping notes, how did she ever find any of it? The great thing about the growth that happens in the Harry Potter series, is that it happens emotionally and physically.

So, last night I had a dream that is the reason for this post. Lately I've rediscovered my love for RockBand. The batteries in my guitar had died, so I found a screwdriver and popped off the back to change them. Well, after that I lost the screwdriver. When I found it, I lost the screw. I dreamt I had found the screw last night. Weird, huh.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Bad Girl Blogfest

So, I couldn't just pick one scene for the bad girl blogfest! So, I'm going to post two! Yay!

Here's the link:
Bad Girl Blogfest

Scene #1
This scene is from my finished novel, A Place Called Earth. This is how Opal is introduced. The scene is a bit graphic... Just to forewarn...

“Will you just fuck me already?” I glared at him. He seemed eager enough, even with all the hesitations.

He did a double take, his eyes widened as he processed what I was saying. “Seriously?”

I didn’t give him a chance. I smiled at him as demurely as I could manage. Without a pause, I grabbed his shirt and ripped it off of him.

His blue eyes lost their startled expression and I got the reaction I was looking for. His mouth crashed down on mine and I could feel him working at my bra. As it came unlatched, my shirt started lifting.

I shoved him down on the chair, right there in my kitchen. I unzipped his pants and straddled him. His face burned. I wasn’t sure if he was embarrassed or excited, but I was too horny to really care.

When his hand dove into my pants, I forgot everything else. When I remember what was happening, we were both naked and he was thrusting into me.

I raked my nails down his bare back. He sucked in his breath for a moment before he started plunging into me harder. Faster. His eyes burned with desire.

"Fuck me!" I screamed, and he obliged. Heat flowed through me as my hands and feet started to tingle. I curled my toes toward my heels and tightened the hold my legs had on his waist.

"You like this?" he huffed before mauling my breast with his mouth. His teeth grazed my nipple sending electric currents though my entire body.

"Oh my god! You are so hot." I laughed. I leaned back, away from him on the chair allowing him greater access to my pussy. I ground into his throbbing cock and moaned when he let out a grunt.

I ran my fingers through his thick blonde hair and rode him on that chair until he was gasping for air. "I'm coming, babe."

I stood and grabbed him, finishing him off with my hand. I caught the flash of disappointment on his face before he closed his eyes and gave in to the pleasure. Apparently he had something else in mind.

"You want me to write a song about you, baby?" I crooned. I had a moment of déjà vu. This wasn’t the first time I used this line. And the look on his face now told me that it was working now.

He smiled again. "Yes," he sighed, as he shot his load onto the floor.

I grabbed a towel and threw it to him. "Clean yourself off and get dressed. I've got work to do."

I left the room and sat down on my brown shag butterfly chair, my favorite, grabbing my guitar on the way. I strummed a few chords and picked up my notepad. "Someone to fill that empty space, it's not love, but it'll do," I sang quietly. I looked around the room, smiling a little. I had specifically designed this room to bring out my creative side. Other people came in here and held their noses up at the bright splashes of color. I liked it.

I was just about to get up and grab myself some coffee when he walked in. He was still naked. I’d have to be blind not to appreciate his Adonis-like body, but it wasn’t enough for me to want to keep him around. "What are you still doing here?"

He frowned. "I thought I'd make you something to eat. You told me you really liked breakfast."

I shook my head. "I don't eat breakfast and I don't do relationships. I'll write you a song, but that's it. You need to leave now."

"Will I see you again?" he asked. He took another step toward me and froze when I glared up at him.

"Maybe." I shrugged. I shifted my Epiphone Genesis across my naked body and looked down at my notepad while I waited for him to get the hint.

"Have you bought one of those lottery tickets yet?" he asked softly.

"Hell no. If the world is going to crash and burn I want a front row seat. I need some inspiration." I lied.

He sighed again and left. I sat and played through a few covers that I knew before I got back up. I would write a song, but I wasn't going to write him a song. I wasn't even going to see that guy, uh god what was his name. Well, either way, I wasn't even going to see him again, so it didn't even matter. I went to my bedroom and opened my sock drawer. A folded lottery ticket sat there, wrinkled from the number of times I had crumpled it up to throw it away. One of these days I'd actually do it. Probably wouldn't matter though, I knew the numbers on it by heart. Word came out today there would be just under one thousand winners in the U.S. Of course, no one was certain that the world was actually coming to an end. They had sacked the N.A.S.A. guy that was saying that. That he got fired for saying it, tells me he wasn't lying. Sucks to be a patsy.

My phone started ringing. I tried my best to ignore it, but it started up again after voice mail picked up. Somebody really wanted to talk to me.


"Opal. We're playing in Pioneer Square tonight, right down by the piers. EMP nearby and everything. This is huge!" Tony, my bassist chattered excitedly.

"Nice, Tone," I sighed.

"Get your shit together Bergen and get down here. We've got to set up!"

I hung up the phone and looked outside at my emerald city. I could see the Space Needle from my apartment. I sighed again, and got dressed. Time to do what I do best.

The show was great. We had people coming up to us asking for autographs for the rest of the night. I’m pretty sure my manager was pleased. Any time he had wads of cash being handed to him he was pleased. I’d have to keep my eyes on him, sometimes it seemed like the rest of us were coming up a little short on money.

I met a few guys and got some phone numbers. After everything was packed up I picked up a twelve-pack of beer ad wandered down to the pier.

"You look like you've got a lot on your mind." Tony hopped up onto the post next to the one I was sitting on.

I nodded and looked out over the Sound. The mountains were hidden in the dark on the other side. The grey water lapped against the wooden posts below me. Clouds hid the moon and stars. I tossed him a beer and we both sat sipping them quietly.

Tony sighed. I looked over at him. He was a scrawny guy. His clothes hid it well enough that most people couldn’t tell but I’d seen him at practice with no shirt. It wasn’t that he wasn’t muscular; he just looked to be skin and bones. His beard was kinked and wild as it hung half way down to his waist. He covered his dark hair with a bandana tonight; it looked strange on him. It over exaggerated his forehead in a way that a baseball cap never did. The girls at the shows were always all over him. I never understood it. "What do you think about this whole lottery thing, Tone?"

I could almost hear him roll his eyes. This wasn't the first time I'd asked him this question. "You know what I think, Opal."

"You know, you've never actually told me." I spun around and looked at the stores and businesses lining the water. Most of the lights were out now; people had gotten out of work hours ago. Few remained, giving off enough light to see the detail of the city around them. The space needle stood proudly in the middle like a shining beacon saying, “Look at me!”

"I think it’s all a bunch of bullshit. The prize can't be all that amazing if the whole world is involved and so many people are sharing it. It also makes me think it's probably not money." He jumped down and chucked his empty can into the water.

"That doesn't really help with the whole pollution thing," I teased.

"Yeah, I know. Look, you want to come back to my place. I know you always said you'd never sleep with a band member, but I'm not looking for anything here. I just want to get laid." He paced back and forth and finally stopped in front of me. His eyes never actually reached mine. I wondered how bad it would hurt him if I rejected him now. I’d never seen him so vulnerable.

I held out my hand and he accepted it. "Sure. I feel like breaking a few rules tonight." He took my other hand and helped me off the post. I landed lightly on my feet and tried, unsuccessfully, to take my hands back.

I made an effort to be polite to him. My hand remained firmly attached to his for the entire ride, sparing a few brief moments. He wasn’t technically the first band member that I’d broken the rule for, but after the first few, I had to start a whole new band. I hoped for his sake that this was nothing, like he said. If it really ended tomorrow, I wouldn’t say anything. I really hated looking for new bassists.

Scene #2
This is a little shorter is from an unfinished and unnamed novel I've been working on. Completely unedited. Meet Joanna...
The cell phone buzzed and danced on the table.

“Are you going to answer that?”

Joanna didn’t even acknowledge the man sitting next to her at the bank. She could snap his pudgy, sweaty neck so fast no one would even notice.

“Ma’am, your phone is ringing.”

Joanna rolled her eyes before she turned to face him flashing a dazzling, toothy grin. “Really? I had no idea.”

The man visibly gulped air. She knew what he was seeing. He stared at her face for a moment and then stood and hurried away.

The phone started humming again. Joanna suppressed the urge to smash it, but knew it would get her into trouble. She reached out and picked it up, flipping it open in the process.

“What?” she snapped.

“Joanna, where are you?” Jude’s voice came from the other end. His voice was an octave higher than usual.

“It’s none of your business. Don’t you have your little family to protect these days?” Her eyes narrowed to slits as she whispered indignantly into the phone.

Jude ignored her mocking. “So help me, if you are scouting again...”

“How did you get my number anyway?” she asked, not even remotely curious. She winked at an older man sitting across from her who had been ogling her since she sat down. His eyes bulged and he quickly looked away.

“That’s really not important. Now are you going to tell me where you are? Or...”

“Jude now is really not a good time. Can I call you back in, oh say...never.” She flipped the phone closed and dropped it into her purse.

Its all very demanding...

I have been working on a list of things I will need to do or find for my new WIP. Keep in mind, that I will not be writing any of this until November, but I know that between editing A Place Called Earth and research, I should be almost finished by then. Oddly, looking at my list as objectively as possible, its almost humorous. So, I thought I'd share it. Maybe someone feeling a little down about their current WIP will take a look at it, laugh, and pray for me. So here it is:

  • Research names of towns/villages/airports in Chile. Study maps of area.
  • Learn local languages in Chile.
  • Learn to speak Russian.
  • Study images of South American jungles/beaches.
  • Decide what merfolk will look like.
  • How do merfolk speak? Different language? Something else?
  • Turn the ***************** into the perfect antagonist.
  • Give the Director a proper name.
  • Get degrees in zoology, biology, anthropolgy, anatomy, and possibly archeology.
  • Study pictures of England.
  • What kind of government and religion do merfolk have?
  • What's the backstory on merfolk?
  • What kind of weapons do merfolk use? Are they predator or prey?
  • Become fluent in Portaguese.
  • How do trackers track?
  • Is the Golden Egg egg-shaped? Thick? etc.
  • Where do merfolk live? Underwater villages? Caves?
  • Learn slang for Russian, Brittish, Australlian, Brazillian, and Chile.
  • Study pictures of castles and hidden passageways.
  • What does slime smell like?
  • Learn about common equipment and other necessary materials for said degrees.
  • Prove Loch Ness Monster is real.
  • Study Oxford University.
  • Become a SCUBA diver.
  • Become fluent in Russian.

So, this is the list, just as I wrote it. Hope you like it. Do you have a massive research list for your current WIP? What's the hardest thing on it?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Reading: Another skill of a writer

This seems like such an obvious thing. Of course as a writer we are constantly reading. We read a few paragraphs from where we left off to get back into the groove. We read other's works to see how our favorite authors did this or did that or things that we should avoid. We read our own work to look for mistakes and such. But when's the last time you actually sat down with your most recently finished novel and just read it?

Reading through without actively trying to edit can tell you a lot about your own novel. While reading through mine, I found spots that I stumbled over. I marked these places as spots that needed work. Amazingly, most of them were more telling than showing. I also found a major flaw in the plot. My climax comes too early! I can't imagine what would have happened if I hadn't read my work. I might have called it good and started looking for an agent. Ha! Now I have an idea of where I need to go. The revision I will be starting will include a major rewrite. I can see this taking me a couple months. But at least I could see it before it was too late and being rejected by literary agents. And better yet, I know exactly why it would be rejected.

When I decided to read through my story, I knew it was going to take a little more than just skiming back and forth over my computer screen. Seeing it on the screen inspires me to edit, which isn't what I wanted to  be doing. If I was being interrupted by the constant need to revise something, I would never have found the major issues. So, I changed it to double spacing, so that I could eventually add some comments and took the saved file down to my local computer shop. Well, one of them anyway. I had a couple copies printed for a pretty reasonable price and had them spiral bound so they look at least a little professional. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it is to see that. It wasn't even anything special, but wow.

Anyhoo, before I manage to get myself too off topic. I think that this is a good idea for all writers. If you write in a genre that you love to read, read your own work. Really read it. If you can find yourself sinking into the story at times, then you are on the right track. Just think about the way you will lose yourself in someone else's story. That's the goal. And this is a great way to get a little closer to doing that.