Friday, May 13, 2011

Ten Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me and One Lie

I felt like sharing with all of you today! How well do you know me? In fact, you may know me as well as I know you...

So, nothing too personal. You won't find my address, social security number, and birthdate. That would just be silly. Nope, today I'm going to give you a few facts about me. Nine, in fact. And one complete lie. You have to figure out which one is they lie. (By the way, the lie was really hard to figure out. Way harder to make it convincing.) So, good luck! :D

1: I hate to cook everything but breakfast, but the only breakfast I'm good at is omletes.

2: I do not like chocolate.

3: My kids have so many legos that I once built them a fort out of them. It broke when all four of them squeezed inside.

4: I'm allergic to cinnamon. Eating it or smelling it makes my tongue numb and swollen and causes breathing problems.

5: I couldn't form a good habit if my life depended on it. Except for wearing a seatbelt.

6: My favorite food is a potato chip sandwhich with mayo. BBQ chips are the best with Doritos at a close second.

7: I'm hypoglycemic and nearly died once from low blood sugar. I remember seeing a lot of white, but not much else.

8: I get "addicted" to a new video game every week. Plants vs. Zombies will be awesome forever, though.

9: My favorite movies are Lucky Number Slevin and Boondock Saints (which I bought in the $5 bin at Walmart before it was a huge success).

10: I would rob a bank to get backstage passes to a Led Zepplin show. (Crossing fingers for that reunion show)

So, that's it! Which one just didn't fit into place? If you guess correctly, then it gets to be your turn!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On an off note (2)

Today, it is hot out there under the Iowa sun. For those of you not familiar with the area's climate, 80's this time of the year isn't unheard of, but still unusual. Its still going to get hotter and more humid in a couple months. Sometimes it astonishes people that we can go from negative 30 in January to 70's by April. And humidity makes it the devil's playground. And for those of you in the south who are used to 80 and 90 degree weather--well, its a whole different story when you have 90% humidity to go along with it. Instead of feeling like 80 or 90, it feels more like 120 or 130. (I remember 110 in Arizona and that was so much more comfortable than 85 here in Iowa) It just isn't as fun when you are trying to breath water.

Yesterday it was worse. We hit 93 by mid afternoon. I wasn't supposed to work, but I switched my monday shift with another guy on the condition that I would work for him. I guess I should have been a little more careful there. As a delivery driver, I'm used to seeing certain people on a regular basis. The same people who complained about how cold it was this winter (and honestly, this winter was pretty mild [I say this as I remember sliding sideways on the road and nearly running into another vehicle once]) are now complaining about how hot it is outside. They complain because they aren't ready to use those air conditioners and they complain because "what is this world coming to. I tell you, it has to be global warming." (Don't even get me started on that one...

Anyway, to get back on topic. It gets to be a little annoying (I can't think of a nicer way to say that). Hearing it over and over again, you get tired of it. Not to mention, being out in that heat, 1: you already know exactly how hot it is, and 2: Do they really think you haven't already heard it a few dozen times?

So, I play nice. I have been told a few times that my snarky comments are going to get me in trouble one of these days, and with it being so hot, and me being so tired because the heat is just draining me, I keep my mouth shut with a few "yep"s and "yeah it is"s.

My last delivery, I pull up to the house and walk up, knock on the door and wait. The guy that answered the door, left me hanging out in the heat for about five minutes, so we'll just say I was a bit frustrated. He pokes his head out the door and smiles at me and says, "Man, it is hot out here. Kinda makes me miss the cold from winter."

And what does my big mouth do? It betrays me! I say (without thinking of course), "I guess so, I figured I'd be out here until it got to be that cold again."

Luckily the guy laughed it off, or I would have been in so much trouble. I guess this has been a lesson in patience.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Lounge Around Book Club

If you haven't checked it out yet, I set up a new blog of sorts. I wanted to join a book club, but finding one in Iowa isn't as easy as it seems. My best bet was to find an online book club that I had to pay to join! No thanks. So, here's what happened- I decided that if I wanted to be a part of an online book club, my best bet was to do it myself. So I did.

There is a link to the Lounge Around Book Club on my side bar if you'd like to check it out. You'll find the book list, as well as a chat box to have disscussions about the books on the list. I'm also looking for other people to join and do reviews on books that aren't on the list. So, if you are up for it, go check it out, follow,  and maybe even join.

A to Z: (Z)zzzzz's

Sleep is an important part of life. If you don't rest you will wear out your body and mind. Take me for example. I am about a week late on this post because I was so sleep deprived, I destroyed my immune system and ended up with two serious inner ear infections, strep throat, and bronchitis. That was fun (Note the sarcasm).

Anyway, as far as your characters go (because I'm always involving them), sleep is just as important to break up the action that is constantly going on in your fictional world.

Try to imagine a world where your characters weren't allowed to sleep. This is pretty easy to do if you've ever missed a night of sleep (can anyone say kids!). Think about the way you feel after you've been awake for 20 some hours. You can't focus, you hallucinate. Those are just the immediate things.

The longer someone goes without sleep, the worse things get. Someone who has gone days without their fourty winks could become seriously ill to the point of their body failing them. Not good.

So, do yourself a favor when your writing. Give your characters a break, and take one yourself to get a good nights rest.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A to Z: (Y)ou

Today's post is all about you, the reader! You guys have been so awesome this month and its really hard to believe that tomorrow the blogging challenge comes to an end. I've had a lot of fun doing these post and reading what you guys have wrote. Every day I have given advice and in return have recieved a lot through reading all your blogs, too. It has been awesome.

I'm a little hesitant to give up the constant posting. Granted, I could use a couple days next month to gather my wits and catch up on some much needed sleep, but I have one favor before I do.

Today, I ask you for advice. Being a writer is all about having a support system. We get no where on our own. Without the people we surround ourselves with, we could never get as far as getting published. So, here's what I'm asking today. In the next month, is there anything you would like to see me do? What kinds of things would you like me to blog about? What would you like to see me share? Is there anything you want to know about me?

That's it for today. Again, thanks to everyone who has blogged this month for the challenge, you guys have been awesome and its been really great getting to see your posts and pictures!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A to Z: (X) Marks The Spot

Sounds like a treasure hunt, right? Actually, going with the whole clue based nature of a treasure map, I'm going to talk about mysteries today. More specifically, how to go about creating a mystery that works. The process is really pretty simple.

First of all, you need to think of the mystery that is going to be solved. The best way to create a mystery story is to work your way from solved to the very first clue, moving backwards the whole way. Not necessary writing the whole story from the end to the beginning (wow, that would be interesting and complicated at the same time!), but figuring out what you want to be solved  and the clues that are involved and working backward until your characters are getting ready to start everything.

Vague is the name of the game with mystery. You want your readers to discover everything with your characters so showing is essential. If you tell at any point, you'll ruin the whole experience. It also requires the ability to give very vivid descriptions.

One more element that is almost central to mystery stories is the element of danger. Of course, that danger isn't always a known danger, so you can expect to have (sorry for the acme reference here) anvils dropping from the ceiling often.

I applaud anyone who writes mystery novels for something I have been unable to accomplish. I aspire to be more like those amazing people every day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A to Z: (W)riting Exercises

What percentage of your writing would you say is for your novels, short stories, poems, etc? What percentage would you say is practice?

When I first started writing seriously (as in to be published someday), all of my writing was for novels. I joined a writing community online and that 100% changed to 85%. I started joining contests to improve my ability. I really enjoyed writing short stories for a horror contest, or the always fun 55 word stories. I have given up the writing community for a few months now (it was taking up a lot of my time) but I haven't given up the writing exercise that it provided me.

It is essential that a person can come up with a story in a matter of moments. That ability to think quickly allows us to write our characters out of corners and continually gives us improvement in our writing.

What kinds of exercises do I do these days? I journal a lot. The more often you write, the easier it becomes and the faster you get. You might start off journaling for ten minutes a day and only filling a page, but in a couple months you'll see your entries double or triple in length. Reading back on some of those entries also gives me ideas for stories. In fact, there is a sci-fi thriller in the works this very moment.

Some other exercises I do are on emotion, dialogue, and descriptions. I like to pick out a specific emotion and write a short story that portrays that emotion using various facial expressions and body language. Dialogue exercises I do usually include trying to use different dialects. Also, what synonyms people use in their speech can say a lot about them. And then descriptions. How often do you use smell, taste, and feel in your stories. We all use sight and sound regularly, but the other three have a tendency to get brushed aside. By pushing to use them more often, they add to the story and pull the reader in more.

If you exercise your muscles, they become stronger over time. If you exercise your mind, it will do the same. So, what kind of writing exercises do you do?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A to Z: (V)oice

Every person is capable of hallucination. We push our minds to see things that aren't there and we call it visualization. Some people close their eyes to do this, other keep them open. I have to leave my eyes open, I need color to see things. Our senses allow us to precieve the world around us and the two strongest are sight and smell (smell can actually trigger some very powerful memories). One that is a little harder for some people to fake are sounds. When I say this, I don't mean impersonations, I mean hearing a voice that isn't there--a hallucination of the auditory sense.

All people hear voices in the wind, things like that, but not all people can hear a disconnected voice of their own making. A persons voice is as unique as their fingerprint and when it comes to writing and finding voices for our characters, this can be especially difficult. Some writers are naturally gifted with what they affectionately call writers schizophrenia. The voice comes to them and the character follows. Some writers don't get that at all.

How can you find that voice then? Try to visualize the character first. Do your character development and try to write it out in a way that the character is filling it out about themselves rather than you filling it out about them. Sure, occasionally, your character will lie about themselves because we all know we don't know ourselves as well as we'd like to believe, but after they have filled it out, make notes about what is accurate for them. After you've visualized them, try turning them into an imaginary friend. Sounds silly. Many people had imaginary friends when they were little, and giving into that may be a bit difficult, but if you can accomplish it, it makes it so much easier to hear that voice.

One other voice is difficult to find when it comes to writing, as well. The voice of the narrator is a big problem for a lot of people. When you're writing a children's story, you want a voice that is going to speak to children. You don't want to talk to them the way an adult would, so what do you do in that situation? I like to treat the narrator as though they were any other character. Do a character development list for them, even giving them a body to go along with that voice. If I can make them as "real" as my other characters, I can hear their voice and they can tell me the story that they want me to write down.

These techniques may not work for everyone. I can only say what works for me. How do you work on your character's and narrator's voice?

Monday, April 25, 2011

A to Z: (U)se Your Time Wisely

One of the biggest problems today with being a writer is all the distractions you find on your computer. The games are one thing, but what about the rest? Interenet alone comes with tons of them. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Skype, etc. How can you avoid them?

It can be so hard to get away from all the games, status updates, and social interaction you get from your hot seat, but the more time you spend with those things, the less writing you can get done.

This all goes back to the post I made on writer's block at the beginning of the month. Make time for the writing, try to keep that time consistent on a week-to-week basis, and treat it like a job.

When its time to write, turn of your internet until its break time. Only give yourself a short amount of time to go through email, reply to tweets, and stalk all your facebook friends. Set alarms for yourself to know when its time to start and stop writing.

If you're a gamer (like me) try to wait until writing time is over to start playing. If you have more than once computer, try to keep the writing seperate from the internet and games. After all, you can't give in to the tempation if it isn't there.

Lastly, try to find some way to motivate yourself. A chant, ritual, or note for yourself to keep going. I have post its that tell me I can do it that I look at whenever I'm writing. I also do a word count after I finish writing every night. When I see how many words I've done, it always makes me want to come back to it the next night.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A to Z: (T)alking out Tears

I have mentioned before how I tend to talk to myself when I'm working on dialogue. It is no surprise that the crazy side of me comes out on occasion. Of course, being a writer, I kind of invite the voices into my mind, which is slightly crazier than the people who fight to keep them away. Oh well, sometimes you'll have that.

Anyway... This "technique" works really well when I'm working on those moments that touch something deep in your heart. You know what I'm talking about. The stuff that makes you teary-eyed.

I have tons of books that will bring tears to my eyes at certain scenes. I could probably spend the next five minutes searching through my Comfort Reading List to a few of those that are my favorites (The Harry Potter series did a real number on my tear ducts), but not really prudent at the moment.

These scenes require a lot of work. If the characters aren't believeable and likeable, you'll never get a successful scene. And without the rigght words and feel to the scene, it will be just as ineffective.

So after making sure my characters are up to snuff (the character development questionaire), I start talking my way through the situation. I make notes in shorthand about what I'm saying, and who (in my mind) is saying what. I get myself worked up until I manage to cry (like a little girl, of course). After that, its a simple matter of going through those notes and adding what worked into the story.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A to Z: (S)elf Editing

Today's post is going to be a summary of a topic I have already discussed before. The first time, it showed up in a week long series of posts. You can read them here, here, here, here, and here.

Of all the tings in a writer's skill set, self-editing has to be one of the most difficult and demanding. It requires a lot of time and dedication. If you don't follow through, your story can end up looking worse. Some writers, will skip this part all toghter, opting for a professional editor instead.

After you've finished writing and you pull out that red pen (mine is pink, actually) what do you need to look for? I like to do the whole process in steps to make it more manageable. Here is a look at those steps and what they involve.

Step 1: Put the story down after you've finished writing, and don't pick it up again for at least a couple weeks. If you go straight from writing to editing a story, its too fresh in your mind, and you can't look at it objectively enough to see the mistakes.

Step2: Read your story. Highlight spelling and grammar errors, refrencing errors, telling and POV problems. This the easy part, unless you aren't good with spelling and grammar. You can't necessarily take your word processor's word for it, either. Computers can be confused, too. This is a good place to pull out your notes, drawings, etc. on characters and settings to make sure you haven't moved anything around, or changed anyone's hair color.

Step 3: Read through and look for info dumping. These paragraphs are pretty easy to spot. The only thing you'll find in them is a big plain description. What someone or something looks like all together is a good sign of info dumping.

Step 4: Check your settings. Make sure the one's used more than once are uniform, but described differently, especially if the POV changes.

Step 5: Go through and fix all those mistakes! After that, put the book away for another couple weeks or so. Again with the freshness and objectivity.

Step 6: Read through like you would read any other book. At this point, the only thing you should mark is where the story loses your attention. There is something missing at that point in the story, or the writing is flat. Just mark it and keep going, something in the next few steps may be to blame.

Step 7: Fine tune. Look for repeating words and phrases, flat writing (wordy and dull), empty adverbs (usually end in -ly), "less" "ness" and "ize" suffixes, passive verbs (was, were, be, been, etc.), lists, more telling, and awkward phrasing.

Step 8: Check for possible end changing rewrites.

Step 9: Rewrite! Break everything into manageable chunks of data and center all the revisions around the major conflict. Ask yourself is this something that should happen before or after the climax?

After all that, have someone read through it and see if they find any problems.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A to Z: (R)eact & (R)espond

When you're writing and you're in the zone, you just write. Everything is flowing perfectly. And then it happens... you hit a wall. Where do you go from there? How do you move on to the next scene?

For some, its as easy as taking a break and starting again after eating, or drinking, or taking a walk. Some have more difficulty trying to decide what should happen.

For me, everytime I start a scene I ask myself two simple questions. How are the characters going to react to this? and How will my characters resond?

Everything in a story comes down to actions and reactions. When one character screams "OUCH!" another character asks them why they did that. When one character pushes another, that other character reacts accordingly. Unfortunately, this sometimes means jumping into several different heads in succession. Trust me, it can give you a headache.

You can practice writing this way as well. Make a list of situations--some ordinary, some anything but. After that, get your list of characters and answer each situation with how that character would react or respond to it. It tells you a lot about your characters, not to mention it can help you out later in your story when those situations arise (if they do).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A to Z: (Q)uerying

Querying begins with a finished story. If you are not done (self or professional editing included) you shouldn't query because it will only be met with rejection.

In my opinion, querying is the easiest part of the submission checklist. After all, the other things in that checklist are having the story finished and writing and polishing the synopsis. After all, the synopsis is basically the cliff notes version of your story, there to make an agent or editor salivate when they read it.

Querying is really very simple once you find a method and format that works for you. There are tons of sites around the interweb that give you tons of helpful advice on how to do this, also.

There are a few things you need to include in your query letter. I'll list them and show you how I write mine. It always helps to see an example.

Your letter needs to have:
Your name (or pen name), address, phone number, and email
The date
Agent's address block and name
the title of you book
the word count
a brief discription of the plot (like what you'd find on the back cover or jacket)
And any experience you have as a writer (and I mean anything.)

So, those are what you need to include, now for my example. It's pretty straightforward and can be tailored to any story and writer. You should also know this was my rough draft. Even the query letter needs to be perfect. (Information I'm not sharing will be changed into asterisks)

Haley ********
3444 ********* St.
********, IA 50***
(123) 456-7890

April 20, 2011 (or 20 April 2011 if you prefer that format)

[Agent's name]
[Agent's address]

Dear Mr./Ms. [Agent's last name]

A Place Called Earth is a completed 65,000 word, plot driven, science fiction novel sit in the United States in present day. It follows the lives of eight individuals. (title, word count, genre)

What does a teacher from New York, a pizza cook from Minneapolis, a musician from Seattle, an accountant from Houston, a sports broadcaster from Orlando, a model from Philadelphia, a student from Portland, and a game designer from Los Angeles have in common? Their lives are about to change drastically, though they have no idea that thier good fortune comes at a cost.

Who could resist the chance of being one of the lucky winners of the new world lottery? Even with all the speculation going around about the world ending, the lottery is on the forefront of everyone's minds. Are the rumors about the impending apocalypse just that, or does the human race have a problem that has no solution? (brief description of the story)

I have been creating stories and journaling for over a decade. In high school, I spent two years in the school's newspaper, contributing to a few articles, but mostly editing others' content for spelling and grammar errors. For a year, I joined an online writing community, There, I learned many new techniques and skills to become better at my craft. Since then, I have finished three manuscripts and started the first in a four or five book series. (writing experience... like I said, ANYTHING)

If you are interested, I will happily send you the first three chapters, or the complete manuscript. I have enclosed a synopsis and a SASE for your reply, or by email, if you prefer. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Haley ********

Attached: sysnopsis, SASE

So, there's the example. You don't need to put your email address or blog URL under your name and signature, but it couldn't hurt for them to see it again, not to mention, blogging is a great exercise in writing. You just won't want to show it if there is any questionable content there. When you think about whether or not to add it, ask yourself: Is there anything a potential agent or editor would find offensive or rude? That should tell you whether or not to include it.

Good luck with the querying!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A to Z: (P)eople Watching

In my opinion, people watching is an essential skill for any and every writer to have. By taking some time to watch how other people behave, you gain valuable insight into other people. How they act, their habits, quirks, and a lot of other things.

Try to watch specific things. When you sit at a restaurant and look around, watch expressions. When you're out at the park, watch body language. If you mix them together in long stretches, you end up forgetting a lot of the details that you want to look for.

The distance between two people can say a lot about how they feel. If two people are standing within a foot of eachother, they are very familiar with each other. Perhaps lifelong friends or romantic partners. A couple feet usually indicates that the people involved know each other, but won't feel comfortable being too close. When that personal bubble is crossed by one party, you can usually see the discomfort on the other's face.
And distance futher than a couple feet is reserved for aquaintences.

The direction people face when talking to each other also gives indication of their feelings, though slightly more subtle than the space between them. Side by side and face to face mean completely different things. When one person is leaning outward from the other, it usually means they aren't interested in the conversation.

Expressions can give you a lot of insight as to how a person is feeling. How does a person's eyes, mouth, ears, cheeks move when they are feeling certain emotions. Eyebrows usually come together when they don't understand something. They move down in the middle when someone is mad and down at the outsides when someone is sad. When a person is happy (really happy) they get creases at the edges of their eyes, their eyebrows raise slightly, their ears move back, and their cheeks lift. Paying attention to these details and using them in your writing allows you to convey emotions without having to tell the reader what the character is feeling.

When you watch people and you see how they are feeling and acting, try to come up with little stories about why they are acting the way they are. Just try not to be too obvious. It makes things more interesting and it can give you ideas when you are writing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A to Z: (O)ccupation

Don't quit your day job. As a writer/author, the money you are making from your books now is probably not enough to support you completely. And, if it is, congrats. Any advice you can give the rest of us is completely welcomed. The point I'm trying to make today is: We all need a steady paycheck, and writing may not give us that. Let's face it, many of us have families, and we all have bills that need paid.

Even as a successful author, royalties may not be enough. Anyone familiar with Dorchester Publishing will know what I mean. Author Brian Keene is all too familiar with this problem, and you can read more about it here if you are interested in learning more about the Dorchester Boycott.

Realistically, your characters should have jobs, too. Though characters are not the main point of my post today, I would like to point out that anything I aim toward writers and people can be aimed at writing and characters, as well. No matter you books setting and time frame, there is always a way to incorperate work. You can find interesting ways to put it in there, too. For instance, you may have a story that takes place on a train, and a man may end up playing an intrigal role in the story because he's a dentist. Why? Well, I don't know, but it would be really neat if it had nothing to do with dentistry.

In the real world, we all take inspiration where we find it. Write what you know is drilled into our heads. Being someone that has had several different jobs, it helps me to think about the differences in all those jobs. What have I had to do in each job? How have I interacted with my co-workers, and customers (if there are any)? How have I felt about my job and does that change on a day-to-day or shift-to-shift basis?

Every little thing can help your writing, but the best thing is to make sure that you are helping yourself. Be it that you take classes to better your writing skills or work a 9 to 5 to afford the utility bills.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A to Z: (N)ight Owls

Some of us just prefer living our lives in the dark. Speaking as a certifiable night owl, I've seen more sunrises before going to sleep than I've seen sunsets!

Why would I rather be awake at night? Along with 21 year olds with nothing better to do than drink the night away and vampires, the night offers a wide variety of oddities you just don't get during the day. The animals are different, the people are different. Have you ever walked through Wal-mart at 1am? You can see some pretty crazy things...

What does it have to do with writing, though? The same as usual. It adds diversity to your characters and the situations they find themselves in. Sometime, you should try it. Pick a night where you don't have to be up super early, and don't have anything in particular going on. Find yourself a good place that stays open late at night, or someplace busy enough to people watch, and stay up late. You may see some pretty unusal things.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A to Z: (M)yths

Myths surround us. The idea that there are things in our lives that we can't locate or prove is amazing, especially in this day and age. Whole genres of writing are dedicated to myths along with a couple divisions of science.

How do myths fit inot writing? Research is key here. Every great myth I can think of has an amazing and rich history. Involving that history into your story not only adds depth to it, but it teaches your readers something they may not have known.

Not all stories about myths are true. You can absolutely create a myth in the realm of your story. Make sure the myth you are creating has a great back story with lots of accounts and an air of mystery. Think about the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot here. No one has a picture of them that is in focus, yet so many have sworn they have seen these two creatures. All encounters have very similar elements like details about the creatures themselves, or the locations, or the times they are seen.

Go full scale with your myth if you can. Give your creation roots in the real world. Before you know it, your creature may become the next dracula.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A to Z: (L)earn Your Weakness

I remember the first time I read the book "Thinner." Stephen King is just this amazing author who knows how to use the English language to creep you out. Truth be told, when I first seriously realized I wanted to become an author, it was because of him. I idolized him and wanted to be just like him.

Not that it wouldn't be fantastic to put out an amazing novel every year and earn the royalties that go along with it (I'm sure that doesn't even factor into it...), in reality, I ddon't pace my stories well and my venacular is lacking. I'll never be an amazing horror author like Mr. King. But I know that, and it saves me a lot of heartache down the road.

All writers, great and unkown, have different weaknesses and when we start off, we don't see them. The truth is, we need someone else to point them out, and even when its done as nicely as possible, its not always nice to hear. Eventually, we learn to accept those weaknesses, and work on them.

The sooner you find your limitations, the sooner you can start working to correct them, or ignore them. (Depending on the situation) If your weakness is grammar, you'll need to refine your skills in language and sentence structure. You may need to work extra hard to avoid cetain words (We all have those words we fall back on, too. Mine are as and that.), or learn comma usage. These take time. And when I say ignore, I don't mean act like it isn't a problem. I mean, if you can't effectively write in a specific genre or subgenre, you should pretend that genre doesn't even exist in your writer mind. (Say your technicalogically challenged, sci-fi may not be for you)

How can you do this, though?

There is no such thing as a perfect writer (take a deep breath)--everyone has to work hard to make their published dreams come true. The best things I can suggest are: working with other people to make your work perfect, take classes on language and composition, and avoid genres you aren't comfortable with, or don't know a lot about.

Also, these things can change over time. The more often I avoid using those words I use as a crutch, the more often I have to search for other words that I use too much. This can happen with your work as a whole, too. The more I write, the better my writing gets. I may have a great middle and ending, but my beginnings are always bad in a lot of ways. They require more attention when editing, which is why I tend to edit a story from end to beginning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A to Z: (K)arma

If you look up karma online, you'll find several similar definitions. Actions determining future state, the law of cause and effect. You'd also find synonyms of destiny, fate, kismet, and predestination.

The idea behind karma is that for everything you do--it will be met with a reward or punishment for the universe. For example, someone winning the lottery may have ran into a burning building to save a buch of children (PLEASE for my sake, do not try this to win the lottery. I do not want to be held responsible for the death of anyone.).

Another, less crazy, example of karma is the show, My Name is Earl. The show is completely dedicated to the idea of karma. Earl, a not so good guy when the show starts, wins the lottery and is promptly looses his ticket. When he gets it back, a series of events happen making him realize he doesn't deserve the money he has won. He makes a list of all the bad things he's done in his life, and goes through trying to make up for them. Eventually he become a very likeable guy and is rewarded by the universe for his good deeds.

Karma would work well in a story about a hero, an epic especially. The character would be forced to make their decisions based on how they would be rewarded in the future. It could be used in a very long term way, or even short term. Passing up an opportunity to help someone in need, the hero may find himself lost. Not completing a quest, may eventually lead to them not getting to spend the rest of their life with their soul mate. And so on and so forth. Karma can have a very powerful effect.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A to Z: (J)okes

Jokes are great, aren't they? My first blogfest dealt with the joking nature we all have in us. Everyone has a friend that can tell a great joke and make us laugh, so why shouldn't we all have that one character who can do the same?

Jokes add levity to a serious situation, but can be inappropriate as well. Sometimes, you find yourself in a situation with a few people where they are having a "my horse is bigger than your horse" situation. Everything is going great, people are laughing, and then BOOM! Someone says something that one person finds offensive and its all over.

Writing jokes for your characters can do the same thing. You can use jokes in any situation but you should remember a few things while you do this:

1) How will the readers take the joke?
2) How will the other characters take it?

Another way to incorporate jokes into your story is to have a character that is lousy with them. I, for instance, love to tell jokes, but until I get them down, I usually stumble through, use the punch line too early and lose the interest of the people I'm telling them too. Granted, that alone can be hilarious to someone else. I've had people laugh at my expense for failing a joke, and that can happen to a character too. How would they react to that? Depends on their personality.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A to Z: (I)njuries

People get hurt. It happens. Such is life. No one gets very far without pain. Scars make you who you are.

There are so many great (sorry) things about injuries in the written world. How did it happen? When did it happen? How is the recovery going physically? Emotionally?

To give you a quick example: I have this huge scar on my knee cap. I've had it for about 8 years now. How did I get it? Well... One day (in high school) me and a few friends were goofing off in the parking lot. I decided to climb onto the running board of my girl friend's bronco while she was driving around. She was moving slow, but she turned and I couldn't hold on. So, I flew off and hit the ground. My head bounced. The blacktop ripped away the knee in my jeans along with the skin, nearly down to my bone. She freaked out because she thought she ran me over. It was interesting, and for the rest of my life, when someone sees that scar, that is the story I get to tell them.

Everyone has a scar like that. When we get drunk we like to compare our battle trophies. Its how we behave. In some sense, its a bit of a my-horse-is-bigger-than-your-horse thing. Regardless, why shouldn't our characters do it too?

Injuries and scars run deep emotionally, too. How does a character recover from things like hurt feelings, wounded pride, or a broken heart? These are all things you should answer when you're working on your character development.

Of course, injuries can be used in writing as comedic relief, too. Slapstick comedy has worked forever! How long have the Three Stooges been popular?

A big thing to think about when your character gets injured is how others are going to react to the injury. Some people (like me) don't deal well with blood. Some think the gore is awesome. Sometimes, when someone gets hurt, their significant other can't handle the burden of having to take care of them. As well as the physical side of this, remember that emotional baggage can have a huge impact. Past injuries can temper our future actions.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Winners Are...

Thanks again to everyone who follows A Journey Through the Mind. The people who entered had their names thrown into the hat (so to speak). The first winner, choosing Room: A Novel, The Princess Bride, and the ARC is...

Sam Dancer! Congrats to you, Sam, your books will be on their way tomorrow!

That leaves How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and the person winning that is...

Dawn Embers! Congrats and your book will be on its way tomorrow!

Thanks again for following and being awesome!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A to Z: (H)appy Endings

Who doesn't love a happy ending? When you pick up a book (especially a romance) you expect your main characters to find exactly what they need by the time you read the last page. It gives you hope. Hope that there is still a happy ending for yourself out there.

Happy endings aren't always what they're cracked up to be. If every story ended happily ever after, all of them would lose their appeal. What you want to give your readers is the most memorable ending possible. Sometimes it's happy, sometimes, not so much. Nicholas Sparks is the master of the tragic happy ending. Even when one of the main characters die, you still feel good about reading the story (and lets face it, everyone has read one of his books or seen an adaption).

The main thing about ending your story is making sure all the questions are answered. After all the crap your characters had to muck through, did everything get answered? Live or die, happy or sad, good or evil--do your readers want more without asking why this happened or how it was resolved. If you can answer yes, then you do have a happy ending.

Aside from the story itself, as a writer, you're looking for one more happy ending (and yes, this one does have to be happy, or what the heck has all the work been for?). As the person who wrote every precious word, wracked their brains over the character development, plotline, query letter, synopsis, etc. etc.-- you have to be happy with what you wrote. And that's the only happy ending that really matters.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The giveaway is here!

Whether you've been reading these posts for a week or since I started this crazy blog--I just want to say, Thank You! I never imagined I would have 50 people following my blog. You guys are awesome.

Now, down to business... I have posted a couple things about this very event before, so you knew it was coming, and I'm sure you've been wondering what the prizes are. I'll get to that. First, the rules.

If you would like a chance at the prizes, you need to fill out the form below. In order to fill out the form below, you need to be a follower of the blog. It's that simple. So, if you're reading this and you aren't a follower, but would love a chance at those prizes, all you have to do is hit the follow button! Go ahead and go to the form and see what you can do to get extra chances at winning the prize. If you do everything, you get something like 14 extra chances to win. That's a lot! ( I went a little crazy with the extra points...)

The form will be open for 48 hours (actually it will be open longer than that, but I'll only accept entries from that timeframe) for you to fill it out and then I will draw a couple names at random. On the form, there is one question with boxes next to it that you need to fill out. It is which of the prizes you would like. You can choose one, or all of them. If you don't choose all, the rest of the prize will go to a runner up.

That's it for the rules, now the prizes.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
In paperback or ebook

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
Paperback only


Room: A Novel
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
In Hardcover or ebook

An ARC of A Place Called Earth by H.J. Johnston
(Sorry, the cover is still not finished...)

So, those are the prizes you can choose from! Hope you enjoy them. Good luck to everyone!

To go to the form, please click here! Again, thanks for following! We'll see you at the next giveaway!

A to Z: (G)ifts

Who doesn't love getting a gift? Tearing off the wrapping paper, opening the box, finding out what's inside. It's awesome!

Well... not always. Some people really don't like getting gifts because they feel they need to return the favor, or they hate surprises.

That's what today's post is about.

Characters giving and recieving gifts can give great insight to who they are. How do they react to recieving the gift? Do they like the gift they get?

Keep in mind, not all gifts are appreciated. Or maybe it isn't the recieving of the gift, but the present itself they don't like. I can tell you that I love candles, but if I get one more as a gift, I might tear my hair out.

The act of giving can be an interesting story in and of itself. How much did the character agonize over finding that perfect present, and who is it for? Can you imagine your lead guy going to a langerie shop to find some new "wrapping paper" for his mistress and having his wife find it instead? Think of the reactions from all parties involved and how he felt while he was wondering aimlessly through the store.

The occasion for the gift will also add significance. Was it for a birthday or a holiday? Or was it just because. Keep in mind that some people like to surprise their loved ones with random gifts. Although, the recieving party may not see it that way.

If you were to get a gift for no apparent reason, and it wasn't already a habit, the recieving end may beome suspicious as to why they're getting gift.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A to Z: (F)ights

So, I'm starting a little late this morning. I've been doing really good about getting them all done for 9 AM, but not today. I'll be back on time tomorrow, though!

Fighting and fights are a normal part of life and should be included in a story. Not necessarily all out brawls, but arguments, disagreements, spats, and bickering are good ways to add tension to a tale and depth to a character.

There are different kinds of fighting and who starts (instigates) and how each character involved behaves in the situation is great for making them real. When two characters are having an argument, depending on the topic, others around them may try to ignore it, or join in if they feel strongly about the topic. If three characters are having a disagreement about who should take possession of an item, someone may step in to be a referee of sorts. If five characters are having a physical fight, many others may rush in to help those they consider friends, or hold others back from trying to make it unfair, or ignore it all toghther. You may even end up with many spectators just watching as everything goes down.

Some people (or characters) are very nonconfrontational. They will do anything to avoid even the smallest dispute at any cost. Some have long fuses and will snap at odd moments for seemingly small things, while others with shorter fuses may blow up often. Some will manipulate any situation to their advantage to cause conflict--pushing buttons or playing both sides against the middle (kids have a tendancy to do this unintentionally, especially in situations where their parents have split up).

Something to consider is background. Certain heritages are famous/infamous for their ability to keep their cool or lose it. Its little things like those that can really add to a character, and it may give you some ideas as to what the character will look like.

Don't forget that everyone has a different fuse and different buttons that set them off. Someone that is typically a peaceful person, but is afraid of the dark would become more snippy in a situation where they would have to confront that fear.

The use of drugs and alcohol also need to come into consideration. When we use those substances, it changes our behavior and therefore, the way we react. Also, quitting a substance. Always try to find an interesting reason that someone is fighting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A to Z: (E)quality

All men are created equal, and so too, should your characters. That's my opinion anyway.

Sure, some of your characters don't have as much to say or as important a role as others, but (for you anyway) they're all people. They all deserve to be heard. You've spent the time working on your plot line and what's supposed to happen in your book (let's all face it, not everything goes according to plan), why would you skimp on your characters.

What happens when you give one character two days of your time and half a notebook for their thoughts and personality, and the next gets two minutes? First of all, WTH? How is that fair? If you're like me, and the characters are voices in your head the second you think their name, they complain and gripe, a lot. But it gets worse! That second character whom you've devoted little to no time to becomes flat and boring.

If you think that's bad--there's more. If you don't take the time to listen to each character, you end up with a cookie cutter version of the first. Every character you create from then on may look different and have a different voice, but aside from one or two traits, they are the same person. All of them become flat, bland, and completely unremarkable.

Now to step off my soapbox, I have the sudden urge to say, "And this has been a public service announcement." *sigh*

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A to Z: (D)raw Things Out

So, you're doing a scene in this house with your two main characters and the hard wood floor suddenly changes to blue, plush carpet and a chair bursts out of existence on one side of the room and back into existence on the other. Am I the only one who saw that? They don't seem surprised at all. What do you mean this story has nothing to do with magic or hauntings?

Sometimes it's hard to keep track of the details. We leave a setting and come back to it later, and it has some changes in it that we missed. Most of the time, the readers won't think anything of it, but when you make an unforgettable setting, it stands out when things change.

A little trick I picked up after my first story was drawing out my settings. Honestly, I'm a lousy artist, but as rudimentary as the drawings are, they still help.

Draw out a floor plan for all rooms/houses/buildings you'll use. You can even draw a makeshift outdoor setting (or use real pictures) you need. Color them, or write out what color/material is used. Don't forget about furniture or decorations. After all, that stick figure painting on the wall might catch someone's eye.

When you draw out your outdoor settings, make sure to point out the paths your characters take, and places where they stop. You'll want to add extra details the characters may notice in these places.

Lastly, this can be something fun to do with your stories. It also gives you a great excuse to procrastinate on the actual writing a little longer.

Now, before I go, I want to show you one of the drawings. This is from A Place Called Earth.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Z: (C)reation

*Warning* No offense is intended with this post.

Today's A to Z post deals with creation. The creation of worlds, the creation of characters. Every writer is involved with creation in some form or another. By making up a character and placing them in this world is creating, or by making up a whole new place for all your characters to live.

Believe it or not, anyone can create something magnificent with the right dedication. It could take years to find the right medium (a canvas, clay, marble, or paper) but anyone can do it.

Writing is the ultimate form of creation. You aren't limited to space like someone who creates music, or to a small square for painting or drawing. As a writer, you have the opportunity to make something unforgettable.

With your work, you are God (or whatever higher power you believe in). You must think of everything. What do your characters eat and drink? What do they wear? Do they worship? Where and when and how often? Do they live on earth? When does the story take place? It is all vital information.

When creating, try to keep your methods of development uniform. If you have a ten page questionaire for your characters, use it every time you come up with a new character. If you have something specific you want to add in that isn't in the questionnaire, make sure to write it down somewhere you'll remember it.

Maybe you like to start your stories with the plot line or the synopsis. Maybe you like to start with your characters or a setting. Whatever it is, always try to start the same way. Personally, I like to start with a specific scene, that usually involves the main characters, a setting, and bit of the plot line.

Be Thurough. Treat all of it as though it were real. You want to see, feel, smell, taste, and hear your world. By thinking of all these things, you give your reader a world they can fall into and love (or fear). When you write your story, its easier to add these things in if you had them in mind beforehand. Make sure you add them appropriately, though. You don't want to lump them all together. Let your characters guide you (and the readers) through the world you've created. Give them the free will we all have, and have faith that they will do it for you and these (albeit imaginary) creations will impress you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A to Z: (B)locks

Back today with the letter B! Today I'm bringing you some tips and tricks to cure and prevent writer's block.

First of all, I would like to point out that I am no expert. Also, everyone's mind works differently, therefore there is no one way that will help everyone.

In my opinion, the best way to keep from getting stumped is to set yourself up for success. Think of this as a job. Make sure that friends and family understand that you are serious about your writing. If they take it seriously, so should you. Set aside an alotted amount of time each week for writing. You can make it a set time of the day (or every other day) or schedule it around your other responsibilities. Don't neglect your other job for this one. Remember, even some successful authors have a day job. Try not to deviate from your writing time. If you must, try to make it up in the same week.

Your environment also has a lot to do with how well you work. I'm not saying that you must keep your writing space neat and tidy, some of us just don't do well without a little chaos. So long as it is organized chaos. My desk may have heaps of papers and various other things stacked around me, but if you ask me for a red pen, or fingernail clippers, I don't have to search for more than a couple seconds. Same goes for a blank piece of paper or my notes for whatever story I'm working on. Drinks, snacks, and light music are also good to have in your "office." You may be working long hours and having to get up for a glass of water or some crackers will only hurt you.

Don't be afraid to take breaks from the writing, but don't take too many. Also, go a little further than just avoiding the distractions. Twitter and facebook addicts may want to unplug while they're writing. Writers with kids may want to schedule their writing time while the munchkins are at school or in bed. Stay away from televisions. So on and so forth.

If all else fails, walk away from the story for the day. Take a walk, listen to music, go out with friends, play with the kids, do something else you consider fun. Get the writing completely out of your mind. It can be difficult, but make it happen. When you come back to it, you'll find everything comes easier.

Well, that's all I got! Yesterday, I didn't invite you to leave a comment. It was completely inadvertant, and I'm sorry about that. Today, I would love some thoughts from all of you. What do you do to break the block?

Friday, April 1, 2011

A to Z: (A)ntagonist

Today's letter is the letter A! As promised when I joined the A to Z Challenge, all these posts will be about writing. Today's topic is about the antagonist.

In liturature, the antagonist is described as anyone or anything that tries to prevent the protagonist from their goals. With that said, what kind of antagonists are there?

Most articles you read say this is a person (the bad guy), but it could be anything. Some examples could include a cliff, a herd of wildabeasts, a relative with good intentions, a storm, the news, or even the protagonist themself. The point is, if it gets in the way of the protagonist's (your MC) goals, it is considered a antagonist. Easy, right!

Generally the antagonist(s) is broken down into four groups: Character, Society, Nature, and Self. For Character you'll find your antagonist in the nemisis, the friend giving bad advice, and the evil stepmother. They are very obvious examples of the antagonist and will provide the most conflict and distraction. Society is a great antagonist and follows closely with the group Self. Society also works well when writing a historical romance as women were under such social contraints compared to today. Nature is anything you would find in the wild (a fallen tree, an animal, storm, etc.) that could throw your MC for a loop. And Self is the battle within. The desire to do something other than what is needed from embarassment or the inability due to physical limitations.

Something else to consider with your antagonist is that this is not always a bad person. Think of it in regards to your main character (the protagonist) being an evil genius. Come up with a list of antagonists for him or her. The cops? A superhero? The economic recession? These all work against him/her, therefore being considered an antagonist.

The last thing I would like to leave with you for this post is this: a good antagonist will make or break a story. You want riveting and interesting? Invest in your antagonist as much as you do your protagonist. Also remember that the best antagonists (in regard to the bad guys) don't think that what they are doing is wrong. You wouldn't question the tornado for it to tell you, "Oh, I popped down here simply because I felt like screwing with this guy." Just something to think about.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hopefully the Last

As you can see, I've changed the layout and design of my blog, again. I'm hoping this will be the last time, I like this one. Anyway, I felt like, with the A to Z Challenge beginning tomorrow, that it might be nice to have something different going on with the blog. So, I hope you like it, and I can't wait to get started tomorrow. Hope to see y'all there!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

They Call Me Their Crazy Mom

I avoid mentioning the family in the blogging as much as possible. It's not that I'm ashamed of them, or that they aren't a huge important part of my life, its just that--this is a blog about writing, and I feel its a little more professional to keep the personal life out of it. That, and it makes me a little more anonymous. That is... unless your reading this from the link I put up on facebook, then you probably know exactly what I'm talking about and can give me some crap about it the next time you see me. Whatever works for ya!

So, what did that long winded rambling have to do with the post? Well, today, my topic is completely relevant, especially the part dealing with my poor children.

Always I'm going on and on about making your writing as believable as possible. There are many ways to do this: pulling from personal experience, getting a degree, or some of my favorites, acting and speaking lines for characters.

Well, I started a new book today, and all the things that entails. You know--nailing down the synopsis (because it works better when you start with it, rather than finish), the major plot lines, a quick outline, and figuring out those pesky characters who will, no doubt, annoy me at the worst possible moments until I can finish writing this book. So, what do I do after I get those things done? I start talking to myself.

Sadly, I do not need to involve the children here. This is so normal for them, that when they hear me muttering odd things that don't make sense, they do the polite thing and they leave the room so "Mom can talk to her 'friends.'"

 What happens when they don't leave the room, though? Well, things get odd. I don't like to ask them for help, mainly because they are proud of what I'm trying to do, and well... let's face it, the material I write is not intended, nor should be read by their age group. I know these kids, and how they've been raised, and I know they know what they see and what they hear, is generally either false, or not something they should go around repeating as far as tv, radio, and books are concerned. But, as I was saying...

I have this tendency to, when I'm really stuck on a description, to make faces. I know what I'm feeling when I experience an emotion, and how it pulls the muscles around in my face and body in order to convey that emotion. Sometimes, though, I have to ask. "Do I look angry to you?" Usually met with a laugh, that is the hardest for me to do, as they seem to think its more ridiculous than angry looking.

Occasionally, it is embarrasing for them. Other children (their friends) are constantly at our house (still not sure if that's good or bad) and I'm not exactly the "cool" mom when they see me talking to myself or making odd faces at the kids. Mostly, its just passed off as something weird their crazy mom is doing, but I sometimes think, maybe I should stay away from the writitng when it isn't just them around.

So, please make me feel a little better here. What crazy things do you enlist your friends and family into doing in the name of good descriptions? How crazy are you when it comes to wording something just right?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lady-lyc Chapter 1 Preview

Now, I'm not usually the kind to post up an entire chapter for the world to see, especially in its primal form, but I'm already in love with this story. This would be my first werewolf novel, and I'm about half way through, so I thought, eh why not? Anyway, hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1

A black sedan drove along an upward sloping dirt path toward snow covered peaks of a mountain ahead. Towering white spruce trees, along with a few shorter aspens and poplars, created a tunnel over the old foresting route only allowing intermittent glimpses of the inky black sky above dotted by millions of brilliant pin-points of light. The vehicle moved slowly over the winding, bumpy road toward its destination—a clearing three miles in the direction it headed.

The man driving the car leaned over the steering wheel. Occasionally he ran a hand through his wild mane of grey hair combed back and covered with a snow cap. His eyes darted back and forth across the narrow passageway while the tip of his boot inched down on the pedal. To his right, sat a woman turned all the way around in her seat, smiling kindly at the two passengers in the back, both talking quietly on cell phones.

The woman sighed and ran her slight fingers along her thick, dark hair, catching a couple tangles before she opened her mouth. “Kids, could you please get off the phones now? I think you’re making your dad nervous.”

The driver instantly sat back and frowned at her. “They’re fine, Nancy. I’m watching for moose. We’re almost to the campsite.”

Nancy patted him on the shoulder and turned her attention to the young man behind her. “Garret, will you help your dad with the tent while Ely and I gather firewood?”

Even in the dark, his grey-blue eyes sparkled with excitement. “Sure, Mom,” he grinned at her before speaking back into the phone. “I’ll be back in town in three days, Sue. We’ll go to that movie then.”

A gruff sigh resonated in the driver’s chest. The stiff set of his shoulders relaxed and he smiled at his wife. “Here it is!”

She leaned forward and peered through the windshield. “Oh, John, we haven’t been here since before your last season. I’ve always loved the view of the mountains in the morning from here.”

He nodded and pulled the car to the side of the clearing. In one fluid movement, they all emerged from the car and went to the back, mist rising from their mouths and noses with each breath despite being July. One by one, they pulled bags and boxes from the trunk of the vehicle, setting them on the driver’s side of the car in turn.

Nancy squatted before a red case and pulled a box of matches from her jacket pocket. She unlatched the tall square container at the bottom and lifted the lid off, revealing a dusty lantern. Lifting the glass from the base, she screwed a small cylinder of gas to the bottom. She opened the valve and lit a match, holding it to an opening at the bottom of the glass and waiting for the mantles to catch fire.

Bright, white light filled the small clearing, allowing the four to see the space clearly. Their shadows danced across the limbs of the trees while they moved around and began setting up the site. While the two men went to work on putting together tent poles, Nancy and her daughter walked around the edges of the circle picking up branches that had fallen from the trees above.

Elyse stooped to grab a branch and turned at a rustle in the trees next to her. She searched the darkness for some sign of an animal, finding nothing. Standing with the tinder in her hand, she cradled it in her arm and straightened her cap. With a fleeting glance at the space where the noise came from she went back to the center of the clearing and dropped the load of branches. “Is this going to be enough?”

Her dad walked over and inspected the pile. “We’ll see what your mom got, but it should be enough for a couple hours. Good job, Ely.”

She smiled up at her dad. “Thanks. How’s the tent coming?”

He glanced over his shoulder. “Garret has it. Let’s go get the chairs, shall we?”

She nodded and leaned into him when he put his arm around her shoulders. At the car, he handed her two chairs and carried the other two back to where they planned to make the fire.

After setting them up in a half circle around the pile of twigs and branches, John kneeled on the ground and sorted through the wood. Leaving a couple of the larger pieces in a cross, he arranged the rest into a cone on top. He pulled a lighter and a wax covered cardboard tube from his pocket and lit the end of it on fire. Placing it carefully inside the twig teepee, he watched it to make sure it would continue before sitting back on his knees.

Nancy deposited her firewood next to the chair at the end of the semicircle and took a seat. “That’s going to be a great fire. How soon can we get the marshmallows out?”

John smiled at his wife. “I would give it a little longer. We should get our sleeping bags into the tent and lock the food in the car. It should be safe from bears there.”

Ely’s eyes widened. “There are bears out here? This time of year?”

John laughed. He rumpled her hair and sat down in the chair next to Nancy. “And wolves. We can’t forget about them.”

A whimper escaped Ely. “I think I’ll sleep in the car.”

“Relax, Ely. Dad’s just messing with you.” Garret rolled his eyes as he passed his little sister.

She looked at all of them, a pout forming on her lips. “Not funny, Dad. I’m going to go get my sleeping bag.”

She stomped away toward the car and sat in the driver’s seat searching for the latch for the trunk. When her fingers fumbled across it, she lifted the lever and there came a pop behind her. Pulling herself out, she smoothed her coat to cover the exposed skin on her back and shut the door. Somewhere beyond the light of the fire and lantern, a twig snapped in the forest. Her head jerked toward the sound and she paused. A small flash of light reflected back at her for a moment and her breath caught in her throat.

“Dad,” she called, not looking away from where she saw a bright green eye a moment ago. “You were joking about the wolves, right?”

“The wolves will be farther North this time of the year. Stop worrying, Ely.” John called back.

She released the air in her lungs and shook her head. “I must have imagined it,” she muttered.

Ducking her head into the trunk, she shoved aside the fishing poles and tackle box. Pushing up on her toes, she reached further back into the spacious trunk. Her fingers brushed the soft fabric of her sleeping bag and she stuck her tongue out as she swiped at it.

With a groan, she put her knee on the bumper and half climbed into the space. Her hand clamped down on the fabric and she tugged it toward her, letting her foot fall back to the earth.

Another crack close by made her head shoot up. She groaned and rubbed the back of her skull after it bounced off the trunk lid. “Ow!”

She stared into the forest again, the sleeping bag forgotten for the moment. Her eyes swept slowly from one side to the other.

Behind her, a blood curdling scream rose in the night, echoing off the trees. Ely turned slowly, her eyes wide. On the other side of the clearing stood five wolves, crouched with teeth bared and hackles standing. Her parents stood clutching each other, while Garret lay on the ground, his chair toppled over beside him.

In a blur of grey and white fur, two of the wolves shot forward. The muscles in their legs bunched and released with their lithe movements. In a matter of seconds, the first reached John and Nancy. It bounded from the ground, its claws coming up to its face as it hit John in the chest, and let out a vicious snarl. Another scream erupted from Nancy as he was ripped from her arms.

His legs flailed and he lifted his arms to block the beast from tearing into his throat and face. He screamed as it bit his arm, jerking its head back and forth. When it pulled away, it licked its blood-covered muzzle before scraping its claws along his chest. It ducked its head, ripping into his side. John’s hands swung toward it, beating at its head, moaning in agony. The grey wolf snarled at him and bit into his hand. John shrieked and grasped his hand and the wolf continued shredding his chest with its teeth. Soon, his groans quieted and he lay still.

The second wolf stayed low; its white fur shining bright in the fire light. It caught Nancy’s ankle between its jaws and blood spurted from the wound as she fell to her knees on the ground. Tears streamed down her face as it came in for the kill. Its jaws locked on her throat and her cry ended in a gurgle.

Garret pushed himself backward toward the tent, not looking away from the small tan beast that broke ranks from the last three and stalked slowly toward him. His forehead creased further with every step it took until his entire face crumpled. “Oh, God, please.”

Ely continued to stare, frozen in place while her family died before her. At the last second, the tan wolf paused while Garret came closer to the dark forest behind him. From the darkness, Ely glimpsed a flash of green reflected from the fire behind him. Her limbs unlocked and a scream tore up her throat. “No!”

She bolted toward him as the final two wolves in the clearing came at her. She leapt toward him as a black wolf came up behind him, and sunk its teeth into the side of his neck.

The other two collided with her midair, hitting her in the chest. Her breath rushed out of her and she fell to the ground with a thump. Sharp canines sunk into her flesh and sinew like butter and she cried out as she tried to shake them off her chest and legs. She twisted and the teeth dragged across her skin, piercing her anew when she stopped to roll the other way.

Off in the distance, a howl rent the night and all the wolves stopped their assault. Their noses lifted toward the sky. Ely gasped for air while the world shimmered before her eyes. She squeezed them shut and shook her head slowly.

Opening her eyes, she watched the six wolves race from the clearing. Warm, sticky liquid gushed from her thigh and side, and she grasped at her wounds in an attempt to hold herself together. She looked around for her family, her breath hissing through her teeth, seeing them all lying still on the ground.

Clenching her teeth, she pulled herself along the ground by her elbows toward her brother. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks as she closed the distance. Crimson pooled around his head and neck. She draped herself over his lifeless body and wept into his chest as she looked into his eyes, open wide, staring blankly at the night sky.

Her limbs were heavy and her head swam as she tried to lift herself from the ground and her brother to check on her dad. Her chest heaved, and the air scraping up and down her throat became wet and tinged with copper. She reached into her pocket and grasped her phone. She shook her head and pulled it out. Blinking several times to see the screen, she dialed 911 and hefted her arm to her face.

“Please help me,” she whispered into it when dispatch answered. “My family and I were attacked by wolves.”

Phillip K. Dick: A Salute

I have immersed myself in the writing world. Searching for artists who have really had an impact, I ran across the name Phillip K. Dick, a man that many may not know. His influence in the science fiction genre is huge, though. How is it that I've never heard of him?

Well, for starters, he's dead. He overdosed on amphetamines. That should hardly matter though. He was writing in the 50's and 60's when he was a very paranoid schitzophrenic. In all honesty, though, he wouldn't really be considered all that odd by todays standards. As writers, most of us invite the voices into our heads, making them as real as possible and exploiting them for our own gain as characters in our books and stories. Not strange at all!

The amazing thing about this man, is that the majority of his great works are being turned into movies today. Ever seen Blade Runner? How about The Minority Report? Or you may have heard of Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Next, Paycheck, or The Adjustment Bureau? All of these are based on (some more loosely than others) his work.

Phillip K. Dick was an amazing author, pulling from personal experiences, much of his writing gave readers (or viewers of the adapted screenplays) a huge question in the back of their minds wondering what reality really was. His characters often lived in alternate realms of this reality, and were usually an everyman.

Even more impressive, his stories were very realistic views of the future compared to others of his time (remember we're talking about his stories coming from the 50's and 60's) and I'm sure, because of this, he was considered even more dillusional than he really was.

If you've never heard of Phillip K. Dick, you should really search for some information about him. He really was an amazing man, though he died broke, never getting to see all his hard work making it to the big screen.  And for all his hard work, I would like to salute you, Mr. Phillip K. Dick, for being the awesome author that you were.

Works Cited

"Phillip K. Dick" Wikipedia. 27 Mar 2011. 27 Mar 2011 .

Friday, March 25, 2011


So, I've been itching to get back to editing my two "finished" novels, A Place Called Earth, and Beginning Near the End. The problem is, my beta reader and outside editor is taking her precious time with them. I don't mind that, except its making me super impatient. So, I read. You'll probably see at least one or two more book reviews posted up before the A to Z Challenge starts. Unless I can't find anything and start working on something new again. Who knows?

Last night, I had a bit of a breakdown. Anyone from facebook reading this, or even my closer twitter friends may know a bit of what's been going on this week. If not, here's a bit of the skinny. The fam and I went up to Minneapolis this weekend for a minication. It was fun, we did some shopping, swam at an indoor water park. Then Monday night, I got the flu. I missed work tuesday and wednesday. Wednesday, I had to take my older daughter to the doctor to try and get the back of her earring removed from her earlobe, it had sunk all the way in. It was a mess, they couldn't help her in pediatrics, so they set up an appointment with the ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT). It would only be a consult though, so I took her to the clinic at the hospital how also got her into the ENT because they didn't want to do it. The ENT wanted to have her come in today for surgery! By that evening I was a nervous wreck, so I took her to the emergency room where they gave her a shot, cut open the back of her ear and took it out.

Last night, thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong in surgery, that was my nightmare. No monsters or bad guys, none of that. I had an anxiety attack.

Anyway, all that got me thinking. I don't spend enough thought on that realm of my story that is sleep. When a character goes to sleep in a scene, I give it that special double space and then they wake. Dreams and nightmares are important, though. They are how we sort through and proccess information every day. Sometimes they can be important though. I remember when I was young, having the occasional snippet of dream that would seem out of place only to relive it the next day (I know that seems hard to believe, but I swear, I can think of at least six different occasions throughout my life).

Dreams can foreshadow a story well, especially when your talking about fantasy. You want them to remain vague (like they are for us) to give it an air of mystery and excitement. And then to add all the details and let them fall into place to reveal what the dream meant pulls a reader in. Its great! It should be done slowly though, or it won't hold interest.

To give you an example, I started reading the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. I had just finished the Percy Jackson series and wanted to see what else he had to offer. In my quest to find something on the second book in the new series, The Son of Neptune, I started reading some fanfic. Some of the stories and chapters were all right, but a few of them, with their own prophecies for this new camp were revealing information too quickly. I lost interest in them right away. Too much was given leaving me no need to read further to find out what this would mean. It all fit too easily.

These are things you need to keep in mind with dreams and foreshadowing. They can both do amazing things for your story, but only if you do them the right way!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Bear with me on this one, I'm sick and it may not all come out right.


Interview with the VampireIn the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale--with Louis' first-person confession to a skeptical boy--transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns--the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception--in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.

My Thoughts:

If you've never seen the movie (let's face it, though, who hasn't) this book is amazing. The picture that Louis sets when he describes where he is, or how it differs from today is just beautiful. The pacing can be a little slow in places, but its forgiveable with how much information your getting. It really helps to pull you into the story.

I love that throughout the whole story, when in present tense, the two in the room are always named the vampire and the boy. And though we learn the vampire's name, we never get a name for the boy. Mrs. Rice had a flare for this romantic horror that she brings through with her vampires. They're frightening to be sure, but you can't help but fall for them. I'm a fan, and I can't wait to get to "The Vampire Lestat"

Rating: R for adult themes

Recommended for: Anyone that needs a GOOD vampire novel with strong characters thats been thuroughly researched.

Not Recommended for: Children and young adults, anyone who needs constant fast pace in writing.

Stars: 4/5

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sneak Peek of 50 Follower Prizes!

With more followers showing up, I felt it was about time to nail down the formalities of the Giveaway when I finally reach 50. I have tracked down prizes I like, and also started working on a form. This is the official notice!

When follower number five-oh hits that button, I will post the form. The giveaway will only work for about a day, and you will need to fill out the form attached to the post I make that day, thus ensuring that you have a chance at the prizes.

I will not tell you all of what you will be recieving, but it has to do with And one of the items you have a chance of recieving is a title that I have recently reviewed. Any guesses?

Also, I have a hint for you if you'd like an extra chance to win the prize for the giveaway. If you refer someone to my blog and they become a follower, you're chances of winning are going to be a bit better. We'll say, if a person only filled out the form, their  chances would only be half as good as someone who referred another person.

Anyway, that's it for now. I wish you all luck!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Impatiently Yours

I have no patience whatsoever. It has always been a problem when searching for a lost item, trying a new exercise routine, going on vacation, and in my writing. I guess I should probably include reading in that too. If I couldn't get into a book by the first few chapters, I didn't read it, and if I did, I wouldn't sit it down til I finished it.

My writing, has been one of my biggest sources of impatience though. When I start a book, I immediately want it to be finished. So much so, NaNoWriMo is perfect for me. It allows me to write that book in a month. I actually save most of my story writing for November now.

Even with the editing, I want it to be done and over with as soon as I start. Not that I don't enjoy doing the editing. I know that dreading of editing is shared by a lot of writers.

Sadly, there is one process I just can't hurry along no matter how much I want to. Getting a book published takes so much time! Find the agent, agent finds the publisher, editor takes apart your story that you feel is about perfect at this point, they cut you a deal, release date is months in the future, book signings, deals, blah blah blah... so much time! Its things like these that make me appreciate the self publishing route because it happens right now.

So, heres my big question. How do you deal with all the waiting that is involved with writing?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review of The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman


The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High AdventureThe Princess Bride is a true fantasy classic. William Goldman describes it as a "good parts version" of "S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure." Morgenstern's original was filled with details of Florinese history, court etiquette, and Mrs. Morgenstern's mostly complimentary views of the text. Much admired by academics, the "Classic Tale" nonetheless obscured what Mr. Goldman feels is a story that has everything: "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

Goldman frames the fairy tale with an "autobiographical" story: his father, who came from Florin, abridged the book as he read it to his son. Now, Goldman is publishing an abridged version, interspersed with comments on the parts he cut out.

Is The Princess Bride a critique of classics like Ivanhoe and The Three Musketeers, that smother a ripping yarn under elaborate prose? A wry look at the differences between fairy tales and real life? Simply a funny, frenetic adventure? No matter how you read it, you'll put it on your "keeper" shelf. --Nona Vero

My Thoughts:

As someone who watched the movie when I was little and fell in love with it, I honestly didn't know it was a book first. How thrilled I was to find out that one of my all-time favorites was adapted to a film from a novel.

I started reading whatever I could find about the book and I came up with a few simple things. 1) S. Morgenstern, Florin, and all the characters are fake. 2) The book was originally done in the 60's. 3) That he abridged a novel that he created tells me that Mr. Goldman is a genius. And 4) I had to have this book.

After scouring the web (Amazon) I finally found a few used copies of the 25th Anniversary print. I had to continue my shopping further to make sure that the money I was spending wasn't absurd (trust me, if you look it up, you'd be astounded by the price of some of these) and ended up buying it!

Now, I read this book as soon as it arrived, sparing little time for daily life. I was so pleased. The characters I loved from the movie were written nearly word-for-word from the book! Sure, there are a few missed scenes that would have added perfectly, but none the less.

Truly, knowing that S. Morgenstern didn't exist, as well as Mr. Goldman's son, Jason, and an interesting conversation with Stephen King (though they are friends) about the sequel, Buttercup's baby (which you will find Chapter 1 in the 25th anniversary), didn't matter in the least. By the time I set the book down finished, I believed they were all real! Mr. Goldman is a master of imagry!

Book Rating: PG. There are fight scenes and love scenes, all of course, tastefully done.

Recommended For: Anyone and everyone. If you haven't read this book yet, you absolutely need to. If you have read it, yay you! and you should read it again.

Not Recommended For: I don't believe that this book is something anyone should pass up.

My Rating: 6/5 stars!