Recent Posts

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Pepsi challenge - and two thumbs up for Percy Jackson!

I find it very difficult to find the time to write - or even the energy to do so. With a full time job and three kids, by the time eight o'clock rolls around, I'm usually pooped. Wednesday evening I thought I had a solution. I had drank a can of Pepsi for dinner (unusual for me) and then I was still tired (exhausted actually) after doing the dishes and all so I took a short rest - 20 minutes. Low and behold, nine o'clock came and went and I wasn't a bit tired! I stayed up 'til almost 12:00 reveling in my second wind, getting a good portion of chapter 5 done. Was it the pop? The nap? I had to find out. So last night I downed a can of soda for dinner as well, and sadly, no go. I was practically begging the kids to turn in early, and I left the littlest one for dear old dad to deal with. So, now I'm thinking, hmmm...I'd better test the nap theory tonight. I'll let you know the result of my experiment, but I'm really hoping this whole thing wasn't just a fluke because I can get so much more writing done when I'm not dealing with the kids. I guess we'll see.

On another note- have you seen the new Percy Jackson movie? NO? WHY NOT?? Go! Get thee to a theater! Now! PJ has become my all new favorite series of kid books. I loved Harry Potter (who doesn't) and no, the writing isn't at the same level. But let's face it, any series that can get kids excited about the greek gods and learning how to pronounce things like drachmas and Hephaestus has to be good.
The whole concept of a kids' book based on the heroes created from the Gods' affairs with mortals is so simple that I wonder no one had thought of it before. I mean what could be more fun than finding out your dad is Poseidon and you can suddenly breathe under water or sail a ship just by the power of your mind? Not to mention the awesomeness of cutting off a few monster's heads now and then. While I really would recommend reading at least the first book before you see the movie, don't go into it expecting an exact portrayal of the story. The plot is very different, simpler if you will, but still great fun. Logan Lerman does a great job portraying Percy (and he's so gosh darn cute!). Some have said that they screwed up the casting of Annabeth with Alexandra Deddario, but I thought she did a great job.
The only criticism I have of the movie was how much they bumped
up the ages of the kids - they appear to be around 14-15 instead of 11, but that aside, the special effects were awesome. And I love it when Percy says, "but this is a pen!". Again, great story, great film, great fun. Go!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Writer's survey

So I chanced to see this on Karla Nellenbach's blog, who got it from Raven's blog, who got it from someone and then from someone. I'm not really sure where this chain started, but I decided to go ahead and answer the questions to the best of my ability. If you want to play along, answer the questions and leave a link in the comments section. I'll be sure to check yours out.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
So, not counting NIKKI's WISH, which I'm still in the process of writing, the last thing I wrote was/is a novel called The Last Castrato - it's about a 16 year old male opera singer who trades his soul to the devil in order to keep his voice only to find out later that he was destined to become a guardian angel. It's shelved for now, but the MC, Daniel makes a cameo appearance in NIKKI's WISH at the very end, and if I ever manage to finish NW, then I think that I'll try to re-write his story again.

The first thing I wrote that I still have, and I'm cheating a bit here because I think that it's stuffed in a box somewhere in the basement - would be a short story that I did back in ninth grade. It was about a naughty little boy who was always getting into things and just happened to be in the bathroom digging around in the medicine cabinet when he came across his mother's chocolate flavored Ex-lax. You can imagine what insued after that!!

2. Write poetry? Sadly, no. But I'm thinking of giving it a try because I think it'll really help me with my descriptive writing.

3. Angsty poetry? Again no.

4. Favorite genre of writing? YA, and more specifically paranormal YA.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created? Aw, this is a hard one because most of my characters are likeable, except for the villain in NW, but I wouldn't necessary call her annoying, just bitchy. I guess if I had to choose it'd be the mother from BETTINA, and this is because she stands by and watches while her son gets beaten up by her husband and she doesn't say anything. She's very weak, and she thinks it's God's will that she (and her son) be punished. So that is rather annoying.

6. Best plot you've ever created? I'd probably say my original version of BETTINA - it's mostly plot driven, everything happens for a reason. Though I'm thinking of doing a massive re-write of it.

7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created? Wow, tough one, and I'm not really certain if I have one, though I do have one in mind if I ever do a re-write of BETTINA. So I guess you could say it's in my head right now.

8. How often do you get writer's block? Hasn't happened for a while. My writing's been slow going for the past few months just because I don't like doing revisions, but i wouldn't call it writer's block. Just me procrastinating.

9. Write fan fiction? No.

10. do you type or write by hand? Type! Type! Type! I love the ability to erase things I don't like with a quick keystroke, and my hand cramps so badly when I hold a pen.

11. do you save everything you write? Yep. I think that I have about 20 different versions of BETTINA.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you abandon it? Oh yeah. BETTINA is one example. I have a really good idea of what I'm going to do with it now, but I want to get a polished draft of NW finished first so that I can go through the whole query phase.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written? NW, definitely.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story you've ever written? Well, I haven't shared a whole lot of my writing with the outside world yet. I did post first chapters for both NW and BETTINA and I've gotten great compliments on both.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama? NW is a paranormal romance.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters? My favorite setting is going to come from NW, though I'm torn between the opening scene which happens at the top of Minneapolis's Foshay Tower or a later scene which happens at a creek.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now? Mainly just NW, but I have things playing in the back of my mind for some re-writes of other things I've done and I have a few ideas for MG books.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing? Gosh, wouldn't that be sweet?

19. What are your five favorite words? EEK! No, that's not one of them. Let's see... beguiling, flutterby, coercive, calamity and beta-mercaptoethanol (I had to sneak one scientific word in there, and yes, I love how that rolls off the tongue).

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself? Nikki, hands down. though I certainly didn't set out to do that, it was just kind of like, what would she do in this situation, and I find myself thinking yeah, that's what I'd do too. She's a bit naive, a bit of an idealist, a hopeless romantic, makes jokes that no one gets but her, and has a tendency to over think things. She also has a lot of traits that I wish I had - she's much stronger than me, more outgoing, more adventurous and braver all around.

21. Where do you get your ideas for your characters? Mostly I don't think of the characters first, I think of the situations or the theme of the book, then I just write and the characters emerge. The only one I really thought a lot about was the character of Erik for BETTINA, because his character is the theme of the book - what would happen if a gangster were reincarnated?

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams? Haven't yet, although I have a SNI that might emerge from dream - something to do with traveling to parallel words. It'd probably be a MG novel and I haven't given it much thought yet.

23. Do you favor happy endings? I do, and I think that comes from me being a very optimistic type person.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? I have automatic spell check on my computer so it alerts me when I've spelled something wrong. As for grammar, I don't worry about it too much because it mostly just comes to me, like that's how it's supposed to sound.

25. Does music help you write? I'm probably the odd person here because I find it distracting and prefer still silence when I write. Though with three kids, I don't get that either.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.

"Happy Valentine's day, Dr. Soong."

Context: Nikki is responding after just hearing Sam explain how he created "sex-toy" androids for his master, Maxine.

Book contest

The totally awesome Choco is holding a 400 followers  book contest!!! She does wonderful reviews about YA books, is quite quirky and fun. Honestly I don't know where the girl finds the time. Check out her blog and enter to win!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A special thanks to my AW friends!

I wanted to thank everyone who responded to my little drama earlier this week. I really appreciate all the support and sharing of your stories along with all the sage advice. I don't know what I'd do without all of the great people at AW. To fill in those followers who don't know what I'm talking about, on Sunday I was hunting around Barnes and Noble for new releases and came across a book that sounds eerily similar to my book, NIKKI's WISH.

Here's a synopsis for WISH (and I'll even give you a piccy): For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back. With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again. In a breathtaking debut from Alexandra Bullen, WISH asks the question: If you could have anything, what would you wish for?

So why was I freaking out? Because in my book, Nikki has lost her twin sister and tada! she meets a genie (Sam) who gives her a wish. What does she wish for? Her sister of course!

Many of you had said that if I look a bit closer at the two stories, that I would find some significant differences, and yes I think that there are. After cruising through a lot of reviews for WISH, I think that it has a very different feel than my book. For starters, WISH sounds like it's written mostly for a younger teen audience, whereas mine definitely has more late teen themes going on  (a bit of swearing and the like). Secondly, the focus of WISH is on the relationship between the two sisters - from what I got through the reviews, in WISH, the dead sister comes back as a ghost and the two talk back and forth to each other, so there's a lot of sisterly type banter going on and many reviewers said that was what they really enjoyed. In my book, while there are definitely subplots involving sisterhood and learning that magic can't solve everything, the main focus is the relationship/romance between Nikki and Sam. In my book, Nikki's sister is not brought back at all, but she plays a major role in the ending. I hope that my book also creates some level of suspense as Nikki has to figure out a way to free Sam from his master or else risk losing him forever.

Now, to tell you the truth, when I read the blurb for WISH, it really didn't sound all that interesting to me. mainly because it has a fairy godmother angle to it and the thing with the dresses reminds me of a Disney movie. And even though mine is sort of an Aladdin story, I promise you there are no monkeys in it - just a few androids. :) I'll probably read WISH at some point, if only to make certain that there aren't any other similarities. In the meantime, I'm going to keep plugging away at my own story while hoping that genies don't become as popular as vampires, shapeshifters and fairies. I should have a second draft finished by the end of February, and I'm still working on that query letter.

Again many thanks to all of you for your support. Happy writing to you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday Teaser - February 2nd

Happy Groundhog's day!! I've never put much stock in Ground hog's day - living in Minnesota, you always get six more weeks of winter whether Punxsutawney Phil predicts it or not. Did I say six? I meant ten, heck sometimes twelve. Yes, I've seen it snow in May. Still, that groundhog is pretty darn cute, and being a close relative to the gopher, I kind of have a soft spot for him.

Today's teaser is another excerpt from NIKKI's WISH. It's the beginning of one of my favorite scenes, somewhere in the middle of the book. All comments are appreciated.

And that’s how I ended up that afternoon back at Glitz! trying on dresses again. I had returned the white dress I bought on Saturday, knowing that since I now had a suitable dance partner, I didn’t have to resort to the color that made me look like an albino rabbit. I flipped through the hangers, looking for something a bit darker, finally deciding on a mocha number with short sleeves and a dipping neckline. I had always imagined prom dress shopping to be a thing that Shani and I would do together. She would have tried on every dress in the store only to end up with the one she had first spotted. I tried to smile at my reflection, but the thought of Shani was too front and center in my mind. Still, the brown dress was an improvement. Maybe if I colored my hair a bit darker...
            “What are you trying to do to yourself?” I jumped a foot in the air as Maxine walked towards me, followed by her ever faithful lapdog/android, Guy. “Seriously, that makes you look like something a dog dropped in the park.”
            “Gee, thanks.” I walked back to the rack of dresses, attempting to ignore her.
            “Nikki, Nikki, Nikki,” Maxine scolded. “If you needed help picking out formal attire, you should have consulted me.” She shoved a sales lady out of the way and pranced to the other end of the store where she began her mission to find me the perfect formal. “You need something bright, to contrast your pale skin. Red will be your best color.”
            “I don’t—“
            “Trust me, honey. I have three hundred years of dressing room experience.” She pulled out the brightest red dress on the rack. It was silk, sleeveless, with a tight fitting bodice that gathered in the small of the back. The front was accented by silver embroidery and matching rhinestones that glittered in all the wrong places. It was gaudy. It was obnoxious. It was nothing I would ever consider pulling off the hanger much less draping over my skin. But as Maxine proceeded to do just that, I realized that it looked – good.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing the book YOU want to

I hear this advice all the time on AW, and although I believe in it, I never thought that I would actually take the advice to heart. Well, this weekend I did. See with my current WIP, NIKKI's WISH, I had been making edits to change things quite drastically. I thought the book needed it. One theme in the book is how Nikki copes with her sister's death, and I thought that if I had too much romance in it, that that stuff would get lost, and worse, that readers would accuse my character of being shallow - as if all it takes is a boy to make her forget her sister. So I revised, and then revised some more, and then revised some more. Pretty soon all that was left was a strong friendship between the two main characters. Then I thought, well, I should try to incorporate some themes of how Nikki grows up in the book, and so I did a few more revisions. Then I thought, hey maybe I ought to make Sam a bit more three dimensional and add a few hints that he might be pulling the wool over Nikki's eyes. So I did even more revisions. All the while during these re-writes, I kept getting less and less enthused about my story. It's been three months since I started the second draft and it's been going so very, very slowly.

Then this weekend, ureka! I realized what I was doing wrong. I was trying to write the story that I think people want to hear instead of the story that I want to write. So I went back and cut out a lot of stuff that I had added over the past month, I put the romance back in and I even made Sam into a nice guy again (although I might reveal just a small bit of a character flaw at the end). There are some things I'm going to keep, like the idea of Nikki having to grow up and accept some things as they are, but by going back to what I had in the beginning, I've recaptured my enthusiasm. Is it the book that everyone will love? Probably not. Is it the book that I will love? Definitely. And that's what matters.

As writers, if we do what everyone else thinks we should do and not what we want to do, then where's the joy? Stephen King has been criticized time and again for writing in the horror genre, but that's what he loves, and he does it well. Could he write a romance novel? Maybe, but I don't think he'd enjoy it as much and somewhere in there he'd probably find a few monsters trying to ruin things for him or his characters. And I think that's just the point. Trying to force yourself to write things the way others want it or to write what others would enjoy limits your empowerment as a writer and stifles your creativity. Often, as in my case, it just doesn't work because those things that we want to do with the book keep sneaking in. I can now see an ending in sight for NIKKI's WISH. I'm going to work really hard to get the second draft done this month, and I think that with my new enthusiasm for it, I just might get there. I'll be looking for betas soon, and I'll be posting my query on SYW in the upcoming month. If anyone is interested in doing a beta read, feel free to PM me at AW or The first chapter is still posted in the Tuesday Teaser section to the right (first three posts).



Related Posts with Thumbnails