Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Comes Next? NaNoWriMo Withdrawals.

As NaNoWriMo draws to a close today, the inevitable realization hits you. This whopping X-word novel you've slaved over for the past month is a collection of words, a jumble of mish mosh, a pile of steaming....well, you get the idea. Yet, do not despair! Help is on the way. Are you ready?

*Throws confetti* 

Oh wait, you hate editing you say? You'd rather be ripping out your hair and burning it over a fire? Me too! Oh, sorry, that's not you? You love editing. *Glares* Well, that's great, actually! How did you fall in love? Tell me your secret, please. For me, editing is mind numbing torture. It's trying to figure out the best pieces of a puzzle and realizing you probably don't have all the pieces. So, you add pieces, take away pieces, sand other pieces into a pile of sawdust, and tadaa! You're only just beginning.
After you've edited your work so that it sparkles all shiny and new - or at least you THINK it does. How can you possible tell when you haven't seen the light of day for weeks while hiding in your editing cave? - you pass it on to beta readers. These are the brilliant minds who will tell you all the things you've done absolutely wrong. Okay, so usually, they say it much nicer than that, but still it is their job to point out what's working, and more importantly, what isn't.
Good beta readers are worth more than all the gold on the planet. Do NOT take them for granted. Do NOT ignore their suggestions. Allow their ideas to percolate in your mind - like a fresh cup of coffee, mulling it over takes time - for at least a few days, preferably a week. Pay special attention when the advice comes from more than one beta. Fix the parts that resonate with you, and stick to your guns for the parts that don't - it is your story after all. But, ALWAYS thank them for their time and feedback.
Editing is your friend, even when it is a nasty PIA. As the joy of NaNo - or any day you finish that first draft - wash over you, take a step back. Feel proud of your accomplishments, but understand that writing is a process. If you jump into submissions prematurely, you're negating all of the hard work you've already done. So, let it breathe, step into the light of day, spend some time with family and friends, then jump back in. Drafting is all about getting rid of the blank page, but editing is where the story comes alive.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Back this Thanksgiving:
Books for Teens

As I wandered the writing boards this week, I discovered writer, Emily Murdoch. A few days ago, she posted her how she got her agent story. Many writers would gush - myself included - about this fantastic news and deserve to do so, but Emily decided to share her blog space with another, Taylor Hendrix. First, I'd like to offer Emily a big congratulations.
In honor of Emily's gracious nature, I'd also like to share Taylor's story with you and ask for your support. In 2005, eleven year old Taylor was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma,  a bone Cancer, in her right shoulder and upper arm. Having undergone extensive chemotherapy treatments, surgeries, and hospital stays, she continues to fight her battle with cancer. For the past two years, she's had to stay in the hospital over the holidays.

Yet, this extraordinary young woman, despite pain and illness, thinks of others' needs before her own. Every year at Christmas time, she fills backpacks full of presents for the teens at the Children's hospital. Many times, the teens often get left out since the presents that are brought are geared for younger children. Taylor saw this need and acted upon it, filling 30 backpacks last year. She wants to break that record for 2011 and she needs your help.
I know the community of writers and readers to be the most generous and supportive group that I've ever had the privilege to know. So, I'm calling on all of you to please donate what you can to this worthy cause. If you have some YA books that you can part with, please send them to Taylor. If you can spare a few dollars, or want to donate something for the backpacks, please send them to...

Taylor Hendrix
Christmas Project
1511 Hermitage Drive
Florence, Al 35630

Find out more about how you can help HERE. You can also donate directly HERE. And read more about Taylor's story HERE.

Thank you so much to Emily for sharing this wonderful cause with us. And THANK YOU, readers, for your continuing support. I hope you all have a wonderful, safe, healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freaky Friday: The Exorcist

I'm FINALLY - after a way too long "to be read" pile - reading my friend, Gretchen McNeil's YA paranormal book, Possess about a teenage exorcist who can banish demons, and thought it a fitting time to review one of my all time favorite horror movies - The Exorcist.
This parallel tale centers around a priest's loss of faith and a girl's demonic possession. It presents many themes -  good vs. evil, faith vs. doubt, and vulnerability vs. the power of the human soul. Riddled with extremely graphic and disturbing scenes, it is NOT recommended for children.
But, don't be fooled by the gore factor, this is not your everyday horror movie. It delves deeply into the themes mentioned above. The most disturbing part, for me, is not the horrific images, it's the unsettling feeling that stays with you long after the movie is finished. It makes you think and reconsider preconceived notions. If you can't sleep at night, it won't be simply from Regan MacNeil - played by actress Linda Blair - spinning her head around or doing the backwards spider walk - this STILL creeps me out, by the way -  it'll be because at least one, if not more of its messages resonant with you.
If you think horror as a genre can't impart a unique life message AND tell a great story, then you must see the Exorcist.
And for more creepy exorcism tales, don't forget to check out Possess!

Rating: A+ (for both THE EXORCIST and Gretchen McNeil's POSSESS)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stomach Bugs and Begging the Question

I'm a bit behind on blogging, but I have an excuse...I was sick. There's a nasty little stomach bug going around my office and making the rounds amongst friends as well. I imagine it looks like this...

 Or maybe like this...

Either way, it made me feel like this...

I'm getting back on my feet and feeling better. So, I apologize for the lack of blog posts. But, since many of you are in the middle of Hell NaNoWriMo and have no time to read, I'm banking on your forgiveness.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Drafts: The Good, the Bad,
and the Ugly

In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I'd like to discuss some of the good, the bad, and yup, even the ugly about writing the first draft.

Writing the First Draft

The Good:
  • Getting to know your characters.
  • Shaping the plot.
  • Embarking on an adventure.
  • Basking in your own brilliance.

The Bad:
  • ALL your characters are evil!
  • The plot...what plot?
  • The adventure leads you to the Bog of Eternal Stench.
  • Your writing is crap.

The Ugly:
  • Why am I doing this?
  • The blank page stares back at you.
  • You have visions of going all Jack Nicholson ala The Shining.
  • Nothing could possibly suck as much as your writing.

But, remember, it is okay for the first draft to be utter trash. If you put some word vomit all over the page, no problem! Editing is for making things all shiny and polished. The first draft is purely to get the story on the paper. So, get writing!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Many Faces of Chuck the Corgi

It's the first official Monday of November which means I owe you a funny family story. Unfortunately, I've been bogged down in work for the past two weeks - WIP deadlines and job meetings. So, to make up for my lack of story this month, I give you a collection of cute corgi pictures. Take it away, Chuck!
Baby Chuck sleeps. 12 Weeks Old.
Are you looking at me?
Love eyes (Tina & Baby Chuck)
Dinner time?
Writing isn't hard...How do I turn on the computer?
I am Bat Dog! (5 months old)
Chuck's first snow storm.
The Great Flying Squirrel!
Adult Chuck sleeps. (18 months old)
Phew! Thanks for bailing me out of that one Chuck. And I fully believe you can be a writer too, once you figure out the computer. Mama loves you. <3

Friday, November 4, 2011

Freaky Friday: Deja Vu

All over again.

You walk upon a lone road. Dark trees surround a dusty path. The dirt grinds into your shoes. A scuffling sound draws your attention. You turn - fast - but the trees alone rustle in the wind. Nothing behind you except the chilling sense of deja vu.
A French word literally translated as "already seen", deja vu has stumped scientists, lacking a definitive explanation.  According to "What is déjà vu?" by, as much as 70% of the population experience this sensation. Medical science has linked the phenomena to temporal-lobe epilepsy, but no one knows why individuals without medical conditions encounter this state.
Parapsychologists and certain religious groups believe that deja vu is a moment when a past life touches upon the present. For example, you travel to a foreign country - a place you've never been - and suddenly are gripped with the sense that you've been there before. You might actually have been there before, in a past life.
Whether a weird brain impulse or a message from lives before, deja vu can conjure up some interesting ideas. Have you ever met someone and feel like you've known them forever? Yeah, me too. Ever been somewhere and had the thought you'd spent time there before? Yup, check. Ever predicted an accident or illness before it happened? A time or two, uh huh. Freeeaky. 

What about you readers? Tell me about your experiences with deja vu.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude is Catching

Beth Ravis, author of Across the Universe, is having a HUGE contest on her blog. You can earn the chance to win 19 YA books - many signed - and swag. All you have to do is create a post about one book that you are most grateful for.

What better way to usher in another Writer Wednesday? First, I'd like to thank Ava Jae because her post introduced me to this contest and Beth Ravis. Next, I'd like to share with you a little poem about my chosen book.

Second breakfasts, big hairy feet, & hearts too big for their small bodies.
A call to adventure, a curiosity unbound, and a courage unmeasured.
Dragons know the sting of his blade.
Dwarves know the depth of his spirit.
Many names, many faces from Bilbo to Frodo to Sam and more.
A precious book past from generation to generation,
Held more value than any one ring.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien is the book that's held my heart for over two decades. The first book that captured my love of fantasy in its grasp and led me to read the next generation of hobbits over the course of three years. (I was only nine years old when I started the Lord of the Rings trilogy.) To this day, I cannot enter a bookstore without seeking its pages. I possess four different editions of Tolkien's books and if the Apocalypse happened tomorrow, they'd be stashed into my "go" bag.
Thank you so much to J. R. R. Tolkien for sharing these wondrous creatures with the world, and teaching us that “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
“The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”

For more quotes by this brilliant author check out the collection at GoodReads or better yet, read the books. :D