Friday, September 2, 2011

A spoon full of OH GOD makes the worldbuilding go down in the most delightful way.

Summer's over. You heard me. September 1st is when summer ends, in my books. You might still eat ice cream in the heat of the day or dream about beaches when it hits an odd 90 degrees, but the fact of the matter is SUMMER IS OVER AND WORK/LIFE WILL SOON GO BACK TO NORMAL.

This summer I went on vacation. Not to Tahiti, or Europe. No, I went somewhere better for a full two months. I saw a million things and ate a million new foods, and made new friends who will stay with me the rest of my life.

Where exactly was this place? In my head. Yup. Sounds nerdy. Sounds terribly psychotic. But hey, HEY, if you're a writer, you better be a little psychotic, or your writing might turn out boring!

Seriously, though. Let's talk about worlds.

A lot of people (okay, two people, and they were drunk) ask me how I write such vivid worlds. I answered them like this at the time;

"HUGGGGGGHBLURGGGGH well, y-you know, I just write, just sit down and goddamn write, where'd the spiked iced tea gooooo I need a refilllllllll!"

In retrospect, that question haunted me a bit, and I've got a better answer, now. Worldbuilding can be hard. We all know that. Some people are just better at it than others, some people specialize in ONLY worldbuilding, some people learn it, others refine the skill. The point is, worldbuilding either comes to you, or it doesn't. Worldbuilding is abstract thinking in its finest form. You need to know every detail, down the last bit.

That's what they say, of course.

In reality, if you're like me, you run away at the approximate speed of THAT IS A TERRIFYING PROSPECT if someone brings up the word 'worldbuilding'. I know how it feels, loves. I know. It's hard. And scary. I used to be like this to the nth degree. I used to get very good advice from agents I was querying that told me to beef up my worldbuiling considerably, but they wouldn't tell me how. I got so frustrated knowing I had to work on an aspect of the book, but not knowing how to!

So this summer, I figured it out.

When people say worldbuilding, what does your mind jump to? Tiny details of food and places of an imaginary make, right? You need a whole seven notebooks to keep it all straight, right?



Worldbuilding can most certainly be complicated, but it doesn't have to be intimidating. Don't keep a book unless it really helps you. These are the three vital questions that you need to know the answers to to write your world convincingly;

1. People

2. Environments

3. Beliefs

PEB. That's a great acronym. It doesn't sound suggestive at all.

People means what kinds of living beings inhabit your world, be they people or aliens. Think about your races - tall and dark to the south maybe, and pale and short to the north? Maybe the west part of your world is infested with sea-going people with red hair. Keep the traits simple and each race assigned to certain areas of your world.

Environments refers to what your world looks like, acts like, and moves like. Think seasons, what types of plants, animals, and weather. If you feel overwhelmed by that, keep it simple - divide your world into North/South/East/West sectors. When thinking about environments, also keep in mind what types of civilizations there are. Maybe in the north it's only tiny villages that brave the harsh and rugged winters. Maybe in the south, there's huge metropolises that thrive off hydroelectric power because they are so close to lakes. Remember, the natural environment of the world determines what shape civilization takes. Don't overthink it, just go to the most logical conclusion. Big bodies of water? Civilization in that area will focus on sailing, fish will be their largest sustenance, and trading will bring in lots of variety in terms of people.

Beliefs are a little more complex, but don't make it agonizingly hard on yourself. When thinking about beliefs, first think about what major religions/organizations there are in your world. The scope of Beliefs can range from churches to militias to a single village to an entire society built around a belief. Huxley had one in Brave New World - the belief that some people were born better than others formed the basis for the society in the book. If you have a large religion, ask yourself where that religion dominates in the world, and what it's core principal is. A core principal should only be one sentence. If you need more than one, you're overthinking. Ask yourself what the main purpose of the religion/organization/belief is. Is it providing spiritual relief to downtrodden people? Is it, like the Hunger Games namesake pastime, used to keep people in line? Is it, like in Harry Potter, an entire school devoted to education for young magical people?

Honestly, these three things are just a way to get you started. When you think about these things, everything else will sort of fall into place in your head or come to you while you're thinking - it's a guarantee. Dive into your world headfirst, and dive hard, dive like you live in that world everyday - food, children, relationships. Focus big, and then go small. Worldbuilding is meant to be detailed, but it's not good if you lose your sight of the big picture, first.

And good luck!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another ridiculously neat YA contest!

Phew, so many awesome contests happening, guys. This one is held by YAtopia again, and keep in mind there are only fifty slots and a sentence limit. It's right here.

Hopefully some of you get to enter! And good luck!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

YA Pitch Contest!

Hey guys! I know most of you write YA, so here's an awesome opportunity to pitch to Bree Odgen of Martin Literary Management.

Go on here and present your best elevator pitches, and good luck!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First 250 - The World That Does Not Bow

Hey guys! This is another entry for a Shelley Watters contest (honestly, she has the best ones, if you aren't already entered, check it out here.

The first 250 below are of my Sci-fi/thriller/post-apocalyptic YA called The World That Does Not Bow. Comments are loved and appreciated and most certainly returned in kind! Thanks again!


The first time I saw the headmistress, I was dying.

It wasn't a good death. I wasn't dying nobly, enlisted on the frontlines of the northern war like my dad would’ve wanted. Mom would’ve wanted me to die when I was old, surrounded by my grandchildren and a garden that was impossible in the diseased soil of our village. Both of them talked about how they hated the thought of dying at the hands of the Wave. Starvation, the raiders, mad dogs. Anything but the Wave. Too many had been wiped out before. Too many had been imbedded in the monster’s crimson skin and left to forever scream inhuman warnings as half-masticated corpses.

When the warning siren rang from the watchtower, the ocean was rippling just outside the driftwood wall that spanned the fishing ponds. I could see it from the stone windows. High tide. Rictor came running into the dark temple, his hat askew. The Elder had been in the middle of our song lesson. He talked in quiet voices with Rictor. Incense was thick and heavy around us, sweet enough to eat. The Elder dismissed us and we skipped out, thrilled to be free of class.

Around us, the village panicked. People ran and gathered up their children, baskets of the days gathering of fish spilled as feet tripped over them. Fires were extinguished. The rich-voiced birds in the tall palms were absent, the hushed whispers and terrified cries drowning them out.

The Wave was coming.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My writing process is mostly...full of cake.

Anonymous reader here! :) I love your blog.

I have...I guess a post-request? I have been having writer's block, and it always helps me to know about other writers' processes - like, where they write, what time of day they do it, if there are any habits that help them, etc.

If you ever have the spare time, I'd be really excited if you'd post about your writing process. Thanks :)

Hello anonymous!! You're a wonderful person. I know this because you use the :) smiley, and anybody who uses that is a 100% bonafide AWESOME PERSON in my book. But seriously, I like your question. I like it lots, and I'm gonna try my best to give you an equally likeable answer!

Obviously, every writer is completely different. Our styles are different, the genres we choose to tackle vary, and that's only the start! What works for me might not work for you, but gosh darn it I sure hope it does.

In all seriousness, I'm the type of writer who likes to sit at the computer for three or four weeks and frenzy out a really, REALLY rough draft skeleton thing. I take one or two months to revise that skeleton. I've finished two books in this fashion, so it's worked out pretty well for me! If you're slower, that's awesome too!

If you wanna get in the mood to write, the most essential bit is MUSIC. Put on some jams you adore out the whazoo. Make a little playlist of songs you NEVER get tired of listening to, freshen it up with some new things you like, etc. Hit 'loop' and think about the scene you're writing as if it were a movie, with that music in the background. My favorite guilty pleasure (and loltastic nerdgasm habit) is to put some very epic trailer music, such as from 300 or Inception, and imagine my book, my characters, my plot being weaved through that music as though it were a movie. It gets me pumped to keep writing the book itself!

Music helps the creative juices to flow. Picture various action-y or other important scenes in your book playing to music. You might find new inspiration!

Another method of breaking writer's block in half like a boss is to become extremely attached to your characters. I do this a lot, because my characters are lovely and very real to me. Sometimes I hold conversations with them. It takes a lot of work to have a one-sided conversation, but if you pose them normal questions, it challenges your brain to come up with a correct response that would fit their personality. This can help you love them more/want to spend more time with them and will give you vital clues as to how to write them better!

Keep in mind, doing this in public might get you arrested! But, seriously, try it out right before you go to bed at night, when it is most quiet and easy to imagine things. It's almost meditative, and it's worked wonders for me.

The last resort I usually reserve for the VERY HARDEST of times is to bake. BAKE BAKE BAKE. For you this might be different - a mindless task that is completely NOT writing at all can help you gain perspective. Weeding, painting, going for a walk. All are totally legit and can really aid you when you need to step back from the work and see if you're being a nutcase about it.

Above all, what motivates me to write is the realization that I'm not getting any younger. Time is awastin'! I want to share those stories and help people like books helped me. Do all you can whenever you can, try your hardest every second. A lot of the time, that means forcing yourself to write when you don't want to. Do that. Don't let anything defeat you or slow you down, ever. YOU are making your own success or failure entirely. So fight hard and fight long!

PS. Caffiene and sugar are magic pick-me-ups!!

PPS. Stay in school

PPPS. When you get famous, don't forget me.




Saturday, June 4, 2011

The WSJ Debacle And How They Were Targeting The Wrong Issue

If you haven't heard of it yet, you will. If you're involved in books at all, or the YA industry, this news will circulate. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on how YA books nowadays are chock full of violence, gritty issues, and general debauchery.


Let's start out by being nice. We like the WSJ. We do. The article was well thought-out, and very informed of the history of YA as a whole. We wonder, however, if they were perhaps aiming at the wrong issue in YA.

The 'censor what your kids read' issue is a very important one, of course. In a tweet chat about YA a while back, I said that YA should be the genre, out of all the literary genres, to push boundaries. I stand by that today. The entire debate is one that will rage between mothers/Wholesome American Values and authors for many generations.

However, I found it interesting that WSJ decided to tackle the issue of 'grit' in YA, when kids today are exposed to hundreds of the same things, but on TV. This is what we call a double standard. Many people brought up the contrasting issue; "God forbid my kid become an avid reader". There's no doubt YA is the darkest and most gritty of any sort of literary genre, except perhaps those murder mysteries, and even those are detached and tend not to hold a tenth of the emotional pull that YA does. If it gets kids reading and thinking, it's gotta be a good thing, right?

There's a bigger problem than 'dark' in YA. It's a problem no one really addresses, because everyone is fearful of stepping on toes. If WSJ ever decided to do an article on the alarming vapidness of today's YA, it would be very interesting. This problem is more prevalent in YA than even 'dark' trends, but much of it is waved off because that same vapidness tends to make the big money because it is so accessible. Watered down.

I'm friends with local teens in my area and beyond, I know teens all over the world thanks to this wonderful internet thing, and many of them are frustrated by the insincerity of the tone in YA. The soulless-seeming love interests. The lack of character and lack of heartfelt interaction that preaches some kind of whitewashed moral that sex, or anything outside of the middle america's comfort zone, is a thing to be frowned on. Is this what the moms, such as in WSJ's article, want us to write? The public would like us to dumb down YA EVEN FURTHER just so their minds can be eased?

This article may have been about 'dark' themes in YA, but it was subtly pointing out the dichotomy that is the biggest problem in YA today; the seemingly omnipresent state of 'distilled' teenage life that is represented in these books. If the book isn't 'dark', it will more than likely be what many teens deem a 'disappointment', in terms of characters, trying-too-hard tone, or even overall plot. The trend of (mostly fantasy) YA is, as of now, desperately gasping for some new blood, and this is evident in the way teens are now becoming more vocal about their dissatisfaction with YA today.

If the teens are feeling the lack of originality in YA, that means we're becoming too comfortable and stagnant in a world of books where we chase after trends, strive desperately and fail in crafting a believable 'teen' voice, and censor ourselves and hence, the quality of the work as well, to get published. Are we still writers if we aren't making works that speak to teens?

Thanks WSJ, for making us stop and think.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

HEARTSTOPPERS - YA/Contemp - 47k

Hey guys! This is my first 250 for Shelley's contest. (Which is here; Thanks for your comments!


It’s not my fault Hailey Demetropolis wants to punch out my teeth.

She doesn’t punch, really; like all pretty girls she prefers the roundhouse, open-hand slap. The one that’s easy to stop, and even easier to counter with my signature face jab. I call it the Nose Job. In Hailey’s case, it'll be her second. Her eyes flare as she pulls a perfectly manicured hand back. I lash out with my knuckles. Her body crumples backward, and the greenery surrounding the eleventh hole streaks red. When her head comes up, her hand is pressed over her torrentially bloody nose as her minions screech.

“You bitch!” A blonde growls.

“Look; unibrow, cameltoe, orange tan,” I point to the three of Hailey’s lackeys, “Do me a favor and put some ice on that for her. And give her the name of your plastic surgeon, okay? He’s obviously much better.”

From behind them I can see the golf course security sprinting towards me, visors bobbing. I take off running down the green.

“Stop!” The security yells. I can barely hear their voices over their panting.

“Too many Doritos, boys?” I dance around a sand trap. Women with cardigans on their shoulders and men with expensive watches all gape as my entourage and I speed towards them.

“Afternoon.” I nod breathlessly as I pass, taking one of their golf bags and throwing it to the ground before trotting into a sprint again. The security swears and maneuvers around the bulky shape.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

When the beat hits you, it hits you real hard.

Silence! So much silence, there is almost too much to say, lovelies!

First of all, thank you so much for your guys' enthusiasm about Heartstoppers! I seriously DID NOT expect people to actually say; oh, this sounds cool! That is amazingly nice of ya'll.

Right now, Heartstoppers is undergoing revisions, which is cool. It's actually becoming a different book, with the skeleton in place. I think I learned from writing this that I work better with a fast-skeleton set down first, and then a month or so of revisions. Does anyone else do this? Am I tres strange?

Secondly, I've been cultivating a great concept. It hit me hard when I was driving! (Which could have been scary, or bad, but I was enraptured but also in control of the wheel, so that's good!) It's super seekrit as of now, but I'm hesitant to call it Dystopian. It's set in a future world, but I'd say it's more of a thriller type of thing, without all the REALLY advanced tech. I'm not sure what to call it. It could be called sci-fi, but I know that lots of agents are scared off by that genre. :( So. Definetly a thriller, though.

Oh, and completely random; Alfredo. I think it's now my signature dish. If any of you have something to celebrate, lemme know and I'll whip you up a plate of cyberfredo.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crying Buckets is Okay Except not

Long time no talk! I've been busy crying my eyes out while writing. I have no idea why, I'm usually a very unexpressive person, especially when it comes to tears, but this book has wormed its way into my heart and yanked it around.

I finished my 40k contemp today, it focuses on drugs and, well, drugs! I think the blurb I made up explains it better than I could in this emotional state.


"After Cynthia's father dies in a car accident her little brother goes mute, her hotel maid mother is told by God to become a teacher, and Cynthia starts making and selling pills from the stall in her high school's bathroom.

Except the pills are fakes, and they get insanely popular lightning fast. Cynthia is tossed ass first into the whirlwind world that is big league drug dealing, scraping by with the help of a fallen drug lord out for revenge on the current king of the town, Eight Gold Eli. Throw in the fact Cynthia has no idea what to do with so much money, that her crush's dad is a DEA agent bent on busting her, and that Eli won't stop until she's dead or out of business, and you have the recipe for the perfect disaster - or the perfect emotional recovery from the addiction of misery

I don't know why this book got me all emotional. It's very close to my heart in some ways, and I'm very excited to start querying it!

On another note, I've gotten into making vanilla wafers cookies, and they are the best things on the planet! I'll edit the recipe in here later. <3

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Contemps? CONTEMPS!!

I just have to squeal about this.

I'm writing a contemp and I don't think I"ve ever enjoyed something more in my life ever. Not even a Firefly marathon. Not even four milkshakes all to myself.

Oh my goodness every word is like christmas. I haven't been this excited about writing since FEAR ITSELF.





Thursday, April 14, 2011

YAtopia has a freaking awesome contest.

I get really nervous about contests, but this one was just too good to pass up. YAtopia and the great Natalie Fischer have collaborated and made a sweet pitch contest!

Go there now and check it out, and if you're entering, good luck! ;)

Rice pudding and halfway points.

I'm something of a rice pudding fanatic. Ever since I read a historical fiction book about american pioneers as a wee tot (can't remember the name for the life of me) my favorite breakfast treat has been rice pudding. They talked about rice pudding being the best breakfast food so often I'm 99% sure I was delightfully brainwahsed into it as well.

I've been trying to perfect the recipe througout the years, and only tonight do I think I've gotten somewhat close to the perfect one!

1 cup white sugar
1 cup rice (any kind, though white works best, and sticky rice is even better.)
2 pinches salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I usually get vanilla beans and scrape out the insides the old fashioned way because I'm convinced it tastes better, but extract works great when you're not neurotic like me!)
4 cups milk

Stir together milk, sugar, and rice over medium low heat. When it's all evenly mixed, set to low. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt. Turn rice up to medium and stir in egg mix. Turn up to medium high and stir constantly for the next five minutes or until milk is sufficiently evaporated.

You're aiming for the consistency of very thick smoothie, maybe a little thicker. As a good judge, you should be able to see the individual grains of rice very slightly. Refridgerate overnight and sprinkle cinnamon and raisins to taste before serving. It's great to eat hot, too. I used golden raisins, but any type of dried fruit works awesomely. This is also a great way to get rid of leftover rice you know you'll end up throwing away later!

Here's the finished product! Forgive my crap skills at taking yummy-looking food shots.

I wish I could make a metaphor about rice pudding being like the halfway points in new WIPS, but I can't think of one.

I think I enjoy the point when a WIP starts to take on a life of its own. There's a point where you start writing, and you build the blocks, and at some point the story stands on its own two legs, jumps up from the playpen, and runs around screaming; "HI I'VE ARRIVED". You get this weird sense of pride, and love, and a million other positive feelings that are almost like getting drunk and falling in love all at the same time. It's this big swirl of everything good about life; rain, tea, happy tears, the smell of fresh sheets and sun on the water.

Those moments make the tough pains seem a little less horrifying. Of course you'll suffer while writing. Of course you'll get frustrated and feel like quitting when you compare your work to someone else's, but those tiny moments of true accomplishment fill up the flask of the muse bit by bit.

Soul food!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I think I might be using this blog to procrastinate!

Sometimes I don't feel like writing, but know I HAVE to, so I end up writing a silly little blog post as a warm up of sorts.

Today I'll warm up on the subject of writing something that has a life of its own and pulls away from what you intended for it. This happens so much with me, I have to constantly slash and burn stubs as they try to sprout. If you can imagine the super slobbery, intimidating, downright ugly thousand heads of the Hydra, that's pretty close to what my WIPS look like.

Out of those thousand heads, only about four are what I originally had planned for the story. About 986 are heads the story thought up all on its own. The remaining ten are sort of the compromise between what the story wants and what I think is okay. It's a matter of chopping and chopping and rewriting and starting from scratch until that scene WORKS, until that scene becomes one of the scarce ten heads that are alright with both parties.

I could plot and write outlines all I like, but at the end of the day these limitless possibilities will spring up, and it'll be my job to stop them before they go too far or encourage them to grow more. I would say it's like a garden, but that's if you like your gardens with dismembered hydra heads sticking out of the grass.


So far, I'm working on two simultaneous WIPs, the descriptions are in the sidebar over yonder.

DEMON CLEANERS just recently hit 20k, which I'm so psyched about. It's taken an awesome turn and I'm just going with it. TWDNB is at a measly 6k, but it's coming along! Both of them haven't turned Hydra yet, but it's only a matter of time.

*sharpens sword*

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The greatest love song ever wrought.

Whenever I'm writing a romantic scene, I can't quite bring it all together unless this is playing in the background.

Maybe I'm just weird.

Edit: Okay, it's confirmed. I had toast and chocolate sauce for breakfast. I'm weird!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why YA needs to be written by more young people.

I don't want to bore you with a lot of words, but I do wanna get this off my chest.

There is a whole new culture out there being formed AS WE SPEAK. It's full of things like street art and dubstep and french electro pop and raves and just messing around in abandoned lots and cigarettes and booze. It's the party life, but more than that, it's the young life.

And it's being obscured in our literature. Or, there isn't nearly enough of it out there to begin with.

I want to read more real things. I want to read about messed up kids and their messed up lives and how in the end things are still messed up but at least they've changed. I don't know when YA became about MC teens who belittle their peers for living different lifestyles. It sucks.

Young people should write more, or old people should write more authentic young people stuff. There's just gotta be more honesty in YA, period. But that's just me having an opinion!

And now I leave you with the song that embodies everything young and everything awesome.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes a writer just needs to cry.

Yes!! Yes! yes. It's been one of those days.

I'll say this again; everytime I get a rejection on a partial or full I FRICKING LOVE the feedback I get. It inspires me to do better, write better, write and plot and think harder, longer, faster, stronger, that one Daft Punk Song Kanye Sampled, etc.

Just the fact that agents are actually reading my stuff - MY STUFF - is surreal. Sometimes I have to go; OKAY is that really a request for more material in my inbox? Really? Am I just tripping on Dayquil again? NO?! WHOA SO IS THIS LIKE FULL BLOWN REALITY OR SOMETHING?!

So, man. I totally understand when I get rejected. I do. It's a tough world out there. I do my best. We all do our best. At the end of the day, as long as you honestly did your best, that's all you can do. My writing isn't exactly really awesome. It's got a long way to go, sometimes I just kinda wish I had an agent to help me along in that process, you know? I feel like I can't do it all on my own, when everyone says you SHOULD be able to.

So, I love rejections because they seriously give me the best writing advice.

But they also make me cry.

And that's swell! I think crying is just as important as like...breathing. Espeically with writing. As soon as I get done crying (THIS ROUND LASTED ALL OF FOUR MINUTES THAT'S A LONGEVITY RECORD) I get up, determined to write more, faster, better, harder, see above with that one crazy picture.

I think writers should cry a lot. I think if you don't, that's kinda like you're missing out on the best parts. Like a cake without the ice cream, or the chili without the rice, or the pasta without the sauce...can you tell I'm hungry?

If you have to cry, CRY. I'm giving you permission! (:D) It's a tough freaking industry! You wrote an awesome book! You did your best! You've done what not many people even have the time to do! You sacrificed lunch hours and free time and friend time just to do this! You worked really hard! You are good! You are the best! Go ahead and cry, damnit. You deserve a quiet moment to yourself to appreciate your works and accomplishments, no matter how small, with tears. Someone, SOMEWHERE out there will love your book! They won't just say 'it's not my cup of tea', it won't just be another mediocre disappointment for them, they'll actually LOVE it! Can you imagine that?! Neither can I, but it will happen one day for you lovely writer people!

Oops - was supposed to be catching up on backlog at work. :P


Monday, February 28, 2011


I've been catching up on my reading pile (some new, some old), and something is nagging in the back of my head because of it. I read a total of four books this past month, all YA. Here's the most important bit;

I don't remember the main character of any of them. NONE of the main characters stuck with me, or in my head. If you asked me to sit down and describe them, I could give you vague details about the color of their hair or eyes, but that's it.

This is bad.

I'll admit it right now - my memory is less than stellar. My short term is confined to what I ate, and my long term is busy remembering who I've queried or not, but the space where I keep literary main characters is flawless. Spotless. Excelsior. A good/even somewhat decent main character will stick in my mind because I have that knack. (Nevermind math, I remember the direly IMPORTANT stuff; IMAGINARY PEOPLE).

But these past four books, I don't remember their MC at all. This means one of two things;

1. On all four books, I just wasn't paying attention enough. (Not likely.)

2. The MC's just really blow.

'Blow' is a subjective term, and when I use it my age becomes evident - too young to drink, but old enough to have read a lot of books. I'm a product of the Power Rangers and Sailor Moon era, for those who know their decades of TV.

So these MC's blow. When I say that, I mean they were one or all or a mixture of the following;

1. Were merely a vessel for the plot to work out of

2. Had no defining characteristic traits, or traits that were muddy, undefined, or otherwise altered to fit into the story

3. They were blatant Mary Sues thinly disguised by attempts to NOT be a Mary Sue and therefore rendered even MORE Sue-ish.

4. All four MCs were girls, and this means that they also might have been 'living' through their love interest. The author, at times, made their relationship the most important thing in the book, and as such the MC suffered character loss for it.

5. The MC was a repugnant, idealized, 2D, or inaccurate representation of the modern teenage female.

6. The MC and her 'voice' were simply a amplification device for the author to express their own stands on things, such as divorce, materialism (which apparently many of the MCs approved of), and stereotypes (ironically, if the MC points out that she 'doesn't get stereotypes', this is often an indication that the author is trying to make her NOT look like one, but it has the exact reverse effect).

7. The MC was racist, and described everyone who wasn't white as 'creepy' or 'disgusting'.

8. The author frequently seemed to forget who's head they were supposed to narrating out of - theirs or their MC's.

You can see why I didn't name names. :P I'm just entirely appalled by the state of YA MC heroines at this point. Dear industry, can you still recognize a truly 'strong' female MC and publish her? Is the YA industry still being written for young adults, and not older adults who enjoy YA? The last MC I enjoyed was in Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red, and that was when I read it over a year ago. Since then, I have yet to read a female MC that I enjoy and would like to know in real life if she was real.

I may come off as picky, but if I can't remember even one decently built character detail about your MC, something is wrong.

C'mon writer friends! Shake it up for us, your loyal readers. We're RAPIDLY losing interest in your silly Buffy-clone MCs. ;)

Note: This is not to say my own characters are perfect. They actually kinda fall into a lot of those catergories I mentioned above. XD I'm working hard to perfect them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes a writer just needs to putz around.

Whew. WHEW. Children, it has been a long time.

Meaning, of course, I haven't written an entry in like...four days. Terrible. I can feel the lack draining me mentally! I can also feel my abilities of sarcasm slipping away as we SPEAK.

Today I'm going to talk about improving. Ooh, scary, I know. Tres scary. Scarier than the first time you watched The Shining and didn't know what happened at all until it happened and you went OH GOD IS THAT AN AXE.

Writing a whole new book definetly helps me improve as a writer, personally, but its sometimes hard to try new things or throw in a new curve in an prolonged work like an entire book. You generally start out with an idea and style in mind and then run with it to keep consistent. By the end of the book you might've improved a bit, and that's great!

For me, real improvement comes during writing short stories. I write articles for a living and stories for pleasure (right now, anyway, but one day-!!) and sometimes I just get burned out on writing in general, which is where short stories come in.

It's important that you write what you love. If you wanna write that goddamn Buffy fanfiction, you write it. If you wanna write a haiku about your love for smoked gouda (I LOVE SMOKED GOUDA!!!!!!) then write it! The pace and tone might surprise you. I've been making little drabbles and liking them a lot. There's no pressure to make a great book that will grab agent attention, live up to expectation, and then sell like hotcakes. There's no angsting of 'is this the right genre', or if the character is 'believable' or 'unique' enough.

It's hard to remember why we love writing in the first place, and it can get lost in the little details and the desire to publish. I'm reminded of why I first started writing when I take a breather and write little blurbs free of restrictions or worry.

Sometimes I think of writers like conducters of orchestras - meting out what tone should be louder and which should be softer, and keeping the beat overall, and the feel of the piece is communicated through every tiny movement of your hands. It's our job to weave the sounds together in a way that transmits many different feelings.

Which explains why I stand up and motion wildly in the air when writing sometimes, right?


(not really.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't you ever delete, damn it.

The journey is the important bit, right? Not the destination.

That's what they say, anyway. It's 100% freaking true.

For writing, and becoming a writer, the road ends only with death. We might take breaks from it, we might rage at it a bit and have a spat, but we are writers because writing is our life - which means writing only ends when our life does. Our journey might have milestones - like getting an agent, getting published, winning awards etc - but the journey never ends. We can always get better. We improve with every word and every day.

What I like most about blogs, and writer blogs specfically, is I get to follow the journey. From the celebration of completing a first chapter, all the way up to announcing a publishing deal. It's exciting, endearing. It's watching history in motion.

I know a lot of authors have this change they go through once they get an agent - their blogs might diminish, or they might start a whole new one. They might delete the chronicles of their journey, and that's horrendous!

If nothing else, keep the chronicles up for those of us working our way up from the bottom - they inspire us more than you know. They give us hope, fire, drive, and determination. Sometimes they keep us hanging on longer than our own willpower allows. Even if the entries are a bit raw, or disorganized, that's okay. Improvement does not happen overnight - and that's what deleting your past tribulations makes it seem like.

There's a certain beauty in watching growth firsthand!

I love this journey. It hurts, but that's okay. We're all in it together, all being hurt and helped together. I wouldn't be able to do this if I was alone. I'm not.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I declare this the Week of Amazing. (And literary monsters!)

This week has been made of win. Allow me to explain.

First, fellow lovely AWers Chanelle and Lindsey got 'The Call'! Two awesome writers repped by two awesome agents! Congrats ladies!

Secondly, I'M MAKING FIG-CHOCOLATE CAKE. (This is the most important part, obviously.) The fig tree in our yard has made a few fruits! I don't like raw figs, but baking with them is divine. They do for baking what mushrooms do for cooking - absorb flavor and eek it out in bits as the heat gets to it.

Fig-cream is DELICIOUS. I could eat cartons of the stuff. I make my own with heavy cream, figs, cinnamon, and vanilla. Whip it all together until it forms stiff peaks. Oh gosh, I'm drooling a little just thinking about it. Still haven't ridden that bike yet. :'D

Thirdly, I can't stop listening to this on repeat. For hours. It's just gibberish...but it's Hypnotizing?

As I'm writing this new WIP, I realized something! My favorite part of writing, more than building characters, more than world-building, more than plot-creation, is making the monsters.

Monsters are more commonly referred to as 'antagonists'. Antagonist, in the classic sense, is a bad guy. Someone who pushes AGAINST the fabric of normalcy, messes it up, has plans for it, wants to control it, whatever. The cut-and-dry antagonist is just evil for the sake of being evil. It could be a group of people, an empress, otherworldly demons, a crazy police officer (looking at you, Stephen King), or the devil himself (Looking at you again, King. :D).

I like crafting my monsters. I like giving them more heart than the average bad guy. The average bad guy who's bad just for the sake of it is what we're warned against as writers. Swell writers know a bad guy isn't simply bad - they have just as many layers as the protagonists. We strive to craft multi-layered cakes of black that we can call THE BAD GUY with pride. Our monsters are just as precious to us as our characters.

Maybe not. Maybe a monster who rapes and pillages isn't loved by the author who crafted him. Maybe it's hard to love that monster because of the despicable things they do, but you might come to love them in your own way. You know that in the end they'll still get speared through the heart with a falling beam, but you love their death equally. It is because they die that you love them. You love their story, whether it sickens you or not. Maybe moreso.

I was taught the most dangerous monsters are the agents of chaos. The ones who have no morals, no qualms, no connections to this world, and no regret. They can do anything, anywhere, to anyone, without a single logical reason. That is the monster king. They impose no limits on themselves, and you impose no limits on them.

But at least you can predict unpredictability.

To me, the scarier monsters are the calculated ones. The ones who have a goal.

I always give my monsters a reason. They aren't always the black cake. They are the gray cake, too. The in-between. Good and evil are relative. I think in my books I have this facsination with survival. I send this message that survival trumps 'good' and 'evil'. Survival has no morals, no limits. Everyone is just trying to live in the best way they can. My monsters are trying to survive too, and they're better-armed, better-built, and just a bit more ruthless than the average person.

Sometimes concepts for monsters are born when I'm just talking with people. I was doing a paper for Psych 101 a year ago, and I found myself on a part of the textbook that talked about people that were cut off from their emotions, as in physically incapable of feeling anything. I asked myself; what would take the place of emotion? The person would be made of all memories, and no emotion. Survival would take first importance. Clinical curiosity, too. Maybe the person would even try to blend in with other people by imitating their facial expressions or speech patterns, just so they wouldn't be harrassed or treated suspiciously all the time. If you took away those emotions, what would that person be?

The answer; an organic machine as nature intended. It's purpose; procreate as much as it can before it dies.

Then I thought what a race of these 'organic machines' would be like. Things just progressed from there, until I got a whole story based around them. I made their exact opposites, too; people with no memories but all emotion. They are conflicted, internally tortured and confused, and full of rage that devolves and corrodes to eventual insanity.

Monsters: Best Made By Questioning Everything. How do you come up with yours?

I hope everything is going well for you wonderful people. I wish I could send you all a piece of this cake. :3

Also, I read another very astute article that said 'Only readers have the luxury of reviewing, not writers'. It had some good points I couldn't refute! So you might notice my blog has gotten a little shorter and a little less negative-reviewy. I mourn the death of my self-expression a little, but I'm sure this'll be a good thing.

Also, the parentals have hijacked Facebook. I don't know whether to cry or....weep and dramatically melt into the floor.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In which the author takes three chapters to get into what she's writing. (Also, a farewell to a querying WIP.)

I started out not liking this new WIP at all. I wrote it well, but my mind was still in query-land with my finished WIP. I constantly compared my new WIP to the querying one, and I never thought the new WIP would amount to anything! I was convinced it wouldn't be as good.


But I kept going on. To avoid riding the extreme high/lows of the rollercoaster that is querying and keep the ride kind of even, I kept writing. Plowing through this novel I was convinced was crap all around.

But then came chapter three. Out of nowhere. At 2am in the morning. After a long, hard, exhausting day at work where all I wanted to do was collapse in bed. The writing just flowed right through me. Nothing like that has ever happened to me, ever. It was an exhilarating experience. I...I don't even think I can describe it, there is no other feeling to compare it to, except maybe getting a huge bar of chocolate, or finding out you actually got an A on that test you thought you failed, or that the cop who pulled you over is deciding not to give you a ticket, or...

...or drinking a whole lot of kool-aid, or inhaling helium and singing on rock band. Long story short, it's awesome. New WIP is offically a cool kid. It can sit at our lunch table.

I'm excited to keep writing it! Is there a moral? If there is, it's to keep going. If your idea and your WIP is boring you, even though it has promise, keep going. You never know what you might come out with! I'm glad I didn't scrap this story. It might turn out to be even better than Querying WIP. (Sshhh, don't let him hear you say that though.)

It's also just about time to trunk the Querying WIP. It's been nearly three months! I've gotten no new responses, so I'm going to trunk it after one last round of queries. Maybe a long-reaching query will be sent back to me in a month or two, or maybe six. But as of this moment, it looks like FEAR ITSELF was probably not the right kind of book. What did I learn from this querying round? SO MUCH. I am so grateful for all the people giving me advice, the wonderful writer-friends I made, and I even got to correspond with a few AWESOME agents. I was incredibly lucky and learned a heapload.

So, FEAR ITSELF. RIP, good friend. It's time to get ready to say farewell. You were my first love, my first great plot, my first...everything. You were the beauty born of adversity. You made me into what I am today. You breathed the joy that is writing into my life. You helped me choose this path, and you helped me through a rough patch in my life. You kept me hanging on. You will be missed.

I'm teary. Gotta buck up and move on. :')

Also, I'm planning to buy some new books on Kindle! If you have any recommendations, let me know! I'm looking for DARK YA. Will read paranormal, but only if it isn't wishy-washy. No straight romances either! But please, recommend away. I'll buy whatever you wonderful people recommend. I also might review some of them.


After a lovely email from a concerned follower (;D <3 you) I should clarify that FEAR ITSELF has only been on query for three months, but it's previous incarnation was on query for more than seven. That's why it feels a little like the end for it! There's a point where every writer has to step back and see that her baby might not be what people are looking for at this point. It helps ease the pain if you prepare for it in advance. So don't worry, I'm properly preparing to mourn and cling to it with all the stubborn in my body. XD;

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Importance of bein' Honest.

Courage Wolf has a point here, but no. Today it's all about honesty.

There has been hullabuloo.

This hullabuloo has centered around a certain string of points made by various peeps, all of which may or may not have upsetted your little stomachs.

I am here to clarify what this hullabuloo is all about. Get me a cape with a huge C in it. The Clarifier is here to save the motherfuuuuuing day. (And if I had my way, Brandon Routh would be my co-star. Ahem.)


The clarification: Self-censoring actually sucks.

A blog is your personal domain. You can tweak the colors, the pictures, whatever you want. This applies to your posts, too. You, aspiring authors, may post whatever you damn well please. The one exception is as thus; It would probably not be wise to post rants that hurt/directly attack certain individuals or companies. This is true in real life, too. The old addage; If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it works wonders. If you HAVE to say something, say it to your clutch in the ladies room, or halfway between sips of mojitos. At least with the latter you can pass it off as tourettes. (I have passed many a snarky comment off as tourettes, I will admit. Other times, I blame it on stubbing my toe. See? You can be clever about this.)

Of course, we are creatures of opinion! I love opinions. I only really dislike opinions that say other opinions shouldn't exist. Opinions are the lifeblood of a human society. It is what we do best.

After this hullabuloo, I was also very tempted to go through my blog (some of which is very personal to me) and delete everything except the carefully looked over posts. Then I stopped. Why should I? They don't hurt anyone, and they are representations of me. If a blog is my personal space, what better to represent me than the entries in which I was myself? You can find a bunch of them on here, (to a bit of my shame) because I decided not to delete them. For now, they accurately represent me, my soul, and what I'm all about, yo.

The hullabuloo went on to say that posting any negative reviews of books is certainly not favorable. This had me making a face, mostly because I like reading reviews, especially if they are HONEST. Not negative, or right out sugarcoating, but HONEST. I wrote a review of a very popular book that may or may not have been glowing, but I'm not keen on taking it down. It is an honest review of a book I didn't like. Okay, good. I made up for that by doing a review of a book I DID like! It's all part of the balance.

The hullabuloo states that if you have any of these things on your blog, agents will probably reject you. I think what the hullabuloo meant was that you certainly have a lower chance of being offered rep by an agent who likes the book you bashed, and that is if they even do reasearch on you in the first place. Your blog represents you, sure, but it should not represent a santizied you. You do NOT want to lie to an agent or a fellow reader/writer/author/follower by presenting a facade. When they find out it's not who you really are, things could get quite ugly.

As you can tell, I'm the sort of person who's the 'you get what you see' type. Heheh.

Honesty is a great truth. Writers are oftentimes liars, sure. We have to be. We lie to make a story that doesn't exist, but that doesn't mean it isn't sincere, or genuine, or even based a little in truth. You can lie and build facades in your writing, but if you don't really mean it or it doesn't fit, it will show. The reader WILL pick up on it. Write your lies for the good of your writing, with heart behind it, and never lie about the person you are. There is no reason to lie. You are a wonderful, talented human being. Hiding and lying is like refusing that fact.

I want to meet real people, and real stories.

And if you really have to rant, there's always the draft section. ;)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A little bit of a silly new WIP.

This the just the first couple pages of a silly, flashinglights clubmusic mudandpoop honestsexy sort of WIP. I'm not quite sure where it's going, but it makes me laugh when I write it, it's more for my enjoyment than anything else. These characters, also, practically wrote themselves! (Tentatively it's titled DEMON CLEANERS, but it deserves something wittier! Maybe, "I'll Never Get This Demon Out of My Shirt, Will I?" or, "Demon Spit Only Comes Out With Bleach, Darling." If you've got something along that line, drop it in the comments! You'll have my eternal LUVVVVVVVVVVV.)

I guess this is kinda like an early Teaser Tuesday, huh? Well, I hope you enjoy!


snipped for great justice!!!


Oh, Garron. You are silly and I like writing you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In which someone totally random likes your writing.

Starbucks, 10:34 AM, Monday

Person: "Whoa!" *Admires my laptop, then sees the giant crack in the screen* "How do you see anything like that?!"

Me: *Chortling into my poison of choice, a caramel frappucino* "I...sort of position the windows so I can see through the cracks. It works pretty well! This is just my writing laptop, so..."

Person: "Oh, you write? Cool, cool. What kinds of books?"

Me: "I'm not a real author just yet, but...uh...Young Adult books, mostly." (I say this and almost cringe, thinking they'll scoff.)

Person: "Nice! So, like Twilight, or like Looking for Alaska?"

Me: *Struck silent with shock that they know a YA book other than Twilight* "Well, there's fantasy in it, but it's contemporary fantasy set in a suburb..."

Person: "So more like City of Bones? I'm picky about my books, but I liked that one."

Me: *brightens* "Yeah! It's actually been compared to that by the people who read the manuscript! Except my main character is a rude punk who's being chased by the government, and there's aliens."

-Here's where we talk for two hours about books, and I nerd about the details of my book. The Person reads the first chapter on my broken screen while I check my mail surreptiously on my phone-

Person: *Looks up when she's done* Can you send me an email when this comes out or something? Seriously, when you get published email me and tell me it's out so I can buy it, okay?

Me: *feels a little like exploding into a pile of happy goop right there*

Honestly, random affirmations that what you're doing isn't so useless after all are so, so great. The high lasts for hours! I'm still smiling from this, and it happened YESTERDAY. It means a lot to me. Writing means a lot to me! But when someone completely unrelated to you likes your writing, genuinely? That's even better. That's the best. That's all I could ask for.

Keep it up, writer-friends. Whether you're published and wading through that next book, riding the submission-train around, struggling to write the perfect query, or still tenderly caring for the baby seed that is your unfinished WIP, just remember that I like your writing. I send it unending love and encouragement from a million miles away. I, me, this one small person in the sea of many, likes your writing. I love your writing.

Someone once told me success isn't a number, it's a heart.

(It's not a lake, it's an ocean.)

I think I understand now!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

It is thundering and lightning-ing outside my house right now! The windows are shaking in their frames, and all of it adds up to a very good reading atmosphere. I made tea and chocolate chip mac nut cookies. I think I'm in love with spoiling myself.


RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Think Mean Girls mixed with Sloppy Firsts, and a bit of black-and-white movie aficiando flair.

Girl meets bitch. Girl grows up with bitch. Bitch betrays girl. When the opportunity arises, Girl decides to hit back, and hit hard.

Helen has hippie parents, a more traditional grandmother, and the best friend (Lauren) she grew up with who always took advantage of her. Due to her dad's work, Helen hauls ass to another state just as Lauren betrays her in a classic 'I wanna be popular, so I'm making you the scapegoat' move. Long story short, Helen will be hated at the high school she's leaving behind for a long, long time. OF COURSE life makes her come back to it, and OF COURSE Helen's going to take opportunity of her puberty transformation to invent an alter-ego and exact revenge.

Except in this book, revenge isn't best served cold - it's best served chock-full of humanity.

Helen and I have disturbingly alike upbringings - at least one of our parents are radical hippies. While mine weren't quite that BAD (Helen gets a dripping fish-oil brownie sent to her via Fed-Ex from her ever-thoughtful mother), there were similarities enough that had me chuckling. Helen's coming of age (period) is greeted with wine and moonlight pagan ceremonies, and that's what mine was, word for word. Helen and I shared in the awkward 'I have a smelly hippie for a parental unit' thing. We bonded.

Character-wise, Helen is solid. She's tons relatable and just snarky enough to keep you reading on. What's more interesting than her original character make-up, however, are her moral issues with herself as the book wears on - she's relentless in her revenge save for the last few chapters, and those are the moments where we get to see the real Helen. Those are the moments Cook hammers the humanity home most fiercely. She weaves it in bits and pieces, othertimes.

Supporting characters? Believable, if not a little cliched - Bailey is the standout cliche good girl hanging around with the mean popular girl. Brenda's transformation is awesome, from nerd to drama nerd in the course of a few months, and with all the disapproving qualities of a best friend, to boot! Christopher is the ever-dreamy, smart cookie loner, the Heath Ledger with a heavy dollop of suspicion. For some reason I imagined him Middle-Eastern looking...?

The thing with revenge novels - you get to know the nemesis just as well (if not better) than the hero. The nemesis DEFINES the hero, and the book reminds us of that constantly. Helen is a solid character more defined by her hate than anything. (A hat tip to the Count of Monte-Christo. Helen's alter ego even has the same last name; Dantes.) Helen compares nicely to Jessica Darling of Megan McCafferty's series, but without all of Jessica's quirkiness. Helen is the more subtle, more supportive, and less self-absorbed version.

The revenge is not too mean, if you look at it in the larger scheme of things. The whole book's theme was that 'everything happens for a reason', and the revenge acts as more of a cauterization than a 'poke-some-salt-in-that-head-wound-Johnny'. It's good, therapuetic for everyone involved.

Honestly? I liked it! I breezed through it, Cook's writing is sparse, need-to-know sprinkled with just a dash of lemon wit to keep things interesting. While the spiritual metaphors were all but pointed out with Vegas signs, and the foreshadowing a rather blunt hammer to the side of the head, their impact was much more elegant. Nothing was overdone, or underdone.

The book gets one half star off for leaving me wanting more. It was an entertaining, absorbing read, but I wanted MORE from it. For a YA book there was little to no drama, and even less melodrama, but I kept expecting it! Maybe it's just my taste, but I wanted the deep to go a little deeper. In a way, it's perfect how it is as a reflection of this modern era - quick, fun, carrying just a hint of a deeper message with the overall message being; take absolutely nothing too seriously.

I read previous reviews, and some people were upset with the drinking/party scene, which tells the world quite frankly what American teenage parties are; sex, booze, and a blatant disregard for anything, let alone themselves. As a just out of teenagerdom young adult, I'll tell the naysayers this right now; it's a lot worse, folks. Cook downplayed for ya'll. Seriously.

This book was never gritty or dark, but it was never meant to be. It's a perfect slice of karmic life - and how it always winds up not neccessarily BETTER than it started, but definetly different.

The final verdict? Keep it comin', Cook. You know what you're doing.

There's even something in here that struck me as a metaphor for the writing world, almost. Maybe it's because I'm in the midst of querying, but I found some comfort in this awesome passage, and I hope all you queriers/writers/awesome authors do too.

"So the astronaut goes into an air lock. It's sort of a waiting room. They suck the oxygen out, and then when the pressure is equaled they can go outside the spaceship, and then they do the same thing in reverse when they want to come back in. It isn't instantaneous. The transition takes some time. Go too fast and someone could get hurt; go too slow and you could run out of time."


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In which I wish I could finish Buffy, but my romantic sensibilities cry NOOOOO.

First off, if you're a fan of Buffy, please don't be offended by the following!

Secondly, Joss Whedon is snarkier than you, more imaginative than you, and on a bad day he conducts himself with more class than an 70-year-old New York Victorian socialite.

What I mean, of course, is he's good. Firefly is my favorite serialized TV show of all time. ALL TIME, guys. I don't even watch TV. Firefly dances circles around LOST, punches Dexter out in the eye, and sends True Blood back to whatever filthy coffin it crawled out of. The reason Firefly conquers all? It has something these kinds of shows rarely do - heart.

Yeah, okay, fire wind water earth WE ARE CAPTAIN PLANET aside, Firefly is never cold. It has a warm familiarity about it, whether that's brought on by the witty dialogue or relatively seamless chemistry between the actors, I'll never know. When I watch Firefly, I'm right there with the crew. There is no AUDIENCE-ACTOR division.

Which is why I even gave Buffy a try.

Buffy and Twilight share creepy similarities. Not in the way you think! TO ME, they are disturbingly familiar in one aspect - when Buffy gets together with Angel after episodes, I instantly got turned off. Same thing in good ol' Twilight. Bella and Sir Disgusts-a-lot Edward get together after...two chapters (?). I instantly knew something was wrong - this book and this series were not for me.

Maybe it's my background of writing stories where the MC and her Love Interest are enemies/oblivious to each other/can't be together due to circumstances for the entire story. If they ever get together, be assured that the end of the story is nigh. To me, the instant the two get together, all tension is lost. All character-building struggles of pull-push fly out the window. Develop them each on their own, in their own way, the muse says, and then put them together when they feel ready.

Non-descript Love interests also irk me. Angel and Sir Disgusts-a-lot are the same in this regard, with caveats; Angel has a much more interesting past, which is supposed to 'define' him. But both are tasteless, substance-less, and essentially have no defining characteristics of their own. They're what I like to call 'Dummies', in the literal sense of the word - they are models for the reader/viewer to build upon their own fantasy. Instead of liking them for who they are, they like them for who they could be.

And that's not what a character is supposed to be. Characters have character. If anything, I write character-driven books. World-building is a little hard for me, but I'm trying and learning, and plots come naturally due to the characters.

So, SO! Warning bells always go off in my head when I read/watch a work where the MC and his/her love interest get together quick. I don't know why, but I lose interest quicker than a wet sock loses interest in smelling good.

Which is why I can't finish Buffy.I got to the point where Angel comes back from the demon world, and seriously, I'm done. I just stared at the screen and went; "I'M DONE NOW." And shut the TV off. I dislike when characters get together too quick, but I dislike it even more when they exist solely to produce unproductive angst in the show. So I doodled on their faces.

For the record, I like Spike a lot better (angry, british, borderline psychotic, looks like a kitty, what's there not to like?). I know Buffy gets with HIM, later, and that Angel takes off to LA or something, but I'm physically incapable of suffering through another season of Buffangst just to see that happen. There's a fine line between angst and well-done angst, and I'm a purveyor of the latter. I write the latter. I will not stand for cheap imitations of the latter.

(Also, when Buffy Nice Boat'd Angel (as in drive a sword through his heart before kicking him into the demon portal), I cheered. I know, I'm a terrible person.)

Let it be said I like Buffy. She's a strong, womanly character. All the characters have character (save for Angel). Joss never failed me on the character aspect, or plot. (Though it got a little repetitive.) He failed me on the romantic interaction that slowly devolved to senseless overall angst!

Sorry Joss. Love ya, but not this time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Baking Bad.

(Get it? Intsead of Breaking Bad -? Okay. I'll stop.)

So, between my new job and querying, life has been pretty hectic. (New job is CRAZY hectic, agh agh agh) What little downtime I have I usually pour into writing (yeah!), reading ARCs (double yeah!), or a recently acquired vice; baking. (I SHOULD be riding the bike I got for christmas...but...uh...)

I've made everyone in the house gain at least four pounds. I'm apologetic because gaining four pounds is no fun period, but I am also a little proud of myself because the fact people are eating it attests to quality!

Baking is calming. Favorite recipe I've made so far? Banana-pumpkin walnut bars. Eventually, I want to get good enough/experienced enough to start making healthier things, with soy milk and wheat flour, etc, but retaining all the taste. For now, it's mostly white flour, but once I get familiar enough with how the ingredients work with each other, I'll be able to implement healthy stuff in! (Does that somehow a metaphor for writing? Is it is it is it?)

Right now, the greenhouse kinda erupted with strawberries, so I'm making a version of this;

with strawberries! And if there are more berries tomorrow - I'll try strawberry flan! I'm also growing vanilla bean, gonna dry it in my closet instead of paying $3 a bean at the health food store. (Have I mentioned I'm cheap? Because I am.)

As for writing - I'm being rebellious. A lot of people advised me to write an entirely new WIP, which I started, but I ended up starting to write the sequel to my querying novel. WHOOPS. WHOOOOPSSSSS. ISN'T THAT THE BIGGEST LITERARY NO-NO IN THE WORLD?! WHAT CAN I SAY, I LOVE THAT WORLD TOO MUCH TO LEAVE IT YET. I've tried over and over to go to the new WIP, but I keep getting dragged right back into the sequel. Evil, evil imaginary world of mine. Filled with...addictive substances.

Whenever I get a request for a full, (which I got today! YAY!) I get this hot, heavy sickness in my stomach. It burns, but in a good way - everything is hanging on your full. Before I send one, I obsess one last time, going over the manuscript in a fervor, knowing that it's as good as it will ever be, but this comma here is bad, and this sentence is too slow for the agent's taste, and oh god oh god it must be perfect even though it was perfect just a week agoooooooooooooo.

In the end, I send the same manuscript I finished writing last month, but it still feels WRONG. I still feel like I could do something better, even though it's the best it ever has been.

And then I remember the cake in the oven.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How I accidentally wrote a YA and why I'm never going back.

My very first WIP was completed on October 13th, 2009.

This is was what it ended up being;

(You'll have to forgive me, I've been dog-sitting three dogs for two weeks. I'm a strict cat person. I love the dogs, it's just this huge CULTURE shock, you know?)

This first WIP, as you can see above, wasn't worth ANYTHING, really. This WIP had a 34-year-old office-lady MC, and a really Sci-Fi plot. I queried, got 0 responses, and decided to rewrite it into a new WIP. The new MC was 15, the plot was convoluted and dense, and it was basically a YA protagonist in an Adult mystery/sci-fi setting.

Finally, after suggestions by a wonderful agent-who-shall-not-be-named who read the full but rejected it, I rewrote that WIP into Sightless/FEAR ITSELF, and it's now a full-fledged YA and it's right at home there. The story took nearly two years to get to this awesome point, but it was never, EVER intended to be YA.

There were two reasons for that; 1. I was always a huge fan of YA, starting with good ol' Harry Potty, but the influx of Twilight clones at the time had me convinced the only YA worth reading was contemp. I read only contemp YA, and I didn't want to write a fantasy YA in the slightest. And 2. I didn't want a typical YA heroine at all!

I didn't realize Sightless had become YA until halfway through the latest WIP. (Which is now out on query.) I despaired a little - not YA! I can't be writing a YA - a genre which is nowadays discounted as a flurried batch of Twi-clones and Potter-prints. If they're not one of those, they are either solid contemps or white-bread heroines poised to inherit some great power/live in a dystopian world and smooch two hot men fighting over her at once.

Of course, I've learned now that YA is much more than that, but a part of me died as I was writing Sightless. It was reborn, thankfully, with the single-minded goal of doing one thing - kicking those other heroines to the curb. My MC came out tough as nails, vulnerable in ways I couldn't imagine, and deeper than I ever thought possible. She wasn't just a symbol of my desire to see something fresh, anymore - she became a person.

I struggled with the fact I was writing a YA. It's a genre I both loved and hated, but I realized it was more than that - it's a genre I want to contribute to. A genre I want to help shape, pull back from the musty dark ages of heroines who let us down, generalize us, limit us with their carefully-crafted accessibility. I wanted to see characters again, and so I wrote characters.

I might've not done the best job, but I tried. And at the end of the day, that gives me faith in my writing. And at the end of all things, faith is the one thing that matters most. Oh, and hard work. OH! Luck too. OHH! And if an agent loves your work to bits, that also helps, too. ;)

As corny as it sounds; I didn't choose YA, it chose me. I don't think I could leave if I wanted to.

Hope 2011 is going well for you, lovely readers!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year of the Metal Rabbit and what it means for you kiddos.

I have no resolutions. I am a child of rebellion, REBELLION, I say! Also, the word 'resolute' is the first word in red ink on my rap sheet, with underlines. Right next to the 'loves muffins' bit.

As you may or may not know, I'm something of a Zodiac dork. The Chinese way of astrology is a particular weakness of mine. Don't want to go looking through dozens of articles on what the Chinese way predicts for us? Fear not! I make it my personal duty to scour countless articles released on New Year, and I've complied the gist of all of them here. ;)

This year is a Metal Rabbit year. Last year was a Metal Tiger year. Tiger years are generally filled with financial, spiritual, and political warfare. War is what defines a Tiger year. Rabbit, on the other hand, is a calm, reserved year known for its incredible luck, morseo than any other years of the Zodiac. We've waged the battle, and now it's time to split the spoils.

Expect good shit to unexpectedly happen for no earthly reason at all. Providence is warming up her guns and feeling random, and rest assured, she's aimin' at all of us.

It's a Metal year, so there'll be feelings of melancholy and regret. Metal years are notorious for producing great cultural and literary works of art ( :D We're looking at you, pub industry).

If you were born in the Year of the Rooster, things might be particularily frustrating. Rooster and Rabbit are polar opposites on the wheel, and contention runs aplenty between them. Dragon runs for second place on having a hard time. Most of the other signs look to have a decent year, with Goats, Pigs, Dogs, and Snakes having an AWESOME year.

Each sign has a differing element each year, so not only are you an animal, but you have a certain element attached to it. Those born in Water and other Metal years will find things smooth, while those born in a Fire year find things even smoother. Metal chops the element of Wood, and if you were born in a Wood year, it might seem like you find resistance wherever you go! Earth elements have nothing to worry about in any elemental year, they are the center of the elemental compass and remain relatively neutral.

In short, Metal Rabbit will be a lot better than last year! Metal+Rabbit=Robo-Rabbit?