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?