Saturday, July 26, 2008 - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
I'm off for much needed R&R. I don't know if I'll have access to wifi. If I do, you may see me around the web. If not. See you next week.

So, pull up a beach chair, grab a drink and enjoy some rays.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wanna Dance?

Are you a lowly pig farmer that wants to learn to dance, or just a regular ol' person that needs to learn a few moves? Watch this dancing cockatoo, he'll show you how to shake your groove-feathers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lessons from Snark Camp: Skin Thickening 101

The contest in the post below has not ended yet, however, I think it's safe to assume that I ain't gonna win. Though I didn't expect to win the contest, I did expect my opening to fare much better. Instead, the majority ruled "No, didn't hook me."

Why did I expect better? this opening has been through the wringer. In the past year my prologue and chapter 1 have been critiqued by 2 editors (Caitlyn Dloughy S&S & Krista Marino, Delecorte) as well as my critique group (all who are very honest). Both editors invited me to submit the story once it's finished.

The editors were both encouraging and though they had plenty of constructive advice. The opening wasn't a concern for them. The same goes for my critique group and the others who have read my MS thus far.

So, I had to ask myself "What's the difference? Why has my opening made it this far unscathed only now to be rejected by the majority?

At first I wanted to just make excuses. But what good would that do? the people have spoken and these people represent the readers: the ones who buy the books or pick them up at the library. These are the voices inside the head of our editors and agents.


What can I learn from this experience?

Here's what I've learned so far . . . .

This contest was like a simulated slush pile. If we want to get a small taste of what an editor thinks when they have a stack of manuscripts on their desk, then just go over to the contest submissions and read each one. There's 114 by the way.

By time you get to submission #10, or sooner, you stop reading the whole thing. UNLESS . . . you really like it. There's a ton of stuff to weed through and you're not going to want to read it all. If it doesn't hook you right away, chances are, you're going to give up on it pretty quick. Editors and Agents don't have all day. If we don't hook them right away, lets face it. We aren't going to hook them at all because they aren't going to read any further.

I figure that I received positive feedback in the past because my MS was critiqued at a conference and a writing retreat. The editors were expected and paid to read all of what I submitted. But the reality is . . . had that MS landed on their desk with the stack of other manilla envelopes, had I just been another stack of paper in the pile, they may have very well passed it over because the opening didnt' hook them. My opening is fine when read in the context of the entire chapter, but the first 250 words by themselves . . . needs to be better.

You may have something that they very well could like. But if it doesn't grab'em right away, it may still be passed over.

For me, this is very eye opening. Why share my defeat? Why not delete the post below, pretend I didn't enter and try to hide my shame? Because this is apart of my journey as a writer. I want to improve and a writer needs to learn how to write for their audience. not just ourselves, not just the editors and agents.

Although the negative feed back stings a bit, it is also necessary for improvement. So I thank all who offered their opinions. I'm also thankful for those who had kind words to say, those words were balm to my wounded pride. ;0)

I do suggest that all who aspire for publication to submit to this type of contest. It's good for thickening the skin and it's also another good form of honest feedback. Things we all need if we're going to be published. I'm glad I entered and I learned a lot.

back to work on draft 4 (then 5, 6, 7 . . . heck! who knows how many it will be!) But I'm diving in!!!!! :0)

Thursday, July 17, 2008 - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
The Legendary Miss Snark has left a mark on her first victim, and she is ready to put the willing and the brave through literary boot camp -- Snark Style.

Miss Snarks First Victim is holding a first page contest "Hook a Secret Agent"

I, along with over 100 others, have entered. Submissions are closed and each entry is posted. Not only are comments allowed, they are strongly encouraged.

Hop on over by clicking here to check out the entries. Mine is #81

Tell me what you think.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Join my Revision Blog party!!!!!!!! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Last night I went to a coffee shop to work on chapter 23. It went pretty smooth and I was really excited to only have 4 more chapter left in my 3rd draft revision.

I came home to share my excitement with my hubby. His question (naturally): "So what happens when you're done with the 3rd draft?"

My reply: "ummm. . . I do a 4th draft." (wind goes out of sails upon this confession)

"Oh," he says "Doesn't seem like much of an incentive." (He's a very practical guy)

"hmmm. No it doesn't, does it." I admit, because he's right.

Revisions seem endless. but when I thought about it some more, the completion of my 3rd draft is huge. the 2nd and 3rd draft were filled with major plot and structure revisions. I expect that the 4th draft and on will be less intense. Perhaps more tedious, but less intense.

I ended up staying up late (or very early morning. . . whatever) and I COMPLETED MY 3rd draft!!!!!! whoooo hoooooooo!!!!!. OK. so maybe my reward is simply going on to the 4th draft, but I feel that I am much much closer to submission. Not to mention, I am nearly 2 months ahead of my self-appointed schedule.

So. . . who wants to celebrate with me?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Alligators in church

Book research opportunities can pop up when you least expect them.

On Wed. night I took the kids to the summer kids program at our church. Special guest speaker, Dan the Animal man brought some pretty awesome animals to show the kids.
The last to come out was the 130lb alligator! I must confess, I was just as giddy (if not more) when Dan the Animal Man said he would take the alligator into the foyer when the program was over so we could pet it and take pictures. Did I mention there is scene in my current WIP where my protagonist gets up close and personal with an alligator?
This was church, after all, so I tried not to knock the kids over as I ran for my turn to touch the alligator. ;0) I studied that thing! His eyes, his claws, the feel of his skin!!!!! Now I can go back to that scene and add more detail.

Who would've thunk it? Alligator research in church. You just never know when these things will come up. Just goes to show why I always need my camera and pen and paper where ever I go.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Best Descriptions Award! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I love a description that makes me laugh, makes me think or creates a vivid picture with concise creativity and even better yet, inspires my own writing. Let's take a moment to pay tribute to some favorites:

And the Best Descriptions awards go to . . . . . .

The Best Description of a person goes to (insert drum roll here)
Midnight Magic by Avi (vivid description, humor, reveals personality)
"Everything about Mistress Weebly was small: small body; small face; small gimlet eyes; small noes. Her smallenss was emphasized by her being dressed in an overlarge, soiled gown of green that reached her ankles- sleeves pinched at her wrists, apron over all, wimple on her head. It was as if she hada been dropped into a dirty sack and was spying out from it. Indeed, the womans only largenss was her curiosity."

The Best Description for Scenery goes to (insert bonanza theme song here)
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babit (great imagery and mood setting)
"The sky was a ragged blaze of pin and orange, and its double trembled on the surface of the pond like color spilled from a paintbox."

The Best Description of Sound (insert Bethovens 5th)
Kneeknock Rise by Natalie Babit (creativity, concise, vivid, breaks free of rain cliches)
"In the sudden wind, raindrops pelted his window like handfuls of berries."

The Best Descripton of a Dragon (Insert music to the chicken dance here)
Bitterwood by Janes Maxey (great visual imagery with concise language)
"His scarred skin sagged over his skeleton, under which his slender, wiry muscles moved like thick ropes."

Feel free to add any of your favorites in the comments! I loooove a good description

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You tell me: How do you get unstuck? - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
Can you tell what revision obstacle I'm facing today?

So . . . you are revising your story and you come to a spot where you know it's not quite right, but you don't know what to do with it. What do you do?

Take a walk?
Consult a favorite book?
Brainstorm with a buddy?

I usually go to sections of my favorite books that are a smilar scene to what I'm writing. That way I can see how my favorite authors wrote the scene and it inspires my direction. Some of my favorites are Shannon Hale, Avi, Natalie Babit . . .heck, there's too many to mention.

Apparently I also blog and check e-mails. I guess it loosens the brain. After all, blogging is to a writer what stretching is to an athlete. :0)

But I'm curious. What do you do?

UPDATE: Head on over to Jaqui's Room. She blogged a crazy-fun way to rocket launch yourself out of a rutt!