Friday, October 31, 2008

One Last idea generator before NaNo WriMo starts

Custom Countdowns & MySpace Layouts

It's just hours away until NaNo WriMo starts so I'm going to fit in one more idea generator. This works weather you have an outline or not. It can even work for any project, not just NaNo.

I must admit, those of you who don't have a plan make me nervous. Not becuase I don't think you are capable of it. I realize some people work better that way. It's just the VERY thought of looking at 50,000 words in 30 days w/o a plan makes me ~twitch~ and my eyeballs go all cattywhompus; one big, one small, mouth open and drooling. (note to self: look into therapy for control issues) See the guy in the countdown ticker above? That's what I look like.

The only way I can get my eyeballs back to normal is to blog about writing plans.

So, w/o further ado . . . . Here's one more way to create an idea roadmap for your manuscript (NaNo or NotMo):

1) Find a book that you love and that you have already read.

2) Skim through each chapter (or selected chapters) and note the general story components that occur in that chapter.
The Hunger Games
Chapter 1
*Introduce two characters that bring out two extreme sides of the protagonists personality (such as her mother brings out her tough, angry side, while her sister brings out her softer nurturing side)

* Show backstory that shows us the relationship w/ these characters and examples of the extreme dualilty of protagonists personality.

etc. etc.

or in chapter 13 of the Hunger Games there is an unexpected source of help for the protagonist. That made me think hmmmmmm. . . . "Is there a person in my story that can be an unexpected source of help in my story?"

I'm not sure yet, but as I'm writing, I'll keep that mysterious "unexpected source of help" in mind.

You never know what you may come up with. Your "favorite" book doesn't even have to be the same kind of book as the one that you are writing. I broke down The Hunger Games, which is sci-fi, but the book I"m working on is a current day slice of life type-of-story. I'm surprised at how much I was able to adapt to my outline despite the difference in genre's.

Good luck!

I'm going to go see if my eyeballs are straight now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Plant an idea . . . and watch it grow: Generating an idea - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Need to generate an idea for a story or a chapter? Try looking through some quotes and see if any set your mind to wandering. Do any quotes create a vivid picture in your head? If so, STOP! Don't pass that idea by. Pick it up, dig up some soil, put that sucker in the ground, add some water and watch it grow.

Quotes can also help you focus on a chapter as well. Perhaps one quote may capture an idea that you want to convey in order to give direction to a specific chapter.

Here's some quotes that created pictures in my mind as I was preparing for NaNo WriMo. I'm going to use the premise behind the quotes in specific chapters:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Indiana Christy and the Plot of Doom: The Legend of NaNo WriMo - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more
6 and 5/8th seconds. That's all I had before the booby traps set off. I picked up the skeleton from its freshly dug grave. Not just any skeleton. It was the Skeleton of Thestoryinmymind. Yes. Shocking. I know. (But I'm Indiana Christy. I can get anything. well . . .except for a big mac at Burger King.)
The walls shook. Chunks of stone fell to the ground in plumes of dust.
I was out of time. I had to get out of there. Run! But I would NOT, COULD not leave without the skeleton.

Cradled like a wee babe in my arms, the bones of Thestoryinmymind clacked against each other as I bolted. I knew what was coming. The horror of all horrors. The wearwolves of Youkantdoothiz emerged, loathesome and angry from their stonewall tombs.

The most punishing odor filled the cave that put me in mind of egg salad. You know, like when you walk into the house and wonder "whoa! who isn't feeling good?" But it turns out that somebody just made a fresh batch of egg salad and even though it stinks you know it will taste really super good on fresh white bread, the kind of bread that is still soft and mushy and not stale in the least but the eggs still stink anyway. That kind of smell.

shoot. now I'm hungry.


Inch by inch, stone by stone, the wearwolves shook themselves free. Thriller played in the background as they moonwalked through the dank hallows of the cave; howling, prancing, breakdancing.

"No! No!" I cried as the Michael Jackson Lyrics caused a pounding in my head like a jackhammer on an alabaster egg.

"Must. . . get . . . skeleton . . . out . . . . of . . . cave" The light in the distance, no doubt from the open air, afforded me the strength to press on.

Wow! those wearwolves can moonwalk fast!

I looked ahead, where the forest trees kissed the mouth of the cave and as I reached my leafy sanctuary, the light of day caused my enemies to stagger and howl in retreat.

Safe. Safe at last! Now, I can find out if the Legend of NaNo WriMo is true. Legend says that the skeleton of Thestoryinmymind will come to life . . . if. . . If only I complete my task.

I have escaped the wearwolves of Youkantdoothiz. I am prepared. I have tools on hand. My plane is waiting. I shall now be on my way. . . on my adventure to the land of NaNo WriMo. . . . I will arrive on Saturday.

To Be continued . . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My life as a teenage time traveler

I should've taken the dogs for a walk. Instead I tampered with the laws of time and space. The good news is. . . I got pictures! :0) the bad news is that I ran into some relatives and it's questionable if I will continue to exist. My nose is starting to disappear as I type.

Anyway, while I still have some time left, I thought I'd post some pictures of my trip. Due to this whole "yearbook" picture blog thing that's been going on, I decided to have my yearbook photo taken in various years.

somewhere in the process of transport to 1974, my chin exploded and doubled in size. (note to self: don't listen to Red Hot chilli Peppers on an i-pod in the midst of time travel. random body part explosions may occur.)

This year left me with a little bit of that time-warp glow. It almost looks like a beard, doesn't it? No wonder I couldn't get a date. Not even with that FABULOUS hair-do!

This is me in 1968 and this little flippy-bob is like totally far out!

This is me in 1958
This was a good year. I learned to bake bread, type and do the jitter bug.

Note to readers: if you choose to travel through time, remember not to "bump" into your old self (very messy.) or alter history in any way. You might erase yourself on accident.

go to if you'd like to take a trip through time too.

Well, I guess I should go back to 1964 and see if I can get my nose back.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My life as a 6th grade dragon-maker

The current "tag" around blogland is sharing your senior picture. So. Here it is in all it's Aqua-Net glory. Looking at this picture I have to wonder how much of the ozone I am personally responsible for.

OK. But here's what I'm really proud of. A middle-school friend of mine (that I've reconnected with through Facebook) has been posting some pictures that have made me rather nostalgic. My best days of school were in 5th and 6th grade. One of my 15 minutes of fame was when I won a snow sculpture contest with 4 of my friends. Those were the days when snow was fun. As an adult, I've gladly turned in my midwestern snow shovel for a NC sand pale. I still like to make sculptures, though my preferred medium includes sunshine, ocean and a bathing suit.

P.S. That's me in the middle.

Anyway. This blog isn't fun when I just talk about myself. Now it's your turn to take a walk down memory lane. Do you have any newspaper or t.v. moments of fame? What are some of your proudest moments?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's a Blogabration!!!!! Let's hear it for The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover

Whooooo Hooooo *\o/* It's a blogabration for P.J. Hoover and the release of her YA novel The Emerald Tablet. It just came out, so I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it!

You can purchase a copy on Amazon (click here)

Visit P.J. at her blog by clicking here

and watch the book trailer posted below! As if I wasn't interested in the book already, the trailer intrigues me all the more.

Let's here it for P.J. and the Emerald Tablet!!!!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Evil puppet-master sock-nappers and other sock theories

First I will address the obvious:
*Yes those are a picture of our family socks
*Yes I took the picture
*Yes I realize that posting picture of my socks most likely indicates that I have some sort of blogging dependency problem. I will tackle that issue once my friends and family successfully carry out an intervention. (but they have to catch me first)

Now. Take a good look at the picture above. Notice anything? Like maybe NONE of those socks have a match!!!!!! Where did they all go? This is just one load.

Sure, recently I discovered that my 6 year old was using socks for Barbie dresses and sleeping bags but that only accounts for a handful of our missing footwear. What about the others?

I wonder if there are some evil puppet-masters that go around sock-napping freshly washed footwear in order to exploit them for their shows. Or maybe my house is a safe haven for disgruntled socks everywhere. Take a look at the picture. Maybe one of these socks ran away from your house and have sought refuge here. Perhaps I shall start taking individual sock pictures and putting them on milk cartons and junk-mail post-cards. MISSING SOCK!

Strangely enough, a friend brought to my attention (thanks John!) that there are web-sites like that explore the explanation of missing socks. Some of these include wormholes, communism, sock gnomes and my personal favorite is here in quotes.
"Quantum Theory of Socks"

SocksSchröedinger's Special Theory of Socks stipulates that not only do socks in a washing machine exist in all possible states for socks, but they also exist in all possible states for other objects. Theoretically, you have a jumbo jet, the remaining members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, and Friends, the Lindbergh baby, and God knows what else floating around in your washing machine. It's not really that difficult how to understand that if you suddenly leap into the washing room and yell "Boo!", the ur-laundry will suddenly have to resolve itself into socks. Which means that some of your socks will get it wrong, as the universe can be kind of slow on the uptake sometimes. So don't be surprised when in addition to suddenly missing socks, you also have three of some socks (of which you had two only a few hours previous) and some unidentifiable objects. This is why so many theoretical physicists are also raging alcoholics.

Now it's your turn. What's your theory?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

PlaNo WriMo before NaNo WriMo

I want to give a shout out to my critique buddy, Janelle. She is doing a series of planning for NaNo tips on her blog at

Janelle has done NaNo several times and she was also a Cybils judge last year for the fantasy/sci-fi category.

Click here to go directly to Janelle's blog.

Have you been doing PlaNo WriMo for NaNo WriMo? or are you more of a No Plan-i-mo for NaNo WirMo? OR if you don't do NaNo, how do you prepare for writing a new work in general.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tales from the conference: I wanna know your take on it!

Not only is Alan Gratz a talented author, he also makes a spectacular table-topper! (as pictured above. (sorry Alan. I couldn't resist.)

In Lieu of Alan Gratz's new release, I thought this also might be a good time to bring up Alana's break out session at the SCBWI Carolina's conference this past September. His subject: What makes a book young adult VS. middle grade?

His answer was pretty simple:

1) Age of protagonist: MG is usually 8-12 an YA is 12 and up.

2) subject matter/ The nature of the conflict

After 2 mintues he was ready to dismiss. ;0)

Actually, he did have some great advice on what concerns MG have VS. YA, but here's one thing he brought up. Alyssa Eisner Henkin brought up the same thing. They both said that while we want to be original we should be familiar with what is on the New York Times Best seller list and what is on the shelves at Barnes and Nobles. These places will tell us what is selling. What's hot.

As a preface, I must say I completely agree. But here's the thing. The buzz question around the conferences was "WHY?" if you want to be original why care about what is fad?

I have my own theories, but I want to hear it from you. What good does it do to be up to date in current trends?

Personally, I think it's good to know what publisher are into what topics. Who is publishing what. In addition, I've been shocked at how few original idea's there are. There have been at leat 3 changes I've had to make in my current WIP because I've read a book and somebody already wrote something similar to it!!!!! Can you believe it! They stole my idea before I even wrote it!!!! So I had to change it so I could seem more original. So, being up -to-date not only lets me know what is hot, but also helps me realize that I'm not as clever as I would like to think. :0P

What's your take on it? Why does it help you to be up to date on current MG and YA trends? Inquiring minds want to know!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Something Wicked, Something Rotten: Something goooood!

Alan Gratz, my fellow Carolina SCBWI'er and all around nice guy, deserves a Shout Out! Now through the month of November you can listen to his book SOMETHING ROTTEN" online and it won't cost you one single cent! Click on the picture of his book cover to go straight to the link.
You can read my review of SOMETHING ROTTEN by clicking here.

But wait!!!! That's not all. Alan has a new book coming out this week. Gratz's Horatio Wilkes Mystery series is a clever modern day twist on Shakespearian classics. SOMETHING WICKED is said to be "Macbeth as you've never seen it before."

Look for it in stores near you!

Monday, October 13, 2008

When the fog lifts at sunset: Contrasting Characters

The fog ran away!

Two years ago my husband and I were in Arizona for a business trip. We had a couple extra days and decided to see the Grand Canyon. Neither of us had seen it before. We drove and drove and drove, and when we got to the canyon we couldn't see a friggin' thing. It was too foggy. My husband had always wanted to see a sunset at the Canyon. It was near sundown, and we were freezing. Who knew Arizona could be cold?! Certainly not this Carolina girl!

Anyway, I wanted to go back to the car. But my husband wanted to stay for the sunset. CrAzY man! We couldn't see the sky for the fog.

But wouldn't you know, as if on cue in a movie, with only a few minutes until sundown, the fog rolled away and cleared the canyon. "Rolled away" isn't the best way to describe it. If clouds had feet, it would have been more like running!! Or as if God himself were pulling back the curtains for an unveiling. We got to see the sunset. The picture above is the contrast of the fog clearing. I had hoped to get more of the fog in the picture, but that's how fast it was moving! You can see in the left corner how little could be seen.

This is part of the sunset we saw. Pictures don't do it justice.

Contrast is striking. A fog clearing at sunset made this moment memorable.

Contrasting characters do the same thing. They accentuate your protagonists personality and make them memorable.

One thing I've noticed while reading THE HUNGER GAMES is that Suzanne Collins uses a lot of contrasts in characterization. Right away the story starts with two people who are driving forces behind Katniss (the protagonist) Both forces bring out dual sides of her personality

THE MOTHER: a source of bitterness and hardship for Katniss
HER SISTER: brings out her softer side.

Then later we meet PEETA: The boy who saved her life years ago becomes someone who is plotting to kill her.

These contrast bring out the best and worst of Katniss and heighten the tension in the story.
So, the lesson I learned from THE HUNGER GAMES is to deliberately use characters as a painter uses colors or as God used a fog at sunset.

The results can be breathtaking!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Hunger Games book Trailer

I finished THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins this weekend. All I can say is WOW! What a ride. The book trailer is pretty cool. Check it out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A lizard moved in

I admit, I have a soft place in my heart for all creatures, even the ones that shed their skins and don't like to be held or pet. And I'm thrilled because it seems as if the lil fella' in the picture above has picked my plant as a home.

One day I put this plant on the porch while I mopped my floor. when I went to move the plant back inside, this lil guy was there. I didn't have the heart to shoo him away . . . so I waited til the next morning. He was still there. and the day after that and the day after that.

"Why didn't you shoo him away?" you might ask. My answer is this. I really liked seeing him there. Whenever I look out the front window or go on the porch, I check to see if he's there. He usually is and I'm disappointed when I dont' see him. I even got to watch him shed his skin one day. It's to the point where I don't want to bring the plant in, even if he isn't in there, because I dont' want to take his home away.

I think I want to give him a name. What's a good lizard name?

I know he'll soon go away and do whatever lizards do during NC winter, but until then, I want to give him a name.

I love him. ;0)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If you've EVER been to my blog, you HAVE to answer this question! I'm curious

I'm just curious. How many of you have hit the button on my side bar that says "DO NOT PRESS?"

Whenever I see it, I just can't resist. I HAVE to press it. Am I the only one? I mean, now that it's been there for a while, I don't have to press it every time, but at first, I couldn't stop! It amused me.

Voting is anonymous, but if you'd like to leave a comment, go for it! :0)

please, satisfy my curiosity.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tales from the Conference: More advice from Agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin

November is upon us: The month of NanoWrimo. For those not in the "Know" this is National Novel Writing Month where bunches of writers from all over the world commit to writing a novel (approx 50,000 words) in one month. This is a BIG undertaking, but I've decided to take the challenge with a new idea that's been bouncing around my head. The good thing about NanoWrimo is that you are just supposed to get the idea out. You aren't supposed to worry about the pesky editor in your head, grammar, punctuation. The only thing that matters is that you get your idea onto paper. Once December and the new year arrives. Then you can work on fixing what you've written.

Alyssa represents an author, Jessica Burkhart, who sold a story that was written during NanoWrimo. Alyssa's advice to those willing to take the challenge: to make October the National Month of Planning for NanoWrimo. Make an outline, do character sketches, whatever you can do to know your characters and have an idea where you are going. I'm going to call this PlannoWrimo! :)

So, that's what I've been doing. I've been outlining my project and trying to understand who my characters are and what makes them tick.

Anyone else up for the challenge?

Due to the challenge, my blogging will most likely take back seat. However, I love my connection to blogland and my blog friends. When I read posts and comments I feel like it's the equivalent of meeting my buddies in the cafeteria for some chat time. So, in honor of NanoWrimo, the upcoming Christmas season, and a shameless attempt to lure my blogging buddies over to my cafeteria table, I am going to do lots of book giveaways in November. A minimum of one a week. Some that I have on deck include: Secrets of Droon, SkinnyBones, an American Girl Mystery and more!!!!

Go NanoWrimo! Anyone else crazy enough to try it?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tales from the Conference: Agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin on pacing

What moves your story forward?

My mind must've been in Lala land this conference, because in addition to thinking about paper dolls being brought to life by us Good Fairies, I couldn't help but think of Slip~n~Slides when, Agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin spoke on the subject of pacing.

Alyssa suggested that a motif" can be like a roadmap to your story. A Character trait or some other motif can help move your story forward.

So, there I sat, thinking that the plot is like the slip~n~slide, the characters are the squirts of water from the hose and the motif is inflatable raft that takes the reader from the beginning to the end.

Once example she used was in "The Secret Garden" where the tantrums of the protagonist were a motif used to show us the progression of the the characters growth.

Well . . . I think the sovereign Lord of the universe is also sovereign over Blogland, because it just so happens that I picked up a copy of THE TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS by Tina Ferraro (hi Tina!) and I just finished reading it. Not only is it a fun read, but it is also a PERFECT example of using a motif to move the story forward. The motif is so strong, that it is even used in the title!

When Nicolette is dumped shortly before the Prom, she is left with a gorgeous dress that she does NOT want to return. So she makes a list of things that can be done with her unworn promdress. Nicotlette's mother encourages her to keep this humorous list as a good-natured way to deal with the disappointment.

The book isn't actually about the uses for the unworn prom dress. Instead, the list that she makes reflects what is going on in her life as she deals with boys, her relationship with her absentee father, her mothers inability to make mortgage payments, the strange behavior of her best friend, and all the other things going wrong in her life.

See, whaddidItellya! Perfect! So, study this book if you'd like to learn more about how to use a motif to move your story forward.

As always, I welcome any other "motif" suggestions or insights in the comment section!

Happy slip~sliding!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tension in the Break out sessions ~GASP!~ Poetry Blender

So, did my title for today's blog catch your attention? Did it make you wonder what the topic was about? I hope so, because I'm trying to apply what I learned about tension from my second breakout session with Author Mark Johnson. (Yes, we're now back to notes from my SCBWI Carolina's conference)

We were given a list of 10 rules for creating tension. I'm just going to focus on the first one. Maybe I'll touch on the other points on another day.

Rule #1 Start the tension ASAP!

So, I decided to look at the first paragraphs of two current books that many people are calling "page-turners" "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins and "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" by Mary E. Pearson. I wanted to learn how they create tension right away. Here's what I learned from their opening lines:

"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of reaping."

Create Tension by leaving hints. Make the reader wonder . . .: We don't know what the day of reaping is, but we know it's bad enough to cause bad dreams. We also know by the set up that there is a tenderness in the relationship between the protagonist and Prim. The reader is left to wonder about Prim and what may happen to this character later in the book.

"I used to be someone.
someone named Jenna Fox.
That's what they tell me. But I am more than a name. More than they tell me. More than the facts and statistics they fill me with. More than the video clips they make me watch.
More. But I'm not sure what.
"Jenna, come sit over here. You don't want to miss this." The woman I'm supposed to call Mother pats the cushion next to her.

These simple lines burst with relational tension and leave us wondering and wanting to know more.
Who is Jenna Fox? Why doesn't she know who she is? What happened? What more is there?
We immediately see inner conflict in the protagonist as well as conflict with her mother. These end up being key issues throughout the book.

1) Neither hit us over the head with facts nor melodrama. They reel us in nice and slow.
2) Both "hint" at the conflicts that drive the action forward through the entire book.
3) They start out making the reader wonder what's going on and makes us ask "questions"

Are there any other insights you can gain from these opening lines? I'd love to hear your insights!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Come with me to a place of fantasy

Brenda Posted a fun meme on her blog. Here it is:

Find a song that sums up what you think it means to be a writer and post the lyrics on your blog and why you've chosen it. It doesn't have to be your favorite song, it just has to express how you feel about writing and/or being a writer. It can be literal, metaphorical, about a particular form or aspect of writing - whatever you want. Then tag 5 others to do the same (reprint these instructions).

I'm tagging anyone who reads this blog (and you do not need to tag others), So, You!. Yea, you. The one with the eyes reading these words. TAG! You're it! ;0)

It didn't take me any time at all to choose a song. I already knew what to pick. Over the summer I made a slide show of our summer vacation set to this song. While I was making it, all I could think of was how much this song made me think of writing. So, here it goes:

PLAYGROUND by SIA (with explainations)

Come with me to a place of fantasy I'll take you on a seesaw. (I write fantasy and I want to take the reader along)
Come with me to a place that's by the sea, I'll take you upon a boardwalk.
Take my hand I'll take you to the sand, you and me will build a castle.
Ready set go, I'll race you to the wall, I will win I am the fastest. (I often have to tap into my inner child in order to write, and I want others to enjoy what I create. I want them to feel like thy aren't just along for the ride, but that they are apart of the ride.)
I don't wanna grow up, bring me all the toys you can find (this is reality. Growing up isn't fun!)
You don't wanna grow up, you can be my partner in crime.

I'll be sure to write you from the war, put your guns away its tea time. (I love the simplicity of this line and the different ways this can be taken. I think about going from one game to another, and how it's all about fun.)
Water bombs and tea towel tired moms, looking for a little me time (back to reality again. I'm a tea towel tired mom looking for a little me time. As a matter of fact, writing is when I hang up my tea towel and have "me time"
close your eyes and count to 35, you may never ever find me
close your eyes and then I realize you are never far behind me (again, bringing the reader along,hoping the story is interesting enough to follow, but not so confusing that they get "too far behind or want to stop reading."
I don't wanna grow up, bring me all the toys you can find
You don't wanna grow up, you can be my partner in crime.

Lets have fun let me out under the sun, will you take my hand lets see how far we can run
etc. etc. etc.

This is great! I feel inspired to write now! :0) Thanks Brenda

Click on the youtube below to hear the song. Enjoy!