Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Early birthday

A couple things: I saw Watchmen. I figured it would be just another comic book movie, maybe some cool stuff, but nothing all that new. It could have been a tad shorter; that aside, I really liked it. Dr. Manhattan's storyline was my favorite, but I don't want to spoil anything. It's not a movie for little kids though; it gets pretty graphic in a few different ways--which I also could have done without, but it didn't hurt the overall story for me. I highly recommend it. For grownups.

The Ichumon work has started, and it's sunk in now. It's just enough extra work to keep me busy without driving me insane. I'm having a lot of fun with it so far, and I'm still bouncy over being hired. :)

Annnnd the best news is that my parents gave me a car as an early birthday gift! It's used, but really, really nice. My old car wasn't horrible, but it had quite a few things wrong with it. The battery kept dying (always when I absoulutely needed to be somehwere too), and it wasn't an automatic, which I never quite got used to. I could drive it, but I didn't like it. Anyway, they found someone to buy that, bought the new one and then fixed it up themselves. My dad is good with cars, and my mom works for a company that sells autoparts, so their powers combined to turn a pretty good car into a great car. I love it! So needless to say, I'm extra super bouncy today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Very exciting!

I got hired as a staff writer on Ichumon! I found out last night, so I've been happy, bouncy girl all day. :) I don't think it has totally sunk in yet. Maybe when the work starts. I have to get MSN though. I've been saying I should for like 3 years now, so I guess it was only matter of time.

I've been slowly chipping away at the new manuscript. Up to 17,661 words. I think I'm gong to toss most of the first chapter though. I always have a hard time with those. I don't even want to think about how many times I rewrote the first chapter for Shades Of Blue. But I'm happy with how it came out, so I suppose it was worth the effort.

Also, I saw this today and thought it was cute:

It's like a popple!

Does anybody even know what a popple is? Those stuffed animals that turn into a ball? I think I'm dating myself here...

Anyway, how do you think they trained the cat to do that? If I told a cat to do that I would expect it to claw me and run away. o_o

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More potatos

Speaking of potato peeling, I couldn't sleep the other night so I turned on the TV and saw an infomercial for this:

That's the British version, because I couldn't find the American one, but it's the same product and the same demonstrations. If I tried to peel a potato (or whatever) back and forth like that, I'd slice my finger off. Who thought that was a good idea?

I do need a peeler though. I couldn't find one the other day for my dad's birthday dinner so I had to use a pairing knife. I peel at about the rate of 1 potato every 3 minutes. My 4 year-old niece asked if she could help, and when I told her she couldn't she insisted that she's good with knives. Good with knives? At 4?

While I was imagining her as the knife specialist for some secret pre-school ninja clan, my mom showed up and took over the peeling duty. She peels much faster. I must have bad hand-eye-knife-potato coordination.

I need to get some writing done now. I promise I'll move past the potato thing in my next post. :p

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Manuscripts and dirty puppies.

I've been working on a new story while I wait to hear back from Jen on my editing outline for Shades of Blue. For Shades I wrote 3,000 words a day, five days a week so I got the first draft done pretty quickly. I'm taking a bit more time with this one, which is good and bad. Bad because I can't help comparing time frames for the two stories and when I realize how much I still have to write, I feel like a slacker. Good because I have more time to get other things done during the week, like critiques for the wonderfully talented women in my critique group; or playing Ichumon, which I'm hopelessly addicted to; or blog writing (Hi!); or giving my dog a bath.

I wish I had a picture of that last one because she looked so miserable that it was adorable. You'd think I was trying to drown her. Next time I'll plan ahead for picture goodness. Anyway, she's been mad at me all day. Dogs are supposed to like water. It's not my fault she wants to be a rebel, or that she likes to scratch her back with dirt.

New manuscript progress: 15,716 words.

I have to go peel potatoes for my father's birthday dinner now. Oh how I hate peeling potatoes, especially for a lot of people. Isn't it a punishment in the military, or did I just see that in a movie?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stress Relievers: #1

I'm going to have another niece! My brother and his fiancee found out yesterday that their baby-on-the-way is a girl. This is their 3rd and I was hoping for another girl, so I'm pretty happy. Although I would have been happy with a boy too, you know how it is.

Finally #1, the best stress reliever of them all. You may have some guesses, and you are probably wrong (this is a PG13 blog, thank you very much). So that aside, I ask myself: What in t
he world makes me instantly happy and worry free? And the answer is:

#1 - Puppies!

The soft, furriness? The confused little head tilts? The pause, run, pounce move and the similar pause, surprise snap move? The tiny puppy teeth nibbling on you, your sock, or their favorite toy as they play? They way they stumble when they start to walk or run? How they sometimes sit and then fall over because they lost their balance? Little puppy growls and barks? Finding them sleeping in silly positions and/or places?


I could keep going, but I think you get the picture. Okay, I can't help it, a few more: How at the pet shop (yeah I know they're evil) all the puppies pile on top of each other to sleep and roll around together playing? There's one at the mall that lets all their puppies out every morning as they get ready to open the shop, and they have a glass storefront so you can see the big line of them trailing the store owner, doing all those cute puppy things mentioned above.


If you're a good owner and start training them early, it won't be long until they are cute and well-trained dogs. They may not do as many cute things as puppies, but dogs have their own share of great qualities.

If you're not such a good owner, you can still always play with someone else's puppy and then give it back for the hard stuff. This also works for children. :p

They tend to sleep a lot, so there's plenty of time to get the things done, and they're easy to keep in one place if you have a baby gate or are good at using what's around the house to create a playpen of sorts.

Poo on your floo
r until potty trained.

There's going to be some chewing, and leaving them home alone is risky (just ask my brother about his brand new couch).

Sometimes they don't sleep through the night, or whine if they get scared.

In other words, they don't come trained; they take a bit of work at first. But all these cons can be solved by playing with someone else's puppy.

One that can't be? Allergies.

Thankfully there are still puppy pictures:

Puppies - #1 stress reliever. Just thinking about them puts a huge grin on my face. They may not solve my problems, but they can sure distract me from them for a little while. Sometimes that's all I really need.

P.S. The picture isn't photoshoped.
Here's the story. Try not to smile at that, I dare you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Selling Yourself... a non-prostitutional way, of course.

There seems to be a lot of self-promotion in the publishing industry. Probably in other industries too, but it seems to be of the utmost importance for a writer. The fact is that unless a big movie studio is turning your book into a movie (Twilight), or you're already a very well established author who has proven your talent and ability to rake in the $$ (JK Rowling), you aren't going to get big advertising displays for your book, and reviewers aren't going to beat down your door to get a copy. Or even make a polite phone call.

You have to do most of the promoting yourself. Which in turn means learning how to promote both you and your book. The first major test for me came when I had to write a query letter to get an agent.

For those who don't know, a query is a one page letter you send to an agent, telling them in the shortest and best way possible what your book is about and why it's so awesome that they'd be crazy not to represent you. Except you can't say that last part, you have to prove it.

It sounds simple enough, but I can assure you, it's a NIGHTMARE for any normal human being. The pressure to make it perfect is overwhelming because it's likely to be your only shot at catching an agent's attention, and the amount of competition out there is staggering.

I don't care what anyone says, the opinion that if you're a good writer, you should easily be able to hammer out a query letter is wrong. For one thing, being a good fiction writer doesn't automatically mean you’re a good nonfiction writer, nor does it mean you're a good salesperson. But you have to find a way to make it work.

The good news is that there are things like Query Shark out there, as well as countless blogs and websites with tips on what to do and what to avoid. Here are a few things I found the most helpful:

-Research, research, research. If you're sending an agent a query you better be sure you know as much about them and their agency as you can. Google is your friend. There's not much point in sending queries to agents who don't represent your genre, aren't taking on new clients, or just aren't the right ones for you for whatever reason. Not to mention the vast amount of scams. Look for someone legitimate, someone you think will fit you and your story, and tell them (in two lines or less) why you chose to query them out of all the other agents. But don't make it sound like you'd be doing them a favor by letting them represent you either.

-Don't try to fit everything from your plot in the letter. Stick to the main storyline and character, highlighting what makes it interesting and/or unique. Also, agents are busy people; they want you to get to the point and hold their interest throughout the rest of the letter. Don't talk about writing being your lifelong passion (they know that) and only mention your writing experience and/or writing credentials if you have some worth mentioning. Otherwise, use that letter space to talk about your story. You'd be surprised how short one page actually is.

-Don't try to be cutesy or gimmicky. They've seen it. They don't like it. Read some of their blogs if you don't believe me. Be professional and let the story speak for itself. If you've written a solid one, a few choice details will be enough to get someone's attention.

And it probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Expect them to reject you and don't be a jerk about it when they do.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stress Relievers: #2

*gasp* Two posts in a row! I knew I could do it. But to be honest, I was a little worried there'd be a massive power outage or something just to prove me wrong.

#2 - A hot, candlelit bubble bath, preferably in a jet tub:

Veeeery relaxing.


Quite time to think of solutions to your problems.

Can be used in combination with some of the other best stress relievers like ice cream, or reading a good book, or others that you can put together yourself.

Hmm...Wrinkled fingers and toes?

Remote possibility that your candles will light your shower curtain on fire.

The combination of jets and bubble bath can lead to bubble-overflow.

Quiet time to think may backfire.


Short and sweet. Well deserving of #2 in my opinion. Clearly, since that's where I put it. And look, I even figured out how to include a picture!

Rather than getting to #1 tomorrow, I think I'm going to talk about something a little different.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stress Relievers: #3

As we're learning, "tomorrow" is a subjective term for me. *giggle* I'll post #3 now and make a solemn vow that tomorrow (the real tomorrow this time) #2 will be here. On my honor!

An update for Shades of Blue: I have more editing to do. This time I'm outlining the revisions so Jen and I can discuss them before I actually change anything. So far it's proving to be a lot easier than the usual way I edit which is to read the entire story from start to finish, rewording, tinkering, and fiddling the whole time. I swear, no matter how many times I've written a sentence, I can always see a way to make it better the next time I read it. OCD much?

Onward to stress reliever #3!

#3 - Being pampered

Going to a spa, salon, masseuse, or nail place (a better name for this is escaping me at the moment) can be a great way to forget your worries. Stress is knocked out two ways: One, by distracting and relaxing you while you're being pampered; two, by making you look and feel better after you leave, so it's easier to get perspective. Who wants to pull their hair out and risk breaking a nail when they've just gotten all prettied up? (Not my most feminist moment, I admit.)

Can be costly and may seem wasteful in hindsight.

Unless you are very self-confident, having strangers touching all up on you--rubbing your mostly naked body, scratching the dry skin off your heels, wrapping you in weird mud-slash-seaweed mixtures--can make you very uncomfortable at times. (And when they push down my cuticles and snip off the skin with those metal clippers? BLEH! It just squicks me right the heck out. *shiver*)

Bad haircuts are not your friend.

Can chew up a lot of your day. Bad for deadlines.

Tomorrow, #2. For really reals this time. XD

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stress Relievers: #4

Update: I can speak again! Woo! Still sick though. This may be a different type of germ actually. Man, I hate this time of year. The germ-y part anyway. And continuing with the stress relievers...

#4 - Going out with friends and/or significant other and/or un-significant but fun-to-hang-out-with other(s):

Laughter. Fun. Happiness. Adventure. Opportunity to wear your cutest outfits and shoes, and to try new hairstyles. Possibility of meeting new friends, significant, or un-significant other(s).


$6 - $10 for a watered down drink x whatever number of drinks your personal demons allow + the cost of whatever other activity you chose to do = too much money. Or any variation of this formula, such as a quiet dinner and $7 - $11 dollar movie + drinks, popcorn, etc. This is especially true when part of your stress is money related to begin with.

Can be exhausting, and cute outfits/shoes/hairstyles may become uncomfortable after a few hours.

High possibility of things not going well i.e. not liking your date, who asks you the same question 97 times throughout the evening and pretends he's paying attention each time you answer only to ask again 5 minutes later, while making an awkward move to put his arm around you; stares at the waitress (or waiter) a bit too often and conveniently knocks utensils to the ground to watch said waitperson pick them up; or ending up in jail because your friend thought it would be hi-larious to moon everybody at the bus stop, only to have the officer who saw it disagree (particularly bad if you and your friend have similar butts).

Tomorrow, #3

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stress Relievers: #5

#5 - Reading a good book

A good story can immerse you in another world, causing you to forget about the things you've been stressing over. And the distraction usually lasts longer than a good TV show, movie, play, etc.

Added bonus of enriching your mind by possibly increasing your vocabulary, stimulating your imagination, and teaching you something new.

A good book can be motivating and inspirational for writer types.

Thanks to books on tape/CD, you can read a good book without having to stop everything else you might need to get done.

Depending on your stress level, this type of quiet activity might not be enough to distract you, and you might actually ruin the good book with wandering, stress-related thoughts.

You may not always have time to be immersed and there are situations where audio books aren't practical.

You can never be sure a good story will stay good the whole way through. On the other hand, if the story is too good there's always the slight risk of it causing writer envy and nagging self-doubts. "I don't think I could ever write something this well..." and so on. This leads to more stress.

Tomorrow, #4

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stress Relievers: Honorable Mentions

With all the stressful things happening right now (tax season, bad economy, job losses, car repossessions, people losing their houses, waiting to hear back on most recent edits from literary agents, etc.), I've been thinking about the best ways to alleviate stress. Because, really, it's always going to be something, isn't it?

I've come up with my top 5, along with two honorable mentions. I'll start with the honorable mentions and count it down from there over the next few days.

Honorable Mention #1 - Ice cream (or your choice of ice cream-type treat):

The yummy-ness level is through the roof. With so many different variations and flavors, you're bound to find one that fits your taste buds perfectly. My favorite happens to be Cherry Valentine Frozen Custard from Good Times.

Ice cream as a stress reliever is especially effective when curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching a tacky reality show and/or talk show that reminds you how much worse things could be.

Ice cream takes minimal effort and results are quick.

Although ice cream can do wonders in the short term, it has the downside of causing more stress when your butt grows large enough to start attracting satellites. There's also a chance of that tacky reality or talk show sending you into a depression spiral when you begin to wonder just how exactly the world got to be so screwed up.

Honorable Mention #2 - Exercise:

If you do it on a regular basis you start feeling great afterward.

Good way to work out built up frustrations.

You'll be healthier and look better.

Something like kickboxing will be helpful if you need to fight off a mugger or kidnapper.

Gyms can get expensive.

Eventually that perky little blonde running 50 miles an hour on the treadmill, not breaking a sweat, perfect ponytail just a-swinging, or ripped guy who looks like he could pick up the whole rack of weights and lift it over his head with one hand is going to make you feel bad about yourself and your workout. Then you'll probably go home and eat ice cream.

It takes a while of being consistent for exercise to go from "Ouch, ouch, oh my god, I'm going to die, I...can' it actually safe for my heart to be beating this fast or am I having a heart attack?" to "Ooh, yeah, feel the burn, such a rush, I should come here more often!" And in the meantime, it sucks.

Can be time consuming.

Tomorrow, #5.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Trailers and Marge's Sisters

I've had laryngitis for about a week now. On the off chance that my voice actually works, I sound like a combination of Patty and Selma from the Simpsons. But since talking makes my throat hurt, I've been trying to "rest my voice so it can heal" like the internet told me.

As far as I can remember, this is the longest I've ever been voiceless. Getting people's attention is hard. Once I have it, they either can't hear me or can't understand me, so I have to repeat myself 27 times. If I want to order a sandwich, the best way to go about it is to write down what I want and let whoever I'm with order for me. But then the person taking the order glances at me suspiciously the whole time I'm standing there, like there must be something seriously wrong with me or I'd order my own sandwich.

These things make me grumpy. They make me wish I owned a rubber band gun.

But then I think about the people who can't speak at all, and I feel bad. Kind of like when I get the hiccups and it reminds me of those people who've had the hiccups for 12 years. When I get them, I worry maybe I'll have the hiccups for 12 years, and I'll end up going on a talk show to let people try to cure me with comic results. Only it wouldn't be funny. Not to me. Then, after I stop hiccupping, I feel bad about those people who can't stop.

This is getting tangent-y and weird. Moving on... Book trailers. There are quite a few on YouTube so it's nothing new, but I didn't even know book trailers existed until today. I'm not sure if I like them. They sound like a great idea, but of the ones I watched, none made me want to read the book. In fact, one made me not want to read a book that I was considering.

Part of it is probably the production quality. And movies have it easy in that all they really have to do is show scenes from the movie. Plus there's usually a lot less going on in the plot of your average movie than there is in the plot of your average novel, so there's less to talk about. I can see how they'd be good for getting new readers interested in an ongoing series.

Anyway, cool idea. Maybe they just need to have more effort put into them? They have potential though; I'll give them a thumbs up.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Editing and Typos

I hate typos. Not your typos; I don't mind yours. In fact most times I don't even notice them. But mine? Mine, I hate. I spell checked my AIM messages for years, until they updated the software and the command stopped working.

When editing a 200+ page document, no matter how much you read it, there will be typos. Unless you're some kind of master typist, eagle-eyed, typo shark with a state of the art computer that reads your mind and refuses to let you push down the wrong keys. I assume those people/computer combinations are rare, so I'll also assume that nearly everybody makes typos on a regular basis. Yet, every time I find one, I get 30 different kinds of annoyed. I guess it's that perfectionist streak in me.

Another thing about editing and typos is that after you've read something 15 times, you start seeing what it's supposed to say rather than what it actually says. At some point you have to let someone else read it for you; someone who doesn't know every word of your story by heart.

The reason I'm fixated on typos today is I finally finished editing Shades of Blue and sent a hard copy to Jen!! I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement!

For those who don't know, Shades of Blue started out as a much longer story. Too long, in fact, for a Young Adult novel. I knew I'd have to cut a lot out, but the story was going to suffer as a result. Jen and I talked it over and decided the best thing to do was split it into two novels. That way I could keep the whole story without having to rush through anything. But that also meant a lot of revising to make sure both novels were standalone stories with satisfying endings.

Getting that first novel right is what I've been working on since September. It's such a relief to not only have it done, but also be happy with how everything turned out. In some ways it was much easier than I thought it would be; in others, much harder. But ultimately I feel it was well worth the work, and thus; happy bouncing.

I had to let go of my typo anxiety and trust that I'd squashed 99.99% of them in order to send that hard copy. Once the words are printed on actual paper, the mighty "backspace" and "delete" keys are powerless, you know?

Okay, I really must stop talking about this before it gets me worrying again. It's a long, slippery road to recovery.

For the record, my most common typos seems to be "becasue" and the always classic "teh".

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New Blog!

I'm new to bloging, so there's going to be a stretch here where I don't know how to do anything. Please bear with me as I tinker. Maybe it will all be easier than I expect and I'll be bogging with my toes in no time...

Now that I think about it, bloging with toes is probably the wrong way to blog. Hopefully that does not happen.

There will be tons of book-talk in this blog because I'm a young adult author. I love to read as well as write, and I like learning about all the different aspects of this industry. And then I want to tell others about it because it's all so exciting, scary, and fascinating, and I can't believe how little I knew when I started. I'm sure still have many, many things to learn, but I'm hoping a few helpful bits of information will turn up here in my ramblings.

The novel I'm currently working on is called Shades of Blue. It's a young adult, urban sci-fi/adventure. My agent is Jen Rofe at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and I'm finishing up what will hopefully be my final edits on Shades of Blue before we start submitting to editors.

So there's that. Now on to the "New Year" part of the title! This year flew by. Seems like Halloween was only a week ago, I can't believe it's already 2009. I hope everyone's holidays were happy.

The start of the year also means new resolutions for a lot of people. I wonder how many resolutions get kept. I've never been big on them myself. It seems more productive to make them throughout the year as they become important rather than in one big lump that you have to work on all at once. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. A lumpy one, with an excess of disappointment in one's self.

For those who've made resolutions, I wish you the best of luck. For those who manage to keep them, how do you do it?