Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confidence for the Upcoming Year

I recently co-authored an article with some writerly friends. One of the points was confidence. My blog chain gang also blogged about confidence. Here's my earlier post, and it's one of my faves. Anything with Seinfeld is bound to be good. The whole chain is uplifting, so if you're looking for some self-confidence this new year, read the chain links and the article. It's a good mantra for life, too, not just writing.

Here's an excellent post by agent Nathan Bransford on confidence (he had me at intestinal fortitude. I mean, if you can use that in a sentence, you are the king or queen of the day in Elana-land. Seriously.) Even though it's almost two years old, every word is as true today as it was then.

Nathan = awesomeness. I love word math just as much as the next geek person.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

QueryTracker Blog, I *heart* you

Okay, as if I don't have enough other things going on in my life, I'm going to be a contributing author to the QueryTracker blog! I've never been more excited about anything in my life. Well, maybe one or two things, but this seriously tops the list at this moment in time.

Me and my partners in crime writing, Mary Lindsey, Suzette Saxton, H.L. Dyer, and Carolyn Kaufman will be up and posting today. You should definitely go check it out. To accompany the awesomeness that is QueryTracker, this blog is aimed at aspiring authors. They will find helpful posts about query letters, articles about writing and publishing, guest bloggers from the publishing industry, contests, and anything else we think will help the writers of the world on their journey toward publication. Oh, and if you're an aspiring author and haven't visited the forum, dude you have to join. Now. It will change your life. Srsly.

Come join us in this new adventure!

Why Life Takes Perseverance--Especially the Life of a Writer

It's blog chain time again. This round, we've decided to blog on whatever we want. Scary, huh? So I've chosen to go the more serious route this go-round, especially with the new year looming. I'm fairly certain Kate has posted before me and Sandra will be up in the next couple of days.

Alert: This is rambling, totally true, personal life-story with a lesson (hopefully) at the end.

So I'm a writer. I'm not in the closet about it. If you could possess one quality for writing--or for life--it should be perseverance. That's my lesson for today. I'm sure my experiences are not unique, surely every one of us has had something we've had to endure. For me it was college.

And the story begins...you might want to strap yourselves in.

I graduated from high school with several Advanced Placement credits under my belt. Picture the band geek with straight A's. Yeah, that was totally me. Feeling pretty good about myself, I enrolled at the local university and my AP credits filled some general electives--classes I now didn't have to take. Nice.

Then I got married. Young, I know--30 days after my 19th birthday in fact. I moved 150 miles south and enrolled in a new university after only one quarter at the one I'd just started. The new school took most of my credits. I worked hard and earned an Associate's degree by the end of the next summer. I'd been married 8 months, and out of high school for 15.

Then I moved to a new university. (That's number 3 for those of you counting. The applications forms, fees, transcript requests, letters of recommendation...it was a nightmare.) I attended this university for a year and a half before my husband's job transferred him 300 miles south.

So...in the middle of July, 9 months pregnant with my first child, I moved to Southern Utah. It's hot there, in case you didn't know. Like really hot. Over 110 degrees the day we moved in. I thought that would be the end of college for me. 3 schools, over 400 miles from where I'd started, a baby on the way. I was done.

Or not. I had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I needed to finish. My son was born in August--not the best time to go back to school. So I took a semester off and applied to Southern Utah University on the day applications were due.

I got accepted and drove 50 miles each way--with my four-month-old baby in the backseat--to attend classes. So with the 100-mile round trip with the screamer in tow, a husband who made $12,000 a year, and the thought that I wanted to teach (because there's big bucks in that *snort*), I went to college.

My husband quit working for the Jazz (the 12 K plus commission just wasn't enough) and got another job cleaning carpets. This allowed him to take a class or two at night. By now, I had to student teach. It's a lot more than attending classes. It's all day. So I enrolled my son in daycare and finished my degree.

Upon graduation, I got a job teaching music and art--not my major field of study, I have a math minor--in Alpine School District, back in central Utah. I will never forget the day I signed my contract. It should have been one of the happiest days of my life. It wasn't. More like the suckiest. My husband took my son down the street to the store while I filled out all the paperwork. I cried. At the desk with the lady in human resources looking at me like I was crazy. I'm sure she was thinking, "And we want this girl teaching our kids?"

Yeah. I was 22 and had worked my freaking butt off in college, was raising a kid, trying to make ends meet. I signed my contract in April, guaranteeing myself a whopping $22,091 for the coming year. Oh, but I wouldn't get paid until the end of September--for a job that started August 11. No joke.

So what did I do? What I always do: I persevered.

My husband and I moved in with my parents (gag) and spent the summer working. We managed to save enough so that we could move back to central Utah and I could start teaching. We made it from August 4 to September 30 without a paycheck. Major big time suckage.

Since then, things have gotten progressively better. My husband graduated, also in education. It only took him 5 years. And he makes slightly more than the 22K I started at. I now teach half-time and make more than I did when I started full-time. Because I worked my tail off again. With full-perseverance mode on, four years and 53 credits later, I had earned a Master's equivalency. It's basically my district's way of saying I have enough credits to have a Master's degree, but I didn't go through a university program to do it.

What does that take? Perseverance.

I warned you about the life story. I swear I'm almost done.

The point of all this? It takes an insane amount of perseverance to become a published author. It takes more than just writing. It takes writing a good book. Researching agents. Submitting. Getting rejected. Over and over and over. But if you persevere through all that, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me, I've been through a lot of tunnels. There is always another side. The sun is usually shining on that side. And birds are singing, wildflowers blooming, the pleasant sound of the waterfall. Sure, sometimes there's that girl in the human resources department crying because her four years of struggling only netted her $22,091. Not all tunnels are created equal.

When I first started writing, it felt like college. And trust me, for me, that's not a good feeling. You work in college. You pay them. You don't get paid for all the work you do. That's writing. You write. You pay to send out queries, print manuscripts, buy a laser printer, etc. You don't get paid to do any of it. Until you persevere long enough to secure the agent and sign the publishing contract.

Now that's another contract I'll cry when I sign. And I will sign it. Because I know myself well enough by now to know that I can persevere long enough to do it. Because, just like that nagging feeling when I almost quit college, I have this bug in my head telling me to keep writing. I've learned to listen to that voice. Good things happen when I persevere through the quagmire to reach the end of the tunnel. The proof is in my past.

So go persevere at whatever you're doing! This New Year, make a goal for yourself and don't stop until you reach it, even if it takes more than a year. More than two. More than ten. A line from one of my favorite movies (major kudos if you know it). "No! Never give up. Never surrender."

Life story, over and out. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Total Weirdness and Wonky Ish

In case you missed my post on cool words, you should check it out here. Inspired by a comment Megan made on a post, I decided to keep track of the words I have to type in to leave comments on people's blogs. This may reveal just how nerdy and band-geekalicious I am, but oh well.

Here are my faves:

Left on my sister's No Measurements cooking blog: slica. I almost think this could be the name of my next female MC. "Slica ran down the wet sidewalk, thinking it was really slica, just like her name." Dude, the agents will be fawning over that first line.

Left on Megan's blog: pingess. It occurred to me as I left the comment that "-ess" could be a sweet thing to tag onto words to make new ones. Like, "Dudess, I thinkess we couldess go outsidess." Um, that sounds sorta Shakespearess. So maybe notess.

Left on Cole Gibsen's blog: corse. I don't know why, but my mind translated this to "horse." And that's not funny. Or weird. Or wonky. Oh well. Not all words are created equal. 'Corse not. A horse is a horse, of corse of corse...

Left on Archetype's writing blog: tedee. This is a version of "Ta Da!" for those speech-impaired people who can't say "a". Or two-year-olds. Or one of those things on Alice in Wonderland. Or something.

Left on Kate Karyus Quinn's blog (who has the coolest name, BTW): manunut. No, I am not kidding. Man-U-Nut. I laughed out loud and came to put it in the blog post. I'm still laughing.

I wonder what kind of words people get when they comment on my blog...wouldn't that be interesting to know? See what I waste my time thinking about? Sheesh. Think how much I could get done with the brain cells I've been devoting to weird and wonky words.

Friday, December 19, 2008

7 Personality Characteristics You Need to Get Published

by Elana Johnson, Carolyn Kaufman, and Suzette Saxton

Agents and editors deal with hundreds of queries, synopses, proposals, and chapters every month. Whether you realize it or not, your approach to the process has a lot to do with whether or not your work will ever reach publication. Here are the 7 characteristics necessary to achieving your dreams!

Characteristic 1: Commitment to Growth

The first thing every real writer needs is a willingness to learn and grow. All agents or editors—no matter how busy—are interested in quality work. The first step: write the best book you can. That means you’ll probably need to brush up on grammar, syntax, sentence structure, and plotting. Don’t give someone an excuse to reject your work because you’ve either never learned or forgotten how to write in an active voice.

Research local or online writing workshops and sign up for a writing conference or two to jump start your creative juices and brush up on what it takes to become a published author. Join a critique group to help yourself develop a critical eye for grammar, sentence structure and plot in the writing of others. Then apply what you learn to your own writing. When you view writing as a life-long learning experience, you've taken the first step to becoming published.

Characteristic 2: Humility

Completing a project is an accomplishment, and one you should be proud of—just not too proud to miss places you still might be able to improve. Chances are, you did forget a comma somewhere. Or spelled a word wrong. Or didn't tie up that loose end. Or tried to cram in too many subplots. Or something. When you share your work with critique buddies, really listen to their feedback. If an agent is kind enough to offer advice, thank him or her and then consider making the changes to your manuscript.

Characteristic 3: Self-Confidence

On the flip-side of humility is self-confidence; you’ll need both in equal measure.
Not to be confused with arrogance—there is a difference! Getting published is usually an uphill battle. Everyone along the way will have an opinion about your work, and not all of those opinions will be positive! Most agents reject between 95% and 99% of all queries they see, and editors are even harder to win over.

Even after you make it through the gauntlet of agents, editors, and other decision-makers, you’ll have to face book reviewers and bloggers. You must believe in yourself enough not only to go through the whole process, but also to endure the onslaught that follows. Once you've acquired the skills of a writer, a sense of self-confidence will help you recognize that your hours of research, learning, and growing are going to pay off.

Characteristic 4: Perseverance

Once you've produced the very best story you can, built your self-confidence, and balanced it with humility, it’s time to submit. Research agents and editors and only submit to those who are a good match for your project. And don't just submit to one agent or editor. Or two. Or even ten. Keep going until you find one who loves your work!

And don't stop writing while you submit. Maybe your first book won’t make as big of a splash as you’re hoping. Maybe your second—or your fifth—novel will be the one to land that dream agent and publishing contract. Author Dan Brown published three books before he scored a worldwide bestseller with The DaVinci Code.

Characteristic 5: Professionalism

Understand that publishing is a business, and that agents and editors are trying to find books publishers—and eventually readers—will want to spend their hard-earned money to buy. That means you need to conduct yourself like a professional. While this might seem obvious, you must treat everyone you deal with, from agents’ assistants all the way up to publishing heads, with courtesy. Even if you don’t like what they’re telling you.

Never send hate mail back to agents or editors. (You might be surprised how often publishing professionals have to deal with this.) Also realize that form responses are normal — if you had to read hundreds of queries every month, you’d send them too! Don't take rejection as a personal attack—it's just business.

Characteristic 6: Patience

It takes patience to see your dream of being published come true. Not only patience to write the book—which doesn't happen in a single sitting—but patience to wait for responses from beta readers, critique groups, and then agents, editors, and publishers. Some respond immediately. Some are a little slower, but will respond eventually. And some won’t respond at all. In each case, your patience will be tried.

Characteristic 7: Luck

Before you decide that you’re doomed because you’ve never won the lottery (or even a door prize drawing), you need to know that we’re talking about the kind of luck you make for yourself. There is an old Chinese tenet, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” So first, be prepared. And then cultivate your own luck. Lucky writers behave in ways that create good fortune in their lives. For example, they read agent and industry blogs to get a feel for what different agents like. They notice and act upon chance opportunities, follow their intuition, look for the bright side of every situation, and are certain their future is promising. Their outlook becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, creating the perfect environment for “luck” to flourish. Remember, it only takes one positive response!

Plus One: Indomitable Spirit

Incorporating these seven traits will result in the indomitable spirit necessary to succeed in the publishing industry. What is Indomitable Spirit? It’s an attitude or state of mind in which you are impossible to frighten or defeat. Never, never, never give up on your dreams.

“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bio box:
Elana Johnson finished college against nearly-impossible odds, a struggle much like dealing with the publishing world. Visit her at elanajohnson.blogspot.com for more publishing insights. Visit psychologist/writer Carolyn Kaufman at archetypewriting.com and learn more about how to use psychology accurately in your writing. Find “The Bone Setter,” Suzette Saxton’s most recently published work, here: http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=4283.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And the Winner is...

I know, I know. It's taken me forever to get to the contest. I'm sure you've all been on pins and needles wondering who's going to win, how old I really am, etc. Pshaw. Here's a picture of what I've been up to this week.

Sorry, the whole number-generator is way down on my list. I mean, did you see that cake? My daughter l-o-v-e-s Spongebob and her birthday was yesterday. She's four now. That cake took me forever. I only have two words: crumb coat.

Anyway, here's the scoop. I am 31. Hmm, whaddya know? Admitting that is easier than I thought.

And the winner: Kate Karyus Quinn! Yay! My blog chain buddy. Email me at elanajohnson at gmail dot com with your address and I'll mail out your books. But...I seriously don't have the guts to brave the post office this close to Christmas. So...if you won't hate me forever, I might wait to mail them until after. Sound good? If you're going to die, let me know in the email. I'd hate to be responsible for the death of a fellow writer, awesome blog chainer, and general all-around uber-cool person.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Love-Hate Relationship

I love the Christmas holiday. The lights and snow. Well, maybe not the snow, but definitely the lights. And presents. And decorating and watching my kids get excited. That's all good.

It's the movies that have me on the hate side of the fence. Don't get me wrong, I love holiday movies, but I wish, wish, wish I wasn't such a baby. Here's the run-down of tear-jerkers this holiday season. You've been warned.

Home Alone. I despise this movie, yet there I was, watching it. Mostly so I could be doing something with my family. And guess what? I started bawling. Gah. When the mom comes in and hugs the boy and they're reunited...choking up. Embarrassed. Because I hate this movie, and yet I'm touched. There is no justice in the world.

Elf. I wish, wish, wish I were kidding. I mean, come on. Elf? Have you seen the movie? It's not exactly a touching rendition of Christmas. So I'm sitting on the couch watching the stupid human-who-thinks-he's-an-elf help Santa with his sleigh and his dad who hates the human elf is helping. Tears well up. Then they start singing...and the dad sings... *sniff* I need prozac or something.

Fred Claus. This is the worst one I think. I refused to watch it last year because I don't like the guy who plays Fred. My husband watched it late at night and insisted that I would like it. I was thinking it must have been really late at night and there was no way I was going to like it. Well, I did. A lot. And then I started bawling. When Santa gives that guy the Superman cape? Holy kryptonite, Batman. I realize that's the wrong superhero, but neither one of them can stop my bawl babyitis, so it doesn't really matter. I'm not ashamed. I cried during Fred Claus.

So I've developed a love-hate relationship with the Christmas season. I don't like feeling like a bawl baby, and yet I can't stop the tears that seem to come more abundantly during December. At least it hasn't snowed yet. That is just a hate-hate relationship because all that white stuff cost me $700 in new tires last year. But that is another post for another day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This is Exactly How I Feel About Twilight

Seriously, people. I didn't like the movie.

This is the funniest thing you'll ever see. Watch it. Laugh. I did, right out loud at many, many things. I could tell you my favorite lines, but I think it would ruin it for you. Holy Forks, Santa. You've got to watch it. Now.

And this was pretty funny too. And totally spot on.

**Sorry to all those of you who liked the movie. Books = awesomeness. Movie = suckage.**

Thanks to Jen for the first video. She made my year. She needs chocolate. Or maybe socks. gelakguling
And to Moonrat for the link to the best screenplay ev-er.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Geek Are You?

41% Geek

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

I'm so geek, I still haven't figured out how to do the random number generator thingy. I will work on that later today and then I'll post the winner to my "Guess My Age" contest.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yup, it's my birthday. I am now officially O-L-D. I dare you to try to guess how old. I always make my students guess. They give the funniest answers (ranging from 21 to 56). It is in that range, BTW. In fact, I'm giving away a present to one lucky person who can guess correctly. What? you ask. Since I am a lover of all things young adult, I have a set of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy books. Well, at least the three that are out. Shadow Kiss was just released November 13. I love them. And her. She has a fun blog here.

Isn't that guy on the cover of Frostbite yummy? Yes, yes he is. But I digress. The age contest. Here are some hints. Take a stab...if you dare. For those cheaters out there, I've removed my age from all my social networking sites as well as my forums. Ha! No cheating...takbole Relatives, at least try to pretend like it's a guess, 'kay?

1. I have a ten-year-old son. He's in fifth grade. He's OLD too. Makes me feel older than I am. I also have a daughter who will be four next week.

2. I've been teaching elementary school for nine years. That makes me a college graduate in the class of 2000. How cool is that? I was stoked. Back when I was young enough to get stoked about things.

3. I have coached youth soccer. I have no idea how this will help you determine my age, but it's a cool fact. Did I like it? Um, no. I did not. Maybe because I was TOO OLD. (ha ha!)

4. I don't watch movies that were made before I was born. This list includes The Wizard of Oz, Jaws, Carrie, The Godfather, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Well, I do watch Willy Wonka, those oompas are just too cute. This hint should be a dead giveaway. You ought to at least be able to get close with this one.

5. I do watch and enjoy Pete's Dragon. I love the noises that thing makes. And he's just so durn cute. Total giveaway. Come on people!

6. I love Dreyer's lemonade bars and Hershey's caramel chocolate kisses. Just throwin' that out there for those of you scrounging for a last-minute gift. siul I put up a sign at school on December 1. It says: 11 shopping days until Mrs. Johnson's birthday. I change it as the days count down. I get a lot of bubble gum. And all things grape. And hugs.

7. I have entered the realm of middle age. Dude...the *realm* of middle age. That sounds like a cool alternate universe I could somehow incorporate into a novel...Or a land, like middle earth. "She hovered behind an aspen on the outskirts of Middle Age, still not quite sure if she should leave her youth behind." Now that's a good first line.

8. My birthday is exactly 14 days before Christmas. That means that because it's Thursday today, Christmas will also be on a Thursday. When my b-day is on a Sunday, so is Christmas. I love this. I don't know why, it just makes me feel specialer than the average person. Unless you were born on December 11 too...then we're like twins. Dude! How cool would that be?

I know the last three aren't hints about my age, but I was in the list-zone. It's hard to break outta that, sorry. Guess my age correctly and I'll do one of those random-number generator thingies to choose the winner. Just post a comment to this post with your guess. That's it. Guesses must be submitted by Friday, Dec. 12 at 12 midnight MST. That's 2 AM Eastern, and 11 PM Pacific. I'll post the winner as soon as I figure out how to do the random-number-generator-thing. Maybe Saturday? And you'll get the VA books! Oh, and if you said "Happy Birthday" in the comment that would like, totally make my day. (Gotta get my junior high persona out every once in a while. See post here for a full 'splanation. Yes, that's a word.)

Oh, my family gave me an iPod shuffle for my birthday! It's hot pink. And I'm buying myself a book, of course. I hear Scott Westerfeld has a new one out...

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Books Are Still the Best Bang for Your Buck"

This holiday season, buy books for those special people on your list. So says Stephen King. And a whole host of other people. So many, in fact, that an entire Facebook group has been created. I joined. I adore books. I like just looking at them and wondering what kind of wonderful tale might be inside. Check here and here for some good posts on the publishing industry. Or here and here and here for some awesome book lists.

I'm an avid reader of Entertainment Weekly. Maybe that's my dirty, little secret, I don't know. But this week's issue (Dec. 12) has an article by Stephen King about the best books of 2008. It was the best article in the whole mag.

He says:
"Okay, gang, pay attention: In 2007, according to the National Associate of Theatre Owners, the average price of a movie ticket was $6.88. Let's say it goes up to $7.00 in 2008. And say that you and your sweetie buy $10 of snacks. Even leaving out the babysitter and the cost of gas, that's $24 for two hours' entertainment. For that same $24--less, with a discount--you can buy a new book and be entertained for days. Plus, your sweetie can read it when you're done (or first, if he or she's the grabber type). My point? Books are still the best bang for your entertainment buck, and 2008 was a great year for reading."

Then he gives his top ten picks, none of which I've read. Now, it's obvious (I hope) that Mr. King and I are not even remotely interested in the same genres, so it's not surprising that I haven't read a single one of his picks. But I'm going to. His advice? "Get them all. Immediately."

Now, I realize that I sort of have a fetish for books. I've had some people ask me, "What do you do when you finish reading your books?" Well, here are some ideas for those of you who may not "need" books just to keep breathing in and out.

1. Read them again. I have some that I read over and over.

2. Donate them to your child's teacher. Be smart about this though. Your second grade classroom isn't going to house Dean Koontz. But if you read middle grade and young adult, your 6th grade teachers are always looking for books. Mr. Johnson teaches sixth grade and every single book we buy goes into his classroom. Schools always need books.

3. Donate to your local library. They do house Dean Koontz and many, many others.

4. Keep them for your kids. In Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, they cite that the reading ability of children has nothing to do with how much you read to your child. No. It has to do with how highly you value reading. Do you value it enough to do it? Children who read well have parents who think reading is so valuable they do it in their spare time. Just seeing their parents read creates a child who loves to read. It has nothing to do with how much you read TO them, but everything to do with how much you read yourself.

So buy yourself a book this holiday season. Log what books you bought here. The goal is 1 million.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Um, I don' has skillz...

So Archy posted a time-waster and I didn't see it until after midnight. Of course I did it even though my eyes felt like sand paper and I knew I had to get up early the next day. Elliott Yamin was on pandora so I figured I could stand a few more minutes. Besides the prestigious Janet Reid had it on her blog, so I figured it was late-night-worthy.

Archy's blog got a high school rating. Go check it out.

Um, mine. Not so much.

blog readability test

Maybe I secretly dream about junior high. That would be more like a nightmare. Ah, well. Junior high is good with me. What can I say. I'm an underachiever. And gosh-darn it, people still like me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Wish Death to this Blog Chain

Abi always gives a little precursor to what the blog chain is...I've never done that. So here's my best shot. A bunch of us writerly types from QueryTracker decided to form a chain. We called it a blog chain. We made a special place where we meet on RallyStorm. After much discussion, we decided that the topics would be chosen on a rotational basis (my turn is coming very soon, *gulp*) and everyone would blog about the same topic in an orderly manner.

So...to keep linkage in the chain: Sandra started the chain this time. As usual, Abi posted before me and Terri is up tomorrow.

Okay, so my (lack of) intelligence is really starting to show. When I read this topic, absolutely nothing came to mind. And this is supposed to be MINDLESS musings. Even that's really hard when there's just...nothing. Bear with me.

Anyway, here's the topic this go-round: What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday wishes?

I'm going to really focus on the middle two questions: What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about?

I posted about Why I Read and Why I Write here. For me, this is my wish fulfillment blog chain post four months early. Though I like my whole list, I'll elaborate a little bit on a couple of my favorites.

1. When I read, I want to escape my real life. This influences my writing greatly. I want to write stories that aren't real, but close. That provide an escape for me when I read them again, and hopefully to fulfill this wish in other readers who have this desire when they read. I don't mind realistic fiction, but it isn't my favorite. I want to get lost for a while. No dishes. No laundry. Portals. Magic. A cool power. If you have this wish when you read, we read the same stuff. It's what I write as well.

3. I want to experience my first kiss again. And again. And again. I love romance. I'm not a great writer of it, but I like writing young adult where there is a little romance, possibly a first-time romance. I don't think my first kiss like, changed my life or anything, but it's something you can never do "first" again. So I like reading and writing about the first kiss. Sweet, simple, romantic.

6. I want to have a cool super power that allows me to do cool things. Almost everything I read that I love involves a main character that can do something no one else can. Something that makes them special. Something that can save the day at the right time. Percy Jackson by Rick Riordian comes to mind. I mean, the guy's a half-blood. How awesome is that? I totally want to be a half-blood. Or someone who can hear someone else's thoughts. Or can control the wind. Use magic. See the future. Something kewl. So I write stories with characters who can do things I wish I could do.

I definitely read what I like to write. And I wish I could do what my characters can.

And now it's time to pass the torch to Terri. Check out her post, which will be up sometime tomorrow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Iz Winner?

Dude, National Novel Writing Month is over. There were times I didn't think I'd survive. High highs. Low lows. Everything in between. Drama. Trauma. Llamas. Just kidding, I threw that last one in there to make sure you were paying attention.

So what did I learn from NaNo? Um, I'm crazy. Dos, I really need more time to stew on my characters before I just delve in. I normally do dive right in, but I don't have to get so many words in a certain time frame. I can slow down and speed up as the writing flows. Oh, but not during NaNo. It's a writingapalooza. C) brainstormage is good. Helped me through some rough patches.

I'm happy to report that I didn't use a single song lyric, ten-word name, or cell phone convo between two characters who know everything about each other. Not that I'm better than you if you did. But that's not how I NaNo. I wanted something I could continue to work on after November, something I could edit and revise over the next several months and not hate myself for forgetting that I put "100 bottles of beer" in there just to get the words.

Officially, I wrote 73,788 words during the month of November. Holy lotta words, Batman. I've never written that much in a month. That's like three (okay four) months of writing for me. It really helped that I had five entire days off in a row. I don't think I did anything on Saturday except write. And write. And write. Sometimes that's okay (nice, even), but I need balance in my life. So back to writing on the side.

I'm actually sorta sad it's over (and that shows my psychosis more than anything). Now what am I gonna use to motivate me? My own pathetic self? I don't think so. Good thing I have writerly friends...with goals they'll let me latch on to as if they were my own.

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