Monday, August 31, 2009

Eureka! That's It!

I'm so sick of time. It goes too fast. Like my son turned 11 a few weeks ago. E. Lev. En. That's old, in case you didn't know. Which means, *I'm* old. OLD.

Where did the time go? I remember when he was born. When he lost his first tooth. The first day of kindergarten. I remember when he ran his scooter into a parked truck. Got his first round of stitches.

Good times.

Here's the thing. Time fascinates me. I can't stop thinking about it. I have a job that requires me to be on time, no matter what. My lunch is at a certain time for a certain number of minutes. It cannot be moved or extended. Many times I wonder to myself, "What if I just drove away and never came back? What would happen then?"

Last spring, I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That was a big mistake because A) no one told me it was fifty thousand hours long and B) now I can't stop thinking about what life would be like if time moved backward. It plagues me. Begs me to think of some way to write it into a story. I've written about how time stops for a moment, but I've never made it go backward. There's something about time travel that scares the 1.21 Gigawatts right out of me.

I also find myself speculating on what life would be like if there simply was no time. No way to measure the years of our life, the hours in our day, the minutes we find so precious. My life is run by a clock. Sometimes I hate it. What if that simply disappeared? What would your life be like without time?

I swear I'm going to tie this to the title of this post, which is, in case you forgot, Eureka! That's it!

Do you have anything like this wafting around in your brain? I'm in the middle of a novel right now, but I just know that these floating ideas are going to come together one day and I'm going to have a holy-crap-I-just-figured-it-out! moment where every thought I've had about time will explode into my next novel. I'm hoping this will happen before November so I can participate in NaNo.

Has this happened for you? (The
Eureka!-I've-got-it! moments, not the time obsession. *snarf*) If so, how long did the idea stew before coming to fruition? Do share. I've got nothing but time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Your Life - 4 Sentences or Less


That's right. It's back to school time. So I want some concise getting-to-know you/creative writing time.

Topic: You
Length: 4 sentences

Here's mine: I would go into the wicked witch's house if it were made of red vines and caramel twix's, death be damned. I don't think there is a situation on earth that doesn't call for laughter. Fiercely loyal and too trusting are two of my personality flaws. When I'm home with my family--well, that's heaven to me.

Your turn!

Go go go!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Slow Down, Dig Deep

A week or two ago, L.T. Elliott made a profound comment on my blog. This is what she said:

"I've noticed in my writing that the scenes that my readers like the most are the ones where I've slowed things WAY down and gotten DEEP into the character's head. For me, when I know a scene's not working, I immediately think this "Slow down, get deep." It might take some re-writes but the story ends up better. That's what works for me as far as spoon feeding. Slowing the heck down."

I think she's so right with these words: "Slow[ing] the heck down." Sometimes I'm so impatient. I can't hardly stand to start writing something new, because I know I can't finish it in one sitting. I've had to really work on the "small steps" philosophy.

Even if I only get 46 words (yes, that was my word count yesterday), it doesn't matter. If I slow down and dig deep, I know they're the best words I can find. I think this mantra will also help me in reducing the number of layers I have to go back and add once the first draft is done. I used to think, "I'll go through and get the emotional aspect on the second pass." But now I slow down and dig deep and find that I can put that layer in as I'm writing--which will definitely save time later.

How do you feel about slowing down and digging deep? Which layers do you find yourself ignoring that you could add in if you slowed down a bit? Dug deeper?

Come on, it's confession time!

Me? I'm working on the emotional stuff. Other things I skimp on: making sure the position of my characters is clear. My crit group beats me up about this every. single. time. (S: "I can't picture where she is in the culvert." J: "Is she like, climbing straight up? I was imagining stairs." A: "I was kinda confused about that too." Me: "Maybe she can just use the fishing line." All: hyena laughing.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

B.L.O.G - What Does It Stand For?

So my boy kidlet and I were chatting the other night. We were talking about my blog (which he and my DH don't understand, like at all). He said, "What does blog stand for anyway?"

I'm thinking, Hmm...

So he goes, "Biological... (cuz, that's really logical. But I guess that's where an 11-year-old mind goes.)...League... (who doesn't need a league? I've always wanted to be in a league. Like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Except I'm not a man. But you get the idea.)...Of... ... ... ... Goons."

Commence hyena laughing.

That is all.

(BTW, he was totally offended when I typed this post and called him a kidlet. He prefers "tween" just FYI.)

(BTW x 2: He said, "NO. Mature tween." Pshaw. And humph. You should see his room. Mature? I think not.)

(BTW x 3: He was next to me during the writing of this post. He is a fan-freaking-tastic kid. He is not offended I said his room was a mess. He knows it is.)

(BTW x 4: What do you think blog stands for?)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Work Hard, Don't Give Up

Dang it. I've done it again. Just when I thought I could give up on this whole writing thing (did you see my post from yesterday?? That was me saying I was throwing in the towel), I was interviewed by a 9-year-old. That's right. A 9-year-old put me in my place.

So these fourth graders come to interview me. They ask me normal stuff like what I do at the school and how long I've been there. What I like most about my job, what I like least, yada yada yada.

Things are going great until one of the cutest 9-year-olds on the planet asks, "What advice do you have for us?"

The answer that came out my mouth: "Work hard. Don't give up."

What I was thinking inside: Oh crap.

So now I have to take my own advice. And it's a bitter pill to swallow, my feathered friends (the kids love it when I call them that *snarf*).

If someone asked you that question, what would you say?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Honestly, Monday... not my favorite day.

...would be better if it were Friday.

We could finish this sentence any number of ways. But I'm going to take a page from Katie's book and go all honest with you today.

Are you ready for this?

Here it is: I'm living on borrowed confidence.

At the moment, I'm not feeling great about myself or my writing ability. See, I've had quite the roller coaster ride with my latest book and what I'm now calling the Query Carnival. And I'm in a low spot.

It sucks.

It's not my favorite thing.

It's not better on Friday. Or Saturday. Or any other freaking day of the week. It's just always sucktacular.

So yeah. I'm trying to enjoy the ride, but I don't particularly like roller coasters. Or carnivals. Clowns sorta scare me. Okay, they terrify me.

How are you guys feeling right now? This very minute? Be honest. It's Honestly, Monday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So Sue Me

Oh, I know, I know. I said I was going to UnBlog. I did this post way last weekend, if that makes any of you feel better. All right! I cheated a bit and did some of it last night when I found out I had another award. Sheesh. It's just one day!

I received some blog awards, and I thought I'd post them this week. J.B. Chicoine gave me the Kreativ Blogger award. I also received this award from NWA at Chronicles of a Novice Writer. And she's going to the conference at UVU, so she can't remain anonymous forever! Woot! (And mwa, ha ha!) And I got it from Scott Mitchell at A Writer's Blog. And I got it from Katie Salidas at Step 1: Write, Edit and Revise. Then I got it from Lin Wang at Flames and Shadows. And then from Icy Roses at From Elysium. And from Amanda at Ramblings of a Drifting Mind. Thanks a million guys! I *heart* you!

Anyway, this one has rulez. Here they are:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Okay, so I've done or will do all of that. I know you're on the edges of your seats to find out 7 things about me. Here goes.

1. I attended 4 universities before graduating. This wasn't because I kept getting suspended for rowdy behavior or anything. It's just because, well, I like to complicate my own life. So yeah. 4 universities and then I earned my Bachelor's degree. Never let anyone tell you you can't do something.

2. I like to play tennis, despite my whale-ish physique. I think "like" is too soft of a word. I adore tennis. I would play every day if I could. Tournaments and stuff. I'll watch any tennis, at any time, on any channel. I love it.

3. I got married 7 months after graduating from high school. And that came after a 7-week engagement. I don't think my parental units were thrilled. But hey, I'm coming up on 13 years of marital bliss, and neither of us have died. Yet.

4. I think some of my cells are made of potatoes. I love potatoes. Any way you slice, bake, mash, hashbrown or fry 'em. Sign me up.

5. I can play the recorder very well. I even played Jingle Bells at a family Christmas party once. Srsly. I have mad musical skillz.

6. I'm a restless soul. I'm going into my 10th year of teaching. The first three years were spent as an upper grade music specialist. (Toldja about the recorder. I wasn't joking about my abilitiez.) The next four years were in 3rd grade. And this is my third year in the computer lab. I'm already feeling itchy to get another assignment, like if I stay doing something for too long I'll, well, I'll... I don't know, but it makes me nervous. So maybe I'm not restless. Maybe a better word would be psychotic. The jury is still out on that one.

7. I have major food issues--the kind you need a doctor for. For example, I don't like onions, but I simply can't get enough onion rings. I eat tomatoes like apples, but absolutely cannot stomach a cooked tomato unless it's been made into a sauce. My food cannot touch. I will not eat mushrooms in any shape, form, consistency or cooked condition. Nada. I need therapy for my food issues. Or so some say... They know who they are and they don't read this blog. Thankfully.

And...that's more than you wanted to know, right?


Since I received this award seven times, I'm going to go all wonky on you and nominate whoever I want for the Kreativ Blogger award. These are some of the best bloggers out there.

1. Lisa and Laura Roecker
2. Katie Anderson and Sarah Frances (Plot This)
3. Shelli Johannes
4. Beth Revis
5. Abby Annis
6. Tess Hilmo
7. Suzanne Palmieri
8. Jamie Theler (Bookmom Musings)
9. Aaron Polson (The Other Aaron)
10. Amanda Bonilla
11. Marybeth Smith
12. Ryan (The Life of an Aspiring Writer)
13. Katie Ganshert
14. Jenn (Purple Clover)
15. Kate Karyus Quinn
16. Jenn Johansson
17. Natalie Whipple
18. Jeanette Schneider
19. Corey Schwartz
20. Katie Salidas
21. Scott Mitchell
22. Ben Watson
23. Carol Anne Strange
24. Jessica Nelson
25. Danyelle Leafty
26. Sara Tribble
27. Casey McCormick

So go check them out. Follow. Comment. You won't be sorry.

I also received the Silver Shoe of Sincerity Award, again from NWA. Thanks Novice! No rules except one. The person you pass it on to has to show absolute sincerity in their comments. So many of you do this here on my blog, which I appreciate immensely.

But the one I picked?

Scott Mitchell. He deserves the sparkly shoe for his awesome, well-thought out comments and witty snark. Do witty and snark mean the same thing? *shrugs* I like it.

And Christine Fonseca. Ha! I can pick two if I want. Who's going to stop me? Ooh, blog police! We should totally form a squad or something. Anyway, she gets 'da shoe for always commenting, her unending reserves of patience, and for talking me off the ledge on a daily basis.

Thanks guys!

And one final award. I received the Literary Blogger Award from my good pal, Ali Cross. She's in my critique group and really gets me. The hair, the horrible hyena laugh, all of it. Thanks Ali! Can't wait for Tuesday night! And you should go read what she said about me, cuz it brought a little tear to my eye. Shocking, I know. You guys didn't peg me for a crier, didja? I'm all about the surprise element. I'm kind of like a ninja in that regard.

I also received this award from Jenna at As the Plot Thickens. She had rules on hers. I guess I get to pass this one on to whoever I want.


How about those 27 people up there? Yeah, let's go with them. Heck, let's throw all reason out the door (I'm the captain of the newly formed Blog Police Patrol. Hey! The BPP! You down with BPP? Yeah, you know me! Ahem.), and say that if your name or blog appears anywhere in this post, you get the Literary Blogger Award. Congrats! You guys know that I read blogs like I breathe air, so I really do nominate you all. The world would be a sad, dark place without blogs.

Have a good one. I swear I'm not going to do any other blogging this week. I swear I swear I swear.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blogging Vacay

I'll still stalk Facebook, let's not go all rash. But I'm taking a blogging vacay this week. See you on the other side!

Wanna know more about unplugging? Click the picture and it'll take you to B.J. Anderson's blog. Right sidebar, baby. Read all about it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Holy Lotta Books

Okay, I don't normally enter contests, like ever. But this one is just too much NOT to enter.

Check it out.

This is a sampling of the books you can win in this contest.

The Winner Will Get All These Books.

1. Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick ARC
2. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen ARC
3. Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters ARC
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater ARC
5. Troy High by Shana Norris ARC
6. Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott ARC
7. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn ARC
8. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
9. Death by Series by Linda Gerber (3 books total)
10. a 5 dollar giftcard from Walmart (you can buy yourself half of a book with it, lol)
11. 3 Sarah Dessen books ( Just Listen, This Lullaby, Someone Like You)
12. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
13. Fire By Kristin Cashmore ARC
14. Last but not least, I have some extra amazon cards, so I will also include a preorder for CATCHING FIRE BY SUZANNE COLLINS. It will be shipped to on or around Sept 1st (whenever they ship it)
AND a book of your choice (under $15.00 please and it can be a preorder as long as it comes out in September-so many good books get released)

I mean, come on. This is too good to pass up. And you get an extra entry if you tell her I sent you!

And now... I'm unplugging. I swear.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Say It With Me

"Today is Friday, August 14, 2009. It is the first day of school."

Okay, so it really isn't the first day of school. But I have to go back to work on Monday, with the kiddies showing up next Thursday.

Since it usually takes me until about mid-October to manage the madness (see yesterday's post), and since it's unplugged week next week anyway, I'm going to unplug.

I'll see you all on the other side!

EDIT: If you wanna unplug, read more about it at B.J. Anderson's blog. She's the Unplugged Queen. Hereafter referred to as UQ. LOL!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Managing the Madness

Yup, it's true. The day of reckoning has come. For me that means I'm on my way back to work. *shudders* Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I only work part-time and only part of the year. I have zero reason to complain.

Except for the fact that I don't get to spend every waking minute exactly how I want. But who does? So yeah. I'm not complaining, really I'm not.

Question: How do you manage your time so that you can write?

In the summer, I implemented my One Hour Plan. (One hour each of: reading, writing, editing, and Internet surfage/forums/blogs/etc.) It worked pretty well for a while. During the school year, I do not have four hours to devote to my writing lifestyle. So how in the world am I going to keep up?

I thought really hard to last year when I was working. (In case you didn't know, the year goes from September - August, NOT January - December. Just FYI. *wink*) It was hard, but here's what I remember doing:

I read and comment on blogs in short spurts instead of all at once. This means five minutes here, ten minutes at lunch, a few after work while my girl kid watches TV. I'm sure my comments will go down, that doesn't mean I'm not reading and enjoying your blogs.

I read for others (beta stuff) on my lunch break and late at night only. Reading for pleasure: while waiting for my kids at their various sports and activies. A few minutes here, a few there, while dinner is cooking, whenever.

I restrict myself to one writing project. Be that editing or writing something new. Doesn't matter. One thing. Since I am a strict enforcer of bedtimes (including my own) during the school year, I usually have 2 hours at night where everyone under the age of 21 is in bed. This is when I work on my writing project.

All other hours are spent at work, in transit, making lunches, fixing hair, buying sodas, paying bills, marinating chicken, making salads, grocery shopping, harping on kids about messy rooms, enforcing piano playing minutes, limiting TV watchage (yeah, right. Just have to make sure you were really reading!), and / or relaxing on the couch.


I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

How do you manage the madness that is life, work, family, and writing?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Starting Line

I've seen some discussion on Starting The Novel recently. So of course, I thought I'd throw in my two cents. It usually comes out to be more like a nickel, but whatever. I'm generous, what can I say?

Anyway, I read something really great on Katie Ganshert's blog. (Everything Katie writes is really great. Follow her. Subscribe. She's awesome.) To summarize for those of you who are like me and don't like to click away once I've started reading, she said there are basically three places you can start your novel.

1. Before the Big Event (hereafter referred to as BE). And there has to be a BE. If you don't know what your BE is, you better figure it out BEfore you start. (lol) Katie says it starts with change. Change = BE.
2. During the BE
3. After the BE

I've always prescribed to #3. I like to start my stories AFTER something has happened. Sort of drop the reader right into the hot pot of oil and let them speculate as to how they got there. I think it takes a masterful author to do this, though. If you don't give your reader enough, they'll become frustrated with what they don't know.

So you're back to spoon feeding. You read yesterday, you know what spoon feeding is. If for some reason you were abducted by aliens and didn't read my post yesterday, just scroll down. It's there.

If you choose to start your novel after the BE, you have to be a spoon feeder. Luckily, I've had two children and well, yeah, that has nothing to do with my talent (or lack thereof) of trying to spoon feed my readers. But you know.

What do you guys think? Do you start before the BE? During? After? What are the benefits and disadvantages to each?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spoon Feeding

Readers are like babies.

Now before you go all postal on me, just relax. I'm a reader. Any writer worth their salt is a reader first. We all read. We love it. So that means you're a baby. (Neiner, neiner!)

Think of babies for just a second. They're small. They can't do much for themselves. They don't know much. They learn in stages.

And that's where I want you to be. Readers learn in stages too. They don't want the whole philosopy and rationalization about how it's better to go to the bathroom in the toilet in the first ten seconds of their life. Babies can't handle that. What makes you think the reader wants the entire backstory of your plot in the first ten sentences? Trust me, they don't.

This is where spoon feeding comes in. I read a lot of manuscripts. I read so many I swear I should move to New York and become a slush reader for a big literary agent. Hmm...maybe I will. No, I won't. I have a teaching job.

Anyway, I read a lot. One of the common things I see is the author trying to shove something down the reader's throat way before they're ready for it. Like trying to feed your newborn baby pork ribs. Oooh, yum. Pork ribs.

Back to the topic at hand. Don't try to force the reader full of information they don't want or need. Spoon feed them. A little bit here. A little bit there. Just enough to keep them interested enough to turn the next page to find out more. That's all.

Another thing I see is the overloaded plate. Like a few pages of background or trying to explain the world or the species or something. Yeah, the reader can't handle that. Babies learn to walk one step at a time. So it is with your novel. Give me one step at a time, preferrably in an active scene. Never just the MC telling me they can feel death. Okay, so I do do that, but the girl feels death and it makes her life more complicated and she happens to feel it right there in history class, so the scene is semi-active, all right? Sheesh. Get off my back already.

And see how fast we morphed into a teenager?

Yeah. So there. Spoon feed your readers.

Two easy things to avoid:
1. Shoving too much down our throats too fast.
2. Overloading our plate with unnecessary information.

So do you get it now? Readers are totally like babies, right? We want to be spoon fed exactly what we need when we need it. No more, no less.

How do you spoon feed your readers?

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Characters...Yeah, All Right. They're Me

Do you create characters based on yourself?

I didn't used to think I did. But I totally do.

Now, see, I'm a pretty straight arrow. The worst thing I do is drive too fast. I'm polite to the elderly. I stop for pedestrians. I register my children for sports and school before the deadline. I'm almost always early. I always did my homework in high school. On time. I love to read. I got straight A's. I was in the marching band.

Some of you have a G-word for people like me. Go ahead. Say it. You know you want to.

Anyway, so to escape my G-ness, I created some characters. I put them in bad situations and laugh at them. Then I try to figure out how to get them out. It's called writing a book.

The thing is, most of the characters I've created are me in some way. Not every way, of course, but one little quality. The girl who can't ever think of a clever comeback (me). The one who wishes they could run fast (me). The one who loves the beach (me). The person who served on the yearbook committee (me).

I find that I can write these characters with authenticity...because they're really a small part of me.

I deliberately have my characters do things I don't, too. This helps me shed some of my G-ness I think. Or maybe it makes me a bigger one? I do not know.

A girl who can control fire (not me). But how cool would that be? The one who has all this rude stuff to say and actually says it (not me). Sometimes her mouth gets her in trouble. The girl who gets all the guys (not me).

These characters are even easier to write for me. That seems weird, like they should be harder because they're not me. But dude, haven't you always wanted to shed your skin and assume an alternate identity? Or is that just me? When I write, I can be anyone. I can be that girl who says exactly what's on her mind. And it's fun.

So maybe my characters really are all me. A bit here. A little piece there. Imagined or real, it ain't no thing. They're all me!

What about you? Are your characters like you? Even a little bit? Not at all? Which is harder for you to write?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Because One Is Not Enough

That's right. I made a blog for blogs. I didn't want all the live feeds to crash this blog again, which I really don't get cuz I've seen some blogs out there that have so much stuff on them you can't even find the post.

But whatev.

I made a new site called Wicked Awesome Bloggers. Check it out. It's how I get to the best blogs on the planet!!

I put this blog in my sidebar (it's been over there for a day or two), and really it's only one more click. There's a HUGE list of blogs I read everyday and then I read even more from my dashboard. Srsly. I need pills or something.

I'm not planning to post over there, like, ever, but you can leave me a comment if you want. Like maybe who you think should be on the list. Or whatever. The list is easily added to and it'll probably change from time to time, but that's it.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Background Check

Have you done a background check on your characters? Do you know what their life was like 5 years ago? What about their childhood? Their last girlfriend? Who their best friend in high school was? How they came to be living where they are?

As an author I think it's important to know the history of your characters. It's what gives them depth. I think most authors do a good job of showing the physical things about a character. You know, hair color, height, eye color, rock hard abs. Oops. How did that slip in there? *grins*

I think the emotional past is much much harder to create. Think about your own life. You have things in your past that not very many people know about. Things that make you who you are. Things that make you more sensitive to specific situations, or things that make you more empathetic, or things that help you "get" others. These "things" drive how you act, how you react, and how you live your life.

In order to create believable, three-dimensional characters, they must have this past too. And you must know it. Not only that, you must be able to convey it in the writing. Their decisions should be consistent with their past. Their reactions must be believable and authentic.

Without a background check, the characters may be hawt, but not much else. And since we've all been watching Dating In The Dark (you know you watched. Spill...spill...), we know that sometimes how someone looks isn't the deciding factor. Sometimes it's what they do. Don't do. Say. Don't say. Believe. Don't believe. It's WHO they are.

So in your writing, make sure you know who your characters are. Do that background check.

What do you think? Do you fingerprint your characters? How do you log their past? Me? I keep everything really nice and tidy in this huge filing cabinet called my brain. ROTFL. What about you?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

If Writing Were A Reality TV Show

It would be The Amazing Race. Totally.

Scott posted about giving your characters problems to solve in the middle of the novel. He has some reasons why, so you should just go read his post from last week.

Anyway, immediately my brain went to reality TV. I mean, whose doesn't. *snarf*

And writing.

So writing + reality TV = The Amazing Race!

This is how I make things connect in my brain. I told you it was a scary place to be.

Anyway, have you seen the show? No? It's pairs of people (married couples, sisters, engagees, fathers/sons, whatever) and they race from place to place around the globe. If they arrive last, they're out.

But it's not that simple. Along the way, they have to complete tasks. There are two main types of tasks: Roadblocks and Detours. In a Roadblock, only one person on the team can complete the task (like climb to the top of a building and jump off). In a Detour, both members have to do something (like build a desk or find a slip of paper inside a pie) together.

Anyway, so how does this relate to writing? I'm getting there.

We all know the basis of fiction is conflict. We want to keep the reader turning pages. So we have to set up the roadblocks--the problems--we need our characters to solve. Things that will help their character arc, help them grow and change into the kind of people they need to be at the end of the book.

In The Amazing Race, roadblocks are done by one member of the team, and here's the kicker: they don't know what the task is before they choose which person will do it. So if you're deathly afraid of heights (which I am), and you have to jump off a cliff...yeah, it makes them grow and change. Makes them solve problems.

So writers tackle the roadblocks themselves. We do the actual writing ourselves (unless you happen to be the luckiest person in the world and have a kewl sister to write with. I'm looking at you guys, Lisa and Laura).

Then we finish the book. And we turn to our Detours, aka Beta Readers. They tell us where we got off track, where we need more gasoline, where we need to hit the brakes, all of it. We get to work with another person to build something beautiful.

So writing is totally like The Amazing Race! Totally! And it feels good with every leg you manage to complete. Writing THE END. Writing the query. Sending the query. Getting a request. Sending material. Even waiting.

Writing really is The Amazing Race.

What do you guys think? Isn't this an amazing journey we're all on together?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Okay, quick question: Would it be lame if I had another blog just to list all the blogs I read? Maybe? Well, too bad. It's done. Will be revealed soon.

Something uber-awesome:

I got an ARC of HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick. I don't check the mail regularly in the summer, so it could have been there for days. Didn't matter. I devoured (yes, devoured) it in one day. It's just that good. If you like YA--or just good writing--you'll wanna pick up this book when it comes out in October.

Cover: amazing

Story: fantastic

Writing: well-done

Overall: Uber-Awesome (with caps)

Something funny: Yesterday's post was called "The Pants". When the comments showed up in my email, they made me snarf out loud. For instance, they looked like this: Lazy Writer - New Comment on The Pants.

It was hilarious. Ahem. Maybe you had to be there.

Something not so funny: The last part of my root canal is tomorrow.

Something worth mentioning: If you live in Utah, or near Utah, or are planning to come to Utah, UVU is having a conference in September. I'm all signed up and I'm going to wear a schweet critique group T-shirt. You won't want to miss it. The conference or the T-shirt.

Something I did I wish I wouldn't have: Ate key lime fudge. 'Nuff said.

What little something have you contributed to the world?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Pants

Okay, so this is from my Throwdown novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER. (Throwdown novel is a technical term, just so you know.)

See, there's this girl--her name is Gabby. And she can control fire. But see, in her world, only boys can control fire, so she's a genetic abnormality. So she got blamed for this fire that killed a bunch of people. So she ran away and assumed the male identity of Gabe. Then she met Adam--who can control air--and he figured out that she's a girl. But now they've teamed up with Josh--who is Unmanifested--and he doesn't know Gabby's a girl. And they're on their way to the bathing pool.

Yeah, I still need to write the query. If someone asks me what my novel is about, this is the spiel they get. Well, not really, but this is enough to get you to this part of the story.

Secretly, I was glad Adam had come. Josh didn’t seem stupid, and there was plenty he’d notice at the pool that would blow my cover.

After ten minutes, Josh stopped. He pointed down a well-worn trail. “Down there, a couple hundred feet. You can wash the clothes you’re wearing and change into your dry ones.” He looked at me, then Adam. “Do you have dry clothes?”

“Adam has some,” I said. “I’ve got some tops—um, shirts—but no jeans.”

“I can loan you some of mine,” Josh said. “I’ll be—”

“No, it’s okay,” I said. “They’re not that dirty.” When I looked at my jeans, I cringed. Not only were they crusty with dirt and mud and snow, bloodstains trailed down one leg. The right pant leg was ripped and burned from where the fire had exploded out.

“You’ll need shoes, too,” Josh said. “I can’t wait to hear the story of how you lost that one.” He grinned at my bare right foot, and then at me. “C’mon, Adam. We’ll be back in a couple of minutes, Gabe.” He walked off, Adam right behind him.

I watched them go, my mind racing. Twenty minutes. Ten there, ten back. I had no clean pants. Panic built up at the back of my throat.

A breeze wafted over my face. “Just go, I’ll help you,” it whispered, sounding very much like Adam.

I took a deep breath and walked down the trail. Steps had been cut into the slope, reinforced with branches and rocks. At the foot of the staircase lay a pool of clear water. Brown and white stones littered the bottom, and a slight ripple disturbed the surface.

I plunged both hands into the pool, finding it like liquid ice. My breath came in ragged gasps as I forced the fire into the water.

A mist arose as the hot water steamed in the frigid February air. Perfect cover. I undressed quickly, tossing my clothes into the pool. The hot water unknotted my muscles as the steam cleared my head. I only allowed myself a short minute of relief. Then I scrubbed my skin and my clothes with the soap Josh had given me. It smelled faintly of ashes and pine needles—a soft, soothing smell. I wrung my clothes out and laid them on some nearby rocks to dry. Just as I was rinsing my hair, I heard Adam talking much too loud.

“…take them down. Gabe sorta has a temper…don’t want to interrupt him. You stay here.”

I smiled. His last three words sounded like a command. My smile vanished as I remembered how clear the water was.

“Stop!” I cried out. The scuffling of Adam’s steps stopped.

“Gabe?” Josh called.

I groaned inwardly. “I’m fine,” I called back. “Just gimme a minute. Adam,” I added as an afterthought.

I got out of the pool and wrapped the towel around myself. “Okay,” I whispered and Adam immediately started down the steps again. He appeared only a few seconds later. He kept his eyes on mine, holding the clean pair of pants in front of him like a shield. It might have been funny if I wasn’t naked beneath the thin towel.

And tease...out. Did you see the shield part? Yeah, that comes from my writing rut. Oh well. I like it here.

One more thing: It's my boy kidlet's birthday! He's 11. Only two more years until the teen years. *shudders*

Monday, August 3, 2009

In It To Win It

Last week, I pondered on the worth of writing. So many of you shared your feelings with me, and that led to some personal thinkage time.

This is what I came up with: Are you in it to win it?

I rarely do anything I don't plan on succeeding (winning) in. That's a weird sentence. Anyway, since I love word math:

Elana = competitive

Elana = driven

Elana = willing to learn

Competitive + Driven + Willing to Learn = In It To Win It

So by the transitive property (yes, I majored in math in college, in fact, I have a math minor), Elana = In It To Win It

The reason I thought of all this is that my son was playing soccer last week. He's a great kid, really. But he did a lot of standing around. Now, those of you who've met me in real life wouldn't think that I could run. But I can. If there are dogs behind me.

But back when I was younger, I played competitive soccer. I was the defensive sweeper, which means I had to run. A lot. Maybe that's why I hate running now. Anyway, my son was doing some standing around, and we were talking about it at home.

And my DH said, "Mom's a hard worker. You wouldn't see her standing around on the field."

He was right. Because when I do something, I do it. In fact, when my husband and I were first engaged (man, today is personal story day! You like it. You know you do), we were playing basketball with his brothers. That's right. Me. With his three brothers. I'm sure you can imagine all kinds of scenarios for how this might end.

Me = competitve.

Me = playing with four grown men.

Me = cracked skull.

In fact, it was a piece of my eyebrow bone that was chipped off. I can still feel it under my skin. No joke. Not only that, but it was my fiancee that elbowed me in the face! And yes, I still married him.

And now I can't remember why I was telling you that story. Oh! When I do something, I do it. Including playing basketball to the death (if need be). Or soccer. Or crafting. Or teaching. Or driving fast.

When I do something, I do it.

So it is with this writing and publishing journey. I can't help it. It's in my genes. Yeah, I'm blaming the 'rents for this competitive streak that somehow keeps me going down in this winding road toward publication.

What about you? Are you in it to win it? Whatever "it" may be.

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget