Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

We Interrupt the Random Stuff with Compelling Characters!

Today I'm joining about 150 other bloggers out there for a bit of a blogfest-blogpalooza and we are all giving you our spin on "Writing Compelling Characters!"

I don't generally do a lot of "how to" posts or what not, because I really think everyone has their own style and that is one of the most important things for a writer--knowing who you are and what your writing style is. You don't need me to tell you how to write.

With that in mind, I'm going to tell you my thoughts on compelling characters and something I always try to keep in mind:

If this was a real person, would I care about this character?

This is a question I ask myself because I think the compelling characters are the most memorable ones. Art can imitate life and vice versa. People who may only have a cameo, or very small, brief parts in our lives may end up making huge impacts that can stay with us forever. Chances are, if this is character is a person whose appearance in my real life could change my life, whether I love them, hate them or recognize them as just a passing acquaintance, will I remember these people/characters?

I guess, the other part of my big question to think about is the word "real." Compelling characters ARE real, they are multi-dimensional. There is depth to them beyond just being good or bad. They are characters that have flaws, strengths, weaknesses . . . these are characters with a soul - whether good or evil. And with that in mind, a compelling character is one thatis developed to where they could come right off the pages of a book and you could run into on your next trip to the grocery store.

Sorry if I'm a bit rambly in this post, running on a week of very little sleep and feeling almost zombie-ish. Plus, a little short on time with day job and kidlet stuff going on.

Regardless, those are just what my thoughts are. As a writer, if I can answer that real person question, I'm all set. As for you, what do you think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

YanYan is Yum!

Sorry, I meant to post this earlier, but things have been a bit crazy. Hence the reason this is not a more fabulous post.

However, the important part is .... Who gets the Yum?? Well, the YanYan, but seriously, it is chocolate hazelnut YUM!

And without further ado, according to random.org the winner is

L.T. ELLIOT!

LT, shoot me an email on the best way to get the goodies over to you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

H.O.W. I Stay Calm

It's hard. Sometimes, damn near impossible.

H.O.W. do I do it? I have ADD and --ohhh look,

jedi squirrels!! Oh, wait, where was I? Oh, yeah.

H.O.W. to stay calm. Like I said, it's difficult. Especially as a writer where there's so much waiting and uncertainty and wondering and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Like when you send out a query. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Or if you're past that stage and out on submission. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

Or when you enter the Utah Chapter RWA Hearts of the West (aka HOW) Writer's Contest. And wait. And wait. And -- what? Wait, WHAT?

I'M A FINALIST IN THE Utah RWA H.O.W. Contest!!!

Check it out at the Utah RWA site.

And now I am doing a little bit of this:


Because, well, all good things should be shared and celebrated!

And I'm doing a lot a bit of this:


Why? Because losing myself in another story is H.O.W. I stay calm.

Keeping my fingers crossed! If you've got some good news let's hear it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote of the Week

In lieu of a quote this week, I'd like to ask everyone to please keep the residents affected by the #HerrimanFire in Herriman, UT in your thoughts and prayers.

As of when I'm writing this post at 11:46 p.m. on Sunday night, over 1,200 residents have been evacuated and at last count, 3 homes have been completely destroyed. By the time you read this post, though I pray they won't be, I'm certain both those numbers will be significantly higher. Currently, the fire is 0% contained due to high winds / gusts that are making the fire's path unpredictable.

If you'd like more information regarding the Herriman Fire, which has also been called the Machine Gun Fire due to the cause of the fire (started at the machine gun range at Camp Williams), here are some links you can check out.


Wishing safety to all those affected.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Random Stuff Friday ... and a CONTEST!

1. Little Greeny's back and better than ever. The extra investment in the Geek Squad warranty stuff = Best. Plan. Ever. So now she's got a better hard drive (because they weren't sure what I had, so the guessed and I ended up with an upgrade.) AND they backed up my stuff for free! (normally they charge $100). And the whole thing only took about 25 hours, from drop off until I was able to pick up. Yay! Go Geek Squad.

2. Holy crap, I had no idea that being without my computer for a day would totally throw off my jive so much. But it did. It totally felt like I've been off my game this week - not tweeting like normal, not facebooking or blogging or anything! I feel like I've ended up so disconnected! So now I feel like I have to make up for it. We'll see if I actually can.

3. In addition to my lack of social networking this week ... I have barely been writing. Or rewriting. Or revisioning. Like I said. So off my game. I need to get my crap together. Hoping this 3-day weekend will help - at least on the R & R side (that's rest and relaxing, not rewriting & revisioning). Should help me get my game back right? Let's hope.

4. Last night was crit group night. Can I just say how much I adore my crit group? Love these ladies. Yes, that's right - Ali, Sheralyn and Nichole, I'm talking to you!! They're a ball to hang out with and brainstorm with and they always know just how to keep you grounded. As I've said on Twitter, I'm not exactly uber-techie, hence the shipping Little Greeny off to Geek Squad when she got sick. So this is a little bottle cap magnet one of my crit buds gave me - it's even green to match Little Greeny.


5. Speaking of crit group, we were talking about weird food. I don't remember how the topic came up, but I've eaten my fair share of bizarre foods (by American standards). My family's originally from Southeast Asia and there's loads of things that seem relatively normal to me, but according to some people, are bizarre. Cow tongue, tripe, chicken feet, balut (embryo eggs) and duck blood, just to name a few things.

AND because I decided just right this moment that I want to give something away, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what the MOST BIZARRE THING you've ever eaten is and you could win this lovely notebook, along with some Sharpie pens, very normal things for all writers to have. And that's not all! I'll even throw in one of our family's favorite treats: YanYan crackers with chocolate-hazelnut dip! Seriously - the treat is YUM!


And because there's totally yum foodage involved and some countries are so not down with the yum, I have to keep this a USA only contest. Sorry to the international peeps. I'll leave this contest open until, oh, let's say 10:00 pm Mountain time next Tuesday, September 21. The last day of summer. *sigh* I'll pick a winner with the help of random.org.

Oh, and if you decide you want to tweet the contest or FB it or whatev, let me know and I'll throw in an extra entry for you!

Okie dokie, all, have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Battle of the Betas

It's that time again! Time for ...


Super thanks to Alicia for "donating" the first page of her ms - PHOENIX RISING, an urban fantasy, to the cause!

And in case you're new to Battle of the Betas, here's the quick deets: 9 writers (listed at the bottom!) have come together in this little monthly experiment to show you how we crit. Hopefully, if you're out there looking for a beta/crit partner, this will help remind you that everyone crits a little differently and no matter what, everyone's experience and styles are a bit different. :)

Keep in mind, this is just one page of a manuscript, so there may be things out of context and what not. My comments are in the italics.

20 Years Ago

Ianos [I hate when I don’t know how to pronounce a character’s name. just my personal thing :)] studied the chimera pride that roamed the foothills outside Timmons for months in search of the runt. [good tension in this opening line] With a pair of large males and several females, it took him longer than he wanted, [ok, I’m confused – maybe just me, but does that mean those chimera were in his way? It can read that way or it can read a little like they were helping him but sometimes get in the way (like those hunting dogs?).] but once discovered, he kept his eye on it. [this sentence ender feels a bit anti-climactic after his super long-many months search. Just saying.] In a final attempt of self-preservation, they [you mean the pride right? Sugg: clarifying that as you flip between talking about the pride and then the runt and then Ianos] abandoned it weeks ago. Each day it grew weaker, languishing without the companionship of the pride. On the fourteenth day [14th day after finding the runt? Sugg: clarify timeline, could cause confusion. Also, why does he wait for 14 days after finding it?], Ianos executed his oh so easy [should this be hyphenated?] plan. [see, if his plan is so easy, I’m not sure I understand his motivation for tracking for another 2 weeks …]

Armed with nothing other than his knowledge of spells, he made his final trek to the foothills. He was much closer than he’d been in his previous visits to the chimera grounds and never seen anything like the beast before. [but isn’t it just another chimera? What makes this one so different from the others that he’s seen before? –show me what makes this one special please :)] It lay in the sun, with only one head awake, but not alert. The lion head mewled [does this mean it has other type of heads? Like, if this is the lion head-does it also have a tiger head, duck head, horse head?], mourning its fate. Its paper lantern thin wings [great visual!] stretched on the ground while the dragon and goat heads slept. [ok, never mind. You answered my other question.]

It was awing. [this sentence reads weird to me. sugg word choice maybe? It doesn’t feel strong enough to be on its own line. May just be me …]

The lion head despondently watched Ianos’ approach but roared to awaken the other two heads when Ianos crossed some unknown border. [the pacing of this sentence throws off the action sequence. Sugg ending sentence @ approach. Then new sentence beginning with “When Ianos cross… the lion head roared.”] The beast rose to its full height, stretched its wings wide, and bellowed—all three heads created a cacophony [the 2 hard “c” sounds made this line lose some strength for me. sugg: word choice –change one of the c words] of rage.

Ianos snarled and crouched, ready to strike. [is Ianos not human or humanoid? It’s not stated before this and those actions are very animalistic.] Electricity spurted from his palms towards the chimera. It dodged at the last second and ran head-on towards the sorcerer. [Maybe let the reader know that Ianos is a sorcerer before this?] He [the sorcerer or the chimera?] ran into a cave to his right; he’d have better luck surviving the fight if he was able to corner the animal. The beast skidded, turned, and charged again. Ianos leapt onto its back. He held tightly onto the lion’s neck scruff and struggled to pull a lasso out of his jeans. [the way this last line is phrased makes it almost sound like the lasso is in the chimera’s jeans :)]

I really like the tension right at the beginning, how the hunt is what draws us in, but the transition into the action is a bit abrupt. I wanted more tension, more details around the hunt and what was going on with the rest of the pride before the MC discovered the runt.

I wasn’t able to picture where everything is happening. Yes, foothills, but that’s very vague. Maybe some more description of the setting, you could probably weave that in if you showed a bit more of the MC’s search. Also, I had no idea, really what a chimera looked like in your world. The description didn’t come until toward the end and so I didn’t really know what he was searching for until he’d already found it, even though, obviously, he was dealing with the rest of the pride.

Overall, good action, some good descriptions, I just could’ve used a little more … descriptions, tension and setting. Oh, and I had no idea sorcerers wore jeans! I was totally picturing something Merlin or Albus Dumbledore-esque ;)

Thanks again, Alicia, for braving the group and letting us crit your page! It takes guts! J

Take a look at these other beta perspectives on Alicia's manuscript page:

Kate Hart

Meredith Primeau

Sarah Enni

Cory Jackson

Raven Ashley

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Oh my ... what is that beeping?"

Geek Squad Agent

I apologize for the delay in posting my quote this week, but I'd like to explain. You see, yesterday, my new awesome laptop, Little Greeny, came down with BSOD, aka: Blue Screen of Death. Yes, that is actually the technical term. I've only had Little Greeny for about 3 weeks and I have no idea what happened. As soon as I recognized it was BSOD I called Geek Squad (came with the computer) and about 5 minutes into the convo, this week's quote was uttered. By more than 1 Geek Squad Agent. That quote was followed by:

"You need to take this into the Geek Squad guys asap."

2nd Geek Squad Agent

I had a gee? really? you don't say? moment, but I opted not to say that, as they were being nice to me. I packed up the kidlets and off to Best Buy we were, so Little Greeny could get into the computer hospital. And then I had to leave him there. So ... I am without computer for the time being. So if I'm a little lacking in my normal online-ness activities, I apologize. I am practicing my meditations so that I can stay Zen about the whole situation. Hope everyone else is having a better start to their week than I've had!

"Ohhhmmmmmmm. Ohhhhhmmmmmmm."

me

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

So it's Friday and what have we discovered I am all about on Friday's? Random stuff. Well, it's a whole week's worth of random stuff, but still. Here we go!

1. I am obsessed with Netflix. The kidlets LOVE it even more than I do, I think. They get to watch loads of PBS and NickToons and other kiddie shows and I finally have a chance to watch shows I've heard lots about without making any real $$ commitment. It totally rocks. Why did we join so late in the game? I really need to listen to the masses more often.

2. When we had our 2nd baby (she's 2 now), we had a friend create adorable birth announcements that were more modern and clean and still had so much character. We loved them. And now Mae's going to be using E's pictures on some of her sample work! So, yay! we've got our very own little baby model in the family. And Mae does tons more stuff than just announcements, go check out her website: Mae Armstrong Designs (and no, she's not paying me advertise :D)

3. 5yo's first week full week of school wraps up with her being the student of the week or whatever in her class. What does this mean for me? Well, because I have tons and tons of time and not a million other things to do, we got to make a poster all about her. I let her pick out a few pictures and tried to make it look all cute and crafty and then she wanted to stick Finding Nemo stickers all over it - so totally didn't go with the stripy-dot theme we had, but whatev. It was her poster. She gets to take a show and tell and a treat to share and basically she's super excited, which is great, but let's just say I haven't had near as much writing time this week as I would've liked.

4. On Thursday was my 3-month post-op checkup. And the verdict? My heart is now "totally perfect." I really think they're just blowing smoke. Just kidding, the docs and nurses have been great, but now we're just waiting for the meds to get out of my system and hopefully that will help with all the other symptoms that have hit. A few more weeks and we'll see, but otherwise, good news.

5. Tomorrow is another writerly fun day! Meeting up with some peeps to hit the Kiersten White Paranormalcy signing at The Kings English in SLC! Come one, come all. Hope to see you all there!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quote of the Week ... with Commentary

It has just occurred to me at 11:46 pm on Monday night that I have not posted a quote for this week. So here's one for you:

"Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another."

Anatole France

Apparently Anatole was a parent to rambunctious children with a full-time day job, AND writing aspirations?? Who woulda thought ...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Stuff Friday

I decided to jump on the random stuff Friday. Not that I'm not random most other days of the week, but I figure now I can consolidate it into one once a week post. Yeah? Yeah. So here's this week's Friday's Random 5.

1) A couple weeks ago I colored my hair for the first time in what feels like FOREVER. Since before I had kids. So we did a weave between this wicked red and then a more blendy red. But now I remember why I hated coloring my hair: the maintenance, especially of the red. Red fades. Fast. So now the wicked red? Not so wicked. :( Ah, well, back into see PrettyKateMachine, the cute chicky who does my hair.

2) Sneaky word verifications irk me. Not nearly as much as music on blogs, but still. I type in my comment and hit submit or whatever, think I'm all done and then ta-dah! Just kidding. Verify this word. It's like when you read the first exciting awesome chapter of a book (or an entire book) and get to the end and find out it's all a dream and none of it happened. Suck. Just saying.

3) I've been trying to limit my whiny-ness this week, but I currently have 5 canker sores in my mouth, all over. It hurts. I can't really talk. I can eat even less. I think I've lost about 5 pounds since this whole stupid thing started, and not that that's not a good thing, but I'm HUNGRY! UPDATE: Went to the doctor and I've actually lost 4 lbs, so my guess was pretty good. My mouth still hurts, but they gave me some "magic" mouthwash that is decent, but totally makes my entire mouth tingly numb. But hey, no pain!

4) We had our first experience with non-family babysitter last night. A cute girl, the daughter of one of the guys I work with, and the kidlets LOVED her! They had so much fun and she was so good with them! It was awesome. So glad we found someone, because for a while, I wasn't so sure we'd ever be able to escape the dependence on the family. Not that having them around for support is bad ... it's just, there's some things they just don't "get." Like date nights. Or crit groups. ;)

5) 5yo's first day of Kindergarten was today. I took the day off from work because I remembered how I felt when I dropped her off at pre-school for the first time. But it was all good, because she was excited and I'd already done the leaving at school thing before and I'm actually okay. Unlike the lady in the next car who was sobbing, which I totally expected of myself.

OK, that's it for this week's installment of Random Stuff Friday. This production has been brought to you by the letters K (kindergarten) and E (emotional). And by the number 2 (for 2yo's tantrum to distract me from being emotional when dropping off 5yo).

Have a great holiday weekend for all those in the US and have a great weekend for everyone else!