Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Work in Progress... Um, Er, Wednesday?

So, it's been a while since we've done that WIP Wednesday thing together, but I have good reason for my online absence. As I've mentioned before, besides my writing related works in progress, I've also been working on a very personal non-writing side project.


The only problem is that as time went on this side project began to consume more and more of my time and energy - until it wasn't so much on the side, but rather more front and center.

Kind of like this:




And as of December 3rd, 2009 at 1:59PM - that side project has become fully integrated into my life in the form of a baby girl: Zoe Ann Quinn.

Coming home from the hospital.

Posing for pictures with big brother Jamie.

Aaaahhh. Sleeping.

And discovering new uses for her hands.


So, that's what I've been up to, and as I am still working on remembering what day it is (and sometimes even what time of day it is - those sleepless nights are rough) my posts will be infrequent (or non-existent) until after the New Year. In the meantime, I hope all of you out there are getting a lot accomplished on your own works in progress and that you have an awesome holiday season and a Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are you Afraid?


It's blog chain time and this time Kat brought us a question perfect for Halloween:

What are the primary fears that drive your characters? Do they battle aliens or gangsters or monsters? Or do they battle unreconciled issues in their lives? Which do you prefer writing about? What do you fear?

Okay, so fear. I think most writers would admit to having some pretty big fears, because it kind of goes hand in hand with that whole overactive imagination thing. It does not, in my case at least, take a lot to get that imagination going either. A horror movie will do it - actually I just can't sit through horror movies anymore - I literally shake and cower during the suspenseful parts, cover my eyes entirely during the gory sections, and for days afterward have trouble walking into dark rooms. Or a news article about a dry drowning can make me even more neurotic than ever about letting my son anywhere near a swimming pool.

Now with my own fears, I use my worrying almost as a neurotic type of shield - like it will keep all the bad things that I imagine away. Or I try to find actual physical ways to make life safer - whether that consists of making sure the doors are locked at night (Actually this is my husband's job, but sometimes if I hear a funny noise outside I'll ask him, "did you make sure you locked the doors?" Sometimes, if I'm feeling especially nervous I'll put in a request for him to double check. For the record, he does not seem to appreciate this.) or putting some padded foam onto a sharp counter corner in the kitchen (I actually just did this today - my son kept banging his head on it, and I didn't want it to get to the point where he banged it so hard he needed stitches or lost an eye. Yes, I know. I really am neurotic.)

However, my characters are not so lucky. There are no locked doors or safe foam corners for them. As soon as I know what my characters fear most, then I know exactly what will happen to them.

Fear of fire? Grab some matches.

Arachnophobia? Bring on the mutant spiders. A

fraid you'll turn into your mother? Then it's time for some Freaky Friday action.

Whether the fears are internal or external I want to be constantly nudging my characters towards the edge of the cliff, until there's nowhere to go but down... and then I found out how they deal with falling.

So, what do you fear? What do your characters fear? And do you push your characters towards their fears too?

And for more blog chain fun you can find Rebecca's post before mine and Amanda's directly after.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WIP Wednesday and Blog Chain

Happy Wednesday... I guess. It's a gray day today here in Knoxville, with steady rain coming down, and no end in sight. And while I like the occasional rainy day - it's always a good excuse to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea - we have had so many of them lately that honestly I am a little sick of it.

Maybe though my anti-rain bad mood is just me being disappointed that I didn't meet my goal of finishing my rewrites this past weekend. The problem is that I kept hitting walls that I hadn't anticipated, so instead of having a plan of how to get over or around them, I ended up just sitting, staring at the computer screen (or sometimes a Bejeweled Blitz game) and wondering what I should do next.

I am slowly figuring things out, and eventually moving past the walls, but it is definitely a process, and one that can be very discouraging at times. I guess it is all part of the journey though... and that is my kind of lame segue into our current blog chain topic brought to us by Sandra.

What kind of journeys do your characters make? What effects do they have on the characters and the plot? Also, if you wish, please tell us about one of your personal journeys and how it changed you.

As several other blog chainers before me have mentioned, the most important journey that a character makes is their internal one. The question of how my main character changes or tranforms by the end of the story is second only to what that character wants. However, it can also be helpful to show rather than just tell about this journey by the character going on an actual physical journey - whether that means having them hop on a transcontinental flight or a simply take a trip to the mailbox at the end of the driveway.

In my first (now trunked) novel, a contemporary romance, the main character, after having her heart broken, decides to bicycle back to her hometown of Buffalo, NY from her current location in Miami. After spending several days on the road, mostly getting lost and frustrated she comes to a realization - that she is lost in more ways than one. Here is a small excerpt of her making that realization:

Now on day five, after ending the previous day having actually lost a mile, Stella tried to once again to remind herself why she was here. Wherever here was… she was once again foggy on that point. The rational that it was something Old Stella wouldn’t have done now seemed preposterous. It had taken Stella five days to realize that there were in fact many things that Old Stella didn’t do, that any sane person wouldn’t - for good reason - ever want to do. Stella was beginning to suspect that bicycling from Miami to Buffalo might be one of those things. With this thought, Stella stopped peddling.

She was on a completely deserted road. Lost is what she was in every way possible. She wasn’t doing this to prove something, this was now clear. What she was doing was running like a chicken with her head cut off. Or like someone uncertain of where she belonged anymore. The truth was she didn’t want to go home. This bicycling thing wasn’t flying solo - it was stalling. It was when she got home, and had to decide what to do next that Stella would have to test her wings for real. Maybe the stationary bicycle in her living room hadn’t been taking her anywhere, but for all intents and purposes, this one wasn’t either. Decision made Stella wheeled her bicycle around and started peddling back in the direction she had come from. For the first time in days she felt like she might be going in the right direction.

As for my own personal journeys, I think that just like in fiction the most memorable ones are those that help us learn or understand something new about ourselves.

On some trips you learn that if you are going in July to stay with a friend who lives in North Carolina you should really make sure they have air conditioning (and in this case, I also found out that you should also be prepared for less than clean living conditions when you already know ahead of time that this person had been on the Jenny Jones show in a segment entitled: "My Roommate Is A Slob.")

On other trips you learn about your own resiliency when you end up in an unknown city having to seek out a ear, nose, and throat specialist for a horrible earache, and your bare minimum health insurance doesn't cover it.

And finally there are simple day trips, like when my husband and I drove from LA up to Santa Barbara and I found out that while it may look cool to be driving in a Jeep with the top down, in reality you mostly are just hot and windblown, while on the next day you end up with some pretty funky sunburn lines.

So what journeys have you made lately - whether it's a character's journey or your own?

And to follow this full chain, check out Rebecca before me and Amanda after.

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday

Well it is once again WIP Weds. and I am still doing rewrites. So far I have written about 6,000 new words, while I have cut around 4,000 old words. I still have some big cuts coming ahead though, so it will be interesting to see where my final word count ends up.

As you may have noticed that is a fairly large amount of new words, and in helping them find their way to the page I made use of my new SUPER SECRET WEAPON!





Behold.

Bejeweled Blitz courtesy of Facebook.

Okay, it's actually not terribly secret, nor is it really weapon-like at all. In fact, some might even consider it more of a black pit of procrastination. To those people though I would say... okay, yeah you have a point.

Yes, there have been times when before jumping into the Word document that is the current version of my MS, when I might play one, two, or (gulp) twenty-five "warm-up" games of Bejeweled Blitz. You know, just something to transition me from the checking email and blogs part of my computer time to the getting down to serious work part.

However, once I have gotten through those one, two, or (gulp) twenty-five games of Bejeweled I dive into my MS and start writing... aaannddd then after a solid two or three minutes of writing there is usually a pause of some sort where I consider which words need to come next. Now some might take these time to stare into space, spin in your chair, or consider the state of your cuticles and while in the past I have done all these things - now I have found something even better. During this time I flip back to the ever so conveniently still open Bejeweled Blitz tab and play one more game (really it is just one this time... okay, sometimes two).

But - and this is an important but - while I play my brain is working on that next sentence and flipping through the various possibilities until I come up with the perfect thing. Then I flip back to Word, type that in, and if it doesn't immediately lead to something else I flip back to Bejeweled to ponder my next sentence.

There are two reasons that is the perfect game for this type of "multitasking".

One: Each game is only a minute long. It is long enough to give your brain a chance to work on your story, but not so long that you get sucked into the game and forget about the story altogether.

Two: It's kind of a mindless game, or it is the way I play it, which is to say, with a minimum of strategy. I'm not looking for the big plays or thinking ten moves ahead - I just make the matches as my eyes spot them. And I swear every time in this game that I've gotten a really high score it is when I am on the phone, or not really thinking about the game at all (although I am usually kind of a middle person on the scoreboard and my highest score to date was only around 113,000.).

Okay, that's my WIP Weds. Hopefully next week I will have finished my rewrites - that is the plan at least. How about you? How is your WIP coming along? And do you ever play games or have something else to get your mind going when you get stuck?

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday

It's a little late in the day for WIP in progress Wednesday (my clock currently reads quarter to 9), but it is still Wednesday, so I'm squeezing this blog post in anyway.

Last week I wrote about how during my various rounds of rewrites and revisions I never differentiated between the two words, until finally during this current round, I came to see a very drastic difference between the two.

I had some really excellent comments regarding how other people defined their own rewrites/revisions/edits and wanted to share a few of them here.

K.M. Weiland: I definitely differentiate between revising and rewriting. Revising is routine; rewriting is radical!

Jennifer Shirk: It's like taking a chunk out of a cake that tastes funny and putting in a different layer. They you do the REVISIONS which is the frosting that keeps it all together so you never see the rewrites and it looks all pretty.

Lady Glamis: A rewrite to me means opening up a blank document and starting over. That's what I've done with my novel Monarch. I've been rewriting it for months now, and I'm almost done.

Elana Johnson: There is such a HUGE difference between revisions and rewriting. I call revisions edits and rewrites revisions, though. Because when I revise, I'm doing all that chopping, moving and rebuilding you talk about. Just different words. :)


What I think these comments highlight is not only how differently we all approach the writing process, but the many different ways that we can define it as well. I also have to mention that while I was writing last week's post I knew there was another word for rewrites/revisions that I couldn't think of, and it wasn't until I was reading my comments that I realized that word was "edits". It was definitely a hand-meets-forehead moment.

So, onto this week. I've actually made a lot of progress with what I've defined as my reWRITES. I even had one of those moments when the writing was just flowing and everything inside of me was like, "Yes, this is what I'm meant to be doing." Of course, that was Friday night and everything I've written since then has been like pulling teeth, but still that one moment almost makes the rest of it worthwhile.

Another thing that I've tried to keep in mind while doing my reWRITES are some general guiding principles or ideas that I want to use a criteria to judge what needs to go out and what needs to be put in instead. I boiled this down to three basic ideas that I wrote down and have been referring back to, constantly asking myself if I am sticking to them.


1. Simplify.

This one mostly refers to my overly convoluted plot, which towards the end grew so complicated that I could barely understand everything that was happening and how it all tied together.

2. Lighten and Go with the Quirk

This is more of a note on tone. Overall, my MS uses a lot of humor, but there were some very dark and weighty moments. While some of those moments are staying, others are being stripped away - especially where things got a little too dark and depressing.

3. It's the Character's, Stupid!

This kind of ties back into number one, when I became so wrapped up in the plot, I ended up losing some of my most important characters - so while I am at work unraveling bits of plot, I am also gently reminding myself where to keep the focus instead.


Anyway, those are three pretty broad statements, but so far they are helping to keep me on track. Has anyone else tried to use something like this to keep yourself focused on what your want your story to be - whether it be with a first draft or the (as I am calling my current draft) 500th one?

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday

Wow, it has been over a month since my last official WIP Wednesday posting. And it feels even longer than that.

When I last posted a WIP Wednesday progress wwaaayyy back in August, I had plans for finishing off revisions and beginning work on a brand new shiny and exciting WIP.

Except that didn't happen.

Instead I am once again elbow deep in Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

Up to this point when talking about revisions and rewrites I have used the two words interchangeably. However, as I have begun to make the latest changes to BTDATDBS I have been very carefully referring to them as reWRITES - and suddenly the difference is very clear to me.

Now other writers may see this another way, and this is strictly my own way of looking at things, but here is what I see as the difference between reWRITES and reVISIONS.

REVISIONS. This is something that is done with red pen in hand (well technically you can use any color ink... but why would you?) where you cross out little bits, maybe write in other little bits, and just generally make a lot of squiggly lines indicating the need to split a paragraph or correct a misspelled word. In a word, revisions are nit-picky.

REWRITES. This, on the other hand, is something that is done with a power saw, and a take no prisoners attitude. It's big, bold, and sometimes even bloody. No part of your manuscript is safe - from characters to plot points to location - anything can be torn to shreds at any moment. Of course, it's not only about destruction - because then you have to go back and fill in the now gaping holes. Depending on the level of devastation - you may end up doing a lot of rebuilding.

After having recently been given some excellent suggestions on how to make my manuscript stronger, it is in reWRITES of this type that I currently find myself. These will actually be the biggest rewrites I have undertaken on this MS. Prior to this, I'd say I did about two rewrites - although much more minor ones - and they were after getting feedback from my first beta readers. Since then there have been many many many many many - just uncountable really - round of revisions. Revisions, for me, are kind of like that - one round just blends into another. And after I finish these reWRITES, there will be another round of reVISIONS - acting as a clean up crew of sorts.

So, that's where I'm currently at. What about you? How are your works in progress? And do you differentiate between reWRITES and reVISIONS (your definitions don't have to be the same as mine) when you are working on your MS?

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who Am I?


This week on the blog chain we are getting all existential with a question brought to us by Michelle:

Do you choose WHAT you do because of WHO you are? Or is who you are determined by what you do?

Wow. BIG question. It's not quite: "what's the meaning of life", but it's pretty darn close.

So, I'm just going to jump right in and say straight out: I label myself by what I do. This means that even though I have been writing stories for as long as I've known how to put words on paper, I wouldn't say "I've been a writer my whole life." I mean, I've always had a passion for writing, but then again I've always had a passion for chocolate, but I wouldn't call myself a chocolatier either.

The thing is despite the notebooks that I've over the years filled with short stories and bits of novels - writing was very rarely my focus. In undergrad I planned on getting an English degree, but then the acting bug bit and suddenly I was working towards a BFA in theatre. Even though I loved the opportunities to write - even taking a playwriting class - the experience that I seized upon during those four years for my future goals was when I directed a one-act play my senior year. I was meant to direct, I decided, and not wanting to limit myself to the stage I headed off to California for film school.

Luckily, the MFA program at Chapman encouraged writer/directors, which meant that I had the chance to do not only do a lot of writing, but also see it come to life on screen. Even as I fell out of love with directing, I came to became more passionate than ever about my writing. I still wasn't a writer though. Why? Because over the next few years I intermittently worked on one full length screenplay and began a handful of half-baked novels.

So when did I actually become a writer? That is difficult to capture. Was it two years ago when I began writing the first novel that I would actually finish? Was it when I began to research how to send that novel out to agent's and had to tackle my first query letter? Was it when I received my first agent request or, even better, my first rejections? Or maybe it was the moment when I trunked that first book and started writing the second one?

Perhaps it is simply the accumulation of all those moments.

And is there a moment when I would stop being a writer? I think so, and that one is easier to pin-point - it's when I say to myself, "Enough with this writing crap. It's time to follow my real passion: chocolate!"

Okay, what about you: are you a believer in the motto "writers write" or do you think there is something more to the whole thing than merely action? And was there a moment when you first said to yourself, "I am a writer?"

For more thoughts on this topic make sure to check out Rebecca before me and Amanda who is up next!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life In Progress


I had a plan. It was a good plan too. I returned from my semi-vacation (2 plus weeks staying at the parents house in Buffalo, NY) last week and I was ready to work. Okay, yes, the thousands of blog entries that I had missed and needed to catch up on reading did give me pause. And the latest massive rewrites (rewrites, not revisions, more about that in another post though) that I was looking at for Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea did make me feel like I was sometimes swimming against the tide.

Overall though my mood was upbeat. I was refreshed and ready to get some work done. I had even begun composing this weeks celebratory Work in Progress Wednesday post in my head - about how sometimes all we need to unplug once in a while, and we'll come out on the other side better and stronger and maybe even with whiter teeth than before (okay, this last one is probably only true if your time off included a trip to the dentist, which mine did not. Who the heck goes to the dentist while on vacation?).

The thing is I had a plan, and then...

Have you ever heard that joke about how if you want to make God laugh - tell him about your plans? It's a funny joke, although also kind of depressing. And it definitely doesn't go with the whole vision of God that I was brought up with Him (yes, He was definitely a He.) seeing us as beloved children or sometimes lost sheep. This God who laughs at our plans though is more of the type who looks down and sees us as all a bunch of schmucks. I'm not judging or saying either one is right or wrong. It's just an interesting contrast.

Anyway.

I had a plan, and then I got sick. Not a small case of the sniffles either. Although also not swine flu. No, it was more of a puke (sorry for the oversharing here. Is there a more discreet way to say puke? Would vomit or upchuck have worked better? I think they all give one a pretty graphic idea of what was happening.) until there's nothing left, and then go to the hospital and puke some more. Yeah, this sickness came with an express trip to the hospital. Where I was hooked to an IV. And put in the coldest room ever in the history of the world. I swear they were importing the air from Antarctica. They also gave me medicine that stopped the puking. And Sprite on ice with a bendy straw. The bendy straw was key.

That was Sunday. And since then I've been sleeping, taking care of a sickly toddler (although not sick with the same thing as me, OMG thank goodness), and praying to any type of God who will listen to please let me never ever ever ever ever again in my entire life have to throw up like that again.

So, there was no rah-rah yeah me celebratory Work in Progress Wednesday this week. But as this week continues to plod forward I will be working towards having progress to report next week and on once again catching up on all your great blogs (I miss all of you really I do! Sorry I haven't been commenting, but I have been reading).

In the meantime has anyone else had life get in the way of their plans? Or maybe you've been sick (my mom says it's going around... although I think she says this every time I get sick) too? Or if you have some actual work in progress Wednesday stuff to report I'd love to hear that too:)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Taking and Breaking the Rules


The last blog chain topic was about sharing our own writerly advice, so for the current blog chain (that I have the honor of starting) I wanted to look at advice from the other side - as the receiver rather than the giver.

As writers I think we have a tendency to collect writing advice the same way other people do coins or baseball cards. It can be a quote from Hemingway, a link to an agent's blog, or a highlighted passage from Bird by Bird. Most of these rules we follow with the eagerness of the newly converted, grateful to have been brought into the light... but others we chafe against, and maybe even question their usefulness. So the question for this round is:

What writing rules/advice - whether it was a matter of cannot or will not - have you broken?

When it comes to cannot (To differentiate between the question of can or will go back to your grade school teacher who when you asked "Can I go to the bathroom?" would smartly reply, "I don't know. Are you physically able to?" At which point with a sigh you would answer, "May I?") - run-on sentences are the bane of my existence.

Over and over again I have written a sentence that has around fifty words, six commas, and maybe even a dash or two added in for some extra flavor. And even through several rounds of edits I will look at that sentence and my brain will assure me, "Yes, that is one sentence. Clearly." And I will be happy with this... until one of my lovely crit partners will point out a place where a period could oh so easily replace a comma, or maybe even two of them. I then look my one sentence, now made into two or three and my brain says, "Oooh, yeah. That works much better."

For some reason though it is just one of those things that I have trouble identifying on my own.

There are other rules though that I break more willfully. At the top of the list is the: Show, Don't Tell rule. I think, I mentioned a while ago my objections to this rule - which is that as writers it has been so pounded into our heads that we go through our manuscripts on seek and destroy missions for any instances of telling, when it actuality there are time when simply telling the reader some crucial bit of information in one quick sentence can be way more effective than using three pages to painstakingly show it.

Perhaps as writers we need to remember that as children our teachers had us present to ou classmates in a segment known as "Show and Tell" - with both of these components equal in importance.

The other "rule" that I object to - although I haven't personally had a chance to break this one yet - is the anti-prologue rhetoric out there. Personally, I love a book with a good prologue, and think they can be especially useful for setting the mood of a story.

Oooh, I feel so rebellious now with all this rule breaking.

So what about you? Have you thrown rocks through any of the writing rules lately? Or are there other ones that you struggle to keep, and yet fail despite your best efforts?

And to follow the rest of this chain check out Amanda's blog next!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday: On Hiatus

As it says in this blog post title - there is no WIP Wednesday this week, nor will there be one for the next few weeks.

This is because on this coming Saturday morning we are loading up the car and driving Northwards - to my family in Buffalo, NY to be exact. Whenever I go away I try and convince myself that work will be accomplished, but the truth of the matter is that I'll just be too busy catching up with family and friends to get anything done, and quite frankly, I get home so rarely that I'd rather have it that way.

In the meantime I'll have a few other blogs postings, so this space will not be left completely cold, and I'll still be obsessively following all of your blogs.

So, my work in progress is set to vacation mode - what about everybody else?

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blog Chain: Writerly Wisdom


It's my turn to post on the blog chain again. This time the topic was brought to us by Cole.

Your subject is writerly advice. (I just made that word up. Hee) Pretend you are addressing a crowd of aspiring authors eager to soak in your words of knowledge. The problem is, you've only been given a time slot of five seconds. In one sentence (no more than 20 words), please summarize the most important words of wisdom you can impart.

Okay, so not only do I have to think up words of wisdom, but instead of being able to ramble on in my usual way, I need to somehow say it all in 20 words. Wisdom I can fake, but the whole word limit thing - oye - that's rough. So, in the spirit of compromise, here is my five second speech, along with some asterisked notes (just in case someone else before me ran short) and I end up having a little extra time to fill.

"Hello.* Now forget this writing nonsense and go to dental school.** No?*** Well, then**** prepare***** for an endlessly****** difficult******* battle********."*********


*Eager writers here to soak up my wisdom and advice, or maybe you're just here because you need something to fill the time until lunch. Either way, thanks for coming.

**Yes, dental school. Or anything in the medical field would be okay, but dentists just really seem to have it made. The last few times I've been to the dentist the dental hygienist did all the work and then all the actual dentist did was come in at the end and say something like, "Yep, looks good. Any questions?" That seems like a pretty sweet gig. I would definitely look into it. And also, think how happy it would make your mother.

***Are you sure? Really? You also get to be called "Doctor" did I mention that?

****You are unreasonable and foolish.

*****I mean prepare like stock up on coffee supplies, but also mentally prepare in the way that my best friend in college used to do before an all day weekend shift at the Bon-Ton (it's a Buffalo area department store). She would say to herself, "This day is going to be endless. It is going to feel like forever. And it is probably going to suck. BUT, I will get through it."

******Yes, endless. It doesn't end with the first draft, the fiftieth revision, the agent hunt, the publisher hunt, the publications, the sales, or even the reviews - because if you really want to be a writer you'll have to go through most of those painful steps over and over and over again. I bet that whole dentist thing is sounding pretty good right about now, huh?

*******and intermittently rewarding. I mean unless you're a masochist you should be getting something out of this other than suffering.

********Did I say battle? Let me clarify. When I say battle, I'm not talking Gettysburg here. No, this is the freaking Crusades. Or the Hundred Years War. Which is to say some battles will be won, some battles will be lost, some might even such a bloody mess you can't make sense of them, but regardless you fight again and again and again and again.

*********Oh, and good luck.


For more writing advice you can find Rebecca's post before mine and Amanda will be up next.

I'd love to hear your advice as well - what 20 words would you share with an audience of aspiring writers?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WIP Weds. and Multitasking

The topic of our current blog chain is multitasking, and so it seemed appropriate to do a little multitasking myself, and combine my blog chain post with my WIP Wednesday one.

Okay, so the question for this blog chain was brought to us by Terri.

Do you focus on one project at a time, or do you have many irons in the fire at any given moment?

My ability, or lack thereof, to effectively focus on more than one thing at once is why this post is being posted late Wednesday afternoon, rather than the early AM hours. You see last night when I was supposed to be writing this blog post, I was instead dealing with a toddler who had suddenly decided that rather than going to sleep, he would fuss and cry for several hours.

Now if I were a good little multitasker I would have been able to bounce him on one knee while simultaneously typing out my post, and just to make things interesting, I'd be mentally beginning to sort through my taxes for next year - sure it's only August, but one can never think too far ahead.

The thing is, I'm not a very good multitasker. Even when I believe that I'm effectively multitasking, I'm usually just trying to do five things at once and ending up a spastic mess who walks into a room intending to grab my car keys, but by the time I reach the room have completely forgotten what I came there for in the first place.

And according to an NPR piece that I read several months back - no one is good at multitasking, or more specifically no one actually can multitask - in reality we just flip between different tasks very quickly.

So how does all of this apply to writing? Hmm... well, I don't know. Well, I did know - I was definitely going somewhere with this train of thought - but then I started rereading that NPR article and lost what I was going to say.

And maybe that's my point. Yeah, I'll go with that.

When I switch back and forth between writing too many different things, I lose track of what I was going to write next and I get confused and then my writing gets confused to the point where I might as well be typing in the wingdings font.

The real problem I have with multitasking is that when I have several pots bubbling away, somehow they all end up on the backburner and procrastination becomes way too easy. On the other hand, when I am focused on just one specific project it is easier to set specific goals for that project and keep myself moving forward with it.

Multitasking is why I haven't gotten much done this past week. I am right now querying, revising, brainstorming something new, and trying to work on some shorter writing projects on the side. And at the end of the week when Wednesday rolls around (as it always inevitably does) I feel like I haven't accomplished much on any of these.

So what about you? Are you better at multitasking than I am and do you find it an effective way to work on your writing?

And to follow this chain you can go to Rebecca's post before mine, or tomorrow find Amanda's post when she has the last word on this topic.

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Flip Them

If you regularly read about or follow anything movie, food, or book related then you have undoubtedly within the past week, read about the movie that opened this past weekend based on the memoir Julie and Julia. The media just cannot seem to get enough of this story whether they're covering Nora Ephron who adapted the script (and did an amazing job), Meryl Streep playing Julia Child (and did an amazing job that will almost certainly earn her another Oscar nod), Julie the blogger who wrote the memoir the book is based on (and then in her upcoming new book talks about cheating on her husband - gasp!), or finally the food in the movie (might qualify for a supporting Oscar nod because it is so amazingly amazing).

However, one of the articles that I came across in all of this media hoopla really struck me. This NY Times article was written by Michael Pollan, who I've named checked on this blog several times before because I love his book The Omnivore's Dilemma and the different ways it made me think about the food I eat (like the amount of corn product that is in almost everything).

The article isn't really about the movie Julie and Julia, but rather how Americans have substituted cooking food themselves to watching others do so on their television sets (He kind of gives the Food Network a hard time, which I don't necessarily think is fair, because I actually often DVR shows from FN just to get different recipe ideas. Of course, I also have been known to watch Iron Chef America and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives just to drool. Anyway, the article itself is interesting and whether or not you agree with all of his points - it is, like all of Pollan's work, thought compelling.).

To begin the article though, Pollan talks about Julia Child and how she influenced what his own mother cooked and served his family when he was a child. According to Pollan, Julia Child encouraged woman who had before been making mostly casseroles with potato chip toppings (full disclosure: as a child I regularly ate my mother's Tuna Noodle Casserole and the potato chip topping was the high point of that wretched dish. She must have missed the Julia Child revolution because we never had an Beef Bourginion nights to balance things out.) to try something a little more... French. Julia Child didn't inspire women by being a Martha Stewart type who taunts us with her own endless perfection, but rather someone who wasn't afraid to try and fail - and who encouraged women within their own kitchens to do so as well.

Michael Pollan writes this anecdote while discussing an episode of Julia Child's show, "The French Chef":

The episode has Julia making a plate-size potato pancake, sautéing a big disc of mashed potato into which she has folded impressive quantities of cream and butter. Then the fateful moment arrives:

“When you flip anything, you just have to have the courage of your convictions,” she declares, clearly a tad nervous at the prospect, and then gives the big pancake a flip. On the way down, half of it catches the lip of the pan and splats onto the stovetop. Undaunted, Julia scoops the thing up and roughly patches the pancake back together, explaining: “When I flipped it, I didn’t have the courage to do it the way I should have. You can always pick it up.” And then, looking right through the camera as if taking us into her confidence, she utters the line that did so much to lift the fear of failure from my mother and her contemporaries: “If you’re alone in the kitchen, WHOOOO” — the pronoun is sung — “is going to see?” For a generation of women eager to transcend their mothers’ recipe box (and perhaps, too, their mothers’ social standing), Julia’s little kitchen catastrophe was a liberation and a lesson: “The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!”

Okay, so you knew I was going to bring this back around to writing - didn't you? Of course, you did.

As I mentioned in my last post I've been doubting myself, my writing, and more specifically my poor book.

Did I write it in the wrong tense? Did I start it in the wrong place? Did I inject monumental amounts of suckitude into every last page?

When I get into these bad places I tend to keep it all inside, which is bad. Really bad actually, because my internal voice's answer to those three questions was: "Yeah you did, Duh, and Ye-ep."

Not liking these answers, I turned to my amazingly supportive husband who as amazingly supportive husbands tend to do told me all the right things. Mostly those things were: 1. go ahead and change the tense - you'll feel better once you do and 2. believe in your own writing, and believe in your own voice.

It made me feel better to hear those things - especially the second one. And when I was reading Michael Pollan's article and came to the part about flipping the potato pancake and having the courage of your convictions it just seemed to bring the point home. It also really made me want to find the recipe for that potato pancake, because that thing sounds pretty freaking delicious.

Have you ever doubted your own writing/voice/style? Did you see this movie or read the book it's based on (I actually bought it half off around Christmas time and made it about halfway through before losing interest) and have a review for me? Did your mother or do (gasp) you serve any dishes that require a potato chip topping? And does anyone out there have Julia Child's potato pancake recipe?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday #25

Last week my plan was to start writing my ever so bright and shiny new work in progress. That didn't happen though because my old WIP came tip-toeing up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Excuse me, but I don't think we're quite done yet."

It was so terribly polite that regardless of how much I wanted to tell my old WIP to take a hike - I simply couldn't.

So what prompted my old WIP to come out of (semi)retirement? Well, mostly it was the comments I received last week while taking part in the query contest over at Miss Snark's First Victim.

While the query itself received mostly positive comments, the first 250 of my manuscript didn't fare quite as well. The bulk of the criticism was focused on the use of present tense, and too many flashbacks. So, yeah, I had a problem with both the present and the past - not good.

The reason I used present tense was because while writing my first draft it just wanted to be written that way. At the time that seemed like a good reason to write it that way, but now I have to question whether that really was reason enough to write in a style that I now realize is HATED (like the kind of white-hot hate that I usually reserve for the synopsis) by many people.

Although I like the sense of immediacy present tense gave my WIP, it could also be restrictive - not allowing for a whole lot of foreshadowing, or "in retrospect" type moments. So, now I am considering going back and rewriting the whole 101,000 word manuscript into past tense.

Yuck.

The whole too many flashbacks was an easier fix - I just moved that info a little further back into the chapter, and think that it works just as well, if not better, having moved back slightly.

Of course, into this mixture I have also spent an inordinate amount of time endlessly obsessing over my firsts. The first sentence. The first paragraph. The first page. The first chapter.

In the space of a week, I have gone wwwaaaayyyyy beyond second-guessing myself. At a conservative estimate, I'd say I'm now somewhere around bazillionth guessing myself.

Anyway, since I am chasing my tail until I am dizzy, I am going to post a few two alternate beginnings here in the hopes of receiving a bit of guidance from some of my faithful readers out there.

OLD PRESENT TENSE BEGINNING

I’m pushing a vacuum, trying to shake the hangover still lingering four days after my Christmas Day drinking binge, when I first see it.

It is the bracelet sitting on my employer’s dresser. As far as I’m concerned though, the bracelet might as well be underneath a tinsel covered tree, all wrapped up with a pretty bow and my name on top. I know immediately that it is mine.

Usually, I’m not much for Christmas. I guess you could say it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, which was maybe why I felt compelled to drink so much of the moonshine my uncles gave me as a Christmas gift. It was the only gift I received. And it wasn’t wrapped in ribbons and bows. No, it was just two mason jars tucked into a brown paper lunch bag and left on my front doorstep.



NEW PAST TENSE BEGINNING

My uncles call it the Moby Dick rule, even though they’ve never read that book, or any other one. The rule is simple: always steal anything you can, except, never steal what your heart wants. Each of my uncles has his own story that proves the rule: a ‘69 Mustang Boss in metallic blue, a gold Rolex, and a pair of cowboy boots with a silver lightening bolt running down the side. Each item led down a different path of personal ruin.

Never one to obey my heart’s demands, I thought this rule didn’t apply to me - turns out I was wrong. I was pushing a vacuum, trying to shake the hangover still lingering four days after my Christmas Day drinking binge, when I first saw my own white whale.


Any and all opinions are welcome! I'd also love to hear everyone's thoughts on the use of present tense.

And work in progress Wednesdays are not just about me, so don't forget to tell me what you've been up to this past week as welll!

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Eat More Blue M&M's


Every so often I like to do a non-writing related entry to remind myself and my readers that I am more than just an aspiring writer - I am also a person who likes to eat.

As such I also follow several food related blogs, looking not just for new recipes, but also interesting food-related articles. Tonight while perusing one of my favorite food blogs, Serious Eats, I came across several great posts and they were just too much fun not to share.

The first was a post about a Facebook movement to convince Ben and Jerry's to make a library inspired ice-cream flavor. I am so joining this Facebook group.

Here were some of the suggested flavors:

Gooey Decimal System: Dark fudge alphabet letters with caramel swirls in hazelnut ice cream.

Writer’s Block: Coffee with fudge chunks and nicotine stains.

Over-Goo Fudge: Chocolate with marshmallow and fudge.

Sh-sh-sh-Sherbet! Key Lime or a chocolate/vanilla combination.

The writer's block was sounding yummy... ummm, until I got to the part about the nicotine stains. Anybody have any better suggestions of what Writer's Block ice-cream would taste like?

The next post discussed a blog called How to Cook Like Your Grandmother. True to its title, the blog is full of recipes from people's grandmothers.

My mother's mother, who passed away my freshman year of college, was a wonderful cook, but the kind who could never give anyone recipes because she just eyed all the measurements. My mom still tries to recreate her famous German potato salad, but we gave up years ago of ever replicating my grandma's chocolate fudge cake frosting.

Do you have any great Grandma recipes that you love? Share them in the comments if you do - I LOVE new recipes, especially Grandma inspired ones.

Finally, the title of this post was from the last posting I read, reporting that Blue M&M's may help spinal injuries. Here's what it had to say:

"Oddly enough, this was not from The Onion but from Daily Mail: Scientists have found special properties in the dye of blue M&Ms. "The compound, Brilliant Blue G, can block a chemical which makes injuries worse by causing inflammation and destroying cells."

Yeah, that's right. So, the next time you have a chocolate craving, go out and buy a bag of M&M's and if anyone gives you any crap - tell them it's health food.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July Writing Prompt


Is July really almost over?

Unless all of our calendars are in some grand conspiracy against us, then I believe the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

However, you still have Thursday and Friday (and honestly beyond that, there is really no ticking clock) to take part in the July Creative Writing Prompt that I posted at the beginning of the month.

And next month check out the August writing prompt over on Michelle's blog.

Work in Progress Wednesday #24

What have I accomplished in the past week in writing?

Umm...

Yeah, hasn't been the most productive week for me.

But there have been a few noteworthy things:

I entered into the latest contest over at Miss Snarks First Victim. The entries should go live tomorrow morning, and I will come back and leave a link to mine, but in the meantime you should be able to find me under Post #18. (UPDATE: Here's the link.)

This is different from the usual contests over there as this one is for query letters. I have actually been sending mine out for almost a month now (and have received four partial requests so far), but there is always room for improvement and I look forward to seeing what kind of suggestions and comments I receive.

I've also been thinking and stewing over my new WIP, which I plan to start writing as soon as this weekend! Over the past week I've figured out what my main character wants and a few of the things that are standing in her way, although I am sure more obstacles will crop up as I go along. Anyway, this means that next week the always fun word count meter should be back in action here on my WIP Wednesday posting.

And that's about it for me. Yeah, as I said at the top, it hasn't been the most productive week for me, but hopefully next week will be.

How was your week? I hope everyone got more accomplished than I did, and I would love to hear all about it.

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Loathing, Unadulterated Loathing


The title of this blog is from a song in the musical Wicked, called "What is This Feeling" (Loathing). I love this musical.

The picture is from South Park, a show that I am not such a big fan of, but I like to have a pic at the top of my posts and I thought this was appropriate to my topic today.

And that topic is the dreaded, disgusting, and perhaps sometimes even deadly(?): SYNOPSIS.

I don't think I am alone in my feelings towards the synopsis. In fact, a few weeks back during one of my regular Work in Progress Wednesday postings, I wrote one little sentence about trying to tackle the synopsis beast, and then I want on to write about a whole bunch of other non-synopsis related things. The funny thing is that in my comments a bunch of people latched onto that one sentence about the synopsis, usually agreeing that they found the synopsis to be a repellent form of the written word as well.

Ever since then I've been meaning to write a post about the synopsis. This is not one of those posts with tips and tricks on how to write a better one. Nope, sorry. I have Googled my way up and down the Internets looking for the secret to easily (as in a method that does not include regular intervals of me banging my head against my desk) writing a synopsis that doesn't totally suck, but if such a secret exists it is harder to find than the Holy Grail.

So, lacking tips, I am instead going to whine, moan, and generally say mean things about the synopsis (Seems unfair since the synopsis doesn't really have a way to fight back, except by existing and making my life miserable... which is actually a rather effective strategy. Oh, synopsis you are a worthy foe.), and invite you to join in too.

But first, a short history of the synopsis. This history is closely linked to the history of storytelling itself. Whether it was the early epic stories such as The Odyssey or Beowulf, one of the first plays written by Thespis, or even the cave drawings on the pyramids in Egypt - there was this conversation:

PERSON #1: (Probably a guy, because we all know how things were back then, but if you'd like to imagine a woman in either of these roles go right ahead.) I just saw/heard/read/ the most amazing story!

PERSON #2: Oh, yeah? What was it about?

And thus the synopsis was born.

Of course, we are familiar with this conversation because we have played the part of Person #1 and Person #2 (although hopefully not at the same time, because then you're just talking to yourself) many times in our lives.

Clearly, the synopsis has a necessary place in our lives. That, however, does not mean that I have to like it.

The truth is that I have struggled with the synopsis since my middle school days when I had to write book reports. And later when I was in film school and spent a semester as an intern at a production company in LA and had to do coverage on screenplays, I still struggled to summarize the main plots and characters of a story. And now when an agent requests the synopsis for my novel and I have to boil my story down to two (okay it went over onto page three) pages, it sometimes feels like mission impossible.

At the end of the day, I think my relationship with the synopsis is similar to my toddler son's relationship to silverware. While he can see the function of a spoon and fork, and he understands that other people like mommy and daddy prefer to use them, for himself, he just doesn't see the need, especially when he can get the food into his mouth with his fingers just fine. Similarly, I understand the reason the synopsis and why other people might see it as a useful tool, but for myself I'd rather just stick to a short blurb and if I want more of the story I'll just gobble it down whole, thank you very much.

So, what about you? Any other synopsis haters out there? Come on over and kick it around with me for awhile (Kind of like that scene in Office Space where they all beat up the office printer. *sigh* That's a great scene.). Or if there is anyone willing to stand up and sing the praises of the synopsis, I would love to hear that too. Maybe it could even soften my hardened heart to think more kindly of it next time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday #23

This WIP is being posted a bit later than usual because I wanted to wait until I returned from my doctor's appointment and share the news of my non-writing work in progress aka my pregnancy with baby number two.

This morning was the twenty week ultrasound, and I am excited to announce that not only is the baby healthy, but she is also a little girl! My husband and I are both very excited, and I'm sure our son would be too if he had any idea what was going on.

Anyway, on to actual work in progress news, which is rather limited this week.

I spent some time on a short story that I plan on eventually submitting to Woman's World. I'd actually like to write a few of them, but we will see how that goes.

Mostly though I have been stewing over my next novel. This means gathering information from the recesses of my mind and just generally figuring out how different parts will fit together. I've also started to type the notes up in a new Word document just so I don't forget anything. And yesterday I even did a little bit of the dreaded research, via Wikipedia, of course.

Other than that I've been doing some reading, critting, and just general relaxing. I'm giving myself the beginning of August as the start date for my next novel, but between now and then I just really want to give all the ideas time to fully develop and grow.

Okay, so how has everyone else's week gone? How are your works in progress coming along? And does anyone else out there take a break between big projects just to let themselves recharge?

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stealing Originality


The always awesome Annie asked the question for the blog chain this time around.

Do you ever get inspired by a real-life event or news story and fear you're ripping off the story too much? Do you ever get inspired by a song or poem or line from a book and worry you're stealing that original person's idea? What if your research is overtaking your originality?

Wow. Big questions. Let me break these down a little bit.

Do you ever get inspired by a real-life event or news story and fear you're ripping off the story too much?

Yes, I have been inspired by real-life events or news story, although I've never made them the central focus of a story. I think if they were at the center of the story I would be worried about making sure I put my own original spin on them. Then again look at Law & Order (and all of its spin-offs too, of course). Ripped from the headline plots are their specialty, sometimes they'll even toss a couple of them together. Some of these I find eye-rollingly bad, (Especially when they get all political and preachy. Um, could you just shut-up and catch, then convict the bad guy already?) but I never find them lacking in creativity.

Do you ever get inspired by a song or poem or line from a book and worry you're stealing that original person's idea?

I don't think you can steal someone else's idea. An idea is elusive, intangible, and impossible to capture. Even if you tried to steal someone's idea, I think it would inevitably become tangled up with your own ideas and emerge on paper completely different than the idea that was taken.

Now words are another matter. Those can and have been stolen. However, if you are only using someone else's words as a jumping off point, and not trying to pass them of as your own, then I don't believe you have stolen anything.

What if your research is overtaking your originality?

Of all the questions this one resonated with me the most. As you may remember a few chains back our question was about research, and I confessed that I was not such a big fan of it. And I think one of the reasons I feel this way is that I do fear my originality and own vision could be easily squashed beneath a pile of hard-edged and weighty facts.

Perhaps this is a confidence issue (that was also a chain topic btw), and I might be able, with practice, to find my voice alongside facts. And I know it's possible, especially when I read books by writers like Jon Krakauer and Michael Pollan. They write non-fiction books that should be terribly dry, and instead make them not only interesting, but personal as well.

That's it for the questions, but I have one more thing to add to this topic. Just yesterday I happened to read a blog post over at Help! I NEED a Publisher... and Maybe an Agent? that just coincidentally enough is on this same subject of copying.

The blog is written by Scottish author, Nicola Morgan, and towards the end of this post she relates a story about a coincidence that occurred during the release of her first novel. Basically, her novel had a main character with the same name, age, and rare health condition as another more well known author's book that was being released around the same time.

However, she goes on to add that ever other bit of their stories had absolutely nothing in common at all, which kind of goes back to what I said before about not being able to steal an idea.

In the end your own originality - whether that means your own peculiar way of arranging words within a sentence, your skewed view of the universe, or whatever else it is that marks a work as being uniquely your own little snowflake - is going to come through.

Or that's what I think at least. But what do you think? Are we sometimes not as original as we could be in our writing? And how much can we borrow from other writers before it becomes stealing?

And don't forget to check out Kat's blog, she'll have the next chain post on this topic!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Belated Required Reading Post


Way back, in a happier and more optimistic time, let's call it January of 2009, I was filled with purpose and gave myself some lofty goals to fulfill.

Oh, think back with me to that soft sepia colored past. A new and unprecedented President was being sworn into office. Chevy and GM still thought they might escape declaring bankruptcy. And I... I had one simple dream and that was to read fifty books in a year and keep careful track of them on this blog with simple monthly updates.

Okay, so the fifty books part I am actually doing okay on (check out the sidebar for my full list), but the whole keeping track of them started to fall apart somewhere around March. Yes, only three months in. Pathetic, I know.

Here's the problem: keeping track of what I read requires organization skills, and those are the kind of skills that I tend to struggle with.

You see I read books from all over the place. Some are from the library, others are borrowed or given as gifts (uh, okay, I actually consider those the same thing. Do not lend me a book that you actually want back.), a few I pluck from my bookshelf, and sometimes I buy from one of the big chains (with a coupon in-hand, of course) or the second-hand store.

These books are then strewn throughout my household, and they remain that way until I start tripping over them, or they are cluttering the counter so bad that I cannot properly prepare dinner. That is when they are all herded into a corner somewhere. Yes, shoving my various crap into various corners of my home is what passes as "cleaning up" in my household.

The point is that my organization process, such as it is, makes keeping track of what I've read a bit difficult at times.

I don't want to give up completely though, so I am going to keep tracking all my books in my sidebar, and while I will not go through every book I've read in a blog post, (Does anyone out there really care anyway? If you do, and you see a book in my sidebar that you want to know if I liked it or not - feel free to drop me an email. I will no doubt send you back an incredibly lengthy email with my opinion, why I bought the book, other similar books I like, why I like books, and other various opinions that will make you very sorry you asked in the first place.) I will highlight one or two books that I really loved, or maybe really hated - although probably not the latter because who really needs all that negativity?

So, in the past few months since I last updated I've read a pile of romances from the used bookstore, some urban fantasies, literary fiction for my book club, a few non-fiction books, and even a YA that I didn't count because I skipped pages 50-250 because I thought it was too slow, but was still curious enough to see how it ended.

Some I liked, some I finished in less than 24 hours, but there was only one that I LOVED. I Loved this book so much I would say it is hands down the best book I've read this year so far. And I loved it so much that I bullied my husband into reading it too just so I could have someone to talk about it with. My husband is not a big reader, but he actually finished the book in less than a week, which tells you right there that he LOVED it too.

What was that book? Oh, I'm so glad you asked.


The Silver Linings Playbook is told in the first person by Pat Peoples, who has just been released from a mental institution. His number one goal is to reunite with his wife, unfortunately, she has a restraining order against him for reasons that he does not remember.

Now I have a little bias against books with male characters as the main character, and the only reason I picked this one up was because I saw it recommended on NPR by Nancy Pearl as one of her summer book picks. Deciding to attempt to overcome my bias, I found it at my local library and brought it home with me.

I don't really want to give anymore plot details away (and if you are really interested you can read them somewhere else), but I do want to say that this book just made me happy. It was sweet without being saccharine, and the characters felt like real people.

The book has been optioned, and will probably be made into a movie - maybe even a really good one (it actually has potential to be a really great movie, but we all know how these things often get screwed up and turned into something unbearable to watch.) - but I suggest you go out and read this book NOW.

Seriously, read it. I know that all books are not for all people, but if you do not like this book then my guess is that you are either an alien life form or a cyborg.

And for those who are counting I have now read 29 of the 50 books that I need for my yearly goal. So if anyone has suggestions for what books might fill slots #30-50 please share them with me in the comments.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday #22

Let me first start by saying I love WIP Wednesdays. I love the way it keeps me accountable. I love the comments I get on my WIP Wednesday posts and the encouragement they contain. And I love all the people who have joined in on the WIP Wednesday madness.

I wouldn't keep doing WIP Wednesdays for 22 weeks if I didn't love it.

However, this week I am NOT going to talk about my WIP stuff.

One because my parent's visited over the weekend and I don't have a whole lot to report.

Two because I am currently between works in progress, having finished my last round of revisions and being currently in the query stage.

And finally, Three, because I just read a post over at Cindy R. Wilson's blog that really hit home for me. She wrote:

"In seeking publication, in striving for those nibbles and bites, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. It’s hard sometimes to enjoy writing for the sake of writing when it’s all about rules and getting better and finding that perfect agent or publisher."


While focusing on goals is the best way I know to achieve them, I think it is also important to breath every so often and just enjoy the view. So that's what I'm doing today, or more specifically I am enjoying an awesome award I recently received.



This award was passed along by Michelle McLean whom I have known via the blogging world for over a year now! Thanks, Michelle!

Now for the blog award rules (which according to rule #5 I am required to post here):

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

The 5 people I'm passing this award on to are:

1. Cindy R. Wilson - Since she inspired this post, it seems appropriate to pass this award along to her.

2. Jessica Nelson of BookingIt

3. Annie of Annie Writes About Writing

4. Jody Hedlund of On The Path

5. Jennifer Shirk of Me, My Muse, and I

I highly recommend all of these blogs and they are part of my daily blog required reading, among many others and I wish that I could give this to all the bloggers I follow - they are all wonderful!

This past week I was also tagged by Jennifer, who I listed above at number 5. The rules for that are as follows:


1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random and/or revealing things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your post entry is up on your site.

I am totally going to cheat on this one though and just tag all the people I've already listed to pass the award along to, and I'm also only listing five things about myself. That's because I'm a rebel... and a sort of lazy one at that.

So, five things.

1. Next week is my 20 week ultrasound when I found out whether I am having a baby boy or girl. I am one of those people who definitely want to know, so I am looking forward to finding out.

2. I am dreading potty training my 2 year old son. So far I have bought the potty, and some potty training books, and I am thinking of buying a doll that drinks and wets to use as a working example as well, but I keep pushing back the actual training day. Any tips or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

3. In college as part of my theatre classes I took stage combat. Learning how to throw fake punches (or take a fake punch) and pretend fight with a sword was the most fun I've ever had earning a grade.

4. I have a serious problem with run-on sentences in my own writing. Where other people would put a period I put a comma, sometimes several commas, until suddenly what should be five sentences is just one rather breathless and very long one. If you read this blog often, that is probably not news to you.

5. I have horribly awful year-round seasonal allergies that cause my nose to run a lot. Even though I take pills to help it, I still always have tissues on hand. They are in my pockets, they are in my purse, they are tucked into everyplace I can put one, because if my nose starts to drip and I don't have one - I really really really hate to use my sleeve.

That's it from me for this week - hope everyone else has a great WIP Wednesday!

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If you want to participate in WIP Wednesday, simply post your own WIP Wednesday entry on your blog and leave a link to it in the comments below. Or if you don't have a blog, feel free to report your progress directly into the comments box.

For more detailed information concerning what all this nonsense is about please consult the original Work in Progress Wednesday posting.

Feel free to also make use of the lovely little WIP Wednesday logo as well!