Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Awesomeness that is the First Draft: The Top Three Crappy Things I do in First Drafts

EVERNEATH got an awesome review over at the fiction fairy.

But don't worry. I haven't let it go to my head. Because right after I read that review, I went through a first draft of my sequel, and that was enough to squash my ego, and make me think, "Ohmyheck, I'm too stupid to live."

One of the worst things about writing/reading through a first draft is the gigantic amount of "telling, not showing" instead of "showing, not telling". 

Bree Despain and I were at our weekly writing session, and we were talking about the biggest culprits in our first drafts.

1.  My personal favorite is the "Able to tell in a person's face what he or she is thinking".

Now, sometimes it's okay to say "I could tell from his expression that he had no idea what I was talking about."
But other times, the offense is egregious. 

An example of this is: 

"He gave me a look that said later tonight, when you're alone, I'm totally gonna sneak in your room and scare you."


"The way he salted his eggs told me he was thinking about that one time, at band camp, when it was more than our flutes making music..."

2.  Next, we have the "Inappropriate Metaphors or Similes to Explain a Point"
It's maybe okay to say:

"The air became hot, as if I was suddenly covered in a warm blanket."

But first drafts sometimes read like:
"The cool air washed over me like a donkey in heat, high on huffing glue."

It's okay to be unique, and not use cliches, but sometimes these can feel like a stretch.

3. Finally, we have the "There are only so many ways to describe a smile."

My characters smile. A lot. Despite all the destruction raining down on them, they smile.  Despite the fact that many lives are on the line, they smile.

Sometimes, both ends of their mouth pull up. 

Sometimes they grin, widely.

Sometimes one corner of their mouth quirks up. 

Sometimes they half-smile. 

Sometimes they "smile a smile that doesn't reach their eyes".

Sometimes their mouths resemble a "half-moon, on its side". 

Sometimes their lips quiver, on their way to a half smile, but then the sadness in their eyes extinguishes all evidence of said smile. 

My point is, it's okay for these things to exist. In a first draft. Use them to get to the end of your Work-In-Progress. That's what revising is for! What are some of your biggest culprits? Have you read any books lately that are guilty of these?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Answering the Number One Question I get Asked, and a Peek into my Writing Space

It's time to play the...


Where I take you through my writing day, and you get to guess which priorities get neglected around here. 

This game was inspired by the number of times I get asked, "How do you find time to be a mom and a writer?"

Also brought to you by, "I could write a book, but I don't have the free time you obviously do."

And my favorite: "I'd write a book, but I love my kids."

Okay, nobody really said that last one, but sometimes it feels like it. 

I'm sure you've all heard writers say they are as busy as the next guy, and it's true. So I'll take you on a tour of my writing day.

Here's my writing space:

I come here whenever I get a chance. There are three things I need on my desk in order to really have the most productive writing block (not to be confused with "writer's block":
The Bread of Life.
Water, Diet Coke, Tea, and honey for the tea. 

Yes, I pee a lot. But that gives me a good break. 

I try to make everything convenient. If I need another Diet Coke, I simply walk out to my front porch.

A place for everything, and everything in its place. The Diet Coke's place is on the front porch. Next to the car seat. Under the caulking gun.

If I need something to eat, like a leftover roll, I look under the coffee table.
Who needs a pantry?

If I need something to wear, I look on the kitchen floor, and check to see if they're dry yet.

There really is method to the madness. They're drying in the sunlight.

I like to keep weapons accessible. If I need to act out a fight scene, I simply grab the light saber next to the chair:

... or the sword next to the other chair:

...and for the really emotional scenes, I choose the Scythe of Death on the kitchen bar stool:

If Kid C asks me where he can find a clean shirt, I (exasperatedly) tell him to look where they always are... on certain Tuesdays of the month... when the moon is just right: folded and neatly put away in a large pile next to the banister.
That space is dedicated space.

And if friends come over, I escort them to the one room of the house that is generally clean. The kitchen.
I don't like to be distracted while I'm eating. So there's only one computer and one television in the kitchen.
Sure there are all those clothes on the floor, but they are in really neat piles. The reason my kitchen is so clean (relatively, I know) is because I made a vow a long time ago that the kitchen is too beautiful to mess it up with my lame attempts at cooking.

Now for the crux of the game: Can you guess how I find time to write? Can you GUESS WHAT I NEGLECT?

I heard a quote over the weekend: "Balance comes when you neglect a little bit of everything."

I can't remember who said it. I was too busy writing. But it's very true. I neglect a little bit of everything, but a lot of a certain thing. You probably know what that certain thing is.

What about all y'all? How do you find balance? And was anyone a little disappointed that the Rapture didn't happen? Or maybe it did, and y'all are gone now...

I miss you already. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sweating out a Sequel: Sometimes your MC gives you the Bird

Howdy, y'all. 

Remember, tomorrow is the deadline for those of you who joined in the Chimichanga Challenge. 

I am currently at just over 22,000 words for my sequel. I don't think I'm going to make it to 40,000 by tomorrow, but that's okay. It's a heckuva lot more than I would have written otherwise!

The truth is, I'm feeling a little bit of deadline pressure. The end of school for my kids -- and therefore, the end of free writing days -- is looming like a dark bulbous cloud over the horizon. 

I think my stress is manifesting itself in my writing. Currently, in my sequel, I'm stuck in this one scene where the three main characters are sitting around, staring blankly, with nothing to say to each other.

I've been on this scene for a few days now. Once, a famous writer said, if you're stuck, put your main character up in a tree, and have the others throw rocks at her. I tried that. But the others couldn't be bothered to go searching for rocks, and my Main Character just built herself a hammock in that tree, and is now taking a leisurely snooze. 

I'm at that 22,000 word mark, which is the notorious Point-o-Desperation for the writer. I have thoughts like:

-I'm never going to finish. Books are really really long! Maybe the sequel could be told better in picture-book form. 

-My characters are protesting the lack of progression at this point. They are building hammocks in trees and refusing to cooperate.

-How did I ever finish a book in the first place?

-I'll never be able to finish a book again. That first one was a fluke. It basically wrote itself. (I liken this notion to having a baby, and when looking back on it, forgetting how much it really hurts.)

-I think my MC just gave me the bird.

I'm too easily distracted...

-That wall looks smudgy. Maybe I should clean all the walls.

-It's raining. I long to feel the rain on my face! Time to go outside... Oh wait. It's sunny. I long to feel the sun on my face! Time to go outside.... Lightning? It's been a while since I've been struck by it. Maybe I'll venture outside.

-Oh yay! The Mailman's here! So long, suckahs!

-Meet you for lunch? Sure! I'd never turn down lunch. Even writers have to eat, right? 

-Two lunches? In one day? I'm in!

-Watching Dr. Who isn't procrastinating. It's research. 

-I have to blog first. I can't let my blog readers down. They depend on me!

-It's been years since I've picked my nose. I wonder what's been going on in there? I better find out...

Yeah, any distraction will do. So I'm making a promise, here and now. I will not be distracted any more. I will not let these things get in the way of writing. I will throw my own rocks at my MC, no matter how many times she flips me off. I will not go to lunch more than four times a week. 

Most of all, I will finish this book before June 4. If I don't, you can stick me in a tree and take turns throwing rocks at me. 

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When you can't write, just type... and Favorite Lines from the sequel to EVERNEATH

Hey y'all. It's time for a...

Chimichanga Challenge Update:

Team Tamale: 11,845 words (out of 40,000)
Team Gluten-Intolerant: Disneyland (out of 40,000)

Yep, Bree Despain is in Disneyland. So let me just say right now, what were we smoking when we said 40,000 words?

But the contest has kick-started me into the second book. Most authors I know warned me that writing a second book, under contract, under deadline, would be much harder than writing the first.

Now I know what they mean. This second book has been the naughty child. It's shy, stubborn, and it gives me the silent treatment. I kept trying to coax the story out of its bedroom, but most of these attempts ended in a door slammed in my face.

So I sort of just ignored it. But here's something I learned... something we should print on a bumper sticker or something:

The book won't get written if you ignore it.

Catchy, isn't it? Even more simply put: It won't get written if you don't write it.

I know it seems obvious, but it's so easy to forget. If you're like me, you like for your inspiration to hit first, and then the writing comes. But sometimes, you have to write first.

And that's when the writing can be painful... like I have to quite literally take my hand, shove it up my nose, dig around in my brain for the right words, and then yank them out, covered in cerebral goo.

Sometimes you have to forget about the writing and focus on the typing. Just type. Type as many words as you can in an hour.

And through this random typing, I discovered a few scenes I wasn't expecting. I love these scenes. But it took a lot of bad typing, and bad words, to get there.

Just for fun, I thought I'd share some of my favorite lines from EVERNEATH 2. I know they are out of context, but hopefully you'll enjoy them. (I shared a few on Twitter last week).

"Aren’t you the least bit curious about how I got you into bed last night?"

“You haven’t changed a bit. No 'how do you do?' no talk of the weather. Just a good swift kick to the groin.”

"I couldn't help but notice you confiscated a clump of my hair last night."
"What was your first clue?"
"The ripping pain at my temple."

"Sorry, but the vomit spewing from your mouth drowned out that last word. What were you going to do?"

"I hope you realize, if you forget him... he WILL die. You know this, right? Tell me you know this."

Okay, I don't know if those will even be interesting when they're so out of context. Most of them are spoken by the same character. (A character I have grown to love. Obsessively). 

If you're ever stuck on writing, try typing. I promise it will get better. 

What do y'all do when you're stuck? And do you like the lines? And if you're in the Chimichanga Challenge, what's your word count?

Friday, April 1, 2011

10 Rules Every Aspiring Author Needs to Know... aka How to get Published and Make Friends

I often get asked for advice for aspiring writers. Today you are in luck. I have compiled my best advice into what can only be described as the next Ten Commandments.

The TEN GOLDEN RULES of Becoming an Author.

1. Writing a book is about intent. Don't stress putting words on Paper.

Everyone wants to write a book. The difference is, those who actually do don't worry about it. If you have to make any sacrifices in your life (housekeeping, family, television), it's not worth it. Maybe it's not meant for you.

Every author I know said writing the book just happened one day, when they weren't paying attention. Just like people finally find love when they stop actively looking for it, your book will get written when you stop thinking about it.

2. Editing your own manuscript is for sissies. 

Seriously, what do you think editors are for? If you revise too much, there will be nothing left for the publisher to do, and therefore they will become obsolete. Do you really want to put editors out of work?

As a related note, critique groups clutter your life. Constructive criticism is just another way to say someone doesn't understand creative genius.

3. Tell everyone about your book. But make sure they know your idea is copyrighted.

Talking about your one-of-a-kind, no-one's-ever-seen-anything-like-this-before story to everyone you encounter is just as important as writing it. In fact, it's more important. Plus, it's really interesting for the person listening, even if that person is a stranger on a bus.

(Have a non-disclosure agreement ready to sign, especially if the person is the type that would steal brilliant ideas.)

4. Acknowledge the stupidity of the books already published in your genre.

It's important to point out the flaws of every other author who's published in your genre, for two reasons:
a- to prove to everyone you are better
b- to educate the author. How else will they know how much they suck if there aren't people like us to inform and enlighten?

5. Make that first query count, because it's probably your only shot.

Find the perfect agent for you, and make sure your query is the best it can be, because if you receive that first rejection, you might as well assume no one will ever like your book, and it's time to throw in the towel.

6. Respond to rejections, preferably within the first ten minutes after receiving the rejection. Don't let the sun go down on your anger.

On the off chance you do receive a rejection, have a rebuttle ready. Agents need a dose of reality. If they're stupid enough to reject your manuscript, they're probably too stupid to live. Point this out. You'd be doing the sad sack a favor.

7. Present your list of demands up front.

Once you do get a phone call from your dream agent, make sure he knows how lucky he is. Think back to rule #2, and steer the conversation accordingly.

Also, make sure the potential agent knows your expectations, which should be as follows:
a. At least a six-figure advance.
b. Simultaneous movie rights.
c. Creative control over the cover. (After all, you did that that one graphic design class in high school.)

If he can't promise these things, red flags should pop up. You could probably do better self-publishing. It's okay to threaten this action on the initial phone call too. 

As a side note, reply to every email with "Remember, you work for me. And I can fire you at any time." In fact, make it your email signature. People in publishing need to know you are someone to take seriously.

If you've made it this far, congratulations. But really, did you expect anything else? It's just proof that someone out there in the publishing world is paying attention to genius.

Moving on to: Submission

8. Immediate submission is the norm.

Once you've decided on an agent, you should plan to submit within 24-hours. Anything longer means your agent is probably lazy. 

Accordingly, once you've submitted to editors, you should expect to hear something within 48 hours. Again, anything longer and your agent isn't doing his job.

9. Revision letters are just another chance for your editor to tell you she loves you.

After you've sold your book in a multi-book million dollar deal, you will get your first revision letter. Revision letters come in three varieties:
a- There's the "I love your book" letter, in which your editor expresses her gratitude for allowing her to buy your book.
b- There's the "Can you come to New York immediately and teach us how to cultivate your brilliance?" This letter is pretty self-explanatory. Remember, the trip will be on the publisher's dime.
c- Finally, there's the "This letter is to inform you we are going directly to print" letter.

If your letter does not fit in one of the above categories, you should assume your editor hates you, and hates your book even more. 

10.  You make the world go around.

As a final piece of advice, never forget that it's all about you. Every morning is a new opportunity to ask yourself, and those around you, "What have you done for me lately?"

If they can't provide a sufficient answer, drop them. You don't need that crap.

If you liked this blog post, feel free to drop me a line. If you didn't, you obviously don't recognize genius.

*In case I need to say this, happy April Fool's Day. Love to you all.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yes, Write what you Know, but also, Write what you DON'T KNOW: Some backstory to EVERNEATH

Wanna hear something crazy?

EVERNEATH was not my first attempt at a book. It wasn't even my first finished book.

I completed EVERNEATH about 7 years after my first attempt, which was a really stupid chick-lit novel, about a woman who has a baby and thinks her life is over. (Kid C had just been born, but that totally didn't have anything to do with it.) The main character sat in a corner and cried a lot, occasionally sneaking sideways glances at the nuclear device across the room, otherwise known as a baby.
Me, wondering about a return policy.

I never finished the book, because in my mind, there was only one logical conclusion: The device goes off, everyone dies. And who says chick-lit has run its course? 

I was writing what I knew, and what I knew was Post partum depression. Of course, at the time, I didn't know it was "post partum depression". I thought it was "Why didn't everyone tell me my life would suck after children? Is this like the best kept secret, because misery loves company?"

I got help.

Three years later, I had two children, and I thought for sure any attempt to write would be lost among diapers and baby bottles. 
If we'd had a third, I totally could've fit all three in here.
But then, like most people, I adapted. I found minutes here and there, stuck between the couch cushions, behind the toaster, hidden in my husband's sock drawer. The more minutes I found, the more I strung them together until I had a routine. (Also, I stopped cooking. Never looked back). 

And out of that routine, I wrote my very first book. And completed it! I loved my little book, and I knew my little book and I were going to go far. 

No, it wasn't EVERNEATH. 

Again, I wrote about what I knew. My first book was about a snarky, blond-haired, teenage school reporter, who also happened to moonlight as an alien-hunter. Besides the teenage part and the alien-hunter part, the character was me. Or at least, my voice. So easy to write. Just like writing this blog. 

I revised and revised and soon I found an agent. Then we revised and revised, and submitted my book. 

And here's where everything stalled. Kiersten White had a great post on this the other day, where she likened the process to two diverging lines at Disneyland. You never know how fast... or how slow... your line is going to go.
Everyone wants the same thing: to get on the boat! And get published.

I watched as some of my friends, who were at about the same point in their careers as me, shot to the front, hopped on the ride, and proceeded directly to the moon, where they lassoed the stars and brought them from the heavens to replace their porch lights.

While my book floundered. 

I met Richard Peck at the SCBWI L.A. conference almost two years ago, and he asked me what I was doing while I was waiting to hear back from editors. 

I answered enthusiastically, lying out of my arse. "I'm writing the next book, of course!"

The problem was, every book I wrote sounded exactly like my first book: same plucky teenage heroine, who kicks-a while simultaneously making witty comments.

Sam said to me one day, after reading some of my work, "You're never going to be able to write a different character."

And I was all, "But I want to write about a strong female!"

Sam: "Are snark and pluck the only things that make a female strong?" 

To me, them there were fightin' words. Partially because I like to fight, but partially because he was right. 

I thought of the opposite of that first character. Maybe a dark-haired, broken girl, who sometimes doesn't have the right things to say. Maybe her strength isn't as easy to pinpoint at first. Maybe it comes from somewhere besides the funny bone. Maybe it comes from a dark place. 

Maybe she wasn't always like this, but she'd been through something unspeakable.

The question was: what had she been through?

And that's how EVERNEATH was started: as an exercise to prove my husband wrong (which is reward enough in itself), a challenge to test myself, a concerted effort to WRITE WHAT I DON'T KNOW.

The more I pushed against my own boundaries as a writer, the more I realized that maybe this wasn't just an exercise. I fell in love with the book, and after my first book crashed and burned in submission hell, I couldn't wait to go through it all again with EVERNEATH.

And that love would be tested. Without going into too much detail, at one point I had to choose between my faith in EVERNEATH, and my first agent. Never underestimate the importance of finding an agent who is passionate, PASSIONATE, about your book.

Maybe there's no better test for your bond to a book. I parted ways with my original agent (yes, I died a little) and found my better half Michael Bourret, who saw the same quiet strength in Nikki that I saw. And he just might be a brother from another mother.
Michael Bourret. He likes me and my book, just the way we are.
So, yeah, my particular Disneyland line hit a few twists and turns, and the occasional land mine, but in the end, it was MY line. I own it. 

Those of you who are in line (and aren't we all?) own your line. OWN YOUR LINE. Write what you know. And sometimes, write what you don't know. See where it takes you. Try not to pay attention to other lines.

You'll never shed your skin if you don't stretch it. 

So, what are your lines like? Any twists and turns you'd like to share?  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Call me! (I'm talking to you... Yes, you!) Writers, join us for a conference call to learn about Breaking into the Business, and other stuff

Hey y'all.
Would you like to have a conference call with me? One where you don't even have to do the talking?

If yes, read further.

If no, then please don't tell me.*

*because I don't think my fragile ego could take the rejection right now. Then I have to wonder why you're reading my blog if you don't want to have a conference call with me... is it my voice? My frizzy hair? My big butt? Tell me!

Those of you who answered,Yes...

...have I got some news for you! Mark your calendars for December 16th at 9:00 EST. (That's tomorrow, for those of you less calendarically inclined).

Many of you are familiar with my critique group The SIX (we are ranked in order of most to least crazy in the sidebar, although there's been some discussion as to a revote to usurp the current number one. Which is me). 

We've been asked to participate in a conference call for writers, where we will be discussing things like:

How we got our agents
Stories of our roads to publication
Query tips
Getting the most out of our critique groups
Which conferences are worth attending

All you have to do is call in, and you can listen to our group (along with F.O.B. Robin Weeks as moderator) which includes authors: 

whose new book Back When You Were Easier to Love comes out in April with Dutton (Penguin).

whose book The Lost Saint (the sequel to The Dark Divine) comes out December 28th.

And me!
(Okay, so apparently I have a little bit of cover envy)
Also, Kimberly Webb Reid, whose agent is submitting her book to editors...

and Valynne Nagamatsu and Sara Bolton, both of whom are excellent writers, crit partners, and played integral parts in my own (and everybody's) road to publication.

This is your chance to hear just how high and nasally my voice can be! (I always have nightmares that HarperCollins cancels the contract when they hear my voice for the first time). 

The instructions on how to participate can be found on author David Farland's Author Advisory site.  (Really, it involves dialing a number. You can even raise your hand and ask a question by pressing 5*).

I'm very excited because this is the first time anyone's asked me to do anything! So please listen in, and ask a question, because I don't want to look like a total dork sitting on the phone, talking about the super-weird piece of bellybutton lint I recently found. Which is what I will talk about if there are no questions.

Because, if a conference call takes place in a forest, will the tree even fall down?

Something to think about today.

So, who will be there? And if you're not going to be there, what's everyone up to this week? What can I buy an 8-year-old boy for Christmas? 

I'm just going to post the instructions here, because they're so easy. Call tomorrow night at 9 pm EST.

1: At the appointed time, dial
(long distance charges may apply, depending on your phone plan)

2: Enter the Conference Code: 245657

3: To raise your hand and ask a question, dial 5*

4: To Mute yourself, dial 4*

Monday, May 17, 2010

Winner of Beautiful Creatures... and Men's Tennis (i.e. Beautiful Creatures) *sigh*

And the winner (according to of the signed copy of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is... comment #8. 

Sara B. Larson

Sara- Email me your address at brosam (at) gmail (dot) com.

We had a great discussion about endings on Friday. I have to admit I learned a lot, and I'm gonna steal all of your ideas for my book. I think y'all could teach a class on the art of the ending. (You probably wouldn't resort to a bra analogy like some people...)

With your ideas in mind, I've been taking my new ending for a test drive, and so far there has been no chafing or irritation. Hopefully I've found one that will last.

I have to give a shout out to my tennis playing boyfriend for winning the Madrid Open. 

And by "boy" I mean Rafa Nadal, and by "friend" I mean lover.

He recently trademarked his sneer, so don't try to copy it.

Rafa beat his main rival, Roger Federer, who's also a tall drink of water. But Rafa rocks the clay court, and when his knees aren't on the fritz, he's unstoppable.  He puts so much junk on his forehand, it's the dirtiest spin in tennis. (No, these are not euphemisms.)

To all of you new blog followers: Yes, I feel it is my duty to educate about the hotness that is Men's tennis right now.

I keep having this dream that Rafa and I are best friends. Like no one in the world gets us better than the other. Every time I wake up, I'm like, "I can't believe we're not best friends!" 

Tell me the truth, is that above paragraph rule #1 on the checklist to becoming a full-fledged stalker?

Okay, I'm off to revise. Now that I have an ending, I guess I need a middle, and then word on the street is that I'll need a beginning too. 
Wish me luck. What are y'all up to this week?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Free Book Friday, and How Finding the Perfect Ending for your Book is like Shopping for the Perfect Bra

Today I'm giving away a signed copy of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's book BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.

Find out how to enter at the end of the post. (It will involve leaving a comment). 

So, the other day I tweeted about how I'm rewriting the ending to my book:

Revisions: I tried a new ending on for size yesterday. It was a little snug and a quite itchy. I hate shopping for endings. Harsh lights.
Trying on a different ending today. Gonna avoid all three-way mirrors until I get it right. #revisionsareitchy

And my friend Leisha Maw responded with this:
@Brodiashton i hate shopping for endings, too. It's like bra shopping-uncomfortable.

And I realized she's exactly right. Finding the perfect ending is like finding the perfect bra:

1. Sometimes you have to try on a few before you get one that fits.

     I'm on my third ending. The first one felt like a marshmallow bra. The second, like a wool boulder holder. The third one might be just right.

2. The perfect ending/bra must uplift (and separate). 

  This is not to say all endings must be happy, but they must satisfy the reader, and fulfill any promises that were put forth in the beginning of the book. 

ex: In Harry Potter, not everyone makes it out alive, but you can be sure Harry finally finds the place where he belongs.

3. The perfect ending/bra must have (underwire) support.

     The rest of the book provides the foundation for the ending, so when that last page comes, you don't have to be Houdini to make it work. 

     For instance, if you get to the end of your contemporary realistic book, and you find the only way your dream ending can happen is if a dragon flies into town and brings with him an alternate universe, you have a problem.  

4. Little irritations in an ending/bra can become huge rashes, but not every clasp needs to be done up.

     You don't have to tie every loose end in a giant pink bow, but an irritating ending can make a reader hate an otherwise excellent book. You want an ending that earns a place on the reader's nightstand, not a spot in their fireplace. It doesn't matter how good a drink is if it leaves a bad aftertaste in your mouth. 

I'll use some movies as examples:
Remember the movie SEVEN, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman? I don't want to ruin it, but let's just say there's a box at the end that holds part of Brad Pitt's wife. (Okay, it was her head). But the ending didn't come out of nowhere, and it sure fit in with the rest of the movie. I bought it, hook line and sinker, and it stuck with me like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth.

Remember the movie CITY OF ANGELS with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan? The angel makes the monumental sacrifice to fall to earth, only to have his true love get hit and killed by a truck the very next day in a really stupid bicycle accident. I saw that movie years ago, and I still want to punch it. I want to literally punch the movie. If it showed up on my doorstep, I would knee it in the groin.

So, my question for you, dear blog readers, is: What do you expect in endings? Do they have to be happy in order for you to like a book? Does everyone have to make it out alive? What sticks with you the most? Do you remember any endings that made you want to throw the book across the room?

Answer in the comments and you'll be entered to win the free book.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wanna Know what Really Happens at Writers Retreats? And the Winner of Princess for Hire

And the winner of Lindsey Leavitt's Princess for Hire (chosen by is comment #19...

Kristen Harmon
email me your address: brosam (at) gmail (dot) com
On to the post:

I went to a writers retreat with a bunch of writing buddies over the weekend. There are no pictures, and I'll explain why in a bit. 

I show up Thursday night, a little late to the party, and when I walk in, the condo is dead silent except for the clickety clack of fingers typing away at keyboards. 

The scene was unfamiliar to me, as I was expecting a writers retreat, and this was unlike other retreats I'd been to. (What was I expecting, you might ask? Well, at our last one, we spent the first night giving ourselves pedicures and Bree Despain did everyone's hair.)

But Joel (the lone male at the condo) didn't look like he was in the mood to braid hair. 
I was all, "What are you guys doing?" (I whispered, because it seemed appropriate.)
Nikki Mantyla (the host of the party) replies, "We're writing." Like, it should be obvious.

me: "Everyone's writing? When is the talking?"

Nikki: "We talked for a while. Now it's time to write. Did you bring your computer?"

me: "I think so. It's in the car. I didn't think I'd be using it right away."

Eventually, I got into the groove, and the next day Sam called. I whispered when I answered.

Sam: "Why are you whispering?"

me: "Because everyone's writing."

Sam: Confused pause. "Everyone? Writing?"

me: "Yeah. It's what we do at writers retreats. duh."

Sam: "It's not what you do at writers retreats."

me (whispering even quieter): "I know. Apparently I've been doing it all wrong." 

So, that's why there are no pictures to go with this post. There was no time. We had work to do!

How was all y'all's weekend? Productive? How was your Mother's day?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If You're a Writer and you Submit, Rejection Doesn't Stop at Any Stage... (To be sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

Hey y'all.

I loved this post from YA author Lisa Schroeder. If you're like me, when you see Lisa Schroeder, you say to yourself, "Now she's got it made."

But her post shows that even after three stellar books, she still gets rejected.

I remember back in "the day" (you know, that one day I realized I was ruined for traditional jobs, and so I decided to make money by my pen... which, as it turns out, would've only happened if I sold said pen, but anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah... ) Back in the day, I used to think if I could only get an agent, then my path would be made, and just like that Michael Jackson video, my steps would light the way.

Flash forward a short ten years later, I got my first agent (after something like 92 rejections. I'm not exaggerating. If I were exaggerating, I'd say 486, because whenever I exaggerate, the number is always 486.) Anyway, I had an agent. I'd made it. Looking back, I have no idea what exactly I'd thought I'd made. Perhaps a big pile of goo? I don't know.

Anywho, after a short year and a half of revisions, and a bunch of submissions, and a plethora of rejections, and a smattering of no replies, my "making it" resembled a big fat zero.

Subsequently, I stuffed that big fat zero, painted it donut-color, and hung it above my fireplace over a painting of a glass of milk. 

Some people get inspiration out of rejections. Stephen King used to nail his to the wall. I prefer mine to elicit happier thoughts, like daydreams of donuts and milk. Because twelve and a half years of the daily vein-tapping-that-is-writing should be worth something more than a big fat zero, right? I should at least get a wall-hanging that resembles a pastry. 

Or, better yet, a gold star, telling me I've almost made it.

Well, stupid Star, it just so happens I can't paint, except to draw a house. And I don't know why you're getting all snippy, Star, because at least I have an agent. And the agent author relationship lasts for eternity, because it's true love. And true love frakkin' conquers all!

Oh yeah, Star? I'll show you. I'm going to write a second book. And it's going to be better than the first one, because-

How do you know he thinks that?

Right. Tell me, just what does a Golden Star eat for lunch?

Listen, Star, I'm taking this new book, and I'm gonna query, and I'm gonna find an agent, and we're gonna take off like a rocket ship!

You know what, Star? I found a fabulous agent, who loves the new book. And I had multiple offers.

Suck it, Star.

I guess my whole point is, I think rejection is a constant for writers, and it never stops no matter what stage you are at in your career. Except maybe for Stephenie Meyer. But how many of us are Stephenie Meyer? Unless there's some weird alternate universe thing going on, I'd venture a guess that just one of us is Stephenie Meyer.

But here's the silver lining: It's a good thing we write for the pure joy of it. Otherwise, those stars would turn into Chinese Stars, and impale us all with their sharp points.

Not good enough? Here's another silver lining: At least you'll have something to blog about.

Still not impressed?

How about I throw in a set of steak knives? And a t-shirt that says, "How many times do I have to push this effing rock up this effing hill?"

I heart Sisyphus.
Kill the Fluffy White Bunnies and then go write!