Monday, 31 May 2010
I was scared when I came up with the idea that it was dumb, but once again your support amazes me in happy ways that usually only chocolate can help.
Okay, better stop gushing before I cry.
Plus I know you are itching to know who won. I used the Random.Org number generator thingy to pick the winners. The paper-hat-pulling combo was too much for my brain on a Bank Holiday Monday. :)
The winner of the hardback UK covers of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves is....
I made a slight change to this but I know you'll love it. I am having a happy time in Waterstones bookshop and there is 3 for 2 (I'm such a sucker for an offer, twice in the same week folks!). There were two books I wanted but I couldn't see a third (believe me it is a rare occurrence). Being the soft person that I am, I sacrificed my third book to get another copy of Shiver.
Shiver (copy 1) winner: Stina Lindenblatt
Beautiful Creatures winner: Jaydee Morgan
Shiver (copy 2) winner: Renae Mercado
The prize packages of Hex Hall, notebook and chocolate or The Book Of A Thousand Days, notebook and chocolate.
Hex Hall winner: Jemi Fraser
The Book Of A Thousand Days winner: Shannon McMahon
So my week of win is over *sniff.* I honestly wish I could have given everyone who entered a copy of the book they wanted. You are all that awesome and appreciated.
Winners please email me at isabellamorgan2010(at)googlemail(dot)com and I can sort out getting your goodies posted.
Saturday, 29 May 2010
Stick with me because I'm heading somewhere with this.
Act one: The journey begins.
So we have our main characters - two girls out for fun and entertainment.
Main character arrives at the friend's house. We have to wait for friend's fiancee to get home from work and her toddler to come home from the Grandparents. Both arrive. Little niece sees me and does not want Auntie to go. She wraps her arms around MC legs. MC and friend experience pangs of guilt as she waves us goodbye on the steps.
Arrive at cinema. We have hopes, dreams, apprehension and a goal (watching the film).
The first ticket machine doesn't work. Hurdle to the goal. We try another. No joy. Frustration is abound. The third works. Phew.
Act Two: The tension rises.
Our heroines hit the snack stand. The queue is long and a back-and-forth conversation of "what shall we get?" ensues. We edge closer to being served and still haven't reached a decision. Tension rises. Will our epic journey be defeated by lack of snacks?
No. A fantastic popcorn and 2 drink deal saves the day. Plus we reach a chocolate/Skittles combination and pay.
We head into the cinema and go to find our seats. Seats chosen, we settle in to watch the film.
The various cast of characters appears around us:
The people who sit texting on their phone throughout the movie. Bright distracting light.
The ones behind who give a running commentary. I don't mind talking during a film but isn't it politer to whisper?
The "shush" people. Gotta love the guts there.
And the other minor characters who we don't give names or identities.
The trailers start. We have a lull in the action to catch our breath.
Act Three: Heading to a climax.
Then the film and the story which leads us to our dramatic conclusion.
Our main characters are drawn into the world, snacking on popcorn, slurping drinks and watching the feisty Northern lass and her street dance crew hoping to achieve their dreams. We share their all is lost moment, where the heroine thinks nothing can save her. We hold our breath for the finale and resolution.
Resolution: The satisfying conclusion.
Order is restored. The lights come up and our tow characters leave the cinema chatting happily with a plan to repeat the process with Sex and the City 2.
See. I told you it was like a book.
It sounded so fun I knew I had to play. :)
Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:
I don't tend to snack while I read. Okay, sometimes if I'm in on my own (and I have to finish the book) then I eat my dinner reading, but I like to be really careful. I hate messy books.
What is your favourite drink while reading?
Tea. I'm such a typical Brit. :)
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
Are you crazy? If it is a non-fiction/study book or something then yes. Would I write in a novel? No way.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
I'm a bookmark or scrap of paper kind of a girl. I can't do the dog-ear thing. *shudders.*
Fiction, non-fiction, or both?
It depends on my mood. I'm big on fiction at the moment.
Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
I prefer to read until the end of a chapter.
Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
No. But I have the unfortunate habit of dropping other things on a regular basis. :)
If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Not usually. I may note it and look it up later, but I tend to carry on reading.
What are you currently reading?
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead.
What is the last book you bought?
It was 3 for 2 at the bookstore, so I couldn't resist: Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and Waves by Sharon Dogar.
Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I try and read one at a time, but I can read more than one. If I'm really enjoying a book or series - like the Vampire Academy one I'm reading at the moment - then I read one at a time.
Do you have a favourite time/place to read?
I read anytime I can. I like to read before I go to sleep. So I guess my favourite place is to read on my bed.
Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
I'm in series mode at the moment but it wasn't a conscious choice. It just so happens that the books I've bought have been series ones.
Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
I recommend most books I read but mainly Maggie Stiefvater, Richelle Mead, Suzanne Collins. There are loads more though.
How do you organise your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)
My books are arranged in series order. I'm not into alphabetising or anything like that, but I like to keep them in size order. I can't stand a tall book next to a little one and then another tall one. Okay I'm a freak. :)
Want to play? Feel free to take the questions and post on your blog, leave me a link here, then check out Storywings and post your answers there as well.
Friday, 28 May 2010
Either the U.K. paperback of Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins or The Book Of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.
And that's not all.
You also get a handy A5 notebook from my favourite stationary shop Paperchase. The perfect size for popping in your bag for those 'flashes of inspiration' moments.
And (even though I keep wanting to eat them myself) a yummy box of mini chocolate Melts from Thorntons.
And, for the fun, here is today's Mad Lib.
Thursday, 27 May 2010
Elana is hosting a week of awesome prize packages to celebrate her book deal.
YA Highway is giving away 3 days of prizes to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Today it is agent/writer critiques.
The Misadventures In Candyland is having a contest too, a creative one. So if you want to write your very own Candyland-esque blog post, then check it out. The prizes? Query critiques by Elana Johnson, books and Starbucks gift cards.
And don't forget little old me. I will be posting the next prize in my week of win tomorrow, but don't forget you can still enter for Monday and Wednesday's prizes too.
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
But enough of that. It's time to announce my week of win Wednesday prize.
And there will be two winners. Yup two. :)
Let me know in the comments which book you would prefer. Oh, and if you already have these (and if your name is drawn on Monday) I will be giving a random mystery prize.
And now the fun of Mad Libs:
_________ things and _________ make me _________.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Yup, I had happy times last night reading your comments (and an almost tea, nose snorting incident that I won't talk about. heehee).
If you haven't commented to win my spectacular hardcover U.K copies of both Carrie Ryan books, please do. I am drawing the winners for all of this weeks prizes on Monday 31st.
On to today.
Kids are sponges. Seriously, they are pint-sized sponges with super hearing.
Yesterday I had dinner with friend and Goddaughter. Goddaughter was doing everything possible to avoid eating her pasta.
My friend put it on her plate. Goddaughter threw it on the floor. Smiled.
Friend: *whispers to me* "Ooh, little sod."
Me: "Did she just say sod?"
Goddaughter: "Sod. Sod. Sod."
Me: *laughing hysterically*
Friend: "Don't make a big deal out of it, or she'll say it even more."
Me: *stifles the laugh, but chuckles on the inside*
Now sod is one of those British terms when someone is being a pain. It's technically not swearing, but it's not a word my friend wants the little one to learn. Or me really.
No matter how funny she looked while doing it.
The thing is, Goddaughter doesn't know what the word means. To us, it means something. To her 'sod' is just a word.
So I thought about words. More specifically the power of words.
We are taught what certain words mean from birth. Some words are good, some are 'naughty' and are supposed to stick with them. We say one that's bad, we get told off.
But a child developing language skills doesn't have a yardstick. To a toddler, it's just a word, waiting for the meaning to be discovered.
Just like books.
We write the words down on the page, hoping for our readers to discover their meaning. How they interpret that meaning will be different depending on what they have been taught.
To some it will be bad. To some good. To others, who knows. That's what I love about language. It's flexibility.
So in the end I am left to wonder if there is any real right or wrong within words?
Monday, 24 May 2010
Okay, here is is. To celebrate reaching the 100 followers milestone I am having a contest. Well, it's a week of win really.
That's right, a week of win!
So today, Wednesday and Friday will be prize posting days.
How can you win? Well, like fellow 100 follower contest holder Jaydee, I've decided to keep it simple.
We're playing Mad Libs.
Next Monday (31st of May) I'll draw the winners using some random generating method. Well, really it'll be me writing names on pieces of paper before pulling them out of a hat.
Technical isn't my middle name. :)
So Monday's prize theme is books with zombies, well Mudo, but same difference.
Today the prize is both hardback U.K. covers of The Forest of Hands & Teeth, and The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan.
So, if you'd like to win both these awesomesauce books - either for you, a loved one, your bookshelf - speak now with your comedy stylings, or the Mudo might get me.
Monday contest Mad Lib:
And the__________ came out of the __________ and ________ me.
If you already have these books but want to play along, feel free. You will still be entered for some random prize I'm hoping to find on my travels today.
Oh yeah, in my excitement I almost forgot to tell you I will post internationally. :)
Saturday, 22 May 2010
Elana Johnson's CONTROL ISSUES, set in a brainwashed society where those gifted with mind control best join the powers that be, but one rebel girl tries to beat them at their own game, to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse, by Michelle Andelman at Lynn Franklin Associates (NA).
Yes, the awesomesauce queen herself has a book deal.
You rock. :)
Friday, 21 May 2010
And here are the details straight from the QueryTracker.blog.
Agent Kathleen Ortiz of Lowenstein Associates will be judging the next contest.
When?: Tuesday June 1, 2010 at 9:00 PM EST.
How many?: 100 entries will be accepted.
Genres?: Young Adult and Middle Grade.
Rules?: You must be a follower of the QueryTracker blog.
To enter all you need to do is have free QueryTracker membership. Submit a one-sentence pitch and your first chapter
The awesome Suzette Saxton warns that this contest is not for whiners! It's only open to those who are willing to receive honest feedback. Ms. Ortiz will:
"Treat every entry as a partial submission (therefore you must only enter if you, in Ms. Ortiz's words "for the LOVE OF GODIVA," have a completed MS).
Read every entry TO THE POINT SHE WOULD NORMALLY STOP READING on a partial submission.
She will tell you why she stopped reading.
She will request more of the manuscript only if it is something she would normally request."
So how cool is that? If you are one of the 100 entries you are going to get feedback on your first chapter.
If you are interested, don't forget to check it out.
Happy Friday everyone. :)
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Perusing the shelves - and later my own bookcases - I came across something which I hadn't really paid much attention...most of my books are part of a series.
Here are a few of my reads:
Harry Potter (a very nice box set of all 7 books, thanks Mum and Dad).
His Dark Materials (another nice box set from my little brother).
The Mortal Instruments (all three).
Vampire Academy (5 books so far since I just got Spirit Bound).
The Hunger Games, Catching Fire (Mockingjay to go).
Shiver (soon to add Linger and Forever).
The Hollow (soon to add The Haunted, and the third book after that).
Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn.
Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath.
The Sookie Stackhouse books.
Wicked Lovely, Fragile Eternity, Ink Exchange, Radiant Shadows.
I have stand alone books but these are looking few and far between on a bookcase heaving with series. And it is the same in the bookstore.
But if the first book leaves readers hungry for more, then onwards to book two.
Some series, may begin with the best intentions of only one book. But as the story unfolds, the characters revealed, darker layers and wider narratives open up making it impossible to tell the full saga in 300/400 pages. And a sequel or series is born.
Some books are plotted with the intentions of being a series, like The Immortals by Alyson Noel.
It doesn't seem to bother readers if there are two, three, or even perhaps seven books in a series. If we enjoy it, we get involved and have to read on.
And sometimes we don't. There are plenty of people who couldn't finish Twilight, or any of the other books I've mentioned.
I love all books. But why is it that we are told to query our books as stand alone when it seems like every book out there has a larger story arc to tell?
I've read lots of articles that advise to pitch one book? Then they add if we want to put on the query that it is a stand alone with series potential, then we can do that too.
But this doesn't seem to put agents or publishers off signing authors for books with series potential. So I say write the story you want to write. Stand alone, sequel, trilogy or series. Because it only takes one agent to fall in love with your book. And then one publisher. And if it is the right idea, the right story that hooks readers, makes them thirsty for more, your series could be up there with the others.
And my credit card will cry even more. :)
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Lydia Kang is celebrating reaching 150 followers by holding a contest. And who wouldn't want the chance to win either a $15 book voucher, a copy of Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, or a $10 Starbucks gift card. Seriously, books and coffee = perfect. Winners will be picked on May 21st.
Justine Dell reached 100 followers and has a great worst one-liner contest. The ten finalists are waiting to be voted for. Head on over and share in the funny. My favourite is number two, but don't let that sway you in any way.
Get your spoof query ready for Creepy Query Girl by May 27th, and see if you can win one of these prizes:
1st Prize winner will receive an over-the-phone publishing consultation from one of the accomplished authors/editors at The Writer’s Workshop.
2nd Prize winner will receive a 30 page critique from the members of the ‘3Critics Club’ on The Word Cloud
3rd Prize winner will receive a choice of champagne or gourmet chocolates shipped directly from France.
Tahereh has the contest that imploded your brains. Want to know more? Check it out because it is awesome and creative at the same time. And we all love to be creative.
Zoe Courtman is holding the ultimate blog interview contest. Win a blog interview and a golden flash drive. Enter by 27th May. Go on. :)
And The Alliterative Allomorph is only 3 followers away from reaching the 200 mark and drawing the winner. So if you aren't a follower already go an say hi.
The prizes? Here they are below direct from the blog.
Free CRITIQUE and EDIT of your FIRST CHAPTER. Plus 20% off a full manuscript edit (the 20% off offer will last for a month from date of win), by the amazingly talented Susan Lakin. She is a wonderful writing mentor, professional editor, and published author. You can see more about her at her charming website. I can definitely vouch for her as I have used her myself. :)
Free CRITIQUE of a SYNOPSIS or a QUERY LETTER, by the magnificent Paula B from The Writing Show. She too is a professional writing mentor and helped me to perfect my query letter and synopsis. She did an awesome job!
$10 Amazon gift voucher
It hasn't passed my attention that I have reached over 100 followers this week. Thank you to all. I will be announcing a contest next week once I have worked out the details. It'll be easy though, promise. :)
Monday, 17 May 2010
Writing time begins with the best intentions.
Our tea/coffee/beverage of choice is beside us. The chocolate goodness is ready as a reward (writing a sentence counts as a reward right?). The computer has fired up and the word document is waiting. Hands hover over the keys...until we find the little word gremlins have stolen our prose.
Yup, we have writers' block.
I hereby prescribe the following to rid you of these blues. Enjoy.
P.S I first saw this video on Jon's Life and knew I had to share in the funny.
I love music. I listen to music while I write. Music inspires me. I have two full ipods! I also have very eclectic tastes. Oh, and there are some days when only angst music will do. :)
1. Muse. All of their albums.
I thought it would be a bit of a con to have an almost an entire list of Muse albums. But love them lyrically, musically, the works.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Greatest Hits
I wanted to say all of their albums, but I won't. So I shall just have this one. Another awesome memory was seeing them live for the Stadium Arcadium tour.
3. Panic At The Disco.
I love the stories within their lyrics.
4. Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell
This is a parental influence choice. I grew up listening to a lot of different music and this was one of them.
5. Jeff Wayne: The War Of The Worlds.
As was this too. I still love it though.
6. Queen: The Greatest Hits.
Dad, your musical influence has had more of an effect on me than I realised. :)
7. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection.
When I first started to get into music for myself, Madonna was waiting for me.
8. Green Day: American Idiot.
Happy times at the Leeds Music Festival in 2004. Amazing weather, junk food, sleeping in a tent and listening to amazing bands.
9. My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade.
A concept album done in an amazing way.
10. Kings Of Leon: Only By The Night.
11. Bon Jovi: Crossroads.
I know, it's a con having a greatest hits again but this was my first Bon Jovi album. I guess I'm a little nostalgic.
12. Paramore: Riot.
13. Take That: The Ultimate Collection.
They may not have touched the U.S. as much as here in the U.K, but Take That are a HUGE part of my early teen years. Happy memories.
14. Lostprophets: Liberation Transmission.
Some great tracks on here.
15. Linkin Park: Meteora.
Two of my favourite songs are Numb and Breaking the Habit.
Wow, that was really hard. I haven't even got half of the artists or albums I love on here.
That's me done. But, if you have time, check out some of the other participants at the linky on the top of the page.
Friday, 14 May 2010
You have an idea, think of a character (perhaps even a plot) and sit at your computer/pad of paper/typing device and write.
Hmmm. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But getting that first draft down is essential for the process.
When I started my MS I typed out those tentative first paragraphs with the thrill of excitement. Then I panicked. I wanted the perfect beginning. I wanted an amazing first line etc. If I had listened to my fear I would have given up then and there. Until my creative writing tutor said something that has stuck with me.
"If you want to write, write."
I realised it didn't matter about how it sounded, as long as I got it down. So I wrote. And I didn't stop.
My first draft was out there in the world and I wasn't sick of the thing once I'd written that draft. I wanted (and still do) to make it better, breathe more life into it, and share it with others. Make it stronger.
The hunger to create burns deep within each of us. A fire which stokes itself for a few hours each day and pushes us to keep going.
It's also the beta readers, crit partners and the other amazing writers who share the passion, the hopes and the fears. Your strength, determination and hope inspires me everyday to keep going.
Humans have amazing drive and determination. We keep going, even if it feels hopeless. Because it never really is hopeless if you believe in it.
What did Winston Churchill say? "Never give up. Never surrender."
It has been a long journey from that first draft. I have since cut, rewrote and edited my book so it doesn't even begin at the point where I typed those first words.
But that's okay. Because it feels good.
Okay, sometimes it feels gut-wrenching and terrifying when we start to pull the MS apart. But we shape it, adapt it, make it sparkle and then glue it back together again.
And occasionally, when the doubts creep in, and the little voice says that I can't, the brave little toaster within me knows I can.
And it feels good.
Happy Friday everyone. :)
Thursday, 13 May 2010
Sorry, I had a Willy Wonka moment there.
As you may have gathered I have a kind of vivid imagination. And, as a child, Roald Dahl was one of my favourite authors. So naturally, I loved the Gene Wilder version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The line from that song makes me wonder about imagination. All of us have it. As children we use it everyday in the games we play, the stories we tell etc. So when we are adults where does it go?
Do we loose the ability of imagination? Do we forget because we don't want to use it and life is taken over by the practicality of work?
As writers we seem to hold on to our imagination. It grows with us.
We store those ideas and tap into them. We create worlds, characters and stories. We live with our MC in this world, share their pain, triumphs and disasters.
Maybe we are eternal dreamers. The word charmers of old changing folktales into bedtime stories.
Perhaps imagination is a gift bestowed on all as babies, but only utilized by those who still see the world around them. They want to shape it and set it free for others to enjoy.
Imagination has a spark. A catalyst that helps us turn our idea into a plot, and that plot into a novel. We want to do it.
Perhaps that is what separates writers imaginations from others. We all have it, we never really loose it, but only some want to use it.
Like Mr. Wonka says.
If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to...do it. Want to change the word? There's nothing...to it.
There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there you'll be free. If you truly wish to be.
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
We grow-up being expected to do certain things.
Walk, talk, read, go to school and work hard. Then we have to get jobs, have relationships, maybe marry, have babies. The list is long.
Should we feel bad if these things don't happen the way we thought or follow a linear pattern? No, because we have a brilliant way of adapting to the twisty journey of life. We take it as it comes.
So when we write are our expectations any different?
We set out to write a story and expect our novel will turn out a certain way. We give birth to these characters and they live through our words. We create their world around them.
As literary parents we help them grow. We expect they will to run into some conflict, meet someone, fall in love, get their hearts broken...maybe even fight some sort of giant squid monster who wants to rule the world.
That is, until a plot twist surprises us and we go in another direction. A character pops into our heads we weren't aware of and throws us off course. Or our MC says, 'Are you crazy? I wouldn't do that.'
Should we feel bad for not following the specific course we set out on?
I've learnt that writing doesn't always go from A to B. It likes to be mischievous. Sometimes it forces us to take a trip through G,D,F and back to A before reaching B.
It also raises questions on the expectations we have before we enter the world of edits, queries, submissions and the hundreds of other things that go with the author journey.
That isn't A to B either.
There is a whole world of perseverance, re-writes, edits and more queries before we reach our agent destination. Or, Agent Avenue as I have named it. :)
Then the journey begins a new path...Publication Road.
So why do we do it? Because, in a way, we know the destination is at the end but the journey can take as many paths as you are willing to walk to reach Bookshelf City.
And, maybe even, re-evaluate our expectations occasionally to get there. :)
The fabulous Alliterative Allomorph, and other awesome bloggers, are posting scenes of internal conflict today.
So head on over to her blog where you can check out the scenes and pop along to visit the others taking part.
See you there. :)
Promise I will post again this afternoon.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Three fantastic authors - with some very generous donations - have created an auction site to raise money for disaster relief.
Awesome book, publishing, and writing-related items are posted every day. You have three days to bid in the blog comments to win the item you want. Then the highest bid wins the auction item. All you do is pay via PayPal, and get your critique, book, phone call or anything else you bid on.
Also, if you'd just like to make a donation, then you can do that too.
So feel free to follow the link and check it out. :)
Monday, 10 May 2010
So you can understand my squee-ing when Maggie Stiefvater posted the trailer for her new book LINGER.
So, here it is in all its glory. Enjoy.
Here is the Amazon.com blurb.
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.
At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
*hangs head in shame.*
But hey, I'm going to share the love so it's all good. So feel free to click on the links and go meet (if you haven't already) some of the other bloggers.
The squee-ing awesome Amparo gave me the Blogger Buddy Award.
I hereby award this to...
I give to...
Kirk at The Alice Chronicles
There are more awards to come next week.
Friday, 7 May 2010
A post Lydia wrote on Wednesday about queryphobia inspired me to start thinking about rejection (thanks Lydia. heehee).
We write. We sit for hours hunched over a keyboard, our fingers scrabble over keys with the clicking, and the tap tap tap. Our nearest and dearest threaten to pull us from the room by the scruff of our neck if we don't spend some time with them.
We get so engrossed in our editing we forget chocolate isn't a meal, and then eat a bowl of cereal at 10pm (yup, that was me.)
We think about our characters, develop them, love them and then...we feel the fear.
It's small at first. The tiny little voice in the back of our mind that whispers. It tells us our MS isn't ready - which sometimes it isn't. We revise, revise, revise and then...nothing. Well, for some of us.
Yes, we have - as Lydia defined it - queryphobia.
What is is about rejection that freaks us out? We all accept finding that perfect agent for our work can/will take time. We need to spend time getting our MS edited and shiny.
But will we ever find our agent if we never send our query out?
Matthew over at theqqqe is an example of dominating this fear (for me anyway, he may disagree. Hi Matthew). His blog never fails to inspire me to keep going, and his Friday guest blogs on successful queries are great too (Lisa and Laura Roecker today folks).
And it's not just Lydia and Matthew who keep me going. It's all my fellow blogger friends.
I read your blogs (sorry I didn't get round to everyone yesterday). I admit, I get excited when one of you signs with an agent, gets a book deal or a submission request.
I share your pain if a rejection comes through. I want you all to land that agent so I can buy your book and say, "I know the author, and they are amazing."
And you are. Each and every one of you.
Our journey will be different - thanks for reminding me Elana, you rock - but we all have the same goal.
And my queryphobia? Well, lets just say I'm working on it.
Thursday, 6 May 2010
You know the day, when everyone votes for who they want to govern them from the fancy Houses of Parliament in London for the next four/five years.
And yes, I shall vote. But don't worry, I'm not about to get all political.
This is a politics free blog.
But - as is the way of my weird mind - I decided to have a little vote too. And my vote is for books.
Now I have many book loves. But, keeping with my YA writing roots, one of my must read books (and I'm going to cheat here) is The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Look at them, all shiny in their post-apocalyptic glory. Ahhh.
I'm sure you've heard about the books from other sources, so I won't bore you with the details. Okay, maybe just a snippet.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature....Welcome to the deadliest reality TV show ever...
Mockingjay- the third book - is released on the 24th of August, so you still have time to read the first two if you haven't already. Once I started reading I couldn't stop, so it won't take long.
Then join me in biting my nails for Mockingjay. :)
Much like Monday's amazing blog day that was Spreading The Awesome, I want to know what books you love. The ones you couldn't put down.
Go on, make my reading list grow. :)
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Perhaps you were expecting to visit and find some witty analogy or cute goddaughter story, but that's not what I got for you today.
Okay, maybe I have. But it's not a goddaughter story.
I was thirteen when my first little girl cousin was born. I remember cuddling her, and her falling asleep on my shoulder. When she was about three-years-old she hated having a bath, getting water in her eyes scared her. So I created a story for her.
Actually, I picked up a grey flannel and created a character called (wait for it) Mr. Flannel.
My elderly grandparents had a seat which fit across their bath. This 'bridge' was Mr. Flannel's home, and he lived under it. Anyone walking across -in this case a toy plastic swan- had to give him soup (bathwater in a plastic dish that we gave 'flavours'). If he hated the soup, he'd splash it over my cousin screaming it was "Yucky soup."
If he liked it - Tomato or chicken was his favourite - then he'd eat it.
"Yum yum, nice soup."
My cousin loved this game. Every time she visited I had to perform Mr. Flannel. When her sister was born four years later, Mr. Flannel was introduced to her too.
I swear it wasn't my fault, the older one made me, and I'm too soft to say no. :)
Now, you'd think they would be embarrassed by this story, but they aren't. Even at seventeen and thirteen they still talk about the time I used to play Mr. Flannel with them.
And they smile.
And I smile. It made them happy, so I'm happy.
I never realised how a simple flannel and a bowl of "soup" water could create such a memory for two little girls. It was just something I did to stop them crying when my aunt washed their hair.
I guess it is the simple stories that stay with us.
*Mr. Flannel has since retired to a wonderful home for old flannels. But I'm sure his offspring will appear in the near future for my nieces.
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
I love writing, and chocolate, so when I saw this advert I couldn't resist sharing it. So, in its yummy glory, I present 'The Chocolate Charmer.'
So why am I showing you a clip about some guy playing with his food?
Because the same can be said about writing.
As writers we are word charmers.
You take your ingredients - plots, scenes, language and characters - then blend them together. You heat them to temperature within your word program, and mould them into shape before the hungry reader devours.
We may not get as messy as Mr. Chocolate while we are creating (unless you discount the word count sweats, hair pulling revisions, and occasional screams when the computer freezes). But we get to enjoy the fruits of our labours when we've finished.
And, if we have any, a bar of chocolate.
There we go, two loves combined. Now where did I put my chocolate?
Monday, 3 May 2010
But what if one opinion feels a bit wide of the mark? If the beta misses the point or just doesn't really read the genre you write?
What if it is a little too scathing, and it makes you question yourself as a writer?
I was asked these points by a friend. As usual my over-fertile brain began thinking about opinions.
o·pin·ion /əˈpɪnyən/ Show Spelled[uh-pin-yuhn]
1.a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2.a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
3.the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second Medical opinion.
4.Law. the formal statement by a judge or court of the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a decision of a case.
5.a judgment or estimate of a person or thing with respect to character, merit, etc.: to forfeit someone's good opinion.
6.a favorable estimate; esteem: I haven't much of an opinion of him.
Opinions are personal, we all get that. I like tomatoes, my friend doesn't. Her opinion is that they don't taste nice. I disagree. Do I change my opinion because she hates them? No, but I respect it.
It is the same with movies, books and the manuscript you have been working on for the last (insert timescale in months or years).
An opinion can shatter you to the core. Cause you endless worry and sleepless nights, even reconsider your MS. An opinion is a personal preference.
And I started to wonder about opinions. More specifically, how do we react when someones opinion differs to others?
Do we change our work to suit one person ? Or do we seek more input from beta readers and crit buddies?
Or even shelve the project?
With any feedback I try to be calm. I'm human though, so I feel sad when something I wrote hasn't done what I set out to achieve.
I like to evaluate the points. So I re-read, I think, I digest, and then decide what to do. I change something, usually, if more than one person comments on it. If I re-read it and think "Oh yeah, I missed that!" (*slaps forehead*) then I will tackle it again.
If it is something vital to the plot, maybe I didn't word it right. If that is the case then I can re-shape it.
If the day comes when my novel reaches an agent - gets me signed, and then gets published - will I read each review and rush back to my laptop? Will I change my book based on the opinion of the reviewer/reader?
Will I care that someone doesn't like a particular part or character? Scream out loud when they miss/skip an important sub-plot? Yes I'm human (and quite emotional at times. heehee). But I will have consulted the opinions open to me up to that point.
The CP and beta readers will have worked their magic. The revisions for Mr. or Ms. Agent and editor at the publishing house will be done.
My work will be done and I'd have set it free. There will be nothing more I can do.
However, I hope that -if the time comes- I will remember the definition of opinion, smile and return to writing my next novel.
And rinse and repeat the cycle yet again. :)
Saturday, 1 May 2010
The spare bedroom is being emptied after my parents decorating frenzy (the whole house!). So she sleeps in her travel cot in my room.
Which means one thing. When she is up, she is the boss.
This cute fifteen-month-old thinks Auntie being awake means playtime.
Auntie being up means it's all about her. She smiles, bats her long lashes and holds up her arms for a cuddle. So, naturally, I have to obey. :)
At breakfast she sat in her chair, with her cereal, having a conversation with my dad. Her talking (as you would expect)is the odd familiar word, followed by mashed up baby talk.
But it got me thinking about words.
We spend the first few years of our lives learning words. We practice, write them down and read them over and over until we get them right.
My dad answered back by talking in a mix of ''real'' and baby words. And she kept talking, her face full of concentration and joy. She believed what she was telling him.
To her it made sense, even if I didn't understand. I knew then that sometimes it isn't the words we use, it's how we tell the story.
All we as writers need to do is harness that and repeat it on the page.