Saturday, 30 April 2011

Z is for ZZzzz

Yay! I made it through my first A-Z Blogging Challenge.

26 letters can change the world, but they also have made me a bit sleepy.

Now I think we all deserve a nice, long rest.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Y is for YA

Random person: What kind of books do you write?
Me: Young Adult books.
Random person: Er... Are you going to write an adult book?
Me: Why?
Random person: Because that means you're a real writer. You'll probably get published quicker with a real book.
Me: *blinks* No. It doesn't work like that. Besides, a real writer writes.
Random person: But why YA?

And that is the question. Why do I write YA novels?

I write YA because those are the voices that come to me. The ones who wake me up in the night. Who want their stories told. They're the stories that interest me. The ones I want to tell. To know. To share. To inspire.

Teenage years are the time things will probably be the most raw. Everything is a first. Everything a discovery. A snapshot in time where, for a moment, you can do whatever you want to do. Be whoever you want to be. To feel. To learn. To love. To live in the moment.

I won't say I'll never write an 'adult' book. I read them. I enjoy them. But, in the end, I think it comes down to this:

"You have to write the book that wants to be written." Madeleine L'Engle

What about you. Why do you write a certain genre?

Thursday, 28 April 2011

X is for eXtraordinary

There is something I don't think I've told you before. You are extraordinary.  


Each time you put pen to paper, open that word document to begin a new project, or think about a story/plot/main character you are extraordinary.

Every word you write. Every revision. Each re-write. Every query sent. This makes you extraordinary.

Why are you extraordinary? Because you never give up. We write, we learn. We read, we learn. We query, we learn. Every part of this journey tests, inspires, challenges and frustrates us, but we learn.

We grow.

We do what we love. 

And, by doing what we love, we are extraordinary. 

Note: This post was originally on Operation Awesome, but I feel you all need to be told how awesome you are again. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

W is for Writing Rules

                            From: A Novel Approach (To Me)

It might just be me, but I feel like there is one thing missing from this list... 

That's better. 

Do you have any writing tips/rules to share? 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

V is for Vary the Sentence.

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

U is for Ugh, I Got Nothing.

Ugh. I got nothing today. This means either the chocolate I ate yesterday has moulded around my brain, creating a solid mass of goodness... or I've fallen victim to the dreaded Easter Monday lazybug. 

I'm going with a mixture of both. 

So I vote we all relax today. We deserve it. 

And if anyone says different... 

Funny Pictures - Cat Gifs

Have a great Monday! 

Saturday, 23 April 2011

T is for TBR Pile

         "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." 

Most of us who write have huge, hang on, HUGE TBR piles. You only have to check the Goodreads 'to read' to see some of the books we're itching to read. And sometimes that's before we've even bought them!

Here are the new books I've bought to add to my 'physical' TBR pile this week:

Invincible SummerDivergent (Divergent, #1)Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Birthmarked Bumped (Bumped, #1)
All images from Goodreads

What books are on your TBR list this week? 

Friday, 22 April 2011

S is for Sorry, I'm Watching Toddler Shows

It's Good Friday, the weather is gorgeous, and I'm off to watch the In the Night Garden Live show with my 2 y/o goddaughter. She's also going to meet Upsy Daisy afterwards (even though it occurs to me I'm showing way too much knowledge of the characters, Upsy Daisy is the one on the far right).

In the Night Garden is described as a 'modern televisual interpretation of a nursery rhyme picture book. It's about a magical place that exists between waking and sleeping in a child's imagination. Inhabited by toy characters that care for each other and have fun together.'

For anyone who hasn't seen the show, I've included a clip. 

Fun fact: This BBC show is made by the same people who brought the Teletubbies into the world!

Now I'm off to see Igglepiggle lose his blanket. What are you doing today?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

R is for Revising is Cake

Yet more proof that writing and food go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.   

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Q is for Queries

Dear Future Agent:

Here's my book, I hope you like it. I know I should give you a hook, show who the MC is, and tell you the conflict and stakes, but I hate it when someone suggests a book and then tells me the entire story. It was like when I went to see Titanic with my bestie and she told me it sunk. I mean, who does that?

Anyway, my book basically has vampires/werewolves/zombies/fairies/angels and super-hot demons who all live in a post-apocalyptic world. There's this one teenage girl, who's human, and all the characters are, like, in love with her. Then stuff happens. I won't ruin it, but it'll totally be a bestseller. The film rights will sell for millions. That Twilight wolf dude would be the hot love interest (but I know that Pettyfer guy will probably want to do it too, right?).

I've attached the manuscript, the adapted screenplay and audio book MP3.  I also sent you a hard copy of each with the cover art. You'll know it's from me because I included a bag of gummy bears and the picture of me and my friend that day she fell in a lake and I laughed so hard I peed my pants. It was hil-a-rious!

So I'll call you later to have a chat about it, okay?

Check you later,

Future NYT Bestselling author.

P.S. I've already emailed Publishers Weekly about the deal. It's a pre-empt with a major publishing house in a multi-million dollar deal for a 15 book series.

P.P.S. My mum loves it!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

P is for Procrastination

I won't lie, I like the odd bit of procrastination. 

Some weeks I'm all: 

Other weeks I'm kind of:


And stuff attacks me until I submit: 

But once it's done:

Until next time... 

So tell me, do you procrastinate? 

Monday, 18 April 2011

O is for Oh I love a freebie

Who doesn't love something that's free? 

But something I love even more is a freebie that's made of awesome. Something that helps me write those evil, dreaded beasts known as queries. 

So, if you haven't already (and I ask why have you not yet? For it is genius) hop over to the link and download this:

Yep, Elana Johnson's From The Query To The Call.

Go forth! Opportunity awaits. 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

N is for Nosey Nosey

 My 2 y/o goddaughter has an obsession with noses. She likes to press my nose and say "Beep beep." She also likes to kiss my nose.

This nose-session got me thinking about our favourite features in writing -- the crutch body parts.
Some use of body parts is good. They help us see the directions and form clear mental images. But there's a fine line between useful and overuse.

Ever had CP feedback saying "There are lots of 'eyes' in this chapter. Can you describe this another way?"

Most of us have crutch words, but what about crutch body parts?

Here are two places I like to go when I feel myself reaching for an 'eyes' or 'hand.'

The Bookshelf Muse

Eleven Senses - Who Knew Workshop

Friday, 15 April 2011

M is for Musical Muses


"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is   

    music."                                                                                                            Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), "Music at Night" 1931.

Whether we listen to it as we write, or just to inspire us, music is a great writing tool. For each WIP I create a playlist and listen to it on repeat. usually the music for certain scenes, characters, moods and emotions.

I have quite varied tastes in music. Two of my favourite bands always make the playlist: Muse and My Chemical Romance. Others include Death Cab for Cutie, Adele, Iron and Wine, 30 Seconds to Mars, Apocalyptica (Amparo suggested their music for my current project. I'm so glad she did!) and Within Temptation.

I also like to listen to classical music for certain scenes. And the instrumental scores from movie soundtracks are great if you don't want lyrics interrupting the flow.

What about you? Any favourite artists, tracks or types of music you like to inspire you?

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

K is for Kill your Darlings

"When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story." 
                                                                                                                                                                  Stephen King (On Writing)

There comes a time when we all have to commit novel carnage. Whether it be a minor character who does nothing for the plot, our favourite scene/line/chapter that goes nowhere. Yep, sooner or later we have to kill our darlings.

I'm a writer that has no trouble torturing my characters. I love to edit and I'll edit ruthlessly. I'll cut adverbs and redundant dialogue tags all day, but killing my darlings is hard sometimes.

We pour our heart and soul into those words. We want to hug those scenes that make us giggle because we remember writing them. We send the draft off to our CP's and wait. They'll love it as much as we do, right?

They probably will, but they'll also notice those little bits you are unsure of. They hone in on scenes that are great, but don't advance the plot. They suggest the line we love more than cookies could be cut and tighten the pace. They point out that character who is only in one scene and doesn't do anything.

We can cry. Stamp our feet, put our fingers in our ears and go "la la la la la," but it won't change what we know deep down -- sometimes we have to kill our darlings. So we ponder over it Delete it, paste it back. Delete it and read it again. And it's better without it. So we send them into the deleted scenes file, crossing our fingers we'll use them one day.

Sometimes those words have to take a sacrifice for the team. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

J is for Just Do It

So the conversation is the same. You mention you are writing, write, have written a novel to a friend, colleague etc., then the words come... "I could write a novel, but I don't have the time."

My reply: neither do most people who write. We work, go to school, have families and go to the gym. We do the million other things everyone else does, but we also write. The difference? We make the time.

We sacrifice the family meals, friend time, our evenings and weekends off to write. We record our favourite shows instead of watching them (I counted 5 episodes of True Blood, 6 Vampire Diaries, and 3 Glees episodes waiting for me to watch because I was writing/editing). We steal five or ten minutes in the day to get a few words down. We take notebooks everywhere just in case inspiration strikes.

We don't always have the time, but we make it.

So I say to anyone who tells me they want to write-- just do it. If you are waiting for the time to start, I promise, it won't come. Be bold. Be brave. Write now.

Monday, 11 April 2011

I is for Inspiration and Ideas

Inspiration and idea. We wait for that moment, for the idea to strike. And it can be frustrating when the inspiration refuses to cooperate.

We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.
                                                                                                                                         Frank Tibolt.

So we occupy our minds. We read, watch T.V, movies, go for walks and listen to music. We occupy our mind with a million different things. Take long showers, clean the bathroom, do the laundry, exercise and wait for the inspiration to strike.

And it will.

In the end, inspiration is a little like a flower. It blooms in the sun of activity. Trust in your inspiration and preoccupy your mind. Sooner or later the sun will shine and it will bloom.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

H is for Hope

Each new WIP begins with hope. 

We write the first draft hoping the words flow. We send it off to our CP's and hope they'll enjoy it. We edit with the hope that this draft will be the query-ready one. 

Then comes when day when the book is written, the editing is complete and the query and synopsis revised. We send our book baby into the world. And we wait. 

And, as we wait, we hope. 

Friday, 8 April 2011

G is for Great Lines

The thing I love about books (and movies) is that there is some of the most brilliant dialogue ever. Want proof?

And if you like the movie, The Princess Bride is an awesome book, too.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

D is for Details

Close up of spider's web
Photo by Sylvia Duckworth (cc)

A spiders web begins with a frame. It works, creating the structure as it goes along, but it knows what will strengthen it is the detail.

It travels round and round. Spinning it's thread into the image it needs, but knowing the truth can't be seen until the end.

But it still works. detail after detail. If it falters, it doesn't give up. It rests and returns to work.

We spin our story in the knowledge that it could fall apart at any moment, but we work. We push on with the fine thread of our plot, layering it with the detail we need. Until the day we step back and (hopefully) reveal something beautiful.

The structure holds it together, but it's all in the details that catch the reader in our story webs.

Monday, 4 April 2011

C is for CPs

There was a time when my world was dark. I wrote, I read, but I couldn't see.

The words tumbled onto the page, but didn't always like what they'd become. They wanted to be heard. They wanted to take wings and fly. But they couldn't do it alone.

Neither could I.

One day an email came and my words were discovered.
My new friend saw a spark, something she believed in. I knew. My words knew.

With her friendship, support and general awesomeness, I grew (and continue to grow) in ways I never could have imagined. I am stronger because she believes in me.
Then we met other friends. We were introduced to other words who wanted to be nurtured, shaped, loved. We wanted to grow. We wanted to share. We wanted to be better. And we knew we could do it together.

Now my world is full of light. I write and I read. The darkness may cast its shadow, but I know where my light is to guide me: the girls from Operation Awesome and Renae.

My friends. My rocks. My lights.

My critique partners.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

B is for Believing

    Every time a child says, "I don't believe in fairies," there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.

Children have an amazing ability to believe. They read Dumbo and believe he can fly. That there are mermaids living under the sea. That animals can talk. And if you wish on a star your dreams come true. 

Then children grow up. 

We know an elephant can't really fly. We don't believe in magic, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny or Santa. We learn to look for the logical explanation behind something we don't understand. Sometimes we even stop believing in our own dreams.

As a writer, I like to think the only thing that can hold us back is the ability to believe. I need to believe in the words I weave, the worlds I create, and the characters who live there. Because (even though I know they aren't real) I have to believe in my characters. If I don't why would a reader? 

And maybe, when I write, I'm still that child who believes. 

So I'll clap for the fairies... just in case. 

Friday, 1 April 2011

A is for Adventures!

Today is the start of the Blogging From A-Z Challenge 2011.

When you are young you can't go many places without your parents. Sure, there is the moment you climb on some shoes, unlock the door and toddle off down the drive with an apple in your hand,* but most adventures are out of reach.

Except in books.

This is where our first adventures begin. We play hide and seek with Spot.

We can travel Around The World In Eighty Days.

Live in the jungle with Tarzan.

Or visit Moomin Valley.

As we grow up, our books grow with us. We travel, learn about the world. What we read can become a way to learn or escape.

A book can take you on an adventure anywhere you want to go. You just need to open the cover to begin.

Where will you go today when you read?

*Yes that was me. My mum tells me I was found at the end of the road by our neighbour, brought home and a deadbolt was put on the door. It did not stop my adventures, but that's another story :)

P.S. It is also Mystery Agent Contest day over on Operation Awesome.