Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WOW! Where Have I Been?


The truth? I’ve been right here. Sorry for the absence. I’ve been lurking on other blogs, researching agents and writing, writing, writing. It’s still no excuse for the long silence. All I can say is I think I’ll be back to normal after the holidays. Hope all has been well with you out in blog land!

We’ll talk soon…


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Deconstruction of our Youth

I love teenagers—as should anyone who writes about them and for them. However, yesterday a few teenagers left me feeling something very different than love. I have two best friends. I love them both like sisters and yesterday both of them were violated by teenagers.

One of my friends had her back door kicked in my three teens (not one of them over 17). As my friend said, they would’ve been sadly disappointed when they saw she had nothing to steal, but it doesn’t make it any less violating. Idle minds resort to destructive—sometimes dangerous—behavior. Fortunately, nothing was taken from my friend’s house. Thanks to alert neighbors and the fact that these would-be thieves broke in to the basement and couldn’t get into the main part of the house, she came home to find only a damaged door. Still, it’s scary.

My other friend was violently attacked yesterday by a 17yr old girl. My friend has been a social worker for 15yrs and has never had anything like that happen to her. Unfortunately, her job takes her to terrible neighborhoods, into sketchy homes and around unstable people. But she has dedicated her life to helping teens who need shelter, food and education.

I don’t get this behavior, but maybe I’m not meant to understand what would provoke teenagers to kick in a door or physically attack a person who is there to help you. Mental instability speaks for a lot of it, but I think there is also a lack of structure, a lack of morals and a lack of hope. When you feel like you have no chance, why try?

I think about that when I’m writing. While every story doesn’t have to end happily, I think we owe it to our teenage readers to show them another alternative to violently acting out. Does that mean we don’t write about drugs, sex and violence? That’s certainly not what I’m saying, nor am I saying we have to have moral of the story either. We have to tell the truth because kids are smart and will know when the there is bullsh*t on the pages.

The problem is these teens kicking in doors and attacking people aren’t reading our books. If they were, I can almost guarantee they wouldn’t want to engage in such destructive activities. When you know there is a world out there bigger and better than what you know, you begin to hope. Maybe I’m corny or misguided, but I believe hope changes everything.

My question is how do we reach these violent, door-kicking teens? Because I honestly don’t know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Should I Give Up Writing?


Last week a guy asked what my plan B was, concerning writing. I didn’t understand what he’d meant at first so he clarified.

“What will you do if you don’t sell this book? Will you go back to school to learn something new, more marketable? Will you try to get a promotion at your current job?”

His questions left me silent for a long while. I’ve never been asked that before so when I finally had an answer it seemed anticlimactic.

“I write another book,” I said.

I don’t think that was a good enough answer. Writing another book probably didn’t seem like a plan B to him, more like throwing good after bad. No one who really knows me would ever ask me such a question because they know that giving up on writing is not an option. Most writers do it because they love it. You really have to because it’s such a solitary thing that I’ve been accused of being a recluse, an old maid, you name it. That’s just the way writing is. I’ve never met a writer who could do it with a room full of people talking, with the television on and babies crying. It requires concentration, so yeah, I kinda have to be alone—at least in the room alone. It’s often thankless. You have to wait months, years, or decades—if ever—to see any type of profit or accolades. So if you’re in the business for the glory then get out.

Yes I want to be published and yes I want to make enough money from my writing that it’s my single source of income, but if I don’t sell this novel, I HAVE to write another one. In this guy’s mind, not getting a book published would probably be the ultimate failure, but that’s the view of a non-writer. Actually, there are quite a few people in my family who think this way. They ask, “Are you still trying to get that book published?” It’s easier to say, yes, than it is to explain “that book” is now on the back burner and I’m querying a new one.

Writing for publication is filled with a million little successes so I don’t feel at all like a failure.

The first time you complete a novel = Success!
The first time you take hard criticism and make yourself a better writer = Success!
The first time you write a well-crafted query letter = Success!
The first time an agent requests a partial = Success!
The first time an agent requests a full = Success!
The first time an agent offers representation = Success!
The first time an editor wants to buy your novel = Success!
The first time you see your novel on a shelf in a book store = Success!
The SECOND time you complete a novel = Success!

Tell me, why would I want to give up on that? I’ve only gone through half that list! So if any of you out there are thinking of quitting, if there’s anything on that list you want to stick a pin in or mark off your list, hang in there. It happens every day so why wouldn’t it happen for us?


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jane Austen Has Done it to Me Again


I was nearly halfway through Emma when I thought, “Nope, not really liking this one.”
Emma is snooty, meddlesome and a know-it-all. I did not like her through most of the novel. As with Pride and Prejudice, I felt it was drawn out with lots of telling vs. showing and everyone was so terribly fussy-lol.

And then Mr. Knightley told off Emma. Told her off good enough to have her hiding tears and I fell in love with Mr. Knightley a little bit. That was the start of Emma looking at her behavior and how she treats people and let me just say, thank God for character growth.

All the same, Emma has not replaced my love for Pride and Prejudice. P & P is just so much more romantic.

Now I’m off to watch the BBC mini series. I think I saw the one with Gwyneth Paltrow and while I have nothing against her as an actress, I have something against Americans being put in a British roll. I mean, is there a shortage of British actresses that I didn’t know about? Me thinks not.

Up next...Sense and Sensibility.

Have any of you read Emma? If so, how did you like it? Better that Pride and Prejudice or no?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Backspace: The Writer’s Place

One of my blog posts is featured on the fantastic site Backspace: The Writer’s Place. If you haven’t heard of it, go right over and check them out. I’ll wait….

Okay, so now that you see all the fabulous and informative articles, posts and events they have, you can be in the know like me! Actually, I just learned about them when I was contacted to feature two of my posts about rejection.

I’m very interested in the upcoming agent/author conference. Really, I’m just excited to have a new place to gather information and network. How did I not know about this site?
Anywho, if you want to check out my post go here and be sure to leave a comment!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I’m Not Writing


My laziness during the past week has been astounding. I can barely pull myself off the sofa least of all sit at my computer and string together two sentences. Wait, I just did that, didn’t I? Nevertheless, I’ve been struck by a paralyzing bug and it’s called Laziness. Perhaps I suffer from seasonal depression. Perhaps I just don’t feel like writing.

But I’m starting to feel guilty. As I walk past my laptop and don’t even bother to boot it up, I hear it mocking me, calling me a good for nuthin’ hack, but I just ignore it. It’s not like I don’t have things to write. I have at least five wips I can dive right into. I have a massive rewrite of Light Bringers that I’m actually excited about, but something keeps my butt on the sofa.

If I want to be a fulltime writer I can’t just sit around and waste valuable writing time, can I? Absolutely, not! Deadlines and editors won’t care if I want to watch all the season premieres of the new fall shows. They won’t care if I have miserable menstrual cramps, well, they might care, but they won’t want to hear it as a reason for missing a deadline. And even though I don’t have a deadline, editor or even an agent, it’s not at all prudent to wait until I have those things to start writing like it’s my sole source of income. So with that said I’m going to give my laziness another week and then I’m going to put a boot up my own @ss and get to work.

What do you guys do when you just don’t feel like writing? Do you worry about leaving work undone? Do you feel guilty when you don’t write?


Note: I’ve taken down the link on the sidebar to Zellie’s novel, Lightning Spliced, because it was taken off Zulu and edited for the second printing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Have Stepped Into Query Hell…


…AND IT BURNS!!!!

A few days ago I started trickling out queries. Fifteen! I know for most people fifteen is not a trickle, but when you consider on my last novel I sent out close to one hundred, fifteen is modest.

I’ve received 6 rejections thus far—Ouchie! But the way I’m looking at it is each rejection will clear the way for the right agent to step in. So, from now on, I’ll be sending out one query—to a well researched agent—for every rejection I receive. This is keeping my attitude positive. I realized, I thrive on that hope of hearing that ding on my Blackberry, hitting the button, seeing it’s indicating an email to my gmail account and then opening that to find a request from Mr. or Ms. Dream Agent.

Giving up is not an option. I mean, what else would I do if I gave up writing? Sit and drool in a corner? No, that’ll never do.

Tell me, how do you keep yourself motivated? Are you in Query Hell right now and is there anything I can do to help you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Go Ahead, Say I Told You So

Months back, when J.D. Salinger passed, I was moved to conquer some classics. As a writer, I felt kind of bad when people would talk about certain classics that I’d never read.

On my short list was:
The Great Gatsby
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Catcher in the Rye
Pride and Prejudice

I’ve conquered two on that list so far—The Catcher in the Rye and Pride and Prejudice. Lets just say, I’m not such a fan of The Catcher in the Rye.

Pride and Prejudice. First, lets not talk about how I’m probably the last person to read this book, because I know that I am! As I started reading I thought, “WTH is going on? Why do so many people love this book?” I just didn’t get it. It was drawn out, full of telling over showing and—as I put it to my sister—terribly fussy. Some parts of it actually exhausted me. I think I caught the vapors.

And then Mr. Darcy proposed…and was turned down flat. All of his pride and arrogance tossed back on him by lovely and head-strong Elizabeth Bennett.

I was hooked from that moment on. Whoda’ thunk it…me, a romantic. But I wanted MORE when I was done. I wanted it so much that I went on Netflix and looked up Pride and Prejudice. There are about half a dozen versions so I scaled it down between the one with Kiera Knightley or the miniseries with Colin Firth…Colin won and boy was I happy I chose that one.

I don’t have a big problem with Kiera Knightley, but the in the A&E miniseries seemed so much like Elizabeth. I thought I’d always be conscious that it was Kiera Knightley if I’d chosen the other one. Plus the reviews said the man playing Darcy wasn’t at all like book Darcy. I wasn’t disappointed in Colin Firth.

A lovely time was had by all. So I can now be counted as one of those people who love Pride and Prejudice.

Go ahead, say I told you so…

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Memory of Zellie Blake

I lost a friend on Sunday September 5, 2010. Actually, I don't want to say it like only I’ve lost a friend, because Zellie meant a lot to so many people. I first met her two years ago in the beta forum on Absolute Write. We liked each other instantly. She was quirky and had a bubbly personality, not to mention a wonderful way of giving critical feedback.
When I gave Zellie LIGHT BRINGERS to beta, her comments, advice and support helped me shave it down from 102k to 78k. I truly believe it was her input that helped me grab the attention of several agents, three of which wanted to read the full.

When she told me she was sick with cancer, I was terrified. It’s a horrible disease and I haven’t meant a single person who deserved such an evil thing to live inside their body. Zellie, however was always so upbeat, so bubbly and even in emails you could see the sun shining through her. It was because of this zest that I thought we’d have her for so much longer.

It happened so quickly that I never got to tell her how proud I was to be her friend or how happy I was that she’d published her novel. LIGHTNING SPLICED is now available here.

I read a rough draft of this last year when the title was The Resistance so I can’t wait to read it now and see what’s changed. I just wish I could gush over it with my friend.

ALL proceeds from the book will go to The Cancer Society.More information is available on her website. So please, pick up a copy 0f LIGHTNING SPLICED. Zellie will live on through her words, and we can help find a cure for this terrible disease.

Thanks everybody.

Rest in peace Zellie Bean.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Can You Write For Teens When You Don’t Like Them?


This question was posed after a particularly colorful rant I had the other day. I was in a grumpy mood to begin with, but then I’d been hearing my coworkers complain about their selfish teenagers. I’d witnessed lazy teens in the waiting room giving their parents attitude for no reason, while their pants hung below their butt-cheeks. I’d started listening to a book (I won’t mention the name) where the main character was whinny, hateful and just an all around little sh*t.

This sparked a rant like I’d been channeling a crotchety old man—minus shaking a cane at the neighborhood kids to keep them off of my lawn.

So when the question was asked: How can you write for teens when you don’t like them? It stopped me in my tracks. The coworker who asked this has read my work. She looked at me like she was completely confused.

That’s when I had to step back and rewind all the things I’d said in my head. Yes, I guess it would sound like I don’t like teens, but nothing could be further from the truth. I actually love that age group. The immediacy of everything and the intensity, but what I probably love the most is the new experiences, straddling the lines of child and adult. I loved being a teenager. (I wouldn’t want to go back, but…) I loved high school and this is why I write for teens.

What I explained to my coworker is that my rant should have been aimed at selfish people, at whinny people, and mean-spirited little sh*ts because that’s who I really dislike. And as we all know, those personality flaws are prevalent in all ages.

So even though no teens were harmed during the production of my rant, I apologize. I love you teenagers. Rock on! lol.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Repost...The Name Game

This is a post from June 1st. I was having another conversation about character names and thought I should post this again.As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for character names. Sometimes they just jump out at me and I jot them down on whatever’s handy. At other times, I have to search for a good name. Most of the time main character names jump out at me. I’ll see or hear a name and think, “ohh, I like that.” Even if I don’t have a character for that name yet, some names are just meant to be heroes and heroines.

Usually I have to hunt for a minor character’s name. Working in a doctor’s office gives me an ample supply of all different types of names. We get every ethnicity, every social class and every age…well, as I work at a Perinatal Center, we don’t get every age, but we did have a 51 year old patient last week! I’ve never used someone’s whole name from work. I mostly nab a last name and make up a first name, or vice versa.

I subscribe to David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—if you aren’t signed up with this, do so. His advice is golden and I’ve learned a lot from these daily tidbits. The other day the Kick in the Pants was about character names, which is where I got the idea for this post. Mr. Farland talked about a movie he watched that he couldn’t enjoy because the names distracted him. In the end, he issued this warning:

“As an author, you’re going to be tempted at one time or another to play games with names. There are a number of traps that you can fall into here, but they’re really all the same trap: your name can call attention to itself and thus distract the reader, pulling him or her from your fictive universe. Be careful!”

There’s a fine line between finding a memorable name and coming up with a name that will make your reader scratch his/her head and think more about the name than your story. Admittedly, I was very confused by most of the names in Harry Potter when I started reading The Sorcerer’s Stone. While I became enthralled with the book, I really got tangled with Dumbledore, Hermione, McGonagall, but especially Hermione.

I guess my point with this example is, if you are going to have odd and hard to pronounce names in your book, you better make sure the story can handle it. Personally, I’m a fan of common names with a slight twist. The MC’s in my current work in progress are Sayra—which most Americans would pronounce somewhat like Sarah, but her Cuban parents would pronounce it Say-ra, giving a little roll to the R—and Chaz. I almost named him Chad, but liked the slight difference the Z made.

So tell me, what are your favorite types of names, and how do you come up with characters names?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Signing Guilt

The other day, while spending a lovely week visiting my parents in Delaware and the beach in Rehoboth, I stumbled across a book sighing. I was in the mall with my mother, waiting to get a new tire at Sears and we stopped in a bookstore—as we can never pass one up.

It was a small store and seated right at the front was an author signing for her first novel. Immediately, I wanted to go over and pick her brain, give her praise and just bask in the glow of her new release euphoria. Someone was speaking with her as I entered so I walked the store, waited while my mother purchased a few novels and as we were headed out, Mom and I stopped to speak with the author.

She was perfectly nice and very enthusiastic about her new novel. I really enjoyed speaking with her. Oh! And she told me she designed her cover. I know it’s rare for authors to have this kind of control, but she said her publisher put her together with a graphic designer and the image on the cover is what came from her mind. How awesome is that? I didn’t ask if she was agented, or self-published, but I should have…sorry.

I didn’t buy a copy of the book. From reading the back, I didn’t think the novel was going to be for me, but also, I was in a bit of a cheap mood because I had to shell out $113 for a freakin’ tire so shelling out $20 wasn’t something I was excited about at the moment. I know that’s not the author’s fault, but I think if it hadn’t been for the stupid tire—taking away from my vacation money—I would’ve bought the book even if I never read it.

So now I feel guilty. I know this is ridiculous because I can’t be expected to buy a novel every time I stumble upon an author signing copies of their books. As a writer, aspiring to sit in a book store and sign/sell copies, I feel like I should’ve supported her.

What do you guys think? Have you been in this situation? Did you buy? If you didn’t did you feel guilty about it?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Do You Write A Book?

I was asked this question the other day and for a moment, I didn’t know how to answer. Sure I know how to write a book, I’ve completed five of them so far, but when you actually have to explain the process, it can be daunting. While at the beauty salon on Saturday, I was editing my current manuscript. The girl doing my hair was young and thought I was a teacher (I get that a lot when I'm marking my manuscript with a red pen—once I was asked if I was an actor going over a script-lol).

I told her it was a novel. It’s funny, people who have no clue about writing automatically say, so when is it being published? They have no idea how many steps it goes through before it hits the shelves. Anyway, this girl asked about writing. Her exact question was:

“How do you write a book? I mean, how do you fill up 200 pages telling a story, because when I tell a story it takes about five minutes so how can that fill up a whole book?”

Well, I sat for a moment, because I’d actually never thought about it like that. Yes, when you're telling a story to a person, it should only take a few minutes to regale them with a specific event during your day. If it takes 200 pages to tell someone about the screaming match you had with your boss, no one’s going to be listening when you’re done, and they might brain you with a hammer.

My answer to her was this:

“Well, when you tell a story to a friend it’s usually like, ‘He said this, and then I said that, and then he said this, and then I slapped him.’ The end. So yeah, that should only take a few minutes because really, when you’re talking to a friend and telling a story, no one wants to hear all about the interior of the room, (except if that’s what the story's about) unless a piece of furniture is going to get thrown. But when you’re writing you have to describe everything—or most everything.” (Here I gave her an example as the other beautician entered our area).

“You wouldn’t write, Charlene said, ‘how do you want your hair?’ and the patron said, ‘curly.’

You’d write…Charlene led Mrs. Peterson to the styling area and gestured for the older woman to have a seat. She ran her fingers through Mrs. Peterson’s hair, checking its moisture, looking for damage and signs of a dry scalp. She swiveled the chair slightly, so Mrs. Peterson could look at herself in the ornate mirror mounted above the station. ‘Did you have a style in mind?’ Charlene asked. Mrs. Peterson pressed her lips together, tilted her head from one side to the other and said, ‘I was thinking of something with a lot of curls. It’s getting cooler out, and the curls should last.’”

I explained to the girl doing my hair that a five minute conversation could take up five pages in a book when you add in scenery, expression, dialogue and emotion.

Truthfully, I always thought this was common sense, but I see that I was wrong. It’s common sense because I’m a writer and most of my friends are writers so we just know the basics of writing. There are so many people out there who don’t have a clue so I guess it’s our job to educate-God help them-lol.

I find the deeper I go into this world of writing, the more I’m called upon to answer question. I like it, because I want to explain what I do. Nothing frustrates me more than people who don’t have a clue about what I do, but want to give me advice because they knew someone who published thier book of poems. So all those people out there who have question, if I’m able to answer, I will every time. Sometimes, though, no matter how clear I am, they still walk away scratching their heads.

Do you all find it easy to explain what you do—the basics of writing and how you string together words to make a sentence, sentences to make a paragraph, paragraphs to make a page and pages to create a novel? I thought it would be easy, but I was actually kinda stumped. If you have a better explanation/example by all means, leave it in the comments!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Villains


I’ve been reading quite a few books that give the villain’s/antagonist's point of view. Usually, I don’t mind this, or at least, I never minded until recently, but lately, it’s been getting on my nerves.

I know what they say, make your villain three dimensional. Give them more shades of gray as opposed to just black and white, and to do that, you have to get into the head of the villain. But what I’m finding is a lot of telling. The problem with giving the villain’s pov is we have to learn their neurosis, there insanity and their motives all without making the novel all about them. What I’ve been getting lately is a three to five page narrative in the mind of a sociopath and it’s no fun being in there, especially when we’ve left some good and interesting characters to take a trip down the rabbit hole.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good demented character just like the next gal, but the rules for villains are the same for any character, show me don’t tell me. I’m finding that I don’t remember any of the information about the antagonist that was dumped on me, so it’s almost pointless to have it in the book.

J.K. Rowling was a bit brilliant with her construction of Voldemort. We first learn about him through fear of his name. Then we fear him because of dastardly deeds of those who are still loyal to him. When we finally get to see Voldemort, live and in person in book four, we are terrified by then. Not everyone will have four books to build up their antagonist, but maybe you’ll have four chapters to show us fear, show us henchmen, show us the end result of one of his/her tirades, and then bring on the villain.

I think about this whenever I’m writing my antagonist and trying to make him/her as shaded in gray as possible, as well as showing their motives and not telling them.

How do you construct your antagonist/villain?

Edit 08/17/10: OMG! I can not believe I had PROTAGONIST all throughout this post. It was like my brain had shut off and only now did I realize, "Dummy, you meant ANTAGONIST!" Thanks to all of the people who said nothing because you knew what I meant. But feel free to correct me in the future-guh!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tit For Tat

Taking criticism is often a hard thing. I know this, you know this and anyone who opens themselves up to have their work viewed knows this. I have thick skin, within reason, and I don’t usually fly off the handle when someone gives me tough love…if it is in fact, tough love.

I used to post my work on forums to make it better. Queries, first pages and so on, but now I don’t. Too many eyes come with too many opinions. Many of them are contradictory and some of them are down right insane. That’s the problem with opening yourself up to strangers, you never know their qualifications.

Just recently I forgot my rule and posted a bit of my work on a forum. I really don’t have a problem weeding through the nit-pickers or the flowery-critters and honing in on the true advice that will help me. And like I said, I have a thick skin, but what I’ll never have a thick skin about is someone who wants to tear apart my work because I gave them a less than glowing crit. Payback, so to speak.

I’m never mean-spirited with my feedback because it’s not helpful. I’ve had mean-spirited comments before and even though there was some constructive criticism hidden in there, I couldn’t see past my anger to the true meaning of their comments until much later.

In this situation, I think I was honest and asked the questions I had of the work. Not to be mean, but to give the author something to think about. Coming back and reviewing my post only to place snarky comments about what an agent will and won’t want to see, is ridiculous to me. If you’re not an agent, not even an agented author then you can’t say—with the emphatic certainty that this commenter had—what an agent will or won’t want to see. I felt like the comments were a blatant attempt to get back at me for the comment I left. Of course, I can’t prove this so really the point it moot.

Actually, my point is this; I’m not trying to bad mouth writers forums. They are awesome and have helped me in so many ways I can’t begin to count. But understand when you post on them that not all criticism will help you, not everybody has your best interest at heart and you may walk away more confused than when you started.

End Rant

Have any of you had similar experiences? How did you handle them?

Monday, August 2, 2010

How Much of You is in Your Characters?

As writers we often place bits of ourselves into the characters we create. Some part of me can be found in everything I’ve written. But only parts, otherwise I’d run the risk of having one fully fleshed out, three-dimensional character and a host of copycats.

My sister just finished reading my latest novel. The first thing she said was that she understood my MC so much. She loved her voice, her humor and she got her insecurities. The reason this resonated with my sister is because it was very much ME. My MC and I are polar opposites physically. She’s tall, slim and of another race than I am, but her personality has bits of me that I think my sister picked up on.

My MC is attractive, but doesn’t really know it. She’s a bit immature, doesn’t really know what to do with boys, and likes to work on cars over being dolled up. When I was 12 I thought nothing of playing games, climbing trees and being a kid. While other kids my age were out discovering boys, I wasn’t.

In the 7th grade, there was a girl in my class who was really nice, but really quiet. One day she sat on the bench while I ran around being chased by my silly friends. I asked if she was okay because she didn’t look well. She stood, perhaps to get away from our loud laughter, and I noticed her pants were undone. I pointed that out to her—being the helpful child that I was—and she promptly told me that she was pregnant and couldn’t close her pants anymore.

I was FLOORED! I feel terrible about it now, but at the time, I stared at her like she was a circus freak. My mind was SO far away from sex, pregnancy and anything close to it, that I didn’t know how to act around her anymore. This may sound weird but, even though I didn’t lose my virginity until 5 years later, I’d lost some innocence that day. At the same time—looking back now I see that—I tried like hell to hold onto what was left.

My struggle for innocence stayed with me so that by the time I was sixteen, all of a sudden, I wanted a boyfriend. I’d spent the three years between 13 and 16 having lots of boys who were friends—and yeah, most of them liked me as more, but I was clueless—to suddenly wanting a boyfriend and feeling like I’d been left at the starting line while my friends had been running for a few years.

This is what my sister picked up on from my MC. It seemed so real to her because I knew exactly what my character was feeling and going through. I didn’t consciously write with the idea that I’d take something from my adolescence and put it in this character. I honestly didn’t notice it until my sister pointed it out.

So tell me, how much of you do you put in your characters?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Facts in Fiction

Yesterday I was speaking to a coworker—ever notice how many of my posts start from my conversations—and I’d made a comment about a technicality my sister caught in my current ms. I’d mentioned something about a character firing three people without a severance or their 401k. My sister—a human resources director—told me that’s against the law. So I’d needed to change it. No matter what happened, the person was entitled to their 401k since it was money they invested.

This is another example of the value of “readers” because I would’ve never known that. Well, my coworker was like, “Who cares, its fiction!”
I had to explain to her that even in fiction you need facts. Everyone on my job, with the exception of those few who have actually read my writing, think I write nothing but Harry Potter type novels, when in fact, I’ve never written anything remotely close to the Potter universe—other than fanfiction.

To make this coworker understand, I had to point out all the inaccuracies in hospital shows—as we are medical professionals. It’s frustrating for the doctors and nurses I work with to watch their work being so inaccurately portrayed on screen. I said, “That’s fiction, but you want to be accurate, right?”

She understood, I guess, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when she thinks of my writing she envisions people flying around on broomsticks, worried about their 401k’s.

*Le Sigh*

This scenario had me thinking about how much we are willing to suspend our belief while reading fiction. Or watching movies and tv. I just recently saw Salt and, as with most action movies, you have to suspend your belief somewhat so you can go on the ride the director has planned. Watching people accomplish impossible feats and come out unscathed is sometimes hard to sit through without rolling your eyes, but when it’s done correctly, we buy it.

With my current novel, the main character has psychic dreams. Is this real? Who knows? I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone who could tell the future through their dreams. Have I had foreboding dreams? Yes. But out right showing the future, nope, never had, never met anyone with that ability. So to me, everything outside of that one paranormal activity needed to be grounded in fact for this particular story to work. It may change with other novels I write, but as I’m probably always going to write earth bound novels, there will be certain facts that I’ll have to keep intact.

How about you guys? Do you think a lot about the facts you put in your novels? Do you research, ask people who may be in the know, even if you’re writing fantasy and sci-fi? If you have some examples, leave them in the comments.

Monday, July 26, 2010

To Outline or Not Outline…that is the question.

A few days ago I was reading a post on the blog of kt Literary. The posed was about how people plot out their novels. Outline or fly the seat or your pants? As much as I’ve tried to outline, it’s never stuck. I am and, suspect I always will be, a fly by the seat of my pants type of writer. Perhaps if I ever write something like The Da Vinci Code, or my most recent reads: Caught by Harlan Coben or The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, then perhaps I’ll need to outline, post up cards and have detailed pedigrees. Those stories have a tone of characters, plots within plots and enough twists and turns to snap a neck. So, yeah, I’d probably need to outline.

I’m a character driven writer. I like to read books, watch movies and tv shows which are character driven (one of the reasons I never really got into Law and Order). I care less about the crime and more about the toll it takes on the character.

So for me, I’ve never really had to plot out a character driven novel. Sometimes I have to take note of certain things, for instance:

In my latest novel, the first chapter starts with the main character angry that her on-campus parking spot has been revoked and given to the new guy, even though she stood in line last term to get it, and followed all the rules. It’s a small thing, but I wanted it to come back into play near the end of the book, so hopefully my readers will say, “Oh, now I see why her spot was taken.” The funny thing is, I’d written it down as a reminder to circle back around to it at the end. And then I promptly forgot about it, yet somehow managed to still bring it full circle. So I guess, until my memory stops working for me, I’ll keep flying by the seat of my pants as I write.

Tell me, do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writers vs. Readers

Today I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a comment I made yesterday. I was speaking to a friend who has a copy of my ms and I said that I was looking for real readers for my ms. The word REAL made her look questioningly at me as if I thought of her as a ghost. I hadn’t meant to insult her, really, she’s awesome. I spit the foot out of my mouth and said, “What I meant to say was, I’m looking for writers to read over my ms. Writers and readers look at things differently.”

I was wrong to use the word real and I apologized because everyone who puts in the time to read something you’ve created is VERY real. Once I explained and dug myself out of the hole I’d fallen into, she understood what I’d meant. (and she doesn’t hate me. Yay!)

Sometimes—not all the time—people who have never written anything, can tell you that they liked or disliked something, but can’t really tell you why it works or doesn’t work. I find this to be the case with one of my best friends. She’s well-read and reads fast, but at the end of reading my ms, she will say, it was good. Or, I liked it. While those are the things you want to hear, as an aspiring writer, you need more. With my first ms, I was so frustrated with all those comments that I nearly shelved it for good. I didn’t know any other writers at the time, so I really had no clue if what I’d written was actually good or sucked sideways.

Turns out, it sucked. The novel was WAY too long—like almost 500 pages—I know, right! The plot was thin. The protagonist was 17 and I had way too much explicit sex in it to cater to the teen market. And the format was insanely wrong. I’d italicized, bolded, and double indented all the dialogue. *hangs head in shame* Yeah, I did that.

So as I try to rinse the flavor of my shoe out of my mouth, I want to know if you all understand what I’m saying. Do you think there’s a difference between readers and writers when it comes to reading your manuscript? The value is there for both, of course. The average person who buys your novel will be a “reader” so you don’t want to discount your primary readers opinions. But writers look at things differently. We appreciate sentence structure, deep characters and solid plots and we know how to tell you how great that is. Or we can spot the flaws in all three and know how to tell you how to fix it.

I’d love to hear your opinions!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I have No Patience

I need help, people! I’m done with my edits and I have readers plowing through my novel as we speak (btw, I still need a beta that’s an actual writer or editor. My readers now aren’t writers, they are family and friends and we all know you need someone with a critical eye. Here is the synopsis of the ms, let me know if any of you out there is interested—thanks!). Now I’m at the point where I have to physically stop myself from sending out a query nearly everyday.

I don’t do it, because I know the repercussions of querying too early, but man am I eager to start. I need you all to talk me down from the ledge and keep me from leaping into query hell prematurely.

What do you guys do when you’re suffering from premature query-lation? Think about baseball? Chew your nails to the nub? Eat chocolate? Write other things? Shop? Or all of the above?

Monday, July 19, 2010

When Did I Write That?

As I’m in edit mode on my current novel, I read each sentence, each word carefully. Sometimes I have no memory of writing a certain sentences. I remember creating scenes or chapters, but the little bits that constitute a scene or a chapter…I usually can’t say, I remember the day I wrote that sentence.

I found myself explaining this to a friend and I mistakenly told her that’s how it is for writers, that no one remembers the tiny nuances of a chapter or a completed novel, but who am I to speculate?

Maybe there are some of you out there who can say, “I wrote that sentence on the fourth of July.” I think the reason why it’s different for me, and I expect many of you, is because while I may have a detailed scene in my head, when I sit down to write, but then something takes over. I may not stick completely to what’s in my head. And then it’s all organic after that. Sometimes I really like what I’ve written and think, “Wow, I must’ve been on a roll that day.”

Sometimes I’m like, “What was I thinking when I wrote that?” Mostly, it’s a joyous thing and I’m happy to be at the point where I’m revising. I stumble across things that make me smile, laugh out loud or tugs at my heart and I wonder if the reader will feel the same in those places.

Am I the only one who forgets certain sentences, and then is surprised by how good they are? Or are you the type who can’t remember writing every word of your novel?

Friday, July 9, 2010

No Imagination

I was having a conversation with one of my coworkers and had a sudden realization…this woman lacks any sort of imagination. It all started from a comment I made about wanting a dog just like my sister's…as seen here with Santa and I planned to name him Sirius Black. Well, my coworker had no clue who that was, which is fine. Not everyone is required to know Harry Potter.

When I explained it was from Harry Potter, she went on a tirade about how stupid the books and movies are—even though she’s never read or seen any of them—and that it’s just dumb to write about people flying around on broom sticks. For a minute I just stood and stared at her while my other two coworkers—who’ve read and loved HP—went about telling her how great the books are.

Her counter argument was, “Why can’t people just write about normal stuff?” This was her honest-to-God answer and belief. Now, I’m not one to mock someone’s beliefs because I’d hate for someone to do that to me, but the interaction just made me sad.

What would the world be like if people only wrote about ‘normal stuff’? People are well within their right not to like fantasy for whatever reason they choose, just as I’m well within my right not to like books on science or math. But wow, I have no clue what I would do if I had no imagination. I certainly wouldn’t be a writer.

This coworker is, overall, a decent person. She makes me laugh and we have fun when we hang out, but I could never have a conversation with her about ANYthing other than beer—which I don’t really drink—annoying patients, or family. She has no interest in history, has no clue about current events or even pop culture. Sometimes there is a vast nothingness that comes across her face when you say something to her that you think would be common knowledge. And I just want to point out that I have no plans to change her, because who am I to tell her she shouldn’t be this way? She’s happy, she’s a good person and I really do like her, but my heart just hurt for her today. I know that’s dramatic, but being someone with such a vivid imagination, I almost felt like I should transfuse her or something.

I don’t mean for this blog to sound like I’m ragging on her, because it’s not. It was just something that I saw and as most of the people who follow me are writers, I thought you all could relate and maybe give me some ideas on how to deal with someone who thinks something so valuable and important to me is just a big ball of ridiculousness.

So this is my question…Do you have people in your life—close or not—who think it’s bizarre that you write? Or have you come across people who can’t even begin to wrap their minds around fantastical worlds or think they are a stupid waste of time—especially those of you who write fantasy, urban or otherwise, paranormal, or sci-fi?

Monday, July 5, 2010

From Songs To Novels

Have you ever listened to a song and a whole freakin’ scene just popped into your head? It happens to me all the time. Most times I ignore it because it’s usually so fragmented that it can’t sustain a full 200 or so pages. But lately, there have been a few CD’s that seemed to have conspired to give me an entire novel. One of the CD’s is The Script.

It all started with their song Breakeven. I heard this song for the first time awhile ago as I was driving. I wasn’t really paying attention to the radio, just driving and writing in my head. Well the song starts with:


I’m still alive, but I’m barely breathing
Just prayed to a God that I don’t believe in

And I went, “Whoa, I need to listen to this.” So I turned up my radio, quieted my brain and fell in love. A few days later I hunted down the CD and to my delight discovered that Breakeven wasn’t even going to be my favorite song on the CD. What happens with me is that I fall in love with several different songs and currently I’m in love with a song called, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.

The song is about a guy who stands on the corner where he first saw the love of his life. He has a sign and her picture hoping that if she changes her mind and wants him back, she’ll come back to that corner. People think he’s homeless, but he’s just heartbroken…okay, when did I become such a sap, because that hits me right where I live.

There’s a part in the song that watered the seed of a novel for me. It goes:

And maybe I’ll get famous as the man who can’t be moved
And maybe you won’t mean to, but you’ll see me on the news
And you’ll come running to the corner ‘cos you know it’s just no use
I’m the man who can’t be moved.


Well, now, thanks to that song and several others including tracks from Kings of Leon and Adelle I have an entire novel added to my list of future projects. Thank God for music!

Just from reading other blogs out there, I know a lot of you have playlists while you write, but have any of you ever been inspired to write a novel based on a song, or CD or a combination of a few songs from different authors?

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Love Books!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. I’ve been doing edits on my manuscript, trying to get it ready for my beta readers (if any of you are interested in reading for me, send me an email at kdrose at g mail dot com and I’ll tell you about the book and we can see if we can swap ms if you want).

I’ve been reading a lot. Sometimes I get into a habit where I read/listen to two books at a time. I just finished listening to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson and reading Kill For Me by Karen Rose. I have to say, I almost fried my brain. The two stories were different enough for me not to confuse plots or characters, but they both had TONS of characters in them.

If any of you out there have read any Karen Rose novels you know she gives you lots of people to play with and some of those people aren’t who they say they are. They have different names, nicknames, secret identities or no identities at all. You have to stay on your toes when you read one of her books, but as this novel was part of a series, I already knew most of the characters so I didn’t have so much trouble keeping track.


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo…OMG! I don’t know if any of you have read it—I mean, I know I’m late to the game and somebody has to be reading it for as long as it’s been on the bestsellers list—but what a dense novel. Admittedly, I struggled in the beginning. My manager has read all three books and warned me that I might have a hard time getting into the beginning, and that was no lie. I was two discs in and I was like, I don’t know what’s really going on. My manager said, “Karen, promise me you’ll stick with it. It’ll be worth it.” I stuck with it and boy was it worth it. I really loved the book and more over, I loved the way Larsson wrote.

It struck me when I was about halfway through the book that as an unpublished writer, I’d probably have a hard time getting an agent if The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was my first novel. It’s a brilliant story and once someone gave it a chance, they’d see the brilliance, but it’s a story that’s heavily told. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from agents, editors and authors that you should show and not tell. But somehow Larsson tells about 70% of this story and shows about 30%, but it WORKS!

So if any of you are out there looking for a good thriller I whole-heartedly recommend The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Yeah, all both of you who haven’t read it by now-lol. If any of you like a little more romance with your thrillers then pick up a Karen Rose book. You won’t be disappointed.

This combination worked so well for me that I just got The Girl Who Played With Fire on audio and another Karen Rose book, Silent Scream, so I can read some and listen some. God, I love books!

Everyone have a safe fourth! Don’t eat too much and keep your manikins away from fireworks because every year the news show those poor manikins getting their hands blown off…when will they learn?





Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Makings of a Bad Narrator


As most of you know, I listen to a lot of audio books. I’m fortunate enough to have a job that works well with me listening to novels that can sometime have racy language/text and no one will know because I have my own office.

There are some things that annoy the heck out of me with audio books, and I suspect some or all of these things I’m about to list is part of the reason some people don’t like listening to novels.

What makes a bad narrator?

I talk LOUD, I talk low.

This is the fluctuating voice. I’ve listened to audio books that force me to turn the volume down only to turn it way up because the narrator has gone from shouting to whispering in a matter of seconds. Here’s a hint, narrators, if the text calls for you to whisper…DON’T ACTUALLY WHISPER! We can’t hear you! There’s a way to mock whisper so we get the point and still hear important plot points. If you’re a man with a deep voice, talking low will making it virtually impossible to hear you. Has no one told them this?

Angry when I should be Sad.

Actually, you can insert any emotion in those two spots. Whatever it is, the narrator has gotten it wrong. I actually listened to a novel where the narrator was shouting at the love interest, sounding very angry, when he should’ve been scared and shaken. Somewhere toward the end of the monologue the narrator got it and killed the shouting, but the scene was just all messed up by then.

I Put the EmphAsis on the wrong SyllAble.

Mispronouncing words. Man, this gets me steamed. I don’t know what goes into being a narrator for an audio book, but I’d imagine it’s more than just walking into a studio, cracking open the book, clearing your throat and reading. Is there a run through? Do they get a chance to look over the text to get a feel for the characters, decide what voices to use? Figure out that you don’t pronounce short-lived with a long i. Hint, lived—long i—isn’t even a word. Hard to say names are one thing, but to mess up on everyday words just kills me and pulls me right out of the story cause I’m thinking, “Did you seriously just pronounce that word like that?”

Listening to the Paint Dry.

This is the dull voice that will even put someone hopped up on no-doze, red bull and espresso to sleep. I’ve never been able to listen to one of James Patterson’s novels because the narrator was like listening to the man from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller….” Man, I’m falling asleep just thinking about it.


Oh No You Di’int.

This is where the narrator makes all black people sound like they just got off the plantation or out of the ghetto. I want to scream when I hear this. Maybe this annoys me most because I’m black. I kinda understand what they’re trying to do, inject soul into the voice, but if you can’t do it, then don’t try it. If the author has told us that the character is black or African American and doesn’t go out of their way to mention how this person speaks, doesn’t show it in their dialogue then DON’T DO IT! It’s offensive and just wrong. The novel I’m listening to now has a woman who is a dean at a private school for crying out loud, she would not speak like some chick out of the hood! I almost took the CD out, but the story is really good, and I’m hoping this character won’t reappear.

Okay, so now that I’m done with my rant. Any of you have these issues with audio books? Are any of these the reasons why you don’t listen to novels?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beetles, Wine and True Blood…How’s that for Random?


Saturday I went to Boordy, one of Maryland’s local vineyards. I’m lucky to live close by and to have good friends who like to do these types of things with me. Wine, music and good company…what more can you need?

It was singles night last night, but no one pays attention to that. There were families and couples and I’m sure singles there too, but I couldn’t find any-lol.

The band was a Beetles tribute band—The Mahoney Brothers—and as the Beetles were a bit before my time, I’m not a diehard fan. I do have my favorites of their songs: Come Together, Hey Jude, Twist and Shout, and Penny Lane. The funny thing was, while this band was great, even down to the costumes, the people were freaking out when they hit the stage like the REAL Beetles were there. I was like, whoa, these people are serious about their Beetles tribute bands-lol.
Before I went off to sample wine and lay back in my chair listening to music, I worked on my manuscript, Light Bringers. I got a pretty good amount of attention on that one, so I’m not willing to shelf it completely. I’ve pretty much made up my mind that once I’ve roped an agent, I can present Light Bringers as a second or third project, once I’ve proven I can sell. Look at how confident I am and not the least bit delusional *clasps hands together in prayer.*

When I wasn’t drinking wine, listening to music and doing rewrites, I was catching up on TV shows on my DVR. Can I just say how much I freakin' LOVE Glee.


You know I’ve got it bad when I watch and wish I’d thought to write it as a novel. Man, I love that show. It’s weird. I always DVR it thinking I’d rather watch/do something else, and then it takes me at least a few days to watch it. It’s like my brain is like, it’s not that good, but man am I always wrong. I had two episodes to catch up on and both had the tears welling up in my eyes.

The other show that I’ve been catching up on is Burn Notice. Now this isn’t a show that makes me wish I’d written it. I don’t know anything about spies and espionage, but I wish to hell I was ON this show. I wouldn’t say no to being Gabrielle Anwar who plays Fiona Glenanne, the volatile love interest of Jeffery Donovan who plays Michael Weston. To me, he’s not someone you’d be like, “oh, god, he’s sooooo cute,” but OMG is he sexy. I’m in lust with him and that show.

I mean, look at him!


But tonight comes one of my favorite shows. I’ve suffered through months waiting for season 3, but now the time has come. True Blood! I better not get a phone call at 9pm est or there will be hell to pay! Well, actually, there won’t be any hell to pay. I just won’t answer the phone.

Wow, reading over this post makes it sound like I’ve had such a busy weekend, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. Are there any shows you can’t do without right now? Summer isn’t the time to be plopped in front of the TV, hence my DVR, but when I’m all done with writing for the day and I have my terrace door open, listening to nature, I sometimes like to catch up on shows I’ve missed.

Hope you all had a good weekend. Be safe!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Writing Out of Order



It got me thinking about how my writing has changed over the years. I don’t know how unusual this is, but I’ve never written a short story—with the exception of the writing I did when I was a kid and wrote my first story, MURDER SHE WROTE—BLOOD ON THE PORK CHOP. My parents should’ve really gotten my head examined, but they listened—and laughed—at my tale of murder with pig products.

When I started to write later in life, as a teenager, I began with a novel. The thought never occurred to write a short story. So I’ve always had these big ideas rolling around in my head. When it came time to write my second novel, I had a scene in my head of gorgeous twin brothers and the girl they grew up with. One brother thought of her as a sister and the other thought of her as so much more and they were discussing the pros and the cons of this brother pursuing a relationship with this girl who grew up with them like family. This scene kept looping over and over in my mind and I couldn’t wait until I got to that part so I could finally get it down on paper…or actually, on the computer.

For years I wrote like that, letting one scene drive me to fill in the story around that inspired scene. Over the last year, as ideas and scenes filled my head, I changed that approach. I write the scene when I think of it, get it out of my head so I can breathe again. Otherwise I find myself zoning out during staff meetings, when people are talking to me, and when I’m listing to audio books at work. Also, as long as I’m stuck in that scene and my other writing suffers.

I found that I really enjoy writing like this. I have a wip that has four files attached to it. The first is the main document to the manuscript because the opening scene happened to be one that haunted me until I wrote it. The next scene I wrote was the end. I couldn’t get this conclusion out of my mind and while it may change, the gist of it will remain the same. The other two scenes happen in the middle of the novel, but they are intricate parts of the story. So now, when I sit down to finish this novel, I’ll have most of it in pieces.

I trust my brain—for now—but it never hurts to get those nagging scenes out of my head so I can fill them with more beautiful ideas! Do you guys do this? Do you jot down ideas in little books, on napkins and then work from there? I’d love to know what your writing process is when the story comes to you out of order.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Excerpts/Outtake


Since I'm all done with this current novel...well, for the time being, I've decided to post a scene that didn't make it into the first draft. I liked the scene, but it didn't really move the story along and I knew it almost as soon as I wrote it. So it was one of those scenes that got deleted pretty quickly. As I'm writing, I make a file of all big chunks of text that I delete, just in case I change my mind. Do you guys do something like that ? Do you keep big deletes? Would you ever share them?

Scene Summary:


Sayra and Chaz have been outside during their lunch period, in a place they have to get to through the boiler room. So while they wait for their eyes to adjust from the sunny garden to the dark boiler room, they have this conversation:

“Oh, I’ve been meaning to tell you,” I said as we waited to see more than two inches in front of our faces. “I told my mother that you said her books were filled with heaving bosoms, throbbing loins and—”

“What? Why would you do that?”

“It just came out. I blame you.”
“Okay, this oughta be good.” Chaz folded his arms over his chest. “How am I responsible?”

“You fed us all that sugar and fat and it did something to my brain.”

“Uh-huh. So I guess I can forget ever meeting her. No way I’ll be able to look her in the face now.”

“She won’t remember. But the crazy part is, she made me read one of her books. I have until Sunday and then we have to discuss it.”

“Yikes.”

“I know, right? I’ve read about half of it and I have to admit it’s really good. It’s weird though, the main character’s name is Sayra.”

“Really? So your mom named her character after you. That’s kinda cool.”

“No, she wrote this book before I was born so I’m named after the character.”

“Oh. Well, it’s still kinda cool.”

“It is, but it’s weirding me out. I think I’m coming up to the part where the girl is about to, you know…do it for the first time and I’m going to freak if this dude is all like, ‘Oh Sayra, let me touch your heaving bosoms.’”

Chaz laughed so hard I thought I was going to have to resuscitate him. “Oh god, let’s hope your mom is a better writer than that.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm DONE!

Yay! I just finished my current manuscript, PLATINUM DIARIES. I sat down on Saturday morning and said I would not get up until my novel was finished. As I’d said that the weekend before Memorial Day, I meant it this time. And wouldn’t you know, 5900 words later, I was finished my rough draft!

Whew, I’m tired, but also excited. I know I’m going to find a lot to change, cut or expand on and that editorial process always gets my juices flowing. I’m excited to let people read it because Platinum Diaries is significantly different from my last manuscript, LIGHT BRINGERS.

So now my plan is to let it sit for about six to eight weeks and then read over it and cut, chop, change. Then I’ll line up some beta buddies and hopefully, I can be off to query land or query hell, however you want to look at it. Personally, I can’t wait to query, but I will, as I only have one chance to make a first impression.

So tell me, how long do you let your first draft sit before you go at it with the machete? And if anyone is looking for a query letter or YA paranormal ms to beta, drop me a line!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Name Game


As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for character names. Sometimes they just jump out at me and I jot them down on whatever’s handy. At other times, I have to search for a good name. Most of the time main character names jump out at me. I’ll see or hear a name and think, “ohh, I like that.” Even if I don’t have a character for that name yet, some names are just meant to be heroes and heroines.

Usually I have to hunt for a minor character’s name. Working in a doctor’s office gives me an ample supply of all different types of names. We get every ethnicity, every social class and every age…well, as I work at a Perinatal Center, we don’t get every age, but we had a 51 year old patient last week! I’ve never used someone’s whole name from work. I mostly nab a last name and make up a first name, or vice versa.

I subscribe to David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—if you aren’t signed up with this, do so. His advice is golden and I’ve learned a lot from these daily tidbits. The other day the Kick in the Pants was about character names, which is where I got the idea for this post. Mr. Farland talked about a movie he watched that he couldn’t enjoy because the names distracted him. In the end, he issued this warning: “As an author, you’re going to be tempted at one time or another to play games with names. There are a number of traps that you can fall into here, but they’re really all the same trap: your name can call attention to itself and thus distract the reader, pulling him or her from your fictive universe. Be careful!”

There’s a fine line between finding a memorable name and coming up with a name that will make your reader scratch his/her head and think more about the name than your story. Admittedly, I was very confused by most of the names in Harry Potter when I started reading The Sorcerer’s Stone. While I became enthralled with the book, I really got tangled with Dumbledore, Hermione, McGonagall—especially Hermione—and others. I guess my point with this example is, if you are going to have odd and hard to pronounce names in your book, you better make sure the story can handle it.

Personally, I’m a fan of common names with a slight twist. The MC’s in my current work in progress are Sayra—which most Americans would pronounce somewhat like Sarah, but her Cuban parents would pronounce it Say-ra, giving a little roll to the R—and Chaz. I almost named him Chad, but liked the slight difference the Z made.

So tell me, what are your favorite types of names, and how do you come up with characters names?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Karen Rose

So as you all may know, my name is Karen Rose and there is also a well established author with the same name. As an aspiring writer, whenever I see one of her books in a store my first thought is, oooh, my name is on a book! My second thought is:

“John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
His name is my name too
Whenever we go out, the people always shout
There goes JOHN JACOB JINGLEHEIMER SCHMIDT!
NA NA NA NA NA NA…”

That song has been in my freakin head all day! But it’s all good, because I’ve finally read one of Karen Rose’s books, Scream For Me, and it was very good!


I’m halfway through another of her books, I Can See You.

And I’m enjoying this one even more than the last. So Ms Rose is doing my name proud.

As much as I’d like to publish under my name, I’m fine using a pseudonym. If any of you like thrillers with lots of sexual tension that will leave you satisfied when it’s resolved, go check out Karen Rose’s books.


One day I’ll be saying that about my own book!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Kiss

Hi all! I know I've been silent for a spell, but all is well...hey, that rhymed. Still, I'm feeling good and that's the reason for my absence. I've had to catch up on lots of things. One of those things was coming up with a list of what I hope will become weekly posts. As I have family coming in this weekend, I'll be starting that on Monday...I hope.

But for today, I've submitted a first kiss scene to Miss Snark's First Victim's site. If you want to go check it out, go here. It's number 40 and from Platinum Diary and it's a rough draft so be kind...actually, tell the truth. I'm telling you all which one is mine because it's NOT a contest, just something the wonderful Authoress thought up and wanted to share. I love writing kissing scenes and at the same time, I hate it. I love when my characters get to the point where they can share a kiss, but I get so worked up about writing it. I know I'll change this scene at least two more times before I'm satisfied with it. All the same, I love reading kissing scenes, so let me know if you've submitted anything and I'll go check it out!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WIP Excerpt

This is another excerpt from my wip, Platinum Diary. In this scene, Sayra is sitting in her car, feeling bad about the way she looks, about the fact that she's never read one of her mother's novels and about a boy--of course. She's talking to one of her best friends, Penny.
~*~
“Do you think I’m weird because I never snuck and read any of my mom’s books? I mean, she wasn’t even your mother and when you were told they were off limits, you went right out and read them.”

“Well, I have a sneaky streak," Penny said. "But I don’t think it’s weird. No weirder than me not really liking my father’s rap music. I mean, I listen to his latest song, pretend I’m all into rap and then go to my room and listen to Colbie Caillat.” She shrugged. “Mechanics interests you, reading romance interests me.”

“My mom was hurt because I never asked to read any of her books.” I couldn’t hide the shame in my voice. Penny stayed quiet as a Taylor Swift song played through the car speakers, filling the silence. “Maybe I should try to be more girly.” I lifted a shoulder, thinking back on my issue with Chaz. “Maybe I should start wearing makeup and stuff like that. Get the dirt from under my nails and soften my hands.”

Penny twisted in the seat to face me. “Okay, so let me tell you what’s not going to happen. We’re not going to have a makeover party straight out of a teen movie, where I do your hair and buy you new clothes and you walk through school like the new hot girl. No. Not gonna happen. And while we’re at it, stop trying to make yourself look shorter. News flash—it ain’t workin’! I know you think you walk around proud of your height, but you don’t. You sit in the back in class just 'cos you think people can’t see around you—so what if they can’t? You never wear heels and whether you know it or not, you don’t stand at your full height.”

Wow, I didn’t know that.

Penny took a breath and continued. “If you want softer hands and less dirt under your nails then wear gloves when you work on cars. You don’t blend at West Nottingham, but neither do I. I’m one of the only black people at that school. I mean, it’s bad enough I’m a black girl named Penelope, but—”

“Yeah, what were your parent’s thinking?” I chuckled.

“Somebody's aunt's aunt had the name, whatever, I’m stuck with it. My point is, I stand out at our school just like you, but you don’t see me trying to make my skin lighter.”

“How would you do that anyway?”

"Can I finish, please?"

I zipped my lips.

"I like most of the people at our school, but I can’t make myself into a clone of Hillary, who, in my opinion, is the epitome of the sunny California girl, just so I could blend in better. I have to be me—brown skin, braids, sexy curves.” She lifted a shoulder with a big smile.

“Yeah, but look at you.”

Penny sighed. “Okay then, let’s take Ivan. He doesn’t lift weights to improve on that birdcage he calls a chest.” She talked over my laughter. “Does he cut off his ja-fro so people will stop talking about his hair? No. He could do things to make himself fit more comfortably into the West Nottingham world, but he doesn’t. He’s a skinny, bushy-haired geek and he’s proud of—”

“You’d better not be talking about me.”

Penny and I screamed as Ivan’s face appeared at the passenger window. He crouched, folding his arms over the car window, and waited patiently while we caught our breaths.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Medical Updates and Word Counts

So, just to keep everyone updated. I had a Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap) on Wednesday and yes, it’s just as bad as it sounds-lol. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. Not really painful, but imagine if you will, someone sticking something sharp into your back, you’d want them to stop doing that, right? All of you women who’ve had epidurals know what I’m talking about.

The purpose of the LP was to measure the opening pressure of my spinal fluid. I was told the normal pressure should be between 10 and 20. Mine was 33. So it explains the headaches, dizziness, swollen optic nerves and whooshing in my ears. The doctor took a sample and drained off a little extra. I felt better when I left, aside from the pain in my back. But I felt no headaches, dizziness or whooshing for several hours and then it came back. I’m assuming the fluid replaced itself.

I’m now on the diuretic and let me tell you, I think I might have to move my office into the bathroom! One of the side effects is tingling in the fingers or toes. Well, I knew this beforehand but when my pinky toes started tingling, I thought bugs had simultaneously started attacking them! lol. It only lasts a few minutes, thankfully. Tingling toes aside, I’m feeling so much better. My eyes don’t hurt and my vision is already much, much better! Can’t complain about that.

Anywho, on to better things. I’ve been writing like a madwoman! I love it. I think from Friday, I’ve added 6000 words to my wip. My word count is up to 48k and as I think this story will top out at 65k, I should be finished by the end of the month. Then I’ll let it sit until mid June or maybe July. I can’t wait! I’m so excited to start querying again. As much as it’s hell, I really do love the whole business of it. I know this is going to sound crazy, but when I get an agent, I’m going to miss querying…though, not enough to turn down an offer. I’m not crazy-lol!

So, I’ll be posting an excerpt tomorrow. Oh, and by the way, I’ve lost 10 pounds!!! WooHoo!

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Pseudo Sickness

Hi all…I’m sorry I’ve been M.I.A. lately, but I was just recently diagnosed with a condition called Pseudotumor Cerebri. For the past seven months I’ve been having dizziness, mild headaches and a whooshing sound in my ears. My doctor thought maybe it was from poor circulation at first, but that proved to be wrong. For a while I ignored it and chalked it up to just sitting too long at work.

Then a month or so ago the dizziness got so bad that it started scaring me. My ears constantly felt like I was flying in a plane and waiting them to pop, which they never did. My doctor said my blood pressure was dropping when I stood and that’s what was making me dizzy. I posted about that, but turns out what my doctor thought was a side effect from my medicine turned out not to be the cause either.

No one could explain the whooshing in my ears and that, along with the dizziness, were the most constant symptoms I had. My doctor sent me for an MRI…which was terrible…and that came back negative, thank God.

I’d started having increased headaches, so much so that I went through a 50 count bottle of Excedrine in 2 wks! That many pills would normally last me a year or longer. Then I started having pains in my eyes to go along with the dizziness, headaches and whooshing in my ears. Two weeks ago I started seeing double. It happened off and on, but it scared the heck out of me.

It was time for my annual eye exam so I went to my optometrist—told him about the pain in my eyes, headaches and double vision. He used that instrument they have to look into your eye and said, “Huh.”

Let me tell you, you never want a doctor to say that when they’re examining you. When he looked into my left eye he said, “This is weird.” Something else you don’t want a doctor to say while examining you.

He told me that if it wasn’t for the fact that I’d just had a clear MRI, he’d have though I had a brain tumor based on how swollen my optic nerve looked. Again, something you don’t want to hear. So he referred me to a Neuro-Optometrist. She diagnosed me with Pseudotumor.

Oh, I guess I should tell you what Pseudotumor Cerebri is. It’s basically too much fluid around the brain. There’s no known cause for it, but it’s more prevalent in women of child bearing age who are overweight—I’m two for two-lol.

I have to have a lumbar puncture—spinal tap—to measure the fluid and then I will start on a diuretic to run the fluid off. That should alleviate the pressure on my eyes, stop the headaches and the dizziness. I’ll have to shed some pounds which I was already doing and hopefully that’ll be the end of it.

I’m sharing this and going into detail, just in case someone else is out there suffering from this and can’t figure out what’s wrong with them. While no one wants to have anything wrong with them, you just don't know how good it feels to know what's wrong with you AND to know how to fix it.

I haven’t posted in a while because my eyes have been really tired and achy when I get off from work, and that’s usually when I get the double vision. But this weekend I did a lot of writing on my wip! And my eyes are doing well. I’ll be posting a little more frequently and maybe drop an excerpt since I don’t have to do much but cut and pastes.

If any of you have any questions, feel free to ask.

P.S. A.L. Sonnichen…I haven’t forgotten about your query, but I’ve been resting my eyes in the evening. I should be getting to it in a few days.

Take care everyone!

Friday, March 26, 2010

W.I.P. Excerpt

Excerpt from PlATINUM DIARIES: Sayra just spent an afternoon with her friends and found out a couple of them had read the books her mom wrote, and they aren’t books targeted to teens.
~*~
That reminded me, and before they could speak I said, “Guess what I learned today?”

They both looked at me with mild curiosity.

“Mom writes porn.”

Dad’s cafĂ© sprayed the counter as he choked on his mouthful.

“Excuse me?” Mom’s face took on an expression that had me thinking, ‘oh shit’. Say something, stupid, or run out of the room faking impending projectile vomiting. Granted, if Mom kept looking at me like that, there would be no faking involved.

“I…well, I mean…Chaz told me that you write about heaving bosoms and throbbing loins and—”
Dad choked again, but this time it was on his laughter.

Mom aimed her daggers at Dad. “You find it funny that our child is being disrespectful?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Sit,” she snapped and I plopped my butt on one of the high-back stools at the island. Dad sat on my right at the end of the island, with Mom on the other side, squaring off with me.

“What do you know of the books I write?”

I licked my lips, annoyed that now they seemed glued together when they should’ve been sealed shut minutes ago. “Um, well, nothing. I just—”

“Exactly. You know nothing about it, and do you know why?”

Did she want me to answer that? “Well, because you told me that I couldn’t read them.”

“Years ago, yes. But natural curiosity should’ve made you question me by now. You’re just not concerned with anything that doesn’t have to do with car parts.”

Ouch. That was the second person to tell me I wasn’t normal. I starred at her as a bit of anger flared up side. “So Chaz lied, you don’t have characters named Storm or Sebastian in your novels?”

When she glared at me, I dropped my eyes. “I do,” she said. “But give me some credit not to be such a clichĂ© as to have heaving bosoms and throbbing members. I write romance and fantasy, but it’s in a real way. You’re not a child anymore, Sayra, why are you so upset by this?”

“Because…people will make fun of me at school. Hillary knows now and I don’t know how, but she’ll make my life hell because of it.”

Mom shook her head and walked out of the kitchen. I stood to go after her, but Dad clamped a hand over my forearm. He gestured for me to sit back down. A moment later Mom returned. She resumed her position on the other side of the island and tossed a book in front of me. It had a metallic blue jacket with the word, FIRSTS written in silver.

“That’s one of the first books I had published. It’s about a twenty-year-old girl going through an identity crisis and experiencing a series of firsts, including her first sexual experience. You’ll be twenty soon enough and will be having sex soon enough too.”

Dad jerked like someone had touched the back of his neck with icy fingers. He hissed something in Spanish, but Mom ignored him.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

FanFiction...Yay or Nay?

I read this article about fanfiction. It got me thinking, so here is the story of how fanfiction changed my life.

Back in 2005 I was at work saving pictures to my computer for a slideshow screensaver. To add to pictures of family and friends, I also wanted pictures of some of my favorite things. So I searched the internet for pictures of puppies, *awe*, wine and martinis, *yum* and of course of covers of books that I love. It’s when I typed Ron and Hermione into the search engine that I found a horde of fanfiction sites.

As a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of this stuff before—a place where people go and write stories based on popular novels and movies and tv shows. Still, at this point I was only looking for pictures to round out my slideshow screensaver.

Eagerly anticipating The Half-Blood Prince I, like many others, wanted something to hold me over. I didn’t know it would be fan fiction, nor did I know I’d like it so much. Admittedly, some of the first stories I read were pretty bad. Lot’s of goofy stories about Ron running around in his boxers, but then I stumbled upon this story called After the End at a site named The Sugar Quill. Wow, that story was amazing! It was super long—I think 1000 pages or something crazy like that—but when you’re getting it chapter by chapter, you’d read a million pages if you loved it enough.

In 2007 I took the leap and wrote my own fanfiction. I don’t know why, but I felt like I should try. I’d written original work before that, tons of it for my own personal enjoyment and some with the hopes of publication. But one thing I can say about writing fanfiction is that I learned a lot about what NOT to do. There are some bad habits that can be picked up in fanfiction. Lots of purple prose, lots of Mary Sue characters and lots of runaway stories—hard to rein yourself in when you have no one tell you, “enough already!”

But I have learned some priceless lessons too. It taught me to take criticism. When you put your story or chapter out there for all to see, people can be brutally honest if not cruel. Fortunately, I never had anyone be nasty, but some were brutal. I used to guard my writing like a fragile antique, all bubbled-wrapped and strapped to my chest. But fanfiction helped me share it with strangers. That there is one lesson I’m SO happy I learned. You can never hope to be a successful writer if you’re terrified to let people read your work. Before fanfiction, I was TERRIFIED!

There is and probably always will be controversy surrounding fanfiction. Some people think it's for losers and I for one was embarassed to tell people how into it I was--I'm not anymore.

Some authors don’t want people writing their characters in different stories/situations that they haven’t created themselves. I understand and I respect it. At the same time, I don’t know that I would care if fans created fiction based on characters from my novels. First, I’d probably be jazzed that my work was popular enough to spawn fanfiction, but if they weren’t profiting from the stories then I don’t think I’d mind.

I can’t really say because I’m not in the shoes of a J. K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, or Anne Rice. But looking at it from my point of view…with all the help it’s given me, I seriously doubt that I’d be willing to fight fans looking to write fiction based off my characters. I don’t write fanfiction anymore, haven’t for more than two years. It’s not because I’ve changed my opinion of it, it’s more so because it opened my eyes to the type of writer I want to be, one who writes fantasy for young adults.

So tell me, are you a fan of fanfiction? Has it helped you? Or do you think it’s a rip off of the original author? All opinions are welcome!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blogging for a Year!


I just realized that I’ve been on Blogger for a year. This came about when I started looking for a topic that I wanted to blog about and couldn’t remember if I’d posted something on that topic before. The exact date was March 1, 2009 so it’s technically a belated birthday.

Initially I was on Live Journal. And while I enjoyed LJ, I realized I was coming over to Blogger more and more to read the posts of industry people, aspiring writers and just some all around great blogs. So I created a blog over here. At first I thought I would only talk about my writing process, maybe use it as a query tracker. I have used it for talking about writing, but it’s also been a place for me to learn and meet people.

Looking at my first post,--which going back to read it felt like more of a complaint than a post—I remember sitting back and waiting for some comments to come in-lol. I had no followers, but I wasn’t really sure how Blogger worked-lol. Then as I read a post by someone, I don’t remember who now, but she was saying how to make your blog more active and successful. She said you must follow people to get followers. I didn’t know how to follow people. I’d found some really great blogs and wanted to be a follower and once I figured that out, I started following like crazy.

I wasn’t doing it just to get followers. There were certain criteria a blog had to meet for me to follow. For the most part, the blog had to be about writing in some form, professional or just the love of it. Also, they had to be active, blogging a least a few times a week and then I’d follow them. But I also found followers from blogs like Miss Snark’s First Victim, Nathan Bransford, Colleen Lindsay, and Rachel Gardener. I’d read the comments on their posts and go to the pages of the ones who said something I enjoyed, agreed with or even some I didn’t agree with. If I like their blog, then I’d follow.

Over this year, I’ve learned so much about my writing, about the manuscript I queried in 2009 and about myself. So I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you out there who offered advice, encouragement and just a pat on the back when I needed it.

THANK YOU!