Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writers Market sale

Right now (ending August 31) is having a special. You can subscribe monthly for 5.99, one year for 29.99 (normally 39.99), and for two years for 44.99 (normally 54.99). (via Guide To Literary Agents) The one-year code is 1YRAUG10 and the two-year code is 2YRAUG10.

I'm leary of spending money for a book I haven't finished yet, but at the same time, I really do think that *this* time, I'm going to do it. I'm thinking about just going for the two years.

Anyway, if you hadn't heard about the special, and it's something you're interested in, here you go! (Feel free to let me know if you subscribe, or if you think I should or shouldn't!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Banana Split Day

Today is Banana Split Day, and in celebration of the banana ice cream delight, we got free banana splits at work today. Have I mentioned working at Hot Topic rocks?

In other weird holiday news, Tales of a Writing Geek talks about this Saturday's holiday "Read Comics In Public Day", which I will totally be doing.

Also, I should know better than to post while reading blogs, because my voice is easily and heavily affected by the blogs I read. So if I don't sound like me, that's why. (I also tend to pick up the accents of people around me when I'm talking.) Fortunately, this blog is not owned by Apple, because they would determine that it's not me and close me down or report me to the proper authorities or police. (I like that "or". Proper Authorities OR the police. Because they wouldn't be the same thing, according to Apple.) (Found via Lifehacker.)

I'm toying with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo again this year. But I have to admit the Novel in Three Days challenge sounds funny. I particularly enjoyed the story of yelling at the neighbor's dog on day two of the challenge. (Found via Nephele.)

So, will anyone else be joining me in Banana Split Day, Read Comics in Public Day, or possibly in Novel in Three Days, or NaNoWriMo?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Link of the Month

Ok, I know you are all reading Mockingjay, but I thought this was as good a time as any to share my favorite link of the month.

Weronika Janczuk is a new agent over at D4EO Literary. She has a super fast turn around time (less than 12 hours) and a feature called "Ask Weronika".

Last week, someone asked her about online presence and Weronika broke it down into categories and levels. (Unpublished/unagented author to published author.) She also talked about what she expected to see, as well as how often to update (or not) and how to handle it so your online presence doesn't look neglected.

It's a great post. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Troll Wife's Tale update

Thank you to everyone that offered support (both here on the blog and in email). It really helped me get through the blues of realizing that this isn't as done as I thought it was.

I spent this weekend reworking my outline. (I ended up using Keynote, which was just what I needed, though Excel probably would have worked just as well. I just needed something newish to help get me through the blues.)

I reworked the outline, and rewrote chapter six. (One down, four more to go.) I feel really good. I've done more work on my book this weekend then I have in the past three months, and I love that feeling.

It's kind of like taking a shower. I don't like the idea of getting into the shower, but once I'm in it, I love it and when I'm out I feel really good. (Hey, don't look at me like that! I shower! And probably lots of people don't like the idea of a shower, especially if they saw "Psycho".)

In other news, I now worship the outline. I, Suzi, take you outline, to be my writing guide, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until the end of the book do us part.

Oh waiting, that's wedding vows. I guess I that means I love the outline. (Of course, for my next book, it may be different.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It Is With A Heavy Heart...

It is with a heavy heart that today I announce what I think I have secretly known for some time. A Troll Wife's Tale can't be revised. It's going to need to be re-written.

Not the whole thing, just the middle third or so. When I took out one subplot, I just left too many holes. Besides, while trying to revise, I've discovered a couple of scenes that need to be in this book that make it work better. (Seth the bartender, for example. He's going to appear in several scenes now, not just one.)

The scene where Troll Wife gets shot? That's going to have to move much closer to the end.The replacement subplot where the guardian and the siren fall in love? That will have to be strengthened which means it needs more scenes. (Little scenes, but still scenes.)

All of this means that I probably won't be ready by the end of this year to send it out to agents. I hate to say that, because it sounds like yet another perfectly good and logical excuse to put off sending this story out into the world, and because it feels like failure. Yet again I've failed to meet a goal for this story. But I also think it's true.

This also means I need to create a new outline. The original outline for this book was created on 3x5 cards, and those cards are long gone. (Note to self, in the future, save your outline.) And, knowing me as I do, something shiny helps with this process.

So, does anyone have any outlining software they recommend?

For Your Electron Microscope Scenes

Sometimes things are true, but they don't sound true, so they can't be used in stories.

For example, here's some things I learned abut working with electron microscopes from my son. They have different knives that they use to prepare slides. Diamond knives, of course, but glass knives as well. Glass knives are incredibly sharp, but they're also one shot. Use it once, and it's no longer sharp enough to be used again.

But you know what else they use? Eyelashes. They rub their eyes, or collect fallen eyelashes when they find them, and dab them into a bit of wax which they then put on the end of a stick. It's to help pick up and move the slide sample into place on the slide.

But, can you make using eyelashes sound realistic in a story with electron microscopes? It sounds good, but would take so much detail to use, explain, and justify that it probably wouldn't work. You could mention it in passing, but the number of readers that would get it would probably be limited to people that have created slides for electron microscopes, their families, and now you. That's a pretty niche market :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Can Say "Thank You"

I was going to post the YouTube video of Leonard Nimoy singing "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" here for everyone to enjoy (or at least spork your eyes out), but at the last minute I resisted. You have been saved! Feel free to thank me.

If you're talking about eyes, this is one instance where you must use the word spork. However, in general use, I prefer the term runcible spoon. (Even if it only sometimes means spork.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

In Which I Pre-Order "Blameless"

Back when, I had no intention of ordering Gail Carriger's "Soulless". It seemed like a light, frothy, (albeit steampunk) romance novel. I'm not overly fond of romance novels, per se. (Yes, I've read some, and like any other genre, some are great, and some are..not so great.)

But I was able to get a sample chapter on my Kindle, liked what I read, and used my Amazon gift certificate to buy it. Loved it. Light, frothy romance? Yes. But something more and something unexpected. Bought "Changeless". Loved it, but now I'm worried.

Romance novels, by definition have a HEA ending. They are required to have one. If it doesn't have a happily ever after, it's not a romance novel. And after the ending of Changeless, I'm worried about how Blameless will play out. Is there any way to have a HEA after what happens in Changeless? Is the Parasol Protectorate not a romance series after all, but a steampunk novel with elements of romance?

I'm trusting the author to make it work. So much so, that I just pre-ordered Blameless for my Kindle. I didn't wait for it to come out and read a sample chapter. Or wait for other people to read it and find spoilers for it on line. I'm trusting that author will make it work.

Next time, I'm going to try to figure what what I can learn from her books. Not just like/dislike, but what works and how can I use that tool in my own writing? I hope it will be very meta, and I'm sure there will be some hand waving, but I hope not too much.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which I Discuss Some Things I Have Learned About Writing

To give my mind something shiny to play with while working on revisions for A Troll Wife's Tale (and let's not kid ourselves, unlike writing, for me revisions are work) I've decided to restart world building for The Clockwork Cat.

So, how will The Clockwork Cat be different from A Troll Wife's Tale? (Besides things like, you know, point of view and genre.)

Hopefully, I will apply the things that I learned (am learning) while writing Troll Wife and avoiding mistakes with Clockwork Cat. I'll be making all new mistakes, but that's ok. If they're new, it shows my learning curve.
Note:These are my things. If they resonate for you, great! But don't listen to them if they don't work for you. (That's part of Thing 1.)

Thing 1. The big one. Don't do something to your story just because an expert tells you to. If I'm ever lucky enough to get an agent, and the agent wants revisions, I will have to relearn this one in a different way, which involves listening to revisions and deciding if they make the story stronger and then writing based on that. However, for the very first writing process, when I'm the only reader, I should write the book my way.

Thing 2. Outlines are your friend. It's ok to deviate from an outline, but if you do, update the outline with the changes. Outlines are a great help during the writing process, but they are also a wonderful tool when creating a synopsis. It's easier to create a synopsis from an outline than it is from each page and chapter of the book.

Thing 3. There is no Thing 3 (as per Dr. Seuss). Yes, I hope I've learned more than two things in Troll Wife, but these two are so big, they overwhelm everything else right now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Which I Bang My Head Against My Keyboard. Repeatedly.

I'm having a lot of problems with this blurb. Here are the elements I'm trying to incorporate. I want it to show that it's an urban fantasy, without saying that it's an urban fantasy. I'm trying to use setting cues, like telephone pole or gunshot wound to convey that.

I want to have three basic parts: Character, Conflict, Consequence.

I want to let people know how dangerous Oubliette is, by showing ("killed millions of people") not telling ("Oubliette is dangerous").

I want to let people know that the tooth fairies are both a solution and a problem. Plus, the leader of the tooth fairies has a whole spider motif going on. I try to get both of these things at once by talking about "the web of the tooth fairies".

Here's my latest attempt. I may just have to go with it, since I'm running out of time. (My son hates it.)

Troll Wife could use a job, so when she finds the poster on the telephone pole that says, "Any fae may apply", she does. She's as surprised as anyone, when she's accepted for training as a tooth fairy.

She's also surprised by the impressive number of injuries she racks up on the job. A broken bone and a concussion? Eh, maybe she should have expected that. After all learning to fly isn't as easy as it sounds. But the gunshot wound? That was because she was fighting a monster that she ran into while collecting teeth.

The monster, called Oubliette, was a soldier in the war between the humans and the fae, hundreds of years ago. Now Oublieette wants to start the war all over again. This time, it wants to kill all the humans, not just most of them. The other tooth fairies should be her allies in this war against Oubliette, but Troll Wife doubts that any fae that smells like cotton candy can help save the world.

Troll Wife only has days to learn how to fight the Oubliette, protect the human children from it, and make sure that she collects her quota of teeth. While she's at it, she needs to find out what dark secret the tooth fairies are hiding, and rescue herself from their tangled web.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Another Blurb for A Troll Wife's Tale

Here's my second version of a blurb for Anne Mini. Again, any and all feedback is welcome. Do you like it better or worse than the first version? (This one is 250 words exactly.)

I took stock of my injuries. I hadn't even been on the job a month and I had 14 bruises, a concussion, multiple cuts and abrasions, a broken bone, and now, a gunshot wound. Being a tooth fairy shouldn't be this hard.

But it is this hard, and I knew it a few days into the job when I met Oubliette. Oubliette was said to have killed millions of humans during the Plague War hundreds of years ago. The only thing that ended the war was a pact between the humans and the faeish. Tooth fairies keep that pact every time we give a coin for a child's tooth. But Oubliette isn't ready to end the war, which means anyone that has lost a tooth, but didn't get a coin for it, is in danger.

One of my new friends is a homeless boy with his first loose tooth.

Being a tooth fairy isn't all bad. I love flying with the magical wings they gave me. For the first time in my life, I'm making friends. The wings make us all look alike so no one cares that I'm a troll. Of course, I wasn't given full disclosure about the wings. They interfere with my magic in strange ways. 

I think I've discovered something else. Something wrong with the tooth fairies. Now I have to stop Oubliette before Peter loses his tooth, and find a way to get myself out of this tooth fairy web. And maybe keep the wings?

The really cool thing about the blurb is that it works as a query. But for some reason, a blurb is easier to write than a query. Go figure!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blurb for A Troll Wife's Tale

Here's my first draft of the blurb that Anne Mini asked for. Any feedback is more than welcome. It needs to be between 200 and 250 words. This is 233.

Troll Wife applies for the job of tooth fairy, but she doesn't expect to be hired. After all, most faeish respect trolls but don't want to be around them.  Becoming a tooth fairy is a happy surprise and at first Troll Wife only sees the benefits. She gets a set of wings that give her the ability to fly and make her look just like everyone else. Best of all, she starts to make friends.

A few days into the job, she discovers that it also comes with a dangerous enemy. Oubliette was said to have killed millions of humans during the Plague Wars hundreds of years ago. The only thing that ended the war is the pact between humans and faeish. Tooth fairies keep that pact, every time they give a child a coin for a tooth.  But Oubliette isn't ready to end the war. Anyone not covered by the pact is fair game. Which means any child that has lost a tooth, but hasn't received a coin yet, is in danger.

One of Troll Wife's new friends is a homeless boy with his first loose tooth.

As if Oubliette weren't bad enough, Troll Wife discovers that the tooth fairies are hiding a dark secret of their own.  Troll Wife must stop Oubliette before Peter loses his tooth and rescue herself before she's permanently caught in the web of the tooth fairies.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which My Son Almost Goes to the Dentist and I Get Test Results

My son, Michael, needs braces. Badly. So badly that he's finally come to that realization himself. Today, I took Michael to his dentist appointment, without which you can't get a referral to an orthodontist, and no orthodontist means no braces.

We showed up for the apt and filled out the paperwork. Unfortunately, they couldn't find him in the insurance system, but said he should be there next month, so we rescheduled for next month. So that was Michael almost going to the dentist.

As we were walking into the dentist, I got a phone call from a number that didn't identify itself but seemed vaguely familiar. I answered it and it was my gynecologist. They got the results from pap test that I had done a couple of weeks ago, and it came back abnormal. They need to retest me again in three months. They assured me that it's probably nothing, but they need to retest to be sure.

Chances are very good that it will go away on its own. I'm not Cleopatra (the queen of denial) however, so I will be going back for follow up testing which will let me know if I need to do something more.

I'm shaken, but not stirred. I will intermittently worry about this for the next three months. I will stop acting as though I have all the time in the world to do all the things I want to do. (Honesty compels me to add, "At least, I hope I will".)

I also hope that all the women reading this will make sure to get their pap test done. No it's not fun, but it's very important. And just so the men out there don't feel left out, please urge the special women in your lives to get their pap tests done, too.

Writing to Trend

So after watching Jackson Pearce's video about Writer's Blok, I headed over to her website to check it out and came across this great quote:

When I see other authors trying to write to trends because they think they’ll make more money, or get more respect, or get a better agent if they write x/y/z instead of the genre they know and love, I can’t help but be frustrated.

Why am I sharing this quote? Because there are writers out there that need to read it. Yes, I'm looking at you. No, not you, (if you're reading this blog, it's not you).

I'm looking at you, Writing This Genre Because It's Hot Right Now. (Hint, if you hate all the other books in your genre, you're writing in the wrong genre. If you call your genre "icky", you're writing in the wrong genre. If the only thing you like about this genre is that "it's where the money is", guess what? Not only are you writing in the wrong genre, but you're still not going to be making money at it, because readers can feel your contempt. You think they'll never know, but you're wrong. They know.)

Just sayin'.

Writer's Blok Music Video

I loved this! It's a music video all about cat waxing, which I found on the Agency GateKeeper blog.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Win, Place or Show!

Back in April I entered my first contest. It was the The Author! Author!/WHISPER Great First Page Made Even Better Contest over at Anne Mini's blog, Author! Author!.

This morning, I got an email from Anne Mini that I had won second place. Wow! Not only that, but because there were "such a lot of exciting, well-written entries" (actual quote), they were extending the first page crit/review to everyone that had placed, which means that even though I didn't win, I still win! Wahoo!

I've learned a lot about writing and the odds of getting published during the course of this year. Ok, let's face it, I've been feeling pretty discouraged about the odds of getting published. This heartens me. I don't suck.

Now I need to write a little blurb about my book and send it to Anne Mini. (Doesn't that sound cool?)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

And Now A Political Moment

Today a judge in California (where I live) overturned Prop 8. Of course, he also put a stay on it, so my friends still can't get married, but at least it's a step in the right direction. And now, I'm going to link to Janet Reid's post, because she says it so much better than I do.

And then there's that quote from the judge on The Rejectionist's blog.

Misleading the Reader

If there is one thing I, as a reader, hate, it's being misled by the author. If I'm led to believe that the story will be a funny one, I want a funny one, not one that turns into a tragedy. If I'm reading a book that I've been led to believe will be romantic, I don't want it to turn into a thriller. If I were in the mood for a thriller, that's what I'd have picked up to read.

But as a writer, I'm afraid I'm doing exactly that with A Troll Wife's Tale. I mean the premise of the story (a female troll that becomes a tooth fairy) sounds like it will be a funny story. And it's possible that I may be able to have some funny moments in it (though as the quote goes, "dying is easy, comedy is hard", so I don't have high aspirations in the comedy portions of the story). But the general tone of the book is going to be darker, with (hopefully) scary stuff, and some real character development as the Troll Wife sees so much of herself in the Oubliette, and then decides how to resist becoming more like her.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to change this. I like some humor mixed with my thrillers (probably why I love Dean Koontz), but I don't know if I'm doing it right. I guess it's one more think to chalk up on my "to do" editing list. 

In Which I Meet A Character From My Book

A while back, we went to the movies. This theater is one I'm using in my story and at the end of the book my Troll Wife will actually move in there.

The guy taking tickets looked exactly the way I've described trolls look, when they're appearing among humans. He was perfect! I was so struck, I glanced at his name tag and noticed his name was the same as one of my minor characters in my story!

I wanted to point him out to my family and shout "Look! There he is! One of the characters from my book!". I almost felt like that playwright from "The Twilight Zone" (remember that one?). I was hugely excited, but managed to constrain myself enough not to point and shout about the nature of reality, or whether or not he was a troll. He'll never know, but if he did, I'm sure he'd thank me.

But it was incredibly cool to meet one of my characters :)

Best Compliment(s) Ever

Here are some of the best compliments I've ever gotten on my writing. You'll notice most of them are from my son. He is my alpha reader, so has had more chance to read my stuff than anyone else. I also believe his compliments. (When other people compliment me, I tend to discount it with "They're only being polite" or some such thing.)

Anyway, here are my favorite compliments:

I read a scene snippet to my son and he said "Mommy, you are so good at writing stories that when you write them, it just makes people want to read more."
That was the nicest compliment I'd ever gotten in my life, and I told him so :)

I read him a haiku that I'm doing for the writing dare. He said "I don't like it. I love it!" and then added "Of course, I love everything you write."

My son shyly told me that he likes to imagine my book getting published. 

No compliment will ever mean more to me than when my son was reading my story and said, "Dang it, Mommy, you made me forget I'm a human. Again!"

In reading my story to my writer's group, I mentioned that someone smelled like "fern seed". When I was done, another writer mentioned that ferns don't have seeds, they have spores. I said, "I know, but fern seed is in ingredient in spells of invisibility". He wasn't aware of that. I assured him that if you Google "fern seed" one of the results will mention that it's used in spells of invisibility. Another writer had the internet up and googled "fern seed". The first result mentioned "used in spells of invisibility". We all laughed and another writer said, "Never say Suzi doesn't do her research".

In Other News

In other news, Seanan McGuire (aka the blogger/author/singer that I most wish to be like when I grow up) is gibbering, agog and gob smacked. (Go see, because it's fun to watch.)

Her novel Feed (written under the name Mira Grant) made #74 on NPR's Audience Picks: Top 100 Thrillers

One of the things that I love and admire about Seanan is just how unrestrained she is with her delight. I am, sadly, a far more restrained person. But I'm trying to be less restrained.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Self Care Prompt

Over at Shrinking Violet Promotions ("Marketing for Introverts" which is the most compelling part for me, since I am a major introvert) they have a couple of prompts for today. My favorite one is the Self Care Prompt:

What are the five coolest things people have said about your writing? Write them down, then print them out and put them someplace where you can see them every day.

I know what mine are, and I'll put them up later, but I'd like to ask you. What are some of the best things that people have said to you about your writing?