Monday, March 28, 2011

In Which I Wish I Lived in a World Where This Didn't Happen

For those of you that haven't heard yet, Seanan McGuire and four or five other authors have pulled their stories from the Wicked Pretty Things anthology. Please read her post and related links for the whole story.

Here's my take (short version):
Jessica Verday wrote a G rated horror story with elements of romance which was accepted into the anthology. After being accepted, the editor said "Oh, it's a boy/boy love story. Can you change one of the boys into a girl? Our publisher won't like boy/boy stories."

Author said, "No, I won't change. Please don't publish my story."

Publisher said, "No, we have no problem with LGBT stories! It's the editor that does! And we aren't associated with her, but we stand behind her, and we love LGBT stories. Please publish your story with us."

Author said, "No, why would I want the editor to get money from my story when she's homophobic?"

Editor said, "I'm not homophobic! Look here's a video of me wrestling a gay man!"

(Actually, she didn't say she wasn't homophobic. She just offered up a video of her wrestling a gay man, as though that showed she wasn't homophobic. Seriously. To which I say, "WTF?")

Other authors pulled their stories in support, and now there is a boycott from some authors of this editor.

In Which There is a Twitter Pitch Contest

Is It Hot In Here Or Is It This Book? (Shelley Watters) is having a twitter length pitch contest to celebrate reaching 100 followers on her blog and 500 on Twitter. First prize? A full length manuscript request by Suzie Townsend. It looks fun! (Mostly because I've been working on Twitter pitches lately :)

In Which There is a Query Letter Contest

In case you haven't heard, YA Fantasy Guide is having a query letter critique contest! Check it out. The prize is a query letter critique by Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency. Good luck!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Which I Have the Best Husband Ever

This morning, Randy went downstairs to make himself breakfast. A few minutes later he came back into the bedroom with a tray in his hand. "I brought you breakfast in bed," he said. (Eggs, toast, sausage and juice.)

Best husband ever!

In other news, I have done more work on my synopsis!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Which I Find Two Synopsis Links

I have been avoiding querying some agents because they require a synopsis. Well, that's not exactly true. I've been putting off querying some agents because they require a synopsis.

There are lots of resources out there for a writer struggling with that foul beast. The Universe must have known I needed it, because two showed up in blog reading today.

First was at Magical Words. May I just say if you're not reading Magical Words, you should be? It's got great advice, my favorite of which was "They're not rules, they're price tags", which is about writing "rules" and the price you pay if you violate them. (They don't say don't do, just be aware of what you are doing.) Anyway, the post (written back in November, no clue how I found it today) was called "Publishing-The Synopsis".

The other post was on QueryTracker. It is appropriately titled "Writing a Novel Synopsis that Rocks!"

So, there are links to just two of many ways to write a synopsis. (We hates the synopsis, Precious. Yes, we does.)

In Which I Find an Oldie but a Goodie

I found this article years ago. It's the Snowflake Outline method, and it helps you build up your story in a really interesting way. If you haven't come across it before, and you're looking at new ways to outline a novel, you might want to check it out.

Update: Oops, I just re-read the article. I didn't realize that he has now created Snowflake software and is selling it on that site. I think the article is still a good one. I am not endorsing the software because I've never used (didn't even know it existed until just now), and I won't be likely to, because it's too expensive for me. So, just an FYI.

Updated Update: After posting this, I started reading blogs on my list (over there>) and discovered that Really? I'm Blogging? also posted a link to this site. I swear I didn't read her blog before posting that link! Now watch, I'll go on Twitter and someone will have just tweeted it, too. If you're not already reading Really? I'm Blogging? please check it out!

In other news, I was in a minor car accident yesterday. I'm fine, and my car is driveable. The guy who hit me has insurance, and told me his brakes failed. (I was stopped at a red light, and he...didn't.) I think the bumper will need replacing, though. I take into the car repair place on Friday.

This is the fourth time I've been rear-ended. I'm getting tired of this, though I guess it's better than getting t-boned. (And it's much better than hitting someone else's rear end.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Which I Find a Post About Blogging That Might Change My Life

Yesterday, on Twitter (I know, I've been doing Twitter less than a week, and I've already blogged about it twice!) @elizabethscraig over at Mystery Writing is Murder tweeted a link to TribalWriter's post about blogging. It's called "where to find your interestingness as a writer + blogger + ruler of your domain" and it really spoke to me.

Theoretically, it's about how to become a better blogger, but for me, it hit right to the core of problem I've been dealing with for years. She talks about how edges are more interesting, but as children we're taught to seek the middle. "So you smooth out your own edges, or maybe cut them off." 

Right or wrong, I cut off a lot of my own edges over the years. (I would maintain that since I survived, what I did wasn't wrong, but it felt and feels wrong.) I've bemoaned the fact that I am not a starfish, and I can't regrow those parts. But I envy people that do have those parts. Envy in the way that means "I want that, too".

And, because I am not a starfish, I am always trying to find ways to regrow those parts. To be the edgier version of me that I lost over the years, in school yards, living rooms and bed rooms.

So, I will need to re-read that post several times, until I can integrate it in my brain. And I need to remind myself to live closer to my edges. Every day.

But for everything, there is a cost. When I become edgier, I will lose the approval of (some, most, all?) people that follow this blog. I may never get published. I may be the only person that ever reads (and likes) the stories I want to share.

Am I willing to sacrifice that, in order to heal? Is there a possibility that I can become that person and still have everything I want.

Oh my gods, I'm Troll Wife.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Which I Have a Field Day With Tropes

Roughly 2,500 words into "The Monster of Dewsberry Drink" and I'm finding some weird similarities with "Troll Wife".

Troll Wife is a story where a young female troll discovers that part of her job description as “tooth fairy” is stopping a deadly monster before it kills more children.

The Monster of Dewsberry Drink is about a boy that discovers a monster in the local lake, and is determined to save him before the lake is destroyed by a local developer.

At first glance, they don't seem to have that much in common. Female non-human lead vs male human lead, for example.

But on closer examination:
They're both Urban Fantasies.
They're both set in Southern California.
They both have weird issues with names. (Troll Wife hasn't earned a name yet. In MoDD, "Sape" goes by that nickname and would die of shame if anyone learned his real name. Plus, he names the monster, Monster.)
They're both about Outsiders trying to find a way to fit in.
A hand print appears in both stories, as a significant "you're not alone" moment.

People reading these are going to start thinking I have issues. (Ok, Bill and Kim already know I have issues.)

In Which I Display Writerly Angst

I'm 76 words into "Monster" this morning, and I suddenly realize I am the worst writer in existence.

Ok, probably not the worst writer in existence, but ranking in with that group. Show don't tell, show don't tell! I thought this would be easier in third person, but I am wrong.
I know, just write the crappy first draft and fix it in editing right? But wouldn't it make sense to do it right the first time, instead of having to do it two (three, seven, ten) times?

Friday, March 18, 2011

In Which I Get Better At Pitching (Too Late For Me)

Remember that pitch contest that YAtopia is having?  Well you still have a chance to enter. But before you do, check out this post by Donna Newton. I wish I'd seen it before I created my pitch, but you still have a chance! Quick! Go read, and then enter!

(Thanks to Jami Gold's tweet, or I would never have seen Donna's post.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Which I Write Backwords

I started The Monster of Dewsberry Drink last weekend. Given my work and family life, I'm really more a weekend novelist, so I expect to get some more words down this weekend.

This is the first book that I ever started by writing a query letter first. In it's own way, it's a hook and outline to help me remember what I'm writing about and not get distracted by every shiny idea that passes my way. So, here is the query letter for The Monster of Dewsberry Drink. (No, I will not be using this as my query letter when I send it to agents :)

"Sape" is starting 7th grade with a normal set of problems. His best friend is drifting from him, getting heavily involved in sports. His parents are almost ready to flip the house they've been working on for the past year, which means moving again. His brother's girlfriend thinks she's a Witch (eye roll), and his brother is… his brother. Oh, and it looks like he's going to lose this year's Science Fair to Katherine. Again.

All of that pales when he finds a real live, actual-for-true monster living in the local reservoir. Sure, it won't solve all his problems, but he's bound to win the Science Fair at least. Unfortunately for Sape, a local developer doesn't want anyone to know about the monster. When a mysterious man tries to drown Sape in the reservoir and the monster saves his life, things go back to super complicated.

Now he's got to enlist the help of his (former?) best friend, his arch-nemesis, and even (gulp) his big brother to save the Monster of Dewsberry Drink.

In Which There is a Pitch Contest

YAtopia is having a pitch contest! It's limited to 150 entries, so enter right away!

The instructions for pitching to Ammi-Joan Paquette are there. (She's currently closed to submissions, so think of this as a free chance to get her attention!)

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Which I Delight About Seanan McGuire

If you take a look at my labels (to the right and a little down), you can see what I talk about most. Writing, check. Troll Wife, check. Links, check. But one of the biggest labels is Seanan McGuire. I'm thinking about becoming her Official Stalker tm, but then I'd have to get her permission, so I'll just remain a fan-girl.

She just made the New York Times bestseller's list. I think it's overdue :)

In Which I am World Building Workshopped

Today, over at TalkToYoUniverse for her Wednesday Worldbuilding Workshop she looks at me! Well, actually, she looks at Troll Wife, and the opening page or two of the Troll Wife story.

If you've been wondering if you should do this, you should! Go look at what she has to say, and realize it won't hurt :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

In Which I Discuss How Weight Loss is Like Writing (and NSV)

So, a few weeks ago I joined Weight Watchers at work. I've been steadily losing weight, but it's not really visible yet. What's interesting to me is how Weight Watchers as a group talks about motivation. "A setback is a set up for a come back" and NSV (Non Scale Victories).

Non Scale Victories are things that are related to your weight loss (dropping a size in clothes. or being able to do something that you couldn't do before you started losing weight). I think, as writers, we should celebrate NSVs of our own. Non Sale Victories. Some groups have agent rejection contests. Whoever racks up the most rejections in a given time period wins. It's a way to take the sting out of the rejection. Word Wars are another NSV, where people sit down for a given time period and write as much as they can, and share those totals with friends that are doing the same thing.

Those are good, but not really my style. I think I'm just going to celebrate things like getting some words down, or creating a new plot point, or researching an agent. Things that I can do, things I can control, and things that remind me why I'm doing this.

Today, I started my new WiP, The Monster of Dewsberry Drink. I wrote two scenes (about 500 words) and I'm about to go back into it and write another scene. I should hit 1,000 words before I go to bed tonight. I created 15 plot points. (Those were the easy ones. The harder, better ones will come later.) Mostly, I'm just glad to be writing again. I love that feeling.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In Which I Talk About Magic

Today I want to talk about magic. In my bio, I state that I am a "believer that the world holds more magic than most people notice". This is true. Today at work I was talking about magic, and one guy kept saying, "That's so cool, that's so cool" and I kept saying, "it's just the way things are". People talk about magical things that happen to them, as though they were rare events and fail to notice the thousand pieces of magic that are occurring around them all the time. Even me.

For a while I was active in something called "glamour bombing". It's the idea that you can create random events that will be magical in someone else's life. It's not about baking cookies and secretly leaving them for your neighbor, it's about leaving a fortune cookie style note, tucked in the bathroom mirror at work for one of your co-workers to find. Something that reminds them that there is magic in their life, even when they don't notice it, or reminds them that they are special. There are websites and LiveJournal groups dedicated to glamour bombing, sharing ideas, sharing stories, and arguing about whether or not something is a glamour bomb.

Today on Tales of a Writing Geek, I found this YouTube video which I wanted to share. It's part 3. If it touches you, I urge you to watch parts 1 and 2.

In Which An Anthropologist Can Review Your Worldbuilding

Just a reminder, over at TalkToYoUniverse, Juliette Wade will review 500 words of your WiP and talk about the world building you have from an anthropoligist's point of view. It's something I want in all my WiPs, but have some struggles with. (Trying to pretend you don't know something is easy for big things, it's the little things that trip you up.)

Check out her Worldbulding Wednesday Workshop page for instructions and past examples.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

In Which I Have Rants and an Internet Connection

Yay! My always wonky internet connection is temporarily up! (Never get DSL. I say this as someone who spent years on the front lines of tech support. Cable is the best choice for high speed from a reliability stand point, IMHO. Sadly, we live in a black hole and can't get cable here, so we have DSL.)

And now for my rant. There are a few things I hate with the intensity of a blinding sun.
1. Characters that describe themselves to themselves, especially while looking in a mirror. I hate it, and who does that in real life? No one!
2. A story where if the main characters talked to each for 30 seconds, most (if not all) of the plot problems would be resolved. Argh! This is not a plot point, this is lazy writing!
3. Careless attention to details.

Ok, maybe I don't hate that last one as much as the other two. I think I've ranted about the first one before, but I read a couple of books recently that violated at least two of my pet peeves. In keeping with my policy of not giving negative reviews, I won't mention the titles of the books or the names of the authors, but gack!

One I couldn't finish. I mean seriously, if you have X, and it's a Very Bad Thing, and you know that someone can help you, but you're "too proud" to ask for help, even though you know it means the destruction of everyone and everything you care about, how is that a workable plot point? If it lasts for more than 30 seconds, it just isn't believable to me.

This same book also had a problem with detail continuity. In one scene she put on an article of clothing, and later in that same scene, she had a problem caused by not wearing that article of clothing. Now, I can totally see how a writer, in the midst of rewrites and editing, can miss that. You are sure you've written it. You can see it in your head. You made changes and that one scene got missed. (Gods, I understand all too well how that can happen.) But where was the support team? Asleep, I think.

In better reviews, I read and enjoyed Paranormalcy very much. Just for the record, if kids are hiding Bad Things from adults because they're afraid of the adults' reactions, that makes sense and is a workable plot point for me.

I also reread The Enchantment Emporium and enjoyed just as much this time as I have the times before. I was also very happy to learn that there is a sequel coming out "soon".

Friday, March 4, 2011

In Which I Write a (Mock) Query Letter

Query letters. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're a good opportunity for angsty goodness. So, I decided to create one (just for fun! I swear!) that might appear on Slushpile Hell.

Dear Agent,

Here's my book. I'm aiming at the "avid reader" market. The people that will read everything, even the labels on ketchup bottles. (Not catsup bottles, that's just weird.) In short, my book will best be enjoyed by people that will read anything, even if it's a pile of drek. Not that my book is a pile of drek, though it may have some issues. 

Your Chirographic Scribe,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Which I Mention Books

I've been home sick for the past two days. (I know, I know!) Which means that I've had nothing to do except read and sleep. So I read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker, "The Replacement" by Brenna Yovanoff" and "River Marked" by Patricia Briggs.

"The Gift of Fear" is actually titled "The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence". Oh. My. Gosh. It's about hearing and respecting your intuition in order to stay safe. It's about learning violence "PINs" (pre-incident indicators) that can tell you when something bad is about to happen. I strongly suggest that if you're ever going to write a book with a bad guy in it, you read this book. It can tell you what your bad guy should say that will make your readers uneasy and scooting back against the headboard while they're not sure why. (Unless they've read this book, too.)

He explains, for example, what an interview is, how a bad guy tests how committed you are when you say "no", why a stranger may force help on you, and why the use of "we" by a stranger is so scary. He deals with stalkers, domestic violence, assassins, "random" violence, and workplace violence. It is a painful read, but I think it's important.

"The Replacement" by Brenna Yovanoff was wonderful. (The cover on the hardcover edition is awesomeness on its own.) I know I'm late to this party. My friend Building A Life was on this book when it first came out and urged me to read it. It's an urban fantasy about changelings (fairy children left to replace human children stolen by the fae). The world building is awesome and the character growth feels true. And her fae have way worse metal reactions than mine do! :)

"River Marked" by Patricia Briggs. It's the latest Mercy Thompson novel, and it came out yesterday. I resisted buying it for a whole two hours. Aren't you proud of me? I love books with happy endings, and I love books that make me cry. That's "and" not "or". If you're going to make me cry (yay!) you better give me a happy ending! I won't say if Patricia Briggs does this or not, but I will say this is a classic Mercy Thompson novel.

I also love (love, love, love) the fact that Patricia Briggs goes into uncharted romance territory and actually shows what happens after the lovers get married. Many writers are afraid to go there (that's how TV is killing "Bones" for example), but Patricia Briggs deftly shows that after you ride off into the sunset, there is still sexual tension, still passion, and problems still exist and need to be figured out. (Marriage is not a magic recipe to remove all misunderstandings, as anyone that's been married knows.)