Monday, August 22, 2011

In Which Love YA Has A Contest

Quick! Quick! Quick! Get over to Love YA to submit to the Vickie Motter judged contest. Closes when the entries hit 50! Go now!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Which I Get Another Story Idea

his one has been haunting me for years*, but it's been getting literal** over the past few days. So, it's officially going on the to "to be written" list. It's a story about a cop with tinnitus. Yeah, it doesn't sound like much when I put it that way, but there's a story in there. Trust me, I'm a writer :)

*Technically, it was the first book I ever tried to write. I think I was in junior high. It never got past the opening paragraph, but man what a paragraph!
"How did you know where that guy was?" 
She shrugged, "I just heard him." She wondered how her partner had failed to hear the music in the warehouse.
Stellar writing there. Deathly prose, even.

**Yes, I have symptoms of tinnitus. However, I find that elements of stories tend to "manifest" for me, until I acknowledge them. Then they go away. When I was writing Scratched, every night for weeks I would hear a loud banging as I was going to sleep. No one was knocking on the door, and nothing was falling over. Finally, in desperation of getting some sleep, I promised to include Tommyknockers in the story. The banging stopped. It's like that thing where med students think they have whatever disease it is they're studying at the moment. Or like writer's hypochondria.

In Which My Son Offers Writing Advice

s my son and I were talking yesterday, he said something funny, and I said, "Oh, I'm totally going to use that line in Penny's Luck". He said, "How will you use it?" and then we proceeded to talk about the book for the next few minutes.

After I talked about some of the scenes, he interrupted me. "I'm sorry, but I'm just not feeling it. Where's the ticking clock? There's no sense of urgency here."

That's my boy! (And he's totally correct. I need a ticking clock in this story.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In Which Mandy Hubbard Judges A Contest

 know you love contests as much as I do! Quick! Get over to We Do Write for a Twitter pitch contest judged by Mandy Hubbard!.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Which I Am At WriteOnCon

'm at WriteOnCon, hanging out in the forums. How about you? Let me know, and we can be friends :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

In Which Scrivener Has A New Beta

he Scrivener Windows Beta version has a new release today. (The Linux one will be out in a few days.) If you haven't tried out Scrivener because you don't have a Mac, or if you have been using a previous beta version of the one for Windows, you can get this new release at

In Which Snape Advises "It Will Get Better"

love this video. It's very funny (especially the end). Several things you should know, before you click. First, it's not really Snape. Second, it contains spoilers, so be warned! (I feel like I should put in a third mention, because while it's done in the spirit of the "It Gets Better" videos, this one is about being a villain, not about sexuality.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In Which I Start My Outline

enny's Luck is now officially past the major research stage and is now in the outlining portion of the writing. I've got 22 plot points. I generally write about 1,000 words per plot point, so that means... not nearly enough words for this book.

Fortunately, I don't have all the plot points down yet (I still have to do all the villain plot points), and I haven't plotted any of the subplots yet. So, there's a good chance this will be a good length yet. Fortunately, it's Middle Grade, which is reflected in the word count.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Which I Fail The Bechdel Test

realized today that "Penny's Luck" fails the Bechdel Test. In case you haven't heard of the Bechdel Test, or don't remember the details, here it is.
The work (book, film, play) has:
1. Two or more female characters
2. That speak to each other
3. About something other than a man

In "Penny's Luck" I don't have any other female characters! Argh! And I can't think of a good way to fit one in. Even if I turn the butterfly smuggling neighbor into a woman, she and Penny will still be talking to each other about Penny's dad. Double Argh!

I don't know how I'm going to fix this. Well, obviously, I'm going to have to add another female character. Cal's coach? Cal's mom? A BFF?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Which I Blog About Research

oing research is one of my favorite parts of writing. It's when and where I get ideas for plot points, find ways to make the unbelievable a little more believable, and I like learning about new things.

Here are some of the things I've been researching for "Penny's Luck".

  • Names of magic tricks. (Many years ago I was a magician, but other than "French Drop" I couldn't remember the names of many of the magic tricks. It's part of the jargon that Penny will use, so I'm brushing up and learning new names.)
  • Butterfly smuggling.
  • Human Growth Hormone and how it's given. (Squik.)
  • Meningitis, and how it's spread.
  • ASL. (I'm not sure this counts, as I took lessons in sign years ago, and my son is taking ASL in high school as his foreign language, so it's stuff I may use, but didn't start learning about just for this book.)
  • Cochlear Implants and the controversy around them. (Again, was learning about this stuff for a while before this book, so I'm not sure it counts as research for the book.)
  • Deaf and Hearing Impaired subculture. (Same as the two above.)
  • Storefront floor plans.
  • Organized crime.
  • Pole vaulting.
  • Escape artists.
  • Las Vegas. (Jobs and housing and local schools, as well as the viewpoint of the city.)
  • Average growth rate of teenage boys.
  • PTSD in humans.
  • ATF agents.
  • ATF canines. (Did you know that ATF canines are failed Guide Dogs?)
  • PTSD in canines.
  • Paranoia.
  • VW Bug.
  • Italian names for "grandfather".
  • Agoraphobia.
  • Monty Python. (Oh, who am I kidding? That's for fun. The fact that I can work something into the book is just icing.)
  • Comic books.
Ok, that's all I remember for now, but I haven't finished outlining, so I'm sure some more things will be coming up.

In Which I Wonder What Is Too Much

'm toying with a new idea for a character in "Penny's Luck". Cal, her boyfriend (Penny would say, "he's not my boyfriend", but he will be, she just doesn't know it yet). Anyway, Cal is 16, can drive a car (so he's frequently Penny's ride to and from work), and used to be a pretty good gymnast. He shot up over a foot in the last year, so he can't do gymnastics any more, but the high school coach is pushing him to do pole vaulting or high diving (or both!)

Because his center of gravity has changed so quickly, and his arms and legs are longer than his brain is used to (yet), he's also a little clumsy. He bangs into things or knocks things over. A lot.

I like Cal, and he ends up getting kidnapped with Penny at one point. I want him to be more than just comic relief. I want people to see why Penny would end up with him. I also want him to have a skill that Penny doesn't have. (Her skills are sleight of hand and misdirection.) I think I want Cal to be deaf. He had meningitis a  few years ago, and became deaf as a result of it. His skill would be lip reading.

I don't want his deafness to be a big issue in the book. He's a just a teenage boy, who has a crush on a girl, and he happens to be deaf.

I'm playing with the idea for now, but my worries are:
  1. Deaf culture. I know enough about the deaf culture to know that deaf people aren't as simple as "create hearing character, remove hearing". I'm also big on people not writing about minority subcultures without an understanding of that subculture. (I know I hate it when my religion is misrepresented in fiction.) Can I learn enough about the deaf subculture to do a credible job of creating Cal? 
  2. Is it too much? Is making Cal be deaf a "kitchen sink" problem, where I'm just putting too many elements in the story? 
I think it makes the story stronger, but I may not have the chops to write it well. I guess I'll have to try and see if I can pull it off. If anyone has any thoughts or advice on the subject, I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In Which I Play With Google Scribe

oday I have been notified that Google Scribe is now available for bloggers. Google Scribe is like Mad Libs, only not. You remember Mad Libs, right? As story was created, with certain nouns, verbs, or adjectives left blank, to be filled in by a group of children.

Google Scribe does the same thing, except it guesses what you are going to be saying, based on what you just said. Let me retype that same sentence using Google Scribe.

Get Started doing this since the, er in general with your application gets the best service, best of what you just said.

I see a whole new website for the people that do Damn You, Autocorrect! Something like Google Scribbles. I find the feature annoying, but it may fun for days when you just don't know what to write. And you could always check to see if your writing is cliche. If Google Scribe would type the same thing you just did, maybe you need to uses fresher words :)

In Which I Witness Men Loading The Dishwasher

he next time someone tells me that men are better at spatial things, I will challenge them to witness a dishwasher loading event. Loading a dishwasher is a spatial thing. By that reasoning, men should be able to do it, and do it well. I have not actually seen any evidence of this in my life.

(Randy [my husband] and Michael [my son] both know that I made this post. Randy said the post was fine, as long as I didn't mention his testicles, which I promised not to do.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

In Which I Discover Writing Is Work

've been sick since last Wednesday. I have to admit that whenever I call in sick, I think, "Well, at least I'll get some writing done." And I never do.

For a long time, I beat myself up over this. I told myself that I wasn't dedicated enough as a writer, etc. This month, I've been doing the August challenge of doing at least 15 minutes of writing a day. 15 minutes isn't very much, and I've been able to do more than that every day, except when I was sick.

It wasn't because I wasn't dedicated, it was because I was sick. Writing is actual work. Just because I'm sitting down (or laying down, since I do most of my writing laying on my side in bed) doesn't mean that it's not work. It's fun. I love doing it. It feels good. But even when it's at its best, it's still work.

So, I can stop beating myself up for not writing when I'm sick.

In Which We Play Movie Games

t our house, we play a movie game called "Mom, guess what?!" Whenever we see a person has a tiny role in a movie or TV show (Dead Prostitute Number 1), we imagine the conversation the actor has with his/her mother.

"Mom! Guess what? After four years of studying and waiting on tables, I finally got a role on your favorite TV show!"
"Oh, congratulations honey! I'm so proud! Are you a new regular?"
"Well, are you a guest star?"
"Not exactly."
"Well, what are you playing?"
"Dead Prostitute Number 1!"
(pause) "Oh honey, I'm so happy for you!"

Today we were watching "Curiosity", and did a new one.
"I got a role on Curiosity!"
"Oh wonderful! Are you playing Dead Prostitute Number 1?"
"No, I'm playing Pope squished by ceiling!"
(pause) "Oh honey, I'm so happy for you!"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In Which "Jaws" Teaches Me About Writing

he movie "Jaws" is one of my favorite movies. Not one that I like to watch over and over, but one that I watch intensely, about once every two years. It is my technical learning movie, and I learn something new about storytelling, every time I watch it.

Of course there are the classic things that Hitchcock taught us, which is the unseen monster is scarier than the seen monster. There are the things that English class taught us about symbolism, like Quint is really Captain Ahab. There is the classic "Don't put a gun on the mantel in scene one, unless you are going to use it in scene three". Only in this case, the gun is an exploding canister of air.

One of my favorite things in this movie is how a character will never do something, until he does (or doesn't). Brody will never go in the water, until he has to. Brody's character grows and lives. Quint will never put on a life jacket. He doesn't and he dies. (Though to be honest, putting on the life jacket wouldn't have saved him.)

In my new WiP, I'm trying to figure out what Penny will never do. Penny will never give up. Of course, that means that eventually, she will have to give up. And doing so will make her a better person. The bad guy will also never give up. That will lead to his undoing.

I'm still in the drafting/noodling stage, so this may change, but right now, it feels right.

I also love the placement of back story in this movie. When Quint finally reveals why he hates sharks so much, it's close enough to the encounter with the shark to make it memorable. If he'd revealed his story earlier, his refusal to put on a life jacket wouldn't be as meaningful. What if they'd shown Quint's story in a "prologue" at the beginning of the movie and then put "40 years later" at the start of the movie. How would that have changed the movie? I think it would have given Quint's story less impact. I hope I learn to time the placement of back story based on this movie.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In Which There Is A Micro Synopsis Contest

ontest time over at YAtopia! This is a micro synopsis contest (three sentence synopsis) and the prize is a full MS request from John Cusick of Scott Treimel. The contest ends August 11, so move quickly!

This was my three sentence synopsis for "Scratched".

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age Group: YA (13-18)
Word Count: 83k

In the suburbs of Southern California, 17 year old Troll Maid is looking for a job beyond the traditional three B's (bridges, bodyguard or bouncer), yet one that is still open to trolls. The job she finds is protecting human children from Oubliette, a monster that can cause forgetfulness or death with a simple, poisonous scratch. When a human boy in her care is kidnapped, Troll Maid teams up with Oubliette to find him, and Troll Maid discovers that if you scratch a monster you may find a hero underneath.