Monday, January 30, 2012

In frustration, she heaved a sigh

(First off, I'm not sure that title is grammatically correct. Second, I would love to see what a sigh looks like and how it looks to heave it.)

Do you have trouble coming up with a different way to show emotions in your story? Yeah, me too.
The Bookshelf Muse is a huge help with this dilemma! They have put together a "thesaurus" for us writers.
The other day, I needed a new way to show, not tell, my character's frustration. I went to The Bookshelf muse and found a ton of ideas!

For instance:

  Rushed, heavy breathing, hot intakes of breath, an impatient snort or sneer
· Gritting teeth
· Needing to take a moment to calm down
· Storming out of a room
· Throwing hands up
· Stalking away from someone, leaving in a huff
· Name-calling, personal jab, trying to hurt in retaliation
· Sarcasm
· Speaking without thought, often leading to regret
· Slamming a door
· Grabbing hair in clumps, looking up at the sky "Why me?"
· A heavy sigh
· A strained voice

Those were just a few of helps for me.
LOVE this resource.
Go try them out.
You'll be glad you did!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Foto Friday

The inside of a wave.
Can a person with magical water powers make this and walk through without getting wet? Or make this like Moses and escape?
Very cool...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Too many pretty words?

Going off this post from the other day (about not thinning seedlings/words) I thought of CHIME by Franny Billingsley. (My brain is odd, I know). Why would I compare CHIME with foliage?

By the end of the summer my garden was overrun with so many ginormous leaves I couldn't find the tomatoes or squash or pumpkins or cucumbers. Ironically, the leaves feed the plants and protect them from the sun but hid them from me.
Toward the end of the season it was easy for me to get lazy and leave the veggies. Then I remembered I didn't want wayward seeds taking over my garden again!
CHIME was amazing. I read the pages slowly, soaking in the ambiance of the story. If only I could write like Ms. Billingsley!
Only, it wasn't her story that moved me. It was the way the author put words and sentences together that moved me.

Here's a couple of examples:
"Another few minutes won't hurt, " said Father in his sermon voice, which is his favorite voice, the one he starches and irons every morning (p. 5)."
"The kitchen door groaned. It was arthritic and cranky from the flood, and it took advantage of every opportunity to complain (p. 13)."
 (Amazing, right??)

After I read the last page and put a day behind me, I realized I couldn't remember the story. The love interest was strong and funny, there was a Dad and sister and voices and a swamp. The plot eluded me.
Don't get me wrong! I loved CHIME and am not dissing on it. I would be overjoyed to have so many awesome reviews.
While I want my words to move readers I also want them to remember the story.
So once again dear readers, we need to watch our wordage. Too many beautiful words can cover up your beautiful story.

Have you read CHIME? What did you think?

PS If you want to read my review you can find it here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Seymour! Feed Me!"

Utah weather is strange this year. We still haven't had a good snowfall and it's the middle of January. The weather was soooo nice last Saturday I decided to rake the leaves clustered around my front steps. My daughter and I raked and swept two garbage cans full of leaves. I dumped them in the garden.

While in the garden I had to laugh a little at myself. I remember a couple of years ago we dumped our moldy, gross pumpkins in the garden as well as squash we didn't get around to eating. I was thinking about how good those little gourds would be for the soil, not the consequences of hundreds of seeds scattered around as well.

When the ground warmed up, little green sprouts came up EVERYWHERE! I was giddy with the relief of not planting much that spring. Clusters of green appeared all over and I couldn't bear to thin them.

I hate to throw away a living plant that's doing good (I have no problem killing off all the Morning Glory!). We had at least 1500 plants coming up. I'm not kidding. If I exaggerated I would say we had 2000 plants. Only a handful produced something to eat or carve. And those were small. Soon I had a jungle in my backyard and I was a tad bit scared to forage! I had no idea what was hiding under all those prickly leaves.
My weakness taught me a lesson: I need the courage to thin the good stuff to produce the best.

This applies to editing, don't you think? We need the courage to thin our words to show readers the best. Too much wordage distracts us from the plot, distances us from the characters and draws us out of the story.
Too many adverbs or tags or adjectives or purple prose understand, distracts from a good story.
Be brave, dear gardeners of words. Those beautiful words you love so much will suffocate your work. You must edit. For your story, you must thin out the good stuff to produce the best.

Do you have trouble with too many words? How's your word count?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Foto Friday

This pic makes me think of tons of magic being released...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sometimes planning is just stalling

"You were made to create something. Something important. And sometimes, planning is just stalling. So get on with it." 
 Jeff Goins

I read a post last week that I've been mulling over and want to share with you.

Something you need to know about me first: I'm a thrower-awayer. I LOVE garbage day when all the refuse leaves my house and for a few precious moments the trash clutter is gone. 
I like drawers and doors shut. 
I like even numbers ($220 instead of $227). 
If a shampoo bottle is almost empty I either dump the rest into another bottle or throw it away. It's not worth my time to shakeshakeshake it until the last drop slithers out. (Honestly, I don't think the one penny I'm saving by using the last drop is worth my time either.)

So goals work for me. Nice, clean words on lined paper are a road marker to point me in the direction I need or want to go. When I've completed the task, I can cross it off my list! Aw! Sweetness!
Sometimes I get anxious when a goal is on my list too long. I have to do it now! Get 'er done!
*Blushes* And sometimes I cheat. I make simple goals so they're easier to check off.  Somehow I feel cheated. 

Last week I read Jeff's post: On Scheming: Planning, Decisions, and Accidental Accomplishments 
I had a personal epiphany. An uncomfortable epiphany for someone who likes straight edges, check lists and rounded numbers.

Here is the post in a nutshell (from one of Jeff's friends):  "It's far more difficult to resist the fear to plan instead of act."
Read it again. I'll wait. 
That. Is. Me.
I have the plans, the goals, the drive. But am I putting them into action?
Writing is not a one time goal. The goal to write so many words a day can get in the way of my writing. I stress about checking it off. Then my creativity is at a minimum. Oh! How my life would be complete if I could write a book in one day!

What happens if every day I decide to write? And the next day I decide to write? And the next? Soon I have a complete manuscript and writing becomes a HABIT.
A habit
Think about the difference between a habit and a goal. To me, a habit is something I do without thinking about it. A goal is something always on my mind, almost dictating the course of my day.

Here's another quote of Jeff's I liked: 
"What I did yesterday doesn't carry over to tomorrow. I have to start all over again. I can't rest in the security of goals; I have to embrace the present. Otherwise, I miss my chance to do what needs to be done today. So I try to keep showing up. And without realizing it, I'm further along in the process than I thought I'd be. This is the beauty of a goal-less life: if you focus on habits, you may end up doing more than you thought was possible. Not because of a plan. Because of passion and decision."

It's almost freeing to me to make a habit instead of stressing about breaking my New Year's Resolutions. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying goals are bad. For me I've come to realize my goals are not the same as my check off list.
Maybe I'll finally learn to enjoy the journey. That's the point, isn't it?

Life is about how you get there, not the finish line. (Seriously, would you want your gondolier to race to the end of your ride or would you enjoy the journey?)

What about you? What are your thoughts?

One last quote to send you off on an awesome week:
"If you're already struggling with meeting your goals for the new year, try this: start something. And keep starting. Every day. Follow your passion. Be decisive. Create new habits. Maybe you'll get to where you want to be faster than you expected."

Get there my friends.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quirkiness & Superstitions

I've always heard that athletes have superstitions. Watch almost any sports movie or ask any sports dude and dudette and you'll find out they have superstitions too. Go ahead and ask someone. I'll keep typing this post until you come back.

In the meantime, here are a few superstars who boast of superstitions:

Tiger Woods has a habit of always wearing red on Sundays of tournaments.
Michael Jordan wore a pair of his UNC shorts underneath his Bulls’ shorts to channel his success in college.
On the night before a game, Jason Terry (a Maverick) wears a pair of his future opponent’s shorts to bed.

Sports people aren't the only ones with quirks. Here is a list of a few author rituals:

  • Each manuscript must have it's own writing spot.
  • No chapter can have thirteen pages.
  • No eating sweets while writing about the villain because sweetness might rub off on him/her.
  • Wiggling fingers while a query or manuscript email takes off through cyberspace helps the email fly straight to the agents "gotta have" pile.
  • Some writers use only pens for the rough draft.
  • Unusual attire while writing.
  • Totems, dolls or other mythical muses sit nearby the author.
  • A few writers authors every single day. Even if it's only one sentence.
My latest WIP requires me to listen to The Cure. For some reason my main character is willing to tell me her story while that group, or similar ones like Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order, are blasting in the background.

Have you talk to someone about their superstitions? What did they say? 
Do you have certain rituals you perform while writing? 

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    How many books can a reader read if a reader can chuck books?

    Sorry. The title got away from me.

    I wanted to know:
    • How many books you read this year?
    • What's your favorite genre?
    • Is there ONE book you would recommend every read?
    • Did you set a reading goal this year?
    • And are we friends on Goodreads? What? Why not? 
    • Here's my link so we can be buddies: Taffy Lovell

    My goal was to read 75 books this year. I made it by 133%. Yup. I'm an overachiever reader.
    I find I thoroughly enjoy Young Adult books. I think it matches my maturity level :0
    I LOVED The Girl of Fire and Thorns. And Forgotten. Oops. That's two. Sorry.
    My reading goal this year is to read one non-YA book a month.

    Confessional Story:
    I did chuck a book once.
    I had no idea Hunger Games was a trilogy. I read the last page and stopped cold. The words read something like: End of Book One. I threw the book across the room. (It was a library book so please don't tell the librarians.) I couldn't believe the audacity of the author to end on such a literary precipices! And I had to wait for the next one?!

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Julie Bellon's First Page Fridays

      Need help on your first page? Julie Bellon has an awesome post she does every Friday, First Page Friday. Check it out!
    Here is the jist of what she does:
    Since we have been getting some questions about what exactly First Page Friday is, I thought I would take a few minutes today to explain it.

    I was at a conference in April where there was a panel of national agents and editors. They all said the same thing---that if a manuscript hasn't caught their attention by the first page they reject it. They wanted to see fresh and original writing that drew them in, and of course, one free of typos and grammar errors.

    As I talked to my writer friends and my editor friends, we all came to the same conclusion---everyone wanted a clean first page. (Of course it goes without saying that we all want a clean manuscript, but for this purpose, first pages fit.)

    So, I asked my national editor friend if she could critique first pages that were submitted to my blog. With her job schedule being so tight, she could only do Fridays and First Page Friday was born. We affectionately named her Ms. Shreditor because she is a tough but fair editor and I knew she would do great.

    Along the way, we had some wonderful experiences and we felt like we were really helping writers on their journey, but Ms. Shreditor's job schedule got even tighter and so I asked my former editor, Angela Eschler, if she could come on board. She was more than happy to take the last Friday of every month.

    I have been so blessed to have both of these women critique for First Page Friday. They both have different styles and approaches, but I know them both to be incredible editors and very good at their jobs. Ms. Shreditor is known for her talent in the publishing industry and really does love her job. Angela Eschler is well-known for her editing services and now has her own editing business called Eschler Editing.

    First Page Friday is about helping writers and we have two of the best editors around to do that. If you want to submit your work to be critiqued by some of the best in the business, all you have to do is submit your double-spaced, 12 pt. font, first page to with First Page Friday in the subject line. I do it on a first come first served basis, and right now we are booked out to mid-February. But don't let that discourage you. I think the critiques are well worth the wait.

    First Page Fridays have taught me so much. Even as a published writer I am always learning and both of our editors have given me a lot to think about as I've read their critiques each Friday. I hope it has been the same for you.

    I want to thank everyone who submits because it's a hard thing to put yourself out there and have your work critiqued. I want to thank everyone who reads the submission and makes comments for being respectful. And I want to thank our amazing editors for giving of their time to help us writers be the best we can be.

    So what are you waiting for? Get your submission in today!

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true!

    A few of my favorite things I'm doing

    I'm reading: Fiction: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel  It is 1946 when Vera Frankel and her best friend Edith Ban ...