Monday, October 31, 2011

Tricks and Treats!

This is Halloween! This is Halloween! The last day of October, the day before All Saints Day, and Nanowrimo. Whichever you're celebrating, I hope you enjoy it.

As for me, Halloween wouldn't be complete without carving my yearly jack-o-lantern. I picked out a big, fat pumpkin a few weeks ago and it's been sitting on my porch, faceless, since. So, tonight I carved it. And lit it, so it can do its duty and frighten nasty spooks away. (I'm not really afraid of nasty spooks, but I find the lore surrounding jack-o-lanterns pretty fascinating.)

My day has been filled with work, moving things, and staying out of the way of workmen who were tearing up my floors and ceilings (and replacing them with new ones). It's been a long day.

So, now that the tricks are over, it's time for some treats. First off, thanks to Bailey over at Over Yonder for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award! (methinks she must've seen the Doctor Who fanart, mixed with the playlists, the writing tips, and the bloghop entries.) Here're the bloggers I chose to pass the award on to:

I picked Erin and Laura over at
A** Over Teacup.
Just the title of their blog alone made me curious. As did their subtitle "Well, after this I should think nothing of falling down stairs..." *big Alice in Wonderland fan*

I might've dropped the ball a bit. (but with people tearing up my floor, I think I might be excused) When I find more bloggers to award, I'll make another post, but for now, on to the seven random facts!

1. I love seasonal candies. And right now I'm scarfing down candy corn. (that's right, my precious)
2. I approach life from a 'buffet' perspective. I want to have a little bit of everything and mix it together. (like music and art, sketching and blogging, traditional and offbeat)
3. I'm fascinated by the ocean and the creatures living in it,
but I'm frightened to death of drowning... and I can't swim.
4. Ever since elementary school, when I have chili I want to have a peanut butter sandwich with it.
5. I love words like 'rather', 'shall', 'methinks' and 'possibly' and incorporate them in everyday conversation whenever I get the chance.
6. I own a black cat with no tail and one white whisker that everyone wants to pull out. (he was born without a tail. the whisker he grew on his own)
7. If I go too long without drawing something, when I finally do, I'll end up drawing into the wee hours, and the next morning after I wake up.

Friday, October 28, 2011


This is what happens when you watch too much Doctor Who and cross it with the covers for Conan the Barbarian. ->

Fanart was bound to happen. Epic fanart with epic poses.

It'll be even more epic when I put an army of daleks behind the Doctor. (muahahahaha!)

Here's some Led Zeppelin to go with it. (This song is 10 minutes, so you don't have to listen to all of it. Unless you love Led Zeppelin.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A day in the Tangled Forest

Today I felt better than I have since I got the news about Pip. Today I actually felt like getting out of the house. My younger sister and I cleared away vines and dead branches from the forest that my backyard has become. We have a sprawling horizontal tree that fell during an ice storm and it lived, growing upward, ever since. As time passed and no one touched it, smaller trees sprang up around its branches and trunk, a rosebush nearly took over beneath it, and this snarl of a grapevine has almost consumed the rest. We hacked and chopped at the tangled forest until we'd managed to clear a way under the tree. Then we worked on freeing it from the vine, which was no small task.

I sat in a fallen tree under a perfect, gray autumn sky, watching leaves blow by in a wind that smelled of rain... and it was glorious. Anytime you get to climb trees when you're over thirty, it's a good day.

I still feel sad, and I'm going to feel sad for a long time when I think of her - my Pip, my friend who was so silly and kind and creative. But today I felt permission to keep going.

Roadtrip Wednesday: October Hunger

Roadtrip Wednesday # 102: What was the best book you read in October?

This is no contest. Ever since I read this book, no book after it holds a candle. Last month it was Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, and this month it's...

That's right. It pulled me in too. Hard. In my September post Don't Diss Dystopian I asked blog readers to recommend a dystopian YA that would change my mind about dystopian novels. And everyone recommended this book. I'd already heard of it online and by word of mouth, but I hadn't read it. I promised to do a review after reading it, but things kept coming up to postpone that review. Now YA Highway has given me a wide open door. I also promised to link to the blogs of those who recommended this book to me, and there were a few. You'll see those links at the end of the review. Here goes!

I found Hunger Games to be a thrilling read. Its set in a bleak future where the government controls life and sustenance for twelve districts, keeping them under a rigid thumb. But in the midst of starvation and hardship, there is Katniss. A determined, spirited girl, hardened by the grim, survivalist lifestyle thrust upon her at a young age. She wasn't always my favorite of female protagonists, but she certainly was her own. Her voice never wavered, and her perspective carried the book along at a spurring clip.

At first I was unsure about diving into a reality where pre-teens and teenagers fight to the death for a protected life for their families. It's a barbaric thought, but one that makes sense in Katniss' world. That's the thing about dystopian books, and one reason I am wary of them. They're just so doggone bleak, so negative, so gray and dismal. The worlds in them are like ashes in a firepit that've gone cold, but this book brought a hot little ember of hope to those ashes.

Yes, fire analogies. They kept cropping up in the book. Katniss, was, after all, "the girl who was on fire". I'm not spoiling it anymore than that. I thought the fire references were a nice touch, and they highlighted the theme of passion, life, and survival that was Katniss' story.

Because this story was like Gladiator, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and a very spirited round of paintball, it kept a good pace from the beginning. (Did I mention it was also a reality tv show?) The story didn't lag anywhere, even in the first chapters where Katniss was describing her life and current circumstances. I also didn't hate the first-person perspective, because Katniss wasn't a personality that grated on my nerves. She wasn't gorgeous, she was tough, she had flaws, she had a thick skin, she was vulnerable, she was human enough to be someone you might know.

The only wish I have regarding Hunger Games is that I wish didn't know before reading that there was a second (or third) book. Not knowing could've really ramped up the read for me. I love surprises, twist endings, brushes with death. This book definitely had some great brushes with death. I loved not knowing how she would get out of the situations she was in, or how bad it would get before it got better. But since there was a second book, I wasn't as fearful for her safety as I could've been.

That said, I'm glad Hunger Games is a trilogy, and look forward to reading the next book - especially if it delivers as much excitement as this one did. Unfortunately, it's so popular that I have a long wait before my library gets hold of it. Hoping I get it soon!

Thanks to the friends who recommended this book: Dana Strange, and Rachel Pudelek. Check out their blogs! Especially Rachel's Treasure Hunt of YA book reviews.

I can't wait to see the other Highwayers' Best Books of October. I'm always looking for more recommendations.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goodbye, My Pip

I found out through Facebook that a close online friend of mine died Saturday. At first I thought it was a joke, but after I'd read all the way back to Saturday I knew something was wrong. Every one of her Facebook friends had written on her wall. When I checked her Deviantart page, the comments were there also. I held on for awhile, hoping it was a joke. Then I finally let it sink in, and it was hard to swallow. I felt guilty. I felt if I had only prayed harder, done more. But there wasn't much I could do from the other side of the planet. I still don't even know what happened.

It feels unreal. Pip was a creative partner, a roleplay partner, and a friend. We built worlds together, we constructed characters, we talked about our goals, our hopes and dreams. She always had a light, optimistic attitude and a sense of humor that couldn't fail. Even if she was feeling sick, she stayed upbeat.

When I was a grouchy cow, she could placate me. She'd listen to me rant, she'd take my side. Her characters became my characters' better halves. She was sweet and she was funny. She was a designer, a dreamer, a believer in things that other people couldn't see. She was a believer in me.

She was only twenty-seven years old.

Autumn Birds by Pippa Jameson

I still can't believe that I won't talk to her anymore. I won't hear her stories, see her drawings, laugh at her silly comments. She never read my novel. She was waiting for it to be published. And now she'll never get to read it.

I wish I had gotten to meet her in person. I wish I had been able to say goodbye.

Today, I heard this song for the first time, and it feels like it was for Pip.


Goodbye Pippa Jameson. I will miss you very much, and I won't forget the creativity and warmth you shared with me.

Oct. 7, 1984 - Oct. 22, 2011

Watch Out For the Boogeyman!

At last it's time for Monsterfest! Here's an entry close to my heart and shuddering in the dark recesses of my inner child's mind:

The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman is a character of mythic proportions in nursery stories, the most feared of any other childhood monster. He hides in our closets, under our beds, even in our dreams. He embodies our fear of the dark, our fear of strangers, and our fear of things grabbing our ankles when we get out of bed at night. And just because we don't see him doesn't mean he isn't there.

The term 'boogeyman' is derived from bogeyman or bogey. They are monsters created by adults to frighten children into behaving, and all cultures have them. Sometimes they are male, and sometimes they are female, but they are always nasty. The manner in which the bogey behaves changes depending on the story and the culture telling it. Sometimes he tickles children while they sleep, and other times he scratches at windows or doors to frighten them. In all stories, the Boogeyman is a malicious creature bent on punishing children who disobey their parents or refuse to sleep.

The Boogeyman is known by different names all over the world, including Sack Man, Bag Man, Uncle Gunnysack, Bubak, Cuco, Babau, and Butzemann. The list of bogey-like creatures is long and can be found here.

The Boogeyman has no specific appearance, but the strongest representation is a hooded man who carries a sack on his back in which to stuff misbehaving children. What he does with the children after he stuffs them in his bag varies. Some stories say he eats them, and others say he simply locks them away.

"Here comes the Bogeyman" by Francisco de Goya

Appearances of The Boogeyman in popular American culture.

One of the scariest depictions of the Boogeyman in film (at least in animated terms) appeared in the episodes of The Real Ghostbusters entitled "The Boogieman Cometh" and "The Boogieman Is Back". (This episode freaked me out) This version of the Boogeyman looked like a goblin Steven Tyler with pale blue skin, a horribly oversized head, spiky blue hair, ruby lips, sharp teeth, a stubbly chin, pointy ears, yellow eyes and goat legs. He wore a bowtie and a coat with long tails.

In "The Boogieman Cometh" Egon revealed that being frightened by the Boogieman as a child was the reason he began studying the paranormal. Since the Boogieman wasn't a ghost, the ghostbusters couldn't capture him, and had to increase the power of their beams to drive him back to his realm. In order to defeat the Boogieman for good (or for now) the ghostbusters lay a trap for him in a bedroom with Ray as bait. They set a ghost bomb which exploded, sealing him in his realm.

A more recent Boogeyman concept we all recognize is Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a 1993 stop-motion film by Tim Burton (and one of my favorites). The character of Oogie Boogie is a singing, dancing boogeyman who lives in Halloween Town. With the help of his ghoulish trick-or-treaters Lock, Shock and Barrel, Oogie kidnaps Santa Claus and proceeds to torture him in this song. This movie couldn't have had a better villain than the boogeyman, even if Oogie Boogie is actually just a potato sack filled with creepy crawlies, animated by magic.

Sony Pictures produced the movie Boogeyman in 2005 about a young man who is plagued by the Boogeyman even into adulthood. He eventually faces up to his childhood fears in order to save those he loves. There are some creepy scenes where the Boogeyman snatches people by way of closets, underneath beds, and other dark places, but all in all, the movie isn't very scary.

Boogeyman gave rise to two sequels which I haven't seen: Boogeyman 2 in 2008, and Boogeyman 3 in 2009. These went straight to video, but had a short theater run in some countries.

Possibly my favorite literary and film representation of a Boogeyman are the Boggarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. In familiar Boogeyman fashion, these creatures have no form of their own, but take the form of what their beholder fears the most. In the stories, Hogwarts students faced Boggarts as a training exercise in Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Their key to defeating them was the Riddikulus charm which would make the Boggart look ridiculous instead of frightening.

Boggarts are said to live in small, dark places like wardrobes, closets, cupboards or under beds.

A WWE wrestler (Martin Wright) with the ringname The Boogeyman terrorized other wrestlers in horror movie style from 2005 (during the same year as Boogeyman the movie) to the present. He wears red demonic face paint, chants nursery rhymes, and carries a heavy staff and an oversized clock which he smashes over his own head. Probably his most disgusting tactic in the ring is a mouthful of nightcrawlers which he spits at, or into the mouths of, other wrestlers. His catchphrase is "I'm the Boogeyman and I'm coming to getcha!"

I've been fascinated with, and frightened by, the Boogeyman concept ever since I was a child. So, I wrote a novel with a different kind of Boogeyman. In my story, Boogeymen is the title given to a race of invisible guardians of children. Invisible friends. Most Boogeymen are protective, gentle beings, but once in awhile you get one who goes rogue. These are the Boogeymen of old nursery rhymes, jumping out of closets, lurking under beds, and frightening children and adults alike. They're the reason Boogeymen are called Boogeymen.

This is a concept sketch of my main character Lividia's own Boogeyman.

Hope everyone had as much fun with Monsterfest as I did! I'm looking forward to more spooky blogfests in the future! (I fully intend to visit your blogs once this hectic weekend is over. There are a ton of great monsters I haven't gotten to read about yet.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011


After assessing this upcoming week, I've decided I'll have to cut back on blogging. I might come on late, post at weird hours, or pick only a few days a week to blog. Once I decide what works for me, I'll let you know.

Today I'm working on a gorgeous space-themed banner for the wonderful Karina Fabian over at Fabianspace. I also plan to put together a page to showcase banners, buttons and other web graphics I create. I'm open for commissions. I'll also put the prices up online when I get the chance.

Besides blogging and banners, I'll be posting for Monsterfest 2011 this week, so stay tuned for Boogeyman information, images and fun facts.

We're a week from Nano, and I'm still not sure if I'll be participating. I will write something during November. I have Lividia's second novel started and my brand-new monstrous novel idea. I also have illustrations left to do for my first book and more querying.

I have a lot on my plate. Feel free to comment and visit, wander around and check out my helpful links. I'll reply to comments and visit blogs when I can.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Temptation of NaNo

Okay, so I've said that I don't usually post twice in one day, but this can't wait. With all the NaNoWriMo talk floating around I couldn't help but be taken in just a little by it. In years past I've been stubborn and stalwart against doing NaNo, and I'll tell you why. I simply won't not edit. There. I said it. I have a horrible time not tweaking a sentence or a paragraph that I don't feel comfortable with yet.

I'm a pantser and I edit as I write rather than do a series of big, fat edits at the end of the manuscript. Editing in pieces is just much easier for me. Long hard jobs are too daunting, especially if they're creative. (I have a hard time working on an illustration for more than a few hours, also.) Plus, if I know an edit could change the outcome of the rest of the book, I'd rather do it now than have to rewrite many chapters. To me it's like trying to build a house without nails. It's going to fall down in the end.

I've looked over NaNo in the past and never seen anywhere that it says I'm not allowed to edit as I go. But when I run into people promoting NaNo in chatrooms, on forums, etc, I keep hearing "silence your inner editor". This is why I've been so against it all this time. I have to edit. It's my thing. Don't judge me!!! - But I can also produce word count. At least I'm pretty sure I can. So, I'm thinking of doing NaNo my own way, with minor editing.

If anyone has done NaNo with minor or major editing and still managed to meet their word count at the end of the month, I'd love to hear those stories. But here is the reason that I am so tempted by NaNo this year.

I have this story. It's one of those instances where I was listening to a song ("Monster" by Lady Gaga... don't judge me) and I just began to get ideas. The story is like a combination of Dracula and Beauty and the Beast. Typically I don't write romance and I don't write about vampires. But this won't be about a vampire. Just a monster. Two monsters, actually. Maybe three.

Basic plotline: Girl has two monstrous men in her life. One is a monster outwardly, and one is a monster inwardly. Monster #1 is her friend and Monster #2 is her fiance. There is a castle involved, and all the fun of the girl finding out Monster #2 really is a monster. There is a tentative love triangle, there is the whole "I can change him" novelty, there is a fun scary part where the monster (I won't tell you which one) tries to eat the girl. Then I wrap it up with an ending I'm still trying to work out.

This story's been eating away (pun fully intended) at my mind all day and if I do decide to do NaNo I can't wait to start on it. So... whatta ya think?

Okay, Now Spill! - Interviewing Your Character

First off, I'd like to mention I'm participating in Monsterfest 2011, a month-long bloghop for October. My monster topic is The Boogeyman (who's also a character in my novel). If you like researching, writing about, being scared of, and generally appreciating monsters, you should check it out!

Last night in Writers Chatroom we discussed character development, and there were a lot of great tips and suggestions. This morning I found a post over at The Blood-Red Pencil about guess what? Character development. It's a hot topic, and a topic I love to death, so that's what I'm writing about today.

The way I usually develop my characters is simply to write them. I discover them as they tell me their story. But when I need to know more than they're giving me, I look for guides like the one by Jodie Renner from The Blood-Red Pencil. In fact, I think I'm going to try hers with characters from the series I'm working on now.

Character development is not always so easy, though. How do you develop a character you've written who just isn't revealing himself to you? The ladies and gents from Writers Chatroom suggested interviewing the character. Asking him personal questions such as What's your biggest fear? If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? What do you like most about yourself? Where would you go for your dream vacation?

I came up with those myself, but you could ask your character anything you wanted. You could ask him as an interrogator, a reporter, a therapist (one of my faves). You could even give him an open mic session where he could say or do whatever he wanted. I'm not sure what some of my rowdier characters (see my illustration) would do if I asked them to perform for me, though. I imagine some of the quieter ones might even get stage fright. What would yours do?

I'd love to see some of your character interviews. I might post one or two of my own once I get the time to interview someone.

Here are two songs that I felt fit this topic pretty well. Living in a Dream by Finger Eleven and Secrets by One Republic. Enjoy!

video video

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roadtrip: A Whole New World

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic: What's your #1 reason for writing?

To make it short, I want to share.

To me, good writing communicates ideas and feelings well enough that people can experience them with you. It's basically bringing others into your cerebral space. Just for awhile, you share the same universe.

Have you ever seen what fans are like when they start talking about a book or a movie they love? They forget everything else. For a little while they share the same passions, joys, interests. Even if they argue, they're still part of the same club, and they belong, whether they differ or not.

I write to open up my head, dump out the denizens onto paper, and make people fall in love with them as much as I do. More than people knowing me, I want people to know them. I want them to know that world that I see, and to see it too. I want to create something new - a place where only I've been - and then take them there.

Magic carpet ride, anyone?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pretties - YA Playlist

Since I'm reading a lot of YA lately, including Uglies by Scott Westerfield, I've decided to share some pretties. All of these artists have three things in common - youth, looks, and the attitude of popular YA books. Some songs are in english and some aren't. I decided this was a good excuse to share a bit of my favorite K-pop along with some bands you might already know.

If you don't know what K-pop is, you can check out the Wiki article. The reason I added K-pop to the YA playlist is because in South Korea girl groups and boy bands are huge and they've been huge for a long time. And we all know boy bands have always been popular with teen girls. According to Seventeen Magazine, boy bands are coming back to the US by way of the UK and popular reality shows - and don't forget Nickelodeon. Who knows? They might end up being big here again. (I can already hear some of you screaming "Noooooo!")

What I love about K-pop (besides the overabundance of cute) is the fresh, youthful attitude the groups have. Much like American boy bands from the '90's. Most of the videos are focused on having fun and showing off the artist's dance skills rather than promoting sex or drugs. (I wonder if some American singers can dance to save their lives.)

One last note: If Big Bang ever had a concert close enough or affordable enough, I would be on the next bus... or flight.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Fat Monday Update

First off, thanks to all my new followers and welcome! I've had a really busy weekend - family visits, moving furniture, cleaning house, general errand-running. It's only Monday, but it's felt more like a Friday, and I'm already behind in the work that actually pays. (I do online advertising for .)

I've started three of the four books I got from the library, trying to find the next one that I won't want to put down. The lineup in order of interest: The Body Finder, The Graveyard Book, Uglies. I haven't started Tithe yet. Unfortunately, the book I read before them was The Hunger Games (which I still need to post a review for), and it's a tough act to follow.

The books disappointed me a little. You have to be in the right mood for The Graveyard Book but the writing is good, and Uglies is a little fluffy, but maybe it'll improve as I read further. A few chapters into The Body Finder and I'm already thinking of how the author could've made it more exciting. That's what inspired me to dive back into my own second novel manuscript today, and boy, did it feel good!

I just wish it didn't take reading dissatisfaction to inspire me to write, but I needed that push to jump back in. I wrote my first short fantasy story because I couldn't find what I wanted to read in high school. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. So, boredom must be the mother of creativity.

What inspires you to write after a long hiatus? Do you self-motivate or do you need a good sharp prod in the posterior? I'm a horrible self-motivator, so I have to jump on inspiration when it hits.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Just when I was...

tempted to say "Pay it Forward" can shove it up. Then I realized that's just fatigue and achy feet talking. Well, partly.

Today I attempted the blogfest, got a few blogs visited, and then was descended upon by wonderful, supportive family. They were being wonderful and supportive, helping me carry large ungainly furniture out of my house, helping clean, helping entertain, and distract. In other words, they helped my Friday be pretty great. However, that left little time for blogfesting.

I ended up coming home at a quarter past nine, thoroughly worn out from a nephew's school festival, with the same exact comments and views on my blog that I had before I left the house. I knew I'd blown it, at least with the blogfest. I had still had a pretty awesome Friday, though.

So, I guess that's my Good Friday piece right there. Things didn't go as planned, but they still turned out great. I'm annoyed I couldn't make a bigger blogfest splash than I did, but hey, tomorrow's Saturday. Who knows? I might actually get time to visit a few more blogs!

And in case you've just tuned in, Good Fridays are my weekly highlight of one or two things that made my Friday especially good. Sometimes they're movies, sometimes they're books, sometimes they're what I bought at the supermarket. Today, it's that I failed miserably at blogfest, but I spent a great day with my family.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

This is my first blog hop and it's very exciting! I just wish that I wasn't having such a busy Friday. I'll try to get to as many blogs on the list as I can, while taking breaks for a Fall Festival with my sis and nephew, food, online work, and possibly another query letter. (For now, I'll stop editing this blog post and get back to the hop.)

Here's a little about me so you know whose blog you stumbled upon. I'm an illustrator, writer, world builder, character designer, website tinkerer, fantasy reader, and cat lover. I'm a grownup who still likes make-believe, dress-up, dolls, and many types of gaming. In my blog I talk about a mix of things to do with writing, illustration, personal experiences, triumphs, and sometimes discouragements. Have a look around and tell your friends!

I'm number 252 on the blog hop list, but if you do manage to get to me, here are three blogs you might not know about:

1. Muddy Colors - An Illustration Collective (some very amazing images and the people who make them)

2. Dawn Brazil's Brilliant Babbles About Books - A blog haven for writers and readers. (This lady rocks)

3. FabianSpace - Karina Fabian's blog. Catholic writer of science fiction and zombies. (Nuns in space? She's got it!)

Thanks for visiting!

See the complete blogroll here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roadtrip: The Journey So Far

Happy 100th Roadtrip, YA Highway!

This Week's Topic: What has your writing road trip looked like so far? Excitement? Traffic Jams and detours? Where are you going next?

I was so excited when I saw this topic for the 100th Roadtrip Wednesday. It's perfect.

I have a lot behind me on my writing journey, but a lot ahead too. This has been a year of incredible growth and learning for me. I learned how to type queries that catch an agents attention, found some great resources for writers, found a great writer's chatroom, met some wonderful, supportive people, and discovered YA Highway. I've been blogging more this year, learning the industry lingo, doing research into the writing field. I created a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account, a Tumblr account, built this blog, and completely revamped my website.

This year, I sent my first novel out into the world, endured the grueling process of awaiting a response, as well as the heartbreak of my first emotionally-invested rejection. That five-month wait for the response got me in gear to send out more queries, to research more agents. It set the fire under me that I really needed. And it paid off.

My rejection email came with a referral to another agent. A week later, I received a response to a query from a wonderful agent requesting part of my manuscript. Two great things came from something not-so-great. I had been discouraged, but I was far from out.

The friends I made at Writers Chatroom encouraged me, supported me, and my family was always behind me. I'm still waiting for the offer of representation, but along the way, I've been learning, absorbing, and growing. I believe in my book. I know it's good enough for publication, and I can't wait to see it on shelves, sporting my cover illustrations.

I wouldn't have gotten this far if there hadn't been a beginning. And the beginning came as subtly and innocently as a new hobby. I have always had stories in me. I've been a reader since I was a child, and even now I devour books like potato chips.

I began life drawing on any surface I could find and working with modeling clay. The stories I created remained in my head until Junior High when they began to take shape on paper. I wrote poetry and short stories, I created characters. By high school my stories were growing longer, developing series potential, but I still loved character design the best. Back then I didn't even know what it was called, but I loved it.

Along my journey, I illustrated for my older sister who writes picture books, and I continued writing my own stories. I didn't even know what age group I was aiming for. I just wrote. I wrote stories I would want to read myself. Stories about original races, unique creatures, strong female characters, and dark fantasy lands.

I went to college and then grad school in pursuit of a career in illustration. Throughout college, my favorite source of entertainment and creative expression was online chat roleplay. Real-time stories unfolding between writing partners, in any setting or time period you could imagine. I did this for nearly a decade, developing worlds and characters, improving my skills. But it was only for fun. A nice break from projects and deadlines, a way to socialize with online friends.

At the end of my two years at SCAD, I finally decided to write something bigger than a series of short stories. I wanted to use my text roleplay experience with world-building and character creation to write something that was all my own. I had already drawn the characters for this novel as early as 2003, but the thought of a novel was daunting.

When I broke my novel down into three chapters at a time and worked at it steadily, I discovered I definitely had enough words in me for a novel. Maybe even two or three. With a little encouragement from family, I decided I could create a series. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

So now the first book is finished and the second started. Lividia's story keeps growing, ideas coming to me from so many directions that I have to keep a little notebook to write them down. This has been one of my dreams for a long time, and I'm glad to have started the journey!

fact-tids about me:
- pantser
- worldbuilder
- character designer
- illustrator
- royal procrastinator
- fantasy and sci-fi lover
- disorganized do-gooder
- villain fancier and anti-hero lauder
- addicted to quirk and strong female heroines

What has your writing journey been like?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Halloween Traditions

What I love about Halloween are the jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins, colors, parties, candy, costumes, and fun/scary movies.

When I was a little girl, my family didn't celebrate Halloween like the rest. I and my younger sister got candy, but we didn't go trick-or-treating. I didn't miss the trick-or-treating, but I do love dressing up. Any chance I get, any time of the year, I dress up. Since I've grown up, I don't have as many opportunities for costuming, but when I get them, I definitely take advantage of them.

My Halloween traditions also include watching movies. These are some of my favorites:

What Halloween traditions from when you were a kid do you still keep?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Person or Persons Unknown, Believed to be Armed

This week's topic:

What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

I came up with absolutely nothing. I thought about it for hours. I looked at Goodreads, I considered two of the best series I've encountered so far - Harry Potter, and Tiffany Aching. There are so many characters in Harry Potter, such a vivid world, that I'd love to see more books come out of that world. I almost don't care who they'd be about.

My taste in YA is different. I don't like contemporary urban fantasy much. I don't like paranormal romance much at all. I don't really dig dystopian. I need beautiful, unique worlds to play in. I need to see magic at work, and mythological/fairytale creatures mucking about.

All I could think about after sifting through the blur of books I'd read, the lack of truly outstanding books... was feegles. Was wizards. Was magic. Was red and green and gold, popping and fizzing. Was little blue men trouncing armies with their heads, and swords bigger than they were.

So, here's my pick for a novel about a side character. Or in this case, an entire heap of side characters:

the Nac Mac Feegle
(they're better than ghosts and werewolves)

Monday, October 3, 2011

One Step Closer!

I don't usually post two blog entries in one day, but I just got a request for a partial manuscript from one of the agents I queried, and I'm through the roof! I was in the middle of typing a new query letter from scratch, since I thought my others weren't good enough. Well, it looks like they were good enough!

Now it's time for hoping and praying, and believing that if she's the right one, she'll love my book. *fingers crossed*

What I've learned from this is that, it's not necessarily the query letter, and it's not necessarily the manuscript. Sometimes it's just not the right agent.

Cookie Cutter Covers

What do all these covers have in common?

Have you noticed? They're all supernatural or paranormal YA, they're by different authors, yet the covers are virtually the same.

I've seen increasing numbers of YA book covers with begowned girls (the gowns either black, red, or white), in front of a line of misty trees with their back turned. What is the fascination with spooky ballgown book covers?

Check this out: This book hasn't even come out yet, and it's following the same trend. Girl in a gown, facing a row of misty trees, with her back turned. *cues Twilight Zone music*

I have nothing against the authors of these books. I'm glad that their books made it to shelves, and have a following. What I do have a problem with is the covers, and those who chose them.

Judging by their covers, these books are not aimed at a male audience. And these covers, while perfect for a female audience, probably wouldn't make a teenage boy pick up these books. So, already I know what the demographic for these books is. That's all well and good if there's a balance somewhere with male readers in mind. (If you find it, please let me know.)

As a reader, these cookie cutter covers make me lose interest. It's the "I've seen one, I've seen them all" mentality. And these authors deserve more than that. I realize it's a marketing strategy. One bestselling series with this type of cover leads to another and another, but when will it stop? This is one trend I wish would just Die For Me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Grouchy Tea and Disgruntled Crumpets

I certainly swallowed a nice dose of uncertainty. Since the last rejection email I got, I'm not sure what steps I should take next. Edit the manuscript again? Work on my query letter? Look up a crit group? I'm not used to feeling insecure about my writing. And yet, here I am, thinking something is wrong, and getting angry about it.

I get mad at the publishing industry, mad at other writers. I get tired of their blogs, tired of their announcements, tired of their world. Angry and alone, my inner child shakes her fists and screams "Not fair!" She wants to scribble all over their walls, show them she is better than all of that. She can draw, and write, and build worlds inside of worlds. She can transform genres, cross boundaries, if they'd only let her. She hates having to wear one label or another. Why can't she do it all?

I get sick of the term 'YA'. I take breaks from it to read other novels. I take breaks from it to breathe. I go away for a day (like I did this weekend) and just reconnect with what makes me who I am. And who I am is what I put into my writing.

A very nice lady in a chatroom told me that perhaps my work isn't the problem. Perhaps it's just the agent's preference. The next agent could be the one to truly appreciate my manuscript. My trouble is... I feel like I might be in the wrong country. The words I use, the style I admire, the footsteps I'm following - Lewis Carroll, J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Mary Shelley - aren't American. They're British.

Even the novel I'm reading by John Connolly The Book of Lost Things is British (although Connolly himself is Irish). So, where in the world of American YA literature do I fit? And most of all, where is the agent who would like to represent a charming, shadowy, Victorian story with a touch of British influence?
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