Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wow, Fantastic, Baby!

As a break from work, contests, revisions, and querying, I had to share something with everyone.

THIS!



I've fangirled over these guys before, but I never introduced them properly. So here goes.
 
Vid Info
This group is Big Bang, a South Korean boy band. They've been performing in South Korea and Japan since 2006. They're known for their individual style and sound, as well as for the talents of each member of the group. They're one of Asia's most successful acts. They also have many fans in the US since their debut. Their fans are called VIP.

The group is composed of five guys:
G-Dragon - the one with incredibly long hair (he's also the leader who composes most of the songs),
T.O.P. - the one with blue hair standing in the paintings
Taeyang - the one with tattoos and a mohawk
Seungri - the one in black latex with short hair
Daesung - the one with white bangs who's chained to the wall

I love all these guys, but the two who draw my attention most in this vid are T.O.P. and Taeyang. What about you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Night Circus - Do Not Read After Midnight!

Okay so... I get online today and discover that my work is late, I have emails waiting, and the morning has already moved into afternoon whether I was ready or not. Just because I stayed up late finishing The Night Circus doesn't mean that the day will stop (or wait) for me.

So, in response to this week's Roadtrip Wednesday prompt: The Best Book of the Month, I can finally say The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was tough. I also read Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett this month.

You already know how much I love Terry Pratchett, and Witches Abroad trumps nearly every book pitted against it - unless it's another one of Pratchett's, but The Night Circus is a sparkling dark gem of a book. So it gets the spotlight. I'm sure Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (and even Magrat) wouldn't mind.

First off, The Night Circus has a black, white and gray theme, which I love. It's also a circus. It's also an elaborate game between the students of two very powerful magicians. It's also a romance - a slow-building, authentic romance. All of these things are made of win.

The imagery in this book is to die for. The characters in this book break your heart. You leave this book feeling wistful and affected and slightly melancholy, wishing that the Dream Circus was a real place you could visit yourself.

I read this book on recommendations from other readers and with the desire to support a debut author. Erin Morgenstern did a wonderful job. The only remark I would make is that the book is so heavy, so serious and so drawing, like a deep pool of perfectly black water. It would've been nice to have a character or an event to lift the weight a little. As the book progresses you feel it more and more, dragging at the characters, dragging at the reader. You feel as bonded to the circus as all the characters in it.

And poor Chandresh! I love Chandresh. He's just a man who had a dream of a wonderful circus, who couldn't help being seduced by the flickering lights of his own dream. Then he realized it had been someone else's dream all along; all he did was share it. But in the end he didn't mind.

All I know is, if this book were made into a movie - or perhaps two or three movies - I would be there with my red scarf and chocolate mice. My appreciation for an author who can create a world like this goes without saying, since I'm a world-builder myself. But Ms. Morgenstern fashioned something out of stars, a drop of magic, and a band of devoted dreamers that pulls together so many elements I love. I take my hat off to you, lady!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Entry for the Agent Invasion

For anyone who's curious, my entry for the Cupid's Literary Connection Surprise Agent Invasion contest  is #43 A SHADOW STORY. You'll get to see my query (well, technically one of my queries) and my first 250 words. There's also a post just to give shout outs and encouragement to entrants, since only agents can leave comments on the entries themselves. So, please leave your comments about the entries on the shout out page, thanks. Of course, you can also leave some comments on this blog too... (hint hint).

The contest is starting out strong with a few of the entries already getting requests! The contest will be running through April 17th, ending the day after my birthday. So, it's enough time to read the entries and cheer for your favorites. Let me know if you're in the contest so I can read your 250 and cheer you on too!

Good luck to everyone involved!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Unless...


someone like me writes a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get published. It's not!

Yes, I saw The Lorax over the weekend with the nephews. A fun time was had by all, along with loads of soda and popcorn. We polished off a big tub of popcorn between the three of us, and one of those massive, coma-inducing cups of Coke. I was keeper of the snacks and was passing out refills during the movie. Needless to say, I missed a few moments, but it's all good.

The past two Mondays have been Steampunk Mondays which I've dedicated to my little flash fiction nuggets of the intrepid Captain Trav and his young, motley crew. I'd like to keep those coming, but I got horribly busy and didn't have time to write one. If you'd really like to see another, please let me know!

I've decided to also look for an illustration rep besides just a literary one. That'll involve brand new query writing, resume-constructing, and portfolio-padding. Fun!

So, if anyone has any tips for querying illustration agents, or suggestions on how not to let my day job eat my lunch, that'd be helpful. (Don't you just love the phrase 'eat my lunch'?)

ONE MORE THING: I just got the email that I've been entered into the Cupid's Literary Connection Surprise Agent Invasion. Entries go up tomorrow on the blog. So, who wants to see me get 'abducted' by an agent?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Funny but True Query Story

First off, I have to confess that I have a lot of blog-reading to catch up on. There was a Roadtrip Wednesday I neglected horribly, not to mention my own blogroll. But, I've been editing this week and other things. I guess I could blame that.

For your reading pleasure I've decided to share a funny and current query story. I'll leave out names to prevent any embarrassment from the queried parties who screwed up in this situation. The queriers (all 200+ of us) are having a bit of a giggle though.

I queried a BIG agency last month and just recently got a reply. The first reply was blank. The second said something like "we're sorry we can't offer representation" which I was surprised to read since I'd only just sent a query! A minute or so after that email came one that simply said "disregard the previous email". So I chuckled and shook my head and thought "oh somebody has their wires crossed over there". I didn't think anything about it... until.

I received an email not to long after that one that began "Dear 1 of __ authors I have to mail a standard reply to". (I am not kidding!) It went on to become a form rejection, but there was yet another surprise in store for me. The email included 200+ addresses of other queriers, so every time they replied to it, it swung back around to me again (bcc vs cc I believe).

Now myself and all the other queriers have our very own chat going via email all based on a bit of a flub in the emailing process. I got a pretty good kick out of the rejection email, so I'm not angry at the agency, since it proves they're human too, but it is a little inconvenient to be caught in a neverending loop of emails.

Please query (and email) responsibly.

EDIT: Diana at the Write Catch posted her own version of this email debacle, including the exact wording of the email we received and a few funny tidbits gleaned from our chatting back and forth via email. Definitely worth checking out! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RTW: Those Magic Moments


 YA Highway's Roadtrip Wednesday prompt today is: What is your favorite literary moment?

I've read so many books I've loved, and rooted for, and gasped and cried over. It's hard to pick just one moment in one book. That said, the Harry Potter series has some pretty great moments. We're talking jump around cheering or gasp like a child with his first balloon moments. I love those moments.

While others have specific genre-oriented moments they love - first kiss, finding whodunnit, getting revenge - I love the moments of wonder and realization, when the character finally comes into his/her own. The moments that make you go "Really? Really?? Really!" These moments are so amazing, the main character often doesn't believe it himself.

When Harry Potter realizes he's a wizard is one of these moments. When Bilbo Baggins realizes he's excellent at burgling and outwits Smaug is one of these moments. When Bastian realizes the Neverending Story is real and he's part of it, is one of these moments. You get the picture.


What literary moments are your favorites?

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's Your Perfect Story?

Yesterday's post was a massive hit as far as comments go. I loved hearing everyone's responses on why they blog, what they've learned from it, etc. Thanks to everyone who read, commented, and spread my question around!

With this weekend being St. Patrick's Day and everyone all eager to celebrate - or just eager for the weekend, I'll make this post short.

fanpop.com

You know what you want. You look for it on the shelves at bookstores, at your local library. You might even have written it yourself. If you've already read it, you know that nothing else compares.



It's your perfect story, and I want to hear about it.

It can be MG, YA or adult, but somewhere deep inside you it'll always be there, quickening the beat of your heart. Maybe it's an adventure with swashbuckling pirates, or zombie robots in space, where things blow up and good men die after avenging their planet's destruction. Maybe it's a cloak and dagger mystery or a windswept romance. Maybe it's a book with magic and dark choices, things that go bump in the night.

If you're a reader, tell the writers out there and maybe you'll see your perfect story on bookshelves in the future.
If you're a writer, listen up. You could get some great ideas!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why do you Blog?

I'm still pretty new to the blogosphere. I've only been blogging regularly since last Summer or Fall, but even then it didn't pick up until I did bloghops and got myself involved. I felt like I was writing in a bottle and no one was reading it. When I got more involved that began to change.

My mother asked why I blog if I don't have a release date to broadcast, if I don't have an agent, if I don't have anything 'big' to talk about. I'm still learning why myself. All I know is, when I ask that question in writer chatrooms, the consensus is "you blog so people get to know you, and they'll be more inclined to buy your book later". I think it's more than that, though.

Blogging to build a readership so you can make more money feels like such a hollow thing. Blogging, to me, is a way to reach out and connect with people. Sure, maybe someday they'll become your readers, but right now they can be a supportive community. They can offer advice when you need it, and leave comments so you don't feel alone in your endeavors. It's also an exercise in what sells and what doesn't, if you think about it. If a post has no comments, you wonder what you said in it to discourage them (like my last post about publishing being 'hell' must've put everyone on the run, and I don't know why). Publishing is Hell! For everyone involved - be they publishers, editors, or just the lowly writers trying to make it through the front door. It's hard to tell what people are going to like. And it's the same with blogs.

So, marketing aside, why do you blog? Do you do it to reach out to fellow writers, to share what you know, or perhaps to learn a little more yourself? Do you focus on or avoid certain topics to grow your readership?


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In Publishing Hell, What's Your Motivator?

Trying to get published feels like a wrestling match, with yourself, with your critics, with all those well-intentioned souls who give you bad advice, and with agents, editors and publishers. There's no one you aren't fighting. Just trying to make the time to write can be a struggle in itself. And don't even talk to me about trying to illustrate it! Illustrating a book you've already written (even if it's just spot illustrations) is like a separate project. Another version of the story you've already told. And then there's the cover art.

Once you have all of this done, there's trying to find the right person to pitch your book to a publisher. Getting an agent is as hard as finding Mr. Right in all the wrong places. You don't know where to look, what to say, and sometimes what to wear to impress your dream agent. You put yourself through every "meet an agent" conference, contest, and pitch opportunity you can find. You spread yourself all over the internet, building your 'platform'. All the while, you feel completely alone. Just you against the world. It's an incredibly rocky, soul-rending experience, but you keep doing it.

So my question for you is, when you're burnt out, run-down, and losing steam, what makes you go on? What's your miracle motivator that pulls you out of the trenches of Publishing Hell onto confident ground again?

For me, I have to ignore everything. Stop reading blogs, stop going on twitter, stop seeing the casualties, stop seeing the victors. I need blinders to get through it. Blinders and a good inspirational song.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme from Chessie

I was tagged by Francesca Zappia for the Lucky 7 Meme, which is pretty fun since it lets me give you a peek of seven lines in my wonderful novel A Shadow Story (currently querying). 

The rules for the meme are:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines as they're written--no cheating!
4. Tag 7 other writers
5. Let them know

So here goes! The 77th page of my book, 7th line and the 7 lines after it. Mine's a bit vague unless you already know the scene that's taking place, but that's why they call it a teaser!

He turned away from her and headed for the door in a long stride. 
“I will try to maintain until then,” she continued, tilting her chin in his direction, but he had already gone. After he had left, she sank like a defeated wish into her rocking chair by the window. 
“Oh, Lividia,” she murmured with her fingers to her forehead, glancing up. 
Sitting in her corner of the room, Lividia swore that she was looking at her. 
“I’d hoped you would never have to see this.” 

 Now for the tagging!

1. Suze
2. Yael
5. Cara
6. Rachel


So curious to see those seven lines!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Insecure Writers Roadtrip: Naming Your Life

This post is a combo post for Insecure Writers Support Group and YA Highway's Roadtrip Wednesday. 

RTW's prompt for today is: Name this Life. What would your memoir be called? 

I haven't thought about writing a memoir, but if I did it'd be full of fiction, family, and frivolity (try saying that three times fast). It would also be about the many different faces and hats I've worn and still wear, how much I divide myself between careers and pursuits. (If you've ever done any kind of roleplay gaming, you'll know about putting on faces.) Eventually I have to pull myself back together and declutter my head.

I decided to choose a song I discovered in high school for this post. It's on the Pure Moods album. It speaks volumes to me about finding a balance when I have too many directions to go in. It also speaks to me about returning to myself after life and creative pursuits have stripped me down.



I get caught up in what I should be doing, what other people have accomplished that I haven't, and what I should've known sooner so that I could've done it. I'm a perfectionist, and always feel like I'm somehow behind the rest of the world. When I'm hard on myself it's nice to remember the things I have done and who I am. I still have time to be what I want to be and do what I want to do - to publish, to illustrate, to make a name for myself. I don't have to rush or feel pressured. It's not the accomplishments that make me worth something.

I would title my life Return to Myself.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Heart YA: How You Turn My World

Every Tuesday is the I Heart YA bloghop hosted by Suze Reese. This week's prompt is all about our heartthrobs - those handsome, charming devils (or angels) who steal our hearts without even saying please. And we like it!

Of course the first that came to mind was Jareth the Goblin King!

He sings, he dances, he juggles crystal balls, he rules a kingdom of goblins, he dresses snazzy, and he even cuts his own hair! (Seriously, look at it.)

I had a hard time knowing which to pay attention to - his sexy menacing wiles, or his ever-changing wardrobe. They get more elaborate as the movie goes along. Not to mention, the owl robe is soft and fluffy!

As far as how Labyrinth relates to YA: The female protagonist is a spoiled teenage girl who doesn't want to grow up. A supernatural guy romances a girl before Twilight is even a spark in Stephenie Meyer's synapses. Jareth sparkles more than any vampire ever could, and so did half the scenery in the movie - gotta love 80s fantasy sets! Last but not least, the leading man is played by a British pop idol.

When it comes to heartthrobs in YA novels, I like sympathetic, flawed guys with a nugget of good in their hearts. The prouder the peacock, the bigger the fault he should have, and the more we should see him change in the book. I always look for that hook that keeps me interested, that weakness that makes him need, hope, and strive.

Another type I like is the strong, silent guardian type. This type has a patchwork past and a deep motivation - such as making up for a wrong he committed. This is why I like Niall from Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. Though her head-hopping drives me completely crazy in the book, I found myself drawn to this supporting character with his 'dubious past', his soft heart, and his jagged face scar. He plays the roll of a rogue knight, protective, loyal, but still following his own rules. He reminded me of a combination of two of my own characters, both of whom have a hard time reconciling their true natures with their moral values.

The last type I want to mention is the green, sweet boyish type. This type has abundant potential, a heart of gold, but doesn't know exactly what he's doing. He needs to be taught - probably by the somewhat wiser female MC. This is Peeta from The Hunger Games, who I like even if he's named after bread. The love triangle does get on my nerves - mostly when it overshadows the main plot. I don't like love triangles. I prefer my female MC to be decisive and know her own heart a little better than that. I don't mind if a third party admires her without her returning the feelings. That isn't the same thing, right?

So, what about you? Who's your heartthrob?

(Points to you if you know any of these cute anime guys. Extra if you know how they relate to the type they're pictured beside.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tornado Survival 101

You might have heard on the news of the devastating storms that swept through the Midwest on Friday, destroying homes and tearing up property. Some places were completely wiped out, and a lot of people suffered or sat huddled and afraid, waiting for the tornado to pass over.

Southwestern Ohio Counties
For my family and loved ones, it did. I live in Southern Ohio, in Adams County, where a couple of the major storms passed through. We were sandwiched between two storm paths - one north and one south of us, and we were unscathed. It's all thanks to God. My family's a big believer in prayer and we knew we'd make it out okay. I wasn't even going to leave the house but for my sister insisting we all stay together until it was over.

Our town sits on a hill and you'd think that'd be an excellent target for tornadoes, but most of the time they touch down outside of town, wrecking barns and things. We got rain and mad hail, tree branches and lawn furniture lying about when it was over, but we're fine.

I hope everyone else made it comfortably through the weekend, and for those who were caught in the storms, my prayers go out to you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Website Update and New Blog Design

Some of you might've noticed that I changed the design of this blog. The snowflakes were starting to get a bit out of season. So, now it looks like an ad for a steampunk chocolate shop! (We've got candy with little mechanical wings!)

I also updated my illustration website, which I don't mention enough on this blog. I uploaded some new art to the portfolio, as well as tweaking things and making myself a new banner. (I have a thing for banners.)

It's a rainy day, and unless tornadoes sweep through southern Ohio, which they might, I'll get some art and reading done.

What're your plans for today?
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