Blogging Slump

That’s right. I admit it.

I’ve been in a blogging slump. I just haven’t felt like blogging lately, but I’m totally okay with that. I do miss my bloggy buddies as most of you are the reason d’être that I started branching out into reading and writing other things.

But I’ve been focused on writing, reading, more reading, tons more writing, and a little sleeping/working knocked in there somewhere.

On top of that, this week is my last week at my current contract before I head to Maine for the spring/summer.

I’m too stressed right now to be 100% excited because I have so much to do before then, plus I’ve been dealing with some medical issues lately–the last three months, really–but haven’t mentioned it to anybody until last week. And the docs don’t know what it is. So. Yay.

Anywho…

A quick update on my life: I’m 60-some books into my 115 book goal for the year, reading-wise, but that doesn’t include books I’ve already re-read since the beginning of the year. If I did, that number would be in the high 70s.

I did a complete 100k rewrite in six weeks and I won a couple auctions through a literary agency and am getting feedback on my query letter, first 10 pages, and first 50 pages, from three different agents. Squee!! I’m most excited about that. How often do you get that opportunity?!?!?!!

 

What’s going on in your lives, my bloggy pals? I’ll update with more pictures and try to get back on the blogging bandwagon, especially since I signed up for Camp NaNo in April to help me finish the second book in my MG fantasy series.

Hugs and happy writing/reading to all!

 

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
― Octavia E. Butler
“A normal reader reads to enjoy, a writer is in training”
― Bangambiki HabyarimanaThe Great Pearl of Wisdom

“You must write as if each word is a precious drop of blood, or a tear to be saved in a glass phial.”
― Chloe ThurlowKatie in Love

Reading Challenge 2016

I’ve already started the New Year by lagging sadly behind on my blogging. However, my writing and reading have been happily productive, so I don’t feel too bad.

This year I’m taking part in a reading challenge hosted by John Guillen over at Johnny Reads. I follow him regularly and if you don’t follow him, you should. He’s not afraid to share his views and frequently posts book and writing news I don’t see in any of my other frequently visited sites.

I haven’t done a reading challenge before because, let’s be honest, I’m a voracious reader and it doesn’t take me long to paw through books. But his list is fun and doable and will stretch me out of my reading comfort zone in a few areas.

Check out the challenge here and maybe join us on our reading ride!

I do need some advice, though.

Two of the challenge requirements are reading a crime novel and a book by James Patterson. I am not well versed in either, so I’m hoping some of you can recommend a few good choices.

I usually don’t take reading recommendations from people because I like to find my own books and many peoples’ recommendations have ended up being DNFs for me.

So if there are any gateway-books into the crime and Patterson lists, I’m happy to hear your suggestions.

Thoughts, anyone?

Happy reading!

 

“My eyes hunger to read more books then time allows me to devour.”
― Jazz Feylynn

“You read too much.” Daemon exhaled slowly. […]
“There’s no such thing as that.”
― Jennifer L. ArmentroutObsidian

Every Character Has A Crutch

We know it’s true. And yet so many writers try to deny it. But I believe that the best and most complex characters all have a crutch of some sort.

And crutches get such a bad rap.

As a physical therapist, I know how important real crutches are to people who literally cannot stand on their own two feet. Crutches get them past a painful period when they need something to lean on.

Characters are no different. They all have crutches.

Whether it be alcohol, sex, bitterness, holding grudges, revenge, food, cruelty, unhealthy relationships, and, yes, even exercise. All characters have one thing in common…

None of them are strong enough to survive on their own. Even characters who are physically alone in the story need something to keep them going.

I’ll use some famous examples from my favorite works:

Anne Shirley from “Anne of Green Gables” – Most especially seen in the first book or two, Anne holds onto the fact that she is an orphan, and keeps grudges for a LONG time. Those grudges and her need to fall back on the orphan plot keeps her engaged in the story and gives her something that keeps her moving forward. She also has a fierce imagination which, while rich and verdant, can also be her downfall. When she can’t handle a situation, she resorts to fantastical ideas of resolution. These crutches make her a well-rounded and likable character.

Celaena Sardothien from “Throne of Glass” – Celaena is motivated by hoping to achieve her own freedom. Which, given what she’s lived through, is definitely a goal. But she falls back on her hatred of the king and her sharp temper as a crutch. She uses them to propel her lofty, and often insanely gutsy, goals towards fruition. She also leans on Chaol and Dorian, despite the fact that she claims to be self-sufficient and doesn’t need anybody. And you know what? That’s okay! We all need something to get us past dark times and difficult situations. As long as they don’t encumber our growth as a character.

The Big Friendly Giant from “The BFG” – This character is so adorably quaint and down-to-earth, it’s almost ludicrous to think he has a crutch. But he does. His fear of the other giants, and his nightly excursions to capture dreams are his crutches. He uses them as a means to make excuses for why he doesn’t take more of a stand… until little Sophie comes into his life.

I like each one of these characters for different reasons. Do I think they’re weak because they have a crutch or two? No. Not at all. Broken and imperfect characters give us an ability to relate to them. And when we see them rise from the ashes of their crutch and their dangerous or unhealthy mannerisms, we celebrate their victory all the more–because they’ve worked hard to prove themselves and strengthen their own resolve.

I’m sure if you thought about it, you’d realize all the best characters have them. And they make the story more compelling and add layers of richness and complexity to the narrative.

What do you think? Any famous crutches from your favorite characters?

Happy writing!

“Being vulgar to be funny is a crutch, and I prefer wheelchairs.”
― Jarod KintzThis Book Title is Invisible

Book, Interrupted

Oh, shame on me. But also, not.

I was at the laundromat tonight when an older gentleman started chatting me up.

Now, normally I wouldn’t mind, but I had my nose BURIED in a book! And I mean, I was engrossed in it without any thought for the world until I heard the buzzer for my laundry.

I answered as politely as I could, and kept trying to read, but he kept talking.

I’m pretty sure my RBF showed up somewhere in there, because I hate being interrupted when I’m reading. Hate it.

Blargh!

But my parents raised me to be respectful, so I conversed with the man. Though my mind was firmly entrenched in the book world I’d been torn from.

How do you respond when someone interrupts you while reading? Do you go all snarly inside like me? Or is it not that big of a deal? Am I overreacting?

Happy writing and reading!

“Hell hath no fury like a woman interrupted while reading a really good book.” ~ Lauren Hunter

3 Quotes, 3 Days… Day Three!

For my third and final 3 Quotes, 3 Days challenge, it will take even more thinking and probing the depths of my memory to bring you a quote that I adore from my readings.

I believe I will choose a quote from the author that has most inspired me as a writer. Since I’m choosing quotes from books and since I’m a writer, it seems fitting.

But narrowing down the genius of L.M. Montgomery is a monumental undertaking.

Hmm…

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It was hard to choose, but here it is,

“In imagination she sailed over storied seas that wash the distant shining shores of “faëry lands forlorn,” where lost Atlantis and Elysium lie, with the evening star for pilot, to the land of Heart’s Desire. And she was richer in those dreams than in realities; for things seen pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of the Island

I believe this encompasses my love for all things imagined, and one of the most inspirational books for me as a writer. I adore L.M. Montgomery, and if she were still alive, I’d do almost anything to meet and talk to her.

For my last day, I’m going to tag Herminia Chow over at aspiringwriter22. She posts beautiful poems, thoughtful questions, fun trivia, and generally makes me smile on a daily basis.

There you are! My three quotes in three days. If anyone else wants to participate, feel free!!! Tag yourself and be off! I love to see other peoples’ favorite quotes.

Cheerio!

A Day of Reading

It’s been a few long, hard months finishing up the most recent edit for my book, but I’m within pages of formatting it and shipping it out to agents.

With all the hard work and long nights after work polishing my story, I felt the need for a writing break.

So, today, aside from a few hours spent at a baby shower, I’ve enjoyed a couple books, lazing around the house and feeling cozy and sleepy while I read. Like I’m sitting cuddled up in front of a blazing fire in the middle of winter sipping hot chocolate.

A reading day was much needed.

Here are the books I’ve been reading today:

“The Nethergrim” by Matthew Jacobin

“Hooked – Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go” by Les Edgerton. (I know it’s a book about writing, but it still counts as a good read).

“Egg & Spoon” by Gregory Maguire

They’re all interesting for different reasons, and I’ve been pawing my way through them.

I’m a polygamous reader, if you know what that means. I rarely read only one book at a time because most books can’t hold my attention long enough to read straight through in one go. But since I read well over a hundred novels/reference books/non-fiction/etc per year, I’m not really worried about my reading style.

As a writer, these reading days are essential. At times, we can get so mired in the logistics and demands of writing we forget that writers first began as readers. Usually voracious readers. So I’m working on my voracity today. 🙂

Go ahead. Grab a book, curl up in bed/on a couch/a big comfy pillow and read, read, read to fill your heart and mind with fresh faces, new ideas, and an ever-widening view of the world.

Happy reading!! (And writing, too).

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. MartinA Dance with Dragons
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. SeussI Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“Her soul belongs to words and books. Every time she reads, she is home.”
― Anonymous

Eager Beaver Readers

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For some reason, when people find out I’m a writer, they either treat me with scorn, or they want to read what I’ve written.

I have people nearly demanding to read my book, or any story I’ve ever crafted. While at times it’s flattering, at others it’s frustrating. And then folks get snippy or offended when I tell them, politely, ‘no.’

Does this happen to anyone else?

I feel like it is a way people express their supposed interest and support for my work, but it also shows a marked ignorance towards writers and artists in general.

To me, it equates to someone asking a painter or sculptor to expose their art to the world before it has been finished, while it is still a work in progress.

I often tell people this: that I’m not done with it.

They simply say, “Oh, I’ll read it anyways!” As if an unfinished story is somehow insignificant and there shouldn’t be any reason for me to be reticent for others to read it.

Am I wrong to be frustrated by this? I think I’m more frustrated by people being offended when I deny them access to my story.

But all you writers, safeguard your writing. Don’t send it out to everyone who asks, simply because you think they’d like it or because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. This is YOUR art, YOUR work, YOUR masterpiece and should be handled with as much care and safety as you can manage.

Happy writing!

“I don’t care when people think I’m an antisocial, controlling bookworm because that’s what I am. It’s when they interpret me wrong that I have a problem.”
― Kasie WestPivot Point

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”
― Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book

The 777 Challenge

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Ha! Do you like my joke?

My most humble thanks to Caroline Peckham for nominating me to participate in this challenge. Her blog is awesome-sauce and I comment on there all the time because of her inventive posts and faboo ideas! Go check her out!

The concept behind this challenge is to share a tidbit from a WIP. I think any WIP will do, but since I have so many of them, I thought I’d share from my most worked-on piece that is about ready to be sent to agents.

The Rules:

– Go to page 7 of any WIP

– Scroll down to line 7

– Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.

– After the excerpt tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

(Wouldn’t that make it the 7777 challenge? Meh. What do I know?)

Here’s the excerpt from my MG fantasy novel (first in a series):

Iphigenia opened her mouth, but Wilfrid clamped a hand over it. “Shut up, you two!”

The Colonel’s long-dead heart beat faster and faster. He wanted to rage at them to stop bickering when Ava was in danger!

“Ladies, please,” Gaspar said.

Iphigenia pushed Wilfrid’s hand off her mouth and scowled at Tess. She opened her mouth to speak, but the Colonel flew back down and interrupted.

I’m literally LOLing right now because this excerpt tells you absolutely nothing about the plot of the story. BAHAHA!!! You’re introduced to six characters in seven sentences. Confused yet? Hehe!! It’s much clearer in the book.

Now, I’m supposed to nominate seven others, but I’ve read many people’s WIPs and I know many of my bloggy friends have done this challenge already and I can’t keep straight whose done what, so…

I nominate everybody!!! (I’m such a rule-breaker).

I just love reading tidbits from people’s lovely and amazing creative minds, so if you have WIP with seven pages completed, let’s see a few sentences!

Happy writing, everyone!

“Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.”
― A.P. Fuchs

“When you write a manuscript, it feels like being in a relationship with someone. You’ll hate it, get bored with it, be pissed of, like you just want to break up. But, just like any relationship, you will fall in love again and again, like you don’t want to lose it.”
― Alvi Syahrin

“manuscript
meanuscript
moanuscript
manurescript
and so on”
― Katerina Stoykova Klemer

53 Books

If you’ve followed this blog for any stretch of time, you should know I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict. And I’m not ashamed.

I stumbled onto this, not on Pinterest, but you can bet it ended up right on my book board.

This is a list of 53 books recommended in a survey by Buzzfeed Newsletter subscribers. Now, I’m not on Buzzfeed all the time because some of it is crazy, but they do have a pretty awesome bookie/writer/nerdie section, so I indulge every once in a while.

Go check out the list. Have you read any of them? I own a few, and a couple dozen more just went on my book buying wish list.

Just to name a few: 22/11/63 by Stephen King, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, Kindred by Octavia Butler, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor… AND SO MANY MORE!!!

Have you read any of these books? Enjoyed them? Hated them? What books are on your book buying wish list?

Happy writing (and reading)!

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
― Lemony SnicketHorseradish

“Reading, for pleasure and knowledge, has always been, will always be one of my favorite things to do. (Larry Brown: A Writer’s Life by Jean W. Cash)”
― Larry Brown
“Never stop dreaming or reading.”
― A.B. Shepherd

Engaging the Senses

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Writers draw readers in to their imaginary worlds, their characters’ lives, and the driving story that ultimately leaves the reader wanting more.

And one way successful writers do this is by including every single one of the senses in their writing.

We all know the five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

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While there is debate over other non-traditional senses including balance, proprioception and kinesthetic awareness, heat detection, and pain, I’m gong to talk about the big five today.

Too often, writers focus on the sights and sounds in their creative works, but they miss out on the touch, taste, and smell aspects.

Sight and sounds are crucial, of course. We need to see what the characters see, but the other senses get left behind too often.

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For example, did you know that smell evokes more forgotten memories than any other sense?

neon free smells MGD©

Yep. It’s true. I use this very fact in my fantasy series to bring back memories from a character suffering from retrograde amnesia.

Smell can also dictate whether a scenario is dangerous. The scent of gasoline, rotting food, a campfire… all these smells are crucial to our experience as a reader. Who here doesn’t know the joy of a campfire smell? I adore it, and every time I read about one in a book, it immediately brings the scent to my nose. Doesn’t that just enhance the reading experience and make me, as a reader, connect so much more to the book?

hand and light

And what about touch and taste? Who doesn’t want a stirring description of the sweet taste of fresh strawberries picked right from a wild plant? Or the first bite of a rich piece of cheesecake?

As for touch, our fingertips share the greatest number of tactile (touch) receptors along with our tongues and lips. That’s because we use our hands so much to detect the world around us. A description of a good night’s sleep wouldn’t be sufficient without knowing the softness of the sheets or the fluffiness of the pillow. Right?

So when you’re writing a chapter or a scene or a description, make sure you ask yourself which senses should be included. And don’t focus on the obvious ones.

Does every sense need to be included in every description? No. Then we’d be engulfed in sense and unable to wade out of that pool of description. But keep in mind which senses might draw your reader in most during each scene. Which one would draw you in the most as a reader?

Happy writing!

“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.”
― Margaret AtwoodDer blinde Mörder

“Snyder: There are some things I can just smell. It’s like a sixth sense.”
Giles: Well, actually, that would be one of the five.”
― Mutant Enemy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“You must learn to heed your senses. Humans use but a tiny percentage of theirs. They barely look, they rarely listen, they never smell, and they think that they can only experience feelings through their skin. But they talk, oh, do they talk.”
― Michael ScottThe Alchemyst

“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”
― Vladimir Nabokov