Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Contest

Honestly, you guys. I really thought the results of the last poll would be a little closer! So here we are:

Total votes: 25

Cruise: 3 votes; 12%

Hawaii: 20 votes; 80%
Cruise TO Hawaii: 1 vote; 4%
Neither: 1 vote; 4%

Though I was leaning towards Hawaii (because it was my favorite vacation EVER), I felt so bad for the cruise that I had to add my vote there. I'm a sucker for underdogs.

And with  the smell of Autumn in the air, I couldn't resist the next debate:




Monday, September 27, 2010

Gahh! . . . Missing Pages

I've been reading the sixth and final book in a series. The tension's been building for five books now, things look terrible for the MCs, the end of the world's in sight, then . . . GAH! I'm missing a chunk of book!

I stared for a minute, read and re-read what led up to it just in case it was simply numbered wrong, flipped through the rest of the book in case it the pages were merely out of order . . . No, that confirmed it, I got two of the same section of pages.

I ran to my computer, googled the publisher, found an e-mail address and sent my humble plea. (I was so polite. You all would be proud!) Within an hour I had my response.

A new book is on its way. Hooray!

Despite the kafufel, I give kudos to the publisher. Thank you for understanding the urgency! Now if I can only wait till it comes . . .

Has this ever happened to you? How did you respond? Or how would you?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compelling Characters

As part of The Great Blogging Experiment by Jen, Elana, and Alex , here is my contribution.

So with all the hype surrounding Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I placed my holds at the library and read the books. The whole series. I wanted to understand the craze. And I have to admit, I laughed . . . even harder when my six-year-old was rolling on the ground in hysterics.

But confession. The main character annoyed me to no end! I got to the end of the first book and wondered why I should feel bad for his situation. The last incident was an attempt to make him likable, but I wasn't convinced. I kept reading the series, and found each book worse than the last in that regard. Don't get me wrong. Yes, they were funny. But the character is a jerk! It made me wonder if I even want my kids reading it some day.

In contrast, take Charlotte from Charlotte's Web. She's a spider for goodness sake! I hate spiders. (Surely you remember this post on the subject). But I love Charlotte. I cry at the end every stinkin' time. And why? Because this character reaches outside of her meager existence to make a difference in the world. She thinks less of herself and more of others.

And no, not all characters will be like that. Nor do they have to be to be compelling. There are a lot of ways to write a compelling character, and I won't (nor even can I in this limited space) cover them here. But one way to make a character compelling is to give them something to love. Something outside of themselves. Something they are willing to fight for. Sacrifice everything for.

Those are the characters who have influenced me the most and compel me to keep reading. What makes a character compelling to you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three-Month Mentorship

There are so many amazing contests going on write now. Surely, among them, you've heard of Angela Ackerman's 1000-Followers contest over at The Bookshelf Muse. This amazing woman is offering not just critiques, but a THREE-MONTH MENTORSHIP.

I know! Who wouldn't want someone standing by you for three-months, helping you through this lonely and crazy writer's world we navigate? This contest is open until Wednesday, September 29, so go check it out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Pitch

Back in June, I entered the pitch for my book in a contest and won. I was shocked and elated!

The thing is, when I saw the contest, I wasn't going to enter. I looked at the agent's bio, and didn't think she was interested in fairy tales. But my husband, being the wise man he is, asked, "Well what harm is done if you enter and don't win?"

So I pulled out my pitch, which I'd edited and revised and played with after reading Elana's blog:

"With his country at war, Prince Bob, Prince Charming's failure of a little brother, is desperate to prove himself and finally escape his brother's shadow."

I was about to post it, but that nagging little voice in the back of my head made me doubt. I'd read Nathan Bransford's blog on pitching and came up with this:

"When war breaks out and Prince Bob is demoted from his captain's post, he prevents a mutiny, stops a traitor, and leads the army to victory to save the kingdom."

But to me, it felt flat. So I pulled out the one I'd gotten some good feedback on it at Seekerville:

"Prince Charming's little brother must overcome a mutiny, a traitor, and his own ineptitude to prevent the downfall of his kingdom."

And while I liked it better, I still doubted. See, a few months back, I read through some winning pitches on, and one of them read something like this: A post-apocalyptic glee club.

It says nothing about the plot. 'So how could it win?' I asked myself. Then came the lightbulb.

A pitch is one sentence. How can you really tell someone about the plot in so few words? But see, a pitch isn't meant to tell the whole plot. That's what a synopsis is for. A pitch is meant to capture someone's interest. Make them want to read your book.

That's when I decided to break a few rules. Think outside the box. I stopped focusing on the plot, and started focusing on what I thought was unique and intriguing about my story. Here's what I submitted:

"Before Prince Charming rescued Snow White; before he faced her evil step-mother in a knock-down, drag-out battle, he faced his biggest challenge to date: training his inept little brother, Prince Bob, to be like him. This is Bob's story." 

While I still got a rejection letter in the end (albeit a very nice one), the pitch did what it was supposed to do: catch the attention of the agent. I definitely think I have a better concept of what makes a good pitch. 

So what makes your story intriguing? Can you turn that into a winning pitch? I'd love to hear yours!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Waiting vs. Patience

Today's a quickie. I found this quote that I thought perfectly describes the whole writer's journey:

"Patience [is] far more than simply waiting for something to happen---patience require[s] actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn't appear instantly or without effort."

~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Burn, Baby, Burn

Saturday night, I had a date with my husband. Things have been crazy (even with the vacation), so it had been a really long time. We planned a bike ride along the Potomac trail, and I was SO excited! It's just cool to ride along with the Lincoln and Washington monuments staring at you from across the river.

I was getting a quick dinner for the kids minutes before our babysitter arrived, when the phone rang. I answered it, but apparently I've lost my finely honed multi-tasking abilities, because I promptly grabbed the pan from the oven with both hands.

Yup, that would be bare hands. The pot holders sitting right there on the counter, staring me in the face. Insult to injury, I tell you.

Needless to say, we canceled our bike ride and decided to do the Lincoln Memorial (by night) instead. I brought my ice-pack with us, but it lost it's cold all too soon. I was honestly having delusions of being able to shoot fire balls with just a flick of my fingers.

 (That thing I'm holding is the ice-pack)

So then I was thinking how awesome that would be! But wait, what would I even do with such a power?

Yeah, I know, this really doesn't have much to do with writing (unless you want to think of it as a character exercise), but here's my question: If you could shoot fire balls with your hands, what would you do with it? World domination? Pyro-maniac encounters? Work for the government? Start an occasional camp fire?

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Know You Want This!

I know the word contest turns some away, but if you write, you want this. Trust me.

Wait, actually, no, you don't want this, because I WANT IT! Seriously. Like, a lot.

C.A. Marshall, freelance editor extraordinaire, and literary agent intern, is offering a free substantial edit (i.e. plot, pacing, character development, etc) up to 100,000 words.

I know! Awesome.

You do have to be a follower, but she gives such great advice, I would recommend it anyway. Click here for the link.

So good luck and all that jazz, yada, yada, yada. But did I tell you I want this? ;)

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Fake Following"

I was reading Elana's blog last Tuesday, which I'm sure most of you saw (I mean, who doesn't follow the fabulous Elana?!). She talked about blog building and following, and in the comments, a few people mentioned "fake following."

This idea has been swimming through my brain ever since. I've seen blogs that specifically say: "Only follow me if you're sincere" (or something to that effect). And I've seen those who follow, but rarely visit.

So here's my question: What do you consider to be "fake following"?

Does that mean you follow and NEVER visit? Follow and only visit once a month? Twice a week? Is a true follower only one who stalks visits your blog daily?

Honestly, I follow blogs that I rarely visit. However, I only follow blogs on subjects I'm sincerely interested in, and I've never thought of it as "fake following." I skim through my daily list of updated blogs and visit the ones with topics that interest me most until I run out of time.

Conversely, I'm always pleased when someone stops in and comments, but I have never looked through my follower list to see who is and who isn't commenting. I figure we all have lives outside of the computer (at least I HOPE so!).

So how about you? What are your thoughts on "fake following"? And please, don't be afraid to disagree with me. I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Late Results

Yes, it has been over a month since the Cake vs. Ice Cream debate. But as this is such a pressing issue, I couldn't let it slide. People breaking rules left and right, but *sigh* I suppose I'll let it pass. Again. ;)

Ready for the results?!

Total votes: 31

Cake: 14 votes; 46%
Ice Cream: 13 votes; 42%
Gelato: 1 vote; 3%
Icing: 1 vote; 3%
Ice Cream Cake: 1 vote; 3%
Depends (as in depends on the situation, not the brand called Depends): 1 vote; 3%

The cool thing is that I got to throw in the deciding vote. Woo hoo! I feel the power coursing through my veins . . . oh wait, that's the Snickers bar I ate earlier.

Okay, so the next pressing issue that MUST be decided:

A Cruise
 (photo compliments of



(yes, that's me sticking out my tongue, just trying to make you all jealous)

Friday, September 3, 2010


I so wanted a picture for this blog, but alas, you'll have to deal with my crappy artwork.

On vacation, we planned to meet up with my brother to do some rock climbing. We were supposed to connect in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Off we drive, until we see this sign.

So if you saw this sign, which direction would you go to get to Big Cottonwood Canyon? If you guessed straight, you'd be wrong.

I know, right? So we spent about an hour on a wild goose chase, dodging bikers in the middle of a race, pulling over so our kids could go to the bathroom find a bush. Not so fun.

We debated just abandoning the plan and skipping out on the rock climbing, but gritting our teeth, we finally made our way to the right place. And I have to say, it was totally worth it. The kids LOVED it. Even my 3 year old loved it, and he never got much higher than my head.

Point? You want a point? *Deep breath* Sometimes writing is like this. We do our best to follow the signs (blogs, interviews, publishing books, whatever), but still, things don't turn out the way we think they should. But giving up? Definitely not the best option.

So when's the last time you had to take a deep breath, and just force yourself to keep going?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I'm Back!

Wow, so I feel like I've been gone an eternity or so. Blogging? What's that? Now I have to re-learn all this stuff.

But the trip was good, minus the not good stuff. And I definitely have some ranting fun stories to share. I'll save those for other blogs. Just wanted to pop back in, after my long absence, and say "HEY YA'LL! I'VE MISSED YOU!!"

So what is the funnest thing you did in August?