30 January 2015

Some Random Stuff...

I couldn't quite figure out what to blog about today, but I had a lot of little things on my mind, so I figured I'd just go with that! Time for a list!
  • I’m making cupcakes this weekend to bring to my sister’s house for the Super Bowl. I was contemplating making an actual cake, but you know, cupcakes are kinda my thing. Pictures sometime next week!
  • I’m already behind on my reading goal for this year, having just finished my first book. Why do I always want to read 100 books every year? I never even come close! I’m going to try to read a few shorter books or ones I know I can fly through to try to catch up.
  • Speaking of books, I got the new Anne Rice book for Christmas, but it’s been so long since I’ve read the Vampire Chronicles that I feel like I should reread them before diving into the new one. But that would take FOREVER. There’s always Wikipedia, right?
  • I’m pretty certain that I’m going to do some kind of blogfest for my fourth blog anniversary! I think I’ve got a fun idea and will most likely do a giveaway (probably an Amazon gift card). It’s not until May, though, so I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
  • Have you signed up for the A to Z Challenge yet?? I actually have a theme planned for this year! I just have to work on planning my posts out. I’d really like to have most of them written before April begins. Then I could just spend the whole month looking at other blogs!
  • I’m hoping to get lots and lots of writing done tonight. At least 2,000 words. It would be great if I could actually write this scene that I’ve been thinking about instead of keeping it buzzing around in my head. 
That's it, I think. Or I could just keep going forever. Have a good weekend, everyone!!

28 January 2015

When Things Have to Change

Sometimes when you can't quite figure out how to fix a story, eventually you will come to realize that things have to change. Maybe a certain element just isn't working. Maybe the characters aren't doing what you want them to, or even doing things that don't feel right for them. Whatever the reason, change can be scary. You've already put a lot of effort into writing your piece and you know editing and changing things is going to be even harder. You might even be stubborn, thinking that your story is perfect or that you can somehow salvage those parts that aren't working. But if something isn't working, then it never will, no matter how many times you stomp your foot and insist you got it right the first time.

The first step is simply knowing that something has to change. If something feels off to you, then it will most likely feel off to a reader. But that certainly doesn't mean that you will be able to catch everything that isn't working--you may need a beta reader to do this for you. Or you may just need to step away from your work for a while, then go back and read it over. Things may seem different with a different perspective.

For me, at least, I knew the last third of my book wasn't working. I had never really pictured it going in a different direction, so it was hard to finally accept that big changes needed to be made. I was fine with small changes--cutting a scene here or there, even if I liked it. But actually changing what happens? That never really occurred to me. I always just thought if something didn't feel right, I could just find a way to write it better. But even if the words are perfect, if they don't fit where you put them, it still isn't going to work.

Accepting that things have to change is a little bit harder than simply knowing. You have to let go of whatever isn't working, understand that making these changes will ultimately make the story better. You can consider all of your options at this point. It might even be exciting at first. I know most writers probably like the thrill of writing the first draft over the grueling process of editing. Once you accept that things need to be changed, it's a bit like starting over. You can write these parts from scratch, consider making changes that you never would have thought possible when you first started writing.

Perhaps the hardest part is knowing how to change things. When you cut a scene, what should you replace it with? What should your characters be doing instead of what they did that didn't feel right in your first draft? The answers might not come to you right away. You may have to think about it for a long time before things start to make sense. But hopefully once they do, you'll know that making these changes in the first place was the only solution. Your writing will get better and the story will make more sense. And maybe next time having to make those big changes won't feel so scary, since you know eventually it will all work out.

Have you ever had to make big changes to a story? Was it exciting or terrifying? 

26 January 2015

Don't Save Everything for the End

Something awesome happened on Friday night. I wrote some words! Real, actual words! I didn't just keep them bottled up in my head! Ok, so it was only 1,218 words, to be exact. But seeing as how I haven't written anything besides a blog post since August, I will definitely take it. Hopefully this means I'll be able to start writing more and more. 

Since I'm working on rewriting the last third of my book, I've been thinking a lot about the order in which things happen. How much of what happens at the end really needs to wait that long? Do we save certain moments just because we want a satisfying ending? But if the reader has to wait that long, will it even be satisfying at all? 

Every story is going to be different. If you're writing a mystery, for example, then you probably don't want to reveal who the killer is until the end. Every story is going to have its own appropriate climax and you'll most likely know how it will all turn out. 

But what if there's more to your ending than the actual ending? Are you saving too much for the end and leaving the reader bored along the way?

For me, at least, I knew something felt off about the end. Not just in the main plot, but in the subplots as well. It was like I wanted to end each part of the story by punching the reader in the face. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but you really want to consider all of the options. If you're saving everything until the very last moment, then what is happening in the meantime? Is it enough to hold the reader's attention? 

Maybe the solution is to push things back. The first thing I realized I had to do involved one of the subplots. I had it end with a "holy crap," punch-you-in-the-face sort of moment. But honestly, the more I thought about it, the more forced it felt. I had a character reveal something in a fit of rage and it just felt like I was putting it there to be dramatic and it honestly didn't even fit his character. So I decided to push it back. Have him reveal this information earlier in the story and in a calm, natural way that feels realistic. Not only does this make the subplot more interesting earlier on, but it also left things open for me to end it in a different way. And this new ending feels more realistic for the characters and just less cliched in general. So I think it's going to work a lot better than the original. 

As far as the main plot goes, my aha moment was realizing that I could take something from the very last chapter, throw it like a grenade into an earlier part in the story and watch it blow everything up. It was such a scary realization because I never thought of the story going this way but once I started to figure it out, it just felt so right. It also kind of takes some of the pressure off the last chapter now so that I can make that feel more natural as well. 

I think my problem was that I was always forcing things to happen, particularly toward the end of the story. But if you keep your mind open and allow yourself to rearrange things and imagine different outcomes then your story might turn out for the better. I think it's better to leave your reader a trail of breadcrumbs leading up to the ending, or you may be forcing everything into the end and just hoping that they believe it. 

What are your thoughts on endings? Should they punch the reader in the face? Have you ever taken something from the end and moved it back? 

23 January 2015

Fast Five Friday: 5 TV Character Crushes

This is my first time taking part in the Fast Five Friday blog hop, created by the gals over at Cover Girls! This week they've asked us to share our 5 TV Character Crushes. I was super excited to do this, until I realized that I really don't have 5 crushes. I had maybe 2, and even that felt like a stretch. Ok, so I'm weird, right? I don't know if it's possible to be partially asexual, but if it is, I am. I just don't look at a guy and think, hey, he's hot. My brain doesn't work that way.

But anyway, I'll cut to the chase before I ramble off anymore. So I decided to use the term "crush" very loosely, to also include characters who I absolutely adore and if they're not on screen I want to throw a hissy fit. So yeah, a few gay guys snuck in...what do you want from me??

1. Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds

2. Jim Harper from The Newsroom

3. Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who & Torchwood

4. Connor Walsh from How to Get Away with Murder

5. Patrick from Looking 

21 January 2015

This World Bites by Loni Townsend

Today I'm hosting author Loni Townsend, in honor of her new release, This World Bites. She's sharing her experiences with the horrible yet inevitable task of killing your darlings. I'm learning a thing or two about that lately as well. Take it away, Loni! 

Killing Darlings for the Sake of Success

I want to start with a huge thank you to Sarah for letting me on her blog today. I know she's decided to scrap the last ten chapters of her story, and I totally relate to how daunting that is. 

This World Bites had a different ending than what I actually released. A few people even got to read it. It turns out, not everyone appreciates my twisted sense of humor, and it made some people downright angry with me. Some people loved it (thank you, Elizabeth), but even so, I decided not to risk tanking a possibly good rating on the very last page.

Of course, I can't tell you what the original ending was, because it would ... well, give away the ending. But after you read This World Bites, if you want to know how the story originally ended, hit me up. 

Will it pay off? Possibly. I think more people will be okay with this ending. Is it better? Eh... That's a matter of opinion. I still giggle to myself when I read the original. 

It's hard to let go of those tidbits we love. But sometimes, what's best for the author isn't what's best for the story. 

Have you ever had to cut something that you just didn't want to let go? Did you regret the decision afterward? Do you think your story is better because of it?

It’s her first day on a new world and Cera’s already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, has been bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks.

Everyone tells her there’s no cure, but Cera isn’t one to be deterred. She’s willing to face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael. But she’s not the only one hunting for something.

Something is hunting her.

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.

People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being a ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.
Find her on her blog or social media.
Contact info:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads

19 January 2015

Don't Fight the Inspiration

Writers crave inspiration. We seek it out from music, books, and anything else that may inspire us. We sit around waiting for it to strike for what feels like forever, usually whining about writer's block and absent muses. But when that inspiration finally hits, do you use it to its full advantage? Do you write every possible second you can before it fades away? Or do you let it slip through your fingers?

One of the things I always do before I write out a scene is picture it several times in my head before I write down a single word. It helps me picture exactly how the scene is going to go, and I can make changes if things don't feel right before I even start writing. If a particular story is occupying my brain, it's pretty much all I can think about. I'll picture different scenes while trying to read, taking a shower, or even when I'm trying to fall asleep (believe me, that's when the best inspiration hits). My problem is that I don't always use this inspiration to its full advantage. So it feels like I'm fighting it.

I'm sure everyone has their own reasons for not writing even when they're feeling inspired. Maybe the images are in your head, but the words aren't materializing as easy. Maybe you have too many ideas and can't focus on just one. Maybe you just don't have time to write. Or maybe you're scared to.

I know, it sounds weird, but I think it's my problem so I figure I can't be the only one. Whether its a story idea that you've been working on for years, or one you just came up with, sometimes making the commitment to write is easier said than done. The story you've been working on forever may seem too daunting and exhausting, and you feel like you'll never figure it out. And maybe that new idea seems fresh and exciting, but who knows what will happen once you commit to it? Either way, those ideas feel safer in your head, so you don't write anything. And if you're like me, if you don't give in to the ideas, eventually they start fading away.

It sounds crazy, right? Shouldn't we be milking the inspiration for all it's worth? Why is it so difficult to actually start writing? Fear is a big factor, but I also think it's about self-indulgence. Just thinking about those ideas can be entertaining, and you don't have to worry about getting all the words right. It's just for you, so why should it matter? What you have to realize is that writing can be self-indulgent, too. If you like an idea enough, why not write it down? If nothing else, at least you would be able to read it. Having those pictures in your head be words on the page can be motivating as well. You'll want to write more. And if you think it's good enough, if you keep working on it, hopefully you'll want someone else to read it, too.

No matter what your reason is, don't fight the inspiration. Give in to it. Any chance you have to write is a chance you should take.

16 January 2015

Hey, I Read Your Book! Effigy

Ok, I admit it. I totally dropped the ball on my book review posts. In my defense, I'm a very slow reader (somehow I'm already behind in this year's reading goal). What I don't have an excuse for, however, is getting the review for this book done, because I finished reading it about three months ago. It was just one of those "oh, I'll do it next week" sort of things. Anyway, I'm still going to aim to write a "Hey, I Read Your Book!" post once a month, and hopefully I'll have two books to review next month. But you know what happens when I promise things...

So, FINALLY, my mini-review of...........

Effigy by M.J. Fifield

Effigy was one of those books that had me constantly wanting to throw it against the wall. And I loved every second of it. From the very beginning, I knew this was a book that wasn’t going to hold back from its darker moments, and it did not disappoint. The twists and turns had me hooked throughout the whole book, always wanting to know (and sometimes fearing) what would come next. A rich cast of complex characters, wonderful use of descriptions, and incredibly intricate world-building made every page interesting and well-developed. The characters were flawed and felt very real. For me, Haleine was easily the most relatable and likable character. You can’t help but root for her as she is put in an unbearable situation and must find a way to work around it, at times fueled by her love and devotion to Dana, her desire to help the rebellion, or just the sheer will to survive. The villains are easy to despise, and even the good guys do things that will leave your jaw hanging. This book has a little bit of everything: a love story that you will constantly hope against hope will work out, relatable characters, nasty villains, bloody battle scenes, book-hurling disappointments (expect a few deaths), magic, gods, and above all, will cause an overwhelming desire to read the next book in the series. Can’t wait for its release!

14 January 2015

A Super Lame Post!

Ok, so I had a good idea for a post. I really did. I've tried writing it at least three times today. But I'm pretty sure I'm coming down with a cold and just kind of want to take a nap. I don't know HOW I would even get a cold since I haven't left my apartment since Saturday (it's too cold out!) and my fiance isn't sick, either. So anyway, I can't really get my brain to function. But I didn't want to not post anything because that would screw up my blogging resolutions! I'm just going to chug some more orange juice and DayQuil and hopefully my brain won't feel so fuzzy anymore.

12 January 2015

Scrapping the Last Ten Chapters

I know most people have what they call an "aha" moment, but I had a "holy crap!" moment. And it is both exciting and terrifying.

I've known for a while now that I needed to change a lot in the last third or so of my book. I just had no idea how to actually change it. It's really hard when you've spent a few years and more than one draft with all of the moments in the story being pretty much the same. It's difficult to picture another way to write it, or different scenes to replace the ones you know aren't working.

Well, last night I finally had a breakthrough. I was actually just trying to brainstorm one of the subplots, and I thought of something that worked, but then the scene I was picturing kept going and ended up in the main plot's territory. I just let the idea run free to see where it would take me. And then suddenly things were happening that I did not expect.

My first thought was, "HOLY CRAP," followed by a "Nooooooooooo." Because I knew instantly that what I had imagined was absolutely perfect. But it was going to change everything.

I always knew I was going to need to basically scrap the last ten chapters and start from scratch, maybe saving a moment here or there that still worked. But this new scene I imagined makes most of those chapters unusable. My characters' whole relationship has to change after this moment, in a way I never imagined, or even would have considered to be possible way back when this was just a short story. But I've spent so much time with this story that I know this change feels right. It's just going to be a lot of work.

I finally feel like I'm on to something. I have no idea right now what will actually happen after this particular moment in order to lead the story to its end, but I think I can figure it out. Sometimes change can be terrifying, but it can also be a lot of fun. There's nothing quite like that feeling when all of the pieces start to fall into place.

09 January 2015

The Sarcasm, Snark & Sass Blogfest

In honor of L.G. Keltner's third blogging anniversary, today is The Sarcasm, Snark & Sass Blogfest! Three of my favorite things! I don't think I'm always that quick in everyday life, but if I can come up with something sarcastic to say, then I'm definitely going to say it. I do think I've gotten a lot snarkier since a certain someone started living in my head...

So today I thought I'd share a quick excerpt from Uneven Lines, for three reasons. One, I slept in today for no good reason so I'm feeling rather lazy. Two, I figured I could use a pick me up by not only looking at my own writing, but having other people read it, too. And three, out of all of the characters I've created over my life, Jordan is definitely the snarkiest.

I decided with this part because it seemed to have the most snark on one page (several conversations between Jordan and his mom were considered, because they're ridiculous, but I couldn't find a long enough part to share). This is the beginning of Chapter Twelve, right before my characters go on their first real "date". Warning: a few naughty words.

*   *   *

            When Tom said he’d pick me up early, I didn’t expect nine o’clock. I mean, on a Saturday, that’s just insane. Obviously I wasn’t awake when he started knocking on the front door. Or when he started calling me. It took several minutes before the buzzing of my phone finally broke through to me, then several more for me to stumble to the door.
            “I told you I’d be here early,” he said as he charged past me. He’d probably been a nervous wreck waiting out in the hallway for so long. My God, somebody could have seen him, and then of course, the world would have ended.
            I rubbed my eyes as I closed the door. “I guess you don’t remember being a teenager. Nine A.M. is practically the middle of the night.”
            He turned around to face me and frowned, then his face went blank. “Well, we should, uh, get there early, uh, before it gets too crazy.”
            “Where are we going?”
            “I, uh, can’t tell you. It’s a surprise.”
            I stared at him for a few seconds. He was having trouble keeping eye contact with me, his eyes looking down, then up, then down again. I looked down and caught sight of my bare legs. Oops. Forgot I slept in my boxers. He was getting a free show. “I’ll get dressed before you have a nervous breakdown.” At least I didn’t have a boner. He would have fainted.
            He thrust a white paper bag at my chest. “Here. I got you a bagel.”
            I yawned as I took the bag from him. “Couldn’t spring for a coffee?”
            “Are you allowed to drink coffee?”
            “Am I allowed to make out with a twenty-eight-year-old?”
            He opened his mouth to speak but then closed it and shrugged. He couldn’t exactly argue.  “Mmhmm,” I grunted as I turned away to go change.
            “Wait a second!” he shouted.
 “What?!” I whined as I turned back. He just pointed to his lips. I glanced down at the bag in my hand. “You didn’t even make this, asshole.”
He kept pointing, raising his eyebrows. With a groan, I stepped back to him and quickly pecked him on the lips. He smiled. “Good morning.”
I should have stuck my tongue full of morning breath in his mouth. “This had better be the best fucking bagel I’ve ever had.”

                                                                           *   *   *

I hope that actually counts as being snarky! Have a good weekend, everyone! I'll be glued to my TV because two of my favorite favorite favorite shows come back this weekend. If anyone tries to take the remote from me, I'll bite them!

07 January 2015

Let the Dream Die

It's once again the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click the link to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and learn more! This month we've been asked to include a short intro about ourselves, so here goes:

I’ve been writing since I was 8, but am as of yet unpublished. I’ve been working on my novel, Uneven Lines, for nearly four years (yikes!), and hopefully someday you’ll get to read it. Sometimes I write poetry. I’m 27 and live in a studio apartment with my stand-up comedian fiancĂ© and my cat Gizmo. I have no idea when I’m getting married, but I’m totally fine with that. If you browse through my blog, you’ll definitely come across Jordan—he’s the 15-year-old narrator of my novel and my muse/the annoying voice in my head/the third love of my life. 

Boom! 100 words exactly. By the way, Jordan's monthly post was this Monday, and he still wants your questions!

So what am I insecure about this month? Oh, the usual. I still haven't even looked at my novel since September. I know exactly what my issues are but I just can't seem to work past them and get back to editing. I want to actually find an excerpt to use for a blog post on Friday, so maybe just reading it will get me back into the swing of things. 

One of the big problems I have is that I dream big. Everybody dreams about getting a publishing deal and all of the things that will happen afterwards, right? Well, I think I overdo it. I won't get into the crazy details, but it is something I think about on a daily basis. It would be great if it was motivating me to work, but it's not. 

It sort of reminds me of when I drink alcohol--I'm always very aware of how intoxicated I get. With the whole dreaming big scenario, I'm extremely delusional, but I'm also aware of how delusional I am. I tell myself things could not possibly happen in the exact way I imagine them, but I keep imagining. 

Here's the thing--I fully believe that everything happens for a reason and that the universe will on occasion send signs. I also believe that I actually got a sign that these dreams will on some level come true. It freaked me out when it happened, but now I'm wondering if it was a sign--or was it just a bunch of coincidences at once? I can't really know until it actually comes true, but that could take a long time. So I worry that I'm putting too much faith in it and not enough in myself. 

I worry that dreaming too big is holding me back. That I'm too afraid of it not coming true, or even of it actually happening, because that would be scary. Great, but scary. I don't want to give up on the book, of course, because I've put way too much work into it, but I'm wondering if I should give up on the dream. Maybe it would be better to just let it die and not think about it, and put all of my focus on the book itself without even thinking about getting it published until it's done.

What I'd like to do is to not let the dream die, exactly, but set it aside. Stop worrying about the future and focus on the present. I'm not going to get anywhere if I don't finish the book first. The universe can't help me with that. It's all up to me. 

05 January 2015

Jordan Takes Over: What Should I Write About?

**The first Monday of every month, I let my muse take over the blog. I apologize in advance.**

Happy New Year! How's everyone doing?

Ok, was that as weird for you as it was for me? Blech. No, I did not make a New Year's resolution to be nicer or anything. That would just be way too difficult. Plus, you know, if you're a cool person I really don't have any reason to be a jackass to you. So there.

Anyway, before I forget what I wanted to write about...so I know my December post was all about me, me, me!!! Or maybe every post is like that...No, that's not true! I know it. I've given you some good advice before, right? No one's gonna get all cranky just because I wanted all the attention during my birthday month.

Well, ok, here's the thing. I've been accused of being selfish at least once (We won't talk about that. Let's just say I won that fight. Fuck, I even won the make up. Let this be a lesson to you people...), and yeah, maybe sometimes it's true. And I know what I'm about to say is just going to make you think I'm lazy or something, but here goes:

The big question is: What do you want me to write about? 

It's not like I can't come up with ideas on my own. Sometimes I procrastinate, sure, but I get the job done. *wink wink* But I thought I would try reaching out to whoever actually cares about reading what I have to say. So I want you to comment with questions or topics you'd like me to provide my unique perspective on in the upcoming months.

So my favorite topics are usually: inspiration, characters, voice, writers being stupid, MYSELF. What kind of things would you like to know coming directly from a character/muse? What things do you find yourself screaming while you shake your fists in the air and curse your muse for not inspiring you? Or if you just want me to talk about myself, then I certainly don't have a problem with that.

I promise, no matter how silly or serious the question, I will try to answer it. If no one has any questions, or just doesn't care, well then, at least I had a topic for this month just by asking. HA. See? I always win.


02 January 2015

Getting Off on the Right Foot

If I were to stick to an ideal blogging schedule, I would post something every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I've been able to pull it off in the past, but I'm not always consistent from week to week. Fridays are definitely my worst day. If I don't have a good idea for a post or just don't feel like writing one, I usually won't. I'll tell myself that no one really looks at other blogs on Fridays anyway so what's the point? 

Well, not today! 

Since today is my first actual posting day of the new year, I didn't want to slack off. I wanted to start things out right. Maybe I won't post three days every single week throughout 2015, but if I don't at least try, I never will. And if I skip today, then it'll just kill my motivation even more. 

So I don't really have all that much to say today. I haven't really started any of my major goals yet (besides trying to read every day), but I'm hoping to really get the motivation going next week. I plan on spending the weekend planning things out, maybe even writing a few blog posts ahead of time. I at least want to map out the entire month of January for my posts, so that way each day I'll know what I'm going to write. 

As far as editing/rewriting goes, I have no idea how I'll even start. But I guess like everything else, I'll be taking it one step at a time. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!