18 August 2014

The Week of Freaky Name Coincidences!

So this week’s posts are a slight copout. Just a slight one, I swear! I was thinking recently about some older posts on my blog that didn’t get a lot of page views since they were written when I had about five blog followers. Should I repost some of the good ones? I’m still not entirely sure, but there were two posts in particular that had a common theme, and I’ve had a third one in the back of my mind that I've never written, so I thought, why not revisit them first?

So this week is dedicated to the freaky name coincidences that have happened to me when working on my novels. I’ve learned that when it comes to naming characters, sometimes you have no choice in the matter. Sometimes weird things happen.

This first post was from September 2011 (yikes!). I’ve tweaked it a bit because I felt some of the statements about my characters were no longer true (and it was waaaaaay too long). But anyway, here it is:

What’s in a Last Name?

Finding a name for a character can sometimes be excruciating. I can spend hours looking over baby name websites or trying to find different meanings and etymology, just trying to find that one perfect gem of a name that will sum up the entire character. Every once in a while, though, I don’t have to do research or make a list of names to choose from. Sometimes a character’s name simply pops into my head without me even having to think about it at all. I find this usually happens when I’ve created a story that I’m very passionate about, one that I won’t be able to let go. I think it’s because these characters are special to me, almost as if they’re real, so of course they already have names.

But in the case of two characters, something even stranger happened when I tried to give them last names.  

When I was fourteen, I started a fantasy novel called Bleeding Life, which I would go on to write three times and eventually be forced to shelve for various reasons. I feel it will always be in the back of mind until I actually finish it. When I was creating the characters, eventually I had decided upon every single detail about them, including middle and last names. But something didn’t sit right with me about my narrator, Amber’s last name—Johnson. It was too boring, too generic. I decided to change it.

Back in those days, I decided on last names by flipping blindly through a phone book. If I liked the name I found, I went with it. So, the logical next move was to go back and pick a new last name for Amber. I grabbed the phone book and closed my eyes, thumbed through the pages and opened the book in my lap. I ran my finger down the page and stopped, opening my eyes. My finger was pointing directly at “Johnson.” After a few seconds of shock, I slammed the phone book shut and put it away. There was obviously no fighting this. I had given Amber a specific identity, and to change it now would mean changing who she was as a character. And she had other plans in mind.

For my current obsession WIP, Uneven Lines, I had another strange occurrence when trying to figure out a last name for my narrator, Jordan (you know him, right? He hangs out around here…). When I first started developing the novel, I had it floating in the back of my head that his last name would be Palmer. I wasn’t quite committed to it, but it was the only name that had stuck even a little bit. I figured I could keep searching, maybe find something better.

But one day my boyfriend was driving me home, and I was sort of idly looking at street signs on the left side of the road when we came across a street named Jordan Dr. “Oh, haha,” I mused to myself. “I want to live there!” As we drove on, I was already forgetting about it when we came across the next street sign: Palmer St. I did a sort of double take as we zoomed past. It was like a moment of clarity. You see? the universe was saying. You were right all along! Don’t go around changing what’s already perfect!

Were both of these instances a coincidence? I don’t like to think so. The circumstances were just too strange, that I Just happened to be looking at street signs that day, that my finger just happened to land on that particular spot in the phone book. So yes, on some level I believe that these characters haven taken control of their own existences. If I try to change them, the universe will find some way to show me that I’m wrong. And ultimately, it’s all about trusting my first instincts, even if it’s only for a name. 

Anything strange like this ever happen to you? Be sure to come back on Wednesday for the next freaky name coincidence! 

15 August 2014


**Ok, usually, the ONE thing I can't do is...zombies! They freak me out. But this book sounds AWESOME. It just might convert me. Congrats, Rachel!**

I'm so excited to share it with all of you! It's creepy and dark and just right for the book.
So without further ado, here it is!

Erwin is in hell--- Locked in his high school with his ex-girlfriend, her new pain-in-the-ass boyfriend, and a handful of others while zombies claw at the doors trying to fight their way in.

The bright light in the dark is Sylvia, whose strength helps hold Erwin together
when everything is falling apart.

When they realize the school is no longer safe,
Erwin is determined to keep the group together and get them all to safety.
But he can’t save everyone.

Release day is September 17th.
Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads list!

13 August 2014

Query Letter Panic Attack Mode

I'll make this quick since I've been awake since about 3 AM and already my phone's screen froze and had me cursing and stomping around in the dark because what else can you do at 3 AM besides play games on your phone? It's all fixed now, but I'm already frustrated, tired, and not feeling very optimistic about today. But anyway...

So last night I decided to finally stop procrastinating and checked out what Pitch Wars is all about, and well...I'm totally going to do it! But after making that decision, I immediately went into panic mode. Choosing mentors was fun...I still need to narrow down my list, but this is really the easy part, I think. The hard part is that I have to write a query letter! And I'm kinda stressing out.

The good news is that I have until just before midnight on August 18th to get it done. The better news is that my first chapter (which I also need to submit) is already edited, although I'll probably give it a few rereads before submitting. But just the thought of writing my query letter is making me nervous. I've never actually written one. I have a blurb for my manuscript, but it's not perfect. It's a start, but I still have a lot of work to do.

So that's my goal for the day--to work on this query! And possibly the sex scene, too, since I got a few ideas while I couldn't sleep and couldn't use my phone...but I feel like I say I'm going to work on that everyday, so we'll see how it goes.

If somebody has query tips, or would just like to bring me a paper bag to breathe into, well that would be fantastic.

11 August 2014

Over-thinking It

First of all--holy crap! I didn't know a day of blogging could make you exhausted, but then last Wednesday happened. My IWSG post had the most views and comments that I've ever had (as of today, 61 comments! 61!), and since I spent the whole day also visiting dozens and dozens of other blogs, I had to sleep in the next day and on Friday I was kind of burnt out so I didn't even write a blog post. I also really appreciate everyone's thoughts and advice on my setting/research insecurities. The general consensus pretty much went along with what I felt in my gut in the first place--keep doing research but ultimately, be true to the story. The details I was worried about shouldn't be enough to have anyone calling me out on it.

So it seems that I over-think things. A lot. I suppose that's better than NOT thinking about things, since at least I'm paying attention to the details in my own story, but if you do it too much, it can weigh you down to the point where you're not getting anything done.

My problem right now is that I'm over-thinking my entire editing process. I've tried several different techniques (the editing hat!) to try to organize myself, and it just doesn't seem to work. I don't feel like I'm getting anything done. And yes, part of that is just making myself sit down and actually do the work, but when I actually do sit down, I don't even know where to start.

I spend more time thinking about editing than actually doing it. And I don't mean brainstorming, productive type of thinking. Trying to figure out what to do usually just leads to frustration and eventually giving up. But NOT working on it makes me even more frustrated. And if I go too long without doing any writing, it usually leads to depression, which makes it harder to start writing again. So it's a vicious cycle.

Maybe my underlying problem is being indecisive. I really just need to sit down and pick something to work on. Anything. Rewriting particular sentences I didn't like. Working on the subplot. Searching for words I overused and cutting them. Rearranging scenes in a chapter. I just need to pick something and not actually think about it. Usually I get too caught up in it, for example--if I choose to do the search and cut thing, I'll think to myself, well, what if I end up cutting this scene later? Aren't I wasting my time right now? Or I'll think, I can't work on this part until I figure out this other part, but that other part is really hard so I don't want to work on it right now.

I think I get so caught up in thinking about editing that it gets frustrating to the point where I don't want to work on it at all. I really just need to stop thinking about it, and just do it. So that's what I'm going to try today. We'll see how it goes.

06 August 2014

How Accurate Do You Need to Be?

Hey, everyone! Guess what day it is! It's the Insecure Writer's Support Group posting day! Ok, I'll stop with the exclamation points. No, wait, one more...today I have the honor of being a co-host!! Oops, that was two. Anyway, as always, the IWSG is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and my fellow co-hosts this month are Joylene Nowell ButlerLily Eva, and Rhonda Albom. Don't forget to check out the IWSG website, too!

So what am I insecure about this month? Still working on the third draft of my book and not getting as much done as quickly as I'd like. Despite my efforts, I keep gaining weight every week, but I'm really determined to eat better and exercise more, since my will power usually tends to fizzle out by Wednesday. And (this isn't necessarily an insecurity, but it is driving me nuts...) my birthday is this Saturday and my present from my fiance has been sitting on my dresser since LAST Saturday. *sigh* I really don't like to ruin surprises, but come on, it's not fair! And it's heavy, too, so I know there's more than one thing in there...

Anyway, this is what has really been bugging me lately: SETTING. It's something that continuously perplexes me, to the point where I feel I'll never get it right. Ok, so my novel takes place in New York City, a place I've visited many many times--but I've never lived there. And my MC has always lived there, grew up there, and I worry that this won't be believable because I haven't. For the majority of my novel, there isn't much to worry about. The characters are usually very isolated and the two main settings are their apartments. So within the confines of those scenes, I really don't have to worry about setting. I also like the juxtaposition of them having to be so isolated in such a busy and populated city. But those moments when they do go out into the world--I worry that I haven't gotten it right.

I also did some research that worried me about the accuracy of my book. So when I first started writing it, I knew my MC was a freshman and that he was failing his math class. When I was a freshman, I took Geometry. Back in middle school, some people were able to move on to Pre-algebra in 7th grade, where others took another year of a more basic math class. So while some freshmen took Geometry when they got to 9th grade, others were taking their first year of Algebra. Anyway, since I took Geometry, and I figured my MC is a smart and clever guy, he probably would, too. So that's how I wrote the story.

But the more research I do on the NY school system, the more I feel that this wouldn't be possible. From what I've found, it seems that all students take Algebra in their freshman year, then Geometry as a sophomore (doing internet research is tricky, so if by some miracle someone reading this went to school in NY, I beg you, enlighten me!). If this is true, it throws a giant wrench in my plot. I really can't change his math class to Algebra at this point--Geometry just works better as far as how I've worked in themes and symbolism. There's also a scene where my characters are solving a geometric proof that I seriously CANNOT cut. I can't. It's too good, and too important. I also can't make my MC older, since his age is important to the plot. So what should I do?

I'm wondering if it actually matters. What is more important, being true to the story, or being accurate with the structure of the school system? Is anyone really going to notice if I get it wrong? It's not like it's on every page of the book. Is this a detail that should matter at all? I'm not sure. I may just be over-thinking this. My gut is telling me to leave it be, and if someone calls me out on it, I can explain how I thought being true to the story was more important than getting one tiny detail right.

Phew! Ok, now that I've vented, I've got a lot of blogs to visit. *cracks knuckles* Off I go!

04 August 2014

Jordan Takes Over: Write Everything Down

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

Here's the thing, everyone. I actually had a really good idea for a post today. I really did. But, you know, I'm very busy, so I kinda forgot what it was supposed to be about. You can't blame me, really. I mean, technically I'm not real, so I don't have arms to write things down. And I totally told Sarah my idea but did she write it down? Of course not! So who's to blame here? Not me.

But it turns out this little mistake (not mine!) gave me a great idea for a bit of advice for you people. I'm sure you've heard it before, but it really can't be stressed enough: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. No, seriously. EVERYTHING. If you expect your muse to remember every tiny little thought you have...well, I mean, maybe you have a muse who cares more than I do, but what do you want from us? We have to inspire you AND be some kind of bookkeeper? I don't think so.

And do you really think you're going to remember every single idea you have? How many times have you been hit by inspiration and you think to yourself, "oh, I'll remember that." Does that ever happen? Maybe if you came up with something major, sure. And I think the abstract ideas are easier to remember than something more concrete, say, a sentence. If you're writing an actual sentence in your head, do you actually expect to remember it hours, maybe days later--word for word? How about when you're drifting off to sleep and you come up with something, then say to yourself "I'll remember it in the morning!" Are you quite sure about that?

So here's my advice. First of all, always have something to write things down on. A notebook, a scrap of paper, your phone (this works great for those middle of the night ideas, since you don't even have to get up and turn on a light if your phone is right by your bed). Anything, really. Heck, if you've only got a pen, write it on your arm. If you think it's a good idea then why would you ever chance it slipping away?

Second! Always interrupt what you're doing for an idea. No, I don't care what it is or how important (I mean, unless you're at work and you think you'll get fired or something). If your muse has been gracious enough to inspire you, you'd better be damn sure you take notice or they might just start ignoring you. So yes, even if you're in the middle of a conversation, stop. If you're falling asleep, or you wake up in the middle of the night, or if a dream gives you an idea...get up and write it down. If you're drunk and get an idea, write it down--really slow so that you can actually read it once you're sober. If you're doing, you know...THINGS...with your boyfriend or your girlfriend...or your boyfriend AND your girlfriend (I'm just kidding, I've never had a threesome...not with a girl, anyway...) Where was I? Oh, right. So no matter what you're doing, if an idea hits you, STOP.

Ok, so now that I have a whole month to remember that good idea again, hopefully it will come back to me. That doesn't mean that I'm going to write it down...do as I say, not as I do, people.


01 August 2014

Hey, I Read Your Book! Moonless & Broken Branch Falls

Ok, I'm cheating a little. My original plan was to have this mini book review segment on the last Monday of every month. But then for several reasons (procrastination...) I thought it would be better suited for the last Friday of every month. Except today isn't the last Friday, it's the first. But I didn't really want to put this off for another month, so here it is! The first segment of Hey, I Read Your Book!

Ugh, this is going to be just horrible, I know it. I'm terrible at reviews. Especially when I like a book. I find it's easier to have lots to say when you're constantly coming across things you don't like about a book. But I'm going to try anyway. So I guess until I get into a groove with this thing, the reviews will be short and sweet. I'm calling them mini-reviews because I'm not going to really go into too much summary or reveal any spoilers, just tell you what I liked about the book (and why you should read it, too!).  My goal is to have two books to review each month, so hopefully I can keep up!

First up!

Moonless by Crystal Collier

Let me just say--I loved this book. I've always had a soft spot for paranormal romance, but have sort of lost touch with it in the past years due to the temporary abandonment of my own book series, as well as the overkill in the genre. But Moonless was unlike all the other books I've read in the genre. It should also be considered historical fiction, which was a refreshing element. This book frustrated the hell out of me--but in a good way. I was hooked from the very beginning and it never lost my attention. I was right there with Alexia, dying to know the truth about who she is and what is happening. You get little tidbits of the truth, which not only had me flying through the pages, but had me gasping at some moments and saying "Aha, I knew it!" at others. At times it was romantic and swoon-worthy, other times suspenseful and downright scary. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Next up is...

Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler

This was a fun read. Gabe was a quirky character and it was fun to get inside his head. When the story begins, he's just like any other awkward teenager (even though he's a goblin), but as the story progresses, it takes a different turn and Gabe and his friends go on a quest to save their town from being torn apart. I just loved the descriptions of all of the beasts Gabe lives with and the ones he encounters during his quest. The idea of the different species wanting to coexist sends a great message, especially to the younger readers of this book. Gabe and his friends not only fight to save their town, but for the right to be friends with (and date) whoever they choose, regardless of the laws that keep species apart. Something is revealed near the end of the book that will leave your jaw hanging. Overall, this was a quick, fun read with great characters and a great message.

Woo, so there it is! My first attempt. I'll probably post these reviews on Goodreads, as well. Be sure to check out these books and give them a read. You won't be disappointed.

Side note! I forgot to tell you guys, but if you read last Friday's post, you know I was trying to figure out what my 1000th movie should be. The general consensus was that I should watch a classic, so after doing some searching, I watched Gone with the Wind last Saturday for my (drum roll please) 1000th movie! Once I remember that I had never seen it, I knew it had to be the one. It was looooooooong, of course, but I loved it! So now I can get back to watching more movies, and maybe someday make it to 2000.