Sunday, December 26, 2010

What am I going to do?

Yesterday I achieved what I wanted. I rewrote a part of my story that bugged me. I felt it was too long, maybe dragging on and there had to be a better way to write it. So I spent all day working at it. I wrote a few paragraphs then deleted them. Copied and pasted sections I wanted to keep then deleted them. I worked and worked, gaining a few inches but giving up feet. At one point, I stopped for dinner and a short walk with my boyfriend. Then I went back at it. Finally, around midnight, I finished. I didn't do the rewrites I thought I would and I didn't cut a ton, but it was different. It was rearranged, cut, added and then some. I was happy and that's what mattered. I printed out the rewrite, emailed it to my friend, Erin, who is kindly reading through it multiple times with a red pen, (she is having fun and doing a great job, I can't thank her enough!) Then I went to bed.

Now it's a new day and I'm thinking maybe I need to take a break from Tommy and his world. Just set his story aside and.... What am I going to do?

Seriously, folks, what am I going to do? I've been slaving away at Tommy's story for months! The idea of working on something else or *gasp* not writing at all has become SCARY! There are things I need to do, a move to finish packing for, jewelry or knitting that needs to be worked on, piles of books to read, but when I think about not working on Being Human I hit a blank wall. It's truly hard to think of doing something else when I've committed so much time into this one story! Even now, my blog is still talking about Tommy, my mind consumed with the events of his life.

What am I going to do?

There's more to that question than what this moment holds for me. One day Being Human will be done. It will be as finished as it can get and I'll set it free into the world (aka be published, remember to think positive!) and I'll be asking myself what am I going to do now with no idea what the answer is. I'll sit in a stump, knowing there's plenty for me to do, but not quite ready to dive into the next story (or pick up my knitting needles or finish that bracelet I started months ago.) Eventually, I'll recover and start the process over, diving into the next story, getting so absorbed that when I think of taking a break or the time comes for the story to be done, I'll stare, terrified and thinking, "What am I going to do now????"

I can not wait!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tommy's first Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and the house was dark and silent.

I roamed the living room, pacing and waiting. My anxiety filled the room, thickening the air. How long could it take, I wondered. How long to get around the world and give presents to the good children and coal to the bad? I had no clue. I didn't even know it was possible, but my brother assured my niece Santa would be here before the sun rose.

My anxiety grew as I fingered the stockings hung by the Christmas tree. My niece would be crushed if she got coal. She gasped in fear every time Rissa mentioned it. My brother assured her there'd be no coal in her stocking. He said she was certain to be on the good list. I knew better. My niece always got in trouble, Rissa alway yelling, scolding and sending her to her room. There was no way Santa would leave presents no matter what my brother thought.

Therefore, it was up to me.

It was up to me to convince Santa that my niece wasn't naughty, that she deserved presents and not coal. I was confident I could do it. I was a vampire, all I had to do was press my will and make him listen. And if he didn't, well, I'd kill him and take the presents.

I didn't like the idea of Santa breaking into the house anyways.

The stairs creaked and I whirled around, fangs shooting out. Santa didn't appear. Instead, my brother and Rissa snuck down the stairs, faces obscured by presents. I watched as they arranged the pile around the tree, whispering to each other.

"She's going to love this one." My brother whispered.

"Put this one in front." Rissa whispered back. "It's got Santa's name on it."

"This one says Santa too." My brother passed a present.

 I couldn't stay silent anymore. "Where's Santa?"

"Jeez! Tommy!" My brother gasped as both he and Rissa dropped the remaining presents. "What are you doing hiding in the dark?"

"I'm waiting for Santa to make sure he gives her presents and not coal." I replied, moving closer. I picked up a present. From Santa was written in Rissa's handwriting. I tilted my head. "Why did you write his name?"

"Oh boy." My brother muttered, glancing at Rissa. "Do you want to explain or should I?"

"He's your brother." Rissa whispered with a smile and turned back to the presents.

"Okay, how do I explain?" My brother rubbed his face as I waited. He looked me, slight defeat in his eyes. "Santa's not real."


"Santa is fake. He's not real."

I tilted my head causing my brother to shift uncomfortably. "But why did you..."

"It wasn't to hurt her." My brother interrupted always knowing the paths my mind took. "Believing in Santa teaches her to be kind to others, to give and not just expect to receive. This time of year is a time to remember how fortunate we are for all we have and to help those in need... those who need help to survive."

"But if you can't survive then you don't deserve to live."

"Maybe that wasn't the way to put it." My brother sighed. "We're just trying to teach her to be kind to other by using a symbol of that kindness and one day she won't need that symbol to motivate her to be that way. And just so you know, when we were little we believed in Santa."

My eyes widened in awe and shock. "Really?"

"Yup, but we eventually figured it out and so will Mackenzie." A smile glimmered on my brother's face. "And don't worry, she won't be mad at us."

I nodded, still confused.

My brother stretched and yawned. "Don't worry lil bro. Just be prepared."

"For what?"

"All done!" Rissa whispered. She threw me a warning look. "Don't tell Mackenzie Santa isn't real!"

Before I can respond, noise filled the air above. A squeal pierced the air, feet pounding on the stairs. My niece appeared, all smiles and giggles. "I heard a noise! Is Santa here? Did I miss him? Did he eat all the cookies?" Her eyes widened at the presents under the tree. "Look at all the presents Santa left!"

"For that." My brother sighed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I might have to disagree with my title. While the holiday season is a great time, this week in particular.... well, if you could see the line of tickets I have at my job for Christmas orders you'd be a bit sour too. That's not including all the last minute orders of 'I need two dozen green scarfed snowmen sugar cookies NOW!' or all the normal stuff that people are buying more of because of the holidays. My boss today asked if I was going to make more Christmas cookies. I looked at her like, Are you kidding??? Because not only on top of all the orders, I started training my replacement because my boyfriend and I are going to be moving soon. And since we are moving, we have some friends we need to see and give Christmas presents to and say goodbye. Then at some point today I realized it was a new week and that meant I had to squeeze at least one blog post in and I nearly head-desked because I had no idea what to say. (Hence this rant of a post.)

So let's see, I have a dozen custom orders to get done by the 25th, an unknown amount of last minute orders, my usual workload, training a new baker, goodbyes to friends and a move coming up. It's exhausting thinking about it!

So wish me luck on my fun filled week! Hopefully I'll get some editing or writing done. Hopefully, later I will have something more interesting to blog about. Hopefully I won't contract diabetes from looking at too many sugar cookies!

PS those are my hand turkeys for Thanksgiving. They are about the diameter of a soft ball with frosting piled on, more frosting for the design and then we top it off with sugar sprinkles! These are ones with the lesser amount of frosting too. The wreathes I do for Christmas have a quarter inch thick frosting around the edges.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A grain of salt

There are two main reasons I started this blog. First was to keep myself motivated, to ensure I didn't chicken out on my journey or say, 'I can't do it, it's hopeless.' The second reason was to post resources or helpful information to other aspiring writers. Encourage them as well as myself. So far, I haven't posted a lot of information. There's a few links I put in the sidebar, but mostly, I haven't found any writer's insight that I thought, 'OMG I have to blog this!' There's been a few articles I retweeted, but it wasn't until today that I felt I had some insight worthy of blogging.

There's a number of authors and writer advice sites I follow on twitter. Every day I look through, click links that interest me, read through articles in hopes of finding something useful. I usually do find something helpful. Whether it be an article on grammar or general writing advice, there's always something. Today, though, there was an article that put a knot of dread in my stomach. The article talked about tips for writing a query letter or cover letter and once sentence in particular stuck fear into my little, writer's heart. It was utterly demotivating.

I quote: 'The biography in your cover or query letter should be good—and while this article stresses the importance of having strong publication credits, it’s not unheard of that a writer with no experience at all will gain national attention'

Now while the first part is true and the whole article had good tips. It was the second part that made me deflate. The way it was worded made it sound like if you're a writer with NO experience you have a slim to none chance because agents and editors really only care about queries by a writer with a degree or an arm's lengths list of publication credits. (Later in the article it stated not to worry, every writer starts out with no publishing credits. Even then the tone sounded patronizing, like the person writing that article is laughing at all us inexperienced and uneducated writers.) And maybe there are people who believe that. That's their prerogative.

After reading the article, I felt quite discouraged, a glimmer of doubt and worry wiggling into my mind. Then I remembered another article I read the other day and the doubt and worry was quickly defeated when I pulled it up and reread it. The article basically said that every bit of advice out there a writer should take with a grain of salt. Advice can be right and wrong at the same time. It depends on the individual. What works for me may not work for you.

That's what made me feel better, reminding me that the previous article was just advice, one person's suggestion on how to approach agents and it may not be the best approach for me. I need to find my own way to write my story or approach an agent or hook an editor. It's up to me to slog through all the advice, experiment with each suggestion and find out what works for me. Same for you. All you can do is try it, see how it works. If it does, hooray! You've found a great way to improve your writing. If not, don't sweat it, move onto the next bit of advice. Never give up, keep trying, keep experimenting and one day you'll find the perfect equation for you. That's my advice for you.

The articles mentioned in today's blog:
Write and wrong
Query letter and cover letter tips

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Point of view

I realized something about the point of views in my stories: They don't really follow the usual POV. By usual I mean in a lot of young adult paranormal books you have the POV of the girl. She's the one that gets the most time as she wonders what is up with mystery boy, why is he so secretive, why won't he come out during the day. Even if the girl is the paranormal, there is still a mystery guy that has her wondering what his secret is. Maybe it's because the target audience is female and the author figures girls relate better to girl characters. Which isn't untrue. It could also be because the author wants the mystery, wants the reader wondering and discovering along with her.

I don't.

I like to put my reader into the mind of mystery boy. Of the vampire the girl is wondering about or the boy that's harboring a great secret that our heroine is determined to discover. I love getting into those character's minds and almost all of my stories reflect that.

Take my one story, Forever Ebony (which isn't finished by the way, but pretty close.) Forever Ebony is about a boy and a girl, Jackson and Ebony (aka Candy but she hates that name.) Jackson is a vampire and Ebony is a goth girl and it's a love story between the two. Very cliche right? But the story doesn't follow Ebony, wondering with her why she only sees Jackson at night or any of those cliches as she strives to understand Jackson's mysterious behavior. The story starts out from Jackson's POV. Even though I switch to Ebony and tell some from her POV, Jackson is the main character. His POV is the one I want to show readers the most, his mind is what's laid out in the story. We see what he is thinking, why he has to keep being a vampire secret and why at one point, he pretty much says, "Screw it. Eb, I'm a vampire."

I could write it from Ebony's POV if I wanted, follow her as she lives her human life, wonders what Jackson is hiding, the eventual discovery of what he is and the challenges it presents both of them and their relationship. Maybe it'd make a good book, but honestly, IT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE! Twilight anyone? Hush Hush, Fallen, Evermore, Shadow Hills, The Hallow. Those are all good books, but they follow the same path: The girl as she quests to understand mystery boy, discover his secrets and how it will affect their love.

Give me something new, put me in mystery boy's mind! Let me see what he's thinking, his motivation, his challenges. Let's delve into something a little different. (And let me just point out, I know there are stories like that, ones that follow mystery boy. I've read a few. I'm just saying, I don't think they are as abundant.)

That's why I feel my stories are different. What sets them apart from other stories. The POV. Even if my stories are like other stories out there, the POV isn't. I couldn't tell Being Human from a POV other than Tommy's. Forever Ebony wouldn't be the same if it only Ebony was talking. The stories would switch from being about him to being about her. That's not what I want, that's not whose story I'm trying to tell.

PS: If I'm wrong and you know of a slew of books from mystery boy's POV, (or any POV that doesn't follow the usual characters,) let's hear them! Post them, I would love to check them out and I bet others would too.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surprise! I'm here!

I never set out to be a writer. In high school I was all about art. Drawing, painting, sketching, I loved it all. (Except pottery. I liked it but couldn't throw a pot to save my life!) Writing wasn't even an option. Mostly because I wasn't any good at it. I couldn't sit down and write anything. Not even a short poem. So the fact that I'm on the third edit of Tommy's story, writing a query letter and thinking up more stories is amazing!

When inspiration hits and a story forms in my head, I usually only see the beginning. I see the main characters and a few scenes. From there I start writing. I don't plot out my story or make an outline of what I want to happen. I just start writing and let it take me where ever. Usually I don't even know the ending, I wait, writing and learning about my characters until they decide to reveal how it all ends to me. Which makes the whole writing experience exciting because I don't know what's going to happen! It's a mystery and surprise.

The biggest surprise for me when writing is surprise characters. Characters that pop up and stay for the long haul. Or characters that inspire the main characters, keeping them on track, helping them on their journey.

Like Amy and Mackenzie in Being Human.

Amy is vampire, one that befriends Tommy. Which is no easy task. The vampires in Being Human are highly distrustful of each other and try to kill each other when they meet. But Amy becomes Tommy's friend, easing his distrust, showing him how vampires really are. She turned out to be a really sweet person, her personality mirroring the innocent child-like appearance she had (minus looking dead of course and being at least a century old.) I have to say, I'm quite fond of her and would love to have a story just for her. Maybe in the future I will.

Mackenzie, Tommy's niece, wasn't so much a surprise. What was surprising was how involved in the story she became. The whole third part she is Tommy's driving force and it continues through the story. Tommy summed it up pretty well in one chapter: I let my life revolve around my niece. She was the first human I saw when I came home, last one before I left and the reason I made sure my need never got too strong. I wasn't willing to risk hurting her in any way. I had to protect her from everything. Even myself.

Every story I've written has had at least one surprise character. Someone I had expected that kept appearing again and again, moving the story along, helping me tell it. Maybe if I tried plotting out my stories, I'd discover these surprise characters sooner, but honestly, where's the fun in that? Part of the fun of reading is the suspense, on the edge of your seat as you turn the page to discover the next surprise or meet someone new. For me it's no different, as both a reader and a writer. I can't wait to discover the next surprise, the newcomer that gives the story more depth or the ending I couldn't have imagined a few chapters earlier. It's part of the experience, the journey.

Fun fact, Being Human has three surprise characters: Mackenzie, Amy and Rissa who is Mackenzie's mom and isn't the least bit afraid of Tommy. I love that about her.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Impromptu Holiday Contest

 Thank you everyone for all the comments! Cathy's Chatter, you won via number paper in a hat and my boyfriend! lol! Pop your mailing address and rings size to me at kurro @ so I can mail it out.

December is here and I've been musing on non-writing things. Mostly my
little craft business and my last craft show of the year that I haven't made any hats for.(PL Treasures for those of you who don't know what I do when I'm not writing, or what I should be doing instead of writing at times!)

With various holiday celebrations coming up fast I thought I'd have a little contest featuring my most popular item: Sterling Silver Mood Ring.

So tell me, what do you plan to do this holiday season? Comment for a chance to win. I'll pick a winner on December 20. And don't forget to tell me your ring size!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Query Letters Revisited

Last week I was lamenting my failed attempt at query letters. I spent a good part of Sunday reading through Query Shark's blog, looking back at my blank word page and trying to figure out what to write. This is what I got:

Tommy's not human. He's a vampire. That means his life focuses on one thing: Survival. Despite his need to survive, Tommy can't resist the human world he left behind, curious of all they say and do.

I don't really care for it. It has key elements of my story, but it's just not catchy enough. I don't think it would grab attention like I need it to. In the end, for my sanity, I had to put it aside, relax and focus on something else. I knew I'd have to come back to it eventually, but for now, it was time to wait until my mind was fresh and ready to try again.

Then inspiration hit!

Inspiration hit as I was laying in bed, trying to sleep because I have to get up at 6am for work M-F. (Honestly, when else is inspiration suppose to hit? Besides while I'm in the shower with no pen or paper at hand.) I was wide awake, scrambling for the notepad beside my bed. I furiously scribbled down every word, eager to get it on paper before I forgot. I gave it a quick once over, then exhaled a breath of relief and resumed my attempt to sleep. I didn't look at what I wrote again...

Until now. Now I'm looking at it and I still like it. It's a little choppy and uneven, but it's more than four sentences. It could actually be a real query letter. That excites me to no end.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is my first draft query letter for Being Human.

Tommy doesn't remember being human. He knows he use to be human, but he's not anymore. Tommy is a vampire and that means his life revolves around one thing: Survival.

And his twin brother.
And his family.
And his friends.

Despite no longer being human, Tommy can't help but feel drawn to the human world. It amazes him in ways he struggles to understand. But the human world is not without danger. Humans know what Tommy is and they hate him for it. Humans hate vampires so much that they will do anything to destroy Tommy and every single vampire in existence.

Tommy just wants to survive and he'll do whatever it takes. But with the human world constantly calling to him, he'll find it takes more than instinct to survive. And when the humans that matter the most to him are put at risk, he'll discover being human means more than being a human.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Query Letters

I have one thing to say about query letters: They're hard.

A query letter is something every aspiring author needs to find an agent. It's the requirement. You don't send an agent a politely worded letter, describing what your story is about and why that particular agent should represent you. What you do is you pitch and you pitch hard. That's what a query letter is. A pitch. A cleverly written summery about who the main character is and what the plot is. No frills or fluff, just basics. It has to be catchy too, grabbing instant attention that makes the agent crave more.

And that is hard.

I wrote a query letter. Thought it got the job done, summerized the story, even added a small hint of humor. I set it aside and went back to work on my story, fine tuning it, forgetting the query. While checking my tweets the other day, I saw a tweet from a blog I follow called Query Shark. The blog is run by an agent who critiques query letters sent by authors who want to improve their chances of snagging an agent.

Advice is given to help improve query letters, stating what is needed, suggesting what to throw out and how to address the agent. An entry on rules to submit to the site is listed along with recommending you read ALL of the entries. There's a lot of entries too, but from what I've read so far, it's worth reading through every entry. After reading only a few, I went and found my old query letter, read through it, cringed and opened a new text document and tried to start a new one.

Four hours later and I had three sentences.

I couldn't figure out what to say, how to describe my story, summerize who Tommy was, what his struggles were in a way I liked even a little or thought would grab an agent's attention. I still only have those three sentences, still not certain what to write, but at least now I know what not to do in a query letter. It's not a great step, but one step closer on my journey.

For more info on query letters and agnets, check out Query Shark's blog, Guide to Literary Agents and Agent Query.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Let's recap! With a list!

I have to admit, this week was a pretty good one. I think I'll make a list.

1) I had my first author guest blog. We had a contest and lots of people commented.
2) My birthday was nice. My boyfriend made me dinner and I got done working early that day.
3) I won a few contests via other blogs and a person I follow on twitter.
4) I had a craft show where I sold my handmade jewelry and knitted items and made a pretty chunk of change.
5) I completely rewrote the ending of my story!
6) I eliminated 9 pages via rewriting and consolidating.

Those last two were new to me and a rush. I had never really rewritten or deleted chapters before. It worked out as I imagine editing does and what I ended up with is much better than the first. It's just the beginning too!

Since the story is written, now my goal is to fine tune. Make sure it doesn't drag, clear up any confusion, fix typos and delete repetition. Honestly, it all can get a little boring. Do I have to reread this part again? Yes, I do. Multiple times. I need to make sure the story stays on track and flows like water. It feels never ending and it's all very necessary. Because when I finally submit my query letter and sample chapters, hopefully the agent reads will be blown away by an amazing story and request the rest and BAM! Book published!

The easy part is done, now comes the hard part.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Merrie Destefano talks her journey to Afterlife

We have a winner! I let Merrie pick a random winner and the name she gave me is Kathy, who commented second. Kathy I will be emailing you soon! Thanks everyone for making my first guest blog a success!

Yeah, so I said I was posting Merrie's guest blog Thursday. Well, I lied... No, I didn't, I changed my mind when I checked my email, (about a minute ago) saw an email from Merrie containing her guest blog and didn't want to wait putting it up.

Also Merrie has offered a signed copy of Afterlife to one lucky commenter and as a bonus I will be throwing in an Afterlife themed bracelet or necklace I made. In the book people can be resurrected up to nine times and my concept was you get a bracelet (or necklace, wearer's choice) with one bead and each time you resurrect you add another bead. Silver nuts are placed between each life bead. The one in the picture is a Nine-timer bracelet. Please leave your email and whether you want a bracelet or necklace so we can contact the winner.

That said, without further ado here is Merrie! Drumroll please!

My Journey to Publication
By Merrie Destefano

Patricia asked me to share a little bit about my journey to publication.

I wish I was one of those people who could slam out a book in three months, whose first draft was pretty near perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The truth of the matter is, I drive my writing group nuts. What book is this, they’ll ask after I start reading a few pages for critique. Oh, it’s the same book, I’ll tell them, just completely different.

I have a tendency to write and rewrite and then write some more, changing names and moving characters around and slashing plot lines. While it might seem like I’m having a great time, throwing away thousands of words at a time, I’m not.

I’m driving everyone I know, me included, nuts. They probably all wish that I would take up something meaningful to do in my spare instead of write. Something like playing miniature golf. Or raising bonsai trees. Or studying organic chemistry.

Just in case you don’t believe me, listen to the genesis of Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles.

In the first draft—under the title, White Burn—this story took place on Mars. (Do I hear snickers already?) It was a detective story, where the main character was tracking down a cult leader who had stolen a serum that could raise the dead. Besides falling into the hands of a dangerous cult leader, this serum also happened to be stolen by a gang leader, which led to one grisly gang war—a little bit like The Night of the Living Dead. Only on Mars.

Needless to say, that book didn’t garner much attention from agents or editors.

In the second draft—under the title, Once to Die—the story was moved to Los Angeles. Here, I had a homicide detective, a woman named Addy, chasing a serial killer who could raise the dead. This story must have been tighter and better written, because at least a few editors talked to me at this point. They even smiled. Right before they told me, no way were they going to publish this book. One of them was even kind enough to give me a few pointers. He said something like, try setting it in the future and throw out everything except the resurrection drug.

I confess, I’m the brooding sort, so I mulled and groused over his well-meaning rejection. I thought about it for so long that I actually came up with a story idea based on that simple one-line suggestion.

In Afterlife, I built a future where the technology for resurrection has been around for awhile, long enough for it to have a serious impact on our culture, our major world religions, our family system, our judicial system, you name it. After working on the story for a month or so, I realized that if I removed this one small element—death—from our culture, it changed everything.

Writing the actual book took me about a year and a half, with the prerequisite three-four month period of writer’s block tossed in the mix. Once I found my agent, Kimberley Cameron, she sold my book in a relatively short time period to Diana Gill of Eos/HarperCollins. I think we sold the book in August, 2009, and the book comes out in September, 2010.

Afterlife is a Hydra of sorts: one part urban fantasy, one part romance, one part science fiction, one part mystery. It’s a tale about a man who watches over people during that fragile first week after resurrection, when memories from previous lives are still sifting to the surface. And it’s a story about the woman who has just resurrected, who holds a secret in her subconscious that could change the world.

But for me, it’s a story that tells me that my wild and disorganized writing process somehow manages to work. Even though I drive a lot of people nutty along the way.

I have been waiting for this week!

***Edit*** I originally said I was going to post Merrie's blog November 18th.... I changed my mind and am putting it up..... Now!

Let me repeat that, I have been waiting for this week! Why? Not because of my birthday near the end, possibly because the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out in theaters and mostly because my first guest author will be sending me a blog to post! Rejoice!

Yes, Merrie Destefano, author of Afterlife agreed to be a guest on my blog! Again, rejoice. Before this I had never had a guest blogger, hell, the blogs I had done were short lived and deleted quickly. Hence the excitement and request for rejoicing.

I asked her to talk about what made her want to publish a book and what she went through to get there, including a request to share any resources. I know she'll talk about said book and ask some questions to my readers (so you better comment!) I also sent her an email asking what she thought about a give away because I had a great idea for one. Which means I need to get out of the apartment and to Jo-Ann Fabrics for some clasps if I want to do the give away in mind. (Does that intrigue you about the give away? I hope so.)

(And when I say you, I'm looking at my friends, who for the most part have remained silent concerning my blog.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Did Amazon fail?

I'm sure you have heard by now. There was (it has been taken down,) a book on Amazon that was a guide to pedophilia. It's all over Facebook as groups to boycott Amazon and on Twitter with the hashtag #amazonfail. Many people have voiced their opinions, most of those opinions outrage. I am outraged too. Still, I had to wonder: Did Amazon fail by posting this book? Did this guy have the right to publish this book? Was I right demanding it be taken down?

This incident is a double edge sword. On one hand you have a book about something deplorable that someone could use to harm a child. On the other hand you have freedom of speech and the fact that everyone is suppose to be allowed to exercise it. Add to it the fact that there are plenty of other books out there that could harm others, have questionable content or be flat out offensive. What do we do with all those books? Do we ban each one? Burn them? Make it illegal to write about that subject matter? What's the fine line between censorship and removing something because so many people find it offensive?

I honestly have no answers. I think that book and any like it are horrible. They are just asking sickos to commit a horrible crime, the risk is to high. But on the flip side, I'm against censorship of ideas. Part of what makes America so great is the freedom of speech. The ability to say whatever you want.

I think what I'm trying to say is as much as someone can argue that the book had a right to be published under the freedom of speech, we also had the same right to stand up and protest. We had the right to say, "I believe this book will cause serious harm to a child and it shouldn't be available for sale. I want it removed."

The only failure would have been if no one had spoken at all.

Here's a video of CNN Anderson Cooper on the subject with Dr. Phil and Jeffrey Toobin that discuss the story very well.
Outrage over Pedo Book
Also some blogs on the matter.
Walk with me
Surrender Dorothy
Telling Dad
Tech Crunch  << I think they've done the best of describing what I feel.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Up and over the hills

Two days ago I absolutely hated part one of my story. I was reading through it and it just didn't sit right with me. It felt choppy, badly written and I was in a bad mood. Nothing felt right that day, I didn't even feel right.

Next day, was better I was better. I printed out part one, read through it again and it didn't seem so bad. I rearranged a couple paragraphs, added some sentences, deleted some too. There was only one part I wanted to improve, a chapter in the end I'd like to move to another spot and a new one in its place.

I felt like I was on a roller coaster those two days, going up and down at a blindingly fast speed. This morning as I thought about it, I had some really good ideas on the past two days and what I'd write for this post. Naturally, and because it was 6am when I thought the ideas up, I forgot. Oops. Guess I should have gotten out my cell and typed it all down like I do story ideas.

Ups and downs will be part of the journey, the road is not straight or flat. It curves and rises, sometimes so sharply you can't see where you're going until that moment. Some days I will love everything I write and refuse to change a thing. Others I will hate what I write and what has already been written. Those days are the days to take a break, kick back and relax, watch a movie, read a book (I have a few piles waiting to be read!) Forget I want to publish a story at all. Right now I have that luxury, I haven't contacted any agents and I'm still in the process of refining what I want to submit. I have time. (Although that was part of my bad day two days ago, thinking about my approaching birthday and the ticktock of life slipping by. Growing old can be really depressing when you're almost to 30!)

I guess that is my sage-like advice for the day. When you have a bad day, kick back read a book, go for a walk, draw or even take a nap. It won't last and before you know it, you'll be eager and ready to go in no time. Plus who wants to slave away (even at something you enjoy) all the time?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have part two to print out on my nice new laser printer and some more editing to do, (which a reliable source has told me never ends!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Deeper Insight (and something every author likes to hear)

I was planning on doing a blog about once a week, but something on my mind now and it won't leave until it has had its say. Plus, I want to talk about it. I want to talk about my story, what sets it apart and why I want to do this.

As I've stated before my story is a vampire story. Tommy, our hero, gets turned and embarks on a journey to not only understand himself but humans. With him the whole time is his twin brother, Danny. When Danny goes to college Tommy meets a girl named Fallen that confuses and intrigues him. Later his family grows as Danny ages and continues life by marrying and having a child. Finally, there's one last girl that gets a hold of Tommy in a way he never thought possible. In between danger from Vampire Forces, a special division of the police tasked with finding and destroying vampires, threatens and an older vampire named Amy organizes vampire protests and shows Tommy he's not alone among vampires. That's the story in a nutshell and probably not a good nutshell. I'm horrible at describing my story. It's a love story so to speak, but not a traditional one where boy meets girl. The love extends more, to family and friends and how there's different kinds of love in the world, each one special.

At this point, you might say there's nothing new about vampire stories. They're all the rage now. You see them everywhere. Hundreds of books printed about vampires, covering it all!

Let me assure you though, that is not why my story is a vampire story. My story is a vampire story because Tommy said so.

You see, it all started with a little book called Thirsty by M.T. Anderson. I really haven't even read the book, bought it, was intrigued, scanned through it out of curiosity and loved how it ended. The ending was so dark and hopeless and it made me wonder: What happens to Chris next? As I went to bed that night, my mind kept wondering, extending the story this way and that. Then I forgot about it. I forgot about reading the book, the ending and curiosity and went back to whatever story I was working on at the time.

Then Tommy appeared. With a vengeance. He got into my head, refused to leave as he whispered in my ear. He said, I'm not Chris but I know what he felt, what went through his head as the thirst consumed him. I know what happens. Don't you want to know what happens to someone like me? Don't you want to hear my story? Soon it was all I could think about and I abandoned the story I was working on and started listening to what Tommy had to say (He probably hates me using his name right now!)

As I was listening to Tommy, I was still reading and the book I was reading was Twelfth Grade Kills. When I got done with it I had a thought, a wondering thought. If Auntie Heather (I've been a fanged smiley button wearing Minion for almost a year now,) can have the courage to do this, maybe I can too.

(At that point I felt like I was putting her down, saying that what she did was easy and anyone could do it. Which I'm not. I have been madly in love with her books from the moment I started reading and I'm eagerly awaiting her next one which will be all about Joss! Yay! Vampire hunters just get me like a stake through the heart!)

That's what started it, truly started it. It wasn't because vampire books were the rage (and honestly I think it's calming down,) or because I thought I'd be a best selling author like J.K. Rowling. It was because I felt inspired by another author, one I geeked out about. I want to do this because I want a book in my hands, to say I decided to do this and succeeded. To hell if no one reads the book or likes it. I like it! What other reason is there to write? If you don't love your own words how can it be any good?

This is my journey! My battle! I'll take the rejections and criticism the best I can. I'll crawl up hills if that's what it takes to make this a reality. Anything less would be a disgrace.

Can I get a few friends to cheer now?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who am I?

Today is about me.

Which isn't me at all. I'm naturally a shy person. I don't like making waves, content to follow rather than lead - although, I can lead. I usually choose not to, that's all. So focusing on myself seems.... Selfish. Which I'm not. I can confidently say I'm not selfish because pointing out one, tiny thing I did feels self-serving to me. Like I'm trying to brag or boast and I feel like a stuck up snob for even speaking.

I am in my characters. Dreams, hopes, secret ambitions are all wound up in my characters. I create strong female leads, thrusting them into danger and conflict, giving them the strength to do what I would like to do. I create timid characters, trying to coax them into growing stronger, encourage them to stand up like I hope I would in their shoes. There's also hopeful characters, fearful characters, selfish characters, villainous characters, a character for every part of me, both good and bad.

Read my stories and you'll see me laugh and cry, stand up for what I believe, be the voice of reason or even do something so terrible you'd think I was insane! I'm there, in between the lines, in every breath my characters take (even the ones that don't breath.) Who I am isn't just me, it's Tommy or Ebony or Alex or Dr. Reece. It's any of the characters that popped into my brain and the ones that have yet to be realized. It's who I am and who I want to be.

Like I said, it's all about me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Please say YES!

So it's been about ten days since I've started this journey. (Have you noticed my theme yet?) Ten days and maybe in some people's opinion haven't made much progress. Have I tried to contact any agents? No. Have I bookmarked dozen of pages on how to become a writer on google? No. So what have I done? Well, I made a big step today. I sent a message to an author I follow on facebook and twitter, asking if she would do a guest post for my blog.

I felt accomplished.

Okay, so maybe it's not a huge step, but it's a step I want to take. I want to hear other author's stories, find out what motivated them to start their own journey and how they felt along the way. Who knows, maybe I'll get some really good resources to help me out.  So who is this mystery author?

She's none other than Merrie Destefano.


Merrie Destefano. She is the author of Afterlife. While she is not new to the publishing world, this is her first book. I followed her on twitter and facebook and a group blog she is part of, seeing her excitement grow as release day came. I thought she'd be a good first pick to ask to share her experience. Email sent and fingers crossed, hopefully she'll say yes.

As for other authors I have in mind, I was thinking Heather Brewer who wrote The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, a series I love and part of my motivation to attempt this journey. Adrian Phoenix, author of The Maker's Song series and Hoodoo series and Kerrelyn Sparks, author of Love at Stake series. All those authors have books I love and admire. Their stories hook me, drag me in and don't release me even after the book is done.

Hopefully they will say yes and if not at least reply back with a, 'I'm flattered, but sorry, no.' Any negative responses will be good practice for when I send my story out to agents. I need to be realistic here, after all, not everyone is going to be swept silent by my writing genius. Ha, ha, right? I still have my fingers crossed that I will receive yes all across, until then...

Here's to another step in the journey!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When it's all been said and done before.

Well, my journey is started, bump one (getting the nerve to actually do this) is past me. Now it's onto the rest of the bumps and there will be a few. I got a few others behind me, I told my friends, gave them my first draft (minus the final chapter because I hadn't written it yet) and asked my boyfriend to check for plot holes because he loves poking holes in plots. Another bump is emailing a few authors I follow on twitter and facebook and asking them for their experiences with their first book.

But that can wait, I want to address a major bump I have to overcome:

How do I convince anyone (an agent, publisher and readers) that my story is worth telling? How do I make my story stand out from all the rest when everything has been said and done before?

And when I say everything I mean everything. Because that's the truth, it's all been done before me. Look at books and film and you will easily find two stories that are similar. (Avatar and Dances with Wolves is one I hear a lot.) My boyfriend loves to bash Twilight by saying take out the vampires and you have a love story that is not unique at all. I roll my eyes and point out that Twilight does have unique features. Can you recall another story were the vampires sparkle? I can't.

So what do I do? Give up?

I think not!

I've just started this journey, I can't give up so easily. Besides there are some things my story has to have to make it what it is.

Let me explain that before trying to persuade you that my story is unique.

My story is a vampire tale, the main character is a vampire. Being a vampire tale, I believe there are three aspects needed to make it a vampire tale. First, a vampire has to be undead. To become a vampire you have to die after all. Second, a vampire has to have an aversion to sunlight. Said vampire may not burst into flames, but the aversion is there in one form or another. Example again is Twilight, the Cullens don't burst into flames but they do avoid sunlight because it would expose them as not human. Third, and this is important, is blood drinking. You just wouldn't be a vampire if you didn't drink blood at some point in your undead life! Every vampire story needs those three aspects in one form, it can be mild or severe but it has to be there.

There are exceptions to the first two, there have been stories were vampires are born or chosen and I've even read a manga were the vampires enjoy sun, but for my story I am sticking with those three clich├ęs that make a vampire a vampire.

So what makes my story different? What makes it worth your time to notice?

Pretty much it comes down to smaller details, little bits of the story that don't fit in the the mold. Details spun throughout that make it my story, that tells the tale of a boy turned into a vampire that forgets being human and over time learns that to be human, you don't necessarily have to be human.

That is my story I want to tell, my journey I want to take the reader on. My first steps have been taken with more to come. With any luck, I'll find the strength for each step, face the challenges and come out with a book in my hands.

And who knows, maybe a few people will like it too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bitten by the writing bug

So what started it all? What got it in my head that I maybe have the possibility of being an author when, let's face it, writing wasn't my strong suite?

I've always been creative. When I was little I wanted to be a dancer, in middle school and high school I was all about art and in band. Even now, my job is creative. I work in a deli as a baker creating tasty treats and decorating cookies. Nothing insanely fancy, but it allows my creative juices to flow. Creativity is even in my blood, I was inspired into art by my grandpa's oil paintings, have a cousin that makes amazing cakes with fondant, aunts that quilt, grandma that crochets. The creativity is there, flowing from generation to generation. I can't help but be creative, but writing? I always had a problem, I had to be inspired to write something good. I couldn't sit and think up something creative. Still can't to a point.

What got me writing was two things:

One was my ex-boyfriend. I wrote a story, him as the main character. I killed him, put him through hell, then gave him a happy ending with a woman he loved. The story was full of characters I had imagined up through out the years. A red haired sorceress, a tiger girl, female ninja warrior, genetically altered girl, vampires. It was a hodgepodge of everything in my head, something I'll probably never show (at least not without some major rewrites and changes.) I think the story was more me coping with the break up. After all the ninja warrior I imagined looked like me and constantly told the main character (based on ex-boyfriend) 'You're so not my type.' I think it helped, plus it was fun. I enjoyed creating the story. And let's face it ladies, we all want our ex-lovers to suffer.

Second thing that got me writing, (I always feel like I'm plagiarising when I say this,) is I had a dream. (Yup, just like Stephanie Meyers, understand why I feel like I'm plagiarising?) The dream was about a girl and a vampire (again with the plagiarising.) They loved each other, wanted to be together and all that, but here's were it goes off on its own: The cast of True Blood was there. They didn't want the girl to be with the vampire because the vampire wasn't a normal vampire. He had been born a vampire, never human and therefore had no problem hunting and killing. It was normal for him. The girl still loved him though and the cast of True Blood was desperately trying to separate them. I woke with the urge to write this story.

So I did.

At first, all I had was the beginning. After all, there was no way I could use my dream in the story, not without copyright infringement. It didn't stop me, I wrote and wrote, creating Kris and Kristen. She was a headstrong women in her late twenties dreading thirty and he was a clueless 300+ vampire completely at ease with what he is. They met because he's hunting her, after all she smells delicious, but Kristen resists Kris' gaze, walking away and leaving him confused and before either know it, a relationship is born.

So where was the conflict? The plot of my dream? How do I do it?

Eventually, I figured out how to have the conflict from my dream: some one trying to separate Kris and Kristen but not the cast of True Blood. I wrote and wrote some more and as I was dragging the story on, going no past the resolution of the conflict, something happened. One of the characters came forward and spoke. He told me a story and before I knew it, I was writing Caleb's story down. Like with Kris and Kristen, I knew the beginning but what the conflict was didn't come until later.

That was the start for me. It was like a floodgate was open and I couldn't stop what came out. Most of the ideas are beginnings. I see the main characters, see their relationship and I start writing it and as I write the conflict in the plot comes to me. Sometimes, I see the conflict right away, but mostly I wait for the inspiration to hit and let it all come together that way.

So, that's it, what started it, the bug that bit me. It's only been until now that I've decided to pursue publishing a story. Maybe it's because up until now, I haven't felt any of my stories are worth telling. Either that or I've been to timid and finally got the nerve to do it.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;)

PS: Both Kristen and Kris' story and Caleb's story have been finished. Whether I do anything with theirs is still up in the air. We'll see where this journey takes me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Beginning

Well, I'm doing it. I am going to attempt to get a story published. A book to be exact. I just spent the last half hour looking through literary agents, bookmarking ones that caught my eye in hopes of sending them a query letter.

As I go through my journey, I hope to have some guest blogs from authors I admire or chat with about their experiences. I'll post about anxiety over waiting for an answer, rejection letters and tears that will follow, what I'm currently working on and maybe a book review or two.

So, wish me luck and cross your fingers for me! The journey begins now.