Sunday, February 27, 2011

Talking to characters

This weekend I had a great moment. Drew, who had tried to talk to me while I was finishing up Being Human, started talking again. He had been annoyingly silent. I think he was mad at me for not listening when he wanted to talk and decided to punish me for it. When I opened his document and started typing he got silent again. He didn't like what I had and started refusing to speak. So I opened a blanket document, fiddled with settings and tried again. Drew liked that.

I think the majority of authors - aspiring or established - talk about their characters like real people. We can image sitting with our characters and having conversations. Or maybe interview is better word because usually when that happens we are writing or as soon as the character speaks we grab pen and paper and scribble everything down.

Why are authors so insistent that the characters are speaking to them?

I don't know about others but for me it's because I have had times where I didn't know what I was going to write until after I wrote it. And what I saw shocked me. A great example is when I was writing JJ's story. He and Cage were surrounded by vampires and the leader was intent on making Cage suffer for killing the vampire that turned Cage. The leader was trying to egg Cage on, show what a monster he was and mentioned a baby Cage had killed. Cage explained what happened to JJ and I had to pause.

Where did that come from? I did not know that about Cage! The words hadn't even registered as a sentence until they were typed. It was like Cage reached down, took hold of my fingers and said what he had to say.

Or maybe I'm just crazy. Maybe all authors who insist their characters speak to them are and there just aren't enough rooms in the loony bin to fit us all. I don't really know and that's not going to stop me. I'll still talk about my characters like they are real, still listen to every word they say and let them take control to get the story out. And to my fellow authors, I have to know.

What do you do when your characters commandeer your hands?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Piling up

In the dead of night she was alone and left to ponder the thoughts filling her brain.

Worries might be a better description, she thought with a sigh.


The worries weren't anything major. Grocery shopping to be done, errands to run, bills to pay to name a few. Still stacked up they left a sour taste in her mouth and a hollow void in her stomach. The feeling churned like storm tossed waves, crashing into her and tossing her like a rag doll. There was no escape in sight, no safe haven offering a moment's peace.

The bed called to her like a siren, promising bliss for a few hours. She resisted. If she went to bed, she'd lay there staring at the ceiling as the worries continued to bombard her. She envied her boyfriend in that moment, already roaming the dreamworld. It never took much for him. His head hit the pillow and in a matter of seconds he was asleep while she lay there and warred with her thoughts.

If only the worries and thoughts would give her some peace. It's all she really wanted, a sign that everything would be okay. The bills would be paid, food would fill the fridge and the pain throbbing in her eye would ease.

Finally, she pulled herself up, trudging to the bedroom. As she settled under the blankets, her boyfriend shifted. Still deep in slumber he pulled her close, wrapping her in warm comfort as if to say, Everything will be alright tomorrow. She sighed as the anxieties of the day lifted away and she fell into a deep sleep filling with green fields and no worries.





I think Bob Marley said it best in Three Little Birds: Every little thing gonna be all right.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Take Two

When I look back at my older works, I cringe. I cringe at the run on sentences, mixed use of past or present tense, abundance of fluff words and more. It makes me cringe and shudder that I wrote that. It's not unusual either, many writers often say their first story is bad and will never see the light of day.

But why? Why not rewrite it? Start with a blank document and rewrite the story now that your writing has improved? You know more, you can fix plot holes, bad sentences and grammar. It may take some time. You may have to read through what you originally wrote, taking notes on plot points or certain dialogue that you'd like to keep. You can do it, make it the story it deserves to be.

I'm gonna try it.

I have a few finished stories (unfinished ones as well) that aren't bad stories but the writing is lacking. They were my first attempts at writing and I'd like to try to rewrite them. Fix the problems, make them into amazing stories with writing that isn't horrendous. Even if I never pursue publishing them, I want to do this, see if I can, challenge myself. I know the story, know how it starts and ends. So half the work is already done. If nothing else, I've found a good writing exercise to improve my writing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Megg Jensen talks indie publishing

Well, last winner never contacted us so Jamie I choose you! Congrats!

Alright guys, think I'm starting a pattern. An author to guest post once a month along with a goodie. Today's guest is Megg Jensen and she's here to tell her journey into the self publishing world. And as a prize for commenting, one luck person will have their pick: ebook or paperback of her debut novel Anathema. Oh yeah, before I forget (because I have) contest will be open to comments until February 28th. Enjoy!

Magic. Lies. Manipulation

Reychel is a slave girl sheltered from the outside world with no hope for escape. The night before her dreaded fifteenth birthday, her best friend disappears, leaving her to face her branding ceremony - when her master’s sigil is burned on the back of her bald scalp – alone. She soon discovers nothing is as it seems when people desperate for freedom beg for her help.

Can Reychel learn to believe in herself in time?


Thanks for telling your story Megg and now, without further ado:

Why did I decide to go indie? You might be surprised to know that I didn't exhaust all of my options for traditional publishing. In fact, I withdrew my manuscript from the consideration of two agents to go independent.

Think I'm crazy?

Exciting News

I got an agent! I got published! Ummm.... I wish! Sorry, it's not that sort of news. I do have exciting news though. I stumbled upon the blog of Megg Jensen the other day while trying to figure out what publishing route I want to take. Megg writes YA like me and that alone is what stopped me. I read through a few posts, read part of the sample of her novel (which I highly enjoyed and want to read more) and discovered she went with e-pub and her first book is out on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook AND she will have her book in paperback too. All three are formats every author should desire right now. Ebooks are taking off, more and more people are buying Nooks, Kindles and eReaders so naturally our books should be available in those formats.

I'm getting sidetracks from my point.

Seeing how Megg is in the genre I am and she has succeeded in getting her book out there I dropped her a line asking if she would do a guest post. She said YES! So, dear readers, keep your eyes open. Megg will be dropping by with her story and hopefully between me and her we can figure out a prize for a contest too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lost

I'm getting to that critical point in my writing. There is little more I can do, I've had a few people read and give me their thoughts, I've reworked my query and now I have to decide what to do. But what do I do?

Since I've started this blog I've learned so much about the writing world. Tons of advice to sift through and a lot has been extremely helpful. The biggest thing I think I've learned is about agents and publishing. I've learned that agents get a ton of queries EACH DAY. They have to sift through those queries along with reading partials and full manuscripts. They slog through slush piles each day looking for a gem and when they find that gem they snatch it right?

Nope.

The main thing I've learned about agents is they are really caring people. Even if  they are rejecting you. Why? Because they want writers to succeed. That means they will pass up the gems. Not because it's not shiny enough but because they feel they can't do the gem justice. An agent will pass up an amazing story because they feel that is more fair than taking the story and having it sit unsold because they couldn't find someone interested  in it. They pass it up in hopes another agent will be successful. (Of course sometimes a good story is passed up because there's no market for it either. After all it's the agent's job to sell the story and can you really blame them for passing on something they can't sell? I can't.)

And this is where I become lost.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shooting myself would be less painful

I won a query critique. Which was cool and exciting. I need the input, need to figure out if I'm getting on the right track on explaining what Being Human is about. I am getting there, trust me on that, but right now I'm a bit frustrated. It seems no matter what I say, which angle I approach, people are getting the wrong idea. They are being led in the wrong direction, thinking one part of the story is the whole plot and advising me to focus on that.

Obviously I'm doing something wrong.

Obviously I need to change the way I approach my query. I know what the plot is. Which is Tommy's trying to understand what it means being human even though he isn't. That is the focus of the story, the journey Tommy takes. He grows from being full of apathy for the human world, only caring about surviving to being ready to sacrifice himself for the ones he loves.

Now, how do I do it? The story is cut up into four parts, each one with it's own little plotline that moves the main plot along. It also takes place over three decades and I found that tricky to show. But maybe that's where I'm going wrong. I'm trying to give each minor plot a spot in the query when what I need to do is focus solely on the main plot: Tommy learning to be human. Everything else, names and years passed, does not matter.

Guess this means I'm starting from scratch again. Joy.

PS: For the record I know there is a show on SyFy called Being Human. I know 132,000 is a high word count for a YA novel. I KNOW! Stop reminding me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A different kind of Valentine's Day love

"It's a boy!"

All the energy she had been fighting to hold onto blew out with a sigh as she slumped back. She closed her eyes, then forced them back open. Not yet, can't sleep yet. All around doctors and nurses hustled, checking on the small bundle one held. Her fingers twitched and anxiety filled her chest. She wanted to see! Why were they taking so long? She looked at her husband, desperation in her voice.

"What's taking so long?"

Her husband stroked her damp hair from her face, trying to reassure her. "They're just making sure he's okay."

Finally the nurse brought the bundle over. She lifted her arms, eager despite the fatigue rolling through her. The bundled weight her arms down, even with the help of both the nurse and her husband. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath and preparing herself. She knew there would be damage, the ultrasound had shown a cleft lip and palate but there was no way of knowing how bad it'd be until the baby was born.

Still love him. She assured herself and peeked one eye open. She gasped, unable to help it.

"Doctors say it's a little worse than they thought but it's easily fixed." Her husband started.

"He's beautiful." She whispered. She lifted her baby close, planting a kiss on his forehead. He waved a fist and a soft noise came from his mouth. She laughed at the noise, pride exploding.

"You need your rest." The nurse said after a moment, lifting the baby away.

She wanted to protest, but her arms had shaken badly as she cradled her baby and it was a fight to stay conscious. She slumped back, taking her husbands hand. "He's so beautiful." She repeated.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ready, set, WAIT!

Ideas are exciting. When they first form you rush to put the idea into motion, unable to find enough time in the day. You got to bed thinking about it, probably dreaming about it too and wake with it at the front of your mind. It consumes your thoughts and you eagerly neglect everything else for the sake of the idea.

When a story forms in my head that's what it's like for me. I spend every second I can writing down the words forming in my head, visualizing the new characters. Having to stop writing is a chore and I jump back into the new idea as soon as possible. Before I know it 10K words have flown by, another the next day. I'm on a roll, racing towards the end.

Only to falter when I reach the halfway mark. In my excitement I over estimated the distance, treating the story like a sprint instead of the marathon it is. Now I'm struggling to finish, only 2 or 3K words written. And that's if I'm lucky to get anything written that day. I trudge and stumble determined to finish the marathon, hoping for a second wind. Sometimes I get the second wind but it's never as strong as the initial burst.

So I've learned my lesson.

Umm.... probably not. When a new idea forms it's hard not to burst off the starting blocks. Hard not to be overcome by the excitement of the idea urging you to run as fast as you can. But maybe, just maybe now that I've figured out this hurdle, the next new idea that pops into my head I'll remind myself I'm running a marathon and not a quick sprint. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's only Tuesday

Wow, a post every day this week so far. I am usually not this chatty. In fact, right now I'm far from chatty. Right now I want to go curl up in bed and have it be tomorrow when I open my eyes. Why does it need to be tomorrow you ask? Well, I'm just not feeling the love today. It's not like it's been a bad day. Far from it. But some days just suck.

You know what I'm talking about.

You get up and sit in your favorite chair or at the kitchen table with a bowl of cereal in front of you and all you can think is, "I want to go back to sleep!" Some days the motivation isn't there, some days even the simplest task is annoying as hell! Then, to top it off, you have to go to work. Or an appointment. Or your friends keep calling because they want to go out for lunch.

Or in my case, I need to write!

I need to write and the desire and motivation just isn't there. I ask people on twitter to kick me, plead on Facebook for someone to yell at me and then munch on the brownies I made in hopes the chocolate has magical powers to get my butt moving. Unfortunately that never happens. (If someone knows of some magical brownies that motivate please TELL ME!) It doesn't help when I see articles on writing detailing all the steps I still need to go through to be published. Before I started this I read one on queries that was about how queries can give insight into the author's writing. That was nice bit of panic because if you've read my other posts you know writing a query is my worst nightmare. Then to top everything off, I feel like I'm complaining too much. That all I ever do on this blog is complain, complain, complain. It's not true, I know that but when it's one of those days I feel like a non-stop bitchfest.

Oh well, big deal, I vented and you listened. Thanks, that means a lot. Really it does. Think I'll eat some more brownies - even if they don't have magical powers. Tomorrow is another day, a fresh start to get my butt in gear and pump out those words. Maybe between now and then I'll convince my boyfriend to give me a back rub. He is my boyfriend after all, it's his job to make me happy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dark and Stormy Night Blogfest contest

I found something quite fun. A blogfest contest (ha! That rhymes!) hosted by Brenda Drake at her blog. It's easy to enter, just state the first sentence in your story. See? Easy! Ready to see what I got? Here goes nothing!


Name: Patricia Lynne
Title: Being Human
Genre: YA paranormal

It's said vampires forget their human lives.




Want to enter? Click on the link above, Brenda has all the details on this fun blogfest. Also, check out the other entries and blogs.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In one paragraph...

One of my biggest struggles in writing is summarizing. Figuring out in a few paragraphs how to describe my story. How do I condense an over 100,000 word story into 500 words? Less if I'm doing a query letter. This is a big deal too! A lot of agents think if a writer can't write a 200 word query effectively describing their story then chances are the story won't be that good either.

Bad news for me eh?

I really struggle with queries and short summaries of any of my stories. I can't figure out what to say. I can figure out a hook - an opening sentence to entice readers to continue. Being Human is For Tommy life is simple, revolving around one thing: Survival. Not bad, I think. It tells the reader something important about Tommy and hopefully makes them wonder. Especially when they see the next few sentences. For JJ's story his hook is JJ has a secret, he's not like other boys. After that I'm clueless. Especially since I know what both stories are about. I know everything Tommy goes through and I'm in the process of writing JJ's adventure but describing either in a few short paragraphs... I can't find the words. Not a single one. It's not just those two stories either but every story I've written. Writing a description stumps me.

You can see why that's bad news for me. Especially with all the hard work I've put into Being Human. The story really has come a long way and I've had positive comments from people who have read samples and friends who have read the whole story. So what do I do? How do I overcome this huge obstacle? Especially since agent or not, I'm going to need a back blurb or front flap description of the story to entice the reader to crack the book open.

Someone do me a favor, go two posts back. Remember that one? Stress reduction kit? I need that right now.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Green Day

Today I'm feeling a little generous. Today I feel like telling you something very important about me. I love Green Day.

What? You really think that's not important? Not to my writing? You're wondering did they influence me, are they who I listen to when I write? I guess the answer would be no. Green Day doesn't influence my writing and I don't listen to much of anything when I write. That doesn't change the fact that I still love them and am devoting this whole post to them.

Wait, this was suppose to be about me, wasn't it?

Well, it still is because this post is about my love for them. It started one sunny summer day.... Okay, let me be truthful, I don't remember much about that day. What time of year it was, how old I was or any of that. I just remember turning my dad's huge satellite dish on and finding MTV2. Back then MTV played music. A lot. MTV2 even more. I sat watching the videos and most of them didn't interest me. Then this one came on. It started in a mental hospital and the nurses put a guitar around a guys neck, they wheel another up to a set a drums and got the bass around the third guys neck. Then they started singing.

OMG! I was blown away. Do you believe in love at first sight? I do because that's what it was. Instant love. I learned who they were, sat in front of my tape player, finger poised over the record button so I could record them when they came on the radio. Which they rarely did and it annoyed me to no end they never played that song I saw on MTV2. They kept playing When I come around. To this day that is still my least favorite song because of that.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stress Reduction Kit: Bang Head Here

I've been seeing a lot of discussion on building platforms and target markets. Everyone has a say in the matter, everyone has advice. That's not what this post is about. I have no advice. I have a question.

How?

How do I attract people interested in what I'm writing? This may seem like a stupid question but trust me, it's not. Because I hear a lot of conflicting advice. Some say follow other writers similar to you and their readers will see you. Then there's the opposite of that which is follow the readers and connect with them. I also hear Don't follow to many people on twitter. Two tweets later someone posts, Follow people, having few followers will make people not follow you. There's also talk about following agents, editors and publishers. You need to get your foot in the door. Don't forget to follow this chat on Twitter, make a fan page on Facebook, do this, do that. All the advice and suggestions make my head swim, rushing to try each piece of advice only to be warned, Make sure you leave time for writing!

At which time I firmly plant my head against my desk. Pulling the plug to the Internet never looked so inviting! Unplug and relax with nothing but my writing in front of me. Ah, that sounds like a dream!

I'm not asking you to comment your advice today. I'm asking you to take a moment, unwind. You don't have to pull the plug or turn twitter and Facebook off, but do take a moment. Reach inside and find your inner peace and become one with yourself because when you open your eyes the world will be waiting, ready to spew every piece of advice it can get its grubby hands on.

I feel better already. How about you?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You want to what? Take my baby? Okay.

Through this blog, and twitter and well, social networking in general, I have meet a lot of people. People I share the same interests, people who are attempting the same journey I am and most importantly, people interested in my story. I've gotten comments telling me to keep them posted on my story, to keep the samples coming and a few who even offered to read and critique.

Admission time: That scares me.

It scares me like query letters scare me. What if the reader doesn't like it? What if they tell me it's crap and all my samples were misleading? What if I don't have a chance in hell of getting published? So many what ifs dragging me down and hindering me. But you know what? Those what ifs don't matter. They are just my insecurities, my fears I need to overcome on this journey.

And putting it that way excites me.

So I'm going to do it. When Erin is done grammar policing the current draft, I'm going to ask someone else to read it. I'm going to give my baby to another and trust that they will give it the same care I do. (And hopefully be gentle when they give me their opinion!) I need the fresh eyes to make this story the best possible, I need to cast my fears aside and take the next step. Most importantly, dear reader, I need you. Who's with me?