Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year/Bloggiversary!

Hello all my friends!

Today starts a very special day. It's the day where I get to share my love of books with you while celebrating the fact that I made it an entire year on this blog without (completely) giving up. Yes, I have been lazy the last two months. But I get a pass for November because of NaNoWriMo. I have no real excuse for December other than I was completely and utterly lazy. Oh well.


So to celebrate my year of blogging and the coming of the new year, I'm participating in the Happy New Year 2010 giveaway hop hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

So what can you win, my pretties? Well, I'm here to tell you. Because I love all of you, and I'm damn proud of myself for continuing to blog all through the year (even though it wasn't regular) I'm giving out TWO gifts! First off is a $20 book from The Book Depository, and also a $10 book for a second winner!

And how do you win these things? Easy! Just fill out the form below! Simple as that! Oh wait, you want to know if there are extra entries? Well of course there are! You can each get up to four other entires for doing various things! Isn't that awesome?

So what are you waiting for! Get to it, my lovelies! Time is of the essence!

Disclaimer: Just so you guys know, this is only open to followers of the blog, so click that little follow button on the right side of the page. Also, as long as The Book Depository delivers to your country, this giveaway is international! Have fun!




Now get to the other giveaways, you fools!



For those of you who are still around, I love you for getting to the bottom and reading this. I'd give you a cookie if I had one.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yes, she lives

Yeah, I am alive. Shocking, right?

I was a little burnt out after I finished NaNo. That's right, I am again a winner. I finished the second to last day, which meant that I didn't get that sweatshirt I was going for. (I told myself if I finished by Nov. 25, I would buy the NaNoWriMo sweatshirt. That didn't work out.

Oh well. So, I've been extraordinarily lazy. But I am alive. And my goal is to continue to write blog posts more regularly for the rest of the year (yes, I realize there are only two weeks left) and into next year. Soon I'll be doing a year-end blog post next week, and that also means that my anniversary is coming up. And you can look forward to a giveaway to celebrate.

So, what have I been doing instead of writing these past couple of weeks?

  1. I drew this lovely picture for my dear friend Sarah over at Squidink for Christmas. Its her characters Eva and Kai celebrating Christmas on a beach. They live in a desert country, so there wouldn't be any snow or anything. I have told her she needs to color it.


  2. I've been Christmas shopping. Man, I've forgotten how much I dislike Christmas shopping. Not because I hate giving things to people. In fact, it's the exact opposite. I love giving things to people. All the time. Most of my friends can attest that I like gift-giving all year round. My problem is I'm very indecisive about things. So I don't know what to get during the holidays. At other times, there isn't much weight to a random gift, so I don't have to put much thought into it. *le sigh* I don't mind the Christmas songs and holiday drinks, however.
  3. Working. Working my little tail bone off. That, and a five-day vacation to visit my parents. I celebrated Thanksgiving late since I had to work on the holiday. Fortunately, my family was sweet and held making the big dinner until I got there. Super sweet. So I spent some time catching up with friends and family. And getting my oil changed.
  4. Spending time with the boyfriend. Hey, I have to find time for him too, right? Actually, he gave me the best Christmas presents early. (since we won't be spending the actual holiday together. Are you guys seeing a theme here?) He quite literally gave me the gift that I've been wanting for more than a year. Oh, and jewelry. (Because, you know, girls love jewelry.)
So that's what I've been up to. Tell me one thing you've done in the last month that I don't know about!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Live blogging take 2

12:07 p.m. - Okay. I'm going to be trying this live blogging thing again. We'll see how it goes, since last time I failed miserably. But I really need to get some writing done today, so I'm going to give it another go.

I did write about a hundred words last night, but I'm not going to count them yet (don't worry, I wrote them after midnight). I just got up (blame it on working a night job) and I'm going to write at least a 1k before I figure out what to do for lunch. See y'all in a bit!

1:18 p.m. - Taking a small break to order lunch, then I'm diving back in. I still have another 500 words or so to go until I catch up to today's word count. Oh! And I forgot to mention, my goal is 5k total today. It would be better if it was 7k or 8k, but I'm thinking that's unlikely. So, goal is 5k for now. I may change that if I am able to meet that goal. Anyway, here are my stats:
  • Words written today: 1,500
  • Total words: 34,504

1:59 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 2,011
  • Total words: 35,014
Taking a break because my lunch was delivered. I'm going to take a full twenty minutes off and watch half a show, then I'll write during the commercial breaks through the rest of it. I'll be back hammering at the words by 3 p.m., I think.


2:59 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 2,238
  • Total words: 35,241
Lunch break wasn't nearly long enough, but I'm going to try to suffer through the next round anyway. TV is successfully shut off, and I'm heading back to my desk now. (But I don't want to write! Too bad.) *le sigh*



3:46 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 3,053
  • Total words: 36,056
I need a de-stressor break now. So I'm going to take a half an hour off, go watch last week's Big Bang Theory and not think about writing. I can feel the tension starting at the back of my neck and my shoulders, so this is a well-deserved break, I think. Hey, that's 3,000 words in four hours. Not half bad, I think.


5:45 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 4,020
  • Total words: 37,023
My break was very nice, and then I went back to writing just as I said I would. I'm starting to get a little tired of writing though. I was going to update this a half an hour ago, but my mom called me and we caught up for a little bit. But, now I'm headed back in. Last thousand words are going down. I'm setting my goal time for 6:30 at the very latest that I'm going to cross my 5k mark. So, let's get going!



6:27 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 5,029
  • Total words: 38, 032
I did it! I made my goal! Huzzah, hurray and yippie! I feel like I should celebrate, but I have no idea what I should do to celebrate. Oh! I know! I'm totally going to play some Uncharted 3! Muahahaha! Now I'm excited. Although, I've heard there are spiders coming. And I hate spiders. Yuck.

Anyway, I think I'm going to come back at 8 p.m. or maybe a little later. I decided I'm totally going for my 7k today. That will bring me to only 10k left. And that, my friends, is a number that I like. So. I'll see you back here in a few hours, yes?


9:07 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 5,888
  • Total words: 38,891
Started writing during a hangout with some NaNoWriMo buddies down in Idaho. I wrote nearly 900 words the first timed writing we did. I think I'm going to be able finish my last 2k during this time. I'll update when we're all finished.



11:24 p.m. - 
  • Words written today: 8,040
  • Total words: 41,043
That's right! Not only did I reach my goal of 5k, not only did I reach my second goal of 7k but I wrote more than eight thousand words today! I am so exhausted, though. I finished my last timed writing with my fellow NaNo-ers on webchat and I only had 140 words to go until I crossed that 8k finish line. Man, does it feel fantastic! It really does. So, I'm going to eat dinner now, watch some TV and veg out before bed.

Live blogging take 2 = a success.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo update

So, maybe live blogging isn't for me?

Last Friday, the day I gave myself a goal of 3,000 words, ended up being the first day that I didn't write anything. Which is a little sad, in my book. Then, of course, I was far too busy on Saturday to get any sort of writing done (I was judging debate, and then I had work). So, that was really unproductive and all.

This ended in me actually falling a day behind in my writing, despite all my trying to keep far enough above the "par" line to not fall behind.

But that's okay. Falling behind isn't such a bad thing, because you can always catch up. There are always those days where you get so wrapped up in writing that you come out way above what you thought you'd have. I like those days.

But the real important thing is you don't give up - no matter the project you're working on. I was able to catch up to daily word count yesterday with the help of my lovely friend Sarah over at Squidink and her mother. I'm staying with them for a four day weekend. The only reason I'm going to make it through without killing my word count is that they are both doing NaNo too.

So tell me, how are your projects going right now? Do you feel behind or ahead? Let me know.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Live blogging Friday

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you're doing great today, and if you're involved in NaNoWriMo, you're keeping up with your word count.

My good friend Ashelynn over at A Gypsy Writer did a live blogging day last week that looked like fun, so I'm going to try doing that today. I'll have updates all throughout the day (starting now, 1:24 a.m. my time) saying what I'm doing as for writing, thinking and everything in between.

What's the point? One, to share a little about my writing process (like the physical process, not the writing itself) and to show you that even people who have full-time jobs like me can get some writing in. Also, to give myself a goal to reach and be held accountable. My goal for today is 3,000 words total (hey, I do have a job, remember?).

What will I be working on, you ask? I'll be writing on my personal NaNoWriMo novel. It's a young adult contemporary – the first I've ever attempted in this genre. Here is a synopsis:

Lenna Foster thought she was going into what would be the best year of her life. But after a tragic accident just before her senior year, Lenna nearly dies when she falls into acute kidney failure due to her injuries. She's saved when her brother, a donor match, steps in and gives her a kidney. Now Lenna is trying to put her life back together, but the pieces aren't fitting like she thinks they should. Her friends and teachers are acting so strange around her; her boyfriend is suddenly distant; for some reason, her mother will barely look at her anymore. Lenna turns to her brother, her literal savior, for help and support. But even he is keeping a deadly secret – one Lenna will never see coming.

What do you think? Let me know. On to the blogging!

1:28 a.m. – Wrote a whopping 176 words from midnight on, which is a little dismal. I spent most of the time doodling and listening to the Next to Normal soundtrack. I'm headed to bed now and will be up later this morning for more writing shenanigans.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Twitter

I will admit when Twitter first started to get big, I was not that much of a fan. I didn't get it. I couldn't see how it would be beneficial to know John was eating a bagel or Missy was feeling blue.

It was a professor of mine who encouraged me to get a twitter account to other journalists for a story I was working on. It worked. I got several interviews through the site. But I still didn't tweet.

Then I started getting on it more as a way to connect with friends from whom I moved away. I started realizing there were authors that I admire on it. Then I realized there were other writers just like me using it.

Since the day I've started, I've made many friends and had several fangirl moments. I'm so connected to the news and authors in the field I want to go into. Twitter has really become invaluable to me - which is something I never would have imagined saying two years ago.

Writers can easily connect on Twitter, but some ways are easier than others. The best way is through hashtags. Here are a few of my favorites.


  • #amwriting: This is the most generic and used hashtag. There are a lot of people who use it, and so a lot of opportunities to connect. It is also very easy to be drowned out and lost in the shuffle. Although, when you have a question you want answered, I've always combined the #amwriting tag with #quickquestion and have never failed to get an answer. 



  • #writetip: This is a great hashtag if you're looking for inspiration or help that someone's given. This is a great way to find what other writers are struggling with or working out. It's also a good way to share what you've learned so far. 



  • #pubtip: This, like the last one, is all about getting published. A lot of publishers and editors and agents use to share tips about getting published. There is some great advice out there, so make sure you are keeping your eye on it.

  • #NaNoWriMo: This one goes along with @NaNoWriMo and @NaNoWordSprints. They are generally centered around the month of November. NaNo is where a lot people come together for a month of literary abandon. I've talked about this before. @NaNoWordSprints runs timed writes where participants write as much as they can in whatever span of time the NaNo gods choose. They are set with breaks for rest in between so you can do what needs to be done before the next one.

  • #wordmongering: This and the next tag are actually my favorite hashtags recently. They were created by a fellow writer for a way for others to writer together. The principle with #wordmongering is a set wordsprint that starts on every hour and is set for a half an hour. Anyone can jump in at any time and total words are announced at the end of the round. However, positivity is the key with these people, so check your negativity at the door.

  • #editmongering: The same as #wordmongering only you edit. Started by the same people, it's supposed to be a half an hour of editing starting at :30 every hour. Although, I will admit it's become much more lax and used recently whenever anyone is editing.

There are many more hashtags out there for writers, but these are my favorites. What ones do you use the most? 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Real life can be weird

So on Wednesday I talked about the day I went to the Lewis and Clark interpretive center. Today I want to talk about what happened the rest of the day. Warning - this could get a little long. But it's well worth it. Or you can just scroll through the pictures.

My parents: Jeff and Stacey
For those of you who know me on Twitter, I tweeted that I had the weirdest day ever. It truly was. My parents came to visit me, see my new place, see where I work, make sure things were okay with me. We had lunch, visited my work, saw the center, visited the falls. Then, things took a turn for the weird.

My parents were staying at The O'Haire Motor Inn. As I waited in the car for my mom to get checked in, I'm watching her through the window wondering why she was cracking up.

She comes out and says, "You're not going to believe this. The restaurant is open now, the patio is out back and the mermaids go live at 9."

Yeah, mermaids. This place had mermaids. But not only that. It's a motor inn. That means, I'm sad to say, people can drive right up to their doors. Yes, even the second floor. You can't imagine this place, guys. It was so hokey! Right down to the plastic tiki torches out at the patio.

Here are a few of the highlights of this really odd place:

Check out this old fashion ironing board from the '50s 
That's right, it's patent pending, everyone!

Need a timer on your bathroom light?

Don't forget a bottle opener by the hair dryer.
Just in case you drink and dry.

That is real marble trim there. No kidding.
At dinner we ate "family style" where we all shared everything. My lovely parents decided to make dirty jokes. I couldn't believe it. Apparently I'm old enough to hear my parents' teasing now. It's sad. Then, my stepfather, who had admittedly had a few drinks, decided to start bending the forks at the table.

Then of course we had to go back for the mermaids. It's set in this old bar that looks like it also stepped out of the '50s. It has all these plastic beach stuff everywhere and is packed with people. At 9, the mermaids came out.

Here are a few highlights. Sorry about the poor quality, but the bar was quite dark and the first picture is what it looks like when the flash is on.








Did I mention Daryl Hannah, the woman who starred in the Hollywood blockbuster Splash kissed the bar?


The night didn't end there. Oh no. There were the two people who sat down next to us at the Sip and Dip Lounge who were there for recruiting. Everyone thought they were dating or married, but she was quick to tell everyone she had a nice family waiting at home.

The place was packed. Like fully. Standing room only and barely that. In fact, that was about the moment that this man was pressed into my mother and started hitting on her. She smiles and he introduces himself as Jeff. She laughs and points to my stepdad.

"My husband, Jeff," she says.

Then Jeff goes over and the two Jeffs start bonding. I couldn't believe my eyes.

And yet, it still doesn't end.

Say hello to Piano Pat, an actual live piano bar player who had to be in her 80s. Most of her songs sounded the same, and she pretty much didn't care what people wanted to hear. She played what she wanted to play.

She wasn't all that good, but people were so into it by then, it didn't matter. The entire (and when I say entire, I mean there wasn't a person that I saw who wasn't joining in) broke out singing to "Sweet Caroline." Have you ever seen 150 drunk people join in with an 80-year-old piano player as mermaids swim in the background? Because let me tell you, it's surreal.

So that's pretty much the whole story. Except - one last thing. The O'Haire Motor Inn is known for one other thing: rubber duckies just waiting on your bed for you when you get there. I took mine home.


So, sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

History can be helpful

I recently moved to Great Falls, Montana this summer, which – for those of you who don't know – is on the Lewis and Clark trail. Great Falls is the famous falls that Lewis and Clark had to go around while traveling on the Missouri River.

It is here, in the place where they faced their greatest obstacle (not even the Rocky Mountains challenged the expedition as much as the falls) that the Lewis and Clark interpretive center is located.


Black Eagle Falls, the first and smallest
My mother and I visited the center, where I learned more about the amazing journey those men took. I also got to travel up to the falls and see the magnitude of what they truly were.

As I stared at the beautiful waterfalls, which now do have dams that make them no less impressive, I started to imagine what it would be like if I'd been in Lewis and Clark's shoes. What would it have been like to face such a challenge.

Rainbow Falls - the second of the series of five
It is in this way that history can help your writing. Putting yourself in the shoes of others who have faced such daunting tasks such as that can help fuel your understanding of the tasks your characters face. Think of how much harder going around a waterfall would have been back then. Then think about how you can make things harder for your characters.

All of this will make for a better story.

So tell me – are you fans of history? Have you ever thought about applying history in some way to your writing outside of writing historical fiction? What amazing pieces of history do you have in your neck of the woods?

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo

Oh Monday. You've never looked so daunting.

So, for those of you who don't know (and I'm sure most of you out there do), tomorrow marks the start of NaNoWriMo. Oh yes.

NaNoWrimo is an international challenge to write 50,000 words in just the 30 days of November. It is a time for literary abandon. It is a time for dusting off your keyboards, putting away the Internet and stop all forms of procrastination that has kept you from writing the other 11 months of the year.

NaNoWriMo is different for everyone, but allows for a lot of people who don't normally consider themselves writers and allow them a way to become that, but it also helps give year-round writers a kick in the butt.

NaNo is a time of crazy. It's crazy to attempt to write 50,000 words in a month when you have a full-time job, are a full-time student, or have other responsibilities. It's maddening and will more than suck your time out.

But NaNo does something wonderful in the process. It allows a writer to get over themselves. It allows the plot and characters to take over when the writer's brain is so far gone that he/she couldn't really come up with anything even if he/she wanted to.

Writing happens in its truest form. Things you never dreamed about can come out. It's a journey that will take you places.

But NaNo isn't for everyone. NaNo requires crap writing. NaNo requires a writer to get over himself/herself and just plain write with no concern about it being good. Sure, everyone does a little editing while they work, but I'm talking whole chunks. Yes, chapter 6 is the worst thing you've ever written. Oh well, move on.

A lot of people can't do that. And that's okay. We all move at our different paces and need to write in our own ways. Maggie Stiefvater does not like NaNo. NaNo makes me get things done faster than I ever work outside of November. Of course, it is a major stress too.

So tell me - are you doing NaNo this year? If so, what are you looking forward to? What's your favorite part? If you don't like NaNo, why not? Would you ever consider trying it? Let me know in the comments.

Edit: Oh! And if any of you want to be NaNo buddies, I'm so ready for that! My username is Annerb. Come find me!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The power of art

Art makes us feel things. At least, that should be the point. You want to invoke an emotion, to affect people.

On occasion, you stumble upon something you really want to share. That's what I want to do today. This flash story comes from Yuumei, someone I watch on DeviantArt. Please read the story and consider signing the petition.


Father by `yuumei on deviantART

Monday, October 17, 2011

Plotter vs. Pantser

In writing communities, there seems to be two kinds of people: plotters and pantsers. Pretty much everyone I've met has been one of the two, or one masquerading as the other. It happens. Today I've decided to talk a little bit about both and what being them means.


The Plotter:
What: Plotters are those people who can't work without the idea settled in their brains. They know what they want because they've spent time thinking about it. A plotter will always have most of his or her story mapped out before he or she sits down to write.

Benefits: Plotters always know where their story is going. They always have a solid direction to aim for. Plotters have a chance to look at the overall direction of the story and know, before they set out, that something isn't right. They come to the table prepared.

Possible drawbacks: It takes time to be a plotter. All that preparedness doesn't just happen. It takes work, and that work can take time. On the flip side, a well-plotted book before the first draft could mean less work down the line, too. Also, I find that having a plotted book beforehand can make some plotters rigid. Sometimes, they can't allow themselves room to change things if they've plotted something too specifically. It can make it harder if you run into trouble later down the road.


The Pantsers:

What: Pantsers are those people who fly by the seat of their pants during the first draft. They are the kind of people who have a vague idea of a theme or a couple of scenes, but that's about it. They make things up as they go along, and don't worry about not knowing what's going to happen next. The characters will lead them there.

The benefits: Being a pantser can be exciting. There isn't any pressure. They can change something at the drop of a dime. It's also very freeing to be a pantser. There isn't any of the rigidity like in the plotter's world. Also, sometimes the story will go places you never would have dreamed it would go before you sat down. There is the possibility of having a better story then even you would have dreamed.

Possible downsides: It can be a tough road for a pantser. When things are going great, there isn't a problem. Ideas are flowing and characters are having fun (or not, depending on the story). But when suddenly those ideas run out – and trust me, they will at some point – there is nothing for a pantser to fall back on. Also, there could be a need for a ton of rewriting if the story got off track enough during the drafting process.


Now, there are variations within those distinctions. For instance, you have the plotters that spend months making lists and coming up with character back story and settings and planning out of every detail including what the character got on their third birthday and the first time they vomited. Then, you have the plotters who write a one page vague description of the "events" in the novel. Both are still plotters, and there are a million degrees between them.

I always thought of myself as a pantser. I've written pretty much all my novels starting with a vague idea of the themes and a half-formed idea of how I wanted the thing to end. I'm learning, however, that I think I might be a plotter. Or, at least, I think I want to be a plotter.

Let me explain. I'm currently in rewriting mode. This is the third draft I've done of my story. After a lengthy, hours-long conversation with my critique partner last night, I'm considering throwing out my last few months of work and starting fresh again because there are problems with the plot. All this because I wrote the first draft with no idea what was happening. So, a large chunk of the story sucked. I knew it sucked, but I was in denial. Now I have lost a few months work and have so much more looking forward to me. I'm not excited.

That's why, for NaNoWriMo this year, I'm going to plot out my story idea. It's something I've never done, so I'm a little nervous. But, that's what I'm going to spend my next two weeks doing, instead of agonizing over my current WIP. Because that needs a break.

So tell me, are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you think that you are really one but act like the other (like me)? If your a plotter (or even if you're not), do you have any tips for me and my two-week plotting adventure? I'd love to know!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Music

I know this is coming really late today. Oh well. Maybe I'll be a better blogger next week. Maybe. Probably not.


I just ran into this music video today and it spoke to me. Isn't it weird how things that don't have anything to do with your writing can get you inspired?

I really like this music video. It like the grittiness and the beat. I love the stop motion bits and the disconnected almost dreamlike feeling to it. It's a song that makes me feel pumped. And that's a good thing when you're writing.

The lyrics are all in danish, but you don't really need to know them to get the feeling of the song. (But, if you want to know, I've been told it's about an unnamed pop star who uses his fame to get girls, and the singer is trying to defame him. Or, at least I think that was what I was told.)





Isn't it great? So tell me, what music currently inspires you and why?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Voice

Voice is a hard thing to pin down when you're writing. Don't fall into some common pitfalls. Watch the video to find out more!





So what do you guys think? Please let me know!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Support is important

Let's face it: Writing is hard. It's tough, it's lonely, and it makes you want to pull out all of your hair at times. If you're looking to make this into your career, you a pretty much a masochist with all the crap you're going to be putting yourself through.

It's a hard, maddening process of writing a book that you aren't sure will ever go anywhere. My current WIP may not even be up to snuff to land me an agent (although, we try not to think about these things). Writers constantly berate themselves for not being good enough, whine that everything is going wrong and throw ourselves into very solid brick walls again and again – and I'm almost metaphorical about that.

That's why writers need a good level of support. We need people who understand what we are going through to some extent, who realize exactly how important this is to us. These people are our cheerleaders, the people we go to when we need a shoulder to cry on or to whom we take our drafts when we've written something of which we're proud.

These people can come in many forms: parents, siblings, friends, significant others, children, or critique partners. My best friend and critique partner Sarah is the person I go to when I need help, support or feedback. She cheers me on when I'm feeling down, swoons over my characters when I want her to swoon and keeps me on track when I falter. She is the best thing for which I could ever ask.

These people are important so that we don't drive ourselves insane. Without them, we could forget who we are and what is most important to us. They remind us there is a life outside of writing while allowing us to hole ourselves up for hours on a writing binge. They get us.

Today, tell the people who support your writing what they mean to you. Take them out to coffee, bake a cake, or just give them a hug. Because without them, this already hard process would be damn near impossible.

So tell me, who is your biggest supporter? And, if you're feeling up to it, tell me what you're going to do for them?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DIVERGENT Review

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

From Goodreads: Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

Cover: The cover is deeply symbolic of the story, but you don't really get that until about halfway through the story – which is okay. The city backdrop is the city it's set in. The clouds and stormy sky represents the discord in the world of the novel. The fire sign responds to a group of people the main character chooses. It's not a standout cover that I swoon over, but it's nice and fits the story well.

Story: At first, it was hard for me to get into the story, which follows Tris (Beatrice) who needs to decide whether she's going to stay in the group she was born into or switch. The world is such that there are different factions that honor different qualities, and there is no crossover between them. At first I was really turned off by the strange name of the factions and it was difficult for me to step into the world. But that quickly changed as I got used to Tris and became invested in her struggle to get through an initiation ceremony. There's more at stake for her than other recruits because she's hiding the fact that she's divergent, meaning she has traits for more than one faction. And in a world that's all about separation, that's a dangerous thing to be.

Characters: Tris was a little whiny to begin with, but she quickly turns into a strong character who has many choices ahead of her. Once we get past the choosing ceremony and she enters initiation and the action actually starts. Tris is the kind of character who seems a little weak until she grows into herself – the kind of character with whom a lot of people can identify. She is, however, a little dense when it comes to the other characters. Four is pretty much my favorite character in the book. He is Tris' trainer and is totally swoon-worthy with his mysterious past and his tough exterior. I think he's also the most interesting character once you learn more about him.

Overall: Overall I give DIVERGENT 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was hard for me to get into, but once I did I was completely invested. It's definitely an interesting spin on a world, and I really can't wait for the next installment to find out what happens to our heros.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Awards!

Editor's note: This was supposed to go live Wednesday, but there was a problem with a link and wouldn't save. Then my laptop ran out of batteries and I had to go to work. Yesterday, I was sick. I have strep throat, so I wasn't feeling up to starting the old computer. Anyway, better late than never.

Wow. Just, wow. I've received a couple of blog awards lately, so I suppose I need to get them up here.

Both K.T. Hanna over at The Scribble Muse and Lissa Clouser over at Quid for Quill both nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award.

If you haven't, you should check both their blogs out. Also, they are both terrific people who write some of the more intelligent comments on my posts. So thank you both, for the award and for your lovely comments. You can't know how much they both mean to me.

Anyway - there are rules for this award. They are:


1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you
2. Share seven random facts about you
3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!


So, here are seven random facts about me.

1. I don't really like to shower until I'm in the shower. Not that I run around dirty or anything. It's just, I'll put off showering in the morning until the very last second. But once I'm in there, I can't figure out why I made such a big deal about it. I'm weird.

2. I used to be really good at the clarinet. I haven't played in years, and I know the last time I picked it up I had no where near the breath I used to. I miss playing in a band though. It was a very fun time for me, but I have no idea where I would use those skills now.

3. I would take potatoes over chocolate any day. What can I say? I am so an Irish girl.

4. Although I am Irish (both in name and in ancestry), I'm actually more Norwegian. And, if you believe the historian, I am 34th(?) descendant from the first king under united Norway. Yes – I am a long-lost Norwegian princess. Pretty awesome.

5. I spent a year as a reporter in Wyoming – but I get panic attacks when I have to make people uncomfortable. So, when there was a shooting and I had to go interview random neighbors? Yeah, I broke down and cried. It was one of those brilliant moments of "Oh crap, I can't do this anymore."

6. I have a very addictive personality. Once I get into something, suddenly I'm doing it all the time. I'm also very competitive, so I want to be the best at whatever it is. That's how I did so well in debate my first year, although I was way over my head. I wanted to be the best, so I spent time on it. It's also the reason I will never touch drugs or WOW. I would never be able to pull myself away.

7. One of my biggest pet peeves is when drivers swerve around a car that's turning left. Especially when they are passing a line of cars that actually are waiting. First, no one is really that late all the time. Second, it's dangerous. So, I actually will pull a little over to the side just so cars behind me can't get around when I'm waiting for someone to turn left. That's right. I'm that kind of jerk.


Anyway. I also have another award! The lovely (teehee) Carla over at Library Mosaic nominated me a long time ago for the One Lovely Blog Award! Wow. So much love, guys. I thank you so much.

The rules of this one are very similar:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you
2. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!


So hard, right? Well here's the deal. Since most of the blogs that I would love to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award already have it, I'm going to combine them and give out the One Lovely Blog award! Now it can make it's way through the hoards of Write Campaigners out there. So, I'm nominating you all for both, unless you have one. Then, you just have the other. Get it?

Yeah, I'm a little evil like that.

Here is my list:

1. Sarah at Squidink because she's amazing.
2. K.T. Hanna at The Scribble Muse
3. Lissa Clouser at Quid for Quill
4. Jenn at A Single Bell
5. The View from Fairview
6. Nicole Setter at Ink and Prose
7. Bonnie Rae at Bonnie Rae, Just Words
8. Jessica Therrien at Imagination To Publication
9. Sheri L. Swift at Finding the joy in the journey
10. Jody Moller
11. Rebekah Loper at Rebekah Loper, writer
12. Clar Bowman-Jahn at Memoirs of a Writer
14. Jess at Write, Skate, Dream
15. Jill at Outside the Lines

And there you have it! Have a nice day, folks!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Writing is my center

I have had a crazy couple of years. I'm en route to have a few more.

Moving away to college five years ago was really hard for me. Then, there was all the going back and forth between my two homes – the college and the house I grew up in. Such instability and the fact that I was bouncing jobs for a few months at a time was hard. You're never with the same people, you're always trying to catch up with old friends, and the atmosphere is quite different.

Flash forward to my graduation where I moved home for a month (in which I was completely sick and had to have surgery) and then I got a job. My first real job. And it was in my field of study, which is quite good in this economy. I went to a town that I'd never been to in my memory (I think we drove through it when I was really little, but I don't remember) and had to start a life from scratch.

Fast forward to this summer when I quit that job without a plan. Serendipity stepped in offering me my dream job, and I moved back to my home state, although quite a bit further away from my family than my last job.

I'm just fitting my life back together again, getting things settled and trying to figure some stuff out.

The one thing that's been with it all? My writing.

I can't help but feel like me when I'm writing. Even when it's hard. Even when I want to rip my hair our because my characters are being annoying and refuse to do what I want them to. Even when I'm having a panic attack because my ending sucks – in the middle of writing it. Writing is so not easy, but I live for it.

Everyday I think about how I should be writing. Everyday I consider where my current WIP is going and what I can do to make it better. Everyday I study the things around me for writing purposes. Writing has ingrained itself into the very essence of who I am. I don't know who I would be without it today.

And there is something so calming about it to me. Even when it's high stress, I know that I can work through it. And when something else is stressing me or I feel like my life is out of control (a lot over the past five years, no?) I know I can sit down and write. It clears my brain, settles my nerves and makes the world seem like a better place.

What does writing do for you? Are you like me when it comes to writing and needing it in your life? Let me know!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Campaigner Challenge


Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!


I'm running a little late on this, but oh well. I'm getting to it. Here we go.



The Room Beyond

The door swung open; the door swung shut. Laurie couldn't take her eyes off it. The flash of metal in the room beyond – a small glimpse of another world – was everything for which she could hope.

She imagined what it would be like to be in there with her mother. Clad in the blue and white uniforms. Scrubbed clean until there wasn't a speck of dirt on her. In complete control of the situation. 

Maybe that’s what she wanted from it. Maybe it didn’t have anything to do with her mother at all. Maybe she just wanted for once in her life to feel she was the puppeteer rather than the puppet. She didn’t have that, though. She never would.

It was out of her hands; it was in the hands of those strangers. The ones that wielded scalpels and threw around terms Laurie didn’t understand. They were supposed to be the heros. They were supposed to save her mother. But they weren’t. 

She couldn’t watch. She tried to make herself, but failed. Instead, she waited, watching the door swing open and shut. Watching the scurry of professionals doing their job. Until, for the last time, the door swung shut.






This was a little quick work, but I hope you all enjoyed it. Please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mow your lawn

This morning I mowed my lawn. For a lot of you, this is not impressive. However, I am a 23-year-old renter who never had to mow my lawn when I lived with my parents. So, it was kind of a big deal for me.

Besides the obvious that mowing a lawn is work, I had this little problem. I couldn't get the stupid mower to turn on. I'd had my landlady explain it. I'd had my step-dad explain it when he was here. But, when I actually got out there to get the work done, suddenly it didn't work.

Confused, I tried again and again to pull that stupid cord, exhausting myself. Then I called my step-dad and told him my troubles. This is how the conversation went:

"Did you press the button?"

"Yes."

"Did you hold the lever down."

"Yes. I tried with both."

"Does it have gas?"

"Yes."

"Is there a button that says 'choke' or 'start'?"

"No."

"Well, it should work. I have to go." And he hung up.

Confused and angry, I tried again. And again. I eyed the vehicles with men in them, seriously considering waving them down and begging for assistance. I plopped myself down on my porch and glared at the stupid machine ready to give up.

But I didn't. Taking a deep breath, I got up and I tried again. It didn't matter that my shoulder kind of hurt from pulling the stupid cord a hundred times already. But I did. I pulled. And I pulled again. And I pulled a third time. And then ... sweet justice as the motor turned over, roaring.

Take a look at my now cut lawn.


I didn't give up, and eventually I was successful. That's what it's like with writing too. There are times when I'm staring at a chapter that I've written three, four, ten times and it's just not working. But, does that mean you give up? No! You keep going. And, eventually, there will come a moment when you get it and everything will come together. 

Writing is hard work. And, a lot of times you're not going to have help. A phone call to my step-dad wasn't helpful since he couldn't come and actually do anything for me. The same sometimes comes from critique partners. They can offer advice, but they can't do the work for you. Sometimes, you just need to buckle down and not give up. 

As the saying goes, the difference between a published and an unpublished author is the published author never gives up.

Or, for you sports fans: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. 

So, when the going gets tough, what are some things you do to not let yourself give up?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do what you love

First off, a big hello to my fellow campaigners! I am so excited to be sharing the next couple months with you. I look forward to getting to know you better, share together, and maybe learn a lot. This is going to be an adventure.

Now on to today's topic. I had this great realization at work yesterday: Doing what you love makes all the difference.

For those of you who don't know, I spent the last year working as a reporter in a small town in Wyoming. While I love writing, I hated the job. I didn't get a long with my boss very well, the small-town life left me bored and without any friends my age and, most of all, I couldn't stomach being a reporter. I could do the job. I could do the job well, actually, but I didn't enjoy it.

Flash forward to this year, where I've been working for a month as a copy editor at a larger paper in Montana. While yes, there is way more to do in this town and I love the people I work with, the biggest perk is me loving what I do. Even when it's tough and a page doesn't want to come together (the largest part of my job is laying out everything on a page, so that newspapers are easier for you to read and understand what goes with what) I love what I'm doing.

Yeah, there have been a couple of times where I didn't want to go to work and wanted to do something else. There have been times where trying to fill a hole or get something to fit into a spot that's actually too small makes me want to pull out my hair, but I still enjoy it. And at the end of the night, I'm proud of what I've accomplished.

That's what writing is like for me. I bitch and moan about it, I complain to my CP, and I just plain don't like it sometimes. But for all the, I still love doing this. I get a thrill every time I figure out a plot hole or get a character's backstory just right. I find the utmost pleasure in the physical feeling of fingers flying on a keyboard. I live for the feeling of losing myself in my story to the point that it makes me cry.

This is why I know I was born to be a writer. Whether that will translate to published is a completely different question, but one that I'm sure will be ferreted out by determination and hard work – both of which I'm fully prepared to do.

When did you know you were meant to be a writer? What are the things you love about it? Are you planning on pursuing publishing? Let me know.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confession time

I'm going to confess one of the things I'm afraid of to you guys. One of my deepest fears is that I won't get published.

Something about me: I'm generally confident in my writing skills. I've been honing them since I was 11 and scrapped the screen play I was writing to start a novel (one of the best decisions of my life). In high school, I joined the school newspaper and became an editor. Both my degrees in college were heavily weighted toward writing skills. In my free time I continued to write novels and short stories and I got an editing job on my college newspaper. Last year I was a reporter – a writer for a living. Now I am a copy editor – my job is to make other people's writing better (among other things).

But here's the deal. No matter how good I think I am, sometimes I fear no one will see that. No one will pull me from the slush pile and take a chance. There are a lot of other people I will be competing against. And they may or may not have more interesting story ideas than I do. I don't know. I don't even get to size them up or anything.

But, worse than that, I sometimes am gripped by the fear that I may never actually finish a manuscript in order to be published. I have written about five novels, and obviously none of those went anywhere. I know this should be irrational. I haven't been in a position where I was editing a book, so that means that I'm progressing. I'm one step closer to what I want, but I can't help but think that I won't ever finish. This project has already spanned years. I know that must not be that impressive compared to what some other authors have been through. Still, I can't help but freak out when I think about all the work I have to do.

And yet, I continue onward. Not as often lately as I should, true. But I'm still writing. I'm still making my work better, more interesting, raising the stakes. And that, I'm sure, will make all the difference.

Despite the fear, I'm forging on. I'm not giving up. Not giving up is so important. It may just be the most important thing.

So tell me: What are some of your fears? What do you worry about heading out into the big bad world? I'd love to hear them and how you deal with them.
__________________

Also, I'm signing up for this really cool project, Thrid Writers Platform Building. You really need to come check this out and sign up today. Follow this link or click the picture in the sidebar on the right.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My choice of genre

I am one of those people who will read a variety of genres. I like YA, fantasy and sci-fi all the time, a good mystery every once in a while, chick lit, grew up on romance, will attack a classic every now and again, and I'll read just plain fiction any day.

I mainly write young adult, however. It's the genre that I read most – and there's a reason for it. I find it easy to connect to. Face it, everyone goes through it at some time. When I was 10, I was reading YA because I couldn't think of anything I wanted to be more than when I turned 16 and had a car and some independence.

Now, I look back on those years as a very integral part of my life. Those few years made me who I am today and I'm proud and happy with who I have become.

And even today, I still feel like that kid sometimes. I still have conversations with my parents that make me feel like I'm just a teenager again.

A couple weeks ago my mom and I were coming back from grocery shopping and I was expressing to her a fear of mine. That I'd passed up many things during high school and college, and I was afraid that I wasn't actually living my life. Much as I love her, she just didn't get what I was saying and kept telling me things that had no connection to my actual problem. It was frustrating, but a familiar feeling in the land of YA.

That's why I think YA is so relatable. Even though I'm away from my teen years, there are still times that remind me of what I, and probably the vast majority of others, went through.

So tell me – do you have similar feelings about your childhood? Why do you write or read what you choose to? Let me know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dreaming

First off, I have to say that I am a terrible blogger. So much for that summer goal, right? I'm really going to try to keep on top of this and post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday from now on, okay? Okay.

Second, I want to talk about dreaming. That thing you do when you sleep.  I have these really vivid dreams. Sometimes they are so real, I wake up all confused. Especially when I have nightmares about work. In the dream, I work hard to get everything done by deadline. When I wake up, I realize I haven't actually finished anything like I thought I had. Those mornings are pretty depressing.

I also have really weird dreams. Dreams that don't make any sense at all. (I'm walking down the hall of my middle school trying to complete a scavenger hunt, then I turn the corner and there's this corridor that looks like it was taken from the middle ages complete with torches.) I like these dreams, because I wake up and feel amused. Like I was watching TV all night. Only, you know, really weird TV.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has tried to write a story based on a dream. Most of the time, it doesn't come out pretty. And that's because I always make the mistake of trying to copy the dream. But dreams are weird, and most of the time don't make sense. That doesn't work well when most of the time published things are suppose to be understandable.

That doesn't mean dreams can't be used for inspiration. Feelings are easily pulled from dream worlds. But instead of writing a story where a person is naked in school (not saying you can't here – use with discretion) write a story about how it feels to be laughed at and ridiculed.

I had a better example from a dream I had earlier this week, but I can't remember what it was about anymore. So there is another lesson. Dreams are as slippery as eels. If you want to use something when you wake up, write it down immediately. Or else it may be gone.

So, have you guys ever written any stories from dreams or gotten a great idea while you were sleeping? Please tell me I'm not alone here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Where to write is important

A week ago I started a new job. Two days ago I moved into my new place. Until Saturday, I was living in one of my coworker's homes. This (and the stress of a new job) kept me from writing.

When I lived in Cody, I did the bulk of my writing at this little coffee shop called Rawhide Coffee. Can you guess from the name that I lived in Wyoming? I hope so. I chose a shop rather than my own house because I am easily distracted by things at my home. Like books and the TV. Sometimes I even go so far as to clean the house to avoid a particularly troublesome section.

At a coffee shop, however, I only have what I bring with me – mainly, my computer and headphones for my music. Sure, on occasion I get distracted by other patrons at the store, and at the end because all of the baristas became my close friends. But most of the time I could find a quiet table in the back and slam away on my keyboard.

While I like the idea of working from home, I'll need a bigger desk and probably a second bedroom to house an office for me to really get some work done. I like that I get to spread out on a coffee shop table. I can not spread out on my desk. One day I will get one of those giant wrap-around desks that have oodles of room. But, I need to be in a more stable position for that to happen. 

That works for me, but it may not work for you. I know my critique partner Sarah isn't all that productive at coffee shops. She does much better in the comfort of her own home at her desk (although how she spends hours in her uncomfortable-looking chair, I don't know). She likes the comfort of being able to control her environment and is less distracted in a place she knows well.

It's important to have a place where you can write easily and productively. It may be in a shop, in your home or maybe a favorite table out in a park. It doesn't matter where it is, as long as it works for you.

I haven't found my coffee shop yet, which is why I've been a complete and utter slacker when it comes to writing. I'm trying to settle into a rhythm now that I'm in my house, though. I'll give you an update on Friday to let you know if I continue to be a slacker.

Where do you guys write? Can you write anywhere? Do you have a particular place you love? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Go forth...

Okay, I know that title is a little misleading. We aren't multiplying here. We're living.

One of the best pieces of advice given to me about writing is: Live.

This afternoon, I'm going to be starting a new job in a town I've only visited three times. It is an entirely new experience that I'm a little nervous about and a lot excited. I will be challenged in ways that I haven't been in a long time. Oh, and I'm not even staying at my own place. I'm staying at someone else's house until I can move into my house.

What does this have to do with writing? EVERYTHING! Writers have the innate ability to take the things that happen to them and apply them to writing. And that relationship is what makes writing so relatable to the readers. Who hasn't been in a situation where they felt completely out of place as I will tomorrow?

See, the best thing a writer can do other than sit down and write every day is going out into the world and experiencing everything and anything you can. No, you don't have to have done everything to convince readers that something is true, but don't you feel it would be more authentic to know what it's like to be drunk than to make it up on the spot? (Please, please, please don't try it if you aren't 21. I don't care if you characters are if you aren't of age.)

There is another upside – think how exciting your life will be when you say yes to things. It will be way fun.

So tell me, have you used an experience you had that was out of the ordinary for your writing? Have you ever agreed to something just for the sake of knowing what it would be like for writing? I would love to hear it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In My Mailbox 2


In which I talk about several books I've acquired in the last two weeks.




I hope you enjoy! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updating

I have been such a terrible blogger lately. I'm sorry for that. Here's a quick update on what's been going on:

First, I quit my job at the Enterprise. Without knowing what I was going to do next, I was getting ready to move out when I got a job offer from the Great Falls Tribune. Needless to say, it's kind of my dream journalism job, so I was floored. Funny thing was, I hadn't applied for it for more than a year. Right before I graduated college last year, I applied for the job and was chosen second for it. The first girl accepted, so I didn't get the job. They said they would give me a call if anything turned up. Four days after I quit my last job, something came up. Go figure, right?

So, I spent a gruesome week packing up my entire house hold (no easy feat to do all alone, mind you). Then, I spent one day actually moving, one day recovering from moving, and then I spent a week traveling to visit college friends, since I was evidently not going to have time to visit them since I was going to have to start work. At the tail end of my trip, I went apartment hunting, and then went home Sunday night.

Okay, I wasn't doing anything on Monday that prevented a blog post from being written. But after nearly two weeks of not writing, I kind of just completely spaced it.

So, I'm back to blogging. And I have some news, people! Other than I got a job (which is nice, don't get me wrong). I'm going to be redesigning my blog with Jeremy over at Novel Thoughts and Jeremy West Designs. I don't know how long it will take, but we shall see. I'm thinking no more than a month, as long as our schedules don't get bogged up.

So I leave with a question: What do you want to see in my blog, my blog design and my blog content in the coming month? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Revising is HARD

Okay - here is the deal. The title really says it all. Revising is tough. I've had things to work on for over a week now, but I haven't gotten anywhere.

Revising is a tough process. You have to take something that you've already put so much time into and kind of start all over. At least, that's what it feels like to me. That's also why I haven't gotten further than writing the first line of my second chapter that used to not exist.

It's been really hard for me to focus on what I should do moving forward. This is my first large-scale revision, so it's been fairly troublesome.

So, I'm going to ask from you guys: What do you do when you run into these kinds of problems?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mini Book Reviews

Some other books I've read this year.

Also, my second vlog ever.




I hope you guys liked it! Please let me know how I can make my vlogs better for you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writers are Tough-Skinned People

A word of advice: You're going to need to have a tough skin when it comes to being a writer in any way, shape or form. I'm constantly subjected to people telling me my writing sucks or I got something wrong or just plain telling me how to do my job at the newspaper. You have to get used to it, because it never stops. This weekend, though, I experienced a new type of hell. Critique.

See, I'm pretty proud of my manuscript that I finished last month. I know it's got some issues. Big issues, if I'm being fully honest. I know it's going to take a ton of work to whip it into shape. And, that's going to be painful, because I know how much work it's going to take.

This last weekend, though, I got my first comments back from my critique partner. It was all constructive, it was all good. She made fantastic points and I love her because I know that if I apply her advice, I'll have a much better story in the end.

That didn't stop it from hurting a little. This was the first time I have ever shared anything of this length with anyone else, and I wanted her to like it. And she did, but she knew it could be better just as I know it can be better. And while agree with pretty much 99.9% of what she said, it was hard to hear. It was emotionally draining. And, I couldn't write after we were done talking, even though I sat down and tried.

It's a tough business. When you write, you're putting your work out there to be judged. People are not always going to like what you write. You will never have everyone agree it's fantastic unless you show it only to your mother.

You have to remember it may not be because you're bad. People have different opinions, and not everyone is going to like the same things. Even my CP and I disagree on tastes when it comes to books. That's the way of the world. So, you're going to need to grow thick skin to be in this business.

Tell me, have you ever gone through critique like I just did? How did you react? What's your advice/fears/questions about it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There's always more

Sorry for no post yesterday, guys. It's was a holiday and I wanted it off from blogging. But, I'm making up for it today, no worries.

This weekend, my critique partner went over her notes with me on how to make my manuscript better. I'll talk more on the whole thing Wednesday, because there's this little thing nagging at me because of it.

Remember my nice three-part post on world building I did a while ago? Yeah, well guess what? I'm still not done with it.

I thought, after a full week of nothing but world building and pulling things together and jotting down notes and amazingness I thought I had, that I would be done. Boy, was I wrong.

What my lovely CP told me is that I need more. That prompted the inevitable, "World building sucks." But even so, I know she's right. She taught me there can always be more work done when it comes to your world. You may not necessarily put all of those details in, but it's good to know it.

Now, I get to go back to my drawing board and figure it out. I'll give you a little something: It involves trains. *le sigh* Now I have to get back to work.

Any of you writers wandered into this problem before?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Facebook?

So, I have a Facebook fan page. You can find it here. But I'm a little skeptical.

I'm not too big on Facebook. I don't have anything against it, mind you, and I give it a glance every once in a while. Especially since I graduated college and I want to keep in touch with some college buddies. But for two and a half years during college, I never thought about Facebook. I got annoyed when all the games and stuff started to get big and I was getting 15-thousand requests a week. It's less annoying now, but it's not where I spend most of my time.

So I want to ask all of you: please, please, please tell me what your thoughts on Facebook are? How often are you on it? What do you use it for? Do you "like" authors pages? Who or what do you connect to on it? Or, do you ignore it completely? Also - what would you want from an author's page if you were to fave it?

I'm really curious about this. So if all of you could help me out, I would love you forever.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pick Yer Side

Seems to me there are two camps when it comes to reading – or writing for that matter. And that is whether you're attracted to plot or style.

Me, I'm a plot person. It's a story that draws me in to a book and latches on. What drives me forward is wanting to know what's going to happen next. It's also what I focus on first when I write. I want to make sure the story flows well from one event to another on a train that will lead to the ending.

A lot of plot stories end up being in a specific genre: paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and the like. Mysteries and such also fall into this category, most of the time.

Then there are those kinds of people who get wrapped up in the writing. They are blown away by the craft of an author and the lyricism of the writing. They are known for things like great and interesting characters, long passages of characters musing or thinking about things and lost of descriptive passages.

A lot of times style books are categorized as contemporary or literary fiction.

Now, there aren't exactly lines between these. They blur together. Ideally, a writer will be fantastic in both of these. But, just like everyone else, writers have their strengths and weaknesses. They lean to one side or the other. Just like readers do.

Now, I love plot. That's the main reason I will continue to read a book. It's the things that's also the hardest for me to overlook in a book. That doesn't mean that I don't love the writing. It just means I'm more likely to put down a book if the plot is bad or uninteresting than if the writing sucks. If the plot is good and I want to know what's going to happen, I'll forgive bad writing. That's not to say that I don't love some things because they are written so beautifully or haven't shrugged at a story that was heavy on plot.

So what about you guys? Do you think you're one or the other? Is there one you gravitate toward? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I am an actor

First, to announce the winner of my Midsummer's Giveaway Hop. Much congratulations are in order to Maureen! She won up to a $15 book of her choice. Congrats.

Also, because I couldn't help but fall prey to a sad story, so I'm going to send out a second, $10 book to Tiffany Falick, who hasn't been able to get books because of a house fire. So, if she responds, I'll gladly send out another book.

Now, on to today's post (which I saved from Friday).

I am an actor. I'm not talking about the kinds that are in plays and dreams of having a starring role in a movie. Although, I do admit I was in plays in high school and I think it may be fun to be on the silver screen. I'm talking about writers.

Before you run away writing me off as crazy, hear me out. I think there are two kinds of writers: those who imagine and those who act when it comes to trying to be descriptive.

I act. I sit there and make faces with my characters, sweep my hands with their gestures and cry when they do. I can't help it. To that point, the baristas at Rawhide Coffee love it. They're always laughing at me when I look particularly intense. I feel like I need to get into my characters' heads. I want to feel what they feel, and it's something that helps me connect. Sometimes I really want to actually experience it, to really know how it feels.

One time, I was particularly unhappy looking when a friend (and one of the baristas) Scott asked if I was feeling okay. I told him I was trying to figure out what is was like to get kicked in the face. (He Laughed.) Then I asked if he'd ever been kicked in the face. He hadn't, but that didn't stop him from offering to kick another friend in the face to have them tell me what it feels like.

There are other writers who retreat into their minds to come up with the details. Maybe my imagination isn't that good. Maybe it's just the actor in me needing to come out when I write.

I don't think either way is right or wrong. There are different ways to imagine the things that happen to the characters we create. The important thing is, that we come up with something we can believe in.

So the big question for all my writers out there, which are you? Or, do you do something entirely different?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Revenge of the Word Nerds

For my Midsummer Giveaway, click here.

I fully admit I am a word nerd. I love them. I'm the person who's interested the the etymology, the definition and the synonyms.

Most of all though, I generally fall prey to one of my biggest pet peeves: using the wrong word. There are a lot of people who use words interchangeably that mean completely different things. A lot of people don't care that when they say "I feel nauseous" they really mean "I feel nauseated," but I do.

Half the thrill of writing is choosing the perfect word. Getting that one bit a a sentence just right, so that it means just what you want it to. Words are your tools, so use them well. One critique I see over and over from agents is about using words correctly. If you use words incorrectly, how are you supposed to impress anyone?

Spend some time the next time your writing to not settle. Don't use a word until it's perfect. Words are precious, treat them as such.

Tell me, are you one of the word nerds? Or do you not think about getting the precise word?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop

Why hello, everyone! It's been a while since I did a hop, so I thought I would correct that.

Today, I'm going to be giving away a $15 book from The Book Depository, just so that this can be international. I may change where I send it from if you live in the US or Canada, though. But really, it's just so you might have them sooner (they take a long time to ship, no?)

I love and hate summer at the same time. It's a great time of year where kids are free from school and the time for a fling. But, summers can be bitter sweet too. And so, I want you to tell me what your favorite summer memory is. It can be small, or it can be more in depth. It's up to here.

So, here's what you do to win:

Mandatory: Be a blog follower, leave a comment with your favorite summer memory, fill out the form.

Extra: Be a twitter follower (@brennabraaten)

That's all! The form is below, make sure you answer all the questions, don't forget to comment, and GOOD LUCK!! Winner will be announced the day after the giveaway, and will have 24 hours to respond before I choose another winner.

Please note: If the form isn't working, just answer the question and leave your name and email in the comments, and I'll add it to the list. Sorry if there are problems.



Summer Goals

For everyone in the northern hemisphere, it's summer. Kids are off of school, pools are in full swing and people are planning vacations.

For my summer, I'm making a list of things I want to have accomplished. My goal is by the first of September. That's a good enough date that I feel like I can finish off my list and not too much time that I feel it's arbitrary. So, here's my list:

  1. Figure out my next move in life. This is somewhat related to writing, but mostly related to having money for food. I have some big decisions to make, and I'd love to have a plan.
  2. Complete edits on my WIP. By that I mean the first two passes, and have it off to my critique partner for her thoughts. This is my second biggest goal, because I really want to start getting this together. 
  3. Read 15 books. Yeah, I have reading goals. And, I'm behind on my yearly goal, so I want to get to reading. I have a long list of books I want to read, so I need to get cracking.
  4. Keep up with my blogging. I don't necessarily want to do more blogging, I just want to stay regular. I also want to spend more time reading other people's blogs. I want to be more involved.
So there you go, four things I want to do over the summer. What about you guys? Do you have any goals for this summer? Are they personal- or writing-oriented? Also, think my goals are reasonable? Let me know!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Breaking up with your Manuscript

Have I mentioned I wrote a book? Yeah, I'm sure I did. I celebrated with a fantastic martini and this crazy appetizer called Reuben Eggrolls. They are what you think, and they were delicious.

So, now what? I'm taking a break. That's right, a nice, long, well-deserved break.

Analogy time: The time after you finish a manuscript is like dating.

At first, you're in the "honeymoon phase" where everything is shiny and gorgeous and you love each other and even your crap doesn't stink. You think this relationship will go the distance. This is a terrible time to edit. You may not think every line is gold, but there are some whoppers in there that are definitely being overlooked.

We move on to the comfortable phase, where there are some little things that are wrong. You smile, correct them, and giggle at how adorable it is. You don't really see anything too terrible with what they've done. It's going well. Still not a good time to edit.

Then we move on to the annoyed phase. This is the phase where every little thing is starting to tick you off. Your manuscript is leaving hair products strewn on the counter or keeps "forgetting" to put away the clean dishes. You really just want to kick the crap out of it. This is a better time to edit. You can see the flaws, and see how it's not going to go the distance.

Then we have the inevitable break-up. It's a glorious day when you finally work up the nerve to talk to your manuscript, let it know that you're sorry but it's just not going to work. There is a freedom there, like a weight has finally been lifted off your shoulders. Here is the point where you hate everything about your manuscript, and you get to make it better. You get to shape it into the perfect date, with all that witty dialog and huge, uh, descriptions? You are now in the perfect mindset to rip everything apart and sew it back together so it's infinitesimally better.

The exciting part about writing is that you can do this with your writing without all that awkward being around your manuscript. You go through all these steps while cheating on it with other fun activities - like working out or remembering to actually cook dinner. It's important to take breaks when it comes to writing. It's a way to separate yourself from your writing. Because we know the pitfalls of getting married during the honeymoon stage and having things fall apart.

No shotgun weddings, please.

The funny thing for me is, I hadn't done anything nuts like try to write a novel in a month, so I wasn't frazzled, but I had been pushing myself hard and spending a lot of time on writing. Now, because I can't be spending that time on my manuscript, I have no idea what to do now. What did I do before I hunkered down and really got to work?

So do you guys do this as well? Or are you fantastic and know what you need to do right after you stop writing. Do you start to work on a different project while you wait on this one? I want to hear it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I wrote a book!

Yeah, last night I finished the draft of my WIP. Just in time for my deadline, I'll have you know. But now. . . What do I do?

A large part of me doesn't realize it's done. That I have essentially written "The End" in all it's glory at the end of my 76,000-some word manuscript. But it doesn't feel like that. I still feel like after work today I'll grab my computer, head to my favorite coffee shop and start #wordmongering away. Only, then I think, what will I work on?

Finishing a manuscript is difficult. It's not as easy as I'd expect it to be. This is the third story I've ever actually reached the end on. The first was a 6-year venture I started when I was about 11 years old, which was so under developed and also written on paper. The second was my very first NaNoWriMo in 2006 where the story was trash but I finished it with prodding from my CP because she was vicariously living through me.

But this manuscript is different. This one is special. I still like it, which is completely new. I'm shocked and amazed by that simple fact. I still think it can get better but I don't think it's not salvageable. That scares and delights me.

I don't know what to do with myself now though. What should I do to celebrate before I kick myself into gear and start editing? I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

So, I'm turning to all of you. What should I do to celebrate finishing my draft. PLEASE let me know in the comments.*

*Please, nothing illegal.