Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Poets and Writers

Today I'm doing a shout out to the Poets and Writers website!

Every-so-often we writers need to share the wealth.  This is of my favorite writer resource sites!  While this site offers a lot to anyone willing to take a few minutes and look through the contents, my favorite aspect of this site is the ability to find what journals and magazines are taking submissions as well as checking to see what competitions are being offered.

Take a few minutes out of your busy day to stop here and see if it can help you!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Dreams

Short and sweet today!  DREAMS...

Simple enough!  I'm not talking about the get in bed and enter sandman dreams.  I'm talking about the waking dreams that drive us forward in life.  Everyone I know has one dream or another.  Which means you probably do to!  You might have many small dreams which, upon accomplishment, require making bigger and grander plans; or you may have a big-shiny-dream which requires making many small steps to get to.

I'm a big dream kind of girl.  My dream is to become a bestselling author.  I keep this first and foremost in my mind all day, every day.  I don't think any decision I make is made without thinking about how it will impact my dream. 

I, for one, think it's incredibly important to have a dream that you believe is legitimate and achievable within your lifetime.  It's having something to want and look forward to that keeps us on the right path, plugging forward when fate starts to throw random road-blocks in front of us.  Without this drive and desire, we plod through life and, while we may make startling achievements, I don't think they are as sweet because we didn't desire them in the first place. 

After all, does cake more satisfying when you've been wanting it for a month or if someone just randomly hands you a piece?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Muse: White Flag -Morgan

This is one of my favorite bands ever! This is an older version of White Flag...Back when they called themselves "Morgan" and not "The Romanovs," but I like this YouTube version a little better. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cheer And Joy

The giveaway madness has ended. *whew* Congratulations to "Spav" who won my Stuff Your Stocking Giveaway. Fingers crossed for all of you who entered any other giveaways as part of the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop.

I want to thank all of you for making this giveaway such a success. I had over 550 entries and there are now an extra one hundred people following this blog.

For those of you who are new, here's what to expect:

Generally, here are three posts a week.

Monday Muse (I post a fun song or piece of art to get everyone's creative juices flowing for the week)

Toolbox Tuesday (I decide on a tool that belongs in a writer's toolbox and give it an in depth examination)

Write Well Wednesday (I give a writer's "craft" entry)

Every-so-often, I'll review a book or put up a personal blog entry so you can see how my journey as a writer is going.

PLUS, I'm intending to do at least six giveaways a year. My next giveaway will be a YA faeries and fantasy blog hop in early January, so stay tuned for that!

Disclaimer: I do suffer from chronic migraines and twelve hour work days so every-so-often I miss one...I'm only human.

If you end up enjoying this blog or my tweets, please tell your friends! The best gift you could give me is more followers (this is incredibly important for when I finally graduate to the big leagues and need to reach many potential readers). In return, I'll try to give you interesting posts, juicy giveaways, stories that don't suck *hopefully,* and fun playlists on YouTube.

I hope the holidays are simply smashing for all of you!
-A.L. Davroe

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop

Hello and welcome to my very first giveaway!

Since this is the first and it's so close to the holidays, this giveaway is extra special!  For this giveaway, you get to stuff your own stocking!  If you win this giveaway, you can choose any three books from the list*; plus you get a free e-book version of my short story, Salvation Station.  In addition to all that, you can enter into a chance to win the grand-prize: a brand new Nook Color (with a sexy leather cover) that has been preloaded with e-books from the sponsor authors (including myself).

Young Adult Books:
1. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
2. Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
3. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
4. Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
7. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor 
8. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
9.  Any book in the Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson
10. Any book in the Birthmark Trilogy by Caragh M. O'Brien
11.  Any of The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon
12. Any book in The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

Adult Books:
1. Ganymede by Cherie Priest
2. The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick
3. The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt
4. Any book in A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin
5. Any book in The House of Comarré Series by Kristen Painter
6. Any book in the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
7. Any book in the Pendragon Cycle by Stephen R. Lawhead
8. Any book in the Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan
9.  Any book in The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
10. Any book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward

If you want any of these books, here's what to do:
1.  Enter my giveaway by following my blog.  To increase your chances of winning, you can do the other tasks!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Creating the Vocal Character

This post is the third in a series of posts about characterization.  To read the others, go here:  Creating the Visual Character and here:  Creating the Active Character.

Today we're talking about my favorite aspect of the dynamic character!  It's already technically Thursday and I'm bone, it's going to be a short, sweet post (and I hope I'm not so tired that it doesn't make sense)! 

Today's topic: Creating the character's voice.  This character trait has two areas.  The internal voice and the external voice.

The internal voice is the way the character vocalizes his or her thoughts or feelings to his or herself while the external voice is the way the character expresses his/herself to the other characters in the story.  The reader is privy to the internal voice while the other characters are not, thus creating a bond between the main character and the reader. 

Quite often, the internal voice is very different than the external response.

Example:  A teenaged boy is dared to egg a house by his friends. 

Internally, he's really a good kid and doesn't want to do it; however, he explains to us how much he wants to fit in with his friends.  He'll go through the motions of wondering if he'll get in trouble and he might consider the feelings of the house's owner.  He's having an internal struggle on whether to do it or not and weighing how his friends will react if he says, "No."  The reader is following him through this internal struggle, learning all about his strengths and weaknesses, wants and needs.  From this voice, we come to know that the boy is really a good, sensitive kid who just wants to fit in.  And, depending on how good the author portrays his internal character, they may even come to sympathize with the boy's plight.  They may even see themselves in the boy.  You want this kind of emotional stock!

Externally, the boy's friends watch as the boy, exuding an air of bravado, gets out of the car, tells them he's going to aim for the window, and throws the egg.  He turns around with a big stupid grin on his face when he hits his mark.  From the friend's perspective, we learn that the boy is fearless, brazen, and pretty damn cool.  He can hang with us!

The boy has saved face with his friends, but at what cost to the internal voice?  And how does the reader feel now that they know the boy betrayed his true self so that he could fulfill a social desire?  A writer must think about where they want to lead the reader with all of this conflict!

On the flip side, one character might think that they are exuding a particular air to others -- perhaps trying to reflect what their internal voice is telling them to do, perhaps trying to do the opposite -- but others may not being perceiving them the way they want to be perceived.

Our boy wanted to be cool for one set of friends, but what does he look like to the eighty-year-old grandmother whose house he just egged?  He looks like quite a jerk doesn't he?

These are the kinds of complications that make characters rich.  Be sure to always divide your character between who they are on the inside, what they want others to think, and how those others actually perceive that character.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Sorry guys, no Toolbox Tuesday today. I'm having some life complications and need a mental breather. There will be a Write Well Wednesday post tomorrow, so tune in for that. Also, my first giveaway goes up on Friday (December 16) and will be running through next week (December 23), so make sure you tune in for that. Scheduled posts (Monday Muse, Toolbox Tuesday, and Write Well Wednesday) will be on hold until the 26th!

In the mean time, have a fun cheer up song! This isn't exactly the situation I'm having, but I always sing the chorus of this song and it cheers me up. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Creating the Active Character

Today's post is the second in a series on characterization.  To read last week's post go here: Creating the Physical Character

Today's topic is creating the active character.

Once you've established the physical characteristic of a character (what anyone might be able to see from a photograph), you're going to start the second dimension of your character's personality -- what people would see when your character is moving.  This is a secondary visual characterization, so think silent film.

A huge amount of human interaction can be boiled down to physical action and reaction.  We're incredibly expressive and, often, we take that for granted when we build characters.  So here, we will make sure that we cover this base.

1.  Quirk your character.  Everyone has at least one physical quirk.  Ask someone what yours is.  Do you chew on your lip or your nails?  Are you a leg jiggler?  Do you click pens, snap gum, twirl hair?  All these little things are physical traits that we take for granted, but subconsciously integrate into our physical profiles of the people we surround ourselves with.  Decide what you believe a certain character's quirk should be and then make sure that you sprinkle it in throughout your manuscript.  Like any trait, you don't want to mention it all the time because you'll start to annoy the reader.  A really ingenious way to build in quirks is by making another character notice it (because we don't often notice our own quirks, right?)

2.  Build your character's active presence.  Depending on the type of character your trying to create, you're going to give him/her a presence.  This can be both an active and static physical characteristic that other character's notice about the character in question.  Is the character passive?  Then make them stand off to the side, maybe hunch their shoulders or hide behind their hair.  How about that military man from the last post?  How would he stand?  Probably erect or at attention and his presence might somehow feel a little overbearing...Perhaps he looms over others or scowls a lot?

3.  Make the physical and emotional work with the active.  If you've got a tall character then make sure the way he walks and stands matches his physical characteristics.  Have you noticed that most seven feet tall people tend to stoop slightly?  Perhaps that's out of fear of hitting their heads or a need to bend closer to others to hear them or look them in the face?  What about an overweight person?  How would they walk and what sort of active challenges might they face?  Depending on how overweight they are they may have to turn a particular way to get through a turnstile at a train station or might need to constantly adjust their clothing.  If your character is depressed, make him drag his feet when he walks.  If she's high powered business woman who hunts demons by night, she probably walks quite confidently and stands proudly.

4.  Characters must save face!  I don't know how many books I've read where characters don't make facial expressions.  The likelihood of finding someone who never smiles or doesn't express their feelings through their eyebrows is pretty darn low.  How someone uses their face to express themselves can tell a huge amount about their personality and how they interact with others.  It can also tell us a lot about what other characters feel about them.  Is there something fake about their smile?  Does their joy reach their eyes?  Does the character arch one eyebrow or two?  Do they tend to use the physical instead of the verbal to express confusion or a question?  And don't forget!  If you make a facially expressive character, give them static physical features that might indicate this (i.e. wrinkles).

5.  Reaction.  Pretend you are producing a silent film.  You have no words to express how your character is feeling.  Someone just pulled a gun on your main character.  How is your character physically going to react?  Recoil?  An expression of defiance?  A deer in the headlights eye-widening?  Every action deserves reaction.  Any interaction between a character and his/her world or other characters will illicit some type of expressive or active response from the character.  Make sure these reactions fit with the personality you're trying to create for your character.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Karma Code

What goes around comes around.  You reep what you sow.   The Golden Rule.  Harm None.  Cause and Effect.

The idea of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you has been around for quite some time.  It spans every religion and every culture across the world.  Yet somehow we still manage to miss this one...

As some of you may know, one of my close friends lost her engagement ring this past weekend.  We're not entirely sure how it came off of her finger, but somehow she dropped it at a restaurant.  And someone, instead of handing in something that they surely understood had sentimental value to another, found it and kept it for themselves. 

Two things happened here.  One: Someone who might be good enough not to steal the ring noticed but didn't do anything about it.  Two: Someone noticed it and stole it. 

Notice what didn't happen?  No one cared enough to pick up the ring and bring it to management.  This got me thinking.  This whole "copping out half-way to being a good person" thing happens a lot.  People won't help a stranger in need.  Why?  What's stopping us?  Are we lazy?  Scared?  Do we intuit that there is nothing in it for us if we do help?  A little bit of everything?  Basically we say, "I'm not bad so I'm not going to take the ring."  But we don't think to expend our energy enough to save the ring from being stolen.  We say, "It's not my problem" or we don't want to be accused of stealing the ring if someone sees us pick it up.

Let's face it.  Humans are, by definition, selfish.  We have to program ourselves to be selfless and self-sacrificing.  Even then it has been a matter of philosophical debate as to whether we even help people out of a selfish need.

Why do you help people? 
"Because it feels good."
Oh, so it's about you feeling good.

Why do you help people?
"Because I'd want someone to do it for me."
Oh, so it's about you again... More specifically, this particular one is about you hoping that you can be an example to society or perhaps gain some kind of "Get Out of Jail Free" card for being a good person. 

Or, as I like to call it, you're building up good Karma. 

Which brings me to today's Tool:  The Karma Code! 

We should all have one in our Writer's Toolbox and we should live by it for the rest of our lives.  All it is is a simple promise to one's self to do whatever you can to help another.  In return, positive energy will come back and help you.  It's the basic idea that what you put in is what you get out. 

What's this all about?  The Buddhists believe Karma stretches over lifetimes and has an impact on what you will be and do in the next life.  If you are bad you will have a worse life when you are reincarnated.  If you are good, you will have a good life.  Eventually, when you've risen high enough on the karma food-chain, you reach Nirvana (the ultimate goal and Enlightenment).  (This is a very simplified version which, in this context, actually goes against the teachings of Buddhist because I'm advocating the use of Karmic theory in an effort for personal gain).

I know what you're thinking:  "I'm not a Buddhist.  I don't even believe in Heaven, for goodness sake! How does Karma help me as a writer?"

Let's be New Agey here and say that Karma is simply energy.  Good Karma is positive energy and Bad Karma is negative energy.  Like attracts like.  You conduct negative energy, you'll get negative energy.  Which means Bad Karma attracts Bad Karma.  And Good attracts Good. 

And how does that relate to the here and now?  Well, not all that good karma can go into your next life, can it?  Some of the positive energy has to impact you here in this life.  What better place than in that call from an agent who wants to represent your manuscript, or an editor who wants to buy your novel, or in reaching 10k followers on Twitter, or getting that fat check from Amazon in the mail?

So, next time you're feeling like not following another author on Twitter, or ignoring a fan at a conference, or not helping someone who has dropped their papers in the elevator.  Just remember:  "This could be the little push I need to get what I want."  No one is going to punish you for thinking about how you're going to benefit from something, especially if others benefit as well.

Alternately, try your best to keep your attitude up at all times.  The idea of Karma stretches beyond actions.  Thinking good, positive things will attract more positive energy your way!

So, try your best to integrate doing the absolute good by another that you can. It WILL come back to you in the end!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Creating the Visual Character

I'm going to create a series of entries over the next few weeks!  This series is going to be on characterization.  Specifically, how to create multidimensional, believable characters.  I'm breaking it up into multiple entries because putting everything about characterization into one blog would make it quite long! 

Today's topic is the easiest part of characterization: Creating the visual of your character.

If you're going to create a character of any kind, you have to provide the reader with a template by which to visualize your character.  This, like setting, should be established early on to prevent the reader from creating their own idea of what the character looks like.  The most confusing thing to a reader is learning that your heroine has brown hair and eyes three books into the series.

1.  Establish the basics.  Decide what your character's driver's license would say about them.  What is their hair and eye color?  How tall are they?  How old?  These are the basic things that readers want to know so they can at least create a shadow puppet of your character.

2.  As you continue writing, provide additional physical descriptives.  Lots of readers want to know what the character's build is, what their face is shaped like, and what sort of fashion sense they have.  Depending on how important you feel a feature is to a character's personality is how close it should be to your basic description.  If your character is overweight and you feel that it's important to the story and the character's development, you need to alert the reader to this feature.  Discovering little quirks like knowing someone has a birthmark on their elbow or a gap in their front teeth lets the reader feel like they are learning about the character and the character thus becomes more like a real person.  Almost like making friends!

3.  Avoid the cliches.  Most authors think the whole character in front of the mirror thing does an awesome job of giving you the physical description (especially if the piece is written in first person).  It doesn't!  Think of a more creative way of portraying these details.  Avoid laundry lists of features!  One of the marks of a good writer is being able to pepper physical features in without saying, "He was 6'2," had sharp brown eyes, and wore an expression that matched his military buzzed black hair."

4.  Bedazzle the ordinary.  Don't just say she had pale skin.  How pale is it?  Is it like a canvas or maybe like freshly pressed paper?  What's it like? Does it glow?  Does it have a pink hue?  Is it soft or firm?  Does it remind the person looking at her of something in particular?  Maybe rose petals or velvet?  What about those black eyes of his?  How do they twinkle?  Are they bright like stars or more ominous, like obsidian?  What do they make her feel like?  Do they stare right through her or make her feel a dark comfort?  These details add additional building blocks to your character (which we'll talk about later) while laying the foundation.  Plus, spreading things out with additional descriptives helps prevent that laundry list from piling up!  However, be careful not to get cliche here either.

5.  Don't go overboard.  A little goes a long way with a reader.  Readers like to imagine when they read a story, if you feed them everything, then there's nothing fun left about learning your character.  Save certain tid-bits for later or never mention them at all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Ironclad Will

By "will" I mean the will to do things.  This runs the gamut from simply having that self-starter mentality that will get you approaching the subject of becoming a novelist all the way to the sheer bull-headed (or pigheadedness) that you're eventually going to need not to give up.  In other words, stubbornness.  From general willingness to being strong willed.

Especially, the strong will.  This is where you go all medieval knight on your career and get Ironclad.

Starting a novel is easy.  Finishing it might even be easy.  It's when you start going through the edits and people are going to start criticizing you; pitching agents for YEARS; dealing with being on submission to editors and continually getting rejected by your dream houses; fighting with your publisist who pick bad covers and make useless book trailers; AND THEN having to adhere to a grueling touring schedule, making deadlines for the next book, and possibly STILL getting dropped because sales are too low -- where people start to crack.  Gosh that's a long sentence!

Many people just can't deal with it.  They either give up or take alternate routes.  I'm not saying that taking the alternate route is bad, I'm a strong believer in options for everyone.  While NY is my goal; I am, myself published through a small e-publisher and will probably, once in my life self-publish something.  But being an Indie author has its own set of trials and tribulations, especially if you aren't coming from NY and bringing your readers along with you.  If you want to sell at all, you have to promote yourself ENTIRELY on your own, often without being carried by larger retailers.  A hecktic self-promo schedule and, very often, (since you don't have the financial support of the big publishing house) a chunk of money coming out of your own pocket can run an enthusiastic self-published author into the ground.

I'm not sure many people realize just how frustrating and trying being an author can actually be.  People might even think it's easy...and maybe for someone like Nora Roberts it is.  But I bet it wasn't in the beginning.  Even J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer had trouble in the beginning.  It's always hard in the beginning.  And it takes wanting something so bad it hurts to keep you trudging through it all (even if the trudging hurts more).  Just envsion yourself an intrepid explorer on Mount Everest.  The air is frigid, you can barely breath, and every move hurts.  Will you lay downa dn let the snow bury you or will you continue plodding against the razor-sharp wind?  Depends.  How badly do you want to get to the top?

If your thinking of being an author, ask yourself that simple question.  Do you want it that bad?  Are you willing to do anything to get to the top?  Are you that kind of writer? 

If you are, then welcome to the very exclusive group of those with ironclad wills.  For you, the universe will hold nothing back...probably because you're just stuborn enough to beat it up for trying. :) 

Write on, dear friends.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Punk Your Steampunk

This posting is a follow up to Get Punk'd.

So, one of my followers asked me to talk about HOW to get punk'd when writing a Steampunk piece.  This is a little difficult for me to explain because punking things up seems organic to me (blame it on my revisionist tendencies), but I'm going to try my best to explain how I do it.  In the process I'm going to cover, in general, how to write Steampunk.  In the interest of space and time, this is a little disjointed and it's quite close to midnight and I've been going since the wee hours of the morning, so yeah, apologies ahead of time.

Action One: Decide on a story to tell.

One: TELL A STORY.  Just because there is Steampunk in your book doesn't necessarily mean it has to completely swallow your MC whole.  Stop focusing so much on making everything Steampunk and let it develop organically. I think where a lot of people get caught up with writing Steampunk is the fact that they focus too much on how it will be received.  "Is my technology right?"  "Did I adequately describe the taste of treacle?"  "Would a woman say that back then?"  "Is it "punk" enough?"  It becomes all about how your readers could bash you for getting it wrong.  Before you worry about any of that, you need to worry about the kind of story you want to tell.  Is it about a romance between a maid and an airship captain?  Because if she's the main character, she's not going to understand anything about the technology she's seeing on your Captain's lovely ship.  And, if you're that worried about what your readers are going to say, then perhaps she is the POV you should be writing?  There's an idea:  Write to your handicap!  If you are the type than can imagine something up but have no clue how it might work in real life, then write from the perspective of a character that doesn't get it OR knows it so well that they talk and think about it like you're an idiot for questioning how it works.

Two: TEASPOONS vs. SHOVELS.  Once you know what kind of story you want to write, figure out WHO your readers are.  Are they YA readers?  Cause they aren't going to get half the techno-babble you throw at them and you may be making that political entanglement too complicated for them to follow.  Are you writing romance?  Romance readers care a lot more about the way someone's dress looks than how the mechanical "toys" function. Your readership is going to determine how much of what goes into the story, including how punky you want to get.

Action Two: Once you have a story to tell, punk it up.

One: PERIOD CHARM.  The first part of Steampunk is "steam," which means you need to have a "steam" period element in your piece.  This is pretty much the Steam Era or the industrial revolution. Though it has a mostly Victorian connotation, I've seen Steampunk swing all the way into what others might consider Dieselpunk.  Since I have an anthropology background, I enjoy building entire cultures; which is why my Steampunk tales take place on an alternate world that looks similar to earth during the Victorian Era.  But most Steampunk is alternate history, so I'll focus on that.  Writing alternate history isn't easy.  Remember that whole Writing What You Know post  I wrote?  Well, you should know as much about something as you possibly can before you completely pull it apart and re-write it.  Depending on WHEN and WHERE your blip in history takes place will depend on how much you need to do research.  If, for example, your blip happens during the Victorian Era, then you're going to have to build a believable Victoriana.  Know the area, the clothes, the language, the social hierarchy, the political structure, etc.  Then find out who was in charge and who didn't like it.  That's a perfect platform for your punk establishment. 

Two: ATMOSPHERE.  Whether you're building from the ground up or going back in time and trying to re-write history, if you're going to put the "punk" in your steam, you need to have some kind of socio-political hierarchy.  If there's no one to rebel against, there's no room for your punks.  I think first and foremost, if you write fantasy or science fiction of any kind, you need to get in touch with your inner social scientist.  Having a believable socio-political structure is one of the pillars of making you a good writer in any reader's mind.  Whether your focus is social, political, economic, or religious, there needs to be an established system and there needs to be someone who doesn't like it.  There will always be discontents in a society and in your Steampunk these will be your "punks."  If you've studied anthropology, political science, or sociology it should be easier for you to build a believable socio-political system for your characters.  If you make a set up where someone benefits more than the others then you've got a very easy situation where there is an obvious villain and an obvious person who will fight to get what the one on top has.  Then, all you need to do is make the person who want son top to be active in that desire.  Women wanting to break out of social molds can dress or act certain ways, miners can picket, young lads being drafted into the military can start holding up trains.  Anything goes in punk.

Three: INSPECT THE GADGETS.  Part of what makes Steampunk appealing is all the fun gadgets.  You'll have to decide who makes the gadgets, why, and when they started coming about.  Also, make sure to research what was available to tinkers during the Victorian era.  If you incorporate something that was not available in that time period, you'll have to explain why it's there in this alternate history.  Keep in mind that part of the punk ideology is a strong DIY mentality, so it might be beneficial to have a couple of tinkers or engineers in your punk group, and it might be necessary to let your imagination run wild.  If you can't churn out tons of fantastical things to play with, then you may want just one crazy piece of technology that your MC is working on (like a time machine or a weather balloon or something), and have everything else be normal.

Four:  NOT ALL PUNKS ARE ROCKERS.  Remember that your punks can run the gamut between just being a little off-color to blatantly wanting to bomb parliament.  All people are different, some more extreme than others.  Keep that in mind when deciding just how punky you want your punks.  You could have something as simple as a cooky old codger who tinkers in his basement, to an avaunt garde aristocratic explorer, to a surly airship pirate, to an alchemist who's into pyrotechnics.  The beauty of Steampunk is that your MCs don't have to be the "punks."  What we need to understand as writers is that there are always bystanders in any world.  The hero doesn't always have to be the guy with the ball-peen hammer or the airship. Watson anyone?   And even if they are, these characters are people too!  They have other aspects to their lives than just repairing clockwork soldiers or hijacking the Empire's latest dirigible.  You could write about an airship pirate who doesn't go anywhere near an airship for the duration of the story; or your character can be someone who has never experienced the punks until one fateful day when XYZ happens; or they can be someone who is watching the "punks" from afar.  Whatever you choose, just make sure that your punks know what they want and aren't afraid to fight for it!

Five:  HAVE FUN.

I hope that helps?  Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Humility

This isn't a big surprise.  Aside from being in the writer toolbox, this should be in your good human being toolbox. 

Have you ever met someone who just thought they were The Bee's Knees -- even though they kinda suck?  Yeah, we're talking about not being that guy.  The people with the big heads.  The people with the superiority complexes.  The people who step on the little people.  Even if you're not as bad as this, you should endeavor to have some humility.

Let's, put things into perspective: You're one of how many billion humans on the planet?  And your work is one out of how many hundred thousand pieces of literature available?  And you expect to stay on the shelves for decades why?  You really think you're that good?  I doubt it.

You can be good, sure; but, you could be better.

Everyone has the capacity to be a better writer.  You should always keep that in mind.  It's that whole "there's always going to be someone better than you" mentality.  So what if you're published through a big house?  So what if you're a NYT Bestseller?  So what if people are practically falling over themselves to get you to be the guest of honor at conventions and you've got stalkers on five continents?  You're still not perfect.  Neither is your writing.  Get over yourself and realize that the only way you get respect in this industry is by trying your hardest to be the best you can be and helping others get there as well.

For all of us who aren't at that Bigheaded Moviestar stage of our lives, here's how to avoid getting there in the first place.

1.  When someone criticizes your work, take it seriously.  Instead of getting defensive about it and telling them they don't understand or scratching them off of your beta list, really think about what they are saying.  Ask questions and try to figure out why they feel the way they do.  In this way, you're taking the time to realize that your work may not be ready and you're showing that you're willing to step back and accommodate for changes.

2.  If you ever find yourself looking at another writer and getting a feeling of superiority, you'd better march yourself over there and make best friends with that person.  This isn't so that you can feel like the Queen of France for the next three years, this is so you can get to know this person and help them.  If you honestly feel that you have a superior quality, then you shouldn't be hoarding it.  Get out there and spread the love.  With others out there that are as good as you in this area, you'll "flood the market" and there will be no reason to feel superior.

3.  If someone is better than you, acknowledge it and look to them for guidance.  No matter how many awards or bestsellers I get in the future, I know I'm never going to consider myself an equal to someone like Neil Gaiman.  Even if I were the next Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling, I don't think I could look Neil in the eye and say, "I've achieved what you have."  Or even that I've achieved more.  That feeling of awe in another will keep you humble.

4.  Be accessible and real to your fans.  You're a person, just like they are.  There's a line between slightly altering your behavior to fit your author persona and turning into a holier than thou demi-god.  No matter what, remain approachable to your fans...even the mouth breathing basement dwellers.  Fans make this industry, you cross them, you cross a sacred boundary of trust.  Be kind and accommodating to their wants and needs.

5. Count your blessings and remember the little people.  Never lose sight of the journey that you took to get to your final destination.  Remember the tears, the frustration, the self doubt.  Now, thank God, Gaia, Allah, or whoever you please for giving you the strength to get beyond that hardship.  Remember the people who loved and supported you, let you cry on their shoulder, and read edit after edit of your newest manuscript.  These are people that know you -- the real you.  Keep them close and appreciate them for everything they've done for you.  Never forget who you are and where you came from.  :)

6.  You don't know all the answers.  You never did.  So, don't act like you do.  Don't be afraid to ask questions or defer to others.  Always admit your mistakes and try to right them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Muse: The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight

I give kudos to this band in general. Why? One, they are named after a book. Two, the lead vocalist is a writer by trade. <3

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finally Friday (On a Sunday): Everything Changes

This is super late.  Apologies, I've been dealing with yet another migraine.  One day, I'm going to blog about having to live with chronic migraines.  I think they and how disruptive they are to one's lifestyle are grossly underrated.  Anyway...

There are a lot of new developments happening here!

1.  I'm once again altering my rate of blogging.  As some of you know, I went from blogging about once a month to once a week to every weekday.  While I truly enjoy blogging on a daily basis, I simply don't think I have enough to say!  Plus, I feel like the quality of my blogs often suffers because I can't put a lot of time into writing them.  I, like many other humans, have a life that requires more than just writing and promoting myself.  That said, I'm going to do away with Thoughtful Thursday.  Monday Muse, Toolbox Tuesday, Write Well Wednesday will still go up as usual and, like always, I'll put up Finally Friday as needed.  I hope that doesn't bother anyone?  I figured since Wednesday was becoming so much like Thursday anyway, that you wouldn't worry too much.

2.  I'm beginning to enter myself into Blog Hops and Giveaways.  This is way past due.  Since I don't necessarily think it's appropriate to blog about books if you're an author (this can lead to some unwanted friction with other writers) I don't get a ton of traffic directed to my blog.  In an effort to get some followers, I'm going to start doing these hops.  This will increase the volume of traffic and sometimes become disruptive to the look of the blog.  Please be patient and enthusiastic about these giveaways.  You are, of course, quite welcome to participate!  It's a great way to find new blogs to follow and earn some amazing freebies.  That said, does anyone have any requests for items they'd like to see given away?  As my loyal followers, you all get first pics!

3.  Finally, thank you all of you who participated in listening to Hill Dweller Radio on Thursday!  I really feel like it made a huge difference because...I got another full request from an editor!  Your continued prayers and support are greatly appreciated!  I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Salvation Station

I'm interrupting Thoughtful Thursday to give you a happy piece of news!  My short story, Salvation Station, just got released on OmniLit today!  It's going to be on Amazon/Kindle soon.  Either way, it's only .99 cents.  Your support is greatly appreciated!  Click the link to the left!

Also, I'm asking everyone to help raise some positive energy toward the publication of my YA paranormal romance novel, Scar-Crossed.  It's currently on submission with two editors who just might say, "Yes!"

I've created Hill Dweller Radio, a station dedicated to the story, on You-Tube.  If you'd be so kind, have a listen?  In my New Aged mind, that's the equivalent of plugging into the same energy wavelength :)  ...And, of course, with more people on the same wavelength, the likelihood of success is much higher!  Please click play below!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Know What You're Writing

This goes without saying, but I'm saying it anyway because people still seem to mess it up!  There's a reason why we tell writers to write what they know...Because it's more real to a reader if you write what you're familiar with. 

If you write about someone who rides horses, but you've never been near a horse or bothered to do research, you're going to come off sounding like an idiot.  For example, horses have hooves, not feet.  Anyone who has spent five minutes caring about horses should know that.  So, therefore; your horseback rider should think and talk about the horse's hooves, not the feet.  Anatomy is only a small part of it.  You should be familiar with simple ritual barn acts such as mucking stalls, picking hooves, and grooming procedures.  You should know the tools and the tack, the structure of the barn, the scents and sounds of a barn.  Does the character ride Western, English, Hunt Seat, Dressage?  What breed is the horse?  That will impact the horse's temperament.  If you get a chance, you should take some riding lessons.  This will help you understand gait, riding posture, and the horse's behavior.  Don't just assume that because you've watched a couple of westerns that you know what you are talking about!

The horse thing is just a sample!  This goes for anything.  Wine, yachting, cars.  If your character drives a '08 Dodge Caravan, you should know what one looks like inside, feels like/sounds like when driven.  You should know if it's standard or automatic.  You should know if it has any model flaws. 

Simple things like this can enrich a story beyond simply writing dialogue and describing the character's bedroom.  Like with most pieces of literature, the final manuscript shouldn't include the bulk of the author's knowledge on the subject.  Just look at J.R.R. Tolkien!  You don't need to tell the reader everything you've learned to get your expertise across; if you really know what you are talking about then your familiarity with the subject should come out on it's own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: A Clock

Whether it's your great-grandfather's pocket watch or the tricked out timepiece you purchased at the last Steampunk convention, every writer needs some kind of clock.  I mean this in both the literal and figurative sense -- in other words -- both an internal and external clock. 

While it seems that the publishing industry moves at a snail's pace, that doesn't mean you should follow suit.  In fact, you want to be the opposite.  I'm not saying be the hare, because often slow and steady does win the race.  But you do need to be conscious of the time and you need to use it wisely.

Try the following:

1.  Don't procrastinate.  If you get an idea, write it down.  If you design the perfect dialogue while driving to Wisconsin, pull over and write it down.  It doesn't matter how busy you are, you need to make little concessions for your muse when she speaks to you.  Otherwise, when you eventually sit down to write, she might give you the silent treatment for ignoring her.  I'm not saying write that whole battle scene between Carlos and Gustav -- just a quick outline will do.  A few seconds here or there won't hurt.

2. Offer fast, reliable turn-around when your agent or editor sends you edits.  Don't sit there and say, "Well it took them five months to send me these, they'll have to wait for me now."  First of all, that's just a crappy attitude.  Second, if you want anything out of the industry, you've got to make it happen for yourself.  You want speed?  Do it yourself, cause you are the only thing you can control about this industry.  Plus, if you make yourself a punctual and reliable individual to work with, you're more likely to get more projects.

3.  Work on a clearly defined, reasonable schedule for the production of new work.  At this point, you should know yourself and what you are capable of.  How long would it take you to write, edit, and polish a manuscript cover-to-cover?  Use that time-line and allow yourself up to a month of buffer time (just in case you hit a snag or a little bit of writer's block).  Then, try to budget that time into a daily or weekly writing routine that you can stick to.  I know that, if I give myself time, I can finish a book in a month, but I give myself up to a year because I have external responsibilities that I can't ignore and my job often makes it so that I can't adhere to my daily writing schedule.

4.  You want to budget your time and energy so that you are producing literature while still participating as a member of the human race.  My first few novels were produced in this muddy haze of being lost in a 60 hour a week job and then coming home and hammering at a computer until I couldn't keep my eyes open.  I pretty much disappeared off of the face of the earth for a year.  No hanging out with friends, limited contact with family, and no R and R time.  Granted, I can and often do argue that writing is therapy for me, but that's no excuse for missing out on an entire year of the lives of people that I love and care about (not to mention missing out on a year I'll never get back).  I look back on that year and all I can remember is work and writing.  Be certain to wear the writer hat, but also make sure you're giving yourself time to wear the other hats.

5.  Avoid White Rabbit Syndrome.  You want to be aware of time, but don't let it rule your life.  You are an artist and masterpieces take time and patience to complete.  This is why we need realistic goals.  If you want to be published then you need a very clear understanding of just how much time it's going to take to get to the finished product and you need to understand that not all writers work well under pressure.  I learned that the hard way.  I know I can't go crazy obsessing over how long everything is taking because I'll just make myself sick or negatively impact my creativity.  If you find that you're having trouble writing while something is on submission, take a step back and analyze how you're handling the submission process.  Sometimes it's as easy as taking your bunny to a yoga class. :)

Hope that helps!  See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finally Friday: In The Works.

Phew, finally a Friday where I'm not away!

Here some exciting things:

Scar-Crossed is still on submission!  Pray that she sells by the end of the year!

The Will of the Fallen is getting a face lift that will hopefully make it shorter and more in tune with my current writing style.  I'm hoping to finish edits by the end of the month (it's my NANOWRIMO project) and have betas complete reviews by January.  I'd like that on submission by June, if not earlier.

The Cyberpunk and the Steampunk are both on the boiler plate, I'm hoping to finish one by next June and the other by December.  You'll all be excited to know that the Steampunk is a novel set in the same world as The Alchemist's Perfect Instrument.

There is plotting with Kady Cross, Lia Habel, and possibly Leanna Renee Hieber to do panel(s) at The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition.

I've given up on telling you guys that Salvation Station is coming out...because my publisher always changes the supposed release date, but it will come out eventually.  It's going to be part of an anthology with a pretty cover and Jennifer Armintrout, so I can't complain about the delays.

I'm attempting to become at panelist at Arisia, Boskone, and Lunacon.  I may possibly attend Marcon or ICon...I don't know which one if either yet.

Faeriecon was awesome.  Delhi 2 Dublin is way better live than on their cds.  I still have a crush on Adam Hurst -- nothing hotter than a guy with a classical instrument...and actually knows how to play it!  I want the New York Faerie Festival Queen's crown.  ...and I want a faerie house ...and a pair of wings ...and... yeah, it's just a big pile of want and longing over here.  Too much "Ooo, shiny!" to deal with.

I've talked to my agent, The "Real" Zombie Survival Guide was accepted into the top secret anthology, but it still has to get pitched to a publisher.  I'm really excited for this one cause it has some big name authors in it, so pray that it gets accepted.

Also, my Steampunk erotic short, Engineers of the Heart was accepted into an anthology, though I have no clue when that is coming out either.  While this is another Dormorn story, it will probably be published under another name.  No need to frighten my YA readers away.

There will be two more Dormorn shorts completed by the end of the year.  One, Unbinding Elizabeth, is an erotic (again, probably to be published under a different name) and the other, The Krie Seekers, will be another weird tale, this one more in the vein of paranormal horror meets Sherlock Holmes.

Also, I'm side-plotting a possible anthology for the members of The Airship Pen and Ink.  I'd really like the release to coincide with the event we're having at Authors After Dark 2012, so pray for that too please.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Fie on These Days!

Warning: I'm having one of those days. 

This isn't your normal installment of Thoughtful Thursday.

Just letting you know. :)

Alas, I am without thought today.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I have plenty of thoughts, just not a drop of anything worth sticking in today's blog.  I wasted this weeks nuggets of wisdom on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We blonds only get so many a month, LOL.

I'm having one of those days...Which I guess can be the topic of today's blog. 

Today is one of those high anxiety, bite my nails, obsessively check to see if my agent has emailed me days.  I get them every-so-often...Probably, more often than is healthy considering I give myself vertebral subluxation when I get too anxious.

Anyway, we're on round two of pitches for Scar-Crossed and the remainder of my dream houses are on the list.  So, I pretty much have to get accepted by someone in this round or I will die.  *swoons*  Seriously though, this process is turning out to be far more frustrating than I bargained for.  I was expecting most editors to hate it and the few who liked it to offer it a home.  Simple logic, right?  You like it, you buy it.  End of story. Nope. 

Seems I'm one of those cases were editors really like it, but they just can't take it because the market is too flooded or they already represent something similar and can't risk competing with their own list. So, basically my book is awesome and there's nothing anybody can do about it or for it.  So, it's just kind of sitting over here looking pitiful and longing.  It's so much worse knowing you have a piece of gold and there are those who would buy your gold, but it's worth nothing in an inflated market.

I do have hope for it though. My agent and I both feel that some editor somewhere will be feeling particularly risky on the day they read it....Or have the stuffing beaten out of them by the majesty of my Muse

*cackles manically* *chokes* *coughs* *clears throat*

(Sorry guys, I'm really tired). 

Where was I?  Oh, yeah...  So, this Editor of Epic Wonderment and Bliss will extend his or her hand and welcome us into the fold of publication.

*Dream bubble pops*

Until then, I wait and have strings of days like this: Where I feel like a thirsty woman at the bottom of a very deep, dark abyss making noise and flailing, seeking any sign of life above.

Yes, I'm being dramatic.

Any moment I'm expecting news.  Sometimes, I tell myself that I wouldn't care if it were good or bad news -- as long as I just got some news. 

Seems like backwards thinking, I know, but I liken this piece of the process to giving labor. 

I just want the d*** thing out already!

*End Rant*  You normal programming will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Get Punk'd

Do you really know what Steampunk is?  Mini top hats and brass ray-guns, right?  I thought I knew...until I went to a Steampunk convention and ended up watching a panel full of Anarchists talking about upholding the Steampunk culture...Wait, there's more to this genre than pretty Victorian clothing and airships?  I can't just take my YA paranormal romance, put in a few canes, cogs, and corsets and sell it like that???

Nope, not if you want it to actually be good Steampunk.  There's a reason why "Punk" is in the title. 

If you write Steampunk, it's a good idea to have a clear grasp on what the mentality behind the genre and the movement actually are.  Why "steam" why "punk."  Don't just keep it contained to Steampunk either!  Trust me, adding the "punk" mentality to any piece of literature will only serve to enrich your work.

Wikipedia, always a good place to start: GET PUNK'D

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Sword

I've already addressed a writer's need for armor in this industry, but what warrior of the pen would be complete without a sword?  Yes, even those of us who choose the pen to fight our battles need to get down and dirty every-so-often.  I'm not talking literally stashing away some throwing stars with the names of people who reject you on them.  I'm talking about standing up for yourself and fighting back when the industry attempts to roll you over.

What do I mean by this?  You need to be your own chevalier if you don't want to get stomped on or lose sight of who you are and what you represent.  If you have an agent then you have an ally.  They can help fight a publisher for your contractual rights and the true worth of your work.  BUT there may be times when you even need to use your sword against your agent.  A perfect example from my own experience came about during the editing process for Scar-Crossed.  For the most part, I agreed with what my agent told me needed to be fixed, but there were certain things I refused to budge on.  I didn't want to change certain words because she thought they might be too difficult for YA readers.  I said, "They need to be challenged."  So, I left them in there.  And, like a good agent, she respected my opinion.  We came to an understanding and now my choice of words is something that will stand for future pieces.

If you don't have an agent you need to be even more inclined to take up your sword and fight.  You'll be working out your own contracts and agreeing on your own fees.  Your going to need to work to keep your head above water, get yourself noticed, and prevent publishers from taking advantage of you.

It sounds like something so simple, but often we get into this habit of telling ourselves, "Well, they know the industry better, so they must be right."  While that is true a lot of the time, it's not always true.  YOU are the novelist, you know your characters and your story best.  You know what you want in a contract, you know how much you are worth, and you know what you are comfortable with.  If something rubs you the wrong way, (as long as there is a clear and reasonable reason behind it) then don't do it.  You'll ruin the integrity of your own work and lose respect in yourself.  If your agent or editor refuses to accept your feelings, then you'll have to compromise...or duel.  Each one of you should come out of the situation feeling like you haven't lost everything.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Finally Friday: Faeriecon

Today I'm off to spend the weekend with a friend and attend Faeriecon!  I'm not a panelist at this convention (maybe one day), this is just for fun.  Some of my favorite writers (Charles de Lint and Melissa Marr + more) and artists (Amy Brown, Brian and Wendy Froud, Renae Taylor + more) are going to be there, so I look forward to seeing them.  There's also going to be a Bad Faerie Ball and a Good Faerie Ball where some excellent bands (Qntal and Delhi 2 Dublin + more) will be playing.  In addition to all of this, Faeriecon has one of the best vendor collections I've seen at a con.  If you are a faerie enthusiast, this is the next best event since Faerieworlds!

If you're in the Baltimore area, I encourage you to attend!

So excited to put on my ears and get my Fae on! 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Without Ease

Still no power!  Since it's NANOWRIMO and I have a goal to meet, I've been resorting to the arcane method of handwriting by candlelight.  I'd like to take today to tip my hat in respect to the writers of old. 

We often take for granted just how lucky we are to be part of the information age.  Our PCs make it incredibly easy for us to write and edit a book.  Yet, we still complain!  Imagine having to rewrite -- by hand -- the dozens of versions of a manuscript it takes to create a polished book.  No wonder there are so few books from the past!  I can certainly understand why books and scrolls were once so very valuable.  Besides the fact that the resources required to create a written document (ink, paper, quills (even the ability to read and write) were often rare and expensive; the simple manpower required to write a legible book by hand is mind boggling. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, before you start whining about how little time you have or how annoying the process of trying to edit is, take a moment to think about what it used to be like for those poor souls who had to do everything by hand. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Tempestuous

I'm dealing with the aftershock of an untimely Nor-Easter so today's word is:

Toolbox Tuesday: Glue

This week's post are going to be short and might be late! 

Sorry guys, I still don't have power at my house and I'm being sneaky writing my blog while I'm at work. :)

To go along with the scissors in your writer's toolbox, you're going to need some glue.  Not everything that you cut out of a manuscript is going to have to get trashed.  Much of the time, you simply need to tighten or rearrange your plot.  In order to do this, you're going to have to use your mental glue.  You will have to use forsight and a good bit of imagination to figure out where certain pieces should go and how to reframe them.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Finally Friday: VT

I'll be at my friend's cottage in VT for "Girl's Weekend," so I wont be online or answering emails.  I'll be back on Monday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Author Net

Okay Folks, I've got a ton of cold medicine in my system, so I hope this makes sense... Here goes.

The author net.  There are a number of different definitions for this phrase.  Today the aspect of the author net that I want to bring particular attention to is the idea that authors have to be each other's best friends, fans, and partners.  Why?  Well, if we aren't there to catch each other when we fall down, then who is?

Like those crazy artists on television, authors are a special breed of human being.  While we are clearly functional in today's society, we're also a little like black sheep.  It's our job/hobby/passion to live with our heads stuck in another world, with our emotions wrapped up in the love life of an imaginary person, in constantly picking apart the world around us for that perfect explanation for what fifty people walking down a hall sounds like.  There's a slight disconnect (or over connect) between us and everyone else.  And the only people who really get us and the challenges we deal with are other authors.  We rely on each other for help both emotionally and creatively.

Not to mention professionally...

I know a lot of authors who are just out for themselves in this industry.  They wonder why they should bother giving advice to newbie authors when those very authors might become competition a few years down the line.  My answer is simple:  If you want to be able to do this in ten years then you should help others.  What goes around comes around, it's the karma circle.  If you don't help others they wont help you.  There are a lot of things competing for people's attention these days, it's easy to get lost in the fray.  The friendship and support of other authors, especially those who have already gone through the process is imperative. 

If you're a new author, you should be telling everyone to read the new and upcoming books of fellow authors.  If you're more experienced, get on a forum and help some newbies get over their issues with building better dialogue.  Everyone, get out there and make some author friends so that you don't have to bore your best friends from high school with five hours of obsessing over whether your MC should be gay or straight.  With any karmic luck, someone will do the same for you!

Write Well Wednesday: Monastic

EEP!  I completely flaked out yesterday!  Sorry about that, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Here's yesterday's post.  Today's will be up in a few hours.


Today's word reminds me of my life as a writer.  I haven't taken a vow of spirituality or anything, but in some ways I feel like dedicating myself to a book is like taking on a new religion.  The characters are my gods, the world is my temple, and I submerse myself in it and think about it non-stop until my piece is completed.  Very often I become like this word, shutting myself away from the outside world so that I can dedicate myself to the novel.  Enjoy today's word!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Armor

Since I just got another rejection from a big NY house this past week, I thought it prudent to address the author's need for armor in their toolbox.  Depending on what kind of writer you are and where you want to take your book, you're going to need to make sure you've got a good set of emotional armor.

If you're like me and your dream is to become a New York or USA Today Bestselling author, then 9 out of 10 say go the conventional way through New York.

First, you're going to deal with having to go through numerous edits with beta readers before you even think of pitching an agent.  Sometimes this is the most difficult part for a writer: taking that primary step and letting someone else look at your baby.  Being as shy and self-conscious as I can be, this part was very difficult for me.  I kept wondering, "What if they don't like it?"  Of course, at 20 (when I started all of this) not liking my book translated to not liking me.  I was also terrified that I sucked and sucking at writing meant I couldn't be a writer.

I assume everyone has this mentality at first, but then you live, you learn, and since you're too big for Luvs, you build armor.  I almost cried the first time I got a manuscript back from a beta reader.  I had been intelligent in choosing my old roommate (she'd been an editor for her school paper and thus the toughest Grammar Nazi that I knew), but man, did it ever hurt.  I also had many arguments and discussions with people who told me certain aspects of the novel didn't make sense or were unclear or they didn't like a particular character.  I got defensive, told them they weren't supposed to understand or that was just how things were.  But then I realized that if I actually wanted to be published, I had to make some sacrifices for the sake of the reader. 

My biggest lesson as an author: If you're not willing to bend a little for your readers, your market, or the industry, then you aren't writing for other people, you are writing for yourself...And if it's just for you then why the heck are you torturing yourself with trying to get published?

Things got better after that.  It turned out that I didn't suck, I just needed to work on some things.  So, I did the best I could with my beta readers, compiled a list of agents, wrote a query, and started pitching.

And got rejected.  And rejected.  And rejected.  I got a couple of partial requests...and got rejected.  During all these rejections, I was writing another book.  It was the only way to prove to myself that I could use what I learned and write something better than what was being rejected.  I was challenging myself as an author.  When I finished, I gave that novel to my betas.  They loved it, there wasn't that much I needed to fix.  I was jubilant!  So, I decided to pitch that one instead. 

And got rejected and got partial requests...and then got full requests.  Then an agent who was willing to consider taking it if I made some changes.  We will call her Agent A.  After a brief phone conversation with her, I started a huge edit that completely changed my book.  I gave it back to her and waited.  During that time I got rejected by two other agents who had asked for full requests.  And then Agent A got back to me and decided not to take it despite my three painful months of changing my book for her.  Luckily, I had met an agent (B) at one of the conferences I go to and she'd asked to see it if Agent A didn't pick it up. 

She liked it, signed me, but suggested making changes to it as well.  Month after month, edit after edit, I kept thinking, "This is it!  This is perfect!  This will be the last one!"  But it never was.  I cried, I screamed, I went through a period of writer's block.  Nine months later, the only thing that kept me going was sheer determination not to let my own monster kill me.  And then one day, that was it.  I was done and we were going on submission.

And now the rejections are coming again.  My dream houses, Tor, Simon and Schuster, Penguin...they've rejected me.  Why?  Not because my book sucks, but because the market is too full of the kind of book I've written.  I have a piece of gold, but it holds little value in an inflated market.  But I hope and pray everyday that someone will like it enough to hold it up and say, "This piece of gold is better than the rest!" 

Until then, I continue to write and I've gotten a few of my short stories published through small publishers.  Still, even here I need my armor.  I have to deal with getting reviews from people who don't like my work and I need to deal with having to promote myself if I want sales.

When my novel does sell, I know that I'm going to have to deal with contractual issues, deadlines, promotional fiascoes, touring, and a grueling schedule.  I'm also going to have to contend with the very real possibility that the book will tank and no one will want to publish anything by me again.

I started writing my first book when I was 18.  Seven years later, I've completed four manuscripts and still don't have a novel published.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finally Friday: LASTSFA

I'm heading to upstate New York to go to the LASTSFA Writer's Workshop!  I'm both excited and nervous because I'm going to be a panelist this year!  Here are the panels I'm on:

Promotion!  Yes, you have to do it...: 10am in Loft

Paranormal Romance: 11am in Guilder

Steampunk and Victoriana: 2pm in Town

Urban Fantasy: 3pm in Loft

The Writer's Workshop is being held 10-6pm at the Best Western Sovereign Hotel in Albany, NY.  Tickets are 40$ at the door and $25 for the High Tea on Friday afternoon.  Hope to see you there! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Kick Butt Girls Who We Love to Hate

Today is an open discussion day!  Disclaimer: This is not about a particular genre as a whole or about a particular piece.

Does anyone else find it odd that in real life, we don't actually make friends with the women who would -- given an invasion of demons and zombies -- strap into her Cat Woman leathers, don her stiletto thigh-highs, and go kick a vampire's butt (all without breaking a nail)?  Other than being pretty darn scary (and a manifestation of the generic-male's wet-dream); these women tend to be pretty unreasonable and their frontal lobe may not have developed correctly?  Maybe too many round-house kicks to the head? *shrugs*  They also tend to be promiscuous and emotionally unavailable.  Basically they are Doms...

Now, the general consensus is that these women don't represent "real" women, which I agree with.  Most women aren't like this.  So, why there is a disproportional amount of leopard print wearing, butt kicking demon hunters who nobody would go near with a ten foot pole in real life is beyond me.  I have actually have met a couple of these scary women in real life, so they do exist.  But why do they get the book face time?  So far, my experience both in real life and in the books is that they are difficult to work with, hot tempered, self-involved, and tend to make every man drool over them and thus every woman around them hate them.

Now, if you're a pleasant one of these types, I'd be pleased to meet you.  PLEASE, prove me wrong!  I'm also open to literary suggestions, of course. :)

Personally, I like funny, caring people who don't hold me at arm's length.  I don't want to make friends or date someone like the females I'm reading in some of these books...and honestly, I don't get why any character in the book does either.  So why are these books selling?   Why do we like reading about frigid women who make us want to shake them?  Is it just interest in the unknown?  Vicarious curiosity?  Do we feel that we need to love them because they are often damaged?  Or is it something deeper...Something deeply wrong about our human psyche that makes us morbidly drawn to the abusive evils in life? 

Just wondering...

What do you think?  If you like reading about these women, please tell me why cause I'm genuinely curious about what makes them appeal to you. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Comma Usage

Being a writer takes more than a good story and a fancy way of telling it.  Very often, a writer can be criticized for their improper use of grammar, misspelling, and using words out of context.  Sometimes, a reader will get so annoyed by the writer's inability to use the English language properly that they stop reading!  Make an effort not to be that writer.  This is especially important for small press and self published authors.  You have fewer people looking at your manuscript, so you have to be your own editor.

One of the biggest abuses in writing is improper use of the comma.  Here is one of my favorite sites to explain comma use.  Purdue OWL

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Scissors

I'm thinking figurative scissors, so if you're feeling particularly homicidal, you may want to skip this tool.

As a writer, you need to know what to cut out of a manuscript.  Often our pieces are too long for the market, we have scenes that drag on, or we have dialogue that just doesn't get to the point.  This requires a good amount of cutting on our parts.

The best tool to deal with this is a sharp pair of mental scissors.  Preferably, a pair with a fine tip for those difficult extractions.

Don't be afraid to practice with your scissors!  Learn where and when to cut to get the best results.  Use them often and love them!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Muse: Anything Can Happen

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Today's muse is worth a thousand possibilities.  I hope this inspires you too!

This piece is ...nothing but silence by deviantART's wariatka.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finally Friday: NYCC

I'm going to NYCC this weekend!  I'll hopefully meet some of my hero authors and have an awesome time.

Career news:  If all goes well, Salvation Station should be getting release through Tease Publishing tomorrow.  Finished Engineers of the Hear this past weekend and sent that on to my agent.  I believe it will be going to Ravenous Romance.  Also, Scar-Crossed is still on submission in New York.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Meeting Your Literary Hero

Seeing as how I am attending New York Comic Con this weekend and I've just taken a look through the guest list, I thought it prudent to address author-meeting-literary-hero etiquette.

If some of you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I have a deep seated love for a certain number of authors.

A. I love their work.

B.  I also want to be them when I grow up.

Most people only deal with issue A.  However, authors have a strange bipolar arrangement where they are both fan and followers.  I'd say worshiper, but that just sounds creepy, and really, I don't want to worship I want to befriend them.  Does it sound odd that I have "friend" goals?  It shouldn't, we all secretly want to get to know and quite possibly be best friends with someone.

So, that leaves me and every other wannabe Bestseller at a strange crossroads.

How do I conduct myself when I meet these people who both awe and inspire me?

I've seen many, many authors do the fan-girl thing.  You haul 15 books around a Con, hunting for the illusive authors, squeeing at the briefest sighting, cornering unfortunate author in an elevator and then holding them hostage with your life story and how you're an author too!  *face-palm*  This is not how you make friends...or get guidance.  This is how, in said author's next novel, the villain's obnoxious sidekick looks suspiciously like a combination of you and your creepy fandom cronies.

Here's some advice.

1.  Be cool and collected.  Nobody likes a hyperventilating maniac on the verge of verbal asphyxiation.

2.  If you must bring a book for the author to sign, that's fine, but don't bring everyone's book.  Choose your absolute favorite author and only bring their book.  They won't believe that they are your hero when you're going and getting all your other "hero's" autographs as well. 

3.  Fans get first dibs.  Let the fans talk to the author first.  The author is there primarily for them, let your hero bask in the glory of literary Godhood.  They have earned it.

Holy craps, this is it!  It's your literary hero!

4.  Make a good, professional impression.  Being an author is all about selling YOU.  If you come off as overpowering or demanding, your hero will remember it.  Try to think of a couple of good lines and memorize them.  Something like "I'm so and so, I'm an aspiring author (If you have some kind of clout, like an agent or book on submission insert it here).  I just wanted to let you know that you're one of my biggest inspirations and XYZ."  It's okay to flatter them (everybody loves a little flattery), just don't do it in a way that makes you seem like a desperate author-napping weirdo and don't tell them your whole life story.

5.  Make sure the author has time for you.  A simple "Do you have a few minutes?" is fine.  If they are in a rush, tell them what you're after, and ask if you can contact them via email, Facebook, or Twitter.  Make sure you remind them who you are and where you met them when you do contact them. 

6.  If they do have time for you, make sure that you're not holding up the line.  If there's another panel waiting outside the room, make it obvious that you're willing to speak on the move or outside the room.  Sometimes authors get this whole deer stuck in a corner thing when people are talking to them and you have to herd them out.  Just say something like, "Let's get out of the way" or "Do you need help carrying that out" (Inevitably they'll have promo or books with them) will work.  Sometimes suggesting lunch or a drink works too...

7.  Know why you want to have a relationship with this person.  And YES, you DO want a relationship with this person.  If you are meeting your favorite author, if at all possible, make friends with them!  Why?  Hello!  If you love their writing that means they are doing something right.  And you want to know what it is that they do.  Study their craft, find things that amaze you about what they do, and ask them about it.  I don't know a single author who doesn't love to talk about their writing or themselves.  :)  This goes along with the whole 'I want to be like you' thing.  Basically, you're Robin being like, "Holy Bananas, Batman!  That weird kick thing you did to the Joker was bangin'!  How'd you do it, Bro?"

...Cause we all know Robin is from the Hood...

Seriously though, if you want to be a successful writer then the best thing you can do is get a successful writer to tutor you.  Tutoring doesn't mean asking them to read and critique your MS.  (If ever Neil Gaiman or Brandon Sanderson did that, they'd never be able to put out their own awesome work.)  If you're a serious writer you should know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you should know what you want to instill in your readers, and you should always be trying to improve.

If you know someone that makes you feel like you want your readers to feel find them and find out how they do it.

8.  DO NOT start: pitching your book, asking them to introduce you to their agent/editor, asking them to write you a blurb, or ask them to read your MS.  This comes after the honeymoon.

 9.  Keep in mind that authors are people too.  if you're really serious about building a friendship with people, then make sure to engage them on things about THEM, not just about you and what you want.

I hope that helps some of you have a successful first encounter with your literary hero!  Good luck!