Friday, May 28, 2010

Have you ever run out of words?

Sometimes it feels like there just aren't enough words. And I'm not talking about writer's block--that's a WHOLE other blog post. No, what I mean is, the struggle to find new and interesting ways to explain the same thing.

For example, if you're a mean writer like I am, you probably put your characters in a lot of stressful situations. And when you do, you need to show--not tell--their reactions, so your readers feel what they're feeling.

But how many times can the character's heart stop, or their stomach twist, or bile rise in their throat, or their palms sweat, or 'insert other-over-used-reaction here' before it just gets repetitive? How else do you say it, though?

Mind you--sometimes the situation itself is so obviously stressful that the reaction goes without saying. Oh how I love those moments. But what about the other times? The places where something seemingly innocent is said or done, but it triggers some sort of memory or thought or feeling in your character. What then? What do you do when there really aren't any words left to describe their reaction (especially their physical reaction)?

If you're me, you track down your CPs and beg for help. And then you spend 30-45 minutes brainstorming bad ideas until you finally, FINALLY land on something useable. Which is all well and good until you think about the fact that you just spent 30-45 minutes on one sentence.

One.
Sentence.
!!!!

Seems like there HAS to be an easier way. Maybe you guys know the answer. 

Do you ever run out of words? And how do you find the words you need if you do?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Winners and more Shannon Sharing (or is it Shannon Shame?)

Hey everyone! Thank you all so much for all the comments yesterday--I feel like I know you all so much better now!

The winners of the 3 Starbucks gift cards are:




Check your email guys. I've emailed you asking for your mailing address. 

And I'm sorry, the day totally got away from me--so I don't have time for a proper post. But since yesterday was all about sharing, I thought I'd share a couple of pictures from my childhood--despite my obvious dorkiness in them. If nothing else, they're good for a laugh!

I'm the one on the left--looking THRILLED to have my picture taken. Though--if you were wearing a frumpy pink sweater and holding a bunny stuffed animal you probably wouldn't be too excited either! And BTW, why do parents always give you something weird to hold up and then insist on immortalizing it in film? Is there a reason for this that I have yet to appreciate?


And...this time I'm on the right, rocking the side ponytail and the neon yellow skates. (Though my FAVORITE part of this picture is my sister's all red warm-ups.) Ahhhh--the '80s. Good times!

Have a good day everyone!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shannon Sharing

*Note: You *might* wanna keep reading. I'm giving something away at the end. :)

So, I've been tagged. I knew it was bound to happen--these blog tagging wars are kind of inescapable. This time it was by the lovely T. J. Carson, and I have to say, I liked her thought process behind it. She tagged bloggers that she didn't know very well, that way she'd get to know us better. And since I have accumulated quite a few new followers over these last few months--and have been so busy with revision--I really haven't had time to get to know you all very well. So this is a perfect opportunity.

So imagine this us, chatting over coffee, and you've asked me to give five answers to each of the following five questions:

Question #1: Where were you five years ago?
Hm... *tries to remember--feels like a really long time ago*
- Coming up on my one year wedding anniversary, and trying to figure out what I wanted my husband to buy me as a present (of course I went with jewelry)
- Writing a sub-par chick-lit novel (which I've never bothered to finish, given the fact that it was sub-par)
- Surrounded by so many catty girls it was like a real life version of Mean Girls. (Thankfully I've managed to remove every single one of them from my life)
- Worried that leaving LA was the biggest mistake my husband and I could have made
- Selling black and white charcoal portraits (usually of celebrities) to make some extra spending money

Question #2: Where would you like to be five years from now?
- Still happily married to my husband
- Living in a house with a bit more closet space and a LOT more bookshelves
- On a book tour promoting the next book in my series (which will of course be a huge success--dream big, right?) :)
- Living somewhere other than suburbia--though my husband and I have yet to agree upon where that would be
- Still writing. Still loving to write.

Question #3: What is (was) your to do list today?
- Finally catch up on my email backlog
- Finally catch up on my blog hopping
- Go to the post office
- Go to Target (and leave WITHOUT spending $100.00 on wants, not needs)
- Remember to eat lunch--so the Sara(h)s don't yell at me. 
(I know, my life is SO glamorous)

Question #4: What are five snacks you enjoy?
- Chips and salsa
- m&m's (of all kinds, though the almond are my favorite right now)
- Twizzlers (no surprise there, right?)
- Gummi bears
- Cupcakes

Question #5: What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
- Buy a house with a big library, so I'd finally have room for my books
- Start my own publishing house with a focus on debut novelists
- Take my family to Europe
- Put enough money to live comfortably--not lavishly--in the bank
- Donate the rest to different charities and organizations so I don't get lazy or selfish

Phew! That was harder than I thought. I hope I didn't bore you guys to death. 

Now, this is the point where I'm SUPPOSED to tag other people--but since this is my blog and I do what I want here (muahahahaha) I'm going to do things a little different. I'd rather get to know as many of you guys as possible, so...I'm tagging all of you! 

Well, sort of. 

Anyone who wants to participate can answer as many or as few of the questions as they want in the comments (you do not even have to give five answers to each one) and at the end of the day today I'll let randomizer.org choose three lucky winners. All you have to do is leave a comment (and make sure I have a way to contact you if you win) and if your number is chosen I'll send you a $5.00 Starbucks giftcard. 

Hopefully we'll all get to know each other a little bit better this way. I know I can't wait to read all of your answers. :) So have fun. Share away. And have a great rest of the day! 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time for a Cupcakeathon!

Those of you who don't follow the fabulous and adorable Lisa Mantchev on her blog or Facebook or Twitter (and really, what's wrong with you?) are probably wondering what the heck a Cupcakeathon is.

Well, it's pretty much a celebration of everything awesome, especially cupcakes, an author who's obsessed with them, and her incredible new novel Perchance to Dream, which hits stores today!!!


*pauses to SQUEE!!!!!!!!!!!*

I'm not going to talk too much about Lisa or her stunning books--only because I have an entire Lisa Mantchev week coming soon and I don't want to use up all my material (and trust me people, it is going to be EPIC). Instead, I'm focusing on what brought Lisa and I together in the first place: our mutual obsession with all things cupcake (okay, it's really all things sugary and bad for your waistline, but today is the Cupcakeathon so I'll limit myself to that.) 

And believe it or not--I baked! I didn't even burn the house down! I mean, I'm not TOTALLY incompetent in the kitchen--but thanks to my hectic schedule I pretty much haven't touched my oven in months, so I was a little nervous to turn it on. But I did it! I made these:


And what they lack in beauty (cause lets face it, cake decorator I am not. We all remember the Were-Platypus Cupcake fiasco) they make up for in OMG-deliciousness. See--these aren't your average cupcakes. These are NUTELLA CUPCAKES!

(And for those of you unfortunate enough not to know what Nutella is, it's a chocolate-hazelnut spread that is life-changingly good. You absolutely MUST try it!)

Lisa and I share a *slight* obsession with the chocolate-hazelnutty goodness, so I knew I had to attempt Nutella cupcakes in her honor. You can find the recipe I used here (though I made the frosting myself--with a heaping amount of Nutella in it), and let me just say: they are awesome. I had to send the rest of them to work with my husband because I could not. stop. eating. them. :)

So do yourself a favor. Hop over to Lisa's blog, or find her on Facebook or Twitter. She's giving away prizes! Even better--go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of Perchance to Dream.  I was lucky enough to score an ARC earlier this year so I can say with absolute certainty it is AMAZING. The kind of book you want to immediately reread as soon as you're done.  Which is what I will be doing today.

*drools over Ariel*

*Realizes I should be revising*

*decides I don't care*

And of course--don't forget to have a cupcake! Or maybe two. Shoot, have three. I won't tell. ;)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Reasons to Celebrate!

In case you weren't on Twitter last night (or you're one of those brave hold-outs who doesn't Tweet--seriously give in to the addiction!) there was some serious awesomeness going around. Two of my favorite people had some mega-huge-epic happy news to share, and I had to take a minute to spread the word.

First, the adorable and talented Stephanie Perkins not only made her first foreign sale for her debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss (December, 2010), but she landed two amazing blurbs from Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle!

You can read all the details on her blog (which you really should be following anyway--she's hilarious!) and you can find out more about Anna and the French Kiss here.

Congrats Stephanie! I'm SO excited for you, and I can't WAIT to read your book. I'll resist the urge to beg for an ARC (even though I WANT one) and wait somewhat patiently for my pre-order to ship instead. :)

And then, as if Stephanie's news wasn't already more than enough joy and happiness for one night, the incredible and unstoppable Elana Johnson had an EPIC announcement of her own!

I have been waiting WEEKS to be able to SQUEE publicly about this and now I finally can! ELANA SOLD HER FIRST BOOK! SHE'S GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the details from Publisher's Marketplace: Elana Johnson's CONTROL ISSUES, set in a brainwashed society where those gifted with mind control best join the powers that be, but one rebel girl tries to beat them at their own game, to Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse, by Michelle Andelman at Lynn Franklin Associates (NA). 


She gives all the details of her inspiring journey to publication here--make sure you stop by and tell her congrats! (And if you aren't already following her blog--which I don't see how that's possible, she has a bazillion followers--click that follow button. She's definitely going to be a force in the publishing industry--you want to know her!)


So HUGE congrats to Elana and Stephanie. I love watching fantastic things happen to awesome people! I hope you guys are out celebrating today--you deserve it!


Oh, and one quick reminder: Today is the last day to enter to win Meg Cabot's airhead trilogy, so if you haven't already entered, you better fill out the form by 11:59 PST tonight. Winner will be posted tomorrow.


Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why I'm Proud to be Unimportant

First of all, wow. I knew I loved being a part of the blogging and writing communities, but your comments this week have taken that appreciation to a WHOLE other level. Thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts and I have read each and every comment. I try to reply to everyone via email, so if you haven't heard from me, it's probably because you don't have an email address attached to your profile.

And I thought the best way to follow up yesterday's post was to use another portion that I love from Shannon Hale's awesome, "What I Wish I'd Known" list. These are items 1-4:

  1. You, the author, are less important than any bookstore clerk.
  2. You are less important than any librarian.
  3. You are less important than any reader.
  4. Basically, you’re much less important that you’d thought or hoped you’d be. And it turns out, that’s a good thing.

The last sentence is a my favorite part.

I'm sure there's some who might be surprised by that. I know some people think I pursue publication for fame and glory--hoping to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. But you know what? I couldn't care less about fame. In fact, the thought of it pretty much terrifies me. I've watched what can happen when fame becomes a part of someone's life--I saw it up close and personal when I worked in Hollywood. And let me tell you, it ain't pretty. It's not fame's fault. It's a little thing called "Entitlement."

Fame doesn't come easily for most people--especially in the literary world. We SLAVE over our projects. We endure revision after revision, critique after critique, rejection after rejection. So when we finally reach our dream and have our book published--especially if it does well--it can feel like validation for all that hard work. And it is.

But sometimes that feeling turns darker, and we begin to feel entitled to what we have--and that's a dangerous thing--trust me. I've watched entitlement ruin careers. I've personally seen it turn an actor into such a prima donna that even though their show was doing well in the ratings, the head of the network canceled it. His reason? (And this is what he actually told the press) Life's too short to work with a person like that. Their career has never recovered.

So I'm all for humility. I'm all for being unimportant. I would never want to let any amount of success--no matter how big or small--make me think I'm entitled to it. I'm not. I don't work any harder than any of you. I don't have any more to offer than any of you. And if I reach the goal before you, it's only timing. You'll get there. We'll all get there. And when we do--great!

But I don't want to let it go to my head. I'm with Shannon Hale (and no, I don't just like her because of her name). It's a good thing to be unimportant. It's keeps us humble. Keeps us grounded. And believe me, it gives us a much longer, much more successful career.

So what about you guys. Are you proud to be unimportant? Why or why not?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm on the side of Reading--are you?

Maybe it was the two incredible author signings I went to this week. Or maybe it was all the awesome comments you guys left on my last few posts. Or maybe it was reading a couple of books I loved so much I wanted to throw rocks at my draft. I'm not sure. But I couldn't stop thinking about this quote Shannon Hale has on her website under "Things I wish I'd known."

"The more books you read and love, and the happier you are for other authors' successes, the happier you'll be, too. Apparently, it's not a competition! All writers are on the same side--the side of books, of reading, of literacy, of art, of every reader who wants to fall into a story. And if you're really lucky, some of those writers will become your friends."


That quote embodies everything I love about Childrens', Middle Grade, and YA writers. We're all on the same side. Whether we sell 10,000 books or 10 million books, we've all done the most important thing: made a child (of any age) READ.

It's not about money. It's not about who sold their book faster, or bigger, or signed with a big agent or a small agent, or sold their book in two weeks or two months or two years. It's about making people fall in love with stories and characters and worlds. Making people feel what we put on the page. Keeping the publishing business alive.

And most importantly--it's not a competition.

I worked in Hollywood before I started writing Middle Grade. EVERYTHING was a competition. Everyone was out to beat everyone else, and honestly, that's a big part of why I walked away. I'm not a competitive person. I don't compare myself to other people, or try to measure myself by their success. So I LOVE the way almost everyone in the children's writing world seems to be the same way.

I've never found such a positive, supportive industry. I've never seen people come together so quickly and effortlessly (if you need proof, look at what Do The Write Thing For Nashville was able to accomplish). I've never seen so many people so openly celebrate everyone else's success. (again, if you need proof, follow a bunch of writers on Twitter and read their tweets on book release days).

No pushing each other down. No begrudging other people's success. It's more like a team. Team Writers. And I'm honored to be a very small part.

So what about you guys? Do you agree with Shannon Hale? Are you on the side of reading?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Best Decision I Ever Made

Yesterday I talked about why I used to be a big old chicken when it came to blogging--and from reading everyone's awesome comments it seems I'm not the only one who was afraid to jump into the blogosphere. But what stood out to me even more was how many of you used some variation of the following phrase: "Blogging was the best decision I ever made."

I couldn't agree more. I mean, okay, I'm pretty happy with my choice in husband and stuff, but still, I <3 blogging. It really is one of the best decisions I've ever made. I could go on and on and ON about why I love it so much, but in the interest of post length I'll limit it to ten. (And we're going to do this Letterman-style)

Top Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Made of Win

#10: Humility! No matter how much I accomplish, there's always plenty of Shannon Shame to be shared. Like, for instance, the deal with the Universe I have to fulfill when my book sells. Or perhaps this evil dare

#9: Practice! Blogging forces me to write every. single. day. (Well, except weekends). And the more I do it, the better I get (in theory anyway). 

#8: Wisdom! I don't know if you guys know this, but, you're smart. Like, you know stuff. About writing. About publishing. About querying. I have learned so much from your posts, and you have seriously saved me from epic failure or humiliation a hundred times over.

#7: Humor! You guys are also hilarious. Anytime I need a good laugh I can find it by doing a little blog hopping. 

#6: Statcounter! I try to be good, and only check it once a day. But there are few things more thrilling (what? I'm in revision Hell, I don't get out much!) than seeing my number of hits at the end of the day. 

#5: Legitimacy! Sure, landing an agent and selling your book are mostly about having an awesome draft. But agents and editors do check blogs, and now--more than ever--it's important to have a polished online presence. Laura definitely visited my blog before she signed me, and I have no doubt that when I go to subs there will be editors reading my posts (*stomach twists nervously*). Every little bit helps. 

#4 Contests! And no, I don't mean my own--though I am running one. (Shameless contest plug) I mean the ones you guys hold. I've won a signed Lightning Thief and a signed Catching Fire, not to mention several other books. a purse, and four pounds of Twizzlers! There are always awesome contests to enter--like the one Sara is hosting right now. Dude, she's giving away a signed Twilight! Have you entered yet? What are you waiting for?

#3 Community! Writing is a very isolated, lonely thing. Blogging is very social. So for me it balances the two, gets me out of my head and my lonely writing hole--but still keeps me thinking about writing and learning about publishing. 

#2 The Sara(h)s! I had hoped to find CPs when I jumped into the blogosphere, and I found two absolutely awesome ones. The fabulous (and slightly evil) Sara McClung and the hilarious Sarah Wylie. They make me such a better writer--and constantly talk me out of deleting my draft and fleeing to Mexico. I don't know what I'd do without them.

#1: YOU GUYS! *waves to the tiny squares of smiling people* When you read my posts, and especially when you leave me comments it makes. my. day. For realz. You have cheered me up on low days and cheered me on during the highs and I can honestly say I would not have come this far on my writing journey without you. So thank you! You guys are the best!

So what about you guys. Why do you blog? And what do you love most about it?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Confessions of a Blogging Chicken

As most of you have probably noticed (since a lot of you have already entered my Meg Cabot contest) I hit 600 followers this week--which is just CRAZY to me. Part of that is because I have no idea what I'm doing--so I find it incredible that there's over 600 people willing to click that little button and become a follower. But...it's also because, for the longest time, when it came to blogging, I was a big, giant chicken.

For one thing, I'd definitely been trying to keep my writing habit on the DL. I think we've all gotten "the look" from our friends when we tell them we write, and we just know they're secretly thinking "Ha! Good one!" I'd been through that when I went to film school, and I just wasn't in the mood to go through it again. So writing was kind of my dirty little secret.

Plus...I just couldn't imagine anyone would ever care enough to read my posts. My positive, self confident self (said in a tone DRIPPING with sarcasm) kept reminding me that I'm nobody--just some silly girl in So Cal who rambles a bit too much and is struggling to reach the same goal thousands of other people were trying to reach. Why would anyone care about my journey?

But, EVERY writing advice article I'd read said I should be blogging, so I finally decided to give it a chance.  I created this blog in one evening, wondering if I was crazy the whole time. I accumulated a massive SEVEN followers--all family members, btw--and for about two months that's where I stayed. I blogged every day, and I'd get maybe one or two comments, and that was that.

As the days passed though, I realized I wanted more.

I'd been to other blogs. I'd seen the way the blogosphere was like its own community--its own support group--and I wanted to be a part of it. So even though I had no idea what I was doing, I threw myself into the deep end and did everything I could think of to connect with other writers. And the response has just been...overwhelming.

I still have a long way to go. I'm always pushing myself to write better posts, to reply to all of your wonderful comments, to visit more of your awesome blogs and read your posts and cheer on in your journeys (sadly revision took a huge chunk out of my blog hopping time lately. Sorry about that!). But starting this blog has still been one of the best decisions I've made.

I'll talk a little more tomorrow about why (I've learned to try to keep my posts shorter). But for today, I'd love to know:

Were any of you guys nervous or reluctant to start a blog? And what made you decide to give it a try?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Choices

Today, I really wish I was here:

(My Wonderful Husband and Me in 2008)

And I know I really have no reason to whine, given that I've gone there before ... 5 times. *coughs* I DO realize how lucky that makes me--and I would never want anyone to think I take that for granted. But Paris is my favorite city, and as I reach that point of OMG-I-can't-look-at-these-walls-or-write-ANYMORE!!!! ... well, it really makes me itch to get on a plane and leave it all behind. 

Maybe that sounds drastic, but here's something you may not realize: Paris is one of the only places where I really can't be Shannon. And by 'be Shannon' I mean wallowing in that guilt of 'I should be doing x,y,z instead of this.' Thanks to their different power outlets and the astronomical cell phone charges--I'm forced to completely unplug when I'm there. No laptop. No phone. Just me, my husband, and a city that's so beautiful and so full of things to do I can't help but forget everything else and take it in. Not to mention the need to eat my body weight in crepes and pastry. 

But this year I chose not to plan a trip to Paris--with my husband's support, of course. This year I decided to focus on my book--specifically on doing everything in my power to get my book published. It was my choice, and I don't regret it. There will always be time to plan another trip to Paris, but there might not always be a chance to follow this dream. So I'm sticking with my plan.

Still ... sometimes I have those grass is greener days--and today is one of them. So I think I'm going to take a break from my draft, watch a few of my favorite movies set in Paris (Sabrina, The Devil Wears Prada, Moulin Rouge) and eat a store bought croissant (NOT the same...but it'll have to do). 

And maybe, I'll dream about the trip we'll plan to celebrate whenever my book sells. One advantage of being so busy--I've had no time to shop, so our savings is ready for another Parisian adventure--whenever the timing allows.  :)

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Does Google Say You're a Writer?

Okay, that title may be deceptive, because really, most of us with blogs can probably google our name and the word 'writer' and turn up quite a few things that say that we're writers--hopefully things beyond our own blogger profile. *coughs*

What I mean is, if you look at your google search history, do you see verifiable proof that you're a writer? Because let's face it--writers tend to google some crazy stuff. For instance, over the last few months I have googled the following things:
  • Prehistoric bugs
  • Light travel
  • Giant spiders
  • Mythological plants
  • Types of flame
  • The emotional center of the brain
  • Alchemy
  • Metal melting points
  • Pulled sugar art
  • The sound a pterodactyl makes
  • Will green grass burn?
  • Migraines
  • Golden hour
  • British slang for currency
  • Ancient sports
  • Stone henge theories
  • Sasquatch sightings
  • San Diego trolley map
  • Herbal medicine
  • Crystal pendants
  • The visible spectrum
Sadly that's not even a comprehensive list. (And I bet you can't guess what my book is about based on those searches--and those of you who know, shhhhh!) :)

So how about you guys? Does your google history say you're a writer? And what crazy things have you googled in the name of research?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Concept Art

Yesterday I was *trying* to organize the chaos that is my desk, and when I moved one of the teetering stacks of half filled journals and TBR books, I found an old sketchbook from back when my current MS was in very early stages. In it I found some early concept art I'd done, trying to visualize the settings and characters in my story.

Most of it was either way too badly drawn to post (I'm not so good at drawing from my head) or would reveal a little more about my book than I'm ready make public. But I found three very different concept sketches for my main character, and I thought it might be cool to share (even if they're a FAR cry from artistic masterpieces).




None of them are quite the way I see her (and the outfits are kinda funky because I was also playing around with different ideas for her school uniform--all of which have since been abandoned) but these are three very different approaches to a little girl who's basic description is 12-years old, blonde, and brown eyed. Anyone have any favorites?

And how about you guys? Do you ever sketch your own concept art--regardless of your artistic skills?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Writing vs. Storytelling

Okay, I know some of you are probably looking at that title and crying foul, thinking Writing IS Storytelling. And in some ways you're right. But I do think there's a difference too.

See, lately I've been trying to figure out why I hate revision so much, because you know what? I thought I'd love it. In case you haven't noticed this about me, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I like details. I like things neat, and orderly. And first drafts are MESSY. They're about as far from perfect as they can be (except for those rare people who write perfect first drafts, but let's face it, nobody likes those people so we're going to ignore their existence) :) So I always figured I'd love the revision stage, because that's when you really dig into all the little details and nuances and perfect them.

But I HATE it! And here's why:

When I'm writing new words--once I get to that zone where I force my brain to stop thinking about the fact that at least half (okay, 2/3) of what I'm writing is total crap--I get lost in the story. It's just me, my characters, the world they inhabit, and the things happening to them and I'm loving every second of it because I want to know what's going to happen next (yes, I'm a bit of a pantser. I let my characters lead the way).

I can't tell you how many times the story has taken me places I never planned to go, or characters have popped up out of nowhere, or done things I never thought they would do. And it's MAGIC. Sure, when I read it later I realize what a big suckfest a lot of it is. But when I'm lost in the story it doesn't matter.

And then...there's revision.

Revision is WRITING. It's looking at all those boring, cliched metaphors or flat, lifeless descriptions, or repetitive phrases or confusing plotlines and trying to make them good. It's about knowing the principles of plot, and character development, and pacing and then bending your words to conform--or consciously deciding when to break those rules. It's about sending pages to critique partners and getting tons of notes and trying to figure out which notes work, which don't, how to apply them, how to ripple the changes through the parts you want to keep, etc.

In fact, half the time when I'm revising, I'm barely thinking about the story. I'm thinking about how to make the dialogue in a specific scene pop, or how to ground the characters in their setting more, or how to explain something that exists only in my head to a person who can't see it.

It's not about storytelling anymore. It's about writing.

I'm not saying revision's not important. Revision is what turns stories into something good enough that publishers will pay money to print it as a book that people will then pay money to buy and read. But it's not as fun as storytelling, IMHO.

So I'm a writer. I write and I revise and revise some more and then, just when I think I'm done, I revise again. But I prefer when I'm a storyteller. Then it's just me and a blank page (er--Word doc) telling the stories in my head. I'm looking very forward to the day I can go back to that place. Hopefully I'll be there soon.

How about you guys? Do you prefer writing or storytelling? Or do you think they're the same thing and revision has turned me crazy? :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Giving Sight to the Blind

Okay, I know, that title probably makes this post sound a LOT more noble than it really is, but...I had to use it because I had an epiphany!

Well...maybe epiphany is too strong of a word...

A revelation? 

No, that's crap too. 

Fine...we'll go with epiphany--for lack of a better word.

Anyway--so--I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out why writing is So. Darn. Hard. sometimes (you know...when I probably should've been using the time to write. *shrugs*) And I think I've figured it out--or part of it at least.

Think of it this way. What would you say if a blind person asked you to describe the color blue? Tricky question, huh? Because how would you possibly convey an abstract concept like "color" to someone who's never seen anything?

It's kinda the same thing with writing!

Our readers are totally blind when it comes to our stories. We're trying to explain people, locations, events, and feelings that exist only in our heads.  And sometimes what we're trying to explain can be as foreign and abstract and impossible as explaining the color blue to a blind person.

So what do we do?

We stretch ourselves.

If we were trying to explain blue to a blind person, maybe we'd hand them an ice cube and tell them that blue is cool like that. Or maybe we'd dip their fingers in water and say that some blues feel like that. Or we'd take them outside and say that blue is like fresh air. None of that actually tells them what blue looks like--but it gives them a sense of it, no matter how vague.

It's the same thing with our stories. A well crafted metaphor. Carefully constructed dialogue. Artful descriptions. Well chosen words. If we push ourselves hard enough, we can make our readers see our stories just as clearly as we do. We can give sight to the blind. It's crazy hard to do. But it's the brass ring we're all striving for.

It's what makes writing so amazingly hard and frustrating. But it's also what keeps the pretenders away. Remember, if writing were easy, EVERYONE would do it, and there'd be so much competition we'd never have a chance to make it. So yeah, it's hard, and annoying, and sometimes we feel like there literally aren't any words that exist to explain what we're trying to say. But they do exist. We just have to push ourselves to find them.

So with that in mind, I'd love some pointers.

How do you guys give sight to your readers?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just Keep Swimming...

It's no secret that I've been a little stressed these last few weeks (I've pretty much done nothing but whine since I got my editorial email. *blushes*) And I'll admit, there have been a few times when I've wanted to drop my laptop in a bath with me in it and solve all my problems at once give up.

Most of the stress was my fault. My querying went really quick (2 weeks--not that I'm complaining) which meant I never really got a break from the time when the last revision ended and this one began. So I've wasted huge chunks of time staring at my draft thinking, *whines* 'I don't WANNA read this again!' I mean, you know, I LOVE my MS--but I've also read it a millionty-bazillion times and I'm a little sick of it I'd like to read something new.

I also wasn't used to getting notes on an entire MS at once (my CPs and I always work chapter to chapter) so it felt like I was SLAMMED with comments, when really, once I broke it down chapter by chapter, it wasn't so bad. It actually wasn't bad at all. But that didn't mean I didn't waste a couple weeks staring at the whole list thinking, I hate my life 'how am I going to do this?'

So yeah...it's been a rough few weeks. And it's not over yet. But I'm pulling through.

Part of it was going dark. It's amazing how much more time I have without Twitter and G-Chat and answering a zillion emails. Who knew how much time that sucked? And my wonderful husband has been amazing, and really stepped up with the chores to free up as much time for me as he could.

But those aren't the only things that have helped me through.

For one thing, I've been surrounded by so much love and support from my friends in the online community, many of whom took the time to send me encouraging emails that required no response, cards in the mail, a single tweet telling me they missed me. Several even did blog posts cheering me on (I won't provide links because it's embarrassing to link you guys to posts about me). But I wanted you all to know that I have snuck out of hiding long enough to soak those up and get the boost I need to keep going (and yes, most of them also made me a bit teary eyed. But...but...how can I not when someone reads my pages and then posts about loving them?)

And as if all that weren't enough, today my doorbell rang (which was unfortunate because I was wearing my husband's Spider-Man T-Shirt and super baggy shorts and no make-up--I looked HOT when I answered the door!) and IT WAS SOMEONE DELIVERING PRETTY PRETTY FLOWERS

And no, they weren't from my husband. My two awesome/amazing/inspiring/fabulous/I-don't-have-words-strong-enough-to-describe-how-wonderful-they-are CPs (The Sara(h)s) sent me flowers to cheer me up (and boy did they with their card message. I love gifts from writers--they write the best messages ever. I was laughing AND crying!) I know I already thanked them yesterday, but Sara(h)s--if you're reading this? Thank you so much! Seriously...<3!

So yeah, it's been tough and it's not over yet, but I'm going strong. I've stopped freaking out enough to add blogging and blog hopping back into my schedule, and I'll slowly start adding in some of the other things I've cut off as needed. Thank you all for your patience and support--you really have helped me keep going!

Which is why I'd love to ask you: How do YOU keep going? 
What keeps you slaving away at your work when you're ready to give up?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Downloaders Anonymous

I have a problem.

A SERIOUS problem.

(No really. It might actually be a sickness.)

See...yesterday I did something SO shameful, I'm almost too embarrassed to admit it. But confessing is the first step to recovery so...

*deep breath*

I downloaded Party in the USA

I know. I KNOW!

But...but...it'd been stuck in my head for THREE DAYS. It HAD to be done. 

*Hangs Head in Shame*

The worst part, though? 

I started scrolling through my purchased history from all the years I've been using the fabulous iTunes Store, and I noticed a SHOCKING number of 'Downloads of Shame'

You know how it goes. You hear a song, and you kinda like it. Or maybe, it's an older song, and it triggers a moment of nostalgia. And it's only 99 cents (ah...the good old days). So you think, 'yes, I MUST own this'

And that's how you end up with songs like this on your ipod.
Or this.
Or...*blushes*...THIS!

Sadly, ALL of those really are on my iPod. I...plead temporary insanity.
(And to those of you brave enough to click the links...I'm SORRY!)

And the worst part is...I paid for them. So I feel bad deleting them. It's like, 'no, if shuffle pulls them up I should have to suffer through them, because I'm the big stupidhead who wasted money on them in the first place.' 

So...yeah. It's a problem.
And I'm not sure how to solve it because...well...downloading a song is just so easy. Two clicks and it's on your iPod...and then you have to live with it FOREVER.

Which is why I'm taking the first step today and admitting I have a problem.
My name is Shannon, and I'm a Downloading-aholic. 
And I'm wondering if I'm not alone. 
Anyone else suffer from downloader's remorse?
PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one. 
:)