Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wonderful News - Signed with Agent!

Today, I’m extremely happy to share some wonderful news with you. I can barely sit still, I’m so excited! Ok, ok, I won’t keep you waiting any longer…my awesome writing partner Tina Moss and I just accepted representation from the Literary Council, led by the agent team of Frances Black and Jennifer Mishler! (Ok, give me a second, I have to squeee just one more time…ok, I’m good now).  Fran and Jennifer blew us away with their enthusiasm and zeal about working with us.

There’s much work ahead but this is a major step for us on the road to getting published. We’re looking forward to working with Fran and Jennifer and we’re hyped to start working on our next book.

We appreciate everyone’s support and to celebrate our news, we’re both doing a giveaway – a $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. All you have to do to enter my giveaway is leave a comment below. for extra points, follow the instruction below . If you do any of these, please tell me in the comment exactly what you did, and include your email. I will contact the winner next week. Check out Tina’s post and giveaway here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Honor of the Banned Books Week

I’m joining the other writers in supporting and promoting the Banned Books Week (September 24th, 2011 – October 1, 2011). This week honors, defends and promotes the literary freedom, the freedom of readers to choose what they read. Because nobody else can make that choice for you. In our day and age for the list of challenged or banned books to exist is shameful and disgraceful. Political correctness cannot take over reason and impose on freedom to choose, and I will stand by this statement.

You can get more information on the Banned Books Week here. Also, absolutely check out the Banned Books Week Hop

Here are the books listed as BANNED in 2010 (some of which I have read, and others that I intend to):

And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: offensive language, racism, religious viewpoint, sex education, sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxle                                                   READ
Reason: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit

Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
Reasons: drugs, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit

The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins                               READ
Reasons: sexually explicit, violence, unsuited to age group

Lush, by Natasha Friend
Reasons: drugs, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones
Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint

Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie
Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit

Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer                                               READ
Reasons: sexually explicity, religious viewpoint, violence, unsuited to age group
Please read more about the Banned Books WEek and join in promoting awareness of literary freedom!

Also, please visit Heather McCorkle's blog. Heather's book, which was recently released, was banned from one of her local bookstores. Learn all about this amazing writer, her wonderful book and check out her giveaway contest in honor of the Banned Books Week.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dreaming Up... Ideas

I love sleeping. Who doesn’t? But I love sleeping not just for the blessed rest I get after a stressful long day but also because I love dreaming. Since I was little, I’ve had vivid, beautiful, action-packed dreams. Ok, maybe not always beautiful, but nearly always interesting.
Some writers claim that they got their story ideas in a dream. Stephanie Myer, for example, is one them. I always wish that this was true for me but could never say that it was. A couple of nights ago, however, I had a dream where I was (literally) writing not one, but two different novels. I heard myself speaking the words to the first paragraphs of both novels, while actually seeing the scenes play out as in a movie. I have to say, it was pretty cool. When I woke up, I remembered the general gist of what I was writing, though unfortunately, not the exact words. I grabbed a sticky note and wrote down what I could remember. It cracked me up that one of the details I remembered was that the heroine of the second novel was dressed in a “bitching suit”. Yes, honestly, I actually heard that description in the dream!

Now whether these stories will develop into something, I’ll have to see. But I hope I get more dreams like this in the future. Since dreams are often the sparks of both what we think about in our waking state or of our unconscious – and often the combination of both – we can learn about ourselves through them. Dreams also bestow on us a different way of looking at something, an unexpected and fun perspective. It’s not surprising that the answers to many questions, and sometimes even work-related solutions to problems, come during the night. So why not have fun with dreaming and see what comes of it. There are even techniques designed to help one have more consious dreams, called lucid dreaming. Perhaps it would be interesitng to try. If I do, I'll post on the experience.

Keep a notebook by your bed so you can jot down any idea that seems interesting as soon as you wake up – you remember your dreams most vividly in those first few minutes after waking. You never know…
Have you ever had ideas for your writing following a dream? Did it ever develop into something more?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie Review - The Debt

Friday night I went to see The Debt with my husband. I can say that, as the movie ended, I was very disappointed and saddened that there were only a few people in the movie theater to see it. A thriller with a serious topic and a dark theme, it was heads above anything else playing at the movies at the time. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see a few award nominations down the road. But, for now, here’s the review.
The movie is about three venerated Israeli heroes, former agents of Mossad (Rachel, Stefan and David) who helped to track and bring down a notorious Nazi criminal, a monster called the Surgeon of Birkenau, who performed medical experiments in a concentration camp on the Jewish prisoners – men, women and children.  But did the mission go as planned and as the story was told? Or are there secrets to be revealed about the mission? The movie jumps between the 1997 Tel Aviv, where the three reside now, and the 1966 East Berlin when the mission took place.
The first half hour of the movie gets somewhat confusing as the scenes jump back and forth in time, but it all soon comes together cohesively and coherently. The only part I found a bit lacking and less realistic or believable was the later part and the ending. I understood what the writers and the director wanted to show, what moral point they were trying to bring across, but it didn’t go well with the situation or human nature, for that matter.
The cast gave powerful performances. Helen Miren is a pleasure to watch, as always. Her performance is quietly intense and believable.  The actress who plays character’s younger self, Jessica Chastain, also  gave a solid performance, as did Sam Worthington.
The grave subject matter, and the closeness of it to my heart in certain ways, put me in a serious and reflective mood for the rest of the night.
Despite a few clichés and a weaker second part of the movie, I definitely recommend it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homage To The Writers of Vampire Diaries

I’m an addict. Ok, there, I admitted it. I suffer from the withdrawal to shows like True Blood and Vampire Diaries. Luckily for me, as soon as True Blood had its season finale (which, unfortunately, I wasn’t very impressed with), the season premier of Vampire Diaries came on. And I have to say, that was one of the best season premiers I have ever seen for any show. But that didn’t surprise me at all. After all, Vampire Diaries delivers consistently from episode to episode. And this consistency is in big part thanks to the show writers. I believe any writer can learn from that.
Based on the books by L. J. Smith, and with Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec as the head writers, Vampire Diaries captured its audience from the first couple of episodes of Season 1. And it never let go. That is never an easy task for any show. But what’s more impressive for them is that this show managed to break through the notion that all of the CW shows are flighty, teenag-y soap operas such as “Gossip Girls” (no offence to the fans). While many of the characters on Vampire Diaries are in high school, the writers managed to make it a mature show that has grabbed the attention of the 20+ and 30+ population with its dark and realistic portrayal of human emotions and relationships – vampires and werewolves notwithstanding.
So what is their secret? It is taking into account and putting down on paper (and TV screen) all the great parts of writing that we always discuss on blogs and in chats as writers.  The components are:
  1. Tension – the proper amount of tension between the characters and in the story as a whole. Vampire Diaries has managed to consistently build and hold the tension in each episode. And it changes from character to character, from situation to situation. There are multiple examples but here’s one:  the tension between Caroline and Tyler – they are attracted to each other but can a vampire and a werewolf have a normal relationship when they are natural enemies and can potentially kill each other.
  2.  Stakes – what is at stake for each of the character? This is what drives them, what motives them to do certain things, take certain actions. Elena’s and Damon’s lives are the stakes for Stefan currently. If he doesn’t do what Klaus wants him to, their lives may be in danger.  Elena’s love for Stefan is what’s at stake for her. She wants to be with him but will she be able to find him and bring him back from the edge of the darkness he’s walking now. This is only a couple of examples.
  3.  Delivering the unexpected, not being predictable. This is one of the shows where you can truly say you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Or who’s going to die next.
  4. Forgoing clichés. We all use them from time to time. They didn’t become clichés for no reason. However, it’s important to use them extremely sparingly. Elena not picking up the phone when Stefan called because she didn’t heat it (in the season premier) would have been a cliché. Instead, she eventually heard it and picked it up. Again, just a small example of good writing.
I enjoy watching this show now not only for entertainment values – which is great for me personally – but also to learn as a writer what works, what keeps the audience’s attention. I really recommend that you try that as well.

Do you watch Vampire Diaries? What do you think of the show? Of the writing? Are there other shows that you watch where you feel the writing is great? Please share.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Blogger - Tina Moss - When Rules are Meant to Be Broken: The Whole Story

Presenting my very first guest blogger - Tina Moss.

Tina, besides being a very interesting, talented and fun person and a wonderful friend, is my dear co-writer and a fellow black belt karateka. I've known my whole life that I loved writing but Tina is the one who inspired and pushed me to pursue writing seriously, and I will always be grateful to her for that. Tina is very enthusiastic about helping and inspiring other writers and is an active member of the writing community. Check out her blog Tina Moss’ Blog – She Won’t Bite but Her Books Might! and follow her on Twitter @Tina_Moss. Thank you Tina for being my first guest blogger!

And so, without further adieu, I give Tina the floor (or the page, in this case).

When Rules are Meant to Be Broken: The Whole Story
On your writing journey, you will inevitably and undoubtedly meet the “do this” person. In fact, you may meet several “do this” people. They are the ones that have all the answers, that know all the rules. Their bag of tips and tricks includes only those that are well approved by the authorities of x, y and z. (I’ve yet to figure out who these mysterious x, y, z authorities are, but alas, maybe one day.)

I’m here today to tell you one simple response – baloney (or Bologna; I prefer the latter, much nicer than the lunchmeat). Should you follow publishing industry standard for manuscript formatting? Yes. No one wants to read your novel in 16 pt comic sans. Should you create a well thought out query letter? Absolutely, if you want to get any interest. Will experienced and honest critique partners and beta readers make your story better? No question. But, at the end of the day, you – YES, YOU – are the author of your work.

Some of the best stories break the cookie cutter mold. Take J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter as a prime example. Whoever believed in a million years that kids and adults alike would follow a boy wizard into manhood over the course of seven books and over four thousand pages? Constantly, we hear agents scream in interviews, on blogs, and in their Twitter streams that they crave something new, something unique, something original – the NEXT Harry Potter, NOT a reworking of the same story.

Robotic Sheep Rule

They’re not looking for sci-fi meets historical fiction meets Little House on the Prairie. They want your story to fit into a genre – if you’re writing commercial fiction - but that doesn’t mean it has to be the same old thing. Should your contemporary romance end with the heroine dying and the hero running off with her sister? No, but it might work as a soap opera. How about your thriller turning into a new rendition of the Sound of Music? Nah, the hills are not alive. You have to know your audience and their expectations. It doesn’t mean you can’t take a chance on some out of the box idea. What about a YA paranormal featuring a girl raised by a secret government organization with a mermaid best friend who lives in a tank? See Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy. Or a crossover Dystopian novel about a girl who competes in gladiatorial style games to survive? See Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

Take a chance on that shiny new idea (aka SNI in writer speak) and run with it. At the end of the day, you may not be able to convince your audience that a hundred year old vampire virgin hangs out in high school and sparkles in the sun, but then again...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Failure...Use it! (On Management of Goals and Plans)

Nobody wants to fail. Ever. Some people are so  paralyzed by their fear of failure that they have misgivings about even starting new projects . We all know people like that. Hey, on occasion, I’m pretty sure I’ve been one, if I’m to be honest with myself.  Failures can be great or small. Of course, we’re all supposed to learn from these failures, take lessons so that next time we would succeed. But before we remember that we have to do that, we go through the stages of anger, depression or denial, depending on the size and the importance of the failure. Most people usually get angry at themselves or find something to wrongfully assign blame to.
First thing you have to understand is that you need to have a major goal and to have a good plan in place to keep you focused. The short-term goals that you create are the lamp posts that help illuminate the way to your ultimate goal. It takes determination and discipline to keep moving towards that goal. But the short-term goals are as important.
And so, one should divide one’s major goals into smaller, more achievable goals. Not a new idea by any means, but I had to be reminded that this might be a good approach to take. I started adapting this strategy a few years ago. What surprised me the most was that this strategy somehow started integrating itself in all areas of my life, including writing, my day job, my relationships, etc.. A clichéd expression of “taking it one day at a time” comes to mind, but it’s a cliché for good reason.
This philosophy also helped me get back on track with writing. Small goals were making it easier to accomplish my larger writing goals. It helps to have someone be aware of your goals and hold you accountable, whether it’s finishing a word count for the week, finishing a chapter or sitting down for a certain amount of time to write. It can even be putting up an extra few posts a week on a blog.
Here are my suggestions for overcoming failure and moving forward:
1)      Winston Churchill said:Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
      Failures are a part of life. They will happen. Accept the fact and it won’t bother you as much.Don’t be discouraged, because sometimes you have to take one step back in order to take ten steps forward.


2)      Try to analyze why the failure occurred and how it can become a success instead. Don’t get angry – learn. You should not be emotionally attached to those failures as failures. You should adapt an attitude of using your failures as opportunities for growth.

3)      Make sure you have a plan in place to help you reach your goals.
Napoleon Hill said this on the value of making a plan: Create a definite plan for carrying    out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.
Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.

4)      Divide a major goal into smaller, more achievable goals. This makes both successes and failures more manageable.

5)      Be proud of yourself for making those smaller goals. It’s ok to feel that.  But don’t get too complacent.

6)      Reward yourself. The rewards can be anything positive that will make you happy. You decide.

Share how you manage your goals and plans, and how you learn from failures.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Great Quotes on Writing

If you know me, you know my love of quotes. I think they are helpful in reminding us of things that we may already know well (but forget), and in helping us to reach new realizations. They are short snipets from the wisdom and insight of people with either experience and expertise in your area of interest, or those who on the journey of discovering that wisdom.

So here's a collection of my personal favorite quotes on writing. I hope you find some of them interesting or helpful, and share some of your favorites.


Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass

The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.
~Barbara Kingsolver

Writing is only boring to the people who are boring themselves.

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
~Oscar Wilde

If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster.
~Isaac Asimov

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed.
~Ray Bradbury

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
~E. L. Doctorow

When once the itch of literature comes over a man, nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen.
~Samuel Lover

God sells us all things at the price of the labor.
~Leonardo da Vinci

Fiction writers, present company included, don't understand very much about what they do - not why it works when it's good, not why it doesn't when it's bad.
~Stephen King

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
~Mark Twain

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
~Albert Einstein

One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones.
~Stephen King

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.
~Stephen King

First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.
~Ray Bradbury

I never started from ideas but always from character.
~Ivan Turgenev

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
~Robert Frost

Your stuff starts out being just for you… but then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right - as right as you can, anyway - it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or criticize it.
~Stephen King

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you
~Ray Bradbury




This is just a few, there's so many other wonderful quotes out there about our art and craft. Did I miss one of your favorites? Please share.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...