2011: The Year of Twitter.


(click for your end-of-year-adorableness)


2011 was a pretty awesome year for me, but the best part of it was the writing community.

(Including, and especially you, my dear readers. You are the best.)

A quick recap:

An Agent!
Waiting! Rewriting!
A Book Deal!
More Waiting!
Moving!
Editing!
Giveaways!
More Editing!
ALL THE EDITING!


I've decided to try and define my years. Looking back, 2010 was the Year of Blogging. I grew braver with my posts, tried new things and started wrote many of the series posts I count among my favorite parts of the blog.

Oddly enough, outside of this blog, most of my best moments in 2011 were somehow connected to Twitter. 

Twitter was where I first met my agent. It was where I announced my book deal. It was where I got to know most of the people I have giggled with and commiserated with and downright wailed to over the last six to eight months.  (Edits! Insecurity gremlins! Waiting! Aaaahh!)

In short, it's been you guys, my writing community and the people I've met online that were the best parts about this year. Thank you. Thank you for that.

Here's to a great 2012!

I'm still alive!

Just buried in edits and work. I promise, I'll be back soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy yet another cute video. Slow motion labrador puppies!

*squee*

Those ear flops are redonkulous.

An interview and a hedgehog.

The lovely Mindy McGinnis is interviewing me on her blog today! Go see what kind of planner I am and the best writing advice I ever got.

Interview here.

Also if the holidays are getting you down, I highly recommend adding hedgehogs.

Amazing things I found this week.

This is incredible. Holy crap.



Found at Running after My Hat.


My sister sent me this link to "Most Interesting Libraries of the World."  This one was my favorite.




This song comes up on my Pandora "Writing" station a lot. Whenever it does, I stop and take a deep breath. It's a sad song, but kind of cathartic. Especially when you're editing. *grin*



How about you? Have you found any amazing things lately?

Winner of AMPLIFIED!

Thanks for all your contest support and patience while I edit, folks! You are awesome.

Have a penguin.



And the winner of Amplified by Tara Kelly is....





Sara!


Congratulations Sara! If you email me your address, I'll ship the book to you.

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Late night thoughts on edits. (And eagles.)

So after a brief and panic-inducing stop in Kentucky, my line edits finally made it yesterday.

I have mixed feelings about this.

Once again I hold a surprisingly heavy manuscript in my hands, covered with strange symbols, encouraging notes and lots of questions and refinements. My book is growing up, becoming its own story, as far from the first draft as a baby bird is from a grown eagle.

found at zooborns.com

I'm proud of it, and a little nervous. I imagine it's akin to what a parents might feel, knowing they only have a little while until their kids move beyond their influence and becomes whatever it is that they are going to become. For me that window is shrinking rapidly. I only have until the end of the month to make this book the best it can possibly be. After that, it will go into copyedits and the time for big changes will be over.

I would be lying if I said this doesn't scare me. What if I don't fix everything just right? Or what if I fix it too much? The possibilities for messing up seem endless.

And then I read it again. And despite everything, all the changes and reworking and reimagining, I still see the story I sat down to write four years ago. A story about love and expectations and forgiveness and freedom and how human beings snarl them all together like a tangled kite string. A story about what happens when there are no good choices, when you pick the best path you can see and it still turns out to be wrong. The heart of the story is still there, still beating.

And it still needs me, at least for a little while longer.

So tomorrow I'll roll up my sleeves and get back to work. Because no matter what, the story remains, struggling and growing and becoming a book that will someday go out into the world and fly on its own.

It's my task and my privilege to help it soar.

found at wikipedia.com

Win a copy of BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY by Jaclyn Dolamore!

I'd enter to win this one just for the cover.


But the cover's not all that's awesome about this book. Here's the Goodreads blurb:

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alander, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alander band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

Mermaids! Winged People! True Love! Why would you not enter?

And it's easy to do. Just follow my blog and leave a comment. You can get an extra entries by tweeting, facebooking, blogging, etc. Just leave a link in the comment section! International entries are welcome. The contest ends midnight, Monday the 19th.

So which would you choose? To swim or to fly? Would you be a mermaid or a winged human?

Also, there's still time to win the awesomesauce that is AMPLIFIED by Tara Kelly. Go forth and enter!

Do you know how publishing works? Do you want to?

Then this is the website for you:

The Life Cycle of a Book.

This awesome page contains eleven videos, explaining the different stages of publishing.

Writer
Agent
Editorial
Production
Design
Marketing
Publicity
Sales
Book Buyer
Distribution
Author Publicity

If you've ever wondered just how books are written, made or promoted, check this out.

The Book Buyer video is my favorite one, because I love my independent bookstore friends. And because it has all kinds of pretty bookshelves. *grin*



Isn't that great?

Also, there's still time to win AMPLIFIED by Tara Kelly. Go forth and enter!

Holy crap it's Wednesday...

And I kind of forgot it was Wednesday, and then I had edits and bookgroup, and Husband and I were trying to put a cat tree together for Kona because apparently he thinks walls are for CLIMBING, and then we were so busy fighting with the cat tree and arguing over how to set it up (because married people must fight when they assemble furniture, it's in the marriage vows) that we didn't realize the sink was running and backing up, and then it overflowed all over the floor and dripped down into our neighbor's water-heater closet and so we had to use every towel we own to mop up the mess and we just finished cleaning it up.


So you don't get a blog post today. Instead you get a puppy, which I shamelessly stole from Victoria Schwab's blog.





How was YOUR Wednesday?

Win a copy of AMPLIFIED by Tara Kelly!

Do you like music? Do you like books? Do you like contemporary YA with fabulous voice and a sassy heroine who just wants to rock?

Then you will love this book.



Description from Goodreads:

When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . . 
In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets amplified.

This is a great smile-inducing read, and today I am giving away a copy! As always, entering is simple.

1. Follow my blog

and...

2. Leave a comment

You also get an extra entry every time you tweet, facebook, blog or wave a sign about the contest. Just leave a link in the comment section! International entries are welcome.

Contest ends midnight, Monday the 12th.

Winners, winners everywhere! (and more edits)

So I got my second round edits this week! It's a little intimidating because these are on a shorter deadline than the first batch, but it's also mostly line edits, so I won't have to tear the book apart this time.

Hopefully. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, being on deadline for the next month means I'll be scarce around the interwebs. You all are just too distracting and awesome. *grin*

Blog-wise, I'll mostly be running contests until January. I picked up a bunch of books by my agent-mates last time I was in Boise, so I have some really great ones to give away. I also might be putting up more cute animal pictures than usual.


Speaking of contests, it's time to announce the winners of the National Book Award Contest!

The grand prize winner, who gets all six National Book Award nominees is...

*drumroll*


jmartinlibrary!




First runner up, and winner of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie  (he picked it out yesterday) is.....

Nic 

And the second runner up, who wins What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell is....



But wait, we're not done! I also drew the winner of the Steampunk and Airships Contest. And the winner of the Airborn books is...




Congratulations winners! If you will all email me your addresses, I'll mail you your prizes. And thanks for playing everyone!

See you Monday!

On writerly weaknesses and multiple story personalities.

I think every writer has a weakness, something they have to work hard to get past. And lack of scene and character development is mine. But it's not entirely my fault.

Allow me to explain.
__________

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer's style and content are directly influenced by what they read, especially the books that they read and loved as a kid.

It makes sense, after all most of us end up writing the stories we want to read. And that's great, right?

Sometimes though...it's not that easy.

When I was younger I had two loves, two very different book passions: fantasy and mystery. In fantasy I loved huge, imaginative worlds, Robert Jordan and Piers Anthony and Brian Jacques and Anne McCaffrey.  I wanted dragons and super-intelligent animals and magic and swordplay and adventure.

But I also adored mystery and suspense, and my taste in those were very different: Agatha Christie and Alistair Maclean  and Arthur Conan Doyle. Books where the plot was the thing, books with pared down writing, that drew characters in broad strokes and always came up with a killer twist.

Two very different genres. I loved them both. I devoured them both.  Great, right?

Maybe.

Fast forward a couple of decades. I finally stop trying to do something else with my life and admit that what everyone has been telling me since high school is true: I'm a writer. And a writer writes. So I do.

But at some point, I hit a snag. I have this book that I think is awesome, that other people have told me is awesome, but the consistent criticism I'm getting is that the characters aren't developed enough, that the world isn't drawn in enough detail. So I work on it, on and off, for a few years. I write more books in between. I try to get better so I can understand how to fix this book that everyone responds to so well.

Finally, it happens. I get an agent, then an editor, wonderful people who love my book. And I get edits: real, honest to goodness, in-depth professional edits. And they are awesome. But once again, the same problem kept popping up.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Scene is awesome, but too short! Dig in and really develop it! 
ME: *in genuine confusion* Whaaa.... Develop how? The scene has everything it needs to move the story. What else would I put in? 

And that's when it hit me. I have multiple story personalities. I build worlds like the ones I loved as a kid, with complex interactions and adventure and magic. But my writing style is much more like the early mysteries, where things are hinted at rather than explained and plot is more important than character development.

My imagination is J.R.R. Tolkien but my writing is Agatha Christie.

Oops.



Fortunately one of the wonderful things about writing is that the better you get, the easier it is for you to learn to do something new. It took several tries, and lots of conversation with my beta-reader husband, but I actually did manage to dig into those scenes.

Still, I have a feeling that "not developed enough, dig in more" is going to be a conversation that I have over and over in my writing career.*  And since it's a problem that stems from reading too many awesome books as a kid, I'm okay with that.

Do you have a writer weakness?


*On the plus side, if I can pull off this whole mystery/fantasy mashup, the book will be pretty amazing. :)

In which I update you and sigh a lot

1. I ate TOO MUCH FOOD this weekend. Urg. In related news, my diet-and-exercise-resolution-list for the New Year is getting really long.

*sigh*

2. I'm currently in our local Ford dealership waiting to hear the diagnosis on our van. Apparently going over 45mph without jerking and shuddering is too much to ask. Either that or our van is turning into a giant toddler.

ME: Come on van, you're our only transportation! Please work.

VAN: I don't waaaannna! *jerks* *stutters* I DON'T WANNA DRIVE! *throws self on floor* *has tantrum*

ME: *sigh*

3. This is the most comfy dealership I've ever been in. Soft chairs, coffee, wifi. The only downer is that whenever I log onto Facebook, this is what I get.



It's very ironic.

4. It's ironic because I am way behind on where I wanted to be for Nano this month. Like... still under 30k words and I haven't written for a week. On the plus side, I have done really good work on this sequal and figured out a lot of things about the plot and character arcs. On the negative side... a really low word count.

*sigh*

5. But there are good things around too! Like contests! Today is the last day to enter my Steampunk and Airships Giveaway, and the Super-mega National Book Award Giveaway, doesn't end until Nov. 30th.

Go forth and enter! And if you need me, I'll be here at the car place...waiting.

*sigh*

The weekend post was eaten...

by my turkey-pie-and-leftovers induced coma.

Have a baby animal instead.




This is a sitatunga, a marsh-dwelling antelope, courtesy of zooborns.com.

Kona says "Happy Thanksgiving!"


*darts by*

Or at least he would if I could get him to STAND STILL.

I'm headed up north to spend some quality turkey-eating time with my family, followed by the traditional quality food-coma time.


Mmmm...food coma....

 I hope those of you who are celebrating have a safe and happy break. And that your cats are not obsessed with electrical cords like mine.


What cords? I see no cords here.

See you Saturday!

Monday contest: Steampunk and airships.

For those of you who haven't read Kenneth Oppel's Airborn/Matt Cruse series, it's pretty freaking amazing. And since I gave away a bunch of paranormal girl books last week, I thought this time we'd do something with a guy MC, and something with less magical powers and more mechanical awesome.

One lucky winner will get all three Matt Cruse books: Airborn, Skybreaker and Starclimber.




Once again, all you have to do is:

1. Leave a comment

and 

2. Follow this blog


You can get extra entries by Tweeting, Facebook or blogging about the contest, and international entries are welcome. Contest will close Monday the 28th, at midnight.

(Some entries will go into the Intensedebate comment thread and some will go into blogger, so if you come back and the Intensedebate thread is gone, rest assured, I still have it and you're still entered.)

So tell me, what's YOUR favorite steampunk story?

Also, don't forget about the National Book Award Contest! It closes on Nov. 30th.  

Winner of the Paranormal girls pack! (And how it feels to be a writer at a party.)

Sorry for the late post everyone. I went to an all-night Nanowrimo write-in in Spokane last night and got home at around 8:30ish this morning. Then I slept until five this evening, and my husband took me to a last-minute party for one of his friends.

(All in all, a very adventurous weekend for this antisocial introvert.)

It is an interesting thing to be a writer at a party full of professional adults. I'm trying to own my work more, so I had this conversation several times tonight.

POLITE STRANGER: So what do you do? 
ME: Work mostly. I serve coffee and I write books. 
POLITE STRANGER: You what? 
ME: I serve coffee and write books.  
POLITE STRANGER: You write books? 
ME: Yes. 
POLITE STRANGER: That's...interesting. 
*awkward pause* 
POLITE STRANGER: So where do you serve coffee at? 
ME: *sigh*

And then I would go sit on the couch and sneakily check my Twitter. I'm a very bad socialite.

*cough*

Hey look at that, it's time to announce the winner of the Paranormal Girls Pack!

*drum roll*



Ashley, email me your address and I will get that right out to you.

And stay tuned on Monday for another contest!

Guest Post: Travis Erwin talks about tips for memoirs

It's been far too long since I had a guest post up, and this one is especially exciting. Travis was one of the first people I connected with when I started blogging in 2008 (it helped that his blog consistently made me giggle), and he recently released his first book, The Feedstore Chronicles.  


EDIT: I forgot to say, he also blogs at One Word, One Rung, One Day, and Lettuce is the Devil. Both blogs are hilarious.

To celebrate, I invited him over to the blog to talk about that trickiest of writing genres: the memoir.
__________

Memoirs. The hybrid genre that dwells in the shadowy land between fact and fiction. Stick too close to the facts ma’am, only the facts and you end up with something drier and more dull than Dr. Phil. But stray too far from reality, and you get freyed alive in Oprah’s chair.

Like all writing, you can get away with most anything in a memoir if you do it well enough, but here are a five basic tips that served me well while creating my recently published memoir, THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES.

1)Stoke That Smoldering Ego Until It’s A Roaring Fire.

Writing, at least with publication in mind is an egotistical act. I didn’t want to think so, and for years I denied this fact but you can’t expect a reader to invest hours of time, not to mention hard earned money, by reading 50, 60, or a 100K words that came straight from your mind without a bit of ego. And if you are the central character driving that story then you can’t even hide behind the screen of fiction. You are standing out in the spotlight saying, no screaming, “I AM A PERSON WORTH GETTING TO KNOW! I HAVE A STORY TO TELL AND EVERYONE SHOULD HEAR IT!”

There is no room for … who would wanna read about me … or my story is nothing special train of thoughts in memoir writing. Because guess what. If you are unsure you can bet your sweet bippy potential readers will be as well.

2)Find That Unique Angle, Seize Upon It, and Build From There.

THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES is a coming-of-age tale about a teenage boy. That fact alone wouldn’t be enough to get even my momma to read it. Heck, every man alive was once a teenage boy that eventually grew up and matured. But not every man worked in a dusty Texas feedstore for the world’s most morally corrupt boss. I dare there is no single person on earth that has fought an angry emu, failed at feeding the chickens-Candy Bailloux style, and been arrested over a quarter inch of backwashed fuzzy naval. It was my environment, combined with my perspective that created the story.

Grab hold of the unique experiences of your past. Examine them, twist them, look closely from several different angles and consider what someone from the outside looking in would find interesting about your stories. Then maximize those elements. You are the only person in the world to have your set of experiences so that alone makes your story unique. If you present it that way.

3)Write Like Yo Momma Is Dead

A writing mentor gave me this advice early on and it’s a rock solid theory. No one ever wants their mom to read the sex scene they’ve written but trust me when you are an active participant in that sex scene that trepidation is multiplied. By the time I sat down and started writing THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES I had already penned four novels and one other creative non-fiction project of book length. None of which were published. So it was easier to convince myself, to go ahead write what I wanted. It’s not like anybody else will ever read it anyway, I thought.

I’m now proud to say I lied to myself with all those false reassurance, but the manuscript and now book is better for them. Leaving things out of a story for fear of what others will think is the literary equivalent of leaving eggs out of your cake recipe because they once fell out of a chicken’s arse. So go ahead, crack open the nasty things and dump ‘em in there. They add texture.

4)The Common Denominator

You’ve found that unique angle and started building your world around it. That’s a good thing, but now you have to find some common ground. Readers want to relate to your story and character so you must give them things they can understand. You must find ways for them to sympathize, commiserate, and/or bond with you as the narrator.

Not every teenage boy has been trapped in a tiny room while a good-looking middle-aged vet masturbates a well endowed bulldog. Yes, that is a scene from Chapter 1 of THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES. But everyone has been embarrassed teenager at some point. An effective author paints the embarrassment in such away the reader can feel their own cheeks reddening as they read the story. Human emotions are the same regardless of the environment that spawned them. A story without emotion is indeed a soulless tale.

5)Grab That Shovel

Chances are your memoir is going to be written about a time from your not too near past. And memories can be tricky things. So to help refresh your mind you may need a few reminders. Listen to the music you listened to in the time period set. Watch a few movies from that timeframe. If possible visit the places you are writing about. Talk to old friends.

As the little things start to add up, forgotten truths begin to materialize. Names, experiences and feeling begin to trickle back into your consciousness and with them comes flavor your memoir will need.
__________

My memoir was released by TAG Publishing on November 1st. Here is a shot of the cover and the back cover blurb.

Most coming-of-age stories are fraught with symbolism, hidden metaphors, and a heaping mound of other literary devices. Not this one. Not mine. You see, I came of age while working at a dusty Texas feedstore. A place where To Kill a Mockingbird involved a twelve-year-old and a BB gun. Of Mice and Men was a problem easily solved with rat poison. And David Copperfield was nothing more than a dude that made shit disappear.  
In the spring of 1989, I went to work at Pearl's Feed and Seed for a man named Doyle Suggs. On the surface Doyle and I had little in common: I was a rosy-cheeked boy of sixteen; he was a twice-divorced, thirty-year-old high school dropout. I had yet to go on my first date; he was trading sex for horse feed in the back room. Sure, Doyle was a lout, a liar, and a lecherous derelict. To this day, he remains the most morally bankrupt man I've ever met, yet my life wouldn't be half as blessed, had I missed out on his misguided education. The Feedstore Chronicles is a mostly true account of those days and when murderous ex-wives, well-hung bulldogs, and feed room fornication were all part of a normal day at Pearl's.

The book is available via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other book retailers.
__________

Thank you Travis!

Travis will be in and out all day to answer questions, so if you want to know more about memoirs, feedstores or coming of age stories, leave a comment!

Magic Number 300 and a National Book Award giveaway!

This has been a week of confetti throwing and random celebration.

- I turned in my edits. (Finally!)

- Husband and I got a new kitty

- AND I hit my 300 follower mark this week! 

*cheers* *applause*

And as promised, I'm having an EPIC giveaway to celebrate. (Seriously, I think I'm more excited about this contest than I have been about anything else I've done all year.)

So without further ado....
__________

As many of you know, the National Book Award is a Very Big Deal. I don't know any writer that wouldn't sell their left leg to get nominated. It's a wonderful thing that happens to wonderful books and for many writers it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Well... this year the National Book Award went from being a Very Big Deal to a Very Big Mess. And in the process, all these amazing books have been kind of shoved to the side. And their authors have had the sad experience of seeing their achievement turned into something bittersweet.

So to support those authors (all six of them), I bought their books. And now I'm giving them to you.

One lucky grand prize winner will receive all six of the orignal National Book award nominees. 





Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt,
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai,
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson,
Chime by Franny Billingsley,
Shine by Lauren Myracle,
And Flesh and Blood So Cheap: the Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin.

Because this contest is so full of epicness, I didn't feel right about just having one winner. So to remind us all of the amazing books the National Book Award has highlighted in the past, I bought two more prizes.



What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell and...
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

(You want these books, trust me. They are fabulous.)

The first place winner will get the book of their choice, and the second place winner will get the other.


All you have to do to enter is 

1. Leave a comment

and 

2. Be a follower of my blog

That's it. Of course if you want to help spread the word by Facebook, Twitter or whatever, that would be awesome. Just let me know in the comment section and I'll give you an extra entry for each thing you do. International entries are welcome and the contest closes at midnight, November 30th.

Any questions? Go forth and enter!

(P.S. There's still almost a full day to enter the Paranormal Girls giveaway from last week as well.)

(PPS. I had to turn off the Intense Debate comments for this post for technical reasons. But all comments on the intense debate thread are still entered. Sorry for the inconvenience. *frowns at Blogger*)

This is what happened to my weekend...

I had a LOT of things I was going to get done this weekend, but I got a little sidetracked.

BY MY NEW CAT!  *does happy dance*






He's a four-month-old shelter cat we picked up on Saturday, and he's AWESOME. So awesome, in fact, that we haven't settled on the perfect name for him yet.

Any suggestions?

Word Count Wednesday!

So I'm doing National Novel Writing Month again this year, but I'm sort of doing it between edits. And that is definitely reflected in my word count.

It's been nine days. I SHOULD be at about fifteen thousand words.

Where am I?

5797




One reason for this (other than edits) is that I'm having a hard time switching between editor brain and first-draft brain. When I'm in editing brain, all my new words have to be good ones. There's a lot of backspacing and rewriting.

But that does not work at all in Nanowrimo. And it took me a long time to get used to letting sentences just be. Now I'm slowly finding the first draft groove again....just in time for another bout of editing.

*sigh*

Is anyone else doing Nano? How's your word count?

Paranormal girls giveaway!

I promised you contests, didn't I? And as a special bonus, this one comes with links.

There's been a lot of talk in my corner of the Internet this fall about female characters, specifically the use of the term "Mary Sue."  Like a lot of people I was clued into the conversation when I read Zoë Marriott's excellent post: You can stuff your Mary-Sue where the sun don't shine.


(Zoe also has an excellent follow-up post here.)

I played with the idea of writing a post about this myself, but as you can see by the links above, wiser and more thoughtful souls than myself have broken down the issue very well. 

Besides, contests are more fun!

So to celebrate our flawsome female heroines, I'm giving away a trifecta of books, each with its own supernaturally gifted, totally amazing heroine.





One winner will receive all three books, and as usual, entering is easy.

1. Follow my blog

and...

2. Leave a comment

You also get an extra entry every time you tweet, facebook, send up smoke signals, or blog about the contest. All I need is a link in the comment section. International entries are welcome. The contest closes at midnight, Monday the 14th.  The contest is closed! Winner will be announced on Saturday.

What do YOU think of the term "Mary-Sue?" How do you react to female characters you don't like?

ASHES winner!

I have the winner of the copy of ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick!




And, via number generator, the winner is...

JOY PUTNEY!


Email me your contact info, Joy, and I'll get that book right to you. As for everyone else, never fear. There are contests galore coming your way!

Why editing is like moving



I hate moving.

I hate everything about moving, the search for boxes, the endless sorting, the losing of things you need and the finding of things you don't want. Packing, unpacking, I hate it all. But there's one phase of moving that I hate more than anything else.

The fiddly-bits part.

You know the fiddly-bits part. You're almost done Your house is starting to empty, all your boxes are neatly packed and sorted, with labels so you know what room they belong in and what's in them. (Because you're obsessive like that.) You're feeling pretty good, pretty accomplished.

And then you look around. And surrounding you, scattered over your house, is all this...stuff. Things that didn't fit into a neat category, so you left them for last. Small things that were under couches and chairs. Papers you can't throw away, but don't know what to do with. Random fondue sets.

Okay, I might be alone on the fondue set. But the point is, all the big stuff is done. You can see the end. But between you and the end is all this little stuff. And--as if you were the punchline in some great cosmic joke--dealing with the little stuff takes SEVENTEEN TIMES LONGER than the rest of the move.

Editing is like that.



I don't hate edits, in fact I love them. Doing this intensive first round has been like taking a master class in storytelling. Working out these problems has taught me more about the kind of writer I am than almost anything else I've ever done.

But now I'm in the fiddly-bits part. All the little notes I've been making to myself through this process  (check the timeline, expand this dialogue, describe this more, etc) are coming back to haunt me. I have three more characters clamoring for better scenes and a couple of transitions to smooth out. I'm so close to done I can see it.

Which of course means this part is taking forever. But that's okay, because sometimes writing is like that. Sometimes there is no big motivation, no big inspiration, there's just you, in the chair, doing one little thing at a time. Getting it done.

Of course, like this comic from Jim C. Hines, you could find other motivation....



Anyway, it's better than moving, right?

What do YOU want to talk about?

Happy ALMOST NOVEMBER!!!

November is always a weird month for blogging around here, since I usually do National Novel Writing Month. And this year I'm finishing up edits first, so it's even more intense.



However, there are some amazing things coming down the pipe, including a whole bunch of contests and perhaps a guest post or two.

In the meantimes, what would you all like to talk about this month? Writing? Television? The fact that I saw  the episode list for Sherlock season two and I'm practically spinning in circles from excitement?

(Hound of the Baskervilles! Irene Adler! AHHHH!)



Sorry, what was I saying?

Oh yeah. What would you like to talk about this month?

Contests, editing and spam hilarity

Happy Wednesday all!

Just some quick updates for you.

Editing: Yes, despite finishing the end, I'm still working on the edits. I have some new patches of info dump to smooth out and some characters to strengthen. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I can see it!



Contests: The ASHES contest is still open, and at the moment your odds are pretty good. (Just saying.) I'm  closing the contest at midnight on Halloween, so be sure and enter before then!

Speaking of contests, I have declared that November shall be CONTEST MONTH here at Ye Olde Blog. I have several awesome contests planned--all for multiple book packs--and hope to do one at least once a week.

One of the best contests though, is going to be the National Book Award contest. To show support for the authors affected by the recent award kerfuffle, I'm giving away a prize pack of all five finalists AND Lauren Myracle's Shine.  The catch is, I won't do it until I hit three hundred followers.

*looks at follower count*

*waits*

Anyway...

I've been getting a lot of really hilarious spam lately, mostly from very polite people who call me "Dear." (This is an improvement over the Russian spam I got a few months ago invinting me to be a prostiute in Kiev.)

However, some of them are seriously abusing the caps lock. This one was the worst.

HELLO MY DEAR.NICE MEETING YOU.
HOW ARE YOU OVER THERE IN YOUR COUNTRY HOPE FINE.GLORY BE TO GOD.
MY NAME IS MISS JEANNIFER.
I SAW YOUR POST WHEN I WAS BROWSING AT (website I've never heard of) AND I AM INTERESTED IN MAKING FRIEND WITH YOU.FOR MORE INTRODUCTION PLEASE REPLY ME THROUGH MY EMAIL ADDRESS (redacted) AND I WILL SEND YOU MY PICTURE FOR YOU TO KNOW
HOW I LOOK LIKE. HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU WITH LOTS OF LOVE.

*covers eyes* *winces*

This one showed up in my inbox with the heading CAN I TRUST YOU?

Good day my good Friend

INVESTMENT PROPOSAL.

How are you today? Hope all is well with you and your family? I know that this letter will certainly come to you as a surprise as we dont know ourselves before, but be rest assured that it is real and a genuine business. I am Dr. M, from London .

I am an account officer to Mr. Rafik , I was Born in Bangladesh in 1965, but nationalized in United Kingdom the late Rafik was a Lebanese self-made billionaire and business tycoon, and was a five time Prime Minister of Lebanon. You can view this site for confirmation.

http://www.rhariri.com/general.aspx?pagecontent=biography

I got your mail through my private search and out of Desperation I decided to reach you through this medium. Mr. Rafik deposited Twenty Nine Million Great British Pounds (�29, 000,000.00 GBP) in a bank here in London and I want to invest this money in your country and under your care.

The need to move out this money arose when the Prime Minister David Cameron said that some of the money held in dormant accounts would be used for youth and community projects. You can confirm this in the website below.

www.cameron-raids-dormant-u-k-accounts-while-minister-attacks-rip-off-banks.html

I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regard. Now permit me to ask these few questions:-

(1) Can I completely trust you?

(2) I am ready to offer you 35% of this (�29,000.000.00 GBP) I hope it is acceptable by you?

Please, consider this and get back to me as soon as possible for more details, via my personal Email: (redacted)

Thanks and regards.
Dr. M

 Dear sir,

I regret to inform you that you cannot trust me. I will take your nonexistant money and run for the hills. However, I salute you for your creative use of public websites to make yourself seem credible.

Thanks and regards,
Me

Am I the only person who gets hilarious spam like this?

First round edits, part 6: Rewriting the ending.

For those of you who don't know, I'm in the middle of first-round edits for The House of a Thousand Dolls, and I'm blogging about the process. Feel free to chime in with questions, suggestions or general awesomeness.

A couple of editing posts ago I talked about the big picture pass I did. Well that pass took a LONG time, and the main reason that it took a long time was that I decided (all on my own) to completely rewrite the ending.



Step 6: Rewriting the Ending.

Early on in the brainstorming process, Sarah made a suggestion. It was a very simple one, about the sort of scene she felt would really add to the book. The original suggestion wasn't even about the end, it was just  a "hey, this would be a great scene to put somewhere in the book" sort of thing.

To say that her suggestion had an impact on me would be like saying that the lightning bolt had an impact on Ben Franklin's kite.

found at americaslibrary.gov

It electrified me. I suddenly knew that using the suggestion at the end of the book would fix a lot of the book's problems and make it far more epic.  But there was one small catch. It would mean rewriting the last third of the book.

At this point, I was still fixing easy things and combining characters. I was full of energy and optimism and rewriting the ending felt totally doable.

Little did I know.

Since I'm a systematic sort of person, I developed a plan.

Step 1: Fix everything else

Step 2: Do the big picture pass up to the part where I would have to start changing the ending.

Step 3: Polish up the first two-thirds and make sure all the threads were in place so I knew what (and who) had to be in the end.

Step 4: Write the end.

And the plan worked! By the time I got to step four, I had a very clear idea of what had to happen in the end. I still wasn't sure how my main character would get out of the mess I was about to put her in, but I knew I could figure it out when I got there.

There was only one snag. I was TIRED. I had been editing for several weeks by this time, and since I'm naturally obsessive, I had been pushing myself pretty hard. Plus the coffee shop had been really hectic lately, and I wasn't getting enough sleep.

It didn't help that there were so many new words to be written. In fact, by the time I was well into the end, the stupid thing felt much more like a first draft than a rewrite. And I HATE first drafts. I have to write them fast and messy because I know if I take my time, I'll get frustrated and throw my computer into the wall.

But fast and messy wasn't really an option for this book. I had to sit down and write the new words carefully, making sure everything wrapped up and all the threads came together.

Somehow, I did it. And I was right; the new end is amazing. But to be honest, I don't remember much about writing it. And once it was done, I shoved the whole thing into a virtual drawer, slept for twelve hours straight and took a week off.

found at innocentenglish.com

Have you ever had a project that totally fried you?

Shoes, sharks and other things that bring people to my blog.

So I have at least one more editing post to put up, but it's going to have to wait until Monday because my brain is broken. Instead let's play a round of Search Term Bingo.*

Like most bloggers I know, I like looking up what kind of search terms bring people to my site. And lately there have been some strange ones.


"house of a thousand dolls" plot ending

I WILL NEVER TELL! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

(Given that there is an old Vincent Price movie called The House of a 1000 Dolls, I'm pretty sure they weren't looking for me. But I'm still not telling.)


biggest shark in the universe

is this one

found at badassoftheweek.com

Also since I have a deep and abiding fear of both sharks and the deep ocean, I'm not sure why this term leads to my blog. *shudders*


air conditioner broken songs

Are these songs about broken air conditioners? Or broken songs about air conditioners? Oh the mystery! *ponders*


burning the heretic art painting

Again I am foiled by the lack of punctuation! Are we burning HERETIC ART PAINTINGS? Or simply looking for paintings of people burning heretics?  I vote for the first one. All heretic art paintings should be burned!

Wait, what's a heretic art painting?


edward cullen kissing jacob

No. Just...no.

(Although, now that I think about  it, I could get behind an alternate Twilight ending where Jacob and Edward realize their undying love and Bella goes off to college and becomes an architect. That would be kind of awesome.)


how to promote your shoes

Like this:


LOOK AT MY SHOES!!! LOOK AT THEM!!



Any odd terms lead people to your blog lately? Or have you used an odd search term yourself?


*Search Term Bingo is a term I stole from Chuck Wendig, who is a master at it.

Spooky October giveaway and a copy of ASHES!

Well, it's the middle of October which means that all around my neighborhood pumpkins are being carved, spooky decorations are being set out, and all the thrift stores have costume sections.



It also means it's time for me to give away a VERY SCARY BOOK. A book that you should only read with the lights on. A book written by one of my agent-mates, who is a lovely woman in person, but has a terrifying mind.

That book is Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick.




Is the story as creepy as the cover? Well..

Alex has run away and is hiking through the wilderness with her dead parents' ashes, about to say goodbye to the life she no longer wants to live. But then the world suddenly changes. An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky zapping every electronic device and killing the vast majority of adults. 
For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who has changed...

Everyone still alive has turned - some for the better (those who acquired a superhuman sense) while others for the worse (those who acquired a taste for human flesh). Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the zombies that are on the hunt, Alex meets up with Tom - an Army veteran who escaped one war only to find something worse at home - and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to find food, shelter, while fighting off the 'Changed' and those desperate to stay alive. A tense and involving adventure with shocks and sudden plot twists that will keep teen and adult readers gripped.

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this from Awesome Agent Jenn, and I read it while perched on the edge of my couch and biting my fingernails the whole way. (The ARC was a loan, THIS is the actual hardback.)  If you want something deliciously scary to close out October with, you can't do better than this.

As usual, all you have to do to enter is

1. Follow my blog

and...

2. Leave a comment

You also get an extra entry every time you facebook, tweet, blog or do an interpretive dance about the contest. All I need is a link in the comment section. International entries are welcome. And since this is a SPOOKY giveaway, I'm not closing the contest until midnight on Halloween.

And in the meantime... what scares YOU the most?
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.