Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blogging is an Art...

... and no one should tell you different. It's true that anyone can blog, and yes blogging isn't really considered published. But it is still an art. I know many of you (myself included) spend a good amount of time making sure you have good content, good appearance and are constantly growing and expanding your readership. Don't tell me that blogging isn't work -- I know, I'm preaching to the choir.

The only reason I say this is becasue I think we sometimes discount ourselves. We think it a small thing that the most we have done in our writing careers in run a successful blog. Sure, agents and editors may not see that as the golden ticket to getting published, but it shouldn't count for nothing either. I have known so many bloggers that given up blogging (*cough cough* including me *cough cough*) becasue it's time consuming.

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This isn't something we should just roll over an accept that every other writer is doing becasue that isn't the case. It isn't even close to the case. Many of you, like myself, are blogging becasue you genuinely want to learn more about writing and further your career.

The point is, don't let anyone tell you your blogging isn't worth it, becasue it is. I learned that for myself in the three week absence I took to figure out what I needed from blogging.

Has anyone ever pressured you to quit blogging, or told you your blog isn't good enough?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Good Critique Partner

The subject of Critique Partners seems to be overflowing the blogosphere lately, and I have to say that it's been on my mind as well. What really makes a good critique partner? Is it someone who will rip you to shreds? Is it someone who is an expert in the compliment sandwich (compliment, critique, compliment)? Or is it something more?

This answer probably differs from person to person, but here is what qualifies as a good critique partner in my mind --

Someone Who Will Help You

I know, simple, right? But really, I think this needs an explanation becasue I don't think it's clear to everyone. A critique partner who does nothing but rip on your work is not helpful, nor is someone who does nothing but tell you how much they like something. To be a truly helpful critique partner in my mind, there needs to be a balance of both.

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Let's start with an example --

CP1: This sentence is really weak, and I hate everything else about this chapter.

CP2: There is something off about this sentence but I don't know what. By the way, this is the best book ever!

CP3: I had to read this sentence a few times to fully understand it. Perhaps if you changed the wording to something more like (insert sample sentence) then I would understand it better.

Now you tell me, which partner do you want? I want #3. They are being honest with me without being rude, and they are giving suggestions so that I have an approach on how to fix it.

Which brings me to another point, I want a critique partner who is willing to brain storm with me rather than tell me something is wrong. I know there are things wrong with the book, that is why I am asking for you to help review it. You can't just point out a mistake without giving me suggestions for improvement. Otherwise, I'm stuck.

What else would you add? What makes the best critique partners?


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On a completely separate note, feel free to go vote for the beginning of my book in the Project Writeway contest here. Really, go ahead and go. Now.






Wednesday, January 25, 2012

After 2012

I found out about a fun little hop is being put together by some of my favorite people -- Lillie McFerrin, Angela Goff, Angie Richmond, and Daniel Swensen. I like these guys and their prompt enough that I probably would have entered anyway. But when I found out the grand prize was a 50 page critique from Lillie, I had to enter. Lillie has helped me before and she is wonderful person to have critiquing your work.

Now what would a hop be without rules? They are as follows:

Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) using the photo as your inspiration. Post it on your blog any time between now and when the linky closes. Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of the prizes listed below. The linky will be open from January 23 through January 30.
Angie, Angela, Daniel and I will read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

1st: Fifty page critique by Lillie McFerrin

2nd: Twenty-Five page critique by Angie Richmond

3rd: Fifteen page critique by Angela Goff

4th: Ten page critique by Daniel Swensen

5th: A copy of Steven King’s On Writing

Aren't those prizes awesome? And the photo prompt is equally as cool. Here it is, along with my entry.







Saraiah stuck her hands into her pockets in an attempt to still the shaking. The council had gathered all together after she related to them events that took place in the clearing.

"Please, tell us what you saw."

It was the council spokeswoman, Regina. She had been addressing the one-hundred or so who gathered on the wooden benches around an outdoor stadium, but at this moment she was staring at Saraiah. The girl stood, her legs wobbling as she crossed to the stage.

With an encouraging nod from Regina Saraiah addressed the group,"I--- I saw --- it was a bot."

It started as a few whispers but soon the crowd was murmuring their panicked cries.

"Everyone please calm down," Regina said in her best we can work this out voice.

"We need to take action!" an older gentleman yelled out, "I won't see those bots taking over our lands again. There is no place left to run!"

Regina spread her hands wide and kept her face smooth,"Everyone just take your seats and let Saraiah
explain. There is still hope yet."

The spokeswoman looked at Saraiah and smiled, but that did nothing to ease the mood.

"It was a glowing light hanging from the sky. Just one.It might be easily severed."

Even though Saraiah had said the words she had no confidence in them. It had started out this way in other lands. A single piece of bot popping up in the middle of a wilderness. The world had been overtaken now. This was the last place that hadn't been touched. The last colony of humans trying to survive.

The words were as hollow as Saraiah felt. There would be no more surviving, no more hiding. It was time for the final battle, and already the bots had won.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Never Stop Believing in Yourself

Many of you know that last week I gave my first ever pitch. I've been working hard on becoming a better writer, and reading up on what I can about the publishing industry. But I've never taken that leap -- the one where I actually get my name out there and try my hand at a query.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I don't find it prudent to put up details of my pitching/querying experiences up until something is definite, but I do want to share one thing I learned from this pitch -- Never Stop Believing in Yourself.

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It is so easy to think about how many other books are out there, how many talented authors there are and get overwhelmed. To think you're not good enough is the easy path, the hard path is working through your short comings.

Here's the truth, if you don't ever give yourself a chance you'll never reach your goals. Even in rejection, even when we dig harder to improve we can find something about ourselves that we still like. The fact remains that if we don't have any belief in ourselves we will never accomplish anything.

You are stronger than you think. I am stronger than I think. We can be strong enough to conquer the tallest mountains and overcome all of our obstacles.

That's it, that's all you need to know. Work hard then have confidence in what you've accomplished. Becasue there is always tomorrow and there is always the chance to be better.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Random things you didn't want to know about me

A couple days ago the lovely Sara Bulla gave me the Versatile Blogger award. On top of that, a couple people gave me the Great Comments award. (thank you Golden Eagle and Leigh Covington!) So I'm going to combine the two by telling you five random facts about me, then passing the award on to awesome comment people. Sound good?




1. I can't ski. My dad was ski instructor and even ski patrol at one point in time, but I cannot ski. I end up on my butt all day long.

2. I grew up eating Kim-chi on a regular basis. (Thanks to a dad who lived in Korea for two years!) And yes, I can rock it with a pair of chopsticks. 

3. Sometimes I watch trashy reality T.V. (who else hates Courtney on The Bachelor? Oh, and was I the only one disappointed when Allison didn't win ANTM all stars?)

4. I totally played t-ball when I was eight. It was awesome.

5. I really want to learn how to make awesome homemade doughnuts, anyone have a recipe?

Alright, on to the comment awesomeness --

Joanne from Whole Latte Life - Joanne is often the first to comment on my posts and it makes my day every. single. time.

Joshua form Vive Le Nerd - his blog is one of the best I've ever seen, go check it out, really.

Tara from Tara Tyler Talks - awesome poetry and fun stories, what more could you want?

Ava from Writability - seriously a great resource for writers, Ava talks about the coolest things :)

Mel from Adventure Writes - she is one fun gal who I really enjoy talking too!

Jenny from Jenny's imaginary world - I seriously consider this girl a BFF in the blogosphere.

David Kirk - I don't think I could find anyone more supportive to have my back through this difficult journey, you are beyond awesome David!

E. R. King at Get Busy Writing- The moment I found Emily's blog, it was true writer love.

David Powers King at the Cosmic Laire- everyone already knows how awesome he is!

Mark Noce and his stories - A seriously nice and generous person, doesn't get much better than that.

Chantele Sedgwick from My Writing Bug - LOVE! Not much else to say :)

Michelle Teacress - Very fun an down-to-earth blog. Love it!

Cate Masters - her blog posts always draw me in :)

Lynn(e) Schmidt - awesome twitter friend too!

Donna Weaver - a must have on your blog list!

Cherie at Ready. Write. Go. - One of my first blogger friends, and still going strong :D

Tasha Segmiller - I haven't followed Tasha for long, but she has already been a great support and an awesome blog to follow.

Lillie McFerrin - bubbly, fun, and full of good ideas ;)

Wow, laying it all out like that makes me feel so loved! If I left anyone out, I'm sorry (really I am, I wish I could thank everyone)!! But I really think you all are awesome. No one who received an award should feel the need to pass them on, I just like you to know that I care :)




Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Giving it a Pitch

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Tomorrow night a publishing company is coming to visit my writing group and they have given a very generous offer -- a free pitch session, with feedback. (!!!!) Okay, so now I'm freaking out a little because I have never given a pitch before, let alone written a query letter.

Right now my approach is to think of it like an audition (thank you high school drama classes!) But I really don't know anything beyond that. So I'm asking for your advice -- have you ever given a pitch? What did you learn and what would you have changed?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writers Conferences

Tis the season for writers conferences and I'm planning on attending a few. Here are some for my to-do list.

NiNoCon



Everyone can attend this one as it takes place online. What does NiNoCon stand for? Ninja Novel Conference, of course.  It's the lovely brain child of Ali Cross. Go check it out here for more information.

LTUE


Life The Universe and Everything is Feb 9th-11th in Provo, UT. I'm only going on Saturday, but there will still be big names like James Dashner, Dan Wells, Richard Paul Evens, and Brandon Mull to name a few. It's only $30 for all three days and $20 for just one day. So, if you live close by you won't want to miss this one!


LDS Storymakers


This one isn't until May, but it's best to sign up now as there are only 450 seats. I'm going to both days of this one and I am seriously excited. There will be some great speakers and I've submitted my 1st chapter to their contest. Super fun!

What conferences are you attending this year?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pride and Pity

The oh-so-awesome Tara Tyler at Tara Tyler Talks is holding a little short story fun over at her blog and I decided to participate.



Here are the rules:

  1. put a link to your story in Tara's comments
  2. link back to Tara's blog to let others know about the challenge.
  3. keep it clean =)


January's prompt -
This month, the challenge before you is to write a short story of 750 words or less including these four words: EVIL, CROWD, HARP, WATERFALL

Challenge ends January 31.


And here is my entry -


It would have felt like a scene straight out of Merlin, had Jasmine not been fighting for her life. She had always wanted to visit England. Jane Austen, Beatrice Potter, and Dr. Who where only part of reasons she had always wanted to come here. Lush landscapes and a few waterfalls hadn't been a drawback either. It was Jasmine's idea of a personal fairytale, if only it hadn't been for an evil witch.

"Please move," Jasmine yelled over the crowd of people at Buckingham palace. 

She hobbled her way to edge of a bench surrounding the Victoria Memorial and took a look at her ankle. Swollen and bruised, fantastic. Okay so maybe 'fighting for her life' was a bit of an overstatement, she had just twisted her ankle walking from the palace to the memorial.

"You okay there, Miss?" One of the male strangers next to her said.

"I'm fine," Jasmine said, her body still facing away from the man. She took another look at her ankle and started to cry. "I'm fine if fine means your best friend has run of with the guy you like. That witch."

"I was actually referring to your ankle," the man said.

"Then there was that old lady who harped me out when I tripped," she blubbered on, "does no one have any decency? This trip was supposed to be dream come true."

Jasmine felt an awkward pat on her back. She looked up at the man next to her with the kind accent. Her jaw dropped. He was her version of tall, dark, and handsome.

He smiled at her. "I hope you feel better."

Jasmine was keenly aware of her splotched cheeks. "Th-th-thanks," she stammered.

"There's my ride," the man said pointing in the other direction and stuffing something in his shirt pocket, "nice to meet you."
Jasmine nodded as she watched him walk away. Wait, where was he going? She should have asked for his number. She stood, then fell back to the bench with pain of her ankle. She had just let Mr. Darcy walk out of her life.

She put her head in her hands and rubbed her face. How had she gotten into this mess? She had always thought England was going to be so romantic.

She sighed and stood, hoping on her good leg. She would have to get a cab then. She reached into her back pocket only to find her wallet missing. She closed her eyes and shook her head realizing the handsome stranger had taken it right out from under her nose.

She was never coming to England again.




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Showing Vs. Telling - When Telling is Okay

One of the primary rules of being a writer is the show vs. tell aspect. It's much better to see a conversation between two people who are flirting than to to tell the reader that the two are flirting. The fist way builds the chemistry, where the second way leaves something to be desired. But showing isn't perfect 100% of the time.

Yup, I said it. Sometimes it's okay to tell. Now before you start booing and throwing tomatoes at me, let me give you a few examples.
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1. Flash-Backs

Every once in a while you need a hint into a characters past that will foreshadow upcoming events, but lots of flash backs are a no-no. If you can sum it up in a simple sentence or a line of dialogue, do it! Unless it's for comedic value such as this little gem. (sorry, it wouldn't let me embed it)

2. Re-telling's

Sometimes something important happens and one character needs to tell another character. Please, please, please, don't go and show the story again. A summary is best in this situation. Here's an example of this done well in Rick Riordan's 'The Throne of Fire'

"I gave them the shortest version possible -- why I left London, how the Egyptian Gods had escaped into the world, how I'd discovered my ancestry as a magician. I told them about our fight with Set, the rise of Apophis, and our insane idea to awaken the god Ra."


3. Un-important scenes

It can be easy to get caught up in so much showing that soon you are showing things that are of no consequence. No one needs ten pages on how someone got onto an airplane and found their seat. Unless it furthers the story, telling the reader they got on the plane may be enough.


Are there other times when telling is best?




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fresh Start

In April of 2011 I started a blog. I had no idea what I was doing or what was going to come of it. I had a few notions in my head about what it would be like, but I never expected it to be so amazing. There are people out there whom I have never met that I consider great friends, and a few of them I met after I started blogging I hit off without reservation.

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But I took a break. I love blogging, you could even say I'm a bit addicted to it. I had to delete my blog, step back and take a look at my life. Was I really being a good mother, or a good wife? How much was my family suffering for my blogging?

The break was good. I took a nice long look at everything and decided it would be best for me to start fresh.

The great thing about starting new, especially after having some amazing past experiences, is that now I can carve my own path. This time around my goal is not to feel overwhelmed or stressed out about blogging. It's going to be more about making lasting friendships and keeping up with what is new and current in the writing world.

I hope this blossoms into a place for others to be informed and entertained. I think I've figured out what I want from blogging now and today I'm taking the first step. Thanks for sticking with me.