Sunday, May 31, 2009

We Are Productive And Full of Fun!!

So Donna and I the two non-bridal members of our club met up today for a critique- a meeting that lasted about 4 hours and involved two location changes (because where is the fun in staying in just one place). Turned out our original choice of an indie coffee shop was not so much indie and not so much coffee as a bunch of guys eating ham sandwhiches and watching sports on tv. So being the glamourous-cool-anti-establishment-fashionistas we are, we met in the Starbucks of a Target. :-)

Today was a good clean up day for us. Donna worked on her new plot outline-I am SOOOO excited about where her story is going now and I cannot wait to get to the end, it's getting so good. I also got to psycho-analyze her characters (such a guilty pleasure, because they are so fun and nearly as real to me at this point as my own characters are). And Donna helped me iron out some kinks in my world building.

And it turned out that Donna and I were both harboring secret ideas for a chick lit book/series that we got to discuss a little. Donna's idea is seriously Amazing!!! I am like SO jealous I didn't have this idea first (though Im very enamored with my own plan) and I cannot wait to read them, come on Donna, start writing faster!!!!! Quit your day job, there are books that need to be written so I can read them.

And being the first sentence genius that she is (no really, she can tell you what your first sentence should be every time) she helped me come up with the right opening for my chick lit series. I wrote a few pages of it over the weekend-it just kind of came out of me in a way that was fun and easy. Feeling somewhat inspired by the fact that Richelle Mead and Stephenie Meyer and Cara Lockwood all seem to find a way to write multiple series at once/write for young adults and adults at the same time, I'm going to keep this story as a way to relax after hours of working on The Seven Sisters Brandywine, and to keep my creative mojo juices flowing when I'm in hardcore revision mode. It's a blast.

Alrighty, I'm working on world building and outlining tonight, also looking forward to the MTV Movie Awards in a few hours!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Endings?

So I just finished reading all four of the books currently released in the Georgina Kincaid Series by Richelle Mead, Succubus Blues, Succubus on Top, Succubus Dreams and Succubus Heat and I am seriously HEARTBROKEN!!! It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but this series has me ready to go bawling. And... it's making me wonder about happy endings.

A certain author who shall not be named has stated over and over again that she believes in and can only write happy endings and anyone who has read any of her books can easily see that. And I'm going to put it out there, I like happy endings. I need happy endings...but I don't need over-the-top everything is sugar and sweet happy endings, especially at the cost of the plot, characters, theme and tones set forth in a series or story, which unnamed author is pretty guilty of doing.

I think there can be a middle ground. If I Stay is a perfect example, it's heartbreaking, heartwrenching, you need a box of tissues to read it,'s hopeful at the end, so is every Harry Potter (yes even though Fred died and I still miss him).

But then again what if the characters or plot or themes lend themselves to a tragic ending. I know the theory behind tragedy and catharsis, but I'm not feeling any right now, just sad. Although, I almost can't see the books ending any other way, ok well maybe a little differently. I'm trying to remember that there are like 3 more books in the series, so its not over yet...but AUUUGH!

So this was sort of a rambling and possibly non-sensical entry, but I'm a little grief stricken over fictional characters so give me some slack.

But what do you want to read? Are you looking for a happy ending? Or are you looking to get lost in the characters and stories come what may? Ok, discuss.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chapter 10 Is OVER!

So I figured I'd take five or so minutes to write about the weight that is OFF my shoulders. You may have guessed why as per the post's title, but I'm DONE chapter 10!!! Throughout the fall and into March I wrote pretty consistently, about one chapter per month.
SIDE NOTE: (Sometimes I feel that's SO slow, but I'm beginning to accept that that's my pace.) Basically, I spend a week or two writing the chapter, and the rest of the time is either thinking about it or winding down after it. I feel so drained after each chapter that my writing schedule's like a rollercoaster with many, many hills. I need a week's break from writing in between to build up my creative juices again.
ANYWAY, Chapter 10 was giving me some trouble. I began writing it about a month ago, after a drawn-out Chapter 9, and my first draft wasn't received too well. (Actually, I believe the words, "I think this is your weakest submission" were thrown around. Mini ouch.) But Sara and Frankie were so, so right --- my first 10-page draft lacked urgency, and so it flopped and didn't have enough meaning for my readers. (Funny thing is, a huge clue that my writing is too slow is that I have a lot of exposition. When I get introspective for long periods of time, it really doesn't work too well.)
So I went back to the drawing board with my awesome critique group suggestions and busted out 20 pages. I just got done tonight. Meeting's this Sunday, which makes me even more proud because I'm usually a procrastinator and finish right before the meeting. Who knows, I might even begin chapter 11 if I get the urge, but my next priority is finishing Maria V. Snyder's Storm Glass, which I started today and am already obsessed with. (I had to pretend it wasn't in my bag calling to me as I wrote.)
Of course, I'm nervous that this draft of Chapter 10 will also stink, but that's part of the process. I feel like I didn't know where to go after Chapter 9, which was this crazy, hectic, dramatic Halloween party chapter where all the fictional sh*t hit the fan. I just had to trust in myself that I could carry my characters through the aftermath and keep readers interested. *Crossing fingers, crossing fingers.*
Anyway, this is one of my few moments of writer's euphoria, and I figured I'd share it!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beach Season Begins...You Know What That Means!

Alright, maybe you don't. But with Memorial Day Weekend starting right about now, bookworms everywhere will crawl out of their holes and into the sunshine to read on the sand. So I'm taking time away from finishing chapter 10 of my novel to write about an author perfect for those glorious beach days.
Cara Lockwood has written a number of adult and YA books, and one by one I've been reading them. For the YA-inclined, there's the Bard Academy series, which centers around sassy 15-year-old Miranda, who (after smashing a car and various other no-nos) gets shipped off to Bard Academy, a remote boarding school. In the first book, Wuthering High, Miranda begins to suspect there's something strange about her new home, and when ominous events mirror those from classic novels, Miranda knows there's more to Bard than meets the eye. Like the fact that her teachers are ghosts of famous writers who died tragically. And then there's the dark, magnetic boy named Heathcliffe who can't keep his eyes off her. In a nutshell, it's a lit-nerd's dream series, and the writing is fun and witty enough to capture the attention of those who snoozed through the classics. Check out the sequels, The Scarlet Letterman and Moby Clique.
For her adult novels, Cara's written I Do (But I Don't), about the seriously entertaining trials of Lauren, a neat-freak wedding planner (who's been divorced 182 days and 6 hours), as she deals with psycho-brides and meets a gorgeous fireman. (Start drooling.) I haven't read the sequel I Did (But I Wouldn't Now), which centers on Lauren's free-spirited younger sister, but I'm sure it's just as fun.
She's also written Dixieland Sushi, about a half-Japanese Southern girl who travels home for her cousin's marriage to her childhood sweetheart. Oh, family drama, hijinx, and romance - how I love thee.
I haven't picked up Pink Slip Party yet (about Jane, a girl who's boss/boyfriend fired her AND broke up with her...time to plot some revenge) but there's no reason you shouldn't!
And last but not least is her latest adult novel, Every Demon Has His Day, which just released in April. The summary on Cara's website is so perfect I'm quoting it: "It’s your not-so-typical Girl meets Demon story, where our heroine discovers she’s the Chosen One who must prevent the conception of the Antichrist. Her only helpers are the ghost of her useless almost-ex husband and a talking French Bulldog in a pink sweater. Looks like God likes rooting for underdogs." The one thing it didn't mention is Nathan Garrett, the yummy love interest of protagonist Connie. (I can always count on Cara to provide a fantasy-worthy romantic storyline.) I really enjoyed Cara's foray into supernatural chick lit, and I'm looking forward to the sequel coming out this fall.
Check out Cara's website: for more details! Also, follow her blog:

Have any recommendations for great beach books or authors?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Aren't there four people in your critique group?

Janine Leaver is conspicuously missing from this blog, and I figured we should take a moment to explain why. Our resident redhead is on her way down the aisle in less than a month, and her impending nuptials are more complicated than the norm. She's marrying a lovely Aussie named Graeme, and because of various immigration issues, her Australian honeymoon is occurring now, instead of after the wedding. She'll be back in the States just over a week before the big day, and then she'll be off again on an official mini-honeymoon on the East Coast. Her life should be back to normal by July. In the meantime, we miss her personal brand of awesome, but we hope she's having a fabulous time down under!

Maria V. Snyder Book Signing

It's sad to think that I knew nothing of Maria V Snyder before April 13th. That was the day when Frankie emailed our critique group about her because she was coming to a local Barnes & Noble for a book signing on May 9th. I read the summary of her "Study" trilogy (Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study) and checked them out from the library that day. Little did I know my life would be put on hold for the next couple weeks.

I was addicted. Addicted like I haven't been in a very long time. Currently I'm in a heavy reading phase, and after ten pages of Poison Study I knew I had to put on hold both Jodi Picoult's Plain Truth (I was 1/3 through reading) and Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends (I was halfway through listening to the audiobook) until I'd finished all three. (And for those who aren't familiar, both of those other books are completely engrossing and awesome too.)

But Poison Study sucked me in. The premise was really cool: Yelena, a nineteen-year-old death row prisoner, was offered a choice -- the noose, or being trained as the newest food taster for the Commander, ruler of Ixia. She chose life, albeit a dangerous one. I'm not aiming for this to be a complete book review, but the novel delves into both Yelena's past and her country's politics and weaves them together in a fantastic plot.

Worthy sidenote: I'm not big on political plotlines, but this one kept me interested. There was surprising maturity in its subtle presentations of opposing types of government; I never felt like I was being condescended to, and Snyder allows readers to create their own opinions through Yelena's experience.

What really entranced me and kept me going was character. Snyder gives every character such depth, and Yelena herself is not even a pure heroine. She's fierce, smart, and capable, and I couldn't help but root for her as she plots her escape, even as she begins to enjoy aspects of her new life. One of my favorite characters from the start is Valek, Yelena's dark trainer/boss and the Commader's head of security. (Talk about a sexy older man fantasy.) And I want Janco and Ari to be my big brothers.

Magic Study continues in the next chapter of Yelena's life, and it introduces many additional characters. Snyder gave her fantasy world even more depth by sending Yelena to Sitia, the land to the south of Ixia. The expansion felt very natural, and I ate it up. I won't reveal any of the plot, so as not to ruin the ending of Poison Study, but oh wow. And the stakes get even higher for Fire Study.

When we met Maria, I was over halfway through Fire Study. Maria was gracious and funny, and she had a bowl of Dove dark chocolates on the table that endeared me to her immediately. I was ecstatic to learn that her new "Glass" series centers on Opal, a character introduced in Magic Study. Sara, Frankie, and I picked up our autographed copies of Storm Glass and chatted with Maria about our newfound obsession with her writing.

I finished Fire Study that night, and I felt very very satisfied with the ending --- as both a reader and a writer. I intended to pick up Storm Glass immediately, but life got a little in the way. I doubt I can wait more than another week, and thankfully Maria's already finished Sea Glass, the second book in the series, and it's coming out in September. (God bless prolific writers.)

Anyway, I highly recommend Maria's books. (And not just because I discovered we attended the same high school --- which is random and really cool.) I'm sure everyone else will add in their thoughts about them later on, so check back for more!

Check out Maria's website and her MySpace page.
Have you read any of Maria's books? What do you think?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Editors and Agents and Publishers, oh my!

I feel a bit like the Cowardly Lion at the moment--I have just submitted my work for my first agent critique ever, and I am practically shaking in my fuzzy socks.

At SCBWI Poconos, I won the silent auction for an email critique with Harvey Klinger agent Sara Crowe, who we ate two lunches with and who was quite lovely. I was thrilled when I won the critique--finally! Someone in the professional book publishing world, looking at my work! But then the doubt crept in: what if she hated it? What if I hate it? What if it turns out I'm a terrible writer?

Now, the first is possible. The second, it depends on what mood I'm in. And I'm generally confident enough to believe that the third is not true. But the truth is, I've wanted to be a writer since I was seven years old. That means I've held onto the passion, this way of life, for the past 18 years. And in those 18 years, there have definitely been less than 18 people who I have intentionally let read my work. That's my biggest issue as a writer: going public. I'm deeply protective of my work, because if I don't show it to anyone, then there isn't anyone who can tell me that they don't like it. When I took my first writing workshop in college, we were each required to read the first page of our work out loud to the class when it was our turn for critique. "To get a feel of the author's voice," my professor explained. My voice was quiet and shaky, and having to listen to people critique my story for 45 minutes without being allowed to talk almost brought me to tears.

I've grown since then. I've amassed seven undergraduate semesters of writing workshops (including ones with Carolyn Ferrell, author of Proper Library, a Best American Short Story of the Century story, and the lesser-known Nelly Reifler, who changed my entire writing life), 4 semesters of graduate writing workshops, and become a part of the wonderful writing group that runs this blog.

Now, you must be thinking--all those classes! That's hundreds of readers! True. But when I said, "intentionally let read my work," I don't include them, because I didn't have a choice. I really only wanted the professor to read it--the students were bystanders. My friends have rarely read my work, my mother has only ever read one story.

So the idea of sending my heart and soul to a stranger whose opinion can be the difference between a contract and not, was a little unsettling. But it's off now, and I can't do a damn thing about it except keep writing. My one glimmer of hope? This is the only draft I have sat down and written 10 pages of in a day. In a sitting, no less! That must be a sign. Either I'm off-my-rocker with frustration and anything goes at this point, or perhaps I'm onto something.

What about everyone else? What's your biggest writing fear?
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