Saturday, April 30, 2011

Demystifying novels in verse! (Guest Post!)

Quite frankly, novels in verse are a mystery to me, one I find fascinating. I haven't read many verse novels, and I can't even begin to conceive of crafting a whole book from poems. (Probably because my high school poetry was horrendous, in the way that only 16-year-old-girl poetry can be.)

Here to satisfy my (and your!) curiosity about novels in verse is Cathy Ostlere, debut YA author of Karma (Razorbill, March 2011).


What is a verse novel?  For me, a verse novel is a series of linked poems that together create a narrative.  I believe that the poems should be able to stand alone, each one expanding on an image, emotion, idea yet building to an overall theme.  But, saying that, occasionally Karma does not achieve this.  Some of the poems are more prose-like and a few are so short they are often just flashes of thought.  In these instances, I consider the poems to serve as either necessary narrative exposition, links to other poems, or simply places for the reader to breathe.

Gorgeous cover!
Why is Karma written in verse?  Partly accident: the original, raw material was stream-of-consciousness writing and when I lifted sections from the first draft they resembled lines of poetry.  Partly language: when I realized that the story would be a dramatic journey for Maya I thought that her emotion could be contained in short tight phrases and strong imagery.  Partly structure: sometimes diaries are filled with random thoughts, glimpses, brief confessions, outbursts, so I hoped verse might accurately convey the sense of urgency and tension that I wanted.

How do you know if it’s the best format for your story?   Though it is sometimes impossible for a writer to evaluate their own work (Will others like it?  Will the book sell?), there is a definite thing an author can determine for oneself: Does the act of writing your story excite you?   Because I decided to keep this unusually-crafted story to myself and not invite any readers or comments, I found myself in a thrilling place.   There were no niggling voices AND there were no rules: no punctuation, no capitals, just free-floating thoughts and images, playful language, and white space that conveyed dramatic silence.  I have never before felt so free in my writing and so risky.  It was exactly those feelings that made me believe this was the only way to tell my story – a crazy conviction that if I was exhilarated, my reader would be too.  Verse novels are leaps of faith.  And the writer has to get to the end to know what works.

What are the special challenges of the YA verse novel?   I believe a writer is wise to remember that a verse novel is about the poetic form and is not just a storytelling device that uses fewer words.  The danger is that in a moment of weakness (What happens next?) a writer may want to fall back on using prose with line breaks, giving the impression but not the power of poetry.  I confess, I did do this, but I tried to be aware of it and at least suffuse the poem with strong imagery and descriptive or playful language.

How to begin a verse novel?  Here is the first line that I wrote in a journal over four years ago: India was as noisy as a hundred black crows screaming/screeching/wailing like a hundred pinched babies.  I liked the line.  I was curious as to what might come after it.  And so, Jiva clung to the sound.  And then I just kept on going.  Being curious.  What else did Jiva cling to?  I kept on writing.  Short bursts.  Fifteen minutes.  Half an hour.  I just kept putting words down and allowing the images to fill the page – sounds, colours, texture, smells, emotions.  And I kept asking, Who is this girl?  Other questions that might drive a novel –
Why did it happen? 
I remember that day. 
Things could have been different if only.
It was his/her fault.
I don’t understand.  Am I the stupid one?
By the way, those first lines I wrote never made it into the book.

Final thoughts.  Karma was indeed edited by Penguin editors but only for narrative arc and character.  They never touched a word, line, or image.  It was a remarkable experience: to have one’s writing accepted so wholeheartedly.  I’d like to wish good luck to any writer desiring to experience the verse novel.  I highly recommend the exercise; its gifts are enormous.


Thank you so much, Cathy! Karma sounds fabulous!

About Cathy Ostlere:
Cathy Ostlere holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Manitoba.  Her first book, Lost: A Memoir (2008), began as a series of poems but grew into creative non-fiction essays. Essays excerpted from Lost have been short-listed for the National Magazine Awards, Western Magazine Awards, and the CBC Literary Awards.  Lost: A Memoir was a finalist for the 2009 Edna Staebler Creative Non-fiction Award.  In 2010, she co-wrote the play, Lost: A Memoir, presented by Theatre Calgary.  The production will tour Canada over the next two years.  Her first novel, Karma, a verse novel written for young adults, was released in March 2011 by Penguin Group Canada/USA.  She lives in Calgary, Canada.

Go buy yourself some good Karma. (Ok, I couldn't resist the pun.)
Check out Cathy's webite

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hey Effie! May the odds be ever in your favor...

Elizabeth Banks is Effie Trinket!

Alright, I'm REALLY enjoying this casting now. I'm just dying to see who they pick for Haymitch!


Link to article.
Link to @elizabethbanks Twitter announcement.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So You Want to Write Historical Fiction...

Thinking of delving into the awesome world of historical fiction? Wondering what it takes to write in the genre that blends fact and fiction like no other? Have we got a guest post for you!

(Somehow I'm sounding like an infomercial, but this guest post deserves infomercial levels of enthusiasm!)

Today, we turn our blog over to Kate Lord Brown, author of The Beauty Chorus, a historical novel which debuted in January 2011. (And Evie, the delightful heroine, is just a smidge past teenagerdom!)


New Tricks*
by Kate Lord Brown

Maybe like me you fall into the camp of a writer who was very much a reader first. I love the research for a novel – the hours spent poring over books, in archives deciphering spidery faded handwriting, in museums getting to grips with the physical details of a story (there is nothing like actually seeing the objects you are talking about).

I started writing my debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ in 2008, and had to put a limit on the research – I was having so much fun, the book wouldn’t have been written if I hadn’t given myself a deadline. The light bulb moment for the book came from a tiny obituary in a flying magazine (I’m married to a pilot). It talked about an incredible woman who had flown Spitfires during WW2. My immediate reaction was – wow, I didn’t know women flew fighter planes. Then: this would make a great story.

Even though I have spent far too many hours on airfields, soaring over the British countryside in rickety planes that felt like a Mini with wings, I knew nothing about WW2 pilots. My background is in fine art – I studied art history – so I really was an old dog teaching myself a few new tricks with this one. I started from scratch, read every first hand account of the time I could – everything from diaries and memoirs written by the female pilots, to housewives’ journals from the time. I wanted to get the planes right (I’d never have been forgiven if there were any tech details wrong …), but I wanted the day to day details to be right too. I wanted to know what perfumes the girls wore, how they washed their clothes, what they would have cooked.

It has been interesting hearing the reactions of the ‘real’ Air Transport Auxiliary girls who are now in their 90s. I’m just back from filming with one of them for UK TV – she still embodied the qualities of modesty, bravery and grace under pressure that I came to admire in these women so much. She had enjoyed the story, but I’m glad I did my research well because when she queried a couple of plot points, I could back up my fictional story and argue my case – they don’t pull any punches, these ‘girls’!

‘The Beauty Chorus’ weaves fact and fiction very closely. So you have real characters – like the famous aviator Amy Johnson, Churchill, the painter Stanley Spencer, and my fictional characters. I like the tension of that – the way the fictional story embraces facts. In any historical text there are ‘shadow’ people, unnamed in photographs or accounts – this is where my characters slip into the story. However, I wanted my fiction to be possible – none of it is so far fetched it couldn’t have happened. The events are exciting – there’s romance, danger, adventure, but they could have happened and they are based on factual events.

The characters are also certain ‘types’ – you have Evie, the debutante party girl whose life was all fast cars, horses and adventure (very much part of ‘the beauty chorus’ as the fighter pilots called the girls. Then there’s Stella, who came to Britain from Asia to fly – she was typical of the girls escaping unhappy realities and seizing any chance of independence and the chance to fly. Megan is a teenager who has never left her beautiful, remote Welsh home – she can fly a plane but not drive a car (yes, there really were girls like this!).

If you enjoy reading historical fiction, and are thinking of writing a novel in this genre, I can highly recommend it. It was an honour to work with some of the surviving veterans on the story, and sheer pleasure to really immerse myself in that time and place. Hopefully people will not see the joins in the world I’ve created. There are factual events and places, but the story is fiction at the end of the day, and I hope it both entertains and introduces people to a forgotten piece of history. It felt like a story that had to be told.


Thanks, Kate!!!

About Kate:
Kate studied Philosophy at Durham University, and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is currently taking a Masters degree. She worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was a finalist in UK ITV’s the People’s Author competition in 2009. Her debut novel The Beauty Chorus is published by Atlantic in 2011.

The Beauty Chorus (Corvus, Atlantic 2011) is part of Amazon’s Kindle Spring Spectacular and available at a huge 91% discount until May 2nd.
- CLICK HERE for all other links to The Beauty Chorus
- PURCHASE The Beauty Chorus from

Links! Links! Links!
- Blogs: What Kate Did Next
- Twitter: @katelordbrown
- Preview The Beauty Chorus for free!

*Ok, so Kate wrote the post, and I bolded my favorite lines, because I compulsively bold my favorite lines in all our posts.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I Now Pronounce Thee Incorrectly ... Again.

One of my favorite posts from last year centered on words that we read and understand but totally mispronounce in real life. The comments became a hilarious stream of "Me too!" and embarrassing stories of lifelong pronunciation errors and our "Aha!" (or "Oh crap -- really?") moments.

Who started this whole thing?

This sweet, innocent...

... and now totally badass Hogwarts student.

Many of us pronounced her name as...

But of course, thanks to a phonetic spelling on book four to Viktor Krum (and of course, all the movies), we now know her as Her-MY-oh-nee.

Here are the others that we added to the mispronunciation list:

French Failures

hors d'oeurves (or-DURVES)
- whores d'VORES
"Have you ever met a person,
you say, 'Let's get some parfait,'
they say, 'Hell no, I don't like no parfait'?
Parfaits are delicious."

lingerie (lawn-jah-RAY)
- lin-GEAR-ee
- linger-EE

suites (sweets)
- sweeties

queue (cue)
- kway

parfait (par-FAY)
- par-FATE
- para-FAT

bouquet (boo-KAY)
- boo-KET

What's in a name?

Aislinn (from the Wicked Lovely series) (ASH-lynn)
- ASS-lynn
It was my favorite blue crayon!

Maire (from Circle of Friends) (MOY-ra)
- Muh-REE
- Mare

cerulean (the Crayola color) (sir-OO-le-in)
- sir-U-lean

Persephone (per-SEPH-oh-nee)
- Per-SEH-phone

Sean (Shawn)
- seen
- SEE-un

Location, Location, Location

Illinois (ill-uh-NOY)
- ill-uh-NOISE
"Chicago, Chicago,
that toddlin' town..."

Gateshead (from Jane Eyre) (GATES-head)
- Gate-SHEAD

Pompeii (pom-PAY)
- pom-PEE-eye

Connecticut (kun-NET-ih-kit)
- kun-NECKED-ih-cut

Chicago (shi-CAH-go)
- CHICK-ago

Random wrongdoings.

poignant (poin-YINT)
- po-IG-nant

epitome (eh-PIT-uh-me)
- ep-EE-tome
- ep-IH-tome

misled (MISS-led)
Let's admire the admiral!
- MY-zulled

stoic (STOW-ick)
- stoyk

kiosk (KEY-osk)
- koysk

elite (ee-LEET)
- ee-LIGHT

deny (dee-NIGH)
- DEN-ee

admiral (ADD-mur-ull)
- ad-MY-rull

macabre (muh-COB)
- muh-CAY-burr
- muh-CAH-burr

mischief (MISS-chiff)
- MISS-chief

monotony (muh-NOT-oh-nee)
- moe-no-TONY

chic (sheek)
- chick

gyoza (gee-YO-za)
- GOY-za

geography (gee-OG-ruh-fee)
- gee-oh-GRAF-ee

indict (in-DITE)

Ahem. And on that note...
This is a pretty extensive list of mispronunciations! But we have a whole new crop of followers since the first post went live, and I know there are plenty more words to add to the list.

Also, I'm wondering -- who of you have first and/or last names CONSTANTLY mispronounced? Like, my last name - Gambale - is pronounced "gam-BAH-lee" and I always get "gam-BULL" or "gam-BALE." And, funny enough, it's an Italian name, so it technically SHOULD be pronounced "gum-BAH-lay" and my family's Philadelphia accent switched it to "gam" and "lee"!

Alright, leave it in the comments!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: Klaus Recap

Salvatore Mansion Elena's New Pad The Dungeon of You Brought The Bad Guy Back to Life AGAIN You Idiot!

Elena: Wakey wakey Elijah!


Elena: Nevermind, go back to sleep! Go back to sleep.

Elijah: Katerina?

FlashBack To The Year When Elijah Wears a Curly Wig That is Hideous and Yet Still a Step Up From His Current Haircut: AKA England 1492

Elijah: Hello Katerina. Love the hair. You remind me of a doppelganger.

Katerina: Giggles.

Return to Dungeons

Elijah: *body snaps*

The Flashback: *has broken Elijah*

Elena: *checks for a pulse* (Because you always want to make sure a dead thing has one of those)!

Elijah: I can't breathe! 

Elena: Oh snap! You're in my pad now and not invited.

Elijah: *vampire-door-race* Ok, that's better.

Elena: Great, now that I've brought you back to life and allowed you to escape, we can be bffs? Also shhhhhh, the Salvatore vampires are sleeping.

Elijah: Are you serious? Why should I trust you? You killed me dead.

Elena: *hands over originals-killers-kit*

Elijah: What's this?

Elena: It's my Too Stupid To Live Trophy. I won it in Episode 5!

Elijah: All right. Let's go. Mani/pedi? Death wreaked havoc on my nail beds.

Salvatore Mansion Elena's Pad This is the last time we wear those Vampire Ear Plugs to Bed!

Stefan: Elena? Elena? ELENAAAAA???????????? Where are you? Where did you goooooooo?

Damon: Andy...stay really still. I'm inserting my straw for some breakfast...

Andy: But I have work!

The Dungeon of You Can Put That Original's Face on a Milk Carton Because He is M.I.S.S.I.N.G.

The Dungeon: *Is Empty*

Stefan: FML

Damon: Ditto

KlausAlaric's Corner

KlausAlaric: Surprise Warlock, I'm really tired of this dude's body. Go out and fetch mine?

Surprise Warlock: As You Wish

Katherine: Now that you have the moonstone and killed the witch dead and can easily get the doppleganger, and I think there's a werewolf in the next town over, let me go?

KlausAlaric: Remember that one time when I slaughtered your whole family? That was fun.

Katherine: *whimpers*

Elena's Car of Seriously, WHY would my boyfriend care that I ran off with another man who previously tried to kill me dead? 

Elena: Ok, so I want Klaus dead and you want Klaus dead and I think we ought to be on the same team. Also I totally trust you.

Frankie: TOO (cough) STUPID (cough) TO LIVE (cough)

Stefan (oh phone): OMFG where are you and where is Elijah and why didn't you kiss me goodbye this morning?

Elena: You had blood breath--sooo not sexy. Also Elijah is right here and even though he tried to kill me and everyone I know, he's totally changed now and on our side. He totally showed me his boyscout badge and I know without a doubt that he is a man of honor.

Stefan: ELENA! Are you high?

Damon (in background): I'm going to come and find you Elijah and KILL you again and kill anyone else who gets in my way!

Elena: Ok gg, bye! *gives Elijah phone* You won't kill me, right? Pinky swear?

Stefan: Hmmm yeah, well in the interest of letting this episode run its course, I guess we better let Elena do her thing.

Damon: *eyes explode with emotion*

Flashback to the Year When Klaus Meets Katherine For the First Time and He is NOT Played by Alaric!

Klaus: Hello. I'll be playing the role of Klaus from this point forward.

Katherine: Oooh la la.

Elijah: :-(

Lockwood Estates/Plantations/Colony/Island

Mrs. Lockwood: Oh hi, Elijah and Elena. What are you two doing here? I'm really quite busy, what with that scandal last week when Uncle John fake died in the middle of my event but oh you want to borrow some clothes and hang out here all day, ya that's cool. Come on in.

Salvatore Mansion Elena's Mansion

Aunt Jenna (on phone): Stefan, do you know where Elena and Jeremy are this episode?  I suddenly remembered I'm their guardian and have no effing clue where they are. This couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that I ran away for a few days.

Stefan: You seriously should have studied Party of Five before you took on this role, Aunt Jenna. Charlie Salinger was boss!

Aunt Jenna: Oh well, so I'm about to go meet Rick for lunch at The Only Restaurant in Mystic Falls.

Stefan: Didn't that place burn down?

Continuity: *has no place in this episode*

Caroline: I know, right. What about my storyline with Matt and my mom learning all my secrets and betraying me?

Bonnie: Oh be quiet--I'm not even IN this episode.

Jeremy: That's cuz we're doing it in the dead witches safe house of fake death.

Bonnie: Oh yeah :-)

Aunt Jenna: K, well I'm home now and need to get ready for my date.

Stefan: WAIT! Don't meet him! Whatever you do, do not hang out with Rick! I'm coming over RIGHT NOW!

The Lockwood's Mansion of Let's Recap Things For The No Longer Dead Guy

Elena: So then we fried Luka to a crisp and his dad was all like raaawwwwrr and we were like dude, just die already. And Bonnie was like All your powers are belong to me. And then the dead witches were like oh HAI Bonnie, magical powers that kill you dead--want more? And she was like yah.

Elijah: I see.

Flashback to the Year When Klaus Speaks Bulgarian

Klaus: Katerina-a, I-a think-a you-a are-a very-a pretty-a

Katerina: *Bulgarian giggle*

Elijah: Dammit! Why does my brother always have to pull out the Bulgarian just before I make my move!?!?

The Lockwood's Mansion of O.M.G.

Elijah: In case the Bulgarian from the last flashback confused you, let me reiterate. Klaus is my brother.

Elena: ...

Elijah: O.M.G. Right?

Elena: The flashback was in English...

KlausAlaric's Home of Damonic Investigations

Katherine: Klaus didn't compel me to stab myself. Ergo, I am SO freaking bored. Ooooh. Booze. *dance*

Damon: Katherine? Are you alive?

Katherine: My rescue squad is here! But...can' Freaking compulsion!

Damon: *Vampire-Door-Slam*

Andy: OMG, she really is a doppelganger.Cool.

Damon: I've come to deliver you Anti-Damon so you can find a loophole and escape--shouldn't be too hard. KlausAlaric's the lamest villain ever. Also remember last episode when you betrayed us? Don't do it again. Obviously Team Damon is WINNING. DUH!

Aunt Jenna's House of For the Love of Twilight Please Clue This Woman in On the Plot

Stefan: Aunt Jenna! I found you.

Aunt Jenna: Um, yeah. Rick is here too.

KlausAlaric: Boo!

Mrs. Lockwood's House of We Are Family

Elijah: So I was one of 7 and we're all the Originals. But we were human first.

Elena: So how did you all become vampires?

Elijah: Sorry. Too much information for one episode.

Kevin Williamson: Crap! Someone get to work on inventing vampire origins stat!

Aunt Jenna's House of This Is What Happens When Your Ex-Boyfriend's Body is Possessed By An Original

Aunt Jenna: WTF is going on here? Who are you? Where's Elena? Why is Stefan here?

KlausAlaric: Let me explain. No wait, that will take too long. Let me sum up. I. Love. Twilight.

Aunt Jenna: ...

KlausAlaric: What about you, Stefan? Twihard?

Stefan: ...

KlausAlaric: Well?

Edward Cullen: Well?

Stefan: The books, not the movies.

Flashback to the Year When Klaus's Book was a Best Seller Translated into Over 60 Languages

Klaus: Look, my publisher just sent me a translation of that sun and moon curse I invented in Aztec! Harry Potter pwnage!

Lockwood Plantations/Woods/Gardens

Elena: So the whole curse was totally fake and made up and OK I think I need to lie down now.

Aunt Jenna's House of When The Vampires Fight That Means You EXIT The Scene

KlausAlaric: So being here really serves NO purpose at all. In fact, I've done nothing of any purpose since I've arrived. So just in case you were starting to think I wasn't scary....

Frankie: Starting?

KlausAlaric:  *mean eyes* I'm going to stab Jenna through the heart!

Stefan: *Vampire-Wall-Slam*

Aunt Jenna:...

KlausAlaric: Rawwwrrr

Aunt Jenna:...


Aunt Jenna:....

Stefan: He wants to kill you! He's a vampire and wants you dead. LEAVE!

Aunt Jenna:....

Stefan: *vamp face*

Aunt Jenna: Oooh, you mean I should leave. Right. Ok. Bye...

Lockwood Gardens of Hold That Thought

Elena: Hold the phone Elijah. You're explaining way too many things in one episode. So right before it gets interesting, I'm going to leave and comfort Aunt Jenna. That way it'll be like an intellectual cliffhanger. BRB...

Flashback to the Year When HEY...We Already Saw That Scene in Season 1 with 2 Different Brothers...Ooooooh

Katherine: Elijah... *bats eyelashes*

Elijah: ZOMG!

Katherine: Klaus... *bats eyelashes*

Klaus: *come hither finger*

Elijah: FML

Damon: Dude, I know.

Elijah: Why are you in this flashback?

Salvatore Mansion Elena's Mansion of True Confessions

Aunt Jenna: Vampires are real? I mean, I know you were always funny about inviting people inside and wanting me to wear that anti-vampire perfume and adding extra garlic to our dinners, plus there was the time a vampire compelled me to stab myself and then another one tried to bite me and you were mumbling in your sleep "vampires are real, vampires are real" but I never ever thought it was true.


Aunt Jenna: Well who else knows about this? Jeremy?


Aunt Jenna: Andy? Damon? Caroline? Bonnie? That weird guy down the street that took a vow of silence 5 years ago?

Elena: Pretty much everyone not named Aunt Jenna knows.

In the next room...

Elena: Well now that that's taken care of, I need to go back the spending the afternoon with the man who might kill me.

Stefan: Ok.

Damon: WHAT! ELENA! If I wasn't trying so hard to save you, I'd kill you right now.

KlausAlaric's Corner

Katherine: *DANCE PARTY*

KlausAlaric: I'm home!

Katherine: *Non-Dance Party*

The Lockwood Mansion of Here's What You've Been Waiting For

Elena: I'm back! Now explain how this is a fake curse.

Elijah: So there IS a curse, only it's just a curse on Klaus. See...even though he's my brother...he's only my half brother. Mama Original was quite a babe back in the day. And his father was a werewolf.


Elijah: Yes. Klaus is a werepire.

Elena: !!!!!!!!

Elijah: But he can't turn into a wolf because the withces cursed him.

Elena: He wants to be a werewolf?

Elijah: He's always a had a thing for running under the moon naked and covered in fur. But also, he really wants to give birth to a bunch of cubs.

Flashback To The Year When Elijah Is In Love and Klaus is a Douche

Elijah: Guess what! Katherine can live through the sacrifice!

Klaus: Guess what! I'm killing her anyway!

Salvatore Mansion Elena's House of OMG What Is Happening

Damon: Andy! Go away when I'm feeling testy and waggling my eyebrows above 5 mph.

Stefan: Stop playing with her. She's a human!

Damon: No, she's all that's keeping me from doing your girlfriend!

Stefan: Ok that's it. You finally acknowledged The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant: Guys...I've been around all season...

Stefan: Oh yeah! Well I have the one thing Damon, that you'll never have.

Damon: What's that?

Stefan: Her virginity!

Matt: Actually...that's mine.


Elena: STOP fighting, Elijah and I are here and he has something he wants to say to you.

Elijah: You guys really hurt my feelings when you killed me. *tear* Say you're sorry.

Stefan: My bad. Would the deed to a house cheer you up?

Damon: I hate you all. *storms off(

Damon's Room of Worse Compulsion Ever

Andy: Look I'm naked! Let's cuddle.

Damon: *vampirizes Andy* When I say leave, you leave!

Andy: But I love you.

Damon: I compel you to leave!

Andy: ....

Frankie: No one is very good at following directions in this episode

KlausAlaric's Klaus' Corner

Surprise Warlock: So I got your body!

KlausAlaric: Do the spell!

Alaric: Oh wow dude! I'm myself I'm...why do all of my bones hurt.... *collapses*

Katherine: This is NOT awesome!

Klaus: HIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!


Surprise! In which I am oblivious to red herrings in life.

I pride myself in guessing the end of things. Whether it's a novel, a TV show episode, or a movie, I am a Red Herring* Finder Extraordinaire.

Last weekend I discovered that my Red Herring Finder abilities do NOT translate to real life. Which is a good thing, because I LOVE surprises. And surprised I was.

Because I'm a writing nerd, I'll tell you the methods everyone used to successfully trick a Red Herring Finder Extraordinaire into being super oblivious to her own bridal shower. Then take these lovely methods and use them in your writing to keep your readers guessing til the end!

My bridesmaids knew I wanted to be surprised for my bridal shower, if possible. And it's tough, considering:
(1) How many people have to be in on it, plus
(2) There's a limited number of Sunday afternoons pre-wedding, so any "plans" are automatically suspicious! and
(3) I tend to be very observant in life. (Note I said "tend to.")

(1) Misdirection.
I thought I was attending a surprise birthday party for Tony, a longtime friend of my fiance's family. A month or so before the "party," we received an invitation. My fiance's mother ALSO received an invitation, so that when I came over, I saw it posted on her fridge. The bases were covered!

(2) Details, details, details.
- The invitation RSVP was Regrets Only, so no need to call anyone. (Though the "hostess" was in on it, if I did!)
- The party was at a banquet place where the couple was married, so it made sense it would be held there.
- My sister texted me the morning of, telling me she was shopping for tile and wanted to bring something over my house later that afternoon.
- Frankie stayed over Friday night, and when she left Saturday she said, "See you on Thursday!" (Our Vampire Diaries date, of course!)

(3) Pointing out the obvious.
I was worried I'd figure out my bridesmaids' plan to surprise me. (They were working so hard, after all!)
I asked my fiance, "Is it a good plan? Do you think I'll really be surprised?"
He's like, "Oh, yeah. They have a great plan." Then he laughed. "My mom was saying how, it's a shame Tony's party is so early [before the wedding] because that would've been a perfect cover story. But then we'd buy a gift and everything, which would suck." 
Risky gamble, but it worked like a charm! (And yes, I did buy a gift and card!)

(4) Unexpected co-conspirators.
The week prior to the "party," my fiance's parents had an argument in front of me about how, since his father would be away and couldn't attend his friend's party, his mother didn't want to go without him. Yes, an argument about attending the fake party from my future in-laws!

(5) Trust and reasonable doubt.
I trust all these people, so despite that I KNEW some deception was going on, it was easy for me to believe them because everything was so darn normal-sounding! And it's not as though I didn't think it MIGHT be the party --- there was just so much evidence to the contrary that I dismissed the thought!

But there's a second part of successfully tricking your readers --- pulling off the Big Reveal. I mean, if you're deceiving your reader for a longggg time, it had better be worth it!

* Great blog post on Fiction Flurry -- Writing Suspense: Use of Red Herrings

Of course, for me it was! (Hello, a room full of awesome ladies, a pile of presents, and wine?!)

And because a picture is worth 1,000 words...

Walking in with a smile, still thinking it was someone else's party...
With my fiance and mom, after the OH MY GOD! moment of realization.
Still flabbergasted.
PS - Love the old lady hair in the foreground!
And just for fun...

If they're gonna make you wear a hat made of bows, you gotta flaunt it!

With my favorite writing ladies!!!
Your turn! Any of you consider yourselves Red Herring Finder Extraordinaires? Anyone ever surprised someone or been surprised via epic deception? Leave it in the comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: The Last Dance

KlausAlaric's Corner:

Klausalaric: Thanks for the crash course in Mystic Falls 101. But do I really need to dress like Alaric to pull this off? Ugh, clothes are so lame after 1980.

Katherine: So you'll kill me now?

Klausalaric: LOL

Katherine: So that's a no?

Klausalaric: I'll kill you. But it's going to last a few centuries. Start by stabbing yourself in the leg while I'm out. Over and over again.

Katherine: *stabs* FML *stabs*

Klausalaric: Muahahahaha

Katherine: *whimpers*

Salvatore Mansion Elena's House of No Uninvited Vampires Allowed!

Elena: So I just sign here and this whole place is mine? Cool! Do I need to worry about the mortgage or taxes or anything like that?

Bonnie: You don't worry about things like going to school enough to graduate. Why worry about this?

Elena: Good point! *signs deed*

Outside Elena's House of You Can't Come In Without An Invitation

Stefan: So can Bonnie kill Klaus?

Damon: Nah. She'll nose bleed to death first. Anyway, I predict I'll sacrifice myself to kill him in the season finale earning me at last a goddamn passionate kiss from Elena where she'll realize she's actually in love with me  and not you and it'll be super sad, but they'll find a way to bring me back and then next season I get the girl!


Damon: Oh...didn't mean to say that out loud...

Elena: Stefan, won't you come inside my house?

Stefan: *has golden ticket*

Damon: What about me?

Elena: Only if you swear to stop leaving the freaking toilet seat up.

Damon: FINE!

Elena: Ok, let's go to school.

Stefan: Are we even still enrolled?

Bonnie: *checks the script* Yep!

Stefan: Absolutely not! You're being tracked by the meanest craziest evilest vampire ever and we just made you a safe house worth a bazillion dollars and you want to leave it?

Elena: I expect to find a plot point at school.

Stefan: Well at least that's better than finding your education.

Caroline's House of Matt and Her Mom in Cahoots is Creepy

Matt: So about the fact that your daughter vampirized my sister?

Officer Forbes: I think the best thing to do is pretend we know nothing at all. Also you totes need to take her to the school dance halfway through the episode.

Klausalaric's Class of WHAT? Teachers Teach?

Klausalaric: So this is a classroom? You kids like learn and stuff here?

Some Student: We're studying the 60's. Because we're having a 60's themed dance.

Klausalaric: Good to know your curriculum has its priorities in place. Now...which one of you is Elena?

Elena: know me.

Class: ...

Elena: I mean...Mr. Salzman, my teacher who has never been in my house and who I've never accidentally seen naked during a midnight ice cream in the kitchen.

Klausalaric: Right, the girl who looks like Katherine. Ok enough learning for today. Class dismissed.

Mystic Falls High Hallways:

Caroline: Matt! Yay! So happy we're back together.

Matt: Sister-Killer! I mean...*KISS*

Mystic Falls Cafeteria Of Klaus Has Entered The School:

Jeremy: Bonnie, I'm really worried about the whole using all the dead witches powers will kill you dead thing.

Bonnie: I think you worry too much. Now shhh, don't let Elena know about my maybe-dying. She thinks she's the only one with a martyr-complex.

Some Girl: Hey Elena, this super-duper hottie wants to date you.

Edward Cullen: This is not true. I am taken.

Some Girl: Not you, Edward. Klaus!

Elena: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bonnie: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Klausalaric: HAHAHAHA!

Salvatore Mansion Elena's House of You're Plotting WITH The Bad Guy You Morons

Damon: I guess we need to go to the dance tonight and lure Klaus out.

Bonnie: Good, and then when he appears I'll witch him dead.

Klausalaric: *steps inside no invitation needed* How can you witch the most powerful and handsome vampire ever dead?

Bonnie: *witches Damon across the room*

Klausalaric: I see...

Klausalaric's Corner:

Klausalaric: I need to find some cool clothes for the dance tonight. *searches in drawers* Whoa? Crossbows? Anti-Damon shots? Who is this dude?

Katherine: *stab* Local Vampire Hunter *stab* Except he hasn't killed any since season 1. *stab* FML!

Klausalaric: Ok so I need to kill this witch tonight. Surprise Warlock, you want to do the honors?

Surprise Warlock: Won't work, she'll sense me miles away. And actually considering how small this set is, I'm surprised she hasn't sensed me already. Anyway, if she uses all her powers to kill you, it'll kill her too.

Klausalaric: So I just need to get her to use all her powers and she'll self-avada kedavra and I need to not get dead.

Surprise Warlock: I'll prepare the Not-Get-Dead potion.

Caroline's House of Caroline Is The Most Awesome Character Ever WTF Is Up With This Story-line CW?????????

Caroline: I look awesome!

Officer Forbes: Yes. You look just like a vampire Jackie O.

Matt: *awkward*

Salvatore Mansion Elena's Attic of Every Outfit You'll Ever Need for a Mystic Falls School Dance Ever

Elena: Can you remember our last kissing scene?

Stefan: No...maybe like 3 episodes ago?

Elena: Let's kiss!

Damon: *cock blocks*

Team Dalena: YES!!!!

Mystic Falls High School Dance of Man Does Klaus Likes To Convolute The Plot

Klausalaric: Hey boy--want to earn some extra credit?

Some Boy: At a school dance? History teacher appears to be coming onto me... Nope, this isn't weird at all. What do I do?

Klausalaric: :-)

Jeremy: Bonnie, wear my magic-ring-of-I-can't-die

Bonnie: It's a don't die by supernatural death ring, and being supernatural myself we cancel each other out, or something like that.

Jeremy: Why are you trying to sacrifice yourself?

Bonnie: I heard the CW might make a show about just witches and I figure if I act more like Elena I'll get cast there and be the star and they might have more than one restaurant I can eat at.

Some Girl: And now we have a special dedication from Klaus to Elena!

Elena: Seriously? He spent half a century tracking down the doppel-what's-it and his first move is a song dedication?

Stefan: I think he's been watching reruns of Buffy--the season when Angel went bad. Oh Caroline's here! Let me leave you alone for the psycho vampire to find while I fill her in.

Damon: Elena, shall we dance? *waggles eyebrows*

Elena: *swoons*

Damon: Excuse me for a second, I need to dance with the witch. So're totally gung ho on the killing yourself plan to save Elena.

Bonnie: Totes! And don't try and stop me!

Damon: Oh trust me, I won't. Best. Plan. Ever. *eyebrow waggle*

Mystic Falls Hallway of This WILL End Badly

Jeremy: I has a sad. Bonnie is totes going to kill herself dead from a witch-power OD when she kills Klaus.

Stefan: Oh crap! I have to tell Elena.

Jeremy: Wait...I think this was a secret...

Mystic Falls Dance of 60's Music That Was Not Around In The 60's

Elena: Bonnie! You were going to kill yourself to save everyone? Don't you know I have dibs on that story line?

Damon: STEFAN! You have the biggest mouth ever!

Bonnie: Come on, Elena, wouldn't you do the same thing for me if our roles were reversed?

Elena: Ummm, I don't know...I'm kind of the star of the show...

The Hallway of Klaus is The Oldest Vampire Ever but He Hires High School Boys To Do His Dirty Work Instead?

Some Boy: Hey, Jeremy Jerkwad *facepunch*

Some Other Boy: Hey, Vampires! *crossbows*

Damon: OW! Ok! NOW I'm angry.



Klausalaric: Elena! Bonnie! Come quick. Klaus is here and he has Jeremy! Follow me. He's down this dark hallway.

Bonnie: Is it just me or has Alaric been totally weird all episode.

Elena: I think we're just not used to seeing him in so many scenes and forgot what a crappy actor he is. Let's go! *stops* On second're wearing the shirt you hate. You never wear the shirt you hate! You're not Alaric, are you?

Klausalaric: Muahahaha! I am Klaus!

Bonnie: Seriously? They hired Alaric to play you? I thought they'd hire another actor. I thought he'd be hot...

Klausalaric: Budget cuts. Anyways...time to die!

Bonnie: *witches Klausalaric against the wall*

The Wall: FML

Bonnie: Elena! RUN!

Damon: So're still totally good with the dying thing?

Bonnie: Yep! *witches Klausalaric's bones broken*

Klausalaric: Is that the best you can do?

Bonnie: *witches busted kneecaps.*

Klausalaric: Ow!

Bonnie: *witches light show*

Stefan: Bonnie! Stop!

Elena: Bonnie, NO!

Bonnie: *witches the door shut*

Bonnie's Nose: I haz a bleed! I haz a bleed. Pull back, Bonnie! We're out of tissues!

Klausalaric: *Is the broken*

Bonnie: *is dead*


Damon: Stefan, get your screaming GF out of here so I can deal with the body.

Frankie and Donna: WHAT? NO! No way is she dead! Fast forward through commercials!!!!

Commercials: HEY! What are you---

Mystic Falls Body Disposal:

Damon: *dead Bonnie toss*


Damon: Let's have a chat...

Salvatore Mansion Elena's House of It's My TV Show and I Can Cry If I Want To

Stefan: It's okay! It'll be okay.


Damon: Hey, look sad.

Elena: *faceslap* How could you let my best friend DIE?!!!!!?!!!?!?!!?!? I HATE YOU!

Damon: Bonnie's not dead. She's only mostly dead. She took a rufie from a priest and she's totally going to wake up, so CHILL!

Stefan: You couldn't have told us this plan? Look what you did to Elena!?!?!? You made her mascara run and that stuff was waterproof!

Damon: Klaus HAD to see her die and believe it so we can use her as our secret weapon--though most likely she'll still nosebleed to death first. Your big mouth would have ruined everything. Also, I make the toughest choices and thanks to me--not you--ME--I'm keeping Elena alive! *EYES*


Damon: *can barely contain the amount of awesome he owns inside*

Bonnie's Secret Cave Of Fake Death

Bonnie: Hey Jeremy, I'm back to life.

Jeremy: Sweet! I really hated it when you were mostly dead. You're just in time for some product placement pimpage. Also Elena's on skype! Yay!

Commercials: And you THOUGHT you could fast forward! Muahahaha!

Salvatore Mansion Elena's House of Team Dalena Takes a Hit

Elena: Bonnie cannot go dead! Ok.

Damon: If it comes down to it I will Always. Choose. You.

Team Dalena: *faints*

Frankie: Ok seriously....HIT THAT! WHY are you still with Stefan?

The Dungeon of You Brought The Bad Guy Back to Life Again

Elena: Damon thinks he can make hard decisions! I'll show him hard decisions. I signed the deed. This is my house now. *pulls knife from Elijah's body*

Frankie: *facepalm*


Alaric: Um, guys? I think I fell...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Vampire Diaries: Know Thy Enemy

Elena’s House of Don’t Let The Bad Guy In PLEASE:

Isabel: Sup Aunt Jenna. I’m your current boyfriend’s dead wife. Hey, Elena.

Aunt Jenna: WTF! Why am I always the last to know these things? Elena, you knew she was alive?

The Door: *slams*

Elena: *awkward*

Aunt Jenna: *locks herself in her room* *sobs*

Elena: Aunt Jenna, I can explain.

Aunt Jenna: Not now! I’m having my first dramatic meltdown.  *wails* I finally convinced production I can act. *bangs fists on floor*

Salvatore Mansion:

Damon: Dude, Rick's dead wife showed up on his living girlfriend's door. This is better than that show that's on that one channel on Thursday know the one with those two brothers and that girl who looks like the other girl...

Stefan: I have NO idea what you're talking about.

Katherine: Just wanted to remind you all that I'm in this episode and despite being the most untrustworthy vampire in centuries, you can totes trust me now. K Bye!

Elena's House of The Grown Ups Are Having Drama:

Aunt Jenna: I need to leave this episode now!

Elena: Why?

Aunt Jenna: I used up all of my acting skills in the opening credits. Also go to the Lockwood's today. It's time for Mystic Falls event 2,342.

Rick: Can we talk?

The Door: *slams*

Uncle John: Oh snap!

Rick: *Uncle John-Face Punch*

Elena: Nice!

Caroline's Car of Phone Commercial Pimpage:

Caroline: Check out my new cell phone with all of these exciting new features WTF! I can't find Matt anywhere and he knows I'm a vamp and is freaking out and this is very very bad. Oh wait. There's a plot point at the Lockwood's today. I'll find him there!

Elena's House of You Let The Bad Guy In AGAIN!

Uncle John: Come in the basement. I have something to show you, Elena. You too, Stefan.


Elena: STFU! Uncle John WHAT is wrong with you?

Uncle John: She said she knew where to find Klaus.

Elena: Where is he?

Isabel:  Oh I don't know. But I'm here to take you to a safe house because some vampire tweeted that you were the Petrova Doppelganger and now its trending all over twitter and every vampire ever wants you for himself. So you'll come?


The House of Dead Warlocks

Damon: *steps in doorway* Sweet! Everyone is totally dead!

Jeremy: Why am I in this scene again?

Bonnie: So we can explain things the audience forgot while we went on hiatus.

Things The Audience Forgot On Hiatus:

--All Warlocks belong to the dead.

--Bonnie can harness all the power of all the dead witches ever.

--Damon knows where the Salem Witches Plot Point is located.

--This will Kill Klaus dead.

Jeremy: Oh. So to accomplish this you need to read through all of these books? Bc there are a lot!

Bonnie: Accio Spell Book I need!

Spell Book: *accios*

Damon: Scene!

The Only Foreclosure In Town:

Isabel: Katherine! BFF! Come and give me some loving.

Katherine: *snarls*

Isabel: So to save your butt you betray your Salvatore boys, get my daughter killed and call it a day?

Katherine: Pretty much.

Isabel: Vintner?

Katherine: Yum!

Salvatore Mansion:

Elena: Look, you guys can't bodyguard me 24/7. I'm an independent woman.

Damon: *reaches for every TVD script ever* According to these you're not.

Katherine: So just to make sure we're still on the same page, you still won't tell me where the moonstone is?

Damon: That would be correct.

Lockwood Plantations

Officer Forbes: Mrs. Lockwood, I have to tell you. I suspect vampires.

Mrs. Lockwood: That's like saying today is Thursday.

Caroline: Has anyone seen my boyfriend? I can't find him!

Mrs. Lockwood: Has anyone seen my son? He's been missing for several episodes.

Caroline: *awkward* Elena, have you seen Matt?

Elena: I'm way too busy as the star of the show to know where he is. All that matters is people know where I am. Ya know?

Caroline: Damn these double standards! Why is it when the boy vampires tell their girlfriends what they are everything's cool. But when a girl vampire admits what she is....

Rosalie Cullen: Sing it, sister!

Salem Witch Burial Plot Point:

Jeremy: Are you sure this is the right place?

Damon: Have you ever seen this set before? No? Trust me, our budget's not big enough for a fake out. This is the spot.

Dead Witches: *burn Damon*

Damon: OW! WTF! This is definitely it.

The Salvatore Mansion's Bathroom of Lamest Hiding Spot Ever:

Katherine: Now if I were a moonstone, where would Damon hide me? In the fireplace? WTF! Soot on my hands. Must wash in Damon's bathroom. Ooooh pretty soaps! Wait a second...I'm not getting any suds action. Wait....

The Moonstone: She found me! She found me! Mayday! Mayday!

The Rough Streets of Mystic Falls:

Rick: Isabel! WTF are you doing here? You made my GF cry.

Isabel: You know....I always loved you.

Rick: You did?

Surprise Warlock: *Mind Warp*

Rick: *faints*

Isabel: Nah.

The Salem Witches Plot Point:

Dead Witches: *whisper whisper whisper*

Jeremy: Bonnie, this place gives me the creeps. I'm worried about you.

Bonnie: We can make out for a bit.


The Lockwood Plantations Event of WHAT?

Mrs. Lockwood: And here to accept this totally random check for our random event is Elena Gilbert!

Isabel: Hi Uncle John.

Uncle John: What are you doing here?

Isabel: *Vampirizes*

All the guests at the party: OMFG! He's dead!

Katherine: Hi Elena!

Elena: :O *is kidnapped*

Stefan: Elena! Let's get out of here.

Katherine-Elena: Oh help! I'm scared.

Stefan: To the vamp-car! Wait a're...

Katherine: *Anti-Damon Stabbation* Seriously, Stefan. Every. Single. Time. 

Salem Witch Plot Point:


Jeremy: Are you okay?


Jeremy: This cannot end well.

Lockwood Plantations/Estate/Mansion:

Mrs. Lockwood: Bye everyone. Lovely weather. Oh the dead guy? No....just a demonstration. Don't drink and use the stairs. Oh my, I love your hat!

Officer Forbes: We have to cover up Uncle John's death.

Damon: Um, actually...just give him 5 minutes.

Officer Forbes: ??????????

Matt: Your daughter's a vampire and she vampirized my sister. Can we talk?

Salvatore Mansion:

Damon: What is this? Blood on my shirt. *takes shirt off*


Damon: I must wash my hands. Where's my tahitian vanilla....

The Moonstone: *is not there*

Damon: F*ck!

The Only Foreclosure In Town/Isabel's Get Away Car:

Katherine (on phone): K, found my moonstone. You got my dopple-whats-it. Now what?

Isabel (on phone): Actually...

Elena: ????????????

Surprise Warlock: *Vampire Headache*

Katherine: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Caroline's House of My Boyfriend's Back and He Thinks I Killed His Sister:

Caroline: Matt, please please please answer your phone and talk to me so I can explain and oh...nevermind. You're at my house.

Matt: Yah so I kind of accused your mom of covering up my sister's death and then she told me to stay here and that I couldn't have any cookies.

Salem Witches Plot Point:

Jeremy: So what kind of new super witch powers do you have?

Bonnie: *darkens sky* *blows wind* I can create atmosphere.

Jeremy: Cool?

The Only Foreclosure In Town:

Damon: This is the ONLY foreclosure in town. Trust. They're here.

Stefan: Except...they're not.

Isabel's Cemetery:

Isabel: Thanks for coming to visit my grave with me, Elena.

Elena: You kidnapped me. Remember?

Isabel: *gets phone call* Oh you got Katherine? I can let Elena go? Cool.

Elena: Klaus doesn't need me? Why did you kidnap me?

Isabel: We needed a dramatic scene before commercial break. Anyway, sorry I was a crappy mother. And I'm sorry for this....

Elena: What?

Isabel: All the therapy you will need when this scene is done. *removes ring* *BURRRRRRNNNNSSSS*

Elena: You have GOT to be sh*tting me. Now how am I going to get home?

Caroline's House of You Want The Truth? You Can't Handle The Truth:

Caroline: And that's the truth.

Matt: Ummm, yeah...can you do the mind thing now?

Matt's Brain: Warning! Warning! We are at maximum occupancy. Remove excess information.

Salvatore Mansion:

Elena: I. Am. So. Traumatized.

Damon: *eyeroll* You're the star of the show. You love it!

Stefan: Would the deed to our mansion cheer you up?

The Gilbert House of Spells Don't Lie:

Jeremy: Bonnie....did you read this chapter in the grimoire?

Bonnie: Which one?

Jeremy: The Chapter called "If You Use All the Power to Kill Klaus It Kills You Too."

Bonnie: Accio book.

Jeremy: I can't let you do this.

Bonnie: Accio Jeremy. Let's make out.

Officer Forbes Car of Oh No She Didn't

Matt: Thanks for the Anti-Damon. So about your daughter being a vampire and half of Mystic Falls being a vampire of a werewolf...

Salvatore--Soon to be--Elena's Mansion

Elena: Uncle John, you suck.

Uncle John: Yah.

Elena: But your magic ring seems to keep you from suffering the usual fate of 6 episodes/guest star before dying. So I guess we're cool and I'll see you next Thursday.

Klaus' Palace of Voodoo Magic

Surprise Warlock: Katherine are you ready to see Klaus again?

Katherine: That's Alaric. Not Klaus you moron.

Surprise Warlock: *warlocks over Alaric*

Alaric-Klaus: Hello, Katerina!

Katherine: Wait a're telling me Klaus isn't cast yet? He's just possessing Alaric's body? Why?

Alaric-Klaus: Budget cuts. Muahahahaha.

Katherine: Crap!


Off-screen Alaric: YES! I get more screen time! YESSSSSSSSSSSS!

We Have Prim: Willow Shields Cast in The Hunger Games

According to the Hollywood Reporter Willow Shields has been cast as Prim aka Primrose Everdeen aka the reason Katniss is IN the Hunger Games in the first place!

What do you guys think?

I think she looks PERFECT! This is really starting to come together in an amazing way!

Check out the article HERE!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Exciting Richelle Mead Graphic Novel News

Check out this interview at USA Today with Richelle Mead and the woman adapting Vampire Academy into a graphic novel. You can see the first few pages which correlates to entire first chapter of the novel.

Plus...first look at Dimitri!

Vampire Academy, The Graphic Novel will be released on August 23. The same day as Bloodlines!

And we also got a 5 picture preview from Sea Lion Books of the first volume of Richelle's Dark Swan series, Storm Born, also transforming into graphic novel form.

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