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Friday, September 24, 2010


Some quick news bits today:

1) I narrowed down my list of potential projects from a very daunting 17 to a moderately more manageable 6. I really feel like I have enough substance and excitement to take any one of these 6 to completion. In no particular order, here are the (potential) titles and genres of the final six:

Dark Rebellion (fantasy)
Indigo (sci-fi)
The Business of Murder (thriller)
The Romero Strain (horror)
Undead Delivery [horror/humor(?)]
Crock (literary)

More info to come over the next couple of weeks!

2) Since the theme of this post is "Celebrations!" it's only appropriate to mention that it's NATIONAL PUNCTUATION DAY! Celebrate as you will. I prefer to go to happy hour and shout things like "Pilcrow!" and "Interrobang!" to unsuspecting passersby.

3) And for those in the dating game who also happen to be writers, had this link: "Myths About Dating Writers" which I find hilarious and all too true. Makes me appreciate those who were drawn in by the mystique and driven away by the craziness. An ex-girlfriend once told me she was petrified of sounding stupid on AIM (does anyone remember/still use that?) because I "spoke" so well, so she used to triple-check her chats before she sent them. My insanity drives other people insane apparently.

While insanity is a terrible transition for this next comment, the dating portion is kind of appropriate. Only because a very good and bestest friend of mine quite recently became engaged! (That's kind of a weird way to say it, almost like she's currently in a heated battle or something...but no, it was the nice, pleasant "we're going to get married" kind of engaged.)

So, 4) Congratulations to Anonymous Best Friend and Anonymous Best Friend's Fiance! Stop working and go celebrate! I'll have a drink for the both of you! INTERROBANG!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Community vs Contest

While I love NBC's "Community," this post is not about the show. Rather, it's about the community of writers, bloggers, agents, published and represented authors that form a supportive network across the interwebs. Interestingly enough, I've found that the most helpful, talented and altruistic people tend to shine through during a contest.

A contest!

Think about that for a second. Here we have a competition among many worthy adversaries for a coveted prize. In any other community, be it other arts, sports, business, people would be clamoring over each other for attention and trying their damnedest to out-do the next guy.

But not with writers. Writers support each other and offer their praise, criticism and unwavering encouragement. For every author gaining representation, for every book sold at auction, for every project opted for multiple sequels and movies, the writing community grows stronger. This is one case where competition really does improve the craft of everyone involved, if you're open to criticism and change.

I'm posting this today because I was lucky to be a finalist in a recent contest at the Adventures in Children's Publishing blog. While I didn't place in the top 3 winners, I wasn't disappointed. The critiques I gathered on my pitch and query from other authors and contestants were invaluable. I've already used it to strengthen my delivery and see what works and what doesn't.

And to be honest, as soon as I read the pitch for the winning entry, I knew it was special. Something about it just clicked. I'm assuming this is what agents look for in their slush piles. Meagan Spooner's "The Iron Wood" sounds absolutely amazing. Click through to read her full query, but here's a snippet:

When Lark develops abilities that doom her to life as a magical battery, she must escape her energy-starved city and fight to survive in the monster-infested wilderness beyond long enough to find others like her, and the key to her own powers.

And it was very cool to watch her pitch/query grow in strength over the weeks. Congratulations to Meagan on a well-deserved win!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Disney Finds a Match

I came across this bit of news today and just had to share it!

How cool is that?! The first installment in the trilogy isn't even available to read until November, but Disney had to outbid Paramount for film rights. That has GOT to feel amazing for the author (no pressure!)

Though the article is a tad on the cynical side (to be expected when you combine the Disney-machine with Twilight references), I see this as an incredible achievement. Having a book not only be published, but turned into a movie is something that I can only dream of at this point. Congratulations to Ally Condie!

And only slightly less awesome is the experience of wandering through a bookstore and seeing familiar covers jumping out at you. During a recent excursion to my local Barnes & Noble store, I came across the following novels written by authors whose blogs I happen to follow online. Check em out!

The Hollow
and The Haunting by Jessica Verday

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...

Have you ever suddenly woken up from a bad dream? Probably.

Have you ever combined something going on in real life into your dream? Like, say a thunderstorm or an alarm clock or a ringing phone? Sure, who hasn't?

Have you ever laughed yourself awake? Erm...maybe?

Ok, well have you ever woken yourself up purely from an idea?

I had that experience the other night. Yes there was a thunderstorm and yes 90% of the dream made less sense than 50% of Inception. But the core idea of the story was just way too cool to pass up! At least I thought it was...

Then I realized the coffin nail (so to speak) of this particular idea: vampires.

"It's alright," I thought to myself, "no one's done vampires in a while, right?"

So the idea got noted in a far flung corner of a random notebook in the apartment. It'll probably rot there until the next round of blood-sucker mania sweeps the nation. It's not to say that the idea wouldn't be good enough or that I couldn't write the story well enough to get sold.

But at this point, I feel like it's just another strike against me before I even start. And that's not meant to sound self-defeating, but rather it's a fact. A project started today probably won't be ready for submission for another year. Factor in maybe another year until that (hopefully) gets picked up, then at least a year after that before it hits the shelves. Are people still going to be craving vampires in 3 years? Some will, probably not going to be as big as it is now.

So the vampire-idea (which, incidentally combines "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"...sorta) will remain in the notebook for a later time. Now I just have to wait for a vivid dream about steam-powered robots and time-jumping samurai!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Good Idea vs Bad Idea

If only decisions were as simple as they appeared in cartoons. Alas, life is not so black and white. Case in point, my current problem: what project to focus on next?

I've narrowed it down to 17. Yes, I said "narrowed down to," from a pool of God knows how many ideas. Some were cut because I just didn't feel that spark of interest that I had when I originally jotted it down. Some were thrown out due to lack of substance for a full length novel. Still others were rejected because they were sequels to previously written works or were in a genre too close to a recent work.

So after all that searching through old notes and refreshing of my memory (did I really write that? really?) I've come up with a list of 17 potential projects. For what you ask?

National Novel Writing Month! This November, as in Novembers past, authors all over the world will embark of a 30-day marathon of words, quips, beats and turns-of-phrase. The objective? Write a 50,000 word novel by midnight on November 30th, 2010! The prize? Your very own 50,000 word novel!

For those of you who prefer figures over phrases, that's:
1,667 words a day
70 words an hour
or a little over 1 word a minute

Seems reasonable. Though 1,667 words is about 6-7 pages. (Remember when a 10 page term paper seemed like a nightmare?) So that's 6-7 pages a day, every day. Factor in workdays, sick days, holidays (oh hi Thanksgiving!) and that number probably gets bumped up pretty quick. It's no wonder that about half of the people who start this marathon don't quite finish in time.

But that's not really the point. The point is to try, to write your tail off and see what you get. The point is to suffer through the ordeal with other writers all over the world. The point is DEFINITELY NOT to submit your freshly finished NaNoWriMo novel to an agent or publisher until after St. Patrick's Day 2011! Don't even think about it!

Anyway, back to the decision. This is where you, my favorite people, get to play a part! Like I said, I have 17 projects, spanning various genres. I'll be working on a logline (basically a TV Guide style blurb about the book) for each project, which I will post here in a poll. You guys can feel free to vote and leave comments on which sounds the most interesting to you and I'll take your opinions into consideration on the final decision!

Check back within the next few weeks to vote in the poll. And let me know if you've got your own NaNoWriMo project in the works!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Death of Books

So the Kindle might not be the end of books as we know it, but this device very well could be.

Straight from the website itself, the company admits that "reading would be more fun with pictures, sounds, interactivity and your child's favorite characters."

Now, maybe it's just me, but I interpret that as: "Here is a chance to schlock out more of the same old commercial product to further line our pockets. Rather than encouraging kids to use their imaginations, we feel it's best to reinforce the images we choose for them to see. And we can sell it all under the guise of 'reading.'"

I like eReaders. I like the idea of using them to get kids to read at an earlier age. Books evolving to eReaders makes sense. Books degrading to hyper-interactive, flashy, noisy distraction machines (oh hi, iPad!) is an unsettling possibility.

And is this just another step at replacing parents with computers? Some of my favorite memories as a kid were when my dad would read stories to me. The characters were done in his voice with his accents and told at his pacing. Then, when I read to my little brother, I made the stories my own. The vReader seems like just another device that would erase those memories.

Sure it's fun, sure it's flashy and is it even that different from the deluge of movies and video games with kid's characters today? Not really. But it's trying to replace books. Books! The last bastion of entertainment that lets you, the reader, interpret what you're experiencing in a uniquely personal way.

Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I'm just getting old (damn whippersnappers and their eReaders! back in my day, books were made of paper!). But something about this toy just feels wrong, all wrong.


I am having an affair...

with my Kindle!

It's so pretty and sleek and functional. The days of books overflowing my shelves and weighing down my luggage are now behind me. And they know it...

I swear that since I received my Kindle, my other books have been out to get me. I had one fall off my bookcase and hit me in the head as I walked by. Another ended up under my feet and almost tripped me (possibly because I was holding my Kindle and reading while walking). And, just last night, I woke up covered in paper-cuts... Eerie stuff.

Anyway, as if my new found Kindle love isn't obvious yet, then let me just say it outright: I love my Kindle!

I had some reservations about it and held off on buying it for a long time. It's a little dangerous just how quickly I can buy books on this thing. The only thing that prevented me from spending an entire paycheck on books before was the pseudo-necessary drive to the bookstore. Now, it's a simple button click and POOF! instant book. And the prices are far.

My first purchase was Hunger Games, part of Suzanne Collins' trilogy. I devoured it in two days and have already purchased the second book, Catching Fire. Before I start on the second book, however, I'll turn my attention to Cinders, by Michelle Davidson Argyle. I was very happy to purchase this novella from an author whose blog I follow. It's a pretty cool feeling to support up and coming authors, and for 3 bucks, you can't beat it!

So, in summation, Kindle excels at:
- space saving
- money saving (sorta...)
- back saving
- self-published author support!
- nifty plastic device gizmotronics! Robot revolution!

And some day soon, I hope to self-pub my own little Kindle masterpiece. Stay tuned, you'll surely be the first to know. And do yourself a favor, buy a Kindle and get to readin'!