Thursday, January 19, 2012

OH MY GOSH! Stefan Salvatore Was In Roll Bounce!

Before we get on to the subject alluded to in the title, agent Meredith Barnes is doing something pretty cool over at her blog (it involves giving out query critiques) in celebration of her agency's recent success with e-books. So let's celebrate some e-books! Such as those of Lorena Dureau, whose e-books you can get for $0.99 and Dan Streib whose protagonist is described as "James Bond meets Anderson Cooper." Congrats to them!

Back to the topic at hand...

Am I late on this? Did everyone else know? Why did no one tell me about this in all the three weeks since I became a
Vampire Diaries fan?

Alls I know is that I walked into my sister's room and her TV happened to be turned to the 2005 flick, Roll Bounce. Staring (Li'l) Bow Wow and Nick Cannon, Roll Bounce is an underdog story about a roller skating competition set in 1970s Chicago.

In case you were wondering what racy, hedonistic activities Stefan Salvatore was up to the 70s, I can now tell you that he was a member of THE male roller skating team to beat, the Sweetwater Rollers. (And I don't think he was very nice about it, but seriously, what else would you expect from a ripper?)

To be honest, I didn't recognize him at first. I was too caught up in the graceful movements and masterful choreography of the routine. (Stefan's got some mad roller rink skillz.) But ultimately, there's no mistaking that brow, furrowed or not.

Bring on the the polyester and sequins!

Please - PLEASE! - watch the first 38 seconds of this clip! You have to see the coordinated roll way/snub.

And of course, the big final skating number by the reigning champs (Stefan's over the main guy's right - his right - shoulder)

Music and Me and Did Anyone Else Think Mumford & Sons Were From Tennessee?

I didn’t used to have specific songs or playlists for my stories as I work on them. But these past couple of years, I’ve been finding myself picking out songs and thinking, “Hey, that’s exactly how Character X feels and/or went through!”

I think it has something to do with the fact that these past couple of years I’ve actually been working on longer projects for extended periods of time. When your mind is so deep into a story, it’s going to make connections all over the place. Some songs have lyrics that fit perfectly for specific characters or relationships between characters. Others just have a feel to them that fits my story in some way or another even if the lyrics aren’t an exact match.

So here’s my current WIP playlist:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

There’s one song missing. “Annie” by Elefant which goes right before “Thistle & Weeds.” They didn’t have it available on So here it is from Youtube:

Is it just me or does this playlist make my story seem kinda dark, or at the very least on the downer side?

My inner goth is pleased, but I think I need a playlist part two. Subtitle: Hey, some characters in my story are actually happy and functioning people! I swear.

“No One’s Gonna Love You” and “Thistle & Weeds” are sorta my cornerstone songs. They were the firsts on my list and speak to certain characters/relationships in a very definite way (which may diverge from the songwriters’ original intent, but whatevs. It’s art. It’s interpretable). When I was stuck in my writing once, I listened to the two versions of “No One’s Gonna Love You” (Band of Horses is the original) over and over for like 30 minutes until I figured out what I needed to do.

I love “Thistle & Weeds” because I can really see and feel a storm building and escalating when I listen to it. (It's best to listen to it SUPER loud to really get the effect). I also feel it aptly represents a certain character of mine’s back story. She’s kinda scary crazy, but she wasn’t always like that. It built up over time and escalated to the point where she is now.

Also, the lyric “The sky above us shoots to kill.” Awesome! What a way to describe lightning! I wish I was as good at describing stuff.

Speaking of Mumford & Sons, I wasn’t the only one who thought they were from Tennessee, was I? Maybe this exposes my shameful preconceived notions about banjos, but I pretty much assumed that anyone playing them is from a southern state of the U.S. (Don’t get me wrong, I can get down with some Bluegrass. The banjo is an instrument to be respected.) I’d probably listened to the Mumford & Sons CD about 30 times before I was like, “Hey! Heeeey. Southern people don’t say ‘can’t’ like that. Or ‘plant.’ Or ‘all.‘ Or ‘been’! What is this deception!?!”

Plus, to me the leader sing from this band has a similar tone to the lead singer from Kings of Leon and Kings of Leon are from the South(-slash-Midwest). So, you know, associations. And apparently one of the guys in the band is called Country! And were is country music from?

Whatever! My assumption was valid leap in misjudgment!

Mumford & Sons really gets down with some banjo.

Anyway, what about you? Do you have a playlist to go with your novel? What’s on it? I loves music and to know what other folks are listening to. If’n you ain’t got no playlist, tell me yourn favorite song from 2011.

Or of the week. This here’s one of mine. This song is loud and discordant and brief and fast, and I loves it.

And oh, my gosh! I just found out this band is from Bowling Green, Kentucky! It has just been a southern-fied second half of my post, hasn't it?!

I think I got too excited about that...

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Nice Rambley Bit For My First Post of 2012 (I even talk about writing)


It’s 2012 and nobody told me?

I was supposed to start preparing for the apocalypse. You know, stock up on canned food, Purell, and DVDs. Get my zombie survival kit together. Etc.

A hope everyone has had some happy holidayness in their lives. The great thing about Christmas is that it provides solid evidence of how the people in your family see you. As in: “Hey, these earrings are really weird. Just odd and strange and abnormal in every way. I bet Cacy'll love them!” Le sigh. It’s hard being the “artsty” one in the family. I'm not that weird, Mom. Really, I'm not.

But I do now boast a new favorite necklace:

(Made by this company.)

Freakin' awesome. And it matches this ring I got a few month ago:

(This guy also makes Lego jewelry.)

(Check him out.)

So sometimes they get it right. Even though, of course, Christmas is not about the presents. Is the lie we tell children.

In other topics, I finished the preliminary revision of my rewrite. (You know, when you go through and fix all the obviously bad stuff before you let anyone read it. There was this one scene in particular that was so bad that if it had been a published book I was reading I would have written the author an angry letter. Fortunately, no one shall ever have to see that scene EVER. Though I kinda want people to read it after they read the new and improved scene so that I can be like see, SEE what I saved you from…before I forced you to read it. Anyway…)


Printed out for easy reading by people in my life who don’t like reading long stuff on the computer. (You gotta work those margins and font size to save some paper.)

I know there’s all kindsa fancy technological computery ways to breakdown the editing process, but this is how I revise when it comes to re-ordering half the scenes in the book:

First I type up a list of every scene in the manuscript and color-code them according to like characters or what part of the story it deals with or something. I don't know. I just like colors.

After cutting the list up, I re-order the scenes as needed.

Then tape 'em down to blank sheet of paper so I can easily refer to them when I go back to my computer to start moving things around in the actual document.

Who needs Scrivener? (Okay, I probably do. But it costs money, see. Plus, cutting stuff out and using tape is fun. Ask any four-year-old. Tape and scissors are the best things ever.)

The thing about finishing something and coming to the point where I’m waiting for other people to read it is that I’m left with a “What now?” feeling. What should I do with myself right now considering that if this were yesterday, I’d have been working on that thing I just finished.

I suppose I could read something. Maybe re-watch the fourth season of Buffy or all the episodes of “Life After People” I recorded. I should probably clean my mess of a room which I’m sure is a fitting reflection of my life in general. I could work on a blog post.

All of the above?

Well, I did all of the above. So what now?

In the bigger picture in which I’m always working on some writerly endeavor or another, what now?

Eh, I’ll figure it out.

But you know, going over my manuscript, setting is one of the changes I’m happiest with when it comes to all the decisions I made for the rewrite. Originally, I’d set the story in some made up middle of nowhere town. But for the re-write I thought, why don’t I bring them home. My hometown of Los Angeles, that is.

Because of this change, I’ve set some of my scenes in what I think are interesting parts of the city. I might not have thought to use some of these types of locations if I’d stuck with a made up town.

Which I guess means I'm not as creative as I lead people to think I am.

(The Venice Beach Canals is one of the interesting places in L.A. I do not use in my story.)

Besides, people talk trash about my city. Saying it’s a wasteland and the people are shallow (to which I respond, maybe that has something to do with the part of the city you hang around). But I love my sprawling town. According to popular music, it never rains here and we know how to party. And you can believe that because popular entertainment never lies to us. Ever.

(Now that I think about it, I didn't set any scenes in my book around water, which is kinda odd cause I love water-adjacent locales.)

So…that’s probably enough a ramblin’.

No, wait!

Doesn’t anybody finish their games on Droidwords? Or is it just nobody wants to finish the games they start with me? I’ve been waiting for my sister to make a move for like six months now! Some people!

Okay, now I’m done.

Have a Happy New Year anyone who made it to the bottom of this post. The rest of you…a plague upon your houses! (Not really, I give you permission to have happiness in your new year too.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Or better yet, just stop thinking about it.

I’m not one to stick too tightly to outlines. I do like having a plan of action, and that plan will be pretty specific - though not always followed - for the first half the book. But by the second half, I’m freeee. Free faaalliiiing. I might have my outline, but I forget to look at it. Probably because at this point all I have jotted down for the last few chapters is something like:

· Awesome stuff happens


· Even more awesomer stuff happens

I’m only half kidding.

So there I was in the murkiest part of my outline, the climax of the story, with one and a half chapters left to write. Just one. And a half. Friggin.’ More. Chapters! I knew basically what should happen (even more awesomer stuff) and in my mind, I could kinda generate a little bit of a picture of what that should like. And it’s the climax so it has to be better than EVERYTHING that has come before (as Michael pointed out in the comments section of my last post). And I’d given myself one week to finish this draft OR ELSE (though I don’t think I bought my threat. I know I’m a softy).

But mostly, all I was doing was banging my head against the wall and given myself brain damage. The ending was dragging itself out worse than a vampire Pee-wee Herman death scene.

Thusly, I decided to stop thinking about it.

I thought about a different story for a little bit. I read a bunch of excellent graphic novels. I worked on the skirt I’m sewing as a Christmas gift for my niece. I watched way too many episodes of The Millionaire Matchmaker and Cheaters.

Then one morning as I was brushing my teeth, I got it. I understood exactly how to resolve my conflict.

And it was so simple. Instead of trying to push forward into a new chapter, I needed to go back a couple of chapters and follow through on the action already in place. So obvious! Additionally, because of this change in my projected order of events, it meant I had my last two chapters already (basically) written.

Triple super awesome!

I couldn’t get over the incredible simplicity of my solution. So freakin’ simple that I couldn’t see it, and maybe never would have seen it if I hadn’t taken a step back and let the story spring forward at its own time.

Sometimes you have you have to do that butt-in-chair thing. If you never make yourself write when things get difficult you’ll never learn how to push yourself past your own expectations.

But sometimes it’s just as important to get up and go watch some reality TV.

So…yeah. I finished my rewrite.


(On to the revision!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SUPER AWESOME BIG TIME REWRITE: In Which Funny Pictures Of Children Help Me Express My Angst

Aaaaarg!!! I'm so READY to be done with with this draft and move on to my revision...yeah, my revision of my rewrite. (Well you know, this rewrite feels much more like a "draft 1" one than a "draft 10" or whatever.)

I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy about the revision part of novel writing because I'm currently at the part of the writing process where I'm really angry at my manuscript for not writing itself for me. Like it's waaaay more fun to revise a draft than to write a first draft. Don't get me wrong, I do love revising. But I think I'm supposed to like just plain writing too. I mean, I must like just plain writing some of the time. Right?

Can't be too sure about that at the moment though (doubty face emoticon).

I know that there are times in writing when you can't or shouldn't rushing things, but goodness gracious, I feel like I should be done already! I've been just one or two chapters from finishing this rewrite for about...I don't know...a lifetime? And then when I finish a chapter, I realize that I'm going to have to add one more
chapter than I thought I was going to need. So I'm STILL one or two chapters from the end. It's like trying to walk up a down escalator, except less fun. It's maddening!

Why would you do this to me, my manuscript? Don't you know I love you? I love you soooo muuuchboohoohooohooohooo!

(sniff, sniff)

The cool thing about revising a completed draft is that you've already made all your most basic decisions, you have your ending, and your characters have already done all the junk they need to do to get to said ending. The first draft may not be perfect, but since everything is basically already there, writing becomes akin to molding a figure from a chunk of clay. You're taking bits out and adding bits in and shaping details and bringing forth the figure that's already in the clay, waiting to be dug out. And
making the decisions that accomplish that is a great (and fun) challenge.

It's decided.

I give myself another week. I can finish a chapter or two in a week, right? Well, I'd better.

Or else!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zombies and Psychos and Ghosts, Oh My! Ten Comics Fit for Halloween Reading

I've stopped by YA Cafe many times before, but this time when the book club topic of scary reading was announced, I was like “Heck yeah! I’m doing this.” (Despite having confessed to being a big wimp.) I just so happened to have some graphic novels that met this criteria out from the library.

Since I opted to go the comics route, I read a few titles instead of just one…and then because I got carried away I decided to extend the list to some of my favorite scary graphic novels that I’ve read over the past couple of years. (And okay, some aren’t so much “scary” as “funny” but they’re about creatures of the night and such, so I figure it counts.)

Before I get on to my picks, a few words on comics and YA. While some comics publishers print a suggested age on the back of their books, I feel there isn’t as clear a line between adult and YA comics as there is with traditional books, where YA gets its own section in bookstores. Many folks who don’t read comics assume, erroneously, that just because it’s a comic it's kid’s stuff. So very not true. So so sooooo very not true. Some of these comics I wouldn’t want my mom reading, let alone a fourteen-year-old. Sometimes the only way to know the age appropriateness of a comic is to read it.

All this is to say that the graphic novels I chose aren’t specifically YA, but they aren’t specifically not YA either. For my additional list of “spooky” reads, though, I tried to stick with titles that could be considered YA.

Anyways, let’s get on to…

The Reading I Dun:

(Click on the pics of the books for the descriptions.)

Blackest Night by Ceoff Johns (writer), Ivan Reiss, Oclair Albert, and Joe Prado

Oh, yeah. Zombie superheroes. That's what I'm talking about. I had bunches of fun reading this one and it even managed to have some creepy moments in there. I mean, an undead Elongated Man i.e. a zombie with super stretch powers? That’s just all kinds of wrong.

Unlike some mainstream superhero graphic novels, I’d consider this story accessible to people who haven’t been reading DC comics from their first day out the womb. I’m not super familiar with the DC universe but never felt lost reading Blackest Night. If you’ve watched the occasional episode of a DC animated series, that helps. If not, there’s a quick conversation at the beginning that fills you in on the people-slash-history you need to know, and then it’s on to the undead superheroes. What I really appreciated about this book is that it takes the often-abused device of dead superheroes never staying dead and spins a story around it to explain exactly why that it so. Good times!

Locke and Key – Vol.1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

After losing their father, three siblings move into the old, New England family mansion. The mansion is in a town called Lovecraft. Yeah…this is going to work out well for them. On top of that, the psychopath who killed their father is very interested in unlocking the secrets of their new home.

So this one is definitely NOT for our younger YA readers due to the tendency toward bloody murders and a certain *ahem* adult situation/conversation. (Yeah, yeah. I know teens know all about everything concerning violence and sex and all that, but some parents probably still want a heads up about these things). The beginning was a little confusing because the time jumps and flashback weren’t clearly conveyed, but the ending left me intrigued. I look forward to continuing this series.

Tenken by Yumiko Shirai

A big giant snake looking for wifey in a post-apocalyptic Japan.

Of the three graphic novels I read, this one most successfully and consistently conveyed a dark, creepy tone throughout. Though there were unfortunately a lot of typos and it was sometimes confusing (both because of the differences in some of the ways the Japanese do comics and because of the way information is unveiled in the story), I still liked this. I just had to read the ending twice to understand what had happened. But that’s okay. Some things are meant to be read twice.

Some Favorite Past “Scary” Reads (click on pics for descriptions):


Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi

As far as I’m concerned, the ocean is scary anyway. I really had no business reading a series that sets out to make the ocean even more of a strange and mysterious place. I think I’m still traumatized from the events of one of these volumes. (I won't sat which one.)

Elk’s Run by Joshua Hale Failkov

This graphic novel made me feel claustrophobic at times. But you just know there are people like the man character’s dad out there, and that’s what earns this book a place in the creepy section of this list.


Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

I loved Anya as a character. She came across as a real teenaged girl, not a hero or a saint, often selfish and surly, but also funny and smart.

Courtney Crumrin series and associated titles by Ted Naifeh

All ages can enjoy this one. What I love about it is that things don’t always turn out as you'd expect. Not everyone gets to have a happy ending.


Hipsters vs. Vampires by Adrian von Baur

It’s about dagone time somebody put these two together. Click hier to read this webcomic from the beginning. Hilarity ensues.

Life Sucks by Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria and Warren Pleece

I’ll admit. The ending was kinda anti-climatic, but the rest of the book made me laugh so much I don’t even care. I love this graphic novel. As a matter of fact, I'ma go read it now.

Death Jr. by Gary Whitta and Ted Naifeh

He may be the son of the Grim Reaper, but that doesn't stop him from having an optimistic outlook and a go-getter attitude.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Here’s what I think about novel writing. You can read about it, you can talk about it, and you can think about it, and all that helps. Especially if you’re in a dialogue with other writers (whether in person or across the interwebs). But it’s the doing it that really teaches you how to make it happen.

Even writing and workshopping short stories, while educational when it comes to learning many of the mechanics of storytelling, doesn’t fully prepare you for the monumental undertaking of completing a novel. At least this has been my experience.

Chapters are one of those things I had to learn by doing. As I made my first attempts at writing a book, questions cluttered my head. What are chapters really? How long should they be? How much should happen in them? How do I know when I’ve done enough to end the chapter? None of these questions have one answer. If I pick up five books from my shelf at random, I’d find five different approaches to building chapters.

And that’s why we have to learn by doing. It’s the only real way to figure out what works for each of us and what works for each of the many stories we all have in us to tell.

With my SUPER AWESOME BIG TIME REWRITE, I’m approaching my chapters with a brand new philosophy. My previous approach was to keep putting stuff in until it looked like I had enough stuff in there to close that chapter, leaving enough stuff unresolved to warrant starting a new chapter. I didn’t always think about chapter goals or what I was accomplishing. The only rule I held myself accountable to was keeping in mind that it had to lead somewhere.

It was very scientific, and I even think that method worked pretty okay (for a first draft if nothing else).

This time around, just to shake things up, I'm thinking about each chapter as encapsulating a specific idea, concern or event and the actions and reactions surrounding that element. Interestingly, doing things this way has made for longer chapters with several section breaks in each and less chapters in the manuscript as a whole.

I’m really liking doing it this way. It’s put me in the mindset of not dragging things out for the sake of dragging things out, which maybe I might have perhaps have been guilty of once or possibly twice. That was back when I associated dragging things out with infusing a story with tension.

I’m not saying that there aren’t times when it’s necessary to delay gratification or a big climax. But it’s important to remember that by going ahead and throwing that big thing at your characters, it gives you the opportunity to raise the stakes, escalate the action, and throw your characters into an even bigger, more crazy climax that you might have never thought of otherwise.

So I guess what I’m saying is that my SUPER AWESOME BIG TIME REWRITE is going awesome (even though progress has slowed to a crawl these past few weeks because I’ve had to sluggishly and painfully chisel out these last few chapters with an ice pick) and I’m learning stuff from the process.

Yea, learning!

I’m curious. How do vous approach putting a chapter together and how did vous come to doing it that way?