Monday, August 23, 2010

Mockingjay and a Break

Mockingjay comes out tomorrow! I cannot wait to find out how the trilogy ends. For me, it's all about the romance. Any guesses as to who Katniss will end up with? The suspense is killing me!

I've mentioned before that I've received some incredible critiques of Killing Kessler from my wonderful beta readers. Let's just say, there's still a lot of work to be done! So I'm going to be taking some time off to really concentrate on getting through this (hopefully!) last round of revisions. Just a couple of things before I go...

For those of you who read my Guess That Character Blogfest entry, I should have mentioned in my reveal that that actor is Ed Speleers, who played Eragon. Here he is again, in case you forgot what he looks like.

And don't worry if you didn't win an ARC in Carolina Valdez Miller's 7 ARC Contest, because now she's giving away ARCs Galore. Seriously, there's a whole lot of ARCs up for grabs here, so don't miss out - contest ends September 6.

Also, if you've followed me and I haven't followed you back, please let me know so I can pay you a visit and keep up with all my bloggy friends.

That's it for me folks. See you soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Guess That Character Blogfest - The Big Reveal

Thanks to everyone who guessed what Keenan looks like yesterday (if you missed that post, you can read it here.) Here's my vision of Keenan:

This is Keenan's description taken from the book, In the Seventeenth Year:

Keenan ran a rough hand through his untidy hair and looked at the men with intense green eyes. The sun had bleached flaxen streaks into Keenan’s golden hair and baked his skin to a deep bronze. Years of working the farm single-handedly had given him heavily muscled arms and a broad chest that made him appear older than his seventeen years.

As far as his personality, he's definitely got anger issues. He's had a hard life with his abusive adoptive father, and he blames his mother and, by extension, the rest of the people accompanying him on his journey. He gradually befriends Brady, the other character in this scene, and eventually even falls for a certain young, beautiful, and dangerous elf (also mentioned in this snippet.)

Wow, you guys! Many of your answers were right on target. It was really hard to decide, but I'd have to give first place to Lenny, who said:
The first thing I saw in my head was a guy dressed like in the days of Robin Hood. I think he's kind of scruffy cause of fighting. He's got scruffy whiskers cause of not being where he could shave. He's got long blond hair that's messy and hazel color eyes. He's maybe 18 or in his 20s and a sorta rebel.

Excellent description, Lenny! And thanks so much to everyone for playing and to Jen for hosting! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guess That Character Blogfest

The day of the Guess that Character Blogfest has arrived! Thanks so much for hosting this event, Jen!

Here's how it works: today I'll post a snippet of one of my characters, Keenan, with no physical description. You try to guess what he looks like, based solely on voice, action, and personality. Tomorrow I'll post a picture of him with a short description, and you can see how close your guess was. I'll also post whose description I thought was closest to correct. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? This snippet is from my epic fantasy, In the Seventeenth Year.

Keenan stormed away from the battlefield, heading north. He didn’t know where he was going, just that he had to get away…away from Nolan, from the elf, from all of them. He followed the river to Lake Dooley and kept going until the trees grew thick enough to offer privacy. He took off his wretched worn-out boot and soaked his bloody foot in the cool water. How can Nolan be so blind? he thought. He thinks because she is young and beautiful she can’t be dangerous. And why are we following him like blind sheep anyway? I didn't sign up for a dictatorship. I could turn around right now and go home. Not to the farm, but I could find work in Clifton…

"You're bleeding."

Keenan looked up. Brady stood over him, bow in hand. "What of it?" Keenan asked.

"Nothing. Just an observation."

"Brilliant," Keenan said. "Now you've made your observation and you can be on your way."

Brady held out Keenan's bow. "My father wants us to hunt."

Keenan gave a humorless chuckle as he accepted the bow. "Is he hoping I'll finish you off this time?"

Brady's eyes became solemn. "Perhaps."

"Do you do everything your father tells you?" Keenan asked.

"And you do not?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Brady shrugged. "You're still here, aren't you?"

"Maybe I won't be much longer."

* * *

Thanks for playing! You can check out the other entries out by clicking here.

And a sidenote: For those of you that read my last post, hubby did end up reading my blog. I got in trouble, but he passed the test! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Daniel the Pest

Last week I started plotting my next wip. I'm a total plotter, so this stage will last a while. One of the first things I do is character sketches, and part of that is finding pictures of people (usually actors or actresses) that my mc's look like. This is one of my favorite types of research. I mean, look at that picture. Can you blame me? :)

So I have a villain in my new wip, and as we all know, a villain shouldn't be evil just for the sake of being evil. He's usually got some backstory that's turned him into the person he is, some sympathetic reason behind the evil things he's doing. So I searched and searched for an actor to represent my villain, and I came up with Daniel Craig. I took the above picture and put it at the top of my villain's character sketch. All is well and good.

So as I'm thinking about my villain's backstory, and I'm staring at the picture of Daniel, he just keeps getting more and more sympathetic. Pretty soon he's got enough past trauma, family secrets, lies, blackmail, etc. for a story of his own, all of which had no part in the original idea. Darn it! Why did I have to pick Daniel to be my villain? So I ended up giving him his own significant story line. Hopefully that will keep him in his place, and he'll stop being such a pest.

Have you ever had a secondary character take over? Did you ever give a secondary character their own story or viewpoint because they just wouldn't leave you alone?

Incidentally, earlier this summer my husband was attending my son's baseball game, and a random woman and her teenage daughter came up to him and told him he looks like Daniel Craig. Hmmph. When's the last time some stranger told me I look like Eva Green? Let's see, maybe...never?

BTW, my husband would kill me if he knew I blogged about that. This will be a good test to see if he reads my blog. If so, hi honey! :)

NOTE: I'll be skipping my Wednesday post this week to prepare for Jen's Guess That Character blogfest on Thursday and Friday. If you haven't signed up yet, hop on over to Jen's to take part in the fun! And I hope you'll stop by Thursday and give me your best guess!

Friday, August 13, 2010


One of the things that I feel makes truly memorable writing is the author's use of imagery. This is one of the things I'm really trying to improve on in my own writing.

Here are a few examples from some of my favorite authors:

From Tithe, by Holly Black:
"Waves tossed themselves against the shore, dragging grit and sand between their nails as they were slowly pulled back out to sea."

Also from Tithe:
"She laughed at that, silvery cold laughter that rose up out of her throat like crows going to wing."

From Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr:
"The Summer Girls were like plants needing the nutrients of the sun to thrive; they couldn't be away from the Summer King for long, or they'd fade."

From Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull:
"The demon sprang forward with a roar like a thousand cannons firing together. A black wall of shadow flowed from Bahumat like a wave of tar."

Can't you just see that wave of tar or hear the silvery cold laughter rising up like crows going to wing?

Do you try to include imagery in your own writing? Do you have any favorite authors whose imagery you admire?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Blog and the Beautiful

Writing news:
I'm working on the synopsis for Killing Kessler (thanks to everyone who contributed synopsis advice - it's very much appreciated!) and starting to plot out three new ideas to see which one I'm most in love with. Hopefully once I get Kessler ready to query, I can start a new first draft!

Conference news:
I'm sure you've all heard about WriteOnCon by now. Click here for the schedule.

Contest news:
Theresa Milstein at Substitute Teacher's Saga is hosting a platform contest - a contest for a cause. Check it out here.

Carolina Valdez Miller has extended the deadline on her 7 ARC contest to August 15. If you've already entered, you can earn additional entries. Click here for details.

Medeia Sharif is giving away a Big Box of Paranormal. Deadline is August 27.

Marcia Hoehne is giving away a copy of Star in the Forest. Deadline is August 15.

An award:
Today I'd like to give away the Bloom of an Idea Award to Jen at unedited. Jen is so creative, she's always come up with new and fun things to do on her blog. If you haven't signed up for her Guess That Character Blogfest on August 19 and 20, I suggest you get over there and sign up right away!

And a question:
If you could meet one fictional character come to life, who would it be?

This is so, so hard, but I guess I'd choose Max from Maximum Ride. She's hilarious, tough, smart, and she's got wings for crying out loud! Who wouldn't want to see that? :)

Have a great Wednesday, Everyone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Synopsis Strategies

With the latest revision of Killing Kessler out to betas, I'm hoping it will be ready to query soon, so it's probably time to write the synopsis. Okay, it's probably well past time but getting to the point where I can't put it off any longer.

I've been looking through my writing books for synopsis tips. Here are a few of the tips I found most valuable:

Always follow the publisher's or agent's guidelines on synopsis length, but generally synopses should be one single-spaced page, or up to five double-spaced pages. Shorter is better, though some novels, like thrillers or mysteries, might require more.

Establish a hook at the beginning. Think of your synopsis as a sales pitch.

Introduce your most important character first.

Main characters should be well developed. What are their goals, motivations, obstacles? The reader needs to care about them.

Don't leave the editor/agent in suspense; tie everything up and reveal the ending.

P.S. I thought I remembered seeing something about this on Elana Johnson's blog before, and I just took a look and found it. If you're writing your own synopsis, check out her advice here.

P.P.S. Also, Catherine Winn has posted a great idea on writing synopses that I'll definitely try. Click here to read her post.

I think I remember seeing someone mention on their blog that they had taken an online seminar on writing a synopsis. Does anyone know of any good seminars, courses, books, etc. that you would recommend?

What's your best synopsis advice?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Picture Cheat

I'm having so much fun with Sharon I forgot to write a blog post last night, so I figured I'd cheat a little and just show some follow-up pictures from my last post.

Here's Sharon's daughter (the beautiful smiling girl) and my daughter (the head ducked behind the Balderdash box). On Sharon's last night in St. Louis, we all played Balderdash together and laughed harder than I can remember laughing in a long time. My daughter's answer about it being against the law in North Carolina to make a pinata of a striped elephant because they revere elephants has us laughing for a good five minutes.

Here's Sharon showing all the world how much she loves Balderdash. Sharon's answer about a movie with English children drinking fizzy soda and floating to the moon was also a highlight of the evening.

And this is my youngest daughter and the (delicious!) cake she baked for my birthday.

Thanks so much for all the wonderful birthday wishes, Everyone! Seriously, they kept me smiling all day long.

What plans do you have for the weekend? Have a great one!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Unfortunately, I'm not celebrating anything huge like a book deal or finding an agent or anything, but I am celebrating in my own small way today, so I thought I'd share. :)

#1 - Today's my birthday. (Okay, maybe not really cause for celebration, but my 10-year-old daughter made me a cake that I haven't been allowed to look at yet, so that should be fun, anyway.)

#2 - I finished the latest round of revisions on Killing Kessler! I wish I could say it's the last round, but I'm pretty sure I'd be lying.

#3 - My good friend Sharon from Random Thoughts and her daughter are coming to visit today. Sharon used to be my neighbor (sort of) here in St. Charles before she moved to Iowa. Welcome home, Sharon!

What are you celebrating today?