Monday, May 30, 2011

Effective Story Arc

Today I wanted to touch on creating an effective story arc. When I first started writing I had never heard of a story arc, yet I understood exactly what it was once I started reading up on it.

Simply put I don't want a flat story. Things have to happen to get my character to the end.

The most straight forward information I've found yet on how exactly to do this was in a Writer's Digest Magazine - the July/August 2010 issue to be exact.

In the article, by Adair Lara, you need to have the following things: desire line, emotional beats, initiating incident, and an ending incident. Not hard. But you need to create an arc, like a hill. The characters must travel up one side to get to the other side before they can reach their goal.

So, mentally picture a hill with obstacles, actions, and finally an ending. That's what I'm trying to create right now. If you've read enough of my blog posts then you know I don't sit down and plot out my novels ahead of time. No, instead I fly by the seat of my pants and write the first draft from nothing, generally. It's only after the first draft (rough draft) is finished that I sit down and begin plotting through the use of an outline.

Unfortunately, I have never given much thought to creating a perfect story arc until now. So, I'm going to have to sit myself down and mark specific emotional beats throughout my manuscript. These emotional beats are really obstacles that my main character has to overcome. To do this I am taking the advice found in the article and creating a list of what my character wants (desire line), what she has to do to get it (action), what gets in her way (obstacle), and then her next move (action) and  so on down the line until I get from the inciting incident to the ending incident. Or, at least in my case, the ending of book one and set up for book two.

I'm not sure how this will all go since I have never before created an actual outline of such, but we will see. My main purpose of this is to see if I indeed have a good story arc or not. If not I will have to come up with something new to snag up my main characters journey. You see one thing I've learn is that each obstacle should become bigger and dig a bigger hole for the main character to climb out of in the end, making the ending that much sweeter.

Your Turn -> What are your thoughts on story arcs? Do you even bother with taking a deeper look at them?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox #5

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week. 

This week I'm spotlighting two books I snagged from S&S Galley Grab. I can't wait to finish reading them.

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Goodreads: Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Writing the Sequel

Okay, so I wrote Midnight Raynne with total abandon and it worked. But, now I'm faced with actually having to write a sequel.

Eeekkkk! What on Earth have I gotten myself into?

I have sat around worrying over this sequel writing thing for over the past month. I even dreaded starting it. Since I didn't have anything plotted or planned when I sat down to write Midnight Raynne I didn't have anything to worry about. I just wrote and wrote and wrote until I was satisfied. Not this time around. This time around I have characters already formed and a story line that I now have to work with. I didn't have those things originally, which allowed me to go wherever I wanted to.

I found that I write best without an outline. I don't like to be confined. But, let's face it - this time I have no choice but to work with an outline of sorts and to work within parameters. This caused me so much grief and stress over several weeks time. I read and read and read as a means to put off writing. I told myself I needed to finish editing Midnight Raynne first before I could even start writing the sequel.

Truth be told, I found a mixture of it to be true.

When I started editing Midnight Raynne, again, I found that things were beginning to pop out at me. A certain group of characters that were nothing more than briefly mentioned threw their arms out and waved at me shouting "Use Us!" So, I did. I've altered my new outline for the newest draft of Midnight Raynne to incorporate them more. I've started to work on sketching them out a little more. As a result they now are playing a more interesting role in the sequel.

Speaking of the sequel, I have found that there is so much more involved in the planning this time. The place in which I ended Midnight Raynne allows for two separate stories to be playing out at the same time. Unfortunately for one of those stories the books are told in first person from one characters point of view. As a result of that, I had to sit down and work solely on an outline for what is going on behind the scenes. No, I won't be writing that section, but it helped me to plot out and understand what my MC can do in the meantime. You see most of the action is actually taking place "off screen." Not that the main story won't be interesting, it will.

But, as I have said before, I don't like working off of an outline. So, if I have the "off screen" action planned out, I am free to mess with the "on screen" action as much as I like. In a way I've given myself a freedom that I didn't think I would have.

No, I haven't plotted out the ending yet. I don't like to have the ending plotted out until I've actually written it and can look at it with an editing eye. Then I'll tinker. Until I actually write the ending, though, I have no idea what will happen.

That means I have no idea what to expect. Especially since I'm trying to make this a trilogy. You know what that means -> I'll have to write another sequel. But that one will have two previous books to force me to work with. Yikes!

Anywho, I'm learning that this is a whole new ball game, but the same one at the same time.

Your Turn -> What are your thoughts on sequels?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

 Writer Website Wednesday #6

What I like:

There is a lot to this website that I had no idea was even there, so I was pleasantly surprised by everything they have to offer. Here's a quick overview of what Wordsmith offers.

First, they have their famed A.Word.A.Day Newsletter, which I might add I receive in my inbox daily. This newsletter obviously gives you a word every day, but it also includes the pronunciation, meaning etymology and usage of the word. In addition to this at the bottom of the email is A Though for Today, which can be interesting all in it's own and not necessarily has anything to do with the word of the day. But still fun.

On their website you can choose to sign up for the free newsletter or use other services they offer. Such as the Internet Anagram Server. I tried this out and while it doesn't exactly work on everything I plugged it, it does work and is totally cool. So, writers if you are looking to create an anagram, there you go. There is also a link to Wordsmith Books. Yes there are books, and no I have not checked them out. Either way, if you like words you'll probably like the books too, just a thought. There is also the Wordsmith Chat link. In this link you can find upcoming chats or concluded chats. If you see a chat that you missed and would have liked to been in on, you can read the entire transcript of that chat. Not exactly my thing, but interesting.

Finally, Wordsmith offers The Wordserver link. What's this? Well it's several different things. Apparently you can get certain other services through your email. Like the dictionary, thesaurus, acronym, anagram, and of course the word a day service. I'm not sure how this works. I actually prefer my dictionary on my computer or the book one. I'm not sure I could handle emailing a site and then waiting to get a definition or similar word sent to my inbox. I'm too impatient for that. Not to mention I like looking things up.

What I don't like: 

Well, I'm not sure there really is anything that I don't like on the site. Other than the fact that it's simple. I like color and jazz. This site is very straight forward and plain. Nothing bad there, though. Just lacking on the jazziness, that's all.

Your Turn -> What do you like about

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ah-Ha Outline Moment

Recently I reopened my Midnight Raynne manuscript and decided that it was going back into my WIP pile. Yes, there's a WIP pile currently in my bedroom. It consists of four binders with information that I'm am working on for four separate projects. Well, two of them are related, Midnight Raynne and it's sequel. Still, four WIPs in different stages of development.

So, I decided that I needed a new outline for my Midnight Raynne WIP, but also that the current form of outline was not going to cut it. For my first round of editing I created a spreadsheet and focused on tightening up the plot. For my second round of editing I created another spreadsheet that dealt with characters. For my third and forth edits I just went back through manually looking for things, no outlines or spreadsheets. Then my fifth edit really only consisted of adding a new chapter. This is round six, but looking back I see that it could have only been round four, maybe.

That is if I had only created THE OUTLINE first. I'm not using the spreadsheet outline anymore. Instead I've opened a word file and started it out as an actual outline. Each chapter is a separate point. Within each chapter I take a look at plot, character, setting, and pacing/conflict. Then I break each one of those points down even more depending on the characters involved, the plot, and so on. It's been a very tedious job so far. I'm only about a third of the way through my WIP and I still have a long ways to go.

So what is so different this time?

Well, I seem to be learning so much more about the world I'm writing, the characters, and the plot. Before I thought I had good characters and a good plot. I had an idea of what each character thought, but I realize now that I didn't really. I've started looking at each character in depth and in the outline I write what they are thinking, doing, their motives for what they are up to in that particular chapter.

As a result a few characters who were side characters and only brushed on will become even more pronounced in this new round of edits. Character's who I thought I had sketched out well enough will have even more depth to them. Of course, I hope I can write them as well as I now picture them. It's like they are living breathing people, in my head.

No, I'm not insane, just a writer.

Your Turn -> Have you ever realized that you were doing something wrong with your editing process?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox #4

This week is all about my Kindle and debut young adult authors!

Solstice by P.J. Hoover

My world is dying. Global warming will kill every living thing on Earth. I endure the endless summer, and do what I can to help. Until one day...

I open a box, and everything changes.

I discover a world of mythology parallel to my own. A world where gods battle for control, and monsters feed in the rivers of the Underworld. This dark world pulls me in and tells me I belong.

I meet Shayne, who keeps secrets from me. And Reese, who makes me feel alive. But I almost lose my best friend and my life. I don't want to leave this new world. But can I choose the life I want, without sacrificing the people I love?

SOLSTICE is P.J. Hoover's debut YA novel and is the first front-list novel to be independently published by an Andrea Brown Literary Agency author.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hook 'em Baby!

It's plain and simple - If you don't hook your readers, they will drop the book and not finish reading it. If the reader is like several I have found on Goodreads, they may review your book poorly. You DON'T want that. So, you need a good hook. Give them something that they can't pass up, that makes them hungry for more. Something that makes them want to read to the end of the book to find out what happens.

What's unique about your story? 

Make a list of what makes your story different from others. Dystopian novels are very popular in young adult literature at the moment. Say you are writing one - What makes yours different from the others already out there? Don't be afraid to look at the emotional side either.

Summarize it! 

One thing that helped me to better focus my WIP and helped me to edit the hook better was the fact that I created a summary for it. Make a mock cover flap for your manuscript. What would it say? Think about what type of hook needs to be there. What would make you buy the book? Is the hook you have strong enough? Then edit your manuscript to work better with the hook. Edit, edit, edit!

False starts ... 

Come up with different ways to start your manuscript. I have been toying with one manuscript for a long while now and I seem to continually do this. I'm always changing the starting point. One draft starts in one place and a second later and a third earlier. I can't seem to make up my mind. Either way, what a reader comes across in the first fifty pages usually tells them whether they want to go on or not. I see it all the time on Goodreads.

Relate to your readers

You don't have to have a fast paced action scene to get readers to read your manuscript. It needs to be something that resonates with them. Something that they want to read more about. What makes it different and what keeps them reading is their relationship to it. Relate it to the readers. Think about this - Can they picture it in their heads. My favorite stories are always the ones that I can picture as though I'm watching a movie on the big screen.

Your Turn -> What do you think makes a great hook?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Let The Words Flow

Writer Website Wednesday #5

What I like: 

For writers this blog has an abundance of information. First off, the bloggers are already in the industry. They aren't like me and trying to break into publishing. They are already in the know and they created the site to help those of us like me understand more.

I could go on and on about the different posts that I have found on their site that have helped me, but I won't. Instead I'm going to tell you to go there, here, and check it out. I liked the site so much that I added my email address to the subscription linky. I now receive their posts straight in my inbox. I like that! A lot!

What I don't like: 

They have two really good ideas that they have created pages for: Question of the Week & Critique Partners. The problem is that you have to scroll through at lest 149 comments on each to see anything. I think the QOTW would be better suited as a separate blog post each week on a specific day. But, hey what do I know. I still haven't come up with an idea that would be better for their CPs page. That one stumps me. It seems that even though it's long, it's still the best approach for that one.

Your Turn -> What do you like about Let the Words Flow?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Back 2 Editing

That's right, I'm going back to editing. After reading several really good books recently I am ready to tackle Midnight Raynne yet again. It's time to take another, more focused, look at my manuscript. I feel that I have learned a lot recently from reading other books, blogs, and just plain poking around on the internet. I feel that I'm more focused and that I know more about my characters to do this next edit.

What does this next round of editing consist of?

Well, just about everything. I have realized that I may have left several things hanging during the course of my manuscript and I need to raise the stakes for Raynne. I need to make her goals and her all around life more on edge. Not that she isn't already on edge, but I need to sharpen her focus and her goals a bit. I need to make things that I know are there more prominent to the reader. Where I already understand certain things, I feel that I have neglected to get those ideas across through my story telling.

Therefore, it's back to the editing for me.

I will be looking for character glitches and making my characters jump off the pages. I want for my readers to have a sense that they are watching my story unfold on the big screen. I've come to realize that when I visualize a book better, I enjoy it more. Hence, I want my characters to jump off the pages.

I also need to make sure that my characters have good "character arcs" as well. I'll talk about that in a later post. But, for now I'm going to reread my manuscript and plot out different arcs for different characters.

The same goes for my story. I need a good story arc. So, when I reread I will also be plotting out the story arc.

I also feel that the setting is lacking. I don't mention as much as I probably should, so I'm going to bring out the setting as well. I want my readers to feel like they are actually there in this fictional town with Raynne.

Conflict is another aspect I will be dealing with. I want to make sure there is enough conflict between characters and their goals in life to help push the story forward. I want my readers to be able to see what I am seeing in my head. I think that is probably one of my hardest things to get across. The fact that I see things the readers don't, I need to make some of those things more prominent to my readers as well.

I am also looking to see if my pacing is right for each scene. This is a hard one, but I'm determined to make sure that my story is moving forward at the right pace.

So, as you can see, I have a lot cut out for me at the moment. I'm hoping to have this done over the next month. This month is going to be hectic as is for me, so I'm thinking it will take some time to get this round of editing done.

Your Turn -> Do you ever feel more focused after taking a break from your manuscript?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox #3

I got all of these books from a couple different book stores recently. I just couldn't help myself. I'm a glutton for punishment. Not like I don't have enough to read or write as is.

The Named by Marianne Curley

Ethan lives a secret life as a Guardian of the Named. Under the guidance of Arkarian, his mentor, and with the help of Isabel, his unlikely but highly capable apprentice, Ethan has become a valued member of this other-worldly corps. As the only defense against the evil Order of Chaos, the Named travel through time to prevent the Order from altering history and thereby gaining power in the present and the future.
As the threat from the Order intensifies, secrets of the past are revealed and villains and heroes are exposed. This gripping fantasy is set in modern times, but is infused with intrigue from the past, super-natural characters and surprising plot twists. Curley has written a winner through to the end.

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps.  The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen.

But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life?

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school—it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's—the very place where they're most in danger...
Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Evernight by Claudia Gray

Bianca wants to escape.

At the eerily Gothic Evernight Academy, the other students are sleek, smart, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.

When she meets handsome, brooding Lucas he warns her to be careful--even when it comes to caring about him. But the connection between them can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart...and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Darn it, Woman, Focus!

It seems I've been telling myself this a lot lately. "Focus" If only it were that simple. You see my mind is full of a jumble of different ideas. I have three very different protagonists from there very different stories waring in my mind at the moment. It's rather confusing and irritating to say the least.

Raynne is still there and she does not want me to forget about her. I still have to do one more round of editing on her based on the character interrogations I have been working on lately. I need to clean it up a little. Once that is finished I will be moving on to the query portion of this manuscripts journey. Hopefully, fingers crossed, it's not a deflating experience. I still have Raynne's second and third books to work on. I have a decent idea on the second book and have even started writing a little, but I still have to sit down and really get writing.

Augusta arrived in my mind about two months ago and she's been not-so-quietly hanging around. She's a sort of bratty character, obnoxious and she has a strong knack for being fresh to people. I'm not even immune to her rants. I've even started toying with her story and have the first two chapters written. I've been working on creating her setting a lot. I have more research to do on her story. Since I plan on setting it outside of New Jersey in the west I will have to do a little more research this summer. It's a good thing I may be going on a trip with my family out west this summer.

Then there's Layne, she just popped up in my head last week and I've already started toying with her character and a couple other characters in her story. I'm not sure exactly what happens in her story, but couldn't help start it. I already have started the first chapter in her story. It's still early with her. I'm not even sure where I want to set her story. I've been interested in basing a story in my hometown of Austin, Texas, but I'm not sure if I want to start this one there or not. I'm still mulling this one over.

Austin, Texas Skyline
So, to the point of my entry. I need to focus my attentions. I have no idea what to do with these three ladies telling me what to do all the time and so little time to actually sit down and write for them. I know one thing for certain. I have to get Raynne's first story completed and start sending out query letters. I'd like to have all three books in her story completed before I give Augusta or Layne my full attention. Although they deserve it as well. Heck, maybe I'll write Augusta's story and then have two manuscripts out for submission. I'd like to stay focused, though. Which brings me back to the idea that I need to have Raynne's three stories completed. It's all so confusing inside my jumbled, crowded brain right now.

Your Turn -> Do you have the same problem staying focused on one character/story?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Query Tracker

Writer Website Wednesday #4

What I like: 
This is probably the most comprehensive site I've found that helps with finding an agent. First of all, I like that it's free! Completely and totally free, you don't have to pay to find an agent. It's a great way to keep track of query letters, submissions, and responses.

You can search agents and agencies for agents. Once you have found the agents that you like you can add them to your own list of agents. Once you have created a list of agents you can group them by folders. I have yet to do this. I like to just leave them all in one big pile. Of course, I may use this feature in the upcoming months. You can change the status to having sent in a query letter or submission to the agent and set reminders. Since I haven't sent in any query letters yet, I have yet to use this feature. But, my guess is that it will be helpful in reminding a writer to check back with the agent or move on if no word has been received.

Each agent page has different tabs you can click on to find out more information about the agent. For example the main page, Overview, gives the agents address, website, notes on query submission, and preferred method of query. Next is the comments tab, where members can comment on their experience with that particular agent. Reports and Statistics is the third tab, and I have yet to figure out how this gets marked up. I guess I'll find out eventually as I begin doing submissions.

The fourth tab is "Genres" which is important. If you are unfamiliar with the agent you need to make sure they represent the genre you are writing. It's also interesting to see what types of other genres agents represent. "Clients" is the fifth tab. I like this tab. I have been busy reading books by authors that are represented by agents I have added to my lists. I think it's a good thing to know what the agents are looking for in books they represent.

The final two tabs have to do with querying. "Queriers" is a place to see other members of Query Tracker that have made their query list public. It gives a sense of what is doing on in that agents submission world. I'm not sure it's of much use to me, since I am only interested in my query submission. The final tab is "My Query" where you can privately paste your own query letter to the agent as a form of record keeping. No one can see the query letter but you. I think I'd rather keep a hard copy of it in my "Writing Bible" for that particular book I'm querying.

What I don't like: 
I am still not sure if everything is up to date on the site. I have faith that they try to keep up to date on whether the agents are accepting query letters or not. For that reason I think it is still important to be check the agents personal website or agency website.

I recommend this site to anyone who is actively looking for an agent. It's definitely a great resource with a wealth of information in one place.

Your Turn -> Have you used Query Tracker? If so what did you like/dislike? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis

I have finally read Brevity of Roses by the very talented Linda Cassidy Lewis. And while I have sworn off doing book reviews on my blog for the time being, I just couldn't help myself.

I had to do this one! It was meant to be.

Goodreads says:  

Jalal Vaziri has looks, money, women-and a habit of running from reality. When he abandons New York and reinvents himself as a poet in a California beach house, he thinks he's running from a father who hates him, a career mistake, and endless partying. A fresh start is what he needs. And after an intriguing woman enters his life, he believes all his dreams are coming true. But that dream dissolves into nightmare, and Jalal flees again. Only this time, his retreat is blocked by a woman who challenges him to face that it's himself he's trying to outrun.

I say: Wow!!! I absolutely loved reading Lewis' debut novel. I found myself laughing, wiping tears away, cringing, grinning as I read this. Lewis' ability to capture human emotion and relationships is amazing. I loved how she told the story from the three different character perspectives. I grew to love Meredith so much by the point that Renee came along that I found myself not liking Renee at first. But, I grew to like Renee just as much. This is such a wonderful story of love, loss, and renewal. Lewis' characters come alive on the page and her story telling is so wonderful that I really felt as though I was watching this story unfold on the big screen. I was truly moved by this read and can't wait to read more by Lewis. I'm already itching for more wonderful words and characters.

Now, go out and buy the book! :-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Character Interrogation -> Put to use!

As the final post in this Character Interrogation series I have decided to put what I have learned about Maia to the test. I have taken an entry straight from my WIP, Midnight Raynne, and altered it to fit Maia better, now that I know Maia better.

Part I can be found here, Part II can be found here, and Part III can be found here. 

Original entry from Midnight Raynne: 

      I watch Maia as she runs down the middle of the street jumping in each and every puddle along the way. "Come on Raynne, join me," she hollers splashing in another puddle. The water splashes out of its hole and all the way up to her thighs. Maia dances a little and waves me over to her. I shake my head and pull my umbrella down a little more. I already made enough of a fool out of myself today. The last thing I wanted was for Jayden to see me do a face plant right into a puddle. That would totally be my luck. I could see the epic face plant playing out in my head. There was no way I was joining Maia today.

     I keep along the sidewalk, as best as I can. It's breaking apart and allows water to pool up in places. "Fine! Be that way!" Maia waves and runs through every puddle possible to the other side of the road. She doesn't stop there, no, she hits every mud puddle in her potholed driveway up to the front door. I'm sure she's just going to change into her work clothes and take off, through the puddles again, to the public bus stop a few feet away from our school bus stop, and then off to work. 

Altered entry using information from Maia's character interrogation: 

      I watch Maia as she runs down the middle of the street jumping in each and every puddle along the way. "Come on Raynne, join me," she hollers splashing in another puddle. The water splashes out of its hole and all the way up to her thighs leaving her black thigh-high socks drenched. I'm sure water is starting to pool up in her combat boots. Maia dances a little, spinning out her black skirt, and waves me over to her. I shake my head and pull my umbrella down a little more. I already made enough of a fool out of myself today. The last thing I wanted was for Jayden to see me do a face plant right into a puddle. That would totally be my luck. I could see the epic face plant playing out in my head. There was no way I was joining Maia today. I'm just not that carefree, especially around Jayden.

     I keep along the sidewalk, as best as I can. It's breaking apart and allows water to pool up in places. "Fine! Be that way!" Maia waves and runs through every puddle possible to the other side of the road. She doesn't stop there, no, she hits every mud puddle in her potholed driveway up to the front door. I'm sure she's just going to change into her work clothes and take off, through the puddles again, to the public bus stop a few feet away from our school bus stop, and then off to work. As she swings her front door open I see her step-mom, Rachel, stop her before she can run inside all muddy and wet. Maia throws her hands up in protest, but I already know Rachel will win this battle, she always does.

Your Turn -> Do you agree with me that Maia is better represented by the new piece? What are your thoughts on this process? Have you tried this in your own writing?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In My Mailbox #2

From the library this week!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black: Sixteen-year-old Kaye Fierch is not human, but she doesn't know it. Sure, she knows she's interacted with faeries since she was little--but she never imagined she was one of them, her blond Asian human appearance only a magically crafted cover-up for her true, green-skinned pixie self. First-time author Holly Black explores Kaye's self-discovery and dual worlds in her riveting, suspenseful novel Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. The book has its faults: it slips into shock-value mode; the descriptions are often overwritten (sunset on the water looks like the sun slit his wrists in a bathtub); the language is overly, unnecessarily explicit; and the writing often unpolished. Still, the story's pull is undeniable, and readers under its spell will be hard-pressed to put the book down. The novel begins in a bar in Philly, where Kaye's alcoholic rock-singer mother's boyfriend tries to kill her. For their own safety, mother and daughter quickly move back to grandma's on the New Jersey shore where Kaye grew up. This ugly turn of events was all rigged by the Faerie world, as it turns out, a world Black describes in deliciously vivid, if rather overblown, detail. Kaye, a drinking, smoking, foul-mouthed high school dropout in the land of mortals, soon finds herself embroiled--as a human sacrifice, no less--in a battle between Faerieland's Seelie and more malevolent Unseelie courts. The beautiful, mysterious knight Roiben, torn between worlds himself, falls in love with Kaye--the brave, clever changeling--against his better judgment. Throughout the electrifying journey to the horrific underworld of this modern faerie fantasy, teen readers will relate to a hard-luck tough girl who feels alienated, discovers her best qualities in the worst of circumstances, and finally finds a place between worlds where she can feel at home. (Ages 13 and older) --Karin Snelson

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: All teenagers have problems, but few of them can match those of Aislinn, who has the power to see faeries. Quite understandably, she wishes that she could share her friends' obliviousness and tries hard to avoid these invisible intruders. But one faery in particular refuses to leave her alone. Keenan the Summer King is convinced beyond all reasoning that Aislinn is the queen he has been seeking for nine centuries. What's a 21st-century girl to do when she's stalked by a suitor nobody else can see? A debut fantasy romance for the ages; superlative summer read.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Character Interrogation -> The Answers

As the third part in this series on character interrogation I decided to answer the questions I posed on Monday's post. Instead of using my main character I decided to go with one of the side characters, who happens to be one of my favorite characters in the story.

Part I can be found here, Part II can be found here, and Part IV can be found here. 

**Disclaimer: This character is entirely a creation of my imagination. Any resemblance to anyone is purely coincidental and unintentional. For the moment Maia lives only in my head and on the pages of my yet-to-be-published manuscript.

Character name: Maia Lynn Bates
Origin of name: Mother, Lynn, liked the name Maia & they put her name as Maia's middle name. 
Nickname: She doesn't have one
Origin of nickname:N/A
Age: 18
Sex: Female
Birthday: December 7, 1992
Birthplace:Elizabeth, New Jersey
Role in story: Protagonists only real friend

Physical Appearance: 
Weight: 130 lbs
Height: 5'5"
Hair color: Black
Length of hair: Short
Hair style: Spiky
Eye color: Blue
Skin tone: White, pale
Body type: Voluptuous, round, but not overweight
Shape of face: Round, chubby cheeks
Voice: Sarcastic, matter of fact, gossipy
Glasses or contacts: None
Braces, teeth appearance: Teeth are naturally straight, the result of good breading (according to Maia herself).
Distinguishing qualities:

Fashion tendencies:
Usual clothing: She dresses in mostly black attire, combat boots, will wear the occasional dress, but it must be black and goth; she likes silver and chains
Favorite outfit: Black tank top, black baggy shirt over tank, black baggy jeans, and black combat boots
Accessories: She always wears a choker necklace of some sort and silver rings on every finger, long dangly silver earrings. She carries a black clutch purse, with little in it.

Mother: Lynn Marshall
Relationship: Estranged, she doesn't live with her mother because of her step-dad.
Father: Scott Bates
Relationship: Trying, she dislikes his new wife, but she'd rather live with them than her step-dad
Siblings: From mother -> 2 half-brothers, Mike Jr. (9) & John (5); From father -> Kristina (18 months) & 2 step-brothers, Shawn (7) & Levi (4)
Relationship: She likes Mike Jr. & John alight, they are her half siblings & she doesn't see them often. She dotes on Kristina. She is always irritated by Shawn and Levi, though, they are brats and spoiled. They don't seem to like her much either.
Step-Father: Mike Marshall
Relationship: She sees him as a corporate sell out and a rich pig. He has a really good job and lots of money & expects too much from her. She'd rather rebel against him than cooperate. She lived with her mom & step-dad until she was thirteen, then she fled to her dads.
Step-Mother: Rachel Bates
Relationship: She sees Rachel as trying, but not a great person. She tries too hard to be Maia's mom & Maia doesn't want a new mom. She would rather Rachel just be herself. Rachel also tends to spoil her own kids more than she does Maia.
Other important family members: She loves her dad's parents, Grammy and Grand-pappy.
Friends: Raynne Evans & Jayden Teixeira
Relationship: She gets along with them at school great, but doesn't get much time to spend with them outside of school. She's always busy helping her step-mom with the kids or working.

Good traits: She doesn't worry too much about what other people think of her.
Bad traits: She tends to rebel and gossip a little too much sometimes.
Greatest joy: Seeing Jennifer Johnson not get what she wants.
Greatest fear: Not graduating, she knows her grades aren't that good, but she does want to get out of school.
Happiest when: She has a good piece of gossip to share
Saddest when: She things too hard about what she'd rather her life be like, she tries not to get jealous of what others have, but it happens sometimes.
Sense of humor: She's a sarcastic person and enjoys sneaking up on her friends for a good laugh.
What could possibly most turn this character's life upside down?: Being sent back to live with her mom and step-dad, she views this as the worst thing possible.
Highest priority: Moving away from home.
Lowest priority: Doing good in school, she likes to rebel against the teachers a bit too much.
Soft spot: She loves rabbits, but has never been allowed to have one for herself. She likes to frequent the pet store and play with the rabbits for sale there.
Greatest strength: She's strong willed and doesn't let Jen or Destiny get to her, at least on the outside. She only breaks down when she's alone, occasionally.
Greatest weakness: Instead of doing what she's asked, she rebels and does the opposite. A trait she picked up when she met her step-dad.
Biggest regret: Not being a better child, so her parents might have stayed together and not divorced.
Smallest regret: Not doing her homework every night or studying for tests.
Biggest accomplishment: She taught herself to play the guitar.
Other accomplishments:
Flaws: She doesn't live up to her full potential by any means, she's a smart and talented girl.
Secrets: She's a really good singer and would love to go professional, but she won't sing in front of others.

Towns lived in: Elizabeth, NJ; New York, NY; & Marblehead, PA.
Schools attended / jobs worked: Babysitter, that didn't turn out too well. She's overwhelmed with kids at home and didn't want to deal with other people's kids too.
Childhood: Upheaval with her parents always fighting and then the divorce. Finally, she had more difficulties dealing with her parents dating and eventually remarrying.
Pets: She had a dog, Bandit, growing up, but he died when she was eleven.
First memory: Going to the Jersey Shore for a week of fun in the sun during the summer when she was five, just before her parents separated.
Most important memory: Her dad saying that no matter what both of parents would always lover her, even if they did it separately, in their own way. He said this when her mom remarried and she was devastated that her parents weren't going to get back together.
Fondest memory: The house she lived in when her parents were still married. Playing with her dog, Bandit, when she was little in their backyard.
Worst memory: Her parents fighting and going through the divorce.
Dreams: She dreamt of being a rock star by the time she was sixteen - that hasn't happened, yet.
Friends: She had a lot of different friends when she was in Elizabeth, but when she moved to NY with her mom things changed. She didn't have as many friends, they saw her as a new comer and an outsider.

Current location: Marblehead, PA
Current living situation: She lives with her dad, step-mom, two step-brothers, and baby sister.
Pets: Her half-brothers have a fish tank; Her step-brothers have a dog, Buster; Her step-mom has a cat, Missy. She still doesn't have the rabbit she wants.
School attending / job working: She's a senior at Marblehead High School and she works at a local grocery store in the evenings and on the weekends.
Dreams: She still dreams of being a rock star someday.
Friends:Raynne Evans and Jayden Teixeira

Clique: She's an outsided, more of a goth
Sports: She hates sports, it means that she has to work with other people she doesn't like, she'd never do that in Marblehead.
Activities: She stays away from extra-curricular activities at school.
Lunch: She sits with Raynne and Jayden.
Classes: Algebra II, U.S. History II, Spanish II, Gym, Senior English, Chemistry
Enemies: Jennifer Johnson and Destiny Gallagher

Motivation: She doesn't want to end up like her parents, so she pushes people away, rather than bring them close and lose them.
Immediate goals: To graduate and move out on her own. She wants to be free of her parents and step-parents for a change.
Long term goals/hopes:She really doesn't think about long term goals too much, it makes her depressed. She knows she doesn't have the grades for college and without college, jobs will be slim pickings for her.
Method to accomplish these goals?: She thinks she might try moving around and try out different jobs until she finds a place and a job that suit her.
Who will these goals affect?: Mostly they will just affect her, but she knows her parents will worry about her.

Color: Black
Music: Alternative
Movie: She's a huge Lord of the Rings fan
Food: She loves anything her step-mom hasn't made - her step-mom is the worst cook ever.
Drink: She drinks Snapple Teas all the time.
Snack: Cheetos
Books: She hates to read, she looks at books like they are a deadly disease
Entertainment: People watching
Expressions / Sayings:
Mode of transportation: City bus or walking
Possession: She collects anything to do with rabbits, like figurines, stuffed toys, jewelry, anything really that has a rabbit on it.
Class: Homeroom - She isn't expected to do anything in there.
Teacher: Her homeroom teacher, Mrs. Fournier - the French teacher, because she never assigns homework or gets on Maia's case about anything.
Actor/Actress: Orlando Bloom - She thinks he was hot as Legolas in Lord of the Rings.
Musician/Band: Avenged Sevenfold
Thing to buy: Choker necklaces & silver rings
Store to shop at: Thrift stores

Hobbies / Skills: 
Hobbies: Singing and playing her guitar
Musical instrument: She taught herself to play the guitar
Sports: She's horrible at sports - last picked in gym constantly
Most skilled at: Singing and playing the guitar.
Least skilled at: Sports
Nervous tics: Plays with her rings on her fingers when she's nervous.
Posture: Relaxed, she doesn't sit or stand straight much.
Mannerisms: She's the opposite of prim and proper, big time.
Personal quirks: She gets excited when she gossips and sounds like a valley girl suddenly out of nowhere when she dishes out the gossip.

Traits: (I could go forever on the traits, but here is a little list.)
Optimist or pessimist? Pessimist
Introvert or extrovert? Introvert
Daredevil or cautious?: Daredevil
Logical or emotional? Logical
Relaxed or Tense? Relaxed
Control freak or out of control? Out of control
Disorderly and messy or methodical and neat? Disorderly and messy
Prefers working or relaxing? Relaxing
Confident or unsure of himself/herself? Unsure of herself, she doesn't see what she has to offer the world.
Follower or leader? Neither, she's more of a loner.
Selfish or selfless? Selfless

Your Turn -> Can you picture Maia walking around, interacting with people? Is she more vivid to you now that you know her more?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Writer Website Wednesday #3

What I like: 
I love this site. No it's not entirely for writers alone, it's geared more for readers. I struggled to keep up with a list of what books I had read and wanted to read before I came across Goodreads. It was love at first sight for me. A place where I could not only keep track of books I have read, want to read, but I can also make friends and see what they are reading and what they think of the books. It's wonderful.

As a writer it is important to continue to read. I think it helps focus your writing better and gives you ideas on what you need to fix with your own writing. Even for writers it's a great site. Author's can have their own author page and they can keep their readers informed on what they are currently working on, as well as link their blogs to the site. It's great.

Another feature I love is the contest feature. You can sign up to win books and get them before they are released. I've received one book thus far by this method. I will go and check out what new contests are available from time to time and sign up for the ones I want to read or maybe sound good, but I'm not sure I'd buy it, but I would read.

What I don't like: 
Technically you are not supposed to friend people on Goodreads that you don't already know. However, I've done just that. In most cases it has worked out just fine. In others, not so much. I accepted the friend request of a self-published author that had started following me on Twitter. I didn't think much of it at the time, since I find most of my Goodreads friends from Twitter anyhow. But, in this case it was a bad idea. The author in question began harrassing me to read his/her novel and to do it by a certain date. When invited to a reading event for the book, I declined. It was not a good time for me, and didn't think it fair to waste the author's time on it at the time. He/she promptly re-invited me. I declined again. I was re-re-invited. I hit the ignore button and was re-re-re-invited. All of this within a two day time frame. I didn't click anything on the page until the event had past that time. After a month he/she began commenting on the book, which was in my to-read-pile at the time. He/she was borderline begging me to read it ASAP. At that point I deleted the book from my to-read-pile, unfriended the author, and unfollowed on Twitter.

The short of it, I think Goodreads is an easy place for some authors to shove their books in people's faces. I think Goodreads needs to find a way to better control their members. I'd like to have flagged this author, but could not figure out how exactly to do so. No fret, I've been bully free for several months now and still visit the site almost daily.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read or write. It's a great site, despite the occasional crazy person. But, then again, no site is free of crazy people.

Your Turn -> What do you like most/least about

Monday, May 2, 2011

Character Interrogation ->The Questions

So, last Friday I did my post on character interrogation, getting to know your characters. So, today I'm doing a simple post. Well, as simple as I can do for this situation. I'm putting together my question list to ask my characters. Yes, it's a bit long, but it is for a good cause. Keep in mind that this question list is geared for my purposes, so you will find things that deal with young adult characters more than adult characters. Feel free to use any and all questions in the list to interrogate your own characters. I hope this list is helpful to you. :-)

Part I can be found here, Part III can be found here, and Part IV can be found here.  

Let the interrogation begin! 

Character name:
Origin of name: 
Origin of nickname:
Role in story:

Physical Appearance: 
Hair color:
Length of hair:
Hair style: 
Eye color:
Skin tone:
Body type:
Shape of face:
Glasses or contacts:
Braces, teeth appearance:
Distinguishing qualities:

Fashion tendencies:
Usual clothing:
Favorite outfit:

Other important family members:

Good traits:
Bad traits:
Greatest joy:
Greatest fear:
Happiest when:
Saddest when:
Sense of humor:
What could possibly most turn this character's life upside down?:
Highest priority:
Lowest priority:
Soft spot:
Greatest strength:
Greatest weakness:
Biggest regret:
Smallest regret:
Biggest accomplishment:
Other accomplishments:

Towns lived in:
Schools attended / jobs worked:
First memory:
Most important memory:
Fondest memory:
Worst memory:

Current location:
Current living situation:
School attending / job working:


Immediate goals:
Long term goals/hopes:
Method to accomplish these goals?:
Who will these goals affect?:

Expressions / Sayings:
Mode of transportation:
Thing to buy:
Store to shop at:

Hobbies / Skills: 
Musical instrument:
Most skilled at:
Least skilled at:
Nervous tics:
Personal quirks: 

Traits: (I could go forever on the traits, but here is a little list.)
Optimist or pessimist?
Introvert or extrovert?
Daredevil or cautious:
Logical or emotional?
Relaxed or Tense?
Control freak or out of control?
Disorderly and messy or methodical and neat?
Prefers working or relaxing?
Confident or unsure of himself/herself?
Follower or leader?
Selfish or selfless?

There are a ton of other tidbits that could go into this list, but I think this is enough for now.

Your Turn -> What did I leave off that you would have put in this list? OR What, from this list, did you like the best?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In My Mailbox #1

Okay, so I jumped in and decided to finally join this meme after seeing that everyone else is doing it too! No, Mom and Dad, if everyone else was jumping off a bridge I wouldn't do it too. (Unless there was a bungee cord involved.)

Thank you to Tanglwood Press and NetGalley for the sneak peak at this upcoming book!

Goodreads: Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.
Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

The second book I received was also through NetGalley and Lerner Publishing Group. Thank you!

Goodreads: Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?

The third book I bought from Amazon for my Kindle. 

Goodreads: Jalal Vaziri has looks, money, women—and a habit of running from reality. When he abandons New York and reinvents himself as a poet in a California beach house, he thinks he’s running from a father who hates him, a career mistake, and endless partying. A fresh start is what he needs. And after an intriguing woman enters his life, he believes all his dreams are coming true. But that dream dissolves into nightmare, and Jalal flees again. Only this time, his retreat is blocked by a woman who challenges him to face that it’s himself he’s trying to outrun.

 In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way to showcase books you have received in the mail, from the library, or by any other method during the week.