Friday, July 29, 2011

A Brilliant Post As Written By Others

Today I was going to write a post about the journey of the writer never getting easier, but why that's a good thing. I was going to talk about the ups and downs.

But it seems Beth Revis and Elizabeth Davis have already beaten me to the punch. 

Liz has a visual representation of what it's like to write a book that had me cracking up.

Beth Revis has an amazing post, complete with a graph, of why you're never going to feel like it's "good enough" and why that's okay.

So away! Feast your eyes on their wisdom!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ideas Like Weeds

Are you struggling with coming up with ideas to write about?

Good, me either. 

But, if you are, I have just the thing for you. All you have to do is work on another book. It's true! It seems like some sort of sick paradox, but the longer you work on one book project, the more ideas you will get for other books. 

My muse has the attention span of a five year old hopped up on sugar and a day of non-stop TV. I seriously have been getting a new idea for a character, a scenario, or vague plot just about every single day. I am closing in on the end of the rewrite, and I think my muse is getting desperate. The rewrite is coming along nicely, but I keep getting ideas for other stuff.
Of course, I am staying the course. I will finish this rewrite if it kills me (it just might, too. You never know). I just think it's funny how when you're working diligently on another project, you get all sorts of ideas for something else. 

Maybe it's just me though. Do you guys get ideas for other books while working on something else? One or two, or have you had stretches where you've had several new ones, one right after the other?

Maybe it's just me. I would blame caffeine, but I haven't had more than a few sips of tea since I got pregnant. Sugar, I could blame the sugar. Yes, it has to be the sugar.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Lust

This post is inspired by The Rejectionist's post yesterday.

Today we're going to talk about lust. Book lust. Because we're not just writers, we're also readers. A lot of my friends, while not being writers, are voracious readers. Obsessive readers form their own little crazy subgroup.  We have our own quirks. Some people call us obsessed, I think we just really like books.

Warning signs of being a compulsive readers are as follows:

*People always remark on your vast quantity of books.

*You carry a book with you everywhere you go.

*You will never have enough books.

*People who help you move complain about your massive boxes of books.

*You check the book section wherever you go. Goodwill, the grocery store, the pet store. 

If any of these warning signs apply to you, don't worry. You're already hooked on books. There's no backing out now.  The advent of Ereaders is only enabling your book buying habits. Less space, easier ways to hide them. Click the button, boom. Another book in your hoard.

I had to order a rain CD from Amazon so I could sleep at night, so of course I thought it would be a great time to order some more books. Since the CD almost put me at getting free shipping. Then I heard about Borders's amazing going out of business sale. So I bought a bunch of books from there.

Mind you, I have a huge stack of books I already need to read. It's like a sickness. A wonderful sickness. The Rejectionist was right. We're all going to be on Hoarders some day, unable to move because our mountain of books will be so large. 

At least being a writer gives me an excuse. I have to stay current in the market. I have to be well read. I have my husband convinced of this, although he still objects to my incessant need to fill my bookshelves up with books. He jokingly told me that when I have the baby, we're going to have to buy diapers instead of books.

I told him I'd rather starve, thank you very much.

I don't know what it is about books. But I love them. I love owning them. I like looking at them on my bookshelves. It fills me with great joy. 

What are your crazy book stories? I know you have them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Making Waves

The logical conclusion to my last post would be for me to review Making Waves. So here it is:

I loved it. 

I don't read a lot of romantic comedy, mostly because a vast majority of those books feel like they are just about the guy and the girl hooking up. Which, of course, that IS what a romance novel is about. But usually for me I need a little more going on in the book, or I just feel like I am reading a soap opera.

Happily, Tawna Fenske's book delivers a really cute romance, but also an interesting plot and hilarious characters. The core of the plot is disgruntled employees who are recently laid off, trying to steal their corrupt boss's illegal goods so they can use that to replace their pensions.

There's also lots of suspense and conflict, but what really made the book for me was the characters. The main female character, Juli Flynn, is...different. She's quirky, but not so quirky she turns into a stereotype of herself. The supporting characters are just as interesting, which make for interesting reading with all of them stuck on a boat together. I really enjoyed the chemistry all of the character had together. Making Waves is about a romance, but it's also about Juli trying desperately to find people she can fit in with.  

In short, I thought this book was awesome, even if I did get strange looks at the OB's office for laughing out loud.    

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pre-order a Book---Get a Free Bookmark!

Hello everyone! 

It's time for some promotion. Not for myself, but for fellow author Tawna Fenske. I've followed her blog for months now. If you're not following her, let me tell you--she's a riot. Every single post has some sort of funny innuendo. She's a really great example of how to blog so other people want to read your posts (needless to say, I take copious notes).

Her first book, Making Waves, is due to come out August 2nd, and in celebration of that illustrious event, she's bribing rewarding people who pre-order her book with mailing of bookmarks, entering them to win in a drawing, and other fun stuff. 

The best part? If you order from Amazon your book ships early! That's right, I am holding my copy in my hot little hands right now. Making Waves is a romantic comedy, so a perfect "beach read" or something to read if your children have sapped your brains from staying home all summer. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to read. It arrived just in time, because I am about to go see my OB and we all know how long and boring waiting at the doctor's office is.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Werewolves vs. Vampires: A Conversation

*Contains spoilers from Gail Carriger's Heartless*

Late at night as we were laying in bed trying to fall asleep, I told my husband that my mom had just finished Gail Carriger's Heartless. I'd bought the book the second it came out and passed it along to her to read. Mom emailed me, jokingly lamenting that when I have my baby, it's not going to turn into a little wolf cub or vampire depending on what sort of supernatural creature is currently holding it, like Alexia's baby does at the end of Heartless.

I told my husband, "Honestly, I am a little disappointed too. Although the set up would be reversed in our case. You would much rather be a vampire, and I'd rather be a werewolf."

Husband: "Really? You'd want to turn into an animal?"

Me: "Yeah, it would be really cool. I could turn into a wolf, and run around, and smell stuff, and get in people's way--"

Husband: "And eat people."

Me: "No, I'd eat deer or something. At least I wouldn't be dead."

Husband: "People die all the time."

Me: "You'd be drinking blood all the time, gross."

Husband: "I wouldn't be allergic to silver bullets--"

Me: "--holy water, crosses, garlic, stakes..."

Husband mutters darkly: "If I was a vampire, they'd never find me."

Me: *laughs* "That's right honey. They would never find you."

Then we went on to talk about how humans should never actually be able to beat vampires if they are as powerful as they were back in Dracula's day, since they are practically demigods. Also how vampires would control overpopulation if the vampires in question were really strong and immortal, and don't die easily.

Just a normal late night conversation in the Poole household.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter: the End of an Era

*sniff* He's all grown up.
 The second part of the last Harry Potter movie releases today. 

It feels like the end of an era. 

I know, I know, it really ended when the seventh book came out, but even then it didn't feel like it was over. We all knew there would be more movies coming out. 

But today that is no longer true. This is the last Harry Potter movie, and it makes me a little sad and very nostalgic. Sometimes a book (or book series) transcends it's medium and becomes part of our culture.

For me, the Harry Potter books were like that. Yes, they are well written amazing books. But their popularity, the controversy they caused, and the excitement I felt with my friends when a new book would be released made them more than just a bunch of books.

I wasn't into the books at first. I didn't understand what the hype was about. It was like a loud party going on in the next room. Even though I wasn't reading the books myself, I was impressed with the series all the same. 

My little brother, who "hates" to read, was reading them. He was in middle school at the time, and he was so excited about the books he went to the midnight release parties. That was very impressive. For a kid who thought books were boring, here was a series he was avidly reading.

Then my best friend, who'd read the books, recommended them to me. She said I would enjoy them. So that was another seed. One night, while bored, my brothers and I sat down to watch the first Harry Potter movie. 

And I enjoyed it. I thought it was really well done. It was summer, and I didn't have anything to read. So I borrowed my little brother's books and I cracked open the first one. 

I finished it later on that night. I tore through my little brother's collection until I was caught up (Order of the Phoenix had just been released). Suddenly I understood what everyone else was talking about. These were awesome books. I could see why they were so popular. 

From then on, I took part in the fandom. I went to see the movies with my friends and later on, husband, because we were all fans. I got to tell my husband what was different about the movie from the book. Even though my little brother never became a voracious reader, he still went on to read other books. He read the Dark Tower series by Stephan King when the rest of us were passing that series around like crack, and was able to get the references from those books we kept making. Without Harry Potter, I don't think he would have bothered to read them, or the other books he picked up.

And tonight, the last Harry Potter movie releases. 

It's the end of an era, but it doesn't mean that Harry Potter has to go away. I am pregnant. Someday I will get to pass my copies along to my kids, and maybe even start another generation of Potter fans.      


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Book and My Baby

I promise I am not going to make every post about being pregnant, guys. I swear. But I've always thought of this blog as about more than just the nuts and bolts of writing, but also life that comes with it.

And right now, life is going through some pretty big changes. Being a writer, I compare a lot of what I am going through with writing and getting a book deal. The feeling of disbelief. The shocking realization that this is happening, and within a set period of time.

And my favorite, the feeling that I have no clue what I am doing. 

The interesting thing is that even though pregnancy is something you hear everyone talk about, there's a whole lot of stuff I am experiencing that never gets mentioned. Then something happens, like for example, my hips have been killing me lately, and I think there's something wrong with me. Until I check with my books, and it turns out it's completely normal.

It's a good lesson for doing your research I think. There's a lot of general information about things that "everyone" knows, but when you get to the daily life of a doctor, a mental patient, and a pregnant woman (those last two may be connected) there's a slew of stuff that no one ever talks about. 

So here are some funny observations:

*Morning sickness is a misnomer. Lately I am sick to my stomach all day. For a few days last week I was having dry heaves the very second I woke up. I couldn't even eat a cracker without gagging. It was water, water, water until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Luckily that's getting better.

*Which brings me to the next point. You assume your level of queasiness is going to stay the same for the rest of the first trimester. How how naive I was. Last week I was sick to my stomach all day and couldn't eat a thing until the evening. This week it's getting a little better.

*Food aversions. The weirdest things will make you sick to your stomach. Usually it's not until I put the food in my mouth too, will I know if I want to eat it or not. This makes ordering in a restaurant adventurous at best.

*Body aches. Because of the hormones coursing through your veins, your body will ache. Just...everywhere. I can't sleep on one side for very long before it starts to hurt my hip and shoulder. Also I'll get hot and cold and hot again and then cold.

*People over sharing. You would be very surprised how many people have told me their miscarriage horror stories. Most people are trying to help reassure me that it's "totally normal" but seriously, folks. I don't need to hear about that right now. I am still in the first trimester. That's like, Valley of the Shadow of Death for miscarriage. I am taking my prenatal vitamins, eating healthy, not drinking caffeine, and generally doing everything I can to be healthy. But there's still only so much control I have over things. And since I don't want to be a crazy person, I am just not thinking about the Bad Things that could happen. There's no sense in becoming neurotic.

*Have I mentioned that we're also looking at houses? Yeah, we're going to move sometime this year, depending on how quickly the house hunting goes.

*Have I also mentioned that my best friend Melissa is getting married December 3rd? I am the Matron of Honor (that sounds so old, but I am married, so no longer a "maid"). I will be in my third trimester then, and probably huge. Finding a nice dress is going to be...interesting. It's also funny how people act like I will totally be incapacitated and unable to help her with the wedding. I'm pregnant, not dead. 

*Fatigue. This one's a killer, especially for my writing. Imagine that you're moving and you have to pack everything in one day. The next day, you have to move all your stuff and unpack it. Let's also say that you didn't get any sleep at all for a few nights in a row, and your day job is as a construction worker. This scenario barely scratches how tired I am. I still have a day job, so some days it's all I can do to just go to work (which is physically demanding). I've spend a lot of nights on the couch trying to perfect my Jedi mind tricks so I can will the fruit over to me. So while it's been a challenge, I've still managed to make progress on my book.

Because I want to try to be completely done and querying before I go into labor. I am nine weeks right now, so that gives me 7 months to finish rewriting, pass it off to the beta readers, implement beta reader feedback and then start querying. That should be plenty of time, but we all know how life likes to creep up on us. Did I mention moving and a wedding, for starters?

The really great news is that despite all of these funny things, I am still making very steady progress on the book. I rewrite at least a scene a day, and two days ago I managed to write 7k. The tiredness and malaise kicked in, and I didn't feel like doing anything. 

So I just wrote, since it's my first escape.

So there you have it. An update on my book and my baby.

How are all of you dealing with your projects? How do you deal with life's curve balls?

Monday, July 11, 2011

A New Reality TV Show: Writing a Novel

Reality TV show given to people who just had lots of kids. My show is in the bag.

Guys, I just had the greatest idea.

Reality TV is here to stay. We all know that. They will give anyone a reality TV show if they do something halfway interesting. Sometimes not even then.

But I've thought about an untapped market in the reality TV realm.

Writers. Writing books.

Imagine how gripping it would be to watch a writer furiously typing away at the keyboard. Imagine the tension as the writer pounds his head against his (or her) desk trying to remember the name of those boxes built into the wall that hold firewood indoors.

You'll watch day by day as the writer gets the brilliant idea for their next book. You'll see the sweat pour from their veins as they try to figure out how to make a romance/space western/historical fiction with a hamster as a main character and a velociraptor sidekick work.

This show would follow the writer as they go through rough draft blues. When they want to throw away their book because the edits are eating them alive. The show will document the query process.

Face it folks. Writers are a bunch of crazy people. We're nutty than a bunch of squirrels eating peanut butter on a bed of macadamia nuts. You know it. I know it. Following a writer through their daily routine of typing the words out on the computer? That is high quality drama right there. 

There could be guest agents, sort of like Celebrity Apprentice. The agents could judge the query/book and say things like "This guy has real talent. He's someone to watch." Or they could get an agent like Simon Powell on American Idol who could be all tough love: "I'm not loving it. The words are there, but there's no heart."

One of the guest agents should have fabulous hair, like Donald Trump's.
And then towards the end of every episode, the writer could be all, "I can't do it! I'm a fraud! I DON'T WHERE THE WORDS COME FROM!" And then the writer pulls out his hair like a modern day Van Gogh.

They could get several different writers and follow their career. They could have write offs, contests, specials on pantsers versus plotters.

I will await an email from the major TV networks in order to bring this plan into fruition.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Writing With Soul

Sometimes writing is hard. 

I don't know how else to describe it. It's just hard. You know what you want the words to say, you know how you want the story to be. You have so very many hopes and desires for your novel. But there's this disconnect between your subconscious and conscious idea of your novel, and the actual product.

Holly Lisle once said words have weight. And it's true. An idea feels completely different than that idea fleshed out into a complete novel. The words add up to give you a sense of gravity, like a sculptor slowly chiseling away stone until a man emerges.

Sometimes this is disheartening, scary. Sometimes I feel like I bit off more than I can chew with this novel. It's steampunk, and Gothic horror, but set in a fantasy setting. There's a lot of stuff going on in the book. I've always been an ambitious person, and my writing is a place I tend to challenge myself. I am usually far outside my comfort zone in terms of the book I am writing. I am trying a new sort of character, a new type of setting, a new style of plot, and frequently, more than one of these examples at once.

It can feel daunting. Depressing. Like I'll never be able to tell the story with justice.

But yesterday on Twitter, James Scott Bell posted this video:

It helped. I like the idea of using the frustration to fuel you through your writing. That the frustration is a sign you're growing. Hopefully improving.  

Trying new and scary things with your book is a good thing. It helps you grow. You spread your wings when you try. For me, I think it grows my writer's soul and maintains my interest in a book.

What about you? How do you approach your writing?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Villainous Villains

Okay! So today we're going to talk about villains, or antagonists for the politically correct, and since there's already been a ton said on them, I am going to keep this short and sweet.

I read on someone's blog somewhere (I wish I knew where, or I would totally link it) that you should think of your antagonist as the protagonist who failed. 
Let's take Star Wars as an example.  Luke Skywalker is a Jedi Knight. He is learning how to use the Force for good and stop the evil empire. Darth Vader is also a Jedi Knight. He is also wildly talented, but instead, uses the Force for evil. They are mirror opposites, and when we find out *SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE OF YOU WAKING UP FROM COMAS* that Darth Vader is Luke's father, it makes their connection all the stronger. Luke's father failed to resist the temptation of the Dark Side. Will Luke be able to do the same thing?

This idea always reminds of a level in video games they sometimes make you play. You're stuck in a mirror world, and you have to fight your mirror self, often called "Shadow Link" or "Dark Mario."

A screen shot of Nintendo's Zelda: Ocarina of Time Link vs. Shadow Link. You do not want to know how many yaoi Link/Shadow Link pictures I turned up when Googling this screenshot. It's just...wrong, Internet. Wrong. If you do not know what "yaoi" is, you don't want to know. Ignorance is bliss.
That scene in The Empire Strikes Back? Where Luke is fighting Darth Vader in the cave, and then he realizes he's really fighting himself? That's how a really effective antagonist works. He doesn't have to be an evil cyborg Jedi Knight bent on destruction. Your antagonist can be a good person. He just has to show the protagonist how he's going to turn out if he fails. He sets up the consequences of failure.

In this manner, your antagonist has the most in common with your protagonist, even more so than the protagonist's friends. A cop chases after a serial killer. A cop upholds the law, the serial killer breaks the law. A doctor is fighting to save a patient from an unknown disease.  A soldier is fighting enemy soldiers in a war. Each protagonist and antagonist are locked in a give and take struggle. It's what makes fiction so engaging. 

Not all antagonists are a mirror of your character's darker self. Godzilla comes to mind. Some of them are just the pure evil, gonna crush you all sorts. But if if you're going for something deeper, consider how alike the protagonist and antagonist are. Consider having the protagonist seriously tempted with "the dark side".

And then show him the consequences of failure with the antagonist. This has a surprising effect of not only developing your protagonist better, but your antagonist as well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Important Annoucement

I wondered how long I should wait to announce this on my blog, but it's getting far enough along that I think it's time.

I am two months pregnant. :D

I've known since I was five weeks pregnant, but I wanted to wait until I was further along to announce the good news. My family and friend have known since I was about six weeks, but that's mostly because I think there's a neon sign on my forehead saying, "I'm pregnant". Everyone said they knew I was even before I told them. 

My husband and I were trying to get pregnant by simply not preventing it. We weren't bothering with timing and measuring and all of the hoops people jump through to try to get pregnant. We just thought now was a good time because of our respective jobs. I started taking prenatal vitamins, and a month later I missed my period. I figured I was just overreacting since we'd just started trying to have a baby. I gave it a few days, and took a pregnancy test to rule it out.

Except the test was positive. I took two more, and all three were positive. In a panic, I called my best friend who's a nurse and asked her just how accurate those home pregnancy tests are. She said they were really accurate and I needed to make an appointment with an Ob-gyn. Turns out, they want you to be at least six weeks from your last period to confirm a pregnancy, so I had to wait two weeks.

It was really surreal. I kept thinking there was a mistake, that I was just overreacting. Despite the morning sickness, headaches, fatigue, and dizzy spells. It's just hard to believe at first. I don't know if you've ever received some really amazing news before, like being accepted at a really amazing school, or perhaps getting an agent, or getting married, but it's just hard to believe it's true at first. It's this huge paradigm shift. 

And it's scary. A lot of people tell you that miscarriage is common, and you should wait to tell people until you're out of your first trimester. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I felt so dizzy and lightheaded at work I almost passed out, so I told my coworkers I was pregnant, just in case I DID pass out and they called the paramedics or something. I didn't pass out, but the cat was out of the bag. So I told my family and friends, and that's when they were all, "Oh yeah, you had to be pregnant, I knew it." I wish they were all as good at predicting lottery numbers, because boy would we be set.

I have the What to Expect When You're Expecting book, and it's awesome. There's a week by week break down of all of the wonderful changes my body is going through. So far the morning sickness has been bad, but not as bad as I've heard other people suffering. I don't seem to be able to eat anything at all from the morning into the late afternoon except mashed potatoes and crackers (the mashed potato thing must come from my side of the family, since growing up we had potatoes almost every single day).

Ginger ale and crackers are my constant companions now. I do most of my eating in the evening as a result of the morning sickness. The crappy thing is no matter how much I don't feel like eating, I still need to make sure I am getting enough of proteins, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Ahhh, the joys of pregnancy.

I am due February 13th, so we're having a Valentine's Day baby. It's too soon to tell if it's a boy or a girl, but I will keep you guys posted. 

Of course, I've also thought about my writing in regards to the pregnancy. The first week or so it was really hard to concentrate, but I've adjusted and gotten back into the swing of things. Or as much as possible. I don't think writing a book is exactly like having a baby, but I am seeing the similarities. 

So there you have it! Not only am I working on a complete rewrite, but I am currently growing a baby as well!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Today in the United States we celebrate the Fourth of July, which is our independence day. Celebrations include fireworks, outdoor picnics, getting eaten by mosquitoes while partaking in said picnics, and at least in my family, eating lots of watermelon.

Since today is Monday, and I normally work today, I actually had a cook out with my parents yesterday. But, I do have the day off after all. Not sure what I am going to do today. As part of my new resolve to treat writing like a job, holidays and all, I officially have the day off, but I still plan to work on my writing anyway. Hello, overtime. :D

Other than that, I think some general loafing around it in order. So nothing too strenuous is on the agenda. I hear the leftovers from yesterday calling me.

How do you plan on celebrating today? Family fun? Locking yourself away and complaining about the fireworks?