Friday, June 29, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Make up words

The other day, my brother sent me a press release to edit before it went live. I figured Press Release = Scrutinize Minutely, right? So I did. There was a word in it, "centristic," and I wasn't sure what it meant, so I wasn't sure if it was getting across the right message. Being the dutiful editor that I am, I looked it up.

Yeah. It wasn't in the dictionary.

So I sent my brother the file with my notes, and on that word, I left a note saying, "I don't know what this word means, and neither does"

His reply is my quote for the day.

"You don’t have to be the president to invent words,
and I think this is a good one."

~Allen Wheeler

Hahaha! Okay, I have to say that I love that quote way more than I should. Probably because I totally agree with it. I was reading ENNA BURNING by Shannon Hale when I first became a writer. She used a word-- thocked-- that was absolutely perfect in the sentence. It was also a word I'd never heard before, so I looked it up. (Okay, maybe it has absolutely nothing at all to do with being a dutiful editor and everything to do with being a geek.) And guess what I found? IT'S NOT A WORD. I was shocked. Really? Writers can do that?

Yes we can. And our books might be all the better for it. (As long as we don't abuse our power, of course.)

Have you ever made up a word? I know I've wanted to! (Raise your hand if you've needed the English language to have about 10 more words for smile. I mean we've got grin and smirk. That's IT.)

So make up a word! Have a Loaded Oatmeal cookie! And if you are feeling 20 kinds of awesome, make up a word for "smile!" (You know, like one for a sly smile. Or a sad smile. Or one of those smiles that don't really have any emotion behind it. Or one of those where all is right with the world. Or an evil smile.)

Photo credit and recipe link for Claudia's Cookbook

And then make sure to have an [insert made up word here] weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Way We Are: The Hardest Part of Your Novel

Okay, so I've heard writers talk about what's hardest for them when writing a book. For some, it's the sagging middle. For others, it's the weighty beginning. For others, it's the has-to-be-fabulous ending.

They're all their own special kind of hard, it's true. The more I got thinking about which part is hardest for me, the more I got wondering what is the hardest part for everyone else. So how about you? Let's have it!

For me, it's beginnings. Not far behind that is endings. The middle for me is cake! I plot a lot, and do a lot of figuring things out ahead of time, so when I sit down to start and everything wants to pour, it's so overwhelming figuring out how to make it trickle.

What about your hardest part is hardest for you?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cashing in on Emotion

You know how sometimes you write a scene that was SO FULL of emotion when you wrote it, but when you read it later (or when CPs / Beta Readers read it), there doesn't seem to be nearly the emotion you thought was there? I'm hanging out at Writing With Shelly and Chad today, talking about one of the ways to increase emotion. Come on over!

Also, I just found out that I'm up today on the fabulous blog, Ink and Angst, on a series called Gatecrashers, where several authors debuting in 2013 talk about crashing the publication gate.

And huge thanks to Patrick Stahl at Into the Ravenous Maw for the Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finishing, nearly dying, playing, watching.

I just got back from vacation! We hadn’t planned for it to start the same day my revisions were due— it was just sort of serendipitous that it worked out that way.

I also hadn’t planned to be without Internet or cell service for five days! We went to a place we’d been to before, just a couple hours from home— through a canyon to a beautiful little mountain valley. Since we’d stayed there several times before, I thought it might be fun to switch to a different resort.

The different resort just happened to be a little past the mountain valley. We just didn't know that "a little past" meant at the top of the mountain above the valley. High enough up that when you come down the mountain, even if you’re in the lowest gear and only pump your brakes, you could still overheat your brakes, making them not work, thereby skyrocketing your chances of taking an unplanned flight off the edge of a mountain.

This is, thankfully, not a picture of me.

Okay, maybe I’m being overly dramatic. (And by “maybe,” I mean NOT AT ALL. I came down the mountain when it was already hot outside, and after a while of low gear and pumping my brakes, I found that my brakes had gotten too hot, and weren't working! I kept searching at the mountain that hugged my right for the least damaging place to crash into it as a way to stop my forward momentum, because that would be a lot better than soaring off the cliff on my left when I couldn’t slow at the next turn. I tell you, the flock of guardian angels racing down the mountain with me really earned their keep.)

The lack of Internet combined with impending death-by-mountain if we left the resort, meant that we got to spend a lot of time just hanging out together as a family. Which, after three weeks of me being physically present but mentally busy / stressed / in another world / working on a tight deadline for edits, it’s just what we needed.

We swam a lot. Put together puzzles. Explored the trails around the area.

 And played really complicated board games.

My husband has a “gaming” gene. He passed it along to each of our kids. And that pretty much left me as the only member of our family with non-gaming genes, feeling like the only way I could “play” is by playing with the pieces.

See the stem of the flower? Those are pictures of a brain, making it a “brain stem.” Hahaha! Get it?

I had always assumed that I didn’t have the kind of brain it took to play games that have more pieces than the word count of my current WIP, and that take longer to play than it takes to read 100 blogs. But I did it! And not only did I play it (every day, for hours), but I owned. It wasn’t a game where you're against the other players— you win or lose as a team. And *ahem* I totally helped the team win.

And every night we had a Lord of the Rings marathon.

My older kids weren’t getting LOTR references, and my youngest didn’t remember ever seeing it. How sad is that? We realized we were sorely lacking in our parental responsibilities to rear our children in the appreciation of LOTR. Luckily, we were able to rectify that on our trip.

And now I’ve done an entire rambling post with nothing at all to do with writing! Just so I’m not the only one, what’s something non-writerly you’ve done lately?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Auction: **TODAY ONLY!**

Hey, guys! How the heck are you? I’m doing GREAT! I finished second round revisions on Friday (which feels SO unbelievably good!), and now I’m on vacation with my family. Right now, I am probably.... playing a board game, or swimming in the pool.

BUT, I’ve got to tell you something! Have you heard of Crits for Water? It is an amazing three month even that Kat Brauer organizes every year to auction off critiques to raise money to get drinkable water in third world countries. It’s made an incredible difference! The extra cool thing is, in these villages that have been helped, the kids no longer have to walk for 4 or 5 hours a day to haul water into town, so they can now go to school. It’s one of those charities that just makes you warm all over.

This year, a critique of mine, along with two other Luckies, is being auctioned! I was so excited when Kat asked me to participate!

Now obviously I really want you guys to consider going to bid on my critique. I’m a little weirded out by selling myself, so Infomercial Announcer Dave has graciously offered to do it for me. Take it away, Dave!

And up today, we have a critique of 2500 words! Peggy will give suggestions on how to make your manuscript stronger, and let you know where it’s strengths are. (If you're looking for positive affirmations and only want to hear the strengths-- Peggy looks like a fairly nice person. I bet that could be arranged.) 

And for the icing on the cake, you get critiques by two authors! The second is by the lovely and talented Caroline Carlson. These two authors will not collaborate on their critiques, so if one author suggests something, but you wonder if it's something that's just that one author's preference or a broader issue, you can also see if the other author had the same suggestion!

Aaaaand for the sprinkles on the icing, the fabulous Stephanie Kuehn will also critique your query and synopsis, getting you ready for submission! All for the same auction bid!

Need further convincing? I have four of Peggy’s critique partners here, to let you know what to expect from a critique. Come on down, CPs! Tell us what you think!

“Peggy is an exceptional critiquer. Not only is she prompt, 
but she is also dedicated, honest, and positive. I can always
count on Peggy for direct feedback expressed in a way that
helps me make my story better.”

“Peggy Eddleman has a great sense of story and character, 
and her critiques help me take my story where I really want
it to go without losing any of my own style.”

“I've worked with Peggy Eddleman for the last few years. 
She's helped me mold my writing and develop my skill. In 
fact, she once critiqued my query letter, giving me key tips
 that landed me a half dozen requests for my manuscript. 
Her skill in finding what isn't working with a manuscript is 
worth gold.”

“In short, Peggy is my refiner's fire. I can give her the most 
polished material, read and approved by several, and she 
manages to spot the real problems and brings them to my 
attention, in a feel-good way. She's knows her stuff. Any 
aspiring or accomplished writer would do themselves well 
by having her critique their work.”

So head on over to Crits for Water right away! The auction ends TONIGHT. Yes, folks, Monday night at midnight, EST. So hurry! 

Here you go, Peggy. The mike is yours.

Thanks, Infomercial Announcer Dave! And if you want to see what crits are coming up for auction, go here. Not only can you get a great crit, but you are HELPING VILLAGES GET WATER. One of the most basic needs in the world, and you can help them get it. How freaking cool is that?

Friday, June 15, 2012


Do you know what I absolutely love? COVER REVEALS! Do you know what else I absolutely love? People as awesome as Chantele Sedgwick. I am so excited to be part of her cover reveal today!

(Drumroll, please)

I LOVE the average Joe-looking guy, with FAIRY WINGS! Such a great dichotomy. Makes you want to pick up the book, doesn't it?

Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings.

Doesn't that sound like such a fabulous book?! I am so excited for it! It comes out on August 1, and you can mark NOT YOUR AVERAGE FAIRY TALE as to-read on Goodreads right now. And if you don't already follow Chantele's blog, you should go check it out! She rocks.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elana Johnson: Interview, Awesomely Fun Photo Shoot, and Giveaway

Hi, Elana! Welcome! I'd offer you a seat in the cushy chair, but it's a beautiful day! The sun is shining... birds are singing... Let's head outside!

And check it out: To honor you being here with your fabulous blue streak, I’ve added a bit of color to my hair, too.
Okay, now that we've got our color on, we can get on with the interview! (Since your hair has blue, you can be in blue, and since mine has red, I'll be in red, m'kay?)

So in the POSSESSION series, there are people who have um... "special" talents. And there are rather high stakes that come along with using their talent or not using their talent! What talent would be your favorite to have?

In SURRENDER, the characters can manipulate technology, influence others with their
voice, control the elements, and read minds.

I don’t want to do any of those. They all seem like scary, ultra-controlling talents (uh,
Elana? That’s because they are. Your books are sort of scary and ultra-controlling…).

So I choose to fly. So what if I’m afraid of heights? To the skies!

Oh, my gosh, Elana! I mean I knew you were crazy talented, but I had no idea you could fly! I should have guessed it. That's really how you arrive early to everything, isn't it? 

Speaking of talented, if you follow Elana’s blog (which you totally should!, you probably already know that Elana is talented to an extent that falls solidly into super power territory.

Elana, sensing that something nefarious is afoot.

Switches into her superhero cape and searches for said nefariousness, ready to TAKE IT DOWN.

Aren't you all glad you've seen her in costume now? :o)

Seriously, though, Elana. You are one of the most talented, focused, efficient people I’ve ever met! You can get more done in a day than most people get done in a week. I’ve heard your process before on how you get so much done, and it’s fascinating! Will you share with us your secrets?

I don’t know if it’s a secret or not, but I’ve learned to think through my day and find spots where I can work. I don’t have the luxury of long stretches of time to get things done. So I take the 15 minutes in the morning after my daughter leaves for school, but before I have to go to work, and I write/edit/revise.

I work during my lunch in 20-minute snatches. 15 minutes before my son gets home from school. An hour while my daughter is at dance lessons. Dancing has been great for my writing. My daughter dances about 5 hours a week. I started going to the library—only 5 minutes from the dance studio—and working those 5 hours.

I’ve been known to email myself sentences or ideas while I’m waiting in line at the post office, while my car is being inspected (hey, I once wrote a whole talk on my phone at the JiffyLube…), or anywhere I have 5 minutes.

Other than learning to work in small spurts, I’ve learned to abuse, er, email my friends with my progress. This helps keep me motivated, and we can cheer each other on.

Wow. That takes some amazingly strong self control to not let yourself get distracted! [Eyes Elana] Seriously strong. I bet you're even strong enough to lift me. Shall we test that theory?

Not only can she do it, but she does it with such ease! (And can I just say, it's not so easy to balance on someone's hand!)

Oh my gosh, Elana! That was awesome! My stomach is still in my throat from when you tossed me off into a double flip! Okay, while I recover, tell me. What do you do when you get to an item on the list that you haven’t figured out how you’re going to do it yet? How do you keep that from stopping your momentum?

Well, there are so many things on the list, that if I don’t know how to do one, or it requires me to be on another computer, I just skip to the next one. There’s always SOMETHING to do, and usually I just work according to my mood.

If I just don’t want to do anything, I don’t. Shocker, I know! I watch TV first or water my plants, and then I come back to the dreaded task.

Isn’t she incredible? Incredible people write incredible books. Elana’s latest, SURRENDER just came out less than a week ago from Simon and Schuster, so you can pick it up right now! And if knowing that the author is an incredible person isn’t enough, check out this incredible description for SURRENDER:

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque....

Purchase your copy here:

Thanks for coming over, Elana!

Thanks for having me! I'd like to offer you these Sour Patch Kids as a thank you.

Do you know what says "Thank you" better than Sour Patch Kids? Flying me to see the Statue of Liberty!

Elana is available for trips to the Statue of Liberty through the end of the day. But if you don't get a chance to go, try for a chance to win in this fabulous giveaway! This week, as part of the SURRENDER blog tour, you can win one of three $15 Barnes and Noble gift cards and become a winner winner, chicken dinner! All you have to do is fill out this rafflecopter widget with what you’ve done. NOTE: One of the options is to blog about a time you didn’t surrender. Go here for full details on this, including how to sign up for your free swag package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elana's work including POSSESSION, REGRET, and SURRENDER is available from Simon and Schuster wherever books are sold. She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query, which can be downloaded for free on her website. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and is a member of SCBWI, ANWA and LDStorymakers.

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

Special thanks to the always fabulous Erin Summerill and her mad photog skillz.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Write Through It.

"Write through it."

~Elana Johnson

I'd try to write something profound, but I'm going to just let Elana continue. "I find it works for everything. Feeling depressed? Write through it. Jealous? Write through it. In a slump? Write through it! Hit a wall? Write through it!"

Fabulous advice, no?

Oh, and speaking of Elana (yes, I used an Elana quote specifically for its brilliant segue ;), she will be HERE on Monday! There are three things I have to say about that:

1. Not only will she be here as part of her SURRENDER blog tour, but she agreed to a crazy fun photo shoot as well. :o)
2. It was epic.
3. It's the most fun I've had with a blog post in a very long time.

So come hang out with us on Monday! It'll be a blast. And in anticipation of Elana's visit, I have for you BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. Seriously. What do you think? Just how cookies should be, or two things that should never mix? I have to say that even though it's candied bacon, my brain’s a little weirded out that there is MEAT in my COOKIE. But my taste buds keep saying, “Who cares! It’s a cookie!” And then my brain rolls its eyes and says, “Whatev."

Photo Credit: Secret Life of a Chef's Wife

Write through it! And have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dealing with the badness

If you have a book out, or are one day planning or hoping to have a book out, you know you're going to get some bad reviews, right? We've all just accepted that this comes along with the territory, right? Beth Revis posted on her blog about a week ago one of the most incredible posts I've ever read, and it was about getting bad reviews. It was seriously SO GOOD! If you haven't already seen it, you should really check it out. I repeat: SO GOOD.

Beth Revis: How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Although, I'm not even sure that "respond" is the best way to describe it, because "respond" brings to mind a conversation between author and someone else. But really, it's just about what should go on in the author's head. No matter what stage of the game you're in, this is important stuff to keep in mind.

And the thing is, her post about dealing with negative reviews doesn't just relate to reviews from readers. If you're querying (or querying is in your future), it also relates to agents. If you're on submission (or subbing is in your future), it also relates to editors. The fact is, not everyone is going to be head-over-heels in love with your book! It's just the way it is. And that's totally okay. With the amount of information about agents there is online, it's still pretty hard to predict if your story is going to be something a particular agent fall in love with. Heck, even with your best friend, you sometimes suggest a book you think they'll love that they end up not loving, right? It's the exact same for agents when they're submitting to editors.

My point? Getting rejections (whether it's from readers, agents, or editors) is OKAY. It's completely normal. And it DOESN'T MEAN THAT YOUR BOOK IS BAD. It means you haven't found the perfect match yet. Like Beth says, people are just different. (And really. Go read that post if you haven't. It's presented in such a great way. And funny. Did I mention funny?)

Do you handle (or think you'll handle) negative reviews well?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Way We Are: Crazy Googling

Writers google.

That's just the way it is, right? Google and writing just kind of go hand-in-hand. (Or writers and whatever other search engine you use. We'll just lump them into one for the sake of me not having to list all of them, m'kay?)

Sometimes I laugh at the crazy things I google. Sometimes... I get a little worried. You've probably guessed by the name-- THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH required some research on bombs. And not just weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of apocalyptic-level destruction. (Yes. In the days of researching that, I kept waiting for Homeland Security to show up on my doorstep! Luckily, it didn't take long before I decided some sciences just have to be invented.)

So what crazy thing comes to mind that you've had to google?

For all you apoc / post apoc / thriller writers out there, I'm including this helpful link. It's a list of all the words you can google that might put you in hot water with the government. Is it a reputable source and is it completely true? I have absolutely no idea! But I saw it and giggled. If it IS true... I wonder how many people they investigate turn out to be writers? Maybe we keep them on their toes without even realizing it. :o)

I wish you all happy Googling! May no one in black suits unexpectedly appear on your doorstep.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Chuck and Firefly in the same interview?

Hi, guys! Jenny Morris interviewed me at Falling For Fiction today. She asks the best questions! Plus, everyone on the FFF blog is awesome. Come hang out?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Bathing.

Remember that blog slump I was talking about? Um, yeah. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere. But this time, it's not because I'm slumped so much! It's that I got second round edits. Every bit as difficult; 1/4 the time to do it in. Which really means two things: 1- I'm living in a cave and 2- I miss y'all something awful. It has been SO HARD to stay focused when I'm tempted to just hop around to a few blogs! First thing I do when I climb out of this cave is gorge myself on reading blogs.

So I figured that to keep on track, I better write a post about... Wait, no-- This is about MOTIVATION, not bathing! Although, both-- extremely important when in a slump. For more reasons than the fact that the best ideas come in the shower.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing -- that's why we recommend it daily."

~ Zig Ziglar

Yep. What he said. I'll take that motivation in mass quantities, please! And I don't know about you, but I'm totally in need of comfort food, so I'm going for the classic chocolate chip cookie to pair with that motivation. Plus, this picture makes my eyes happy.


Have a motivating, slump-free weekend, everyone!

Oh! And happy June, too! (Seriously? When did that happen?)