Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy break/holidays/year!

We hope everyone's enjoying winter break! (Or, summer, if you're on the other side of the world.) We'll be kicking off our two new members with the new year and we're looking forward to introducing them to you.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hey, that's me!

(Pretend it's Tuesday. Really, pretend it is. Actually, I don't want it to be Tuesday, because the fact that it's Wednesday means school is FINALLY over and I'm FINALLY on break. But for the intents and purposes of my blog post, pretend it's Tuesday.)

This past Thursday I was on TV! Live! Which was, let me say, very exciting. Also, I got Chipotle after I left the studio which was ALSO very exciting. Though for once not as exciting as the event preceding it. Which was my interview. Which^2 I am sharing with you--click here if you want to watch!

It's a writer stereotype that those who use written words must be inept at the spoken word part. Much as I may sometimes mispronounce words (I know how to spell them before I know how to say them) I don't think this is true for me. I like to talk (almost) as much as I like to write. And I think, in most cases, you'll find this is true for a lot of writers. Why? Because words are cool.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

In Which Little Kids Help Plot

For the past few weeks, I've been babysitting from 8 to 5, three days a week. I honestly never thought that watching two kids, both of which are under five, would help me with my writing. I noticed something about children that I had never noticed before. Little kids ask questions. A lot.

These kids in particular love asking 'why?'. They probably ask me why something occurs in response to 75% of the things I say. Them asking tons of questions helps me SO MUCH with my writing, which is good because I haven't been writing recently so I need all the help I can get. Hearing all the questions every day has made it so they're, in a way, ingrained in my brain. During those rare moments that I am writing, asking myself why something happened and what the consequences are, helps me out of my writing slumps. For example (this is totally off the top of my head)-

Plot 'seed'- The chicken crossed the road.
Why- To get to the other side.
Why- Because he had a hot date with a cute chick.
How did that happen- He was arguing with the supermarket clerk about how selling eggs was supporting cannibalism and then the chick joined in and said that she prefers the tofu eggs over the real ones.
Why- Because she agrees with the chicken and doesn't want to participate in cannibalism. She also has fond memories of sitting around her family Hanukkah bush, eating tofu eggs on toast and singing Hanukkah carols.

When I'm writing, I've recently taken to doing stuff like that. I actually started a document where I have conversation-type things with my characters in which I 'ask' them why they make the choices they do. I know that a lot of people ask themselves these questions on instinct, but I never really did- except for when I would do it subconsciously.

So that is something new I've discovered about my writing process recently. When writing/plotting, do you ask yourself questions? Are you more of a go-with-the-flow type of person? Are you caught in the middle between the two? Also, has a little kid ever inspired any part of your writing? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Here's one (okay, four): mirrors. Or windows. Or dark TV screens. Or shiny jewelry.

What do they have in common? Your character can see through them to an opposite world. A world where if she raises her eyebrow, the person in the mirror/window/screen/bracelet raises her left eyebrow at exactly the same time...or, less dramatically, your character can see reflections.

Reflections are an underused commodity. A hallway mirror can bounce an image from one room to the next, allowing a flash of what's going on inside--theft? murder? That Guy Your Character Secretly Loves hooking up with That Girl Everyone Knows is an Ice Queen?--to pass into the unsuspecting main character's visual cortex. Conversely, your character can channel a reflection in the direction he wants--maybe using the dark screen of a cell phone to watch the suspicious man/woman/baby/goblin behind him on the subway.

The point: mirrors aren't just for a character to peer into and arbitrarily describe every aspect of his/her appearance. They can be used for FUN.

(Another example like this is noises from another room--sound travels, and this can be a great way to introduce information. What was that crash? Or are the walls so thin the argument between Guy Your Character Secretly Loves and Ice Queen is audible two doors down? If so, lucky you--I mean, your character.)

What do you think are some unused plot commodities?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Sucks At Remembering Dates

Or: Time in books.

As usual, I'm scrambling to type this at the last moment because once again, I forgot it was Saturday. I blame my hours. I was up at 5am the last two days. It messes with your inner clock. Or at least it does mine. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) However, I'm going to take inspiration from this and talk about time in books.

If you follow me on Twitter or read a few of my posts on here, you've probably heard me talk about my book SMN. (I never refer to it by its actual title because it make me giggle, but you could probably find that out if you looked. Or asked certain people who are in the know.) And if you've heard me talking about it, you know that I've called it weird, odd, stupid - this list goes on for a while, but the main one you need to keep in mind is weird.

SMN decided that it wanted to be my little freak. It decided that it not only needed to be plotted (I didn't plot my other books - I'm a total panster) but it needed to have a schedule.

Yeah, you read that right. SCHEDULE.

SMN takes place in October and the entire book leads up to Halloween, so everything else had to fit into the month of October. Because my brain is a little nutty, every time I said it was a Friday or Tuesday or whatever in the book, I needed to know it was actually that day. So I made a calendar of October of the year SMN takes place in (the simplest way to do this is just to make a table in a word processing program) and I have everything that happens in my book in that so that all the days line up like ducks in a row.

This is a little bit extreme for me (or most people, I imagine), but one thing it helps with is that there's never school on Saturday.

Do you keep track of time in your books? If so, how? If not, how do you keep from running into things like 6 day school weeks? ;)

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Power of Sharing

Sharing is nice, as kindergarten teachers have been informing the population for years. Also, as parents have been begging siblings to do for even longer.

Well, my sister and I share. Well, we share one thing. Maybe a few, if you count certain pairs of shoes and bathroom-cleaning responsibilities. But mostly we share fictional worlds.

When we were little we played pretend, and our awesome imagined stories (that we kept running for weeks, and sometimes years) are definitely something I attribute my love of writing to. It's my own version of "playing pretend"--because the actual playing is, unfortunately, not on the agenda anymore. We also swap books (of course) and she's my Partner in TV. (A play off of Partner in Crime, in case you didn't pick up on my on-the-fly wordplay.) There have been a few series so far that we've watched every episode of, (somewhat) in order, together: Chuck (NBC), the Nine Lives of Chloe King (ABC, and yes, it was a guilty pleasure show), and most recently Doctor Who (BBC).

Honestly, these shows wouldn't be half as fun without my sister. We're not just watching a random TV show, we're engaged, talking, trying to work out the minute plot points and come up with our own future scenarios. (Okay, this is mostly for Doctor Who and the early seasons of Chuck. Chloe King wasn't that complicated. But at least it was fun.) "Watching"--I use quotation marks because we do so much more than watch--with her makes those worlds more than images on a screen (or, in the book version, words on a page). The other day I dragged my sister on a run with me and we spent the entire time discussing Doctor Who. (Which, incidentally, distracted her from the run enough for her not to hate me for bringing her along in the first place.)

As I've just illustrated, even if we don't play pretend anymore, my sister and I share fiction. She's still the one I turn to if I need to talk out a new story idea--maybe because she's willing to sit and listen as I babble past midnight, or maybe because she actually follows along and throws in suggestions, just like we're planning out another world to play pretend in. Either way, it works, and I suggest everyone find someone to share their fictional worlds with.

What are some of your favorite fictional worlds?


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday is in Denial

Or: Bargaining! (Get it? Like the five stages of grief/dying? Well, I thought it was funny.)

(Also. Sorry this is so late. My town's Christmas festival was yesterday and today and I've been gone most of today and I also forgot it was Saturday. So I'm writing this very quickly and hoping like heck that it'll be done before midnight because then it's still Saturday. Which gives me an hour and twenty minutes. LET'S GO.)

Sometimes the voice of one of my main characters will click and the emotions will be just right and the plot will be something perfect that I'm good at and the words will flow molasses on a hot summer day. (Is that a real expression? Sometimes I make up metaphors and they don't work. You know that book I talk about, Berserk? Book of failed metaphors. Seriously.) And that's lovely and good and all, but sometime they don't. Sometimes the writing is more like picking saffron one back-breaking thread at a time. (More metaphors!)

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes, for me, it can mean that I'm not connecting with the MC enough, but sometimes that's just how the book or story or that part or whatever is going to go. But this can be really frustrating. So what do I do?

I bribe myself. Because bribes WORK. (Seriously. I bribe the kids at Storytime to be good listeners with stickers, I bribe the 8-year-old girl I baby-sit with stickers that will add up to earning a prize.) For SMN, I bribed myself with a necklace from Etsy if I finished the book. (Which is currently lost and I am very annoyed about, so let's not focus on that.) I also use smaller bribes than that, like a cookie for every 250 words. When I was working on my synopsis, I had a box of three Lindt Lindors and my reward for finishing the second draft of the synopsis was the last two Lindors - an especially good bribe because I hated writing that thing and I love Lindors. They're my favourite.

A little while ago, I also bribed my biffle/crit partner about finishing a revision of her book. I told her that if she finished it, I'd let her name a character in the book I was writing. (I thought it'd mostly be a shiggles thing, but I think it worked. You'd have to ask her if it helped.)

Okay, so, do you guys give yourselves writing rewards? If so, what?

Peace and cookies,