Wednesday, December 28, 2011
I'm sorry I've neglected you in recent months. You should know that this isn't intentional on my part, but more of lack of motivation paired with not being chained to a desk 40 hours a week. I promise that I will work out a schedule that will suit both of our needs while entertaining The Lurkdom.
Please know I've enjoyed our time together and that you've taught me a lot in the last few years. Since we've renewed our partnership with vigor, I will not abandon you now. Of course, revisions have also pushed you to the backburner and I'm sorry for that. In the spirit of total disclosure, you should know that you are here to enhance my writing career, not become it.
PS: While I'm slaving over revisions, you can be mesmerized by The White One's sweater.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Back in January, I made it my goal to read a book a week. By the summer I blew that goal out of the water. With so many books read over the year, it's hard to pick just five. I did it though, Lurkdom, just for you*.
What were the best books you've read this year?
* Though, as with everything here at The Pie, opinions are subjected to change at the whim of Yours Truly.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Unless you've been laid off or are very close (read: married or related) to someone who has been laid off, you might not realize what a slap in the face the situation is. You've been rejected. The company that you've worked for has essentially left you for someone else. Yeah, I know there's circumstances like budget cuts or reorganizations, but it doesn't matter at this point. You feel worthless.
It's very easy to fall in to the trap of doing nothing while on unemployment. At first, it's like you've taken a few days off from the day job. You sleep in, stay up late, wear a crazy amount of lounge pants. Then, a month has gone by. The dishes pile up and you're working on your final pair of socks--for the third day in a row. Sure, you've looked for work because if you don't you don't get paid, but the job search yields no results. Probably because your heart isn't in it.
Because of the depression.
The local unemployment office has a workshop called, "Coping with Job Loss" that is so popular I have to wait until next month to attend. I'm hoping it will give me some great tips on getting past this hump. To be honest, it's a miracle I'm as cheerful as I am right now.
One good thing about not having a day job is that this gives me a lot more time to write, revise, and read. It's because of this I was able to complete NaNoWriMo in two weeks. My current goal is to complete requested revisions before it becomes 2012. I'm also trying to take charge of my health by exercising regularly and eating better. With no true schedule, this is a challenge but one I'm willing to meet head on.
To those who have been or are unemployed, how have you handled the time?
Last.fm hit of the day: Numb by Portishead
Monday, December 19, 2011
Of course, you can be in the opposite boat and not have even have a plan of Chinese and a movie. You might feel that this is worse than being overbooked. Don't worry, we can debate the misconception of that later. Today's all about holiday survival.
1. Drink in abundance. There's a reason why Santa is so jolly and it's not because he's full of good cheer. Embrace the nog, snuggle with schnapps, spike your cocoa. Make a drinking game out of every festivity you attend*. Is someone wearing an ugly sweater? Take a shot. Is there a couple snogging under mistletoe? Chug until said snog is complete.
2. Confuse holidays. Light sparklers and play John Philip Sousa marches. Dress up like a bumblebee. Later on you can always blame the sheer amount of booze you've drank since December 1.
3. Wear pajamas everywhere you go. Hey, you might as well be comfortable if you're going to be stuck at a party and if you're on your way to pick up your large pizza for one, you definitely want something with an elastic waist. Oh, and pick up some ice cream while you're at it.
4. Be surly. Not only did some crazy shit happen because Scrooge was such a miser, sometimes being a raging ass can be fun. Think of it as intensive therapy to yell "screw you" to that stranger who rings a bell and says "happy holidays."
5. Document EVERYTHING. If you're a writer, you can call this research. Write notes down on every family interaction you have to succumb to for the holidays. Study office relationships as your colleagues get drunker and less inhibited. Photograph anything that looks questionable as you prowl around on New Year's Eve... Then use anything you can as leverage.
Hope everyone in The Lurkdom is enjoying this holiday season. If not, please employ one of the suggested methods above.
* As long as you drink responsibly. We at The Pie do not encourage drinking and driving.
Last.fm hit of the day: In the Middle of the Night by Within Temptation
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Today's topic: What would be the ideal holiday present for your main character (or favorite character)?
Coincidentally, Christmas happens during Falling to Normal's timeline. Of course there are things Cheyenne would love to get for Christmas, as long as realism isn't an issue.
- The ability to reverse time
- For her past to remain that--the past
- Her first kiss.
That's it. Don't forget to go to YA Highway and see what everyone else is saying.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
So imagine my utter happiness when Bestie Danielle told me about the chicken nativity scene.
Confess, Lurkdom! What's your favorite Tacky Christmas item?
Last.fm hit of the day: Graveyard Love Song by Miguel and The Living Dead
Monday, December 12, 2011
Every year, NaNoWriMo gets a lot of flack, saying that it enables people who fashion themselves as writers when they're really not. I disagree, but that's a subject for a different day. Today is all about why I always go back to NaNoWriMo*.
It's so easy to get stuck on the revision/editing wheel that anyone can get so sucked into it that you can go two years without writing anything new. NaNoWriMo guarantees me that at least once a year I'll create a new novel-length work, which is important since I want to have a writing career.
With this in mind, I use NaNoWriMo to experiment. Whether it's planning techniques or story structure, I make sure that I try something new each year. This is how I learned I was a plotter and that plotcards are what works best. If it wasn't for this, I would never have wrote a novel in present tense.
Just like experimenting takes me out of my writerly comfort zone, so does the deadline that looms over my head each November. There's no fudging it, if I want the winner goodies, I need to complete 50,000 words by November 30th. I can't afford to spend hours stuck in a Wikipedia hole if I want to get my novel done. Since I'm in this for the long haul, meeting deadlines and honing my focus are important things to learn.
For those in the Lurkdom that do NaNo, what drives you to participate in NaNoWriMo?
* And I do. Since my first one in 2009, I've participated and won each year. I even did one session of Camp NaNoWriMo this year.
Last.fm hit of the day: Blessing by London After Midnight
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Today's topic: How far would you go to get published?
More than once I told Bestie Danielle that I would sell my soul for some Twilight money. This should give you an idea of my lack of scruples.
On a more serious note, even though I'm attached to my story lines and characters like The White One and plastic, I'm not stupid. I do realize that the publishing industry contains a bit of give and take. So I'd like to present my list of how far I'd go.
Revision. I have no problems revising. There are people out there much smarter than me that want to make my book better. I've been known to take pretty much any suggestion and try it out*. There are just certain things that won't happen in this though. If you want me to revise so there's a more lyrical quality to the writing, good luck with that. Lyrical I'm not.
Pursue a hobby in cardio torture, AKA running. If you really want me to take up running in order for me to get published, I'll do it. Be prepared for phone calls after the fact though.
Change my characters. Should their hair color change? Okay. Should they suddenly change sexes? Erm, probably not.
The "Sparkle" Factor. This is where I'll stop compromising. Nothing alive or undead should sparkle. Ever**.
Now that I've shared my thoughts on what I'm willing to do or not, I should go take care of some revisions.
* Unfortunately, this has also included suggestions from Nemesis, he of the infamous "love juices."
** The exception to this is when someone is where sequins, which should only be used for costumed purposes only.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
|Making himself comfy at VESCONE.|
After several rounds with the vet and the nice people at VESCONE, everyone was confused. He acted fine, just couldn't keep food down. They confirmed that cats don't have eating disorders and it was determined that he needed surgery to find out what was wrong*.
Now would be the time to mention that I thought myself to be the type of person who would never opt for surgery on a cat. Turns out that was me being delusional because there was no doubt in my mind that we were having the cat operated on.
The White One, of course, had other plans.
|Trying to hide from surgery**.|
So they operated on him and found nothing in his GI tract. They biopsied him and thankfully that came back fine as well. The verdict was he swallowed something too big and by the time the surgery happened, he got rid of it.
The White One had to wear a cone while he healed from his stitches. For ten days, Hubby and I watched the cat walk like a drunken sailor. It was sad because the cat had stitches, but funny because he never got the hang of the cone.
Tomorrow will mark two weeks since the surgery and he'll finally be allowed out of the living room to destroy the rest of the house. Things will finally be back to normal.
So to everyone in the Lurkdom who has expressed concern over The White One, thank you.
Last.fm hit of the day: Weak and Powerless by A Perfect Circle
* The worst case scenario in this regard is cancer.
** You should know that he hid himself. Neither Hubby nor I had any hand in this.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Hopefully the hiatus will jump start my brain and I'll be able to give you all in The Lurkdom some fantastic posts full of (deep) thoughts.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Thanksgiving (and holidays in general) can be a stressful day filled with cooking disasters and logistical nightmares*. Some people would prefer pajamas and cribbage all day and yours truly is no exception. What people like us need is a no-frills, pain-free way to celebrate Thanksgiving that doesn’t have you contemplating suicide for the day.
Lucky for you, I’ve thought about this. A lot.
- If you’re anti-dinner planning and entertaining, you will love the dinner and a movie option. Take your Thanksgiving guests to your closest all-you-can-eat buffet. For about ten bucks per person, you can eat all the turkey and fixings you want without the prep or clean up. Then instead of working off your turkey coma by watching hours of football, go watch a movie. This year I’m voting for The Muppets, though if you’re in a heckling mood, may I suggest the greatest comedy of the year?
- Now what if you really, really, really want to host Thanksgiving but you’re really strapped financially? You should commit a hit and run with a turkey. They’re pretty big and stupid. Think about the family fun waiting for you when you need to clean your own bird!
- Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without giving, well, thanks. Instead of going around the table and each guest listing what they’re thankful for, this year everyone should share what they’re thankful for in a rap.
* At least when you’re me and one family is about four hours round trip away from the other one.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
|Image courtesy of Bestie Danielle|
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you prepared?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Cats, while they don't "amuse" me per se, they do fascinate me. Their colorings and patterns, the way the pounce bottle caps, their communication. Their stares**.
Disclaimer: I am not cinematographically inclined. What this means to you: there are no smooth transitions.
As you can see, the cats provide me with tons of entertainment. Both videos were taken when I should have been doing something else. The combined video? Again when I should have been doing something else.
Tell me, what do you find yourself doing when you should be doing something else?
* This will explain any ramble-like qualities of this post. Seriously.
** Not really. In fact, The Stripey One creeps me out with her staring a lot.
Last.fm hit of the day: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
Monday, November 14, 2011
- While not everyone will have a chance to attend one of these, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tips I heard on crafting your pitch.
- Take your time crafting it. It took The Book Doctors six months to craft their one-minute pitch for their book.
- At the end of the pitch, there should be a feeling of “what happens next.”
- Comp titles. If it’s not clear where on the shelves your book belongs, you have to include some comps, but you don’t need to pull just from other books in your genre. You can pull from movies, TV, or books in a different genre, as long as it makes sense.
- Show, show, show. If you’re writing a humorous story, show the humor, don’t just say it’s funny. Show in the pitch your writing chops and the voice of the book as well.
- Include some description for your main character (no more than 4 words) so we know who they really are and fall in love with them.
- The goal is to tell a story in a minute, so it is important to include an almost complete story arc: beginning, middle, climax, and cliffhanger.
- If you are dealing with a tired trend like werewolves, vampires, and dystopian societies, it is super important that you show your spin on it so we know what makes your story stand out among the rest.
What are some important tips you've learned from pitching?
* At least that is how it worked at Porter Square Books.
Last.fm hit of the day: Endless Sacrifice by Dream Theater
Friday, November 11, 2011
Today's post is super-late and I'm sorry about that. Lots of exciting things have been happening to Yours Truly as of late and since I don't want to jinx anything, that's as much as I can write.
- Zero distractions. With both Hubby unemployed, he's always home so I decided I wouldn't be. Thankfully my dad hooked me up with a temporary office where I holed myself up for eight hours a day over the last two weeks.
- Caffeine. I'd be lying if this doesn't show up as needed for every project, but when my brain goes "mumble mumble," the caffeine is super important. The caffeine of choice is usually Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.
- Music. Another item that shows up all the time, I constantly listen to music while I write. It helps filter out the lawn mower, cat fights, Hubby yelling at Call of Duty...
- Snacks. Since I've been writing as a full time gig for the last few weeks, I eat while I work. I've had the most unhealthy diet ever this month, but hey I *did* finish my WIP*.
- Writing Mascot. Usually seen in the form of The Stripey or White One, this NaNo has found me with a tiny magic worm that looks like Slimy from Sesame Street. See?
With all this kitty (not to mention Alicia) drama, I am painfully behind my NaNoWriMo word count and each setback like this one is enough for me to tear out all my hair. Right now I just want to get it done and retire into an afghan-making frenzy**. If only there were a way to get this done in an efficiently painless way.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Hello, zombie fans! During Halloween week, there were a lot of great shows on television that would never be played throughout the year otherwise. It's cool that channels like the History Channel and Discovery will air shows about zombies and witches, etc. during October, but kind of sad that they won't air anything like that the other eleven months out of the year.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.
Today's topic: What are your writing/publishing superpowers (drafting? plotting? writing queries?) – and what’s your kryptonite?
Today’s answer is going to be wicked fast because it’s been a loooong week for yours truly and I have this mammoth word count I need to play catch up on.
If I was a literary super heroine, like Wonder Woman, I would totally rock a fantastic no-gym-necessary body and spandex would love me. There would be comic books with variant covers and movie options showering upon my creative genius.
If I was a literary super heroine, I would have my own batch of super friends (you) and we would have our own version of the JLA and call it Young Adult Literati Legacy, or YALL for short.
If I was a super heroine, my super strength would be dialogue. With it, I would own Hollywood.
If I was a super heroine, my arch enemy would be Nemesis II. This is because there is already a comic book character named Nemesis.
If I was a super heroine, my weakness (besides chocolate) would be the selling of my own work. The queries, pitches, and loglines would obliterate me into a pile of ash.
Last.fm hit of the day: Of Masques and Martyrs by I Am Ghost
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Soundtracks. We know about them. All movies and TV shows have. Yours truly owns a stupid amount of them. I have playlists for the gym, editing, and for various projects. I'm sure you have these as well.
As I was getting ready for NaNoWriMo this year, I worked on coming up with a soundtrack for SFLN. Which is harder than you would think when you're doing it consciously. How do you manage to go beyond your "go-to" music to get the feel right for your story?
It's a good question. Below I've listed a few tips that will help you go past the norm and beef up that soundtrack.
- Broaden your musical horizons. This should go without saying. If you listen to music beyond what's in your iPod, you might hear something that will blow your mind. Last.fm is a good place to start as you can listen to music based off of genre, similar artist, or other Last.fm users.
- Go by song title. Sounds lame, but sometimes a song title will give you some insight about what the song is about, which will make it easy for you to determine if it will work for your WIP without necessarily listening to it.
- Make sure there's music representative of each character and emotion. This sort of goes with number 1, but it does bear repeating: diversity is key. If you have kissing scenes, hardcore techno isn't going to work, just like Kenny G isn't going to work if you're writing about war.
Lurkdom, tell me your tips for creating a soundtrack.
Last.fm hit of the day: Spooky by Daniel Ash
Monday, November 7, 2011
Nor is about my other love, reality television. I'm not talking about the trashy reality TV, like Jersey Shore, but something a little "classier" where the focus is more on actual life and not just hookups.
|Source: images.search.yahoo.com via Amira on Pinterest|
Dirty Soap focuses on the lives of eight people involved in soaps. Each star is at a different stage of their professional and personal careers. There's rivalry, family drama, and baby drama. Not to mention there's tons of talk about soaps. That there are entire conversations that discuss what's happening with their fictional selves is pretty awesome.
What I love best about the show is the personal edge to the show. It's easy to forget that people involved in TV and movies deal with the same crap we do. Including this into the show makes it less contrived.
Confess! What show are you reluctant to share your love for?
Last.fm hit of the day: In the Presence of My Enemies by Machine Head
Friday, November 4, 2011
Or a bout of "I can't take it anymore" itis*.
Whenever I begin to doubt my own pet project, I think about The Dark Tower.
Personal SK Pick: The Dark Tower series
(Hm... This is more difficult than I originally thought. Maybe it's because a lot of the writers that inspire me aren't actually visible in my writing?)
Personal L'Engle Pick: A Ring of Endless Light (no contest there)
Besides, check out that mustache.
Personal Hardy Pick: Return of the Native
(And it looks like there will only be four today. This writing on a time frame is H-A-R-D.)
Personal Rice Picks: The Vampire Lestat and Memnoch the Devil
I can only think of four. Which authors inspire you?
* Yeah, writing has been slow-going.
** That could be the inner goth talking.
Last.fm hit of the day: Kick in the Eye by Bauhaus
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Today's topic: Per Sarah's August post (http://bit.ly/qi9Ed1), what kind of writing coach do you need? What kind are you?
I think about this from time-to-time because who doesn't want somebody cheering you on while you work and making sure you don't quit?
Despite my self-esteem issues and my total bouts of "I suck," I don't want you to kiss my ass. That's not going to make me a stronger writer. I want someone who will tell me what's wrong when they crit me, but also let me know what's working. If I'm stuck, I want someone who is there to help me brainstorm my way through the problem. Basically, I want a Danielle*.
As for myself, if I was a writing coach, I'm not sure what kind I am. My mood dictates a lot about my coaching style. If I'm in a bad mood, I find more things wrong when I crit. I think I'm pretty good to talk things through with and I'm always willing to cheer you on. In terms of my coaching personality, I think my writing buddies are better equipped to answer that about me.
And since not all in the Lurkdom write, let's expand this out to any kind of coach. If you were going to be a coach for anything (including basket weaving), what kind would you be?
Now I'm off to caffeinate and beat my word count.
* If you're new (welcome), you won't know what a Danielle is. She's one of the besties and always has my writing back. She spends hours helping me refine queries and synopses. She has read way too many versions of the same story.
Spotify hit of the day: Viva La Vida by Coldplay
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
What Is Social Media Fatigue?
According to Technopedia, social media fatigue is when people grow overwhelmed with the time and energy spent maintaining and initiating all of these connections. (Yes, this can include people you know IRL that you only now communicate with through Facebook.)
Writers are more prone to suffer this than the average bear. We constantly hear that we need to build our platform, interact with our writing community, and make ourselves visible. (That's on top of constantly honing our craft, reading, researching, and the million other things that make writers awesome.) Many of us are online late into the night participating in Twitter chats or visiting the hundreds of blogs in their Google Reader.
It's amazing we get anything done.
What Can Be Done About SMF?
The easiest (and hardest) answer is manage your time. If you're an avid blog writer and reader, you should figure out how many days a week you will blog and when your blogging will get done. Then you should determine how you're going to read and comment on all those blogs you subscribe to.
Another solution is to unplug for a few days at a time. When I had a day job, I sat in front of a computer all day, so when the weekend would come, I would limit my computer and social media time. While this strategy might not work for you, it does something that we all need--it gives you scheduled time off.
Remember, you're not alone in this. As Hubby just pointed out, everyone suffers from SMF.
Last.fm hit of the day: Going to California (Rosetta Stone Mix) by Gene Loves Jezebel