Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

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Are You Shy?

I’ve never considered myself to be shy, but truth be told, I’ve always been guarded. Guarded is a sort of fancy word for introverted. Introverted and shy, it turns out, are not the same creature. I’d never given much thought to either, until now. It’s not like I’m anti-social. But the social media aspect of being a writer, and soon to be published author, is daunting for people like me. It’s like throwing yourself into an oven and praying it’s only set at around 175 degrees. Because at 400–you will burn up. 400 is too hot, too social, too LOUD.

The social media aspect of this business forces us to be just that—social. It forces us to be everywhere. All The Time. Making contacts, creating a brand—-basically, establishing a business from the ground floor. A huge undertaking, especially when we are expected to be writing good books at the same time. When you aren’t an extrovert, it’s an even harder task. Thankfully, a lot of blog and twitter friends are extroverts and that makes it easier. They draw us introverts out once in a while.

I uploaded my fledgling Facebook page the other day (come over and LIKE me), and I swear it took all I had to push ‘publish’ and go live. I felt the same way with Twitter, an outlet that is going strong now, thankfully. My blog has been, surprisingly, the easiest branch of social media for me. Why? I’m all exposed here on the blog, how could that be easier? Writing is easy. Simple as that. Talking to 500 people on Twitter….different story. (Thank you for keeping me talking Twitter followers:)

I ran across an interesting article on NPR the other day.

Quiet, Please: Unleashing ‘The Power Of Introverts’ You can find the link here: NPR Books

Susan Cain has written a book on the subject.

QUIET

The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Check it out.

When I publish my novel later this year, I will likely hide for a few weeks, due to open and blatant exposure (Kidding. Sort of;)

Are you more comfortable in a crowded room talking to any and everyone? Or do one on one conversations interest you more?


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks must reads:

One of THE BEST pieces of writing advice I have ever read is written by Chuck Wendig.  His blog, Terrible Minds, is a must read. Here is his incredibly inspiring post:

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing: Terrible Minds

Wendig’s blog is R rated, so if you are easily squeamish look the other way. He is however, an amazing writer and accomplished author, and his writing advice is second to none.

J.A. Konrath has an excellent post up on his blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, The Myth Of The Bestseller. You can read it here: A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing

Konrath’s approach is direct and to the point. He is a numbers guy and a known name in the world of self publishing. Check out his thoughts if you haven’t yet.


My Music Monday

Some of the best music I have heard in the last few weeks. Enjoy:

Grimes

Gotye

The Shins

(I own Nothing. Thank you to the YouTube creators and artists)

***April 2012, Disclaimer. I was listening to Gotye months before the above song was being played on every top 40 station in existence. Just saying.


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.  Quotes, excerpts, blog posts, etc…  So today I thought I would share some of the best blog posts I’ve read recently.

**Best selling author, social media aficionado and all around entertaining, Kristin Lamb. If you are a writer not already following her blog, do. She has a very user-friendly approach to the trials and tribulations of becoming an author/blogger/tweeter. Her blog, Warrior Writers and her post, Lies That Can Poison Our Writing Career, can be found here: Kristin Lamb

**I’m not quite sure how I missed David Gaughran, but I am thankful to have run across his blog, Let’s Get Digital. How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should as well as his column at Indie Reader.

David is an Irish writer and author. He is incredibly inspiring, funny and real. One of his must-read posts, Around The World In 80 Drafts, can be found here: David Gaughran

**And lastly this week, NY Times Best Selling Author, public speaker, publisher and novel-writing instructor, the talented, Bob Mayer. You can find his blog, Write it Forward, and his post, 2011 Wrap Up and a Look Ahead to 2012 in Writing & Publishing, here: Bob Mayer Every bit of information he shares is useful and to the point.

Have a great writing day!


Happy Anniversary!

I missed it. My anniversary. Because of the Flu. But on December 10, my one year Blog Anniversary came and went. I was too ill to think, much less write, but even my flu induced haze didn’t allow me to forget.

One year. Wow. It’s hard to believe. Harder still to believe that I had already completed the first and second draft of my novel five months prior to launching this blog. When I began it was primarily to talk about writing. To have an outlet for my overflowing brain. To create contacts and have a sounding board.

It has proved a far greater asset than I could have imagined. The fellow writer friends I have made over the past year have inspired me, helped me and ultimately kept me writing at times I thought I couldn’t keep going. All of the support and positive response I have received means so much to me. Thank you.

2012 should be a most challenging year, as I plan to publish my first novel in what will be a YA Fantasy/Paranormal series. April will mark two years of writing, editing and now revising this book.

Here’s to a successful and gratifying New Year. The sky’s the limit.

april

Image by kygp via Flickr


Quote

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

~Charles William Eliot


Behind the Black Screen

I received a beautiful Charles Dickens hardback for Christmas, complete with five novels. Oliver Twist, A Tale Of Two Cities, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol (my all time favorite) and Great Expectations. The weight alone, 1483 pages, is impressive. The gilded pages and heavy dark cover indicate it’s value and overall worth in a time far past.

I also received an iPhone 4gs and with it, a storm of headaches. Half of my iTunes library, to which consists of over one thousand songs, got wiped out. Panic was quickly replaced by anger, replaced by heartbreak. My music. I can’t put into words how important it is to me. How would I replace it all? How would I even remember all of it?

An illustrated copy of Tolkien‘s The Hobbit, a hugely scaled hardback encased behind glass at a local bookstore, spoke to me. It was probably two feet in width and height, under lock and key. I wanted it the second I saw it, untouched and unowned. Books like these are treasures and meant to be treasured and adored. Now it seems they are a dying breed. I bought the book in all it’s 1977 glory.

I’m reading the fourth book in the George R. R. Martin series, A song of Fire and Ice, A Feast for Crows. I’ve been downloading them one by one onto my Nook. It occurred to me over the holidays just how upset I would be if this series, a sure to be classic in its own right, was somehow lost behind the black screen. Irretrievable. Like my music.

If I lost my novels, these treasures of mine — the thought makes me ill. I love the ease and convenience of my Nook. But what about my Dickens, my Tolkien? Is it the same if I have downloaded copies of these masterpieces?

Here’s the glitch with technology. Everything can get backed up, copied, protected. But like with my music, there are no guarantees. And even if there were, is it the same when these legendary authors are hidden behind the black screen? Not for me it isn’t. The history gets lost somewhere in the technology for me. I need the paper for these stories to remain alive and true. Weight, storage, inconvenience — all of those reasons we have to stop buying paper and start downloading —  I agree with. Until we start messing with the classics. I’ll take those in all their hardback glory.


Dusting Off The Keyboard

The whirlwind that the holidays become leave my head spinning and in need of normality. The trusty laptop, my  Mac Pro, which I love, is my absolute savior.  It’s like a loyal pet waiting at my front door as I turn the key in the lock. It shines up at me, “Where have you been?” It whirrs into beautiful illumination. The cloud lifts. My mind clears and all is right again. Ahh.


God, I love bookstores.

They lure me inside and force me to buy, buy, buy! Books that I should, I guess, be buying on my Nook.

Yeah, I bought one. A Nook. I failed to mention that fact about….six months ago. I broke down. Technology lulled me into its grip. Honestly, I bought one because:

1. I’m a writer and we need to stay current.

And 2. I thought for the sake of research and further education, it would serve an excellent purpose. I didn’t want to lug around a lot of books on craft and research material.

It was great at first. Then the inevitable happened. I started downloading novels. Of course I did! Do you realize the price difference? The ease of paying and BOOM, there’s your book. Waiting to be read. I love that!

But….I miss bookstores. I miss turning pages, the smell of paper, the feel of a book in my hands. I’m a reader and part of that love is meandering through bookstore isles. Browsing. Searching.

So yesterday as I continued my Christmas shopping, I found myself in Barnes and Noble. I could have only bought the two paperback books on my list, the ones for kids who don’t own ereaders. I could have gone on by only purchasing a Nook gift card for my mom, but did I?

No.

I saw a gorgeous hardback copy of the book I intended my mom buy with that gift card on her own Nook. The soft light gleamed off the black cover, I inhaled the sweetness of paper and picked it up off the shelf. All $18.99 of it. 400 pages of…ahhhh. I had to buy it. It was calling me!

So there. My defiance toward ereaders is based on my pure love of heavily perfumed, weighted paper books. They are why I write. Why I’ve always written. Why my shelves at home are stuffed full of books I’ve read time and again. They give me a sense of pride. For myself and for every writer whose blood, sweat and tears poured into those pages.

Soon I will also join the ranks with my fellow indie, self-pubbed and trad authors with books available on every manner of ereader imaginable. But, Barnes and Noble, and all of you mom and pop bookstores and shops….you had me at hello and you’ll keep me ’til goodbye.


Clearing The Fog

It was the flu. The fever crept in mid-week—after the sore throat and lack of energy sent me to bed. The fever kept me there for days.

Since my writing has been in a better place than it has in months, the timing was really bad. You see, I don’t function well when I’m ill.

The last time I was sick, really sick, was probably two years ago. Thank god for that because I kind of turn into a giant brat. I’m generally mad for the duration. And I don’t think clearly. That’s likely due to a combination of cold medicine and head congestion.

So as I’m trying to pull myself back into a productive state of mind, I’ve come up with a few motivational triggers that have helped.

Read.

Reading unlocks your brain and gets the writing current flowing again. And if you feel awful, you can read in bed.

Exercise.

Yeah, I know. But once your energy returns, exercise. Run, walk, whatever. It is one of the best ways to get back in the saddle.

Music.

For me this is obvious. But not for everyone. If listening to music triggers certain responses or emotions, use them. Music is great for generating ideas.

Edit.

Yep. If you’re finding zero inspiration, sometimes going over your WIP with a skeptical eye is the best motivational tool.

Thankfully, my foggy head has cleared and standing for more than an hour is no longer torture. I have a lot of work to do.


Inspiration of the day:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

~Albert Einstein


My Music Monday

Today I am going back in time a little bit to The Smashing Pumpkins and the ridiculously talented Billy Corgan.  Adore, in my opinion, remains the last great album from The Smashing Pumpkins. Although Siamese Dream holds a close second, the lyrically masterful and melodic lull of Adore reigns supreme.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Live performance with Billy In Paris:

**Thank You to YouTube and the creators of these videos


When writing takes hold…

This has been the most productive writing week I’ve had in months. Literally.  Harnessing a writing streak however, can be an impossible task, so when it strikes, run with it.  Here are some repercussions of what I call ‘writers hold.’

1. You have consumed more coffee or hot tea than your body weight.

2. Pajamas become proper work attire.

3. Your laptop has attached itself to your hand.

4. You wake up at three in the morning because your unconscious mind just unlocked the key to Chapter Ten!

5. You realize the dishes haven’t been done in days and you haven’t left the house in over 24 hours.

6. You start talking to yourself. Out loud.

7. You are in pain from the neck down.

8. You have amassed over one hundred unchecked emails and you don’t care.

9. Your blog posts become increasingly random and more sporadic.

10. You have no idea that your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, child, roommate is talking to you.

11. You don’t know todays date.

12. And you are thankful as hell for all of these things because they spell…PRODUCTIVITY.


Spammage

The best spam comment I’ve read all week:

“Call me wind because I am blown away by your post!”

Glad I could help.


My Music Monday

Here are a few tracks I’ll be writing to this week:

**Thanks to YouTube for videos (none of which belong to me)


Thankful..

I am thankful for the gift of words, the gift of insight and imagination. For my love of books and the ability to spend hours reading them.

For friends who stand by me, even when they think I’ve lost my mind or disagree with every decision I make. You keep me upright.

For my family and their unyielding encouragement throughout my life. I would be lost without you.

For my health and sanity.

My ability to run again after my second round of physical therapy.

For music that vibrates my core and spills through me with every beat.

For my cherished memories of times and people past. I miss you.

For the chill of Autumns approach and the fall of red bruised leaves.

For all the gifts I cherish and hold dear in my life, I am truly grateful.

And of course for all of you who read, listen, like, comment and care about what I have to say, even when its utter nonsense. Thank You for listening.


How important is the Title?

What role does a title play in the overall feel of a book? Does it pull at your heart-strings, begging you to pick it up or is the cover more important as a draw?

Since I am now in the position of weighing my options in regard to changing my title (or clinging to it with both hands), I’ve given the whole process quite a bit of thought.

There are a good amount of book titles out there that have little or no relevance to story content. Good books. Books that I’m sure had original titles, titles that fit and worked, only to be changed in order to draw more readers.

In the YA fantasy/paranormal genre they seem more prevalent. So here’s the question: Should the title represent the story? Or should the aim of a title be to draw more readers regardless of its relevance to the book?

Example: Twilight. Stephenie Meyer intended the first book of this series to be titled FORKS. It represented the town obviously, but it also represented where Bella was in her life. Stuck at various cross-roads, trying to do the right thing, make the right decisions. Put aside the fact the we are all comfortable, and there for biased to the Twilight title, and ask yourself if it really works. Does it have any real relevance to the story? It makes a great sounding book. It fits the cover nicely. It sold millions of copies.

How about Beautiful Creatures (Darkness and Chaos), a favorite series of mine, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. These books are magical and dark and delicious. They also have a different title. The original one. SIXTEEN MOONS (and Seventeen and Eighteen). Titles that fit beautifully with the storyline. But those titles aren’t the ones we see.

How about JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Pretty clear that her titles (and covers) could not be more perfectly matched to the story.

Michael Scott‘s The Alchemist? The Magician? All the titles in this incredible series are also wonderfully in sync with both story line and book covers.

That all being said, I am assuming it’s the romantic paranormal side of YA that tends to fall to luring titles, regardless of story content. Pretty covers sell. Put a catchy title on that pretty cover and you just increased your odds of selling a book.

So, what do you think? Choose the title that fits the storyline and hope it appeals to your readers? Choose the title that grips you as the writer from the start? Or choose a title (and cover) that targets your genre regardless of relevance to the book?

I know, I know. Be savvy enough to meld them all (EXCEPT relevance, I can’t move past that). Just answer the question;) 


‘Tis the season

My weekend task….erect the Christmas lights. I have about 75 strands in varying lengths. All in one big tangled mass. Every year I end up needing to replace about half of the stock. No matter how much I complain that this year, I’ll wind them up in neat little bundles and protect their delicate bulbs, it never happens. After the days it takes to assemble them all over my yard, the last thing I want to do is take them back down. I generally use force. Force tends to damage them, along with the brittle branches and leaves that come loose and entangled in the wires. I drop them, strand by strand, into an oversized Tupperware with the leaves and twigs still jutting out, no rhyme or reason, and every year, I end up with this:

I managed to find a few cords to plug-in for the photo. I didn’t shoot the ones still in boxes or in piles of ‘burnt out’ vs. ‘half still work’ (you can still use those) on the floor.

Have to admit though, they are so pretty all lit up. I’ve considered just hanging them like that from tree limbs. You know, like giant unorganized ornaments. They’d be beautiful at night;)


The Gang is Back

Could I be any more excited about The Muppets coming back to theaters? No, probably not. I LOVE them. I LOVE Jim Hensen. And I am thrilled that The Muppets will grace us with their hilarious and magical presence once again.

Welcome back guys;)


My Music Mondays

Here on the blog I am dedicating monday as Music Day. I will post my current playlist or songs that I feel are particularly good this week (or just the songs I’m writing/listening to). Although I love new music and try to stay current, I also love the old stuff and will be posting that as well. Thanks for listening.

PHANTOGRAM: Don’t Move

WASHED OUT: Before

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Only If For A Night

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE: Shake It Out


Getting back in my head…

When I finished my first novel I tucked it way for a few weeks to simmer and set. Then my break-need set in as well. I’d completely burned myself out. I knew it was coming on for quite a while. Fast forward to a few months later, and regaining entry has proved more difficult than I expected.

There is a disconnection that happens when you leave a WIP to rest a while. The positives are seeing your piece with fresh, often scrutinizing eyes. The negatives–what you see may or may not be something you like or can even use. Not all we create will be worth a damn in terms of publication, regardless of the time spent–weeks, months–years even.

In my attempt to pick up where I left off, many aspects are working quite well, while others, I see now, must be scrapped. I shall need to rewrite my first chapter for instance. A daunting prospect as it has given me trouble since day one. I would scrap it too if I could figure out how without losing needed story elements. It just refuses to roll off my tongue in the right way.  My playlists are providing some needed inspiration and with any luck  will carry me through the 25 or so pages.

Any tips for re-entry after letting the novel stew a while? Ideas to trigger to inspiration?


National Author’s Day

For National Authors Day I shall be working here at my desk (no it never looks so neat).

My desk

Here are just a few of my favorite authors who must be mentioned today: The splendidly dark and incredibly talented, Anne Rice.

Anne Rice

Image via Wikipedia Anne Rice

The Mastermind, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Tolkien in 1916, wearing his British Army unif...

Image via Wikipedia Tolkien

And of course, The Legend in her own time, JK Rowling.

J. K. Rowling, after receiving an honorary deg...

Image via Wikipedia JK Rowling

There are many more I could add, but these take the top. Good luck to all you NanoWrimo writers starting today as well!


Seriously?

Yesterday I re-created my Facebook page. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. After months of banging my head against the wall, the smoke-filled mass that my brain had become, has miraculously and thankfully, cleared. I was beginning to wonder if I was altogether done. So…yesterday I pulled that fb page back up and tinkered around with it. It will be a while before it’s what it needs to be, but it’s fine for now.

In my perusal of fb pages, I came across my name in bing at the bottom of the search window. It was everywhere. I’ve mentioned many times that I’m pretty guarded and not the social butterfly. That fact may seem odd to readers of my blog. But truth be told, writing is just easy for me. Easier that is, to be expressive. I’m talking to the great wide void here in my little pages. So when I ran across my name on Klout–I burst out laughing.

My Klout score is 24, which is even funnier. I appreciate the hell out of all of you out there reading my random complaints and gripes. Really. I do. But I never assumed so many people were reading them. So thanks to the great wide void I guess, hopefully one of these days you guys will want to read my books. The books…you know, the reason I’m writing this blog in the first place. Yeah those.

Speaking of…I believe I shall release my cover soon. I’m finally happy with it. Assuming that is, that I can figure out how to move it off of Gimp and onto my page.


Finding my way

Today I’m going to go down a slightly different post path. As the weariness of blogs by writers becomes more and more apparent, I feel the need to talk about what I’m doing as a possible means of clearing the clutter from my brain.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my WIP. That’s a good thing because a few weeks ago all I wanted to do was leave it stuffed in a drawer. I still haven’t brought myself to edit anymore or even continue working on the sequel…but I’m feeling better about moving in that direction.

This morning I drug out my old playlist for memory triggers. One of the problems with leaving a WIP for a while is coming back to it later. Finding the same inspiration you left weeks or months before isn’t a guarantee. Listening to playlists is a sure-fire way back in for me. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’ve started writing yet. Only that I’m walking the path again.

The truth is, novels take so much emotional strength to create–and sometimes I simply run out of it. Staying in a particular mind-set for weeks on end–well, let’s just say consumption isn’t always a good thing.

So after riding that dreaded bike of mine for 10 miles this morning, my brain flooded. Without a prod or push, it flowed freely. That hasn’t happened in a long while. So here it flows, onto this page. And again, I’m being guided by that voice in my head. The one that for over a year refused to shut up. It woke up. Or maybe I did. Either way, I’m closer.

Listening to:

Angus & Julia Stone: Down The Way–The Devil’s Tears

Broken Bells: Broken Bells–The High Road, The Ghost Inside

Silversun Pickups: Swoon–The Royal We, Draining, Catch and Release

A Silent Film: The City That Sleeps–You Will Leave a Mark

Blue Foundation: Life of a Ghost–Stained, Enemy, Talk to Me, Watch You Sleeping, Hero Across the Sky.

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

The Fray: How to Save a Life–Look After You

Washed Out: Life of Leisure–Feel It All Around, New Theory

Temper Trap: Conditions–Sweet Disposition

Just to name a few triggers that helped to unlock the vice this morning.