Friday, October 28, 2011

Do you know Cortney Pearson?

She's awesome! And I get to interview her today. Yeah, I know...I'm super lucky! But you get to read the interview so it's your lucky day too.

My Photo

On Cortney's equally awesome blog, she says, "I squeeze out my stories in between chasing after two adorable boys, performing my favorite juggling act of being both mother and writer. I currently have an agent considering one of my novels. Join me on the road to publication!"

Mother and writer. Super cool. And so close to being agented! Which means, she knows her stuff. So let's get to the interview.

Cortney, how long have you been writing?

Since I can remember, actually. When I was little I would draw a picture, scribble underneath it and walk around telling my story to anyone who would listen. In grade school I wrote a picture book series called Why, Mr. Rabbit? about a rabbit with super powers. As I got older I would hide away in my mom's bedroom on our old-school computer and write stories about girls who were everything I wanted to be. Once, for Halloween, I put on a sweater vest, tucked a pencil behind my ear and counted it as my costume (since we all know writers wear sweater vests, right? lol). But I've been writing "seriously" for about four years now.

(I love the "old-school computer." We all know what you're talking about there. Well, most of us do :) I just gave away my only sweater vest. I guess I need to get another one!)

What made you want to write?

The big thing for me was Twilight. I know, I know--I got sucked in along with everyone else! But I found out Stephenie Meyer was LDS (Mormon) and it was encouraging because I am too, and I was like, if she can do it, so can I. And shortly after I started scribbling my first novel I heard that quote by Toni Morrison: "If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." So I did. :D That book hasn't seen the light of day for about a year now, but it was essential in helping me figure out that there's more to writing than just...well, writing!

(Yay for the experimental first book. Everyone has one! And Twilight got me too. No shame! Everyone also needs a book to get them hooked.)

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would you choose?

My first thought was Charlotte Bronte because Jane Eyre is my favorite favorite favorite book. But then I changed my mind. I think I'd rather meet J.K. Rowling. What a mastermind. I'd want to know how (or if) she mapped everything out, how she kept track of details, where her ideas came from, etc. I'm sure it's all in an interview somewhere, but it would be way cooler to hear it in a conversation with her. That way I could ask whatever questions I wanted.

(And then I could have a conversation with you to find out the juicy details. She is a mastermind.) 

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

Not really. I know, lame-o answer. Interruptions are hard to take, I guess, just because I'm in the moment, caught in the details of my imaginary world. But it's so laughable, because with two small, beautiful boys, interruptions are inevitable! I usually write while the baby naps and make sure my four year old has things to stay occupied, but I always try to make sure he knows he's more important. I try to stop whenever he needs me (try being the operative word, ha ha j/k).

(I love the way you talk about your kids. Writing's awesome, but kids are priceless!)

If you could sit down and reread any book, which would it be?

Right now it would be Anna and the French Kiss. I loved it! And I checked it out from the library so I had to take it back, but it's definitely on my to-buy list. I heart Etienne!

Quick, you only have enough time to check a few writing blogs/websites. Which would you choose? 

I'd check out my writer friend's blogs. They're definitely "in the know" and always have great posts. 

Morgan's blog is fairly new, her writing is fantastic, and her posts are quirky and fun.

Right now Liz is having a spooktacular contest with agent Natalie Lakosil from Bradford Lit. You can submit a 500 word spooky story and if Natalie picks yours, you get a query critique and also critique of your first 10 pages! (I'm totally submitting, btw)

Also, I like bebopping over to Nathan Bransford's blog. He's a former agent and always has great insider advice.

(Thanks for the links! I'm excited to check them out.)

Do you prefer:

Angels or fairies? Angels all the way! Patch, if only you were real...

Vampires or Werewolves? Vamps, baby. Love em, even before Twilight came out. I'd actually written a vampire short story in high school that I always wanted to do something more with but never have.

Historical or Contemporary? This one is tough because I enjoy both. But probably contemporary, depending on the content, of course.

Series or Stand alone's? I love series as long as the story isn't dragged out just to make it into a series. If it can be told in one book, tell it in one book. And it's agony waiting for the next one to come out, especially if it's a story I'm into, but at the same time it's always nice to have more of the characters' lives that you've fallen in love with. Yay series!

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate?

Lol, I'm like those dogs on Up. I'll be talking and suddenly--chocolate! Okay, not quite that obsessed, but I love it. Hmm, time to go grab some.

Thanks so much for being on my blog today, Cortney. I had a blast learning more about you. 

Be sure to stop by Cortney's blog, Cortney Pearson, for fun posts and a great writing friend!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Series, Roads, and Bridges

As promised, here is the post. I warn you though...I kind of ramble and get carried away with the analogy. Read at your own risk! It might be confusing.

A couple weeks ago, I talked about Series and Stand Alone's. I discussed my frustrations with book #2 in a trilogy series. You know, how often times it's lacking. Like it's a bridge from the beginning to end, but the bridge isn't sturdy and can't hold its own. 

Anyway, it got me thinking more about how a series should be. How the beginning road should start out. How the bridge (or bridges) in the middle should support and connect. And where you should be by the end book. You know, what kind of road and destination we hope to find.

Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately for all you) I didn't get my own drawings made. So we're stuck with pictures from the internet to relate my message.

The first book in a series, or any book for that matter, needs to look something like this.


Now I realize there are many different diagrams to show this, but the point I'm trying to get at is that it needs to start down, at the bottom of a hill, and work its way up. 

Here are a few things we don't want to see.

 A flat road with no end, or rise.

 A road that's going nowhere but down!

No, we want something that will slowly take us up, with a few high spots, but an ending that will rise us to the top and let us down softly to a lower spot. In a series, that lower spot doesn't mean back to the bottom. More like a comfortable waiting area where we are excited for the next road, or bridge, but not upset about where we were dropped.

I hope that makes sense...

Now I'll talk about the second book (or middle books) in a series. I like to think of them as bridges. 

And, like our road, we want a similar bridge. Here are some bad examples.
 This isn't going to take us anywhere. Only make us regret we picked up that next book.
 As small climax won't cut it.
Don't leave gaps and holes of missing information.
Don't confuse the reader by adding or keeping too much info from them.
And most importantly, make sure the bridge can hold its own. We don't need a middle book that is held up by the beginning and end books.

Get the idea? It happens all the time. Actually I just read a second book in the series that held its own better than the first. I felt like the first book was a road creeping at an incline with a small climax at the end. But the second book was more like this.

 Yes, I realize this is an elevator. But that's how drastic the change was. It took me from a low point and lifted me to a whole other level of the story.

Now the end book should look much like the first. So, I won't bore you with more pictures and words. But a series altogether should look like this.

 Each peak should be the climax of a book. And each book should get you closer to your end goal, which should be the top of the mountain. There may be a bridge in there, but it should serve its purpose and stand on its own.

I like to think about the Harry Potter series. It's amazing! Each book has its own climax and each character has a purpose. All together though, they tackle something on a much bigger spectrum. The plot reaches the goal for the book but also contributes to the conflict and resolution for the series overall. The roads are sturdy and the bridges not only stand on their own, but carry the reader like an elevator to another level. 

So, there you have it. A brain dump about series. Read em. Write em. Hate em....and Love em :) 

I already asked you about them in my last series post, but have any of you come across a rickety bridge? How about a flat road or a small climax?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge!!!

NOTE: Don't forget Reece's interview from yesterday. I usually don't post on the weekends, but I needed to post this before I forgot.

It's that time again! Are you all ready for another flash fiction? This one was hard but lots of fun. The focus is on showing, not telling. Here are the details from the lovely Rach.

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

that it’s morning,
that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
that the MC (main character) is bored
that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
that something surprising happens.

Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

With that, I give you...SOOTHER

I stared across the waves as light appeared on the horizon.

“Ember,” Soother called. I heard him searching the house. He’d be here soon.

I yanked at my bracelet, the cold metal digging into my flesh. A sharp pinch brought a drop of blood. I winced, but continued to push. It had to release. There was nothing left for me here. We did the same thing every day. Stared at the waves and spent our time soothing our souls. Mom called it synbatec.

Whatever that meant.

My soul was anything but soothed. More like bored and aching to break free. To run back to Sean, breathe in his musky cologne; feel his arms around me. That’s how I ended up here. Right where Mom wanted me.

What she didn’t know was that Soother had his own methods. Electric bracelets, tecise discipline, and an aroma therapy that made my head pulse.

The door slammed and I heard his footsteps. I bit the bracelet and tugged my hand, the taste of blood filling my mouth as Soother descended the wooden stairs.

I crumpled to the ground and plugged my nose. It didn’t stop his wastopaneer scent from reaching inside, tempting my stomach to erupt.

“Ember,” he whispered, his soft voice grating my ears.

I stood. Turned slowly. And froze. 

Sean tiptoed towards us through the sand.

“Come back inside,” Soother said. “No need to hurt yourself.”

“This pain soothes me more than anything you’ve tried.”

He chuckled then went wide eyed as Sean strapped an electric bracelet on each wrist, pushing him across the trigger line.

I squeezed my eyes and listened to the screams. Sean grabbed my hand and pulled me forward. My eyes opened to a loud snap. The bracelet dropped and Sean lifted me, saving me from my torture.

Hope you liked it. If you did, go vote for me here. I'm number 102. And read the other entries while you're there! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reece Hanzon

Remember Reece Hanzon? The awesome blogger that interviewed me on his blog last week? Yeah, he's cool. And now I get to interview him!

My Photo

When I asked Reece about himself, he said

"I'm a writer — sci-fi with a side of fantasy — but I haven't quit my day job as a technical writer, at least not yet. I'm one of the many aspiring writers who put in as much time as they can on the side. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't; that's life. As it is, not being able to write all the time makes me enjoy the time I get all the more. I also love editing, especially fiction. It's both a gift and a curse because I can't read anything, anything without looking for errors or thinking of a better way to say it. I have a beautiful wife, but we have not been able to have kids yet."

I totally understand the gift and curse of editing. When I have my editing cap on, it's hard to jump into a book and enjoy it as much. But...enough about me! Let's get to the interview.

Reece, how long have you been writing? 

Since I was a kid. Seriously writing? Since 2003. I wrote a space-opera about a young man raised by space pirates but who know piracy was wrong. It's all about the terrible luck he has and the dangerous situations he manages to get himself into just by trying to start an honest life for himself.

(Wow! Interesting. Sounds like it's layered with all sorts of intriguing ideas. Space Pirates. Danger. Honesty. Ooh!)

What made you want to write? 

I love stories! Eventually my overactive imagination wasn't content with reading them and started spitting out its own. Seriously, as a kid I played by myself most of the time because I was imagining myself off on some amazing adventure. Yeah...I was that kid.

(Uh, I think I have a few of those here! Nothing wrong with that.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing? 

Being so close to finding exactly the right word and not being able to put my finger on it! I will never forgive Mark Twain for his famous saying about the right word and almost the right word. I will never be able to settle for anything but the perfect word. Ever.

If you could live in the setting of any book, which would you choose and why? 

Fantasy: Garth Nix's Abhorsen Chronicles (this is the world of Sabriel), because I want to be a charter mage and have a pet like Mogget. Science fiction: Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series, because it's the best darn space opera I've ever read!

(Confession. I've only read Sabriel. But it's a great world! And there's magic. Enough said :))

What book are you reading right now and what's next in line?

Right now I'm reading Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead (inspiration for the movie The 13th Warrior). Next in line is Warrior, by Marie Brennan.

What's your favorite:

Author- Garth Nix, because he writes original, intelligent fantasy that keeps me biting my nails and turning pages.

Character- Bartimaeus (the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud) because he's freaking hilarious. I wish I were that quick-witted and gutsy!

Book- Sabriel, by Garth Nix

Thing about writing- discovering new places, meeting new people, and learning about new technology a/o magic!

Time of day- evening, from about 4:00 until it gets dark. The light turns golden-orange, the heat subsides (in the summer), and everything starts to calm down (especially while everyone is inside eating dinner) until it's almost completely still and quiet.

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate? 

Depends on the day and the fruit candy. In general, I prefer fruit candy, but I do love a box of chocolates from See's Candy, or some M&Ms.

(I have to agree with the whole day thing and which fruit candy. Although I'm tempted by most, there are definitely some that would make me hesitate. See's? YUM!)

Thanks for being here today, Reece! It was a pleasure to learn more about you. 

Be sure to stop by Reece's blog, Reece Hanzon, to learn more about him and to make a new blogging friend.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What? A distraction? No way.

By now, you may or may not have realized that I like to post on Tuesday and Friday. Tuesday being my whatever writing day and Friday being the interview's. 

I had an awesome analogy post ready to write last night and instead of writing it, I got sucked into...

my critique partners book. So, instead of me entertaining you today, I'm going to let her do it. She always has a great post and if you're not following her yet, well...let's just say you should!

In fact, I just checked Chantele Sedgwick's blog and she posted on the thing I was going to post about anyway! Crazy how we think alike. But I promise my post on series, roads, and bridges next Tuesday!

Have a great day and keep up the writing :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Come Meet Aspiring Author Cally Jackson

Cally JacksonCally Jackson grew up in the small country town of Gatton, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. After deciding at 17 that a Hollywood acting career was sadly out of reach, Cally turned to a career in professional communication and is currently employed by the government.

Her passion for fictional writing first emerged in grade two when she got in trouble for penning her own tale instead of copying directly from a story book as she was supposed to be doing – it was a handwriting exercise, after all.

Cally now lives in Brisbane with the two loves of her life – her husband, Mark, and her dog, Lucy. When complete, Tangled will be her first novel.

And that excerpt was taken from her awesome blog! It's great to have Cally here today. I met her recently through the Writers' Platform Building Campaign and I'm excited to learn more about her.

So Cally, how long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, in one form or another. When I was in primary school, I wrote poems and stories, then in high school I moved on to (somewhat obsessive) diary writing. In uni, I began writing novels and that’s been my focus ever since. Well, mostly my focus. I work in professional communication so I also write newsletters, advertisements and award submissions for work, and then there’s my blog.

When I list it out like that, it makes me realise just how big a role writing has played in my life! :-)

(I know, right? It all contributes to the great writer's we are or are to become.)

What made you want to write?

A desire to express myself and have a creative outlet. When I was in high school, I did a lot of acting and believed I was going to move (from a small town in Australia) to Hollywood, become a star and marry Leonardo DiCaprio. It took one semester of drama at university to realise that was just a little unrealistic. I changed from drama to communication at uni, and my creative outlet switched from acting to writing.
These days, writing is a major part of who I am and sometimes I feel like I don’t so much want to write, but HAVE to write. It’s a compulsion and an obsession - just ask my husband!

(I understand my family would most of the time as well.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

Discovering that the whole paragraph/page/chapter I’ve just written contradicts a previous plot point and needs to be changed, especially if I’ve fallen in love with the scene. It’s never fun to tear apart something you’ve created.

Another pet peeve is when my inner critic starts talking too loudly, telling me that my writing is rubbish. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen too often any more. I’ve learnt that if I ignore her and keep writing, she goes back to her corner and shuts up.

If you could sit down and reread any book, which would it be?

Oooh, good question. There are too many to pick from! For now, I’ll choose The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, because it was one of my favourites when I was a teenager and I’d like to revisit it with more mature eyes. I love re-reading books and have read some of my favourites up to five times, so if you ask me this same question in a week’s time, I’ll probably come up with a totally different answer!

Quick, you only have enough time to visit a couple writing blogs/websites, which ones would you choose? 

I’d open my Google Reader account and go to my ‘Fave bloggers’ folder, which includes Aimee Salter, Jody HedlundIndia Drummond, Livia Blackburne, Rachel Morgan Writes  and Susanna Leonard Hill. I would then read the two most recent blog posts from that group. (I realise I’m kind of cheating here, but there’s no way I could only choose two!)

(That's okay by me. Now I have more awesomeness to choose from! Thanks for the links.)

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be?

William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet is one of my all time favourite stories/movies/plays, and I’d love to see what the man was really like. I’d also love to tell him about how much his work still resonates today, because what author wouldn’t want to know that?

(So true.)

Do you prefer:
Mountains or Beaches? Mountains for adventure, beaches for relaxation. :-P

Action or Romance movies? Romance.

Harry Potter, Peeta Mellark, or Edward Cullen? Oooh a toughie. You wouldn’t believe the amount of thought I put into this! I’ll have to say Harry Potter, because Edward is too controlling for my liking. Plus I’d love to live in a world where magic exists (preferably post-Voldemort). I haven’t actually read The Hunger Games yet, but don’t worry, the series is high on my list of books to read!

(Gah! Get to it! And I agree with the post-Voldemort thing. Just seems like a more peaceful magic world to be in.)

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate?

Chocolate. But if you threw a savoury option into the mix, like Dorito’s corn chips, I would choose that over chocolate every time.

(Did someone say chips? Oh man, something salty with something sweet is even better! How about some chocolate and Doritos? Not together in the same bite, but switch off and on to balance the salt and sugar. Yum...)


What a yummy ending. Thanks so much, Cally, for letting me pick your writing brain apart! It was great to learn more about you. Everyone be sure to stop by Cally's blog, Cally Jackson Writes, to become her blogging friend :)

Have a great weekend!

Want to know more?

About me? Well then, it's your lucky day :)

Reece Hanzon has an interview with yours truly on his blog today! Stop by and be sure to check out his blog while you're there.

I promise, I didn't reveal anything too embarrassing...but you'll never know if you don't take a gander.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for another Aspiring Author interview. 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Series or Stand Alone's

Obviously the first in any series has to be stand alone right? I get that, but so many times the second in the series is more like a bridge to the third. And I hate waiting at the end of that bridge for the next in the series. 

Here's the problem I'm having right now. I just got the third book in two separate series I had read last year. I've read so many books since then that I can't remember what happened in the first two. 

And so far, the story that I'm currently reading isn't interesting enough for me to want to finish. Gasp! How can that be? Well, it's just gone way far away from the original story. It's like things are happening that I didn't know were possible. 

Here's my question. Do you think series are all they're cracked up to be? They're more popular now then they have ever been (at least I think they are). I used to love getting into a series, but lately I feel like the second is usually stretching the story to the action in the third book. And then over time I get lost. Does this happen to you?

What do you like to write? Personally, I've written two books that start two different series and one stand alone. In fact, my favorite kind of series is one that moves the story forward but in a different persons perspective. Like the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale. 

Which do you like to read and which do you write? Also, how do you feel about series and stand alone's?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Break Time!

Um, I'm sure this never happens to any of you, but life has caught up with me. I've been a horrible blogger, I haven't written much in the last month, my kids are out of control, and the house has gone...well, I don't know. I can't find it. 

So, this week I'll be trying to catch up with everything! I hope to write some more, make it around the blogging world, get a schedule set for my kids, and find my house. 

Which means, I won't be here, on my blog, until next week!

Have a great week and hopefully my mind will be more organized soon. If not, well, let's just say that a bigger break will be in order. That can't happen though. I won't let it!

Have you ever felt like this?