Thursday, May 26, 2011

Introducing Aspiring Author-Sari Webb

My Photo This is Sari. I met her during the Second Writer's Platform Crusade. It was fun getting to know her and I'm excited to learn more about her today.

On Sari's awesome blog she says, "Welcome. My name is Sari and my dream is to work with books, whether it be to publish one of my own or to help others publish theirs. I am currently doing a post-graduate diploma in publishing and editing, and have completed the first draft of my first novel, a YA fantasy. I hope you enjoy it here."

Awesome right? I think so. That's totally cool that she's working on getting her post-graduate diploma in publishing and editing. And she write's fantasy. Enough said :)

So Sari, how long have you been writing?

I've been writing seriously for about four years, but I've always loved to write. I still have a floppy disk (!!) from when I was around ten with a novel I started called The Thunderstorm at the Camp. I was very imaginitive back then.

(You have a floppy disk? That's classic! How do you get info off it? My computer would just die if I tried to shove it in. Goes to show that you really do love to write and you value it enough to keep that first story. Awesome!)

What made you want to write?

This is a hard question! I'm not actually sure. I've always loved to read. LOVED in a big way. When I started writing I didn't have hundreds of story ideas clamouring to be written. I just sat down and started writing one morning when I was bored and out came the start of my novel. So maybe it was a subconscious desire to write? 

If you could pick the setting of one book to live in, which would it be?

The first thing that popped into my head when I read this questions was Hogwarts, so I'm going to go with that. I really, really want butterbeer.

(It's a popular place to visit, I hear :))

What's your favorite genre to write?

YA Fantasy. I love being able to make up worlds, and not be constrained by what is real.

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?  

My ability to get disctracted and the lack of self-discipline that goes with it. I think for true productivity I would need to shut myself in a bubble with no internet connection and just my laptop. Actually, scratch that, a pen, pad and thesaurus.

(Really? You'd go with a pen and pad? I prefer the laptop, but that's because my wrist's don't like me so much.)

Quick, you have a few minutes to get on the internet, which writing blogs are you going to visit?

This was tough! I tried to keep the list short, but really there's around fifteen blogs that I love to visit every day.

(Awesome! I've only been to two of those, but now I'll visit all three. Thanks for the links.)

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

JK Rowling. Oh and John Marsden. Am I allowed two?

(Sure. We'll just say you'd get together with K John Marsling.)

I love them both, and I was (am) obsessed with books written by both of them.

Oh and Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman... ok I'll stop now...

(Haha. That's great that you have so many you'd like to meet.)

Given the choice would you choose...

Mac or PC? PC

Parenthesis or dashes? Parenthesis

Edward, Jacob, Peeta, or Harry Potter? Peeta. But not the one they've cast for the movie (he's a lot hotter in my head). And really I wouldn't choose any of these if that was an option. Give me Dimitri any day.

(Wait, what's Dimitri from? If it's the Dimitri I'm thinking of (Vampire Academy) then I'm totally with you!)

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

To me candy is like hard sugary lollies. But I don't think that's what you mean by candy is it? I'm going to go with chocolate, but if you do mean hard sugary lollies I'll go with fruity.

(That's hilarious! I've wondered if people thought I had an ulterior meaning behind the fruity candy, but really there is none. I truly am talking about the hard sugary candy.)

Thanks so much Sari for being on my blog today! I had a great time. Be sure to follow Sari at her blog, Confessions of an Aspiring Author.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Abused and Overused

Sorry about the fake post last night. Apparently, using the shortcut Control P to paste something in blogger doesn't work. It just publishes the post instead :) So, I had to copy and delete. Here's the real thing!

I like to critique. I don't even mind critiquing first drafts. Now that I've said it, there are things that shouldn't be in subsequent drafts. Not that they shouldn't be there at all but they should only be there if they're absolutely needed!

I'm certainly not the expert so I may be wrong, but I've come up with my list of Abused and Overused.

Parentheses or Brackets.
Em Dash.

Now, I'll try to break it down and cover everything before you all get bored. (Unless that's already happened. Shoot. If it has, take a break and come back in a minute :)) 

All my definitions are taken from Wikipedia.

An Ellipsis (...) is a mark or series of marks that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word in the original text. An ellipsis can also be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis). When placed at the end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy longing. The ellipsis calls for a slight pause in speech.

Parentheses or Brackets (([])) are tall punctuation marks used in matched pairs within text, to set apart or interject other text. [Parenthesis] contain material that could be omitted without destroying or altering the meaning of a sentence. In most writing, overuse of parentheses is usually a sign of a badly structured text. 

The Em Dash (--) is used to indicate that a sentence is unfinished because the speaker has been interrupted. Similarly, it can be used instead of an ellipsis to indicate aposiopesis, the rhetorical device by which a sentence is stopped short not because of interruption but because the speaker is too emotional to continue. The em dash is used in much the way a colon or a set of parentheses is used; it can show an abrupt change in thought or be used where a full stop (or "period") is too strong and a comma too weak. 

A Metaphor is the concept of understanding one thing in terms of another. A metaphor is a figure of speech that constructs an analogy between two things or ideas, the analogy is conveyed by the use of a metaphorical word in place of some other word. For example: "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphors compare things without using "like" or "as."

A Simile is figure of speech that indirectly compares two different things by employing the words "like", "as", or "than".[1] Even though both similes and metaphors are forms of comparison, similes indirectly compare the two ideas and allow them to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors compare two things directly.

An Adverb (-ly) is any word that modifies any part of speech or other verbs other than a noun (modifiers of nouns are primarily adjectives and determiners). Adverbs can modify verbsadjectives (including numbers), clausessentences and other adverbs.

An Adjective (descriptive word) is a word whose main syntactic role is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified.

Overuse of any of the "Abused and Overused" may cause more harm than good to your sentence or story. Adverbs and adjectives can clutter your sentence and metaphor's and simile's can distract from the original point. 

If you do use any of the above, make sure you use them correctly. Abusing them may lead to more confusion.

Feel free to use the "Abused and Overused" as you'd like through your first draft but make sure you cut them down to a minimal afterward. Less is more with these :)

Obviously, I don't apply the rules as strictly to my blog but we're more lenient here, right? Before I get carried away with other things such as commas and exclamation points, I'll stop talking.

Have a great week. Happy writing!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Michael Di Gesu

Awesome name right? I think so. And the man is just as awesome as his name.

My Photo Here's the 'about Michael' blurb, taken from his blog

After fifteen years of modeling in New York, I spent the past six years as an interior designer in Chicago. I decided to take my creative talents and write/illustrate my first y/a novel, Amber and the Whispering Willows. I've been editing for the past year and have started the second in the series. I never knew how wonderful it could be to write a novel ... I'm addicted.

As are the rest of us. At least I'll confess to the addiction! 

So Michael, how long have you been writing?

I began writing in March of 2009. The economy crashed and my scheduled interior design clients canceled their spring, summer, and fall projects. With no clients and faced with never acquiring any others, I decided to put my time to good use and started my first novel: AMBER AND THE WHISPERING WILLOWS.

(I'm glad you could find something to help pull you through the rough economy.)

What made you want to write?

I chose writing because it was a vehicle for my illustration. Since my company went down the drain, I thought creatively. I had been an illustrator and book cover designer many years previously, so why not do it for my own novel. I knew I wanted to do m/g fantasy to utilize my drawing and painting talent. I love natural forest, flowers, fairies, and children.

(That's awesome! I wish I could say that I can draw, but I don't think stick figures and odd shaped animals count. I love that you channeled your creativity from one thing to the next.)

What book are you reading now and which do you have lined up to read next?

I just started a new novel from one of my all time favorite fantasy authors, Terry Brooks. A Princess of Landover is the first in a new Magic Kingdom series. I fell in love with his writing in my teens. The Shannara series and then the Druid series. This man can write fantasy like no other author.

(I need to check these books out! I love fantasy. Thanks for the recommendation.)

My next book will be from my friend/author Nicki Elston. The Three Daves. It's a comedy romance set in the 1980's. As A matter of fact I am meeting her today for a super long lunch in downtown Chicago. This will be our first meeting. Nicki is not only a fun and witty blogger, but she's an excellent writer. How cool is it to meet our blogger friends? Michelle I hope to meet you one day too.

(That would be awesome to meet you. I met my first blogger friend last week and it was so much fun to have a real face to put with her blogging voice. Pictures just aren't the same thing :) Have fun with Nicki!)

What's your favorite genre to write?

I write in several different genres, but my ultimate favorite is M/G Y/A fantasy. I can't get enough mystical beings, creatures, and worlds. Most people don't realize how difficult it is to write fantasy. Creating BELIEVABLE worlds is not an easy thing to do. Add to that interesting characters and a killer plot, and now you are talking major work and imagination. The world I created in Amber and the Whispering Willows is set in an enchanted willow tree grove in suburban NYC. I also love to blend the real with the fantasy. Very much like how JK Rowling blended her wizarding world with the suburban London world.

(It is hard to do. Lots of fun, but the believability factor is a big thing. Your book sounds intriguing!) 

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

Now that's an interesting question, Michelle. My major pet peeve is not plot, character, or motivation, what bugs me more than anything is punctuation and grammar. The rules change every five minutes and WHO could possibly keep up with it all. 
Thank God for editors.

(Haha, so true.)

What's your favorite:

Book: How can anyone pick just one favorite book? I have many that I absolutely can't live without, but one came to me at a point in my life when I needed magic.... My father had just died when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone hit the theaters. When I finally got to read the book, the magic stayed with me and influenced me to read again and eventually write.

Author: In High school and college, I love English literature. Charles Dickens is my all time favorite author. Of course there are others, but I can never resist re-reading a Dickens' classic.

Character: I have read literally hundreds of books. Narrowing down one character in all these volumes is next to impossible, but I will try.  A charming, bossy, know it all, little girl comes to mind. I get such a kick out of Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. This is one girl you don't want to mess with on ANY level.

Thing about writing: Writing for me is an escape. I can leave all the world's troubles behind and emerge myself into the world I created. In some cases much more beautiful than our own, in other cases, the traumas of my characters make my problems seem miniscule.

Time of Day: After 11:00 pm. When all is quiet. A great time to escape into my writing worlds.

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

Anyone who knows me is laughing right now. Chocolate, of course! There is no other substitution.

(Well, that's debatable...but now I know which side of the debate you'd be on :))

Thanks so much Michael! It was a pleasure getting to know more about you. Everyone can find Michael at his blog, In Time... It's definitely worth your time too!

Have a great weekend :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

When your physical therapist tells you to do something...


Or you'll pay for it later.

This is later for me...and I'm definitely paying. Had I done those massages and exercises every night on my arms, I wouldn't be tingly. But, alas, I slacked off. Dang those pinched nerves. 

So, I'll be on break for a few days. 

But to hold you over until the awesome interview coming on Friday, I'll show you these.

 Yeah! I got to meet up with a couple of writer's. The lovely Carol Riggs was kind enough to take time from her schedule to meet up with me while she was here in town. We had a great time getting to know each other and talking about all things writing :) 

She also brought her writer friend Debby. Seriously, it was great to talk with other writer's face to face. I can't wait to meet more of my blogging friends!

And in case you're wondering what I'll be doing while I take this break away from the computer, I'll tell you.


Ella Enchanted 

And watching.

Have a great week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Aspiring Author Matthew MacNish-The King of the QQQE

And when I say King of the QQQE, I mean that if you haven't checked out Matthew's query critiques over at his blog, The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment, you should join the fun. He gives great advice.

 This is Matthew MacNish. Although some of you might recognize him more from this picture.
My Photo It rocks too. Really. Holding a child is always great and holding a light saber is serious business. Here's the 'about Matthew' blurb from his blog.

I'm the father of two beautiful young ladies, three lazy cats and one adorable German Shepard. Together we live in the mountains of north Georgia amidst my endless collection of vinyl records. I run this blog in an attempt to help other novice writers avoid the mistakes I made in the beginning of my road to publication. Believe me, I made many.

And isn't it great that he's letting us learn from his mistakes? I stumble enough on my own so I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from others. 

So Matthew, how long have you been writing?

Well I've always loved to write. I wrote stories, essays, and even poetry all throughout school, but then when I got into my twenties, I gave up on it. I only started writing again, when I decided to write a novel, about two years ago. 

What made you want to write?

I wanted to tell a story that wasn't being told in any of the books I was reading. 

(Good reason.)

If you could pick the setting of one book to live in, which would it be?

Hmm. That's a tough one. I've always loved Tolkien, so I would probably pick Middle Earth, but it would have to be the fourth age, because before Frodo destroys the Ring it's a very scary place. 

(Very true. Tolkien created quite the world to live in. That would definitely be an adventure.)

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?  

Pretty much any distraction. Unlike most people I can't listen to music while I write, but somehow I can manage to write with a baseball game on the TV in the background. As long as it's muted.

(I hear ya. If there's something on that has words or a rhythm that can get stuck in my head and chase away my muse, it doesn't work. I can write through a kids show or my husband's video games but not music.)

Quick, you only have a few minutes on the web. Which blogs or websites would you have to visit?

This is another tough one. I guess the two main blogs I could never do without are: Nathan Bransford's and Bryan Russell's The Alchemy of Writing.

(Awesome! Thanks for the links :)) 

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

Tolkien, Cormac McCarthy, and Andrew Smith.

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

I actually can't eat many sweets, because I have very sensitive teeth, and sugar makes them hurt, but I do love some Sour Patch Kids, or Starburst.

 (Here, have some! That's great that you let your sensitive teeth stop you. I just live through the pain. But if you ever whip out the Sour Patch Kids, I'm so there! Either sharing with you or taking them and making a run for it. I get kind of greedy when it comes to that candy. Just sayin'. :))
Thank you Matthew for answering my questions. Everyone else can find Matthew here. I suggest you do too, it's a great place to learn and find new writing friends :)

Have a great weekend and good luck with all your writing adventures.