Showing posts from 2010

Playing With Covers

I just spent the last half hour doing up another cover for my short story Jumping Thoughts. Tell me which one do you like best?


An Adventure Into Kindle

Yep, I am experimenting with putting a previously published story up on Kindle. I'm preparing to put a novel up and had heard it recommended to experiment with a short story first so you can work out the tweaks with a much smaller file. Very good advice I might add.

So, that's what I did. I took my short story "Jumping Thoughts" which was originally published in Ride! Magazine in 1997. It has sat on my hard drive since then. Might as well put it to some use now.

Putting something up on Kindle really isn't that hard. I probably spent most of my time working on the cover which I'm sure I'll continue to tweak. The digital file for amazon was very easy to put together and I only needed to fix one thing after the preview. The cover was as I mentioned a little more time consuming as I worked on colors and the lettering. I took an old photo of me jumping one of my horses though I am still looking for a photo of the horse which inspired the story.

I'm gettin…

Publishers Overpricing Middle Grade and YA Books

Okay, here is a rant which probably won't make me very popular, but I am extremely frustrated with the practice of publishers putting middle grade and young adult fiction in hardcover. My pre-teen daughter gets $20 a month of allowance which will allow her to purchase one book a month. Yep, only one book a month. What happened to the five dollar paperback (well they were $2.99 and $3.99 when I was a pre-teen and teen)?

I personally believe these publishers are ripping off our youth. I am sorry, but those books are not worth $17.99. My daughter should not have to pay $17.99 plus tax to get the next in a series she seriously enjoys.

Shame on you publishers for taking advantage of children on the premise that adults will spend money on their kids which they wouldn't spend on themselves. What you might not be considering is I won't allow her to buy a lot of these books. I can't count the number of times we go to book stores and walk out with nothing because every book she…

Finishing a Book

You know there is just something about finishing a book. You actually get to do it twice. There's the first draft The End and then there's the The End when you are ready to send it out on submission. I know for some writers the second The End can be months after the first one while others it might only be a couple of days depending on if you're a re-writer or a clean up typo-er.

The book I just finished has been a long time coming. It took me a lot longer to finish than I had planned as I allowed myself to be derailed from my original intention. Once I was able to get back to the original vision I was able to get it done.

And today I did get it done. I've spent the last four days doing typo edits and filling in little tiny plot typos and holes. I had one particular scene which was really kicking my butt because it was such an important scene and I was just not happy with it. But I conquered it today and I was so happy when I scanned it and realized I had fixed it. The …

Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks Visiting RWA Online

Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks will be visiting RWA Online the week of November 29th. This is the perfect chance to ask her any questions you have about Sourcebooks submissions, what they are looking for, and the romance industry in general. This event is open to the public not just RWA Online members.

Writing For Dummies Free on Kindle

Thank you to Kristi Holl for posting this on her blog Writer's First Aid.

There's a promo for Writing For Dummies on Amazon from November 15-19 to download it free. If you don't have a Kindle you can still download it to your computer. Go here to get your free copy.

A Warning Story For Writers

This isn't my story to tell, but wanted to post the link since I have so many friends looking for agents to represent them and very few writers who have been scammed by agents feel they can expose the story to anyone but their closest friends. Here is a writer who has gone public about a very well known agent and his editor wife. Their names are listed at the end of the series of blog posts (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). Dean Wesley Smith has posted a link on his blog along with his knowledge of this agent and his wife conducting this scam.

This is a good reminder to all writers to be super careful when it comes time to hire an agent. Don't jump at the first offer without extensive consideration. Don't give control of your money and writing future over to a stranger no matter how much they flatter you or how well "respected" they might be in the industry.

More Writing Challenges

One of my RWA online chapters (actually two of them) are holding writing challenges right now. Fall seems like a popular time with NaNoWriMo probably the most well know being held every November. One of my chapters is holding a two month challenge with lots of classes, pitches to editors and agents, and writing sprints for it's members throughout September and October. My other chapter is doing something similar to NaNoWriMo except you can work on whatever you want and you can be writing, editing, marketing, etc. It's devoted to all writerly activities

I haven't been able to really participate that much in my first chapters challenge though I did do it last year. I'm helping to organize my second chapters challenge this year. I've always liked these challenges. They can teach you better writing habits and force you to shove your inner critic aside.

How about you? Do you participate in writing challenges?

Titles, Titles, Titles

I got to think a lot about titles recently. My paranormal novella that The Wild Rose Press will be releasing has gone through several titles before I'd settled on The Curse.

But they already had a book with the title Curses. Too close to my own title.

So, on the title hunt I went. I asked for a little direction from my editor who asked me some excellent questions to consider on what I want to focus on with the title. I then did some brainstorming, but felt stuck. I went to one of my RWA chapters and asked for a little help - posting a blurb on what it was about and about ten titles I had come up with so far. Funnily, someone suggested a title that I had original come up with and later dismissed, but they also came up with a lot of other good suggestions. I then took their suggestions, my list, and the questions my editor asked me and came up with a title I liked almost as much as The Curse. Unfortunately, title was already taken. :-) I re-considered wanting to keep the theme of re…

Carina Press Editor Angela James Visiting RWA Online

Carina Press editor Angela James is going to be visiting the RWA Online chapter's discussion boards this week. You don't have to be a member of RWA Online to ask her a question or read what others are asking and her answers.

Go to the Publisher Spotlights section of the boards. Angela will be there for a week through Friday, Sept. 24th.

Check out Carina Press's submission guidelines.

What's In A Name?

You might have noticed that I've added a second name to my little bio/profile on the left. Yep, I'm writing under a pen name now. This is something I've thought a lot about and actually agonized over the name choice for quite a while. It wasn't an easy decision, but a necessary one.

My first book was under my married name. I'd toyed with the idea of a pen name then, but frankly I wanted credit for the book. I had also done some pre-book stuff in the area and felt I could draw upon that audience. So, I was published in non-fiction with a book geared primarily toward teenagers and their parents.

Come to now. My first contracted title is a paranormal romance novella. This book is not intended to be Young Adult and I decided that I wanted to keep my non-fiction works separate from my romance works. Yet, I also didn't want to hide that I am the author of my romance works. I decided on a public pen name. This is fairly common for authors who write in different genres…

Lessons from Big Fat Liar

Sorry, the Lessons from series have been absent for a little while. I haven't watched anything that I felt I could apply to this. Was doing a lot of reading recently and with more obscure writers (at least ones I'd never heard of).

big FAT liar is pure genius. I'm still in the watch and be amazed phase. I've seen this movie so many times that I can recite many of the lines and know the plot like one of my own stories.

I laugh every single time I watch it. According to some research this movie didn't do so well and got panned by many reviewers. I have to admit to being surprised at first, but then I remembered that often the movies and shows that I love generally don't do well either in the general populace or with reviewers (reason why I never base my viewing on any reviews).

So back to the movie itself. big FAT liar is a kid/teen comedy about pathological liars. My favorite parts of this movie are the characters and the running jokes for each one of them. You…

The Curse Has Found A Home

I thought I'd told everyone, but I realized that I'd yet to post the good news on my blog. My paranormal novella about shapeshifters and witches has found a home at The Wild Rose Press. The contract is in the mail and I'll be going into edits with my editor soon. I'll keep everyone up to date on the process.

I was just scanning their catalog as I prepare to fill in my cover artist sheet (descriptions and recommendations for the cover artist) and have been thrilled to see how vivid their covers are. They have so many great examples that I'm having a hard time deciding if I'd rather have a people cover or an object cover. Though the cover artist and the publisher have final say on the cover design it's nice to know that they care enough about the author's opinion to require us to fill in the form. The form is super long and extensive. I'm taking that as a good sign.

Prune Your Prose! Ten Tips to Tighten Your Fiction Writing

Linnea is an excellent instructor and I highly recommend any course she is teaching. 

***** Permission to Forward Granted *****
RWA® Online Chapter presents:

PRUNE YOUR PROSE! Ten Tips to Tighten Your Fiction Writing
Instructor: Linnea Sinclair
August 16th – 29th, 2010
Registration Period: August 2-15, 2010
Fee: $15 Non-Chapter members. RWAOL Chapter #136 members; free.
Payment method: PAYPAL is recommended!

It’s safe and fast! Check and money orders also accepted.
Registration: http://www. rwaonlinechapter .org/campus.htm (without the spaces)

NOTE: -Use your real First and Last Name & Choose Pay Option.
ONLY Chapter #136 members choose the Chapter Member option button.
For more information:

CLASS DESCRIPTION: As the saying goes, “Close only counts in…hand grenades.” Don’t let your manuscript bomb because of easily overlooked errors, or for lack of sophistication and polish. Learn how to make every chapter count, every scene earn its keep, ever…

Lessons from Veronica Mars

Or Bad Boys and Why We Love Them

Logan Echolls the character that stole the show in Veronica Mars. Introduced to us by our heroine as the "obligatory psychotic jackass" that every high school has. He starts the show as the ultimate villain to our plucky heroine. I read somewhere that the character wasn't originally one of the main characters, but after you watch Jason Dohring's performance you can see why he quickly became one of the leads.

Logan starts the show not being the most loving character, but we know he can't be all bad since he was loved by our heroine's best friend before the show started. I am personally under the impression that Logan's evolution of character had a lot to do with the chemistry between Jason and Kristen Bell. They start out as enemies, work to wary allies though sometimes still adversaries, to a crucial episode that pitches their relationship to something more. The scene is below and categories the one thing that Veronica cou…

Lessons from X-Men

Have you seen the X-Men movie? The first live-action one. I remember watching it and thinking, wow, it's a classic hero's journey. I immediately went and examined the script. I was lucky in that I found a copy of the original screenplay which is why I was able to analyze the changes that were made in the story line to make it follow the hero's journey.

Originally the story was a pretty good action-adventure story with some interesting characters that meet and work together for the greater good. But someone decided to make some crucial changes which altered Logan/Wolverine's journey into one which is much more admirable and emotionally gut wrenching. A hero's journey that is executed well will tug on those emotional strings whether it's to make you laugh, cry, cheer, boo, etc. You will walk out of the theater with some sort of emotional reaction.

The one element that was changed for the final version was Rogue and Logan's relationship. Rogue is who pull'…

Lessons from The Mummy

Caught The Mummy on TV last night and was reminded again how much I love that movie. I never actually saw it in the theater mostly because I thought it was going to be just another action adventure with the forced romance and funny sidekick. Yes, it has romance and yes there are several characters that could be considered sidekicks, but there's nothing forced about the romance or the humor in the movie.

What I find interesting is if you read the script (I'm not sure what version it is, but it isn't the shooting script) the romance between Rick and Evy is much more of your traditional action-adventure forced relationship. It doesn't have any sparkle to it. They antagonize each other yet seem to kinda like each other. The movie gets it right. Whether these changes were made in subsequent drafts or after Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz were cast I have no idea.

For those interested in writing an action-adventure with a touch of romance I highly recommend that you s…

A literature meme

Got this from Sasha White at the Genreality Blog who got it from Charlene Teglia's blog.

1) What author do you own the most books by? I purged my books about a year ago this would have been a very different answer then, but now, Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick with Linda Howard a close second.

2) What book do you own the most copies of? I generally don't own multiple copies on purpose (though it does happen on accident). Probably a tie between my own book Horse Schools and a box of family Bibles we have.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions? Nope, didn't even notice.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Jason Bourne. :-)

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)? Probably, To Die For by Linda Howard.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old? Long time ago, but I think I was into Sweet valley…

Lessons From The Last Airbender Movie

Yep, we've already seen The Last Airbender. First show on opening day. My older daughter was so excited for this movie and we took along a friend that was probably almost as excited. And if I'm really honest, I was really looking forward to this movie. I've already mentioned what I really liked about the animated series and I was more than fascinated to see how they would adapt about seven hours of episodes into a one and half hour movie.

Now to the movie. I think it's good. I'm not sure I can say great, but I don't know if that's because I was analyzing it so much or because it is just good. Which is why I want to see it again. Not sure if you have to see it in 3D. It does make the various bending elements look cool, but not sure if it is so different from watching it in 2D.

Spoiler alert!
I have to say, though I'm probably in the minority, that I think M. Night did a pretty good job of condensing 7-8 hours into 1 1/2. The biggest complaint I have heard…

Sometimes I Just Don't Get It

So, while packing for our trip a couple of weeks ago I stumble on to this show Jersey Shore on MTV. As I'm packing, the only thought in my head is "do people really act that way?" Then I start to wonder - is this one of those fake reality shows. Completely scripted, but filmed to look like a reality show. Nope, it's a real one.

So, on to my not getting it. Do people really act that way? Seriously. I know these shows cast for the highest possibility of conflict, but still these people come from somewhere - they don't hatch out of a TV camera. They have families, friends, etc. and they act in a way that totally boggles my mind. And then I begin to think - am I so out of touch that to me a "reality" show - as set up as they are - feels to me like a really bad and overacted movie.

Then I begin to think that it wasn't that long ago these "adults" were teenagers and would be the age of my readers for my ya novels. But my characters don't ac…


Sorry, I've been gone for so long. Headed out on a road trip with the family. Read some good books and wrote down some good scenes for various projects as the ideas came to me.

I went to enter a scene idea in a script I haven't worked on in a while. I'm paging through and I get to a 30 page section that I don't recall at ALL! Have I really reached that point where I don't remember writing that big of a chunk. It's not unusual for me to forget something here or there - something small. But to have no recollection of those 30 pages is kinda freaking me out.

I've heard other writers talk about having to go back and reread a past book before writing a sequel because they forget and now I'm wondering if they are really talking about forgetting the big stuff not the little stuff like eye color, dates, etc.

Have you had this happen to you? And of course a side affect of forgetting this entire giant section is I don't think my new idea will fit in w…

Writing and Learning

My ya fantasy is currently out on submission after several months of rewriting, critiquing, and more editing. It was a long task, but I'm happy with the results. So, as they say, onto the next one.

I pulled out a romantic suspense that I had actually written around the same time as my ya fantasy. I'd done full paper edits, but had only gotten about half way through entering them back into the computer before deciding my attention was too splintered and I needed to focus all my energy on my ya fantasy. Back to the romantic suspense. Imagine my surprise in reading it and my edits that, it needs so much WORK. Argh. In the process of critiquing and editing my ya fantasy I actually learned and have become a better writer.

I suppose I should be happy my skills have improved (though I know I still have a lot to learn), but instead I feel like wailing. It's gonna take a lot more work to get this romantic suspense up to where I'm comfortable having someone else read it than I h…

Writing Challenges

I've just learned of a couple of good writing challenges in case my writing friends are interested.

Harlequin's Book in Three Months Challenge
The idea behind this is can you write a book as quickly as one of their professional writers which is write it in two months and edit it in one? They will be posting informational and inspirational articles every Monday. The challenge started on June 1st so they are already one week in, but I bet you can catch up!

Candace Havens Writing Game Challenge
Starting June 7th you can join her yahoo group to participate in the Writing Game Challenge. Each day she will draw two numbers, a word count number and a page count number. If you're writing a first draft, you would write the number of words for that day. If you're working on revisions, you will revise that number of pages. If you haven't participate in her Fast Draft or Revision Hell workshops, Candace has some great advice and can help you with those elusive disciplined work…

The Climb

I was just reading a good inspirational blog called The Write Soul. She posts a weekly "pick me up" with super cool quotes and different themes. As I was reading, Miley Cyrus' song The Climb got stuck in my head. It's a great song for writers or for anyone that has a dream or goal that takes a lot of work to reach.

"There's always gonna be another mountain. I'm always gonna want to make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle. Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose. It ain't about how fast I get there. Ain't about what's waiting on the other side. It's the climb." - The Climb

I find the lyrics to be spot in for anything worth going for. When I think back to my horse show days. The moments I enjoyed the most were the training for the shows not the shows themselves. It wasn't about the destination of competing and winning at the show. It was the training and working toward the show that was the most rewarding.

Can you recommend any…

Goals Check In

We're halfway through 2010. I went back to my original goals that I posted on January 1st to take stock of  what I accomplished.
Wrote and submitted Red Hot Fairy Tale by Feb. 1st.Did not finish space opera by March 1st. Don't even have a finished rough draft. Boo on me.Finish up edits on mafia romantic suspense by March 1st. A resounding NO. Though I did do a little bit of work on this, I shelved it to work on other stuff. Submit ya fantasy to publishers by mid-Feb. I have submitted ya fantasy, but in May not mid-Feb. :-) Launch by March. Site was successfully launched and all information from 3rd edition of book has been entered. So, 3 out of 5 isn't bad. Though the timing was way off on number 4. Now onto evaluating my long term goals for 2010. I had decided that my goal for 2010 was to have four manuscripts out on submission to publishers. I currently have two out on submission so I figure I am on track with my long term goals.

Short term goals wa…

Lessons from Push and The Last Airbender

It's a good day when you're able to take pieces from other works of art to better understand your instincts in your own art. In working on my YA fantasy, I've struggled with how far do I have my heroine go in avenging her father's death. I didn't want to forget that my heroine starts out as an overgrown child in many ways, but learns and grows through her journey. She reacts in fear, makes poor decisions, and has to learn so she can do the right thing. When I originally plotted out the story, I had her kill someone, in self-defense, but still the person died because of something she did. As she reached the climax of the book, I realized she couldn't do it and the climax switched gears toward a less violent ending (but still as full of drama, I hope). I admit, I was a little worried about this, though I knew I was being true to my character, I wasn't sure how it would read.

 I was watching Push with the commentary and was fascinated when the director noted t…

More Lessons From The Last Airbender

"Why am I so bad at being good?" Zuko - The Western Air Temple I've been reading my own YA fantasy and thinking a lot about The Last Airbender as I do. What's stuck in my head is the character, Zuko. He's the villain in the first season, a villain that starts toward redemption and switches back to villain in the second season, reluctant villain in the beginning of the third and then completely switches sides in the end to join the heroes. It all goes back to what I talked about in my last blog post. If you're writing about young people, remember they are growing and learning and will take steps back. Zuko is a perfect example of this.

I've been thinking a lot about his back and forth. How he lets his anger get in his own way. How his strong sense of honor often leads him to do the right thing even if he wants to do the "wrong" thing. How he refuses to give up on his "quest" of capturing the Avatar to regain his father's approval ev…

Lessons from The Last Airbender

I don't know about you, but I am very excited for the movie The Last Airbender. It's based on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. When James Cameron's Avatar was coming out this is the movie I thought it was going to be - enter the blue people and I realized it was not the same story at all. LOL

On to the lesson I've learned from this animated series. If you haven't seen the show, the Avatar is a person that possesses the abilities of all four nations - air, water, earth, and fire. Other characters may have the ability to manipulate a single element, but not all four. What is interesting about this show is you have a young boy (they show him as being a preteen) who is the next Avatar and has to work to control all four elements before any other Avatar was required to because of a war. A child being thrust into a massive quest isn't new, but what Avatar: TLA does so well is they don't forget that Aang (the Avatar) is still a child and his traveli…

A Choice Between Two Classes

I mentioned in a previous post that I was thinking about finishing up my screenwriting certificate from UCLA. I have to take 3 more courses and I'll be done. I saw that my favorite instructor is teaching this summer and had planned on taking her course.

My dilemma: it is a rom-com class and I have absolutely no idea what to write about. It isn't that I don't like rom-coms. Some of my favorite movies are rom-coms and I admire their cleverness. Being a romance writer I generally prefer movies that have some sort of romance (as long as it isn't forced in). But I have no flipping clue of an idea of what to do in this class. I know that Jacque can be very flexible in you coming in to one of her classes with just a basic idea, and outline, a part of a script, or a completely written script. But I don't even have a basic idea waiting to be told. I find comedy challenging.

So, I think, maybe I should try a new instructor and genre, something I haven't done yet, learn s…

Blog Contest to Win a Copy of Horse Schools

I am running a blog contest on my other blog for a chance to win an autographed copy of my book, Horse Schools: The International Guide to Universities, Colleges, Preparatory and Secondary Schools, and Specialty Equine Programs 3rd Edition. Head on over to the Horse Schools Blog to enter.

Lessons from Parenthood

I've watched parts of three different Steve Martin movies this week (two I just caught the last half because of when I turned the TV on). Parenthood is currently in our Instance Queue on Netflix because it is one of my favorite movies. A great ensemble cast in this movie, but it was watching this and the end of two other Steve Martin comedies that got me to thinking about character.

I'm one of those writers that casts actors in the roles of my character so I can visualize what they look like when I'm writing. I'll print up a headshot of a picture that I think suits the character and put it on my bulletin board to help me get back into character if I'm struggling. Often watching the role that made me think they would be good as my character can also help when I'm having a hard time. I know plenty of other writers that pick people they know or random people of the street. Other writers flip through magazines and cut out pictures that interest them: real people, a…

Lessons from Madeleine L'Engle

My DD recently read A Wrinkle in Time with her grandfather. She immediately wanted to know if there was a movie and low and behold there is a fairly recently made movie version of A Wrinkle in Time. I unfortunately didn't get to watch the whole movie with her, house chores, ugh. But I did notice a bonus feature which was an interview of Madeleine L'Engle talking about A Wrinkle in Time and writing in general.  If you get a chance I highly recommend that you check out this bonus feature as she discusses writing Wrinkle and trying to get a publisher to sell it.

The two main lessons I learned from this interview are:

1) She wrote with little children underfoot and grabbed five minutes here and there to write whenever she could and that is how she wrote her books. I know this in theory, but rarely do it in practice. I tend to focus on getting large chunks of time to accomplish anything, but I wonder if I grabbed the five minutes here and there as she did if I would get a lot more …

Lessons From Push

Just re-watched Push (twice) to see what lessons I can learn from this extremely complicated movie. Another one that people either love or hate. Go figure. As I was thinking about taking lessons from this movie I realized that the last three movies have all had opening narrations. Hmmm. What is that telling me? Should I open all my stories with a narrator? LOL

One lesson from Push is how to do an extremely complicated back story and world building. A reviewer mentioned that this is one of the few movies of this genre released recently that isn't based on a comic book series. So, the makers couldn't assume that people would understand the basics of the world and how everything works. Therefor it all had to be explained. The basics are told via Dakota Fanning's narration during the opening credits. We now know the basics of the psychic warriors and how the Division was created and why our heroes are running from them. The rest is interspersed through the actual plot. Our ch…

Brenda Novak Note on Auction

**Thought my writerly friends would be interested.**

I'm trying not to bug you...but I'm just so darn excited! The auction starts in THREE days. And there's a lot I need to tell you!

1. There will be prizes! Each day I will draw a name of at least one shopper who has placed a bid that day and give him/her something fun.

2. The person who places the most bids during the first week will win an Apple iPad, an autographed Advanced Reading Copy of my new book, WHITE HEAT (which won't be out until July 27th), and a VIP invite to my cyber launch party.

3. To celebrate the auction, I'm currently giving away a trip for two to Curacoa on my web site. The prize includes air transportation from any major airport inside the US and a four-night stay at the brand new Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in the luxurious Santa Barbara Plantation between natural harbor Spanish Water and the romantic Caribbean. Enjoy beautiful white-sand beaches and spectacular sunsets, …

How To Train Your Dragon

Okay, I admit it, I am completely and absolutely a rabid fan of the movie How To Train Your Dragon. I have seen it three times in 3-D no less. Each time I go I enjoy it just as much as the first time. Not only does the hero's journey of Hiccup always touch a cord with me, I still get teary eyed at the end (I'm such a sap), but I can't get enough of the dialogue. It is the dialogue that makes me want to watch it over and over, and yes, I do want to go see it again.

The dialogue in this movie is great. No word is wasted. Every word reveals character. Oh, to be able to write like that is something I aim for.

I remember in one of my screenwriting classes we had to evaluate a movie on the dialogue alone. Watch the movie and read the script. How was it that the writer's were able to convey so much information and character to the viewer in the opening sequence through dialogue. I picked American Outlaws while the rest of my classmates picked Oscar winners. Yes, my rebel beha…

Win a Mentorship with Brenda Novak

In case you didn't know, Brenda Novak has an online charity auction every May to benefit diabetes research. Lots of trips, books, and other writerly items are auctioned off, including reads and critiques by published authors, editors, and agents. She just sent out a note to my writing chapter to let everyone know she is adding on a mentorship with her. I've heard from others that she is an excellent mentor and really takes a lot of time to help whoever she is mentoring at the time. Here's her message and please feel free to forward to any writerly friends or groups.:

This year I'm offering something new at my online auction for diabetes research (which starts in less than two weeks!). It's a writing contest, the winner of which will win a six-month mentorship with me, including guaranteed reads from my agent and editor. The entries will be judged by national bestselling authors, including Barbara Freethy, Dianna Love, Susan Mallery, Karen Rose, Karin Tabke, and D…

Big Trouble

If you've never seen Big Trouble, you really should. It's a super funny movie based on the book of the same title. Though I guess I should add that reviewers and viewers either love it or hate it. It's just one of those movies. Be prepared for subtle, very sarcastic, and slapstick humor all rolled into one movie. Ever since I saw the movie the first time a couple of years ago I have wanted to read the book which I finally did last week. The book did not disappoint as sometimes happens. Interestingly, really good movies often were not so great books and really good books often make not so good movies.

One of my favorite hobbies, I guess you could call it, is to watch a movie, read the book, and read the script. It's a great tool to teach you basic storytelling and to see what is changed and what is the same. If the movie isn't based on a book try to read the original screenplay and see what has changed between the written word and what made it on screen.

Back to Big…

Creating a Logline

I'm working on a submission package for one of my stories and I've hit a block. It's called the logline which is a one sentence description about your book. Generally speaking, I like loglines, I learned how to write them in my screenwriting classes where you HAVE to have a logline. Usually that is the first assignment in the class after you introduce yourself. What is your book/movie about? And no ramblings responses allowed.

One instructor, wish I could remember who so I could give credit, referred to it as that line in the TV Guide that describes what the movie or show is about. In fact, as I recall, our homework was to go study the TV Guide to figure out how a logline works.

My ya fantasy's logline is a sheltered princess discovers her remarkable gifts with horses on a dangerous quest to find her father’s murderer.

My space opera's logline is a space pirate almost loses everything she cares about when she’s blackmailed into running a dangerous mission for the …

Interviewed at Claudsy's Blog

I was interviewed over at Claudsy's Blog today (and I think the second half will be posted on Thursday).

Tuesday's Interview with Angelia Almos

Are Contests Worth It?

Just wanted to pass along a blog article on contests that a writer I know did. She submitted the same manuscript (which is now being published by Dorchester) to twenty contests to see what type of results she would get. Super interesting stuff.

12 Results from my RWA contests experiment!

Script Fenzy Starting Soon

I got an email yesterday reminding me that Script Frenzy is gearing up for April. For those of you that haven't heard of it, Script Frenzy is a challenge similar to NaNoWriMo where you write a 100 page script during the month of April. You can check the website for more information.

Now on to why I'm talking about Script Frenzy. I got the email and a part of me went "I want to do it! Let's do it!". I've attempted Script Frenzy before and got about 40 pages in before I let life get in the way. It was fun while I was doing it. But another part of me said, "oh no, you're supposed to be in a new screenwriting course on April 14. Do you really want to try to work on two scripts at the same time? Not to mention HorseSchoolsOnline and my determination to have my young adult fantasy submitted by then."

I have a pattern and habit of stacking on too much stuff at once and then becoming overwhelmed. One of my goals for writing this year was to not allow my…

Addicted to Classes

I'm the first person to admit that I am a total class junkie. I love the deadlines and the feedback. We won't even go into the learning part when you have a good teacher and classmates. Most of my courses are online. I have done the writing classes in person at community college and university and really didn't get much from either of them except how to pretend like you aren't going to throw up any moment.

But the online ones from the schools that focus on teaching you the craft of writing so you can sell. Those are the best. I was going strong on getting a certificate in Feature Film Writing from UCLA until 2009 rolled around. Like many others we had to cut our expenses and classes were one of the first things to go for me. It also seemed to correspond with when I decided to put Horse Schools online and had decided that I needed to focus on my first draft novels. Horse Schools is now and I am well on track on my 2010 goals for my nove…

After the War Movie

Don't know how I've missed it for the last seven months, because I have looked. ARGH. But here is a proud mama moment of my little girl in her first short film.

You Tube After the War

She's the little girl in overalls in the beginning and very end of the movie.

And here she is in her first commercial

Northern Nevada Dairymen

She is also on their home page as part of the banner/logo.

Choosing the Next Project

I'm getting ready to send my YA fantasy out to the publishers and I'm faced with the task of deciding what the heck I'm gonna work on next. My overall goal for 2010 is to have four manuscripts out on submission with publishers. This is a goal I can control (something I've been working on LOL). So, onto my decision. I had thought it would be easy, but I'm finding it isn't easy. I just can't decide which one to work on. I know intellectually that it doesn't really matter since I've decided what four manuscripts I would polish and get sent off this year so I'll be working on each of them at one point or another throughout the year.

I'm currently debating between my paranormal novella and my romantic suspense novel. Both are pretty close to being finished. Need some scenes filled in here or there and have already been through a paper edit. So, I need to do a final polish on both of them. I've decided on possible publishers for them both that…

Humane Blogger Award

Kristi from Random Acts of Writing gave me the Humane Award. Though I did have to back track to who gave her the award to figure out what it was for. LOL. Keeping my kids alive for 10 years indeed Kristi. LOL 
Okay, the award is supposed to be for bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. I'm supposed to pass it on to ten other bloggers that I feel meet that standard. I could say something really cheeky here, but I'll refrain.
A Journey Illustrated Claudsy's Blog Divorce Warriors Jarabi Safee: (v.) To love writing, addictively Yaya's Changing World
Write What Your Heart Desires
Write What Inspires You
Tribal Writer
Dean Wesley Smith (I think he'd find it very amusing to be nominated for a kindhearted award since he considers himself a realist and very blunt, but the fact that he spends the time educating newbies is why I've listed him)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch (same as above though she isn't quite as blunt :-))

**This is a duplicate post from my Horse Schools blog. **

I'm happy to announce that is now up and running. I've been working on this site for several months (I think it might almost be a year, wow!). As with any large project a lot of that time was spent in trying to decide and testing different platforms to see what ones would best showcase the information this site has and then came the long journey of data entry. All of the information that was in the book version of Horse Schools had to be put into the website. Thankfully I had the assistance of a computer programmer and another volunteer who offered to assist with me all the data entry (it was a lot). If I'd done it all on my own I think it would probably be another year until I was making this announcement.

Due to the nature of the site I will always be updating and adding more information, but we were able to set it up so schools can update and add their own information which is great for th…

Market Research

Sometimes it can be fun and other times it feels like your banging your head against a wall. We've all heard the cry that more and more publishers are no longer accepting unagented submissions. I don't know if that's necessarily true and some advice will tell you to ignore the unagented road sign and go ahead and submit to them anyway. That is of course up to you.

In doing some basic market research I found about 19 publishers so far that take the genre that I've written. Out of those 19, seven of them say they only accept submissions from agents. Not bad. And this was only after looking through one market guide. I went to order the new Writer's Market for novels and was disappointed to see the bad reviews for it. Anyway, have the current edition? Is it as riddled with mistakes as the reviews state? Trying to decide if I should wait for the 2011 edition on that one.

I've been perusing various websites with publisher lists. Do you have any favorites?

To Contest or Not To Contest

So, just thinking about contests today, probably because I just finished judging my final Golden Heart entry in my packet. Will be sending in my scores either tonight or tomorrow night. Supposed to keep real hush hush about the entries so have no idea what I'm allowed to say or not say - so just won't say anything. LOL

What do you think of writing contests? I've entered several myself. All of them have been RWA contests from one chapter or another. I know writers that enter contests all of the time and others that have never entered a single contest. Some will only enter contests that have no entry fee while others stick to a certain selection of contests they like.

I myself have mixed feelings about contests. Contests can get you in front of an editor or agent in a short period of time. Plenty of writers have landed a publishing contract or agent via these types of contests. But plenty of people having nothing to show for all the contests they enter. I remember one contes…

Redefining Goals

How are your goals going? Are you staying on target? Given up on all your goals? Or are you redefining them?

This is the perfect time to reassess your goals if you started working on them at the beginning of January. You've had well over a month to see how your goals fit into the daily stream of your life and how your creativity flows. Check out this blog post on Goals and Dreams by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

So, onto my own goal setting. At the beginning of the year I printed up a calendar and wrote deadlines on the days and my goals for that month. I did not reach all of them, but enough to feel good about the progress I made. I also realized more about my working style that will help me reassess my goals to ones that I can reach more of them.

In January, my goals were to edit eight pages of my ya fantasy a day, write 1,000 words of my paranormal novella, write 1,000 words of space opera, and work on my online nonfiction book project.

What I actually did: 2,000 words a day on para…

Positive Thinking or Not Getting Your Hopes Up

Do you do the positive thinking and imaging or do you go with the not getting your hopes up?

I got a couple of rejections this week that knocked me down for a little bit and it got me to thinking about what is the best way to handle submissions and the possibility of rejections. Generally speaking, I've gotten pretty good at shrugging off rejections. I file them away and send off the next batch or to the next market depending on what the submission is for. But ever so often I'll get one where I can't just shrug it off and move on, and it got me to thinking, what is it about that particular rejection that got to me?

And I think I figured it out, I was putting more weight on that submission. Practicing what people like to call positive thinking when sending it out, etc. I was trying out the idea that positive thinking brings back positive rewards. But as we all know in the writing game - rejection is a massive part of the submission process.

If I send something off and not …

Finding Inspiration in Other Writers

I touched briefly on this in my last post.

You can find a lot of inspiration from studying other writers. Kristine Kathryne Rusch has a great post on Role Models. You can have different types of role models. It can be someone who has mapped a career you admire, someone with a writing style you aspire to, a professional who behaves in a certain way, etc. I mentioned Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz as a couple of writers whom I admire. I actually met Jayne, in an elevator, and saw both her and Nora in seminars that they conducted at a writer's conference. I also met many other writers that I admire or enjoy reading at said writer's conference. If you're interested in meeting one of your role models - conferences can be a place to listen to them speak and perhaps have some one on one time. Though note Kristine's Role Models post on being disappointed by a role model and whether you are willing to risk your illusions about this person being dashed. We are …

Finding Inspiration In Books

Since, I've been talking a lot about finding inspiration in movies whether you're studying how an adaptation came to be or just watching something in your genre to get your creative juices flowing, I figured I'd better talk about books as well.

We all have our favorite authors that we come to again and again. Sometimes these authors stay with us for years, other times we grow out of their style/genre/voice, and other times their style/genre/voice changes to something that doesn't resonate with us.

One of the biggest pieces of advice you'll ever hear if you want to be a writer is to read, and read, and read, and read some more. Read within the genre you wish to write and read outside that genre.

Unfortunately in making time to write many writers often schedule out reading forgetting how crucial that part of studying the craft is. You must make time to read as well. For different writers the amount you need to read can vary. But you have to read. Whether you're o…