Monday Snippits.

Since I am a secret coward who is deeply afraid of things like the ocean and giant spiders, I love finding profound thoughts on fear.

Here's one of my favorites:

"Andrea!" Stevens laughed and then cried out as the movement triggered off a crepitant agony in his bone-shattered leg...  "Andrea!" he whispered. "Scared!  I don't believe it!" 
"Andrea was afraid." The big Greek's voice was very gentle. "Andrea is afraid. Andrea is always afraid. That is why I have lived so long."  
He stared down at his great hands. "And why so many have died.  They were not so afraid as I.  They were not afraid of everything a man could be afraid of, there was always something they forgot to fear, to guard against. But Andrea was afraid of everything--and he forgot nothing. It is as simple as that."

He looked across at Stevens and smiled. 
"There are no brave men and cowardly men in the world, my son. There are only brave men. To be born, to live, to die--that takes courage enough in itself, and more than enough. We are all brave men and we are all afraid, and what the world calls a brave man, he too is brave and afraid like the all rest of us. Only he is brave for five minutes longer.  Or sometimes ten minutes, or twenty minutes--or the time it takes a man sick and bleeding and afraid to climb a cliff."

From The Guns of Navarone by Alistair Maclean

Let's talk social networks!

 As I learn more and more about social networking sites on the Internet, I've come to realize something.  It's not enough for me to just join a network. To be successful at it, I have to know WHY I'm doing it and what I intend to get out of it.

Each of the sites below fill a specific niche for me.  You can click on each link to see what I've done with it.

Ready?
 
THE BIG ONES


Facebook Profile-

Access Level: Low

Don't let the 300+  friend count fool you.  Facebook is my safe place.  Those are childhood friends, high school friends, college buddies.  Family, family friends, people from Coeur d'Alene and Boise. There are also writers I've met, work friends, and fellow bloggers.  There are less than a handful of people on my profile that I don't know, and I'm VERY careful who I allow on.


Comfort level: High 

I can be silly or serious or whatever and know that some random stranger isn't going to troll me.

Promotion level: Low 

Aside from occasional status update, you won't find much of my book info on this page.  We've all had that friend that got into that great business selling insurance or phone service or whatever.  Usually it makes them bad company.  They talk about it all the time.  I don't want to be that friend, so on my Facebook profile it's all about relationships: you, me and life in general.


Facebook Page-

Access Level: High

Any one can join if they have a Facebook account. 

Comfort Level: Medium 

At the moment, I know almost all the fans on the page.  Eventually, that will change. I won't know every person that comments, but that's okay.  I'm so comfortable with Facebook in general that it's hard to be nervous.


Promotion Level: High 

This is my professional writer face, and it's ALL  about the book here.  A lot of book promotion, contests, excerpts, occasional email updates and a live feed from my blog.



Twitter-

Access Level: Semi-limited 

Anyone can follow me, (unless you are a porn-gremlin, and then I will swat you with a rolled-up newspaper), but I don't always follow those who follow me.  Most the people I follow are blog friends, regular friends, writers or agents. 


Comfort Level: Medium High 

I feel like Twitter is one giant conversation I can jump into at any time.  The ability to block people, and to choose whom I follow, makes it a friendly place for me.

Promotion Level: Medium 

Twitter is much more about building relationships and swapping information than it is about promotion.  But it IS a great way to let people know what's going on.  "I posted a blog here", "Read a great review of my book", etc.  As long as you keep it balanced, no one seems to mind.



Myspace-


Access Level: High

I'm keeping the profile open for everyone with a Myspace account.


Comfort Level: Low  

I started drifting away from Myspace when people started putting up profiles and flair that made my computer freeze.  As a result, I'm not used to the format.  Then why be on Myspace?  Well, this is why.   I want to be available to as many  readers as possible.  (BTW, If anyone has any Myspace suggestions, they would be welcome)

Promotion Level: Medium-High

While this is also a professional site, I'm not sure what promotions I'll use it for.  Eventually it will probably be much the same as my Facebook page, a place for readers to access me and my books.


OTHER NETWORKS

Goodreads~  So far I haven't gotten much into the social side of Goodreads.  I know a few people on there, but I mostly use it to keep track of my "How many books in a year?" project.

Redroom~  This is a very cool place, but not one I've made a whole lot of connections at yet.  It's a bit like going to a giant online writer's conference where you don't know anyone.  You have some cool conversations, you hear some great stuff, and you people-watch.

_________

I was also going to talk about blogging as a social networking tool, but this post is waaaay long.  So I'll save it for Wednesday.  But other that that, this is me, these are the places I hang out and the networks I'm on.

What are YOU on?

Many amusing things

1.  Amy is doing another fundraiser for  826 Valencia on her blog this week!!!  This time she's not only donating a dollar for every new follower, but she's also doing a drawing for a gift certificate.  Yah, Amy!!

2.  I have a new Myspace page!!  So if you happen to be on Myspace, come and hang out, it's looking a little deserted over there.  (Facebook people can come hang out here)

3. My computer is trying to suck me in.  Seriously.  I sit and stare at it for hours, and even though I'm not doing much of anything I CANNOT TEAR MYSELF AWAY!!  I blame you all for being so entertaining.

4.  I got a blog award this week!!  Helen over at Straight from Hel (ha!) gave me a Superior Scribbler Award.
See here it is, isn't it shiny?


Here are the rules to this award:

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains The Award.

Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I choose…

Amy Allgeyer Cook- The Invisible Sister 

Travis Erwin- One Word, One Rung, One Day 
Renee Collins- Midnight Meditations
PJ Hoover- ROOTS IN MYTH 
Nic Casey-Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

 (Okay, so formatting on that got a little wonky...  moving on...)


5.  On Saturday I'd like to talk about social networks.  Which social networks are you guys on and what do you use them for?  Do you think they're helpful?

Monday Snippits

Hypothetical question for you:

Say an author you know has a book coming out um...  at some point.  And she wants to make a behind-the-scenes interview video to help promote it.

What questions should she answer?

What would YOU want to know?

No one ever told me I was too short

You hear a lot of writers lament the changing marketplace. One very popular lament goes something like this:

I took too long to write my brilliant wizard/vampire/whatever book and now the market is FLOODED with books that are similar to mine and no one will ever want to BUY it! AIIEEE!!!!

I'm not going to talk about that.

I bring it up because I am also getting nervous about the changing marketplace, but for a totally different reason.

My book may be too short.

Oddly, by "too short" I don't mean that the book needs more words to be a good book. I could be wrong (and frequently am) but I think the book has a good flow.

Here's the problem: When I started writing seriously in the early 2000's, the range for YA books was about 40k to 60k. Everything I read and everyone I talked to said, for a first book, 60k was the ABSOLUTE LONGEST that was sellable.

When I started writing Houses, the book I'm currently rewriting/shopping around, I didn't have a specific word count in mind. But the idea of 50-60k was lingering at the back of my brain. I don't know how long the first draft was (it was handwritten) but the second draft came out to about 50k.

Meanwhile, the market was changing around me. 80k word YA books are appearing, some even by first authors. YA fantasy especially tends to be longer. And 50k is considered on the short side.



Oops.

I figured revision would solve that. In my early writing years I was a put-inner, big time. But not only has the market changed, my writing style has changed. Despite adding a couple of new scenes and lengthening some more, the book refuses to get longer.

In fact, I'll be lucky if it even HITS the 50k mark.

Now, I've been informed by Ally Carter and Kristin Nelson that "how long should my book be" is the wrong question to ask. I should be asking "how important is pacing in my novel?" So I'm working on the pacing and trying not to be nervous.

I'm failing.

What do you think? Is there still a market for shorter YA's out there?

Um... My post on plotting may have broken the blog.

Testing, testing, one, two, three.

Hello, Internetz? Are you there?

How to plot.

PJ would like me to talk about plots, and how to make them exciting throughout.

I would love to do this, but unfortunately I know very little about plotting. When things get boring in my books, I tend to just throw in some action. Punch someone in the face, drop a rock on them, etc.

This makes for good action scenes, but action is not always plot.

(This is my one original contribution to this discussion: Action is not always plot.)

HOWEVER, as any good customer service person knows, you don't always have to know the answer but you SHOULD know where to go to find it.

And I know just the people you should listen to.


Robert Gregory Browne on How to Seduce your Readers.

(I loved, loved, loved this post. It's helped me so much with pacing and story arc.)


Sarah Rees Brennan
on The Trilogy Rule

(Again, some great ideas on pacing over the course of several books. Also helps answer the question "How much plot should go in the first book of a series or possible series?")


And here are a few of Terry Brooks' Ten Rules of Writing Fiction

- The Strength of The Protagonist is Measured by the Threat of the Antagonist

-Movement Equals Growth, Growth Equals Change, Without Change Nothing Happens

And my personal favorite:

- Don't Bore the Reader.

There. Now you all know as much about plotting as I do. Have fun!!

Inquiring minds...

There WILL be a real post tomorrow!!! Um, when I get off work. In the afternoon. :P

But since you wonderful readers are so patient, what would you like me to post about?

And I thought I was a good storyteller.

Wow.





I'd never heard of sand animation before, but I've seen this video linked to many, many times today.

Here is the story behind the video.

Proof that I spend too much time online...

Well, the school year is beginning. Which means EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN PULLMAN came into my store today.

Which means my mind is a blank today. (Insert joke of your choice here)

However, I cannot let you, my loyal blog readers down! So please enjoy this parade of random amusing-ness from the Internet.


You know Snuggies? The combination blanket/robe thing that makes people look like refugees from a medieval monastery? Now they're available for dogs!!!

Disco ball Cordarounds-
pants with soft, breathable fabric that reflect light LIKE A DISCO BALL. (Cause who doesn't need those?)

And here's a Life photo essay on the world's most expensive gourmet coffee--and the animal that poops it out.

Kind of a cute little bugger, I think...

And of course, a cat.




(EDIT: Forgot to say where I found the cat!!! This lovely feline comes courtesy of Janet Reid's blog.)

See you Friday! (Or Saturday, which is when I actually post next. Sheesh...)

Monday Snippits.

Quick writing update:

-The agent who had my full is no longer taking queries and her agency is closing. (Sad for me, but sadder, I think, for her.)

-We sold my old car for more than we were expecting and my husband offered me the money so I could get the first few chapters of Houses (the newly rewritten ones) professionally critiqued. I, of course, was all over that! Should get the feedback in a few weeks.

-I'm about five chapters away from finished The Great Rewrite. When it's done, off it goes again to see if I can interest an agent.

-I miss my new book, my current work-in-progress. But I know that this separation is a good thing. My writing has gotten so much stronger through rewriting Houses, and that will benefit the new book as well.

I hope.




-This month's great writing lesson appears to be this: Curb your impatience. A not-quite-ready book will get you no farther than a first draft. Take the time to make it perfect.

(I do not like this lesson at all, but I'm reluctantly learning it.)

Have a great week!!

My obsession.

It's a dangerous thing to ask someone about their passions. For one thing, passionate people can talk your ear off! But the lovely editors at Redroom did just that. They asked us to answer the following question.

"What are your obsessions? Your passions? Your fixations?"

Believe it or not, I didn't really think about this until early this year. If you'd asked me before then, I would have said, "I'm passionate about writing, period."

But is being passionate about an art form--in and of itself--really enough? What is it that I'm actually trying to SAY in my writing?

I know I love books, language, and good storytelling. But I discovered this year that there's one overwhelming passion that informs what I write.

I love people.

People FASCINATE me. What they do, why they do it, their loves and hates and hurts. I'm intrigued by why people lie, and the way they lie, by how they can try to do the right thing and still screw everything up.

And I'm consistently blown away by the uniqueness of people. Sometimes I feel like an etymologist who has just discovered that there are six billion new species of butterfly in the world. And no two of them eat exactly the same thing, look exactly the same or behave exactly the same.

I want to study ALL of them! I have so many questions.

Like...

What motivates a young girl who gets drawn into drugs and alcohol and partying?

How can two people love each other and still have a misunderstanding that leaves them estranged for years?

What does it feel like to be elderly and have the world change so rapidly around you?

What would it be like to be raised in a refugee camp?

To be the unsatisfactory child of wealthy parents?

To know only one other person with your color skin?

To be so afraid of something that you become bitter and hate-filled?

To live on the edge of starvation?

To struggle with obesity your whole life?

To have a history and a heritage that goes back thousands of years?

To not know who your father or your mother or your grandparents were?


*stops and takes a deep breath* (See, I told you this was a dangerous question.)


So I write, and I love writing. But I love writing primarily because it allows me to study people and say things about what it's like to be human and create characters that can be known, in a way that few real people can.

That's my obsession.

What's yours?

An Agatha Christie Poll !!!

As per a very good question from Beth in response to my tweet yesterday about reading Dame Agatha Christie, I've put together this little survey.

Which are your favorite Agathe Christie books/detectives AND WHY...

A. Hercule Poirot

B. Miss Marple

C. Tommy and Tuppence Beresford

D. Parker Pyne

E. Harley Quin

F. I don't have a favorite listed here, I prefer the stand-alone ones. (Please provide an example.)

G. I don't know who Agatha Christie is OR I know who she is but I've never read her. (Shame on you, sir! Shame, I say!)


As for me: My favorite detective is Parker Pyne. He's a fascinating man who specializes in happiness. He knows exactly what people need, and has a vast network of connections to make it happen. Most of his short stories are found in the book: Parker Pyne Investigates

DISCLAIMER: My absolute favorite Christie character is Adriane Oliver the writer. She's hilarious, and makes a show in several books. Sadly, though, she's never considered a main character and never makes a right guess.

All right, YOUR TURN!!!!

Who's your favorite?

Monday Snippits


A Summer Haiku


Ninety-eight degrees

With no air-conditioning

One very dead brain


That is all.

Today is Random Tangent day!!

I have a theory. Well, I have many theories, and this is one of them. It goes like this.

The more serious you are about a sport, the sillier your outfit will look.

For example: golf. Golf is a great sport that many people enjoy, and I'm not dismissing that. But golfers (almost) always wear the same thing.

This was brought home to me one day when I drove by a parking lot full of people. There was a big banner reading GOLF SWAP, people browsing tables, etc.

Every person there, EVERY SINGLE PERSON, was wearing a solid color polo shirt, khaki shorts with a belt and a black (or tan) hat. Everyone. It was so surreal that I couldn't stop giggling.

You can substitute black for khaki, or go with slacks instead of shorts. You can even do a visor instead of a hat. But for the most part serious golfers look like this:


(I will say that ladies golf attire is more flexible. But still, most of the golfing ladies I've seen go with the polo/shorts/visor combination.)

I did eventually find out the why behind polos as golf shirts. Apparently, golf courses require you to wear a collared shirt, and button-downs are too restrictive to get a good swing. As the person I was talking to put it "You have to look nice on the golf course."

Who knew?


Do you have any nominations for odd looking sports outfits?
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.