Opinons please. What do you think about v-logs?

I was recently reminded by my husband that we own a webcam, which I've never used. And lately I've been thinking about adding some video talks to the blog now and then.

What do you think? Do you like video blogs?  What topics would you want? (book reviews, writing advice, etc.)

And for those of you who've done video blogs in the past, do you have any pointers?

Any and all opinions welcome!

A quick update on my 500 project.

As many of you know, I made it a goal this year to write 500 words a day.  (I stole the idea from the awesome superhero duo of Megan and Sam over at the Boise Novel Orchard blog)

I even got specific with the goal. I wanted to write 500 new words a day on my current project, a MG historical fantasy.  And with February coming to a close, I thought it would be fun to see how I'm doing.
_____

Start Date: Jan. 14th, 2010

Total days so far: 41

Word goal: 20,500

Actual words typed: 13,080

Actual days writing: 23
_____

So, as you can see, I haven't achieved consistency yet. Word count-wise, I'm at about a sixty percent success rate.

Do I feel bad? Not at all!

Sixty percent isn't bad for the first month of a new goal. And what doesn't come out in the numbers is that my husband and I were both sick during this time. I also finished an intensive rewrite on my last book, a rewrite that ate my brain for lunch.

Do I want to keep a writing schedule even if things like that come up? Of course. But this idea is all about practice. You practice your writing, and you practice writing consistently as a habit.

After all...


 If I did it right the first time, I wouldn't need the practice!*


How about you?  How are your goals for the New Year holding up?


*photo from zooborns.com

A genre question...

I'm pretty sure that I don't have any regular readers who are agents, but I'd love it if I did, because I have a question.

What genre is my book?

This isn't a question I ever thought I'd ask. The world of my book is a pre-industrial empire with a bit of magic thrown in: half-human, half-animal shape-shifters, the ability to speak with thoughts, etc.  So I've always considered it a fantasy.

But it's also a mystery. The main character has to solve a murder in order to gain her freedom. And that goal is what moves the plot forward.

The question came up in my mind because I entered  a "what's your hook?" contest on an agent website a while back.  The agents were very helpful and gave everyone feedback, even the ones they didn't request. My feedback was that the concept was interesting, but there seemed to be a lot going on in my summary. Was it a fantasy or a mystery?

Hmmm.

Now I wonder if my query is too cluttered. Should I call it a fantasy, but focusing primarily on the murder-investigation part of the plot? Or should I continue to include the fantasy elements in the query itself? Or should I pitch it as mystery?

What do you think?

In which I am brutally honest about some books.

For those of you who don't know, Stieg Larsson was a Swedish author who died in 2004, shortly after turning in the Millennium Trilogy.  The books have become bestsellers in Sweden and the US, and I finally read the first two, after my dad told me he'd disown me if I didn't.

And I'm glad I did. But I recommend this series to you with two disclaimers:. It does have some seriously adult situations in it, and  it's a little hard to get into.

Let me explain.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) by Stieg Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) Larsson, Stieg

I almost didn't make it through the first third of this book. I don't know if it's that I mostly read YA, or if my attention span is shortening with age, but there was WAY too much backstory in the first part for me.  Also, too much description of what characters are doing.

For example:  Main Guy Character Mikael finally gets to the island where the plot is, and agrees to solve the murder that is the driving force of the story. 

Hooray! 

Then we get two to three pages of his first night on the island, and where he went and what he ate and what he thought of the dark and the cold and how he tries to call his sort-of girlfriend, but she doesn't answer.

Sadness.

(Now, my father--who is just as avid a reader as myself, but reads much more adult fiction--thought the pacing was fine. So it could just be that I'm not the ideal reader for that kind of description.)

Once you get fully into the book though, it's a good read. Mainly because of the two main characters, Mikael and Lisbeth.  In fact, I fell in love with Lisbeth, a young, ruthless, computer hacker.

And it's a good thing I did, because it turns out that the series is NOT primarily about Mikael, even though the first book starts with him and how he's in trouble with the law and in trouble with his magazine and how he buys notebooks and eats at cafes and tries to figure out how to solve the murder.

It's all about Lisbeth, which becomes obvious in...


The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) by Stieg Larsson The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) Larsson, Stieg

Like PJ Hoover's books that I reviewed last week, this second book outshone the first. Only in this case, instead of just being a bit better, it was amazingly better.  Lisbeth possesses very few social skills, but she can get into any computer anywhere, knows how to disappear and carries a HAMMER around with her to discourage attackers.

Loved it.

This book is all about the build-up. Lisbeth is on the run from the police for a triple murder she may or may not have committed, and in the process, she and Mikael unearth a series of powerful lies and cover-ups that have affected her whole life.   And the end is a cliffhanger, so much so that I called my father and had this conversation with him.

ME: I finished the second book. Oh My Gosh.

DAD:  I told you so!

ME: Just tell me one thing. Tell me the third book has a good ending, because I swear if these bad guys don't get their heads kicked in a spectacular manner after all of this, I'll throw the book against the wall.  I'm not going through any more of this if the payoff isn't good.

DAD:  Don't worry, it's worth it.

ME: Hooray!


So, now I'm telling you the same thing. The series is worth it. If you can make it through the first half of the first book, it's pretty amazing.

Late post today...

I do have an awesome book review blog post all planned out. Unfortunately something came up last night, and I couldn't write it.

But do not despair! I will be back from work this afternoon, and will provide you with the aforementioned blog post.

In the meanwhile, please enjoy this freakishly large rabbit, and it's attending articles.


Fun with words!

I finally finished Round 1 of my rewrites! So, while I'm sending it out to some people for intial read, and trying to get back into the first draft of my other project, I thought I'd have some word fun.

If you've never been to wordle.net, you're missing out. Not only is it entertaining, but it's a great writer tool.  Wordle creates word clouds out of anything you put into it, a block of text, a blog, a website. You can wordle an entire Shakespeare play if you want.

This is the word cloud for the book I just finished rewriting:


*tries to post cloud*

*fails*

Huh, well if you wish, you can go to the wordle site and check it out.

As you can see, I've definitely overused some common words, like for one, so now I can go back and fix those. But I still think the overall cloud is pretty. :)

See you all on Saturday!

Monday Snippits: In which I blab about rewriting.

I'm rewriting the novel I finished in November.

Yes, November.  For National Novel Writing Month.

Now granted, I rebelled a little and decided to finish a book I already had 15,000 words on. But I finished it in four weeks.

Has anyone here ever sat down and tried to rewrite their Nano novel before?  If not, let me tell you, it's an adventure.*

- For example, the already-written part and the new stuff? Totally different voice. Took me a whole day to fix.

- When you write for November, you just write, even if stuff is out of order.  Putting scenes in coherent progression? Another two days of banging my head against the keyboard.

- And what about pacing? Don't make me laugh. Who has time to worry about pacing in November? I've been working on that all week and I'm still not done.

Rearranging things, putting in transitions, figuring out if I need new scenes, that's where all my energy is going these days.  I'm just trying to make the dumb thing readable so I can send it to my beta readers.

Arg.

*not that I'm ungrateful. I probably wouldn't have had a book to rewrite this year if it hadn't been for Nano.

Call for blog post ideas.

Huh.  It appears that the sheer amount of rewriting I've been doing has fried my brain. The only thing I can think of to post, other than the review of the Larsson books,* is this:



This would be less hilarious if the website didn't bear a striking resemblance to the one that used to be up for this product:




Hmmm...  I'd rather have the jeans, I think.  And isn't that the same person in the voice-over?

Anyway, I'd love some blog topic ideas for the next week or two.  Anyone got a spare idea laying around?


* Next week, Dad. I promise! :)

Have you missed my book reviews? They're back!

This year, I'm doing my book list a little differently. I'm not going to review EVERY new book I read, just the ones that really interest me for some reason, or that I think would interest you, my readers.

Fortunately for all of us, the next two books on my to-review list are extremely interesting. 



The Emerald Tablet (Hardcover) by P. J. Hoover The Emerald Tablet Hoover, P. J.

The Navel of the World (The Forgotten Worlds, Book 2) by P. J. Hoover The Navel of the World (The Forgotten Worlds, Book 2) Hoover, P. J


I'm reviewing these together, because this is one of those rare trilogies where the second book is even more awesome than the first. The Forgotten Worlds books are about a boy named Benjamin who discovers he's a telegen, an advanced being who can read minds, heal himself, and do all kinds of other awesome things.

In the Emerald Tablet, Benjamin is sent to summer school in Lemuria, an ancient underwater continent where many of the telegens live.  He is just settling in and learning to use his powers when he is chosen by the mysterious Emerald Tablet to be its champion. 

Now Ben not only has to finish summer school, he has to stop a war between Lemuria and its sister continent Atlantis.  (That's right, I said Atlantis.  This book is full of awesome.)

The awesomeness takes a leap forward in the Navel of the World.  Now we have very cool time travel, ancient gods, like Apollo,  who are actually telegens, and the search for a brother that Ben never knew he had. 

The book ends with probably one of the bravest plot twists I've ever seen.  I'm beyond fascinated to see how the characters lives and interactions are changed because of it.

(No, I won't tell you what the ending is. Go buy the book.)

Perfect for sci-fi lovers, fans of classical myth, and anyone who's ever wanted to teleport. 4 stars.


I'd love to get more recommendations for the middle-grade (7-12)  part of my reading list.  Any ideas?

Monday Snippits: Fast Five

1. First off, an apology for being absent from the Internetz lately. I had a week (and weekend) crammed with hullabaloo and shenanigans.  It was very tiring. :)

2. One awesome thing I did this weekend though was Write Your A#% Off Day. This time it was extended into a weekend, where people could do it Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday.  I did mine on Sunday, logging in almost five straight hours of rewriting in the morning, and three more scattered through the rest of the day.  Yah!

3. I HATE REWRITES! That is all.

4. Okay, that's not all. This is an awful draft.  The pacing is all wrong, and I've had to move scenes around three million times and there are still parts that are BORING and go on and on, and they wouldn't be boring if I could put them in the right order, but I don't know what the right order is, and the long and the short of it is that THIS BOOK IS KICKING MY A$%.  In fact I'm giving up writing and moving to Peru.

5. I was too busy rewriting and angst-ing to watch the Superbowl. Who won? Was it awesome? How were the commercials?

More cute! (Because who doesn't need that?)

On Thursday's comment thread, my friend Amy requested baby seals instead of puppies. Much as I love a good puppy video, I was intrigued by the request.

I have to report however, that  good baby seal footage is hard to find.

So instead, please enjoy these sea lions.



See you all Monday!

Just a reminder.

I'm over at the Boise Novel Orchard today talking about success and things no one ever told me.

Also, since the entire month so far has been about negativity, I give you puppies instead!

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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.