Tell me a story

One of the odder things about blogging regularly is that you talk about yourself a lot. Your feelings, your opinions, your advice, etc. You hope that all of that will form the basis for discussion and other people will join in, but ultimately, it's mostly just you jabbering away.

Well, forget that. There are some fascinating and wonderful people who read this blog and I want to hear from them. I want to hear from YOU.

Tell me a story. Any story. It can be a real story or a made up story or a mostly-real-with-some-tweaks-so-it-sounds better story. But it will be your story. Not mine. Leave it in the comments section, put it up on your own blog, twitter it to me, leave it on my new facebook page, I don't care.

Everyone has a story.

Tell me yours.




Cinder Winner!

Holy cow guys, there were a LOT of entries for this contest. Thank you all for helping get my new page up and running. You're the best.

And the winner of Cinder is...



ELLEN HAFNER! 


So Ellen send me your address and I'll get the book out to you.  Thanks again everyone!

*hugs everyone*

Updates and awesomeness

1. I'm functional again!

Well, by functional I mean I can stand and walk and sit and go to work. There's still a little bit of pain in my side, but other than that, I'm good.



2. Still waiting for copyedits to come, and a little nervous to tell you the truth. I'm also getting random anxiety moments as evidenced by the fact that I sent an email to my agent titled "WHAT IF EVERYONE GETS EXCITED ABOUT THE BOOK AND THEN IT SUCKS?"

And yes, it was capitalized like that.

Awesome Agent Jenn told me I was a silly goose of course. Then we started talking about books and she gave me some really good book recommendations with orders to go buy them and read them. Sabriel by Garth Nix and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

I read them. They are AWESOME and you all should go read them RIGHT NOW.



Awesome books have awesome.


3. This showed up on my Twitter feed this morning, courtesy of Jon Acuff. It's an amazing video where Kurt Vonnegut explains the simple shapes of stories. Watch it. You won't regret it.



Anything interesting or awesome happen to you this week?

Why I haven't been around much the last few days.

I had a very specific plan for the last half of this week. It was a good plan, a productive plan.

And it got smashed.

First I ended up covering for a coworker and working a lot longer shift on Thursday than I planned. I figured that was fine, since I had Friday, Saturday and Sunday to do what needed to be done.

Yeah.

So that didn't really work out either.

You see, late on Thursday night, my back went berserk.

I leaned down to put something in the fridge and it completely spazzed out. I couldn't straighten my back, I couldn't walk, I couldn't even sit.  Total nonfunctionality.  My husband managed to rub out the spazes, but in the morning, I still couldn't stand up. So I had to call in sick for Friday and Saturday, which is something I never do.

I don't know about you, but for me there comes a point when things go SO wrong that it just gets funny. So I spent yesterday on the couch,  laughing to myself and making mental notes for future stories.  Also, I got a lot of reading done.

Today was mostly sleeping. I can stand and walk and sit up--those glorious everyday wonders you never think about until they're gone. But my back still hurts and I can't do any of those things for very long. Hopefully another day of rest will set it straight.

So that's where I've been, and if you don't see me around much it's because  I used up all my sitting-up time writing this post.  But don't worry about me. I'm getting better and I'll be back soon.

Until then, here's a guinea pig in a sweater.

found at cuteoverload.com

Anime survey

So the awesome girls in my book group have succeeded in convincing me that I need to watch more anime. They even made me a list! (They are very determined. And awesome.)

Anyway, on their recommendation, I started with the original Full Metal Alchemist. Three episodes in and I can already tell it's not going to be sunshine and roses and unicorns pooping rainbows. In fact, I strongly suspect it's going to be the same thing that happened when I started watching Doctor Who.

EVERYONE I KNOW: You must watch Doctor Who! Doctor Who is the best thing since sliced bread with Nutella. (All my most rabid Doctor Who friends also like Nutella. I suspect the two are connected somehow.)

ME: Fine, I will watch this show that everyone says is so amazing.

Five episodes later....

ME: So..the point of Doctor Who is to break your heart in every single episode? Is that what's going on here?

EVERYONE: Exactly!

ME: And now I'm hooked too. So I'm devastated AND addicted.

EVERYONE: Welcome to the dark side! Have some Nutella!

You get the picture. I suspect Full Metal Alchemist will be the same.

So assuming I survive it... what's your favorite anime? And why should I watch it?

Facebook Cinder Giveaway!

So some of you may remember that I was thinking about relaunching my Facebook fan page a while back. Well I finally redid it.  It's a little sparse at the moment, but there are some fun things coming down the pipe for later and I wanted to have it set up before then.

In honor of my new page, I'm having another book giveaway! This time it's Cinder by Marissa Meyer.



From the Goodreads page:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl...

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

This book was just plain fun, especially if you like sci-fi and fairy tales. And to enter to win it, all you have to do is click the button below to "like" my new Facebook page!



Contest is international, of course. (And if you don't have a Facebook page, leave a comment or send me a Twitter DM letting me know and I'll enter you anyway.)

EDIT: Also, the contest ends at midnight PST, February 20th.

What do you think of author Facebook pages? Likes? Dislikes? What makes them good?

Being mean to characters

Yesterday I finished writing the Awful Middle Scene in the sequel to Dolls. This was a hard one. There was death, loss, anger, survivor's guilt, tender goodbyes, declarations of love. In short...

found at xallthey.tumblr.com/
original from 
hyperbole and a half


In fact, the scene was so big that I haven't been able to write it for three months. Now I'm heading into the back half of the book, and I can feel the momentum building. I was so excited that of course I had to say something online, which led to the following conversation with my mother.

Me: Everyone in my book in now either heartbroken or super pissed. Seems like a good way to start the second half. #evilwriter 
Mom: Miriam - where did you get this evil writer persona - you were such a sweet child!!!! :) 
Me: Hehehehe

I am ninety percent sure that my mother was kidding, but it is an interesting question. In real life, I avoid conflict. I'm not violent. But  I have no problem killing and torturing characters if the book needs it.

It's a little crazy-making, as Chuck Wendig pointed out this week. (In his usual hilarious and deeply profane way.) Writers are nuts. We create characters, bring them to life and then torment them.

Why?

Well, partly because totally happy stories are boring. Conflict is necessary, and a good writer cares more about what's good for the book then they do about what's good for the characters. But I know there are other reasons too, so I thought I'd ask.

Are you mean to your characters? Why?

Thoughts on Burn Notice and waif-fu.

So, as some of you know, I'm a sucker for a good Super-Competent Character. I love people who are good at what they do, especially if they're kick-ass and super dangerous.

Which brings me to waif-fu.

Waif-fu is a television trope where "The tiny, hundred-pounds-when-soaking-wet Damsel In Distress can take down a man three times her size without breaking a sweat."

In waif-fu it doesn't matter if your arms are skinny or you're so light that you blow away in high winds. With the magic of movie martial arts, you can defeat any burly enemy that comes your way.

(And somehow the hours of practice needed to build those skills still give you no muscles whatsoever.)

Don't believe me? Here are two pictures. The left one is Uma Thurman in the movie Kill Bill, where she plays "the deadliest woman in the world" and kills about a hundred people. The right one is Julie Kedzie, a mixed martial arts fighter. She's a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and specializes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.



Who do you think would win in this fight?


Waif-fu is incredibly common. In the better stories, the heroine's ability to win in a fight is attributed to some supernatural strength or genetic engineering.


Waif-fu is a Slayer power! 


She can kick your head in OR kill you with her brain. Your choice.


In the worst case, waif-fu is just plain ridiculous. Which was why it was so refreshing when I started watching Burn Notice.



Let me introduce you to Fiona Glenanne.



No superpowers here. Unless you count the gun.


Fiona is a former IRA operative and a part-time gunnrunner. She's a little crazy. And she's so good at being badass that it took me almost two full seasons to realize that she has almost no waif-fu at all. When she takes people down, it's by shooting them or blowing them up or hitting them with hard objects. The one time I've ever seen her get into a full-on fist fight, it was with another girl. And she lost.



Fiona's not invincible, and she's not incredibly strong. When she gets in trouble or is surrounded by burly men trying to take her down, she does what any normal person would do. She runs.  But she still manages to rescue the male main character just as much as he rescues her. It's pretty awesome.

Fiona is a good example of how one can be waifish and dangerous in a realistic fashion. (Hollywood, please take note.)  Now what we need is an action heroine who is feminine and and muscular.

Someone like these amazing MMA fighters might be a good start. I'd go see them in an action movie.

EDIT: Holy crap, ask and you will receive. Kathleen in the comments just pointed me to this AMAZING looking movie. But it's not out on video yet. *waits impatiently*



What do you think of waif-fu?

Monday cute: Snakes and snails and polar bear tails!

So I'm having phone troubles and trying to get out of the house so I can go work on the sequel and still pausing periodically to look at my lovely secret cover file....

*pets cover*

In short, it's Monday. So please accept this cute from zooborns.com in lieu of a blog post.









What are you doing this fine Monday?

Title changes and other things that make me squee.

Ohmygosh guys, I just go my first look at the cover for Dolls!!!!!!

*faints*

I can't share it yet because there's still tweaking to be done, but I love it. It's gorgeous. And epic. And as soon as it's finalized,  I'll put it up.

Which brings me to...

The Title.

Yes, there's been a slight title change for the book. As awesome as House of a Thousand Dolls is, the editor and marketing team felt it might be a bit too young. So we tweaked it.

The new title is...

*drumroll*

CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS


It doesn't have the round vowel sounds of House, but it works much better in the actual book. See, the City of a Thousand Dolls is actually a large estate with six Houses and each trains a different kind of girl

The House of Flowers trains girls in court manners and noble protocol.

The House of Jade trains girls as healers and scholars.

The House of Beauty trains girls to be beautiful and to create beautiful things.

The House of Pleasure trains girls to be courtesans and mistresses.

The House of Music trains musicians and dancers

And the House of Combat trains warriors and guards.

With so many different Houses running around, it worked much better to have the estate itself called a city. And the cover makes the title sound epic too.  Almost as epic as this.



So that's the reason behind the name change.

What do you think?

A very late post on trusting yourself

Apologies for the lateness, all. I had the day off today and I didn't set my alarm, thinking I'd wake around 10ish, and....pretty much slept the day away.

Yeah.



So.

Sequels.

Lets talk about sequels, shall we? Rather, let's talk about that awful feeling you get when you start working on a sequel--that you've already sold, mind you--and all these little doubts start creeping in.

What if this isn't the book everyone expects after reading the first one?

What if I can't make it as good?

People loved XYZ about the first book, but the second book has ABC in it. Will they hate it?

I can't tell if these words are any good. Or the plot. What if it all sucks?

I'd forgotten how important it is to trust yourself during a first draft.  It's probably the most vital thing when you start putting a story down on paper. You have to trust.

found at lacedwithgrace.com

You have to trust that the story you have inside of you matters, even if it's not what everyone is looking for.

You have to trust that if you love the story, if it sucks you in and holds you, the author, that it will suck in the reader.

And you have to trust that everything is going to be okay. Maybe they'll be massive rewrites in the future, but that's okay. Maybe the end you've been planning for ages won't end up working. That's okay too. The important thing is to trust yourself right now.  Build the foundation, find out what story you're even telling, because sometimes the story you set out to write and the story you actually write are very different.

So that's what I'm telling myself every time I sit down to work on the sequel and the 'what-ifs' come calling.

What if....

No.

Trust yourself.

Just write.

What do you tell yourself when the 'what-ifs' show up?
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.