Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writing Tip #1 Show vs. Tell

Example 1.

I am a klutz.

Example 2.

The two liter Dr. Peppers were stacked chest high at the end of the aisle, in plastic trays that resembled giant egg cartons. I reached for the nearest one of only three left on the top tray. As soon as I lifted the bottle, the entire tray plummeted to the floor, sending one giant bottle of soda bouncing across the supermarket tile. The other bottle hit the ground ass end first, blowing the cap off and sending out a mentos-fueled jet of Dr. Pepper that hit me directly in the chest from ten feet away. I screamed, or squealed really, out of shock as I stood there getting showered in delicious, sticky soda pop. Then Mr. Cate walked casually over from the next aisle to find me dripping wet and standing in a puddle of Dr. Pepper, to which he replied, "I heard something blow up, and I heard a scream, and I knew it had something to do with you."

True story. That's a pretty typical trip to the grocery store for me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Into the Sunlight

I don't have a picture of myself up here, I know.
(I'm working on it. I just got bangs after years of not having bangs, and I haven't decided if I like them yet.)
Anonymous blogs can be a lot of fun, but I really like seeing the people behind the curtain. Especially writers, who so often are just the words they submit for public scrutiny. People never look like what I expect they might.

Well, I don't have a picture for you today, but you can listen to an interview I did with my husband about independent filmmaking.
It aired in April on WUWM, Milwaukee's Public Radio affiliate.

Check it out here, under Starts Friday.

Also, I'm joining the online conference world with WriteOnCon, which rolls out next month. I've never been to a live conference, so this should be interesting. There are a lot of great writers and publishy people onboard.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well, I wasn't expecting that

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hm. Is this good or bad for a MG/YA writer?

Also, I had no idea Joyce was into steampunk. Fair play to you, Jim.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Working on a new steampunk ms.
This one is set far outside of Victorian England, which means it's research time. Fun research, because once I've read about the history and the mythology, I get to rewrite it all into something new and weird.
Fun times.

Anyone out there read steampunk? Need a recommendation?

I don't post a lot of reviews because, frankly, I'm not a great reviewer. Bad reviews are usually the most entertaining, and I can't bring myself to say anything negative about most books because, well, as a writer, I can't stop thinking about how much work went into the making of the book. Unlike a movie, which is the work of hundreds of people, or even music, which is a collaboration among a dozen or more, books are so singular in their creation. Of course there are many stages of editing and input along the way, many helpful minds that contribute to the finished, polished product. (shout out to all the betas out there) Still, a book is viewed so much more as a singular work.
I've seen reviewers slam books for things the author likely had no control over, like titles, or cover art, or similar works published at the same time. I know a little bit more about what goes on backstage. I just find it hard to say anything beyond, "Well, you wrote a book. Good for you! That's really hard work!"

And back to the writing...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Well how will you know unless you try?

A few years ago... like... eight now... I went to work with my dad for the summer. He's been at the same job for over 30 years, working in a plant that makes fruit juice. He works with a lot of lifetime juicemakers, so many in fact that even when he'd been there 32 years, he still didn't have seniority in his department. Yeah.

All of those long time employees have wracked up some heavy duty vacation time. So over the summers, when most of the union plant workers take their 16 weeks of vacation, the plant hires their college student kids on as temps. It was fantastic pay, and a great chance to see what my dear ol' dad really did all day for all those years.
This being the day and age of OSHA, the first week I was there I was in a room with twenty other undergrads, in a conference room, sitting through safety seminar after safety seminar. At the end, the lovely gentleman who would be our supervisor asked if anyone wanted to drive a forklift as their assignment.

Of course I volunteered. We were in a juice plant. Every other job involved manning a machine for 12 hours a day. Standing in one place, in the big gray windowless factory. No thanks. Forklift meant a magnitude of freedom, and besides, that's what my dad did.

Turned out I was the only one. No one else wanted to drive the forklifts. It did seem a bit scary, especially taking a fully loaded pallet up ten feet in the air, and stacking it in the freezer, but guess what? I was pretty damned good at driving that thing. Even though it steered from the rear. I even learned how to change the propane tank, (I think?) that powered the thing. It was great.
I spent 12 weeks zipping around the floor, bringing palettes back and forth, loading trucks and crates, and hanging out with my dad, who brought me a donut every morning at 6 am.

It turned out to be a pretty cool summer. And I was so good on the forklift that they asked me to come back the next year, even though by then I was out of school, and employed full time. It was kind of sad to say no.

So I am a natural born forklift driver, and working with my father is pretty entertaining.
You never know what you're going to be good at until you try it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The New Templates are here!

Ooh, new decorations!
I'm going to have to try a few of these out.
Why? Because it's New Manuscript Day! Huzzah!

That's right. Today I started with a brand new Chapter One Page One. Otherwise know as "The Hardest Part of the Book to Write".
Not on the first draft, neccessarily, but in revisions, for sure.
That first page has to be perfection. Not just the first page, but the first paragraph, the first sentence... the first word. Give the reader any excuse to close the cover on you and they'll do it. I know I have. There are just to many wonderful books, too much brilliant writing out there, to spend time on something I don't enjoy. Not just enjoy, but love.
I get it, you agenty types. I know what you want. Perfection.
Well, I'm trying, damnit!