31 October 2009

Embracing Stress

Hello from the Land of the Morning Calm!

Over the past week, I've been put in some pretty stressful situations (not the least of which was navigating a two-day airport adventure), and it made me think about stress -- specifically how people act when they're stressed.

Some people lash out, becoming irritable and rude. Some people crack and curl up in a ball to cry. Others spiral into depressions and resort to lethargy and solitude to get by. Still others bottle up the stress, seeming to thrive under the pressure only because they are adept at compartmentalizing.

None of this is news. But, it's important to remember that not all of these reactions come from the people you'd expect. The toughest of men become weepers, and the meekest of children become terrors. Too often, I think, authors fall into the trap of stereotyping (or worse, completely ignoring) the reactions of their characters to stressors -- which, lets face it, are the majority of the elements that make up a story.

No two reactions are created equal, and sometimes the diversity of humanity comes from the surprising ways people have of coping with various situations. Keep that in mind the next time Jane Protagonist goes out on a date the same week she finds out her dog died and then has to give an important presentation at work the next day. I know I will.

25 October 2009

Super-Mini-Blog: Embracing Travel

I just wanted to let you all know that I'm alive, and I'm moving to Korea today!

We'll be back to the regularly scheduled program before long. In the meantime, check out my updates regarding Korea over at Dear Korea...

Ciao for now!

Or rather, Annyong kyeseyo!

24 September 2009

14 September 2009

Embracing a Whole New World

Since returning from my blogging hiatus, I have alluded to something big happening in the non-writing-world-of-Sam. Finally, I am able to share the news with all of you...

I am moving to Korea to teach English!

Let me preempt one question I know you're all wondering; I don't know when or where I'm going, as I have not yet secured a teaching position.

However, I do know that I've given notice at work, I've told my apartment complex that I'll be out by October 31, and I've told my family.

What does this mean for Wuthering Life? Nothing. I will still be here, and I'll still be writing. If anything, this experience is only going to make my writing life richer.

If you are curious about my Korean adventures, please feel free to stop over at my new blog, Dear Korea..., and check out my letters to the land I will soon call home.

If you're not interested, I'll see you back here for more adventures in Wuthering Life.

11 September 2009

Embracing My Five

I'm hoping to get back to Freaky Fridays before long, but I thought that this dreary and oh-so-important Friday could use some positivity and hope.

What better day than the anniversary of a national tragedy to begin my journey to making a positive difference in the world?

So after much delay, I present my five:
  1. Encourage others to pursue their dreams. Of all the things that I'm grateful to my nearest and dearest for, this is the one that tops the list. Having the faith and support of those around me has made a greater impact in my life than almost anything else. I know that I would not be where I am today with encouragement and kind words. I want to do that for others, and to do it more often.
  2. Lead by example. It may not seem like a particularly philanthropic goal, but it might very well be the hardest of my five for me to live by. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Too often, we forget that it's only by allowing ourselves to be happy and prosperous that we can even begin to help others to achieve the same.
  3. Pay more attention. When I begin to think about what I can do to help – to help the world, to help the impoverished, to help the distraught, to help the hopeless – I realize how little I know. Because of the pessimistic, never-point-out-the-good-in-life nature of news (particularly American news), I avoid it almost completely. But if I want to make a difference, I can't tune out the bad. I have to pay attention in order to spot an opportunity to act.
  4. Be mindful. Every day I ignore opportunities to reduce, recycle, or reuse. I know all of the little tricks that can lead to less energy or water consumption, to less pollution, to less waste. It's time for me to take those extra few minutes to take my recycling out. It's time for me to find places to donate old clothing/equipment/furniture/etc. instead of throwing it out. It's time for me to do what I know I should be doing anyway.
  5. Reach out. Whether it's an e-mail from a long-lost friend, a phone call from a relative on a non-holiday, or a compliment from a perfect stranger, it feels good to make connections and be acknowledged. I don't do that nearly enough, and I plan to change that. 
How can you change your life, and the world, for better in five ways?

10 September 2009

Super-Mini-Blog: Embracing Thought Provocation

Kimberly over at Oceanside Praise posted a very interesting question on her blog today, and I'd like to pose it to all of you:

Are dreams just the opposite of our deepest fears?

(Check out her blog comments for my thoughts, but feel free to discuss wherever.)

09 September 2009

Embracing What's Come Before

Merriam-Webster defines original (adj.) as "not secondary, derivative, or imitative" or as "independent and creative in thought or action".

M-W defines an archetype (n.) as "the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies".

When we look to the ever-helpful Wikipedia for guidance, we learn that Tolkein's beloved Gandalf is an archetypal figure himself, the wizard-as-advisor, of the likes Merlin — who himself was quite possibly modeled after religious authority types (like Odin).

Hold up, JRR Tolkein, the father of modern fantasy, was unoriginal? His main characters had been done before? His venerated series is allegory?

You may be wondering why the Hell I'm giving you a vocab lesson. The truth is, I think that we (writers, agents, etc.) can use the reminder. There is a big difference between the use of an archetype and a lack of originality.

The goal of a work of fiction, as far as I am concerned, is to pull something new and exciting out of those old stories and characters – out of the familiar. That balance of new and old is what makes a great story great, in part at least.

We've got to move past the anything-with-a-school-is-like-Harry-Potter and anything-with-a-butt-kicking-female-protagonist-is-a-Buffy-rip-off reactions. See stories for what they are, and if they're good enough, it won't matter how many tropes the author used.

01 September 2009

Embracing Author Interviews: E Van Lowe

Uh, in lieu of my five and in celebration of Zombie Week, I have brought you a peace offering:

E Van Lowe and his debut YA novel, NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE !

A Little About E:

Bronx-born, LA transplant, E Van Lowe, began writing at the age of 10 and hasn't stopped since. A graduate of Lehman College and the University of Southern California, E sold his first short story to a romance magazine while still a student. He has gone on to write for many award-winning TV shows including: The Cosby Show and Even Stevens. He also co-wrote the Academy Award nominated short film, Cadillac Dreams.

A Little About the Novel:

NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE is E's first teen novel, but it won’t be his last. E still has lots of important, and weird, thoughts to share with readers. It hit shelves August 18!

The Blurb:

On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, m

ost important, have boyfriends. Three years later they haven't accomplished a thing!

Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize this could be the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. Now all they have to do is stay alive...

The Assessment of Yours Truly:

Margot is awesomely horrible!! Maybe she deserves a PhD in Horribleness?
  • Translation: As a protagonist, Margot is an incredibly refreshing twist on the shallow, but unnoticed, teen who wants nothing more than to have it all. Instead of being empty and "what adults think unpopular teens are like," Margot was conflicted about her increasing bad girl behavior almost from the start. But she did horrible, mean girl things anyway – a sad, but true fact about some teenaged girls, and executed very creatively.
Lovelovelove the relationship between Margot and Syb!
  • Translation: While Syb is the basic sidekick, less-dominate character, the genuine sweetness and goodness about her was the perfect compliment to Margot's increasing selfishness and self-delusion. They worked together very well without feeling over-the-top or like a "because I said so" relationship. (Sub-translation: When an author decides that things "just are" and never really shows the hows or whys.)
Very, very bizarre, but in a good way!
  • I wasn't sure what to expect, but with a title like NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE, I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised by some of the things Margot did. It read a lot like a situational comedy, and that was something I wasn't used to. It's something I love about television and didn't realize was missing from books...until now!
All-in-all, I couldn't put it down, and that's really the litmus test for books as far as I'm concerned. E surprised and delighted me, and really, what more can a girl ask for? Except maybe a zombie boyfriend. ;)

The Interview:

Writing...is the elixir that keeps me young and vibrant.

My favorite part of the publishing process (so far) has been...seeing my first copy of the ARC. I was on cloud nine.

My least favorite part was...rewrites. I can't tell you how many times that danged book came back. At times I thought it was a homing pigeon.

Without my agent...I wouldn't be a published author. That's for sure.

The best thing my editor suggested was...the summer camp story from the book. It's something that really happened to her. Capturing her pain helped me with Margot.

My greatest writing asset is...my computer? Why do I suddenly feel like I'm back in high school, taking a test, and failing? LOL. That's my answer, and I'm sticking to it.

NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOBMIE is like...Mean Girls meets Shaun of the Dead.

Margot's biggest problem is...that she hasn't gotten over a past hurt. The pain is what shapes who she is in the story, and until she gets past it she can't become a better person.

Don't read this book if...you are a hard core zombie fan, or don't like light-hearted stories.

If I were a zombie and had to choose between brains and flesh, I'd eat...brains. I'm not a meat-eater.

The best zombie movie EVER is...28 Days Later!

Come zombie apocalypse time, I won't be able to live without...books and movies, and pizza.

If I had to be back in high school, I'd...hopefully realize that others are going through exactly what I'm going through. That definitely would make it easier.

If I had to be back in high school, with zombies, I'd...probably try to find a cure. Zombies are not fun, and I like fun!

Zombies...represent the ultimate in getting along and tolerance. Margot says: "...they don't snark at each other, or gossip behind each other's backs, or get jealous when their friends like a cute boy. They have one thing in common–they're zombies. But we kids have a whole lot in common, shouldn't it be easier for us to hang together?" We humans can learn a few things from zombies.


For the record, I would like to state that, though this blogger believes in peace and harmony, if forced to choose: UNICORNS RULE, ZOMBIES DROOL!

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed having E here as much as I did. Class, say, "Thank you, Mr. Van Lowe!"

If you want to know more about E or NEVER SLOW DANCE WITH A ZOMBIE (in stores now, people!!), his Web site and blog are great places to start.

Please stay tuned for more author interviews in the future, and don't forget to pick up your copy of this hilarious book today!

31 August 2009

Super-Mini-Blog: Embracing Beautiful Art

I will post my five today. But in the meantime...

Kat Kuhl, a dear friend of mine, takes amazing photos. (See below.)

Ghost (by Swim Parallel)

In order to pressure her to "takez moar fotoes plzkthxbai!" I would like you all to visit her Flickr gallery and pester/encourage her.

That is all.

26 August 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing Living Your Five

Living Your Five is an amazing initiative I stumbled across today thanks to Alyson Noël, whose Immortals series is keeping me very entertained at the moment.

In a nutshell, "Living Your Five is about making the world a better place, one person at a time. It's about understanding what you care about most and how you can make a positive difference in the world."

I think this is a fabulous idea, and I'm writing out my list as soon as I've finished the post. (You can expect it to be up in the next day or two.)

What are the five most important things to you?

How can use those five things to change yourself, or the world?

Are you living your five?

25 August 2009

Super-Mini-Blog: Embracing Essays

Sarah Rees Brennan posted a very interesting essay about how female characters are represented and perceived in literature. I'm not sure I agree with all of the points, but she makes some very fine ones.

That is all.

20 August 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing the Unforgettable

As summer shows come to an end, I've started thinking about what keeps me coming back for more, and what keeps me thinking about characters long after the shows have gone on hiatus or ended. But, most importantly, I'm wondering what allows me to let them go.

Or, in book terms (since this is a writing-related blog), what is it about Cathy and Heathcliff or Atticus Finch that makes them so memorable, but doesn't have me clamoring for TO KILL ANOTHER MOCKINGBIRD or RETURN TO WUTHERING HEIGHTS?

...Wait, you mean someone actually had the nerve to write a sequel to Brontë's masterpiece? *vom*


What I'm talking about is a truly incomparable literary moment, a figure we can't shake no matter how hard we try, but for whom we are never left wanting. Those are the types of characters, and stories, I aspire to create — their authors the ones I aspire to emulate.

Now if only I could find that magical formula...

19 August 2009

Embracing That Damn Cake

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I was thinking about that oft-confusing adage recently while perusing the Emmy award nominees list, which got me thinking about all awards, which got me thinking about publishing...and here I am.

How did I connect the two? Well, it was a very complicated train of thought, but here's the gist:

We all want to win awards and become famous and find fortune, but we want to achieve all that while doing whatever we want. I believe we call it "expressing ourselves."

But, there are certain genres, certain styles, certain concepts that are award-winning material (or have mass appeal, or make tons of money), and those that aren't (and never will). For the Oscars it's gain-thirty-pounds-and-sob-on-camera performances and make-the-audience-think-while-depressing-them-to-the-point-of-needing-a-therapist storylines, mostly. And no matter how beloved the "Ocean's" movies and Brad Pitt's Rusty were, they were never going to win Oscars.

Does that mean Soderbergh should have turned the projects down? That Angie should have threatened to leave Brad if he reprised his role for the nth time? Yeah, right.

My point is: why do authors (and creative types of all kinds) so often feel the urge to complain when their "thing" isn't given its due credit? Like short story authors who complain that they're just under-appreciated, or YA authors who bemoan the negative stereotypes that accompany the genre.

To those authors, and to comedians and indie rock bands, I say this: you can either do what you love and roll with it. Or you can do what is loved and be awarded.

Have your cake, or eat it, people. You can't do both. There's no sense in arguing with physics, and I really don't want to hear you try.

PS - Yes, I fully intend to ignore the fact that my last post was almost three months ago. Except for this post script, which is acknowledging it...

22 May 2009

Embracing Freaky Fridays: Heathcliff Heathcliff

Before agreeing to participate in a Freaky Friday, I poked around on this blog. The emphasis everyone here seems to place on choice intrigues me. Never before have I seen such a concentrated amount of optimism in one place. And it is optimism that has this group thinking that people, fictional or otherwise, have free will. There is no "choice" in life; people simply comfort themselves with the illusion of options.

From birth, each person is set on a path—one path—that leads only to his or her final destination. Along that path, there appear to be forks, but just the one path exists. 

Imagine a traveler reaches the his final destination and reflects back on his life's journey. Though he may want to believe it, our traveler was never going anywhere other than where he went. As he passed each fork, making a "choice" about his path, he only reinforced the next "choice" he would make, until his life reached its end.

I, for instance, was always going to become Heathcliff Heathcliff. I remember my mother reading WUTHERING HEIGHTS to me around Christmastime every year when I was a child. I never forgot the fascination she had with the character I abhorred, or the words she used to describe him. She said, "Poor Heathcliff. If only he had been able to give up the life he imagined was supposed to be his..."

That vague sentiment came back to me clearly the day I joined the ranks of the Undead. What other name would I have "chosen" for my new life when Miss Xavier asked me to supply one?

Think about it, and you'll realize that all the things you've convinced yourself were choices in your life weren't. You wouldn't be you if you had chosen anything other than what you did.

Your life, your path, already stretches out in front of you. The best you can hope for is that you like it even part of the time.

19 May 2009

Embracing Free Will

Now that the maniacal laughter has subsided... I thought we could discuss free will and our characters' abilities to act on their own. Because I believe that by providing our characters specific personalities governed by specific laws and by allowing them to reside in our subconscious minds, we hand them that proverbial apple.

For non-writers, it's hard to grasp the idea that characters have the ability to act on their own. We've all heard a writer say something along the lines of, "And then Sally decided she wasn't going to break up with Tom, and I had to rethink my entire ending," only to hear non-writers respond with something like, "Sally's not real. You control her. Just write her breaking up with him."

If we embrace reality long enough to be honest with ourselves, the reason behind this behavior can be boiled down to one sentence: the author didn't have a firm grasp of the character when planning that scene/plot point and discovered at the last minute that it was no longer in-character.

If we're avoiding reality, the reason is equally simple: our characters lash out against us for complicating their lives (no matter how well we have it work out in the end) and do things to intentionally mess up our master plans.

Aryli and her Anjidian companions most certainly fall into that latter category, reality or no.

Throughout the course of the novel, various characters have:
  • stormed out of rooms when I wanted them to stay and have a conversation;
  • gone to one locale when I wanted them to go to another;
  • revealed things I didn't want revealed;
  • betray characters I didn't intend for them to betray; and
  • killed characters I didn't intend for them to kill.
I often found myself wondering who was actually telling the story. Based on how much the characters changed my pretty little outline, I'd say it wasn't me.

What have your characters done that messed up your game plan? Or improved it?

18 May 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing Turning into Our Mothers

I am God.

Thank you, Litgirl01 and Beth, for helping me realize that this morning.

I can create. I can destroy. I can shape destinies and control lives. I am the ultimate mother. I can say, "Because I said so."

Remember that, Aryli, when you want me to explain how you traveled from Point A to Point B. 

Remember that, Draven, when you insist on monologuing about your troubled childhood. 

Remember that, Sam, when you start letting the characters walk all over you...

15 May 2009

Embracing Freaky Fridays: Ilyra

Despite the fact that Sam almost forgot about me... I have agreed to pop by here and share whatever I want with you. 

So I've decided to talk about advice—more specifically, knowing when to listen to the good advice of others, who obviously have more common sense than you, and knowing when to show a little spine and make up your own mind. If you were wondering, no, I'm not directing this at any one in particular, Aryli.

Let's take Sam for example. 

She just entered the first 250 words of Aryli's story into some contest for something. If you don't know what I'm talking about check a couple of posts ago, because, frankly, the whole publishing thing confuses me. Besides, I'm still not sure how exactly Sam got her hands on that story in the first place. I mean, don't you people have rules about using other people's lives without their permission to tell stories? And don't think I don't see through that whole calling it "a novel" thing. Please.

Where was I? Oh, right... Sam as an example. She's gotten all this feedback on the opening, and she's printed it out. Now what? 

On the one hand, books are written for readers. These commenters are readers. But, just because some anonymous Internet reader thinks she's an authority on all things pertaining to first pages, does that mean Sam should start changing everything blogposter1 didn't like?

(By the way, Sam, obviously the answer is no. I'm not sure how well my sarcasm comes through on this thing, but I was rolling my eyes. This is why in-person conversation is SO much better. Ugh.)

On the other hand, clearly these people don't know what Aryli's story is about, and they don't know were it's headed—like Sam does. Does that means she should just laugh at their ignorance, call them fools, and burn their comments in a trash can?

(Okay, Sam, not only is that dangerous, but I've never heard you mention winning any of those fancy writing awards you people crave. It's not like you're so much better than other writers that you get to sneer down at them from your ivory tower. Plus, this is Aryli's story. You damn well better make it the best it can be, especially the parts with me. Speaking of which, I've got a bone to pick. See me after, young lady.)

Anyway...where does that leave Sam and her helpful (or not) comments? Should she just continue staring at them and ANJIDIA hoping they magically address themselves?


No, really, that was a question. If I told you the answer, then this wouldn't be a post about advice. It'd be one about answers. Obviously.

Fine, I will say this: If a majority of readers are saying the same things, then it's no longer "one person's opinion"; it's crossed over into public opinion territory. I'll let Aryli or Miqqal tackle a conversation about public opinion some other day. But even I know that you can't ignore public opinion if your goal requires it to succeed. And you can't argue with it. All you can do is locate its source and start making changes, which will always take time.

Have fun with that.

14 May 2009

Embracing Identities

The writing blogosphere has been abuzz after Nathan B's post about writing as an identity. I read it, found it interesting, and then avoided the comments section of that post like I avoid having to sit next to the smelly guy on the bus in the morning. ("Yes, I realize there is an empty seat, but just look at that view...I think I'll stand, back here, far away.") Anyone who's ever met a writer would know that post was going to call them to arms.

And then I saw people tweet about it. And then I saw people blogging about it. And finally, I collected my thoughts to respond to my dear Captain Monkeypants' post about it, only to realize that my "comment" had rambled on to the length of a blog post. So here we are.

My thoughts on the matter are this:

I got from Nathan's post that he was referring more specifically to writers' attitudes toward themselves re: rejection once they cross the line into identifying themselves as "Writers"—as in they respond to "so what do you do?" with "I'm a Writer."

I think that, sadly, unless you have a paycheck coming in to back that claim up, you're messing with fire (which is why I don't tell people I'm "a Writer"). At the end of the day, a paycheck is validation. I am an Office Manager. Every other week, my boss pays me to validate that as my role.

When an unpublished author, or even a struggling published one, claims to be "a Writer", he is fundamentally tying his validation to that fact in the questioner's mind, at the very least. The questioner will undoubtedly follow up with "oh, really? what do you write?" meaning "is it in bookstores? have I heard of it? how much have you sold?"

When the implied questions go unanswered due to a lack of impressive details, the questioner becomes a skeptic. She gets that face—the one all writers have seen on some family member, friend, or coworker at one time or another. The conversation fades out into an awkward silence. And the "Writer" feels like crap. (Ditto when critters slam their work. Ditto when agents reject them. Ditto when editors pass.)

Unless I'm wrong about him, I believe that was Nathan's point. Tying your identity to something that so very often has no tangible pay off is a very risky move. Others need to see some results to validate your claim, and identity requires validation.

I could bring some philosophical theory in to this, but I hope you all know what I mean. I'll just leave you with two examples-for-thought.

If I said I was "a Astronaut" and read everything I could about being an astronaut, and trained like astronauts do, but had been rejected by NASA and had never been to space, would I be an Astronaut? Would you think me one?

Would you consider Nathan an agent if he loved repping books—ate, slept, and breathed repping books—but had never sold a single one? Or would you be laughing his reality tv-obsessed @ss right off the internet?

13 May 2009

Embracing Secret Agent (Wo)Man

Authoress is busy posting Secret Agent entries. Exciting, no?

I will be depositing my two cents on as many of the entries as I can, and it'd be cool if you all would do the same. If, while you're there, you happen to stop by Post 12, please feel free to leave your inarticulate and excited "OMG"s and "FANTASTIC!!"s. (The more caps locks and exclamation points, the better! ;)

Seriously, though, it's a great chance to see what's floating around out there in the Queryverse. Those are the first 250 words YA-repping agents are seeing right now. What do you think?

12 May 2009

Embracing Linkspam

If you don't know about Miss Snark's First Victim, click don't - wow, that analogy really doesn't translate well to Internet-speak - um, just go over there and check it out. There, you'll find not only a fantastic blog and a very kind and generous blogger, but also a very supportive community of authors and great contests and other ways to get feedback on your work.

Speaking of contests, this month's Secret Agent contest will feature yours truly. Yes, after a few months of watching these things roll by and never matching being the right fit for ANJIDIA, finally an agent has stepped forward (masked, for now, in anonymity) and called for YA fantasy entires.

Mine will be Post 12, so feel free to stop by tomorrow and offer your feedback on ANJ's 243 words. (Just don't point out any of my flaws in front of the SA, okay? ;) 

Boy am I glad that I'm set to wrap up my last run-through for typos and whatnot tonight! What perfect timing...and, yes, this does mean that poor Bassak is gone. We'll always have the first draft, my removed friend.

In other Authoress-related news, her lovely husband just finished a trailer for her book, AGENT: DEMYSTIFIED. I thought it'd be fun to share. It's awesomely ridiculous — the way book trailers ought to be:

Know of any cool book trailers I should check out? Know of any Godawful ones? Man, I saw one last night that took itself WAY too seriously. I wish I could remember the name, but then I'd have to try and remember the trailer itself and...*makes retching noises, very maturely*

Ahem, I have to go back to work now.


11 May 2009

Embracing Loss

My excitement about (finally) finishing up "one last" editorial run through on ANJIDIA is back. I actually think having Vituya stop by here helped with that.

Anyway, the return of this excitement led to a very interesting and productive conversation with my beloved roommate and beta reader. I think I may cut one of my tertiary characters from the novel entirely. It will be the most major revision I've made since the second draft. I like the character, but she suggested (and I agree) that divvying up the role this character plays between a couple of my secondary characters will strengthen them without adding unnecessary words. It's brilliant, really.

Alas, farewell, my dear Bassak. You were a good character, and friend. I'm afraid your time has come.


08 May 2009

Embracing Apologies

So sorry about that. 

Vituya is... Well, Vituya was not meant for the blogosphere. Perhaps we'll have more luck with another of the dragon species. Or, maybe I'll see if someone socially inclined will take the reins next Friday.

For the record (and since Vituya was too rude to introduce itself), Vituya is the dragon who saves Aryli when she arrives in Anjidia at the beginning of the novel. Vituya only refers to itself in the third person (as is dragon custom). And, Vituya doesn't have any social skills.

Yeah... choosing it as my first character blogger was really not an inspired choice...

Embracing Freaky Fridays: Vituya

Vituya does not understand the purpose or utility of blogs and will, therefore, not be participating in this experiment. 

The need for humans to be so completely connected to one another completely defies reason. Then again, humans are highly unreasonable, and Vituya has long be unable to make sense of their follies.

07 May 2009

Embracing Creative Stimulation

I think Big Brother Blog has tapped my brain and is syphoning my ideas.

Last night as I was laying in bed, willing my brain to shut down, I had an idea for a weekly blog post. I decided that it would be fun and incredibly helpful for me (and hopefully entertaining for you) if I have one of my characters write a blog post each week — say Fridays.

Well, this morning whilst perusing the blogs I follow, I noticed that something similar is already happening over at Carpe Mousa. It's not that inventive of an idea, but I was still a little disappointed. Why does the universe keep proving to me that there really is no such thing as an original idea?

(A little backstory: Some of you may remember that Nathan B. posted my post about originality the same day I was going to, and then yesterday I was catching up on his blog and discovered that last Thursday he hosted editor/author Rakesh Satyal's post on finding time to write. Sound familiar?)

Anyway, I've dismissed my angst (for now) and will be moving forward with the posts. Regardless of how much of a copy-cat I am being, I like the idea of bringing out my darlings to speak to you about...well, whatever comes to them. 

The only decision left is who will be my first victim...er, I mean participant.

Any requests?

06 May 2009

Embracing Names

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
~ Juliet, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

There are some names against which I am already biased. There are some names that have associations for me that may never be able to be broken. But I believe that a name is everything, especially in literature.

We can talk about originality all we want, but names are the most basic way by which we irrevocably tie our characters to a gender, or a nationality, or an image, or a feeling, or a persona.

Juliet, for instance, will always be a simpering, apparently brain-dead, 14-year-old girl who gets what she deserves. And, I'm even friends and colleagues with a very smart, mature, and capable Juliet. Still, "Juliet" can't escape it's association with a stupid, impulsive teenaged girl.

Another perfect example is my name, Samantha. In everything I've ever read or seen (on television or in movies), Samanthas are one of two types of people: extremely bitchy and self-centered sexoholics, or tomboyish, but kind-hearted Sams. I can't think of a single exception to this rule (but please share them with me if you have them!) — oh, except (ha!) Samantha of American Girl fame, but I strongly believe she would have grown up to be one or the other (and can make a case for both if you've got time).

What are some names that strike nerves with you? Or always seem to be associated with particular traits or stereotypes? How do you choose names when you create a character? Do you try to honor or oppose the traits typically associated with the name?

Come on, don't be shy!

05 May 2009

Embracing Hermitism

When I wrote ANJIDIA, I had a virtually non-existent social life. I vaguely registered the fact at the time, but I chalked it up to a lot of things — the least of which was a dedication to my writing. That was in Washington state.

Now that I'm back in D.C., and back in the land of the living, I have friends who consider interaction a caveat of continuing said friendship. Instead of a part-time job at which I can write, or at least plot and daydream, I have a full-time job that requires the full atention of my mind and often pushes to 10-hour (even 11- or 12-hour) days.

One of my beta readers, Kat, was in the same position I am now back when I was living on Easy Street. I used to admire her ability to work 40 hours a week minimum, go out with friends, and still make time to read my stuff and write her own. Only now do I realize that I did not give her (or any of you full-time-job-having, non-reclusive writers) the proper amount of awe and worship. 

I am tired all the time. I feel guilty choosing to hide in my room typing away instead of talking to my roommate. And, when I finally get the mental energy to pick up my WIP or revisit ANJ, I get slammed (which is what happened last week and why I'm not proudly telling you about how well the new, and still untitled, story is going) and actually don't have the time to write — unless I give up my four hours of sleep.

So you tell me, what works for you? How do you do it?

(Please note: "Suck it up" is an acceptable response, as I realize that I do, indeed, need to suck it up.)

29 April 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing Nursery Rhymes

Rain, Rain, go away,
Come again another day.

Sometimes I feel like a little girl again. I want to wear my hair in pigtails and splash in puddles and pout when I don't get my way and giggle.

I don't think I ever grew up.

I hope I never do.

28 April 2009

Embracing Beginnings

I'm still toying with the beginning of my latest, and still title-less, WIP. I've already written two different beginnings. Neither of them really sat well with me, but I think (after talking with my ever-supportive roommate) that I've settled on a new way to open the story.

I don't know about everyone else, but openings are the most important part of my writing process. I have never been the type of writer who could "just start" and then go back and revise the beginning. I might cut things (as I did with ANJIDIA), but those first few sentences set up my narrator and his/her/its voice...for me.

That first sentence, first paragraph, first page — they're like a first date. "Hi, I'm your narrator. Here are my attitude, diction, the things I notice, the things I don't." It's a familiarizing process that takes place over time, but all begins the moment I move that blinking cursor with my words.

Anyway, with writing and starting a new story on my brain, I thought it fitting to share some beginnings with you — a few of my faves, a few of my own, and a special commentary by yours truly.

"I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with." ~ Emily Bronte, WUTHERING HEIGHTS

Brilliantly establishes two things: 1) This story is not going to be about the narrator, most likely. The focus of this sentence is on someone else — this "troubling" neighbor. 2) This narrator dislikes his landlord and isn't afraid to say it. It also begs a few questions: A) Why is the narrator renting? B) Who is this landlord? C) What's his problem?/Why is he troubling to others?

"Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what's the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?' ~ Lewis Carroll, ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND

Breaks almost every rule in the book, but also brilliantly sets up that Alice is a curious and shallow type of girl. It also hints that she is the type to get into trouble.

"Geoffrey Barnes prides himself on being a practical man." ~ Sam Elliott, THE ROSE

Opens a short story I had published in college, and hopefully leaves you wondering what's his deal and what does that even mean?

"Instead of enjoying the comfort of the plush private jet smoothly slicing its way through the clear morning sky, Kate Stephan was on the phone, arguing with the President of the United States of America." ~ Sam Elliott, SPIRITS OF CHANGE

Sets up two things: 1) Kate is a badass. 2) This is the type of book in which key players can argue with the leader of the free world and be annoyed by the inconvenience of it — hinting that the scale is going to be VERY large.

"When I returned to Anjidia, I was naked (save for the towel vainly shielding me from the biting wind), standing in ankle-deep mud, and being drizzled on." ~ Sam Elliott, ANJIDIA

Intended to achieve two things: shock and curiosity stimulation. Bam, just like that she's there? We've started? Why yes, dear reader, yes. And that's exactly how she feels. Where's Anjidida? Exactly. Who is she? Exactly. Where is she coming from? Exactly. Why is she back? Ding, ding, ding.

Any thoughts? Wanna share a few of your firsts with the class?

27 April 2009

Embracing How I Used to Be

As the bus pulled up to my stop today, I couldn't bring myself to put the book I'm reading, PRINCESS ACADEMY, into my bag and give it up for the morning. I thought, 'I still have a five minute walk, why shouldn't I keep reading?' And then I walked down the street with my nose stuck in a book, like my beloved Belle.

I used to do that all the time as a child and teen. I would read while walking, while in the car (until I got sick), while in bed until the wee hours of the morning. I don't do that anymore — at least, not with the same frequency.

I have a bachelor's degree in literature. I am an author. Still, I don't read nearly as much as I did when I was 10. I tell myself that I have a (more than) full-time job, a social life, responsibilities. But the truth is that I've changed, not my circumstances.

I had a full-time job back then too. (Don't even try to tell me that school isn't a full-time job. I was far busier back in elementary, jr. high, high school than I've ever been since.) I had friends and after-school activities to contend with. Yet, I managed to read several books a week.

The fact of the matter is that I had my priorities straight back then. I don't know how or when they got crooked, but somehow I lost sight of the things that mattered most (and I'm no longer just talking about books).

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to YA and MG fiction? Maybe there's something inherently wise about a world free of the crap we adults think matter? Maybe that's why less savvy readers dismiss YA and MG as "simplistic" or "less complex"?


24 April 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing the Good in People

Not everyone believes that people are fundamentally good. But I'm reminded on a daily basis that it's possible, and those reminders are often the littlest and simplest of things.

For instance:

On my daily walk to the office, I pass a youngish man (late twenties to early thirties) who looks like a lunatic — or worse a peeping tom — to the untrained eye. In reality, he's just got a ritual that looks bizarre if you aren't paying attention. 

Every day, as he leaves for work, he exits his townhouse and then steps up to the window and says goodbye to his adorable little son, who's probably about 2. He waves, he makes faces, he blows kisses. And the boy just laughs and laughs.

People are fundamentally good.


22 April 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing ADD

The universe, as I've experienced it, is not known for its subtlety.

In the past two months, I've had three new story ideas bombard my brain — the latest showing up on my cranial doorstep this very afternoon. I've been largely putting them off so that I could give ANJIDIA the attention it needs to be presented to the publishing world once again. I don't have to tell you all how well that's going.

I fear that soon my mind will become overcrowded to the point of needing to implement some sort of population control. As you may imagine, this idea terrifies both me and my as-yet unwritten characters. (Imagine that camera commercial where the photo-people argue over who'll be deleted this time.)

My latest idea, untitled for the moment, actually seems like a project that could be undertaken in spite of my current schedule, and energy levels. So I'm going to do it.

Those of you reading this blog for more than a week undoubtedly are staring at your computer screens thinking, 'ANOTHER one? How did this chick ever focus long enough to write a novel?!' 

My answer is simple: I have no idea.

But, I do know that things cannot continue as they have been and that AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD and SHUT UP AND KISS ME, CUPID (have I mentioned that WIP by name before?) are no where near developed enough to be the catalysts for change I need so desperately.

Wish me luck and continued obsession with this new idea!


21 April 2009

Embracing 25 Things

It has recently come to my attention that I may need to cheer things up here at Wuthering Life. (Although, to be fair, the blog's name is pretty depressing. No one should be coming here expecting sunshine and kittehs.)

Considering that, I thought I'd do a lighthearted, fun meme. You know one of those things people are always pestering you about on Facebook and whatnot?

Several potential topics tickled my fancy. 25 Ways I'm Awesome was a top contender, but then I thought it might come across as a tad bit vain. I ruled out 25 Things that Make Me Happy for the same reason. 25 Ways I Don't Want to Die seemed a little too morbid. 25 Reasons Why I'm Doing a Meme Instead of Writing an Original Post seemed a little too obvious. And, 25 of My Favorite Letters seemed unfair to poor U.

Instead, I settled on something more faithful to the original meme.

25 Random Facts about ANJIDIA:
(in no particular order)
  1. I wrote the first draft in 4 weeks.
  2. A hand-drawn map of Anjidia, gifted to me by beloved beta reader, Kim Bowen, hangs in my bedroom.
  3. Earliest beta readers formed two vehement camps regarding Aryli's love interests.
  4. I hoped one of those camps would blow the other to smithereens, because I couldn't decide who Aryli should end up with.
  5. In the end, the characters made the decision for me.
  6. Two of the main secondary characters were never supposed to exist.
  7. Another of the main secondary characters was supposed to be a redshirt.
  8. My mom took news of the death of the character named after her fairly well.
  9. I cut the original opening and rewrote the original ending of the novel.
  10. No one other than those early beta readers will ever read that first draft.
  11. The Redwood National and State Parks, which I visited after I finished the first draft, inspired one of the locations in Anjidia.
  12. I'd written off ANJIDIA six months before I started writing it in earnest in favor of a story that has since been shelved permanently.
  13. The names of the protagonist and antagonist began as placeholders and were an inside joke between one of my best friends and myself; they wound up fitting.
  14. I've planned a prequel and a sequel to ANJIDIA.
  15. Both the prequel and sequel would explore the stories of secondary characters.
  16. My first query for the novel garnered a partial request.
  17. Flyleaf's debut cd, Flyleaf, was a key source of musical inspiration for the novel.
  18. There are 37 songs on my ANJIDIA playlist, and they range from Josh Groban to Metallica.
  19. One of the major plot twists originated from a conversation I had with beta reader, Kat Kuhl; I don't think I would have had that "D'oh!" moment without her.
  20. I only pulled two all-nighters while writing ANJIDIA — one while writing a key climatic scene, and one while writing the last three chapters.
  21. The amazing Sci Fi (excuse me, I mean SyFy) mini-series Tin Man greatly influenced ANJIDIA conceptually and visually (in my head).
  22. One of the secondary characters who was never supposed to exist is named after a character from a poem (styled after medieval lais) that I wrote for my Medieval Lit class in college.
  23. My favorite line from the book is probably: "Blind faith is an incredible thing — an incredible, scary thing."
  24. One plot twist earned me death threats from beta readers (though I'm sure they were issued in jest...probably).
  25. Star Wars is referenced three times in the course of the novel.
So there you have it. Surprisingly, 25 non-spoilerific things were incredibly difficult to think up. The goods news is that climbing through the dusty cupboards of the novel and its history brought up some really great memories. Sadly, it's easy to become so focused on the destination that you forget what you loved about the journey. 

If any of you decide to take up the task yourselves, please let me know. I love knowing the Behind-the-Scenes stuff!

Mini-Blog: Embracing Cosmic Irony

For the past two days, I've been struggling to draft a blog post about originality versus archetypes. I could never quite get the tone right. (I didn't want to come across like a whiny, self-indulgent author.)

Today, just as I'd decided to shelve that blog post and write about something else, Nathan B. tweets that he's updated his blog, which today discusses...original concepts.

WTF, universe? Even my blog post ideas aren't original?


Back to the drawing board...

16 April 2009

Embracing the Ideas of Others

In the Twitterverse, it's called re-tweeting (RT). In the "real" world it's called plagiarism, or borrowing if you're being generous. 

For the sake of argument, I'm going to call it "guest blogging" (someone else's idea, by the way).

Over at Words, Words, Words, blogger Litgirl01 posed a very interesting question. One I thought worth repeating here at Wuthering Life.

"If you could bring to life a character from one of your stories and hang out with him or her for the day, which one would it be? Why? What advice would you give them? (Include name, personality traits, etc.)"

I commented that I would like to hang out with Kobos, the kind-hearted, intelligent gryphon prince from ANJIDIA. But, in many ways I feel that picking Kobos was a cop-out. Not because he wouldn't be interesting to hang out with, and not because he's not human.

I picked him, because when I started imagining spending 24 hours with the main main characters of my stories, it wasn't pretty. 

Though it's hard to think with the indignant shouts of protestation coming from the now offended characters in my head, I'll try to explain. 

Most of the central characters in my stories exist for me like children exist for mothers (or so I hear) — as precious newborn babies running around in the world before they've evolved and learned lessons. Spending an extended period of time with them (Sight-seeing? Touring the monuments and museums? Playing Rock Band 2 and eating take-out?) would be a bit...unfun.

No offense to my beloved characters, but really?

If I chose Aryli, the protag of ANJIDIA (an amnesiac would-be ruler), I'd have to spend all day explaining things to her and helping her figure out who she is. Not. Fun.

If I chose Gabrien, the indecisive Captain of the Honor Guard (henchmen of the usurper of Aryli's throne), all he'd care about would be the technology of Earth. It'd be like hanging around with a smart, but very ignorant tech nerd. Not. Fun. (Though, the eye-candy would be nice!)

Draven, rebel-leader extraordinaire, is another great candidate for eye-candy. But, he'd be the worst wet-blanket EVER, and I'd have to resist being very spoilerific.

Miqqal, Aryli's drunken hobo of a father... enough said. Really, Miqqal would be high on the list, because he's a very fascinating man. I feel like he'd be the best conversationalist, were it not for the aforementioned drunkenness and poor hygiene. But, something tells me he wouldn't like me very much. I kind of destroyed his life for the sake of "story". Whoops.

Last, but not least, there's Arybin. Oh Arybin. You are a truly psychotic person. I'm way too scared to ever wish to meet you for reals. Not. Fun. To the extreme.

There are, of course, a plethora of other viable candidates, but I feel that dragons might stick out a little in D.C. (hey, I said might!), and all of my characters from other stories are a little too nebulous for me to trust meeting them right now.

Now, if we're talking about other people's characters... Someone sign me up quick!

DeanWinchesterDeanWinchesterDeanWinchesterDeanWinchesterDeanWinchester. Talk about "fun".

What about you all? Which of your characters could you stand for a day? Etc., etc.

15 April 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing ABNA Top 100

The next round has been announced.

Stop by the ABNA site to read and review the submissions of the Top 100.

Congratulations to all!

Embracing Tax Day

There are some things in life that will always be viewed as pains-in-the-butt to be slogged through and resented — like taxes. Very few people (and I withhold any judgment of them) enjoy sitting down with dozens of receipts and forms to enter financial information into little boxes. 

I certainly don't. In fact, I put it off for months (completing them only two weeks ago), despite the fact that I received all of my necessary tax documents by the end of January and the fact that I was going to be getting a decent refund. Yes, the IRS owed me money and all that was stopping them from returning that money to me was my own reluctance to fill out a few forms (which only took about 20 minutes, by the way).

What? Is? Wrong? With? Me?

Who drags their feet on receiving money? Apparently, I do. And I know I'm not alone.

It made me start thinking about what else I've been dragging my feet on that could be great for me. And why. 

I'll give you three guesses, but I bet you'll only need one. 

Writing. And more specifically, revising/editing ANJIDIA so that I can start the query process again and more forward with AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD. The worst part is that it's just like dreading filing my taxes; it can only lead to good things — good things that won't happen if I don't get the editing done. So what's the holdup?

Frankly, it's a frame-of-mind problem. Much like query writing and pitching and really every part of the publishing process that isn't awe-inspired, frantic writing, most writers treat editing/revising like the bane of their existences, like a chore, like something they just have to get through, like a necessary evil.

Were I an author on a deadline, maybe that attitude would make sense. But, considering ANJIDIA has not yet been picked up, this time really provides me a chance not only to improve the manuscript, but also to hang out in a world I love with characters who fascinate me for a little while longer.

I think a revision of my thinking is what's really in order. The question I must ask myself when approaching any task henceforth should be: do I want my refund or not?

To which I shall forever more respond: Yes, please. Thanks!

09 April 2009

Embracing Shame

As an extreme optimist by nature, I have a tendency to see the empty glass as full. Some people might call me delusional, but they've been drinking too much haterade. Please ignore them.

My point is that while most people choose to think of shame as a negative feeling — one to be avoided or overcome — I choose to think of it as a great motivational tool. Take, for instance, this blog entry. It is the byproduct of shame, and a bit of extra energy this chilly April morning. (The ratio is something like 85:15.) Score one for shame.

While I'm here, I suppose I should assure you all that I haven't been dead, just a bit too stressed to go home and get on the internet. However, I have been working on TWO new stories. I'm not very far along on either (and, in fact, I'm currently rewriting the opening of AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD — my VWI novel), but I'm writing. I consider that a pretty big deal, especially since I've been in a writing dry spell since finishing ANJIDIA. 

That reminds me, I'm also revising ANJIDIA based on general feedback from ABNA and will be sending out more queries soon. For the record, the "expert" reviews I got for making it past the pitch stage of that contest were possibly the least helpful feedback ever. Apparently, I got reviewers who weren't fans of the YA fantasy genre. It's a shame, but I'm embracing shame. It works out in the end, you see?

Until later... (Although, hopefully a sooner later than last time!)

14 March 2009

Mini-Blog: Embracing Thanks

To everyone who made SEFEVWI a fabulous success, THANK YOU!

It was great to hang out with other writers and feel the metaphorical burn on my long-neglected writers' muscles. You guys are a great group, and I'm glad to get to know you all.

I got over 3,000 words written on my new WIP, AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD. And I couldn't have done it without all of the encouragement and peer pressure. I hope you all feel as accomplished and motivated as I do.

I will definitely be doing this again. So stay tuned!

Until then...

Embracing Sam Elliott's First-Ever Virtual Write-In!!

Goooooood morning, writers! It's a great day to get some serious writing done.

If you are writing today and want some camaraderie, come join us!

We'll be here from now until late tonight/early tomorrow (depending how well it goes):


Just remember that if you are going to participate in the madness, manners and kindness are a must! I'm not afraid to use my administrative powers for good.

See you on the other side of several thousand words.

...now if only my roommate would wake up and volunteer to go on a Starbucks run...

13 March 2009

Embracing Tomorrow and the Who's Who of SEFEVWI

[Insert Annie-wannabe singing "Tomorrow, Tomorrow" at the top of her lungs here]

That's right, folks, Sam Elliott's First-Ever Virtual Write-In is almost upon us.

If you're joining in late, details concerning that the heck I'm talking about can be found here and here. Or, if you're a rebel, you can just scroll down and read my posts from a couple of days ago.

Also, after some fiddling around on the Interwebs, I've decided that instead of Meebo, we will be using Chatzy. It seems like much more like what we need for this to go smoothly.

First thing tomorrow morning I will post a link to a private chatroom here on Wuthering Life. Feel free to direct your friends here to have them join us. Come one, come all, right?


If you are thinking of joining me tomorrow, don't forget to stop by Wednesday's post and give us a little taste of what you're working on, or simply drop a comment on this post saying you're in.

Until then...I have to go figure out the setting to AFTERLIFE OF THE UNDEAD. =/

11 March 2009

Embracing Whose What of SEFEVWI

Okay, VWI participants (or those who might be participating), now's the time to come forward and share a bit about your What (or work in progress, aka WIP) and, if you'd like, yourself.

Since I've heard that you should never ask others to do what you are unwilling to do yourself, I'll go first.

Oh, and if you missed it, don't forget to read yesterday's post on What's What with the VWI.

(A.N. I came up with the concept for this WIP, with the help of my amazing co-plotter, yesterday. I haven't written a word and haven't worked out all, or most, of the details yet.)

Name: Sam


Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Alice is one of the Undead--clones whose originals have "returned from the dead" (aka awakened from their comas, been found after they've gone missing, returned from war after being listed KIA, or in Alice's original's case, been reunited with her parents after surviving two years of captivity). 

With her identity repo'd, Alice is taken in by Mr. Xavier (Mr. X to her), a man working for the company that manages the cloning process and the few Undead in existence. Given that she really has no other interests or identity, Alice decides to follow in her adoptive father's footsteps and become a Handler--one who manages the Disenfranchised Clones, as they are officially known. 

Her first assignment: Heathcliff Heathcliff, an Undead whose reported threat level is Alpha, which basically means that he wouldn't hurt a puppy. But, when (plot elements needed) start happening, Alice worries the company's shrinks may have miscalculated, that Heathcliff may be the greatest threat the company's ever seen.

Problems/Areas In Need of Elaboration and Further Thought:
  • The setting: Near-future? Alternate universe? Contained to Earth (or Earth-like world)? Inter-galactic?
  • The company's name
  • What is happening at the company/to the company? What causes Alice to suspect Heathcliff is behind those things?
Etc.: [Insert whatever other information you feel like sharing, pertinent or not, here]

10 March 2009

Embracing What's What of SEFEVWI

Welcome to the What's What of Sam Elliott's First-Ever Virtual Write-In!

I'm going to answer a few What questions regarding the VWI. Hopefully, I'll cover everything, but if you have a What question of your own, just leave it in the comments. I'll make up an answer as soon as possible.

Without further ado...

What's a VWI?
  • VWI stands for Virtual Write-In. It is a virtual writers' retreat for writers unable to get away from it all physically. 
  • Any writer interested in participating will find a link to the private chatroom I will create by 9am on Saturday, March 14 via Meebo here on Wuthering Life that morning.
What's Meebo?
  • Meebo.com is a Web site that allows people to sign in to whatever instant messenger platform they use and communicate with users on other platforms. If you're participating, you might want to check out the site beforehand to avoid technical difficulties (as I just found the site last week and won't be able to offer any advice or know-how). But, it seems simple enough.
What's the point?
  • The point of participating in the VWI can really be whatever you want. Although I can be a bit dictatorial at times, this will not be one of them. However, there are a few reasons that I'm doing it. Feel free to borrow them if you'd like.
  1. I've been stuck in the ruttiest of ruts for the past...many months, and I need something different and extreme to jump start my WIP (work in progress).
  2. I find that writing with other writers present (if only via Internet magic) activates the competitive and prideful areas of my brain, which prevents me from procrastinating or losing focus.
  3. I like making new friends.
  4. I don't have the money/time to go write in a castle in Ireland like some YA authors I could name.
  5. I need to distract myself from the fact that I'll be finding out if I made the ABNA quarterfinals on Monday.
What do participants have to do?
  • Write. If you choose to participate that's really the only requirement--that you give up a Saturday to put your nose to the grindstone and write for a (mostly) uninterrupted 12-hour period.
  • However, if you want, you can encourage, challenge, and support fellow participants by answering questions, offering suggestions, and seriously abusing emoticons and exclamation points. I mean! :D
What do participants get out of it?
  • Um, quality time with yours truly? Sadly, I don't even have the design prowess to create cute little widget/icon that you can post on your blogs and Web pages. BUT, that doesn't mean that the VWI isn't worth your time or that you won't be getting anything out of it. It just means that what you're getting won't be...material. Here are a few things that you could get, though:
  1. A novel - If you write 10,000 words per hour for the whole 12 hours, then it's absolutely possible.
  2. A soul mate - Hey, you never know who might be joining us!
  3. A cookie - Just send me a request with your preferred type of cookie along with an SASE...
  • All joking aside, you'll be getting to have the minds of however many writers join us at your disposal (temporarily, of course). If you get stuck on a new character name and need a suggestion, we'll be there. Not sure if a description will give readers the correct impression? We'll be there. Work well under tight deadlines and need a push? My word sprints will be there. As I've said before, this VWI will be what we make it.
What happens if a participant invites some friends over to join him/her in person as well as online?
  • I'll send my hitman after you. 
  • OR I'll send you an extra cookie per friend you bring aboard, provided you send me the extra SASEs of course. ;)
  • Seriously, I can't say this enough: SEFEVWI is open to one and all. Tell as many of your writing buddies as you'd like, and feel free to meet up with them in person if that works for you. Just don't let them distract you!
I think that's about all the Whats I can think of. Feel free to bury me in questions.

Tomorrow, or (as is more likely) Thursday, I will post the Whose What of SEFEVWI --a chance for participants to introduce each other to their WIPs so that we can dive right in on Saturday morning.

Until then...

Mini-Blog: Embracing the Accomplishments of Others

Happy Release Day, Carrie!!!

Don't forget to pick up your copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH today! Borders will definitely be my first stop after work. Click the book cover to buy it from Amazon.com.

Critics are saying...

"...reminiscent of the paragon of the genre, George Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead...Ryan's vision is bleak but not overly gory; her entry in the zombie canon stands out for how well she integrates romance with flesh-eating."

"Mary's observant, careful narration pulls readers into a bleak but gripping story of survival and the endless capacity of humanity to persevere...Fresh and riveting."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A post-apocalypse romance of the first order, elegantly written from title to last line."
Scott Westerfeld, author of Extras and Leviathan

"Intelligent, dark and bewitching, The Forest of Hands and Teeth transitions effortlessly between horror and beauty. Mary's world is one that readers will not soon forget."
Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments trilogy

"Opening The Forest of Hands and Teeth is like cracking Pandora's box; a blur of darkness and a precious bit of hope pour out. This is a beautifully crafted, page-turning, powerful novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it!"
Melissa Marr, bestselling author of Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange

"Dark and sexy and scary. Only one of the Unconsecrated could put this book down."
Justine Larbalestier, author of How to Ditch Your Fairy