Sunday, December 25, 2011


Merry Christmas! I know technically it's the 26th now, but whatever. It can still be Christmas. :) Besides, I always feel like the holiday season lasts through New Year's Day. And for anyone celebrating Hanukkah, you've still got a few days left!

Here's hoping you all had a wonderful day. I certainly did, spent with 5 members of my family. Not including all the pets, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well.

Feel free to tell me about your festivities! Any fun traditions? Any mishaps or goofy stories? Did you get or give anything super awesome?

Also, I'm pretty excited because while I was waiting for Santa, I finished reading a YA book that I'm going to review here in the coming days, and worked on a revised Query. I know, it's Christmas, but when I like doing work and it's not totally stressing me out, what's wrong with chilling with a Christmas Coca-Cola and editing a Query? Nothin'. AmIright?

Once again, Meeeeeeeeerry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another Plug for a Cool Contest

I really recommend checking out, even if you don't want to participate in her awesome Editing Advent contest going on this month. It's really a neat contest though, with a winner every day. There are so many helpful people out there on a quest to fill the world with good writers, and she's one of them. Hurrah!

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Don't Forget Me, I Beeeeeeeg..."

So you know that Adele song on the radio right now? OK, there are like 3 of them. I'm particularly referring to "Someone Like You." And I mean it's literally on the radio right now.

It just so happens I like the Glee mashup better, though it might partly be because of the sassy choreography.

But this song is awesome for inspiring sad scenes. I mean, it's all about going away from someone you were really close to, and then looking at each other from across your separate ways, right? I think it's even good for scenes about people growing emotionally apart.

Want to know a sappy secret? I'm in my senior year of college right now, and I *keep* imagining that in a year I'll hear this song and start bawling because I'll think about all the people I've gotten close to, particularly in this last school year, and how we'll all graduate onto the next great adventure and when will I see them again? Ever? Probably, but it won't be like now. We certainly won't always see each other in a fun group anymore.

I have *one* semester left with them, dangit.

Do you ever feel sentimental towards the people you left behind, especially the ones who you won't definitely keep in close contact with? Or have you found enough cool people in your new adventures that it's not so bad? I keep thinking that the people I've met have set an impossibly high bar, but maybe I'm underestimating the rest of humanity where I'm headed, haha. I mean, if the people on the internet are anything to show for the rest of the world, then that's good news, but the internet is a vast universe. I'll be confining myself to a new concrete location.

Still, it's a good song. "I heard... all your dreeeeeams caaaaaame truuuuuuuue..."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beth Revis Does Something Incredible

This video explains it better than I can. And no, it's not a requirement to post about this contest on your blog. There aren't individual perks for blogging about it. It's just really a fantastic contest, and what she's doing for charity is incredible. So watch the video and check it out:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Being Honest About Myself

I despise lying to the extent that I have a hard time making likeable characters lie about something in my WIP. But I am a pretty reserved person. My friends-- even my best friends --have called me "mysterious" on multiple occasions. In reality, part of that is probably because I know what to conceal and what not do. For example, I don't have any dramatic relationship story, so I don't talk about past relationship experience at all. My family is very close, so I don't complain about them much. Have you noticed how much people complain to each other? That can be a good thing, though-- like, I can't ever imagine my sister keeping a dark secret from us because she openly talks about anything that troubles her. As far as I can tell, anyway.

Especially on the internet, though, I tend to not talk about myself much. In the writing community, hardly at all-- and when I do, it's often about my theories or my ideas, or what I happen to be working on. This is probably because I feel like that is personal stuff. But I should also prove I'm not a robot, too. You know. To humanize myself.

So, uh, I should try that. Here goes.

I am a student at a small liberal arts college. I'm a senior there. It's finals week. I have a 10-15 page paper due by noon tomorrow, but I'm not freaking out because I love the subject matter.

And I love Pokemon.

There, was that so hard? Hm... I always feel weird telling the writerly community that I'm a student so I usually, well, don't. It's like they'll think I'm not serious about this, or they'll think I'm inexperienced, or they'll think... I don't know.

Is that unfounded? Or do writers really look at each other based on things like age?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lessons So Far

From actually updating this blog, I have learned this about blogging and about myself:

1) I should practice being concise.

2) Followers don't magically appear. Cherish every one of them. (You rock, JS. :P)

3) I don't have as many random Photoshop jpegs as I at first assumed I did.

4) I tend to post, or at least begin a post, at ridiculous hours of the night.

5) My posts inevitably take a dark or serious turn. I have had to withhold posts for partly this reason. I know I'm using a black background, but that doesn't mean everything has to be so grave, I mean-- yeah, yeah, Lesson 1. Concision.

Is "concision" a word? I should look that up. It sounds more like a surgical procedure practiced with a serrated blade, begun in the Dark Ages with little to moderate success.

Aaaaaaaaaand there's Lesson 5.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Punching Writer's Block in Its Strange Blank Face

You sit down to write. You open your Word document. Your fingers are poised over the keys. You reread the last few lines you wrote. You reread the last page you wrote. You reread the last chapter or so you wrote, then wonder if anyone Liked your last status with the obscure lyrics so you log onto Facebook. One of your friends posted a Cracked article, so of course you have to read that, which piques your curiosity so you glide on over to Wikipedia, and then you accidentally click on your Word document again and remember, Oh yeah. Writing. That thing.


I've been there. No matter how much you love writing, sometimes you just don't feel motivated. I find that I write best when I'm really into what I'm writing, and you can't flip that on. But you can try a few tricks to get you in the mood. In my experience, here are some ways that have worked pretty well for me:

1) Draw your characters.

Even if you can't draw. I'm not a great artist but I love to draw my characters while listening to music. Usually I draw scenes that will never happen. My characters vary greatly from drawing to drawing, but it helps me picture them more like real people. I design their outfits, I try out hairstyles, I give them different expressions depending on who they're interacting with. Sometimes I find pictures I like and copy them, but put my characters in place of the people in the picture. Sometimes I like the scene so much that I find a way to work it into my novel. In fact, I created this logo for the organization in my novel. I'm not even sure if it appears in the novel. For fellow visual learners, I recommend giving this a try.

Making up comics is fun, too. Has anyone read Death Note? It's a manga, so already pretty visual-- but some humorous comics (which is odd; Death Note is more of a drama) using Death Note characters appeared a few times in a Japanese magazine. Though I wouldn't call that "canon" material, it was still fun to see these characters in a different setting, and to watch short snippets of their life that were unrelated to the main action.

2) Write a scene between characters that will never appear in your novel.

My very first NaNoWriMo novel started off with the suspected suicide note of a beloved man. When I went back to make edits, I felt like I'd lost touch of the dynamic between a woman and him. But he was dead. So I went back and wrote a scene between them-- their final meeting before he died. Then I deleted the scene. If I kept it, it would be too concrete, too much like a definite piece of the puzzle. All I needed was that feeling between them, and I got that.

3) Create a soundtrack for your novel.

I get really inspired by music; often I'll just close my eyes and listen to the radio. Whatever song comes up, I try to imagine what character would be most likely to sing that song and imagine that character singing the song. It might sound funny, but it totally helps. You can also try a variation of this. Imagine your novel is a movie-- would songs could underscore the scenes? If your novel were a musical and you could choose any songs to be the songs in it, what would they be?

4) Create a new character.

This is a little more drastic because it actually affects the rest of your novel, but it really helped me once. I had debated whether or not to include a mysterious, peculiar man, because I wasn't sure if he was necessary to the plot. Turns out, he was instrumental.

5) Read advice on writing.

Everytime I do this, I immediately apply everything the author says to my writing, and it makes me want to edit like crazy. Also, I love this book:

It's broken down into different sections based on what the advice is concerning. I often just flip to a random page because it's good through-and-through.

6) Write by hand. 

The first draft of my main WIP was entirely written by hand. I love this process. When you type it up, then you can edit along the way. Notebooks are really portable, too, and more subtle than computers or tablets. I also find that when you write by hand, since it takes longer than typing, you really become enveloped in that scene because each sentence is like a thick brush stroke.

7) Fill out a character sheet. 

I got mine from a writing group (and made a gazillion copies- one for each character ever), but there are probably some pretty great ones online. Or you could make your own. Ask all sorts of questions. These could include but aren't limited to: age, family, favorite food, least favorite food, preferred music genre, best quality, worst quality, dream job, wildest fantasy, pets, pet peeves, favorite book-- and anything else you can imagine. You'll know your characters are well developed if you can answer ANY question about them. Put them in different crazy situations in your head and figure out how they'd react. Imagine they're standing--or sitting, or leaning, or dancing-- in front of you and have a conversation with them. It'll be a bonding experience. :]

How do YOU fight Writer's Block? Have you also tried some of those methods? If you decide to try them after reading this post, please let me know if they work for you!

{ I'm listening to "E.T." right now... many-a-time did I visualize my sci-fi novel in front of this song. ;) }

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So About Last Night...

It was 1 am before I got back from all sorts of things I had to take care of, but I was still pretty awake. I'm used to  returning from the day late, but not that late, so some wires in my brain didn't get the memo that no, I did not have time to procrastinate, as I had to get up at 7 am this morning (which, in reality, was 7:40...eheheh).

My Procrastination of Choice last night was a site I'd heard about but stumbled upon for the first time called Good Reads. It's here:

I know, I know, I'm late to the party. Well... am I? Have you heard of this before? I feel like it gets mentioned a lot, but only in passing, like some phantom tantalizing me with an intimidating amount of promising reads.

Anyway, on Good Reads, you can rate just about any book you can think of, and then get recommendations based on how you rated similar books. I spent far too much time on this. There are a loooooooooot of books out there.

On the plus side, I finally was able to give Gulliver's Travels the one star I always wanted to (sweet justice...I am not a fan of you, Swift. Not a fan.) I also sought out The Sound and the Fury just to give it five stars.

If you haven't looked at Good Reads yet, I suggest you do. It has many different genres that you can sort books by, and it's set up really well. Also, there's a feature so you can list what you're reading now, set reading goals, and something involving friends.

So, readers that I like to imagine I have: do you use Good Reads? Would you be weirded out if I friended you? I honestly don't know how the whole friend thing works on there but I don't think it involves a blood pact or ritual. Should probably double check on that.

Comment and let me know!

Holiday Editing Contest at

So, earlier I mentioned how I used to almost exclusively use this blog for posting about contests... well, I never said I would stop, and when I saw the words "editing" and "prize" strung together, I knew I had to post about this.

C.A. Marshall is holding a clever Advent editing contest where there's a winner each day in December! Until Christmas? I wouldn't risk it- don't delay, start entering now! Go check it out at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Benefits of Failure

Last summer, I became pretty much obsessed with entering the weekly contests on If you haven't checked out Inkpop yet and you're interested in writing YA stuff, GO. NOW. It's an incredible website where you give and get revisions from an online community of aspiring writers. Here, I'll make it easy for you:

There. Click above. If you don't trust me, take the long way around and type it into Google, but it's definitely worth a look.

Inkpop hosts weekly contests that ask writers to submit a short work based on the given prompt. Sometimes the contest prompt is derived from the work of guest author (yes, a LEGIT author) who will judge that contest. A lot of the time, though, one of the administrators comes up with the idea and judges these. The prize is a set of books from Harper Teen.

I wasn't exaggerating when I said I was "pretty much obsessed." I sacrificed a lot of sleep getting those stories posted by the deadline, during which time Pandora Radio became my best friend, and I often had to ninja around my dark house in order to not wake the dog who would, in turn, wake up the rest of my sleeping family. I wasn't always successful at being a ninja, but in my mind, it was worth it. They say you have to read YA to write YA and, well, I really, really wanted those books.

I had entered one of these contests a while ago, probably some time in 2010, with a short poem. Last summer alone, I entered 9 more.

I lost every single one of them.

There were always a decent number of entries and they only pick two people's stories per contest (except one time when only one girl won because she entered two stories for one contest and both stories were independently chosen as winners). Still, I thought my chances were pretty good. I never turned in something I wasn't proud of. I proof-read everything. I always thought my ideas were original and engaging (because if you don't have original and engaging ideas, then you sure as heck better have an original and engaging way of telling a rather ordinary story). When I received feedback, especially on the short stories, it was almost universally positive. So when I consistently lost, I couldn't figure out why. Sure, they were usually upwards of ten pages long, sure the story about the jawless ghosts was a little weird, sure the one about the organs could read more like a prologue-- but odder entries have won. And when I'd look at the winners, some of them were really excellent, but others had grammar errors all over the first page. Were the judges even reading all the entries? Did I just create and become attached to these characters as dawn threatened on the horizon just to post something no one will ever see? The song "Falling For You" by Seabird still reminds me of Daphne's desperact act to prove her theory by using Cole, even if it meant--

Like I said, I became attached.

I hope none of this comes across as bragging or spiteful lashing out. I'm just saying I worked really, really hard on these, maybe as a way with coping with not having any sort of job or internship that summer.

TANGENT: One of my biggest pet peeves is No Response. If I submit an application for a volunteer position, I'd at least like to know they got it.

*ahem* Where were we? Oh yeah. The point of the story. Somewhere along the line, I realized something a little disconcerting: I was glad I wrote every single one of my stories, but had I won a contest, I wouldn't have written the subsequent ones. If I won my books from Harper Teen, I wouldn't have felt such a need to enter. I know, I know, you should write because you love writing, not for glory. And I do write because I love writing- that's what my main WIP is for. Still, I might have been afraid of winning twice and robbing some kid of four free books when I already got what I wanted.

If my story about a boy raised by robots had won, that story about the jawless ghosts or the organ society wouldn't exist, and I like those-- not as something others should read necessarily, but something for me. So, all those times I failed, all those contests I never won pushed me to write more. And in addition to the couple of poems I submitted, I actually finished half a dozen short stories! I rarely finished writing short stories before.

Life is bittersweet. In some things, I'm glad we don't have a say.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Visual Learners

Picture books are usually children's first reading materials, and I don't think we ever really get over the need for visual stimuli. I personally am more of a visual learner. This is probably why blogs with more pictures attract my attention more often.

I know, I know. I sound like I'm 12. Big Kid books don't have pictures. But you're probably thinking the same thing too, eh? Like that picture above. It might be weird, but it breaks up the blog nicely, doesn't it? I guess maybe if it were more colorful, it'd prove my point better, but I still think it does its job. Besides, I have the rights to it because I drew it, so I don't have to worry about that. Hooray! Copyright laws!

So, uh, if I seem to randomly post cryptic pictures, it's likely that's just what I'm doing: increasing the blog's appeal, readability, and degree of spacial relationship. Or maybe I'm sending you cryptic messages Lemony-Snicket style.

"...he wants all your money, he's never at all funny, and he wants to remove your face... Scream, scream, scream, and run away."
-The Gothic Archies

Probably just the spacial relationship thing though.

SRS BZNS ("Serious Business," for those of you who don't post in anime forums run by teenagers)

You know how new notebooks are awesome gifts, but then you realize you don't have anything to write in them? Or you think that their pages are so precious that you don't want to soil them with the wrong thing? Or you're worried that if you start writing in the notebook, it will just become another unfinished project?

That's me. That's this blog.

I started this blog because I had to. It was a requirement for certain writerly contests to post about said contest in your blog. I believe my first 7 entries are all promotional.

If anyone's gathered info about a contest from those, that's awesome, wonderful, whatever. But the thing is, I don't think they have. I only posted about contests, and pretty infrequently, so that didn't exactly gain me hoards of followers. And I feel kind of bad about that. The people who run the contests want the promotion in return for providing the prize, and I was kind of cheating with my dead-pan, floating-out-in-cyberspace-with-a-glazed-over-look blog. It was just an entry tool, not the desired promotion.

I also realized that the little (and I mean LITTLE) presence I have in the writerly world (gained mostly via Twitter) has opened up more avenues of opportunity than I thought it could. I've met some really cool aspiring writers and other people involved in the writing world from social networking. Having my own writer's blog would hopefully increase that participation, as I've heard it does.

And I've heavily immersed myself in a lot of materials on writing over the years. During the school year, I'm involved in all sorts of writing and literature classes and projects. In the summer, it's kind of non-stop research and peer review to the point of obsession. This has led to small amounts of success, but success nonetheless.

Sorry, this is getting long. I know I tend to ignore long blog posts, I'll be honest.

My point is, I'm going to maintain this. Really, I am. I feel like I have a lot to offer- at least a different perspective people might want to see - and I want to share that. Even if it turns out I'm not that interesting, I want to interact with you, my fellow writerly-types. Hear feedback. Get opinions. Hold contests, even.

Let's be friends, shall we?

"Perfection" is So Unachievable That I am Beginning to Doubt Its Existence

All your ducks in a row? All your pieces in place? All your eggs in one basket?

I know, I know, those don't all mean the same thing. But still, the answer's probably no. Mine either.

One time I heard a quote, "Never accept 'good enough' as good enough." Tried to live by that for a little while. But I read in a book full of writing advice that you have to be able to say, "Hey. Okay. This manuscript is good enough for me to send out. I'm proud of it. I know it's not perfect, it'll never be perfect. But it's good enough." Because if you don't, you'll be editing forever.

FUN FACT: The immensely popular play "Noises Off" has been rewritten several times after its premiere. Even after it had been running for a while (and enjoyed much praise), the playwright Michael Frayn still wasn't satisfied with it. As one who indulges in playwrighting as well, that feels wrong. You don't get to do that. Once you put your work out there, especially if it's well-liked, leave it alone. You can't achieve perfection, so don't torture yourself with always desiring to make those changes.

Take the plunge. Send out your manuscript. There will always be an infinite different number of ways you could write Chapter One, but there's probably a reason you've made the choices you have. Sure, it's possible no one will bite. But you never know until you allow yourself to stop editing and present your work to others.

Fair warning, I'm sure at some point I'll feel it necessary to rant about people who edit too little. Please don't think me a hypocrite. It's not even a fine line between editing too little and editing too much. There's plenty of justified complaining. But I think this is an important place to start. Lately I've been considering adding two chapters to the beginning of my main Work in Progress, and I do think I'll go for it. That's a major edit that kind of goes against everything I just said, except that I've seriously considered it for a while and I think it will solve a LOT of my later character problems in the novel. Also, I HAVE sent my work out, and that's what's made me decide to make this change. But it took me about four years before I let anyone see my WIP. Eventually I just had to bite the bullet and expose my creation.

Know what the worst part is? I didn't even like the ending of "Noises Off." (Yeah, I'm back on that. I keep thinking about it.) It used to be my favorite play. Maybe that was because I first saw it when I was about 10 years old when I was more likely to overlook comedic fumbles, but I really do think the ending was different. So Frayn messed with his play and his newest incarnation was worse. I bet he just got bored with it, so decided to try one of the other infinite possible endings. There must have been some reason he wrote it the way he did the first time, though.

Just some thoughts.