Friday, October 30, 2009

Twilight, we need to talk. You see, I'm in love. With someone else.

So here's the thing, Twilight. You know I'm a sucker for you. I fell in hardcore lust when I first read you, and I fall over and over again when I see a new movie trailer. For me, you're that one relationship I can never really get over, even though I know you're bad for me. Even though "you and me" doesn't make sense. Even though you do things that really piss me off.

Like, for instance, repeating yourself over and over, like I didn't hear you the first time. Or using purple prose like it's going out of style. Or, even worse, watering down my idea of a vampire.

You see, Twilight, you made me forget how scary vampires can be, how unpredictable and thrilling. Yes, they're all beautiful. I get that. We all get that. But vampires are so much more than eye candy. Throw one vampire into the mix, and you have created conflict, tension, suspense, heartache. Throw a second vampire in, who just happens to be the super hot, bad boy brother of the super hot, good-boy-with-a-bad-past vamp, and you've got my new favorite guilty pleasure.

You see, Twilight, I've always liked vampires. But, more than that, I love that edge-of-my-seat rush I get when a show I think will be predictable pulls a 90-degree turn on me. And that's just what the Vampire Diaries has done.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. The Vampire Diaries was super corny when we first met, too. Like almost nerd-in-suspenders corny. (Not to mention that its "VD" abbreviation is kind of icky ...) But I've had a soft spot in my heart for the Vampire Diaries ever since I read the books in the 90s, and, I have to say, I'm falling in love all over again.

You see, Twilight, you're that guy with the stare so intense that your liquid topaz eyes turn me into gravy every time I see you (no matter how much it pisses me off), but the Vampire Diaries is the friend that became something more--the relationship that comforts me and surprises me all at once, that has become something so good that I learned, early on, to stick with it through the rough patches, because I know this love is real.

(Or maybe the guys are just so damn hot that I can't see straight? You be the judge.)

I'm sorry, Twilight. I really am. It's not you, it's me. I just need some time alone, some space. We can still be friends, if you want. And I promise we'll hang out again soon. (It's not like the Vampire Diaries and I are exclusive, or anything ...) As a matter of fact, I have an open spot on my calendar November 20.

Now, come on, Twilight. Don't be like that. You know very well the Vampire Diaries didn't "steal your flava." The Vampire Diaries is old enough to be your dad, or at least your cool older brother. With fangs. And it's never good to piss off someone with fangs. Of course, you wouldn't know anything about that, now would you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Because who doesn't like an awesome writing contest?

So, I've been a little MIA lately. It's like someone tranq'd me and I went into a week-long coma. I'm thinking conspiracy. Government secrets. The whole she-bang.

On with the point: As I was catching up on all of the awesome blogness I missed this week, I came across a kick ass contest on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf. Basically, you submit the first 250 words of your YA manuscript, and then the nice individuals hosting the contest pick winners. And give prizes!

Here's a little snippet I stole from Lauren's blog (hopefully, she won't sue; Lauren, please don't sue!):

The top 20 submissions will all be read by a panel of five judges comprised of top YA editors at Random House, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Penguin. All 20 will receive free autographed copies of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. Of the 20, they will pick the top five submissions and provide each author with commentary. ONE Grand Prize Winner will win a free 10-week writing course courtesy of the Gotham Writer’s Workshop.

Please submit all entries via the contest website at One entry per person; anyone age 13+ can apply. Open to the U.S. & Canada (void where prohibited). Entries for the YA Novel Discovery Contest will be accepted from 12:01am (ET) November 1 until 11:59pm (ET).

This contest is in honor of NaNoWriMo month and is meant to encourage aspiring YA authors to lose the "aspiring" part and to actually start writing.

Are you entering? I know I am. I could use a really swift kick in the rear!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't hurt the readers!

My first thought when I heard about the bestseller's pricing war** was, "Yay! Now I can buy two instead of one ... It's like BOGO, but with books!" My second thought was, "Uh oh ... What does this mean for my local Borders? Or for the cutesy little bookstores downtown?" My Publishers Lunch email today had several quotes from people in the biz about what they think about price wars. The one that concerns me most is below.

"It's the chain bookstores and the readers that are going to be hurt by this the most. Chain bookstores can't do what what independents can do, nor can they pay their bills by selling toothpaste and electronics. Readers will suffer the most, however. If the general public learns to expect cheap books, publishers won't be able to afford to take a chance on new writers, so quality, story, research and expertise will slowly disappear from new books, and we'll only have those most commercial and bland books to choose from. Again, you get what you pay for." Nikki Furrer of Pudd'nhead Books, Webster Groves, MO

My thoughts after reading this: YIKES!

Stop it, Amazon and Walmart (and Sears and Target, while we're at it). If you let your pride continue to get the best of you, next thing you know we'll be buying all of our books on iTunes for the price of a song, and that couldn't possibly be good for the business. You and your big corporate heads should be ashamed of yourselves.

**For a really good breakdown of the consequences of playing rough, check out this post.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The post where I become angry.

So, here's the thing. I'll tell you anything you want to know about me, but it's harder for me to share about the people closest to me. I almost feel like it's not my place to tell these things. But when I see stories like this, stories that shock every inch of humanity inside of me, I know it's time for me to speak up. So today, I'll give it a shot.

1. My best friend is one of the most honest, compassionate, and understanding people I know. She is funny. She is brilliant. She loves her family. She works hard for what she has. She is also Muslim-American. She dresses modestly, but she doesn't wear a hijab, so people don't think when they speak to her. They don't realize that when they make Muslim jokes or call an entire religion of people terrorists based upon the extreme actions of a select few, they are insulting her. And her mother. And her little sister. And her husband, who was raised by a Southern Baptist mother and father and recently converted to Islam. And her children. These people don't think. Truth is, they don't want to.

2. My parents work hard. They love me and my little sister. We love them. They made sure that, no matter how hard or how many hours they had to work, our family never went without. My parents are also bigots. I could sugarcoat it more than that, but I'm not going to. They were both raised very Christian, and, although neither leads a particularly religious lifestyle now, both are so set in their ways that you couldn't move them if you tried. And try, I have. Not because I think my way is the right way, but because there is something they don't know. Something they should, but maybe never will.

3. My sister is my other best friend. She is wicked smart. She is funny and beautiful. She psychoanalyzes me when I talk, which totally creeps me out. She texts me weird things in the middle of the night. She reads by candlelight with me when the storms knock out our power. She colors my hair, and I color hers. When I need her, she always answers. My sister is also gay. She gets the butterflies, just like the rest of us. She falls in love, just like the rest of us. She gives her heart to people, just like the rest of us. She breaks into pieces, just like the rest of us. So you tell me: Is she any less of a person just because she doesn't conform to what society deems "normal"?

Say what you will and feel what you want, but it is not okay to legislate your morals. It is not okay to discriminate. It is not okay to judge others. It is not okay to hate.

And that's my 25 cents.

Monday, October 19, 2009

5 things I learned (or had reinforced) this weekend.

1. I have little shopping self control. Sunday afternoon, I went into Dillards to get a lip gloss from MAC. That's it. Just an overpriced, creamy, shiny, non-sticky gloss. Problem is, I had to walk past the shoes to get to the MAC counter. And of course, I had to look at the shoes. And then I found a pair that I loved, which I just had to try on. Even though they were wayyyy too much money. After all, what were the odds I'd actually like them once they were on my feet? Well ... Odds in my favor or not, I loved them. And I had to have them. Or, as Little Ms J would say, I had to rescue them. Because, ya know, a bunch of shoe-abusing bandits would obviously take every pair in my size before they went on sale. Then, on to the gloss.

2. The MAC people aren't nearly as intimidating as I'd thought them to be (they're just serious about color), and makeup is like a bag of Lays. I went there for gloss. I left--after a full tutorial on how to use purple glittery eyeshadow--with the lip gloss ... and with a bunch of other stuff that I wasn't aware I needed until that nice, unintimidating MAC guy put it on my face.

3. Say what you what about reality TV, but it does what it's intended to do. It hooks you to your couch for the full hour, and maybe the next, if it's a marathon. Because you just have to know which Tool gets sent home, and whether his girlfriend goes home with him, and whether Antonio picks his crazy ex-wife in the wedding dress or one of the blondes, and who goes into the Duel and loses to Wes. And, if that episode was addictive enough, next thing you know you're recording the rest of the series. Or at least Googling the show for more information. Or maybe that's just me?

4. It is very annoying when Netflix randomly skips disc 3 in a series--which was at the top of your list--and sends you disc 4. What the H??

5. Being jealous isn't fun, but I can't help it. Right now, my husband is on his way to L.A. for some work-related training, and all I can think about is all of the Lebanese food and pinkberry he's going to be eating while I'm sitting in trial after trial this week. Not. Fair. Not fair at all.

And that's about it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday News

This just in: I'm stalling on my current WIP, and I think I know why. Let me count the reasons.

1. Word counts are too much pressure.
When I'm trying to hit a certain amount of words per day, I find myself in a similar situation as to when I set any other kind of goal that seems unattainable: I panic and slowly walk away. I feel like I can't cut out a big section that, as it turns out, is totally irrelevant and let myself be carried in a different direction, because OMFG no WAY can I make up for all of those words that I'll be losing! I know word counts work for many of you--especially the ones doing NaNoWriMo this month--but for me, they make writing feel like work. I don't want my creative outlet to feel like work. I have enough real work already, damn it!

2. Work blows.
'Nuff said.

3. I'm slightly addicted to technology.
When I'm overworked, I soothe my fried brain with free online games and crap TV. Unfortunately for my WIP, I've got a DV-R filled with trashtastic television. Plus, since I've been keeping a daily word count, writing has started to feel a lot more like a weight loss regimine and a lot less like a relief from everything. So t.v. wins out sometimes. Most of the time. Okay, as of late, almost every time.

4. And here's the real kicker: I'm terrified of my new project.
No, I'm not writing a horror flick, and no, I don't have any tragic deaths planned. But, unlike my previous forrays into the land of YA, my current WIP is strictly realistic fiction. No ghosts or witches in sight. Just one girl with a best friend, a boyfriend, and a morally skewed compass leading her in a less-than-noble direction. My problem? Putting the decisions my MC has already made to writing scares me. It makes me uncomfortable. It gives a voice to the wrong choices my MC has made, and it threatens every relationship in this world that I've spent so much time crafting. Conflict may be the most important part of your story, but it's also a scary mother. Don't let anyone tell you any differently.

My solution?
Axe the word counts. Bring fun back to my writing. Limit screw-off time. Write. Write. Write. And stop holding in all of the pain, confusion, and mistakes, because these things are what make a story real.

And, for those times when I forget my own advice and end up curled into the fetal position, play Eye of the Tiger and dance around like a boxing superstar until I remember.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winner of Luna giveaway!

And the winner of Luna by Julie Anne Peters is ...


Please contact me (either by responding to my email or by commenting on this post) by Wednesday evening. Congrats, Shawna, and thanks to everyone for participating. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I am proof the earth is flat.

What, don't believe me? Then YOU explain how I fell off of it. Last thing I knew, I was walking along, making quick pause for Tim Gunn and Grey's. Then, suddenly ...

BAM! Off I fell.

And that's all she wrote, folks.

In all seriousness, the past month or so has been CRAZY for me, with my new puppy (which I have to post a picture of b/c he melts my heart), work that just will not slow down no matter how much I beg it to, and life in general. I just wanted to let you all know that I am, indeed, alive and kicking (or at least alive and twitching), and I promise to be less absent. Okay, I promise to try to be less absent. There. Best I can do.

What about all of you? Are you in the group that's stoked b/c things are finally slowing down and you now have all this time to write and play, or are you sailing on my banana boat? For your sake, I'm hoping it's the former!

Friday, October 2, 2009

What I've learned from the writers of Grey's Anatomy (and Tim Gunn): Make it Work

So it's not exactly a secret: conflict in a story is important. As in, try to write a book without it, and you'll be just about the only person to ever read it. Except maybe you're mom.

My problem is that I don't care much for abusing my characters. A sadist, I am not. But I'm working on it.

When I need inspiration, I turn to Grey's Anatomy. If you don't watch it, you probably still know of it. It's always in the news, with someone running their jaws off about something or another. Those guys can't shut up, usually to their detriment. And who has to deal with the fallout from all of this chick-fight blunder? The writers, that's who.

Example 1: One regular drops the f-bomb (the six-letter one) on another regular. Someone says to the writers, "So ... yeah ... I know you had this whole neat-o storyline worked out and everything, but ... we're going to need to axe this guy. Mmm 'kay? Great. p.s. I'm thinking spin-off. Are you thinking spin-off? Bloody brilliant, I tell ya." Writers go wallow in a bottle of wine for a few hours, and then they follow the infamous words of Tim Gunn and "make it work."

Example 2: Season 4, writer's strike. "Yeah, so you whiny little bitches bailed on us and now we need you to fix it. Gotta cut episodes. Condense storylines. Got it? Good. Oh, and try not to rush things, but go ahead and end where you'd planned when you had an extra 5'ish episodes to get there with. Great." Kinda self-induced misery, so Writers make it work.

Example 3: "Great idea ... let's go gay! And let's go bi as well! Man, this is gonna be so much fun." Writers make it work. And then: "Yeah ... so it just ain't workin'. I know this is kind of last minute, but ... could you write out the blond gay one? And do it in the next episode, if you can. K? Thanks. And while you're at it, let's nix that whole bi storyline, too. Not sure what genius thought of that, but it's wayyyy too gay, don't ya think?" Writers contemplate killing the messenger. Go to anger management classes instead. Then decide to go ahead and make it work.

Example 4: "It's crossover time! P.S. I know you just rewrote those totally gay storylines, but 2 of our leads may not be coming back next season. Think you can work with that? It might mean you have to come in on Saturday .... Greattt..." Writers take deep breaths. Do yoga. Meditate. Apply skills learned in anger management classes. Make. It. Work.

(note: There are more roadblocks coming up this season, but in the off-chance that the fat mouths over at Grey's haven't spilled the beans to the entire word, I won't spoil it for you.)

Why the hell am I rambling on about Grey's Anatomy, you're wondering? What is my freakin' point?

To which I answer: my point is that when you've got your neat, tidy little MS, with your happy go-lucky characters who have come out on top of the world smelling just a little too peachy, step back and think, "What can I do to make it harder for them? How can I create more conflict? What if I took this guy out, and moved this arc around, and hooked her up with him instead of that other guy ... And oh my effin' g, what if it was her mom in that explosion instead of some random bus driver?!?"

If the kiddos over at Grey's Anatomy can roll with the punches and still produce heartfelt stuff, so can we. So let's roll up our sleeves, think outside the box, and kick our characters while they're down.

Let's make it work, people. Let's make. it. work.