Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Writerly Wednesday: Memories



I just reread Hunger Games and noticed the most amazing thing: it is loaded with Katniss's memories. You can hardly read a page or two without Katniss remembering something, and in those memories we (the readers) grow more and more attached to her. For not killing Prim's cat Buttercup. For saving her family with edible dandelions. There are a million memories scattered through Hunger Games and each gives us insight into Katniss, as a person--well character. :) I sometimes forget.


Upon realizing this, I picked up a few of my favorite books--the ones that come up again and again in my mind. Almost all of them are laced with memories in the way HG is. Now, there are lots of books that accomplish characterization without memories. It can be done. But I’ve learned from this realization that truly deep, round, fleshed out characters remember their past when experiencing their present. I decided to test this with a few of my scenes in my WIP and bam! Suddenly the scene has a new depth to it, a new realness that it didn’t possess before. And doesn’t it make sense? Don’t we, as people, remember our past experiences when we are experiencing our present?


Every time I see anything that has to do with NYC, I remember my honeymoon—where my husband and I spent our first days married in NYC for Christmas. Most specifically, I remember the first time I stood in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (hence the photo).


Try it and let me know: do memories help round out your characters?


M.B.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Crits for Water


My awesome crit partner Laura, aka Lo, posted about an opportunity so generous it needs rementioning. As we have different followers, I'm stealing her post for today to spread the word.

Kat Brauer, YA writer and big-time blogger, is offering the following:


  1. For every $1 you donate, I will crit 250 words of your MS. This includes line editing, if you’d like. So if your first chapter is 3000 words, donate US $12 to the mycharitywater campaign page [url to be added when the campaign opens]. I’ll contact you for the file. Kat-Crits can be requested AT ANY TIME during the campaign’s duration (March 31-June 30).

  2. Unless this gets super awesome and busy, I promise to finish all crits within one week.

  3. Once a week (possibly more), we will have special guest crits from other authors, agents, and editors! Here is the (ever incomplete) schedule of events and guest crits. These special guest crits follow a DIFFERENT DONATING AND CRITTING STRUCTURE from #1 and #2.

  4. There will also be special, SUPER SEKRIT prize days. Pay attention to the blog and twitter for those. You can, of course, just donate to donate. Because I know that you are that awesome.

Please find the full details here. I cannot even contain my excitement over this clever way of helping others. It appears Kat raised $2500 in 2009 and hopes to hit $5K this year. Let's help her do it!


M.B.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thesaurus Talk: STEP


____________________________

STEP

Definition: to go on foot
.
Usage: I stepped across the street for a quick lunch at the new diner.
.
Synonyms:
ambulate, foot (it), hoof (it), leg (it), pad, step, traipse, tread
.
Related Words:

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Monday, March 21, 2011

POD vs. Offset -- what's the deal?

FIRST, MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT! THERE IS A CRAZY CONTEST GOING ON AT YATOPIA FEATURING AMMI-JOAN PAQUETTE OF ERIN MURPHY! GO, GO, GO! IT IS ALMOST FULL!!

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Lately I’ve read a few forum posts surrounding small presses and the issue of POD printing—or print-on-demand. As I work in both, I thought I would explain some of the differences, addressing the concerns mentioned in these posts.

  • First, it is important to note that a typical POD press is not a tiny machine (aka laser printer) spitting out poor quality images. Most color machines can span the size of a room. See photo below:

  • Second, technology on digital presses has advanced tremendously making black and white printing (the actual pages of your book) virtually identical to offset printing. We publish many books offset and digitally, utilizing whatever method will keep costs down for our customers. To the naked eye, there is no difference between the two, assuming the same paper stock is utilized.

  • Third, offset printing is expensive for two reasons: the first (and biggest cost) is plates. The reason offset printing is called “offset” is because each color in your cover design (for example) has its own plate (usually 4-8 plates for any full color job) which during the printing process offsets onto paper. Each color station lays down a color until the full image has offset onto the sheet. Plates are expensive. Re-plating because an editor found a typo at the last moment can cause the cost of your book to skyrocket. The second major cost is the make-ready. This is all the set-up to get your cover registered properly—meaning the colors lying where they should on the sheet. None of those two costs are involved in POD printing. Which is why I tell all of my clients unless the impression count (number of times a plate hits the sheet) is in the several thousands, they are better off printing digitally (POD).

  • Fourth, once a publisher (small press or one of the big six) agrees to take on your book, you become something of an employee for that publisher. And like any good employee our job should be to pay for ourselves and make money for our employer. I would MUCH rather have my publisher print 1,000 POD of my books and they all sell, than print 5,000 offset and only sell 1,000. The first means I made money for my publisher, the second I cost my publisher money. And yeah, I can tell you the mark up on books is tremendous. Of course it is, publishing is a business. But the printing of a book is only ONE piece of the total cost of that book, and it is likely the least expensive if you include manpower, which is the highest cost in any business.

Now, there are other variables here to consider. Foil stamping (that shiny stuff you see on a cover), die-cutting (cut outs or shapes), and embossing (raised lettering) are fancy extras not likely offered on POD books. But MOST book covers can be printed POD without an issue. In fact, I just pulled ten from my shelf and only one couldn’t have printed POD.

So to sum up this super long post, POD is not something to fear. The technology is there to produce beautiful quality images that you would never guess weren’t offset printed. If anyone has any questions feel free to post. :)
.

M.B.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dictionary Day!

Happy Friday all! We're continuing alphabetically with Dictionary Days. Today's letter is "B."

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BEATIFIC
TYPE: Adjective
DEFINITION: Having a blissful appearance.
USAGE: Gretchen flashes a beatific smile.
__________________________________
.
I'll for sure use this one as my characters tend to smile A LOT! What about you? Do you have overly-smiley characters or frowners? I'll try to find a "C" word that means grimace or frown or something for next week so you have words readily available.
.
Have a fantastic weekend!
.
M.B.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday Writing Topic: Aliens

So my post on Monday hinted at my WIP involving aliens and being a few raised their eyebrows I thought it would be interesting to discuss just that: aliens.

There are loads of theories on aliens ranging from creepy to friendly, but one such newer theory has brought on a lot of interest lately by experts. First let me say, this is not the theory my WIP surrounds, which for reasons of not divulging too much I'll keep that a secret. But I will say the theme comes from a combination of potential fact and fiction--which is what I try to bring to all my stories.

Now on to today's theory: Aliens in the moon.

What?! You scream. Yes, I know, but there are some interesting elements of our history that suggest the possibility. First, the last moon landing was on December 17, 1972. Why? Why when technology advances continue to soar did we stop landing on the moon? Some researchers believe it is because we were told to not come back. Hmm...I'm not sure. But a few astronauts have publicly admitted to some weird things going on when they were up there--including Buzz Aldrin and Edgar Mitchell.
Mitchell did an interview in the UK where he claimed the government has been covering up UFOs for six decades. Taken from that interview:

  • Chillingly, he claimed our technology is "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned "we would be been gone by now".

What do you think? Aliens are real and we came up with some "compromise" with them for us to stay away and them to stay away? It is interesting that alien sightings have greatly decreased since the 70's. Hmm...or maybe it's because they're all around us, co-existing beside us...waiting for their time to strike. :)

M.B.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Alien beings around us?


(Warning – this post sounds more interesting than I intend it.)

See, yesterday I read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY for the first time. It is a thought-provoking, amazing read. Definitely read it if you haven’t. The story is very much about a misunderstood girl and how these sorts of misunderstandings can shape our lives, sending us in all kinds of directions. While the book conjured lots of different emotions and thoughts, one hung with me and became the motivation for today’s post.

I had a conversation with someone (to be kept anonymous) regarding humanity and how we determine other’s worth—for our time, our thoughts, and sometimes even their worth as humans—based upon how similarly they are to us. This is a hard statement, I know. I’m sure you’re sitting in front of your laptop shaking your head. “Nah-ah, not me.” Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re open-minded enough to never go through your day, week, and year discounting others. But probably not.

Most of us never mean to do this. But how often are foreigners viewed as ignorant because they can’t speak the national language? How often are the poor viewed as simple-minded with simple interests because they can’t afford to travel or have fineries? The list goes on and on. And I even think we as parents do this to our children—unintentionally of course. We are frustrated at our toddlers for disobeying when they do not even know what they did (well sometimes). Or our teens for trying something—alcohol, sex, whatever—when we maybe never gave them a comfortable place to ask the questions they have about those things. In short, we get angry with our children because they should know better. Why? Did you when you were that age? Likely not.

I know this post is coming across as a soapbox message, but really it is just my putting into words the impact one book had on me. I didn’t view Jay Asher’s book as relating only to teen issues. I think it involves people issues, specifically the way we treat each other. People around us deserve more consideration, more than just a curt nod of acknowledgment, because beneath each person’s fa├žade is a real person and your attention could make a huge difference in that person’s life.

So do you treat others as though they are alien? Don’t worry, you don’t have to admit it, but let me admit it to you.

M.B.

*Now if you really want to discuss aliens, we can do that too. I've researched them to death for my WIP!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thesaurus Talk

Today I decided to do a word cloud for the first 100 pages of my WIP and choose the most overused word -- aka biggest word in the cloud -- for today's Thesaurus Talk. Please note that I am using thesaurus.com for these posts. That site rocks so definitely check it out if you are struggling to find word options. You can also enter phrases into the search option and it will return single words that mean the same. Hello tightening!
Prayers and thoughts to all our friends in Japan.

M.B.

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WORD:
KNOW

PART OF SPEECH: verb
DEFINITION: understand information

SYNONYMS:
apperceive, appreciate, apprehend, be acquainted, be cognizant, be conversant in, be informed, be learned, be master of, be read, be schooled, be versed, cognize, comprehend, differentiate, discern, discriminate, distinguish, experience, fathom, feel certain, get the idea, grasp, have, have down pat, have information, have knowledge of, keep up on, ken, learn, notice, on top of, perceive, prize, realize, recognize, see, undergo
*
ANTONYMS:
misinterpret, misunderstand
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*
PART OF SPEECH: verb
DEFINITION: be familiar with

SYNONYMS:
associate, be acquainted with, be friends with, experience,
feel, fraternize, get acquainted, have dealings with, identify, savor,
see, sustain, taste, undergo
*
ANTONYMS:
be ignorant, forget
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

THE END


So yesterday I typed this out, saved it, and forgot to actually post. Oops! Here's yesterday's post, pretend it's still Wednesday for me. :)_____________________________________________________________

The. End.

Aren't those the most magical words a writer can type? The moment I type in those two small words, a giant smile spreads across my face. For me the joy is in the completion. I have now competed two full length novels. The first one produced all those gooey, "I rock" feelings, but this one is so much more. Writing is hard. And frankly, I wasn't sure I had the bandwidth to sustain the writing thing.

Novel two proved to me that I do.

Now of course there are revisions, and I'm a perfectionist so the revisions will not be easy. But for now, I will enjoy the fact that I have completed my second novel.

What have I learned about myself as a writer?

  1. It takes me 3 months to produce a first draft.
  2. I write romance scenes better than action scenes.
  3. With my first I considered myself a punchy sort of writer, but I've learned I'm more of a flowy writer. The punchy stuff was more my trying to force my style into something it wasn't.
  4. Over editing does exist. Voice trumps editing.
  5. I suck at world building, suck at descriptions. So I have to force myself to weave those back in. BUT, I think I'm a pretty strong voice, plot, pacing girl...or maybe that's in my head. Hmm...it could just be the high from finishing. I bet I think I suck in general tomorrow. :)

M.B.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reporting in and need your opinion



So last Monday I proclaimed that I would have my WIP complete by today. Well, unfortunately that didn't happen, but I am VERY close--only 2-3 chapters left. Which is why I chose this photo for today. I can see the finish line, but I'm not there yet. Hopefully my Wednesday post will declare completion.


And then revisions begin. I realized halfway through that I wanted to go a different direction in a pretty important subplot. I made notes throughout the first half and so now I have to correct those issues. Once those are complete that draft will be draft 2 (though technically draft 4 as I've revised a bit already).


But I need opinions on something. I plan to revise wide and zoom in, likely ending with 6 drafts before I would consider the WIP polished. I will probably send the full to my CPs and betas once the draft 2 mentioned above is complete. Okay, now on to the question. I'm considering having a freelance editor read the final version prior to submission.


Is that wise? Anyone ever used an editor? Are they a waste of $ considering I have CPs and betas? And lastly, would I get the most for my money if I sent to the editor before polishing? I send to CPs before polishing b/c I could be polishing scenes that will just be cut once I receive their comments. Should I use the same line of thinking with an editor?


Many thanks for any opinions you can offer.


M.B.

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Friday Topic(s)!



I thought it might be fun to make Fridays dictionary and thesaurus days. So each Friday going foward I will alternate between fun new words and thesaurus responses for commonly overused words. It will look something like this:

Dictionary Day

  • New word
  • Definition of new word

Thesaurus Talk

  • Overused word
  • List of replacements

Sound like fun? Let's get started today.


_____________________________________

DICTIONARY DAY

NEW WORD: Appropinquity

DEFINITION(S): Nearness, proximity

_____________________________________


Fun, huh? So I'll start with A and going through Z for the fun words. We'll see how I do!!

M.B.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Favorites that teach the fundamentals


I realized yesterday that I have certain books I rush to when I need a refresher on one of four things: worldbuilding, pacing, characterization, or voice.

Here's the list:

WORLDBUILDING
  1. Any HARRY POTTER, but especially 1
  2. STARCROSSED
  3. THE HOBBIT

PACING

  1. HUNGER GAMES
  2. DA VINCI CODE - I know, I know. (Grisham's great at pacing, too. :P)
  3. WAKE

CHARACTERIZATION

  1. Any of the above
  2. PRIDE & PREJUDICE
  3. A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY

VOICE

  1. SAVVY
  2. CATCHER
  3. THE NOTEBOOK

What about you? What books do you run to, again and again, to teach (or inspire) the fundamentals of writing?

M.B.