Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cover Love...

Quick ROW update:  I've gotten all my feedback and I've plunged into hardcore editing for Aeris.  I'm hoping to have the majority of my cuts and edits done by early in the first week of May (not this coming week, but the week after).  After which it will be shipped off to the proof reader's and then back to me for formatting.  Then it will be out, out, out!
When that is done, there is the super secret writing project to finish and then I will get started on Terris.  Not quite sure how long this next book will be.  I'm thinking it will be somewhere in between the first book and the second.  So, maybe about 300 pages or so?  I haven't finished my outlines yet, because I started editing, so that will be another task to get to when Aeris is completed.

This has been a week of upheaval for my favorite book bloggers.  If you google "The Story Siren" and plagiarism, you'll see why.  I don't have a lot to say about it, because I'm not a book blogger, but plagiarism sucks.  It happens all the time in the indie writing world.  Kindleboards are filled with people whose books have been ripped off and sold under a different name (or the same name) on Amazon.  All that to say, I sympathize, and I hope all my favorite bloggers are feeling better soon.

I also ran across some interesting articles full of commentary on covers, particularly for either YA fiction or Paranormal romance.  Basically, the criticism is: men are portrayed as powerful and pose in more realistic poses.  And no, it is not just women saying so.  In fact, two of the more hilarious posts are by writer Jim C. Hines.  His posts are on Women and Fantasy Covers & Posing Like a Man.   But if you are interested, there's a great post by Emily Asher-Perrin on the sexy, over the shoulder shot for women, HERE.   There another blogger trying more insane book cover poses, HERE.   Then there is my personal favorite, by my favorite blogger Kat Kennedy at and some of her insightful commentary on YA Covers.

There is a growing trend in YA fiction, to make covers like magazine covers- pretty white girls who most of the time have nothing to do with the content inside.  That sounds harsh, but it's like a parade of pretties.

Let me just say, there is NOTHING wrong with a pretty cover.  I do worry, a little, that YA books are really going to end up like magazine covers, all about the pretty.  Almost as though a pretty enough cover will forgive any literary flaws.
Thank goodness for Hunger Games! :)

Have a great week, all.  Hope to have some good news for Wednesday's check in.
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Artsy Fartsy

First of course, is my update.  Hello, ROW crew.  Hope all of you are meeting your goals.  I have moved from contemplation to implementation here in Aeris land.  I've charted my edits for each of the characters and their story lines and decided what I will cut or add.  Basically, Zyander is going to get another two chapters.  One will be near the beginning to help aid in some foreshadowing and the other at the end will aid in some resolution.  I will also be rearranging a few of my chapters to aid in the timeline flow.  Nikka will also get another chapter at the end, because her ending was WAY too passive for my taste and if I admit it to myself, I was being lazy or maybe hurried when I wrote her ending.  One of her chapters will also be rearranged.  Luka is getting the least amount of editing.  I already did a lot of work on him before the beta reading, as I cut 2 chapters out of his story that didn't advance him in any way.  I'm going to add some better foreshadowing for him at the beginning as well.  I've written half of the summary of Compis for the beginning of the book.
It's tough, because I use a combination of planning (as in an overall outline) and just letting the spirit take me where it will.  The result of this is that the story often seems to get away from me and leaves me determined to plan better next time.  But for my writing style, if I'm too rigid in my planning, none of the cool/good stuff seems to happen.  It's only when I lose myself in the writing that the story seems to write itself without effort.  So I continue to tread this fine line and hope for the best.  I just hope everything isn't a hot mess at the end!  You know? :)

On my thoughts this week, writing as art...

It's a tricky subject that everyone seems to have an opinion on.  We live in a unique world, where amazon has introduced the most interesting concept of reviewing what we buy.  This has led to some... volatile interactions on the internet.  I don't think it's an accident that one of the most recent and hilarious skits of SNL is one that deals with internet comments.  HILARIOUS VIDEO HERE.  (Hulu won't let me imbed it, sorry.)

It's easy to eviscerate when you don't have to show your face, or when you can be anonymous.  There is a culture of people (commonly called trolls) on the internet who garner much amusement from this.

For writers, in the past, there was no exposure to this.  It was basically paper/magazine reviews, and word of mouth.  Goodreads, amazon, shelfari and others have given readers the power to praise or deride books and for many authors that is a bitter pill (or a spoonful of sugar) to swallow.
Rather than rehash what I've already discussed multiple times... I want to address a particular argument that I recently read(for the hundredth time) about writing as art.  I have seen this argument over and over again.  How can anyone critique art?  It's a travesty!  No one ever reviews paintings!  No one stands around saying, "Picasso's art is totally amateur.  He obviously had no idea what he was doing!  Cubism?  It's total crap."
Well, actually, there are plenty of people saying that.  My mom, for instance.  She's just not saying it on the internet.
But here is how I see it.  Art differs from literature in one KEY way.  You don't have to lay down a DIME to buy it unless you like it.  Art is all there, at the get-go.  What you see is what you get.  If you like waterlilies, Monet is the guy for you.  Go down to Target and buy yourself a $15 print.  (or fork out a few mill, if you've got that kind of cash)  If you like Degas and ballerinas, it's all there for you to see.  My point, and I do have one, is that there is no obligation to purchase before you know if you'll like it or not.  Have your opinion about Kandinsky, no one is telling you that you have to buy a wrapped painting by him and only open it AFTER you've paid.
Yet that is essentially what we ask readers to do every day.  Here is where you say, well, what about libraries and freebies?  I would argue that there is still the investment of time.  Even giving 5 minutes to try out a book when you have two children, a garden, a continuous mound of laundry and a budding writerly career is a BIG DEAL.
People aren't trying to buy art (or read it) when they pick up a book.  They are paying (or hoping for) an experience.  What experience do I look for?  I want to be diverted.  I want to enter a new and interesting world.  I want to read about love or hate, growth or decay, kick butt heroines, main characters that make me give a crap about them.  I don't want to deal with the crap I have to in the real world.  Now, that is just me.  Every person in the world, dealing with their different experiences, has different needs from the books they read.  And they can want "art" or more realistically, "artistic" books or they could want silly fluffiness that they don't have to think about.  
But books are experiences, and never something that can be taken at face value from a cover or a story blurb.  And even though their words may sting sometimes, we really just need to give readers a break.  They are not out to get us.
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I'm pretty sure the birds are twitterpated -that spring state of mind mentioned in Bambi (the movie).  They are just crazy here in Cali.  They flit and fly all over the place making the most hilarious noises. :)

I've been busy every weekend lately, it seems.  There was Easter, then last weekend driving home, and this weekend I'll be in Monterey.  That's right, fellow readers, if you're in Monterey this weekend for the Sea Otter Classic, you might see me and my new(to me) double stroller wandering around the booths and cheering my husband across the finish line.  My parents are joining us to take the kidlets to the aquarium on Friday(hopefully before all the brouhaha) and then for a few races on Saturday.

Needless to say, I will be AFK after Thursday, so good luck to all of you until next week!  Finished my editing.  Did some work on the super secret writing project and I'm waiting for feedback until I continue.  I've heard from all but one of my Aeris readers and I have some minor edits planned out for the start and finish of the book.  Zyander's story is still going to need some tweaking, but nothing as major as a full rewrite.  That's about all I got done this week, thanks to spring.

Ah, spring.  GARDENING TIME!  Nothing gets my blood pumping more than digging my fingers in the earth, planting seed, weeding, and harvesting the delicious fruits of my labor.  I think I must be from the Terris tribe. :) Anyway, everything else fades away while I do it.

But on to other things.  This will be short, but sweet.
There is a lot of hubbub on the internet about the state of women (and their rights) in the US.  Authors and book bloggers have commented on it: HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.  (And that's just a small sample!)

I don't have much to say about it, but I do think a lot about women when I write my books.  I read a LOT of YA fiction.  It seems to me there are a lot of complicated messages about women circling around in the books I write.  What are the proper roles of women in the society of the books they inhabit?  What power (or powers) should they have?  What should they be interested in?  What should they look like?  Who should they fall in love with?

If I were going off some kind of norm in what I read, I would say, there are a lot of confused girls with special powers falling in love with dark mysterious, yet dangerous strangers.  Lots of times, there are even two boys involved.  Many times I find the main characters or the situations they find themselves in to be annoying in the extreme!

I'm not the only person who feels that way, nor am I the most critical of YA fiction at the moment.  But here's the thing that is most disturbing to me.  YA fiction isn't written by other teens.  It's written by adults, mostly women adults.  What does it say about us, the things we are telling young girls about themselves?

"Let a man make all your decisions."
"You will have to fight bitchy cheerleaders wherever you go in life."
"It's okay if a man stands outside your window watching you, because he wants to protect you."
"You should forgive a man ANYTHING he does to you, if he loves you."

I SOOOO get the argument that these are just stories.  It's all fiction, so what's the big deal?  It's what girls want to read anyway, right?  It's not OUR job to be the moral force of writing for YA fiction.

And that could all be true, except why wouldn't you WANT to be?  Why wouldn't you WANT to write about girls who fight for themselves, who extend past the same old stereotypes?  Why wouldn't you WANT to write about a girl who falls in love with the smart and steady guy instead of the damaged loner?  Why wouldn't you WANT to write about a girl who takes longer than 5 seconds to fall in love with the guy of her dreams?  Why would you WANT to write about a love triangle instead of about the statistically more likely story of girl meets boy instead of girl meets boy-boy.

Just something I've been thinking about.
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rejection vs. Validation

Since most of my time since last Thursday has been taken up by holding my ADORABLE BRAND NEW RED-HEADED NEPHEW... I haven't gotten a lot done.  Editing.  I've done editing, though not on Aeris.  I've got two people left to hear from (you know who you are!) before I start moving in on that.
Ruminating without editing is great though because it lets you really work out in your mind what you want to do and think over and over and over again about the weak points in your story.  You know they're there, but you just allow them to simmer under the surface until you can't stand it anymore, at which point you've heard back from everyone and you know exactly what to do.
Oddly enough, I'm most nervous about my brother's feedback.  Just because he's never done this so early in the process before and is always so PAINFULLY honest.  And by painful, I mean knife in the gut.  It's good, though.  He gives GREAT feedback, especially on my male characters.

So there's where I'm at for ROW.  Now onto the next bit.

It's great when people love your work, isn't it?  Nothing is more validating than getting nice reviews or fan mail. For me, it's like, "Great, so my writing isn't a total time-suck."

I think I've talked about validation and rejection so many times before that I have nothing new to say on the topic.  Only that I've recently been put in a situation in my "real" life, not my writer life, where I'm in the unenviable position of having to reject an offer that I've been made.  

I'm going to generalize it here, but a friend of mine recently offered me some money to do some work for her, freelance. While I would greatly love the opportunity, I think there are some drawbacks, personally, that cause me to hesitate to accept.  In fact, I'm almost certain I'm going to refuse.  

What to do, what to do.  It's so much easier, sometimes, to read books.  I get to go on goodreads and rant about style, character, plot, etc.  It's fun to read what other people have said about them.  And it's so much easier to say something honest, but probably not pleasant in the forum of the internet, where you don't have to do it face to face. 

All day, I've been thinking, how do I break the news without sounding like a complete asshat?  How do I validate her work without having to accept it as my own burden?  When did life get so complicated?

While I continue to mull this over, I place you in the talented hands of my fellow bloggers, who have many wise words of their own to impart.

That is all from me this week, fellow readers.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Whirlwind...

Can't jabber on for long.  I have a sky full of blue and a garden that needs planting.  Ahhhh... spring in Cali.  My favorite time of year.  Of course, all this has to be done with a 7mth old that strongly objects to me doing anything for any length of time that involves not paying attention to him.  In other words, I bribe him with yummy treats. hahaha

So I don't know if you noticed my last entry, but THE FIRST DRAFT OF AERIS IS OFFICIALLY FINISHED!!!

Oh Bliss, oh happiness, oh, 151,000 words of YA Fantasy...  you warm my heart. :)  My book is off with the favored few who I let pre-read it.  Then, after some distance and soul searching, I will begin my first of many rounds of edits.  At this point... I'm hoping to be done Mid May, which is pretty miraculous considering where the book was 6 mths ago.

So, what am I doing right now?  I'm readjusting my vision for the rest of the series (making sure I'm still on track for the ending I originally imagined).  I'm planning out the next book.  I'm working on a super secret writing project that I may or may not announce.  It's still in the planning phase.  I'm re-reading Compis to get a sense of where my series started and where it will continue.   Annnnnndddd... I'm working with an artist, okay, a couple of artists on some concept art for the series.

I had an inspiration pinterest a while back, but then pinterest's dinosaur copyright protection stuff got me all paranoid and I deleted it.  So instead, I'm going to post a pinterest with some sketches (nothing too fancy) that show how I picture some of the creatures and characters in the world of the Five Tribes.  I've had a lot of fun working on it with my artist friend and can't wait for you all to see it.  I'll let you know when it's up.

I think that's about all for me right now.  In summary, my goals for this round:

  1. Finish Aeris and Publish
  2. Finish Super secret writing project
  3. Revise and Plan the rest of the series using Scrivener
  4. Post illustrations on Pinterest.
Happy Reading, all!