Monday, October 8, 2012

Third Place- 2012 HOW Contest

Awards Ceremony was held Saturday, October 6th at the Utah RWA Conference.  I placed third in the YA category.  I'm happy, but sad all at the same time.  Happy because my first time out, I made the finals in a writing contest.  How amazing is that?  Pretty damn amazing if you ask me!  Then sad of course because I didn't win.  How can I allow that to sadden me at all?  It shouldn't.  First manuscript, first contest, I can't expect to be perfect already, the next JK Rowling.  What I do have, is validation that I have a nack to pull others into my world of make believe.

I need to continue writing, learning and perfecting my craft.  Someday, my name will be a household name.  I know it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

HOW Romance Contest Finalist!


While working on WIP - CANDACE, I received an email stating I am a finalist in the HOW Romance contest YA category! RAE scored an 86 and 94! (that's out of 100)  I am beside myself! Now RAE is being judged by a Lit Agent from NYC! They are announcing the winners at their Conference in UT on October 6th. I'm not going so I won't find out until after that date. Wonder if I will still have any nails left by that time?

WIP CANDACE'S CHOICE

I have a new WIP thanks to Candace that has been keeping me pretty busy as of late. My working title is Candace's Choice. I am so excited about this WIP because I feel so close to my characters and what I find funny is that I've only been with them for such a short while unlike WIP - Rae. These characters just magically came alive. I only knew the minimum about them, age, looks and what has made them who they are. After two weeks, I had over 280 hand written pages. Took me a little longer to finish it off because I took a few days break and then I didnt make myself write 20 pages EVERYDAY. I hand wrote 343 (going back and typing some along the way with my hubby's help) and then the end of the book I wrote on a Sunday so I sat down and typed 17 pages. Wow! Now I have to go back and type pages 279-343. Wish me luck! And then comes the editing. UGH!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Candace Havens' One day workshop.

I'm amazed! Candace stuffed so much new information in my brain in one eight hour day than I know what to do with! Good thing I took notes! HA-HA! She taught me that there are a lot of ways to plot my story before I begin, such as a synopsis, scene wish list, guide posts and six stage plot structure, which includes opprotunity, intising incident, point of no return, all is lost, climax and resolution.
She reminded me that I we have to give our hero what they need and not what they want. That reminds me, when I wrote my first novel my heroine had the chioce of two boys, the one she knew her whole life or the new boy. I like both boys, but now I know why I picked the boy I did.
Candace's workshop however, was about FAST DRAFT in TWO WEEKS. No whining, no excuses, unless you are dead or in a coma. The hardest thing to learn and perfect, if we can ever actually do that, is to turn off our internal editor. This means no going back, no looking for the perfect word, no spell check. Then let your story rest, do the research you need for editing, then enter EDITING HELL in TWO WEEKS.
If you are a writer, I highly recommend this course.  Desk clean, distractions eliminated, pens up, get writing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Emotions Thesaurus

Several years back, I purchased a book on body language in hopes it would help give my characters emotions without me 'telling'.  Needless to say, the book didn't not help me much, at least not in the way I wanted it too.  The book talked more about power plays, stand during the meeting, have your enemy sit with their back to the door, etc., how to tell if someone is available and interested in you and more.

With the book recommended by my writer's group, THE EMOTIONS THESAURUS, I can hit the trifecta in expressing a character's mood or behavior with physical signals, internal sensations, and mental responses.

Take for example:

Sam made Jacob mad.  He knew he was lying.

or

Jacob loosened his collar.  Being careful not to say what he really wanted to, he bite those words back.  He knew Sam had kissed MaryBeth but he wouldn't get him to admit it like this.

The book even gives you cues on long-tem effects of the emotion, such as anger and what other emotion it may escalate to, like rage.  They even give you examples of suppressed anger. 

I give this book the thumbs up!

You can buy the book on Amazon for $4.99.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

First Publisher Interest

I came home from work Monday evening and found my husband in the kitchen going through the mail.  He looks at me with the most seriousness I've seen in a while and says, "You're in big trouble, Missy."  In his outreached hand, was postcard.  I knew then I didn't go over my Kohl's limit so it must be a postcard that I slipped in with my manuscripts that I mailed out the beginning of June. 

So, I'm excited someone opened my manuscript.  But then, I flipped over the card.  Not only did I see my handwriting, but there is red ink all over it!  They wrote me a note!  I begin reading it, to my joy the editor not only said she was intrigued by my story but wanted to see more!  I was so excited!  I didn't know what to do with myself.  So, like an other rationale adult female, I ran around the inside of my house happily screaming with my dog, Birdy, running and barking with me.

A new cartridge of ink ($38), postage ($9.20), the knowledge that someone in the publishing field thought my first chapter and query letter were intriguing, PRICELESS!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Contests

I never understood the importance of writing contests until recently, but since I joined NEORWA, I understand that contests are another way to present your work to the experts. Whether they are an editor or agent, I couldn't think of a better way to showcase your work because editors and agents who are judges are seeking a particular book to publish and since there are a limited number of entries, this gets you out of the slush pile!  Now, I wouldn't go and enter all the contests just because, instead, I would enter the contest that appeal to you and have judges that you want to see your work that may not otherwise see it.

I have listed a few contests that peak my interest from the latest ROMANCE WRITERS REPORT:

Kathryn Hayes "We Need a Hero", Fee $25-30, Deadline: Sept 10, 2012, www.rwanyc.com
Launching a Star Contest, Fee $25-30, Deadline: Sept 15, 2012, www.authorsofromance.com
2012 Heart to Heart, Fee $15-20, Deadline: Aug 31, 2012, www.sfarwa.net


Also, I have listed below the elements and grading scale of contests.


Scoring:
5 = Excellent, ready for an editor’s eyes.

4 = Well done, minor improvement may be possible

3 = Element lacks spark or could use polishing

2 = Element there, but should be strengthened/revised.

1 = Element missing or needs major work.

Writing Techniques Total possible: 25 points

____ Strong Opening Hook

____ Consistent use of Point of View

____ Transitions

____ Word usage, strong verbs, specific nouns, free of clich├ęs

____ Rhythm (Varied sentence structure, readability)

____Total Points

Setting Total possible: 25 points

____ A strong sense of place and time without being intrusive

____ Accurate Research/Details

____ Backstory/Information relayed is necessary

____ Atmosphere appropriate for story

____ Starts in appropriate place

____ Total Points

Characterization Total possible: 25 points

(Heroine or Primary character)___________________

____ Distinctive voice

____ Motivation

____ Multi-dimensional/Well-rounded

____ Consistent/Believable

____ Appropriate Actions/Reactions

____ Total Points

Characterization Total possible: 25 points

(Hero or Secondary character)____________________

____ Distinctive voice

____ Motivation

____ Multi-dimensional/Well-rounded

____ Consistent/Believable

____ Appropriate Actions/Reactions

____ Total Points

Relationship Total possible: 15 points

____ Attraction believable

____ Sparks from emotional as well as physical attraction

____ Develops at an appropriate pace

____ Total Points

Conf l ict Total possible: 20 points

____ Strong enough to sustain the story

____ Wel l -mot ivated

____ Internal , very clear

____ External , very clear

____ Total Points

Dialogue Total possible: 25 points

____ Sounds natural

____ Characters have their own consistent voices

____ Appropriately tagged (Both amount and kinds of tags)

____ Advances the plot/reveals character

____ Wel l balanced wi th the narrat ive

____ Total Points

Manuscript Preparat ion Total possible: 20 points

____ Grammar

____ Punctuat ion

____ Spel l ing

____ Proper format (Double spaced, margins, headers, font size, e tc.)

____ Total Points

Plot Total possible: 25 points

____ Easi ly understood chronology

____ Logical

____ Characters goals and act ions advance the story

____ Consistent Tone

____ Sat isfactory Pacing

____ Total Points

Synopsis Total possible: 25 points

____ Appropriate amount of detai l for the proposed length

____ Shows character/relat ionship change or growth

____ Bel ievable and sat isfactory conf l ict resolut ion

____ Loose ends t ied up

____ Does the synopsis make you want to read the book?

____ Total Points

Overal l Impression Total possible: 20 points

____ Wri t ing is fresh and original

____ Strong Emot ional Impact

____ Great ending Hook

____ I would l ike to read the rest of this book

____ Total Points

________ Grand Total Points Total possible: 250 points

Friday, June 22, 2012

Suicide

Do you know someone at risk for suicide right now?  Chances are you do.  We are in the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930's wherein suicides jumped from 12.1 per 100,000 to 18.9.  The average number of suicides in modern times jumped from 33,000 Americans per year to  a staggering 1.1 million suicide attempts in the year 2008!

With numbers like that, I imagine you are going through a checklist of your family and friends.  You are wondering who is at risk and who is not.  People think of suicide as a last resort, when all hope has vanished.  They see no way to make the pain in their heart or mind to go away, or the physical pain is to much to bear especially since the medical community is unable or unwilling to help, or it maybe the financial burden they find themselves in.

I once had a wise friend that told me he had no respect for people who commit suicide.  At first I thought how harsh and rude.  How can you say that about someone when you don't know the pain they were going through?  I mean, come on!  Some people just aren't that strong.

He said suicide is a cop out.  The harm you cause to the ones who love you is much greater than the pain you endure in silence.  As I thought about his words, they began to sink in.  I thought about my own family and how something like that would affect them.  I have to say, it would be a scar that would never heal.  They would live their whole life with that pain just below the surface.

I suffer from cluster migraines - the female version.  Cluster migraines have been nicknamed the suicide headache.  Yes, that is right.  Clusters are not like normal migraines, they are much worse.  I know what you are saying, a normal migraine can last 3 days with no sign of ending.  I'd agree with you, I've had them and they are not fun.  Clusters, heck they only last about 15 minutes two or three times a day.  So what's the big deal?  I used to wonder the same thing.

Well, let's start with the fact they happen everyday for 6-12 weeks, then you have the inability to lie down when you are having an episode because the pain increases tenfold.  Sitting down doesn't help much either.  Now let's trying pacing the room.  Ah, that's better.  Except I'm dizzy and my eyes are out of focus.  Then there are the hallucinations when they are at their worst.  Is it real or is it not?

The point is, I made it through.  Although God did not seem close at hand during the time, I know he was there.  He saved me when I could take no more.  When other doctors insisted on pushing new, high dollar drugs down my throat and the insurance company wouldn't approve a different doctor to care for me, I went out on my own and paid for a doctor who would listen to what I said about the way I felt and what my suspicions were.  She diagnosed me within five minutes of being in her office and took me off all my medications in order to detox me.

I'm alive and well today because of her.

I have two friends right now that are depressed.  One has mentioned thinking about ending it, the other, I know went as far as pulling the trigger...just decided to miss and hit the wall instead.  The source of their pain?  Physical, and mental, a feeling of inadequacy.  We've had many talks and I'm confident neither of my friends will leave me; they understand the consequences.

They also know they need to look at the positive.  Find one thing they love to do and make sure they make time for it every day.  We have to look at the positive.  For me, the cup is always half full, not half empty.

I was recently informed that my cousin Marty, who I haven't seen in nearly 20 years committed suicide last month, the day before the 2nd anniversary of his mother's death.  My heart is saddened that he couldn't find one thing worth living for.  From the bottom of my heart, Marty, I'm sorry for not being there for you.

Think, the next time someone cuts you off on the freeway, getting into the elevator, being next in line at the grocery store.  Instead of being angry and trying to let them know that, try a smile.  Maybe it will be contagious.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cooping with Migraines

Although I rarely get migraines now, the very thought of them are always near the forefront of my mind.  I struggled horribly with them several years back and the idea that I may get them again like that scares me.  All doctors give you a general list of things to avoid; like stress, changing your sleeping habits and foods such as aged cheeses, MSG and nitrates.  My first question is what is an aged cheese?  Of course most doctors don't tell you.  It wasn't until I found Dr. Carol Foster that I began to understand my nagging migraines, and nagging is an understatement.  She gave me a true list of foods I could and could not eat...including the cheeses, hint aged cheeses are hard like cheddar, Swiss and parm., just to name a few.  Now, we all know that MSG is product used in Chinese food.  Wrong!  MSG is a flavor enhancer that comes from the #8 food allergen in America -- Soybeans!

Once I cut these foods out of my diet, my migraines lessened.  Of course they didn't go away without the proper medication, but I did feel relief.  Dr. Foster also insisted that you drink a full glass of water, eat a slice of wheat bread and a slice of cheese at the onset of migraines as it helps keep you hydrated with food food in your stomach to get you through the migraine.  It didn't cure the migraine, but I believe it helped.  I also like to drink gatoraide when I feel a migraine coming on.

I hope these ideas help anyone with migraines.  For more information about Dr. Foster, visit her website at gottaheadache.com.

Dr. Foster's list of eat/don't eat foods was so intimidating, seeing since soy is in just about everything these days I created my own recipes.  Since summer is upon, I will share my family's favorite salad dressing (even my 16 year old nephew loves it and thanks me for bringing him an extra jar of it for later).

Blender French Dressing

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c canola oil
1/3 c ketchup
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c cranberry-apple juice
1    T dried, minced onions
1     tsp each; salt, paprika, and dry mustard

Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth.  Chill in refrigerator before serving.  Will keep several days in refrigerator. Servings 6-8.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

NEORWA June 12 Meeting

Thank you, Donna MacMeans!  Amazing lecture on EMOTIONS!  I think we take for granite the barrier that needs to be between our herione and hero, even though we may naturally put one there such as Fireman and Arsonist as you described.  But think about all the possiblities we just created.  I instantly noticed the improvement I could make with my own characters when I look at rooting interest, presentation and a deeper POV and let's not forget...always make it worse!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Character's With Minds of Their Own

The interesting thing about being a writer is the different experiences we create.  Sometimes we are even surprised by how the characters of our imagination evolve.  For instance, I had written and edited this one scene several times already, when suddenly the secondary male lead jumped into the scene. 

I was so excited that he wanted to be there.  He said he wasn't leaving until he explained himself to the heroine.  He added drama of course, but he also added more depth to the heroine's character and left her with more difficult choices to make in the end.

When I told my husband this, he looked at me hard.  I know he was trying to determine my state of mind.  How on earth can a character do that? he wanted to know.  I just giggled for a moment then asked him if he thought I was crazy.  Needless to say he wasn't in a hurry to answer that question.

I told him it was the joy of have true, believable characters.  They come alive for me.  I suppose you can look at it as another author put it, we are either crazy or magical. 

I prefer Magical.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Good books...

Good books not only spin a story for us to enjoy; they can also pull us so deep into the story that we eat cereal for dinner, forego the shower just so we can read one more chapter, go to work with wrinkled clothes and even forget to brush our hair.

Authors have such a unique view on life, the world around us, and what our souls truly yearn for.  They can make us laugh, cry, get mad, and even dream of being better human beings.  It's the best job in the world.

My list of favorite books I've recently read include: The Hunger Games, Starters, Airel, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Shack, and The Unseen.

Yes, my favorite books right now are YA.  Why you ask?  Good question.  There are many reasons; I enjoy the different places they take me, the characters feel real and they grow so much from the first page to the last, the life they are exploring for the first time -- makes me feel young again  and yes, I don't have to worry about being surprised because something is just too strong for me to read...too strong for my heart and mind to handle. 

I know what you are thinking, Thirteen Reasons Why and The Shack are heartwrenching, but these were heartwrenching in a different way to me.  Thirteen Reasons Why- should make each person look at their actions and how they will affect someone else.  Poor Hannah.  One simple kiss snowballed into a twisted, ugly beast that she could no longer bear.  It makes me so happy to have taught my children not to believe everything they hear and to come to conclusions based on what they know and to always look out for the underdog.  The Shack on the other hand caused me to cherish my kids even more than I already do.  When they ask me to do something with them, I say sure...instead of I'm busy or in a few minutes.

Think about what the book made you feel the next time you finish one.  Has it changed you at all?  Has it made you view things differently?  Then the author did their job.

A tost to all authors!  May the ink in your printer never run dry!