30 November 2010

Gravity Works

As a matter of fact, I think they've got gravity on high at the moment.

Lately our Sensei has been on this core workout kick. Crunches, funky push-ups, plank position, boats, scissor kicks, leg flies . . . and whatever else he can find on the web that looks hard.

I don't usually conceal this truth—I'm horribly out of shape. Well, I have a shape, it's just not a fit shape. It's more round and rolly, like a pear. I like pears. Even though I go to Kempo class two or three times a week, I'm still not terribly fit. Could be the need to eat almost everything I see. That's probably not helping. (That cookie looked so lonely, sitting on the plate, all by itself.)

Tonight I wore my heavy weight gi. More bulk is not usually desired, but this gi has all of my animal patches on it, and I haven't worn it for a while, so I thought I'd dig it out of the closet and wear it this week. Bad idea.

First off, we're on the ground doing all of this core work. Heavy weight gis are, well, heavy, and mine is a little big. So it engulfs me. Especially my neck and my face when we bend forward or get in push up position. Secondly, I'm positive that either the gi has a greater attraction to the ground than normal clothing (which is entirely possible) or gravity got turned up at the dojo. Either answer is fine—I just need validation.

Trying to lift my legs who knows how many dozens of times was a great deal harder tonight than it usually is. Not to mention the crunches and such. I blame the gi . . . and gravity. It's all about “G” tonight.

Aspiring Author definitely got the better deal today.

28 November 2010

You're Welcome

I'd like to give all of the University of Utah fans a chance to thank me. The game ended somewhat agreeably for them. I'd like to explain why.

I usually forget to watch the “big game”. Hey, no hating on me, I went to Weber, I'm neutral territory. Almost every year, when the game comes around, I find that I've packed my Saturday so full that there is no way I could watch more than part of it. When I do get to watch the game, it is unusually boring.

Point – Six or seven years ago (heck, it could have been longer than that, I'm not sure) I ended up with tickets to go to the “big game”. If I recall correctly a friend of mine was going with a boy she liked. I mentioned to someone else that I wanted to go. A boy I knew asked me (through a friend) if I wanted a ticket. I said yes. Duh! Who says no to the BYU vs U of U football game. No one, that's who.

The entire situation was awkward. The guy who got me the ticket ended up on the far side of the stadium with his on again / off again girlfriend. (She was pissed that I was there) I sat with the girlfriend's brother and some guy he knew. Okay, who cares, right? I love a good, mean football game, so I was fine with whatever.

I brought a blanket and I had a warm coat on. However, I was not prepared for the 5 degrees the temperature plummeted to. If the game had been exciting, or even mildly interesting, I would have been fine. Jumping up and down, cheering, booing, yelling . . . But NOOooooo. The game was a bust. Lame. Totally retarded. I think the score was 3-0. I don't even remember who won. On the way home we got stuck in a traffic jam—in a blizzard—and it took us like 3 hours to get back to Bountiful from Provo.

Back to my point, and this has been proven time and time again. If I watch the BYU vs U of U game, it's boring.

Yesterday I managed to remember to watch the game. I missed the first field goal. I watched from right after that until the U scored their first touchdown. Then I had to go meet a friend for dinner.

Part of me was sad to leave when the game almost looked like it was going to get good. However, the other part of me knew that hundreds of thousands of fans would get a much better show if I left. So I did.

You're welcome.

25 November 2010

I'm a winner!

Yay! Just over 50,000 craptastic, science fiction story words are now in a file on my computer. Sadly I lost momentum on this story what with working on my YA novel and all. Still, it's 50,000+ words that I didn't have before!

24 November 2010

Pasta Infestation

My assignment for Thanksgiving this year is salad and deviled eggs. It's been a while since I've had frog eye salad, so I thought I would make that. Thanks to the world wide web, I found a recipe, bought the ingredients on Monday and did the prep for it this afternoon. Prep involves making a sauce and boiling pasta. Acini de pepe pasta, to be precise.

The Acini de pepe past is little round balls, kind of like Tapioca.

However, no one warned me that they were ninja infiltrators, ready to join the macaroni that got spilled the other day. I think the macaroni runs the show and sent out a call for ninja enforcers. Let me tell you, those little Acini balls are not only quick, they're also devious, hiding in every single crack and crevasse that they could find. On the stove, under the banana, behind the toaster, on the floor, near the sink, across the room . . . everywhere. And they're super resistant to wiping, picking up and sweeping.

Little buggers are now running the entire black market pasta supply coming out of our kitchen. We've probably got the pasta equivalent of The Soprano's happening in our house. Maybe we can put it on You Tube. Or make a reality TV show out of it. Pasta Wars? The Boiling? Hot Water?

23 November 2010

The Call has gone Out!

I sent the call out to a handful of my unlucky friends and family members asking if they would read the first third (or so) of my YA novel, New Sight. I admit to being a little needy and asking for a review by next Sunday. There was a disclaimer attached saying that I understood that holiday weeks are sometimes even more insane than regular weeks, and that I wouldn't be offended if people couldn't do it.

I must be a lucky girl. Quite a few of my friends said they would help me out. Both of my sisters did too, although the middle sister promised to be a harsh critic. She scares me sometimes! :)

As usual, I'm nervous. The first third shouldn't be horrible. It should at least be up to “it's okay” level. Further up for the parts that I've revised 563 times. But what if no one likes it?

To distract myself from this burning question, I decided to move on to the second third of the novel. I dug out my outline and the list of writing tools that Dave Farland gave us a few weeks ago. When I had both things in front of me I started to go through them, writing down which tools I wanted to use where. I'm hoping this will make it easier for me to write the second third of the book. This section is completely different from the first revision I have.

Naturally, being slightly bonkers, I've put myself on a schedule. A “Time Bomb” if you will. I managed to pass the first phase by getting the first third of the novel completed by Monday night. I won't say when the next deadline is, but just let me tell you that I'm apparently masochistic.

20 November 2010

I'll Give You Fifteen Minutes to Cut that Out

This morning I had the chance to get together with a few of the writers I met at Death Camp. Since we already have connections (each other) and an ambition of being published, we thought it might be a good idea to start a writing group. Today was our first meeting.

Because we hadn't e-mailed anything before hand (first meeting—no plan) we decided to have everyone read their first chapter to us. Well, we had a time limit because one guy's first chapter was 30 pages long. Mine is a Young Adult novel, so it's only 8 pages long. Anyway, I've only read my first chapter (you know the one I've rewritten about a thousand times) out loud once before.

I don't mind reading out loud, just as long as it's not my writing. I get nervous, try to talk faster so I get finished faster, trip over words and fall on my reading face. So my first goal was to not do that. My second goal was to stop my hands from shaking as I read. Both of those went okay. As a matter of fact, the chapter sounded pretty good. I revised it a few weekends ago and this was my first audience for it.

. . . They liked it! There were a couple of good comments for me to work on, which was awesome. But the best bit was this. One guy said that as I read a certain part he got chills! CHILLS! My writing evoked an emotional response from someone. (Well, and emotional response besides humor. That one's easy for me.) That little writing wanna be inside of me squealed and did a dance of very, happy joy.

Maybe I'm on the right track after all:)

17 November 2010


Okay, not really quoted, but close to it.

A few weeks ago I was at Dave Farland's Writer's Death Camp. I had a great time, it was awesome! Once it was all over and (sadly) we had to go back to real life, Mr. Farland asked for a review or a critique of the workshop from us.

Since I try to give useful critiques and reviews (none of that “I liked it” or “It was awesome” stuff) I sat down and put some time into what I sent back to him.

Much to my surprise, about half of my review ended up in his Daily Kick today. Work was busy (how dare they interfere with my real life) so I didn't get a chance to read my e-mail during lunch. When I finally did get around to it, I had a message from a friend asking if I was one of those that Mr. Farland quoted.

Uh, yea, that long-winded answer titled Review #1 would be me.

I know that no one knows who typed that. Okay, maybe four people in the world. Now five, with your reading this, but it's still weird. Creepy? It's just odd to be able to say, “Hey, that's me!” Perhaps I'm just crazy to think it's strange. That's always a viable answer. Does this mean I'm a published author?

Okay, back to writing with me. I just hit over 36,000 words for Nanowrimo. Should I go to bed or work on the YA novel? But first . . . Facebook.

14 November 2010

Oops, Blond Moment

A couple of weeks ago a lady in church asked me to do a musical number on the first Sunday in December. Something Christmasy.

It should be noted that I don't really have much musical talent. I used to play some instruments in high school, but I'm pretty sure that the saxophone is not allowed in church buildings. Maybe that's just the chapel, I'm not sure. I sing a very sad alto part, but only if I have someone to follow. This is what I get for knowing how to lead music, I suppose.

So it's supposed to be a spiritual Christmas number. That shoots down one of my only talents, and that's humor. I could re-write the 12 days of Christmas and make everyone laugh . . . but I'm sure that's not what she's going for.

What to do? I called my oldest sister and asked her. She had a couple of good suggestions. However, I'm still not sure what to to/sing/whatever. Last year I directed all of the hymns for the Christmas program for Sunday School. Can't we stick with that again?

Anyone have any ideas? I don't play the piano (one finger only) very well, my instrument is banned, I do not sing solos and my only other talent is humor. How to make the ladies cry? Besides my singing, that is.

11 November 2010

Found it!

The marquee outside a fitness place down the street from my house informed me that *Amy lost 4 pounds this week.

I found her 4 pounds. Do you think she'll take them back?

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

08 November 2010

Back into the Fray

Back to real life. Real life isn't nearly as fun as sitting around in St. George, writing. Well, sometimes it's fun, but not today. Monday after a week off . . . I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

The real trick is to keep writing. Even after a long day of work, laundry, my niece's birthday party, cleaning, snow and Castle, I have to keep writing. One of the pieces of advise that Dave Farland gave us at Death Camp is to find a time of the day in which you can write. It probably works best if you write at the same time every day, but unless I got up early ever and did it there would be no way I would be able to write at exactly the same time every day.

I've never really tried to write before I'm fully awake. Who knows what might happen?

Anyway, I finished typing up my revised outline tonight. Tomorrow I hope to go through it and add a few more notes. I think I'm a little afraid to start writing on my novel again. Every time I start I have to change a bunch of things. I'm tired of re-writing the first 30 pages. Maybe I'll start on page 31.

06 November 2010

Day 6

Today, on our day of parting, we talked a little bit about goals. Not personal, life goals, but the goals that we, as authors, should set for each book.

I confess to some confusion when Dave Farland first mentioned this. Duh, goals include: write novel, get an agent, get money, publish novel, rinse . . . repeat. Are there other goals?

Yes. However, these are authorial “evil” goals.

You like it already, don't you?

Dave Farland told us that an author should always have these evil goals. Most of the goals that were mentioned in our final class today related to making your latest novel your best novel. Some of them refer to techniques that Dave Farland has seen in other books that he wants to adopt.

Here is a list of evil goals that could be considered as you begin the plotting process to your latest, totally awesome, kick a** novel.

Note: Do not share your evil goals.

Gorgeous metaphors and similes-critics love this stuff, and it adds a great deal to a good story.

Use beautiful writing.

Create a villain who is the most loathsome character you've ever come across in literature.

Awesome battle scenes. Perhaps you want to take it up a notch from the last novel you read and thought, my battle scenes are way better than that!

More gruesome or drawn out or wonderful than the last guy.

Personal goals – maybe where you're at as a writer. Take the next step in this novel, whether it be cutting back on that darn passive voice or trying to delve deeper into your protagonists emotions.

Decide to fill a gap in the market-what will the Twilight fans read next?

Write your book so it has the same feel as another book-resonance.

Resonate with something else that you love and you know readers will associate with. Snow fields resonate with Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, for example.

Pacing goals-Watch out for those lagging spots

Stylistic goals

Hooks every so often-end and beginning of chapters, or heck every page

Emotional beat rhythm-Work on keeping the emotional beats in your novel varied and exciting.

Symbolism or parables

Make your novel more stimulating to the senses than any other before you. If your story is full of water scenes, make the reader fell like they're wetter than they've ever been before

Play with reader's emotions. Most authors do this (who us?), but why not take it up a level, or twist it to the side?

All in all it was a very productive week for everyone who came to Death Camp this year. No deaths. You can like that or leave it.

Back to the real world now. Yuck.

05 November 2010

Day 5

Today Dave Farland talked to us about publishing our first book.

This guy doesn't think small. Dave Farland encouraged us today to go big. Don't sell your first novel to a small publisher just because you're so excited to be published that you can't wait a few months for one more round on the manuscript. Especially when one more round on the manuscript would make it not just a good idea, or a publishable manuscript, but it would make it into a great story. People are looking for great stories, that's why we're writing.

Dave Farland actually encouraged me to go big on my novel. He loves the idea behind my novel (again, I did an inner dance of joy) and thinks it could easily be a best selling idea. Of course if I can't make the story a great story it won't matter if it's the best idea on the planet. If the story sucks then the idea is toast. I feel pressured here.

Then the pressure mounted when he said that if you go big on your first novel, and it is successful, then you have to come up with an even better second novel. Then a better third novel. Yikes. I'm supposed to have three brilliant ideas? Then I'm supposed to write three novels, each one more awesome than the last? I do have a trilogy in mind for this first idea (Dave Farland also recommended multiple book series for the Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi market) but it still makes me squirm.

Oh the commitment!

Maybe I'm fooling myself here. Two days ago I was totally ready to edit the snot out of my novel (re-write actually) and get it ready for the query process by February of next year. Tonight I just want to curl up and go to bed. It might be time to run to the gas station for some Oreos.

03 November 2010

Day 3

This morning Dave Farland told us some great stories about his experiences (all of them horrible) in Hollywood. Either he has the worst luck ever, or he spun a tale so well that we all bought it. I mean really, who can put the Chinese government, Russians, the Italian Mob, the CIA, an author and slave traders all in the same Hollywood story and make it sound real? Now I'm scared to death of anyone that comes out of California.

This afternoon, however, was actually productive. I've been writing, and doing well here at Death Camp, but today was (as they put it these days) epic. Two other girls and I took off to the library. I know, I know, the library? Really? Yes. We were going to go there to write instead of sitting in the hotel lobby. However, we got distracted. There was a white board and I sweet talked the librarians into lending us some colored markers.

One girl needs to either take her novel, which is written, and cut out 1/3 of it or add to it and make it a trilogy. The other girl has written the beginning of her novel, but she is still struggling with the plot and outline. I wrote round 1 but found that it doesn't work. So the three of us decided to try to plot each of our stories. Not every little thing, just the big points, in an attempt to figure out if things were going to work.

Wow. Can I say cool? First of all, having to explain my plot to these girls was good for me. I really do know it pretty well. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did. Second, I plotted not only my protagonist's story arc, but also the villain's. By the time we were finished with mine, I had a plot line! A real, working, not retarded, plot line.

We did this for each of us. Everyone was pleased with the results. So we went to the Neilson's and celebrated with a Frozen Custard. Yum! Then I came back to my hotel and spent a few hours blowing the outline apart into a sequence of events. It's not finished, but it's so much more than I had yesterday that it makes me feel like singing! But I only do that in the car with the windows rolled up. Maybe in the morning.

Nano update – 6231 words down!

02 November 2010

Day 2

Tonight's writing exercise was this:

Go through your first chapter, and write internal dialog for your character. This internal dialog should give us glimpses into what your viewpoint character thinks and feels.

As you do this, try to have fun with it. Consider ways that the internal dialog might create a sense of duality in your character by completely mismatching spoken words. For example, a young woman might tell her teacher, “That’s a lovely dress!” while thinking, Her behind is so big, when she walks she looks like a couple of pigs trying to fight their way out of a gunnysack!”

So I took the first page of my Nanonovel (which is going well so far) and did this. I actually think I do a pretty good job of this (yes, I am probably cursing myself, and I'm going to confirm, or deny, this tomorrow with Mr. Farland) but I found a few things to add. Check out the stuff on bold.

Truk plucked a glass of wine from a passing server. He gave the tech a big smile, and he was almost sure she blushed.

“Have you found anything yet?” Truk muttered into his collar.

“Patience, my friend.” Kade's voice came over the earpiece. Truk glanced over to where his friend was surrounded by a gaggle of beautiful, rich women. Right in his element.

“We're not here to find you a wife,” Truk admonished. Seriously, the guy would drag the whole lot of them around all night, smiling and flirting with them.

“We're not?” Kade glanced over, blinking in confusion. He wasn't very tall, but Kade had sandy hair highlighted with blue Tech, and all of the ladies thought he was “adorable”. Or so Kade said. The ladies around him all laughed. Truk rolled his eyes. Why did he put up with this guy again?

“Just keep your eyes open, we're here on business.”

The admonition was probably not necessary. Kade was easily distracted, but he never missed a mark. And that would be why Truk put up with him. That and Kade was handy in a fight.

Truk looked around and moved towards a group of high class businessmen. Most of them were bios, but some of them were obviously majority percent Tech. The new trend these days was to wear your Tech with pride. Like clothes, people now showed off their Tech eyes, hands, half faces and even some hair. Although why anyone would want Tech hair, which still looked like a mass of writhing, wire thin snakes, was beyond Truk.

For the party, Truk was sporting an eye and nose Tech combination. None of it was real, Truk was less than 20% Tech, and most of that was from an accident when he was a kid. No, Truk usually kept his Tech well hidden. Unlike these bozos who thought rich made them real people.

“It's the damnedest thing,” one of the businessman said, “I was recovering from surgery and I could already see through walls and everything!”

The man was sporting a brand new Tech eye, a double eye, half bio and half Tech. The tech side was glowing green and the bio side was a contrasting color of purple.

“The last time I tried an eye the surgeon almost cut my cornea in half.” This man laughed. “Of course that would just mean a free upgrade for me!” Did this guy even know what a cornea was?

The group laughed. Truk tried not to roll his eyes as he passed. He wasn't particularly sympathetic towards wealthy, business owners who could upgrade their Techs whenever fashion dictated. Truk saw too many kids who needed medical Tech, whose family could not afford it. These guys were laughing about an upgrade while there were plenty of people in the system who were on death's door because of a lack of medical attention.

“Got it.” Kade's voice came through the ear implant. Finally.

“Where?” Truk was relieved to be pulled away from the pompous aristocrats. Although he shouldn't complain too much, one of them was paying him today.

“Far side, at the bottom of the staircase. Blue dress, killer legs.”

Legs? Of course Kade would notice her legs.

Truk took a sip of his wine and set the glass down on a passing tray. He straightened his tie and moved in the direction Kade indicated. The crowd parted around him. Truk was tall, so it was easy to spot what Kade had.

Sure enough, there it was. Blue dress and . . . “Ah.” He said. Seriously?

“I told you, killer legs.” Kade caught his eye and gave him a wink. “You want back up?”

“Maybe,” Truk grunted. Killer legs, whose idea was that?

He snatched two glasses of something that was glowing orange off of a passing tray. Without skipping a step, he turned and stopped right in front of the figure in blue.

“Would you?” He asked, putting on his most charming smile.

The woman, or what looked like a woman anyway, allowed her eyes to roam from the top of Truk's head, down to his feet and back up again. Like what you see? She gave him an appraising glance and took the glass. “I don't usually.”

“I was hoping you might make an exception?” This is the other reason I bring Kade along, this is his specialty. Why am I doing this again?

She smiled seductively and took a sip from the glass. “Perhaps.”

Truk took a sip as well. Mostly to hide his annoyance. “You know, this might sound like a come on line, but who did your legs? They're,” he paused, “interesting.” That ought to get her attention.

The woman raised an eyebrow. Truk was almost sure he could hear the Tech bits whirring as she did so. “Interesting?” She actually pulled off a pout. “Men usually have something more, interesting, to say about them.”

“Oh,” Truk put an arm past her, trapping her between him and the staircase rail, and leaned in. This worked every time. “Trust me, darlin', interesting is one of my most complimentary words.”

01 November 2010

What I Learned Today

After all was said and done this morning, Mr. Dave Farland gave us writing assignment on description. Description is not one of my fortes, so it was probably good. I mean it was good . . . is good.

The assignment included using three things to describe a scene, especially the parts of it that don't move. Buildings, natural things . . . stuff like that. These are just a couple of of tips Mr. Farland gave us.

4) Appeal to all of the senses--sight (don’t just describe the colors of things, but also their textures), sound, smell, taste, touch (hot/cold/wet/dry/firmness/abrasiveness). Don't forget the sense of passing time.

5) In order to avoid the use of the to be verbs, consider putting the object being described at the front of the sentence, followed by a strong verb, followed by the thing that is acted upon. For example, rather than saying "The day was so cold that bits of ice hung in the air, driving into Theron's face as he plunged into the storm," you would say, "Needles of ice drove into Theron's face as he plunged through the storm."

So I spent a few minutes (okay, at least an hour) re-writing two paragraphs from no novel into a full blown description, uh, thing. It was hard.

On the bright side, Mr. Farland was very complimentary of the first two pages of my novel, along with the idea for the plot. That made me VERY happy.