Wednesday, November 30, 2011

People Have Layers

For the last few holiday seasons I've worked at a book store. One of the things we do every year is a book drive for area children. Our goal is massive, around 400 books. In order to meet this goal, the store has a simple, but effective strategy. Ask EVERYONE. Even if they're frowning, even if they only bought a .50 newspaper, even if they're in a rush, even if they've said "no" to everything else you've asked them.

As a somewhat why person, this took some getting used to, but once I did, I noticed something fascinating. You never know who's going to say yes. Mr. Crankypants might just stop in the middle of his rant about rising costs, blink at you a few times and say "Sure." The sweet grandmother with the kind eyes might scowl at you and act offended you had the nerve to ask.

This is something I keep in mind when developing my characters, and writing my scenes. People have layers. There are all sorts of tiny things that affect them from moment to moment. What they show on their face or their body language might not be a true indicator of who they are or what they're thinking. They might be frowning because they can't remember a lyric to their favorite song, with no idea that they look angry. They might've just found out their kid got arrested while shopping for his expensive present.

So I try to make sure I have little moments like this in my book. Scenes where a character is thinking one thing but showing another, scenes where a character is completely misjudged or misinterpreted, because that's real, and I think it's always interesting to see the difference between the way a person is perceived, and the way they perceive themselves.

What about you, do you have any little tricks or reminders like this when you write?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Problem of Being a Visual Writer

I literally dream my book ideas. They play out like movies in my head while I sleep--vivid, engaging movies that makes me say "Whoa, cool," when I awake (because I can't speak more than two words until I've had coffee). The problem comes when I try to translate said dreams onto paper (er, laptop).

I tend to write more like a screenwriter. I hear the sounds happening around the scene and see the exact spot where the light filters through the trees, just like in the dream. I have the picture so clear in my head that I don't always feel the need to translate it, as though my reader should be psychic. A beta reader will make a comment about something they didn't understand, and I'm like "Well, clearly the intergalactic space station is perpendicular to the planet, which is why the three suns rise in the formation of a isosceles triangle." Okay, it's not that bad but you get the point.

Then, I came across this great article by Patricia Wrede. She talks about how writing a scene is different than filming it, and though you can never make it read the way it would be filmed, you can have an enormous impact by how you write it. It's something I'm still working on, and I found this article really helpful.

Has anyone read this article? Anyone else out there a visual writer?   

Monday, November 28, 2011

Contest Cyber Monday

We hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving break! Can you believe it's almost December already?

UNTREACABLE by Shelli Johannes-Wells releases at midnight tonight!!!! YAY, Shelli! If you're not familiar with Shelli, her blog Market My Words is an excellent resource for writers. I recommend you check it out. To celebrate the release of her book, Shelli is hosting a "Launch with Love" celebration at her blog. She's giving away a slew of different prizes, including books and a critique session! Ends Tuesday Nov. 29th at 11:59pm.

Casey and Natalie at Literary Rambles has a great interview with Scott Tracey, and a copy of his book WITCH EYES to give away! Ends Midnight Dec. 10th. They have a lot of interviews and giveaways coming up on the Literary Rambles blog, so keep checking!

As always, if you have a contest to share, please link us in the comments! Also, great Cyber Monday deals on books and bookish things are also appreciated. ;)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

In honor of Thanksgiving, the Sisters in Scribe are taking the week off to enjoy time with family and friends. We hope everyone has a wonderful and relaxing holiday weekend! See you next week. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Awesome NaNo Poem by Jacqui Robbins

Those of you who are my Facebook friends know I've dealt with a plague upon my household this week. High fevers, aching body parts, and severe croup have afflicted us, and as of tonight, no one in my family was left untouched. Needless to say, I have not met my NaNo weekly word count quota--but I have met my lifetime quota of 3am steam showers with the kiddos. I shuddered when I hopped on Twitter and saw the flurry of #1Kin1hr hashtags. If someone had started a #1Win1hr, I might have succeeded. Maybe.  

But I'm back in the swing of things today, and am once again plugging away at my ms. I came across the best NaNo poem today while reading Jill Corcoran's blog. The poem is titled Working is in Progress by Jacqui Robbins from her blog, Jacqui's Room. It only takes a minute to read, so you can get inspired and then get back to your novel. I'm going to type quickly (maybe even #1Kin1hr), because I probably don't have much time before the next steam shower.

Happy NaNo'ing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Contest Monday featuring Regal Literary

Literary Rambles pointed me to a fabulous Winter Book Giveaway by Regal Literary. They are giving away some great books, including Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger which I've been dying to read. Enter through the end of November.

Anna Staniszewski is hosting an August/September debut giveaway. Enter to win one of several incredible books by 2011 debut authors. A few of these, which are already on my TBR list, include The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. Check out the link for other great titles and enter by Nov. 28th.

Good luck, and happy Monday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Dark In Here

I am deep in the bellows of my revision cave. Really, I'm sitting at the kitchen table staring at the breakfast dishes and willing them to wash themselves. But you know what I mean.

Because my brain is spent, today I am just going to pass along a blog post by Anita Nolan, on revising your manuscript, that my dear friend Rebecca Sutton shared with me. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo Incentive and Inspiration

As we move into the second week of NaNoWriMo I thought I'd share a couple of great posts I've read recently that talk about persevering far better than I can.

The first comes from Chuck Wendig and his Terrible Minds blog. I like to think of it as incentive. You know, yes I can so finish my book!(Please note there is a fair bit of swearing in the post, so if that's not your thing, you've been warned.)

25 Reasons You Won't Finish That Story

Number 18 is one that is usually true for me.
18. Haven’t Answered Any Of The Critical Questions

Ask yourself: what is this about? Why am I writing this? Why will anyone care? Asking yourself some fundamental questions before you write — plus several others while you write — can help keep your nose to the grindstone and allow you to feel settled in both direction and purpose.

Also check out his list of those questions. He's got some really great ones.

The second is totally inspirational. It's about sticking with it when you've got that horrible feeling that you have completely failed at writing the book you wanted to write. It's a great guest post by Sara Zarr on Nova Ren Suma's blog:

What Inspires Sara Zarr

I bet you can't guess what it is. Failure. Yep. Go read why. If you've been feeling stuck, you'll be inspired to keep going, I swear.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How is the NaNo'ing Going?

It's less than a week into NaNo, and I'm already realizing what a LONG month November is going to be. I'm just shy of 14,000 words, so the word count is going well, but two thousand words per day is a big commitment. Also, did the people who thought up NaNoWriMo realize that Thanksgiving is sort of a major holiday? I'm trying to get ahead because I know how crazy my Thanksgiving week will be, not to mention the baby shower I'm hosting for a truckload of ladies next week. How do other people plan their NaNo writing around life events? Any tips that don't involve getting up at 4am, or ingesting large quantities of methamphetamines would be greatly appreciated.  

On the plus side, this is the first time I've used Scrivener to plan out and write a novel, and that has helped a ton. Things seem to be flowing better than in previous novels, and having a beat sheet has kept me on track with where I want to go next. Being a former pantster, I thought outlining would stifle my creativity but I'm actually having a blast with this book. I've also had time to shower this week--several times--and even cook a few meals, so my family is on board with my holding a laptop at all other times of the day.

How about other NaNo'ers out there? How's it going? How are you staying motivated? Anyone else scouring their kids' Halloween baskets for writing fuel?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Book Recommendation: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • I recommended this one a while back, but I haven't had much time for reading anything new, so I thought I'd give a favorite a bump. 
  • ***
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001110X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670011100
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Get it on Amazon here

  • Buy Indie
"Dead girl walking," the boys say in the halls.
"Tell us your secret," the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend's restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.


“We held hands when we walked down the gingerbread path into the forest, blood dripping from our fingers. We danced with witches and kissed monsters. We turned us in to wintergirls, and when she tried to leave, I pulled her back into the snow because I was afraid to be alone.” WINTERGIRLS, page 99

WINTERGIRLS beautiful, inside and out. The hardcover is gorgeous (and I do recommend you get it in hardcover, it's one of those). The metaphors that Anderson uses are so vivid and strong, you can't help but read passages like the above over and over. I highly recommend this book to any and everyone. It's one of those that should not be missed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's NaNoWriMo Time

Today, November 1st, is the official start day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). If you're in need of some great tips and free downloads of things like blank beat sheets, check out the NaNoWriMo posts over at Even if you think you know what you're doing, the story-planning advice there is well worth going over. I laid out my entire novel for the month ahead of time, and used many of those posts for guidance.

For those of you NaNo'ing along with me, I wish you the best of luck--it's an exhausting, yet satisfying endeavor. My goal for this year is to make my first draft tighter than in previous years, so that I'm not spending another six months in revisions. It's good to have goals, right? Try to have fun with it, and use a NaNo buddy to keep yourself accountable. Now stop reading and get to writing!

How many others are NaNo'ing this year? If you've done it before, are you approaching it differently this time?  
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