From Imagination To Publication

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blog Brain Overload (in a good way)

(From here)
I might be a little too excited about this blogging campaign. I've never seen anything like it! In the last 24 hours I've gotten more support from fellow bloggers than I have in the last 6 months I've been blogging. The little monkey in my head is jumping up and down so fast I can hardly keep up with him (don't ask me why the little monkey in my head is a boy, he just is). He's been flying from blog to blog with such enthusiasm I'm forgetting whose what is when and where...

I just have to say thank you to all of the campaigners who have joined my blog, commented on posts, followed me on Twitter, etc. Thank you Rachael Harrie for thinking of this and putting it together. What a brilliant idea. This is awesome!

Since we're all into writing, I thought it might be fun to post a survey. If you have a different or longer answer, feel free to post it in the comments.

Here are the results so far...

Which do you prefer in a novel?
Love Story
High Action
What is most important to you when building your story?
What is your favorite point of view to read?
First Person
Third Person
What is your favorite point of view to write?
First Person
Third Person
Which tense do you prefer to read?
Present Tense
Past Tense
Which tense do you prefer to write?
Present Tense
Past Tense

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign

This couldn't have come at a better time. I need something like this. Publishing a debut novel is exciting and fun, but I have no experience to work with. I'm trying to network and market myself and my book, but it's hard to know what to do and how. Things worked out a little different for me with THE DESCENDANTS. I didn't go down the typical path of query, find agent, find publisher. I got a lucky break with ZOVA Books at the Southern California Writers Conference and was fortunate enough to be introduced to three wonderful people with ZOVA through a great author, Michele Scott. That being said, I have no agent on my side coaching me through this process. ZOVA has been so helpful, but to be a part of this blogging campaign is a real opportunity to meet fellow authors, get and give advice, share stories, and promote each other. I'm so excited about joining. I can't wait to find out what's in store!

If you would like to jump on the bandwagon, here is the link (click on the picture):
The deadline is August 31st.....

Hunger Games MOVIE Sneak Peek!

Just in case you haven't seen it yet. The release date is March 23, 2012...Exciting!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jelly Bellies and Hugs

I finally sent off my manuscript! It's been a long month, but I feel like I've really fine-tuned the writing. This second round of editing definitely paid off. Once the content is nailed down it is so much easier to hone in on specific details. I caught some things (with the help of friends and family) that clearly needed to be changed. They were mostly small details, but they made a world of difference.

(from here)
I really do have to thank my close friends and family for helping me through this process (although some of them just loved throwing that monkey wrench into my perfect plot). Editing isn't something that you can do on your own. You need to bounce ideas off of someone, get a second (and honest) opinion. You need the support and the affirmation that your changes are good and they work. You need someone to point out holes you may have missed. If you are writing or editing a book (or really anything) make sure you have people you love and trust to share your work with. For those of you who have helped me (you know who you are) THANK YOU! I'll find some way to repay you. It may be in the form of jelly bellies and hugs, but hey.

I'm sure the third round of editing will be just as productive. The next step is line editing. It's my publisher's turn to take a crack at it. I believe this is about the time they get out the elbow grease and start polishing. I can't wait to see what they send me. I've already started pacing...

Blog Makeover

As you can see I have this beautiful new blog template. Thank you Allison! My sister is wonderful and skilled when it comes to these sorts of things. I was completely lost when I tried to change the look myself. There are still a few minor changes to come, but I think this is it. Thanks for bearing with me while we worked out the details.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - Curing Writer's Block by Conquering Perfectionism

Writer's block used to be a huge problem for me. In college I used to toil over every word in every sentence. It took me days to write papers when my friends wrote them in hours. What really helped was figuring out what caused those moments of creative absence - the culprit, perfectionism. I’ve always been obsessive in that way, constantly searching for the perfect word, the perfect phrase, and in writing that can be a blessing and a curse. Mostly it’s the latter.

Sure being a perfectionist helps when you are trying to nitpick through your manuscript in its final round of editing, but that’s about it. If you have no manuscript to pick through, because you haven’t written anything, then…well, you see what I mean. If you don’t get up the guts to just vomit out all of your nonsensical words onto a page no matter how imperfect they are, you won’t get anywhere.
Don't let perfectionism stifle your writing process. If what you write is terrible, so be it. At least you wrote something.

When it comes to writer’s block in terms of ideas failing to come to me (as opposed to struggling to form perfect sentences) I tell myself, who cares if the idea is stupid? Write it.

When courage fails me, and I just can’t bring myself to write down my stupid idea, I’ve learned that the best solution is to walk away. Close up shop. The universe isn’t feeling giving today. Now this doesn’t mean I’ve decided to throw my hands up and quit (it doesn't even mean I've technically stopped the writing process) I’ve just switched mediums. Instead of trying to write by sitting and staring at a blank screen...I turn on the brain and think. I move on to something else, whatever is next on my to-do list, and while I’m doing it (washing dishes, laundry, grocery shopping) I dive deep down into my fantasy world and think, think, think. The beauty about thinking is it is safe. If a thought or idea is imperfect, silly, doesn’t fit the story, etc., it doesn’t matter, no harm done, no wasted time, no feelings of failure.

Usually, I give up writing for thinking until I’m satisfied with an idea (this could be days or weeks). If I’m not writing, you better believe I am spending every spare moment thinking about writing. I truly believe dedicating time to thinking about your story (without writing it) kills writer’s block.

Sorry I have no magical trick like drinking water upside-down while watching T.V., but everyone’s experience is different. My solution – stop writing and THINK.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Side Mission: Quesa-don't

After being such a good sport, my husband was bound to reject at least one of the recipes, and this was it. I was so excited about these quesadillas. I mashed beans and sour cream, mixed squash and grated cheese. I thought they were going to be fantastic.

“These are going to be really good,” I told him. Maybe I jinxed myself.

Sigh. They tasted like mush.

Brian was very sweet. I set it down in front of him, and he ate an entire half claiming, “its’ not horrible.”
I looked at him and took a bite. “I don’t know,” I said. I hated it.
He laughed at the look I had on my face. “Yeah. I’m over it. It was a good try though.”

Good thing I made a backup. We both huddled over a single plate of the plain cheese and chicken quesadilla. What’s that saying? Don’t fix what isn’t broken…there’s just nothing like a plain old chicken and cheese quesadilla. Now that was delicious.

Thanks everyone for going on this little cooking adventure with me. Now back to the world of writing. February is coming up faster than I ever imagined…

Monday, August 22, 2011

So Much For Friday

For those of you wondering what happened to Friday, the answer is left overs. We had so much food in the fridge I just couldn't waste it. I meant to post something, but I got lost in editing world for the next three days. I finally finished though! I have a few small things I want to mull over before I send it to ZOVA, but the bulk of the work is completed.

In terms of my cooking project, tonight I am planning on concluding the side mission (in terms of blogging about it at least). For dinner...chicken quesadillas (and secret squash).

I'll let you know how it goes (wish me luck!).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Side Mission - Green Eggs & Chicken

This is going to be a quick one.

Of course I had a last minute change of plans. Lack of ingredients required I switch recipes. So, tonight's fiasco was all about chicken fingers with spinach.

I fought with my blender for about an hour to make spinach puree. It seriously took TWO boxes of baby spinach to make 1 cup of puree. Crazy right? At least that means a little puree goes a long way.

After accidentally stabbing myself in the finger with a knife, burning my pinky, and dumping half a box of bread crumbs across the counter (clearly not my night) I ended up with GREEN chicken fingers.

They looked sort of like this (flax seeds were ground up)

The funny thing is, Brian loved them! I thought the color would turn him off, but he claimed they were delicious. I was the picky one tonight. Green chicken fingers...not my thing. After all was said and done, I estimate Brian ate about a box and a half of spinach. That pretty much makes the whole thing worth it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Side Mission: Burger-licious

Yet again, nothing went as planned.

My attempt to make secret zucchini mushroom burgers started out well. The zucchinis were easy peasy to puree, and I thought, hey, it's all down hill from here. I moved on to the mushrooms and spent nearly thirty minutes finely chopping them into invisible bits, but something was off. Something smelled weird. Only after I'd minced the mushrooms into oblivion did I realize the smell was coming from them. They'd gone bad. I won't go off on my "I hate Vons" rant, but...I hate Vons. I bought those mushrooms on Monday. Into the trash they went. Sigh.

At least my mishaps make for good blogging.

Luckily for me there was a second recipe for burgers in the cookbook that allowed me to use my leftover pureed carrots from last night. I whipped those up, following the directions exactly as written.

They didn't really turn out the way I thought they would. Honestly, they didn't look like burgers. I could see traces of orange from the carrot, and they were sort of crumbly, but I took a bite and the flavor wasn't bad.

This is almost exactly what it looked like

I had already accepted that I was going to have to cook regular burgers with the leftover meat after I asked Brian to sample it. I was not expecting him to like it AT ALL.

"Don't look at it," I told him. "Just take a bite."
He was skeptical, but followed my instructions. I set the plate next to him and watched him chew. At first he didn't say anything, and I was convinced he hated it, but after a few minutes he eyed the burger.
"It's actually not that bad," he said, reaching for more.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Side Mission - Code Name Spaghetti

Okay. First let me give you a little behind the scenes info.
Jessica Seinfeld's spaghetti with butternut squash and carrots required I steam carrots and blend them. That didn't go as planned. First mistake: I completely burned the bottom of the pan by not putting enough water (or maybe I left it too long...I was editing). On top of that, I found out my blender (for lack of a better word) SUCKS! The carrots were salvaged, and I threw them in to be pureed only to hear the motor whine and give up within the first two seconds. So commenced the hand mashing of the carrots. At least the butternut squash was a breeze (despite the hand mashing).

I had been literally waiting all day with ants in my pants to get home and cook this, but as soon as I started mixing I began to worry about a backup plan. What if this tasted like sand or something else horribly traumatizing? So I cooked two versions. We'll call Jessica Seinfeld's version Exhibit A and my revised concoction Exhibit B.

Exhibit A contains all the good stuff: organic carrots, organic butternut squash, organic tomatoes, and is made essentially from scratch.

Exhibit B (Backup Plan) is my old version of Spaghetti (canned sauce) with the squash, minus carrots and organic tomatoes. Basically I took her recipe for the meat and combined it with our favorite canned sauce.

And the verdict is....


They tasted almost exactly the same--delicious.

Bowls are empty, bellies full. I'm a happy camper.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Side Mission

They say when you are blogging, you should keep to one theme. Obviously I've been blogging about the publication process which is currently in the editing stage (I'm making good progress...almost done). For now though, I want to blog about a side mission that I've decided to take on--a week of cooking my way through Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious (mostly because it will make me feel like I'm in my own version of the movie Julie and Julia...but also because it should be interesting).

If you know my husband, you know he doesn't eat vegetables. He swallows edamame beans whole (no joke). That being said, Deceptively Delicious is all about how to sneak vegetables into food as puree (I know! Brilliant, right?). Today, I actually bought two whole butternut squashes, zucchini, carrots, and mushrooms. I can honestly say I've NEVER purchased a butternut squash (I had no idea what they even looked like). Maybe this will be good for me too.

Here's the menu:

Spaghetti with butternut squash and carrot

Burgers with mushrooms and zucchini

Macaroni and Cheese with butternut squash

Chicken Quesadillas with butternut squash

Okay, so tonight doesn't count. We're having pizza out of the box...don't judge. to puree some veggies and edit.

I'll keep you posted.
(P.S. How do you tell if a butternut squash is ripe?!)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Easier Said Than Done

I've been a social media hermit the past week. It's hard to juggle work, editing, home, AND the ever-expanding realm of social media.

That being said, no matter how long it's been, the internet is always here when I need it...ready with a blank page and a place to vent.

My last few posts have been written with confidence. I got some suggestions from ZOVA and some ideas from YA Highway and I thought, BRILLIANT! I know exactly what to do. I have a perfect plan to refine my novel and get it nice and squeaky clean for publishing. Then, I sat down to do it. All I had to do was follow the plan. Step one, take out redundant sentences. Step two, eliminate generalization of action and dialogue. Step three, add concrete details to internal monologues. Great plan.


Things weren't that clear. Deciding whether a sentence is truly redundant isn't easy. I've read the book so many times that I thought, well, maybe this is redundant. Of course I know what I mean from that first sentence...I wrote it, but how do I know if I should cut the second sentence? What if the reader needs it? What if I start cutting details that are important? WHAT IF I RUIN IT?! Identifying generalization is just as difficult. Certainly I can't write in every detail, accounting for every moment, every action. There has to be some generalization to move the story forward. So, what is necessary and what should I cut?

Sadly, this post may be a little disapointing for some of you, because I don't have the answers. I'm just trusting my gut and using my best judgment. I've decided to take it easy (not get red pen happy and start hacking). A conservative approach at least leaves room for my publisher to make cuts I didn't during line editing. The last thing I want to do is chop my book into bits when it is almost ready. Still, I think I am making smart choices.

Luckily there is something good coming out of this (aside from the obvious)...I am learning and growing as a writer. Nobody said this would be easy, but it sure is fun.

Here are a couple of links to blog posts that are helpful in terms of editing:

Molly The Magnificent - Post on Editing
Show or Tell: How Do You Know? | The Steve Laube Agency

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sensory Details

I’ve got about a million things to do right now, but I had to respond to this week’s Road Trip Wednesday. For those of you who don’t follow YA Highway:
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.
This Week's Topic:
The Five Senses. How you use them in your writing, how you are inspired by them, pictorial essays, that character with smelly socks, books that have used them well, the ones that are currently missing from your work, etc.
This was such a great topic for me because I am right in the middle of fine-tuning The Descendants. In the post below, I mentioned a few of the suggestions from ZOVA Books, and one of them was to include more concrete details in places that I tended to have too much internal emotional narrative. Running through a checklist of the senses as you edit is such a great way to ensure those details are included. The added descriptions will most definitely intensify scenes that seem to be lacking something. Most of us probably do this without thinking to some extent. Of course writing what a character sees and hears is natural as your first draft comes pouring out of you, but did you include smell, touch, and taste? What a great question to ask! Some of my favorite moments in The Descendants, I realized, are places where I managed to include sensory details.

Here are some of my favorites from the book:

The sound of a clock in a silent room

The feel of warmth beneath the sheets

The taste of a kiss

Feel free to share some of your favorite sensory details...