Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Unraveled!

Gena Showalter’s YA series, Intertwined, featuring paranormal magnet Aden Stone continues this September with UNRAVELED. To celebrate her new release, Gena and her author BFFs are hosting a 4-day scavenger hunt on their blogs; including this one. Three grand prize winners will each win a $100 Visa gift card, plus Miss Gena’s giving away signed copies of UNRAVELED to five lucky runner-ups! All you have to do is find all eight letters, unscramble them and email the word to Contests(AT)KnightAgency.net. Easy peasy. Today, P.C. Cast and I have our letters up front and center. To get the skinny on where the other letters are hiding in the great internet universe, click here for a contest road map and rules.

Participating UNRAVELED hunt blogs include superstar authors Rachel Caine, PC Cast, Marley Gibson, and Tina Ferraro and Linda Gerber. This contest runs from Monday, August 30th to Thursday, September 2nd. All entries must be received by Monday, September 6th at midnight ET. Happy Hunting!

So, are you behind the curve and wondering what UNRAVELED is all about? ;-) Read on to learn more about Aden:

For once, sixteen-year-old Aden Stone has everything he’s ever wanted:

A home.

Friends.

The girl of his dreams.

Too bad he’s going to die... Since coming to Crossroads, Oklahoma, former outcast Aden Stone has been living the good life. Never mind that one of his best friends is a werewolf, his girlfriend is a vampire princess who hungers for his blood, and he’s supposed to be crowned Vampire King – while still a human! Well, kind of.

With four – oops, three now — human souls living inside his head, Aden has always been “different” himself. These souls can time travel, raise the dead, possess another’s mind, and, his least favorite these days, tell the future.

The forecast for Aden? A knife through the heart.

Because a war is brewing between the creatures of the dark, and Aden is somehow at the center of it all. But he isn’t about to lie down and accept his destiny without a fight. Not when his new friends have his back, not when Victoria has risked her own future to be with him, and not when he has a reason to live for the first time in his life.

--
Ready for the secret letter?  

*Cue Secret Letter Revealing Music*



Now go on to P.C. Cast's blog and get the next one!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blue Monday

TGIF is wasted on me, and Monday is usually something I look forward to, since it means the house will be quiet so I can work. (Well, this is relative. Mom is talking to the dogs right now. Mom is convinced that if she speaks loudly enough, they will suddenly become obedient.)

But so far to day I have:

1) Overslept

2) Spilled coffee all over my desk

3) Fed the wrong dogs the wrong food (which they didn't mind, but I will, much later in the day)

4) Gotten stung by a wasp...

5) ...on the bottom of my foot...

6) ...right when the carpet guy knocked on the door.

So the only thing worse than being in excruciating pain is having to hobble around trying to crate barking dogs while reassuring a workman that no, it really is safe to come in and just excuse me for a minute while I hop around on one foot and curse a lot.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

iLesson: Storytelling voice

Think about when your mom or dad told you a bedtime story. Or your camp counsellor told a ghost story at the campfire. Or when your dad told you about meeting Elvis while he was in the Army.  Or your grandmother told you about the Nazi occupation of The Hague. 

The storytellers probably didn't use perfect grammar. They weren't following any rules. If it was a good story, well told, it held your attention. If they lived the story, then the emotion in their recollection, the rate of their speech, or the way they drew out the story in some places and skipped over the boring stuff in others... or even where they skipped over the bad stuff, giving you only a hint of how bad it really was... that's the story teller's voice. 

When you write a story, you have a voice, too. Instead of inflection and rate of speech, you have long sentences and short ones. Your descriptions are lingering and detailed or stark and bare. You have delicate, sparkling dialogue or raw, gritty action. 

Or any combination in the world. 

Voice is one of the hardest things to teach. You can't read in a book how to have a good voice. You can have a natural 'ear' for it, like a musician has an ear for pitch, or a ballerina may have natural grace or dexterity, but you still have to train and practice.  In a way, you're developing your ear for language, and your grace and dexterity with words. 

The only way to do that is hands on. A singer with a good ear may recognize good music when she hears it, but but she still has to train her instrument. 

How do you do that? 
  1. Write and write and write.
  2. Read all different types of writing.
  3. Reread a book that you love and pay attention to how the writer draws you in to the story, how she choses to handle emotional moments, action scenes, or description. 
  4. Experiment with different styles. 
  5. Mimic other writer's voices, and see what 'feels' good to you. 


And finally...

6) Combine what you like most from what you've read and written into a voice that's uniquely yours. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday

Do you like how I’m coming up with some really creative blog titles this week? That’s because the new book is going to have chapter titles instead of numbers, and all my title creativity is going there.

Of course, right now those titles are something along the lines of:

Amy Falls Down a Hole

and

Phin and Amy Fight. Again.

Is this making you want to read the book?

I must be feeling pretty confident about the rewrite, because usually I don’t like talking about my projects until it’s in the can, so to speak, and I can’t waffle any more. (Yes, I’m a pancake girl, until it comes to my writing, and then I am the World’s Biggest Waffle.)

Take for instance the chapter:

Nothing Happens In This Chapter

which after a full day of work was subsequently titled:

Big Major Clue Buried Deep In This Chapter

but then became:

BMC Buried TOO Deep

which lead all the way back to the newest title:

People Will Think Nothing Happens In This Chapter And Mock Me On the Interents.

And on that note, I will get back to work on the latest chapter:

Scary Ghosts Are Scary. Hopefully.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

From TEXAS GOTHIC, coming out next year:

“Fine. I’m trespassing.” Dropping my arms, I refilled the dogs’ bowl and capped the bottle. “If you’re going to run us off, can I at least get a look at the cool stuff first?”

“You swear you’re just here to satisfy your curiosity?” he asked, a skeptical twist to his brows.

I drew an X over my chest and raised my right hand, careful what I said, because oaths have consequences. Even implied oaths. “My motives are pure.”

If I was lying to anyone, it was to myself. I told myself I wanted nothing to do with ghost hunting, or rumors of haunting, but last night’s apparition, its reaching hand and gasping mouth, weren’t far from my thoughts. It had only moved to the corner of my mind, where the morning sun couldn’t reach.

Ben seemed satisfied, and he stepped back to let me pass. As I did--ignoring the tingle where my shoulder brushed his--I added, for the hell of it, “But I can’t promise my sister won’t get a wild hair and decide to experiment with raising the dead.”

His brows shot back down; they were extremely expressive, really. “You aren’t nearly as funny as you think you are.”

“Who’s joking?” I said, as I headed toward the dig site, and the uncovered grave by the river.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Monday...

No movies to talk about today, because I’m trying really really hard to get this revision finished, and I haven’t even watched TV for a week. My living room has actually stayed neat because I haven’t been in it.

(Okay. It’s stayed neat from dog-height up. It’s normal to wade through a minefield of squeaky toys, right?)

The nice thing is, I have episodes of Psych, Covert Affairs (which was renewed, yay!), Warehouse 13 and Eureka waiting on me. Plus a stack of books! Plus I really need to get out to see a couple of movies before I have to wait for them to come out on DVD.

Here’s one thing I DO love about Living in The Future: The Networks are quick to cancel, but it seems that quriky, niche shows can flourish on cable. So people like me, who have always said “If I like it, it will be cancelled,” have options for viewing that we never have before. There are channels just for the weird or offbeat.

I am a little worried that I spend so much time on USA, which demographically makes me a woman of a certain age bracket. I sure have to suffer through a lot of minivan commercials. *shudder* Of course, thanks to my love of the History Channel. (Anyone else been watching “Chasing Mummies?” That’s my kind of reality show.) I know that I can go to the Grand Canyon in a Hoveround, and what kind of denture cream to get for the best fit.

So here’s my TV recommendations. You should check out Covert Affairs on USA on Tuesday. Pretty, likable heroine, hot guys with guns, hot guy with keyboard.

covert-affairs-2010-08-23-09-22.jpg

Covert Affairs. Aren’t they cute little spys?

And you should follow @psych_usa on Twitter if you like that show. There’s one crew that’s got a handle on this Social Media Networking thing: Amusing, informative, makes me want to watch the show.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Prom-tastic

I'm not sure what prom-pted it, but last night people were posting their prom pictures on Twitter. As you can imagine, much hilarity ensued. Let's just say some fashions have not stood the test of time.

Of course I'm going to show you mine:


I'd actually dug this picture out of a box, because I was thinking about using it for something when Prom Dates From Hell came out, but then I never did. Which is probably too bad, because it's one of the most flattering pictures in my life.

This dress (and gloves, and hair) were not at all fashionable. I designed this dress and mom made it. (You can't see, but it has a point at the waist, like a ballerina tutu or a Victorian gown. That was very important, because I knew that was more flattering as I am short waisted and have, um... I was stacked even then.)

I felt like a million bucks. You can kinda tell that from my smile. And funny, I had gotten a terrible sunburn a few days before. I itched like CRAZY. But it had faded to the point where it just gave me a really nice glow. Seriously flattering, completely by accident.

But back to the fashion thing. I was *horribly* insecure about my looks in High School. I was younger than everyone else; I had great hair, but I kept trying to make it do unnatural things (A spiral perm omg);  And even more incredible, I thought I was chubby (!!!!).

I did have a bit of baby fat through most of high school, but the real problem was that I was a very curvy girl when the fashions were unforgiving to anyone with boobs and hips. Just the shape of the jeans--high waisted, pleated front, peg legged--were the perfect storm of hideous on a short, short waisted, big boobed, curvy hipped girl. I actually HAD a waist, but I went through school looking like a Weeble.

And the Madonna lingerie trend? I hadn't worn lacy-strapped lingerie since I was 12. By the way, I'll say this for advances in engineering. The bras for bigger girls are infinitely prettier now. Back then "support" basically meant something a little like a harness. Unfortunately, thanks to the media, and some comments made by classmates at a rather formative point in my life, my curves translated to 'fat' in my eyes.

Then some time in my senior year, I stopped paying attention to fashion. I stopped buying my jeans in the juniors section of the department store and got plain ol' straight leg Wranglers from Cavenders. I loved old Hollywood musicals, and when I looked at the gorgeous women in the 50's and realized I was shaped just like them, and THEY looked amazing. In trying to put together things that *I* thought looked cool, I made plenty of blunders.  But the prom dress? That worked out.

Don't get me wrong. There were no whispers of "Who's that girl in the beautiful dress?" Or "Who's that ugly duckling turned into a swan?" I was as under the social radar as I'd ever been, but with my own set of friends. It's looking back that I see what happened here.

I was *myself* in this picture. Even better, I was the me I wanted to be: independent (of fashion), creative (I'd designed the dress), and confident (obviously).  That would come and go (a lot!) and it still does. But when I look at that girl in the picture, I see the person I've become now.

Mostly. When I'm not eaten away by neurosis and worry.

Huh. Maybe I should look at this picture more often. :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Social Media Networking has ruined my Internet Social Life

Social Media Networking has taken all the fun out of my Internet social life.

I have been on the Internet since I had to dial up with my telephone. My BFF "from college?" We met on a writing bulletin board from three states apart. Before Internet dating became mainstream, I told people we went to school together because only freaks became friends with someone they'd only communicated with at 56 Kbit/s. (Look it up, kids)

Especially because I lived in rural Texas, I've always relied on the Internet to connect with like minded people--reader people, writer people, comic book people, fannish people. (This is not to say people don't read in rural Texas, or even that they don't read Science Fiction in rural Texas, but just... Well, the entire population of Refugio County could fit into Cowboys Stadium ten times.)

What I'm saying is, I was social on the Internet LONG before Facebook or Twitter. Even before MySpace or LiveJournal. I actually *remember* my computer telling me "You've Got Mail." (I also rode a dinosaur to school.)

Now comes along Social Media Networking. It may surprise you to know, dear readers, that authors take *classes* in how to talk to you on the Internet. How it's not enough to have a website. We need to have a Facebook and a Twitter platform, and provide Meaningful Content on a Regular Basis and Ohmygodthepressure!

I can't just tell you that I celebrated with a vanilla latte because I made it through one day without having to clean up dog pee from my floor. (I didn't think anything could be harder to house train than a Papillon until I got a Pomeranian.) Now I have to be Entertaining! Informative! Profound!

Talk about performance anxiety.

Twitter is easier, because it's a smaller investment on both our parts. I angst less over whether you will consider my love of caramel frappuchinos a waste of 140 characters. But a whole blog on my frustration with the running toilet right next to my office? (No, really. I've changed the flapper like five times.) just doesn't seem worth the click through on Google Reader.  (Um, it is, I promise. I'm hysterically funny when it comes to ranting about my plumbing.)

The thing is, I love the Internet, but I don't like Networking. I like talking about movies and books and MY books and my dogs and coffee and my diet and how I hate to go to the gym but I have to because I love cheesecake. I might also mention Russell Crowe occasionally. And mixed in with that, I'll tell you about whatever book I've got in the works.

So, I hearby declare myself done with Social Media Networking. I'm just going to go back to blogging and tweeting with my friends, colleagues, and most of all, readers.

In honor of that, here's a picture of my dogs:


(If you want to see more of them, you can follow me on Twitter @rclementmoore. But don't bother to friend me on Facebook. I still haven't figured that one out.)

(I'll still be doing iLessons on Thursdays. There's an iLesson here, if you look for it.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mermaids vs Ghosts... and the winner is YOU

Vampires vs. Werewolves is old hat. And zombies? Gross. What about the under-represented supernatural creatures?  Where do they fall in the world of WWFC (Wacky Wrestling Fantasy Creatures)?

Right here:

THE ULTIMATE SUPERNATURAL SMACKDOWN

In a paranormal fight of epic proportion, Tera Lynn Childs (Forgive My Fins) and Rosemary Clement-Moore (The Splendor Falls) are hosting a throwdown between two of the fantasy world's most elusive creatures: GHOSTS and MERMAIDS.

Now it's time for you to choose sides in the battle, and reap the rewards. Your challenge is thus:

Write a 500 word essay declaring whether you will align with ghosts or mermaids and why. You can debate the relative merits of either creature (mermaids are corporeal but ghosts can move through walls) or explain how you think the battle will go down or just flat out say why you prefer one over the other. You can even write a flash fiction piece that makes your preference crystal clear.

To submit your essay for consideration, either email your entry to one of the hosts (tlc@teralynnchilds.com or rosemary@readrosemary.com) or Twitter reply them (@teralynnchilds or @rclementmoore) with the #ghostsvsmermaids hashtag with a link to where you have it posted.

Ah, but what about the rewards? The hosts will choose three winners from each side (making six winners in all) to win a signed book and swag pack.

Deadline: September 1, 2010

Let the battle begin!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

iLesson: Things I never learn

I'm trying to decide what to share with y'all today, since the iLesson usually comes out of whatever we discussed at IHOP after my wednesday writer's group. Only we didn't got to IHOP last night, because IHOP was closed for redecoration. (I will say, as I drove by, that the new blue coat of paint on the roof looked very fresh and... IHOP-y.)

If I was going to share with you what I learned at critique group, I could actually just link to previous posts. For instance, I learned the Perils of the Prologue, to trust my gut, and to stop second guessing myselfbecause chances are my instincts are right the first time.

I COULD just link you to my vlog at WriteOnCon.com where I talk about (and give a visual representation of) my (Pizza) Pie in the Face Writing Lesson. (Here's the text version.)

Or I could tell you this piece of advice: Don't let the internet and things distract you when you haven't gotten your work done for the day.

So now I'm going to go get my work done for the day.

Happy Writing!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Trifecta of Movie Monday






Movies are one of my favorite blog topics. I guess because it's still story telling, but it's something I enjoy watching and talking about because it's not WORK. Even when I dissect the story arcs and/or characterization, and talk about how it applies to writing, it's still NOT writing. There's no pressure, and it uses a different part of my brain.

So this weekend, I caught up on a stack of movies from Blockbuster. The problem with the "unlimited" package is that if you let your DVDs sit around for a month (or, ahem, more) it's not as much of a bargain.

invictus-2010-08-9-09-36.jpg
First, INVICTUS. I'm not a sports movie fan (I know this surprises you) unless there's a lot of other stuff going on. And that's certainly the case with Invictus, which is about the South African Rugby team winning the World Cup in 1995. Except that's not really what it's about. It's about how Nelson Mandela began to unify and reinvent the country.

I find Mandela a very interesting individual. He is revered for his work ending apartheid, recipient of the Nobel Prize, regarded as the unifier of his country, he's a prime example of how one man's activist is another man's terrorist. And vice versa. What I find interesting (and admirable) is that after essentially being at war with the apartheid government, and after the way he was treated by them, he was about reconciliation and not retribution. That's the point that the movie makes about Mandela.

So, it's kind of one of those movies where you know what's going to happen, but watching it unfold is a pleasure. It hit the emotional moments a little obviously sometimes, but that didn't stop me from sniffling. I was really struck by how hard it must have been to take the reins of a broken country, looked down on by much of the world, and have to basically reinvent it.

perseusclashofthetitansposter-2010-08-9-09-36.jpgOn the other end of the spectrum, there was CLASH OF THE TITANS. I actually saw this in the theatre, but Mom hadn't, so we rented it. I have to say, it didn't make any more sense on a second viewing. I said on Twitter, it's like the movie makers took a bunch of things that would look cool (Giant scorpions! Hot guys in short leather skirts! Liam Neeson and Ralph Feinnes chewing scenery! Big! Giant! Kraken!), put them all in a hat, and drew them out at random. Then just as randomly stuck them in the movie.

No character has consistent motivation, the throughline is muddled... Actually, that's too generous. No one seems to know what the theme is. Man rebels against the gods? Then why does it takes the gods' intervention to save men from the big monster sent by the gods because man rebelled against... See what I mean? Basically it's just "Everyone is pissed for no reason except to have an excuse to fight big scary monsters."

TheGhostWriter-2010-08-9-09-36.jpgAnd finally, THE GHOST WRITER. I'm still thinking about what I think about this movie. I was very interested in the story, but I figured it out pretty early. After that I became more interested in what director Roman Polanski was trying to say about politics, extradition, and war crimes. I'm still trying to figure it out. It was certainly a stylish movie, and I like Ewan MacGreggor in just about everything. (Definitely the best thing in three Star Wars movies.) But I'm on the fence about the 'triller' part and the 'mystery' part. I guess file it under "interesting" but not terribly exciting. But maybe that's just me. Like I said, I figured things out pretty early. Maybe this is a testament to the skill of the actors for playing 'squirrelly' so well?

What about you guys? Catch any interesting movies lately?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ILesson: Get ride of the Nice Nice

This advice comes from my friend Candace, though I think she may have heard it somewhere else. When writers pass things on, it’s usually our interpretation of something someone else has said that clicked with us. So we steal it and pass it on to you.

So, the nice nice, as Candy tells it, is the conversational things that happen in civilized dialogue. So a conversation between character could go like this:

“Hi,” Jim said.

“Hey,” said John. “How was your flight?”

“Smooth, but the in flight movie sucked.”

Jim grimaced. “I hate it when that happens.”

The two men walked through the restaurant and then sat down and a waitress came over. She put down two cocktail napkins, then straightened and took out her pad and pen and then she looked at Jim and said, “What will you have?”

Jim looked over at the bar and read the signs on the wall to get an idea what they had on tap. “I’ll have a beer.”

She wrote it down and looked at John. “How about you?”

John read over the menu and said, “I just want a Coke.”

She wrote their orders down. “Thanks. I’ll have those right out.” Then she turned and walked off and after she was gone Jim turned to John and said, “I hear you’re under indictment for murder.”



Without my telling you, you can probably pick out the nice nice in the above example. It’s the things that are very “real” because it’s what real people do. However, dialogue in books isn’t meant to be exactly real but only to FEEL real. You want to mimic the way people talk, and maybe the rhythms of conversation, but you don’t want a literal transcription.

There’s a lot of nice nice in the action in this example. Again, you want to give the feel of the scene, not a blow by blow transcription.

You want to get to what’s important as quickly as possible. How quickly that is depends on your style, the pace of the scene, where it is in the book, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you’re trying to keep the pace of the book up, you could pare it all the way down to this:

Jim greeted John when he went into the restaurant, as if they were just two guys meeting for lunch. He kept up the fa├žade until the waitress had seated them and taken their order, then leaned across the table and said under the clatter and chatter of the lunchtime crowd, “What’s this I hear about you being indicted for murder?”

Nothing wrong with that; if the purpose of this scene is to get to their conversation, get to their conversation. The ambiance of the restaurant may not be important, but it’s also easy to slide in with a carefully chosen word or two.

Sometimes you need a certain amount of nice nice to get you in and out of a conversation. And you need stage business to set the scene and avoid sounded like you have talking heads. But in that case, it’s not just nice nice, it’s establishing scene or character or tension.

Jim let is eyes adjust to the dim light in the restaurant, and wished they’d met somewhere with a better line of sight. He found John, and felt out his state of mind with a neutral, “Hi. How was your flight?”


“Smooth,” said John, glancing at the hostess as she stepped into earshot. “But the in flight movie sucked.”

It’s all a matter of balance. Everything in the scene should serve the story in some way. Pare it down until nothing is in there just to be nice. Make it work for you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Disney/RWA Day 137

Any time I travel, but I think especially when it's for work, when I'm doing a lot of socialization and stuff and OMG have to be professional and nice to people, I usually reach a point where I am just ready to be home. I usually go off on walks by myself or hole up in the hotel room to "work," which is how I generally refer to surfing the Internet when I don't want people to bother me.

The Awards ceremony was really neat this year. I got to be a presenter, which was tremendous fun. Got to schmooze with other amazing authors and meet new people. Also, I totally sat next to Meg Cabot at dinner.

I didn't like how any of my pictures turned out. I don't think I'm that red faced in person, but *every* picture of me lately, I'm like a beet!

So, about to call for a bell hop to take down massive amounts of luggage. Glad the Equinox I'm driving has hands free calling, since I'm having to keep up with my mom, who has been ill. Think good thoughts, and I'll post more trip report when I'm back in Texas!