Writing Tips

QueryTracker: Great Novels Aren't Written - They're Re-Written

There's an interesting article posted on QueryTracker's blog today - and it's all about how great stories aren't written...they're re-written. 

A large portion of the article focuses on the ability to edit and what it takes to put it all out on the table. Considering I'm in the edit process right now for not just one, but two of my MS's, I found the information in this blog to be invaluable.

I'm lucky to have some amazing beta readers and I'm also fortunate that I love, love, love the editing process (sick and twisted? I know!). However, as the article points out, sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

I find this particularly important, especially when reading and writing is so subjective. I'm dealing with this right now, with some of the feedback from my beta readers - what one found to be a great way to say something, someone else completely disagreed. Where one thought a different path would make the writing stronger, another picked a completely different path.

So who wins?

In the end, me.

Only I know every intimate detail of my writing. Every nuance, character flaw, and history of each character. But all of that aside, it's important to take every piece of advice, criticism, and LOL moment my beta readers give me, to heart. Because without them, my writing would suffer. My writing would only have one opinion. And my writing would never get any better.

That doesn't mean you have to make every single change thrown your way - if you did this, your manuscript would never be finished...and ultimately, in the end, you'd be worse off than when you started.

So with that, I leave you with the great blog posted by Danyelle on the QueryTracker site and ask, how does everyone feel about the editing process? What great pieces of advice do you choose to live by, when scraping away at your manuscript? I'd love to hear!

My Top 10 List for 2010


As 2010 comes to an end, I found myself looking back at the many things that happened this year. 
Here are a few that made my top 10 list for 2010, in chronological order from start to finish throughout the year:

  1. I started my blog A Little Of This & That in February, 2010.
  2. Against all better judgement, I crossed over to the dark side and joined Twitter. I never thought this would be something I'd do - but I've found some amazing connections through this form of social media, and I'm glad I succumbed!
  3. I said I Love You for the very last time, to the most amazing woman in my life: my Mom. Miss you, every day.
  4. I met several wonderful people this year:
    a. Heidi Sinnett, my a-mazing critique partner extraodinaire from Canada, that helped me through a bit of a messy year. 2011 is our year, Trixie!
    b. Bridgid "Boom" Gallagher, another fab-u-lous critique partner and talented web page designer - I'm so glad you live in my neck of the woods! Here's to author signings, and when they're finally for us - I'll be the first in line for your autograph!
    c. Karyn Johnson - another incredible writer and friend, that enjoys Mexican fried ice cream, just as much as I do!
    d. Maureen Dunn - lover of all things shopping (I heart your shoe fetish that matches my own!), YA writer, and wonderful spirit.
    e. And to all my new blog followers - you've all been fab!
  5. I survived the query process for another WIP, that led to 14 partial requests and 9 fulls - and learned a plethora of invaluable information that I will take with me the next time I venture into the slush pile.
  6. I attended my very first writers conference in July - the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association writer's conference. It was amazing and eye-opening, to say the least.
  7. I decided to get my rear, back in to gear and joined the CrossFit Basic box in September. It's been one of the hardest endeavors I've ever taken on - but I'm so grateful for the mass amounts of wonderful people I've met, and how great it really makes me feel. CrossFitters are truly in a league of their own.
  8. I attempted and won the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time. 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Oh, I'll be doing that one again next year!
  9. I completed my third Young Adult novel - THE CHOSEN, which I'll be editing like a mad woman over the next couple of months, when my CP's have finished tearing it up...and then, I'll unleash it to the Query Gods! 2011 is the year, I feel it!
  10. I realized for the second time in my life, that writing and becoming a published author, is what I really want to do when I grow up. But unlike the first time I thought that (I think I was three), I'm actually going to do something about it this time.

What made your list this year? I'd love to hear your comments!

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year's - and with that, I leave you with a funny list of the Do's and Don'ts of New Year's:



Go out and have a fab-u-lous time!
Do drunken status updates - no matter what the social media venue. They’re like drunk dials, but for the whole world to see.
Kiss someone under the mistletoe.

Kiss someone with your beer goggles on - you'll inevitably regret it in the morning. And the walk-o-shame is fun, for no one.

Attend a party in a glittery miniskirt or tank top.
Don’tAttend a party in a glittery miniskirt AND tank top, especially without wearing underwear. You’re not Paris or Brittney - and you won't become a celebrity for flashing the world.
Document the evening in a few tasteful snapshots.
Don’tDocument the evening in 243 not tasteful photos, throughout which you deteriorate from posing with your girlfriends, to puking in the coat closet.


Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Muse Gone?


Suffice to say, I've been pretty non-existent on all of my social media sites lately - Twitter, Blogger, QueryTracker, etc. I seem to have written myself into a corner and allowed my muse to take a quasi-permanent hiatus...that, or when I returned from my vacation from Maui last week, my muse decided not to come home with me (wouldn't blame her there, as Maui is a much better place than Seattle, right now).


I simply cannot write. I turn on my computer and just stare at it...waiting. And waiting. Yup...still waiting. Waiting for some type of inspiration to strike, something to get my creative juices flowing again...something, anything...but there simply is nothing.

Now I've heard this happens and I'm pretty sure it's normal...however, after four plus years of writing, this is the first time I've been at such a loss, for so long. As of today, it's been 6.5 weeks since I've written more than 150 words. And in my book, that's pretty pa-thetic.

I'm not quite sure what the reasoning is, behind my lack of creativity...it could be that I received two rejections from my top two agents on my current manuscript, within the last month. The first one was from Writer's House...they've had my full since May and the response - while I'm so grateful was personal - was nonetheless, a rejection...even though she was "on the fence". The other was from Laura Rennert (she reps Jay Asher - THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and Maggie Stiefvater - SHIVER series), who was definitely a personal fav. for me, without question. And while I get rejection comes with the territory, it still doesn't make it any easier.

So, what to do? I've been reading - currently, I'm enjoying THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak...outlining my potential attempt for NaNoWriMo (which at this point, seems absolutely crazy...because I'm thinking if I'm going to be writing, it should be for my current WIP...but we shall see)...outlining potential changes to my current WIP...re-reading and revising my current WIP chapters...and simply, not doing anything at all, that relates to writing.


I guess my question to anyone else out there that's had this same problem - what did you do? How did you get your muse back? At this point, I'm open to suggestions...anything to coax my creativity back onto the pages of Word.


And once she's back...well...she better sit down and hang on!

Until next time...

Backing Up Your Work...Know Your Options!


Reposting this article, in light of almost losing my entire WIP this past week. I count my lucky stars for my external hard drive, that I bought specifically because of this article (and it was one of the ones recommended.).
So, are you covered?
Great article and reminder, on something we all should be doing!
Don't wait until it's too late - get your manuscripts backed up!


Getting Out of Your Element - FOLLOW UP!!!


As a follow-up to my blog entry on Getting Out of Your Element, back in July - in case you didn't see the season finale of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE - a surprise "dance super-star" stepped in to replace Alex Wong as a tribute to his phenomenal "Outta Your Mind" performance.

This. Is. Priceless.

And truly, 100% defines, what it means to get out of your element:

And here's the link to the original Alex and Twitch hip hop routine, if you'd like to see the "real thing".




I know it's hard to sometimes break from the norm - to try something new that might be difficult - and to never give up, when what you're facing is so far out of your element, it's not even funny.


If you aren't a fan of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), you might just be after seeing this video clip. 

Alex is currently competing for this year's title and is a classically trained ballet dancer - and he's absolutely amazing to watch in his natural surroundings.  However, what would the show be, if they didn't shake things up a bit?  This week, Alex was paired up with All-Star season 4 - 2nd place finisher, tWitch - who just so happens to specialize in freestyle / hip hop dancing. 

Performing what's known as a Nappytabs hip hop choreographed routine, watch what it truly means, to be out of your element...and what happens, when you actually realize, that you can do anything. 

:  Because of copy right issues, YouTube has been either pulling down all videos or trying to request that the videos only be viewable on YouTube itself (no embedded links allowed).  The link below may or may not work - so if it doesn't, just click on the link in the middle of the YouTube screen below, and it will direct you to the clip.  You can also click on this link, to go directly there YouTube - and you can search by Alex Wong and tWitch for all videos.  Sorry for the run around!

NEWHere is the link to watch Alex perform what is considered, more his "element"...it's absolutely beautiful to watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHiwmZj1Wbc
UPDATE 7.12: So if any of you are fans of SYTYCD, you know by now, that Alex suffered a major injury to his ACL last week.  As a result, he was automatically placed in the bottom 3 for last week's show, and subsequently, released from the show since his injury will require surgery and months to heal.  What devastating news for someone that would've won it all!  I'm not sure what higher entity keeps pushing Alex away from performing on this show (he was forced to drop out last year, since he wasn't allowed to break his contract with the Miami City Ballet) - but hopefully he will return again next year to take the title that is so well deserved.

From season 7, week 3.
Twitch and Alex dance a Napoleon and Tabitha D'umo choreographed routine
Music: Outta Your Mind by Lil Jon and LMFAO



5 Rules for Writing YA

A great blog posted by Chuck Sambuchino - Guide to Literary Agents - chock full of useful information for anyone out there writing for the Young Adult market.  If you don't currently follow Chuck's blog (or Tweets for that matter!), then you really need to Get. On. It. 

I relate to all of the rules, particularly #5 - always remember who your target audience is and the fact that they lead the way in trends.   

Keep on top of what you see out there in today's market - I often find that going to my local mall is an invaluable resource for this.  Watch where the teens shop, see what they're buying, listen to how they talk - of course, don't do this in a creepy way!  And don't forget to channel your inner teen!  You were there once - remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time?  Get your heart broken?  Be the center of gossip - or be the one to start it?  Friday night football games?   

After all, age is only a number.    

5 Rules for Writing YA

Posted by Chuck

1. The life of the story depends on the writer's ability to convince the reader that the protagonist is one of them. Teens despise fakes. You must know kids well enough to channel their voices, thoughts and emotions. 



Guest column by Regina Brooks, literary
agent at Serendipity Literary. This text
excerpted from Regina's 2009 book,
Writing Great Books For Young Adults.

2. Don't condescend to your readers. Young people won't abide stories that suggest their turmoil or idealism will pass when they "grow up." Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club, says, "I'm a big believer that kids are smarter than we think they are ... I think kids can handle complexity and nuances, and the advantage to writing that way is that the book appeals to both teenagers and adults. Don't deal with young people by trying to push them in one direction or another. Deal with them where they're at now.

3. Read, read, read today's YA fiction.
 A word of caution: Don't emulate your favorite authors, but learn from them,. You'll want to create work that is truly your own. The benefits to reading what's already on the market are phenomenal. It will familiarize you with what's selling, how kids today talk, what they wear, what issues concern them, and so on.


4. Silence your worries over commercial considerations. This allows you to concentrate on your primary objective, which is to tell your story. Keep your artistic integrityyour idealsahead of how commercially successful you want your book to be. If you focus on writing the best possible book, commercial success will follow later. The significant rise in the success of YA novels has opened the way for a multiplicity of  categories, and just to give you an idea, I've listed some alphabetically: adventure, chick lit, comical, fantasy, fantasy epics, futuristic, gay-themed, historical, multicultural, mystery, religious, romantic, science fiction, sports and urban. If your story doesn't fit into any of these categories, you may have to invent one. Consider it an opportunity.

5. In your new world of YA fiction, erect no concrete barriers, wire fences or one-way signs. Instead, forge new paths. The YA field welcomes innovators. What will your contribution be? Think fresh. Remember that young people are trendsetters—they're always looking to differentiate themselves from others. It's how teens forge their own identities. Don't be afraid to push the boar out as well. Coming up with a fresh idea will set you apart from the pack and might be the thing that sparks an editor's interest in your work. 

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