Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hunger Games... wow...

I know I should have spent this evening editing. I know that, but I made the horrible mistake of starting The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins this afternoon and I could not put it down. Now, I have to admit, it took a couple chapters for me to get into it, but once I did, I was hooked.
If you haven't read this book, put it on your to-do-list. I can't think of a single genre that doesn't at least get a nod. It's a thriller, it's dystopian, it's got some fantasy elements towards the end, there's romance. Seriously, this book will remind you how lucky we are to live in a pre-apocalyptic world! But even more than that, I think it's a warning of how close we are to crossing lines of human dignity.

What am I talking about? Hmm... 10, 15 years ago, you would never see a white cloth draped bloody body on the 6 o'clock news. Games that test our commitment to our partners or force of to betray and back stab our closest friends weren't considered entertainment. I wonder, in another 10 or 15 years, what the future will say about our programming. Will they say it's calm and bland or, and I hope this is true, will they say that while some programming is appropriate, for the most part, we sunk too low for words.

Sometimes, doing something brash isn't the same as being bold. Be bold!

Friday, August 6, 2010

I now understand what it means to think like a writer

Tonight I'm blogging from the patio of the only coffee shop in town and I had an experience that made me realize that I officially think like a writer. A couple stopped to ask directions to a sub shop down the street and after I told them how to get there, I watched them pull away and began to wonder about why they were going to this eatery. It's not like it's an unsavory place. In fact, it's a chain restaurant that has awesome fries, but still, they weren't local, so why were they looking for that particular sub shop? Of course my mind went to the most logical conclusion. They were meeting someone who had offered to sell them the baby they could never have. WHAT?

People watching has got to be like crack for a writer. As I watch people come and go, I'm distracted by the lives they might be leading. That's what thinking like a writer is... seeing something completely normal and innocent and distorting it into something sinister or awkward. Yes, the suspense guru's message was well received. So now I have lost two of my favorite activities to my passion. I can't read a book without seeing a missing punctuation and thinking, "What was your copy editor doing? Drinking on the job?" and I can't just watch people come and go and think the best of their lives... nope, they are obviously off to buy a baby.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Should you read what everyone else is reading

I know, in the wide world of the writing world, there exists literary snobs. You know, the ones who won't read something because they thing the premise sounds stupid, never mind that you can't throw a rock across the street without hitting someone who's actually reading it.

So, as a writer, should you at least attempt to read what everyone is reading? This is an interesting thought. On one hand, I say yes. You absolutely should, if for no other reason to keep your finger on the pulse of the reader. On the other hand, who has time. In the last three days, the number of "for fun" books (which means books not about writing but that will hopefully help me to continue to grow in my writing), has gone from 3 to 8. Seriously... they are stacking up next to my bed.

But as someone who has read Twilight and Dan Brown and more obscure writers, I have come to one conclusion. No matter how much you like or don't like someone's book, there is always something to take away from it that can make you better at your craft. Perhaps Twilight finally drives home how important a realistic and flawed character is to connecting with a reader. Perhaps Dan Brown's books will finally help the concept of pacing click with you. Whatever you read, even if you think it's absolute crap and you can't believe he or she got a book contract, let alone that much of an advance, there is always something you can take away from the work!

As always, be bold!

So, it turns out I'm a YA writer

A couple of weeks before I attended MWW, I realized that I just might be a YA writer. I suppose it should not have come as such a shock, but in the interest of total disclosure, it did. As a result of this late breaking ephinany, it is clear that I am behind in my YA reading. In fact, with the rare exceptions of a few YA books I've read in the last year or so, I have to admit the truth: I really don't know the genre very well. When people start rattling off their fave YA authors, I have to do the raised eyebrow, "yes, I totally agree with you" head bob and make a mental note to hit the bookstore on the way home. Now that I have embraced the YA writer in me, I'm actually excited to start working my way through the racks.

This morning I picked up The Hunger Games by Suzane Collings and the first book in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The Hunger Games was a no-brainer. I'm pretty sure I was the only person at the conference who hadn't read it. (Maybe a slight overstatement, but not by much.) Plus, I'm actually really interested in dystopian fiction. The Vampire Academy pick is an effort to know more about what is going on in my particular sub-genre of YA. It's hard to compare your work to something when you haven't read it. Plus, every author I talked to repeated the same advice when looking for an agent... find a writer you really like and find out who represents them... so the hunt is on! Wish me luck, and I'll report back when I come across something incredible!

Until then, be bold!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Should you attend a writing conference?

Um... the short answer is yes. The long answer, well that's yes as well. I spent three days at the Midwest Writers Workshop held at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. To say that I have been exposed to the craft is an understatement. I have been overwhelmed not only with information on writing and publishing, but I have been blown away by the people I have met! For a musician, one of the coolest things is to sit around with other musicians and riff... did I get that right? Well, for a writer, there is nothing better than to sit around with out writers and talk about books. Do you have a story, but not sure where you want your plot to go? Sit down with a couple writers and before you know it, you will have a ton of idea from speculative fiction to a steamy romance to an action filled thriller! You'd be surprised the kind of story people can come up with a duck, and court case and a muck farm... trust me!

Plus, there is the extra bonus of getting to hear from agents and publishers first hand. You get to know what they like and if you are lucky, you might even get a request for a partial manuscript if your book is done. If you love to write and think you might want to be writer, save up the money, take a couple days off and go.

Did I forget to mention you can actually hang out with best selling authors. Seriously, I got to hang out with Marcus Sakey and John Gilstrap this weekend and shoot the breeze. (What? You haven't heard of them? Well, head to the bookstore and pick up one of their books.)

Finally, more than anything, it's a chance to go outside of your comfort zone and improve your storytelling ability! Trust me, you won't regret it!

A quick welcome

If you have found this site, then you are my new hero. I woke up this morning and decided, given my new attitude about myself as a writer, I needed a new blog. One that cast aside the prose of insecurity and stood, head held high, ready to take on the universe! And, in my former blogging life, I had no way of highlighting the amazing talent that's out there... some... oh, let's me honest, most of which is better than mine... for now!

I know the site is sparse right now, but Rome wasn't built in a day and I have ten hours of editing to do today and only 3 hours of spare time. But check back... frequently. Bits and pieces of my novel The Partizans may show up from time to time and of course the dubious writing prompts I need to do to keep the writer in me from curling up in the fetal postion while I labor under the aforementioned editing process! In the meantime, grab your favorite drink, pick up the book that everyone is saying you must read right now, find a cozy chair, and read. What else are you going to do until my book comes out?

Oh, and do something bold today!