Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Raise My Fist at The Tech Gods

My Adventures Into Disappearing Text, and Social Media Faux Pas

Cowgirl and I feel the same way when it comes to making social blunders.
Okay, I'm not tech savvy. Some of my ignorance is my own fault--I have the dreaded never-read-the-manual-itis. Yup, I'll buy a phone, or a laptop, turn it on, and just start using it. Same with the blog. And facebook and twitter and... you get the point.

We'll say that I'm a hands-on learner. :)

As you can imagine, sometimes mishaps happen. So, my friend Jon and I decided that we would dedicate some blog time toward figuring out the ins and outs of social media and the technology behind it.

We need to figure out what we need to know to make social media work for us. And how to prevent the crashes and blunders and whatnots from happening.

For instance:

A few days ago, I wanted to figure out the goodreads thing. Simply because I wanted to review a great book. A clear way to support a writer is by giving them an honest rating on sites like amazon, smashwords, and goodreads. I want to do more of this.

So. I signed up. In the process, goodreads asked me something. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I interpreted it (yup, red flag) as "do you want to see what you friends are reading and rating?". I clicked the 'sure thing' box. Unfortunately, my answer prompted goodreads to send an email to everybody in my address book asking if they wanted to be my "friend" on goodreads.

CTRL-Z, damn it. (Wouldn't that be great if it worked outside of the word document?)

I raise my fist at the tech gods.

Serious faux pas.

I don't know how you feel about those emails, but I was embarrassed, even more so since I hadn't intended to do it. By the way, it ranks number three on this list of the 'don'ts' in social networking etiquette.

Worse: the only way to fix it was to apologize, you know, by sending another email to everyone in my address book. Which felt like another invasion. So I just let it go. And hoped that people understood: I'm a tech moron, who can't follow simple directions. :)

What social media faux pas have you blundered through recently? What do you think about the "friend me" feature on these sites? What's your number one social networking etiquette rule? And--do you let a friend know when they are committing a faux pas?

Oh, and feel free to ask me out on goodreads. I'd love to be your friend. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Meeting: Bury Me in Saturn

Sometimes the best ideas are happy accidents.

Superman and Cowgirl waiting for their first day of school.

Superman, in all his thoughtfulness, interpreted the lyrics of one of the stanzas of this song, as "bury me in Saturn". When someone corrected him, he considered it a moment, and then replied that he still thought that the words were "bury me in Saturn." In his non-confrontational way, he asserted that his lyrics were better. And I agree.

And, I don't really want my kids understanding the words of that song. It's beautiful--I get why they want to sing it. But seriously.

Afterwards, I spent at least half an hour dreaming about what 'bury me in Saturn' could mean.

Those four words could spark a novel. :)


I'm saddling up for another week devoted to writing, and trying to get as much writing as I can get done, between the hours of 9 and 2. My kids have a couple of days off at the end of the week, so I'm trying to focus now. Behind the scenes (of this blog), I have gotten a great deal of revision done on the first half of my WIP, and am interested in writing forward, while continuing to revise as I go. I don't have any word count goals, but I might just challenge some of you to a 1k1hr twitter word off this week. Anyone up for it?

I know a huge bunch of you are gearing up for NaNo. How is the prep going? I'm not sure I'm in the best place to participate, but can't wait for the surge of energy. Love it when everyone is writing fast and furiously!

And, I have been doing a lot of research about the volatile publishing environment right now, and considering all options for the future of my career. How about you? Are you thinking about agents and traditional publishing, or e-books and author control?

What are your goals this week? Are you prepping for NaNo?
And, what would it look like to be buried in Saturn?  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Meeting: Anna's Awesome Interview Answers and WINNER

Thanks to everyone who played my crazy book giveaway!

I can't wait to give away (at the end of this post) a copy of Anna's book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE. In the meantime, here is Anna, with answers to my questions:

Q1: Before the book's cover art was completed, what did Anna think the girl was doing on it? Hint: The frog was not on top of the girl's head.

When I first saw the cover for My Very UnFairy Tale Life, I thought it was definitely on the right track, but I couldn't figure out what the girl was looking at. I knew she was supposed to be rolling her eyes, but the more I looked at it, the more confused I got. Was she having a seizure? Was she wondering how to pronounce my last name? After some brainstorming, I came up with the idea of putting a frog on her head, and I was thrilled when my publisher went with it. After all, a girl with a frog on her head is much more interesting than a girl without a frog on her head.

Q2: Anna has a room dedicated to a specific movie series in her house. What is it?

Okay fine, I'm a Star Wars geek. The sun room in our house has slowly become the Star Wars room. 

It started with this Lego Star Destroyer. My husband and I gave that to each other as a wedding present, and it's been the crowning jewel of our house ever since. We also have a Star Wars pop-up book, a Polish movie poster for The Empire Strikes Back, and, of course, a Star Wars throw pillow. (To be fair, the last two were gifts. Once people know you like something, they help feed your obsession.)

I love that obsession! 

Q3. Anna’s main character, Jenny, travels to a world where the inhabitants are missing one key feature. What do you think that key feature is?

I was just surprised as Jenny was when I realized the characters she was helping didn't have mouths. As I was writing the story, I wasn't thinking of it as a serious project that I wanted to have published one day. It was just the funny little story that I came back to when I needed a break from other things. I loved playing with the wacky ideas that came into my head, and one of those ideas, apparently, was mouthless creatures.

Q4. A conversation with Anna’s sister-in-law inspired a part of the book. It has to do with losing a part of the body and hot liquid. Guess what those elements are.

Before I even started writing the book, I had a conversation with my sister-in-law that I knew I had to use in a writing project one day. She and I were talking about my theory that tea is the cure for everything. Soon we were coming up with odd things that tea might not be able to fix. Finally she asked me; "What if my head fell off? Would you still tell me to drink tea?" To which I answered: "Yup. I'd just tell you to pour it down your neckhole." 

Okay, that's pretty gruesome. :) In a funny kind of way!

Q5. In the style of Clue, fill in the blanks. Jenny fights ______ (who), in the ____(location), with a _____ (object).

Jenny fights a crazy clown sorcerer in the kingdom of Speak, with a pink mini-golf ball.

I love Anna's answers! I think they really highlight some of the creative elements in this adventurous book. 

You know what I also loved? All of your answers. Some of them had me down right laughing.

If you want to hear more about Anna's journey with this book, please click over to this interview at Adventures in Children's Publishing. 

For all of you who live in the North East, and want to come support Anna and her book, here are her in real life book tour dates:

November 6 – Book launch party at the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Mass. 5pm
November 19 – Book signing/event at the Ames Free Library in Easton, Mass.
Let me know if you need a ride--we can carpool!

And, now, for the winner: 


The winner is.....


Anna thought her use of onion rings was superbly funny!

Congrats all! We'll do another fun giveaway sometime soon!


Now tell me, how is your writing life on this fantastic Monday?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Special Edition Friday Feature: Win Anna Staniszewski's MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE

This Friday Feature interview is so epic that it must span the entire weekend. Epic and yet, simple. Shall we play a game?

**Updated to add: I have decided to run this contest through the weekend, and will post Anna's spectacular answers and the winner on Monday. If you stopped by and want something new to check out, click over to Rubixboy's take on Anna's book!**

You see, Anna wrote an awesome book. Then her awesome agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, got it awesomely published. It's due to release 11/1/11.

I love the cover art!
Here's the blurb:
Is your magical kingdom falling apart? Twelve-year-old Jenny is on the case, whether she likes it or not. Saving the world might sound exciting, but for Jenny it’s starting to get old — even staying in the real world long enough to take a math test would be a dream come true! And when you throw in bloodthirsty unicorns, psychotic clowns, and the most useless gnome sidekick ever, Jenny decides that enough is enough. She’s leaving the adventuring business and not looking back. Or… is she?
Sounds delicious, doesn't it? And it is. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the ARC, and I twitched with delight as I followed Jenny's reluctant adventures with crazed unicorns, and bizarre (but thankful) creatures from other lands. The absurd situations and fun characters tickled me.

So, I gave it some thought, and I decided that I wanted to give away this book, so that one of you can experience Jenny's awesome adventures. But then I balked. I wanted to make sure that whoever won the book was deserving of the book. Creatively deserving.

So, now I'm going to make you work for it! In the spirit of the zany creativity on display in Anna's MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE, I want you to display your creativity by answering, in the blog comments, five questions. Points will not be given for correct answers, but for craziest, funniest, absurdly creative answers.

Are you up for the challenge?

Let's start the game!

Q1: Before the cover art for MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE was completed, what did Anna think that the girl pictured on it was doing? Hint: The frog was not yet on top of the girl's head.

Q2: Anna has a room dedicated to a specific movie series in her house. What is it? WHY?

Q3. Anna’s main character, Jenny, travels to a world where the inhabitants are missing one key feature. What do you think that key feature is?

Q4. A conversation with Anna’s sister-in-law inspired a part of the book. It has to do with losing a part of the body and hot liquid. Guess what those elements are. You can explain how your chosen elements fit together, if you like.

Q5. In the style of Clue, fill in the blanks. Jenny fights ______ (who), in the ____(location), with a _____ (object).

You have the weekend to come up with five answers. Now remember, zany off-the-wall-ness garners the most points! Answer those five questions in the comment section, then pop back over Monday to see Anna reveal the true answers, and crown someone the King or Queen Of The Absurd Answers. And that person will win her book!!

Good luck!

Need a stimulus to get those creative juices flowing?
Feast your eyes on the MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE book trailer:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Meeting: The Flu Had Me

Lots of things get in the way of getting writing done. Most of the time, it's me. Last week, it was the flu. And I really don't think it is accurate to say that I had the flu. The flu had me.

But, I have wrestled it to the ground, reclaimed some control (perhaps imaginary) over my life, and I'm back to plugging along on my WIP.

So, let's just do a straight up Monday Meeting today.

My goals: To read through to the end of what I have so far for my wip and put in the new plot points, and make necessary changes. To start writing forward, and really make headway.

I would also love to get out and visit some blogs this week.

So, tell me, what are your writing goals? And, what are you blogging about? Leave a link so we can all come see!

Is it possible that I got the flu from my cats? They sneezed on me quite a bit last week.

Also, I would love it if you would stop by on here on Friday and give Anna a big high five. We're talking about her debut book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE, which will be out in November. So soon! I'm so excited!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Monday Meeting--Floating Ideas, or, How Do You Write?

Here is a link to Lille, by Lisa Hannigan. Some inspiration for the beginning of the week. Click through--it's very cool.

I've always called myself a pantser. But I'm not really. I'm definitely not a plotter, although, for sure, I do a lot of plotting and planning. Let me tell you my process, and you can tell me what particular writing illness I'm inflicted with.

First I get an idea. A BIG idea. I write dystopian and contemporary fantasy, and I like my ideas BIG. I write it down. Then I let it stew for a year. I'm not kidding. I let that thing work its way down through my subconscious and back up again for, on the average, a year.

I create a soundtrack, based on the emotions behind my characters, and some specific events that I know happen in the novel, you know, because I've been thinking about it for a long time.

I jot down scenes about these characters. Or notes. Or whatever comes to mind.

Then I write hard and fast. I write to see if the idea will float. And I write for voice. I write until I know how my characters walk through their world.

I send it to crit partners. I want to nail the voice, the beginning, the idea, before I go on.

I revise. I get close to where I want the beginning to be. I find out that the idea will float.

Then I stop. I backtrack. I review all the notes I have, and start taking more notes about plot points, world building, back story. By this point, I already know the ending. I already know the beginning. I start to plot what happens in the middle. I might even draw little graphs, and time lines.

Then I write again, hard and fast.

Then I stop and review, and revise what came before.

I repeat the above until I reach 'The End'.

Then I write my first outline. And an editorial letter.

Then I begin revising.

At least, that is how I write today. :)

How do you write? Can you put yourself into a straight category? Are you a pantser, a plotter, some combination of both? Do you write differently with each novel?

And--my goals this week are to write as much as possible. I want to dig in, and make headway. Write a couple of hours each day. Of course, I have a child home sick today. So we'll see. What goals are you working toward this week?