Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Which I Reveal First Place

Today is the day!
Today is the day that I reveal who I chose for first place in my 100 followers writing competition.

After reading it, I'm sure you'll see why I selected it.

First Place and the winner of


Christi Goddard!

Without further ado, here is her story:


The first crack of thunder of a Texas storm is a sure sign to unplug everything promptly. Lightning around here seems to aim for electrical poles instead of lonely trees in fields. One of Murphy's laws, whoever he is. I'm pretty sure he should be impeached or something, though. I hate his rules.

The storm that blew in at dusk raged until dawn, and when I left for work I found my dog had run off. Never a brave soul, I named him Spike to give him some confidence. So far it hadn't worked out so well. I called his name for several minutes, then gave up.

Next to my car's tire was a soaked book I'd never seen before. Curious, but running late, I tossed it onto the floorboard to scope out at a later time.

I'd no sooner closed my car door and started the engine when a rapid tapping on my window startled me. I rolled down the window and gave my neighbor a vague smile. He always unsettled me with his nervous fidgets and darting eyes. It did not help that he was gaunt with long black hair that always hung in his face, obscuring his features.

"Quoth the raven," I said with a smile.


"A gentle tapping at my… nevermind." The man never understood my humor. "What d'you need, Ray?"

He arched a brow at me, seemingly annoyed. Perhaps he knew I thought explaining a joke would be futile in his case. "Did you see anything…odd last night?"

"I don’t watch American Idol."

Ray frowned deeply at me, so I tried again. "No, I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Why? Your dog run off, too?"

He didn't own a dog. I knew this, but it was my way of letting him know Spike'd gone missing and he should keep a lookout.

"Not yet," he replied, which I thought was odd. Perhaps he was trying to be as funny as me. He shouldn't do that. It's like trying to fly a plane after watching the pilot. Only not as dangerous.

He glanced down the street nervously, then scurried off without another word. Chocking it up to him just being the local crazy inventor, I rolled up my window and
proceeded down my driveway.

As I checked to make sure the coast was clear to enter the street, I saw Ray at his truck with rope, tying something down in the bed. Curious to a fault, I pulled up at the curb and rolled down my passenger window.

"What's that thing?" It was a metal box with knobs and switches. It almost looked like a giant toaster that'd been steam punked.

"Nothing. Something my brother made."

Right. The dead one. I didn't want to bring up touchy subjects.

"Oh. Well, good luck with it." It was a lame dismissal, but I had to get to work.

I pulled into the nearest coffee drive thru and ordered a hot java, but when I whipped out my wallet to pay for it, all I had was one hundred dollar bills. These paper items did not belong in my wallet. In fact, it was at least three month's wages. I knew I'd had nothing to do with them materializing in my wallet. I paid for the coffee with my debit card.

I wanted to go home and back to bed. It was a strange day already, and I'd not gotten to work yet. When I got to the office, I took the wet book inside with me. I put it under my office fan to dry it out some.

"I pray every day that it will stop, but it keeps getting worse," said my boss behind me.

"I know I'm late again, but my dog ran off," I said. "I'll get better, promise."
She gave me a disbelieving look and walked away.

I peeled open the damp book to discover it was a diary.

Ever since I woke, I smell the fear of others. I wish I'd just slept until I died. I'm so tired of feeling like a freak…

Entry after entry was like that. A woman had developed the olfactory abilities of a canine upon waking from a coma. Weird. Or she was crazy.

Three weeks passed, and I'd given up on Spike. When he did come home, he had a long, strange bone in his mouth. I decided his name had given him confidence after all. I renamed him Spike the Buffy Slayer.


Do you see why I love it? Not only did Christi choose a prompt and write a story, she used all of the prompts! Can you believe it?

Also, the last line was such a winner for me because as soon as I read that the dog's name was Spike I was all, oh, like Spike from Buffy. And then, at the end to have Spike bring us a bone from Buffy??! So awesome and hilarious!

Great job Christi! Please email me your mailing address and I will send your prizes post-haste!

Tomorrow - the rest of the entries and their prizes!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Which I Reveal Third And Second Place

Yay! More winning entries!

Since I know you're excited, I'll get right to it!

Third Place and the winner of


Nicole Ducleroir!

Here is her story:


The Sacred Heart

Thomas’ black leather coat was as useful as a window screen at protecting him from the biting wind. He clutched the collar to his throat and strode down the littered Bronx sidewalk with his head bent against the constant gust. Halfway down the block, a pair of tattered shoes entered his limited field of vision. Thomas slowed his pace and lifted his chin. His gaze traveled from the shoes, up soiled pant legs, past where the waist bent at ninety degrees, to the torso of a disheveled and unconscious man. Thomas took a step closer, peering at the man’s chest to see if it rose and fell. That’s when he spied the frayed wallet, half- wedged under the man’s hip next to a smudged Styrofoam coffee cup.

Thomas glanced quickly up and down the street, snatched up the wallet, and opened it. It was empty.

He tossed it back on the card board bedroll and walked on. A hundred feet later, he turned and crossed a small parking lot in front of Fortworth Saloon. He reached for the door handle and paused. A drop of water ran down the inside of the sweating glass. Thomas whipped his head left and right, popping his neck. He took a deep breath and pulled open the door.


“Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?” Stevie Romero scoffed as he threw his cards face down. A cheer went up from the onlookers surrounding the table. Thomas raked all the chips from the ante pile toward him, including the Rolex laid neatly on top. The piles of chips at his side resembled the smokestacks of Jersey’s finest factories across the Hudson. Thomas allowed a boyish grin and avoided looking at the other players.

A large man in a white suit and matching ten bucket cowboy hat peered at Thomas. “So, Tommy Heart?” he drawled. “How come we’ve never seen y’all around the circuit before today? Y’all can’t be new to the game. Ain't beginners who can bluff like you.” He eyed Thomas’ chip fortress with suspicion.

“I been playin’ in the neighborhood for years. In Brooklyn, you gotta have your game face on all the time, ya know what I’m talkin’ about?” Thomas smirked and offered a knuckle bump to the cowboy who sat still, his emotionless eyes fixed on Thomas. Thomas lowered his fist.

“Aw, come on Tex, you’re just pissed off ‘cause he got your stupid watch,” shouted Romero from the other side of the table. “Your bluff was weak, man. Even I saw through it.”

As the Texan argued with Romero, Tommy Heart excused himself from the table. His cool composure cloaked his racing heart. In the vacant hallway leading to the restrooms, he pulled out his cell phone. Glancing left and right, he pushed speed dial number one.

“Sacred Heart of Brooklyn, may I assist you?”

“Sister Cecelia Maria?” he whispered into the phone.

“Father Thomas? Is that you? Where are you, we’ve been worried sick!”

“I’m fine, Sister. But I only have a minute to talk. Listen, please call the parish council and tell them to block the Youth Center demolition. I have raised the money for the new roof, and I suspect there’ll be enough to buy new furniture and get some of those programs off the ground we talked about for the kids.”

“Praise the Lord, Father! This is a last minute miracle. How did you do it?”

Father Thomas glanced at the poster on the wall advertising the semi-pro Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament. With a scarlet blush he said, “I found a room full of willing donators.”

“God is great!” Sister Cecelia Maria exclaimed. “I’ll make the call now. Thank you, Father. Thank you so much!”

“You are welcome. And Sister? One other thing. Please call Father Fitzgerald. See if he is available on Sunday to hear my confession.”


An hour later with the wind at his back, Thomas made his way up the block. He stopped in front of the sleeping homeless man. Retrieving the wallet, Thomas slipped six twenties into the billfold. He shoved the wallet squarely into the man’s trouser pocket. Snapping his arm out straight to reveal the watch, he unstrapped the Rolex from his wrist and dropped it into the man’s stained trench coat pocket. The man stirred and Thomas walked away.

As Thomas rounded the corner, he looked back. The homeless man was sitting up, one hand cupping the top of his head as he stared into his open wallet.


Wonderful story! Also she was one of the only people to use the money in the wallet prompt (I'll give more prompt stats on Thursday) and she used it in a completely unexpected way.

I loved the fact that the MC in this piece was a completely different person by the end of the story, not because he had changed, but because our perception of him had. I find the story a little bittersweet, which is one of my all time favorite emotions when I'm reading fiction.

Great job Nicole!

Second Place and the winner of



Here is his story:



Surrounded by seventeen cops and six superheroes, Roger reached a chubby hand into his pocket. “I’m not a bad guy!” he yelled, clutching a yellow orb. Nestled in the crook of his other arm was a silver, Thermos-like canister.

“He’s got a bomb!”

As a barrage of bullets, three energy blasts, two arrows and an enchanted mallet flew towards him, Roger flung the orb onto the sidewalk. He vanished in a flash of blinding light.

Roger hated funerals. They made him feel judged: like everyone was looking at him, wondering why he wasn’t grieving more or why he was grieving so much. As he approached the casket containing his brother, he was thinking about all of that instead of Teddy. This, in turn, made him worry that other people were thinking he wasn’t more upset.

His brother had been a phenomenal inventor, and a super villain. Still, the boys’ father Franklin, though he would have denied it if asked directly, had always favored Teddy. Franklin had been so excited when Teddy had proven himself as intuitive and skilled an inventor as his father. Where the scientific community had laughed at Roger’s inventions, they had applauded Teddy’s. Where Franklin had mocked Roger’s clumsy attempts at following in his father’s footsteps, he had shown nothing but enthusiasm as Teddy quickly eclipsed his father’s skills.

Roger knelt. His hair was unkempt (he could never keep it tidy) and his shirt hung beneath his poorly-fitting suit coat (he could never keep his shirts tucked in). Roger could feel the eyes of the city’s biggest superheroes on his back, there to honor their fallen foe and the son of the man who had created all of their fantastic equipment.

“I bet you’re really pissed all those guys who always fought you are here,” Roger whispered.
“Nothing you can do about it now, I guess.” Roger glanced over his shoulder to his visibly upset father. “Dad never stopped being proud of you, you know. Even after all the mad scientist stuff, he still loved you more than me.” Tears formed in the corners of Roger’s eyes. “God, I hated you so much for that. I’m the older one, I’m supposed to be the favorite.” Roger sniffled. “But I didn’t want you to die.”

Blinding light filled the cramped room and Roger stumbled out. Breathless, he delicately placed the silver cylinder on a nearby table. “Did you get it?” his brother asked.

“Yeah, I got it,” Roger panted. “It was right where you said it would be.” Roger’s dazed eyes adjusted enough to see the holographic representation of his dead brother gazing with longing at the cylinder.

“Well,” the hologram said, “get to work.”

“I will, I will.” One of Teddy’s secret labs, the room was low ceilinged and packed to the brim with cluttered tools and half-finished inventions. Roger walked to a small refrigerator and pulled out a beer. He sipped it as he moved throughout the room, gathering tools and supplies as he prepared to finish his brother’s final invention.

Holographic Teddy watched impatiently as Roger puttered about. “This is killing you, isn’t it? Relying on me to do all the work?” The hologram gave Roger a pained look. “Sorry, bad choice of words.”

Roger placed a pair of goggles over his eyes and picked up a small torch. “Don’t worry, I can do this. We’ll be done in no time.”

Surrounded by cops and superheroes again, Roger stood on a rooftop beside his completed invention, cold wind tearing at his skin, hands held high.

“Please, it won’t hurt anyone. Just let me show you!” The machine was as tall as Roger, wide at the bottom and tapered towards the top where an old satellite dish was mounted. Exposed wires were everywhere. If Teddy had finished the device himself, it would have been smaller, sleeker, and color coordinated. It was all Roger could do, even with his brother’s hologram looking over his shoulder, to get the thing working.

Roger activated the device. Bullets tore into his flesh. They were too late.

Falling to the ground, his insides shredded, Roger heard the cops panicking as the superheroes approached. The device hummed.

“Don’t…,” Roger coughed up blood, “…destroy it. Just…energy. Unlimited energy, for the whole city.” One of the superheroes, Roger couldn’t tell which, knelt by his body. “Tell my dad…” Pain raked his body. His vision faded. “It was Teddy’s last invention. To make amends.” Roger knew he was almost dead. “Tell him Teddy was sorry.”


Things I love about this piece:
An enchanted Mallet
All contained in 750 words.

Also, one of my most favorite themes is redemption, so combine that with a brother's loyalty and it's a win win situation for me.

Great job!

If you two could email me your mailing addresses I will get your prizes right out to you (and let me know if you own either of the books and I will substitute another).

Tomorrow, the first place winner!

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Which I Reveal Fourth Place

Wow! Everyone who submitted to my 100 followers contest did such an AMAZING job! Seriously, I did not expect it to be so hard to choose winners.

Because it was so so hard, I actually had to create a fourth place (or honorable mention, whichever you prefer) and that place is actually held by 2 entries because I just could not decide.

Also, because all the entries were great, everyone who participated will be getting a prize! That's right, a prize for everyone!

What's the prize you ask?
You'll have to wait and see, later in the week.

This is how I'm going to do things. I'll reveal the fourth place winners today (and post their stories for all to read) the third and second place winners tomorrow, the first place winner on Wednesday and Thursday will be a wrap up including what I liked about the remaining entries and what they're receiving as prizes.

Fun times!

Please remember, I chose the stories based on entertainment value alone. Of course they were all entertaining, so hence my earlier mentioned dilemma of choosing winners.

And, since I'm sure you're all anxious, I'll get right to it!

Fourth place is a tie, and the first entry to hold this place (and winner of The Writers Book of Matches and Hooked) is:

Sonshine Music!

Here is her story:


I Have a Bone to Pick

It’s a really bizarre moment when you realize your life will never be the same. I mean, sometimes it sneaks up on you, but other times it’s just right there, in your face, wake up and take notice. Your life’s changing whether you like it or not, for better or for worse.

Have you noticed it’s usually “for worse”? At least, it has been in my experience. You know the phrases. “Your daughter has cancer.” “They did all they could.” “There was an accident.” “The company is ‘restructuring’.”

You want to know the phrase that changed my life? I bet you’ve never heard it before. It went like this:

It all started with my stupid dog. Now, before you go all ASPCA on me, please understand I mean that in the most affectionate way. Marty is the stupidest mutt you will ever meet. The first day I had him he got his ear stuck in the refrigerator. His ear! But I didn’t notice for two hours. He just sat there for two freaking hours with his ear in the fridge waiting for me to come back. What kind of dog does that?

Well, this time he had disappeared for three weeks. I called the pound, talked to my neighbors. Even posted pictures around town. No luck.

I was out in the garden on that fateful day. Minding my own business, just squatting down to inspect a tomato plant, when I was scared out of my wits by a cold nose pressing into the small of my back. It hit hat bare spot between my tee and capris.

“What on earth? Carry muffins in a pan!” I screamed. Sprawling backward into the grass I found myself nose to nose with my grinning, slobbering, brown and grey, seventeen-pound mess of a dog.

See, Marty doesn’t bark, he woofs. And he would have woofed at me if he could have, but he couldn’t. Not with that thing in his mouth. Even though his tail was going eighty miles an hour and he was all kinds of excited to have found me, it was the thing in his mouth that caught my attention.

It was a bone. Not a rawhide, rubber or chunky hunk of bone, but a real bone. It didn’t look like those cartoon bones either. It was red and white and I had never seen anything like it.

Marty dropped it on my chest. “Ew, nasty pie of disgusting grossness!” I jumped up and let the bone fall to the ground. We both stared down at it, then Marty looked up at me and woofed.

“Shut up,” I told him. “Do you realize what a pain this is for me?”

He grinned and his tongue lolled out of his mouth, drool dripping onto my bare toes. I curled them out of instinct and shooed Marty back to the house. He woofed again, bounding around my feet, trying to make sure we both ended up back on the ground.

“Cut it out, you mangy mutt,” I growled, but then I ruffled his ears as I pulled open the screen door.

After locking him in the bathroom so he didn’t spread chaos around the rest of my house, I snagged the phone and rifled through the front of the phone book to find the local police number. Yeah, I don’t have it memorized and this didn’t seem like a 911 worthy call. I snorted as the phone rang. Can you imagine that conversation?

“Yes, I’d like to report a bone. No, my dog brought it home. But it’s real. No, there’s no emergency. No, no one’s in distress. Well, I guess something is. I mean, something’s missing a bone. Those are kind of important.”

Not so much.

Then the operator answered and I found myself saying those same words anyway. There’s no easy way to broach that kind of subject.

The woman thought I was pranking her at first, but I repeated myself until she agreed to send a car over.

The two cops got out of the cruiser and I led them over to the bone. It looked so out of place on my crisp, green lawn. A little harbinger of death and destruction in my corner of the world.

Their faces got all serious. One crouched down, pulled on some gloves and picked it up. He looked at his partner and; here comes that phrase I was talking about at the beginning; he said, “I think it’s human.”

Stupid dog.


I LOVED the humor in this piece. I loved that the dog got his ear stuck in the fridge and I especially loved the "Carry muffins in a pan!" expletive and I expect I will be stealing it and using it in real life. Also, what's not to like when the MC is discussing why they didn't call 911 because of the story they'd have to tell, when they had to tell it anyway to the non-emergency police. Hilarious!

Great job at making me laugh!

The second entry for this place (since again, there was a tie) and also winner of The Writers Book of Matches and Hooked) is:


Here is her entry:



Because Palindrome has plans to submit this baby, it can't be posted on the interwebs.

BUT, the story was about a girl who wakes up from a coma and finds that she's very very hungry.


Ewww! Creepy! Also, awesome. What is not to like about zombie-esqu coma patient? Nothing, that's what.

Also, what I love about Palindrome's writing is her use of metaphor. "There is a dry sponge in my mouth. I try to push it out with my tongue until I realize it is my tongue." I can never metaphor like that, and so am always appreciative of those who can.

Great job to both of you!

If you ladies can email me your mailing addresses, I will send your prizes on their way! (also, please let me know if you have either of those books and I will substitute for another).

Tomorrow, more winners!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fun Words

So all the dog poop got picked up. Finally. Now we can run around outside and not worry about where we're putting our feet.

It's been pretty sunny here, which means good sunbathing, but still can be a bit chilly. Especially at night. Actually the other night, I made Mommy share her blanket because I was cold. Dutifully, she agreed. As she should.

Onto the words!

Swedum - Isn't that the name of the giant Muppet? No? Close enough

Simpasta - what your artificial little person makes for dinner when they don't have enough cooking skills to fry up a steak. But make sure you have a smoke detector installed. You don't want your artificial person burning up

Junwiff - when you smell a summer month approaching

Meness - When a man (specifically a male) is out of control and a danger to society

Piptec - When a tictac gets stuck in a pipette. I can promise you your chemistry teacher would probably be pretty made about that...

Thipe - when tripe has a lisp

And that's all I have for this week!

Mommy says don't forget to submit your stories for her

100 followers contest by 5PM CST today!

Winners will be announced all next week!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In Which I'm Told I'm Watching Dune

I watched a bit of Dune on TV the other day. I really like the book and have always had mixed feelings about it as a movie. As a kid I always loved the part where they ride on the worms and they have blue eyes. What's not to like?

As a teen, I liked Sting playing Feyd.

I love...the way his name is spelled

I remember, as a teen, making fun of all the internal dialogue with a hilarious friend (said friend, if you're reading this, hi!) The spice, the worms...what does it all mean? I'm not sure, Paul, but I bet if we keep watching, we'll find out.

So I knew the internal dialogue was coming when I watched it the other day. But what I was not expecting was all the unnecessary telling the internal monologue accomplished.

Here's some examples.

Paul is about to be tested by sticking his hand in the box of pain (which is another thing I remember as a child. That and the horrible horrible Baron unplugging that guy's heart plug and the guy just bleeding to death. Fun times).

Paul's mother has this look of fear on her face. Paul looks between his mother and the Bene Gesserit High mother and he can see, clearly based on the actor's facial expressions, that something is going on and his mother is frightened.

Then Paul thinks she's frightened of something.

Boy, you think Paul? We already picked that up from all the actors and their expressions.

Later, Paul's mother is talking to their Dr. Yueh and she mentions that he must really hate the Harkonnens. Yueh makes a comment along the lines of:

"Yes. My wife..." Then he stops talking and has a grieved and pained look on his face. Jessica looks at him sympathetically. Clearly, as an audience, we can see what has happened here.

BUT THEN, the internal monologue.

Jessica thinks, His wife must be dead.

Thank you SO MUCH internal monologue. We could not deduce that ourselves. AND even if we couldn't, in about 15 minutes, we'll know for sure when the Harkonnens tell her that they killed Yueh's wife. I think as an audience, we could have been held in suspense for 15 minutes if we couldn't deduce that his wife was dead.

I have about 6 other specific examples written down just from the hour or so I watched but I think you get the point.

I don't know why they felt the need to hammer us over the head with so much telling. The movie could have been much more subtle and pleasant as opposed to the heavy handed film it is now.

When I read the book, I was never once confused. But when I watch the movie, I'm confused about 50% of the time. If you want to do some telling, movie, to make sure the audience is following you, why don't you let the actors act out their emotions (which they'er already doing) and save the telling for things like what the hell that floating creature thing is - turns out it's the guild navigator. Who knew? Not me, even after I had read the book. Then I was like That's the guild navigator?!.

It would take a hell of a lot of spice to turn a man into this

Anyway, that's what I was thinking when I was watching the movie. Too much unnecessary telling.

Anyone else love or hate Dune? Either the movie or the book? There's supposedly a new movie in the works. Hope it's good.

P.S. - Don't forget to enter my 100 followers writing contest for a chance to win prizes. The deadline is 5PM CST Friday 3/26

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Which We Discuss Chapter Breaks

I think I've mentioned before that I don't naturally write with chapters in mind. I write in scenes, and the scenes are written chronologically, and clearly a few of them would be good as chapter endings based on the last line of the scene, but overall I don't put chapter breaks in while I'm writing.

Which means, of course, I have to do that later.

I think I finally got the scenes moved around and separated into viable chapters for Foxfire.

If you remember, here's what my scene blocking looked like before...

And here's what it looks like now, firmly separated into chapters.

As you can see there's no longer one giant chapter on the right hand side and the colors are spread out more evenly. I also added a few more scenes (one pink, one blue), reworked one (I took the prologue and moved it into chapter 3 or 4, can't quite remember which) and split a lengthy Quill scene into two.

Oh, since I forgot to mention this last time we discuss scene-blocking and there seems to have been quite a bit of interest in this technique I'll tell you what I put on each card.

In the upper right hand corner I wrote the scene #, in case I moved some scenes around, but then wanted to put them back in their original order. On the left hand corner I wrote the number of pages in the scene. On the blue cards, because they're from minor character POVs I put the name of the character the scene's POV was in. I didn't have to do this on the green or pink ones because green scenes = Fox, my male MC and pink = Quill, my female MC.

In the body of the cards I wrote both the first and last line of the scene. That way I could see if I was reusing any opening or closing sentences (and I was) and I could remember that I need to make each of these sentences as best as they can be and full of hooks and conflict.

Then below that I wrote a one sentence summary of the scene, just in case I couldn't tell what the scene was about from the first and last sentences. Something like "Quill is ousted from her village".

Of course, you can write whatever you want on the cards. That was just the information I found most helpful for me when scene-blocking.

Anyway, back to the chapter discussion.

I have a question for all of you who either write in chapters, or for anyone who has broken a novel out into chapters (which, I assume, would be anyone that has finished a novel)

How long do you make your chapters?

From a scene POV, you can see that all my chapters are about the same - 3 or 4 scenes, one of about each color. I purposely aimed for that because I like the symmetry of it.

But, a few of those scenes are only a few pages long (I do plan on fluffing some of them up a bit...) which means I have chapters (especially in the beginning) that are 30 pages long, and then chapters in the end that are only 9 pages long.

Do you think this is an issue? Would this bother you as a reader? As a writer? Would you even notice?

I'm just not sure if I should combine a few of the chapters just to give them a longer a chapter page count, even though it will mean giving those chapters a longer scene count. If that makes sense.


How do you arrange your chapters?

P.S. - Don't forget to enter my 100 followers writing contest for a chance to win prizes. The deadline is 5PM CST Friday 3/26

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In Which I'm Hungry For Some Games

I finished reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (I'm team Peeta, if anyone is wondering).
After so much hype spread their way, I have to say that I was not disappointed.
I took about 2 days to read The Hunger Games and 1 day for Catching Fire. I think Catching Fire was my favorite, just by a smidgen.

I mean, a dystopian series where children fight to the death? Yeah count me in for that book.

Look at this awesome pic! Credit goes to Clio Chiang

The only thing I had a "problem" with (and I use quotes because I'm not quite sure this is a problem) was the pace.

It was so super duper fast.

Which of course led to me reading them both in 3 days. That's not overly a big deal, I have a lot of books to read and I had set aside Manuscript Makeover to take a crack at these, so the fast pace let me get back to that book quickly.

The fast pace gave the books a "can't put this down" quality, which is certainly good for the author. I actually had to debate how late I should stay up and continue reading The Hunger Games - was 11pm too late when I have to get up at 6:20 to work out? No it wasn't, even though I regretted it in the morning.

What I don't like with such a fast pace is that the story is done almost before you get a chance to really get into it. Because I'm reading it so fast, because I just cannot put it down, I feel like it's over too soon. With a good book, I want time to savor it, not be forced to finish it as fast as possible.

Also, because of their fast pace, they really interfered with other things I needed to do. Like editing my WIP.
Who has time to edit while reading the Hunger Games? Not me, apparently.

So is the fast pace a problem? Yes and no. No because it worked successfully in the books and I could not put them down. Yes because I read the books too quickly and they interfered with other things.

Either way, they were very enjoyable and I look forward to Mocking Jay coming out in August. Where I'm sure I'll read it in one day.

What about you? Have you read The Hunger Games or another book that you wish wasn't so fast paced?

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Which I Host A Contest!

100 followers! Can you believe it? I can't. It freaks me out a bit.

But you know what 100 followers means in the blogosphere? A contest!

We're going to shake things up around here and do a writing contest.

The prizes:

First Place:

Second Place:

Third Place:

The guidelines:

I'm not one for writing prompts. BUT, occasionally I need to write something (maybe for a contest) and have no idea what to write.

That's when I turn to the Writer's Book of Matches.

Every page has some sort of prompt that gets my fingers itching to write.

So, for this contest, you will need to write a story under 750 words using one of the below prompts taken from the book (feel free to go hog wild, but just make sure I can tell which prompt your story started with) (also, I tried to pick a wide range of prompts to attempt to appeal to as many people that want to enter as possible).

  • After 3 weeks, a lost dog returns home to its master carrying an unidentifiable bone in its mouth

  • After waking from a coma, a woman discovers she can smell fear

  • When a crackpot inventor is killed by one of his contraptions his brother - also an inventor - finds himself compelled to finish the work

  • A man discovers a large sum of money in his wallet and can't remember where it came from

  • Use the quote "I pray every day that it will stop, but it keeps getting worse."

  • After a violent thunderstorm a man discovers a rain-soaked diary among the debris in his yard

The Rules:

  • You must be a blog follower
  • The story must be under 750 words
  • The story must be written off one of the prompts
  • The story must be submitted no later than 5pm (CST) Friday, March 26th
  • The entry must be emailed to:

I will conduct a blind reading - which is to say, I will be printing off any stories received and reading them without knowing who wrote what. It's easier to stay objective that way. So please try and keep your names off the piece itself (but not your email...I'll need to find you if you win)

I will be looking for the stories that, first and foremost, I find the most entertaining.

The winners will be announced on Monday, March 29th. I will post each of the stories on my blog so everyone can enjoy them.

Good luck! And feel free to spread the word.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Fun Words

Yvie here. I'm taking a break from my sunbathing just to write this blog post. Enjoy it, ape-friends, I don't make these concessions for just anyone.

The weather has improved. Of course, with all the snow gone, it's become clear that the yard is pretty much not dirt and grass, but dog poop. Mom better get on picking that up soon. I don't want to look at poop when I don't have to.

When you were a puppy you used to roll in your poop. I first saw you as a small little bean covered in puppy poop.

Shut up Mommy! You're ruining my image! Take this!

Anyway, now that Mommy and her lies have been subdued, onto the words!

Arpoke - the famous aardvark martial art

*Nopho - when your favorite ramen house runs out of noodles

Zoofin - a zoo purely for animals with fins. And NO, it's not the same thing as an aquarium!

Unkhk - sorry. I had something in my throat. (yes that was a real verification word)

Spacolli - pasta for a long nosed mutt (they think they're soooo great with their long noses...)

Vandep - what happens when you cross Van Wilder and Johnny Depp. Is it a good thing? Who can tell...

Thinglo - when you're so skinny, light just passes through your skin

All right that's it for this week!
I hope you all take the time to let the spring sun warm your pink spotty bellies just like me

*words provided by Piedmont Writer

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Which I Receive Books

So I had been hoarding a various assortment of gift cards I had won on different blogs in contests. Once I got them all together I went on a bit of a book splurge online.

Know what's awesome? Getting books in the mail, is what.

Here are the books that came all pretty and shiny and new.

I've added them to my pile of books TBR on my nightstand. Said pile still contains at least one book from X-Mas, not to mention a few specific books that came to me in the mail after winning a few other blog contests.

I have to say, blog contests may be the best thing ever invented.

Speaking of which - I've reached the amazing amount of 100 followers. CRAZY!

Next week (Monday) I will post about my first ever writing contest! Get your pens ready.

I can promise you one thing about that contest, the prizes will be Many and AWESOME!

Yvie will be in tomorrow for the usual Friday Fun Words. See you there!

PS: Check out Palindrome's blog post relating to frequent (and briefly missing) commenter Joan Crawford. HILARIOUS

PPS: Dear spell check - when I write "hte" please know that what I really mean is "the". It would really help if you could correct that. kai thx? bye

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Which I Pass On Awards

I've been given a few awards lately and thought I'd just pop them in here real quick (also I'm a bit behind on writing blog posts, so I'm cheating by devoting a whole post to these awards.)

First, I received the Sugar Doll award from Karen at I'm Always Write

Also the Stylish Blogger award from Abby Annis (who's name always confuses me because I had a friend named Anna Abbey...)

The rules for both these are to reveal 5 unusual facts about myself. I don't know about unusual, but I'll give it a try

1. I play the violin

2. I like to eat liver

3. I used to have reoccurring nightmares with alligators

4. My fingers are double jointed

5. I can only whistle between my teeth

So there you have it.

I will pass the Sugar Doll award onto:

SonshineMusic at Sonshine Thoughts

M.R.J. Le Blanc at Libray of Andunien

and the Stylish Blogger award onto:

Achinghope at Slumpvis Musings

KayKay at KayKay's Corner

See you tomorrow!

PS - if you're not wearing green today, I'm pinching you through the blogosphere!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In Which I Share A Video

In case you haven't seen this on Colleen Lindsay's The Swivet, I present to you a hilarious video of the best movie trailer ever. EVER


My favorite part is "PASSIONATE PLEA! Whispered repetition."

Love it.

In Which We Discuss Agents

I'm really excited for when I get to the point where I can start researching agents. I mean, I have a few listed already, but I haven't done any serious agent research. I don't want to get ahead of myself because then I might get discouraged or bored with it and then have that to get over once I HAVE to do agent search.

I'm really excited to make an excel spreadsheet of agents I have or plan to Query. I love making excel spreadsheets, so I think it will be super fun.

I'd like to know, from those of you that are searching for an agent right now, how you made your list/lists?

Did you use Agent Query? Or Query Tracker? Something else?

How did you decide who was on your "A" list and who was on your "B" list, etc?

If you had a "dream" agent in mind, what was it about them that made them so?

Monday, March 15, 2010

In Which Dialogue Takes Over

I like to write dialogue. It's something I find easy, and fun to do.

One thing that drives me crazy, though, is when the dialogue goes somewhere I'm not planning or somewhere completely unexpected.

Sometimes this is a good thing of course. Maybe the characters' conversation reveals some surprising characterization or plot point. Then it's fun.

BUT when I'm trying to write a conversation that needs to go a certain way, when the dialogue needs to reveal something important for the scene, that's when it irritates me when the dialogue goes off script.

Because I find that dialogue flows so easily, it's really hard for me to change it, add in sentences, remove other parts, and still make it sound realistic, or at least, not forced.

Does anyone else have any troubles with their dialogue occasionally taking over?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Fun Words

Yvie here for my usual Friday post

So the weather has started to change a bit. Whereas before it was snowy and cold, now it's rainy and icy (and yesterday it was even thundery and lightningy - in March - with snow still on the ground!)

I hate rain. I really want it to get nice and dry and warm so I can sunbathe.

But Tula thinks rain is no big deal.

In fact she likes rain because it leads to mud...




And then she likes to try and kiss me or Mom or Anne.

I don't find that amusing...

Anyway, onto the words!

Tinsin - a grievance committed by metal

Whopperp - a giant perpetrator

Brantera - cereal for metal heads

*Mings - man rings

*Furoz - when the Wizard in Emerald City is a lycanthrope

*Uncish - one of those creepy uncles.... the kind you just wish you didn't have to hang around

*Blearwi - drunken Nintendo Wii playing

And that is all for this week ape-friends!
Tune in next week for some more words - same dog time, same dog channel!

*words provided by Piedmont Writer

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Which I Share Contest News

SonshineMusic is having a contest to celebrate 100 blog posts!

Enter to win an amigarumi owl!


In Which I Scene Block

I finished scene-blocking Foxfire. I had a lot of fun and it's the first time I've tried it. Always before I thought it seemed like a useless exercise because I write in a linear fashion, so there's certainly no reason for me to move scenes around - that would mess up the plot something fierce.

But for Foxfire, I knew I needed to add a few scenes here or there and more importantly I needed to list out all the scenes to try and figure out where the chapter breaks fall (since I do not write with chapters in mind).

Here's the results:

The green notes (though they look a bit yellow in the pic) are scenes from MC Fox's POV while the pink ones are scenes from MC Quill's POV.

The blue ones are scenes from any other characters (of which include 2 antagonists and 4 other minor characters)

Counting the Prologue (which will be cut) and the epilogue I have 24 chapters, though I plan on combining some of those single scene chapters or adding another scene here or there.

The gaps are chapter breaks and though some of them look much much longer than the others, some of the scenes are only a page or two, especially with that long chapter towards the right. Also that one might need to be broken up a bit.

I need a blue card earlier in the story and also I think I need to break up that long pink Quill stretch, but we'll see.

It's kind of neat, seeing my story structure in a physical manner.

Does anyone else do any scene-blocking during revisions?

Also here is the answer to yesterday's post:

1. I have had a menagerie of pets, including squirrels, ducks, dogs, guinea pigs, rats, gerbils, hamsters, chameleons, fish and raccoons

This one is a lie. I've never had a raccoon

2. My favorite vegetable is carrots

No thanks on carrots. Unless they come from my own garden. Then they taste delicious

3. I've broken my clavicle twice

DING DING! This one is the true one! I broke it when i was an infant when my mom tripped and fell over a garden hose while carrying Twin and I. The second time Twin broke it when were were 6 and wrestling

4. I hate watching Supernatural

This one is an obvious bold faced lie. There is nothing to even dislike about this show

5. One of my favorite places to shop is Wal-Mart

Nope. I avoid it at all costs

6. I really don't like to play boggle

Lie! Who doesn't like to play boggle? I even had it on my phone

7. I've been to Italy, Austria and France

I've been to Italy and Austria but not France.

So there you have it! Congrats to anyone who guessed correctly!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Which I Tell Lies

I have a few awards I've been sitting on. So if you sent me one, don't worry, I'll get to it, I promise. I've just been pretty busy with the "day job" and have had to scurry a bit to get blog posts written (which is also why I haven't been commenting as much lately on other blogs. This will hopefully be rectified soon)

Tara, from Feel Of Something New passed on the "Creative Writer" blog award

For this award I have to make up 6 lies and provide 1 truth. Feel free to guess which one is the truthful one, I will provide the answer tomorrow.

1. I have had a menagerie of pets, including squirrels, ducks, dogs, guinea pigs, rats, gerbils, hamsters, chameleons, fish and raccoons

2. My favorite vegetable is carrots

3. I've broken my clavicle twice

4. I hate watching Supernatural

5. One of my favorite places to shop is Wal-Mart

6. I really don't like to play boggle

7. I've been to Italy, Austria and France

Which one is the truth and which ones are lies?

Tune in tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In Which I Entered Another Contest

I entered something in Natalie Whipple's Dark and Stormy Contest. I actually wrote a little flash fiction piece. Of course, once I finally got it down to 250 words is when I realized I forgot to open with the weather.

Yeah, I left out the whole point of the contest. Smooth Sarah...

So anyway, I was able to delete a few more words (and it was hard, I had already cut out 150 words, which is a lot for a short piece) and stick in my weather reference.

I was pretty sure I had no chance because I didn't weave the weather throughout, and I was correct.

But still, I kinda liked it, so here it is for everyone to read.


On a sunny afternoon, Jim left Jena with a bellyful of baby for some trollop. Still, Jena sometimes missed him. After all, Jim had made her a mommy.

Clara was the perfect baby, Jena’s soul mate, the reason she allowed Jim back in their lives. Surely some good existed in him since he was partially responsible for the exquisite Clara. And more than anything, Jena loved Clara.

Which is why, when Jena first noticed the fangs, she wasn’t scared.

The two fangs were a shiny white, no bigger than grains of rice. They responded with Clara’s mood: happy meant no fangs, hungry or angry meant the delicate fangs would pop out.

Jena became anemic. But it wasn’t Clara’s fault. Jena loved every inch of Clara, even the inches that drew blood.

So she stopped breastfeeding and tried formula, but Clara lost all interest in food. Her nightly cries kept Jena awake and nothing soothed. Finally, when it became too much, Jena called Jim.

It didn’t take much to convince him to come over: the promise of liquor, maybe a little amorous fun.

“Say hello to the baby,” Jena said and thrust Clara into her daddy’s arms.

Jim held Clara to his shoulder and rubbed her back. He wasn’t, after all, a bad father.

Clara nudged her daddy’s neck. Her tiny fangs erupted and slid into Jim’s skin.
Jena was there to catch Clara when Jim collapsed. After all, she was a mommy, and would do anything for Clara.


I know. Vampires again? Yeah. But it's a vampire baby. Anyway it's not like that's how I intended for it to go, but what can you do?

I might possibly like to stretch this out a bit, add a couple hundred words, so I can do less telling and really weave more of a theme throughout. But we'll see.

I've got bigger projects that need editing first.

Anyone else enter a piece in the contest?

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Which You Can Win Goods!

Elana Johnson is having another awesome contest (she is like contest queen) in which you can win books!


Go forth and enter!

Also Suzette and Bethany are having a contest that involves, not only free things like books and toffee (*droooool) but also the possibility for a 40 page partial submission and critique by Suzie Townsend of FinePrintLit!

Enter Here

In Which My Typo Is Hilarious

So I finished reading Foxfire.

It was weird; the parts that I thought were very weak, weren't as bad as I originally had thought, which is aways a pleasant surprise. Either that or I have an underservedly high opinion of my writing... I guess time will tell. And my crit group.

The pacing in the beginning seemed much much quicker than I had intended. I don't know if that's bad or not yet. I do think I'll be throwing in some scenes from some of the minor character's POVs (the ones that already have scenes and that I want to build up some more) so I'm sure that will help slow the pace.

I also came to the realization that it has a Part One and a Part Two.

I kind of hate that.

Mostly because I'm not a big fan of "parts" when I read books, but mine clearly has two. I think if I do decide to make them separate with a part distinction, it will help the pacing a bit in the beginning. I don't know, we'll see how it goes.

Also when I had finished writing it, I really thought the ending sucked big time. I thought it was much too passive and had too much of a touch of Deus Ex Machina (Tee Hee! I need to get a pet and name it that, just so I have a reason to say it out loud all the time. A ratty maybe...)
But when I reread the ending, I found it much more tense and action packed than I remembered. It still needs work (the Deus Ex Machina needs to go, or at least be trimmed so it's not as unbelievable) but I was much more pleased with it than I thought I would be.

The typos were horrendous. This is the only piece that I've ever written that I pretty much forbid myself to fiddle with as I went along. Normally I'm a "read the previous scene before I start the next part" type of gal. But not for this one.

Hence, the typos.

The best typo I found, and this may be the best typo I've ever made in all my years of sloppy typing, is the following:

What I meant to write:

She had striking long black hair

What I wrote (or what spell check cleaned up for me):

She had stinking long back hair.

Take it all in. Every word.

When I came across that (and Twin had highlighted it with a pen because she had obvs also found it hilarious) I laughed so long that I actually glossed over a few pages of reading because I kept thinking about the typo and kept laughing.

Ah good times.

Anyone else have a good typo they'd like to share?

PS: as of the writing of this post I'm at 92 followers (CRAZY!) once I hit 100 there will be a writing contest held with prompts and prizes!

Future Excitement!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Fun Words

You'll never believe what happened on Sunday!

So Mom was writing out blog posts and I was sitting next to her when we heard a sound we had never heard before.

Fwwwooooshhhiiiissss is more or less what it sounded like.

Well of course George and I started barking. It was an emergency after all, a strange sound can be a dangerous thing...

So Mom got up (we let her go first because, you know, strange sound...) and walked into the dining room.

And what did we find? Tula's dog food bag tipped over and spilled ALL OVER THE FLOOR!

Of course Mom kept us out of there while she cleaned it up. But there was no way she could get every piece of kibble. That was when George and I got to go in and clean up the rest of it.

It was like a second breakfast!

Anyway, I thought I'd just share my bit of luck before we got into the words.

Obsoles - shoes that are no longer required

Pocardot - freckles on the Queen of Spades (this one is a bit of a stretch)

Explo - detonations for those people who are short on time

Liger - this is already a real word

Unwoody - what a beaver eats when they go on a diet (on a side note, in case you didn't know this, one of my many nicknames is Beaver)

Curefad - clearly when a cure is popular (like feeding everything antibiotics!)

Xpert - when someone is no longer vivacious

Bark at ya next week, ape friends!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In Which I Am Delayed

I'm behind on editing.

I know, I know, I was so excited to get started and I'm already behind? But I have some pretty good reasons as to why.

I'm still not done with reading the manuscript. I'm about half way there. It's one thing to read a mass market paperback. That is easy to carry around. But lugging around 300 pages of printer paper is not as easy, even if I've broken it up into four parts.

Also, Sundays are typically my day to do writerly things, but this last weekend we hit the Home and Garden Show. After hours of walking I came away with a new pillow, a garden gopher, a new set of earrings and a cute little owl statue.

my earrings

Twin's earrings

I've wanted an owl like this since I saw a similar one on Things I Yell At You

I was also reading a book on editing, which I hoped would get me in the mood. But the book was OK, and 98% of the stuff they suggested you do to edit your fiction novel was stuff that I already knew to do. So, meh.

So these are the foremost reasons as to why I'm behind on my revision process. Still, no rush I guess.

Anyone else behind on their goals?

Also, Al from Publish or Perish awarded me The Sunshine Award, which was awfully nice of him.

I'll be passing this on to Sonshine Thoughts (because it's fitting, right?)
And AchingHope (who is hilarious)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Which We Like To Cook

So in my house, we rotate cooking duties. Brother cooks Monday, I cook Tuesday, Wednesday we go to our parent's house for dinner, Thursday Twin cooks and Friday we rotate.

We allow ourselves to eat out on Saturday and Sunday Twin and I rotate because brother is off doing super ultra nerdy things.

I decided recently to start taking pictures of some of our meals, because, you know, food is good.

Last week Brother made Tempura.

we just stuck with sweet potatoes, shrimp and onions, our favorite tempura options

Not that he wanted to, but Twin and I hounded him into it. Otherwise he makes a lot of soups and Asian dishes.

Tuesday I tried a new recipe: shrimp pot pies. It was so frickin' delicious that Twin and I had it again on Sunday (which was both a genius and terrible idea...)

Then on Thursday Brother and I told Twin that we wanted her baked mac and cheese. This time she wised up and only made a half a recipe so we didn't have so much left over.

it actually reheats pretty well

So how about you? Do you cook in your house, or is it a lot of take out or dining out?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In Which I Set A Hook

So since I have to cut my prologue in Foxfire, that means I have to start my story elsewhere.
And though it seems like it should be an easy decision (just remove the prologue and start at chapter one) it really isn't.

One of the most important things you can do to give your novel a starting chance, is to give it a great opening. After all, when an agent is looking at your manuscript you want him/her to get as far into your story as possible. You don't want them to read the first paragraph or page and then set it aside.

So a strong opening will strengthen your chances.

The best way to craft a strong opening is to start with a hook, and an inciting incident. The hook is something that catches your reader's eye. Something like "Fred thought things were going great until the monkeys attacked," or whatever. I'd keep reading after that, because, I mean, monkey attack!

The inciting incident is the moment where your character starts on the path to change. What is it that happens to your MC (or, better yet as we discussed in my posts about passivity, what is it your MC does) that starts that change?

Hopefully this will also set in motion a surface problem. A surface problem is just what it sounds like, a problem on the surface of the story. Typically these are solved but then another one arises, etc.

So for Foxfire I'm struggling a bit with wondering how I want to handle my inciting incident. There's two places I could start it and I originally thought it would be when Fox has an accident and injures himself. I still think this would be a great place to jump into the story. But the issue I have with that is that I would lose a big big chunk of Fox's story before that and I would like to build him up a bit before I stick him with the first disaster.

So it's looking more and more likely that the inciting incident will have to go earlier (coincidentally, in a chapter one scene) and I'll have to rewrite that chapter to start with the hook and bring about the inciting incident.

I'm really excited to dig into this part of my revision. It seems to me it will be like playing with clay, and I get to smash it all around before the clay comes out looking like a horse head (that's pretty much the extent of my ability to shape clay...)

So what's your inciting incident? And does it happen early enough in your story?

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Which Prologues Are No Longer Welcome

I love prologues. I love to write them and I don't mind reading them.
Recently, though, I came upon the discovery that many many people skip reading prologues all together. Prologues are kind of the "red headed stepchild" of the writing world and are looked down upon by many people.

Though, to be fair, I guess they've got a point when they state that almost all prologues (unless you're doing a frame story) is backstory. And since you never want to start your novel with backstory, you should cut that prologue and cut it quick.

And even though I know this, I still love to write prologues. My prologues almost always revolve around an incident with one of the characters that happened years earlier. It's almost always an inciting incident of some sort (for Foxfire, it revolves around how Fox, the Male MC is abandoned as a child), but not really of the novel itself.

So even though I love it, and I don't think it's really all that much backstory (even though this is just an excuse I tell myself) I know the prologue has to go.


The tough part, though, is to now take all of the necessary info in the prologue (and there is quite a bit of it regarding how the world works, etc) and inject it later into the story. The difficulty about this is I always want to stick it in too early and that is, of course, a bad idea because then I'd just be starting the novel with backstory again.

Hopefully once I draw out scene cards, I'll better be able to see where to stick the prologue bits.

So does anyone else write prologues? And do you keep them, or kill them?

Tomorrow, a bit more on where to start your story.

Also, two weeks ago I received the blogger purrfection award from the lovely Piedmont Writer(check her out if you're not already. I really enjoy her blog)

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