Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's Your Favorite?

Ya know how most painters tend to prefer painting one specific type of landscape, or person, or whatever else it is? Well, I'm convinced that writers are the same way. What do I like to "paint" in my writing?

Sunsets. I love figuring out different ways to write that the sun is finishing it's long day of hard work lighting up the world. I've tried to tone them down in my actual manuscript at the risk of sounding redundant, but I still really enjoy writing them. Here are a few samples (One of which is actually the opening line to my novel...can you guess which?):

“The setting sun sprinkled flitters of gold across the crashing waves.”

"The sun’s last rays clung to the city skyline, splashing milky gold across its towering sand structures."

"The sparse trees stood like velvet cutouts as the sun sunk behind the mountain."

Is there one specific thing that YOU really like to write about?

My Very Own Debut Album

Christy alerted me to a really fun little thing, that Suzanne also posted about, so I figured I'd continue the trend by putting up a debut album of my own.  My band is named METACROCEA, and our first album is entitled, "Powerless to Vex Your Mind."

Do your own!

1 -Click here: The first random Wikipedia article you get is t he name of your band.

2 - Click here: The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Click here: 
ht tp:// third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Assemble it in Word, Photoshop or and post a link to it!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Random Childhood Memories #1: First Grade, First Girlfriend

Bruce Coville said that if you took one memory from each grade of school, you'd have as many book ideas.  I'll begin with first grade, and what else but a little love story.  Have you used any childhood memories in your writing?

I've been in the popular crowd a relatively small percentage of my life, but first grade was one of my years.  My best friend was the coolest kid in the class (who, btw, ended up in rehab by his freshman year in high school), the teacher loved me, and I nabbed my first "girlfriend"--a short-lived experience that has stuck with me still.

It all started while waiting for the bus ride home one day.  There was this big tree that hung over our line; it was a special tree, because it grew two things (don't worry, one of them isn't "Looove").  First, it had those seed things that have a little wing attached so when you threw them in the air they floated down like helicopters. They're like a free parachute-army-man toy.  Second--and more important--they had these brownish clusters of some sort of flaky substance that bore a passing resemblance to baby corn when they were whole.  These flakes were not meant to be eaten.

But I couldn't help it, I loved de-flaking and eating these gifts from above; they were like little golden snacks before the bumpy and boring bus ride home.  On this particular day, Shannon--that's her name--happened to be waiting in line behind me, and we discovered that we both liked to eat those flaky things! Match made in heaven, right? So for a couple days we would sit in line waiting for the bus, and eat the Flakes.

Then I made The Move.  I proceeded to the back of the bus, next to my buddy Daniel, and she sat in the row just ahead of me.  On this particular day we hadn't been doing any sharing of flakes, so conversation hadn't been flowing yet--which makes this next part even awesomer, I think.  I was sitting there crouched low in my bus seat, wondering if I should say hello or make some small talk, when suddenly her hand appears on the top of her seat in front of me.  In a flash of instinct, before I could even think to stop myself, and leaped up and kissed her hand!  She blushed and pulled it away, and I think from then we were official.

A week or so later I got invited to her birthday party, and my mom proceeded to buy (of all things!) a lip-gloss kit.  Come on, mom, what are you doing to me?

Shannon opened up the gift from hell in front of the ENTIRE party, and her mom says, "Ooh, Shannon, now you can kiss all kinds of boys!"

Without hesitation, Shannon shouts out, "I know who to kiss!"  Who might she mean, do you think?

This is not something a first-grade boy wants to hear in front of a huge crowd.  I immediately started scanning the room for something I could crawl into to prevent the shame of a potential public display of affection.  A bean bag chair reveals itself, and I launched into it head first.  I think I blacked out for the next five minutes or so, until finally her mom pulls me from the bean bag chair and hands me a slice of cake.  

I left the party shortly after, and hung up the towel on the whole romance thing.  I would not have another girlfriend for the next twelve years.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coming Soon: My Website!

So it turns out super bowl commercials really do work.  

After seeing godaddy being advertised, I decided it's high time I started my own author website, and proceeded to buy  Well, it's been since then and I've had wayy too many troubles with trying to get the stupid thing up and running.  Either godaddy's hosting programs aren't that compatible with macs, or I'm just REALLY bad with this kinda stuff.

Now I'm going the easy route.  I cancelled my hosting service with godaddy, and purchased a mobileme account through mac, which (in addition to some other nice features) does it's own hosting.  It's taking a couple hours to activate through my real domain name, BUT I can offer you a little sneak peek here.

I hope you like it!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is my local Target the exception, or the rule?

Might there be hope for the future of (children's) books?

I was in Target today, looking to spend my recently acquired gift card, and headed straight for the books section. Let me tell you something, friends, it was practically empty. There were at least five or six different books that were completely sold out, and several others that had maybe one copy left on the rack.

Has anyone else noticed this, in stores like Target? And does it mean book sales are up, or that Target just isn't buying as many books? It seems to me that if these books are selling out at Target, then they should be doing at least fairly well in other actual, well, bookstores.

At Big Sur Andrea Brown did say that history has always shown children's books survive through hard times in the publishing world, so I'm hoping this is an indication of things to come. Maybe parents are finally realizing that if you calculate the number of hours of entertainment you get with reading a book and compare it to how long it takes to watch a movie, books are actually VERY cheap entertainment.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone has a good one! Me, I'm heading to the local semi-pro hockey game, where 103 couples will be getting married in between periods! Should be some high-quality entertainment!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Age of Overwhelming Stalking (aka Social Networking)

They say this is the digital age, the age where anyone can become an overnight success by just adding a couple of the right friends on their favorite social networking site.

I say it's the writer's equivalent of the lone, nerdy new kid trying to date the entire cheerleading squad and become best friends with the entire roster of the football and basketball teams at once (and who knows how many of us were that kid).  It's too much!  What do I use?  Facebook? Myspace? Twitter? My blog? The list never ends!

When I do finally sit down to try to make some "connections," my intent to research (read: stalk) one or two people ends up being an aimless wander around the web.  Of course, in an age where you can become best "friends" through one click of a button, I guess that's a good thing.  The one time that A.D.D. tendencies come in handy.

Maybe all this wandering and discovery means I'm getting better at it.  Goodness knows I'm trying.  You'd think having grown up with the internet, I'd be a pro at it.  Too much time spent in the pool I guess.  I'm discovering that, like everything else in life, it's mostly about developing the proper bum-gluing habits of sitting down at your desk and not only writing, but seeing what everyone else in your realm of potential social connection is doing as well.

And making posts like these so that people will actually come check you out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My First Rejection Letter!

As some of you may know, I sent a partial to an agent mid-November.  Well, after sending an update email about my experience at Big Sur and more waiting, I still have not heard a word.  Since this partial was not an exclusive request, I recently decided to get back in the query game.  And I must say, it's pretty fun and exciting!

I sent off a couple queries, one yesterday afternoon and one last night.  The one from last night responded by 9:30 this morning!  He said no (as you observant types may already have figured out based on the title of this post), but it was polite and personalized.

Now, why, you ask, do I seem so darned excited about getting a rejection letter?  Shouldn't I want to go crawl in a hole and weep miserably? Didn't I print out my manuscript, just so I could tear it to pieces, curse at it, and use it for kindling in the fireplace?  To which I say, heck no!  

Here's why:  First, the agent I sent to mostly works with older YA and adult, so it was kind of a long shot anyway; I just really like his blog and he seems like a great agent and person.  Second, after over two months of agony and eventual numbness in the waiting I've already done, the 14 hour turnaround was absolutely fabulous!  Quick and painless!  It felt awesome just to be affirmed that a great agent had at least read my query and written ME an email.  The process seems a lot more palpable now, too, like my quest to publication has truly begun and is actually happening.

Best "no" I've ever got....Forward!

Monday, February 9, 2009

TWO Fantastic Movies this Weekend!

Before this weekend, I hadn't been to the movies in a while.  I love movies, just never get around to going to the theater; books are a lot cheaper entertainment.  This weekend, though, I managed to get myself into a seat with a huge soda and a bucket full of popcorn TWICE. 

First was Coraline on Friday night.  Perhaps the best animated film I've ever seen based sheerly on its artistic merits.  The colors were so vibrant and the 3D added so much depth and layers to the scenes that it just sucked you right into the story--which was pretty darn good, too.  Just enough creepiness to make it fun, but not overdone.  While I intended to read The Graveyard Book before I saw the movie, it's shot to the top of my list after witnessing the power of Neil Gaiman's imagination.

The other movie I saw was Gran Torino.  Wow, what a film.  This was the first Clint Eastwood movie I've ever seen, and he was fantastic.  It was certainly colored with some potentially offensive language, but I think it was handled so well that it fit with the tone of everything else and didn't bother me one bit.  Of course, I'm not one to be easily offended.  Lots of laughs and drama throughout; great, great movie.

I think maybe I need to get to the theaters more often.