Inspirations (a blog post inspired by an award)

Well! I’ve received an award from the lovely Tonja Drecker, and I’m loving this one because it’s all about inspirations – a vital part of being a writer. This fits in nicely with a post I was going to do anyway, so I’m just going to go for it.

The rules of receiving this award are simple: I give an acceptance speech, then list five things that inspire me, as well as a song.

So my acceptance speech…um…I get stage fright really bad! Um…Y’all like, really love me? I’ll also accept gifts in the form of chocolate and sushi, and I have a Paypal account! Thanks, Tonja!

Okay, anyway…on to the stuff that inspires this crazy lady!

1. Being a fangirl. Yes. All of these. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, The Hunger Games, and even Star Wars (hey, I wanted a Princess Leia hairstyle in kindergarten which totally dates me but oh well), although if I knew how to use Photoshop I’d replace the light saber with a pirate sword and horrify all my Star Wars geek friends. :B Because one of the most important rules of keeping your imagination alive: Get crazy about something! Turn into a total geek about the things you love, attend conventions, wear costumes, fill your head with enough useless trivia about your passions to worry your relatives…At the very least, people will think you’re interesting. (Or weird. But weird counts as interesting!)

2. Books. Books are a big time inspiration for my own stories! Cobalt was partially inspired by the book pictured here, Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner. Not only could the trees in her world move, they were also deadly. I started thinking of ways I’d use the idea of a dangerous, sentient forest in my own writing, and ideas popped into my head: Murderous trees and mutated forest creatures. Airships because they’re the only safe way to travel. A girl changed by the same kind of curse that affects the forest. Pirates. Steampunk!!

3. Smells. Scents unlock memories and emotions like nothing else. My very favorite smell, one that always gets me in the mood to create new stories, is fresh rain on dry ground. (Petrichor – thank you Doctor Who for teaching me that awesome word!) Other favorite scents: Vanilla, the ocean, fresh brownies, new books, evergreen forest, lemon, rosemary. What’s your favorite smell?

4. Pictures. Sorry for the scary image there; my daughter Lia sent that to me and freaked me out! (I’m easily scared; also, one of my worst phobias is a forest after dark – although it’s mildly creepy now, if I saw something like this at night I’d lose my shiz). It immediately got me thinking about what kind of a story I can make out of this. If a picture hits me a certain way, I’ll save it on my computer so I can go back to it later and see what kinds of stories pop into my head.

Another good way to use pictures for inspiration is to look up scenery and actors for your WIP; I was always gazing at forest pictures like this when I was working on The Moongate. It puts your mind in the right place.

5. Pirates! That’s right. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the biggest inspirations for me EVER. In my life. I dress like a pirate almost every friggin’ day, and after Cobalt I want to develop a book series with even more pirates. Love ’em. I just can’t get enough pirates!!

So now I get to share a song that inspires me. Ugh, just one song?? That’s hard, because music has always been a huge inspiration to me…I guess it’ll be one of the new ones by Abney Park – a really cool pirate shanty, one of my very favorite types of music. 😀

Rather than pick people to give this award to, I’ll invite any and all of you to take it and post it on your blogs, and share the things that inspire you!

Being Your Own Reviewer?

A random thought hit me in the brain today. I’m still rubbing the bruise. What if…as an author, you wrote a review of your own book on sites like Amazon and Goodreads? I’m sure that happens actually, an author could totally boost their ratings by making up fake screen names and writing reviews on their stuff, right? I wouldn’t (who has time for that anyway, gotta write!), but I thought it would be funny to make up false (as in, they would never actually get posted) reviews for my books.

For example:

The Moongate

The honest review: 4 stars. Would give it 3 1/2 stars if I had that option. Pretty good story overall, but you can tell it’s the author’s first book. She likes fairies and unicorns a little bit too much – she probably collects them. (true enough) Still, it had its fair share of action and conflict, so I’m looking forward to the sequel!

The fake review: 5 STARS OMG!!1! Best book I’ve ever read! I can’t wait for the next one to come out! The characters are soooo awesome and hawt and I’m like team Theryn all the way even though there’s no love triangle! When is there gonna be a movie?!

( I rarely do that; I’m usually a 4-star reviewer if I like the book. Unless it’s Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, then I’m one of those raving 5-star fans. Most of us could use a little bit of constructive criticism!)

The snarky Goodreads review: 1 star, and if I could give it 0 I would. Or negative 50 billion. Can we say Mary Sue? This author needs a serious trip to reality-ville. Or she’s on a serious trip. I read somewhere that she’s a Mormon stay-at-home mom with no English degree, so it’s obvious she’s just trying to cash in on the success of Twilight!

(First time I ever heard of the description Mary Sue was when I was writing The Moongate’s first draft. For weeks I obsessed over whether Nissa was a Mary Sue. I did all the tests to see if she was, I lost sleep over it, and I’ll admit I even cried over it. In the end, I accepted that if this book ever gets published, some people will probably think she’s a Mary Sue and others will think she’s all right. At least she’s likable.)

Cobalt

The honest review: 4 solid stars. (Told you I like giving out 4 stars!) Now we’re talking. The author has a few books under her belt now, her writing is more solid, and the action and imagination in the plot make up for her slight difficulties in character development. Plus – killer trees and airships! Pretty cool. Good introduction to lighthearted steampunk for the tween to young adult.

The fake review: 5++++!!! There are goggles and airship pirates and gears and corsets! This book is so steampunk it makes me want to barf cogs.

The snarky Goodreads review: A big fat zero in the shape of a clock gear. Obviously this author thinks she’s a steampunk just because she’s friends with some of the members of Abney Park. Poseur. I mean, sentient moving trees? Since when did steampunk shift from Victorian sci-fi to fantasy? Just because there are a few airships in the story? I bet she glues gears on her knickers and calls it steampunk. She probably wears Hot Topic goggles too.

That was actually more fun than I’d thought it would be. I especially had fun being snarky at myself! *giggles*

So anyway. My buddy ol’ pal Samantha (who is in college so she won’t have to deal with any comments about being a writer without a degree) tagged me in a fun meme!

The rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors

Okay, so I’m the world’s worst tagger. I’m going to tell you guys to look at my follower list, and if you’re in my top 7 newest followers, then you’re tagged and you should do this meme! Or if you’re not one of those lucky 7 and you like this meme, do it anyway.

So here’s my excerpt from Cobalt. It shows up as more than 7 lines here on Blogger, but it’s about 7 3/4 lines in my ms. I had to keep in the little bit of extra to avoid cutting a sentence short.

“All this time,” he squeaked, “all these years flying over the trees and making port in the most remote Forest villages possible, if only to catch a rumor or a glimpse. To think, I could have found one of you here on Murdock! I never knew that’s what old Stark dealt in. Everyone knew he was an expert on Cobalt, but I’d have never guessed how he gained his knowledge…”

Kate shrank back against Anthia, who wrapped one hand around her shoulder and rested the other on her knife hilt.

“Oh, don’t you worry,” Fletcher said with a chuckle. “That must be why I wasn’t in the loop. Never did want to trade my ship in for one of the bigger ones, see, those that could handle human cargo.”

So. If you wrote a review on your book or WIP, how would you write it? How many stars would you bestow upon your pride and joy, and would you be honest or would load up your review with sugar and a cherry on top? Come on, you can be honest here!

Monday Sickie

Oh my goodness, I wrote this last night and saved the draft, but I haven’t been able to drag myself to a computer until tonight. Ugh…

Do I ever need a break from writing. Not that I want a break, because I’m finally getting toward the end of Cobalt, and I’m so excited about it that I’ve written over 11,000 words in the past two days! I know, I fell off the couch when I just checked the numbers. I think I’ll be done with the first draft in a week or two! If only I was this excited about every stage in the writing process! But maybe that wouldn’t be such a good thing, because my house looks like this:

(But not really!)

And my brain is doing this:

And I feel like this:

That’s my poor little guy Brian, who had the flu and an ear infection last week.

So, I have a funny story about the latest chapter I was working on, to entertain you on this beautiful Monday which, unfortunately, sees me suffering from a bad flu. Cobalt is a dark steampunk fantasy, and I’ve really been looking forward to the spooky scenes I’m at now. I stayed up all night, because I didn’t realize it was already 2 am when I was writing up a storm, and since church starts at 9, I figured it would be easier to just stay up instead of drag myself out of bed after only 4 hours. (Huge mistake, by the way. I think that might be part of the reason I’m sick.)

Anyway, I finally had to pull myself away from the computer at 7 to take a shower and get ready. I’d been in the middle of something I thought was super spooky, and it was creeping me the hayell out. I was in the shower and started to get really spooked. I mean, not just mildly scared, but literally jumpy at every shift in the curtain and shadow that moved in the bathroom. I didn’t want to turn around, or close my eyes to wash my face. It felt like this:

Okay, so I’m easily scared. (I freaking cried last week when I saw The Woman in Black, the first and only scary movie I’ve ever seen in the theater, because I didn’t have any other kind of outlet to let all that stress out like I do at home, I didn’t want to be the only annoying screaming woman there!) So what might be super creepy to me might not be such a huge deal to my readers, when the book is finally out. I don’t know, they’ll have to tell me. But I sure hope I did the scary thing right!

So, yeah. Monday funny, me being stupid and jumpy over something I wrote. :B Oh! And this one sentence from Cobalt, I love it. (Maybe it’ll get cut, I was working on no sleep, after all!)

Everyone screamed at once, except for Kate,
who still had her face full of the back of the airman’s pants.

It’s not naughty, I promise!

In other news, I got an award from this cool chick. 😀 I haven’t seen this one before and I love the little questions. Rather than tagging a bunch of peeps (because I love you all! And also because I’m running out of time before the cold meds kick in and I want to get back to my creepy chapter), I’d like to invite any and all of you to take this award and feature it on your own blog. And tell me when you do!

Favorite Color?

Burrrgundy! I want this as my hair color.

Favorite Animal?

You’re saying unicorns can’t be my favorite animal because they’re not real? Shut up.

Favorite Number?

Oh, I don’t know. 5, I guess. I like things in fives.

Favorite (non-alcoholic) drink?

Unless quail egg shooters count as a drink. Yum!

Facebook or Twitter?

Oh, no contest!

My passion?

Getting or Giving presents?

Umm…both? 😀

Favorite pattern?

Black and white stripes!

Favorite day of the week?

Favorite flower?

Any kind of wildflower, whatever looks good in a fairy garden. Especially red, white, yellow, and purple.

Okay, I’m gonna go write now. But before I do:

Yeah, I’d originally saved that to make fun of Lia, because that’s exactly what she’s like when she’s sick. I can usually get through a cold without major meds, but this time – no. Give mama the Nyquil!

And Then I Will Find Some Food and Write Some More…

Well friends, I’ve started feeling like this again whenever I get a rejection:

My latest rejection last week was particularly hard. I know I’d said I wasn’t going to let them get me down anymore, and that I’m perfectly okay with a small print publisher or self-publishing. And I still am. I think what’s more upsetting to me is no longer “Am I not good enough?” but “What do I do now?” After I’ve gone through my entire list of agents to query, how do I put a quality book out myself? A gorgeous cover, effective marketing, and all that. I guess, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself. There are still 100 or so agents I haven’t bothered yet.

So now I’m almost back to being in this frame of mind:

So there! ;D

Now, guess what? I’m writing again, because my shoulders are feeling a lot better. Not 100% better, but I’m being careful with my online time and how I’m sitting while using the laptop. So I’m on a roll again with Cobalt. Whee…

Also, I got a couple of awards! Thank you to Jennifer and Donna for the Versatile Blogger Award and the Lovely Blog Award, respectively. I’m supposed to share a few facts about myself, but as I have some pretty bad allergies today and can’t think of any new facts, I’m going to post a link to one of my older posts with some interesting me trivia. There will be a test later.

One more thing before I go find something to cram into my face. (It’s 4:08 and I haven’t eaten yet today!) I added page tabs to my blog, with my book/WIP info in one of them. Before that, I’d had all my projects listed under the “about me” in the right sidebar. I’m not sure which I like better. Opinions?

Monday AWESOME! Halloween Light Show and an Award

Oh my gosh. This is my favorite family ever. I’m going to find out who these people are and move in next to them! It must have taken them all freaking year to choreograph this! Halloween is my very favorite holiday (I do love Christmas, but thanks to the shopping stress and stores putting up decorations in September, by December I’m all Christmas-ed out). And–Danny Elfman for the win! Love his music, so much that I have a lot of his work in my writing playlist.

Speaking of cool Halloween people, there’s this awesome family near our neighborhood who goes ALL OUT every year with decorations and costumes that could probably finance a down payment on another house. I’ll try to get some pictures and video this Halloween, except that’s hard to do because 1. my camera’s flash ruins the spooky effect by making it look like daylight and 2. the zombies and horror movie slashers always chase me down the street.

Here’s a question: Do you consider The Nightmare Before Christmas to be a Halloween or Christmas movie? (My vote’s for Halloween.) I’d put up a poll like my very cool friend Abby does, but I’m late in posting already and I’d still have to read her tutorial on it.

Now for my blog award! Cherie gave me the 7 X 7 award, a fun one I haven’t received before. I’m going to follow all the people she named in her recent award, but I have yet to name the people I want to pass it on to. I will soon, to try to get these people more followers! I admit I’m pretty awful at passing awards on. I’ve also been really bad lately at keeping up with the blogs I follow and spreading comment love. I do read all your posts, but I’m still trying to come up with a good schedule that lets me keep up with blogging, personal time-draining hobbies, and the all-important writing. (For more on that, see my dorky post on ANWA’s blog about those guilty pleasures that suck your time away.)

Okay, and now it’s down to the fun part of this award! I love this because I get to look through my old blog posts, and some of them were before I had any followers. So this might be the first time other eyes have seen them! I might get comments! WHEE…

1. Most Beautiful Post: The one where I was freaking out about which cover artist I wanted if I self-published. I’d still want her!

2. Most Popular Post: This one here, suckas! A whopping 19 comments, because my blog isn’t yet like some of you who get 30+ comments on all your posts!

3. Most Controversial Post: I’m not really a controversial or confrontational person, so I didn’t think I had anything to fit this category, until I remembered this post. There’s a member in our family who thinks getting published is a stupid, unattainable dream, and puts me down to my kids. It’s been very hurtful. I try to let such things roll off my back, but I had to rant about it first to get it out of my system.

4. Most Helpful Post: This one on my list of agencies who accept YA queries. I have the link in my sidebar too. It took a LONG time to compile and keep this list updated, and I’m more than happy to share it with other YA authors.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful: I didn’t really know where I was going with this post, so I was surprised when it got a lot of responses, and even a few RT’s on Twitter! I think I’m going to make a similar one soon with more pictures of faerie stuff that inspired me.

6. Post That Didn’t Get the Attention It Deserved or Most Underrated: I kinda loved this one but it got no comments! *sadface* Or this one, because it was fun!

7. The Post I Am Most Proud Of: Another tie! I still like to re-read my post on how bad I am at writing romance. And I really am quite proud of my Depeche Mode song parody. 🙂

Okay, whew! It was pretty exhausting going through all my old blog posts! Good thing I’m not a really prolific blogger or this would’ve been a killer.

More coming up this week about NaNoWriMo, maybe a writing snippet, and there’s also a really cool reason I haven’t done music posts lately but I’m going to start them up again!

No More Suspicions. Yes, I Really Am Crazy!

Alrighty then. So this awful picture of me just won’t stop popping up around the internet. My kids love to re-post it in places like Facebook, or hack into my account and make it my profile picture, so I finally gave up trying to hide it. It will haunt me forever!

Now as I’d mentioned in my previous post, I tend to get depressed a lot, but because antidepressants have all kinds of awful side effects that I’d rather not experience again, I manage it by listening to upbeat music, dressing like a pirate, and generally trying to have a lot of crazy fun and laugh as much as I can. This picture was taken years ago, and if I’m remembering correctly I’d just had a baby, which always resulted in some pretty bad post-partum depression. This is where the crazy fun stuff comes in. I put on heavy clown makeup (the picture didn’t even do it justice, I mean it was really heavy) and messed with my hair. Just about then, the doorbell rang. I looked through the peekhole and found it was our neighbor, wanting to play with Lia. So I threw open the door and yelled, “HELLO!” Scared the living heck out of the poor girl!

So let this be a lesson: You never know what’s going to happen when you knock on my door.

I got a couple more awards from my friends Donna and Samantha! Thank you, ladies! I’ll pass the awards on soon, after playing blog catch-up. I’m supposed to share 7 facts about myself. This part is always fun!

My 7 facts:

1. My favorite items of clothing are my most worn-out, holey skirts that I layer with other skirts and bustle and dress up with crazy tights and pirate jewelry. What surprises me most is the amount of people who stop me to tell me they love what I’m wearing!

2. I collect unicorns and fairy figurines, vintage jewelry, feather hairpieces, crazy tights, and corsets.

3. My least favorite chores are putting away the clean dishes and folding the laundry. But I love to sort. I’ll happily sort all the laundry into piles and baskets, but I’ll do anything to avoid folding them.

4. In 1st grade I wanted to be a zookeeper.

5. I’ve never seen a scary movie in the theater.

6. I want raw salmon nigiri and quail egg shooters. Like, all the time.

7. I break my toes a lot and I’m still walking around on an unhealed broken foot.

Well, that’s it for now! Oh, except for one more thing: REVENGE PICTURES! If those girls are going to post my embarrassing pictures for the world to see, I simply must return the favor. Don’t you agree?

She totally does look like her.

Beginning of summer, she was bored enough to color her eyebrows red! It didn’t wash off for days either.

Emily’s famous troll face!

Friday Funkaay!!

Well, I don’t know, I was kinda thinking it might be fun to share some music on Fridays, but don’t count on me for consistency. Being consistent is not one of my talents. Neither is playing an instrument, although I’m obnoxiously opinionated and fanatic about that wonderful sound that comes out of the iPod.

I’m pretty passionate and a little bit persnickety about the music I love. About a month ago we found this lovely little puzzle adventure game, Machinarium, and got hooked. The soundtrack alone, which you can also download separately, is worth the small price for the game. I like to listen to it when I’m writing because it’s relaxing, atmospheric, and doesn’t distract my mind like a lot of music would.

Here’s my favorite piece from Machinarium’s soundtrack, Clockwise Operetta. I freaking love the title!

On an unrelated note, I’d like to thank Abby Fowers for giving me a interview today in her blog Something To Write About. That was lots of fun! I’ll be returning the favor and interviewing her for my blog in the near future. Don’t we all just love learning new stuff about our fellow writers? 😀

Also, thanks to David Powers King for giving me the Blog on Fire award! The meme questions he answered were seriously cracking me up! I may just answer those questions myself…

Mah blog! It’s on fiah!

Coming up: Monday it’s my turn to blog at ANWA Founder & Friends. I’m going to share an embarrassing story about something that happened when I was at that awkward and clumsy stage in my life–no, not last week! When I was 14 or 15. And the story will artfully segue into a short lesson on not making your characters stupid. So check that out!

Also, check out my friend Jolene Perry. She’s freaking out over her upcoming book’s new cover, for good reason, and has just sold a couple more manuscripts as well. I am all kinds of jealous and happy for her!

Aaaand the Spark Blogfest starting August 22nd…