Monday, November 29, 2010

Resources For Writers

I thought I might take a moment to link you all to some super resources I've used on the net for writing purposes. Some of them are exclusive to Paranormal. Some are more generic, so you should be able to find something helpful. I hope.

1. For naming my characters. Well sometimes I just KNOW. And the creepiest thing is that when I look up the meaning it generally works a little too well. But for those other characters, I use this site. I like it because you can search by letter, year of popularity, meaning, origin, etc. Just about anything.

2. For paranormal and fantasy research. When I'm looking for inspiration or just doing a little research, I like to use Monstropedia. I find it a great resource for both well known and not so well known creatures.

3. For tips on craft. I know you probably all know this one. But If you don't - where have you been?? Marissa and Martina have the most fabulous blog for writers on this planet. You'll find Adventures in Children's Publishing here. Now go visit.

4. Need Support? Have Questions? If you aren't a member of Verla Kay's Blueboards, you should be. Warning though, you can get lost over there, because there's so much to explore.

5. Obvious but imperative. Google. Okay, I know, right? But SERIOUSLY. If anything pops in my head. ANYTHING. I go to Google to search for it. Researching the geography of a town you've never been in? Google maps. Looking for visual inspiration? Google images.

6. If you write for children - teens. Then you must be a member of SCBWI. If you aren't, you are short changing yourself. And while you are there, make sure to take advantage of all of their resources because they are plentiful. That's where I learned everything about the business side of things when I started out. That's where I found my critique group. That's where I became active on the message boards and soaked up unbelievably useful information and other resources like a sponge. That's where I found the first conference I went to. That's where I took the workshop that taught me how to do this. Okay I'll stop. You get the idea.

So there are some of my favorites. How about you? What sites do you have to pass along?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for all of YOU

To my dear followers and fellow bloggers,

Today is Thanksgiving, and though it doesn't quite mesh with my paranormal roots, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you ALL.

1. For the time you devote to not only visiting mine and other blogs, but for the extra effort I know that takes because we all have so much in our lives. By doing this you receive in exchange friendship, support, knowledge (particularly of craft), and humor.

2. For the comments you leave so that we can communicate and learn about one another.

3. For collectively being the absolute most AMAZING community of like minded people I've ever encountered. Yes I love writing. Yes I would continue to do so no matter what because I cannot stop. But it is this community that keeps me sane and grounded, and so very uplifted.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Why I Love Harry

Harry Potter of course. I thought I'd do a post in honor of movie number 7 coming out. I saw it the other day, worried they could never do the book justice, but was pleasantly surprised. But this isn't a movie review. I'm taking a page out of my blogging/twitter buddy Susan's (or Harry Potter for Writers) book and relating Harry Potter in a way that writer's can understand. Now I know people go crazy trying to dissect the success of HP and Twilight, but this isn't about that either.

It's about Character.

Plain and simple, I LOVE Harry. I love all of them really - even those with smaller parts in the story. But why? Why do I think of Harry as a real flesh and blood person? Why does my heart break for this boy who has to endure so much?

This is a question I keep coming back to, the more books I read. I realize that if I don't care about the characters - don't buy them as real - I could care less about the plot, no matter how incredible it is. So below I've listed a few things we should strive for as writers when creating our characters and I give examples using dear dear Harry.

1. The reader should be able to identify. Not an orphan raised by uncaring relatives? That's okay. I'm sure we've all felt the odd man out on occasion. Who hasn't felt like second fiddle? Who hasn't experienced loss?

2. The Character should be likable, but flawed. I know it sounds counter-intuitive. How can someone be both at the same time? Well, how many perfect people do you love? Are you perfect? Harry has a big heart which he wears on his sleeve. He's loyal to the extreme and brave (Not just anyone can pull the sword of Gryffindor out of a hat). But he's also, as Hermione puts it, got a hero complex. He doesn't want others to get hurt because of him, and he sometimes tries to shut them out because of that. He thinks he can do it on his own, but we know he can't. He's also stubborn. Think of book 7 where he refuses to agree to use the killing curse even though he's told he's being naive. Is this good or bad? Well, we see how it turns out, but there's that question in our minds.

If your character is obviously perfect, where is the character arc?

3. The Character has to suffer. My critique group will probably get on me for this one because they know I tend to torture my own characters terribly. I really put them through the wringer, so to speak. But that's what forces them to grow before our eyes. It's what makes us (the readers) grip the edge of our seats. Think of Order of the Phoenix. Harry's torturous fifth year. Dumbledore who Harry idolizes and depends on seems purposely distant through the whole thing. Delores Umbridge - need I say more? I physically cringed when Harry wrote in his own blood and stubbornly continued to do so, so she wouldn't see how much it hurt. He became more of a hero to me because I know I probably wouldn't have been able to handle that. Making sense? Why does Harry have to lose so many people he loves. So many people WE love? Because his reaction shows us who he really is, and helps drive him to accept his destiny in the end.

4. The Character must be believable. If we didn't see those smaller moments with Harry falling for Cho, or eating piles of chocolate frogs with Ron, or enjoying the twins' pranks, we might not buy that he's a real kid. No matter how epic the adventure, we have to know the person we're rooting for is human. And I don't care if you're writing about an alien, he still has to feel HUMAN. Harry has dimension. We are with him while he goofs off from homework, has to dance with a girl, and forces down Hagrid's fudge to be polite. These little details mean everything.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Replacement in Review

I had the honor of not only reading THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff, but also of interviewing her here on the Enchanted Inkpot.

First about the book (taken from Brenna's website):

Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, Mackie comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement—left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with an oddly intriguing girl named Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

As you know, before I give my own review, I like to have a guest give his take. In this case I decided to go with the classic monster, Frankenstein.

Me: Franky - what did you think of the book?

Franky: I don't really know what all the fuss is about. I mean it was very well written. But scary? Palease. You want horror? Try grave-robbing and then bringing the freak back to life with lightning and a mad scientist. Now that's a good book.

Me: Um, okay. But isn't that your OWN book?

Franky: You wanted my opinion. I'm giving it. I mean yes, The Replacement was great. But who do you identify with more? Me or Mackie? Pfft. No contest. Right?

Me: Uh, no. No contest at all. I really fell in love with Mackie. Sorry, man.

Franky: Fine! Just because he's all handsome... You know what you are? You're a freakist!

Me: Hey now, no need for calling names. And yes, Mackie is supposed to be cute, but that's not why I loved him. Thank you for your opinion though, Franky. Please be careful to avoid the angry mob out front. I think I saw a couple of pitchforks..

Okay, now my opinion. I LOVED it. Again my favorite part was the MC. I fell for him right away, and continued to be completely invested throughout. Yes, the plot was good too. But to me the character was the clincher. Beautifully written. I'd read another book by Brenna in a heartbeat.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Madness - Jemi Fraser!

Before we begin I have to thank all of you who helped in the fight against breast cancer! The winner of a book and critique is BEKAH! And the choice of book or critique goes to SLUSHPILE SLUT! God I love that name. Congrats to both of you.

Today's Monday Madness features the incomparable Jemi Fraser!! Jemi is one of those awesome bloggers that everyone should know. She's fun, kind, and never fails to be a friend. Here's what she said about herself:

I'm a mom of 2 young adults, wife, Canadian daughter of Scottish immigrants. I'm a teacher and overly obsessed with my job. I've taught all kinds of kids at all kinds of grade levels, including kids with extreme social and behavioural needs. I'm the only sci fi/fantasy lover in my family - always have been. I'm the only dreamer in a family of practical folks. I'm a total sap with movies and books - get way too emotionally involved with them and with my friends and kids at school. :) I'm an animal lover and tree hugger and an eternal optimist. I'm calm unless my kids are threatened. I'm not a fan of conflict - I'm always the mediator and the peace maker. I've been writing for myself on and off for years, but only seriously for a couple. I love happy endings and have a hard time keeping my characters in trouble. Phew!

Well, this one's a given. Jemi is an ANGEL. What else could she be???

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Vampires are Better Than Zombies

Don't forget to enter my contest and help support a good cause at the same time!!

Now the post:

I know I'm going to catch some flack on this one, especially from you zombie fanatics out there. And I freely admit that there are the exceptional few zombies I find endearing. But they are relatively few and far-between. Why is that??

1. Vampires are sexier. Would you want to kiss a guy (or girl) with rotting chunks of flesh falling off? Doubtful. How about a hotty who's frozen in his eighteen-year-old body forever?

2. Vampires have an intact brain. Zombies are always trying to eat others' brains because they can't fill that empty, rotting (I'm thinking this word might appear quite a few times in this post) spot.

3. Vampires are scarier. Uh-huh, I went there. Seriously though, lumbering undead slowly plodding toward you to eat your flesh is scary, but not in comparison to the type of monster who hides in the shadows and can infiltrate your mind before feasting on your blood.

4. Vampires have better manners. Everyone knows zombies are just plain rude. Vampires can't even come inside without being asked.

5. Vampires are SEXIER. I know, I mentioned it already. But seriously - you tell me which one is more attractive??

I rest my case.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Madness - Lydia Kang!

First of all, a very important contest!! The whole point is to help out with a good cause. My friend is doing the Susan G. Komen walk for Breast Cancer Research and she has a goal to meet! So here's the deal, I'll give away:

First Prize: Your choice of one of any of the books I've reviewed/interviewed/guest posted on this blog including the upcoming The Replacement. AND a ten page manuscript critique.

Second Prize: Either a book (see above) OR a critique - your choice!

All you have to do is comment with an entry total. 1 for commenting. 1 for Tweeting. 2 for blogging about it. AND OF COURSE 1 for each $1 you donate to my friend. Just click the link on my sidebar (where it says clicky clicky) to donate. Entries open to US residents only though - sorry guys!! The contest is open until Sunday November 14th at noon EST. I'll announce the winners next Monday!! Please help us out in supporting this incredible cause!!

NOW to Monday Madness:

Lydia Kang is not only a sweet and amazing blogging buddy, she's also an actual doctor! One of my favorite posts of the week is reading Lydia's answers to medical questions for writers on her blog. It's fascinating! And who doesn't have a character with some medical issue or another?

This is what Lydia has to say about herself:

I'm the mother of three kids who exercised my parental muscle (you must read this!) to get my son addicted to Harry Potter. I work part time as an internal medicine doc, and am an unabashed geek about sciencey stuff.
I can cook a fantastic spaghetti puttanesca, knit, crochet, garden, draw, play piano, and used to be in a feminist a capella group in college. No, I won't sing those songs for you, because my family will go into hiding from embarrassment. I grew up in Maryland but spent most of my adult life in New York City until I moved to Omaha five years ago. And now...I'm a happy midwestern Asian gal. Go figure!
Writing is my therapy. I love writing poetry, creative non-fiction (usually related to patient care) and YA fiction. Within YA fiction, I love to read just about anything but horror (I'm a scaredy-cat) and outside of YA, I read just about anything but non-fiction (because I fall asleep) and horror (because it wakes me back up, but not in a good way).
I love my blogging writing community. They rock!
Now obviously Lydia is not just a "jack" of all trades. She's a master of all trades. And what kind of creature can do everything? One that took a special concoction laboriously constructed in the lair of a MAD SCIENTIST, that's who. At least that's my suspicion. Super smart, super everything. There you have it folks. Lucky for us though, I don't think Lydia is the kind of Mad Scientist that tries to destroy the world - just make it better.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Muse Me

He he. Nice pun, right? No? Well, blame my nano-fried brain. I do want to talk about Muses today though. What is a Muse? Well, technically a Muse is a goddess daughter of Zeus who inspires the creativity of artists. But you've all heard the expression I'm sure. Finding your Muse isn't always easy to do. After all, I'm sure even goddesses are busy.

So how do you attract a Muse? Make yourself irresistible. Be the perfect artist. How do you do that?

1. Don't wait for inspiration. Inspire yourself. You can find ideas anywhere really. A good place to start is a "What if" question. What if someone stole all the color in the world? See? I just did that. Right now. You try it...

2. Surround yourself with the right environment. Don't try to squeeze in a page while balancing a toddler in one hand and a bag of groceries in the other. I'm sure it has indeed been done. But try your best to give yourself a good solid block of time dedicated solely to your art. Make your own special space. Whether that's in an office, a bedroom, outside, or at Starbucks, well, that's up to you.

3. Be a good observer. Pay attention to the people and things around you. You never know if there's a story hiding right in front of your nose. Make up a story about something that seems out of place to you. Ask a question about someone's outfit. Why is that gorgeous woman wearing frumpy clothes? Is she trying to hide something? Protect herself? Low self-esteem?

4. Be nice to yourself. That's right. Be kind to yourself, give yourself space and time. Don't beat yourself up. Don't be arrogant either though. Be gracious if you want to entice the Muse.

And if the Muse still doesn't come? Eh - frankly if you can do all these things for yourself, who needs her???

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Madness - Bekah

Today I'm featuring a sweet writer with a great blog - Bekah! I asked Bekah to share some things about herself so that we might figure out what kind of paranormal creature she really is, and here is what she said:

A few things about me...
Let's go with the boring first. I am married, have a Great Dane, Moose, and a runt named Butters. I ride dirtbikes in the desert, well, sometimes, but I am slow. I watercolor, which I am thinking of putting on my blog as another one of "what you don't know about me" things. I am also going back to college to get my English degree. I was an ultrasonographer, BUT I dislocated my shoulder and whammy, had to have a wicked surgery.
One of my novels is women's fiction set in the 1950s- no sci fi, no fantasy. My MG book is a touch of Sci Fi and fantasy, which is the novel that was on Adventures in Chilren's Pub. My next MG, which I am doing for Nano, will probably be along same lines of light touches of both.
Weird factoids: I like humor. I like funny movies. My favorite movie is Gone with the Wind, because I always wanted to look like Vivein Leigh. I don't take myself too seriously. I am pretty forgetful; ask my hubby- I left my groceries in the car for a couple hours. It's my migraine meds, which give me the most vivid, bizar-o dreams. I LOVE most sugary things, especially chocolate and ice cream. I HATE coffee, but sometimes I will drink a frap.

Personally, I don't think any of that is boring. Now, I started thinking... Bekah dislocated her shoulder that bad doing an ultrasound? I don't know much about ultrasonography, but I'm thinking it really happened while she was wielding a sword and fighting monsters to defend mankind. She admits she's forgetful, what if she's really turning into a super-kick-butt-heroine and doesn't remember those periods of time? Perhaps that's where those "bizar-o dreams" are coming from. They actually happened!

I think we have our answer, folks. Bekah really has an alter-ego, a SUPERHERO that comes out when she doesn't know it! Wow! Well, considering that, getting a book published should be no big deal, right?