Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Querying Quesadilla

I recently featured my fav flower photos & was sad my crocuses didn't make the cut.
And all this stinking snow has make me look forward to spring.
This is an action shot! It's got a bee.

Quesadillas, or Lack Thereof

Sorry. This title is misleading. There will be no quesadillas in this post. And no cheese of any type. Which is really a pity because cheese makes most anything better - unless you're lactose intolerant, in which case I feel sad for you because cheese and milk chocolate make up some of my favorite foods. I like dark chocolate too, but, as I recently found (when looking for a friend), getting lactose-free dark chocolate chips can be quite difficult. I think I had success with Wegman's brand chocolate chips, in case you are curious.

Now that the epicure portion of the post is out of the way, on to queries.

Mine is not working.

A rather battered crocus with a focus on the snowdrops in the background. And vice versa.

Querying Questions

I think that Naomi helped me with some great query-writing advice, which I distilled into the following bullet points. I tried to keep it in mind when revamping my query:

  • Make the Main Character likable: What makes the Main Character unique?
  • Focus on tension: What makes you want to keep reading?
  • Make the World interesting: What makes the World unique? (Rather similar to the first point, but not something to overlook in a fantasy.)
  • Use Voice! Bad: Does this query sound dry and uninviting? Good: How can I bring my main character's Voice into the query?
  • Cut generic phrases. This works better as an example than a question. Look for phrases that could be using in almost any query, such as "Eric knew he needed to take action!" or "Eric had had enough!" And either cut or rewrite them.

Here my backyard almost looks like a professional shoot.


Basically, I rewrote my query trying to make Eric feel more like Eric (he's my main character, in case you were curious). I tried to build a little more sympathy for him. I cut out some plot in favor of more world-relevant specifics.

And one of my critique partners said that the old query described the book but was a bit boring, and my new query made her want to read the book. Which is the whole point. So, good luck to me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Stormin' It Up

My backyard. So pretty. So much snow.

This weekend, my husband left for work on Friday at 5:30pm and didn't get home until Monday at 6:45am. He makes electricity, though, so at least he sacrificed his weekend to a good cause (and money, which is always lovely).

However, this meant that I spent almost 5 hours this weekend shoveling so he could come home and have somewhere to park.

I will show you!

Here was Saturday. The roads weren't plowed at all, and it snowed as I shoveled:

See? I'm an ice-covered Sarah:

The snow actually made that soft, thumpy sound of snow settling as I piled up the shoveled snow. Think of that avalanche sort of sound.

Then Sunday, I went out and did it some more:

There's a windy little path off to the left to make way for Nigel's car. I would have cleared the whole driveway, but I hurt, dangit! That snow stuff gets pretty darn heavy by the end. The worst is having to heft it up over the piles of snow you already made just to keep it out of the way.

The other worse is shoveling out the part the snowplow put at the end of the driveway because it's super thick and heavy, shoveling compacted snow.

The plow came through as I was shoveling - at around 3pm on Sunday, so I was snowed in from Friday night through to Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Flowers And Photos

So I had every intention of writing a very focus, writing-oriented post this week. Then I got my new camera, tried to upload some photos to my laptop, and was told I was Out Of Photo Space.

I took this photo!
It's at a waterfall in NY state somewhere.

So instead of composing a well thought out blog post, I went to town "editing" (see how I'm trying to make it relate back to writing) my photo collection. Whilst skimming through years of photos, I decided to pull out my Favorite Flower Photos.

Moody buttercups.
Also NY state.

I have this Thing for taking photos of flowers.

Devil's Tower, plus flowery weeds.
It's an addiction, really.

So pretty, so tiny, so purple.

I thought it was funny I drove across the country and the pretty purple flower looks nearly the same.
Yellowstone National Park

This poor bedraggled flower is, oddly, a favorite of mine.
Badlands National Park, SD

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Hodge Podge of Fun Stuff

Sarah Stuff: The Exciting World of Sarah Hipple


I wasn't exactly sure what title to give this blog post because it's primarily going to be me linking to other stuff that I'm excited about, but I'll off start with non-linky things about me:

  • I've finished yet another revision of my book, put together a synopsis, and have picked out a few agents. My query's been ready and raring to go for a while now. Once I've revised my synopsis, I'll be ready to send my beloved book out into the big, scary world.
  • This is perhaps a little silly, but it made me super excited. About 5 years ago, my husband and I bought our first ever brand new car. Today I got a letter in the mail saying that the car is "Paid In Full." I feel so very grownup, but in a good way.

Writing Stuff: In Which Literary Agents And Joss Whedon Say Interesting Things

I've read a number of articles by/about Joss Whedon, and he seems like a really neat person. Plus he's funny. He gave a lengthy interview at the Oxford Union, which is up on YouTube. He talks about how it was taking on a huge franchise like the Avengers, and, of course, he answers some questions about Buffy and Firefly. He is indeed asked about "Strong, Female Characters." He also talks about leaving the Avengers franchise to do new things because he wants to challenge himself. He said he's working on some personal projects, and "they’re really hard, and I’m totally failing, and it feels great." And you can tell he actually means it.

This article from children's book agent Stephen Barbara is particularly of interest to people in the children's book industry, but I thought there were a few very nifty (as in surprising) takeaways for somebody who simply likes books. For example, the Juvenile e-book market share went down in 2014-2015. E-books accounted for 15% of MG (middle grade) sales and 26% of YA sales. That runs completely contrary to everything I've been hearing about the rise of the e-book, but apparently those numbers are for adult books.

Tying into the above article, I just recently re-watched literary agent Barry Goldblatt talk about YA/Kids' books. His speech is from 2011 at the Kalamazoo Public Library (because, obviously, that's one of the best names ever), so it's a little out-dated. I love his passion for Children's Literature and his unique take on the industry. One of the most interesting things he says (for me) is that he doesn't think the print market for YA books will ever go away because young people want ways to personalize their space within their parents' home - to show who they are with the stuff that they own and mark that space as their own. I thought it was funny that this idea tied in well with the article above saying that e-books are not taking over the YA/MG market.

TV Shows (aka TV Stuff)

Photo by Paul-W

My coworker stopped by my cubicle (yes, I have a cubicle - how very Dilbert) to taunt me about the cool new shows coming out that seemed right up my fantasy-loving, book-adoring alley. I do not have cable television, just Netflix and the free version of Hulu, so I'll only get to see these shows if they're free online or if they eventually make their way to Netflix (hence the taunting). BUT, there's some cool stuff coming out:
  • Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments - the movie version of Cassandra Clare's YA series was a flop, so now ABC is going to give it a try. I hope they do better.
  • The Magicians - SyFy's giving this series by Lev Grossman a go. I have not actually read the series, but I remember hearing it described as a darker, more adult Harry Potter. Very curious.
  • The Shannara Chronicles - I'm thinking MTV is trying to create it's very own Game of Thrones success-story, although what's up with MTV being the one to turn Terry Brooks' epic fantasy series into a TV show, I really don't know. Obviously I am not in touch. (Just looked up it's Wikipedia page - apparently they're filming in New Zealand, so perhaps a Lord of The Rings comparison would be more apt.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Blanket Fort for the New Year

My husband and I didn't have any big plans for New Year's Eve. We had a vague desire to do something fun, but we didn't want to leave the house - so I suggested a blanket fort.

I'll give my husband credit, though - it was his idea to put the TV in the fort with us.

Those are my feet in my comfy socks.

First we put down some cushy blankets as a base. Then we grabbed pretty much every blanket that wasn't currently on our bed (plus two sheets, which felt a bit like cheating, but oh well). Some string, rubber bands, and one bungee cord were also involved. Oh, and couch cushions, of course.

We used my Gandalf Staff (from a previous Halloween costume) as the main tent support, and the vacuum helped hold up the entrance. Here is a conveniently labelled photo:

And a completely unlabelled photo too:

(Sadly, I'm still using my camera as a phone, which lends itself toward rather blurry photos. But still, you get the idea.)

Our blanket fort blocked off one of the doorways into the living room, but it was totally worth it:

Hope you had a good NYE and have a great new year. My husband and I rang in the New Year with a movie and snacks, cozy inside our blanket fort.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Made a Pirate Hat - Avast Ye Mateys!

For Christmas this year, my husband got a Lego Pirate Ship and a Pirate Hat I made him, because, well, why not?

I'm going to save the payoff shot of the hat for last because it's super awesome. I promise.

Lego Pirate Ship
That is a Lego dragon perched on the backmost mast.
Because, duh, pirates have to fight off dragons all the time.

This is the little rowboat for the pirate ship.
The snooty captain type is fending off a shark with his little lego sword.

Sadly, I killed my camera off by dropping it (I can confirm - dropping cameras is not good for them), so all photos are from my phone. And for some reason, my phone REALLY likes to use the flash - even when it means washed out photos.

I based my pirate hat on this lady's DIY post, but instead of stretching felt to make the head bit of the hat, I put my felt on a pyrex bowl that has a similar fatness to my husband's head, made 4 long snips from each corner, and sewed it up.

There's a bowl under all that felt.
Good thing pyrex makes some large bowls. Nigel's head is quite large.
This photo also features my feet in their comfy slippers.

Made a lining for the head bit, glued the two head shaped pieces together with felt glue, and made two big circles with a hole in the middle for the brim.

Fortunately the two brim pieces went around the edges of the head bit because that part was messy looking.

Starting to come together.

I used thin, white bias tape to make the edges look purdy. I think this either looks like a cool sun hat or some odd, priest-type hat. Not quite sure which.

I'm hugging my morning tea (the yellow thing).
And wearing my big, comfy sweatshirt.
You can't tell from across the internet, but I haven't had my morning shower yet, so I wouldn't get too close.

And then, bam!
(Okay, so actually, with a lot of sewing and cutting and skull and cross-swords making):
Nigel the Pirate.
He was too busy sorting his Magic cards to pose, but it's a cool hat.
I even bought white ostrich feathers for a flare.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

And A Happy New Year!

Photo by Ray Radlein

Beepity McBeep Beeperson Beep Bop Boop. Beep!

That's R2D2 wishing you a happy holidays. (We're close, personal friends.)