Thursday, April 17, 2014

And I forgot . . .

Did I mention I took a whole series of photos with a glove on my head?
Because I did.
I'm still not sure why.


Wednesday came and went and I completely forgot to post. I'd like to pretend I had a good reason, but let's be honest: I didn't.

So instead of some beautifully well thought out and impassioned dissertation on, uh, something, you're going to get a haphazard list of things I've been up to:

Reading Until Tuesday

This book follows the unspoken rule: If it has a dog on the cover, you will cry at some point while reading it. However (so far as I know, although I haven't finished the book yet) the dog does not die. He had better not!

I had this book recommended to me by a Afghanistan vetran. The book follows Tuesday, the service dog of Iraqi vet Luis Montalván and, of course, Luis. There is a portion of the book that takes place in the depths of Iraq, but Tuesday really is the focus. And after that, the focus is on how much Tuesday has helped his owner. It is a well-written and beautiful book, and I really think it's expanding my horizons in a way that I never would have thought about expanding them without that book recommendation.

In general, I've been trying to read more autobiographies lately just because there have been some really interesting people in this world, and sometimes learning about them is far more interesting than learning about made up people (of course, sometimes its boring as hell, but you gotta take the bad with the good).

This is not to say autobiographies are anywhere close to the majority of books that I read. I've been sucking down fun YA romancy type books, and they are a wonderful break from real life. For example: Going Vintage, Girlfriend Material (here is the link to my review), and The Art of Falling.

Writing a New Intro Chapter

Have I mentioned that writing the first chapter of your novel is hard? Because it is. I think I've written about four different Chapter 1's for my work in progress (WIP). So much relies upon that first chapter. It's the chapter that either sucks the reader in or lets the reader put the book down. (And sometimes that reader is actually a literary agent deciding whether or not he/she wants to represent your book.)

In short, Chapter 1 is a pain in the rear end. And that is all I'll say about that. (Although I do like my current Chapter 1, which makes me happy).

Scoping out Car Possibilities

I'm in the market for a new car. I'm not yet convinced I will actually buy a new car, but I do intend to. We'll see.

Isn't the new Mazda3 a pretty, pretty car? Soooooo shiny.

Raking Leaves

Yep. We're Those People. The ones who did not rake their leaves during the autumn. What can I say, I'm a terrible neighbor.

I took a short walk around the neighborhood and felt so guilty that I spent 2 hours raking and earned myself a blister on my left thumb. But I did feel like less of a terrible neighbor, so there's that.


And there ends my list. A very happy Thursday to you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Congrats

This has been a crazy busy month for me, so I'm afraid this week's post will just be short and to the point:

Congratulations, Brandi D. You've won a copy of Sabriel (which is only the greatest book ever; well, one of them).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Best Series Blog Hop: Sabriel Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Sorry, guys but this giveaway is only for people in the U.S.

So this is my first ever giveaway. Given that, I don't think you'll be surprised to know I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing. But that's what Rafflecopter is for.

The Cuddlebuggery is hosting this cool Blog Hop, and I wanted to join, so here we are.

My Favorite Series

One of the best YA series out there is The Old Kingdom Chronicles by Garth Nix. He starts the series off with Sabriel. This series features:

  • Kick-ass heroines
  • Magic
  • A sassy, talking cat
  • Creepy, dead creatures
  • A Disreputable Dog (sorry, but you've got to read past Sabriel to get to that character)
  • Swords
  • Trips into Death
  • And a little bit of romance
Seriously, how can you beat that?

The Old Kingdom Series

The books in the series are:
  1. Sabriel
  2. Lirael
  3. Abhorsen
  4. Across the Wall (This is a book of short stories. The first story takes place in the Old Kingdom. The others do not.)
  5. Clariel (Coming this year! My opinions on Clariel. Goodreads link.)


Mogget

Last week I shared a few drawings I'd done of Mogget. This week I added a little color. Here's the new and improved Mogget Series (for those not in the know, Mogget is the sarcastic talking cat, who's a little more than just a cat):



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sassy Tails and Sabriel

Did you know that google imaging "sassy cat tail" will NOT bring up a helpful selection of sassy cats with particularly sassy tails? I know this because I was attempting to draw one of my all time favorite characters: Mogget of Sabriel fame.

Mogget is a sassy, sarcastic and cryptic cat. Oh, and he's magical. Cool, right? I think so. Here is my interpretation of Mogget when he's feeling thoughtful:


Sabriel (the book) is centered around Sabriel (the character). The book's actually almost 20 years old, so it definitely beat the current generation of YA zombie books to the shelves. Not that Sabriel's opponents are actually called zombies, but they're walking, rotting, soul-sucking Dead bodies who are intent on killing her, so I'd say they're pretty much zombies.

Here's another Mogget drawing of mine (minus the whiskery mustache):

All of this is leading up to me saying that I have entered into a Blog Hop, hosted by the Cuddlebuggery Book Blog. And, assuming I can figure out how to host a give-away by this weekend, I will be giving away a copy of one of my all time favorite books from one of my all time favorite YA series: Sabriel.

Feel free to comment upon what an awesome book Sabriel is in the comment section below. ;)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trimming the Fat

This photo is part of the Glove on the Head Series.
Hey, I've got to put something on here.

The Objective

Nope, I'm not talking about a diet. I've been spending the last few weeks trying to cut my Dragon Bait manuscript down from a 75k word manuscript to something a little more lean. You see, I was told that my book feels a lot more like a middle grade manuscript than a YA manuscript, and I've recently started to agree. The problem is that 75k is too long for a MG manuscript, and I like most of the chapter's I've got. They build character and add tension and contribute to the plot, and all those kinda important things.

The Method

So I've been going through, page by page, cutting out unnecessary words, phrases, and sentences, and, oh joy of joys, sometimes whole paragraphs! (Those times are pretty exciting, although also quite rare).

An Example

This might not be the best example, but I just picked out a sentence at random and gave it a trim so you can hopefully see what I mean.

  • Old Sentence: "Somehow I managed to convince myself that I had to go to the station, no matter how much I never wanted to set foot in that place again." 28 words
  • New, Sleek Sentence: "Somehow I convinced myself to go back to the station even though I never wanted to set foot in that place again." 22 words

See? I just cut 6 words! Obviously not every sentence can be trimmed down like this, and I think you can imagine what a long and tedious process this is, but it has the added benefit of making the book nicer to read. The real shock is how many words I've managed to cut just by doing this sort of thing.

The Result

You ready for this?? (Yes, I'm pretending you're excited by my decreasing word count). So far, I've gone from 75k words down to 69k words, and I've still got quite a few chapters to go. I'm going to feel much better about querying a MG book that has a word count in the 60,000's than one in the 70,000's, so yea for me!

P.S. For anyone who was wondering, my Very Important Work Meeting went quite well!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Working Wednesday

I don't talk much about my 9 to 5 job because that's not what this blog is about, but this week I'm off traveling for my job. I've got a Very Important Meeting to attend, and quite frankly, I'm nervous as hell. I'm just a little too nervous (and busy prepping for this meeting) to prepare a nice, well thought out blog post (or even a crappy, poorly thought out blog post).

So, this week, you get a picture of some penguins:

(Photo credit to Antarctica Bound)

The penguin who's left of center looks very suave and confident, so I'll just stand like him when I'm in my meeting tomorrow. Looking smug and self-confident is key in Very Important Meetings.

(I picked penguins is for you, Camilla)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Philadelphia, Flowers, and van Gogh

Phlower Show (See what I did there?)

I went to Philly this weekend for the Philadelphia Flower Show, and because I had all day and can only look at pretty flowery displays for so long, I also trekked it over to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Here are the pix.

Here's what you saw when you walked into the flower show with a cool close up below:



Then came the Suessian trees:


There were lots of pretty and creative displays. This one involved a Korean Moon Vase made of leaves surrounded by beautiful pink orchids:

This one was interesting and had lots of different parts. I liked the Moss Man best. He was picnicking with his grassy girlfriend. Plus, they let people throw paper airplanes into the display, which always makes for a good time.

Writing Research

I was in Philadelphia and it just so happens that the Philadelphia Art Museum features in the Contemporary YA I'm writing. As it's currently plotted, the climax involves an attempted museum caper.

I took tons of pictures of the entryway and not one single guard asked me what on earth I thought I was doing. Conclusion: the security staff there is pretty lax, which is great for my book!

Museum Adventures

The walk from the Flower Show to the art museum goes directly past a small museum dedicated to the sculptor Rodin. He's most famous for The Thinker:


I took a little side trip to walk up and around his cool sculptures. I read his Wikipedia article when I got home, and it said he was one of the fathers of modern sculpture b/c he used realism in his sculptures (instead of just sculpting those idealistic, namby pamby Greek gods).

Then I wandered about the Philadelphia Art Museum for a few hours and had lots of fun. This painting was one of my favorites:

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament by William Turner

And here's me with van Gogh's Sunflowers:

I even got to see an old friend who lives in the Philly area, so overall, the trip was lots of fun. I was particularly proud of the fact that I got to do some honest to goodness Writerly Research.