Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Linky Post

One day I took a whole bunch of weird photos. This is one of them.

Lots of Writerly Types do posts were they link to cool stuff on the interwebs. One of my favorites is Nathan Bransford's "The Past Few Weeks In Books." He links to a lot of fun and interesting stuff happening in the writing industry. And there are tons of other, wonderful examples out there.

Today I've decided to take a page from this well-tread book (mixed metaphors, sorry), and I'm going to link to a few internetty things I've been enjoying this week.

For Harry Potter Fans:

  • First comes an article on why Neville Longbottom is both the anti-Peter Pettigrew and also super awesome in this post from Tor. It was oddly touching.
  • From the same site comes another article defending Ron Weasley's importance in the Potter trio (and accuses the HP screenwriter of giving all of Ron's cool lines to Hermione.)

For Writers:

  • There's the very concise 8 Writing Rules of Kurt Vonnegut, which includes the ever relevant advice not to waste your reader's time (hopefully I'm doing okay there.)
  • Another favorite (I've seen it a few places, sorry if you have too) is a Pixar former employee's 22 Storytelling "Basics." It's an oddly fun read.
  • This post talks about Amtrak's new, unofficial writing residency. It's not yet open to applicants, but apparently they're letting some lucky writers travel on their train just to write. The first writer traveled from NY to Chicago and back again. Apparently it was a productive trip.

For Adventurers:

  • Or for the people who like to travel from behind the screen of your computer. YA writer Maggie Hall and her husband Andrew are traveling the world for a minimum of 6 months (final timeframe yet to be determined). They're taking photos and writing posts, and I thought the whole thing was very cool.
  • I've found lots of fun articles on, and 7 Things No One Tells You About Moving To A New Country is pretty darn entertaining. The author discovered he had a dual citizenship through the process. Here's one line that made me laugh: "We brought two cats to the U.K., and it would have been less hassle to invade part of the coast and declare it a sovereign feline nation."

For Gamer/Comic Nerds:

  • I'm going to defy the rules of bullet points b/c I only have one things I love in this genre (my husband makes a much better nerd of this variety). I absolutely love Penny Arcade: The Series. Penny Arcade is a gamer's online comic strip, and this is their reality TV series. The Fourth Panel episodes show a truly entertaining working relationship as Mike and Jerry hash out their comic strip. The other episodes show what else the Penny Arcade company does. It's not PG, by the way, but it is truly, oddly entertaining.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Igloo of Doom!

Okay, so there was nothing terribly Doom-y about it, but occasionally I like to call things "The blankity-blank OF DOOM!"

I might have mentioned we're getting shit-tons of snow. As evidenced by the Evil Overlord Snowman post. (A shit-ton, by the way, is a very official unit of measure.)

Well, we got even more snow, and this time my husband determined that we would make an igloo. Apparently making an igloo has been a life-long dream of his (especially when he was little), but somehow he and his cohorts never managed it. The best they managed was a system of snow tunnels back in the winter of like '92 when, if you were short enough, the snow piled up over your head.

(I did rather intend to continue writing about writing this week, but it isn't often, or, uh, ever, that I have an igloo to talk about, so circumstances led to a Snowy post rather than a Writerly post.)

Nigel googled the secrets of making a successful igloo, and we sacrificed the three beer boxes we happened to have in our home to become snow-brick molds. (And we almost had to make a beer run in order to obtain another brick mold. Our last one died just before we managed the roof, but we improvised).

So, without further ado, here are the pictures that documented the progress. Nigel (my husband) was the brick maker and mortar shoveler. I was the brick placer, mortarer, and documenter of the process. As the documentarian, it might appear as though Nigel is doing all the work. I assure you, that was not the case.

The Foundation!

Two brick layers down.

Starting to shape up nicely. (This was the end of Day One.)

The precarious, pre-mortared brick (see, I did serve a function).
This is on Day Two.

Onto the third box. Brick-making is hard on cardboard boxes.

The next precarious layer.

Before the entrance is complete, from the inside out.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Beginnings

I have a winter glove elegantly balanced on my head.
Not sure why.

This week I'm back to writing about writing.

Last week, my house was hit by another snow (and ice) storm, and I was lucky enough to get a snow day off work (I felt like a little kid). Then I guilted myself into using my time wisely (like an adult). Now, I've got a new first chapter for my YA Fantasy Dragon Bait (and some clean laundry).

Part of the reason I hadn't felt much like writing about writing was that I'd gotten a few more rejections on Dragon Bait. Conventional wisdom says that either my query or my first few pages aren't working (or I was querying the wrong agents, but I did a lot of research on those agents, so hopefully it wasn't that).

I spent a long time thinking about whether I wanted to change anything, what to change, and how I might change things. I decided that I like my query letter, and, besides, I'm not certain what would improve it anyway. But my first chapter wasn't terribly action packed. There was, perhaps, a bit too much explaining and not enough fun. So I had my answer on what I ought to change. The only question was: How?

Beginnings are tough, for me at least. You've got 5-10 pages to hook your reader on your book. This is part of what I love and hate about the query process. What I love: If you can't sell an agent on your book with a brief synopsis and the first few pages, chances are you aren't going to be able to sell too many readers on it either. What I hate: I've got 5-10 pages and a synopsis to sell someone on a 75k word book! I've got a lot happening in this book. So many pages upon pages are dedicated to cool characters, action packed scenes, and snarky conversations. With only 5-10 pages, you miss out on a lot.

But I think I found the right note for the beginning. I am heading into action earlier because I think that's what I was really missing. Whether or not this will change my rejection rate, I'm not sure. But I'm hoping.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Evil Snowman Overlord!

So much snow!

Snow, snow, snow. This last batch was particularly good packing snow, so, at my husband's insistence, the snowman making commenced! I'm a little sad I didn't document the process. It involved trekking into the backyard to be certain to get enough snow to make one of the largest snow boulders I've ever seen. (The snowman was built in the front yard.)

Ramps were involved in the effort to get the second ridiculously enormous snowball up onto the bottom one. A few tries were necessary.

And then came the head. I had to empty a mustard bottle to properly squirt dyed orange-red water into the glowing, evil eyeball sockets.

Then genius struck. An evil overlord snowman without a decapitated snowman head on a stick? Outrageous!

Here are the pictures: (Yeah, so I didn't get back to writing about writing this week either.)

The Evil Snowman Overlord Commands All She Surveys!

Decapitated Snowman is so sad.

Here I am for scale. See? Ridiculously huge snowman.