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Battling a stomach virus this week, so I’d like to reblog a book review I wrote in 2011…
This was supposed to post on Friday, but I’m running a fever and quite stupid. I accidentally posted 2 posts on Tuesday. That’s it for the week. Clearly, I need to step away from the blog posting until I feel better. I’ll do my best to be coherent in the comments.
I dub Ally Carter “The Queen of Pacing”. Never have I read such a rapid-paced, unputdownable YA book.
You can read the rest of the book review in the original post here:
I can’t remember how Writing and Selling Your Novel was recommended to me, but it was definitely worth reading.
I love books on writing because they are like attending mini-conferences. Lots of topics are covered that make me think about writing in different ways. Usually sparking a breakthrough or giving me a new technique when editing or drafting.
I’ve been reading this book for a couple months because the chapters are wonderfully divided up into individual topics and lessons. Each has exercises to try too.
I really loved how he explained Stimulus and Response. It gave me a new way to analyze the flow of my writing.
One of the best takeaways is: “Whenever you show something happening (a stimulus), you must show something else happening as a result (a response); and whenever you desire a certain thing to happen a response), you must show the happening that caused it (the stimulus).”
Sounds simple right?
But one point he made is that when you have dialogue and internalizations in a paragraph, you want to put the line of dialogue at the end of paragraph, if the next paragraph begins with the speaker responding to it.
Stimulus-response at work. It really makes things flow better.
His chapter on Making Story People More Interesting touches on some basic psychological aspects that can be employed to ratchet up the conflict and tension.
I found the transactional analysis theory very useful in understanding an argument in my current novel. The idea is that there are 3 ego states: parent, adult, and child.
Conflict happens when there is a cross transaction, which means any of these three talking to one of the other two. So if a parent talks to a child, you’ll get some sparks.
Gary Schmidt was the final keynote speaker at the SCBWI 41st Annual Summer Conference. He echoed the sentiment about surprises in his own unique way saying, “the only gift that God gives us that he can’t enjoy are surprises.”
He also said, “As writers, never doubt that your stories can change a kid’s life.”
Power stuff there. Realizing the impact a book we write can have on a reader. On a complete stranger we may never meet.
The three day conference ended with a book signing party. BTW, it’s a great way to find new books to read, talk to debut authors, and meet fellow writers in line.
The next day, I attended an additional intensive with agents, hearing their take on lots of aspects of the publishing industry. Here are a few of my takeaways:
- Editors are looking for award winning books and bestsellers. Agents try to take on books with the potential to do that.
- Agents do prioritize conference attendees queries over cold queries.
- As a writer, it’s important to stop and think about what you want your career to be. Whatever you want your career to be, it can be. But be honest with yourself, can you produce 2-4 books a year or 1 book every 2-3 years?
- Sometimes in auctions it’s not the highest dollar value that wins. Authors need to find an editor whose vision for the book matches the author’s vision.
- Agents must feel intense/passionate about your book to take it on. Must live with it for a while.
- Agents are advocates for writers.
The lovely Catherine Forsley did a feature on me today for her Fervour & Forever blog. Please check it out if you have a second.
After we left Napa, J announces that we are going to the Dynasty house. You know where they filmed Dynasty in the 80s. I’m stoked. I loved Dynasty almost as much as Dallas! I’m mildly surprised that the mansion wasn’t in Colorado after all but CA.
The stove was from the galley of a cruise ship. The family that owned the house made their fortunes in cruise ships and named the house Filoli. I prefer to call it the Dynasty house.
I think this dining room was in the first season of Dynasty.
It was such a cool kitchen I had to include another shot. Man the meals I could make at that stove!
This hallway looked really familiar to me too…
Loved the main room.
This library was cool, but not enough book shelves and books for me.
These are the famous Dynasty stairs. I can remember Fallon coming down them.
The ballroom was gorgeous and enormous. Stunning wall murals on each wall.
Then we went outside to explore the gardens.
The owners of Filoli loved their garden. It stretches beyond the eye can see.
My only twinge of disappointment was the lack of Dynasty related stuff in the giftshop. I’d pay $5-10 for a cast photo in front of the mansion. Or a Dynasty house mug.
Jenny, this last pic is for you. I think this is the driveway you were mentioning in your comment.
Entering a short story contest is like putting on a bikini (or speedo if your a guy) and walking onto a crowded beach. In your mind everyone is looking and critiquing. Some of them actually are. It’s a cringe-worthy, anxiety-ridden moment. But you want to get in the ocean so you take a breath and step onto the sand.
My writing friend, Katrina Bender, has done this very very brave thing. She entered her short story, The Owl’s Omen, in a contest online over at Figment. If you have a moment, please check it out. It’s a Edgar Allen Poe meets Dickens, Victorian gothic with a touch of horror. An incredibly enjoyable read. I’m so impressed by her skills. She’s not just an awesome crit partner but a truly gifted writer!
The grand prize is having your story included in the print edition of Defy the Dark, $500 cash prize awarded by HarperCollins and five copies of Defy the Dark. My fingers are crossed for Katrina.
You can log in with your Facebook or Twitter account to leave a comment or give it a rating. Please show a little love for a fellow writer who’s stepping out onto the beach in an itsy-bitsy bikini.
Here’s her description of her story: A young poet in Victorian England decides to end his life, until he receives an unexpected visit from a most unearthly caller. Gothic fiction for the Defy the Dark contest. Inspired by the work of Dickens, Goethe, and of course Poe.
While you’re there, you might want to take a look at Figments upcoming contests. After reading Katrina’s short story, you might be inspired to Be Brave too!
The story begins many blog posts ago, when my first ingrown toenail debacle started a cycle of ingrowing of the toenail. My podiatrist equates it with a thorn growing into your skin.
Anyway, the last time he had to remove it was in July. I thought I could make it until October, when he was going to perform a procedure to end the ingrowth permanently–cauterizing the nail root. WRONG.
Labor Day weekend, I swam in the ocean. I took long walks and got away from my laptop. And my toenail pierced deeper into my flesh causing my cuticle to swell and redden. Reaching the point where I couldn’t put weight on the toe. I called the podiatrist and they squeezed me in.
I figured a little removal of the ingrown toenail–I could handle that alone. WRONG.
The doctor decided that we should do the cauterization now. Stupidly I agreed. How bad could it be? Very Very badly painful.
He started with about 6-8 shots of Novacain into my toe. I can’t remember how many. I just remember trying not to cuss or bite through my lip.
He rubber banded my toe to prevent lots of bleeding when he worked. (Smart move–I faint at my own blood)
Anyway, he got me good and numbed up, then he cut an entire section of my toe nail away. From the tip of my toe down to the nail root. He also extracted the ingrown toenail that looked suspiciously like one of Eric’s fangs on True Blood. He band-aided me up and sent me home with strict instructions to soak it a couple times a day and use a box of medicated band-aids that he gave me.
All the Novacain made me so nervous, I had no trouble driving home.
But when the Novacain wore off, the pain was in-freaking-credible. From the tip of my toe pain shot to my ankle and into my leg. All those nerves were mega pissed at being doped up.
Sometimes a crazy pain came out of nowhere and I sorta yelped. This went on for about 36 hours. It still hurts a lot. When I soak it, it gets a little weepy. Not me, the toe.
Today, I go for a check-up to make sure there is no infection.
And in my weirdness, I like to take pictures of my surgeries and procedures so here is what my toe looked like after the procedure (after the bleeding stopped). There is still dried blood under the nail. And there are red needle marks around the base of my toe. And yes, my foot is mega swollen. It always swells up after Novacain.
We checked in at the Intercontinental’s Clement Monterey on Cannery Row at 3pm. Our room had two luxurious beds and a fire place.
I ended up buying a sea otter from the hotel gift shop to bring back to LA with me.
The bathroom was enormous in our room. To the right is a huge section for the stand up shower and toilet.
View from the boardwalk around Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Sea anemones at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Jelly fish and sea horses at the aquarium.
The aquarium was a tad expensive ($35) for the experience. Granted I’ve been to Seaworld and the New York Aquarium and Mystic Seaport. So it wasn’t my first time seeing underwater creatures. The experience was pretty horrible because of screaming and semi-crazed children running around and causing general pandemonium.
Honestly, I felt like I was at Chuck-E Cheese on steroids. After an hour, I had to leave. It was that loud and intense.
Cannery Row is uber touristy. So we sought shelter inside our hotel. Hanging out at the C Bar for drinks and having dinner at the C restaurant. Best part of the day for me. Relaxing and fun. We spent a few hours at the bar and lingered over dinner. Terrific view of the water from our booth. If you prefer a quiet meal on Cannery Row, this is the place to go.
The walkway separating our hotel into two buildings. We crossed it to get into the main building.
View from the patio in back of our hotel.
Boardwalk behind our hotel.
View from the hotel onto Cannery Row.
Best happy hour ever. 4 glasses of champagne.
Yummie Caesar salad at hotel restaurant, The C restaurant.
Tasty chicken dish at hotel restaurant.
Hearty and delicious breakfast before we checked out for coastal drive.