Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Am Happy. Yes, She Was.

When I start the first page of a new project- there are some decisions that need to be made. I always have a rough storyline (Okay, that’s an understatement. I usually have a three-page, detailed outline before I start. Plotting gives my inner control-freak a delicious bone to chew on) and a main character.

But the first page requires me to figure out:

The tense of the story. Past? Present? First person? Third person? Omniscient? (<- I constantly confuse this term with ‘Omnipotent’)

The tone. Light and airy? Dark and mysterious?  I never know until I’m into the first or second page. Sometimes manuscripts surprise me by turning out much darker or lighter than I anticipated. 

In any case, I end up doing the first page hokey pokey for awhile until I find my groove. But then, as the story takes over, I don’t usually think about tense or tone until the thing is finished.

Until now.

This work-in-progress played with being third-person-past and first-person-present for a few days and finally decided she liked being first-person-present. After all, my last two manuscripts were written this way and I felt like my TPP was too rusty to use at the moment.

But then, 15k in, the damn thing changed her mind.  She just switched to TPP as I was writing chapter seven and refused to go back. I mean RE-FUSED. She even made me read the first chapter over in her desired tense and I begrudgingly agreed– it flowed better. You know how sometimes when you try to paint or draw an image you have in mind, it never comes out exactly like what you imagined? The lines are blurry or you can’t get the colors right? Well, that’s how my manuscript was feeling. But changing the tense kind of brightened those lines and put it closer to what I’d imagined.

So, yesterday was spent switching hunks of the text to third-person past and I still haven’t finished. *sigh*

I don’t think a manuscript has ever given me so much trouble.

She better be worth it!

Has anyone else had a manuscript decide to change tense on them mid-first draft?

Monday, May 28, 2012


If you’re like me and waiting for your favorite summer series to start up (True Blood, anyone?)- I found a series that might bide your time. A freak storm bestows supernatural powers on a whole population of Southeast Londoners, including five adolescent delinquents who were performing community service together at the time.

Once you get past the various English/Irish accents- (seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a British show where all the characters share the same regional accent. It would make sense, because they’re all supposed to be from the same place, but no. It really gives the impression that no two English speak alike. – Like everybody just makes up their own accents as a general rule.) One girl in particular is really difficult to understand (I think it sounds like a mix between a mouthful of marbles, Chinese intonation, and chronic hiccups) but you get used to it.

The show kind of reminds me of a younger, hipper, darker ‘HEROES’ with a lot of English slang. And after a few episodes, I was hooked.

What summer series are you guys looking forward to – books or television? And happy Memorial Day! It's hard to celebrate from across the pond but the outpouring of love and support on the social network sites for real-life heroes (here and gone) makes me feel like I'm right back home.

Friday, May 25, 2012

FMFB- Debating the 'Indie' Label

Good Morning everybody and welcome to Friday Morning Follower’s Bloffee! The coffee is hot (or iced, depending on where you live). The weather in France is a blissful and sunny 27° Celsius. (I’m too lazy to see what this is in Fahrenheit, but I’m sure one of my smart commenters will clue me in:)

All you have to do to participate in bloffee is:

1. Comment. 2. Tell us what you’ve brought for breakfast. (Today I’m in the mood for eggs-over-easy, fresh baguette and some juicy grapes)  3. Find someone in the comments section you don’t recognize and check out their blog. Voila! An instant friend and potential follower connection has been made.

SO, like I usually do on these fair Friday brunches – I’ve chosen a topic from one of the various blogs I visited this week that has me thinking.

I came across an agent blog that asked self-published authors to stop using the term ‘indie’. Truth is, before reading the request, I’d never thought much about it.

 I’ve heard ‘indie’ used for both small press and self-published books in the past.  But the recent trend, as I’ve seen it, is that the term is being used more and more to describe self-published authors. This doesn’t really bother me one way or another but I was wondering how other authors (whether unpublished, traditional published or self published) felt about it?

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The First One In...

About year-and-a-half ago, after all the buzz surrounding Amanda Hocking and the changing way readers and publishers were looking at self-published books, authors began taking the leap one by one.

Some of them surveyed the murky Amazonian waters- full of anacondas and piranhas, and took note of everything they’d need to stay afloat. Then they jumped in and splashed gleefully around before yelling back to the others: ‘Come on in! The water’s fine!

And so they did – Authors tumbling one after another- some after careful consideration and others with a crazed, reckless abandon- arms flailing and eyes going googley (although I imagine many of the latter got swept away by a flying, open-mouthed anaconda à la  'Deep Blue Sea' before their feet even left the ground) into the hazy water until the whole thing seemed a little crowded.

But it’s not enough to have more and more authors splashing around in the Amazon– scaring off snakes and sharp-toothed animals so they only pray on the weak or those who stray too far from the pack.

Without readers, there is no pool.

And while authors took a chance jumping in, so did the readers who decided they would give self-published books a shot. And it took more than one girl making millions off her self-published titles. Not everyone likes urban fantasy or paranormal.

The success of self-publishing is pushed forward by those who take the same time and care with their product that any traditional publisher would have. And, of course, write an awesome story. All it takes is one self-published book to change the way readers view them, good or bad. A poorly-executed book might not stop them from reading others, but it might change the price they’re willing to pay –just like a book whose prose and book cover gleam might convince them to make exceptions.

I count myself lucky that the first self-published book I ever ordered and read on my kindle was Susan Kaye Quinn’s OPEN MINDS – a story about a world where everyone can share thoughts telepathically and those who can’t are looked upon with fear and distain.

When I finished reading this book, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t traditionally published. It wasn’t just one of the best-executed ‘indie’ books I’d ever read. It was one of the best YA books, in general, that I read last year and it completely changed the way I saw self-publishing.

Today, the second installment of the Mindjack Trilogy, CLOSED HEARTS is being released and I can’t wait to read it!

Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.

Congrats Susan! -  and THANK YOU for the time and care you’ve taken with your story and your books.  Not only have you done them justice, but you’ve made a difference in my (own, personal) view of all that is possible.

What was the first self-published book you ever read and how did it affect your view of that avenue?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Try to Enjoy It

This weekend, I clicked on a trending article on facebook (as I often do) and got caught up for a good fifteen minutes by the content (as I often do).  Except this time, instead of learning about Snooki’s fake tan or the existence of a life-sized Barbie doll in Russia (she’s really creepy looking), this link lead me to something that made me feel more inspired than I’ve felt in a really long time.

The moment he began to speak, I was entranced. And it wasn’t just the effect of his beautiful lilting accent or speaking voice (although that definitely helped:). It was because every piece of advice he gave had been gained through years of experience. It was also dispensed with a sense of humor and a lot of sincerity and I couldn’t help but lean forward in my chair, eagerly absorbing the priceless knowledge that Mr. Gaiman had gleaned from his eventful career.

In the closing of the commencement address, Gaiman says the best piece of advice he ever got (but never followed) was from Stephen King who remarked that Neil was doing really great work and that he should try to ‘enjoy it’.

Gaiman explained that he regretted not taking more time to enjoy where he was in the process. When all of his success came, he spent most of his time worrying and pushing himself for the next thing instead of stopping and looking around him and feeling content with where he was and what he’d accomplished.

And it occurred to me that, even if where I am in the process sucks– I can still enjoy it. Because no matter where we are in the process, there are always going to be parts of it that suck. And if we can't learn to enjoy it now, we could very well miss out later.

#1 I write. Therefore I am a writer. Amateur or unpublished or aspiring aside-Writing is what I love and when I do it, everything feels better no matter what’s going on around me. I can enjoy that.

#2 I have a mountain of rejections in my inbox.  But I also have a good pile of requests. My full manuscripts are out with four agents right now and even if all of them come back with a rejection, I have those rejections because I’m out there trying– writing new material and querying and keeping at it.  And, despite the difficulty, I can enjoy that knowledge.

#3 Blogging and making connections through social networks can take time away from writing (and everything else in your day to day lives). But it can also make you a stronger writer. My blog keeps me on my toes. The writers I’ve met have provided insight and support and some have even helped me better my craft.  Yes, it’s easy to get time-sucked into social networking but that’s only because this community is so damn fun!  And the time spent getting to know a lot of you has been just as enjoyable as #1, and much more enjoyable than #2:)

So I ask, what is your favorite part of where you are right now – whether it be in life or in writing?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Are You 'White Fanging' Me?

Nothing’s better than classic lit references making their way back into our vocabulary as random life occurrences.

Like break-ups.

Scene from 'The New Girl' Finale:

Schmidt: We need to talk.

Cece: Alright. This isn’t another one of those ‘merlot is the whore of the vinyard’ talks, is it?—

Schmidt: This isn’t working out.

Cece: Are you kidding right now? *stands* Are you trying to end this with me?

Schmidt: *steps forward and kisses her forehead. Then backs away slowly*

Now, go on! *motions abruptly toward the forest*
You heard me!
Go on!
Go on!
 Scram! *pretends to throw rocks*
I hate you!
Aaaaaahhhh *flails arms in the air like he’s scaring off a wild animal*
Aaaaaaah *flails a little more* 
Go back to your kind!

Cece:  *stares at him blankly a moment* Are you… ‘White Fanging’ me?

Schmidt: *stands up straight, looking guilty* Sorry, What?

Cece: White. Fang, Schmidt. – the only book on your kindle.  The one that you wouldn’t stop talking about? Remember I said ‘Please stop talking about White Fang’ and you said ‘Someday I’m going to do this to somebody’....

Schmidt: Oh. That White Fang. *clears throat and nods* Uh huh.

Cece: *sighs* Why are you trying to push me away?

Here’s Schmidt explaining to Jess the reasoning behind ‘White Fanging’ his girlfriend.

Have you ever had to ‘White Fang’ someone or something?:)

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Words Escape Me

Well, after spending the better part of the last eight months working on revisions for one thing or another, I finally have something completely new to focus on! *cue happy sounds* 

But to be honest, it’s slow going. The last two weeks haven’t yielded more than twenty-five pages.

I do know where I’m going and how to get there…for the most part.

The problem is, I’ll be on a roll, all throwing out paragraph after paragraph and marveling at my magical powers of creation and then BOOM!

I get stumped. The car breaks of creation come to a screeching halt. 

And no, – it’s not on a character development or a plot turn, hole or discrepancy or something big and important like that that has my work-in-progress bound and tied.

Uh uh. The continuation of my literary lineage most often depends solely on a WORD.  

When the right word escapes me, at first- I’m only mildly annoyed.

It’s like I can hear the faint gurgle gurgle of how the word should sound in my head. I try typing different variations- sometimes I don’t know the exact spelling and I keep hoping word autocorrect will help me out. But most often, it doesn’t because I’ve either mixed two words together, or it’s a word I’ve never used myself but heard it used elsewhere and know it should fit!- but I just don’t know what the word is exactly.

But it’s the perfect word. And it must be found before I can move on. *evil demonic laughter*

So then I go looking on the internet. – again, wasting more precious writing minutes, but it can’t be helped.  By this point, I’m more than annoyed. I’m like a woman possessed.

I end up taking five minutes to do things like research different types of windows. (I found this page particularly helpful.  It was ‘picture window’ I was looking for. – Yeah. I know. Life or death, here. )

Sometimes it’s a turn of phrase I can’t seem to get right. Which has me typing this like ‘guilty by..’ into google and carefully examining the most common results:
Needless to say, it was none of these.

What ties you up the most when you’re trying to pound out that first draft? Plot line going haywire? Rebellious characters? Description? A single word that has you pulling your hair out?

Monday, May 14, 2012

BLITZING Some Kindness 'Round These Parts!

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a TITANIC Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. And because I've been helped by their posts, and others in our writing community more times than I can count, I wanted to take part!

So, today I’m thanking fellow blogger Dianne Salerni!
Dianne is the author behind the historical fiction ‘We Hear The Dead’ (Sourcebooks Fire), the upcoming ‘Caged Graves’ (Clarion Books), and the blog ‘In High Spirits’. 

All blogging business aside- I’m a huge fan of her published (and non-published) work.  She’s my hero - which is why I’m all the more grateful to have had her help during my writerly journey these last of couple years. Not only is Dianne the best beta in the world (she has seriously taught me so much and made me a better writer) - but she also gives of her time and expertise freely to those who ask; Her and Marcy Hatch’s  monthly ‘First Impressions’ series has helped dozens of fellow writers improve on the first 250 words of their manuscript.

To thank Dianne for all that she does, I’ve chosen to send little something special as my ROAK gift. That’s right, people. These coffee spoons are made of chocolate. And, I promise, they are imbued with magical, brain-stimulating powers- sure to get any writer through the trickiest of plot patches. I call them 'thinking spoons':)

Becca and Angela have a special RAOK gift waiting for you as well, so hop on over to The Bookshelf Muse to pick it up.

What was the best writerly gift you ever received? An eye-opening critique? Encouragement when you needed it the most? A new laptop or notebook from a loved one to jot down your ideas?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Morning Follower's Bloffee - Discussing New Releases

Hello, and Welcome to Friday Morning Follower’s Bloffee. If you’re new here, here’s what it’s all about:
Participating is easy! All you have to do is:
1- Comment!  
2-Tell us what you’ve brought for breakfast! (Today I’m in the mood for blueberry waffles with syrup) 
3. Click on someone in the comments section you don’t know and Voila! –  A potential friend and follower connection has been made!

Now that I have you all here, seated around my huge coffee table (since this is virtual reality and I can make my sitting room as big as I want) – Have any of you picked up any of this week’s new releases from blogosphere authors?

‘The Breakaway’ By Michelle Davidson Argyle When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she's missing. Escape isn't high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she's part of a family-even if it is a family of criminals. But she's still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she's falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn't sure she wants to take it. 

Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.
Seventeen-year-old Savvy Bent expects magic on her first date with Malcolm - in Paris! Except over a picnic of sparkling cider and strawberry tarts, a sniper shoots at them. From the top of the Eiffel Tower to the depths of the catacombs, Savvy must sneak, deceive, and spy to save her family and friends and figure out whether Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him. 
Or he tries to snuff her out.

Growing up in late nineteenth century East London, Kitty Harper’s life is filled with danger and death – from her mother, her beloved neighbour and the working women of the streets. With her ever-watchful father and living surrogate family though, Kitty feels protected from harm. In fact, she feels so safe that while Whitechapel cowers under the cloud of a fearsome murderer, she strikes out on her own, moving into new premises to accommodate her sewing business. But danger is closer than she thinks. In truth, it has burrowed itself right into her heart in the form of a handsome yet troubled bachelor, threatening everything she holds dear. Will Kitty fall prey to lust – and death – herself, or can she find the strength inside to fight for her business, sanity and her future?
And who is the man terrifying the streets of East London?

Just because Ella can burn someone to the ground with her mind doesn't mean she should.
But she wants to.

For ten years—ever since she was a small child—Ella has been held prisoner on an interstellar starship. Now that she has escaped, she needs answers. Who is she? Why was she taken? And who is the boy with the beautiful green eyes who haunts her memories? Is Ella the prophesied Destructor… or will she be the one who's destroyed?

"Jessica Bell's FABRIC is a rich collection of poems that take the reader
on a deep tour of the psyche. Charting and moving across politics of language, Bell explores love, pain, failure and redemption from a variety of angles. Most of the poems sit at the fragile threshold of instinct and meaning, using symbol and sensation to get to the shock of denouement. This is a significant collection that bears multiple readings, each time yielding something fresh." ~Magdalena Ball, author of Black
Cow, Sleep Before Evening, and

Repulsion Thrust

I read ‘The Breakaway’ this past weekend and loved it and have ‘Spy Like Me’ loaded up on my kindle.  I’ve heard only great things about the other titles on this list and hope to get to them soon! How about you? Have you heard of/read any of this week’s releases?  What did you think?

Hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All By Myself...

There’s always been some debate as to whether most writers are introverts looking for a way to connect and express themselves to the world. Or extroverts trying to escape the world around them and spend some time in solitude; surrounded only by the landscapes and characters of their own mind.

So, are we introverts looking to be extroverts?
OR are we extroverts looking to be introverts?

That is the question.

I grew up in a family of five children. Alone-time was hard to come by and when I finally did get my own room- I could spend hours a day by myself. I LOVED being by myself. I could read, or write, or watch whatever I wanted on my very own fat-box television.

It was heaven.

Fast forward ten (okay, fine, – fifteen) years.  Now I’m a part of a different family with three adorable children and a doting husband. Going into ‘my own’ room and closing the door is no longer an option. I’m the mom. I have responsibilities. (one of which seems to be keeping every person in this family entertained every freaking moment of the day.)


But unfortunately, the ‘writer’ in me is still a wailing sixteen-year-old girl, pulling out her hair and begging for her own bedroom, slamming doors and yelling ‘Just leave me alone! Nobody understaaaaands meeeeee!’

Of course, if I actually were to give into the ‘writer’, my husband and kids would think I’ve gone batshit crazy (which, by then, I probably have).

That said, whenever I do get some time alone, I revel in it. I prepare ahead of time- Get my wip to a place where I know it will be easy to jump right back in. Get myself a bottle of wine or chocolate or popcorn or sushi- or all four. Download a few of the shows I know hubby would never watch with me in a million years and settle in for a marathon...


I pretty much have a Katie party for one.

Which probably puts me in the second category above. I know I’m extroverted- always have been. But I definitely need me some one-on-one time with just me, myself, and I to feel like a well-balanced individual.

What about you guys? Which category do you think you fall into and why? 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sarkozy Took a 'Nosey' - Why The French Are Freaking Out

So, it looks like Sarkozy took a nosey. (you get it? Like, he took a ‘nose dive’- see what I did there? did ya? Yup. #lameismygame)

The socialist party in France has gained presidential power for the first time in over twenty years and this has a lot of French people scared crapless for a few reasons:

Most of what I learned about socialism came from high school history class (I still have a mental image of communist Russians collecting their rationed shoes and clothing) – but the basic idea is that a country shouldn’t have wide divides between rich and poor, but one big, thriving middle class. Everyone should have the same rights and be pretty much at the same economic level.  So, they tax the wealthy. Basically a ‘take from the rich and give to the poor, robin hood’ type deal. 
Thus the funny photo here, showing all the rich French people heading for the Swiss border. Unfortunately, like the image suggests- if big corporations are taxed too severely, they might be forced to take their business and their (much needed) labor/employment some place less expensive (like China) - further depleting the economy and job market here.

Another problem with trying to create an economically equal middle class is that, in addition to taking from the rich – you have to pick the poor and disfavored out of the gutter (which costs time, money, and resources) and try and teach them how to be middle class. Since most of the poor and disfavored in France are un-integrated Muslim and African legal immigrants, this means awarding them help and benefits. But with a lot of French feeling as though their cultural identity is already being threatened by this population (i.e.: A different birthplace+ a different culture+ different religion + different language = you’re not French, dudes!), they’re appalled at the thought of the nation’s money being spent to benefit the ‘non-French’ who’ve come here to take their jobs and collect benefits. And they’re afraid this will incite even more immigration in a country that is already suffering from job and housing crises. 

Needless to say, it definitely didn’t please the French to see African, Palestinian, and Algerian flags at the Bastille for Hollande’s speech yesterday when, logically, this is a French election with two French candidates. And, um, oh yeah, we’re in FRANCE!

The French aren’t reassured by what’s happened/happening in Greece. Basically the socialist regime in Greece lied about their debt, their economy collapsed and they’re in the midst of uprisings and riots galore.  Like Greece, France has a huge international debt and is in economic crisis.  They’re also, like Greece, suffering from rises in immigration, unemployment and housing costs.  It would only be on a hop, skip and jump for the French to end up where Greece is.  So, yeah. Scary.

The last socialist president, Mitterand, was kind of a gangsta.  His regime used money and fear to put pressure on national media and journalists for their own benefit- covering up personal and political scandals for himself and those in his entourage.  Also, a lot of the national debt was acquired during his reign when programs to build a crapload of housing for the disfavored, establish free health care for all, and give money to the willingly unemployed (in addition to the unwillingly unemployed) pretty much sucked up every penny the government had.

So, there you have it- The French socialist debate in a nutshell (well,creepy style). I have to ask- what is the American’s take on all of this? Is it getting any coverage in the U.S.? Do you think a socialist government (while having noble intentions) can succeed in maintaining a politically, culturally, and financially strong country?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Clumsiness Nearly Killed the Katie

Okay, maybe there’s something endearing about a girl who trips over her own feet. But, besides attracting good-looking vampires, I can’t think of anything off-hand.

I did gymnastics and ballet as a kid.  I should be graceful and willowy and light.  I shouldn’t have to invest in plastic wine and water glasses because I’ve broken every damn piece of glass, ceramic or porcelain we’ve ever owned.

I don’t mean to.  It’s just, I tend to do things (talk, think, move, eat) a little fast- especially when I’m doing something I don’t necessarily love, like chores. In my mad dash to finish doing dishes or vacuum, I often end up with something broken on my hands.

Last month, however, I almost broke myself when I closed the trunk door of my car on my head.

Yes.  I’ll just let that sink in for a minute. 

I blame it on how the French park bumper to bumper.  After work, I threw my materials into the trunk of my car as I usually do, and then brought down the trunk door –again, as usual – except, by some wonder of physics, I managed to clip the top of my head with the corner of my trunk door and I nearly knocked myself unconscious.  I screamed and leaned against the car behind me, hands clamped to my forehead, while practically sitting on the hood of said parked car.  My head started bleeding but I’d be late to pick the kids up from school if I stopped to have it checked out.  So I drove with one hand and stopped the bleeding with one of those extra Mcdonalds napkins that are always found in the glove compartment of a mom’s car and prayed I didn’t have a concussion.

When I got to the children’s school, a French parent I often talk with asked me what happened.  And when I told her she got very serious and said: “Oh! I did that last year.  Knocked myself clean out! – concussion, blurry vision and everything.  You must be careful!”

I felt a little better.  Guess this is just one of the many dangers of being a suburban mother in France.  You learn something new every day.

Needless to say, If someone parks too close behind me, I will sit on the hood of their freaking car to get in and out of my trunk.  Ass-marks be damned.

Ever seriously hurt yourself in some ridiculous, ridiculous way?  Are you clumsy in life or carefully precise?  Does this change when you’re writing? (I know I’m a lot more careful with my words and actions when I’m writing them down)


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