Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A picture is worth 1k. Or 50k.

I'm tired, but I did it. I've bagged my fourth purple bar, and it feels good.

To all those who have won, congrats! To all those who have yet to win, keep going!

And join us for a Black Friday you'll never forget. Yes, I'll still be writing--my story looks like it has about twenty thousand words of life left in it, and I need to finish it before the momentum dissipates.

Or Kingdom Hearts - Re: Chain of Memories comes out.

The two coincide, really.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Book Business

Well, we all know how the economy looks right now. We can't get away from it.

Sure, gas prices are going down (and that's cause for celebration in my book, don't get me wrong. It still makes me giggle to pass a $1.99 gas sign), but only because the demand is steadily lowering as the economy circles the drain closer and closer.

And, of course, with any major downturn, the book business suffers too.

Discouraging news.

And a lot of it.

Life without bookstores. Think about it for a second. There might be libraries, and I think there's a place for that--books that have been loved and read and preserved and, to some degree, imprinted on by those who've read them.

But I love the smell and feel of new books. I love the astounding variety and the bright colors and the understated covers (and the overstated ones, really) that catch my eye and promise me something. Escape. Adventure. Something to think about. And more than that, when I buy a book, it's mine. Mine to imprint my memories on as I read it, to take with me wherever I want. To share with other people who will love it, but always to take back. Mine.

I rely on bookstores. I love them. I never want to see them go away.

And the only way I can keep them here is to buy books from them.

You can too.

Keep buying books. Keep supporting authors. Keep the love of the written word alive before it drowns in text-messages.

That's all any of us can do. Before we were writers, we were readers, and between writing, we're still readers.

22,800 words and counting, feeling unusually pensive today.


Monday, November 03, 2008

3rd Day of NaNoWriMo

(Hey, Americans--get out there and make your voice heard at the polls tomorrow. All the other countries are making fun of us because our voter apathy is so bad. C'mon, guys. Let's show 'em.)

Writerly Politics Fun! (yes, it exists.)

8010 words,

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Update

Well, I managed to bust through the block on Friday with some good old-fashioned YouTube playlist therapy and an hour-long plotting session (which coincided with the YouTube playlist therapy). I think I've got most of the rest of the story plotted out. I'm going to try for an 8k day today and then maybe a 10k tomorrow.

Thanks for your support.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

50 Posts, 50,000 Words

Miri and I are suiting up for NaNoWriMo 2008, a heady process which involves getting lots of new ideas, tinkering with them, tossing them out, and starting with no story when November 1st rolls around, praying for inspiration.

In an effort not to over-think new story concepts, I started writing what I thought would be a fun, relaxing short story with little/no novel potential. However, the characters are not so easily dismissed. They have taken over, spooning out plot points, sparkling* dialogue, hilarious* scenes and honest-to-God theme when my enthusiasm for the project starts to lag. This is the tightest rough draft I've ever written (not like there's a lot of competition for that title, as anyone who's clapped eyes on the rough draft of my first NaNo could tell you), will likely be the longest, and has been the most fun to write.

So why OH WHY did it have to strike me in August?

But my whining is not interesting blogging. What are your NaNo ideas? What are you doing to prepare them? (Hopefully, we can get a little idea-bouncing going in the comments to help y'all flesh out your plotbunies.)

*That is, it seems like that while I'm writing. When I start editing, I shall find it so atrocious I will likely experince spontaneous combustion.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Music for the Muses

It may come as no surprise to Miri, but I love musicals. To date, I've been in 8 musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which is more of a rock opera than a musical anyway. I grew up in musical in theater. I eat, sleep and breathe musical theater. But what do musicals have to do with writing?

I went to see Mamma Mia with some friends last week, and it got me to thinking. There seems to be a recent trend to turning musicals into movies (think Sweeny Todd), and making musicals out of the body of work of a single band. Mamma Mia is all music from ABBA, Leader of the Pack is a musical about songwriter Ellie Greenwich told through her songs, and Across the Universe is a musical-movie with all Beatles songs.

So I'm going to try something and post the results here on the blog for the world to judge. I'm going to write a synopsis of a (nonexistent) play with the music of one of my favorite bands, Matchbox 20. Y'all are welcome to try it as well if you have an hour or two to spare.

I'm going with basic "boy meets girl" plot, because an inordinate number of Matchbox 20 songs are about breaking up with someone.

Our main character (henceforth known as John) is a college student and black civil rights activist in the 60's. In the first scene, John, his friend Robert, and a group of fellow activists sing "Black and White People."

While participating in a sit-in in Ohio, he meets Sylvia, a white waitress at the diner and they promptly fall in love in the song (a duet) "Real World."

In the next scene, Sylvia's father, the town sheriff, is revealed to be a bigot in the song "Push." (Stereotypical, I know. There goes my Pulitzer.)

John and Robert make plans to attend the March on Washington. Sylvia worries for John's safety and tries to dissuade him from leaving in the song "Can't Let You Go."

In the next scene, John is torn between supporting the civil rights movement and Sylvia in the song "Argue," but decides to go.

Sylvia talks to her friend Renee about her concerns the day before John and Robert plan to leave. Renee tells Sylvia's ex-boyfriend, Peter. Peter speaks of his remaining affection for Sylvia in "Crutch."

The next day, Peter calls the police while John and Robert are sitting at the diner. Sylvia's father arrests them. John mistakenly believes Sylvia framed them. Peter sings a verse from "Busted" and John sings a verse from "Last Beautiful Girl" as he's being led away. The two go back and forth until each song is finished.


John and Robert lament their position in "Shame." Robert tries to cheer John up with a refrain of "Black and White People", but John is inconsolable.

Sylvia sings "If You're Gone" to herself. Renee overhears and apologizes for Peter's actions. She agrees to help Sylvia sneak into the jail to visit John.

They sneak into the jail. After explaining that Peter called the police, not her, she and John sing a duet of "Hand Me Down." The sheriff stumbles in on the last refrain. He is so moved by the depth of his daughter's love that he frees John and Robert and agrees to drive all four of them to Washington.

The whole cast sings "How Far We've Come" in the March on Washington.

The director has the choice of using "Mad Season" or "I Believe You When" for the curtain call music.

Obviously, there are a couple of problems with this little tale. For one, interracial relationships were a very touchy subject in 1963 and if the sheriff was a real bigot, letting his daughter's black boyfriend out of the slammer would be a bit unlikely. But, hey, it's an exercise, not an outline.

I recommend using only two or three albums of your band or artist of choice. I can't imagine how the writers of Across the Universe sorted through all of the Beatles's songs and strung them together into something resembling a plot.

Also, try to pick a band that writes about a wide variety of topics. I had all kinds of trouble with the first act because Matchbox 20 has no songs about falling in love. "Real World" has nothing to do with falling in love, but it was the closest I could get. :P

So, dear readers, astound us with your literary brilliance! I'm really interested to see what y'all come up with. (And how does listening to music effect your writing? Do you use it as ambient noise, or do you use it for inspiration when you're feeling stuck?)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not Writing

I'm trying to solidify my thoughts before starting on my second draft of my NaNo from this past year, so let's take a look at what I'm doing when I'm not writing, because I've been doing a lot of it lately.

Since Dragon*Con 2007, I've been an avid cosplayer. Cosplay is simply dressing up and acting like a favorite character, usually at a convention, though I would randomly announce "informal cosplay" days at school where we'd dress it a character's signature colors and have a go at their hairstyle. Maybe as a procastination technique for writing, most of my free time the past week or so has been dedicated to my first serious costume in several months, a variation on Belle from Beauty and the Beast and, more to the point, the gorgeous Disney-Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts II.

The variation I'm doing is an original design and I'm pretty sure it hasn't been done before (I call it the "What if?" that went insane), but basically it's a cross between this:

And this:

Interesting, yes? Yes.

I've made a lot of progress on it, but it's not to the point where it's wearable (or recognizable as clothing). See:

There's almost two yards of fabric in twelve pieces in each of those large, funny-looking shapes.

And here's a little detail I'm adding to the inside of the jacket once it's hemmed:

It's kind of the logo for Organization XIII, the people who typically wear the black coats seen above. That piece of pretty white fabric, smaller than a piece of computer paper, has four feet of edges that need hemming. Four. Feet.

But it'll so be worth it during the costume contest judging at AWA.

Yes, I'm a dork. In so many ways. And yes, that is a stripey beach towel. I use it on my ping pong table when the ironing board's too small.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The First Book (a blog you should be reading)

Just when I'd almost lost faith in the publishing industry/my future as a writer/life in general, the First Book came along and reminded me that every author who is published sold a first book sometime. The First Book in a blog interviewing authors who've recently released their first novels--how they got published, what their novel is about, how they write, and, most importantly, whether or not they have cats.

I haven't read a lot so far, but I've thoroughly enjoyed what I've read so far, and that's not just because I'm procrastinating with it instead of writing. Put this one on the blogroll, my friends. You won't regret it.

On a more Zen-like note, my weekly skimming of TIME magazine revealed that the one article in the whole frikkin' thing that wasn't about Barack Obama* was fascinating. It was about The 100 Thing Challenge (which doesn't seem to have a website, and that's strangely fitting) where people are trying to cull their belongings down to 100 things. I first heard the idea of living with only 100 items when I read the Gospel According to Larry (the author of which probably deserves credit for this movement, but I digress.)

It looks like people are taking the plunge. A Guy Named Dave is working on cutting down his stuff, as is someone who is stuck in stuff.

My question is: what counts? Larry was pretty monastic in the novel--he counted everything that he owned as a seperate object (pairs of shoes count of one object, obviously, but apart from that, no breaks). Stuck in Stuff isn't counting books (don't blame her). Dave isn't counting the things he shares with his family, like the couch and the kitchen. But say there was an official set of rules. How would they count music? Would furniture be included? How would they quantify a bed--would each blanket and pillow and sheet count as a separate possession, or it all be one thing? And what about things that you don't have for very long, like food or toilet paper or tissue boxes? What would your rules be if you decided to take the plunge?

*I like Obama a lot, but four articles on him? Four? Have you no shame, TIME?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Laugh A Little

It's not lol. It's lAl. And that makes no sense whatsoever. Moving on...

In honor of school being out in some places and really close to it in others (today's our district's last day, but I was done before that - final exemptions for the win), I demand that you find something that will make you laugh. An old TV show. A favorite YouTube video. Anything.

If you can't think of anything, I recommend the Evil Overlord List.

Have a great day, and start your summer with a laugh.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


FreeRice is one of my favorite sites, as both a humanitarian and a writer. If you haven't been there yet, you answer vocab questions and for every one you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program to end world hunger. Through a little knowledge of root words, minimal use of, and a staggering amount of good luck, I've managed to reach level 47.

Around level 40, FreeRice runs out of world anyone will ever need to use and delves into the depths of scientific words, medical terms, and phrases that never before seen outside the pages of Jane Eyre. I've grapped with words I never heard of before (like copra, dried coconut meat), words I heard in conversation but didn't actually understand (like edification, education or betterment), even words that I needed to know for writing but never learned (like antipathetic, which is a good word to know when I have a character named Antipathy.) Sometimes it teaches me medical words I might never have heard otherwise (like axilla, meaning armpit), words that seem better suited to the perodic table of elements (like oroide, or false gold), and words that no one will ever use (like ghee, meaning clarified butter.) I've fought all these words and won to make it to level 47, and I've learned a lot about the ADD nature of the English langauge. However, I met my match when I came to this word.

cnidoblast means:
  • small explosion
  • large explosion
  • rash
  • cell type

Is it just me, or have the definition-writers developed a sense of humor?

Overheard at Play Practice

Hey, it's Ink, posting for those who claim I never update.


Well, she's right. I plead mitigation--I was in the play Leader of the Pack and it siphoned away all my free time for both writing and blogging. However, we had a lot of fun and put on a fantastic show, so I'm not complaining. Anyway, we generated twice the amount of ridiculous comments as black belt camp, and therefore deserves another installment of 'overheards', with twice the sugary goodness.

I mean, um, quotes.



20. "Come back, I need to tickle you!"

19. "Maybe I WANT to bear your children."

18. "We are such dorks."

17. "I don't know who taught him how to flirt, but he needs a few more lessons."

16. "Hey, blond kid I dance with!"

15. "I'll bring the Jello shots."


13. "Zzzzzzzzzap!"

12. "Our baby ducks are all grown up."

11. "You can see the whole world in your eyes!"

10. "Aliens!"

9. "This dance is like a reverse striptease."

8. "This is so cute! Who did the choreography for this? Oh, yeah, me."

7. "You can never have enough powder."

6. "Time for the penguin dance."

5. "Somebody wrote 'Johnny is sexxy' on a piece of toilet paper and left it in the bathroom. Classy."

4. "If you wave to an audience member, I will cut your fingers off."

3. "Alli, Jill, and Heather singing this song? What was I thinking?"

2. "Enough with the slappy-butt happy-face!"

1. "I'm going to miss this play so much when it's over."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Project, or "It's Not Over Yet, Fools!"

I've been commanded to update the blog more often. It's a good habit to get into.


So I was given an assignment in Lit class last week: represent a character from one of the works we've read this year...on a ceiling tile. I decided to take on two: Lucie Manette and Therese Defarge from Dickens's classic A Tale of Two Cities. While the book was difficult to read, the story was just amazing, and I love the striking contrasts between these two women.

And, because it turned out so well (honestly, I was floored, as I've never thought of myself as much of a painter), I posted pictures on the Internet. Check them out! See what you think.

I've also been brainstorming on The Queen's Architect. Current verdict: I didn't realize I had so many important characters. And I'm adding two more: Andrew and Rebekah, the apprentice and the betrothed. They're being quite nice about being dragged into this madness, and I love them already.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For the Sake of Clarity

Good night, it's been a long time since we've updated. What have we been doing all this time?

(Despite that being a rhetorical question, I think I can say quantifiably: Performing in school shows and watching Death Note. Ah, the lives of writing dorks.)

BUT. My spring break started on Monday, March 31st. I got Ink to call me early, to get me out of bed. Once awake enough to see straight, I sat down at my computer and wrote for six hours solid. The Queen's Architect is a lovely (-cough) 58,000-word rough draft, and I'll be starting the rewrite within the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for all your support, and I hope we'll remember to update before another two months have passed.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Well-Worded Angst

Sometimes Miri has trouble wrapping up her novels, like now. So Ink tries to cheer her up.... with disastrous results. For your entertainment, we present one such happening:

Pssst: if y'all could drop us a line, it might encourage her. Power in numbers, yanno.[/desperate plea for comments]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Ten Stages of Anime Addiction

So, Ink and Miri are both pretty serious anime fans, though they both know people who are moreso. And they decided to look at it mathematically, as they're both broke-ish most of the time:

Naruto: 27 volumes currently available at $8 apiece for $216
Bleach: 23 volumes currently available at $8 apiece for $184
Fruits Basket: 18 volumes currently available at $10 apiece for $180

That’s the Big Three for a total of $580. And that's just the start.

This ballooned into a full-blown analysis of anime addiction. All this is based on the generalization that the Subject has a steady source of income and/or inherited Bill Gates's fortune, so there'll be some variation between this list and any number of real scenarios. Still, we think it's a pretty good generalization.

First stage: Big Three. Given most people’s interest specificity, we’re also going to assume that you’ll only be drawn to two of the three. You saw one episode on television, became interested, and realized they were books. You have yet to lay down any cash.

Second stage: Killing Trees. Bought two of the big three on your own and were referred to the third by a friend (because by now, you’ve met up with other anime fans). You’ve also started watching other ones, including original English language shows and super-popular-in-Japan shows that aren’t necessarily mainstream in the U.S.. You’ve also started learning Japanese honorifics in order to keep characters straight.

Third stage: Getting Digital. You have at least DVD of either one of the Big Three or one of the anime standards and listen to anime openings and endings. You’ve memorized at least one theme in Japanese and could give a rough translation if pressed.

Fourth stage: On Spec. Laying down money on faith, browsing bookstores instead of going straight for the books you know you want. Learning basic Japanese and could probably write your name in it with some kind of proficiency. You’ve also begun dabbling in cosplay and have probably attended at least one con. You’re also buying merchandise from your personal faves and anyone who comes in your room could tell at a glance who your top three characters are.

Fifth stage: Fully Hooked. Your wardrobe is taking a decidedly anime turn, including two or three T-shirts, several Naruto headbands, and a wristband or two. You’ve subscribed to Shonen Jump and one of the other fandom magazines. Now you are becoming a manga pusher yourself. Anyone who sets foot in your house watches at least one episode of Naruto before they leave (including door-to-door salesmen) and you completely deny that Zhao/Jet/Hughes/Ray Penbar is dead, even though you saw them get drowned/pummeled/shot/heart attack’d.

Sixth stage: Old Friends, New Obsessions. You’re watching two hours minimum of anime each day in a crazy mixture of online and TV that you recorded at 2:30 in the morning. You have two or three friends, maybe, who aren’t anime fans—the resilient buggers. You have developed a passionate loyalty to at least one major-league voice actor, and your budding interest in all things Japanese has led you to at least one (rather mainstream) video game.

Seventh stage: Borderline Stalker. You can give a brief biography of every voice actor in Fullmetal Alchemist and at least two other shows, including parts they auditioned for but didn’t actually get. You can quote anything long and quote-worthy from at least four different shows and can recognize nine of ten shows on Cartoon Network based on a single frame (and probably give the context of the frame). You have a DVD library and re-watch whole series on a whim. Also, your collection of manga would put most independent bookstores to shame.

Eighth stage: And Culture, Too. You can speak Japanese with a decent amount of fluency and read both kana scripts as well as you do the English alphabet. You are an amateur manga-ka and know what that means. You have stopped making up your own sentences: you simply tailor anime quotes to fit your conversational needs. Any tan your skin once had was replaced by a pallor of midnight YouTube anime binges.

Ninth stage: You’ve met one of your favorite manga-ka on a visit to a con (and salivated all over him or her). Your house is a shrine to an obscure anime character who only lasted twelve episodes. Your mother refers to you not by your name, but as "Anime Zombie."

Tenth stage: You’ve moved to Japan.

Next week (or, let's be honest, whenever we get around to it) we'll mathematically compare the cost of an anime/manga habit versus other habits. Like coffee. Or crack.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What. The. Fluff.

Seriously, what end of the pig is this coming out of? IT DOESN'T EVEN MAKE ANY SENSE.

I know I'm a bit slow on the uptake and that this kerfuffle's been going on for a couple days now, and Ink and I had The Ten Stages of Anime Addiction all ready to post, but...

I'm just a wee bit upset, if you can't tell.

You know what? I'm a YA. I am the audience that "those books" are aimed at. And yet I do not consider myself to be any less of a critical reader in search of a great story than the glaring majority of adult readers. In fact, ask Ink or the crit group - I'm a nitpicker to the umpteenth degree.

And yes, I want to write YA, but that's not even why I'm upset here. My favorite books - all of them - are YA. Some of the books on my shelf are mediocre, but a huge number are amazing, the kind of books I read ten or twelve times for sheer awe of the story and love of the characters.

I'm a pretty easygoing person about insults. Country? Fine. Region? Fine, y'all. Religion? Used to it by now.

But don't you dare mess with the books I love.

I'd like to see you write one.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Popping From the Ground, or, Friends In Low Places

Hey, guys, Ink here. First of all: I got finished with the 2nd draft, and it's mostly because of Dwight's amazing pep talk. Thank you so much--words can't even express my gratitude, and if you know me, I'm rarely at a loss for words.


As most writers know, some characters have a disconcerting habit of materializing out of nowhere and hopelessly confusing our beta readers. You know the one I mean. The ones that show up halfway through the story and throw the climax out of whack in ways you never imagined possible. Those little mavericks who never quite follow the plan. And probably the most interesting and fun characters in your book.

I don't have any brilliant tips for taming them. I pretty much let them do what they want and sort the rest out later. They usually seem to know what they're doing, even when I don't. So I trust them. They make things interesting. Especially during the rewrite stage.

Anyway, I have more fun with these guys than with all the other characters in the book. So how do you have one of these oddballs as your main character? I know it can be done. The Bartimaeus Trilogy is living proof. It's time to bring the smart-mouth sidekick type into the spotlight. Any suggestions as to how?

(Of course, there ARE the characters who pop out of the ground not because they weren't planned as part of the plot, but because you skipped their introductory scene. I know that all too well... O, November, month of highest triumphs... and forgetting to write the scene where the MC meets the love interest.)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blogs: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Miri is procrastinating. So what else is new, right? But for once, Miri is not procrastinating on writing her NaNo (which is careening toward its conclusion with the speed of a striking snail!).

No, Miri is procrastinating on the actually rather obscene amounts of homework she has due Monday and Wednesday.

Therefore: Agent blogs Miri and/or Ink find helpful and/or entertaining. Because we care.

Seriously, Miri didn't read nearly enough blogs at first, and Ink still doesn't read all that many. But there's a lot of good information out there, and we'd hate for anyone to miss out.

Pub Rants - Run by Kristin Nelson, a very nice agent from Somewhere-That-Isn't-New York (ahem, I mean Denver). Filled with very solid advice on all stages of the publishing process and usually funny to boot. You really can't go wrong with this one.

Nathan Bransford - Another one from S-T-I-NY, this time to the tune of San Francisco, CA. "This Week in Publishing" segments, fun and torturous (for us and him, respectively) contests (in fact, the next one is coming up soon!), and an astonishing number of insights on space monkeys.

The Rejecter - She doesn't hate you, she just hates your query letter. An assistant at a literary agency, Rejecter is full of insight, tips, and examples of career suicide to be avoided at all costs. Oh, and she's got a nice post up about certain e-readers.

Agent in the Middle - Reading this blog in its online form makes Miri's eyes bleed (sorry, Agent in the Middle, but pink text on a black background just isn't all that easy to take) but the content itself merits the extra five seconds to copy-paste it into the word processor of your choice.

Lit Agent X - She hasn't updated in awhile, but we certainly can't fault her for that. -innocent whistling- In any case, her archives are worth a look - she's hosted several query pitch contests on the blog and gives examples of problems with queries she's received through normal means. Informative, funny, occasionally headdesk-inducing. Miri, at least, hope she comes back soon.

And a bonus: this has nothing to do with agents, but Miri thinks that writers are the only people who can truly understand the lethality of a term paper written with no punctuation or spaces.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Other Kind of Home Stretch

This is Miri, and may I be the first to commend Ink for being SO. DANG. CLOSE. to finishing her rewrite!

*round of applause*

Great job. Now finish.

(Like I can even talk. Ink, readers, please smack me over the head via comments.)

As a status report from my end, I am inching nearer and nearer to the end of the rough draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from this year. I'm probably 7-10k out. That's not that much. I put that much away in six days during NaNo. Thus illustrating another way the real world should be like NaNo, but for still-developing-discipline cases like myself, it's hard to make it happen.

Once again, commentary headsmacks are greatly appreciated.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Home Stretch

Hey, y'all, it's Ink, and she's not happy.

I'm roughly two chapters from being done editing my first novel. This edit was highly productive: I got rid of (most of) the crap and filler, added more fun stuff, cleaned up the prose, and had a blast doing it. But now that I'm 30 pages away from the end, I can't seem to let go.

Yeah, I've been crazy-busy. I've been writing other stuff. I've had the end-of-quarter bedlam. But should that be an excuse?

Really, I'm a bit lost. So what do you guys do when you lose some of your writing discipline?