March 30, 2011

Writing Wednesday + contemplating a contest

Missed my Monday post b/c I was sick all weekend but back for Wednesday! Although it's a late Wednesday post. I need to start preparing these ahead of time again lol.

Today! Another old snippet from a fanfic, once again featuring Mukuro. Bwhahaa.

She remembers a voice, temperate but dismissive, a murmured 'Nagi' that wells to the surface of her mind like blood beads from a worried scab. The voice is from Before—before the accident, before Mukuro. She thinks 'Father,' but it is just a word, one that passes without sentiment. She might have loved him, but she doesn't remember, because everyone from Before has lost consequence.

There is only Mukuro and the memory of his fingers curved around her own. His kindness is the only one she needs. It doesn't matter all the subtle cruelties he stows beneath, because they are not for her.

Curled around her pillow, her palm rests atop her trident, an illusion wrought by the ring that weights her hand but no less an anchor. There is a yawning emptiness now where Mukuro had been, an aching hollow so acute that if she could reach into her chest, she'd expect to find just the dry husk of her ribs.

You have talent, Bianchi had said. Chrome wonders if she should perhaps resent the warmth that had stirred with those words. Such compliments inspire hope, they delineate higher expectations, and Chrome has only ever strived for Mukuro's ambitions; she has never had any of her own.

"Mukuro," she whispers. His silence is unbearable.

Well, that was chipper.

I'm debating a contest. A just-because contest. Or maybe a 100 followers contest should I ever reach 100 haha. I don't know, but it just sounds like so much fun that I couldn't help thinking about it lol.

Prizes would include the choice of a 10-page critique (by me--I know, disappointing LOL... unless... *has ideas* I'll get back to you on this one) OR a $20 Amazon gift card OR a bust sketch of any character you want (by me lol).

This is what I mean by a bust sketch:


What do you guys think? Yes? No? Would you enter? *cough*

March 25, 2011

This is Not Cool

Akira was a Japanese animated film produced in 1988 based off a manga of the same name and set in a futuristic, dystopian Neo-Toyko.

It's now being adapted into a live action film and relocated to "Neo-Manhattan." As if this wasn't annoying enough, while the lead characters will retain the names Tetsuo and Kaneda, these are the actors reportedly being courted with the script:
What the everloving crap? These characters are named Tetsuo and Kaneda. The movie is named Akira. I repeat: WHAT THE CRAP?

I should clarify by saying that I don't think a white person can't have a Japanese name. That's fine. Not common, but perfectly fine. The problem is that these are established characters.

This is like The Last Airbender all over again. It was based off of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an amazing series rich in characters, adventure, humor, conflict, and Asian culture. The live action adaptation was, to put it mildly, a shitstorm.

I'm willing to bet that the producers will try to appease the multicultural audience by casting actors of color as the sidekicks or villains in Akira. I am literally gnashing my teeth.

And don't even get me started on Dragonball Evolution.

I'm so infuriated that I can't even be eloquent about this. Instead, I'll direct you to someone who is!

One of my favorite blogs on the topic so far is this one by Natalie Whipple:
"There are some things you just don't touch, you know? That whole don't-fix-what's-not-broken thing. Fans of franchises are extremely passionate about them. There are things they love and don't ever want to change ever. They know every detail. They adore every detail. You mess with key details, and you will be in BIG trouble.

Hollywood seems to get that with some movies, but not at all in the Asian realm.

There's no Snow White without the apple. No Cinderella without the slipper. No LOTR without the One Ring. And for Pete's sake, there's no Dragonball without a spikey-haired Goku! When you're remaking or re-imagining a story, there are some things that you must treat sacredly. It's a matter of respect for the medium."

Akira, to me, is sacred. YOU DON'T MESS WITH AKIRA.

Then I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on the deadline.com article and the RAEG exploded. Yes, there will and SHOULD be an uproar about casting white actors for Asian roles and if you can't see WHY, then please GTFO, do no pass Go, do not collect $200.

What You Can Do (taken from racebending.com)

1. Retweet about the situation to help get the word out.

2. Join the Facebook Petition and tell your friends so we can get an exact number of people who are upset about the decision to whitewash this film.

3. Blog about the situation on your own blog and/or encourage your favorite bloggers to do the same.

So what do you guys think? Thoughts?

March 23, 2011

Writing Wednesday (and puppies!)

First, huge THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by Sunday and Monday to leave a comment on my Show Me The Voice blogfest entry ♥

Today, another short excerpt from the same manuscript:

Removed! <3 The smell of homemade brownies is wafting through the kitchen. Yum! Also, I didn't prepare a post in advance lol so I'll just leave you guys with a few pictures. 1. Latest shoot on my sister's photography blog, Pretty Geeky.

» Farm + Carnival shoot
» If you're looking for a quality photoshoot, check out the rest of their blog and contact them!

2. My two puppies. Who doesn't love puppies?

Simba the Olde English Bulldogge (4 months) and Pluto the American Pitbull (9 months)

March 20, 2011

Show Me the Voice Blogfest Contest


My usual Monday post is a Sunday post today! Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript. Constructive critiques would be awesome.

Removed! <3

I haven't figured out yet how to post the code for the blogfest list of participants, so for now, please click the banner above to see the list and visit the next person in the blogfest! Thanks so much!

March 18, 2011

A Journey in Wordcounts

I was blown away by Liz over at Liz Writes Books after she posted her writing statistics. 22,200,391 words since 1995?! *bows down to the Wordcount of DOOM*

These are my statistics since 2005 (prior to this, I was juggling a part-time job, full-time University classes/work, and being a new mom).

2005 - 120,000 words
This was my senior year in college when I had a serious case of senioritis lol. But I managed to write what I thought was a pretty decent story for my Senior Capstone. Aside from that, I also started writing a crap ton of fanfiction. This was the year of the chapter stories.

2006 - 72,000 words
This was the year of the drabbles. I barely wrote anything over 1,000 words. Now, looking back, how the heck did I manage that?! LOL I am the most long-winded person in the world.

2007 - 30,000 words
This was the year I started playing World of Warcraft. EVERYTHING WAS HEWN ASIDE IN MY QUEST TO EXPLORE THE WORLD OF AZEROTH AND RAISE PET DRAGONHAWKS. Yeah, I'm kind of obsessive.

2008 - 53,000 words
I got my writing groove back, but I was still into WoW. My afternoons usually went like this:
-Sits at computer with FULL INTENTION of writing.
-Opens Word doc.
-Decides to check email.
-Decides to check friends list on Livejournal.
-Chats on IM.
-Remembers there's an open Word doc.
-Totally going to write now.
-Husband: HEY, COME RAID WITH THE GUILD, WE NEED ANOTHER PLAYER.
-Lori: OKAY! 8D
-Word doc: *sadface*

2009 - 138,000 words (started my YA manuscript)
I cracked my knuckles. I slapped myself around a few times. I ran up and down a flight of stairs channeling Rocky. Okay, that part was totally in my head, but I think that counts. I wrote a bunch of long AND short stories this year, but more importantly, I started my YA novel.

2010 - 84,000 words (finished YA manuscript)
I finished my YA novel in early June and spent the entire rest of the year editing it. And editing it. And editing it OMG WHEN WILL THIS ENDDDDDD. I also quit WoW. YAY! Who says I have no willpower? *sees chocolate* ... *eats it*

Total: 489,000 words since 2005
*Not counting blogs I've written, which would easily double that wordcount.

Nowhere near as impressive as Liz's, but what she says on her blog (which you should totally read) is true.

All those words have formed the bricks in my path as a writer. At first, they're sort of jumbled and the path is rocky with no discernible pattern to the bricks that seem crudely put together. But as you continue, they become neater, laid down with more skill, lined up in neat--and surprising--patterns that come together in sometimes beautiful ways.

And the best part is that the path doesn't end until you say it does.

Sometimes, it's okay to sit down and rest though. Don't burn yourself out!

How about you guys? What does your journey look like?

March 16, 2011

Writing Wednesday + Contest you should totally enter

Today, I'm posting a short excerpt from a published YA novel b/c it's one of my favorites. See if you can guess the title :D

"Stay where you are." She jumped at the voice. The accent was rich and strange, though the words were pronounced precisely.

A man was sprawled in the mud only a few steps from her, clutching a curved sword in one hand. It shone like a sliver of moonlight in the hazy dark. Long pewter hair, plastered wetly to his neck, framed a face that was long and full of sharp angles. Rivulets of rain ran over the jointed black armor he wore. His other hand was at his heart, clutching a branch that jutted from his chest. The rain there was tinted pink with blood.

"Was it you, girl?" He was breathing raggedly.

Kaye wasn't sure what he meant, but she shook her head. He didn't look much older than she was.

Certainly not old enough to call her "girl."

"So you haven't come to finish me off?"

She shook her head again. He was long-limbed—he would be tall if he were standing. Taller than most people, taller than any faerie she had ever seen—still, she had no doubt that was what he was, if for no other reason than the pointed tops of his ears knifing through his wet hair—and that he was beautiful in a way that made her breath catch.

He licked his lips. There was blood on them. "Pity," he said quietly.

I was in a serious writing rut when I started this book in early 2010. I couldn't find an ending to my manuscript, and I had little motivation to write much of anything. Halfway through the book, I was so inspired that I had to stop reading in order to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard ), and I wrote and wrote and wrote until I had finished my first real manuscript. I owe it all to this book and the author, whose words were beautiful and inspiring and reminded me of my love for creating stories.


This pic is totally two years old lol.

eta: Yes, the book is Tithe by Holly Black. Her writing is mesmerizing.

Are there any books like that for you? ♥

+++

Caroline Valdez Miller has just announced that she is now agented! Congrats, Carol! In celebration, she's holding an epic contest and giveaway. Prizes include a first page critique by her new agent Vickie Motter and a Kindle. That's right. How awesome, right? And on top of that, there are a ton of other prizes to be won as well.

What are you waiting for? Go enter!

March 14, 2011

Help Japan

Here is a list of links to places you can donate to help Japan:

Doctors Without Borders
Peace Winds America
Shelter Box
Save the Children
Global Giving
Red Cross
Jewish United Fund
Source for German Organizations
Other International Organizations
International Trustworthy Donation Sites
Canadian Red Cross
Animal Refuge Kansai
Pet Connection
World Vets
American Humane Society
Causes
eBay Giving Works
Crunchyroll
Lady Gaga Wristband
Give2Asia

Sites with more lists:
Charity Navigator
z100
Tohoku disaster: How to help

In addition, people are coming up with creative ways to help Japan in the form of auctions.

help_japan (fandom auctions)
Authors for Japan

If you're short on money but still want to help, Free Rice is a game where for every right answer, they'll donate rice to people in need in Japan.

What Editing and the Man in the Iron Mask Have in Common

Yes, I'm talking about the 1998 film b/c I haven't read the book (I know, I'm such a pleb). No, it's not Leonardo DiCaprio.

"Wear it until you love it."
~Said by Louis to his brother Phillipe. He followed that up with 'And die in it.' But I think that might be taking the metaphor too far. AND I DON'T ENCOURAGE EDITING UNTIL YOU DIE OF IT, JUST SAYING.

When I began editing, it drove me nuts. The overwriting! The horrid dialogue! The minutiae! Of course, six months and a far better manuscript later, I began to realize I really liked this editing thing. Good thing because it took another four months of editing to reach where I'm at now. I wielded my mental red pen (b/c I edit on the computer and marking up the screen with red ink is only fun in theory) like an ice sculptor's chainsaw and hacked away the large, unusable bits. Then I picked up the chisel and worked on the finer details. Editing, I discovered, is fun!

"I wear the mask. It does not wear me."
~Said by Phillippe when he's rescued, yay!

Editing is something you can't avoid. Kind of like writing stories. Stuff you just have to do if you want to be an author. Unless you're Snooki. And yeah, sometimes it begins to feel like editing has transformed into this suffocating mask that hides you away from things like sunlight and your family and the shower.

Seriously though, editing is one of your greatest tools as a writer, but when you want to stop and put it down? Go ahead and put it down. Trust me, it's detachable (unlike Phillippe's mask).


It took a force of will not to add "-is" to the end of my cover alterations. I can be mature sometimes.

Hope you guys had a great weekend. ♥ Stay safe!

March 11, 2011

On the Value of Crit Partners (and where to find them!)

You've probably heard this before, but critique partners are invaluable to aspiring writers. I'm personally a fan of critiquers who tell me like it is. No need to sugarcoat it. I can't possibly improve if I'm not told what I'm doing wrong. I've always been a very frank critiquer myself--I try to gentle my words, but I'm always honest. Back in fandom, I once beta'd for a writer, and I must have been too honest because I never heard back from her. Oops?

After that incident, I was careful to never offer to beta for anyone ever again lol, because what I learned about fandom, which ties in to what I wrote about here (on the dangers of complacency), is that 95% of fanfiction writers don't want to be critiqued no matter what they say to the contrary. And that's okay! Fanfiction is for fun. There were only a handful of people who took writing as seriously as I did, and I respected them for that.

In Which The Writing Community is AMAZING

Then I joined YALitchat.org, and I was blown away by how awesome the people there were. I joined First Pages (Crit Group), and started critiquing pages by members. Every critique was received with grace and enthusiasm. I was so impressed. It was such a different experience from what I'd witnessed in fandom. I received great critiques from the members there as well, and I've loved every experience I've had there so far.

I delved deeper into the writing community. I started out with one CP, a long-time friend from the Naruto fandom. We were both aspiring writers, and we both shared a love of YA, so becoming CPs seemed natural. But after 14 months, I was nearing the end of my editing, and she was still buried neck-deep writing the second draft of her YA, so I found myself at an impasse. Everywhere I read, agents and published writers alike suggested getting as many eyes as possible on your manuscript, so that's what I did.

Just within the last month and a half, I've been extremely lucky to find (and been found by) critique partners who are not only great writers, but who can pinpoint problems in my writing and have ready advice for how to improve it.

So What Makes a Good Crit Partner?

Well, that answer depends on what you want =D

Better bloggers have said this before, but I think it bears repeating. When looking for a crit partner, keep in mind the following:

1. Goals - What do you want from a CP? Frank, brutally honest feedback? Line editing? A friend and cheerleader? Your goals should match up, at least mostly.

2. Understanding - Even if your goals match up, it doesn't help if you don't click as people. No one wants to take critique from someone they don't respect or like (no matter how accurate the critique might be).

3. Skill - Ideally, you want a CP who is either a better writer than you are or who is at the same level as you. I say this because I've improved by reading those better writers, and if I could get their feedback on my writing? Score! But with a CP at the same level, you get to learn together, and that can oftentimes be even more rewarding. Of course, I believe that every writer has something unique to offer so as long as you can find that CP who makes you look at your manuscript in a new and better way, I'd say you're fine =)

Personally, the best thing about having more than one crit partner is that each one tends to have their own strengths and weaknesses, and there's a really neat balance that forms. I have something to learn from all of my CPs, and that's what I love every time I pick up one of their chapters to read.

Great places to find crit partners:
Adventures in Children's Publishing: Alpha & Beta Reader Exchange
Natalie Whipple's Crit Partner Classifieds
Nathan Bransford Forums
Let the Words Flow Crit Partner sign ups
YALitchat.org's Crit Seekers Group
Maggie Stiefvater's 2011 Critique Partner Love Connection

CPs: Friends and Comrades in Arms. Or like a squad of vampire hunters--you can always rely on them to stake you if you f#@! up and get bitten ♥

Good luck finding yours! ♥

March 9, 2011

Writing Wednesday + Award!

TODAY ON READING RAINBOW! (Please tell me I'm not so old that no one here knows what that is? XD) I'd like to share an excerpt from a fanfic I wrote a couple years ago, one I'm still quite fond of:

Removed!

Also! I received an awesome award from Christine Arnold at Figments
Thank you so much for the love, Christine!

Rules for accepting the award:
1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
2. Share 4 guilty pleasures that you have.
3. Pass the award along to 6 other sweet blogs

Guilty pleasures, hmmmm...
1. Sleeping in. I know, this is weak, but I love sleeping in or even just lying in my bed despite my brain telling me I am wasting daylight hours.
2. Cheese. Particularly spicy cheese. I eat too much of it. *stares balefully at love handles*
3. Vampires. The Anne Rice kind. Because of the saturated market, I think they've lost their mystique for a lot of readers. But I still love reading about them. And I may have written a vampire story myself once. Yes, I enjoyed it.
4. Drawing erotica. Writing it, not so much. But drawing it always makes me extremely self-conscious, which is why I haven't drawn much.

I hope that wasn't TMI... ehehe. Heh.

Er. Moving on. I'm passing the award onto the following bloggers, all of whom have been awesome to me as I stumble around the writing blogosphere:
1. Aleeza Rauf
2. Lisa Gail Green
3. Bonnie
4. Lynda R. Young
5. The bluestocking
6. Kalen O'Donnell

Today's post brought to you by Mukuro, Vongola Mist Guardian:

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

March 7, 2011

Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs*

Romantic love is often an universal expectation in stories. Pick out almost any book or movie, and there's bound to be a love story in there somewhere regardless of the genre. This isn't technically a bad thing. At the heart of nearly all internal conflict, and plenty of external conflict, are human relationships, and it is those relationships that we identify with, that create lovable and sympathetic characters we become emotionally invested in. Sometimes those human relationships are family and friendship (which I love), but more often than not, they're romantic.

Poll! ('genre fiction' here to mean genres OUTSIDE of romance)

My Ballot Box
Do you like romance in your genre fiction?



If yes, to what degree?






View Results

I conducted the same poll on my fandom blog a couple months ago, and the results of that one are here, if you're curious.

Romance: as expected as a muffin top after Thanksgiving (but sexier)

Thoughts?

*Subject is a quote from Romeo & Juliet

March 4, 2011

What's in a name?

I have two names. There's my legal name, and then the name my family has called me (Lori) for as long as I can remember. No actual idea why. My childhood is shrouded in mystery. Mm.

"Legal name" is who I am at work, who I was at school: studious, quiet, awkward. Lori is who I am with my family and close friends: loud, intermittently hyper and lazy, prone to laughter and talking too much about manga and/or writing. Both are clumsy to a fault and oftentimes reticent, but I've come to identify myself differently depending on where I am and who I'm with.

I guess I have a third name, one I picked up in fandom: questy/questofdreams. She's more like Lori, only with a whole case of redbull in her. AND SHE TALKS IN ALL CAPS. YOU WILL LIKELY SEE HER ON THIS BLOG FROM TIME TO TIME 8D

Point is, names are powerful things that can shape our perceptions of who a person is, and we do that all the time when meeting characters in stories. What I want to talk about is... not following that mold!

Naming Names

Naming your characters is sometimes more difficult than writing the story itself. It's a single word that will identify that character forever in yours and your readers' minds.

Remember though, that the name you settle on should fit that individual character and not a societal/cultural guideline.

For example, I have a character in my current manuscript named Amun. When you hear that name, what sort of character comes to mind? Dark hair and skin? Likely Egyptian?

Not at all. Amun is white. He has sangria red hair and brown eyes and adoptive Japanese parents. I chose this name on purpose because it suits who Amun is, an exception to all the rules. A few people have suggested I change his name, but... why? Because it's Egyptian in origin, and Amun isn't Egyptian? Because it'll confuse the reader? But I want it to. I want to challenge those preconceptions, because that's what Amun does. He rejects social norms. He doesn't care what anyone thinks of him. He also gets top grades, generally stays out of trouble, is unfailingly polite to his parents and fiercely protective of those he loves. But if his classmates decide to make conversation, he'll let them know immediately, and curtly, that he's not interested in talking or making friends.

If Amun's parents had been more conventional, they would have named him something like Tetsuo. But they didn't, and the name choice also reflects a bit of who his parents are.

So the next time you go through the oftentimes difficult process of naming your character, don't be afraid to break the preconceptions that come attached to a name--but again, only if it fits your character.

I plan to sketch portraits of all my characters at some point, but for now, this is a drawing of Amun done by the supremely talented ryuu, whom I'm lucky enough to call my friend:

What are some of your favorite names and why?

March 2, 2011

Writing Wednesday + Cover Love

Today I wanted to share an excerpt from my YA manuscript:

Removed!

Here is a GIANT WALL of 2011 debut YA titles I plan to read (some based on cover alone):



Some, like The Liar Society, Across the Universe, and Angelfire, are already out and I just haven't had time between work and errands to make it to the bookstore. BUT I PLAN TO!

What are you looking forward to?
 

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