April 29, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

I also got this award from my super cool CP Ani over at Anime's Musings:
Thank you, Ani! ♥

The rules for this award are:
* Thank and link to the person who nominated me.
* Share seven random facts about myself.
* Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.
* Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Seven Random Facts about Lori
1. I'm clumsy to a fault. Tripping on flat surfaces, running into walls, and dropping things don't even faze me anymore. A few weeks ago, I went home for lunch and decided I needed to use the bathroom in my room b/c it's right off the kitchen. I reached enthusiastically for my door handle... and missed. And stumbled. I attempted to brace myself on the door. But the door was not actually shut tight. I fell into my room.

2. I love anime and manga. I discovered Sailor Moon when I was a tiny thing, but it wasn't until college and Inuyasha and then Naruto that I discovered fandom. It was all downhill from there.

3. I like to attend anime conventions. Usually just once a year. And yes, I also dress up:

Feel free to snicker if you must lol. I'm attending Anime Central (ACEN) again in a month. It's in Chicago, and it's the largest convention in the Midwest. I will be cosplaying again :D *geeks out*

4. I love cheese. It is possibly an unhealthy fixation. I put it in everything.

5. My favorite genre of music is celtic.

6. I've wanted to be so many things growing up. Artist, model, actress, astronomer, paleontologist (I was proud of my dino-knowledge lol), historian, teacher, etc. But a writer was the one thing that remained a constant.

7. I can debone a chicken wing (keeping the skin in tact) in less than a minute. Yeah, think on that. bwhahaah.

I'm passing the award onto some of my newest blogging buddies:
1. Lori Tinkey
2. Anita Grace Howard
3. Cherie
4. Xaria
5. Kristin Lynn Thetford

Still looking for one more beta reader! Email me if you're interested ♥

Have an awesome weekend, guys!

April 27, 2011

Writing Wednesday - meme and beta reader request

I did this meme a few years ago on my fandom blog. Thought it'd be interesting to do it again now.

List the first lines of your last twenty stories (or chapters if you've been working on one manuscript for a while). See if you find any patterns.

1. Death lived in a highrise penthouse at the center of the South District.
3. It was fall in Konoha, the sweltering heat of the summer months having passed without incident, and all was well.
4. The path was marked with a wooden stake.
5. The heart is said to be the keeper of memories.
6. Chailai saw the naga on her one hundredth birthday.
7. The clock tower rises above the city, its bricks stained black.
8. Chrome fingers the crisp edge of the bed sheet.
9. They were married in spring, beneath the boughs of a cherry blossom grove.
10. In the end, he settled for getting them luxury cruise tickets.
11. When Naruto turns twenty-five, the Rokudaime gives him his job.
12. The mountains swelter with the promise of rain.
13. They were at it again.
14. Early mornings are Gokudera's favorite time of day.
15. "You're a fucking mess."
16. Allen decided he didn't much care for adolescence.
17. There is a beach, undisturbed in the canals of Mukuro's mind.
18. Sasuke had returned to Konoha.
20. There was an air of gravity to maintain while sitting bent over a hospital bench, the flicker of the overhead light a sardonic companion.

So, let's see... I'm not big on opening with dialogue. I tend to start by throwing readers right into the scene instead of prefacing the action with an introduction. I'm also apparently not very good at first sentence hooks LOL.

What do you guys think? Mostly I just think I'm long-winded =P

Today's post brought to you by Mukuro, still my favorite morally ambiguous psychopath:

If you choose to do the meme, please leave a link so I can find it ♥

April 25, 2011

On Dialogue (or another 'He said - She said post')

First! If you follow me, please edit your Google Friend Connect profile to include a link to your blog so I can follow you back!
It's back to basics today with dialogue! I'm a grammar freak (*cue groans*) and nothing pulls me out of a story faster than poor grammar.

To help, I've brought in Kai and Avan, two characters from my latest WIP.

"Hi," Kai said with a wave. "We're here to... make mindless conversation in order to demonstrate Lori's dialogue points."

Avan grinned. "Let's start!"

When followed by a dialogue tag, use a comma instead of a period to end the spoken statement. Likewise, use a comma to separate the dialogue from the tag if the tag precedes the spoken statement:

"You live in the old freight yard now," Kai said, settling on the first topic that came to mind.

Avan hooked his thumbs in the pockets of his jeans and looked down. He said,  "Bit of a downgrade, but at least I've got it to myself."

Dialogue ending in a question mark or exclamation point:

"You still working for the District Mail Center?" Avan asked. "The White Court must be something."

Kai's job as a courier meant she had a pass to enter the South District--the White Court according to everyone who lived outside its twenty-foot stone walls.

"It's crazy!" she said, loud enough to warrant an exclamation point even though she wasn't much for shouting. "Colors everywhere. They should have named it Rainbow Vomit."

Dialogue without any tags, and using action instead to indicate who is speaking:

"I do like to let my actions speak for me." Avan smiled and pushed messy brown hair behind his ear.

Kai suspected it was a calculated move to take full advantage of his dimple. She rolled her eyes. "You could stand to speak less."

Breaking up dialogue with a tag:

"So," Kai said, "how long do we have to keep talking? I have to take Reev his dinner or he won't eat at all."

"Speaking of dinner," Avan said, leaning in close enough that Kai raised an eyebrow and told herself blushing was not an option, "have you eaten yet?"

"Yes." It was a lie and Avan probably knew that, but he smiled anyway and drew back. Kai glanced away.

Don't bury the dialogue in the middle of a paragraph.

Kai shoved her hands into her back pockets and hunched her shoulders. "Are we done then?" They'd known each other for almost a decade, and they'd been friends for most of that time. She didn't know when things had grown awkward, but she blamed Avan. Namely because most things could be blamed on Avan.

Kai shoved her hands into her back pockets and hunched her shoulders. "Are we done then?"

They'd known each other for almost a decade and they'd been friends for most of that time. She didn't know when things had grown awkward, but she blamed Avan. Namely because most things could be blamed on Avan.

Um. Kai and Avan have both informed me that they're leaving now. Which is just as well since their unresolved attraction is leaking into this lesson.

"What?!" Kai said, providing an opportunity for Lori to point out that using the interrobang is considered poor form in formal writing.

Avan smirked. "I thought you were leaving."

"I am," Kai said, glaring. She turned her back, and Avan's smirk wilted, transforming into something else... something softer. With a sigh, he followed her.

(Lori would like to point out that you shouldn't alternate between third person omniscient and third person limited the way she just did, but that's a lesson for another day.)

*Cough* Right. Let's end this.

Final pointers:
• Keep creative dialogue tags at a minimum - 90% should be 'said' because 'said' is invisible to readers and, therefore, doesn't disrupt the flow of the dialogue. Excessive creative tags is a sure sign of a new writer.
examples: exclaimed, muttered, cajoled, teased, commiserate, hedge, proclaim, etcetc DON'T DO THIS

• Make sure all adverbs tacked onto dialogue tags are necessary. Most of the time, they're not. Trust your dialogue to deliver the nuance instead of relying on creative tags and adverbs.

• Dialogue by a new speaker always begins on a new line.

• Any action by the speaker associated with the dialogue should be in the same paragraph.

And there you have it. Did I miss anything?

"Say it like you mean it!"

April 22, 2011

Voice Matters Blogfest Challenge!

I'm not sure I got London's voice across in these.

As an added challenge (just for you guys b/c I'm a wretch like that), guess which genre the following snippets are. Hopefully, if I have any idea what I'm doing, they should be fairly obvious lol *crosses fingers*

The ship looked like the product of a mad scientist, a scrapyard, and a severe case of boredom. It was a fusion of tradition and invention—-rotating cogwheels, a stack of brass pipes alongside the mast, and the hiss of steam above the groan of the rudder. London had the urge to kick it and see which parts might fall off.

"I'm not getting on that," he announced.

For as long as London could remember, the river separated the healthy from the infected. He'd been taught to avoid it, to respect from a distance its protection against the bodies that paced the opposite bank, some remnant of instinct keeping them from the water.

Now, as he watched the helicopter deposit the latest batch of newly infected—-two disoriented women and a man, his dad—-on the shore, the river was no longer a shield. It was an obstruction. A boundary. And London had every intention of crossing it.

The pixie skimmed papery lips against his cheek. London resisted the instinctual urge to jerk away. Instead, he remained still, his smile fixed, and nodded along to whatever his friend was saying. The pixie giggled and leaned back in. London shifted on his feet and turned his head, pretending to gaze off to the side. Her mouth, crisp like an autumn leaf, grazed his jaw.

Bloody faeries. If London didn't mind the green skin and huge black eyes, the pixie might have been kind of hot. But that didn't mean he wanted her kissing him. He liked to be an active participant in that sort of thing, and it was all kinds of awkward pretending not to have a slender green faerie attached to his mouth.

Other participants:

Thanks so much for doing this with me, guys! ♥

April 19, 2011

Query Letter Blogfest

I don't normally post on Tuesdays, but today is the date for the Query Blogfest.
Here's the pitch section of my query. Feedback would be awesome.

Removed! :D

Now, I'm off to critique other queries in the blogfest!

April 18, 2011

On World Building

First, don't forget to sign up for the Voice Matters Blogfest Challenge (to be posted on Wednesday FRIDAY - changed the date)! And don't forget to drop by tomorrow for the Query Blogfest and, if you can, offer some helpful feedback ♥

I'm outlining a new WIP that I'm super excited to start writing. When I outline, I need to know what the purpose of every scene is and where each plot point will fall. Bits of dialogue usually come to me as well, and I jot them down as I go. But in order to outline at the level of detail I prefer, I first need to have my world fully fleshed out.

So, how do I do that? I make... more outlines lol. And maps. And lists.

World building points and questions to help guide the process:
History - My WIP takes place in a post-apocalyptic future. Even if it's never mentioned in the book, I need to know why and how the world my MC lives in has reached this point. Details like this are relevant to developing the world's political and social systems.

Why were there separate districts in The Hunger Games, and why were they forced to sacrifice their children? What was wrong with Sol-Earth that Amy (and her parents) in Across the Universe needed to be cryogenically frozen and placed aboard the Godspeed? What is the One Ring and how did Sauron use it to nearly enslave all of Middle Earth?

The history of your world affects everything from political and religious beliefs to the development of technology and warfare.

Politics - Who's in charge? Is it a dictatorship or a democracy? A feudal system? A monarchy? A perceived utopia? And how will these things help and hinder your MC?

Society, culture and religion - Is it a rigidly controlled society like in The Hunger Games and Matched? Or is it more diverse and rich like in The Lord of the Rings? Is there a division of classes or a social hierarchy? Are the people technologically dependent? Is there a predominant religion or a wide range of beliefs? Are the people monotheistic, polytheistic or atheistic?

Magical system - If magic exists in your world, are there rules and restrictions? Is the "science" of it explained like in The Sorcerer's Apprentice or is it simply an inexplicable phenomenon? Is it genetic or random? Is it common knowledge or kept secret? Is there an entirely different magical history/politics/society from the "normal" one? What is the purpose of the magic? Are there magical instruments as well, such as wands and time turners like in Harry Potter?

Technology - Since my WIP is a cyberpunk dystopian, there are cybernetically enhanced humans in it. I need to know all the hows and whys of their creation. I also need to come up with how this futuristic world uses technology in its every day routines, and how machines are both conveniences and restrictions to the people and my MC.

If your story is a steampunk, how might technology be unique to that world?

Maps - A map of the world is usually handy if your story takes place on a finite stage, like the ship in Across the Universe. Or within a sweeping fantasy world like Narnia, or in a distant future like The Hunger Games. This can be taken even further with detailed maps of smaller areas and countries, like a map of both Middle Earth and then zoomed in maps of each of its countries. Or a map of the ship Godspeed and then detailed maps of each floor.

Locations - Similar to maps, but not quite. I like to list every location my MC will eventually come across and flesh it out--how to get there, what it looks like, the atmosphere, the people there, and its purpose.

Ultimately, all these questions are linked together, each answer dependent on the next to grow and transform into a fully realized world.
Have fun world building! ♥

April 15, 2011

Voice Matters Blogfest Challenge!

I'm challenging you guys to pick up to two characters -- any two characters, your own or someone else's -- and write them into three different genres while making obvious the genre and maintaining that ever-elusive VOICE!

For genre choices (pick three), see Jennifer Laughran's Big Ol' Genre Glossary for genre definitions. Or heck, make one up! =P

Each passage can be anywhere between a few sentences to few paragraphs. Whatever works for you. Then, on Friday, April 22, post them to your blog and go read others'!

Confused about what to do? No worries. I'll demonstrate!

Caveat: I did this in like... 30 minutes? Without editing. Be warned lol.

My characters of choice: Kanda and Allen from D.Gray-man (I'll use my own when I do this for the blogfest)

Science Fiction:
"Soo," Allen began, putting on his most welcoming smile. "Where are you f--"

"Don't talk to me."

Allen's mouth pinched. As one of the select few deployed to the Mars Colony base, the position came with both rank and some decent perks, which was a hell of an improvement from the London slums. Now, to keep the job, he just had to resist stuffing his partner down the garbage shoot.

"I really think we should try to get along," Allen said. He recharged his smile, but it quickly wilted when his partner--Kanda, according to their supervisor--made it apparent he had no intention of replying.

Allen watched in bemusement as Kanda sat down at his desk and began fussing with his hair. The hell? Kanda lifted the long sweep of dark hair off his neck and tied it back with a length of rope. Then he glanced at Allen and barked, "What?"

Allen snorted and turned away. Screw this. Maybe he'd get away with shaving the guy's head while he slept.

High Fantasy: (I totally ripped the setting from World of Warcraft)
"Outside, Paladin. Now." Kanda stalked away, drawing both his swords. His companion shuffled after him, a dusty path of decay in its wake.

Allen glanced in bewildered affront between the death knight's retreating back and the vendor to whom he'd offered to pay 'the lady's purchase.'

Crap. He slapped a palm over his face and hurried after Kanda to apologize before he was actually forced into a duel.

Allen tucked his earnings into his bag--half a loaf of stale bread, but hey, food was food--and then slid free the cards he'd hidden in his sleeve.

"You cheated." Across from him, Kanda rested his back against the train seat. It was stiff and cracked, the foam beneath yellow and crumbling, but Kanda settled into it without a hint of discomfort.

"Of course I cheated," Allen said, flicking his wrist and making the cards appear and disappear between his fingers. "They tried cheating us first. It was only fair."

Kanda rolled his eyes and gazed out the window at the sky, gray and ruddy at the horizon where the sun was setting, like the rusty metal walls of the train car. It was annoying sometimes how nothing seemed to faze the guy. But given the circumstances in which Allen had found him--eyes flat, sword in hand and covered in gore--Allen could wager a guess as to why.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up! :D

Today's post brought to you by Mr. hypnotic jaw movement creature:

It's saying 'SIGN UP @_@' If only b/c it will be a very lonely blogfest without you guys. Take pity on me. *cough*

P.S. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, you need to watch this: first Behind the Scenes look at The Hobbit. AAAAAAH I AM SO EXCITED, YOU GUYS HAVE NO IDEA.

April 14, 2011

Contest on YAtopia

An unexpected Thursday post to let you guys know that YAtopia is having a Pitch Contest with the ridiculously awesome Natalie Fischer. Enter here!

Tomorrow, I'm announcing a blogfest idea which I really, really hope you guys will jump in on b/c blogfests are lonely if it's just one person. *cough* :D

April 13, 2011

Writing Wednesday + Query Blogfest

Today's excerpt is from an old fanfic I wrote back in 2009, for my oldest and dearest fandom Naruto. Normally, they're ninjas, but this is an Alternate Universe fic so they're college kids =P

Also, I suppose, an early attempt at humor lol.

Removed! <3 So what else is going on in the blogosphere? WELL! Slice of the Blog Pie is having a QUERY BLOGFEST!

If you'd like feedback on your query from your fellow writers, go sign up! Then, on April 19th, post your query letter and visit at least 5 other bloggers and critique their queries. Yay mutual feedback!

Today's post brought to you by:

A bust sketch of AU Naruto

April 11, 2011

Editing - Easy Ways to Cut Word Count and Tighten Writing

If you're like me, you probably end up with a higher word count than is typical for your manuscript's genre. But before you start ripping out entire scenes to the soundtrack of a lonely violin, start with the basics. Simply by cutting adverbs and repeated words/phrases/descriptions, I was able to shave 3k words off my manuscript without even touching the scenes at large. Of course, THEN I addressed my plot as a whole and removed scenes I didn't think were necessary, but my word count was looking pretty good by then.

Easy ways to cut word count:
adverbs - I'm not anti-adverbs. I quite like them. But, in excess, they tend to overpower the narrative. Less is more, and when you use them, make sure they're important to the prose and not just used to cover up lazy writing.

crutch words - Most common I've come across are 'just,' '(a) little,' and 'sort/kind of.' These words and phrases can almost always be cut, and the sentence is usually stronger for it. If you're not sure what your crutch words are, have a beta reader evaluate for you, or read your work carefully and when you notice a word repeated even once or twice, use Word's highlight feature to find all repeated instances of it.

Click ctrl+f to open the Find and Replace box. Enter the word you want to search for and then select 'Reading Highlight > Highlight All.' It will then tell you how many times the word was highlighted and display in your document.

extraneous words - typically words that are redundant and state the obvious

She sat down. or She stood up. - She's not going to sit up or stand down (and if she is, then she's doing something very different).

She touched his face with her hand. - It's a sure bet she's not touching his face with her feet.

She let her mouth curve into a smile. - Shortened to: She smiled. or, if you must, Her mouth curved into a smile.

She took a step back. - Shortened to: She stepped back.

His voice flutters around her, quick and elusive, impossible to track. - Repeating the same thing in a different way.

Now consider this example:

Original: Carl turned to look at his Aunt Sue who'd come to stand beside him, her hand resting on his shoulder. She'd taken off the hat and now she stood in front of him, a small smile curving her mouth, gentle and warm but there was a tinge of sadness on her face, in the crinkles at the corners of her blue eyes.

Edited: His Aunt Sue came to stand beside him, her hand resting on his shoulder. She'd taken off her hat. A small smile curved her mouth, but sadness lingered in the crinkles at the corners of her blue eyes.

The second version is much tighter, but still conveys everything the first version does.

Good luck editing! ♥

April 8, 2011

Top Five Book-to-Film Adaptations and Other Fun Stuff

First! Kalen over at Creativity or Insanity? will be having a Critique Partner Auction Blogfest. I'm happy with my CPs so I won't be entering, but if you're looking for one, this is a pretty cool idea!

In addition, the super awesome Maggie Stiefvater has a 2011 Critique Partner Love Connection post, where you can post quick manuscript facts in the comments and/or search the comments for one that catches your eye.

See On the Value of Crit Partners (and where to find them!) for links to other places to find a CP ♥

My Five Favorite Book-to-Film Adaptations: (in no particular order)
Harry Potter - I'm cheating by saying the whole series. I'm something of a book purist, so when film adaptations make changes for non-plot related reasons, I get extremely annoyed.

For example, in The Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge made Harry use a quill that carved the words he wrote into the back of his hand. The film had Umbridge forcing all the students in detention to use the quill. Also, when Harry forced his way into Snape's memories and found that his dad really was something of an jerkface bully, the moment was hugely conflicting for him. In the film, his utter lack of reaction was boggling.

Regardless, HP is still a definite favorite and you can bet I'll be there to watch the final film in theatres this summer.

The Lord of the Rings - One word: Legolas. THAT IS ALL. And Gandalf is BAMF.

Seriously though, changes-that-made-no-damned-sense aside (like Arwen being tied to the ring, WTH HOW?), the films are lush and visually stunning and my only regret is that Elrond's sons, Elladan and Elrohir, were cut from the films.

Emma - My favorite of all the Jane Austen book-to-film adaptations.

Howl's Moving Castle - Okay, so the film was different enough that it might as well have been its own thing. Still, any movie that can make me think a guy who turns into a giant bird is hot is awesome in my book.

How to Train Your Dragon - I LOVE THIS FILM SO MUCH. And the book is different, but who cares? DRAGONS.

Extra: The Princess Bride. INCONCEIVABLE!

There you have it. This post brought to you by an old Howl sketch:

What are your top five? ♥

April 6, 2011

Writing Wednesday + photographic inspiration

You guessed it. Another excerpt day.

This is from Deluge, a sf/f short story:

Removed! <3 My sister's latest post on her photography blog PrettyGeeky.com:

» View complete photoshoot HERE «
(with much larger and better quality versions of the pictures)

Check it out, it's gorgeous. If that doesn't inspire you to write something, I don't know what will!

April 4, 2011

The Aspiring Writer's Soundtrack

Specifically, this song » Haven't Met You Yet by Michael Buble

I've found that many a writer and agent have compared the agent search to dating. You have to look at compatibility in terms of genres, likes and dislikes, communication, what you want out of the relationship, long-term commitment or just a one night book fling, etc. So you do your research, find an agent you believe is The One, stalk memorize their interviews and submission requirements, fret for days, and then, because your CP threatens you with evisceration and/or other Unpleasant Things, you finally shoot off a query with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

Three weeks later, you get a form rejection. Ouch. But, hey, sometimes it's just not meant to be, and you have to move on.

This is where the song comes in. It should be on every aspiring writer's soundtrack.

I've broken my heart so many times I stopped keeping track
Talk myself in, I talk myself out
I get all worked up then I let myself down

I tried so very hard not to lose it
I came up with a million excuses
I thought, I thought of every possibility

Every rejection you receive makes you second guess yourself. You wonder if the problem was your query, your sample pages, the agent's tastes, or whether you're just a talentless hack who should give up and drown your sorrows in a gallon of double chocolate fudge swirl ice cream. You have to sit your confidence down and give it a pep talk just to send off the next query.

On the bright side, you do grow a thicker skin!

I might have to wait, I'll never give up
I guess it's half timin' and the other half's luck

The thick skin is important. Listen to Churchill; he had it right. Never, ever give up. And, unfortunately, a lot of it is timing and luck. Getting the right manuscript into the hands of the right agent at the right time. So focus on what you can control--the quality of your work. Make it the best you possibly can and then send off those queries and cross your fingers.

Somehow I know that it'll all turn out
You'll make me work so we can work to work it out
And promise you, kid, that I'll give so much more than I get
I just haven't met you yet

I love how optimistic the lyrics are! Someday, your time will come. But when it does, the work doesn't stop there. Now, you've got an advocate, but you have to work harder than ever to keep the relationship together and to deliver your best. And I, for one, look forward to it!

And I know that we can be so amazin'
And bein' in your life is gonna change me
And now I can see every single possibility

Okay, still true, but it's probably best not to write love sonnets to your agent until the contract is signed and s/he can't back out of it without more paperwork and awkwardness. *cue maniacal laughter*

What's a song on your personal soundtrack? ♥

April 1, 2011

Epic Follower Blogfest (AND APRIL FOOL'S DAY!)

For the blogfest:
Title: Soul Without a Boy
Genre: YA urban fantasy

A 17yo boy accidentally creates a girl, but in a world where souls can be turned into weapons, he learns standing out can be deadly.

Thank you for all the feedback, guys! I rearranged the wording as suggested:

In a world where souls can be harnessed as weapons, a boy accidentally creates a person and learns that standing out can be deadly.

It's April Fool's!

You may vote for your favorite and/or tell me I am mentally fifteen (to which I say: well, obviously, why else do I write YA? =P) :

April Fool's Day poll

On April Fool's Day, you would:

View Results

Have you guys ever played any awesome pranks for April Fool's?

Totally not what it looks like.

Have an awesome weekend, guys! ♥

Lori M Lee Copyright © 2010 Design by Ipietoon Blogger Template Graphics from Questofdreams (Lori Lee)