February 29, 2012

Tagged on the Campaign Trail (#1)

(Psst. Last day to enter the blogiversary giveaway!)

I was tagged a couple weeks ago to answer 11 questions from Jennifer Baker-Henry. Sorry it took so long for me to get to them!

1. What literary character (any genre) can you most relate to and why?

I'm going to cheat and say I don't think there is any one character I've ever been able to point at and go 'I relate most to her.' I see bits of myself in characters all the time. Harry's horrid eyesight. Hermione's love for books. Neville's clumsiness and lack of confidence. Ron's giant family. Luna's whimsy.

2. If you could choose between having six months to yourself to pursue your art in a great area with beautiful landscape to write and no worries on money, food, living arrangements but would not be able to have any communication with the outside world whatsoever, would you do it?

My gut reaction was OMG YES! But then I thought about it. Setting aside the fact I wouldn't be able to talk to my CPs or my agent, I'd have to leave my FAMILY for six months? I couldn't do it. I treasure solitude whenever I can find it, but I would never be able to cut off all communication with my family for so long.

Besides, six months alone would probably drive even the most hermit-y person crazy.

3. What do you think is more important: true love or success?

Success is subjective. True love is absolutely a success in itself, but I think this question is asking whether I'd choose love over a successful career. And, honestly, I don't know. I love my husband to pieces, and I want to grow old with him. But being a published author is just as much a lifelong dream, and it sometimes causes stress between us. Likewise, I believe that if I was a successful author, I'd still feel discontent without someone to share it with me.

I short: I have no idea!

4. What is usually the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Wouldn't most people say 'use the bathroom'? =P But if we're skipping all the cleaning up stuff, then it would be 'check my email.'

5. Of all the books pubbed that you have had the pleasure to read, which one do you most wish you'd written?

Harry Potter, of course XD

6. Why do you write?

I'm going to be a cliche and say it's because I can't imagine not writing. I'm not good at expressing my emotions, and I rarely talk about them. I bottle things up and store them away. Possibly the only reason I'm not crazy is because I redirect all of that pent up energy and emotion through my writing. I write because I love and need to write. Because writing is how I've always identified myself. Because if I didn't write, I think I'd go crazy.

Or rather, crazier. I do frolic with unicorns in my head after all =P

7. If you had to lose one of your senses which would it be? (And yes, I include taste in this.)

I suppose if I had to lose a sense, it'd be hearing. Not because I don't value it equally alongside the others, but because it's the sense I would be the least scared to lose.

8. What is the best memory you have? Have you ever used it in your writing?

All of my best memories are about my daughter, and I have never used them in my writing.

9. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Japan or Scotland. The history, the culture, the architecture and the landscapes--I would be in heaven.

10. What is your favorite thing to do before you write?

Look over my outline =P

11. What is the food/drink item you go to most when stressed/upset/irritated? What is the food/drink item you go to most when happy/exuberant/celebratory?

In both cases, ice cream. Yum!


I'm tagging the following campaigners:
1. Prerna Pickett
2. Roland D. Yeomans
3. Alexandra Shostak

Today's art: Harry Potter, anime style =P

Happy Wednesday! ♥

February 27, 2012

Character Sheets

I like to keep my character sheets simple and to the point, namely because I won't really absorb a character's personality until I actually write him/her.

My character sheets contain the following information:
• physical statistics
• motivation and plot relevance
• character connections and how they perceive other characters
• history as it relates to the plot and world
• general outlook and personality traits

I don't need to know who their first crush was or what color their underwear is--unless it's relevant. Everything else can be made up along the way so long as it works.

The most important things on that list, imo, are motivation and plot relevance, which usually ties directly into character connections. Take THE HUNGER GAMES, for example.

What was Peeta's motivation? To protect Katniss and ensure her survival. His plot relevance, specifically, was to first garner sympathy from the viewers (star crossed lovers), then to protect Katniss from the Career tributes, and finally to provide something of an emotional arc later on when Katniss risked her life to return to the Cornucopia and retrieve the medicine for him. All these things are results of their character connections--their history together. Peeta is the boy with the bread. He saved Katniss from starving when they were kids, and his admiration for her eventually grew into love. Thus tying back to his motivation--ensuring Katniss survives The Hunger Games.

This information builds the foundation for your character. These impressions are what the reader will carry with them through the book. Things like his favorite color (orange, I think, was Peeta's) are nice details but not necessary at this stage and can always be thought up later on as needed.

But what about voice?

A character's voice usually becomes more clear as I start writing so, for a character sheet, I tend to gloss over those. But if I'm looking for a stronger grip on a character's personality, I'll do a character interview. An interview helps settle voice and pick out some personality quirks. Then, for fun, I'll sometimes do a bust sketch to help me visualize him/her.

Naruto Uzumaki
What can you intuit about this character?

Have a great week, all! ♥

February 24, 2012

If Facebook Had Always Existed...


Have a great weekend, everyone! ♥

February 20, 2012

Outlining: Start Big and Work Down to the Details

This week, I will (hopefully) be working on the outline for my WIP. So how do I start? Well, first, I answer these three questions:

1. What does the protagonist want?
2. What does the antagonist want?

The answers to these should naturally be at odds with each other. Each of their goals, independent of each other, can be as innocuous or grand as you want so long as they conflict.

3. How does the book end? (the climax)

Yep, I like to know how the book will end before I start outlining. Keep in mind, by this point, I'll have already finished world-building and character sheets. I'll also have jotted down a jumbled mess of ideas for scenes, how something might happen or questions for something that needs to happen, snippets of dialogue, character arcs, and what not--all of which are dependent upon knowing what my protag+antag want and where the book needs to go.

So, really, it's more just reorganizing those thoughts into something linear and coherent, because those questions will have already been answered in the plotting and world-building stage.

Some writers, pantsers and plotters alike, prefer to write without knowing how events will play out, instead letting their characters guide them. I'm not one of those =P With my first manuscript, I started writing not knowing how it would end or where it was going, and as noted in a previous post, it took me a year and a half to fix the mess.

It's essential for me to know how the story ends, because I use it to build the rest of the book. Every action and every piece of information must have a purpose—everything must work together to move the characters toward that end so that, when the plot twists happen and the climax settles, the reader will sit back and go 'I didn't see that coming... but I should have!'

However, even though I know how it ends, I don't yet know HOW the characters or the story led to it. Right now, I have a vague image in my head of the ending scene for this WIP, as well as some pieces of dialogue and character motivations, but that's about it. And for now, that's all I need.

So! I start by answering those 3 vital pieces of information. Once that's done, then I determine another piece—the reversal.

Within each scene, within every step forward into the story, there should ideally be some sort of minor reversal—conflict, questions, roadblocks popping up to impede your protag and maintain tension. But the one I'm talking about is the BIG one. It's not the climax, but it's something that completely upsets the hero's world thus far, something that either forces them to change or alters their goal.

To figure out what this should be, I answer these questions:

1. What does the protag believe s/he has to do in order to achieve her goal?
2. What does the antag do to completely ruin it?
(in most instances, this would coincide with the antag's goal as well)

The reversal is the point in the story when the protag believes s/he's almost achieved his/her goal, only to come up against a brick wall and must now back up and regroup.

Example: when Frodo completes his task to deliver the ring to Rivendell and finds himself with an even greater and more treacherous journey to undertake. Or when Will Grayson (lowercase will) goes to [SPOILER!SPOILER!] meet his online boyfriend in person and is devastated to learn he was never real, resulting in crossing paths with the other Will and the life altering entity that is Tiny Cooper.

As I said in a previous post, an outline is a map. Having answered all the questions above, I now know where my final destination is and what stops I need to make along the way. All that's left is to plot my route, to figure out how to get from point A to point B to point C. This is where I start filling in details and fleshing out the world, when I REALLY get to play with the ideas I first jotted down while world building.

And this is also where I totally confuse you guys—the details can and will change your ending and/or reversal. And that's okay! The point is that you started with a plan. How things happen, why they happen, and character arcs along the way—these things SHOULD affect the overall story and major plot points.

But to find those details and really make them work for the story, I first have to start with the bigger picture.

So there you have it. That's how I outline and, hopefully, that's what I will be doing this week.

If you catch me on tumblr, please yell at me!

Today's art: Edward Elric from Full Metal Alchemist.

Have a great week! ♥

February 17, 2012

One-Year Blogiversary Celebration and Giveaway

Epic unicorn drawing by my awesomesauce friend Lyn :)

Can you believe it's been a whole year since I started this blog? Me neither! I can't tell you how grateful and happy I am that I've been able to meet so many amazing writers and bloggers. Thank you for sharing this space with me ♥

To celebrate my one-year blogiversary (and also b/c my birthday was last Sunday!), I'm giving away a slew of prizes! And to add to the awesome, some of my amazingly talented writer friends have graciously offered up critiques as well. Lucky you! :D

There are FOURTEEN (14!) prizes up for grabs:

One (1) person each (so 2 total) will win:
$25 gift card to Barnes & Noble
$10 gift card to Barnes & Noble

Three (3) people will win their choice of a book (or preorder) from any of my agent mates.

Here are some options:(click cover to view GoodReads page)

More options!!! :D
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
After You by Jessica Corra
Arclight by Josin L. McQuein
♥ Cheater Beaters by Jennifer Hoffine
Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

You're not limited to the ones I picked here. Some of my agent mates have several books published, and you can pick any of them!
God, I hope I didn't miss anyone...

One (1) person will win a "Share my Critique Partners" package. That means you get a critique from myself, as well as my three FABULOUS CPs!
                    ♥ Query + first 5 pages critique from Lori (that's me! :D)
                    ♥ Query + first 5 pages critique from Mindee
                    ♥ 1st chapter critique (up to 20 pages) from Bluestocking
                    ♥ 1st chapter critique from Anna

Seven (7) people will win a critique (1 each) from one of the following talented writers:

Query critique from Gemma Cooper (a literary agent with the Bright Literary Agency, as well as a writer and my agent cousin, represented by Joanna Volpe)

Partial critique (up to 50 pages) from Amy Christine Parker (represented by Lucienne Diver at the Knight Agency)

Query OR first 5 pages critique from Kimberly Welchons (represented by Meredith Kaffel with The Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency)

Query OR first 5 pages critique from Steph Winkelhake (represented by Marie Lamba of The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency)

First 5 pages critique from Natalie C Parker (represented by Sarah Davies with The Greenhouse Literary Agency)

Query OR first 5 pages critique from Michelle Krys (represented by Adriann Ranta at Wolf Literary)

Query critique from Ruth Steven (represented by Julia Churchill at The Greenhouse Literary Agency)

One (1) person will win a colored chibi drawing by yours truly.
I can draw you or one of your characters!

Here's an example of one I did for Stacey O'Neale:

Whew! Lots of awesome things, right? :D

To enter, fill out the form below.
*Entering your information equals one entry.
*For two (2) extra entries, share the contest on any social media site of your choice.
(I don't normally do extra entries but considering the scope of this giveaway, I think it calls for it)
*Book prizes open to all countries Book Depository ships to.
*Critiques and gift cards open to everyone.
*Book winners will be emailed a maximum of two times for book choice and mailing address. If you don't respond within a week, a new winner will be selected.

*Deadline is Wednesday, February 29th.


Good luck! ♥

February 14, 2012

Is It Getting Hot in Here? Valentine's Day Blog Hop!

First, I wanted to give you guys a head's up that my one-year blogiversary giveaway starts this Friday. There will be tons of giveaways--gift cards and books and critiques and more! I hope you stop by to enter :D


Click image for full list of participants!

The ladies at Reading, Writing, and Lovin' it! and Writing with Hope put together this Valentine's Day hop dedicated to kissing scenes. Everyone likes kissing scenes, right? :)

Here's a scene that starts out as a fight, and ends as something quite different.

Nory's fingers dig into his arms, her legs twisting around Sam's, trying to find leverage to pin Sam down. Sam snarls back, hands grappling, thighs bracing thighs. There is no rhyme or reason to their impromptu fight, no point to the angry jerk of their limbs, no victory to be gained at the end of this childish display.

But perhaps that's the point, that there is no greater meaning, no mission objective, no underlying ambition, nothing beyond the heat and strength of Nory's body, the bizarre joy of holding his own against the Emperor's prodigy in this tangle of dirt and bruises. A new step in an old rivalry.

"Sam," Nory gasps. She sounds surprised, although Sam supposes that might be because he's kissing her, and when did that happen? Sam can't be certain. But, sure enough, his mouth is on Nory's and they've both gone still, Nory rigidly so.

The moment stretches on, growing thinner with each passing second. Sam draws back, and Nory clutches at him, legs tightening around his, as if terrified that he will leave. But he only pulls back far enough to gaze down into Nory's dazed face.

Nory swallows, and Sam follows the movement of her throat with increasing interest.

"I'm not making any promises," Sam says, despite that he's fairly certain a few have already been made without his consent.

Nory's mouth tightens but she nods, once, before she yanks his head down again and crashes their lips together. And then they're grappling at each other again, although in an entirely different way, which Sam finds he is perfectly okay with.

Nory arches into his touch, her ankles locked around his calves, pressing upward. Sam fumbles past the layers of Nory's clothes until his hands touch smooth, warm skin, his fingers counting ribs as Nory slides her tongue into Sam's mouth and he drags his teeth along its slick surface.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Please be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the blog hop for some sweet, romantic, or steamy kissing scenes!

February 11, 2012

"That's YAmore" Blogfest

Click image for full list of participating blogs!

This blog hop showcases 250 romantic, swoon-worthy words from your YA WIP! And, as an added bonus, this year one lucky participant will be selected to win a swoon-worthy YA read, shipped direct from the Book Depository. Sweet!

To be honest, I'm not sure I write 'swoon-worthy' scenes. I like romance, of course, but it's never the focal point of my stories and rarely the focus of any single scene. So finding 250 words of 'romance' was a little difficult lol.

This excerpt is from the manuscript I signed with my agent for--which means I'll probably take this down after the blog hop is over lol. Hope you like it!

Removed. Sorry!

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to check out the other blogs participating in the hop.

Have a great weekend! ♥

February 10, 2012

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE Blog Tour: I See Dead People

Click the banner to view the full list of stops on the tour!

Today's stop on the blog tour features an interview with S.R. Johannes, author of On The Bright Side about the significance of dead people in YA and tween books. Interesting topic, right? I think so, too :)

S.R. Johannes is the author of Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and On The Bright Side ( a tween paranormal). She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes-someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.

I See Dead People

What's your opinion on the effectiveness of MCs who are already dead?

I think having an MC who is dead has its pros and cons.

It's good because you can expand beyond the normal boundaries of what we know as humans. You can write your own rules and when you break them, it is more acceptable.

It's hard because you have to make your "dead" person relatable. We haven't been dead so we can't relate to that. So you have to find a way to allow the reader to connect to the dead person through experiences they know as humans.

What was your approach to it in On the Bright Side?

One thing that was very important to me was making a funny book about death. Sick right? All the angel books are dark and depressing. I wanted to see the happy side of death. If there is one.

I also wanted to step away from religion so everyone could enjoy the book without any preconceived notions. So I created a world from scratch and made it a cool city that was hip and fun. To better connect with tween readers, I added cool gadgets, great fashion, and tackled the universal theme of friendship and acceptance.

With fear of death being a big motivator for a lot of high-stakes YA books, how do you maintain that same sort of tension with an already dead character?

I think the fear of death is in the unknown. But since we haven't died, we don't know what is in the afterlife. We know we can't see it and we probably can't control it. So the fear of dying transfers to the fear of the unknown. The "not knowing" keeps the tension going and keeps readers questioning what is going to happen. I hope.

What's your favorite sort of 'dead' character group to write/read about (ghosts, newly made angels, zombies, some vampires even, etc).

Well I can't write about zombies because they don't say or feel anything. Blood makes me queasy. So I would have to say angels or ghosts. But ghosts can be creepy. I like angels because we think of them as purely good creatures so it is fun to investigate the question – what if they aren't perfect? We can all relate to the feeling of trying to be perfect, being expected to be perfect, and failing.

Thanks so much, Shelli, for stopping by. I loved your answers! ♥

About the Book

On The Bright Side by S.R. Johannes

As if the devil's food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she's stuck wearing for eternity weren't bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, SkyFones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby's arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven.

Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby's crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby's pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Lawrence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby's help.

Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother's grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby's not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.

Praise for On The Bright Side:

"Clever and charming, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is the story of a reluctant guardian angel, her still-breathing crush, and the frenemy she’s assigned to protect. A great read!"
-Suzanne Young, author of A Need So Beautiful, A Want So Wicket (6/12), and The Program (2013)

"With a smart, snappy heroine and a heart-warming crush, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is a page-turning new take on guardian angels that left me begging for a sequel!"
- Gretchen McNeil, author of Possess and Ten (9/12) (Balzar + Bray)

How to Buy:

Paperback will be available in Feb.
To buy the Kindle ebook - The ebook is $2.99 and can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. (Currently available for $0.99 so don't miss out!)

Book Trailer:

Have a great weekend, all! ♥

February 8, 2012


I'm in love with Sherlock (the BBC TV series).

Who HASN'T seen this series by now? If you haven't, you need to go watch it IMMEDIATELY. DROP EVERYTHING AND GO WATCH IT.

A modern day Sherlock, you say? AS IF! But I was skeptical too. And then I was absolutely blown away. The writing is clever, the cinematography is fantastic, and the acting is perfect. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are amazing.

Not to mention their bromance is so epic, it reduces me to a sobbing mess.

This fanvideo is the best thing ever. But be warned, there are SPOILERS for The Reichenbach Fall (season two finale). However, if you're familiar with the original Arthur Conan Doyle's The Final Problem, then it won't be much of a spoiler.

I can't watch it without choking up *facepalm*

In any case, I thought maybe I should write up a post about how the writing in Sherlock is an example to go by--the plotting, the pacing, the characters, the emotion--so that this has something to do with writing.

But honestly, I just wanted to share this with you guys because I love it so much :)

Please go watch this series. You will not regret it! ♥

February 6, 2012

Head's Up


My CP Mindee is holding a Query + First 10 pages critique contest to celebrate the unveiling of her new website. Yes, you want her feedback. She's pretty darn awesome :)

Go enter!



The Bright Literary Agency just launched their new blog. To celebrate, they're giving away critiques for children's fiction and picture books!

Agent Gemma Cooper will be doing the critiques, so if you'd like a chance to have an agent look over your work, then check out the blog for more details.



For those looking for critique partners or beta readers, Apathy's Hero is hosting a blogfest from Feb 10 - 13 called I'll Scratch Your Back, You Scratch Mine.

It works like this:

♥ On Feb 10, post your information on your blog (I'll tell you what information below)
♥ Between Feb 10-13, go visit all the other people's blogs, and read what they've got to offer.
♥ If you're interested in reading and/or helping them out, let them know by replying to their post
♥ If you love the idea, but just don't feel like you're the right person to provide feedback or don't have the time, let them know you loved their idea and why.
♥ Don't feel compelled to offer to read for someone just because they offered to read for you. I mean certainly, talk and hit it off and see how it goes, but I'm just saying...

So, what's this vague information I'm mentioning? The things that your post should contain?

♥ Genre, Age Group (YA or Adult), & Title of your story
♥ Your current story status. Are you working on a first draft? Trying to wrap up a final draft for submission? Somewhere in between?
♥ What kind of feedback are you looking for? A full-blown line-edit and critique? Overall thoughts? Input as you move through each chapter? Something else? How detailed or high-level do you want to go?
♥ A pitch, blurb, or query about your book so we know what it's about. I'll leave it up to you to decide how you'd like to sell it, but try and keep it under 300 words.
♥ The first 500 words of your story. This isn't an agent-judged contest or anything like that, it's a search for feedback, so give us what you've got.

For more info and to sign up, go here.



The Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign is open for sign-ups!

What is the Campaign?

Basically, the Campaign is a way to link those of us in the writing community together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms. The Campaigners are all bloggers in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building theirs.

Sign up now!

Happy Monday, everyone! ♥

February 1, 2012

Critique My Blog Blogfest

Critique My Blog Blogfest

Today, Teralyn is hosting a blogfest where bloggers ask for advice on how to improve their blogs. (click the link above for list of participants)

So this is me asking you guys to comment with any sort of feedback/thoughts you might have on my blog. Here are some ideas (but feel free to just say whatever as well):

Appearance: Does it appeal to you? Is it too busy, or too plain?
Layout: Is it difficult to navigate? Is it cluttered, or sparse?
Frequency: Does the blogger post too often? Not often enough?
Content: Are the posts interesting? Unique? Are they focused, or all over the place?
Quality: Are the individual posts too long, too short, too sloppy, or too generic?

If you have some time, please take a look at other participating blogs and leave comments if you can :)

Thanks so much, and have a great rest of the week! ♥

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