Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Funday! (42)

Hey! It's Sunday! And I'm not skipping Sunday Funday!

It's also Halloween! I don't know if I'm actually dressing up tonight. Last night, the hubs and I went to a rowdy party, dressed as Mario and Luigi (I was Mario, because I'm shorter and fatter. I'm not being self-deprecating, that really is true.) Tonight, he's heading down to see our little nieces and go trick-or-treating with them, and I'm staying home to watch scary movies with my girlfriends and pass out candy to the massive amounts of children in our neighborhood - so they can spend the next month dropping the wrappers on our lawn while they wait for the buss. Ah, the circle of life.

But enough about me. Let's talk links! Here are some great links from 'round the Interwebz this week: founder and literary agent Mary Kole asks whether you should get an MFA over on her awesome-sauce blog.

Meanwhile, agent Kristen over on Pub Rants discusses the top 10 things she usually finds wrong with a kidslit SF/F query letter.

Stina Lindenblatt has an awesome Q and A with agent Joanna Volpe. Her questions are really different from the usual, "What are you seeing in the slush pile?" type stuff.

Wondering where to find crit partners and readers? Beth Revis, author of the fab-u-lous ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, gives some excellent pointers about where to look - and what to do once you have them.

Shannon Messenger discusses the difference between competition and drive - and explains why kidlit writers are awesome.

Power agent/author Mandy Hubbard shows how one of her clients' query letters evolved to book pitch and finally to back cover copy.

And finally...LOOK AT HOW AWESOME THIS VIDEO IS OMG WOW. (I kind of want to do this in my house. Though I think my dogs would knock the books over before I got any set up. Or they'd just bark at them.)'s good to be back. Have a great week everyone!

And Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blogversay Giveaway! Signed books! Swag!

Alright, it's time for the blogversary giveaway! And it's my biggest giveaway yet! I have THREE prize packs to hand out! *Puts on announcer voice*

The first pack isn't technically a pack - just a book. But the book is so awesome that if I were to actually package it with other books, the post office would explode from too much awesome. And obviously we don't want that. So Prize #1 is a signed copy of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! (Signed by Jon Scieszka only)

Pack number two is perfect for the YA lovers...especially ones who heart them some romance. "Heart" being the operative word, since both books feature hearts on the cover! Pack #2 includes signed hardcovers of Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and Tangled by Carolyn Mackler!

And finally, for all you swag lovers out there, I've got just the thing for you! The swag pack, featuring the following items:
  • Bookmarks!
    • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
    • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
    • Prophecy of the Sisters/Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink
    • Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr (signed!)
    • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
    • The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
    • Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff (signed!)
    • Sea by Heidi R. Kling
    • Perfect Fifths/Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty (signed!)
    • Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
    • The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
    • Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu
    • The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez 
    • Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
  • An Eat, Prey, Love sticker for Carrie Ryan's books!
  • A cute little notebook!  
  • Harry Potter Silly Bandz!
  • And more fun surprises! 
*Takes announcer voice off*

OK, so there you have it. The deets on this one are simple - everyone is eligible. You don't have to be a follower. There's no tweeting for extra points (though if you want to spread the word for good karma, I'll think you're pretty much awesome.) I'm just trying to find a way to say thanks to my readers for being so awesome and supportive this past year.

I hope this gets the job done.

Don't make me come to each of your houses individually. Cause I totally will. Eventually.

Giveaway ends Friday, September 5. November 5. (Because a year would be a ridiculous amount of time for a giveaway. And thanks to Twitter user @Sparima for catching my goof!)

Fill out the form to enter! (Click here to open the form in a separate window/tab.)

Today's my Blogversary!

I'm doing a giveaway later, but I have a lot of things to say, and I know it totally sucks to wade through a long post about feelings and whatever when all you want is PRIZES, so I'm going to post the giveaway in a little bit. (Like around 3pm. Stay tuned for that.)

For this post, I'm going to get all sentimental.

A year ago today, I started this little blog. I picked kind of a lame name, made a pink and black header, and hurled myself into cyber space with a post about how you shouldn't read my blog. And for awhile, no one did. It was just me, myself, and my Aunt Wendy. Then my sister tagged along. I figured it was because I was the only one writing about writing, because who would POSSIBLY want to read about THAT? I wrote about my NaNo project, and put up responses to prompts, and posted ridiculous pictures of my dogs and myself

And then, somewhere along the road, I found a whole community of other writers. I have to give some credit to Shannon Messenger for this one, because she was one of my first regular commenters who was not related to me, and I know when I clicked on her blog I realized there definitely were other writers out there in the world. A whole freaking lot of them.

And somehow, in the past year, I've gained almost 300 followers. (I'm sure if my posts hadn't been so anorexic in the past month, I'd have more. But I've got more on that in about two point five paragraphs, so hold on to your breeches, kids.) I can't believe that almost 300 strangers care about what I have to say. You listen to my crazy stories. Your comments make my day. You send me emails asking for advice! You are my confidants, my crit partners, my shoulders to cry on, and my pals to celebrate with. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for reading.

In case you were wondering (aren't you? I totally am.), here are the top 5 posts ever posted on See Heather Write:
  1. The best thing to happen to my writing career. EVER. (Which at the time was getting into the Eckerd College Writer's Conference, and by now is getting into VCFA. Hopefully by my next blogoversary, it will be "landing a major book deal." Anyway, I think this post is mostly popular because of the awesome gifs found within.)
  2. What Makes a Character Kick Butt? (In which I talk about my favorite female main characters at the time, who would totally still make the list, but would have to scoot over for several more additions. Hm, I might need to do a version 2.0 on this one...)
  3. Happy Kissing Day! (This one was from a blogfest.)
  4. Should Writers Talk About Their Rejections? (A recent post, featuring guest agent Weronika Janczuk)
  5. On Boy Middle-Grade (My notes from an SCBWI workshop)
To the very few of you who I've been fortunate enough to meet - it was awesome. I hope to see you again some day. To those of you I haven't met yet, I hope to see you some day! Really, this blog has meant the world to me, and having a place to talk about writing, and other writers to share it with, and other blogs to read...I've learned so, so much from it all.

OK, so now I feel like I have to give a little apology for my lameness this past month. And not a half-ass one, like my last one. Because to be honest, me gushing about how awesome you all are, then you glancing over at my archives and seeing I've posted less than 10 times this month is pretty pathetic and comes off as disingenuous. OK, so the first thing is that I've had some MONSTER revisions to tackle. They're great revisions, and I'm so super pumped about them, because I finally feel like my book is worthy to be read by someone other than me or my dogs (see what I did there?). But it's pretty much requiring a complete rewrite. Very few words are making it through. I'm slogging away, putting as much time away as I can (and making great progress!), which is actually less time than I usually have because of point two, which is some job-related personal stuff. I don't want to get all depressing/personal on you, but let's just say that job hunting is a really gigantic time suck when you have a mortgage and need to take that crap seriously.

Stupid adulthood.

Anyway, so that's that. But I have resolved to make a New-Blog-Year resolution. Because this post and this past year has made me realize just how important you all are to me. I mean, I'm pretty sure one of you once recognized me by my earrings ALONE, which pretty much made my day. (They were the earrings from this vlog, and someone recognized me at SCBWI-LA when I was wearing them. I KID YOU NOT.) I will read your posts (I miss that, so much!) I will post here (no more skipping Sunday Funday! And I need some other posts, too! Because once a week makes for a sad, skinny blog.)

And I will post contests. Like the one I'm posting later today. Stay tuned! (It's a good one.)

And thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my blog-writing, WIP-slaving heart.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book-Crush Wednesday (11)

Today's book-crush is on another book series. And it's actually a pretty well-known series, but unfortunately it was mostly made commercially famous after a really terrible movie adaptation of the first book hit theaters. (I know, I've really narrowed it down, right?) But, since you are all awesome and savvy readers, I have a feeling many of you will be familiar with the titles. (They are bestsellers, after all.) And if not...then you should be.

His Dark Materials is a trilogy by Philip Pullman which completely rocked my world when I read it. I had taken a break from fantasy (with the notable exception of Harry Potter, which is a constant in my life), though the genre was my absolute favorite during my childhood. (Particularly the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. OMG LOVE. Forever and always. Cimorene is my homegirl. But I digress. As usual.) 

So I picked up the book, not really thinking it was anything special (though it was GIGANTIC because we have the version which is all three books bound together in one epic volume of awesome), and it changed my life. I remember reading the first book (in America, it's called The Golden Compass - in Pullman's native England, the book is Northern Lights) thinking, "Hm, this is a nice story, lalala, oh, these daemon things sound pretty cool, your soul is outside your body as an animal, huh? That's different." And Lyra was feisty and fun and I LOVED her. The Golden Compass ends on this absolutely just...UGH...moment. Yeah.

And then book two started (The Subtle Knife). And I actually remember when I read it, I had to flip to the front cover of the volume, because I wasn't sure I was reading the same book. Pullman totally pulls you into a different world, and then BAM! you realize that things are not at all what the seem, and everything is just...yeah. Awesome. I don't want to spoil it but it's really just amazing. (If you've seen the movie version, and especially if you've seen the movie version and haven't read the book, then that awful prologue/crappy explanation that Serafina does in the beginning doesn't even begin to describe the epicness of what's happening.

In the third book, The Amber Spyglass, there are some huge decisions made by the characters - who are really still children. The ending is so bittersweet, and really just perfect, and so many sad and wonderful things happen in this book. Plus, LYRA AND WILL OMG. I die, people. I die. (Vaguest description ever? Yes. But I'm not a Spoilery McSpoiler over here, folks. Go read the books yourself.)

OK, I will say that the books are not for everyone. It's pretty commonly known that the trilogy has a heavy anti-religious angle, particularly against Catholicism. But honestly, they're still great books, well-written, and with such wonderful characters, that if this would normally be a problem for you, I encourage you to try to put your beliefs aside and give the books a chance. 

So, what will you find in the pages of His Dark Materials? These things:
  • A talking polar bear
  • A kick-ass heroine
  • One of the creepiest and most perfect villains ever
  • A visit to the underworld
  • Young love - the kind that is ever-lasting and epic
  • Secrets
  • Witches
  • Magical instruments
  • Multiple worlds
  • Heartbreaking decisions
  • Lots and lots of animals
Hope you give it a chance! (And if you've already read them, I'd love to know what you thought!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finding Writers' Groups

Every once in awhile, I'll get an email from a reader...and this pretty much makes my life worth living. (No, really. I'm not exaggerating. Other things make my life worth living, chocolate and my dogs and my husband and good books. But strangers emailing me because they think I can actually help? Yeah. That's up there.) Recently, I've had a few people ask (in both emails and the comments) if I could give them some advice about where to find a good writers' group.

I'm sure they think I'm some kind of expert because my group is awesome, and I brag on them all the time. But the truth is, I stumbled upon my group pretty accidentally. I'm part of an online book club, and several of us participated in NaNo last year. We all created our own separate little forum, then those of us who were year-round writers decided to form a group together. We have a weekly online chat, and exchange emails via Google groups. I've met most of them in real life, and my goal is to meet all of them (I'm definitely on my way!)

OK. So now I know what you're thinking. "WTF, Heather. You're saying the only way I can have an awesome writers' group is if I happen to magically stumble upon one?" Well...yes. And no. The truth is, to find a great group, you have to be willing to put yourself out there a little. For example, I have a friend who lives in Birmingham who's a writer. I knew someone through Twitter who lives in Birmingham, and I knew my friend was looking to meet writers in her area. Both women were awesome, so I introduced them in a tweet. They met up, and eventually brought some friends along with them - and now they're part of a writing group together. So really, it's mostly about keeping your eyes and ears open and looking for the opportunities.

Here are more tips if you really want to find a good group.
  1. Go where the writers are. Chances are, if you're reading this post, you already know some writers. You at least know me, and you can check the people who post in my comments, or the other blogs I follow, then the blogs they follow, and on and on, to find a huge community of writers. You can also find others on Twitter - especially in organized chats such as #scribechat, #kidlitchat, or #YAlitchat. You should also check to see if your local library, SCBWI chapter, or other writers group has monthly or quarterly meetings you can attend. Hang out with other writers and you're bound to eventually meet someone you mesh with. You can also set up meetings on sites like, or even try to arrange something with your local library, if you're looking to start something up in real life.  
  2. Get involved in writing forums. Places like Absolute Write, the NaNoWriMo forums, Critique Circle, Writers' Groups, etc. are great for finding groups. It's really best if you go in just looking to meet like-minded people and start chatting, and eventually you will find that you click with a few people - then you can send them a message asking if they're looking for a group. The absolute worst thing they can say is no. Which leads me to my next point...
  3. Don't be afraid to ask. Again, the worst thing someone can say is no, and even then they'll likely be really nice about it. The best thing they can say is yes. Even if you know a writer has another group or crit partner, many writers welcome the chance to get out of their solitary bubble of writing and seek out a new group of peers to talk to. My best advice is to seek out people that you know are in the same stage of the process as you - if you see someone else has just started up their blog, or is complaining about revision pains the same way you are, they might be a good match for you. You can email or message people directly, or be bold and put out a call on Twitter or your blog - something as simple as "I want to start a writing support group! Anyone interested?" will get people interested. But if you put out a big call like that, remember that if you get a lot of interest or people who don't match exactly what you're looking for, you should be prepared to take everyone who responded, anyway. Also, be sure to ask your writing friends if they know anyone looking for a group or crit partner - if you have five friends (online or off!) who are writers, one of them may know someone looking to form a group.
OK, so those tips don't seem particularly riveting. I know. But every crit partner or beta reader I've had, I got mostly through luck or having interests in common, or because they sent me an email or I emailed them and just asked.

What about you? Do any of you have great tips for finding groups/crit partners?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book-Crush Wednesday (10)

Only six words need to be used to explain why this book-crush Wednesday is truly a book-CRUSH Wednesday:


If you don't know who I'm talking about, then you need to drop whatever book you're reading and hie thee to your local bookstore to pick up a copy of Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. While you're there, you should go ahead and grab Second Helpings (because you'll definitely want them), Charmed Thirds (which will definitely leave you charmed), Fourth Comings (er...OK, I can't think of a good pun for this one...uhm, it will have you coming back for more?) and Perfect Fifths (SO FREAKING PERFECT U GUISE.) Because you'll want to read them right away.

I'll admit that this series was one of my first forays into YA in my own post-adolescent years. And it's a damn good thing it's so awesome, otherwise I may never have picked up another YA book, and I might be a very different writer today.

The main character in this series is Jessica Darling. But she's not really darling, she's more...sarcastic. And witty. And wonderful. I'm pretty sure we'd be BFFs, except probably not if we met in high school because even then I wouldn't have been cool enough for her. Jessica did a lot of things I never would have had the guts to do, such as THE CUP INCIDENT which I won't talk about much here for spoilers, but it's safe to say if I were in her situation, the next four novels would have gone a lot differently.

What's even better than Jessica, though, is the supporting cast. All of her high school friends, enemies, and frenemies are so well developed, each with their own little quirks and flaws and issues. Some characters just captured my heart, and others made me laugh because they were just so out there - but in a good, real way.

But although these books are so much about Jessica and her growing pains, they're really about the growing pains between Jessica and Marcus. Throughout the books, you really see the ups and downs and ins and outs of their relationship. Marcus reminds me SO MUCH of the hubs that I'm pretty sure Megan McCafferty was channeling him at one point to write him into the book. There are words that Marcus says (or doesn't say) that could have come right out of my husband's mouth.

And then...there's book five. OK, so the writing in the first four books is great. But the writing in Perfect Fifths KNOCKED ME OUT. The narrative structure is totally different, and it's perfect and amazing, and I love the alternate chapters because as a writer I know things like that are SO hard to do, and I think McCafferty did them just beautifully. The book is nearly flawless and the absolutely perfect ending to their story.

OK, so hopefully I have you convinced. It's really hard talking about five books in one post. But, just know they are amazing, funny, insightful, smart, and just good, and everyone - everyone - should read them.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Query Advice from Holly Root - Auburn Writers Conference Recap Vol. 1

I spent last weekend in Alabama, and I have to admit I am absolutely smitten. Friday and Saturday, I was at the Auburn Writers Conference (which was FAB - more on that in approximately one paragraph), and Sunday I spent in Birmingham catching up with friends and brainstorming all the ways I can convince my husband that a move to 'Bama is absolutely necessary. (The good news is, I've converted him to Harry Potter and Hunger Games, so I'm well-versed in the art of convincing.)

But anyway. The conference. Auburn Writers Conference (AWC) was in its first year, and it was just wonderful! It was only a day and a half long, but the organizers really did a great job packing as much information as possible into such a short period of time. The focus of this year's AWC was The Child on the Page, so there were sessions on picture books and teen voice, but there were also sessions on memoir, the publishing industry, and, of course, querying.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Literary agent Holly Root was in attendance at AWC, and she was just wonderful. I'll admit, I think there is a lot of unnecessary agent-worship on the part of unagented writers. But if there was ever an agent who will make a writer realize that agents are just normal people and not some crazy, unapproachable, scary beings, Holly is absolutely that agent. I attended her "Polish Your Pitch" session, during which she dispensed a TON of information about perfecting your query and making it shiny. So instead of further rambling (though you all know how much I love to ramble), I present to you:

Query Dos and Don'ts from Holly Root
Notes I took based on things she said are in italics. Everything else is copied from this awesome worksheet she passed out. I didn't include all of them, just a smattering - so if Holly is ever at a workshop in your area teaching a session on pitching or querying, GO! Then you can get the rest. Which you totally should, because it was useful and amazing.

  • Query widely. Email is great for this. Your "dream agent" might be someone you've never heard of because they don't tweet or blog.
  • Make it easy for agents to see your book as marketable. Don't hide the good stuff. This might mean revealing what you see as a big twist, but it might actually be the thing that hooks the agent. Another thing that she mentioned was that you can't write a book thinking just about money/marketability, but you can't query a book thinking just about art. So write the book to be the best book it can be, and don't worry about marketability. Then when you're done, try to think about the things that will make the book marketable. Look at it from every angle. There is something in there that makes the book uniquely yours. Lead with that.
  • Think in terms of back cover copy. Present the conflict quickly, hook the reader on the world you've created. This is not the place or time to tell me in detail about how normal the character's life was before the perfect the marriage seemed...a complete genealogy of the character's family. Quick and dirty. Holly suggested reading the cover copy of books before you start them, then again after you've finished. You'll notice that sometimes the cover copy will leave out events, or rearrange things into a more marketable order, and that's OK to do in your query, too. It's not that you want to be dishonest, but you do want to paint your book in the best possible light - just because you wear mascara doesn't mean you don't have eyelashes. 
  • Remember that a pass isn't always reflective of your work or a query. Holly has to pass on a lot of great books, and all of her reasons start with "I," such as I already have something in this genre on my list. She gets 200-300 queries a week, but about half of those are just weird letters or queries for things that have no home in trade publishing. Your odds aren't as bad as you think, so what you really need to overcome is timing. Her default setting is, unfortunately, no - it's your job to get her to yes.
  • Send more than requested because "the story really picks up about page 85." If the story picks up on page 85, then page 85 should be your page 1. Try cutting out pages 1-84 and see if you can rework the story to fit with where the plot picks up.
  • Ask a ludicrous question in the first line of your query instead of properly identifying your hook, i.e. What would you do if your job was to kill babies? Also "Imagine if..." and "What if..." Holly was so funny here. She gave an excellent example of how opening with a question can stack the odds against you, because immediately the agent might start answering in their own way and it will never be the way you want them to answer. She said she's much more interested if you get HER to ask the question than if you state it for her. So instead of saying, "What would you do if you woke up one day and the sky was at your feet?" Say, "Jacob Smith wakes up on his first day of school to find that his feet are in the clouds - literally." Or something like that. (I totally made that example up just now off the top of my head so if it sucks, blame me and not Holly, who is awesome and probably had a way better example which I forgot to write down.)
  • Edit out your voice. The voice introduces the agent to your story and gives them a taste for what they'll get in the pages. Don't edit it out!
  • Think that a "no" on this project means never for me with any of your work ever again. No means no to this query right now. Holly told a great story about a client who took four queries to get to sign with her - but in the end, she signed on with Holly.
Holly gave some more advice, and also did a fabulous Q and A, and I'm sure I'll touch on both in another entry where I gush more about AWC. But my fingers are tired from typing up this awesomeness of awesome information, so I'm sure your eyes are tired, too. Plus your brain. So we'll leave that for next time.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book-Crush Wednesday (9)

I'm headed to the Auburn Writers' Conference tomorrow! The conference is Friday and Saturday, and I'll be attending sessions on pitching to agents, voice, and much more awesome stuffs about kidlit! I'm really excited, and honestly this couldn't have come at a better time because I've had a really terrible week and I could use a little vacation. Hopefully I'll have some time to blog from Auburn, but if I don't I promise it's not because I don't like you!

I have to start this book-crush post by saying I'm not really huge on graphic novels. Though my husband eats them up like a fat kid I nom birthday cake, I haven't found many that I love. But when M.T. Anderson talked about how wonderful Shaun Tan's The Arrival was at SCBWI-LA, naturally I had to check it out, because M.T. Anderson is amazing. 

The Arrival is a gorgeously illustrated wordless graphic novel about a man who migrates to a foreign place, hoping to start a new life for his family. Since the man can't communicate in his new land, we, the reader, can't communicate either, and so we are left to decipher meaning through facial expression, symbols, and gestures. The graphite drawings are done in a photo-realist style, in sepia tone, so you feel as if you are actually looking at historical artifacts.

Tan's talent for capturing true human emotion with a pencil is just astounding. Even though there were no words, I laughed over and over, I cried, and I felt moved by The Arrival. The story really highlights both the kindness and cruelty that humans are capable of, and I loved that one book could highlight both sides of human nature so well.

But probably my favorite thing about the book was the world-building. Tan says he drew a lot from immigrant experiences of his family members, and from pictures from Ellis Island - this is absolutely clear in the book. But all the sci-fi elements that make the setting feel so other-worldly are incredible. And again, even though Tan doesn't use a single word, I feel relatively confident that I could describe the basic structure of the society to you. Not necessarily the government operation, but definitely their transportation system, food acquisition, and customs and traditions. And the creatures included in the book were INCREDIBLE. The little guy featured on the cover was just one of many, many animals seen throughout the book. They all stole my heart and made me wish I could live in this world so I could have a little pet...whatever...of my own. (But I guess Evie and Millie will suffice for now. They are pretty cute.)

Even if you aren't a graphic novel person, I think this is a great introduction to the genre. It makes a beautiful statement without even using words, and tells this gorgeous story that will make you wonder why we even need words at all.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lessons From A Writer's Group: Your Story Really Is Your Own

As some of you may know, since I refer to it from time to time, I'm part of a writer's group. Mostly, we're just there for moral support, but we also act as critique partners to each other, and friends, and people to vent and stress to, and people to gab to about books and TV (Veronica Mars and Buffy being two of our favorites...though I'm going to lose followers when I say I'm not into Buffy. GASP! I'm trying though. Really. But those 1990's special effects are soooo cheesy.)

But one of the best things that the groups is around for is brainstorming. We have weekly chats where we all get together and talk about our writing problems (or other random things), but we're also all on an email list so we can stay in touch with each other throughout the day. So, often, I'll get an email that says something like this:

Subject: Help!
OK, so you guys know that I have Jane and Josh, and they've been hooking up for like three weeks now, even though Jane is dating Jim. Well, Jane doesn't know that Jim has that big secret which will totally make her go back to him even though she likes Josh more. Problem is, I don't know how to get her to figure it out!!! Jim and Josh are best friends, but I don't want her to just overhear it because that's lame so...thoughts?

And then different people in the group will chime in with suggestions. (Obviously that scenario is SUPER basic, but hey...I'm under pressure here.) There are maybe five or six of us who are extremely active, then another few who are very active, then another few who are in the group but aren't super active. So in one email thread, the writer who's posing the original problem will get a lot of suggestions.

So what I'm learning is this: One person might suggest that Jane reads about Jim's secret in his diary. Another might suggest that Jane is really jealous, so she goes through Josh's texts and sees something from Jim that leads her on the right path. Another person might take that suggestion and say, "OMG!! What if Jim and Josh are actually secretly seeing each other?? And the text she sees are love letters??" and another person might suggest that Jim catch Josh and Jane making out and just blurt out the secret because he's so pissed, etc.

The amount of brainstorming that can happen in one of our chat sessions or email chains can sometimes be overwhelming, but if it's shown me anything it's this: if any of the writers in my group had been given that problem, been told to go into a corner, and write out how the story played out on their own, a totally different novel would have emerged. Of course, overlap would be possible. But everyone has such unique ideas and different directions to take one nugget of story that, in the end, no two story lines end up being the same.

Often, writers are absolutely paranoid about the idea that their story is too similar to something else out there - and I'm definitely no exception to this. (Though I'm glad that happened to me, because in the end what I came up with is SO much better.) But I think it's important to remember that while you might have the same basic elements as someone else, in the end, your story really is your own.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh, hai.

So I haven't updated my blog in a week.


And I missed all of banned book week, which I had a lot of post ideas for.

Reasons for my slacker-ness:
  1. I've developed wrist/hand pain that made typing nearly unbearable. Probably because I type all day at work, then come home and type all night. Or something. *coughs* But I got it under control and it's getting much better.
  2. Revision-related stuffs.
  3. CP reading.
  4. Mostly I'm just a slacker.
Please forgive me. I know you will because most of you are also writers and you understand how these things go.

And I will be back next week FULL FORCE with lots of AWESOME for you!

But for now, I have this video, stolen from, which is SO ADORBS and a great little exercise in the power of communication. (You might want to expand to full screen if you have a hard time reading the text - it's a little hard to read this small but it doesn't fit in my blog panel otherwise.)

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See Heather Write
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