Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tag, you're it!

Hey everyone -- who doesn't love a "getting to know you" chain letter? Don't lie, you know you do.

I've been "tagged" by the lovely Lora Riveria over at -- she and I have a storied history, and how could I say "No!" to one of the most influential ladies my writing has ever had? Simply, I couldn't and wouldn't want to because, as stated before, I <3 these things! :)

Read and enjoy, internet friends!

1. What is the best meal you've ever eaten - what, when, and where?

I was with my husband (who was my fiance at the time) celebrating my 21st birthday in Las Vegas. Instead of drinking (because he doesn't drink), we went to one of Emeril Lagasse's restuarants and had the Tasting Menu. It was about a thousand courses of teeny portions of delicious foods -- toward the end it was mostly just sport to see how much of the next dish we could get down. Absolutely delicious. Another great meal: coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, last April for my 31st birthday. A dream come true. Food was good too :)

2. What is your earliest memory?

I remember running up the stairs with my dad to our tiny apartment in Euclid, Ohio. My mom was working the late shift at the hospital, and we were a little late for settling onto the couch to watch MASH. The stairway was yellow, and I was holding Dad's hand while he ran us up. Since we moved to Mass. when I was 2, I was somewhere between 12 and 24 months old. (Yeah, I didn't crawl; I walked when I was 9 months old.)

3. If given your choice of a secret rendezvous with any fictional hottie - who would you choose?

Ohhh good one. I have a three-way dead heat (lordy, what I would give...): bad-boy Damon Salvatore from the TV version of 'Vampire Diaries' (right), the demon Azazeal from the BBCA series 'HEX' (above, right), and hero Robin Hood from the BBCA series 'Robin Hood' (above, left)-- i.e. Ian Somerhalder, Michael Fassbender and Jonas Armstrong, respectively. Those men have been on my list for YEARS. Ahem, my muse loves them, too.

4. What is your favorite joke?

Q: If you're Russian to get into the bathroom, and you're American when you leave the bathroom, what are you when you're in the bathroom?

A: European! HAHAHAA (you might need to say this one outloud a few times, slowly.)

5. Pick three words to describe yourself (one is just too hard!)

Stubborn. Strong. Smart.

And now to tag my own victims!

1. Angela Cothran
2. Laura Barnes
3. Sarah La Polla

Tag! You're it!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

No pressure ... but what's up?

Hello, strangers! It's been forever since I've written anything, but I promise it's for good reasons. I've had a busy few months tweaking and editing and rewriting and editing and cutting and finally holding my breath ... but I trust that the process works.

(BTW, this is the actual tea mug I use every day. Positive reinforcement works!)

In doing all these gut-wrenching-yet-ultimately-satisfying revisions, I discovered a few revising tips I wanted to share:

Read your book aloud. Pretend you are Lorelei King (currently my favorite reader) and really get into the story. Do the voices. Pay attention to the pacing. Feel the conflict. If you get bored, chances are your readers will, too. Does that line sound ridiculous coming out of that character's mouth? Are you left hanging and need another scene to keep the flow steady? It's a great way to catch those ridiculous typos that normal eyes don't see. I do this when I'm by myself in the house and have a hot cup of honey mint tea.

Short sentences are (nearly always) better. I love writing long, complex sentences. It stems simply from an egotistical desire to impress readers with my talent – which is the very honest way of saying that I like to show off. I'm not shy; I know my way around verb agreement, and I know how to undangle my participles and work some serious punctuation. Give me pen, paper and ruler and I could diagram every sentence on this blog. Alas, readers don't like this. Especially teenage readers. I blame Sesame Street.

When you're going through your revisions, look out for words like 'and,' 'but' and 'as.' Break up your sentences there and see how your flow is affected. Hopefully, you'll find that you really didn't need that extra prepositional phrase at all – it was implied.

Rethink minor characters. Be honest: Does that security guard really need to have a name and back story? It's great if you, as an author, have a vague idea. But trust me, the reader doesn't give a you-know-what. Unnecessary minor characters are a sloppy way to move the plot along. Can another character act out their conflict instead? Can anyone else ask that important question? If you took him/her out, would it really make a difference? Taking time to rethink someone slightly random might save you a rejection in the future.

That said, I chose to keep in the minor character of Odin in my story. But, I'm also confident that, if asked, I can defend my decision. Can you?

Don't be afraid to cut what you love. My agent recently told me to shorten a 16-page scene down to 2 pages. I delayed, cried, stamped my feet ... but she was right. Scenes that you loved writing aren't always the best vehicles to move your plot ahead.

Doesn't mean you can't keep them for something else (a sequel?). However, I'll bet you anything that, when all is said and done, you fondly look back on these as writing exercises – bridges that got you from Scene A to Scene B. You may not have needed them in the final draft, but you needed them to get to the final draft, which is, if anything, more important. Never, ever feel that your writing is being wasted on the cutting room floor.

In the end, did I shorten that passage by 14 pages? Well, honestly ... no, I didn't. But, I did cut 6 pages of excess that no one – not even me – will ever miss. The 10 remaining pages are much more succinct, smart and understandable. They fit the characters, the setting and the conflict, and they give all the necessary info without distracting tangents.

Have other revision conundrums? Ask away in the comments and maybe I can help! :)