Monday, February 28, 2011

Blog about your dog!

I got the idea for this post from Lindsay at Lindsay Writes.

This is my shih tzu, Jimmy.

Doesn't he look like an Ewok? Or something from Jim Henson's Creature Workshop.

Jimmy is almost 5 years old, I think we got him the year I turned 15 (which means, holy crap, I'm turning 20 this year). Jimmy is the sweetest little thing in the world, with the biggest personality. This picture was taken by the photographer who took my graduation pictures. We were taking pictures in the living room, and suddenly Jimmy popped up in front of the camera making that face. It was perfect (and to be honest, I was happy to have the spotlight taken off me).

I could go on and on about my Jimmy but I won't bore you. Maybe someday I'll write a children's book about him.

I'm seriously considering it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

200 Followers & The Oscars!

200+ followers?

Seriously, 200+ followers? More than two-freakin-hundred people are interested in reading the random-ass stuff I post on this blog?

Consider my mind blown.

Thank you so much, everybody, for following. I will do my best to provide you with interesting material and make clicking that little 'Follow' button worth it!

In other news, who's watching the Academy Awards tonight?

*raises hand super high, lifting her butt out of her seat like Hermione when she's eager to answer a question in class*

This year, once again, the Oscars have a personal element for me. My second cousin, Craig Berkey, is nominated in the sound category for his work on True Grit. He works on all the Coen Brothers' movies and this is his second nomination! I'm hoping he wins tonight -- but as they say, it's an honour just to be nominated. Listen for him when they announce nominees for sound!!!

Anyway, I'm off to my annual Oscar party... ta ta!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Follow Friday (6)

Hi everybody! Welcome to Follow Friday. It's hosted by Parajunkee's View.
This week's question is:

Share your fave television show! Tell us a bit about it...

My favourite TV show is Midsomer Murders, a BBC cozy mystery show. It's about a detective, Chief Inspector Barnaby, and his sergeant who solve murders in the English countryside. It's brilliant.

Barnaby is the disgruntled-looking fellow on the right, and the rather dashing chap on the left is Sergeant Troy. Troy was replaced a few seasons back by Sergeant Scott, who I like but not as much as Troy :)

Anyway, it's a great show. Amazing characters. I love British murder mystery shows (Poirot and Miss Marple are my other favourites) because the main characters are continuous throughout the series but the side characters are different from show to show, so you get to see your favourite characters interacting with new suspects and witnesses every show.

What's YOUR favourite TV show??

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Switching Gears

Thank you for your excitement and good wishes, everybody! You'll hear all about what happens, never fear!

Now that the revision has been sent off to meet its fate, I'm back to working full-force on As Long As I'm Lying (which is just a working title). I'm about halfway through the first draft.

First drafts... they're both insanely beautiful, with all their unlimited potential, and hideously ugly, with all their spelling and grammar flubs and absolute plotlessness. Switching the gears from 'polish-polish-polish' mode to 'messy first draft' mode is hard! My brain is still of the mindset that everything I write has to be perfect, every i has to be dotted and every t has to be crossed.

I think I need to write a detailed letter to my brain, instructing it on what to do.

Dear Brain,

This is a first draft. The characters are going to be all wonky, especially in the beginning. And that's okay: we don't really know them yet. The voice is going to inconsistent. That's okay: the POV character is still a total stranger. The description is going to be clunky. That's okay: we're not at the stage where it needs to be perfect yet.

Once we've gotten to those marvellous words, The End, that is when you can get back into this editing-frenzy you've got going on right now. I'll really need you in that mode then. But for now, please tone it down. Please just take joy in the messiness of this first draft. Please laugh at my clunky, terrible descriptions and adverbs instead of beating me up over them. Please try to have fun with creation instead of getting way too serious over it.


PS - but please don't take away my ability to spell correctly. Without it, the editing stage will be that much harder for you.

I Did It!

Guess what I did today?

I finished my revision. 100% straight-up finished it.

Guess what I just did, two minutes ago?

I sent it back to the agent who requested it.

*insert NERVOUS FREAK-OUT here!*

No, I'm actually totally stoked. That's it, it's done. It's as pretty and shiny as I can possibly make it. It's time for it to go out in the world again.

Who am I kidding, I'm nervous as hell. I will definitely be checking my email every five minutes five seconds from here on out.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Showing Some Love

Hello, my pretty little followers!

I know you're all dying to know which of the facts from the first Crusader challenge was a lie, so here it is...

The lie was a lie. Clever, huh? I've never kissed a boy behind the garden shed at midnight. I wish. Everything else was true... especially the part about fuligulinely bloviating. Thank you to Rachael Harrie for adding those words to my vocabulary!

Anyway, today I wanted to spread some love to a very special type of person. The writer's best friend. The beta reader.

Many writers are scared stiff of showing their writing to others. Other writers live for the feedback, both praise and constructive criticism. I'm an odd, in-between writer. I'm completely unafraid of total strangers reading my stuff - they don't know me, they can't judge - but friends? A little harder. Family? Totally impossible. So when it came to a certain point in my writing where I needed to "test drive" my manuscripts, I was a little stuck. I wanted my friends to read my stuff, but they weren't totally objective and many of them don't know much about the craft of writing. My family would be totally useless because they'd only say nice things.

Enter the beta reader.

So I headed over to the Absolute Write beta readers forum (what, you aren't a member of Absolute Write?! What are you waiting for, go join!) and hooked up with a couple of fellow writers. A reader of this blog also offered her beta-reading services. Those three godsends gave me more insight into FAKE than I'd ever have gotten on my own, plus they gave me a chance to see what a real reader's experience with the story was.

Whether the reader gave me an overall opinion on the novel as a whole or dissected each sentence, they each did me an enormous service. The manuscript is in the shape it's in because of them. I'm so glad to have had their help, and to be able to return the favour on their fabulous manuscripts. DJ, Taryn, and Aleeza... I luv you guys!!

Then there was one last reader: my best friend, Jamie. He's the toughest critic I know. He is not the type to sugarcoat anything, not even to save his BFF's ego. It takes a hell of a lot to impress him, so when I had him read FAKE and he finished in a single day and sat down with me for an hour and half to talk about it, I knew it was there, at that professional level where I could even dream the word "finished." He's read a ton of my manuscripts and has been nothing but amazing about it. There's a chance he'll get a novel dedicated to him someday.

If you have an amazing beta reader, remember to let them know just how much they mean to you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First Crusader Challenge!

Info about the First Crusader Challenge is here... it's a crazy one.

Here are my random factoids:

Secret: I love hockey... but I mostly watch it for the hot guys. Especially Mason Raymond.

Lie: I've never kissed a boy behind the garden shed at midnight, nuh uh, not me...

Interesting quirk: I keep books with me all the time. I carry them around with me from room to room.

Annoying habit: My fuliguline ability to bloviate at length.

One of my best character traits: I'm sharp as a blade and quick as a rabbit.

One of my favourite things in the whole world: retro My Little Ponies.

I may have revealed something about me that isn't strictly true... can you guess what it is?

Have fun posting your own challenge!

Revision News

To all my new followers:

HELLO!!! I'm so glad to meet you and to share a little piece of the interwebz with you.

Anyway, here's some exciting news:

I'm almost-kind-of-sort-of-getting-close-to finishing my revision!

The reason I say almost-kind-of-sort-of-getting-close-to is because, well, it's fun, but also because I'm not entirely sure it's real. It feels like I've run an enormous marathon and I only have a few yards left but I'm scared I'm dreaming and that I actually still have a couple hundred yards to go. So I won't say I'm almost done yet, it still feels too precarious. But I do only have 1 major thing left on my editing hit list, so I can promise you that I will be done next week because it is Spring Break and I have the week off to work on it!

So, once the revision is done, it gets sent back to the agent who requested the R&R. Then I wait.
Gah! I'm so nervous/scared/excited!

I'm also a little out of it since I have to wake up at 5am on Thursdays to get to school, and since I spent all of yesterday doing projects and putting together portfolios for school that I left till the last minute. I'm trying not to be such a procrastinator but unfortunately it's in my blood.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RTW: Title Stuff!

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted over at YA Highway. Check it out to read all the other posts!

This week's question is:

How do you pick your titles?

Titles are super important for me. I need to have something to call the WIP, even if it's just a temporary title. And, oddly enough, I almost never use my titles when I'm talking with other people in real life. I use them online all the time, but to my friends and family it's always "that story" or "that story that has the (plot point)."

Anyways, I thought I'd share the stories behind the titles of the WIPs I'm working on right now.

FAKE: This title came with the territory of the story. In the social networking world, specifically Nexopia or MySpace, people who take on personas and are exposed are called, well, fakes. If you find out that the hot guy you've been talking to online is actually some old man in a basement, you say "Oh, he was a fake." And since the novel is about these fakes, it was a natural title. I put it in all-caps because it's kind of accusatory. I'm mean to my characters that way. But this title has been really great. It comes into play in the plot in a bunch of different ways and thematically it's surprised me quite a bit.

AS LONG AS I'M LYING: This is a new title. Up until a few weeks ago this WIP was called How to be Ruthless, but then I realized that that title doesn't really make sense for the story. As Long As I'm Lying just kind of came to me, but it doesn't really mean anything either. I think I'll have to change it again. Which one do you guys like better, if you care to tell me?

Some titles give me no trouble and come right away. If a title doesn't fit, though, like As Long As I'm Lying, chances are finding a new title will be VERY difficult. I hate those finicky titles, though. /Sigh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh great, it's Valentine's Day.

I hate Valentine's Day. It's just a huge money-grab, plus it encourages bad relationship stereotypes (guilt-tripping, selfish girlfriend, emasculated wimpy boyfriend). Luckily today is my day off from both school and work, so I can huddle in my house and avoid the hearts and flowers.

However, I do have two awesome recommendations to make, and since they're both romance-themed, I thought I'd share them on this silly holiday.

The first is a song I discovered yesterday. It's by Hedley, a band I've never been overly fond of, but they are local and successful so I have no problem supporting them. Anyway, this song is adorable. I listen to it with a huge smile on my face the whole time. Plus the lyrics are pretty genius. I have a feeling it's going to inspire me a lot when I write love scenes in the future.

The other recommendation I have is for the sweetest, most romantic, most cutesy book I've probably ever read.

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.

Yeah, you've probably heard of it. For good reason: it's incredible. Stephanie perfectly captured what it feels like to have a crush on someone you shouldn't and what it's like to be shy and nervous in a new place. Anna is the most hilarious protagonist ever, and unlike many YA girl protagonists, I really like her. She's completely relatable, and I found myself wishing she were real so I could be friends with her. And the love interest, Etienne/St. Clair? Omg don't get me started. My best friend and I have this, ahem, standard we look for in boys and it's summed up by the love interest from Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries, Michael Moskovitz. Whenever I have my eye on a boy, I tell her "he's pretty much my Michael Moskovitz."

Well, now? Now I sometimes switch it up to "he's pretty much my Etienne St. Clair."

That is how much this book rocks. It's impacted the way I creep on hot guys. It's a big deal.

I'm so excited for Stephanie's new book, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, which will be released later this year!

Anyway, I'll leave you with this picture of me spending Valentine's Day alone with the gorgeous Etienne a book. Happy V-Day, everyone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Follow Friday (5) - Romance Hero Types

Hello! It's time for another Follow Friday, which is hosted by Parajunkee's View!

This week's question is:

What is your favourite romance hero-type? Stereotype wise. Do you like strong silent type or brute macho man?

Well, I guess out of those two I'd choose the strong silent type, but I really like the sensitive, tall, skinny, emo type. An example would be Michael from Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are - loved him. And Etienne, from Anna and the French Kiss. Wow, I'm sounding like a broken record on that one. But really. I like funny heros, heros with talents (piano, languages, writing, etc.). But I'm not too fond of the manly-man type. How about you guys?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rachael Harrie's Crusade

Blogger Rachael Harrie is hosting this Platform-Building Crusade -- and it sounds like it's full of awesome. Basically, it's a way to link a ton of different blogger/writers together, get everyone some new followers, and make friends. There will be activities all the Crusaders will do and it just sounds like it's going to be a really good time.

I will be joining in on the fun, and I think you should, too!

All the information is here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

15 Novels in 5 Years...

Trunk novels. Most of us have them. To me, there are two levels of inactive manuscripts: trunked and abandoned. I have many of each, and I was inspired by Alex Bennett's blog post today (click here) to give you a tour of my past work. If anyone cares ;)

Well, I started writing little stapled-together stories complete with illustrations when I was six. I wrote my first story in my friend Maggie's kitchen. It was entitled "Lost Sheep Come to Me." Except that I wasn't great at spelling yet and I spelled "come" as "cum"... ahem. Moving on.

Nothing really interesting happened in my writing career until I was thirteen. I was writing a lot of fanfiction at that point (who wasn't?), and I had just finished writing a 50,000-word School of Rock fanfic when an author visited my French class. It was then, when the author said that her novel was 35,000 words, that I realized something special: I had written a novel. A whole freaking novel. I revised the fanfic to make it original (i.e., changed all the names and that's it) and was convinced I'd soon become a publishing phenomenon.

I didn't end up submitting that book, which was entitled Something Hardcore, and thank God. It was awful. I wrote a sequel, too, called Kerri's Turn, which was less awful but still BAD.

Then came a book called Roadies and Rockstars, about a girl who is a roadie for her brother's rock band. This was okay. I actually have pretty fond memories of this story.

4th novel: Ambulance, about two boys on opposite sides of the poverty spectrum who fall in love. Oh God, this book. I started writing it when I was fourteen and worked on it for FOUR years. It was passed around my high school chapter-by-chapter and made me a minor celebrity (super embarrassing!). It's finally trunked - I love the characters, the setting, the romance - but it has no story. Someday I'll go back to it and give it a real plot and I know it will be awesome.

5th novel: Roses. A kind of half-hearted novella about gay boys. Finished the first draft, then never touched it again.

6th novel: The Tulip Boy, about a seriously mentally ill stalker. Really, really weird and experimental and I hate it now.

7th novel: Jack and Angel never actually had a real title, so I just called it by the names of the characters. Another one about gay boys. This is a recurring motif in my work :)

8th novel: Ghost. Sequel to Ambulance. Sucked.

9th novel: Skull. Another sequel to Ambulance.

10th novel: Didn't have a title, but I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2008. About a girl superhero.

11th novel: The Superhero Effect, a superhero dystopia written for NaNoWriMo 2009. I worked on this for quite a while before trunking it about a year ago.

12th novel: The List of Heroes, sequel to The Superhero Effect, trunked as soon as it was written.

13th novel: FAKE. The One. The one I've queried, the one I've gotten requests for, the one I'm revising for my resubmission now.

14th novel: An Elegant Noise, written for NaNoWriMo 2010, about a girl who falls in love with a lesbian mermaid. I liked writing it, but it will never go anywhere.

15th novel: As Long As I'm Lying. About a boy who falls in love with his girlfriend's brother. I'm working on the first draft.

What can we learn from all this? That I'm a loser with no life outside writing. Nobutseriously.

Writing is a major lifestyle choice. A lot of people can't handle it. I was always socially awkward, so it was really easy for me to devote myself to such a solitary pursuit. When I tell people I've written 15 novels, they freak out. Ask how I could possibly do it at my age. Well, it's a calling, not a hobby. It's just what I do.

Another thing: I didn't start my journey towards publication until my 13th novel. I was researching and learning about publishing the whole time I was writing, but I knew my writing wasn't ready. Too many people fire off their very first novel and expect to get an agent and publishing deal the next week. The truth is that writing takes a ton of practice. Your first novel probably isn't the one that's going to make it big. And that's okay! If you're practicing, you can only improve.

Now, back to revisions for me!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Follow Friday (4)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View.

Today's question is:

What is the book you are currently "pushing"? (pushing as in trying to get people to read it)

I'm currently pushing Anna and the French Kiss. It's... seriously, I can't even describe the awesome. I really have to write a review soon to express just how I feel about this book. Let's just say it's amazing!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Who Do You Write For?

I'm skipping my creative writing class right now. Shh, don't tell!

Except that it's university and no one gives a crap if you go to class or not.

Anyway, there is a specific reason why I chose to skip this class. A specific, writing-related reason.

My creative writing class is taught by a guy, probably mid-forties, who lives in East Vancouver (an area that used to be really seedy and is now really trendy), who is a poet and not a fan of fiction at all.

Let me just say that there is nothing inherently wrong with being a poet. I don't mind some poetry and I really like some of it. But this teacher... he's the kind of poet whose work often consists of a blank page with the words "Listen... [huuuuuuge blank space] are you there?" and that's the whole poem.

So, in short, he's a really pretentious guy and he teaches us really obscure, pretentious poetry. And since it's a creative writing class, he wants us to write and workshop our own really pretentious poetry. We're not allowed to bring in anything else because the teacher "doesn't like genre fiction." That's what he'll say, even if you explain to him that it definitely isn't genre fiction.

I hate this pretention. I can't stand these full-of-hot-air poets who ramble on for pages and pages (or just one stupidly empty page) about completely esoteric, random nothingness. You know why I can't stand this?

Because they are writing for other writers, not for readers.

I can't think of a single person I know who reads this kind of poetry for fun. Hell, most people don't read the kinds of short stories and novels I've read in college for fun, either. Is this because most readers are stupid and can't appreciate a really deep, meaningful piece of writing? I don't think so.

I think it's because readers want to have a good time while they're reading. They want to be swept along on a ride, they want to feel exhilarated. They don't want to have to slog through lines of meaningless B.S. and complicated metaphors. They don't want to read reams and reams of what is, really, just a writer showing off their skillz.

I write YA. I write for readers who want characters with heart, whose stories they can get swept up in. And who says writing can't be both accessable and deeply meaningful? Just because it's easy - and yes, FUN - to read doesn't mean it's useless mainstream crap. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a perfect example of this. (Fangirl review post coming soon!) And there are poets succeeding with writing like this, just check out my favourite poet ever, Shane Koyczan.

If the people you're writing for are just other writers, and all they're going to do is pick apart the mechanics of your piece and try to figure out what it means... really, what's the point?

I write for readers. Pure and simple.

And that's why I'm sitting here in the library between a girl eating a muffin and a guy who smells like chicken, instead of in class.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I has an award! It was given to me by Lacey of Lacey in the Sky with Books. Thanks Lacey!!

The rules are:

1. Thank the person who gave the award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers you discovered and like
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they've won

Seven things about me:

1. I'm terrified of driving by myself for distances longer than ten minutes or so. I commute to college, which is about an hour away, so I have to find commuting partners and hitch rides with my dad. Riding with my dad means I have to go in an hour and a half early, leaving my house at 6am, but I don't care because it means I don't have to drive!

2. I went to France with my French Immersion program when I was 15 and it was amazing. Returning to France is one of my biggest goals for the near future. (I may have the chance to go in July for a MONTH but it costs $4,000... which is money I don't have).

3. I'm extremely shy in real life and as a result have a non-existent social life and a huge fear of rejection xD Only social rejection... query rejections don't phase me. Odd.

4. I have a sixteen-year-old brother and a twelve-year-old sister.

5. I hate writing poetry.

6. I'm ADDICTED to Diet Dr Pepper.

7. I can't walk in high heels at all.

So there you go! All you ever wanted to know about me, haha. Now I have to pass the award on to 15 people.

Except that I could only think of 3. Oh well, my apologies! Think of them as extra-rare and special awards! :P

Have an excellent day!