Friday, July 30, 2010

It's a Kindle!

I got my Kindle yesterday!

It was a tough decision. The iPad looked so good, but was far out of reach price-wise. I also have troubles with my eyes and I needed something that wasn't backlit. So, no iPad.

The Nook also sounded good, but we don't have Barnes & Nobles here and I spoke with a couple of people who had troubles with them from outside the US.

So the Kindle it is. And I love it. It was super easy to set up and start using. I uploaded some gift certificates I had, clicked a couple of buttons and downloaded 2 books.

My first book to read is L. Diane Wolfe's Circle of Friends: Heather. It's really interesting to watch Heather grow and develop through the book. I'm not done yet, and I can't wait to see if Heather's going to make the choices I want her to make! Nice work Diane :)

Next up is Terry O'Dell's Nowhere to Hide. Looks like terrific romantic suspense. Can't wait!

Any suggestions for what's next? Who has their book up on Amazon?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shy Bloggers

DL Hammons posted the other day about Recycled Blog Posts & he got me thinking. He asked people to pop up a link from their deep, dark, scary blog history that they liked. I popped up one of mine from early on.

When DL replied to my comment he said he remembered reading the post but had been too shy to actually comment on it at the time. I remember being in exactly the same position!

I jumped into blogging with barely a glance at other blogs. I had 2 buddies I knew from AQ who had blogs and who encouraged me to start one, so I looked at one or two posts of theirs and created my own. Those were the only 2 blogs I had ever seen. I didn't tell a soul.

I didn't know anything. Check that. I didn't know ANYTHING!!!!

I didn't know what Followers meant, or what would happen when I clicked that scary little button. I didn't know if complete strangers would be offended if I commented on their blog without 'knowing' them from elsewhere first. Obviously I didn't understand the thrill that runs through a blogger when a brand new face comes to visit & joins that followers list!

I didn't know that many, many writers had blogs. I eventually got brave and clicked through the followers lists on my friends' blogs and found more sites. I loved reading their blogs, but it took me a long time to move from lurker to commenter.

It took me even longer to post a link to my blog on Twitter. Scary stuff! I hadn't even visited the Twitter-verse before signing up for it and creating a blog all in the same afternoon.

Debra L Schubert was the very first 'stranger' who followed my blog. She is SUCH a sweetie! She even posted a link on Twitter saying she'd found a 'great blog by a new writer'. My eyes actually filled up with tears when I saw that.

I still find myself holding back on Twitter - I sometimes feel awkward about jumping into other people's conversations - but I'm getting better. That shy, awkward girl stage runs deep!

So, tell me, how much did you know when you started blogging? Had you been visiting other blogs? Did you feel shy or was it easy and natural for you?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Printing Epiphany

Okay - epiphany is probably too strong a word. But it's close!

I've heard/read about people printing out their manuscripts before. They've told me they find it easier to spot mistakes or other issues with the writing. I didn't believe it. I mean, it's the same story on the screen as it is on the paper, right?

So, despite my Scottish background/personality (we are REALLY careful with money in our family & proud of it :)), I printed out the ms. In concession, I shrunk the font and reduced the margins, but left it double spaced. Single spacing would make it too hard to mark up. My cheap genes winced, but went along with it.

And here's the epiphany - everyone who has done this is brilliant! There's something about the story being printed on paper that makes my eyes and my brain see it differently. What a great surprise. I was able to tighten up in several spots, see a few redundancies, and see the flow a little better. Awesome.

Jean Oram (@jeanoram), Medeia Sharif (@sharifwrites) and Terry O'Dell (@authorterryo) all responded to my "Wow, it works" tweet. They all do print out their work and know it works. Terry prints out her output daily to catch all the issues right away.

How about you? Do you print out your work? Daily? Once in a blue moon? When you're in the polishing stage?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

E-Reader?? Help!

My family has been hinting around that they might be buying me an e-reader for my birthday. Woohoo! I know - I have the best family :)

But, because I really haven't looked into the readers yet, I don't know which to hint at.

This is where you come in - I know some of you own e-readers, and others have done lots of research into it. Everything looks great! They're all so pretty and shiny and new!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different versions? Which ones do you LOVE?

What should I want? HELP!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Agent Research

I'm hoping to query my Steampunk in a bit. It still needs a polish or two, but I thought I'd start doing some agent research to see who I'd like to have on my querying list.

I'm using Agent Query and Query Tracker and then checking out the websites for the agents. I love both of these sites. If you're an aspiring author and haven't discovered them, you really should check them out.

Agent Query has a searchable database that gives you a quick overview of each agent and links to more detailed information as well as links to their websites.

Query Tracker also has a searchable database with links to the agent's websites. You can also keep a list of which agents you'd like to query, which query you sent them, dates, responses... It's easier than creating your own spreadsheet - although I did one of those as well.

I've spent hours on this and expect to spend many more. It's really interesting. You can tell a lot about an agency just by looking at their website. There are a ton of incredible agents out there - professional, helpful, busy. I hope to improve my odds, and not waste their time, by doing this research.

So, anyone have any tips to help?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Appearances are...

Aesop said: Appearance are often deceiving. Hmm. What about lack of appearances?

I've come across a lot of people discussing description of characters around the Bloggy-verse lately. And the comments are flitting around in my brain while I'm revising my Steampunk.

I've come across exactly 4 references to physical description of my 2 main characters in my ms. One is to the female's eye colour, the other three are size references. The size references are because she can't reach something she needs, people move out of his way, and she can squeeze into a small space.

That's it. No hair colour. No description of their faces, other than her eyes remind him of something. Even though there's an element of romance, neither character waxes poetic about the other's face or phsyique.

When I'm reading, I prefer to make up my own mind about characters. I prefer to create pictures based on their actions and words. So that's the way I write.

But... is this going to drive people batty? There are places I could incorporate more physical description of course, but to me it's just not important to the story.

Some of my favourite authors use a fair amount of character description, others use it rarely. When there is a lot, I tend to skim through it or skip right over it. One of favourite authors uses some description, but not a lot. I have a great image of one recurring character in my head. Then she tells me he's a blonde - which is NOT how I've pictured him. Thankfully she doesn't mention it often, but I shake my head each time she says it. He's much more suited to a darker complexion! :)

So what's your preference when reading and writing? Do you like having the author tell or show you what a character looks like, or do you prefer to make up your own mind?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canadian Authors, Eh?

Happy Canada Day! Even if you're not Canadian, you can join the celebration. Maybe some maple syrup with your pancakes, tortiere for lunch, or a little ice-wine or local brew later on with the fireworks :)

In honour of the day, I'd like to spotlight a few of my favourite Canadian authors.

All-time fave for me has to be Lucy Maud Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables will always be one of my favourite books. I devoured the entire series when I was a pre-teen. And then I read them again. And again. Great characters! Anne is wonderful - fun and flawed. The writing style is different from what sells today - I seem to remember the first sentence being something like 20 lines long - but the story is timeless.

Margaret Atwood is my favourite poet. I read The Circle Game in high school and was literally blown away. It didn't rhyme! It wasn't about heartbreak! It was modern! It made me think! These were huge revelations to me. I'd enjoyed poetry, but Margaret Atwood convinced me it was something to love. She came to my hometown when I was much younger and did a poetry reading. Awesome stuff! She writes great novels too, but it was her poetry that hooked me.

Robert Munsch writes incredible books for kids. Every primary teacher I know has a box filled with Munsch books. Classics! Paper Bag Princess, Thomas' Snowsuit, Mud Puddle and Murmel, Murmel, Murmel are just a few of my favourites.

Farley Mowat is another timeless author. Reading Never Cry Wolf made me aware of the environment and how humanity is messing it up long before it became the popular thing to do. A Whale for a Killing is beautiful and haunting. I can read his works over and over again. His retelling of Dian Fossey's life in Virunga is another masterpiece.

Gordon Korman is a fantastic MG author. His MacDonald Hall series featuring Bruno & Boots is a riot. His newer adventure series are great to entice reluctant readers. It's easy to turn kids onto reading when you have a bunch of Korman's books available. I was lucky enough to hear him speak years back and have a signed copy of Bugs Potter to show for it! :)

Monica Huges is the last one I'll talk about today. She writes terrific science fiction for kids. Her Invitation to the Game is a fabulous read set in the near future. The twist halfway in always shocks the kids and makes them think about what we're doing to our world. She has a number of terrific books for young adults.

I could go on, but I won't :)

So do you have any favourite Canadian authors? Have you read any of mine?

Happy Canada Day, everyone! And Happy 4th of July weekend to my American friends! Party weekends all around! Anyone else celebrating this weekend?