Monday, June 25, 2012

Hanging In!

It's the last week of school and life is beyond crazy chaos! Thankfully, it's mostly fun chaos - but it's chaos nonetheless.

Right now I need a little bit of this
Next week I'll be doing more of this
And this
And watching this
And even doing some of this
How's your week going?

EDITED TO ADD:
I've removed the pictures (which of course makes this the most boring post EVER!) due to worries I'm stepping on someone's copyrights.


Monday, June 18, 2012

How's Your Research Going?

Agent research that is! I know some of you aren't in the querying stage yet and some of you are well past it, but it's always an interesting topic.

Today I'm over at From the Write Angle talking about one stage of my agent research process. I hope you'll join me over there!



Also, my blog buddy Stephen Tremp is having a Breakthrough Breakout Book Giveaway today and tomorrow. For these 2 days, his debut novel Breakthrough will be available for free on Amazon. Check out Stephen's blog for the details!


I was always one of those kids who enjoyed writing essays because I love doing research. How about you?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Movie Influences on Elana

Dude! I'm so excited today to have Elana Johnson here. Elana's one of my favourite people in the bloggy-verse. Not only do I adore her books (see here and here to hear me gush!), but she's a total sweetie - honest, kind, open, generous - she's an awesome lady! So, here's Elana...

The Influence of Minority Report

A guest post by Elana Johnson

Okay, so I’m a lover of thrillers like The Bourne Identity and Mission Impossible. One of my favorite futuristic movies is Minority Report. I haven’t seen it for a few years, and I recently watched it. I felt like I’d taken a slice of SURRENDER and inserted it into the movie.

Or the other way around. Maybe I’ve taken a slice of Minority Report and inserted it into SURRENDER…

Here’s a couple pieces of the pie you’ll see in both places.

The spiders. In Minority Report, there’re these robotic spiders that can be programmed to find a specific person. They scan retinas to ID people.

Well, SURRENDER has spiders too. Some are used for menial labor, like cleaning smudges off floors and windows. Some are for protection, like guard dogs with eight legs. Some are used for enforcement purposes, like disabling a person until officers can arrive.

I strongly dislike spiders, so I thought they’d be a perfect addition to a futuristic society as a symbol of something for the citizens to dislike or be afraid of—just like we are.

The pre-cogs. In SURRENDER, some of the citizens have paranormal abilities. Some can manipulate tech, some can read minds, some can command the elements. And some can see the future.

True, in Minority Report, the pre-cogs wallow in this weird watery stuff and can’t seem to function in society. That’s not the case in SURRENDER, but as I was watching the movie, I thought “I have people who predict the future too!”

It’s a fascinating concept to me—all of Minority Report is—and I’ve recently written an entire novel about time and knowing too much about the future. I love thinking about things like this, which is why I enjoyed Minority Report and enjoyed writing about people who can see the future in SURRENDER.

That’s about the extent of the similarities between SURRENDER and Minority Report, but I thought it was fun to see them as I watched the movie.

Have you ever written something with slices from something else? Have you read something that reminds you of a particular movie/book?

This week, as part of the SURRENDER blog tour, you can win one of three $15 Barnes & Noble gift cards and become a winner winner, chicken dinner! All you have to do is fill out this rafflecopter widget with what you’ve done. NOTE: One of the options is to blog about a time you didn’t surrender. Go here for full details on this, including how to sign up for your free swag package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***
Thanks, Elana! Those spiders are definitely creepy!!  If you'd like to catch up with Elana you can find her here: blog, twitter & Facebook.

Bio: Elana's work including POSSESSION, REGRET, and SURRENDER is available from Simon & Schuster wherever books are sold. She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query, which can be downloaded for free on her website. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and is a member of SCBWI, ANWA and LDStorymakers.

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

About SURRENDER: Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.
All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.
Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….

Purchase your copy here: Simon & Schuster (this has links to all major retailers!)

So what slices of books or movies show up in your stories?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Surrender!

 


If you haven't dropped by Elana's yet to sign up, there's still time - the blogfest starts today and runs through to Friday June 15th! Click here! :)
As most of you know, I'm a teacher. Over the years I've taught a lot of kids - and I've taught in a variety of setting and in a variety of schools.

One of those kids will always have a special place within my heart. I'm going to borrow the name of Elana's yummy male MC in Surrender and call this boy Gunner.

Gunner came to our school and my class with enough baggage to fill a plane's cargo hold. He not only had ADHD/ADD, but ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), anxiety disorder and several other medical disorders/conditions. (I won't say more for fear of identifying Gunner - I've taught more than 20 kids who have been diagnosed with all 4 disorders listed above, so I'm confident his identity is safe).

Gunner's family life was far from stellar. I won't go into details here for those same reasons. Whatever you're imagining right now, it was probably worse.

As expected, Gunner didn't find it easy to be in school. On top of the medical conditions, he had a learning impairment. Reading & writing were tough - he was 5 years behind his peers academically in those areas. Math was harder. Add in a new school, his nerves about facing new adults, his fear of people thinking he was stupid, his aggression towards the other kids and it wasn't an easy start for him. Or me :)

About 2 weeks in, Gunner stopped beside me at the end of the day and said, "You don't yell at all do you?" He grinned that mischevious grin of his and sauntered out the door with a wave. That's when I let out my first deep breath and figured I really might be able to help him.

Gunner learned to read that year. He found out that 2 + 2 is 4 every time. Every single time. And if he remembered the answer, he didn't have to figure it out every question. He learned he was really good at putting things together and geometry could be a lot of fun. He found out he liked art. He made a friend.

I saw Gunner at a hockey game this winter. He rushed over to give me a hug. Made my day. Heck it made my whole month! I'm glad I didn't give up on Gunner.

Never Surrender.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Invisibility

...without the cloak. :)

You know the feeling.
  • you wave at someone ... and no one waves back
  • you ask a question ... and no one answers
  • someone cuts you off in mid-sentence ... again
  • someone comes up with a great idea that everyone loves ... the same one you mentioned 10 minutes before that no one seemd to hear...
Yeah. That.

I've felt like the invisible woman more than once lately. Both online and off.

When I finally enter those query wars later this year, will it be the same? Probably. :)

Along with Harry's cloak, I think I'll need more than a drop of his courage when the time comes!

Do you ever feel invisible? Where do you find your courage to take the next step in the process?

(Check out Alex J Cavanaugh's blog for more posts in the Insecure Writer's Support Group)

***

And, onto the winner! Remember back on my last post, Becca Puglisi visited and offered up a PDF copy of The Emotion Thesaurus - the brilliant resource written by her and Angela Ackerman - the fabulous minds behind the Bookshelf Muse blog? Well, it's time to announce the winner. I used the old reliable Random.org and it chose lucky #7. So, the winner is...

Beth at Muses and Meringues! *throws confetti*

Congratulations, Beth! I'll forward your email to Becca & we'll get you that copy of the book!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Emotional Temperament & Giveaway!


You're in for a treat! Becca Puglisi is here today! She and her partner Angela Ackerman are the authors of the Fabulous resource - The Emotion Thesaurus!

Do you Know your Character’s Emotional Temperament?

You’re fiddling with your WIP, focusing on character emotion. Conveying it effectively is kind of hard, so you’ve got your checklist ready.

1.  Strong visual cues to show emotion? Check.
2.  No melodrama? Check.
3.  Fresh phrasings instead of clich├ęs? Check.
4.  Identifying my character’s emotional temperament so I know how he’ll express emotion?


...crickets...


There’s more to writing emotion than correct methodology. We have to intimately know our characters to determine their emotional tendencies and portray their responses consistently. Personality is key, but it’s not the only factor that determines a person’s emotional temperament. Someone with an outgoing personality might be emotionally reserved. A reserved person might choose not to express their emotions, yet still feel them deeply and constantly struggle to hide them.

Personality does factor in, but so do upbringing and environment, along with age, values, and past events. Put all this stuff together, and you have your character’s emotional temperament, which determines how they tend to react emotionally. Here are some notable examples:

Katniss Everdeen: Spare. If you look at scenes of high tension in The Hunger Games, Katniss is rarely responding emotionally. One of her defining characteristics is practicality. Emotions aren’t practical, so she doesn’t indulge in them often.

Anne of Green Gables: Demonstrative. Anne Shirley is impulsive. As such, she doesn’t think about the appropriateness of her emotions. She just reacts, in every situation.

Dally (the Outsiders): Hard. Dally’s a juvenile delinquent with a tough exterior. The emotion he expresses almost always has an edge: rage, derision, pride. Softer emotions, like sadness or worry, he tends to conceal.

Other Emotional Temperaments:

Erratic
Needy
Wounded
Placid
Flat
Immature
Reserved
Explosive
Manipulative
Emotion-Specific (choosing to express certain emotions and hide others)

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point. When writing emotion, think about the factors that contribute to your character’s emotional temperament: personality, upbringing/environment, age, values, and past events. Putting them all together will give you a good idea as to what kinds of situations will trigger a response, how big or small the response will be, and how likely your character is to hide certain emotions.

Can you think of more factors that contribute to a person’s emotional temperament? And do you know any other temperaments we should add to the list?

***
You can find Becca & Angela at their awesome blog - The Bookshelf Muse. here's purchasing information for the Emotion Thesaurus.

One lucky person is going to win a PDF copy of The Emotion Thesaurus! To enter, all you need to do is comment on this post and make sure you include your email address if it's not attached to your profile. That's it! I'll use Random.org to choose the winner and I'll announce the lucky person on my next post - (probably Wednesday for those of you who like to know deadlines :)) Good luck to everyone!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Surrender Rocks & Never Surrender!

 DUDE! You've got to read this book!!!


I had to borrow Elana Johnson's vocabulary to shout out about her latest book, SURRENDER. I finished it about an hour ago, and I can't stop thinking about it. I'm pretty sure I'll still be thinking about it tomorrow. And the next day. And next week...

(Okay, this post was scheduled - I actually finished it a few weeks back now, but I had to write this down as SOON as I finished it. And, yes, I'm still thinking about it!)

It's one of those books. You know the ones - they stick in your heart and your head for a very, very long time.

Elana creates incredible people - wait! I have to remind myself they're characters... The 2 main characters, Gunn and Raine, wound themselves into my heart in no time. They're vibrant, strong and so passionate about their world!

The world was well developed in Possession, and now, in Surrender, it becomes deeper and darker. The layers of the world make it so real - no one-dimensional setting here!

I also love the way this companion book integrates the characters from Possession. They're blended into the story seamlessly. And they still have the power to break my heart and make it soar - sometimes at the same moment!

Elana - you've created some magic here - great job! :)

ALSO...

To celebrate Surrender's release, Elana's having a great blogfest the week of June 11th - 15th. In her words...
All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender. Trained for a marathon? Queried agents? Had to study for an entrance exam? I'm looking for inspirational stories that you have experienced. Hard things you've accomplished because you didn't give up. I want to be inspired by you!

Anyone who blogs this week for the theme can enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. Everyone who blogs this week will receive a SURRENDER swag package. (You can get the blogfest language and badge here.)
Sounds like fun! I hope you'll join me -- I'm looking forward to all the posts!

What book have you read lately that makes your heart both break and soar?