Sunday, May 27, 2012

4th Sunday Surprise: My 1st Writer's Retreat

Yachets Beach Oregon

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Hope you are all enjoying the long weekend and eating lots of yummy food, I know I am. :)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a writer's retreat in Yachets Oregon with four other awesome writer chicks. One of them was my critique partner, Gina, who I love and adore, and the other gal who I planned with retreat with is one of my RWA chaptermates, Ella Zane, who I met at a conference last year. The other two ladies, Lori & Trudy, were new to me, but they knew Ella. We couldn't have had a more fun group of women.

We arrived Thursday evening and went out to eat at a fine local restaurant, who had the best homemade veggie burger EVER!!! (My mouth is watering just thinking about it.) During dinner we talked about our books and what our goals were for the weekend. My goal was to edit the first two chapters and then get to 15K in my YA by Sunday. When we got back to the house we hit the hot tub & a couple of bottles of wine. (Hot tubs, wine, good food, & the beach or any body of water are a requirement for a successful writing retreat.)

Friday, we had breakfast and then started working, except for me. I needed to clear my brain so I went for a walk to do some plotting and planning.

When I got back I was ready to roll. The first day I got my chapters edited and 2.5K in the bag. Not exacting what I hoped, but progress nonetheless.

Ella, Trudy, & Lori at work.
 Second day, I went back out on the beach and had to think about what I needed to write next. I'm a pantser but I do plan some of what I'm going to write the day of. Since I'm writing a mermaid story, what better place to get inspiration than the beach? Saturday I hit 5K.

Ella & Gina at work.
Sunday morning I woke up early and pounded out the last 2.5K. Meeting my goal felt like I had just climbed Everest and lived to tell the tale. I'm not the only one who met her goal. Ella finished her book (which I can't WAIT to read), Gina manged to get what she needed done, and so did the rest of the girls.

The weekend turned out to be a huge success. And now I'm hooked. We're already planing another one in the fall. :) To me this retreat was like a slice of writerly heaven. Drink wine, talk books, write, hangout & brainstorm in the hot tub until the wee hours of the night. Beautiful sunsets...

Writer's Nirvana, indeed.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

3rd Sunday Sweets: Destined

Destined is the first book I've ever pre-ordered and started reading the moment it downloaded to my Kindle. This is the fourth and final book in Aprilynne Pike's Wings Series and by far the best book in the series. It was torture putting down the book so I could go to work the next day.

I first met Aprilynne at Dark Days of Summer tour in 2009 when Wings debuted. I hadn't heard of her or the book before then, but I made note and eventually checked out from the library. Wings is one of the only few books I actually sat down and read from cover to cover. (Twilight Series, Harry Potter 6 & 7, The Hunger Games series, the first 5 House of Night books, the first 3 Sookie Stackhouse books, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, and Obsidian are the only ones on this list. I read a lot.)

Aprilynne's blog Apperantly! is the first author blog I've read from first post to the current. To say I really like this woman and her work is an understatement. Okay, so some might call that cyber-stalking, but whatever. She's a very successful author and as an aspiring author I look to people like Aprilynne as roll models of what I want to achieve. My other favorite is Kim Harrison. In fact that is how I discovered Aprilynne. I went to Dark Days of Summer '09 to meet Kim and came back with another great series of books.

Not only are these women best-selling authors, but they give so much to their readers. At any event I've attended with either of them, they'll stop to chat and take a picture. They are so kind and personable. They answer their fan posts on Facebook and most of the time their tweets & email. Their readers love them because of it. Including myself. :)

Anyways, back to Destined. This is my favorite book in the series. It's action-packed page-turner. Laurel finally chooses her guy and I'm not going to spoil and say who. Many of you who have read the series probably have a good idea who it is. Most of the story takes place in Avalon, which is awesome, because the place is so amazing. Mysteries are revealed. I love the way the book concluded even the extra bonus "ending." It's a beautifully woven story of love, loss, sacrifice, and redemption. I'm rather sad to see the series end, because it's so good, but she ended it on a good note.

So yes I LOVE this book and I think you better click right here to order your own copy. Take a trip to Avalon. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

2nd Sunday Savors: World building

Arcadia Beach, OR
You all know I write fantasy. (In case the name of this blog didn't give it away.) I like fantasy. Always have. I prefer to delve into a world of make believe because to me it's like a mini-mental vacation- both when I read and write.

Urban fantasy is my favorite, because the fiction is set in present time but with all the creatures of the fantasy world using modern day technology and such. Wouldn't it be funny to go to the grocery store and run into an elf or have a drink with a vampire at the pub? I suppose it depends on what the vampire is drinking & whether you're into to that sort of thing...

What I'm getting at is fantasy is a different world than that which you live in. As a writer you get to create this world, set the rules, decide who gets to do what, and develop your own unique mythos. This is why I love to write fantasy. It's so much fun playing God. :)

However, as entertaining as it is, world building is HARD! Once it's created you have to stick with the rules you've set and that can be quite challenging at times. I cannot tell you how often I've set a certain rule for my vampires at the beginning of the story and half way through I run into a problem where that particular criterion doesn't quite work. It's like slamming into a wall. Being a panster, this becomes a huge problem since I now need to go back and find the issue and work my way forward. This might be the biggest reason I have yet to publish my vampire novel. There's just too much to fix and well, I'm just plain lazy.

I have learned alot about world building over the last couple of years and I'm going to share with you a couple of tricks that are helping me tremendously on my current WIP.

  1. Let the world percolate. I've been thinking about the world of my WIP for about six months. When I'm laying in bed about to go to sleep I imagine what it would be like to fall asleep in this world. What would the sky look like at night? What sounds would I hear coming through my window? When I get up in the morning I imagine what I see when I left my room and house. Who do I meet? Why would I meet them? Where do I go?  What do I wear? You get the jest.
  2. When I come up with something interesting, I write it down in my journal or in a file I've created on my smart phone. Now that I'm starting to write the actual story I refer to these notes.
  3. Before I start writing the book, however, I test these ideas with the main points of my story and the other way around. Do my main points of the story fit the world or do they complicate things in a way that would confuse the reader (not to mention the writer)? Does the world fit my story?
  4. And then I write and write and write. Because really, that's what it comes down to in the end. You can think about your story all you want, but the only sure way to test your brilliant world is to write it. How else are you going to know if it works or not?
  5. Leave squeaking room. Have options for your world so that when you run into the problem like I did where something doesn't work create a "plan B" so to speak. Example: My vampires are Strigoi, ugly looking creatures that crawl out of the grave. Who wants to read about a hero who looks like death? So I created a myth that if the strigoi blood-bonds with a gypsy witch from a certain blood line he can return to his former handsomeness, but he must depend on her blood for the rest of his existence.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

Here's a flower from my patio garden for all of you mothers out there. Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

1st Sunday Snippets: *crickets*

Super Moon in Bucharest Photo courtesy of Reuters/Radu Sigheti/Yahoo

Yes, yes, I know I'm a day late in posting. Sorry. Been actually writing, if you can believe it. With the super full moon going on, I channeled some of the awesome energy into my new WIP. So you want to see a snippet?

Of course you do! Enjoy.

The rhythmic rush and swoosh of waves crashing on the shore sooth my soul like a lullaby. I sink my toes into the cool sand absorbing the energy from the ebb and flow of the retreating evening tide. The sun has already set with a spectacular display of violets and oranges across the western sky.

This is my favorite time of day at the beach. As the night sky darkens, the shimmering stars come out to dance above me. Some nights they feel so close I could just reach out and touch them. 

Tonight however a massive pale moon rises over the coastal mountain range to my east bathing every thing beneath her in a silvery blue light. I refer the moon as her, because while most people see a man, I see a woman smiling down each full moon. Tonight she seems extra large and I feel her strength in the moving tide.  I stare up at her lovely face and return the smile. After all these years we’ve become close friends.

Thanks for reading. See you next week. *waves & dives into writing cave*