Saturday, January 28, 2012

Post links to your writing blogs

I'm actually quite interested in reading more writing blogs than I am already subscribed to and would happy to give you this as a way to advertise your blog as well for other people to see. =)

Just post the link in the comments and if you could include a little about yourself/site as well, that would be awesome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I was almost illiterate

When I was in first grade, I went to a terrible school in Los Angeles where the teacher had no time for us. She taught a class in which half of us spoke spanish and the other half english. She didn't have time to teach both groups.

Not only that, but my teacher used to have mental breakdowns. She said her class was out of control (which confused me because I never meant the teacher any harm, I just talked a lot and goofed around because she hardly ever taught us anything) and that she was overwhelmed by her job.

The principal would come down often and hold her. The principal would say,"Look at what all of you children have done! You've made your teacher cry!" While we stared on silently with guilt.

Still, the next day we would learn nothing. And the day after that it was the same thing.

We moved and when I entered second grade, I was sitting with a group of children who could all spell the word "happiness." I didn't even know how to spell the word "cat." I immediately started failing all my spelling tests.

The teachers put me in a special program where older kids taught younger ones how to read. She'd take a simple picture book and then read it to me, pointing at the words as she went. Then she'd ask me to read it as well.

Unfortunately, children have great memories, so I just memorized everything she said and then turned the pages and recited it back to her when she was done. I learned absolutely nothing.

Soon second grade was over and I was still illiterate. I hated reading and writing and thought the whole thing was a waste of time.

My Mother wasn't going to allow this to go on anymore. She hired a tutor who taught me phonics through flashcards. I could now sound out words and by the end of the summer, I could spell the word happiness, too! I was so proud of myself.

And I picked up my first book, started reading it to myself and found that I loved it. When I entered third grade, I was put in the advanced reading group since my reading abilities had grown so far. I enjoyed reading the books and looked forward to that part of class every day. Soon, when I was a teenager, I was reading so much that I used to neglect doing my homework and sleeping in order to get a little bit more reading time done.

If it hadn't been for that tutor, I wouldn't be a writer today. I probably would have never gone to college.

That woman changed the world for me and that's why it's so important to be patient with kids and to take the time to teach them things in ways they will understand. Reading is a beautiful thing and I hope someday we can get rid of illiteracy all together.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Disjointed Thoughts

I'm pretty sure that I could write anything in this blog and no one will ever notice. I used to be scared of people noticing. Now I'm scared that they never will.

The apple pie I am eating is delicious.

I wish I understood things from the perspective of agents and authors. Maybe then I would understand why none of them like my story so far. Why do they choose to publish the people they do?

When I went downstairs to warm up my pie, the dog wagged his tail and warmed my heart.

Am I really that awful? Trying to be good enough reminds me of being back in high school and trying to be good enough to be accepted by my peers and all my attempts at it failing.

I also had to take an advil because my face is throbbing, throbbing.

I wish life was a musical and that I could break into a song as good as the ones in Dr. Horrible's sing a long blog. It's one of the few movie(s?) that I'll watch over and over again.

I got interviewed once, guest blogged. I have a twitter and my own blog that I update anyway, but none of it matters in the end so far.

"A maaaaaaaaan's got to do what a maaaaaaaaaaaaaan's got to do."

I have insomnia and I hate it.

I worked two years on my manuscript and rewrote both my synopsis and query a hundred times, but yet again, it doesn't matter.

"It's a brand new day and the sun is high. All the birds are singing that you're gonna die."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Six Word Stories

My muse demands that I write down a few six word stories. If you don't know what they are, read about it here:

- Buried alive. Breathing in dirt. Panicking.
- Woman in the mirror isn't me.
- Alone. Dark. Whose hand is that?
- Phone rings. Heavy Breathing. He's inside.
- Stabbing myself. My laughter. Foot gone.

-Cheating. Jealousy. Gun. Murder. Regret. Suicide.

- Don't touch the big red button.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Respecting an Author and their Work

People seem to get really confused on this issue. They think an author will get angry with them if they dare to question anything we've done. This is not the case. After all, every author has faults. All of us have a lot to learn and if we could see all the mistakes we make easily ourselves, then we wouldn't keep doing them (especially with all the writing and rewriting we're constantly doing.) Not only is there a lot to learn when it comes writing and how to communicate our stories the most effectively, but we are all tainted, to some degree, by our own emotional blinders that do not allow us to fully distance ourselves from our work.

That being said, there are some things that do frustrate authors when it comes to negative opinions.

1. Being told what's wrong with our work after we have been published. I mean, we expect people to dislike the things we've written because we're not perfect and we must sit through book reviews and reader reviews telling us all the ways in which we are imperfect. We can also learn a lot from these reviews.

But, it can also be really frustrating because we can no longer change what we've written. We might even agree with you and suddenly see a flaw in our writing, but there's nothing we can do now to fix it.

The more feedback we can get before being published, the better.

2. Being treated like we are lazy or idiots. A review of someone's work that I once found completely unacceptable (not mine, I have not yet been published) was a book reviewer ranting about all the mistakes in the novel and how they thought this must have been a first draft. He said that he wanted to quit book reviewing because he was sick of the burden of having to labor through all the stupid writing out there.

It was completely disrespectful. It's one thing to point out the spelling mistakes and plotholes and another thing entirely to get self-righteous about it.

It may be hard to believe, but most authors aren't lazy or intentionally stupid. To write a novel, you must do a lot of research and rewriting and most of us do this excessively. Yes, we still make mistakes and have a lot to learn, but by belittling the author and telling them they obviously didn't try at all or they're stupid, you're not actually helping them. You are just insulting them.

And I'm pretty sure most of these opinions come from people who have never actually tried to write a novel themselves. Even writing a first draft can take a long time and a lot of effort, so while the results may not be perfect, it's good to respect the effort and actual study/research that most authors put into their novel.

3. When uninformed people express their opinions. I wrote a story once about a girl who was raped. Another girl read the story, informed me that she had once been raped, and told me all the ways that what I wrote was wrong. I completely appreciated her doing this and it helped my writing out immensely.

Another guy, once learned that I write about female necromancers. He told me that I should have never started writing and that I had obviously not done any research because the word "necromancer" didn't exist and even if it did, it was literally impossible for females to become one.

The word necromancer is found in dictionaries. I know from my extensive research that necromancers exist in real life (although not in the way I have written them.) There are other books out there written about female necomancers, including one of my favorites, the Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong, so everything he said was false. And he was trying to belittle me and make me look like a huge idiot because of it. Of course, I got frustrated.

We want as many opinions from readers as possible and we don't expect them all to be educated, but if you are going to argue and swear up and down that your opinion is right, then you should make sure that it's actually true. Because if you give an author false information and they believe you without getting angry, then you might have just ruined their story a little rather than helped them.


Overall, I just want to say that when critiquing a novel, especially an unpublished one, do not be afraid to tell the writer what you think is wrong with their work. We're not as sensitive as you believe and I hope with this guideline of things that truly do upset us, you'll understand how to give a critique most effectively.

Note: I don't believe there's anything wrong with giving book reviews. They are necessary and important, even negative ones. I'm just listing them here because they are something that can be frustrating to an author.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Most of the time, I'm okay, but today, the loneliness just really hit me.

Writing is an absolutely solitary pursuit. I'm the only one who can motivate me. I'm the one who must believe in myself and encourage myself as I write every word (no one's going to read it until I'm done.) I must sit by myself, all alone, and work. Take time away from others, loved ones and friends, to make time for work.

And it can be very, very hard when you did and worked on something solitary for so long to get anyone else to care.

Don't get me wrong, I love writing, I absolutely do, but every job has those downer moments.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's Wrong With Writing For The Money?

Lately, I've been hearing a lot of comments kind of mocking authors who write for the money and it's been bothering me.

First of all,  I realize that authors make very little. I've been writing full time for over two years now and how much have I made in total from it? Zero dollars. And even if I do sell, as I've heard multiple times, it's very unlikely that I will make enough to live off of. Trying to make a living off of writing like I am? It's even more unrealistic, according to most people, than trying to make a living as an actor or actress.

But at the moment? I don't care. I'm going to try to anyway. Why? Because I watched too many corny movies growing up about getting a job doing what you love and writing (also editing as well would be fun to me) is my passion. It's the one thing I can do every day and enjoy. I'm very motivated.

But I do need to eat and to have a place to live, so I'm hoping that eventually I can get paid to do what I love the most full time or there's a good chance I might have to give it up for the most part. That would make me very sad.

I'm an introvert. While I would like people to read the things I've written, it also slightly terrifies me. Most authors have a lot of trouble dealing with the fact that writing is a very lonely process. You're putting a whole lot of work into something (for months or maybe even years) that no one else in the world is going to see until you are done. Me? I can actually handle that part pretty well.

So while I would greatly enjoy having people read the things I write, I relate to it kind of like how I relate to this blog. Few people read it and very few comment on it, but I keep going because I enjoy it and hope to make a living through it someday. Is that so bad to dream about? Is this really such a bad way to relate to writing? I, personally, do not think so.

Finding My Voice

It's a lot harder than it sounds. I've found my voice in writing novels, but I'm not sure what my voice is when it comes to blogging.

I've been reading this blog lately. Click here to read it for yourself. It's written by a man who isn't afraid to state his thoughts directly, even if they are offensive and I've found that his honesty makes a very entertaining and unique blog.

Yet I'm absolutely terrified of doing the same thing myself. Worried that if I say something wrong or kind of offensive that I'll ruin my reputation and career.

If I don't put myself out there at all, though, I'm not going to attract readers. I have to leave little bits of me, the real me, in every post, or it's always going to read very dryly.

We'll see what I can do to improve on that.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Art Form or Science?

One thing that frustrates me a lot about writing is how vague the rules are for it and yet how judgmental some people can be. I've talked to a ton of individuals who have ranted to me about how poorly a piece of writing is (for instance: "she used too many metaphors.") And because I am a writer, this immediately prompts me to ask them a question because I want to learn how to be a better writer through the mistakes of others (example: "How many metaphors is too much?") And their answer to me the majority of the time is: "I don't know.  Writing is an art form. There is no official right or wrong amount of metaphors. You just have to feel your story out and decide for yourself what the correct amount is."

If everyone could just trust their own instincts about what was right or wrong, then someone who used "too many metaphors" wouldn't have done so because they would have known better. There's obviously some mysterious set of rules out there that we are all trying to master that makes some novels page turners and bestsellers and causes others to grow dust in the closet. Rules like "show and don't tell" and "make sure something new is happening on every page" seem like good sets of advice.

But at the same time, I recently started reading a novel called "Shatter Me" by Tahereh Mafi that's excellent, but breaks a lot of rules. There's passages of her book that are crossed out. She uses flowery descriptions and over the top metaphors. There's very little use of commas. And the story reads suspiciously like others ones of the same genre that I've read before. It sounds like a terrible novel, but the author's voice is so good, her characterization so unique, and she's taking something old and making it so unpredictable, that the story is once of the best and most innovative that I've read in a long time.

I'm given lots of advice by people who read my novels and I am told to take that advice with humility and not be so emotional towards my writing that I'm afraid to change it, but at the same time to know the difference between someone giving bad advice and someone giving good. When I disagree with someone on a critique they give me, I rarely know whether my emotions are blinding me or whether wise judgment and experience is telling me they are wrong. There are no set rules, yet if I do it wrong, it's unlikely that my novel will ever be published and I'll get bad reviews even if it is.

I mean, it's kind of awesome that people can break all kinds of rules and yet still write an amazing novel, but I also wish there were definitive rules I could follow sometimes. I have no way to know whether my writing is good or not without them and it makes this career choice more of a risk for me than it would otherwise be.

Not to mention that when I critique other people's novels, am I telling them the right things to change or will I learn later that I was misguided?

I suppose people would argue that writing is both an art form and a science, but accepting that is very hard for me.