Archive for March, 2012

Sloppy Writing 101.10

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Before I get to Sloppy Writing, I wanted to mention a new blog that is going live on April 1st. Some amazing ladies are joining forces to bring us something fun.

Kelley at Between the Bookends says

“The idea behind the blog is to give support. To teach, to share what we’ve learned and have you share with us what you’ve learned. We want to lift you up through the rejections, cheer you on through the process and celebrate your accomplishments big and small. There will be query critique sessions, shout outs for our follower’s work. The options are endless because it will be what you need us to give you for your journey.”

So April 1st, check out Falling For Fiction
 

Sloppy Writing 101.10 I noticed that I had a big problem.

Look at these sentences. Can you see what is wrong?

-Dani’s not as bad as Brooke, and I noticed that she was friendly with a lot more people.
-I saw how his head tilted up to the window.
-I looked over at him, and he winked before looking back to Mrs. Kindle.

You’re supposed to avoid words like look, notice, and saw. They’re okay to use sometimes, but most of the time you can get rid of them. FROSTY is written in first person, so of course Sydney is doing the looking and seeing. It’s redundant to say she’s doing it.

I would rewrite the above sentences like this.
-Dani’s not as bad as Brooke; she was friendly with a lot more people.
-His head tilted up to the window.
-He winked before looking back to Mrs. Kindle.

I deleted thirteen words from those three sentences. It adds up over a 65,000 word manuscript. Every word counts, they say, so watch out for these little buggers.

The Big Reveal

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Welcome to The Big Reveal.

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will have a new question for them. Some of these ladies have helped me with my own work, or given me advice on blogging or writing, so check out their blogs and see what they’re about.

 

Luckily last week, even though I lost both my computers to viruses, the files were recovered. I’m sure many authors have nightmares about losing their work and some probably have.

So in honor of my computer problems, I asked
if other writers are obsessive about backing up their work and what they do.

 

Krista Van Dolzer, Agented author
Yes! I always save copies of my current manuscripts to my hard drive and a flash drive, and then I e-mail those files to myself–both addresses–periodically. A manuscript would be an awful thing to lose.

 
(A big CONGRATULATIONS to Krista–who has moved up into the agented section. She’s now representated by Kate Schafer Testerman. Good luck with your exciting next step, Krista.)

 

Melodie Wright, Agented author
I back up my work on a jump drive. I also save it on two computers and it’s in my email several times.

 

Ryann Kerekes, Agented author
Obsessive? No. But I certainly do back-up my work on a frequent basis. I email myself the manuscript every time I add a few thousand words or so.

 
Cassie Mae, Un-agented author
Not obsessive at all. I save the document then put the laptop away. I do have multiple copies just because I send each chapter to my cp’s and they are saved in a downloads folder as well in my email. However, if I were to lose my laptop, I think I’d be royally screwed, lol.
 

Jade Hart, Un-agented author
Oh, I’m totally compulsive when it comes to this. I save a copy in Microsoft Word and PDF on a external hard-drive and USB stick every day that I’ve written. Then I go one step further and actually put the USB stick in my purse so that if my computer ever got stolen then I’d still have a copy on me! lol. I haven’t had nightmares of losing my document yet, but I do think ‘what if I lost it all’ and my heart thumps like a jack-hammer! :)

 

Janet Taylor, Un-agented author
Oh girl, yes!! I mainly use Dropbox. If you don’t have it—you are missing out on one of the great conveniences of life!! It’s FREE and you can save your work to it- and pick it up again at any computer you work on. It’s FABULOUS! Also, when I’m be-bopping about my ordinary day, and an idea, a sentence, even a single words strikes me, the first thing I do is email it to myself. I keep all those little gems in my WRITING IDEAS folder. Some of them- I look back and go…Sheez–what the hell does THIS mean.. “a great vibrating ball of purple plushness.”

 
Stacy Stokes, Un-agented author
Oh yes. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve started emailing drafts to myself in case my computer crashes or I lose my memory stick. I have no idea how many versions I have sitting in my inbox…hundreds maybe? Sheesh…

Me (Suzi) Un-agented author
I always save my work to the hard drive and a flash drive. Sometimes I send a ms to my e-mail inbox and sometimes I save the file as a pdf in case something happens to the Word document. I don’t do those last 2 things every time though. That would be a lot of work.

 
Joelene B. Perry, Published author
I have WAY too many projects going to email it to myself, but if I’m working on a project, and am about to leave the house, I will email that to myself. I have thumb drives EVERYWHERE, and back up my work every day.
 

Liesl Shurtliff, Pre-published author
I think my husband is more obsessive about it than I am. We pay for an automatic back-up program called Backblazes. I also use Dropbox, and I occasionally email a draft to myself. So I think I’m pretty secure.

 

Mindy McGinnis, Pre-published author
I’m not obsessive, I probably back up once a month or so. Really I should do more. I backup my stuff on Buzzword, which is like Google docs, but is run by Adobe.
 
 

Something I noticed in this post. How many names are there for those little tiny drives we save our work on? I counted five: flash drive, jump drive, thumb drive, USB stick, & memory stick. I wonder if this is a regional thing or a name brand thing. Interesting.

An additional question I wished I would’ve asked, is if anyone ever lost a major piece of their work. And if so were you able to recreate it.
 
What about any other writers out there… are you obsessive about backing up your work?

Cool contest news & Lucky 7

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

I have some really cool news about a contest I won. It made me whole week since I’d been dealing with the double computer virus problem. Gabriela Lessa, Brazilian editor, literary agent intern, and journalist, held a contest called The Best Future Manuscript Contest. The prize was $100 off any WIP coaching services—which are to help get/keep a writer on track. She wanted a pitch, a sample of the writing, and why you wanted help. Your ms could be at any stage, from just beginning to almost done.
I had just started a new project, Chloe—a contemporary YA novel, and had written about 8,000 words. Go here to see a little description. I am full of ideas for the beginning and middle, but I’m not sure where to go with the end.

My first idea is just to make it a life-changing story (where she grows and changes). My other idea was to tack on a little mystery that she had to solve.

That was my problem I presented. I don’t know which way to go because I’ve never written anything with a mystery angle. And although I didn’t plan on this story being a mystery exactly, the idea kind of intrigues me.

So anyways, I won the contest and am very excited. This is a great opportunity and I thought it would be something special to try. I’m not exactly sure how it’ll all go, but part of the coaching is Skype sessions to discuss the project. So next week she and I will be talking for the first time. I can’t wait.

Anyone ever done this before?
Now, back to my Lucky 7 MEME. I was tagged now several times for the Lucky 7 Meme—whatever that means (I haven’t found out yet), and was going to do this last week, but it was delayed due to computer problems. So here’s the rules.
1. Go to page 77 of your current WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next seven lines or paragraphs and post them written (no cheating)
4. Tag 7 authors and let them know

 

FROSTY (Sydney is the 17-year-old narrator)

“Hey, your haircut looks great—I never got a chance to tell you.”

Huh? I turned my head as Corbin walked away. What the hell? Corbin kept his smile until he reached his desk. He was probably trying to suck up for getting me in trouble. Asshole. What did I care about him?

“Hey, Corbin. Can you float me a twenty?” A short, stocky guy asked.

“No problem, man.” Corbin dug in his wallet and handed him the bill. “Just remember to pay me back this time. I don’t remember getting my twenty back a month ago.”

The other guy laughed, and Corbin slid his wallet in his pocket just as the bell rang. The teacher handed out the tests.

With ten minutes left to spare, I finished my test and glanced at Corbin. No way—he was cheating. He kept looking over at the desk next to him. I could tell the other guy was helping Corbin by the way he positioned his paper, and how he held his hands. Mr. Canter wasn’t paying any attention—totally oblivious, but then again, so was everyone else. Nora sat on the other side of Corbin, and not once did she glance up and see him. Corbin a cheat? Why should this surprise me? What a loser.

 

I’ve been going through trying to find people to tag, but most have done this already. Janet is the only one who hasn’t (I think), but everyone else has, so I’m just linking you back to theirs if you haven’t seen it.

Janet
Jade Hart
Cassie Mae
Teresa
Joelene
Liz

By the way, if you’ve ever done WIP coaching with someone, I’d love to hear your experiences.

Sloppy Writing 101.09

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Sloppy Writing 101.09 I’ll try doing this right the first time.

Got my computers back, virus free, loaded them up and life is back to normal. The Big Reveal will be back on Tuesday. On Sunday’s post, I’ll have some cool news about a contest I won, and I’ll finally get to my Lucky 7 Meme too.

Another word, I need to watch out for is tried. Often times I wrote that a character was trying to do something. But in reality, the character did do what she was trying, so I should just say she did it instead of wasting the words tried to. Here are a few examples.

-Brooke tried to argue with me. (Brooke argued with me.)

-I tried to make polite conversation the first few days. (I made polite conversation.)

-I tried to tell him my mom didn’t even care that I smoked. (I told him my mom didn’t…)

I deleted six words in those three sentences alone. I had 62 occurrences of tried in my old FROSTY ms. My current version has much less, and I made sure I was getting across the point that I wanted—that the character failed at what she was trying. Here are some examples where I left it in.

-She was surrounded by Brooke’s cronies, and I tried to avoid them. (She tried, but was unable.)

-I tried to squeeze out of his arms, but his grip tightened. (She tried, but was unable.)

So check your ms to make sure you’re using try to correctly, otherwise you’ll have many unnecessary words.

The (Un)lucky (Me)me

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Update: As of Thursday, I got my computers back virus free. Yay! Tomorrow I’ll resume posting since I can now get to my Word files. Missed The Big Reveal (one question, 11 writiers) this week, but it will be back next Tuesday. I’ve also got some cool news about a contest I won this week. It totally made me week and is a great opportunity. I’ll get to that on Sunday, along with My Lucky 7 Meme.

 

I was going to post my Lucky Meme today, but Friday we had a bit of a problem. Both of our computers went down.

I’m hoping that the computer technicain is right and that a virus didn’t wipe out the hard drive on my desktop, because it showed that it was gone. And even though I backed it up several months ago, I’d lose my most recent photos and files, all the tax documents I’d been preparing, and more. (Thankfully, my writing is all saved to my flashdrive.)

After that, we discovered a problem with the laptop. Apparently my laptop is so bad that a group of people brough a class action lawsuit against HP, who in turned sued a chip maker (or someone). Totally different from the desktop, but the laptop is not usable either. (This doesn’t surprise me as I haven’t liked it from the beginning.)

So since Friday morning, I haven’t had access to the internet and only do so now because I’m sitting at the public library using their computer.

I will be off the blog for a few days, depending on what the computer technician says. I can’t even post my Lucky 7 meme because I can’t get to it. It’s saved as a .docx on my flashdrive and the computers at the library have the old version of Word.

So hopefully I’ll be back up by the Big Reveal on Tuesday, but if not, this is why.

(I’m looking for a  category to post this under and it doesn’t fit under what I have. For Fun is doesn’t work. Maybe I need to create a new category… This Sucks or maybe Not Writing.)

Sloppy Writing 101.08

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Sloppy Writing 101.08

I started to think about what I should do next and figured out another pesky word to add to my sloppy writing list.

Three examples:
-I started paging through my textbook
-At the department store, Brooke started looking through the prom type dresses.
-My heart started to pound.

One word in common… started. In every sentence above, I can delete the started and change the verb to an ed ending.

I paged… Brooke looked… My heart pounded. In three sentences alone, I’ve deleted four unnecessary words. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you include them with all the other unnecessary words I’ve used, it adds up to thousands.

In a search of an early version of FROSTY, I found 82 occurrences of started. I searched for began too, but only found two. Apparently I prefer to start rather than to begin.

According to my current ms, I deleted 75% of my original starteds. Maybe I could find a few more to trash, but most of the ones I reviewed seemed to be okay.

So start watching out for your starts and begins because most of the time they are completely unnecessary.

The Big Reveal

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Welcome to The Big Reveal.

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will have a new question for them. Some of these ladies have helped me with my own work, or given me advice on blogging or writing, so check out their blogs and see what they’re about.

 

Have you ever gotten a story idea from a song, a TV show or movie?

 

Mindy McGinnis, Pre-published author
There was an old episode of the X Files that planted a seed in my brain. Oddly enough, I misremembered the episode and when I went back and watched again after having written the book (which resides under my bed) I was like, “Huh, yeah that’s nothing like I remembered it.” Which really, is a good thing.

 

Melodie Wright, Agented author
Not a story idea. I’ve envisioned scenes of stories from listening to music but that’s all.

 

Ryann Kerekes, Agented author
I haven’t gotten a story idea this way, but I am very inspired by music as I write. When I begin a new book, the first thing I do is build a new playlist of music that fits the tone of the book. I love discovering new music, so it’s a fun process for me. Then I listen to that playlist over and over while writing. I once got a scene idea for a story I was writing when listening to the song Feel Like Makin Love by Boston – I’ll let you interpret that one… :)

 

Cassie Mae, Un-agented author
I’m inspired by pretty random things actually. Never a movie or TV show, but I can say without the awesomeness of Harry Potter Scene It, HOW TO DATE A NERD would’ve never been born.

 

Jade Hart, Un-agented author
No, I’ve never been struck by inspiration by a song or show. My ideas tend to come in the most random places. Normally when I’m perched on a tall ladder painting a ceiling or taking out the rubbish! :) lol

 

Janet Taylor, Un-agented author
Not for a novel, specifically, but I’m always picking up interesting phrases or words that I can fit in somewhere.

 

Krista Van Dolzer, Un-agented author
Not that I can remember. Most of my story ideas come out of nowhere.

 

Stacy Stokes, Un-agented author
Hmm, no, I don’t think I have.  But I’ve had a few dreams that have lead to new story ideas (current story included).

 

Me (Suzi) Un-agented author
TV and movies, no. I’ve gotten several ideas from songs. I wrote two manuscripts based on the songs Because of You by Kelly Clarkson and Everything You Want by Vertical Horizon.
I have two other (undeveloped) ideas based on Closing Time by Semisonic and I Write Sins Not Tragedies by Panic! At the Disco.
These all are adult contemporary fiction and since I’m concentrating on YA currently, they are unedited and shelved for the time-being. If you look up the lyrics, you can get a good idea of what the stories are about.

 

Joelene B. Perry, Published author
I got the idea for Night Sky while sitting in the Taco Bell drive-through. Mike (husband) and I were talking eighties movies, and I hated that Duckie didn’t get the girl in Pretty in Pink, and wondered what it would be like to write HIS story from the moment he lost the best friend he’s in love with to someone else. The story is about a guy named Jameson, and the story starts with him leaving the dance after watching the girl he loves (she doesn’t know he loves her), kiss another guy.

 

Liesl Shurtliff, Pre-published author
Not consciously, but possibly. For me it can be hard to trace exactly where ideas come from, kind of like trying to pick out a thread in a complex tapestry and figure out exactly where it started.

 

So what about anybody else out there.
Have you ever gotten a story idea from a song, TV show or movie?

Too much to mention in the post title

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Just a few things to mention today. First…

Thanks to Jade Hart for the Awards.

I know I’m supposed to pass this on, but I’m being lazy. This week slipped by and we spent the weekend at our last hockey tournament so of course I had to have this post ready before that out of town trip. I didn’t do like I did with the WIP Movie post, which I pulled together in a few hours. After seeing everyone else’s, I wish I would’ve planned better. Oh well.

I’ll answer the questions that come with the awards. (But I’m not adding the cool colors like Jade did—laziness once again.)

Favorite color: Aqua blue. (Christmas) red. I have lots of favorites.
Favorite animal: Dog
Favorite number: 1
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Coke
Facebook or Twitter: Like/use both, but they have totally different sets of people.
My passion: Reading/writing/my children
Getting or giving presents: Giving in general, unless I don’t know what to get, then it’s a headache.
Favorite pattern: brightly colored polka dots (for kids stuff—I have no polka-dotted clothing)
Favorite day of the week: Saturday—sleep in day
Favorite flower: Snapdragons—my mother always had them and I loved popping the heads off.

To the next thing: I’ve added a project to my Current Projects tab. I’ve been thinking about messing around with Finding Juan lately. The basic story is done, but I need to work on character development and do a lot of editing since I wrote it about a year ago and the writing is atrocious. It takes period over less than a day and I need to work with my flashback too, since they comprise a lot of the story and I should cut them back.

The last thing. If you don’t use Google Reader, than GET IT! Yes, I’m yelling. Seriously, I love it—thank you to my good friend Lyz for telling me about it.

For those who don’t know, Google Reader lets you organize all your blogs in one place. Any time a new posting comes in, it shows up and stays highlighted until you click on it and read it. You can then click on the link to bring you to the site (or not).

This keeps me from going into my favorites lists all the time to get to my favorite blogs. And everybody has different posting schedules and unless you memorize them all, you’re constantly unnecessarily checking all these blogs.

No more.

I still have a bunch of blogs under my favorites list, ones I’ll randomly check. But the blogs I regularly follow were moved into Google Reader. The bad things is, I might have to hit unsubscribe to a few blogs because I don’t need them coming into my e-mail and GR. But then I figure the blogger will see that, so I’ll have to send a note explaining I’m not dropping them. I’m just reading them a different way and I don’t want to hurt their feelings because I hate doing that.

So if you haven’t checked out Google Reader, do it.

A few weeks ago, I went through this big thing with Google Friends Connect. I pulled many hairs out trying to figure out how to get it on my WordPress blog. I couldn’t. Impossible.

Until I got a friend’s highly-knowledgeable-about-computers husband to help me. He figured out a sneaky way to put GFC into some other code and then refer back to it via a widget. Voila! I had Google Friends Connect. So thank you to the people who friended me.

It’s gone now because apparently Google made some changes. I’m just glad my friend’s husband wasted an entire day trying to figure it out. I haven’t told him yet. I probably will when I send his thank you with the gift certificate I got to Dairy Queen. He’s got 3 kids, so I figured that’d be a good choice.

So that’s what happened to my Google Friends Connect if anyone wondered.

But back to my main point. Google Reader—check it out. It’s already saving me time.

And just a quick note on the end. My little guy got four goals and 3 assists in a 3 game hockey tournament this weekend. What a great way to finish off the season!

Whatever will I do with all my additional time?

Frosty the movie

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I decided to jump into this blog fest hosted by Kyra and Rachel, so thank you to them for hosting. And check under my Current Projects tab to get the story on FROSTY.

If FROSTY were made into a movie, here are the actors I’d choose. Keep in mind this is off of looks alone, I know nothing of their acting abilities or even what all they’ve appeared in.

Sydney (Michelle Tractenberg)

Sydney wears her hair in a ponytail most of the time and it was hard to find a picture.

Also, she’s not a big smiler, so this pic fits.

 

Brooke (Arielle Kebbel)

 This is definitely Brooke, beautiful and classy.

I apologize the pictures are getting smaller, this is a resolution problem, not a me-sizing-it problem

 

Corbin (Zac Efron)

I hate to jump on the Zac Efron bandwagon, but oh well.

Spikey hair, scruffy face… Corbin all the way.

Dani (Keke Palmer)

 I had a hard time finding “Dani.” Mostly due to lack of time, but Keke is beautiful and although she doesn’t have ringlet curls here, I found a kid picture of her with the type of ringlets Dani has.

Sorry I have no song, didn’t have time to figure one out.

Sloppy Writing 101.07

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

 

I had been thinking of a new topic, and one jumped into my mind. So after I’d looked through my old FROSTY manuscript, I found many examples. Here they are:

-I’d had the worst caseworkers.

-She’d said whuut.

-You stole this, Brooke, and if they’d found it, I would have been arrested.

I have a problem with tenses. I wrote FROSTY in past tense, but often times I had used the past perfect tense by adding that unnecessary had in there. This is how these sentences should be written.

-I had the worst caseworkers .

-She said whuut.

-You stole this, Brooke, and if they found it, I would have been arrested.

Simple. I don’t know why I was doing it wrong for so long. From now on, I’ll avoid adding in that unnecessary had. But with all the manuscripts I’ve written, I’ll need to go back and do a search for all these: I’d, she’d, he’d, we’d, they’d

And that’s a pain in the butt. So watch your tenses and don’t do what I did.

 

My growing list of Sloppy Writing words

1. So
2. Going To
3. That
4. And then
5. Like vs. As
6. But, And, Or…
7. had