Friday, March 30, 2012

Ultra-lazy Google Reader Roundup

This is actually a Twitter writing link roundup, and it's from this morning. Hence the title :)

Julie Glover asks, kayak or cruise ship? How do you want to write?

10 ways to use Microsoft Word more effectively (I'm assuming the 10 don't include "uninstall").

Have been laughing at this all morning: 10 worst album covers of all time. Not sure which one is the worst, but there are several contenders.

Can publishers stay relevant? asks Christ Eboch.

Nathan Bransford on why Harry Potter ebooks are and aren't a big deal.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Favorite Things

At my whippersnapper's school there are these darling twin girls in his class and their parents are these two wonderful ladies. I love these ladies and they crack me up all the time. One of them stays home full time with the girls while the other one works as a book publicist/agent (relax, I already sniffed her out, she doesn't rep fiction). Let's call the publicist one "Pam" and the stay at home one "Janet." So Janet told me how Pam came home one night, all ablaze with book fairs and flights to New York and speaking to the media stuff and being all publishy and booky and Janet starts telling her about her day staying at home with the twins and what they did and the like. And Pam goes, "Sorry, what? I wasn't listening, your life just isn't that interesting!" Now I am sure Pam meant it as funny, and the way it was told was funny, and Janet took no real offense (I am supposing; I didn't hear whether Pam had to sleep on the couch or anything). So now I always remind Pam to tell Janet "What? Sorry? I wasn't listening, you're just not that interesting," which cracks Janet up.

Anyway. This is a bit how I feel my life is now every time I sit to write a bloggy post, and I resort to writing an instructional one instead which shows you none of my personality and all of my boring list-side. This is fine, I hope it helps some of you, and you've been lovely and generous about saying it has. 

To be honest it bores the socks off me. But here's my life: get up at dark o-clock, when I don't want to. Get baby up. Get boy up. Herd children like goats. Package myself into some semblance of non-gargoyle appearance. Fix brekky. Nudge children with cattle prod to eat brekky. Rush out door, take boy to school, come back, play with baby, put baby to bed, work, write, drink coffee, make some Sierra's Gorp (tm) (really just chocolate chips without the actual nuts or fruit). Repeat later when I get boy from school. Collapse into heap at end of night. Wonder if I ever used to be interesting.

Mind you, I am not really complaining about this set up. I was merely trying to think what could be remotely interesting about me to tell you. I decided on the following things that bring me joy on a regular basis:

Gravlax. If you haven't eaten this lovely fish you are missing out. Not sure where to get it? Ikea sells it in their cafe. Or you can get my mother in law, who made some the other day and it's become all the rage in my house. (However, my mother in law is not for sale. Among her other sterling qualities, she helped me bury my dead cat last week in the freezing rain. That woman is GOLD.) There are lots of recipes online for gravlax, but basically you salt the salmon, put dill, pepper, and brown sugar, put it in a plastic ziplock, stick it in the fridge for 3 days and then voila, nom nom nom. 

Free HBO. I have it for 3 months and it's been lovely. Especially finally getting to watch Game of Thrones season 1, which I had waited forever to watch. What a treat! I read all of the books (ALL!) in the early months of Rainbow Puppy's life when all I did was sit in a chair with my boob in his mouth. I've just re-read those last few words and realize if you lifted it from the rest of the sentence then I would look like a harlot. And whoo hoo for April 1, when season 2 starts! Nearly as bad as waiting for Eric True Blood season 4. 

Frozen Planet. Mein Gott, did you see that show? In HD? Really lovely with polar bears and whales and penguins and especially the woolly bear caterpillar who eats for 14 years and then lets himself get frozen to death, but somehow regenerates in the spring on account of a special caterpillar antifreeze running in his blood. Amazing. 

The fact that I love my house. This is a really good thing because we are so underwater, we're basically never moving. 

Being nearly done with revisions. Yes! YES! It is true and I am near and I am nearly giddy with delight about it. I'm on a strict finishing schedule, set by master critiquer Kristen Lippert-Martin. I know what you're thinking, you're saying to yourself "Hmm, I'd love a great critiquer, maybe I'll email that KLM and see if she'll critique me too," but do not. Do. Not. She is mine. MINE. You can only get her if you manage to get pregnant at the same time as her. As her track record is quite high with four kids already, this could happen but I implore you not to try it and see. 

Okay! What are YOUR favorite things at the moment? You might be seeing more of these posts from me, so tell me if you enjoyed it. I kind of enjoyed it. I thought I was quite funny. That's almost always a bad sign. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest post: Author Advice from Samuel Park

I have a treat for you today: Samuel Park, author of the fabulous This Burns My Heart, is here to talk about advice from the writers he knows. Sam's book is out in paperback and you should get it immeditaley if you haven't. I'll just say this: I bought it originally for my eReader and loved it so much that I bought three copies for people at Christmas. It's that good. Last October, I did an interview with Sam here on the blog, in which he says what I've seen few authors say--how publishing really changes your life. But now, he's back with some great advice personally collected from other authors.

Take it away, Sam!

Author Advice from Samuel Park

Hi Sierra. Thank you for hosting me on your blog! You have been such a great supporter of the book, and it’s a delight to be here. For my guest post, I decided I would channel some of my favorite writer friends and share the best bits of advice I’ve heard from them recently.

From Eleanor Brown, author of THE WEIRD SISTERS: Eleanor in person is as kind and generous as you would think from reading her novel, and she’s wonderful about offering advice to other writers. Here’s Eleanor’s advice on reading reviews of your book: “Don’t.” I think that’s brilliant. I have a slightly revised version of this gem, and it’s, “Don’t Read the Bad Reviews, But Do Read the Good Ones!” I know, isn’t it great? Don’t you wish you could apply that to all facets of your life? But seriously, I find it hard to resist reading reviews of the book, but reading bad reviews are not good for the soul. I also found out pretty quickly that you don’t really learn anything from bad reviews, and often times, bad reviews come from people for whom your book wasn’t really a good fit in the first place. Lisa See has some really interesting things to say about reviews, too.

From Kelly McNees, author of THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT: I had the good fortune of meeting Kelly at a book festival right before my book came out last year. Hers already had, and she made a suggestion that stuck in my head: to carry postcards of the book, and hand them out to people. This is something that a lot of writers do, though sometimes instead of postcards, it’s bookmarks. I've heard Eleanor mention the interesting fact that most people need to hear about a book three times before they actually purchase it, and I think postcards and bookmarks are a fantastic way of staying visible to your readers.

From Nami Mun, author of MILES FROM NOWHERE: Nami’s brilliant book is widely read in college courses everywhere, and she as a person is full of wonderful bits of wisdom. She happens to be a colleague of mine at the college where I teach, so I often have a front row seat to her great insights into the craft. Here are three of the best bits of writer’s advice I’ve heard from Nami, and hopefully she won’t mind me sharing them here. First, “write with your pants off.” I asked Nami once how she’s able to get readers to connect emotionally with her characters, and she responded by saying that it’s because she holds nothing back. She never hides, or avoids a vulnerable place. If writing a particular story feels painful or makes you cry, that’s the one you've got to put on the page. That’s the one that will break your readers’ hearts. In other words, don’t be afraid to reveal yourself and pour yourself naked onto the page. Second, “investigate the weirdness.” Sometimes someone in your critique group may say, “Boy, this passage is weird, you should cut it.” But you resist, because you know there’s something special there. It may not fit with the rest of the manuscript, and it stands out awkwardly, but you don’t want to let go of it. In situations like this, Nami suggests to check that out—it may be that instead of that passage being in the wrong book, it’s actually the other way around, and the rest of the book needs to be more like that “weird” passage. That “weird” passage may actually hold the real heart of the book. Finally, “learn the bigger thing that your book is about.” This is especially helpful at the revision stage, when you feel stuck. If you think about what the bigger picture is—what the larger theme of the book is—that may unlock something in the revision, and help make the book much bigger and more resonant for readers.

So these are the best bits of advice I’ve heard recently. Hope it is helpful! And thanks Sierra again for hosting me on your blog!

Thank YOU, Sam! You can find him at his website. This Burns My Heart was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011, a People magazine “Great Reads in Fiction,” and one of the Today Show’s “Favorite Things.” THIS BURNS MY HEART was also a Kirkus Reviews’ Best Fiction of 2011, a BookPage Best Book of 2011, and an Indie Next List Notable Book.

Below is a really great video about This Burns My Heart (one of the nicer book videos I've seen).

Friday, March 23, 2012

Google Reader Roundup

First up is this great post by Roni Loren (she has signed a deal with the devil for her soul in exchange for good blog posts, I tell you) questioning whether writers hide behind walls on our blogs. For me the answer is yes. It's funny because I had the same conclusion this week, and I even wrote a non-writing, silly posts for next week and I liked it so much that I may stick with that more often. I've been writing prescriptive writing posts for years and no one cares. Time for silly.

Meghan Ward has 6 tips for hiring the right freelance editor.

Carrie Heim Binas lists the Doonsbury strips on her blog. Please read. Many newspapers censored these. Gary Trudeau gets right to the point as usual, and these are important strips to read.

Bookends defines what an "unsolicited manuscript" is.

Nelson Lit is launching the Pub Rants University--a series of educational webinars. Check it.

And finally, Blogger is an ass and published this post of mine on The Law of True Love when I had actually scheduled it for next week. Stupid Blogger, that's the second time it's done this. Just for that I'm migrating to Wordpress. While I'm setting that up, please read my poor, mis-published post.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Law of True Love

My business partner and criqtuer/beta reader Mike Chen got to the end of my ms the other day. In the ms, my two love interests finally get together and then the last chapter is about six months later and they're engaged. Mike said, "Maybe I'm a cynical dude, but really? Seems a bit fast."

I said, "According to the Law of True Love*, your characters already know they're meant to be together and therefore after all they've been through together (all being what happens in your book), getting engaged within six months is the proper and right step."

*Law of True LOVE, not Law of True Blood, which says that Erik the vampire/ASkars loves me.

Mike agreed to believe me, although I could tell he had his reservations. But this is something I believe in. No matter how silly the situation, if your characters have gone through a major plot together that has conspired to keep them apart and they finally triumph, then of course six months is nothing! Six months is probably conservative, in fact! Believe you me, after you read "The End" in my book, and you close the cover and you put it down (reluctantly because you loved it so, obvs) and you sigh a few times, well that's exactly when my male love interest trotted his heinie down to Tiffany & Co. and picked out the following engagement ring:

Don't pretend you haven't just spent the last 10 minutes staring at that ring like it was your bitch.

It's the Law of True Love. In fact, it's a wonder they haven't bought a house together yet! They do live together, so I suppose that will suffice until their dream home is built.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Systematic Revisions (redux)

I'm busy revising, so today I'm re-running an old post from just over a year ago. The topic? Revision, of course. I've edited it this to get right to the point.

I'm finding that approaching revisions systematically really helps take a lot of pain out of revising. Here's the general order I follow. I adapted this from Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, which I've found to be really useful. 

1. Major plot edit. Instead of focusing on how many instances of "that" I could find and eradicate, I look at the story. The theme. The structure. I spend time making sure there's a clear beginning, middle, and end. I take time to work each section, make sure the climatic event is climatic, and the midpoint isn't saggy.

2. Character edit. All the characters get a careful look for story arc, motivation, goals. This is all part of what I think of as the broad revision stage. Some of the questions I ask myself are:

  • Is there a definite arc for my main character? Does she learn a lesson or change by the end, and is it clear?
  • Are my main character's goals resolved by the end of the book?
  • Are minor characters interesting? Do they act consistently throughout the book?
  • Have any minor characters taken over the story?
  • Do I care about what happens to the main character? (Realizing that I might not be able to ask this question because I'm too close.)
  • Do characters act in a cliched way?
Then I start looking at all the scenes my main character has with secondary characters, in order of secondary character, to ensure the relationship arc between them is clear.

One of the ways in which to check and make sure my characters are interesting, have an arc, and most importantly--are memorable--is to compare with other great characters I've read. Author Alexandra Sokoloff has a good post about making lists of such things in order to check yourself. I highly recommend it.

3. Sentence structure edit. This is a step above actual typo and word choice. It's about doing spot checks and making sure whole swaths of paragraphs don't suck.

4. Fine edit. This is typos, punctuation, and capitalization. This is grammar. 

How about you? What do you do? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

3 Ways to Improve Writing During Revision

My 5 year old whippersnapper is in Kindergarten. These kids today, they learn far more in the big K than I'm certain I did. For example, they're expected to read and write fully by the end of the school year, whereas I'm fairly sure all I had to know in Kindergarten was my alphabet and the value of being quiet during "nap" time after recess. Oh, and there was that boy who taught me to scribble yellow and brown marks as pee and poo on my papers, too.

Even more amazing is the math. The whipsnap can do basic addition and subtraction in his head. I've got 30 years on him and I haven't mastered that skill. He reads and writes on par with his grade level, although his handwriting resembles drawings of spiders--but this is considered normal. What's interesting to me is that it's already clear where his strengths are. Math comes naturally to him and when I asked him what he likes better, math is the unequivocal answer. This, despite reading incessantly with him since he was a wee baby, and me concentrating on the reading and writing with him.

At least it tells me where his strengths and weaknesses lie. Chances are, I don't have to coach him much on math, while he can use a bit more help on his reading and writing.

As I go through serious, hardcore revision on my manuscript, it's become very clear that if I can discover my weak areas of novel writing, then I can really attack those. You can, too--and your result should be a kick ass story.

But how do you find your weaknesses? Here's how:

1. Look for patterns in your critiques. 
My light bulb moment came when I realized almost every reader I've ever had for every story has said I write great dialog--which is wonderful to hear. Similarly, a pattern emerged in the serious critiques: my characters tend to be passive (because I am passive), which surprised me and therefore I rejected. I said, "They totally are NOT passive! I wrote her specifically to be strong!" And yet, my characters were passive in subtle ways. Realizing that was huge for me, and I'll always be on the watch for that--and more importantly, looking out for ways to improve it.

2. Find what comes hard in writing for you.
Making my characters take clear action versus stepping back and assessing a situation hasn't been my MO. It's a good bet that the things I want to stick my head in the sand about are the ones I need to work harder on.

3. Identify what you love.
This is the flip side of the finding what comes hard coin. If you know what you love doing--I love writing dialogue, and it flows pretty easily--then you know you have that set. You should challenge yourself. If you love writing description about fantastical worlds and the creatures that live there, right down to the color of fur on their horns, then you should probably pay close attention to character motivation, or dialogue, or plot--anything other than description.

Does anyone have any other suggestions to add? I'd like to know!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Google Reader Roundup

A short but sweet one this week. I'm revising!

Roni Loren debuts a sneak peek at her second book, Melt Into You.

Jenny Hansen tells why bodily functions are so dang funny. (For the record, I already thought they were funny.)

A truly fantastic post on traditional publishing and self publishing and where it all is from Mark Williams at Anne Allen's blog: Are big 6 publishers really dying? What I liked is Mark's realistic approach on both subjects. Great read.

Meghan Ward continues the fascinating debate on whether publicity sells books with an eloquent guest post by publicist Paul Krupin. All I know is, I'm coming back to this one. This is great, great stuff.

Tawna Fenske tells us how the story about the Olive Garden lady taught her how to handle negative feedback. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Women's History Month

Remember last week I talked about how important making solid connections with other writers can be, and I said Kristen Lippert-Martin was going to save me from having to take my aged cat to the vet for one last horrible stressy ride, all because KLM is great friends with someone in my community whom I therefore know, and who knows a vet who will do house calls for euthanasia? Huh? Remember that?

Well, I didn't use the vet. I did call her. But my cat died before she could get here. My poor 18 kitty, age 18 next month, died after two days of suffering and rapid decline. :( I buried her in the rain. Had to be done.

Ally, the kitty, leaves me the sole female in a house full of boys: Mr. Sierra, our two monkeys (Whippersnapper and Rainbow Puppy, don't you know), and our remaining cat, a boy called Max.

Well. Has the testosterone made me swoon yet? (No, because our cat Max is fixed so he can't even emit testosterone. Do boys even emit that? Hey! Hey! Back here, gutter mind! I know what you're thinking. Eyes front!) No, of course it hasn't. I like to I hold my own. Or at any rate, I will now that I have to.

While our household isn't actually boys vs. girl, and the one time my 5 yo whippersnapper tried to initiate a game called, "hey! Let's be boys against Mommy!" I put the smack down on that immediately. I like to think I'll teach my boys to be sensitive guys who are in tune with the way women communicate, but in reality I probably have my work cut out for me, just as any mother of boys does.

This new status of being the only girl in our house got me thinking--especially when I saw the following on Twitter:
Charlotte Brontë was encouraged not to publish under a female name. Why things haven’t changed more since 1837, 

Then, I looked over at my #infographics tweet stream and saw this:
#INFOGRAPHIC : Women Are Most Likely To Die From Job-Related Stress
And let's not even get into the whole stupid contraception-Rush-is-a-douchebag thing. We all know. You republicans trying to take stuff away or denigrate what we do, you all suck.

What are doing, people? In honor of Women's History Month this month, I hope you can take a moment to think of the women in your life, and be glad for them. Even your female pets. I was glad for my cat Ally, for 18 years. RIP, girl.

Monday, March 12, 2012

7 Stages of Revision, Told in Cat Pictures

1. You send out your fresh, shiny manuscript. Betas get it and read. You wait.

2. You get your first review back from betas. You read the good points they have. Great news! They love it and you are a writing GOD! A total star!

3. You read the bad points they have. You are mortally wounded. They have skewered your baby. You want to murder them. You can't believe they can even spell their own name, they're so stupid.

4. But wait....they have some decent points. And actually, the changes aren't that big! And they're not really hard to make at all! You could make those in a half hour.

5. You realize the changes cannot be made in a half hour and that in fact they may necessitate a complete rewrite--with different characters and different plot lines.

6. You start making changes. You spend many days resisting the changes, but finally start. It is long, arduous work. Your head hurts. You do a lot of Twitter, Facebook, and blog reading. You check email constantly. You watch a lot of TV. Finally, you make the changes.

7. Your baby is born--and it's much better than you thought it was when you first sent it out.
Until it grows up and gets sold, and then you have to do it all over again.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Google Reader Roundup

For you infographic junkies like me, here's a nice infographic on how SEO works.

Agent Meredith Barnes is leaving agenting. Heads up in case she was on your query list.

In honor of women's history month, Flavorwire presents 10 of the most powerful female characters in literature.

Storyfix teaches us how to better our stories through the power of subtext.

Kristen Lamb reminds us that failure is a key ingredient to a successful writing career.  

An illuminating post from self-pub star Keri Wilkinson on her path to an agent and traditional publisher after being successful at self-publishing.

Kristen Lippert-Martin tells it like it is on the state of publishing. Or, at least, how we're talking about it.

YAY! Meghan Ward has been promising me an earthquake preparedness post for a long time and it's finally here. This comes after we had a 4.3 quake this past Monday SIX BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE. It was at 5:30 in the morning, woke both me and the baby, and I was not happy about it. At all.

James Scott Bell has some--shocking!--words of encouragement for writers that actually involve saying that those who work hard and are professional are the ones who will win. Well, shoot. That's some dang good news.

Jessica Faust at Bookends discusses the evolution of her query letter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Blog Connections Really Matter

I have a story to tell you. You know writer Kristen Lippert-Martin? (You really should if you don't, she's mucho funny and sharp as a tack. Just don't sit on her.)  Well, we know each other from blogging. And we got preggers around the same time as one another and enjoyed nine (ten, actually) months of complaining to each other on Twitter. Also, KLM gives kick-ass critiques and is one of my trusty beta readers. She lives on the other side of the country from me. (Pay attention. That point comes into play later.)

She also is going to be saving me a lot of trouble when it comes to the death of my cat.

Alan Wilder in his younger,
more handsome days.
You see, I have a cat named Ally (short for Alan, even though she's a she, named after Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode if you must know; she was supposed to be a boy kitty but nature doesn't always work the way you want it to when you name animals in advance of knowing their actual gender). So Ally is 18 years old now and looks fairly skeletal. Formerly a portly tabby cat whose head was too small for her large body, she has now lost almost all her muscle mass, her eyes have shrunken in her head, and kitty arthritis has misshapen her paws and hips. But still, she lives and eats and meows (incessantly, as it happens). In other words, she's not yet ready to die. But we all know it's coming.

Ally is definitely on death's door (incidentally, the title of a nice Depeche Mode song). I haven't had her checked out because she hates the vet with a passion rivaled only by the heat of a thousand white hot suns. Last time she went, several years ago, she went crazy and bit the crap out of my hand--tore a chunk as I recall--and had to be sedated.

Taking her to the vet when it comes time to put her down is not what I want for her last moments on earth, no matter how annoying she is.

Ally in plumper times. She's about
half the size now. :(
That's where KLM comes in. It turns out that her best friend from grad school lives like two blocks away from me and our children go to school together. Amazing! KLM is on the other side of the country! Small world! And we found out because her friend, let's call her "Denise," recognized my name on KLM's blog, AND on our PTA website and put 2 and 2 together. "Denise" has a lovely young daughter who admires Rainbow Puppy very much, and we got talking one day about kitties, and "Denise" explained that they recently put down a very aged cat. "!!!!" I said. I'm always tuned into information about the demise of aged cats. Of course I asked "Denise" what she did with the cat and it turns out she knows a vet who will come to your house and put her down for you, so the cat doesn't have to suffer an apoplectic attack from a visit to the vet! Mein Gott! I said. Thank you SO MUCH for telling me! Seriously, it's a worry off my mind knowing I have that option. And the vet will take the body away. Even better. 

I'm going somewhere with all this, I really am.

Last week, Roni Loren posted about the "rules" some bloggers have about supporting one another. You know, you'll comment on my blog only if I comment on yours, that kind of thing. She mentioned how silly it was, and I happen to agree. I wanted to show you with my story above how making connections out of your fellow writers and bloggers can touch your life in unexpected ways. Quite apart from providing critiques that will most assuredly rocket me to fame and fortune as a NYT bestselling author, KLM has unwittingly solved a pressing cat issue through her connections.

I don't want to eat your cat,
I want to eat you.
This is important, people. This is what comes of actually taking the time to connect with other bloggers rather than miring yourself in a game of quid pro quo. KLM isn't the only blogger who has helped me in immeasurable ways. Lots of writing bloggers, both published and non, have reached out and made me a much better writer than I could have hoped to be without them.

I'm glad I didn't just play the game of reciprocity-on-demand. It'll make for a much better eventual passing for Ally.

How about you? Have you engaged in meaningful bloggy connections, or have you gotten mired in the quid pro quo game? You don't have to feel bad if you did. Just know there are wonderful things to be had when you let those games go and....connect.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What I'd really like to say

Time for another post in the recurring series, What I'd Really Like to Say to People.

Today's post comes from a few weeks ago when I was in Barnes and Noble. It was busy (yay! lots of people in bookstores!) and an African American woman approached the information desk--you know the one located in the center of the store. The employee there was helping an older white man with his request.

"Sure, let me just finish with this gentleman," the employee said in response to the black lady's request for help. But suddenly the black lady exploded.

"Oh! You're helping him because he's white and I'm black! I see! You won't help me because I'm black!" she said at a volume that I considered to be quite high.

That employee, man I give her credit. I would not have known what to say to such a blatantly unwarranted and unseemly claim. But the employee kept her cool and said, "I'm not going to go there. I'll be happy to help you when I'm finished with this customer, who was here first."

The angry black lady walked away, muttering not at all quietly about the injustice of her plight as a black woman not being helped in clear favor of a white man. Here's where I wish I'd stepped up and said something. I really think a lot about color and diversity in my stories, and it bothers me that the default is white for most readers and writers. Color or nationality shouldn't be a big deal. But you know what? I haven't had to really struggle with racism most of my life.

But I do wish I'd stuck up not for the white vs. black thing (which wasn't an actual issue here), but for the correct order of being first in line. The power of queuing, if you will.

"Excuse me," I wish I'd said. "That guy was totally there first. I'm offended that you'd turn it into a race thing."

"Screw you!" the black lady might have replied. "She wouldn't serve me because I'm black etc. etc.!"

"NO!" I would shout. "Bad lady! You should have made it into a woman vs. man thing! Make it a sexism thing! What were you thinking! Oh yeah, she'll help the MAN, but what about the lowly woman!"

The lady would stare at me blankly.

"Yeah!" I would shout. "Also, that guy was totally wearing loafers! How dare that employee help someone who wears loafers! What, your sneakers aren't good enough? What kind of place is this?" I would dance around like a monkey, knocking into the bookshelves.

At this point, the lady would walk away, or continue to shout, or hit me over the head with a book--all possible outcomes, which is why in the end I said nothing.

I have loads of these things happen to me--where crazy things happen and I wish I'd spoken up. I push myself to do this in my stories. Speak up! Kick the guy! Do something I wouldn't normally do!

Well, I don't know. But I do feel better now. Happy Monday!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Google Reader Roundup, Ya Bam!

Anne Allen hosts Ruth Harris with 8 tips for turning real life into fiction.

Roni Loren raises an excellent point about the ridiculous etiquette among bloggers.

Jody Hedlund wonders if we get better the longer we write.

Kristin Nelson updates us on the state of selling into the UK market.

Meghan Ward talks about what sells books if publicity doesn't. Lots of publicists chimed in and lots of attention garnered by this topic.

Travener-Steve-O-um, what do I call you now? well, he's arrived. How did he arrive? His book got a Lolcat. Marketing brilliance.

And finally, moi moi--I posted this week on 3 ways to harness your dreams for stories.