hiatus due to very slight insanity.

| Saturday, April 24, 2010
Today's Tune: I Love the Rain the Most

So, I guess it's about that time. Time for this blog to officially go on hiatus for the duration of my move to CA, I mean. I've been packing and tying up all those fun pre-move loose ends this week, and I leave for my three-day drive on Wednesday. JOYS OF ADULTHOOD, HUZZAH!

But of course, it will all be worth it in the end. I'm going back to the place that's always felt like home, I'm taking my love with me, and I couldn't be more excited. In a little more than a week, I will once again be but an hour from a beach. Granted it's a beach known for its Great White Shark population, but details, details. I'll find a different place to surf.

All righty! I suppose this is a tentative farewell until we meet again, my dear blogger friends. "Again" will probably be in the vicinity of two weeks from now, after my internet connection is all set up and I'm settled in. Also after I wake from my Mexican food and seafood coma.

In the meantime, you should definitely head over to Simon's blog and participate in his contest extraordinaire! You could win a squirrel. Or vodka. Your attention is piqued, right? Go on!

Ta ta for now, dudes and dudettes :)

followers, crow toes, and conferences.

| Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Today's Tune - Single Ladies (Cover)

Woo, there is some craziness going on in my life right now. Robot Boyfriend (note: not actually a robot) and I went up to Wisconsin and Chicago this weekend, and are planning to do Chicago again next weekend, amid all our SUPER FUN packing and errands and such while we prepare for the big move. Ch-ch-ch-changes oOoOoOoOoOoOo.

I just have a few tidbit updates for you to snack on today, but first I wanted to say hello to my new followers! Hello to to my old followers as well. Hello to followers past and present, and those who are yet to be. Or something. Special thanks and hello to olleymae, who is my 50th (!!!) follower. A flourished bow in your direction, friend!

So, tidbits:

If you're looking for a "darker" themed literary magazine for children and teens, you should check out Crow Toes Quarterly, a Canadian magazine that prides itself on showcasing the edgier, quirkier side of children's and YA lit. It's sort of a darker Cricket. It's primarily aimed at kiddos in the 9-12 range, so they don't really take "mature content" YA, but they do consider creepy/monster/quirky stuff.

If you write children's, middle grade or young adult literature, you've probably heard of the SCBWI. If you haven't, check it out pronto, and if you have the means, become a member! It's a wonderfully helpful organization. They send out publication guides, lists of magazines that are paying for children's literature, information about local branches you can hook up with, and all that good stuff. I believe it's $80 to join.

SCBWI is having their annual Summer Conference in L.A. July 30th - August 2nd this year, and again, if you have the means, you should make the trip! It's pricey, but I'm planning on doing it this year. I've been saving for it :) So, if you're going, let me know and maybe we can meet up and share writing woes and joys! It'll be a big bag of rad.

That's all I've got for today, except for the Guest Post I did for Justine Dell over on her blog, which you should definitely check out. Check out my post, I mean, because I'm sort of vain, but also Justine's blog because she's superb.

Till next time!

mo' money, mo' authors lamenting it.

| Friday, April 16, 2010
Today's Tune: If I had a Million Dollars

Jessica over at BookEnds had a post on making money as an agent/publisher this week, and in it she shared an attitude that I often wonder about. She mentions the attitude a number of unpublished authors share: that publishers and agents only want books that will make them money. To which her answer was pretty much, "No duh."

As I mentioned in comments over there, this mindset baffles me. I kind of get it, I suppose. We're artists, and we want to share our art. It's about expression, not money. And it would be just wonderful if there were businesses out there that existed only to distribute art for the sake of art without a care in the world as to how they were going to pay for it.

But therein lies the problem. Publishing is a business, not a grant distributor or non-profit organization. How can people get down on them for... wanting to make money? Of course they want to make money. If they didn't make money, they couldn't continue to produce, you know, BOOKS.

No business can solely take on projects that only a handful of people will ever purchase just because they want to support starving artists. It sucks, but it's true. This attitude feels, to me, like extreme ignorance about this industry. If you'd like to be published through traditional channels, you have to accept the fact that you are no longer just an artist - you are a business person. Working for a business. To criticize the industry you want to be a part of for wanting to remain in the green is incredibly disingenuous and naive.

Believe me, I hate the fact that more people are willing to buy and read a mass-produced, not-so-well-written thriller by This Week's Bigwig Author than a heartfelt rendition of true Pulitzer-level artistic merit, but this is reality. The general public doesn't appreciate "artistic" literature; they appreciate "entertaining" literature. The public and what they buy dictates what the industry does. And I don't mean to get down on Bigwig Authors, because they have their own merit and are only doing what we all hope to do - achieve success.

This is the other bit that gets to me. Aspiring authors will grumble about the industry being too commercial and too concerned with the almighty dollar... while they're out there querying agents and submitting to publishers in the hope of achieving some sort of compensation. Even if they're not "in it for the money," at the very least they're in it for recognition, which is a form of compensation. They want someone to look at their work and say, "This is worth publishing."

Many people disapprove of how publishers work, and they prefer to remain true to their artist-heart and not "sell out." This attitude is fine. I can respect it. Art is important, and I will always support it. I just grow weary of the hypocrisy around those who talk a hefty load of smack against the industry that they are simultaneously trying to sell their work to with their other hand.

We all want respect. Recognition. Acknowledgment that our art is valid. I get it. If you can't agree with how Big Publishing functions, that's cool. If all you genuinely want is to see your name on a bound book, there are options for you. If you want your book to reach a lot of hands and be read and appreciated, well, that's a tougher road, but there are options for that as well.

Let's call an orange an orange - yes, publishers want to make money. No, they don't owe you publication, even if you're brilliant. Crushing and cruel though it may be. Either way, this community of the Unpublished is here for you.

But f'realzies, cool it with the whining about Big Bad Moneygrubbing Publishing. This is the industry you want to be a part of. You know it's a business. They don't hide that fact.

this post may or may not taste like candy.

| Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Today's Tune: Connect / Disconnect

Unrelated-to-writing-stuff: OMG NEW COHEED AND CAMBRIA ALBUM IS OUT AND YOU SHOULD GET IT BECAUSE THEY ARE THE BEE'S KNEES. Ahem. I may be a teensy bit of a fan. I love music. I would have dearly loved to be a musician, but alas, it was not in the cards for me. Ah well. You can do worse than writing for artistic talent.


The lovely Wendy Ramer bestowed the Sweet Blog Award upon me because she considers my blog friendly and visitable. I am so tickled that she thinks so. I do try to keep the place looking presentable and fun :) Thanks Wendy! I'll be listing my "sweet blogs" at the end of this post, so stay tuned!

Wow, I'm getting so close to 50 followers! It warms the... already... warm... cockles of my heart to see that so many people are interested in what I have to blather about. Thank you all so much for your follows and comments! I love the camaraderie of this community.

I wish I could do a great big 50 Followerstravaganza Contest, but sadly I'm doubting I could fit it in this month. However! When I get out to California and get all situated, I do have something superwin planned. There will be books! And snacks! And perfume oil! And other bits of awesomesauce I have not decided on yet, but they will be, you know, awesomesauce. I'll call it the "50-ish People Like to Read My YacketyYack" contest or something.

Okay, so! I promised you some sweet bloggers, and here they are. These posters are just a few of the many bloggers that I find warm, helpful and super rad, and you should definitely check them out.

Carol's Prints
Constant Revision
Justine Dell
Livia Blackburne
Reading in Color
Shelley Sly
Tiffany Neal

Happy Hump Day! Hurrhurrhurrhurr!!!

Ugh. I hate saying that even as a joke.

monday's feeling very linky.

| Monday, April 12, 2010
Today's Tune: Shark in the Water

I'm a little tapped for blog ideas at the moment. I've got a very busy month ahead of me - I'm moving back to California very soon! I apologize in advance if my updates are spotty. I'm going to be like, seeing my family and packing and training my cats to wear harnesses and leads and oh yeah MAKING A CROSS-COUNTRY DRIVE and junk. So yeah!

Meanwhile, I will leave you with this review of Scott Westerfield's Leviathan, which you should definitely read if you 1.) like steampunk, 2.) like badass/brilliant female characters, 3.) think YA is supercool, or 4.) are an awesome dude.

If you'd like to check out a fantastic multimedia literary magazine, you should head over to Electric Literature. I love blended media. How do you feel about it?

If you're feeling skeptical about being a writer on the up-and-up with all this crazy social media crap, you might check out this Lit Drift post on how to become a hermit.

Also, if you have not seen the Pixels video yet, um, GET ON THAT.

Lastly, if you're like me and have been searching ALL OVER CREATION THE INTERNET for a literary magazine that accepts YA short stories and poetry, try Cicada or Hunger Mountain.

IT'S A TRAP!: Overdescription & Repetition

| Friday, April 9, 2010

Today's Tune: Tightrope

IT’S A TRAP! entries are posts in which I discuss newbie writing mistakes that seem like a good idea at the time, but usually end in burning wreckage. I’ve made many of these mistakes myself and thankfully learned from them, but I needed a few years and wake-up calls to recognize them for what they were.

DISCLAIMER: there are aaaaalways exceptions. The topics discussed herein are not always mistakes. But most of the time they are *shifty eyes*

Overdescription & Repetition: IT’S A TRAP!

Okay, before I get started on today's post, I have to say GO WATCH THE VIDEO I POSTED AT THE TOP OF THIS POST, SRSLY. And watch the video for "Many Moons" while you're at it. Janelle Monae is awesome.

AHEM. What was I saying? I was saying something. There was a thing I was going to say.


I know I'm not alone in that I occasionally want to really hammer my point home. Unfortunately, it's very easy to get into the rut of relying on repetition and overdescription. If you find yourself saying the same thing in slightly different ways, you're in danger. Likewise, if you feel the need to repeat for the sixth time in three chapters that your protagonist's love interest has the most amazing ice blue eyes, you're also in the danger zone.

This is fluff and filler, folks. Trust your readers. They don't need to be reminded every other chapter that your protagonist is a spunky redhead. If you've already mentioned that she's a spunky redhead, they know. They also don't need the additional reminders sprinkled throughout the work that her hair is made of fiery strands of molten lava red cherry candy apple ruby blood. Be mindful not to overdo it, lest you come off as shallow or annoying.

I know this is a bad habit of mine. I want to be absolutely sure my point is crystal clear, so I end up saying the same thing several different ways. I do it in my fiction, I do it in essays or articles, and I do it in blog posts. I'm fairly certain I've done it in this post already. It's only natural that we writers want to paint our scene as accurately as we possibly can, but that doesn't mean we need to think up 800 different ways to say "the trees were tall and green; emerald and towering were the trees."

Have faith. Faith in your ability as a writer to get your point across without beating it to death, and faith in your readers to retain the facts they need to know. Read over several pages of your work. Do you find yourself going over and over the way something or someone looks? Do you tend to repeat yourself, albeit with different words? Trim that fat. Trust yourself!

Your get what I'm saying, right? Of course you do; you're awesome :D

How many instances of repetition did you find in this post?


terminology: deux ex machina

| Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Today's Tune: Shiksa (Girlfriend)

Okay, back to business as usual after my super serious post from Monday.

Literary device discussion time!

Deux ex machina is a term you've probably heard before. It means "God from the Machine," and is a literary device that is sometimes used and oftentimes frowned upon.

The basic idea behind deux ex machina is that the plot is moved forward by the timely introduction of something new that solves a problem previously unsolvable. It often appears in the form of divine intervention, a vision, a new character, a previously dormant ability, a convenient object, or something similar. This new element is introduced at a point where the plot is "stuck," or a problem seems too big to solve without some serious help.

An example of deux ex machina would be: a hero is defeated. As he lays on the ground, bloody and dying, an angel/demigod appears to him, heals him, and grants him the power of a God so he can achieve his goal.

Another example: our protagonist and companions are baffled. They have no idea how to solve their problem. Suddenly! A character who has displayed zero psychic ability before this point has A VISION! They know what to do now!

So, why is deux ex machina usually frowned upon? It's considered lazy or weak plotting. And right now, everyone is thinking of eight million novels where it's employed effectively, heh. It CAN be employed effectively. However, when it's misused, it leaves your readers feeling pissy and like you cheated them out of a quality plot twist. It can very easily appear as though you had no idea what to do with your plot, so you made up a quick fix without thinking it through.

How do you avoid this? It's pretty simple, actually. Don't take the shortcut. Creating a functioning and flowing plot is work. It might involve scrapping entire sections, going back to incorporate new threads, tightening, smoothing, and general tweaking. Don't attempt to circumvent fine-tuning your plot by dropping a random (but VERY convenient) new element into the middle of your story. Unless you've set up your plot to account for your character suddenly developing telekinesis or random scientists/hackers/alien geniuses cropping up, don't do it.

If you insist on using this literary technique, go back through your early chapters and weave it into the story so it doesn't come out of nowhere. That way, it'll read like you had it planned all along, rather than panicking in the third act and throwing in a divine intervention because you had no idea how your protagonist was going to pull it off otherwise.

sexual assault awareness month.

| Monday, April 5, 2010
Today's Tune: Breathe Me

I don't really post about my personal politics or pet issues in this space, because... well, it's not that kind of blog. However, there are some issues so huge, so damaging, and so intertwined in our daily existence that I can't sit by and say nothing. I hope you'll read this post today, even if it's not what you came for, because this issue is important and affects so many people. It might even affect you, now or in the future.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This issue is very close to my heart, as a woman and as a human being. The crimes of sexual assault and abuse are so often misunderstood or cast aside, and the voices of the victims are many times left unheard. I humbly ask now that you open your ears, hearts and minds. I ask that you listen.

Sexual assault is considered a women's issue, and while it's true that the majority of victims are female, this isn't just our battle. It's everyone's battle. Men and boys are also sexually abused, and what's worse, they are shamed into never reporting their abuse for fear of social retaliation. They, along with their female counterparts, are silenced by societal pressure, fear and apathy.

Setting male sexual abuse aside, men are still affected by this issue. Their wives, girlfriends, daughters, mothers, sisters and friends are the victims. Their own sex is most often the perpetrator. This must be combated. It is no longer okay for a man to sit idly by while his friends make light of violence against women, scoff at rape victims, or perpetuate crimes such as spiking drinks and having "flings" with unconscious or heavily inebriated women. My male friends, I ask that you take a stand. If you love and respect us, I ask that you join us in this fight.

Women, we have a responsibility, as well. We have a responsibility to our significant others, our children, and each other to let our voices be heard, and to teach respect and personal safety. Do not misunderstand me: in an instance of sexual assault, the ONLY person at fault is the assailant. I only wonder how many instances of sexual abuse could be avoided or better handled after the fact if we spoke about these issues. If we taught self-worth to our daughters. If we told them they are more than what lies between their legs. That their body is wholly theirs, and no one may use it in any way without their express permission. That being a victim of rape does not mean you are stupid, or slutty, or broken.

There is so much falsehood and myth attached to sexual assault, and it paints a picture that is vastly untrue and leaves so many victims unprepared when it happens to them. Rape is something we don't talk about, because we secretly believe it will never happen to us or anyone we love. But it does, every single day. It is not something that can be avoided by simply avoiding dark alleys and carrying pepper spray.

A few statistics and factoids for you, courtesy of RAINN:

- 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. That is 17.7 million women.

- 2.78 million American men have been the victim of sexual assault or rape.

- 60% of rapes and sexual assaults are not reported to the authorities.

- This one is important: 2/3 of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

Sexual assault is not interchangeable with rape. It can include many types of physical, mental or emotional sex abuse, including stalking, molestation, flashing, groping, exploitation, peeping, harassment or hate crimes.

Rape is not usually about sex. Sex is a mutual act between consenting parties. Rape is more comparable to a home invasion - something that leaves you feeling violated, vulnerable, afraid and as though something has been stolen from you. Only this invasion is of your most sacred, personal home - your body. It is an act that can cause severely damaging mental and emotional scarring, and not something that a victim can just "get over already."

Most rapists are not freaky violent weirdos who hide out in alleys waiting to attack. They are friends, neighbors, and lovers. And the horrible, frightening part? They may not consider what they're doing to be rape. We live in a culture where a guy can have sex with an unconscious or barely conscious woman at a party, and he thinks he just got laid. No one told him it was wrong, and his buddies didn't see an issue with it. I mean, the chick wouldn't have gotten wasted and passed out on his bed if she weren't looking to hook up, right?

So few rapes are reported because it's a lot harder to file a report about someone you know - especially someone you love. Even those that are reported are a crapshoot. Reporting a sexual assault does not mean the perpetrator will be arrested. Being arrested doesn't mean the perp will be convicted. Being convicted doesn't mean they will be sentenced jail time. Only 6% of rapists will ever see the inside of a prison.

Here's the bottom line: anyone should be able to go out, get completely plastered, and dance naked in the middle of a crowded room without a fear in the world that the may wake up a rape victim. Everyone should be a responsible sexual partner and make sure the other party is 1.) aware of what they intend to do, and 2.) 100% okay with it. Sadly, we do not live in that world, and we must do the best we can with what we've got.

It starts with changing the perception of rape, sex, and what is and is not okay. It starts with changing the myths and underhanded slights about a very real and notoriously silent group of people.

Yes, there are false reports of rape. They comprise about 2% of all reported rapes, and the majority of them are attention-seeking women who make up a fake assailant and later confess to their deception. We could pull out the old argument that "it only takes ones bad apple..." but do you really want to go there? You want to turn a deaf ear to the other 98% just because you can say, "la la la, some people are liars?" Don't be that person.

Yes, it is irresponsible for anyone to get so inebriated that they can't even see straight. This does not in any way, shape or form make it okay for someone to have sex with an individual who cannot consent.

Talk about this. Don't keep it tucked away in the corner of your brain reserved for "things that will never happen to me." Support anyone you know who is a victim. If you are a victim, find your voice. Do not allow your friends and family to get away with snarky rape humor or questionable behavior. Share. Teach. Learn. Grow.

If you have stayed with me through this overlong post, I deeply thank you. I know it was probably like reading an essay. But this issue is so important, and so insidious, that I felt the need to speak on it.

Again, thank you for reading. If you are interested in what you might do to help combat sexual violence, please visit the RAINN website.

Edit: -

I completely forgot to add: to bring this back around to young adult lit, I absolutely recommend the novel SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is a powerful, moving account of a young woman's struggle to overcome her sexual assault and find her voice again. I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who has yet to read it.

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