Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writers Anonymous Meeting #2

I received another critique the other day. I know, I know:

"Traci, you're on Critique Circle; these things will happen."

I'm not complainin', I swear! It just brought to my attention that...well, let me get this meeting started, and I'll tell you all about it.

*Ahem* "Hear ye, hear ye! Let this second official meeting of the This Particular Chapter of Writers Anonymous come to order!"

(Clever chapter name, yeah? Yeah? No? Dang it. That's what I get for procrastinatin'. All naming suggestions welcome.)

Hi, my name is Traci, and I'm...addicted to adjectives.

I know, right? Pretty horrific. I've got it bad, too! I'll list four or five adjectives to describe one single action! Geez, it's so bad, it drove me to drinking. (I had a lovely post-dinner glass of wine tonight.) Even going into a new chapter aware of my problem, I STILL made the same mistake. Granted, to a lesser degree, but it was still present. I'll be doubly watchful in the next chapter, I suppose.

So? Anyone else have anything to confess?

5 questions

So, I got tagged by Lindsey! Here goes nothin'.


Do you think you're hot?
Depends on the day. And the moment, actually. Like right now? I'm a hot mess, maybe, but definitely not hot. When I got all dressed up for my parents' 25th anniversary vow renewal ceremony, and looked like this:
(I'm the blonde, btw. The brunette's my sister.)
Oh, yeah. I'm hot!

Upload a picture of the wallpaper you are using.
A few friends and me! on the Great Wall of China.

When is the last time you ate chicken?'s been a while? It was a char-grilled chicken salad from Chik Fil A. YUMMMM...

What song or songs have you listened to recently?
Country Song by Seether

Do you have any nicknames? If so, what are they?
TJ, Teej, Hey You, Child #1 (when my mother forgets what she named me >0)

Tag 5 bloggers.

Tall order, my friend! I'm new to this whole blogging thing! But here goes...

Elizabeth Sogard, since she got me into this whole critiquing thing.

Gina Lamm, cuz she shares my addiction to adjectives.

Gemma, cuz she needs inspiration for her first blog post ;)

Cindy, cuz she gave me a "job" as a book reviewer.

Avalon, cuz that's just a cool name.

Anyone else who feels like answering 5 random questions. :) Comment if you really wanna do this, and I'll tag you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Children

My current work in progress, Vesper's Call, is super dark. One of the first things that happens (or second, if I decide to add in that extra set-up chapter) is a huge bombing. I mean, HUGE. It takes out the majority of a major city. Lots of people die. Craziness ensues. And my main character, Kallen, a Trauma Surgeon, looses her twin daughters. Like I said, this piece has a rather dark tone to it.

I was working with one of the young students I tutor last night, and after we finished his daily summer work sheets, he picked Hi Ho Cherry O as the game he wanted to play. It's a simple game, nothing complicated, but as often happens, my young friend was a little distracted. This can sometimes be frustrating, because, as I mentioned, it's a simple game, so it's not much fun having to remind him that it's his turn. Yesterday afternoon, sometime around the third time I had to remind him to pay attention to the game, it hit me: while I was a little annoyed (granted, only a little--this particular little boy is absolutely adorable, and he's got a sweet personality), Kallen would give ANYTHING to have even these more mundane moments back with her kids. By the time the tutoring hour was up, my head was spinning with all the different thoughts she might have and the ways she would react.

That was my thought provoking moment for the week. Inspiration is EVERYWHERE. We just have to be open to it.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I'm all about free stuff, espeically if said free stuff helps me write better. Unicorn Bell is hosting a contest right now for a copy of "The Breakout Novelist" by the Donald Maas Agency (enter here). They also do a number of critiques of pieces that need help. I submitted a piece when they were asking for any 350 words that "just didn't work". I believe they gave me some of the BEST critiques of my life. I was only expecting one, but I ended up getting 3 different opinions on it. I cannot even tell you how helpful that was, not just for that particular blurb, but for the rest of my WIP as well.

On that note, if your WIP needs some good advice, Critique Circle is a good place to look. Not all the advice you get will be helpful (or even worth your time), but I've found that the majority of the people who take the time to critique my work have good advice, or point out things that I, as the writer, simply don't notice. Worth a look, no?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time Out!

I don't like not writing. When I'm not writing, as I've previously mentioned, I'm moody and irritable. Well, the past few days have been not so good on the writing front. My parents spent the weekend celebrating their 25th anniversary, so there were a bunch of events related to that. I'm moving, so I've been apartment and furniture hunting. I'm fighting off some nasty bug, so I'm sleeping a lot. All in all, not so conducive to a good writing weekend. This is, however, the last full weekend in a rather long list of them. Finally, there's no one left to graduate, no more parties to plan, and I can get on with my regularly scheduled life.

Yeah, right! Life is never "normal". It was a nice thought, though.

So, I'm starting a new project! It's actually not new, but I'm the newbie to the project. It's called Good Book Alert. Independently published authors or authors who used small publishers can submit their books (not right now, though; due to popularity, the reviewers need some time to catch up!) for review. If someone from the crew thinks it could be interesting (and it's been submitted properly and meets the guidelines), he or she reads the book, reviews it, rates it, and posts the review and links to the book on the blog. It's all about finding new talent and informing the public of the good things to be found in the less-well-known areas. This is a great place to look if you want something good to read. Reviews are only posted for books that rate 3 stars or higher. So far there are about 50 reviews, and there are more on the way.

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Young Adult Lit and Finding Inspiration

I didn't read the article from Slate on YA lit, but my twitter feed was filled with angry authors, agents, and publishers who had. I haven't had much to do with YA since about middle school, just because it became too fast and too easy a read to be much fun anymore. I wanted more of a challenge, and thus moved on to things like SciFi and a tiny bit of thought provoking/philosophical stuff. When I saw the comments on how these ladies said it was for immature authors or took little to no effort, I was offended FOR the hard-working YA writers. I had a moment of, "Hmm, I want to write the most complex, in-depth YA book the world has seen, just to show these women up." 'Cuz I'm just that kind of person.

So there's my rant for the day. (Well, second rant of the day, actually, after this morning's WA meeting.) Moving on!

I think most authors will tell you that some days, inspiration is rather hard to come by. No matter how much you read or what you look at or where you go, nothing sparks that little train of thought that gets the ball rolling. The brave (or maybe just the less lucid) will even admit to anyone who asks that they're begging for the voices in their head to start talking again. These are the days when most authors, myself included, are positive that they need to check themselves in for Psychiatric help. (See? This is the part where Insanity is winning the battle. You're not an artist. You're a schizophrenic patient who's finally gone sane.)

I should probably mention, at this point, that many writers do indeed have "voices" in their heads. We like to call these voices "characters". Instead of spinning a tale of intrigue, or whatever nonsense we like to spew, we're really just listening to the people only we can see and hear, and recording their stories as they tell them to us. This does not make any sense to many people, such as my mother. My dad is also an author, but if we start talking about our characters like living, breathing people while Mom's around, she'll look at us like we have 12 heads. (It's highly amusing, actually. Sometimes we do it just to see her face.)

Anywho, I had a moment like this a short while back. As I tend to do when the voices shut up, I became moody and irrational. Finally, I decided something had to be done, so I spoke with a friend of mine and arranged a meeting. This particular friend, who shall remain nameless (just kidding, she's the ever-talented Rachel Wright), is an art major at JMU. I bribed Rachel with food and a promise of monetary compensation, and a few weeks later, I ended up with this!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Qhuincey Ahislyn Isodora, stage name Qai. Drawn by Rachel in her rockstar persona, Qhuin is quite the character, and had been giving me loads of trouble. She isn't in anything other than super-rough short stories as of yet, but she was always sitting there, giving me the silent treatment and hushing everyone else when they were trying to talk to me. Like the grieving mother out for retribution (who, by the way, Rachel is drawing for me next. More pictures to come). Long story short--or, slightly shorter, anyway--I absolutely fell in love with this picture. Once she was laid out on paper and put in a place of honor or my writing desk, Qhuin finally settled down enough to give me cohesive stories through again.

So, now that I'm on to my novel in progress again (and everyone is positive that I'm thoroughly insane), it's back to writing! But I don't think I'm reaching my goal of 10k words tonight. That was a bit excessive to begin with, yeah? Thoughts, anyone?

Save the Bookstores Day (6/25) and WA

I had heard mention of this "Save the Bookstores Day" thing, but hadn't found any details, until now! This Saturday is the date, so mark it on your calendar and take the kids to a bookstore. If you don't have kids, borrow some. (Someone you know really well, preferably; it's illegal to pick up other people's children at random off the street.) If you'd rather not borrow kids, then go by yourself. However you do it, just go to the bookstore and buy a shiney new book (or twelve) to put on your shelf.

So, PSA done, on to Writers Anonymous.

Welcome to Traci's first ever meeting of WA. I'll go first.

Hi, my name is Traci, and I'm a snob. No, really, I am. I recieved a review yesterday, and I was really upset by it. Now, I get bad reviews. That's cool. If you don't like my work, I understand. It's dark and gory and evil and tragic and SciFi, which not everyone can stomach. Sometimes I even prefer bad reviews, because they help me grow and get better. What I DON'T like, though, is when someone blatantly disregards the entire point of the piece, or doesn't understand it because English isn't their native tongue and they don't try to understand it, or the have to read it (for whatever reason--say a contest) and hate the genre and don't look at it with unbiased eyes because they hate the genre. It irks me in a way I can't even explain! I always try to be unbiased. Not that I always succeed, but I do try, and I would like to have that consideration in return. I didn't think that was a lot to ask.

Whew. I feel so much better. Anyone else? Thoughts/opinions on my revelation, or revelations of your own? The podium is open!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yesterday's "Aha!" moment

Once upon a time, I read somewhere (thought I can't for the life of me remember where at the moment) that you should stop writing while you still have something to write. At the time, my thought was, "What?!? That's insane!" When I get writing, I want to keep writing and writing until I run out of things to say and have no more words to put on the page. I keep going and going until I'm totally worn out and have no clue where I'm headed next.

Cue moment of brilliance:

Yesterday, I was forced to stop writing because it was finally time to leave work. I had my swim fitness class at the gym afterward, and I was a little worried that I would forget everything I had in mind for the scene I was working on. However, yesterday's workout consisted of lots of distance sets. For anyone who hasn't done a nice, long distance swim, once you get into the rhythm it's hypnotic. I often use distance sets to plot out what's going to happen next or where the characters are going. It wasn't until one of the last sets, a 400 meter one (that's a long distance in the pool, trust me) that it hit me; having that little bit left to write gave me a building block for the next scene. Instead of having a dead end at which to start, I had a bit of a lead into it. It was fantastic! I think I got more done in the eight minutes it took me to finish the set than I had in hours before when starting from scratch. Brilliant!

So there ya go. Stop writing before you run out of things to write.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm here: the party can start now.

Yeah, my family always roll their eyes at me when I say that, too. However, I'm here; I finally jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Any why, you may ask, have I not done so before? Two reasons, really.

1) Everyone has their own opinion. Don't get me wrong; that's a good thing! It can, however, lead to disagreements or arguments or whatever, and I'm not a fan.

2) What do I have to offer? I'm not that funny. (Trust me, my sister would be happy to tell you that. In fact, she'd probably pay you to sit there and listen to her tell you just how not funny I am.) I don't really have any advice to offer. (You have to be knowledgeable in something for that, and what do I know? Well, except for how to get survive college, or travel to Asia by yourself.)

In the end, however, I decided to do it anyway, so here I am! I'm a Virginia Tech graduate ('06-'10) who works a 9-5 and has a crazy dream of someday being a published author (hence the blog title). Herein I will share my day-to-day writing experience (the good stuff, the not-so-fun stuff, word count, and goals), share fun writerly things I run across, and hold Writer's Anonymous meetings, for those of you who, like me, find that your (usually) less-than-harmful addiction to words can hinder everyday life. Or just the writing part of it. Anywho, enough for now.

TTFN--ta ta for now!