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May. 29th, 2008 @ 08:51 am The Audiobook Syndrome
I touched in this on Tuesday's post, but it's like I can't stop myself.
First off, I love listening to audiobooks.
  • In the car (not with the kids - I do talk to them instead).
  • While exercising.
  • If a book is good enough, I'll even listen while cleaning.
Audiobooks are fantastic. The readers have to be some of the most talented people I know, and being able to read a book while doing something else is such a great use of time.
But I've come to the conclusion I need to stop listening to series on audiobooks. I actually came to this conclusion many series ago, but I can't seem to stop myself. Here's how it generally goes.

First book - I love it. It's brilliant. The narrator gives such life to the characters.

Second book - Small flaws begin to stick out. Adverbs scream out at me. Characters repeat some dialogue which was used in book one. I notice it, and it starts to tickle my brain somewhere.

Third book - Every time the main character does something stupid, I cuss at her/him. They do the dumbest things in every situation, really, they shouldn't be because they've had two books before this to learn from their mistakes. Have they learned nothing? And every time they talk, I want to scream. By now dialogue repeats enough to drive anyone nuts.


I really want to point out this is strictly an audiobook thing. The books are really great. And I guarantee that 90% of the time, if I were reading the same books, I'd never notice any of these annoyances. But having someone read it to me makes everything stand out.
(Sidenote: I see things "planted" by the writer - do you?)

So why do I keep listening to series on audiobooks?
I guess secretly I keep hoping I'll find a series where this won't happen. I actually managed to get through about eight Janet Evanovich audiobooks and loved each and every one. Then I finally hit my limit. Her dialogue is exceptional, however, which might account for how I got through so many. I also listened to probably 10 Terry Pratchett books before they changed the narrator. I couldn't go with the change; I loved the old narrator, and had to give up the new books.

So my question - Do you listen to audiobooks, and what's the best series you've listened to?
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May. 27th, 2008 @ 01:15 pm Five Goals on a Tuesday
Goal for this past weekend: Have fun! After spending much of the weekend hanging out with friends, I'm ready to sit my bottom in front of the computer and relax with everything else.

The last week of school, then it's summer, summer, summer! So here goes.

1) I got hacked! My credit card info got taken (including said sacred security code). So I've spent the better part of today canceling the card and clearing up the charges (which luckily is not a big deal). Once I get new cards tomorrow, I can set up all my auto-charge stuff again.
How could something like this happen to someone as responsible as me, you ask. My best guess is a couple weeks ago when we went outlet shopping, one of the sales clerks made a copy of the card information as the fraudulent charges started the next day. They're all online, under a fake name, and for places like blockbuster.com. Goal: Always watch card when it's out of my hands in the future.

2) Buy envelopes to mail ARCs out in. But guess what - I can't do it today. I've got no credit card! (There's no better way to save money).

3) Work more on plotting for T2-KOS. I came up with some good stuff last week and plan to do more this week. Totally focusing on my MC's motivation right now. Then I plan to write all the plots out in columns and tie them together.

4) I'm getting a massage tomorrow - so long as I can come up with the cash to pay (once again - the no credit card thing). I do have a gift card which will cover the very large bulk of it.

5) Pray the current audiobook I'm listening to gets better. No, I won't name it, but I find it's gotten to the point where I can't stand the MC. I keep hoping she'll be redeemed here any second. It's third in a series, so I'm invested. I have faith in the author to make me like her again, but I'm praying it will happen soon.

Enjoy the weather! Watch your credit cards! And do something fun!

Happy week ahead!
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May. 25th, 2008 @ 10:30 pm Debating Roald Dahl
My son has reached the age of reason. OK, I know he's only 7, but the other day in the car we had our first real debate. Loved it!

His first grade class just finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and now, to celebrate, they're watching the movie. But see, the thing is there's always been something about CATCF that's just needled at me.

Willy Wonka essentially put out these golden tickets to find an heir - someone worthy enough to take over the factory. Each kid messes up and is out of the running.
Augustus falls in the chocolate lake.
Violet chews the gum and turns into a blueberry.
Veruca goes down the garbage shoot.
Mike teleports and becomes six inches tall.
Charlie drinks the fizzy, lifting drink.

So my question is this: Why is Charlie worthy to become the heir? He made a mistake just like all the other kids. Sure, he didn't get carried off by Oompa-Loompas, but he still disobeyed the rules.

This has always bothered my, so I asked my son. His theory (theories):
Grandpa made Charlie do it.
Charlie's mistake was not as bad.
Charlie did not get taken away.

Your thoughts? Am I the only person in the world who's wondered about this very important issue?
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May. 23rd, 2008 @ 10:47 am Five on a Friday
Happy Friday, everyone! Late post, but I cleaned BEFORE getting on the computer this morning. Really, since quitting the day job and writing/mom-ing full time, not much in the morning routine has changed. I get up the same time (6:00). Shower. Get kids ready for school. Drink coffee. Head to Kung Fu.
It's all good. I love getting up and starting each day fresh!

Here's my five for the week:

1) I met with my web designers to talk about plans for my book page. In the doing, I realized I need a map.

So I started with this:

And ended with this:

I love the power of a the Light Bright and Adobe Photoshop.

2) I went camping. I ate s'mores. I dared the outhouse (um, yuck). Really, is there anything grosser? The main bathrooms near us were under construction.

3) I rode my bike while camping. I completely forgot how much I love to bike ride. Almost 6 years ago, I took an SUV head-on while on my bike, and since then, it's never been the same. Sure, I have a new bike, but let's just say in the last 6 years I rode it enough to count on 2 fingers. This summer - family bike rides.

4) We (finally) met with someone to have wills drawn up. Yay! This has been on the list for a good five years.

5) Five books I ordered from Amazon came!

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

The Lucky Place by Zu Vincent

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

A Difficult Boy by M. P. Barker

Braless in Wonderland by Debbie Reed Fischer

To order this week:
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
La Petite Four by Regina Scott

Have a great weekend! I'm off the see the Round Rock Express play on Sunday!
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May. 21st, 2008 @ 09:24 am Plotting my next steps
Finished revisions for NOTW! Yay! And last night I emailed them off to my editor.
So now I begin the major plot revision for T2 (I like this nickname. It's like Terminator 2, but then again, it's not).
Here are two things I plan to focus on in this revision.

1) Directly from the DVD - Make sure the plot is connected and not episodic. What's the difference?
In episodic, each event happens and it is not really related or dependent on the events before it.

So what's connected? Each event is directly related to the events before it and builds on what has happened and the stakes are increased with each event.

The DVD gave this (very simple) example:

The king died. The queen died.

The king died. The queen died of grief.

This got me thinking about the revisions I was currently working on (NOTW). The changes I was making were way more connected than the previous version. This is good, and I plan to do the same for T2.

2) OK, I admit I nabbed this one from Angie Frazer's blog from yesterday.
Really analyze my MC's goal and focus on the conflict of him reaching that goal. And keep this conflict going strong throughout the whole novel, making sure he yearns for his goal the whole time.
In planning, I came up with motivations for all my characters. But at this point (over a month from the last time I looked at it), I'm wondering if my MC's motivation and goals are enough? Is there enough conflict to keep him from reaching them?

These two are good for now. It's enough to wrap my mind around for at least a month.
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May. 19th, 2008 @ 10:05 am Monday - Got Five goals?
Camping you ask? The tent rocked. The missing sleeping bags had us sleeping on rocks. I've discovered after the tent, my highest priority is a pillow. What? We forgot pillows and sleeping bags? But fortunately my duffle bag served as my pillow.

Now this is a tent:

Have you thought about your goals for the week? No? Guess what? It's not too late. What Five things are you going to accomplish this week?

Here goes:

1) Upload all photos to Snapfish and order prints. Also back up photos onto CDs.

2) Finish Pretties. Finish Battle of the Labyrinth.

3) Finish revisions on NOTW. Email off to my editor.

4) Get the oil changed in my car.

5) Begin thinking about plot changes to make to to T2. I'm going to draw the plot out on paper and use techniques from the DVD watching of last week to create the perfect plot!

So get to it! Post your goals, and get to work! And have a great week!
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May. 16th, 2008 @ 10:58 am Five on a Friday
Happy week to everyone! Hope you had a great one. All good things here, and I'm looking forward to a (relaxing) weekend of camping, birthday parties, and dance classes.

So here's my five for the week:

1) My son started reading The Emerald Tablet. He's already on page 80, which is quite an accomplishment for a 7-year-old. The best part? He's starting to use words like "teleport" and "telekinesis" in every day conversation. Example: Mom, since we'll be camping this weekend, we can teleport to church." Love it!

2) I got together with fellow writers Jane Peddicord and Erin Edwards yesterday for our own mini plotting workshop. We watched Blockbuster Plots and spent time working on our current WIPs. Jane also made us a fantastic lunch!

3) My tent rocks. Did I mention that? It sleeps 8 and has a screened in patio. No shower; I'm still trying to figure that one out.

4) I'm an official Field Day volunteer up at the elementary school today. First and third graders - here I come. "Run faster!" "Jump Higher!"

5) I'm almost done with Pretties by Scott Westerfeld. Have you read the series? Any thoughts? The plot definitely picks up toward the end of this one, and I can't wait to finish.

Have a great weekend. Do something fun! Do something productive! Write! Just do something!
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May. 14th, 2008 @ 11:20 pm Kung Fu Fighting
Yep, you guessed it. I tested for my brown belt today in Kung Fu. It's a good thing brown is such a cool color; I'll have this belt for probably a year and a half.

So two questions: (1) Why Kung Fu (people ask this all the time); and (2) How are Kung Fu and writing alike?

We'll start with (1) Why Kung Fu?
  • Kung Fu is good exercise.
  • Kung Fu stretches my mind. It's all based around learning and practicing katas which are series of moves. Honestly, it had been ages since I stretched my mind in this way. Growing up I was all about the dance and cheerleading, but let's face it, since then times have changed; there isn't much memory required on the elliptical machine.
  • Kung Fu teaches confidence.
  • Kung Fu teaches self defense. There are 40 attacks and defenses taught as part of the curriculum.
  • Kung Fu allows me to get up in front of everyone and test - a good opportunity to challenge myself.
  • Kung Fu teaches discipline (really good for kids)
  • Kung Fu is downright fun. Sparring is fun. Kicking. Punching. Need I say more?

So now Question (2) How are Kung Fu and Writing alike?

I started Kung Fu a year ago. The first day I learned 2 sparring techniques. Not so much. The second day I learned a couple more. At the end of the year, I know 20 sparring techniques, 30 short katas, 5 long forms, and 40 self defense moves.
Great. But why is this important you ask.
Well, here's the thing. I go to Kung Fu 3 times a week. 2 of the classes are material classes - where I learn new stuff from the curriculum. The other class is solely a conditioning class - no new material. I never go more; my schedule and goals doesn't allow for it. So basically, in two hours a week, one year later, and I'm already a brown belt.
With writing, let's look at the first draft stage. I write 4 pages a night. On a really motivated night, it may be 6. On a less motivated night, it may be 2. So average 4, in about 2 months, I've written a novel. Sure, revisions are needed, but I've got my draft down.

The moral of all this rambling - Be consistent. Set a schedule. Stick to it. Don't skip out on it. And pretty soon you'll have a novel (and a black belt).
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May. 13th, 2008 @ 10:37 am Tags
No, not meme tags. I have about five I've been tagged on and haven't done yet.

What are your thoughts on speech tags?
He said. She said.
I've read to keep them as simple as possible - to let the dialogue speak for itself.
So if someone makes a suggestion, it's not necessary to say:

"Let's go to the park," she suggested.

We already know she's suggesting something. So a simple tag of "said" should be fine and less distracting.

"I can't believe you ate the whole thing!" he exclaimed.

Do we really need to exclaimed? The dialogue and punctuation tells us this.

As I'm revising, I've found tons of these tags I don't think are needed, and I'm removing them. But when is a tag needed? Ever? I've heard some people mention they've written an entire manuscript and forced themselves to use nothing but "said".

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