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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Smelling is believing

I was in the bathroom yesterday, doing a bit of personal grooming, and I sprayed myself with a perfume I hadn't used yet.

While in New York, my sister and I went to Victoria's Secret and they had a 6 for $36 sale on perfumes so we ended up with a collection of those little white tester sticks anyone would have been proud of. We could have built a fort.

Anyway, I sprayed myself with this perfume that I hadn't used but oh did my body remember it. I was instantly taken back to New York and Victoria's Secret and all those aromas and scents, spraying a bazillion tester strips and not remembering which smell went with which bottle, so having to test them all again. And sniffing too hard so that the smell hits the back of your nose in an eye watering painful way. And how warm it was inside but how cold and snowy it was OUTSIDE. And just me hanging out in the Big Apple with my big sister. I was IMMEDIATELY taken back by the spray of a perfume.

As writers, sometimes we can forget about all those other senses, that don't involve seeing things.
But as I fully realised yesterday, the other senses can be just as powerful.

That's all for now,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cool names for my characters - suggestions?

Soooo, my work in progress is about 80% done. I don't know exactly how done it is, because I can already tell it's going to surpass my aimed for wordcount, and this other thing.

See, I can picture some scenes. Some scenes are totally easy and fun to write, like this one at the start was cool - and that whole big crab story toward the end? Fabulous. Turned out great. But sometimes I wind up a scene and I don't know what comes next, like straight after it.

So this would be Writers Block, I imagine.
But I don't just stop writing, well, most of the time I don't. Instead, if I know what happens in another scene later, I'll just write that, and connect the dots later.
So the reason I think I'm sort of 80% done with my first draft? I have lots of dots to connect, all throughout the book. And I haven't written the big "Oh my God, THAT HAPPENED?!" climax yet.

So yeah. 80%ish.

ANYWAY. The point of this blog is that I sent the first two chapters of my WIP to my wonderful agent Jill Corcoran the other day, because she didn't know how it was coming along, and frankly I wanted some reassurance that I wasn't writing a heaping pile of doodoo.
So I emailed it and spent the next 24 hours bemoaning the fact that she hadn't replied, and was sitting at her computer, Kindle, Iphone, at a SCREEN in LA thinking: "Oh, wow. Okay, um, so, how do I tell her it's the heaping pile of doodoo she's scared it is?"

She didn't write that. And I am such a freak - 24 hours is super quick turn around time. I mean, I have seen her email inbox. I stood behind her in her hotel room (not like a stalker, I promise, she knew I was there) and watched as every other second a new query or email from another client would appear in her inbox. And Jill's quick at replying to all my emails anyway.
Wow I'm good at rambling today.

ANYWAY. She said it was great. (You hear that, brain? NOT doodoo!) But she did pose a question about my character names.

See, I'm writing about young teens. And parents these days are getting, well they're getting creative with naming their children and in some of my characters I was wanting to reflect that.
But by doing so, in some instances, she couldn't tell who were boys and who were girls. Which I'm thinking is bad.

So, what are some good character names for 12-14 year olds? Give me all sorts of nationalities, girls and boys. I'm mostly having issues with boy names at the moment.

One of the boys is the love interest (ooh la la!) so he needs to have a good sturdy name.
And one, a girl getting a new name has a twin brother named Lachie, so it would be something parents who named one kid Lachie, would name the girl that popped out right after him. Or before him. Hmm. Maybe that's something I should know.

I would love your input.

I leave you with a photo that made me laugh.


Ciao for now,


Monday, April 19, 2010

The importance of Book Covers

I think book cover art is important. It is recognised in the publishing industry as being important, as they spend a lot of time, creative energy and money on getting the cover just right.

For series, covers are not designed for the longterm reader, but to draw in new readers. Loyal readers, it doesn't matter what the cover looks like, they love the series already and are going to buy the next book regardless, right?

Well, to me? Sort of.

I love the Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls books by Meg Cabot. They're about Allie Finkle who is in the 4th grade and is having trouble navigating family, friendships, teachers and school, so she comes up with some guidelines and rules. One rule for instance, is never to eat anything red. She just doesn't do it.

Anyway, I think Meg does an excellent job with these books, and the covers are kind of adorable. I understand why they're popular with their TARGET audience, and not just me.
I am a bit of a Meg Cabot fan girl and I've been looking forward to the next book in the series, Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out.

It's cute, right? All the books have the same girl on the cover, representing Allie. When I found the book in an Australian bookstore, I came across a different cover. I couldn't find an image of the Glitter Girls cover, but the new cover design is the same, just in different colours. I want the other cover. The really cute cover. I don't like this style of cover at all.
And I seem to feel so strongly about the cover art of my books, that I decided not to buy this version, even though I'm not judging the book by its cover. I know it's going to be a good book. But I just don't want THAT.

What do you guys think of a book's cover art? Does it make that much of an impact on whether or not you buy a book?

In my Publishing class today, we were looking at text and cover design. I think it's an area of the industry I might really be interested in.

In other news, happy birthday to me!



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Butt in Chair

Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent and upcoming debut author put it brilliantly.

Put what brilliantly? The pain involved in being a writer, that I sometimes feel my friends don't quite understand and I am often pissed off about (not pissed about their not understanding, pissed about the PAIN).

Nathan wrote about Butt in Chair.

If you have NOT clicked over to the link to have a quick peruse of what he's talking about, he's talking about this:

All those times a writer (me, for example) is SO frustrating to her/his friends and says 'No I can't go, I have to write.' 'I better leave early, I have to write.' or 'That sounds like SO much fun, but I have to write.'

They're just as hard for me to say as for you to deal with me not being able to make plans with you because of writing. They're even harder when during that specified time of fun, when I know everyone else is having a blast and I only end up writing 200 words, or worse, NOTHING? I mean, I missed out for THIS?

But yeah. To get a book written, it's all about putting your frickin butt in the frickin chair and frickin DOING IT. And missing out on stuff. It's a lot about missing out on stuff. It's also a lot about the enjoyment and love of what you're doing, but that's not what this post is about.

Butt in Chair, baby.

Thank you.

Writing Popularity...and late night ponderings

I did an interview today. Yup, my University is proud of my achievements and wants to shout them to the world. Or viewers of the University website, whichever.

Anyhoo, we were talking about my books, the one on submission and the one I'm writing now, and we both noted a common theme: Popularity.

It seems to be a topic I cover a lot, but I suppose it's because it fascinates me. It's not necessarily popularity as in the cool group of kids - I mean 'cool kids that everyone aspires to' is not the definition of popularity.
Okay hang on, let me go find out what the definition IS.

Right, says:


[pop-yuh-ler] Show IPA
regarded with favor, approval, or affection by people in general: a popular preacher.
regarded with favor, approval, or affection by an acquaintance or acquaintances: He's not very popular with me just now.

(it also had some other definitions that aren't relevant to our discussion)

Often, this word Popular, or popularity has a different definition, especially when it comes to teenagers. I know at school and University, I didn't necessarily like the kids that were considered popular, and I don't think this was unusual.
I think when it comes to high school popularity, this word popular is not about who everyone likes. Everyone really liked one of our school captains, the whole year level did. But she wasn't one of the cool kids. She was funny and athletic but mostly she was an academic and respectful of others and I imagine she loved her parents and she certainly wasn't wild and rebellious and going crazy on the weekends. At least she didn't seem the type.
She was popular with everybody.

But this word popular, in high school means something else. A popular person is not someone everybody likes, but someone everybody wants to be like. Do you agree?
I didn't actually pay a lot of attention to these popular kids at school except to notice that they were the ones with the eating disorders, showing up to school dances and socials drunk and as much drama as my group of friends had, theirs seemed to have ten times more which spilled into the classroom.

So yeah - popularity has nothing to do with the cool kids that people don't necessarily like, but aspire to be like. All though these teens definitely show up in my books, I don't actually write about hunting down this form of popularity, my characters want to be popular with the people they 'regard with favor, approval or affection'. The other type can just get in the way.

When it comes to my writing identity, if people get me wrong, it really irks me. But if they've never read my work, how would they know differently? Clearly I'm not explaining myself right.

I met someone overseas and he was interested in the fact that I'm a writer, and asked what I want to get out of it, why I do it. One thing I mentioned that I was looking forward to, was the fan mail. The mail from teenagers not telling me "wow I loved your book it's so awesome!" but the mail I've heard about, the mail some writers get where a teen tells the writer how much their work impacted on their lives, that they felt they were my character, or that even though I had never met them, they felt I understood their life and what they were going through.

I want to make a difference.

His response was: "Oh, so you want to be famous?"
Um, NO. He didn't get it at all. I definitely don't want to be famous. Though the money sounds awesome, I don't want to be as well known world-wide as JK Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. I want to be known by my target audience. And I would love to receive letters saying "OMG, that exact thing happened to me. It sucked but I got through it, and reading your character laugh about it helped me deal with everything myself". I don't care if people over 30 have never heard of me.

So yeah, I guess I want to be popular with those I regard with favor, approval, or affection.

So there we go. I guess I become a bit philosophical at 4:30 in the morning.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Parentals in YA Fiction: Rethinking ignoring them

Kaitlin Ward from the YA Highway had a wonder about parents in YA fiction and what to do with them and how to make your YA novel stronger by utilising their existence.

She wrote down her conclusions here and I reckon it's worth checking out. Some interesting thoughts.