Friday, November 25, 2011

Where's Alicia?

My apologies for the radio silence this week. I'm taking a temporary blog writing and reading hiatus until mid-next week. The White One had surgery Monday, which equals a lot of stress at Chez Gregoire. I encourage you to poke around the archives while Hubs and I get our life back on track.

Hopefully the hiatus will jump start my brain and I'll be able to give you all in The Lurkdom some fantastic posts full of (deep) thoughts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Flippant Girl’s Guide to Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: Just like the previous Flippant Girl’s Guide, this one is also written days in advance, during the NaNoBoston 24 hour write in.

Thanksgiving (and holidays in general) can be a stressful day filled with cooking disasters and logistical nightmares*. Some people would prefer pajamas and cribbage all day and yours truly is no exception. What people like us need is a no-frills, pain-free way to celebrate Thanksgiving that doesn’t have you contemplating suicide for the day.

Lucky for you, I’ve thought about this. A lot.
  1. If you’re anti-dinner planning and entertaining, you will love the dinner and a movie option. Take your Thanksgiving guests to your closest all-you-can-eat buffet. For about ten bucks per person, you can eat all the turkey and fixings you want without the prep or clean up. Then instead of working off your turkey coma by watching hours of football, go watch a movie. This year I’m voting for The Muppets, though if you’re in a heckling mood, may I suggest the greatest comedy of the year?
  2. Now what if you really, really, really want to host Thanksgiving but you’re really strapped financially? You should commit a hit and run with a turkey. They’re pretty big and stupid. Think about the family fun waiting for you when you need to clean your own bird!
  3. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without giving, well, thanks. Instead of going around the table and each guest listing what they’re thankful for, this year everyone should share what they’re thankful for in a rap.
Do you do something special for Thanksgiving?

* At least when you’re me and one family is about four hours round trip away from the other one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Moral Choices with Zombies



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Happy Thursday to you all! Currently I'm on break at work, and have been pondering a zombie topic all day since catching up on the last episode of The Walking Dead. I'm not going to go into any specifics, but consider this post to have possibly Level One spoilers for the show, especially the current season. Again, I won't give any character names, but if you don't even want to know any situations going on, it might be best to stop reading.

I'm really interested in hearing what you all think... sort of an "open dialogue" per se about different moral situations and what you would do or what you feel would be best for a group of survivors.


I've talked in the past about how you might handle killing a family member or friend who had made the full transition into a zombie. I personally think it would be difficult, but completely necessary. At that point, I know my conscience would flinch, but in the end, I would value my own life above a zombie's, even my zombie mom.

But what if you weren't sure of someone's fate... This is the question that has been brought up in recent Walking Dead episodes. A member of their party goes missing, and of course the search begins. But as hours of searching turn into days with only small hints of the person's possible survival, the desire to continue searching wanes in part of the group. Some argue it is foolish to keep looking, for a couple of reasons-- 1. the person is most likely dead (or bitten) anyway 2. even if the individual is found, that's just another mouth to feed, another person to look after and take care of.

One character argues that the unofficial group leader needs to make the "tough decisions" and choose to give up on the search and move on. The leader argues that the tough choice is to keep looking while the easy decision is to just give up.

What do you think? I'm torn. On one hand, of course your first choice is to protect and save those close to you, the people you care about. Even if the person isn't a relative, in a survival situation, the group becomes your family, all you have left. In that respect, I would keep looking, provided the group's immediate safety wasn't being risked by doing so. On the flip side though, survival is important. If the group has an opportunity to pull up their "roots" and move on to perhaps a safer spot, but thereby abandoning one, that might be the best option for everyone else.

The needs of the few (or one) versus the many....

What would you do? (To be fair to others, try to not refer to the specific character examples being used in the show right now. General answers/situations only. We don't want to give anything away to people who are behind. Thanks!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey in the Blog

Instead of blogging, I'm busy completing my WIP. While I do that, please enjoy a photo of Yours Truly being attacked by turkeys.

Image courtesy of Bestie Danielle

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you prepared?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Which Cats Stare at Each Other

It's Tuesday, Lurkdom! Last night I completely made 50,000 words on my WIP and I'm hoping that by Wednesday, I'll be 100% done. To celebrate this milestone and to further my sleep dep*, I decided to play with Windows Live Movie Maker. What better way to try a new piece of software than to use  your cats as guinea pigs.

Cats, while they don't "amuse" me per se, they do fascinate me. Their colorings and patterns, the way the pounce bottle caps, their communication. Their stares**.

Disclaimer: I am not cinematographically inclined. What this means to you: there are no smooth transitions.



As you can see, the cats provide me with tons of entertainment. Both videos were taken when I should have been doing something else. The combined video? Again when I should have been doing something else.

Tell me, what do you find yourself doing when you should be doing something else?



* This will explain any ramble-like qualities of this post. Seriously.
** Not really. In fact, The Stripey One creeps me out with her staring a lot.

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Last.fm hit of the day: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pitch Writing Tips from the Pros

Last Thursday, my local Indie, Porter Square Books, hosted The Book Doctors and the touring PItchapalooza. The gist of a Pitchapalooza is you get one minute to pitch your book to The Book Doctors and then they will give  you feedback. Awesome, right? You also have to buy their book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published for a chance to pitch,* and you weren’t guaranteed actual pitch time, but regardless you did walk away with a free 20-minute phone consultation with them.
  • While not everyone will have a chance to attend one of these, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tips I heard on crafting your pitch.
  • Take your time crafting it. It took The Book Doctors six months to craft their one-minute pitch for their book.
  • At the end of the pitch, there should be a feeling of “what happens next.”
  • Comp titles. If it’s not clear where on the shelves your book belongs, you have to include some comps, but you don’t need to pull just from other books in your genre. You can pull from movies, TV, or books in a different genre, as long as it makes sense.
  • Show, show, show. If you’re writing a humorous story, show the humor, don’t just say it’s funny. Show in the pitch your writing chops and the voice of the book as well.
  • Include some description for your main character (no more than 4 words) so we know who they really are and fall in love with them.
  • The goal is to tell a story in a minute, so it is important to include an almost complete story arc: beginning, middle, climax, and cliffhanger.
  • If you are dealing with a tired trend like werewolves, vampires, and dystopian societies, it is super important that you show your spin on it so we know what makes your story stand out among the rest.

What are some important tips you've learned from pitching?


* At least that is how it worked at Porter Square Books.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Endless Sacrifice by Dream Theater

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mandatory Writing Things


Today's post is super-late and I'm sorry about that. Lots of exciting things have been happening to Yours Truly as of late and since I don't want to jinx anything, that's as much as I can write.

The materials I need when I sit down to write vary depending on project, so this topic is challenging. Since it's November and I completed my NaNo novel this week, I'll talk about what I needed for drafting Scenes From Last Night.
  1. Zero distractions. With both Hubby unemployed, he's always home so I decided I wouldn't be. Thankfully my dad hooked me up with a temporary office where I holed myself up for eight hours a day over the last two weeks. 
  2. Caffeine. I'd be lying if this doesn't show up as needed for every project, but when my brain goes "mumble mumble," the caffeine is super important. The caffeine of choice is usually Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.
  3. Music. Another item that shows up all the time, I constantly listen to music while I write. It helps filter out the lawn mower, cat fights, Hubby yelling at Call of Duty...
  4. Snacks. Since I've been writing as a full time gig for the last few weeks, I eat while I work. I've had the most unhealthy diet ever this month, but hey I *did* finish my WIP*.
  5. Writing Mascot. Usually seen in the form of The Stripey or White One, this NaNo has found me with a tiny magic worm that looks like Slimy from Sesame Street. See

What about you? Do your necessities change per project?

* I may be gloating just a bit.

The Flippant Girl's Guide to Completing Your WIP

I write today's Friday Fives prompt several days in advance from the discomfort of the veterinary emergency room where The White One has caused me and Hubby too much stress in a small amount of time*. 

With all this kitty (not to mention Alicia) drama, I am painfully behind my NaNoWriMo word count and each setback like this one is enough for me to tear out all my hair. Right now I just want to get it done and retire into an afghan-making frenzy**. If only there were a way to get this done in an efficiently painless way.

There is.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pandemics and Zombies



Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Hello, zombie fans! During Halloween week, there were a lot of great shows on television that would never be played throughout the year otherwise. It's cool that channels like the History Channel and Discovery will air shows about zombies and witches, etc. during October, but kind of sad that they won't air anything like that the other eleven months out of the year.

I happened to watch one really cool show about zombies! Even though the show had a lot of repetition and not a ton of new information, it did bring up some very interesting points. One of the main things I took away was a comparison to other viral plagues that have crippled the planet throughout history.

I had never thought of zombies in this way. While perhaps a zombie apocalypse may not happen in the foreseeable future, there is the potential for a viral outbreak to occur that could completely destroy society the way we know. For example, the bubonic plague was one such outbreak. The Black Death, believed to be caused by a bubonic plague outbreak, killed and destroyed over 75 million people in Europe, a third of the population. An outbreak of that type dramatically changed society. Can you imagine a third of your city or the country being wiped out? What if instead of just dying, the infected actually "woke up" and began attacking the uninfected?


Can you also imagine what the streets would look like? During the Middle Ages, because of the numbers of corpses, traditional burials were thrown by the wayside. Many bodies were left piled in fields, burned, or thrown into huge pits. Sounds familiar to some scenes in zombie films and television shows.

Another fitting example was the H1N1 flu pandemic that lasted from 1918 to 1920. During this outbreak, roughly 100 million people were killed and 27% of the world's population were infected with the virus. What was so devastating about this outbreak is that instead of infecting and killing the usual demographics (very old or very young people, or those with weakened immune systems), it also killed young and seemingly healthy individuals. Just like a "zombie" outbreak, the virus did not discriminate on who it attacked or killed; everyone was vulnerable.


It is extremely possible, and probably extremely likely, that history will repeat itself in some way in regards to another viral pandemic. Will it be the flu? Will it be bubonic plague? Or will it be zombies? Either way, life as we know it would change dramatically. Even with our modern scientific breakthroughs, we cannot guarantee that we would be able to catch or treat ourselves before it's too late.

Makes you think twice about not getting that flu shot this year!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

If I Was a Literary Super Heroine…

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: What are your writing/publishing superpowers (drafting? plotting? writing queries?) – and what’s your kryptonite?

Today’s answer is going to be wicked fast because it’s been a loooong week for yours truly and I have this mammoth word count I need to play catch up on.

If I was a literary super heroine, like Wonder Woman, I would totally rock a fantastic no-gym-necessary body and spandex would love me. There would be comic books with variant covers and movie options showering upon my creative genius.

If I was a literary super heroine, I would have my own batch of super friends (you) and we would have our own version of the JLA and call it Young Adult Literati Legacy, or YALL for short.

If I was a super heroine, my super strength would be dialogue. With it, I would own Hollywood.

If I was a super heroine, my arch enemy would be Nemesis II. This is because there is already a comic book character named Nemesis.

If I was a super heroine, my weakness (besides chocolate) would be the selling of my own work. The queries, pitches, and loglines would obliterate me into a pile of ash.

 

_______

Last.fm hit of the day: Of Masques and Martyrs by I Am Ghost

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Your Novel's Soundtrack


Soundtracks. We know about them. All movies and TV shows have. Yours truly owns a stupid amount of them. I have playlists for the gym, editing, and for various projects. I'm sure you have these as well.

As I was getting ready for NaNoWriMo this year, I worked on coming up with a soundtrack for SFLN. Which is harder than you would think when you're doing it consciously. How do you manage to go beyond your "go-to" music to get the feel right for your story?

It's a good question. Below I've listed a few tips that will help you go past the norm and beef up that soundtrack.

  1. Broaden your musical horizons. This should go without saying. If you listen to music beyond what's in your iPod, you might hear something that will blow your mind. Last.fm is a good place to start as you can listen to music based off of genre, similar artist, or other Last.fm users.
  2. Go by song title. Sounds lame, but sometimes a song title will give you some insight about what the song is about, which will make it easy for you to determine if it will work for your WIP without necessarily listening to it.
  3. Make sure there's music representative of each character and emotion. This sort of goes with number 1, but it does bear repeating: diversity is key. If you have kissing scenes, hardcore techno isn't going to work, just like Kenny G isn't going to work if you're writing about war.

Lurkdom, tell me your tips for creating a soundtrack.



_______

Last.fm hit of the day: Spooky by Daniel Ash

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guilty Pleasure Alert: Dirty Soap

Those in the Lurkdom that know me IRL know I have a love of daytime television. Bestie Danielle likes to make fun of me because of this. I'm devoted to One Life to Live so much I went into a mini depression when it was announced that it's coming to an end. I could write several blog posts about soap operas and how they apply to writing. Don't worry, that's not what today is about.

Nor is about my other love, reality television. I'm not talking about the trashy reality TV, like Jersey Shore, but something a little "classier" where the focus is more on actual life and not just hookups.

Source: images.search.yahoo.com via Amira on Pinterest
In September, E aired Dirty Soap, which is reality television about soap opera stars. Best reality show ever? Hells yes.

Dirty Soap focuses on the lives of eight people involved in soaps. Each star is at a different stage of their professional and personal careers. There's rivalry, family drama, and baby drama. Not to mention there's tons of talk about soaps. That there are entire conversations that discuss what's happening with their fictional selves is pretty awesome.

What I love best about the show is the personal edge to the show. It's easy to forget that people involved in TV and movies deal with the same crap we do. Including this into the show makes it less contrived.

Confess! What show are you reluctant to share your love for?
________
Last.fm hit of the day: In the Presence of My Enemies by Machine Head

Friday, November 4, 2011

What Would They Do?

Happy Friday, Lurkdom! Today marks the first weekend of NaNoWriMo, which means I have no excuse not to rock my word count. While I'm doing that, instead of pondering WWJD, I should think about authors I love and what they would do if stuck with a difficult plot.

Or a bout of "I can't take it anymore" itis*.

Stephen King. Not that I write horror or even long-ass descriptions, but I admire Stephen King for his tenacity and belief in a project. This is something I have talked about before on The Pie, but it definitely bears repeating. SK had such faith in Roland's story that no matter how many times he put it down, he would pick it up the pen again and continue on.

Whenever I begin to doubt my own pet project, I think about The Dark Tower.

Personal SK Pick: The Dark Tower series

(Hm... This is more difficult than I originally thought. Maybe it's because a lot of the writers that inspire me aren't actually visible in my writing?)

Madeleine L'Engle. She has written some of my favorite stories. It was in  A Ring of Endless Light that I got some of the best writing advice as well: to be a better writer, you must read.

Personal L'Engle Pick: A Ring of Endless Light (no contest there)






Thomas Hardy. I know, you didn't expect that. To be honest, I wasn't planning on including him. It's not like I'm a huge fan of the classics or talk about them a lot, but something about the way Hardy tells a story is a great. The way he is able to incorporate the tragedy of life in his work is amazing**.

Besides, check out that mustache.

Personal Hardy Pick: Return of the Native


(And it looks like there will only be four today. This writing on a time frame is H-A-R-D.)

Anne Rice. She was my first foray into vampire fiction, way before we learned that vamps can sparkle. With Lestat, she created an anti-hero that won over tons of hearts and have fueled many a late night debate with Bestie Danielle.

Personal Rice Picks: The Vampire Lestat and Memnoch the Devil




I can only think of four. Which authors inspire you?

* Yeah, writing has been slow-going.
** That could be the inner goth talking.
_______
Last.fm hit of the day: Kick in the Eye by Bauhaus

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grab that Whistle

Every Wednesday, YA Highway asks their readership a simple question to answer on your blog. Once you answer, you link your blog in the comments for other readers to hop on board. This is Road Trip Wednesday.

Today's topic: Per Sarah's August post (), what kind of writing coach do you need? What kind are you?

I think about this from time-to-time because who doesn't want somebody cheering you on while you work and making sure you don't quit?

Despite my self-esteem issues and my total bouts of "I suck," I don't want you to kiss my ass. That's not going to make me a stronger writer. I want someone who will tell me what's wrong when they crit me, but also let me know what's working. If I'm stuck, I want someone who is there to help me brainstorm my way through the problem. Basically, I want a Danielle*.

As for myself, if I was a writing coach, I'm not sure what kind I am. My mood dictates a lot about my coaching style. If I'm in a bad mood, I find more things wrong when I crit. I think I'm pretty good to talk things through with and I'm always willing to cheer you on. In terms of my coaching personality, I think my writing buddies are better equipped to answer that about me.

And since not all in the Lurkdom write, let's expand this out to any kind of coach. If you were going to be a coach for anything (including basket weaving), what kind would you be?

Now I'm off to caffeinate and beat my word count.




* If you're new (welcome), you won't know what a Danielle is. She's one of the besties and always has my writing back. She spends hours helping me refine queries and synopses. She has read way too many versions of the same story.
______
Spotify hit of the day: Viva La Vida by Coldplay

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Writers and Social Media Fatigue

Over the last few weeks, I've been finding it difficult to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, email, and even blogging. No matter how hard I try, I end up missing something and then feel guilty. Let's not even get into the fact that with my phone, I'm plugged in to social networking 24/7. After over seven years, I've finally got social media fatigue.

What Is Social Media Fatigue?
According to Technopedia, social media fatigue is when people grow overwhelmed with the time and energy spent maintaining and initiating all of these connections. (Yes, this can include people you know IRL that you only now communicate with through Facebook.)

Writers are more prone to suffer this than the average bear. We constantly hear that we need to build our platform, interact with our writing community, and make ourselves visible. (That's on top of constantly honing our craft, reading, researching, and the million other things that make writers awesome.) Many of us are online late into the night participating in Twitter chats or visiting the hundreds of blogs in their Google Reader.

It's amazing we get anything done.


What Can Be Done About SMF?
The easiest (and hardest) answer is manage your time. If you're an avid blog writer and reader, you should figure out how many days a week you will blog and when your blogging will get done. Then you should determine how you're going to read and comment on all those blogs you subscribe to.

Another solution is to unplug for a few days at a time. When I had a day job, I sat in front of a computer all day, so when the weekend would come, I would limit my computer and social media time. While this strategy might not work for you, it does something that we all need--it gives you scheduled time off.

Remember, you're not alone in this. As Hubby just pointed out, everyone suffers from SMF.

_____
Last.fm hit of the day: Going to California (Rosetta Stone Mix) by Gene Loves Jezebel
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