Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I love writing make-out scenes, although (strangely enough) I have a hard time reading what I wrote when I'm editing! But, there's just something about writing that first kiss. There are so many emotions and sensations involved, and I think that's the key to crafting a good kiss scene ... using the five senses.
Touching: What is your Main Character feeling - with her hands, her lips, her legs, her skin, her stomach? Are his lips chapped? Is the material of his shirt rough underneath her fingers? Is her stomach rolling? Is the grass itchy beneath her back? You can do so much with the sense of touch!
Hearing: What does your MC hear? Perhaps the little moan escaping the back of his throat, or her sigh. Maybe a soft rain is patting a rhythm on the roof, or there's a jazz song in the background. The sounds can help set your mood, whether it's romantic or intense.
Seeing: If your MC opens his eyes, what does he see? A flush on her cheeks? Her eyelashes fluttering closed? The sights can really create an image in the reader's mind.
Smelling: What does your MC smell? It could be cologne/perfume, the smell of his breath, or even the air around them. The scents add a heightened sense to your reader, drawing them into the scene.
Tasting: What does your MC taste during the kiss? It could be minty, fruity, or something else altogether! The taste adds the last dimension to your scene, fully immersing the reader.
When you tie in all the senses you can prolong the scene without having your characters mashed together in a long ... drawn out ... kiss.
Do you have any other tips for writing a make-out scene?
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
We did have The Cove, where we’d stupidly leap off a 10, 30, or 60 foot cliff. Eh…yeah, I never made it past the 10 footer. But that really can’t compare to the warmth of a sandy beach or the salty breeze wafting off the ocean water.
Stupid human info: Is the Pacific Ocean warmer than the Atlantic Ocean? Any answer gets a round of applause by the Oasis ladies. Maybe we’ll even to a happy dance.
When I began combing the catacombs of my brain for related songs, the first one that hit me was “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. It reminds me of grit and grime, and what it truly took to make this country work.
Neil Diamond’s “America” was next. This is one of my ultimate favorite songs. I can picture myself guitar in hand, hips gyrating, and the crowd going wild. Oh, sorry. That was my dream last night. Erase visual please.
And how could we celebrate the Fourth without Don McLean’s “American Pie”? Can’t be done.
Bye, bye miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this will be the day that I die
this will be the day that I die
You can hear it as you read it, huh?? Love that.
One of my personal faves is from Phil Vassar, “American Child”. I think we all can relate to this song. It captures the true essence of growing up in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
“American Woman” The Guess Who
“Back in the U.S.A.” Chuck Berry
“Born to be Wild” Steppenwolf
“Blowin’ in the Wind” Bob Dylan
“Independence Day” Martina McBride
Of course there are songs like “America the Beautiful”, “God Bless America”, and even “Take me out to the ballgame”. Yeah that one is different but it’s all American.
May we be thankful to those who have come before us and ensured our way of life. May we also celebrate the wonderful culture we have in our music, how it carries us and inspires us.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Yesterday, I was chomping at the bit to have some piece and quiet. I wanted to go out and do something with the hubby. I wanted…well I honestly didn’t know what I wanted. But what I was getting, wasn’t it.
So, in a fit of desperation, I hauled out the slip ‘n slide, hooked up the hose, and then shoved my kids into swimsuits and out the door.
I brought a book and a chair and sat outside to make sure they weren’t hurt, but I was still determined I was getting something for myself.
It didn’t take me long to be lured in by their incessant laughing and splashing. Before long I was not only smiling at them, but egging them on.
The smiles on their faces were addictive and I couldn’t get enough of it. Before I knew it, I was not only pushing them to keep going, I was an active participant.
They started egging me on to do stupider and stupider things and I felt myself regressing. I wasn’t a 29-year-old mother of two. I was now 12 and playing with my friends.
Then reality hit when I did something really stupid and tore something in my knees, but in those 20 or so minutes, I was having fun. A lot of fun.
And I realized that I wasn’t craving alone time away from them. I was craving time WITH them.
And it helped. Not just my mood, but with my writing. My kids are an endless fount of inspiration. From the things they do, to the things they say or don’t say.
So if you have kids, relax and spend time with them. They may just be what the doctor ordered.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I was convinced that was my track (did I mention since age four?) and did everything to gain experience. Then I had the most amazing composition teacher freshman year of college who flat out told me, “If you don’t go into some field of publishing, it’ll be a waste of talent.” I had always loved reading (I was the kid who always had a book in my purse) and editing (friends put up with a lot of my spelling corrections senior year), so I took some English electives, hated them (that whole poetry/classics thing? Not really for me) and thought she was crazy. She sent me to the journalism building to prove me wrong. I talked to the dean, signed up for some magazine/newspaper publishing electives and poof! I was in love.
Just like with veterinary medicine, I wanted to gain experience in publishing. In four years I worked (simultaneously, for the most part) as an online editor for UWirePr.com’s arts/entertainment section (claim to fame: I interviewed Joss Whedon ::fist pump::), an editorial assistant in charge of the teen section of Ballinger Publishing, a tutor (and co-creator of the online portion) for our university’s writing lab, a writer for Get ‘Em Magazine, a resume/cover letter critiquer, and a writer for our university’s paper.
After that I moved back to my hometown, got my own place and started teaching. I knew I wanted to work in publishing, but I really wanted to take a few more classes on interactive media design before I broke into the book publishing industry. I had the most amazing mentors in college who told me flat out “in five years you’re going to be grateful you did this. You won’t have the time if you work now in the business so take a year or two, brush up on your interactive and online skills and then go for it.”
Best. Advice. Ever.
I taught high school for a couple of years (English, Web Design, Yearbook, TV Production, list goes on), LOVED my students, but had to keep true to my goal.
Applied for grad school and some internships. I landed two internships with the amazing Caren Johnson Literary Agency and Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation. Moved to NYC, worked my butt off at the internships and prepared for the new semester. Applied for a lot of jobs and was called in for three interviews. Got the job with Lowenstein Associates and am now Foreign Rights Manager and Associate Agent.
I think the most fascinating part, to me at least, is that every single job I had since high school has helped lead me to where I am today. Even working at a veterinary clinic helped, because I used to be an incredibly shy person and it forced me to interact with a variety of people on a daily basis. Agenting is a lot easier when you’re not shy :)
Seriously, though, while I know the “Dear Sir” isn’t meant as an insult, it’s a red flag you were too lazy to type in my first or last name. I’m not looking for lazy clients. I want hard-working, I’m-gonna-do-my-research, passionate clients who want to reach their publishing goals. If you’re not willing to start at the query stage, then I’m not the agent for you.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Seven facts, huh? Well, there are 5 of us, so you get one fact from each of us and 2 group facts.
1. Group: We met at YALitChat and are group moderators there. If you live, breathe & write YA, you should check it out.
2. Group: We all like (er.. LOVE!) chocolate.
3. Sheri: I was a speaker at my high school baccalaureate and made everyone cry--in a good way.
4. A.E.: I've given speeches to Career Day students at the local college about being a writer, and I wore my Grinch head slippers. Kids loved them!
5. J.A.: I'm extremely shy. I mean to the point that people think I'm rude because I'm too nervous to say anything, but I have no problems getting up in front of a group of people I don't know and giving a speech or acting in a play. :D
6. Nikki: I was extremely active in theater during high school and contemplated majoring in theater in college (a far cry from my actual major!)
7. Jessie: I fidget constantly if I have to sit for long periods of time (which includes car rides, work, seminars, and even just TV watching).
And now, the 15 blogs that we recommend. In an effort to pass on the love to other collaborative bloggers out there, we've selected the following (in no particular order):
1. Mundie Moms
2. Merry Sisters of Fate
3. YA Highway
4. YA Know
5. The YA 5
6. League of Extraordinary Writers
7. YA Fresh
8. Got YA!
9. Supernatural Underground
10. YA Authors Cafe
11. Page Turners
12. Reading Teen
13. YAY! Reads (not collaborative, but a teen reviewing YA - how cool is that?)
14. YA Book Central
15. And in tribute to the amazing woman who brought us together and the founder of YALitChat, check out Georgia McBride's personal blog.
There you have it. We hope you like these blogs as much as we do. As always, thank you for reading!!
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I've always been a reader. In kindergarten (yes, kindergarten) I started reading the Little House on the Prairie series. Books and series uncounted followed, and in the past couple years, it's been the Twilight Saga, the Darkest Powers trilogy and many many MANY more YA paranormal novels. (Have any suggestions?? I'm looking for my next 'literary love.')
One of the things to turn me off in a book, and stop me reading before hitting THE END?
The dialogue. If it jumps off wrong, feels contrived, or just doesn't sound like something a real person would say...Sorry Author, but I am done. There are too many other shiny, pretty books in the YA sea for me to waste my time or money on a book like that.
So, as writers, how do we make our character's dialogue sing? How do we make it timely enough to sound like real teens would say it now, but not date our work so badly that ten years from now it won't be relevant?
Well, in my upperclassman level Creative Writing course in my first year of college, my professor gave my favorite writing assignment EVER. "Realistic dialogue." Her homework? EAVESDROP. That's right, in the 80s and 90s those of us trying to sound cool called it dipping, it's what we'd suggested in the Writer's Corner here on OFY. My professor gave us permission to listen in on other peoples' conversations. "Take notes if you can," she said. So, I did. Fraternity boys playing a video game and talking about a road trip. I included the video game noises, their swear words...all of it. And got an A+ out of it, too.
So, go on, be sneaky. If you have teens, linger outside the door (and away from the light pouring beneath it. You don't want your shadow to give you away *wink*). Or go to a mall and pretend to browse near teens. The things they say when they think no one is listening...
Real, spoken dialogue has a give and take, an ebb and flow. Words are put together certain ways. Some words are used, other are not--which can give a definite nod to your locale. Somethings are never said by boys/girls. Somethings are said in lieu of what they mean. Kids do swear. The list of lessons learned goes on and on.
Another tip for making your dialogue sound real? Read it out loud.
Agents and editors say this all the time. Read it out loud. (repeated bold for emphasis) If it doesn't sound right, then it isn't. So how do we deal with the "they say what I want them to" syndrome? Drag your friends into it. Assign friends characters from your piece, and another person listen. Then you hear your dialogue from other speakers, and they will stumble if it isn't right. And you have a guinea pig to squeal for you when you ask them what they thought, what they got out of the conversation.
Dialogue is a great tool to show character, to give information, to move the plot forward. If a picky reader, like me, parts the pages of your book and doesn't like that dialogue, it can also be the tool that buries your book back on the shelf. And none of us want that.
So, work with your dialogue. Listen to real conversation. Read your character's conversations aloud. Sometimes it takes listening to make it sing.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Happy Happy Birthday A.E.!! Thanks for sharing this journey with us, and may it continue for many years to come :)
A Birthday Limerick:
There once was a writer, they say,
Whose nerves just could not be frayed.
She could write a fight scene,
That's incredible mean,
But she hid from her 40th birthday.
Happy Birthday, A.E.! And just kidding, by the way. I know you're way tougher than any birthday!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful YA journey with us.
Wishing you the best birthday, AE. So happy to celebrate it with you! Take some time for you, today. *grins*
Happy Birthday, AE. May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
Sing along with us now (and leave your own birthday wishes below!)
Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Riley, you are such a huge advocate for reading and writing. Where do you think that conviction came from?
I hope that Breaking the Chain can continue to promote education opportunities for at-risk children for many years to come. I hope that we can expand to affect as many children as possible, since literacy is the most important component of breaking the cycle of poverty, and currently 3 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty.
As always, Oasis Seekers have a desert question for you.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Books are a part of every writer's life. Most of us grew up begging for books for our birthdays, unbirthdays, and Holidays. We'd spend hours in bookstores and libraries. If you were like me you were jonesing for another book shortly after finishing one. We carry books or e-readers in our purses or pockets. But for each of us there was THAT book that said, "You need to write."
Since the characters we were thankful for last week have a book they came from, I decided to take a look at the books we're thankful for.
AE said, "The one book series I am grateful for has to be the House of Night. I learned so much about what did and didn't work for me, what I loved and, sadly, have grown to dislike in a series. The pacing and tone throughout, is awesome. Very little down time. In the beginning, probably the first three books, I LOVED Zoe--the characterization made me love and/or hate the characters in this series with equal relish. Then, the authors started tinkering with a formula that had me reading their books like literary crack. They introduced secondary characters POVs, which I'm sure was meant to broadened the scope of the over-all story arc, but for me just watered things down. I found myself skimming some secondaries, searching for the MC's voice again. I felt as though they were shoving certain characters down my throat. Honestly, I haven't even picked up the recently released sequel."
Nikki said, "I'm going to go with Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss, because it's the first book I remember loving as a child. I've been an avid reader since I was very little, and I recall going to the library during the summer, checking out ten books (which was the maximum I could check out), and reading at least one on the way home in the car! I used to read a book while riding my bike home from middle school (yes, I was a multi-tasker even back then).
Jessie said, "I'm going to reach way back into my reading memory and pick The Mummy or Ramses the Damned by Anne Rice. This was one of the first books I remember just gushing over because the love story wrapped around me so completely. It was a paranormal romance novel before its time and it embedded a love for the genre in me. I have to be grateful for any book that led me, consciously or not, to the dark, mystical and beautiful world of YA paranormal romance."
Sheri said, "This is a hard one for me. I have to admit; I wasn't an avid reader as a kid. I was in the studio dancing or the sports field pretty much all of the time. I did read, but never let anything grab me. I did, however, read DANCING ON MY GRAVE at a younger age and it resonated with me. I'm not a big nonfiction or biography buff, but Gelsey Kirkland's true life is one a storymaker would dream to write. It's poignantly written, revealing the true sacrifice of a dancer and her personal struggles with life and her two loves--dance and Mikhail Baryshnikov."
And me, I'm choosing Twilight, because when I first started reading it, it made me go, "I can write better than this." (I didn't like it very much in the beginning, but about 3 chapters in I couldn't put it down.). While my thoughts on the book changed and I loved it, for many reasons, not least of which is Ms. Meyers' ability to tug on the emotional strings of her readers, it got the ball rolling on making me want write for more than just my friends, family and the drawer in my desk.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
1. Use Your Senses. Your five senses can be powerful tools. Ever catch a whiff of something and you're transported back to a years-old memory? The same thing happens with music too. You hear a song and all of a sudden you're back in high school, driving around on the wrong side of the tracks while your crazy friends hang out of the sunroof. (Maybe that one's just me.) Use these powerful memory-jogging tools to get you back into your writing groove as you switch between WIPs, or just writing and life. Create a book-specific playlist. Choose a signature scent and light candles in that fragrance to put you in the right mindset. You'll transition more smoothly into your writing and probably ease a little tension along the way too.
3. Allow Yourself a Day Off. The wonderful thing about being authors is that our manuscripts will always be there tomorrow. Hopefully we'll all have some agent or editor-imposed deadlines to meet, but for the most part, we work at our own pace. If you need to go get a manicure (or for guys, catch a quick 9 holes) instead of writing one day, give yourself permission. Take an hour to catch up on your favorite TV show, or really talk to your significant other or kids. Sometimes our brains cry out for a break -- so they can recharge with more creativity and energy -- and instead of heeding the call, we press on. Unless you have to, don't. The burn out is just not worth it. As Donna Tartt said: "But it's for every writer to decide his own pace, and the pace varies with the writer and the work."
How do you juggle writing and life? We'd like to know your tips for getting it done while staying stress-free.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Who's your least favorite YA heroine and why?
2) Who's your favorite YA hero, and why?
Who's your least favorite YA hero, and why?
Favorite: Chloe Saunders of Kelley Armstrong’s The Darkest Powers trilogy, Rose Hathaway of The Vampire Academy and Dru Anderson of Lili St. Crow’s Strange Angels series (Echo Miller of AE Rought’s Foresight). They are strong, confident characters that grow in the story. They aren’t whiny and they don’t put up with shit. They also don’t run away from danger and they kick ass and take names later.
Least favorite: Bella Swan of the Twilight Saga, Zoey Redbird of The House of Night series, Ever Bloom and Grace Divine of The Immortals series and The Dark Divine. They are whiny bitches that don’t go anywhere in their stories. They never grow into something better and learn from mistakes. They had potential in the beginning of their stories but back tracked for the worst.
2) Who's your favorite YA hero, and why? Who's your least favorite YA hero, and why?
Favorite: Patch of Hush, Hush, Aden Stone of Intertwined, Jace Morgenstern of The Mortal Instruments series (Thorn and Chael of AE Rought’s Drenched and Foresight). They are confident, manly, cocky, annoyingly handsome and stubborn. They take charge when needed, they can also be emotional with the heroines and not be embarrassed by it
Least favorite: Edward Cullen of the Twilight Saga, Erik and Heath of the House of Night series, Daniel and Jude, and Damen of The Dark Divine and The Immortals series. They are annoying pushovers, and possessive bastards. They feel sorry for themselves and it pisses me off that they won’t man up and grow some balls. They are flat lined, meaning they have no growing space and just fail. It’s not fun to read a book that you want the main hero to just die already.
My favorite YA heroine is Max, from the Maximum Ride series. She’s a take-charge, ass-kicking girl who does what she has to. Instead of running from the big bad corporation, she attacks it head-on, like a bad-ass. I’m way more attracted to girls that fight back than the ones who sit there and whine about it. Max is connectible too, she has her flock, she can fall in love, and she can make jokes.
My least favorite YA heroine is Bella Swan. It seems like Stephanie Meyer just took the same quirks and personality traits and mixed them together, creating Bella. So she’s tipsy, well guess what? So is over 50% of the female teen population. Bella Swan is marketable because so many women can relate with her. For a female MC, make a character who doesn’t have the usual traits. Maybe she has asthma, really short hair, maybe she’s a tomboy, just make the character more human, because that’s what they are.
2) Who's your favorite YA hero, and why? Who's your least favorite YA hero, and why?
Jace, from the Mortal Instruments series, has to be my favorite YA hero, because he’s so sarcastic. He thinks he’s the shit, and time and time again, he proves it. Jace can walk and talk, whereas most people just talk, then run away when the action starts. Oh, and he drives a motorcycle. Yay!
My least favorite is Edward, from Twilight. If you really look into his character, you’ll see that his relationship with Bella is abusive. He keeps secrets from her, and doesn’t let her out of his sight. He is more of a plot tool than a character, just like most of the characters in the Twilight books. Stephanie also doesn’t see that Edward is a guy. He is a 100+ year old vampire, who happens to be a virgin, yet finds the strength to push Bella away every time she comes on to him. I don’t care how much self-control you have, hormones will eventually win.
Two teens giving input, but I have heard similar comments through the other teens cycling through my house. We usually have at least one extra teen on any given day, and because we are readers, the great majority of our teen visitors are too, and these opinions have echoes in this house. so, in summation: Though the Twilight craze is due to descend on theaters nationwide at the end of the month (and Yes, I will be there a 12:05am to watch Eclipsed) Ms. Meyers' writing and characters have fallen out of favor with a good portion of the local teens here in Michigan at least. Both guys and girls appreciate characters who grow from cover to cover and one book to another. Both guys and girls like the heroes and heroines who are strong, and independent, who take charge rather than taking a backseat. Whiners are disliked as are abusive characters.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of two teen readers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the ladies of the Oasis for YA, the Oasis for YA, Blogger or the YA community at large.
Stephenie Meyer's website is currently unavailable)