Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Books VS. Movies

A lot of books are being optioned for movies recently. Two are books written by a couple of my friends: MATCHED by Ally Condie, and THE DARK DIVINE by Bree Despain. I am SO excited for them both! Both of them could end up as movies, or neither, or one and not the other. That's just how it goes when a book gets optioned. I could blog about what that means, but that's a post for another day. What I'm thinking about today are how amazing some movies based on books end up being, while others... not so much.

So, what are you thoughts on it? What are your favorite examples of books that have been made into movies? I'd rather we keep this positive, since we all know not every book that gets made into a movie gets done well. The ones that do though? Wow, they are awesome. LOTR was a fabulous example, IMO - especially if you watch the extended versions.

Wanna know what movie I'm dying to see? The last two Harry Potter ones. Just the previews have made me get teary-eyed. DEATHLY HALLOWS is one of my all time favorite books, and if they do it justice, it will be incredible. If they do a bad job I may just have to go all IRON MAN on their butts or something, though. Because me alone, not so scary, but me in one of those super cool suits with all the weapons and flying stuff and all that? Yeah, that would be a little bit more intimidating. And no, I'm not watching IRON MAN 2 right now... I'm blogging. And that might be on in the background. But that has no relevance to my thought process. Except that it is a good movie.

How about you? What adaptations are you looking forward to?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musings...

Since I took part in the Blogging Experiment last friday, I am doing my random thoughts today. It was a busy week last week!

1. Thurl Bailey (former NBA player) can really sing! I'm not kidding. My husband and I got to go to a political fundraiser event at a very beautiful home here in SLC, and he performed at it. We sat on the front row, and he kept singing "to" us. So cool! He is the nicest guy. Seriously.
Us and "Big T"
2. Seven years. That can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Right now, for me, it means this: last thursday was my seventh anniversary. Congrats to us! :D To celebrate we went to one of our favorite Thai restaurants. (And they gave us free mangoes and sticky rice! major score!)
3. Who says husbands can't surprise you after seven years? Yes, I know my guy pretty well. Okay, really well. But he managed to surprise me after dinner. He told me he wanted to walk into the Harley Davidson store to look at motorcycles (doubtful considering both of us know people who have died in motorcycle accidents), but there wasn't anything else around except some dance studio and a plasma donation center. I know things are tight, but I didn't think they were so bad that he'd take me to donate plasma for our anniversary. I thought he'd pull out of the parking lot (in typical fashion) saying, "ha ha, fooled you!" Nope. He parks. He gets out. We start walking to the donation center. I'm getting nervous but think, okay... I guess if we need the money that badly...
Then he walks past it. Guess what he took me to do yet?

He took me to a ballroom dance class! How sweet is that? Here we are a la DWTS. It was so fun. Yay for surprises!

4. I love surprises. Okay, maybe I should qualify that by saying, I love good surprises. I refuse to spoil my own gifts, even if I know where they are hidden. I actually get upset if I know someone is trying to surprise me and I accidentally find out, or it doesn't work out. Like, really upset. I just know how much effort goes into a surprise and I feel awful when it doesn't happen right - even if it's someone else planning it!

When I was pregnant with our first son, SHH (Super Hot Hubby) (is that a dumb acronym? Hmm... anyway...) decided to decorate the baby's nursery for my gift. He made me promise I'd stay out of the room until Christmas morning. He worked on it all December long and I didn't peek once. I wanted to have the full surprise. Sure enough, I was completely blown away when he took me in there and let me open my eyes on Christmas morning. (SHH is waaay more talented than I am. He can do so many things it's not even funny. Like painting animals all over the walls, and free handing a huge tree, and making "tree-clocks" and curtains and recovering couches and stuff like that. Also, lest you think he's not manly, he's very good at basketball. [He had the opportunity to play in college, but decided to pursue his business instead.] And photography. And building/fixing things. And, well, I'll stop. Let's just say, he's talented.)

So the point here before I got off subject listing the many things that make my husband wonderful (but hey, it was my anniversary, so cut me some slack), is that I LOVE surprises.

5. One surprise I really love is when I'm writing and a piece of the plot comes together so perfectly that it almost doesn't feel like I thought it up. Do you ever have those moments, when little details you added and thoughts you had, suddenly match up to make the most amazing moment in your story? A moment so perfect and beyond expectations that you almost want to cry and laugh at the same time? That is a good surprise.

So how about you? Any fun surprises, anniversaries, NBA stars singing to you, or other musings you'd like to share? Happy Monday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compelling Characters (aka ones that aren't boring)

I was planning on this being a bit of a longer post, but alas, my time is short. So you will have to do with short and sweet. That's okay, right?

Here are my (brief) thoughts on writing compelling characters.

They have to be complex. They have to seem real. How do you accomplish that? You have to be willing to show all sides of someone's character. You have to give them flaws (yes, even your hero with the rippling abs of steel), you have to give them strengths/"like-able" qualities (yes, even your super evil villain), you need to give them foibles and habits and maybe even phrases they say that are easily recognizable. Maybe she bites her nails? Or he has a habit of cracking his knuckles (ew). But you get the idea. Case in point: "What the bleep?" Anybody who's read that book immediately knows what character says that. It's unique and fun and makes Evie who she is.

Your so called "bad guy" can't JUST be bad. He/She needs to have depth to make your reader more involved. Your protag/hero needs to have weaknesses that they can overcome during the course of the book(s). Real people are multi-faceted. They aren't just bad or just good. Great characters are the same.

Was I going to dazzle you with examples and pictures and more? Yes. Maybe I can do another post about it next week if you'd like. Feel free to let me know in the comments. And I'd like to know two things: who are your favorite protagonists (and why?) and your favorite "villain" (and why)? I'll bet they are pretty complex characters. I can't wait to see your answers!

Stay tuned for my Monday Musings (instead of Friday Five since I did the blog challenge) that includes ballroom dancing, Thurl Bailey singing to me, and more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ways to react when a doctor starts talking about...

So, I'm at my appointment with the cardiologist yesterday, and he is reading all the different test results in front of me, doing all sorts of exams on me, making strange noises as he looks through the huge stack of papers in my chart. All in all, I'm getting mighty nervous. Thirty minutes of this goes on before he starts telling me what he thinks about my heart "stuff."

All in all, I got good news. There isn't something horribly wrong with my heart. The heart itself is very healthy, but for some reason, I am having premature beats and most of them are coming from my ventricle. Which apparently is cause for concern. However, since everything else looks good, it's not too concerning. But it is concerning. Confused? So was I.

And then he started talking about the fact that ventricular premature beats increases your risk of "suddenly keeling over dead." Yep. In a very matter fact tone of voice, he told me that my risk of "sudden death" wasn't zero, but it wasn't too elevated, but it wasn't as low as a normal person's--it's somewhat raised. So basically, I have a somewhat elevated risk of suddenly keeling over dead, but it's not too concerning, but it's still concering, however I can keep exercising, I need more testing and will start taking beta blockers after the testing, but overall, I'm okay. Right? Right.

So, if you doctor began to talk about your risk of "suddenly keeling over dead," I'm just curious. How would you respond?

Disclaimer: Just so you know, I really liked the doctor, and he was very knowledgeable and mostly understandable, my husband and I just got a big kick out of his matter of fact discussion on sudden death. And not just any death. But the keeling over kind.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Do you worry?

I am a bonifide worry-wort. That's what my mom calls me anyway. I worry. A lot. About big things, and about silly things. I worry about the fact that I worry too much. It's an illness. I know.

Today, I am trying not to worry too much: I'm trying not to worry about the results to all these tests on my heart. I'm trying not to worry about if I'm doing a good enough job as a mom. Or a wife. Or a housekeeper (ha ha, I know I'm failing at that one most days!). I'm trying not to worry about money, or muscle definition, or how long it takes me to run (or if I can even make it the distance I need to), or hearing back on some potentially big news. There are SO many things to worry about. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed by it all, that I almost start to feel crushed by it. So this quote really made me take a step back:

"Don't waste your life in doubts and fears: spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, I am going to focus on what I'm doing RIGHT NOW and do it to the best of my ability. If, at the end of the day, I know I was fully invested in everything I did, in the moment I was doing it (instead of worrying about what I wasn't doing), I think I will go to bed happy. What do you think? How do you deal with your worries, whether in pursuing publication or in life?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Five

(I'm actually writing this on Thursday night, but hey, it's almost Friday)

1. Waiting is hard. At any stage, or in any process. Waiting for a critique to come back, waiting for an agent to respond, waiting to go on submission, waiting for an editor to get back to you, waiting for your book to come out, waiting for royalty statements. And in non-writing related subjects, waiting to get medical test results, waiting at an ER, waiting for a baby to be born, waiting for your child to sleep through the night... oh, you get the idea. Good thing I'm such a patient person. Ha ha. Ha.

2. Wanna know a great way to make your day insanely unproductive? Spend half of it in an ER and get sent home looking like a lab rat or science experiment gone seriously wrong. Nothing too horrible (I hope) but I've got some stuff going on with my heart. You know what I don't need right now? More health problems. So, I've decided to tell my heart to get its act in gear, and shape up. I've got enough going on without it messing up too. Are you listening heart? No more! Beat normally! I do all this stuff called exercise for a reason - to keep you healthy. Or, at least, that's one reason. So start behaving!

3. It's hard to get dressed with tons of wires strapped/taped/glued to your body. Just sayin'.

4. No, I am not looking for pity, I just have this stuff on the brain right now, since I just spent the last seven hours dealing with it. On the bright side, I didn't get admitted. Yay for small victories.

5. I love reading. It can distract me from just about anything. Even the horrible stabbing, burning pain of potassium being dripped straight into your blood through a (very badly done) I.V. Also, reading can help you pass hours and hours of time while waiting. (see #1)

Um, in other nonrelated thoughts that are probably more interesting to you than the rest of these, I am so excited for my friend Ally Condie who just announced her amazing book MATCHED has had the film rights bought by Disney! (In a bidding war, how exciting is that??) I'm thrilled for you Ally! Can't wait to see Cassia and Ky and Xander on the big screen.
Also - Elana Johnson just revealed her GORGEOUS cover! Go check it out now (as if you haven't already).

Your thoughts are bound to be more interesting than mine this week, so lay it on me. What are your thoughts today?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Signing for PARANORMALCY!

After this post, you will all want to move to Utah. I'm just warning you now. Why? Because there is such a huge support system of local YA authors in Utah, and we are all made of awesome. Right?
On Saturday, uber-cute Kiersten White came into to town to do a signing at The King's English for her recently released (and already New York Times BESTSELLER!!!!) PARANORMALCY. This book is awesome - if you haven't read it yet, you must. Immediately. Go, now. I'll wait.
Okay, anyway...
Here's a whole bunch of the local authors and aspiring authors who came out to support Kiersten. (There were even more not pictured!) In case you don't recognize faces: Back row, left to right: Mary Beecher Campbell, Windy Aphayrath, Elana Johnson, Sara Raasch (who is technically from Ohio, but was in town visiting *waves at long lost name-twin*!), Me (with the b&w hat), Natalie Whipple, Ali Cross. Front Row, Left to Right: L.T. Elliot, Nichole Giles, Carolyn Vawdrey, Bree Despain
Me and Kiersten who is so funny, cute, and nice and I could keep going, but I seem to be gushing, so I'll stop. Suffice it to say that she's awesome, and I'm so thrilled for her well deserved success. Have I mentioned how awesome her book PARANORMALCY is? Ahem.

Afterwards, my friend Stacey (aka Aubrey who is the founder of MyPileOfBooks - awesome book blog I've raved about previously) went for some shopping and frozen yogurt. Yum yum!

See, now don't YOU want to live in Utah? Don't say I didn't warn you... It's okay. You can come visit anytime.
Congrats again Kiersten!

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm blushing and here's why

I have so many wonderful blogging friends that I've met in the last six months since I started this blog. I love the author community. I have been given a few awards from a few different bloggy friends, and I'm way behind on posting some of them. I apologize if you've given me one in the past that I haven't posted. Life has been super crazy, and I can barely stay on top of my regular posts sometimes. Ugh, I'm so Lame-o aren't I? Oh well. I could tell you all about why I'm so busy, but that would probably just be boring. Suffice it to say, things are a bit hectic.

So, here are the most recent ones I've gotten from Christine Fonseca and Ali Cross (Thank you both so much!!):

The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:
1.Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
2.Share seven things about yourself.
3.Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
4.Lastly, contact all the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.

One Lovely Blog Award Rules:
1.Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2.Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3.Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

So, here are seven things about me that you may or may not know:

1. I've been 5'9" since fifth grade. Yeah. I hated it. I've been battling to have good posture ever since, because let me tell you, when all of your friends hit you about mid-chest, it's hard to hear what they're saying. Also, hard to not feel like a giant. So I would stoop down to try and not seem so tall. Now, I love how tall I am, but I still have to remember to stand up straight sometimes.

2. I love cooking. LOVE it. I might even go so far as to call myself a teensy bit gourmet. However, I hate cleaning dishes. So, if anyone ever wants an amazing meal, I'd be happy to make it for you if you'll clean up.

3. I think it's kind of funny that as a "child", I read a lot of adult books: Jurassic Park in 5th grade, Gone with the Wind in 6th. You get the idea. I found out about some YA books in high school and have been reading and writing it ever since. I love how big the YA genre has gotten. Now, instead of never having enough to read, I have WAAAY too much! (A good problem to have)

4. I was the biggest nerd you could imagine for most of my school years. I'm not kidding. I have the embarrassing pictures/memories to prove it. Glasses in second grade, being the "Jolley Green Giant" (like I mentioned above) by 5th grade, a total bookworm (who not only read tons of books but actually WROTE them--GASP! Social Suicide!), you get the idea. Funny how the very things that made my unpopular as a child have now helped me find some of my dearest friends.

5. I've had 7 semi-major and/or major surgeries in my life (so far). Plus three broken bones, some broken ribs, a few concussions, and many other minor surgeries. Yeah, me and the Dr.'s office/ER/hospital... we're like this. Uh, insert mental image of me crossing my fingers together.

6. I used to own a Thoroughbred named Cherry that I competed Hunter/Jumpers with in Utah. (Jumpers is what you see in the Olympics - where the horses jump over really big fences and can't knock down the bars or you get penalties, and it's timed. The fastest, cleanest ride wins.) We won almost every competition. When I had to sell him when I was 15, I was so depressed I couldn't even bear to say goodbye to him. I regret that so much now. I'd give anything to find out where he is and buy him back again. And ride again.

7. I sang with my high school's "elite" choir called Madrigals as a senior in high school. I even had a solo at one performance, I sang Storybook from The Scarlett Pimpernell.

So, hopefully that was somewhat entertaining for you. Here are fifteen author blogs that I love to read or have just recently found:

Elana Johnson

Carolyn Vawdrey

Lisa and Laura Roecker


Windy Aphayrath

Ally Condie

Nichole Giles

Elle Strauss

Carolina Valdez Miller

Challenging the Gnome

Brodi Ashton

Janette Rallison

Kiersten White

Natalie Bahm (who just had her baby!)

Sara McClung

There are so many amazing author blogs out there, that's why I often shy away from doing "awards" because I don't want anyone to feel left out. Please know this list is NOT all inclusive, it was just the first fifteen blogs I thought of that I love. There are many, MANY more. Congrats to you all and share the love!

Coming up on Wednesday: my recap of Kiersten White's book signing (so awesome, and how cute is she??).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Word of Mouth

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about the effects of "word of mouth."

Most authors aren't going to get that "BIG" deal, the "6-figure, everyone's buzzing about it, tons of promotional efforts, etc." deal that many people dream about. That is a rare feat. So, once you get published (because you will!), what if you are one of the majority without all that icing to help sell your cake (aka, your book!), how do you get it to the best-seller list? Or to at least sell through your advance?

There are many opinions on this. Social networking is important, of course. As well as making efforts to promote your book yourself. I'm no expert, having not been published yet, but the thing that seems to make the biggest difference for good (or bad -- even for those so-called BIG DEALS) is word of mouth.

If a book gets a huge advance, but the word of mouth for it is really negative, that book may not end up selling through it's advance even with tons of promotion. However the flip side is that if you get a smaller advance, but have glowing reviews being passed around and a strong "word of mouth campaign" gets going, you will easily sell through your advance, and possibly even propel you to that coveted best-seller list eventually.

The book world is small. We all talk about those BGs (Big Deals) as if everyone in the world must know about who the authors are, and how much they got. We watch the best seller lists like hawks and tweet furiously when someone we know or admire makes it. (Kiersten White #7!! Cassandra Clare #1! Alyson Noel #2! Plus even more; what a week!) However, you talk about advances or where books debuted to anyone outside of the writing world, and they have no clue what you're talking about. (well, they might understand the best seller list part, but the advances, not so much.)

Case in Point:

"Did you know my friend _____ got a MAJOR ADVANCE for her book _____ from ______?!?!"

"Uh... who's that? And what's an advance?"

So, basically, they think you're crazy and you are flabbergasted that they don't know what a MAJOR ADVANCE means and you both stomp away in frustration. (Okay, probably not that last part.)

However, if someone then tells that same person a year down the road when the book is published, "I just read ____ and LOVED it so much. You HAVE to read it. Go buy it right now!" THAT will mean something to them. And hopefully, they will go buy it and read it. And tell their friends and family, and so on and so on.

Just how powerful is word of mouth, though, really? I'm not sure. It would be interesting to find out. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Olympic Ski Jumping

When people talk about making big decisions, or trying to accomplish a big goal, we tend to say "we're ready to take that big jump" or "leap into the unknown." Don't you feel that way sometimes when you are ready to take the next step in getting published? Or even writing your book?

Yesterday, for Labor Day, we were in Park City and decided to go to the Olympic Park where the Ski Jump took place (and still stands). I've always thought that would be so amazing -- to go flying down this huge hill, and then swoosh! You're airborn, soaring above the snow. Wow, what a rush, right?

Doesn't that look amazing?

You can pay to get trained to do that. Well, not THAT exactly, but you can do the smaller jumps into a pool of water (unheated, so be prepared!) and eventually work your way up to the big jumps they used for the Olympics. (And still use to train athletes from around the world and for national and world competitions.) I was thinking that sounded like a really cool opportunity. Until we got to the top of the mountain and looked down the "real jump" and saw this:

I think I'll stick to "leaping into the unknown" by trying to get published for now. Or maybe I'll try the Bobsled! How was your Labor Day weekend?

Friday, September 3, 2010

(a much better) Friday Five (than last week) (I hope)

Here are my thoughts today, in no particular order of importance.

1. I am concerned at my inability to sell stuff. I used to be an amazing salesperson. I could regale you with stories of selling a huge stack of $90-$120 silver and gold plated pen sets (from the 2002 Olympics) at a clearance market where people came with the intent to spend $5 tops. But I won't. The point of this thought is that my gift is gone. Or else, it must only work in person. You see, I have these "oldish" maternity clothes from my first pregnancy that I figure I'm never going to wear again, and I've tried to sell them on eBay with no success. Twice. I can't even sell stuff on eBay! What is wrong with me?

2. #1 intensified one of my fears quite a bit (I talked about overcoming fears in my last post, in case you missed it): What if I get a publishing deal, and then can't sell the book? What if NO ONE WANTS IT?? I know other authors/aspiring authors have this fear. But I think mine is more legitimate, based on my eBay experience. And let me tell you, failing to have my book sell will be almost worse than not being able to sell questionably ugly old maternity clothes on eBay. Okay, not really. The book thing would be WAAAAY worse. But I'm just sayin'...

3. I speak baby-gibberish fluently. It is a little known language, that most mothers learn and no one else seems to be able to decipher. My 1 1/2 year old is really talking a lot, and I can understand quite a bit of what he says. The great thing is that he understands even more of what I'm saying to him. He has a stinky bum right now, and being the great mother that I am, I asked him to go get my the wipes and a diaper to change him, so that I can keep writing this post in the meantime. He just came back over with a wipe, rubbing his face. (Since I do that a lot to clean food and other "stuff" off of him.) He grins at me and says, "I did it!" Except, to the person not fluent in baby-gibberish, it probably sounded like "Ah deedit." I praised him (he got the wipe part right anyway) and then I told him to please go throw it away in the garbage can. He came back rather quickly and said, "I did it!" again. I looked and saw that he'd put it on my older son's toy garbage truck. I said, "Oh you put it on the garbage truck instead of in the garbage?" and he nodded vigorously and said, "Ah (pause) huh!" (Which is how he says yes.) He's pretty bright, don't you think? Well, I do. (Funny side note: one word that people often don't understand he's saying is "sit." He wants to sit a lot. He's always asking to "sit." In fact, one might go so far as to say he has an obsession with sitting--on stools, chairs, couches, you name it. However, when he says "sit" the 's' sounds more like a 'sh' sound. So everyone probably thinks we cuss a lot at our house, especially at inanimate objects. We don't. I just wanted to let you all know that.)

4. The aforementioned baby, in whose language I am fluent as explained previously, just said a whole bunch of stuff to me that no one else would understand, but that I will now translate for you. He said (and I quote): "Everyone is going to buy your books, Mama! Everyone. And they are going to love them. Rave about them. Some may even build shrines to them, or put them on their untouchable shelves! However, you need to sell one of them to an editor first, okay?" I know, I told you he's bright. And hey, out of the mouth of babes, right? So, I'm going to believe him. Also, in case you were wondering, I explained that the reason why I spent so much time working on getting an agent was so that she could help me sell my book to an editor, and we're hoping for that to happen sooner than later, but these things can take time. He nodded and said, "ah (pause) huh."

5. My very good friend (who has helped me and supported me through much of my journey so far) started a book blog just over a year ago, with two other book-crazy co-authors. To celebrate their blogiversary, she designed a whole new layout, and is having majorly crazy giveaways all month long. Seriously, you don't want to miss this! The one she's doing now includes a signed ARC of PARANORMALCY (which I loved!) and a ton of other books and goodies. Go check it out and tell her I said "hi!" It's called My Pile Of Books - cute, huh?

See? Wasn't that better than last weeks? No? Oh well, I tried. And though I may have been totally kidding about my son's ability to predict the future, I'm totally NOT kidding about those giveaways, so go check it out. Happy Friday and for all of my friends and followers in the States I hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In the words of Ralph

And by "Ralph" I mean Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, 'Always do what you are afraid to do.' "

I have had to face a lot of fears to keep myself on this path of publication, and continue to do what I was "afraid to do." My number #1 fear probably being 'fear of rejection' - in any form. From my crit group, from agents I was querying (now from editors), from my self, and possibly scariest of all, from my mom. Seriously, she just might be my toughest reader. When I get any praise from her on my writing, I know it means something. My fears haven't ended with getting an agent, but luckily I now have someone else helping push me to do the things I'm "afraid to do."

There are lots of other things to be afraid of too besides rejection, and not all of them have to do with writing. I think the idea of scuba diving sounds amazing, but I'm terrified of drowning/blood poisoning/suffocating/being eaten by a shark. (Which is odd, because as a child I used to want to go in one of those cages surrounded by Great Whites that you see on SharkWeek. I must have eventually figured out I'm not immortal or something, because now that idea sounds like suicide.) That's just one example, I could give you a whole bunch more.

But the only way to experience life in the fullest, most satisfying way possible is to do the things we are afraid of -- right Ralph? My mom used to tell me and my sisters: "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Or as my husband likes to say (take note of his love of relating life to sports): "You'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

So, let's all venture out, do what we are afraid of, and take those shots. The worst that can happen is that you'll miss and have to try again. Or get eaten by a shark.