Monday, November 29, 2010


I did some research tonight on agents I want to query. Depending on how things go, I might send out a few queries as early as tomorrow night. I'm ready to get back into this.

I didn't do as much research as I might have done. This occupied a lot of my time tonight...

May I present the Christmas Beam (I haven't figured out how to tilt the pic upright, just turn your head sideways) :

My apartment was originally the offices for an old cotton mill store. It's over 100 years old and there's this magnificent beam right here in my living room. The first time I saw it (it was summertime) I thought, "We can decorate that for Christmas!"

So now, we don't put up a tree. My roommate and I decorate our Christmas Beam.

O Christmas Beam, O Christmas Beam, how ghetto are your electrical tape ornament holders!

Maybe tomorrow I'll stop decorating random things and actually send out some queries.
As always, prayer is appreciated!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good Characterization is...Well, Good.

I finally got out from the rock I've been living under for the past week and saw Harry Potter 7 (Part 1). Of course I've read the books, and I've also seen from what others have posted online that certain characters died. I knew I was going to cry. I did cry, but the death scenes did not affect me as greatly as another scene.

I knew this scene was going to be important. I was looking forward to it. If you haven't read the book, stop reading this now. If you have read the book or have already seen the movie or both, keep reading. There are a few minor spoilers. If you haven't seen the movie but have already read the book, then no worries. I won't give anything away you don't already know just from least nothing important. :-P

One of the climactic scenes in the book/movie was when Harry followed the doe patronus out into the forest and found Godric Gryffindor's sword in the pond. He was an idiot and went into the water with the horcrux locket around his neck; the locket proceeded to try to kill him. Ron, who had previously deserted Harry and Hermione, was there to rescue Harry and use Gryffindor's sword to stab the You-Know-Who out of that horcrux.

But before Ron's triumphant moment, he had to face some demons. It was one of Ron's finest moments. I loved this scene in the book, but seeing it on screen was just amazing. It took it to a whole other level for me, emotionally. I connected to Ron in a way I never have before.

When Harry opened the locket, the voice of the horcrux tortured Ron. Ron who had always felt like he was competing with his brothers, who always felt unwanted compared to his sister, who always felt like he was in Harry's shadow, was being tortured by all his insecurities. And the part that really really got me was when the fake Hermione looked down at Ron and said, "You're nothing. Nothing."

I started crying there in the theater. I got it. I got who Ron really was, and how important it was for Ron to defeat that horcrux. He had to prove to it and to himself that he was NOT nothing. Even in the midst of a totally inappropriate scene (why did fake Hermione and fake Harry have to be naked while they were kissing??--sorry if I gave something away there, but I think it's better you know beforehand), I was weeping.

And then Ron stabbed that horcrux, and I wanted to stand up and cheer. I didn't, because I was already feeling awkward for crying over a scene that probably wouldn't make most people cry. Then Ron said something funny to lighten the mood, and my tears melted into laughter.

But wow. I just have to hand it to J. K. Rowling that she's a fantastic writer. She handles plot so well, but she's even better at characterization. I just reread that scene from the book, and the movie was almost word-for-word what was Rowling had written. It was just so powerful to actually see her words portrayed. I'm pretty sure I was affected so deeply by Ron's defining moment because I'm a writer.

In a way, Ron really reminds me of one of the characters I wrote for my first series. He's an underdog. Things don't go right for him. He is always facing insecurities. This particular character is more like myself than any other character I've written. Because I'm insecure. There are times when I feel unloved. To actually write that into a character and make him/her believable is an incredible experience.

I don't know if I'm as good at it as Rowling. Probably not.

One thing I'm fairly sure about is that J.K. Rowling probably knows how it feels to be Ron. That's how she was able to write him so well. And I'm glad he got to stab that horcrux. I'm glad he got to prove to himself that he was NOT nothing. It's those incredible moments that us writers live for--the moment when our characters become something more than what they were.

And as always, good writing spawns good writing. Creativity spawns creativity.

I'm back in the game.

...oh, and Weasley is our king!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

These Nothing Times

I haven't been blogging (here) a lot recently because this blog is supposed to be about writing. Right now, there's nothing going on. Last week, I worked two jobs every day (except Saturday--only one job on Saturday). When I wasn't working, I didn't feel like writing. I was either sleeping or resting. So basically, I haven't written much in the past couple weeks.

I am supposed to be working on a collection of short stories. I'm supposed to be researching agents to query (or actually querying them). I'm just too busy right now to think about it. The idea of finding a nice old guy to be my sugar daddy so I can quit my jobs and write is becoming more and more appealing all the time.

Seriously. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving just so I can NOT WORK for a day. I've got a friend coming over for Thanksgiving, but before she made those plans, I was planning on just having Thanksgiving by myself. I don't mind my friend coming over, and I'm glad she'll be there to share my turkey that's big enough to feed 13 people, but if she couldn't come, I would have been FINE. I want a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. That's all I want.

But as I'm typing this, I'm realizing that even though I'm not doing any writing right now, that doesn't necessarily mean that there's nothing happening with my writing. I sent my 1st book to some teenagers/older children to read. It hit me one day not to long ago that I have had a lot of grown-ups read my book, but I'm actually going to be marketing it to young adults--teenagers. I need some teenagers' opinions. So far, one 14 yr. old boy has read it. His assessment as he was reading it: "It's suprisingly good." My internal reaction: "Why surprisingly?" :-D His assessment after he finished reading it: "It's really good!" While I have to wait till Friday to get any in depth feedback, it's encouraging to hear that. It makes me want to write more--sigh. When I have time...

The publication process is SO long. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing more to get to that goal. I know that if I ever do get it into an agent's hands, it's going to be a long time before it gets into a publisher's hands. If I ever get it into a publisher's hands, it's going to be a long time before I see it in print. Right now it's still in MY hands. I feel like I should be doing something, but there's just not enough time for me at this particular moment. I don't see the holidays being any less time-consuming. Maybe this is a New Year's Resolution sort of thing.

But right now I know two families who are overseas working through the adoption process, trying to get their children and get them back to America. They have a lot of waiting, too. And I'm over here praying for them, trying to share in what God's doing in some small way. The fact is, God is doing something. Just as He's preparing the way for these families to come home with their beautiful children, He's preparing the way for my work to get published. I don't mean to downplay adoption, because I know my books are not as important in comparison. The work that God is doing with these children and these families is amazing. I just am in awe watching God work.

It's just that I also see His hand guiding me and my writing. I don't like these times when I'm too busy to write. I don't like these times when I have to do what is right before me and don't have any time to plan for the future. I don't like these times when I just have to wait and trust and wait.

But God is doing something, even when it seems that I'm not. And I am really excited to get to talk to this kid about what he thought about my book!

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Write a Funny Blog

Given the fact that I have less than thirty people subscribed to my blog, I'm probably not the best person to write a blog entitled "How to Write a Funny Blog," but I'm going to write it anyway because I'm an idiot. Also, this blog isn't always that humorous (though I do have my moments). If you want a funny blog, you should take a look at .

1. Pick a humorous situation (or a potentially humorous situation) that happened to you at some point during the day. It could be something cute that a friend or child said. It could be an embarassing situation that happened to you while grocery shopping (those don't just happen to me, right??). It could be a humorous behavior you observed in a total stranger. Heck, it could be a combination of all of these things, or something completely different. Just be observant. Keep your eyes out for humorous situations. Alternatively, you can find a situation in the news or something that you've been thinking about that you can either 1) make fun of or 2) add a humorous twist to. Just be creative. Life is funny.

2. Exaggerate. A lot. There is a very fine line between a liar and a writer. Liars lie; writers make up stuff in an attempt to reveal some greater truth. Liars lie; writers exaggerate. Sometimes things that are funny or interesting can be made to sound even funnier or more interesting if they're exaggerated to extremes. Also, don't be afraid to change tiny details about a situation to make them sound funnier than they really were. When writing, this is not lying. It's improving. For instance, if I were to talk about an old lady getting mugged who was rescued by a police officer, that would not be that funny. However, if I were to talk about an old lady getting mugged who suddenly bust out her mad ninja skills and beat the crap out of her assailants with her walker, that would be HILARIOUS.

3. Don't be afraid to make fun of other people--BUT be careful. Just as there is a fine line between being a liar and being a writer, there is a fine line between poking fun at someone and being a complete jerk. I find it best to make fun of strangers, including celebrities...but even then I don't want to be mean about it. While sometimes idiots need to be pointed out as idiots, we have to remember that everyone is a human being. I find it best to poke fun at people for being human beings, failed, hilarious creatures that we are.

4. Don't be afraid to make fun of yourself. Seriously, if you take yourself too seriously, then you're gonna be seriously boring. Seriously.

5. Repeat words like "seriously" at seemingly (or actually) random moments.

6. What? Number six? I can't think of six ways to be funny. I don't even know how to be funny. Why am I writing a blog about this? I don't know.

7. Confuse people. Including yourself. It makes people laugh...even if that laughter is awkward.

8. Make your story relatable. This could probably be said of serious blogging and writing, too. People who can relate to your funny story will find it easier to laugh along with you--or at you.

9. Ramble. I find that a good tangent (AKA rabbit trail) can increase a blog's funniness by 382.3%. Also, make up statistics.

10. Pretend you're funny. Sometimes when I pretend to be funny, I end up being actually funny. I'm not sure how that works, but it often does. Also, I tend to be funnier when I imagine myself typing with a British accent.

Now, go out there and write a funny blog! Or just keep reading mine. Seriously...keep reading mine.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Testing the Waters

Just a question:

Would any of my readers be interested in a collection of retellings and/or parodies of classic fairy tales AND original fairy tales by A. R. Campbell/Couth Ramble?

Leave a comment here, on facebook, or twitter.


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Decision

I hate making decisions. Maybe this is something common to writers, or maybe it's something common to humanity, or maybe it's just something common to me. I don't like making decisions. This is one of the reasons I drifted in and out of majors in college. I knew what I wanted, but I was afraid it wasn't the right decision. I knew what I wanted, but I was afraid it wouldn't be practical.

I've wanted to be a writer.

And I spent the better part of my teenage years staring up at the ceiling waiting for a "holy lightning bolt from God" to tell me what I was supposed to do with my life.

It never came.

So it took me several years to realize I should just do what I have a passion to do. I should write because it's what I love to do. It's what God has given me to do--no lightning bolts--just the desire and ability to do it.

And in the past week, I've been trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with my writing. I didn't get a "holy lightning bolt from God," and I didn't expect one. I've learned that life just usually doesn't work that way.

Because sometimes there are things like ethics and morals that guide our decisions, and sometimes there's nothing there but options and opinions. I've prayed for wisdom and direction and guidance over this past week, but most of all, I've prayed for trust. I prayed for God to increase my faith--He's been faithful to do just that.

Because sometimes we're just not going to have a clear cut path in front of us. Sometimes we just have a crossroads and we have to figure out which one to take and just start walking.

A week ago, I was very strongly leaning towards going through a small publishing company. There are a lot of reasons why this would be a good idea. I would have more control over my story--as in, I wouldn't have a lot of people who don't know me and don't know my characters messing with my writing and making a lot of changes (I don't even care if that was a run-on sentence). I would have it published sooner than later and finally be able to call myself a published author. I would be able to help out a friend who's trying to get started in the publishing world.

But I would also have to market it myself. I would not have a lot of perks that an agent can provide. I might even prevent myself from getting an agent for future projects.

There are risks involved in whatever I do. I've prayed. I've asked for prayer from others. I've sought wisdom and direction and guidance.

But there have been no "holy lightning bolts from God," nor do I think any are going to come. So it's time to make a decision, choose a path, and just start walking.

Next week, I plan researching more agents and sending out more queries. I am putting book 4 on the back burner so I can start editing another completed project (aka book 2 aka Star). I want to try to sell it, too.

I am learning more all the time, and realistically, I know that even if I get an agent, I'm probably not going to be wildly famous or rich or anything. But I've got goals for my writing, and I'm not going to take the easy way out.

I'll see how it goes. This isn't the final say. If for whatever reason, this doesn't work out--if I just keep getting rejected and run out of options--yes, I will go small publishing. It's not that I see it as a "last resort." On the contrary, I am learning that small publishing is a worthy endeavor. I just would rather go traditionally because that's what I've always wanted. If that's not for me, then it won't work out, and I'll be THRILLED to be published under my friend's company--if he'll still have me. :-D

There are so many things that could happen. I don't know what they are. I'm just going to step out in faith right now and see. This is my decision. This is what I'm doing. I've just gotta trust that the Lord is going to direct my steps, though I can't see what's ahead.

Being decisive feels good.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Be Strong and Courageous

Last week, God did that thing where He keeps making the same message just pop up over and over in my daily life. That hasn't happened to me for a long time, but I know that whenever it does happen, it's probably a pretty good idea to pay attention. The theme this time is "be strong and courageous."

It came up in three of my friends' facebook posts. Then it came up again in worship at my preschool. It came up again in my MOPPETS lesson (I wasn't even planning on teaching that lesson--it was the one provided when I got there that morning). Then it came up again in a scripture passage I was reading. It came up AGAIN in this movie I was watching. Over and over again, God's kind of thrown "BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS" in my face. And I kinda sorta figured there was probably a reason for that.

And I think it's time to take a risk. I've had an opportunity to get published through a small publishing company for a few months now. I've talked to the guy who owns it, and he would be thrilled to help me out. The thing is, he also said stuff like, "But your work deserves to be handled by a bigger publishing company." (What a nice thing to say!)

I don't know how good my work is. I mean, I love it, but I'm just a little bit biased. I've had these characters and these stories in my head for almost a decade. I think I'd love to have my stuff represented by an agent and sold to a major publishing company. I think I'd love to be as well-known as J. K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. I think I'd love to have my books made into a wildly popular movie series (with John Williams writing the main theme). But these are just things I *think* I'd love. The truth is, I really don't know what being a famous writer would look like. I am not sure I'm ready for all of it. I'm incredibly ignorant to the publishing process, and I am very sure that will be evident to any agent or editor--or pretty much anyone else.

I have only queried a few agents. I know there are others I could query. Given enough time, I might be able to snag an agent. But even that is no guarantee that I'll get published. I don't want to be impatient. I don't want to do anything because I am looking for an easy way out.

But the way I'm starting to see it is, I really don't have anything to lose. Christopher Paolini self-published Eragon, and it was later picked up by a bigger publishing company. It's very well-known now. They've even made a movie out of it (even if it WAS horrible and left no room to include the sequels). If I do get it published under the small company that's just starting out, that's not necessarily the end of my project. Who knows what might happen to it and to me if I just take this risk?

I know it will mean a lot of work in marketing (thank God for Twitter and Facebook!). I don't know exactly how hard that's going to be, but this is all part of the learning process. I'm learning more and more every time I step out in faith.

I have not made any decisions yet. This week, I'm just trying to pray through this decision and see what the Lord would have me to do. If you want to pray for me, too, that would be awesome(but I'm not looking for advice at this time, thanks!). I could use all the prayer I could get (can't we all?). If I still think this is where the Lord is leading me by the end of the week (or a little longer--we'll see what happens), then I'm just going to talk to the guy who owns the small company. There's a lot of things to consider before deciding anything.

What I find hilarious and wonderful is that the Lord has really been stretching me this week. It's only Tuesday, and already I've had to take my car to the shop b/c it decided it was tired of being a Ford Taurus and decided to be a recalled Toyota instead (it was accelerating by itself for no good reason--thank God for good brakes and a fantastic mechanic who only charged me $80), I lost my cell phone (hopefully it's in my friend's car), and I got home from a hectic day at work (who knew that 1 yr. olds and firetrucks don't really mix that well??) to find out that termites have been snacking on the 100+ year old hard wood flooring in my 100+ year old apartment. Jerks. Go eat new wood.

It's already been a CRAZY week and it's only TUESDAY. I'm wondering what else is going to happen. But I just look at all the stuff that's going on and I have to say, "Lord, thanks for all these opportunities to trust You."

My car was in the shop and I was expecting my mechanic to tell me a) Your car has the plague and is going to die--time to get a new car; or b) Sure I can fix it. That'll be $700 or your firstborn child. But instead, it was a minor thing that cost less than $100 to fix. I had amazing friends who drove me to work and to the mechanic. My car didn't kill me or anyone else (always a good thing, right?) when I drove it, riding the brake all the way, to the mechanic. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, but I knew it would turn out. And it did.

I don't know if my cell phone is in my friend's car or not. If it's not, then it's lost. And if it's lost, then that will stink, but it's not the end of the world. I'll be okay. I need a good excuse to get off my parent's phone plan anyway...

There's a guy here currently using some sort of machine that sounds like it's tearing up my living room floor (probably because it is some sort of machine that's tearing up my living room floor). But I'm not going to die to death because of termites or weird guys/noises in my living room.

It's all going to be all right. There's all sorts of reasons to "be strong and courageous." As I told my MOPPETS kids about a gazbillion times on Friday morning, "When we're scared, we can remember all the things that God did in the Bible and all the things God does in our lives, and we can remember that He is powerful. We don't have to be afraid." I don't know exactly why God's giving me all this stuff right now in the midst of this decision I'm trying to make, but I'm pretty sure He knows what He's doing.

So thanks for your prayers. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with what I've been given at this point, but I am confident that I'm going to get published one day. Whether it's sooner or later, God is still God and God is still good.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No NaNo!

It's that time of year again--that time when lots of crazy people who may or may not be writers all decide to attempt to write a 50,000 word book within the span of 30 days. November is National Novel Writing Month or "NaNoWriMo." How cute.

I've never participated in NaNoWriMo, and I'm only fairly certain I won't be participating in it in the future. I joke around a lot about how I'm anti-NaNoWriMo, but I'm not really. I do think it's silly, but there's nothing wrong with being silly. I often enjoy being silly. NaNoWriMo is just not my kind of silliness. If it's your kind of silliness, then have fun with that.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to start and complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I think it's an achievable goal, but I don't think that there are a lot of people that can produce quality work under such conditions. I know that no one is going to be able to produce a near-perfect work in that amount of time (that's what editing is for), but I do think that someone who dares to call him/herself a writer should be able to produce something worth reading. As someone who DOES dare to call herself a writer, it does kind of irritate me that there are people who call themselves "novelists" because they once produced a plotless 50,000 words of drivel during NaNoWriMo.

But all in all, I have nothing against NaNo. It's just something fun that some writers like to do, and I know there are some authors who have written great books during NaNo. If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know I wrote a 75,000 word book in less than two weeks (I love to gloat about this to NaNo-ers), and I think it might be one of the best things I've ever written. Good writing CAN and DOES come out of insanity.

The thing is, I WAS pretty much insane for those two weeks, just as I was when I tried to duplicate the insanity over the past three weeks when I was trying to complete another 75,000 word book (in open rebellion against NaNo). I didn't make this goal because I tried to force it. My current book was not like the book I completed in 2 weeks. That book wanted to be written; the main character wanted me to tell her story. It was an amazing, wonderful, completely insane experience. But I have discovered that I can't force it. That writing experience came and passed. I might have a similar experience in the future, but if I do, it won't be of my own volition.

I'm also just not really into this whole, "Let's all write a book in a month at the same time" sort of thing. I get it that other writers want to form NaNo support groups and all be insane together. I guess I'm more of a crazy loner than a crazy socialite. I don't do things just because it's cool to do them, nor do I really get a huge kick out of doing something that a lot of people are a part of. I'd rather do my own thing, and NaNoWriMo is not it.

Also, I have three jobs and so far November has been insane-crazy-busy. Is it only Nov. 3? Seriously? Yeah. So far in this month, I might have written a whole paragraph on my current project.

So, if you're participating in NaNo, more power to you. I hope you write fast AND well. I hope that you produce interesting characters AND a discernable plot. I hope that you find all the support you need AND find time to be alone to write write write. But as for me, I'm going to sit off in my own jokingly anti-NaNo corner and throw paperwads at you.