A to Z Challenge 2013

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Contest Results And A Brief Hiatus

The results are in and I'm assuming by the lack of entrants that everyone else already has a copy of Beth Revis' awesome book Across The Universe.  There were a few people who commented however, so they were lucky enough to be in the drawing.  Without further ado, the winner is:

Davin Malasarn

Congrats Davin.  Send me an email with the details so I can get this wonderful book out to you asap.  For those unfamiliar with Davin (aka Domey), he is one of three incredibly talented writers over at The Literary Lab.  Davin's book The Wild Grass is newly available on Amazon and I highly recommend everyone get a copy of it today.

I also want to let everyone know that Da Muse will be going dark for a couple weeks while I go on vacation.  I'm hopping on a jet with family in tow to sunny Florida where we will indulge in some deep sea fishing, a jaunt to Kennedy Space Center, and many fun-filled days in Disneyworld.  Oh, and did I mention the best part of this trip?  I actually have the opportunity to meet one of my fellow blog chainers, the awesome Shaun Hutchinson.  That's right, Shaun lives down there and hopefully we'll get to meet up for lunch or whatever.  While hanging out with Mickey is great and all, I have to admit that finally meeting Shaun in the flesh is probably going to be the highlight of my trip.  I'm a HUGE fan of his book The Deathday Letter (so is my son, actually), and Shaun is an awesome guy.

I probably will still lurk around various blogs while I'm on vacation (because I do enjoy reading everyone's stuff), but I won't be posting anything new until I get back on the 22nd.  Don't abandon ship on me, I promise I will return - unless I win the multi-million dollar Lotto or something.

For anyone who's been to Disneyworld recently (or Orlando for that matter), any tips or sights I should know about?  Take care everyone.  I'll see you when I get back.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blog Chain - Rules? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules!

Instead of a Ten Word Tuesday, it's time for another round on the blog chain.  Today's question comes from the incredibly talented Abby, who asks:

There are SO many writing rules, but sometimes we have to break one or two, just to keep things interesting. Is there a writing rule you've broken on purpose? Why did you choose to break it? And if you want to post a snippet of your writing as an example, even better!

For once, the question at hand is an easy one for me.  Why do I consider this one easy?  Because this question assumes that I know what the writing rules are and that I go ahead and break them on purpose.  Forget it, Abby.  I'm lucky if I can even recognize when I'm breaking a rule, let alone do it on purpose.

I'm being slightly facetious of course, but the truth is that I write more by feel than by technique.  If a turn of phrase doesn't sound right to me, I alter it.  I do pay attention to the basics, such as not writing in a passive voice for example.  But I don't have any sort of educational background in writing and so I'm just learning as I go.  I will say that I'm a fan of certain broken rules, such as writing short spasms rather than complete sentences.  In the right moment, that one can have a lot of impact.

I'm not going to add a snippet, just because as I've said, I am not sure I'd know which snippet is a good example of a broken rule.  I'm not trying to avoid the situation, but I am aware of when I'm in over my head.  And at least for right now, recognizing all the right rules is an area where I'm in over my head.  On the other side of this coin though, I do try and learn about the rules all the time.  I pay attention to what all my fellow writers say and read blog posts by my favorite authors/agents/writers on the subject.  So who knows, maybe someday later I will be able to proudly say I do break a couple rules on purpose - and even know which rule I am breaking.

That's all I have to say on this subject.  I hope this will count for my bloghop post, even though I haven't really identified a broken rule LOL.  If you haven't had the chance to read Michelle McLean's awesome answer from yesterday, get on over there.  Tomorrow we can look forward to something truly revealing from that writing wizard we all know as Margie.  Oh, and if you haven't entered my contest for the free copy of Across The Universe by Beth Revis, make sure you do.  The contest ends tomorrow!

Which rules have you broken on purpose?  And why did you choose to do so?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Discussions - Parental Obligations

My friend Shaun Hutchinson has launched an interesting discussion today, based on an article in the Wall Street Journal.  Before I launch into my take on the subject (or rather my offshoot discussion on the subject), I'll give you time to go check out the article itself as well as Shaun's post.

Cue Jeopardy music

Okay, everyone caught up now?  If you decided not to burden yourself with reading the article, I'll quickly summarize.  The author of the article is lamenting about the more dark nature of YA books these days and Shaun's post is a rebuttal (kind of).  As you can see from my comment on Shaun's post, I tend to agree with his thoughts on the subject.

But this post is kind of an off-shoot discussion.  From my perspective (as a parent AND a writer), the problem of whether YA books are too dark or not is irrelevant.  The idea itself can be argued both ways, and there are understandable reasons for why (cultural and societal changes, acceptability of profanity as a norm by many, etc).  What is more important to me is the discussion of parental responsibility.

See, I'm one of those people who feel parents are completely responsible for everything their child is involved with (to the age of 18 anyway).  Even when the parent isn't aware of a particular situation (i.e.  a kid making pipe bombs in the basement), the parent is still responsible.  It's part of being a parent, whether we like it or not.  It behooves us then to be deeply involved with whatever our child is doing, even when being that way might seem intrusive at times.  I don't care if my sons are mad that I ask what they're reading every time they pick up a book.  There is no expected right to privacy in my household (even though I do grant them a level of privacy all the time).

When it comes to what books my sons are reading, I know because I talk to them about their book choices.  I ask them their thoughts on a given story.   In other words, my kids and I communicate all the time.  Strange concept these days maybe, but I believe in it whole-heartedly.  And though it's possible they could be reading something I'm not aware of, I find it doubtful.  You see, my kids actually like that I show interest in what they read and what their opinions are, so I don't believe they mind when I intrude on their choices.

I guess my point is that instead of bemoaning the dark nature of YA literature these days, we should be helping to guide parents towards being more actively involved with their kids.  Authors will write whatever they want to write and publishers will continue to publish it, but if it's unacceptable reading for your kids and you have guided them away from it, it becomes a non-issue.

And speaking of Shaun, I am going to be actually meeting him in person (hopefully) when my family travels down to Florida next week.  Yep, I'm going to be basking in the Florida sunshine starting next Sunday, and sometime during our 10 day visit (at Disneyworld, no less) I may be lucky enough to meet the incredibly talented Mr. Hutchinson.  Maybe some of his awesome skills will rub off on me, huh?  I don't know what I'm more excited about, getting to see Mickey with my kids or being able to introduce them to Shaun.

I'm hoping for a lively discussion of the topic at hand though, so feel free to step up on a soapbox in the comments.  Even if you disagree with me, feel free to say so.  I don't take anything personally.  Oh, and if you haven't entered my contest for a free copy of Across The Universe, get over there and do so.  Time is running out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Celebrating Possession

If you haven't heard yet, Elana Johnson's book Possession will be coming out in just a few days (June 7th).  You can also pre-order the book now if you so desire.  And since I owe Elana way more than I can ever repay (whether she knows she has been a huge influence on my writing or not), I just had to make today's post about this book.  Besides, I know what an awesome writer (and mentor and just all around supercool ninja) she is and so I am compelled to spread word of her magnificence throughout the world.

So what is Possession?  Rather than explain in my own meager way, here's a quote from the book's site itself:

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

This story will be nothing short of spectacular, of that I'm sure.  Elana is a masterful storyteller and I cannot wait to pick up my copy.  I will probably do a more thorough review of it later too.   This is one of my most anticipated reads, particularly since I have always been impressed by Elana's knowledge of craft and her ability to spin an entertaining yarn - regardless of the topic.  Her blog is a must-read every day.

Also, if you haven't had a chance to enter the contest I'm running for a free copy of Beth Revis' book Across The Universe, make sure you get over there right now.  Time is running out and that's another book everyone absolutely must read.

Finally, here's a funny video to keep you laughing on a Friday.  After all, Friday should be about fun.  And what's more fun that laughing along with Weird Al.  That dude is awesome! Have a nice weekend everyone.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Unintentional Isolation...And A Contest!

One thing I've noticed is that I have a really bad habit of withdrawing from the world and just existing within my own tiny sphere at home.  It's not that I don't enjoy all of you or that I don't value the friends I have made through this writing journey;  I am just more reclusive than I am social, to my own detriment.  And I've had to make apologies to friends, with promises to try to overcome my own bad habits.

My mom and I were discussing this trait we both share.  Although we can exist just fine in a crowded room, we're much happier by ourselves.  The problem is that I do actually enjoy the stimulating conversations and things I learn from friends.  Withdrawing into seclusion makes me miss out on all this fun stuff.  Needless to say, I am aware of the problem and am going to be taking steps to make sure I don't do this too often.

On another note, I am in possession of an extra copy of Beth Revis' awesome book Across The Universe.  How did this happen, you ask?  Well, I purchased a copy when it came out (because I was incredibly anxious to read it).  I also helped chat up Beth's book whenever I could help get the word out, and unexpectedly in the mail, I received a SIGNED copy of her book from Beth and/or the publisher.  This means I have opportunity to hold a contest and give my other copy away to some lucky recipient (sorry, I'm not giving away my signed copy.   I cherish it way too much).

And although it might be difficult to find someone out there who hasn't purchased this awesome book already, I'm willing to try.  If you have a copy already, enter the contest anyway and give this one away to someone else. Let's pass this awesome book on to as many people as we possibly can.

The contest is going to go like this.  I'll hold the contest for a week (ending on June 8th) and send the book out to a random winner.  Unfortunately, this is only for people in the US.  Sorry, but I can't afford to send this overseas.   But hey, if you're near Beth or find her near your town sometime, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to sign it for you.  She's cool like that.  You can also earn extra entries:

Comment here - +1
Long time follower - +2
New follower - +1
Post about the contest - +1
Facebook about the contest - +1
Tweet about the contest - +1
Tally the total for me - +1

Those who know me well might wonder why I'm adding in the Facebook and Twitter stuff, since I don't currently use those social tools.  I'm all about getting the word out and getting this book to a new loving owner though, so I'm embracing those tools too.  I'll depend on the honor system.  If you say you've done it, I'm just going to take you at your word.  I personally haven't seen any writers lie about something like that, so I feel pretty safe.

Lastly, do you ever feel isolated from things here on the Interwebs?  If this is just me, feel free to say so.  If not, what do you do to stay a part of these social connections (aside from FB or Twitter)?