Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people on the East Coast as they brave it out through Hurricane Sandy.  

If you're in the affected areas, and you're not busy evacuating your home, gathering food and supplies for your emergency kit, trying to locate a source of power, or overseeing your family and loved ones, and you just happen to be online, feel free to share or vent about what's going on.

Hang in there, East Coasters!  *Virtual hugs!*

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spooktoberfest


I'm participating in Spooktoberfest.  A thank you and a handful of black and orange jellybeans to Jackie Felger of Bouquet of Books and Dani Bertrand of Entertaining Interests for hosting! Here are the rules:  The flash fiction piece cannot be any longer than 300 words and it must contain these five words: cobweb(s), cauldron(s), jack-o-lantern(s), ghost(s) and razor(s). 

Weekly Wrap-up of TV Highlights on Channel Spook

Voiceover: On The Bleary Springer Show, two pumpkins face off when they find out their "pimp-kin daddy" boyfriend has been playing the patch.

Footage Shown: Two Pumpkins with straw hair are oozing out of their bright sequined halter tops, denim mini-skirts and cowboy boots. They had just jumped out of their seats and are now up in each other's faces. 
 
"Your face looks like a jack-o-lantern carved with arthritic hands."

"Your face is fit for a scarecrow."  

Pieces of straw fly, heads roll, and pumpkin puree splatters across the screen.

Voiceover: On Witch Chef, a couple of judges discuss a chef's entree of spider crepes.

Footage shown: A panel of judges are seated at a long table smacking their lips. 

"The pieces of cobweb left on the spider was an oversight and it compromised the textural competence of this dish. 

"But I am impressed with how well the cast iron cauldron cooked the bug juice broth- it was buttery yet as light as a ghost."

Voiceover: On The Werewolf Bachelorette, a rejected suitor thinks aloud as he rides away in the limousine.

Footage shown: A suited man sits alone in a moving limousine.  

Rejected Suitor: "Really bummed I didn't get a rose. She was so warm and fuzzy whenever I held her. I probably shouldn't have made that joke about getting her a razor for the next full moon."

...and that's my flash fiction. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Calm Before a Storm Called NaNoWriMo

Right now, it's past 2 a.m. in the morning.  I'm up late (or early, depending on how you look at it) because I've been busy with NaNoPlanMo. For the last month or so, I've been prepping for the novel I'm going to begin writing in November. Not only have I been busy developing characters and plotlines, I've also been conducting some hands-on projects because there will be a how-to component in my story as well. To fulfill the requirements of NaNoPlanMo, I need to clock in 30 hours of planning. I'm over the 25 hour mark already, and to be honest, when I pass 30 hours, I could probably put in an extra 10-20 hours on top of that.  

I like to plan and think about stuff, and so NaNoPlanMo has actually been kind of fun. I'm also thankful that this program exists to keep me on track. But something tells me that in spite of my planning, I will still encounter challenges during NaNoWriMo. 

Yawn. I'm going to bed now. My spidey sense tells me I'd be writing past midnight for a number of nights during NaNoWriMo. 

Who's doing NaNoWriMo? You can add me as a buddy if you are.  My profile name is: CynthiaWrites. (There is no space between the two words.)

What time is the latest you've ever stayed up to work on or plan a novel? If you're doing NaNoWriMo, what do you anticipate your average bedtime to be in November?

Update 11/1/12: Back when I wrote this post, I hadn't heard anything about Hurricane Sandy yet. Otherwise, I would've given this post a different title. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Letting Go" Bloghop

A thank you and a mug of soothing hot chocolate to Kyra Lennon of Write Here,Write Now for hosting the If I Let You Go Bloghop. Isn't the image for her new book's cover on the right just so pretty? From Kyra's post: Was there a time when you had to let go of someone or something? How did it make you feel? How did you handle it? The only rules are - obviously - it has to be related to letting go, and please keep it to a maximum of 500 words.

Although we have the option to write flash fiction, I am going to share a true story...

The Star I Threw Away

Once during my kindergarten's after school program, I decided to draw a star. This was not the average star the typical kindergarten kid would make where you draw a bunch of intersecting lines so you're left with a pentagon in the middle and five triangles at each tip. No, I wanted to draw like the artists whose work I saw in the picture books and classroom posters. 

So I took a crayon and drew the outline of a star, a star without the crossing hokey lines that shout "I'm an amateur!" I thought it looked just alright.  Just alright wasn't good enough. Even back then, I was a little perfectionist. So I tossed my sheet of paper with the star onto the scrap pile. 

I grabbed another piece of paper and started drawing something else. I don't remember what I was working on, but what I do remember was one of the aides coming by to compliment a girl near me on what a lovely star she drew.  I glanced over, and saw that one of the girls had taken my picture of the star out of the scrap pile and started scribbling on it.  And now the aide was oohing and aahhing over the star I'd drawn. I suppose the girl could've said she'd merely fished my drawing out of the scrap pile. But she didn't. 

Two things were stewing inside me: I regretted tossing my star. And two- I wanted to speak up for myself, to announce it was I who had drawn the star. But I didn't. 

I let that one go. 

I comforted myself with the thought that there will be other stars, perhaps entire universes and galaxies, for me to make.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Clothing and Status

I'm doing my character development homework for NaNoWriMo so I won't have to wing it in November. Right now, I'm going through a book about crafting characters.

I like this book.  But there is an idea I've come across that doesn't quite gel with me, and I've seen this idea come up in other character development guides as well, and that is the instruction to dress our characters by their social class. 

That is, a character from an affluent background is expected to wear expensive designer clothing and be well-groomed to reflect their social status while someone who is from a less privileged background should wear cheap, gaudier clothing and be less groomed. The author suggests that, with some exceptions, clothing and grooming offer clues to the readers about one's socioeconomic status. 

I respectfully disagree.

Here's how I would put it: Sometimes clothing and grooming offer clues about one's socioeconomic status OR how one wants others to perceive their socioeconomic status, AND sometimes clothing and grooming don't offer clues to one's socioeconomic status at all.

My line of thinking is influenced by living in the Bay Area, where it's not unheard of for wealthy CEOs of start-up companies to go to work in casual gym attire or for young people from underpriviledged backgrounds to wear expensive designer sneakers. And if you think someone  who is a "somebody" must be expertly groomed, I ask you to look no further than all those pictures out there of Albert Einstein with his wild bed head. 

I still remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw is admiring her closet stuffed with Chanel and Manolo Blahniks  while wondering how she'd come up with money for the down payment of her apartment. Though Carrie is a fictional character, her situation offers insight on some of the "best dressed." An individual who is always styled like a mannequin at Nordstrom as if to remind others  "I'm all money!" could sometimes be anything but. 

I've also observed some people who are exceptionally well-off financially, and their clothing choices are rather ordinary and do not hint at their wealth at all. Perhaps individuals from this group might've come from a background where thrifty spending is valued. Or they don't care about being stylish. Or they're simply comfortable with themselves and don't feel the need to prove they come from "class." It's not uncommon to come across a picture of a Hollywood A-lister totally grunged up and glammed down while they walk their dog or go grocery shopping.

Sometimes the rich and the less privileged would dress as such, respectively, and sometimes they don't. So I feel that clothing and grooming are not definitive markers of social class.

Readers, your thoughts? How do you dress your characters?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book?





Thanks, Alex J. Cavanaugh and Ciara Knight of Defy the Dark for hosting this blogfest.  Today, we're supposed to write a post about a book we've "noticed." Here are the rules from Alex's page:
You can choose a book that you’ve read, something you saw on a blog or social media site, Goodreads, or a sales website. Anything that caught your eye because of a great cover, blurb or reviews, but DON’T tell the author that their book has been noticed. Instead, shout out on social media sites, and encourage others to do the same, until the author finds his/her book. Leave a blog comment at Ninja Captain Alex or Ciara Knight when the author finds their book. Only two rules: 1) You can’t post about your own book.          2) The book shouldn’t be on the New York Times or USA Today bestseller list. This is your chance to shout out about a book that might not have been noticed by others.
I first noticed Claire Legrand's name when she did a guest post for this year's WriteOnCon titled Differences Between YA and MG (for the Writer Who Does Both).  Then I began to frequently notice the cover of THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS pop up on a several blogs. The cover is eye-catching in an old school vintage sort of way. The comforting design makes me think of the books I used to find left behind on a desk at the library when I was a child. I would pick up one such book and read the inside flap, and the next thing you know, I'd be reading this at home with a mug of warm soup on the coffee table beside me. Yeah, that kind of book.

So after noticing this book on a variety of occasions and skimming over its synopsis (it sounds deliciously dark), I ordered it from Amazon. The book arrived last week! 

Has anyone already read this book? Please, no spoilers! =)
Claire Legrand, if you happen to stumble upon this post, leave a comment to say hello!

(Update 8:45 PM on 10/16: I really thought I'd put my blog on Alex's blog hop, but as I was going through the list just now, I didn't see my blog on the list. So I added it.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Won Another Blog Award!


Thanks, Tara, from Tara Tyler Talks, for giving me the One Lovely Blog Award. I think I'm supposed to give 7 random facts about myself. Let's see what I can come up with...



1. I've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo next month. I've been busy brainstorming for my story by also participating in NaNoPlanMo, which I'd mentioned in an earlier post. 


2.  Recently, I baked a cake that called for Grand Marnier and Kahlua.  I was carded at the grocery store when I bought this stuff.  I should've been annoyed that I had to go through my wallet to dig for my driver's license, but I was quietly flattered that I could still be mistaken for an under-aged college student or a very daring high schooler.

3. Earlier tonight, I watched a clip from The View where Vanilla Ice was rapping to Ice Ice Baby while a bunch of Zumba dancers worked it in the background. Let's hear it for old school. Yo, VIP let's kick it...

4. I have a habit of stocking up on books...what can I say...I love reading!

5. At my last pedicure, I picked out a shimmery blue polish. Sometimes when I look at my toes, I think about the ocean and how I'd like to go snorkeling again.

6. I'm excited that Gossip Girl is back. I haven't had a chance to watch the season premiere yet. I still like Blair and Dan together but I think Blair is going to end up with Chuck.

7. I'm tickled to receive this blog award. I'm supposed to hand off this Lovely Blog Award to other bloggers, and instead of naming a group of people in particular, I'd say that anyone who wishes to claim this blog award can go ahead and claim it and say it's from me. 

Happy Friday, everyone!  Feel free to share random tidbits about yourself in the comments. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

When You Don't Get Back What You Put In

I do a mental eye roll whenever I hear someone say, "You get back what you put in." It's a presumptuous comment to make about anything, even if it's spoken in the spirit of encouraging someone to do their best so they can reap the rewards of their hard work.

Here's why I don't like this misleading adage:

1. By the logic of "you get back what you put in," when someone doesn't get the end result they were aiming for, must that mean they didn't utilize enough of themselves into reaching their goal? Of course not.  So this saying sets someone up to feel like they didn't try hard enough when in reality, they might've done all that they could. 

2. What if someone worked and worked and worked towards a goal, and the prize they feel is due to them is forever out of their reach? The "you get back what you put in" finger wagging in your face can leave someone feeling like they have been cheated, as if the universe now owed them something big.

3. It can tear someone up inside when they observe another person getting what they themselves had labored and sweated away for, and the cut goes even deeper when the "chosen one" appears to have been less deserving of the prize.

Self-doubt, entitlement, and bitterness are undesirable pieces of baggage for anyone to lug around. 

Here's how I would put it:  Sometimes you get back what you put in, and sometimes you don't. You don't always have full control over the results of your efforts. 

What do you think of "You get back what you put in?" Have you ever NOT gotten back what you put in? How did you react to that disappointment?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG: Why I Don't Do Simultaneous Submissions

It's IWSG day......thanks, Alex. In spite of all the talk I do about my WIPs, my ideas, my manuscripts, and all that I'm-serious-about-getting-a-book-out-there-someday kind of chatter, the truth is, I have only sent out completed manuscripts for consideration to a very small number of industry professionals. I can count the number of official "I'm laying my soul at your feet" submissions with fingers on one hand.



A lot of writers do simultaneous submissions, and that's cool. But I tend to be more slow and selective when it comes to submissions. I like to know who I'm sending my stuff to. I prefer sending stuff to someone I've either researched or have had some previous interaction with, someone who can offer me a vibe from our meeting that there is potential for a fruitful agent or editor relationship. Fortunately, I've met so many lovely agents and editors. 

I also dread the thought of sending out  manuscripts to 100 people, and weeks later, when my eyes gloss over my work, I see a glaring and blatant error. It would seem unprofessional to send a follow-up "Read-this-MS-instead-and-not-the-other-MS-I'd-just-sent-with-the-boo-boos"...and to those same 100 people again....the horror.  

The final reason why I don't do simultaneous submissions is because I don't want my name to be recognized on mailing envelopes or inbox emails as that person who keeps sending queries or manuscripts that all the agents and editors keep passing on. Oh, it's that Cynthia once again, sending yet another tiring query/complete manuscript/first chapter. I wonder if agents and editors who routinely get stuff from the same writers they keep passing on eventually develop a conscious or unconscious expectation that all future submissions from that individual would not be worth a second look. So this takes me back to an earlier point- I like to know who I'm sending my stuff to. That way, I can be assured that the material is suited to the reader's interests. 

Do you do simultaneous submissions? Why or why not?