Thursday, February 28, 2013

Journals!

I love journals!


I keep a lot of my writing in journals. The two on the top left are empty (just waiting to be filled!) The three on the top left are filled completely. The two up front are ones I am using currently. The one on the left is a new book I've been brainstorming. The on on the right is for the second book to my pirate series (FLINTLOCK).

Journals are wayyyy better than loose-leaf paper (though, I still use that, too. Here's an outline on my wall):


Anyways. Where do you guys store your work? Other than on the computer, lol. 

Oh, also, I have sent in my form for the Oklahoma Writer's Conference. Anyone else going?



Monday, February 25, 2013

Artwork by Brittiny!

Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to share some artwork with you. This was done by my wonderfully talented friend, Brittiny Hines. She's responsible for the artwork you've seen on my blog. Check out her blog HERE! I gave Brittiny descriptions from my books and these Pinterest boards:

Larkin Inspiration
Sara Inspiration

You'll probably be able to figure out what she drew from.

These two are called Character Sheets. All those notes are questions and thoughts Brittiny had while drawing them. I can tell you that she portrayed these girls perfectly. I mean, she even considered how the curves of their bodies would reflect their personality. Isn't that crazy?




Now, once she's finished, she'll paint them. She e-mailed me this surprise last night:



I couldn't stop staring at these pictures. I mean, Brittiny brought my characters to life, and I was just in awe. What do you guys think? And how have you managed to bring your characters to life?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Words from my Daddy


I wanted to share something my Daddy told me the other day. This is him: 




He always talks about the lottery--you know mega-millions, powerball, etc. My Dad's philosophy is "you can't win if you don't play!" 


So he plays. 

I made a comment that the lottery is like trying to snag an agent--a lot of it just seems like chance. That's why we get so easily discouraged. 

My dad responded by saying, "Yeah, but you got one."

He's right. At least I have a chance. I have a chance cause I didn't give up, because I didn't let all the negativity let me down, because I am querying. I know people think I'm crazy for believing I'll be a famous author. Perhaps those people think I'm naive. But it's boring to want to be average. I'm also well aware of how hard it is...and so are many of you. 

So when we talk about querying in terms of our chances, I think we all come out as winners. 

Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dystopian--The New High School


I read this article, “Fresh Hell” by Laura Miller (LINK)

It brought up an interesting point—that dystopian novels like “The Hunger Games” aren’t about what WILL happen if we don’t stop a certain cycle, they are about “what’s happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader” (Miller 2010).

Okay, how many of you thought about that? Cause I didn’t.

Because, let’s face it. So many critiques about dystopian novels out there are really about trying to figure out what the book is actually saying about the world we live in, what our government will actually become, etc. While that works for ADULT dystopian (You know, 1984, Brave New World), it’s probably a little different for Young Adults (Collins has also maintained that her books aren't commentary on the government). I’ve always wondered how Young Adults could find dystopian appealing (no offence to those of you who find it appealing). Let me explain why I don’t find dystopian appealing:

1.       I want my books to take me to a place I’d like to explore; I never found a dystopian world I wanted to explore (note that this DOESN’T mean I won’t. I have Under the Never Sky on my reading list; maybe that book will change my perspective.)

2.       After reading a ton of Adult dystopian in High School, my tolerance for it is very low.

**these are my personal opinions. Please feel free to explain why you love dystopian or why it doesn’t appeal to you.

Now, interestingly enough, I learned from this article, or rather gathered an opinion on why Young Adults like dystopian. Let me put it in the words of Scott Westereld (Author of the Uglies), “The success of ‘Uglies,’ is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia” (Miller 2010).

Let’s think about this:

High School vs. Dystopian world:

Round 1: Often, it does feel like you’re competing for perfection, mostly physical perfection. There’s always that one girl who everyone wants to be like. There may be a certain hair dye, cut, accessory everyone has, or certain type of clothes.

Round 2: Cliques often form. A sort of “US vs. THEM” mentality. At my school there were the popular kids (they ALWAYS hung out at the benches), the "weird" kids (they ALWAYS hung out near the brick wall, or in the back of the cafeteria and often wore black), the bands kids (they ALWAYS hung out near the flag pole and the rails), and then there was the nutral crowd who mingled with everyone (in dystopian, we’d all probably be the first to die, or the we’d be the heroes. I think it goes either way, lol). 

I think of Equilibrium

Round 3: You have an enemy that exercises power over you. These are teachers, principals, or parents who keep you from doing what you want--like dressing a certain way, wearing a certain type of makeup, and even, sometimes, hanging out with the people you like.

Yep.

I see a trend.

In the end, I like looking at dystopian like this. It definitely makes me see why it would be appealing to Young Adults.

What do you think?

Also, normally I wouldn’t try to dissect meaning like this, but I’m in a Young Adult Literature class, as I have said before, and I felt like this would be a fun exercise.




Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blog Series: Premise


http://www.amazon.com/The-Anatomy-Story-Storyteller-ebook/dp/B0052Z3M8A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361136456&sr=8-2&keywords=Anatomy+of+Story#_
 

I know, I’ve already gotten off-track with my blog series. :/ So, here’s the second post: PREMISE.

Truby gives this definition of Premise, “The premise is you story stated in one sentence. It is the simplest combination of character and plot and typically consists of some event that starts the action, some sense of the main character, and some sense of the outcome of the story”

Basically, your premise is what makes you story unique. It also is the foundation for your entire story—fail at the premise, you fail at the rest of your book.

Example of a book without a stated premise:



Example of a book with a stated premise:



Okay, you’re going to laugh at me, but look at the first line. It’s all jumbled and confusing. The characters don’t always jive, their decisions don’t actually get them anywhere and no all the chapters in the book seem to contribute to the actually story—without a stated premise, you didn’t give yourself a starting point. You didn’t give yourself time to ask important questions that develop everything—plot, characters, themes, nothing.

Now the second line represents fluidity. It represents a puzzle that has all its pieces and no loose ends. Decisions the character makes get you from point A to point B, and all chapters help the story—all because there was a good premise.

Truby suggests that you take weeks to develop your premise and the subsequent questions that will arise from that simple line. I can tell you that I am still in the planning states for my second novel, and I have been for weeks. Soon, I’ll have to begin writing.

He also suggests making a premise list that can coincide with your wish-list (LINK).

In an attempt to use a book most people have heard of, I’ll demonstrate the use of Premise:

Harry Potter:

Premise: Send a young boy to a school of witchcraft and wizardry.

Questions that you could ask yourself after developing this premise are: Where is the school located? How does one get there? It has to be something magical. What does the school look like? Who is in charge of the school? What kind of classes would witches and wizards take? Would it be like a normal school? Are there going to be sports? They would be different sports, nothing that normal humans would play….

See how that brainstorming works?

This is how I brainstorm, you guys might have a different way, but all that matters is that you’ve developed that premise!

 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview: Alicia Tonne


I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting the beautiful Alicia Tonne at University. We were both English Writing majors, and we had a few writing classes together. She is an Intern at Henery Press,  and a barista at Starbucks. Alicia's blog Writer Girl + Real World  is SO much fun to read, and really gives you a sense of her personality. 

How long have you been writing?

I've been writing since the beginning of junior high. In elementary anytime they actually let us write stories, I always had so much fun and loved reading them aloud to entertain the class. By the time I was in junior high, I started rewriting the ends of books I didn't like or changing key events in movies. From there I realized writing didn't have to be a classroom activity or "fanfiction" -- instead I could write whenever I felt like it and create my own characters/worlds. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

About the time I was twelve. I wrote everyday. And then I happened to go with my dad on a work trip to New York. He had work during the day and would come home in the evenings to do the usual New York-type things (broadway, touristing, etc). So for a week straight I holed up in the hotel and wrote all day and would have a break at night. I decided then and there that was the life I was going to live when I grew up.

What do you write? 

 The easiest way to say it is that I write fiction. For about a year now, I've been focused on horror though. I've been fascinated by Poe since I was a kid and near the beginning of college came up with the idea of reading all of Stephen King's works. From my love of horror, I decided "Why not try my hand at it?" Sometimes it's hard for me though because humor pops up A LOT while I'm writing. I love a witty, sassy main character that doesn't always get the somber mood quite right. Currently, I intern for a mystery publisher (Henery Press) and that is influencing me a lot. The result is more of a suspense-with-sass that's pretty fun to write.

What is your working WIP title?

Remy Harkin Mystery

What is your WIP about?  

Becoming a receptionist for a private investigator was not the plan Remy Harkin had in mind after graduating college, but at this point she'll take what she can get. Dealing with a roommate who hates her, trying to find a social life in a new city, and figuring out how to have at least one normal interaction with her boss, Liam -- Remy's pretty much at her limit. But when a spousal-cheating case turns into a murder investigation, Remy feels something has to be done. Especially since her good-for-nothing boss says it's up to the police. Isn't it a detective's job to make sure their client is a hundred percent satisfied? (Even though her client might already be dead.)

Who is your favorite character from your WIP and why? 

Of course, I'd have to say Remy. This is kind of the first thing I've ever written where it's been more about the character than specifically the plot. It was Remy in my head doing stuff totally unrelated to her book that had me itching to write. (Really, it was her snark-ing in my head, but that sounds more crazy.) 

How many other books have you written?

Two, but they are "unmentionables" -- haha! They were written while I was still figuring things out about writing and are more drafts than anything resembling a book.  

How do you hope you are published?

Because I've worked a bit in the publishing industry, I have heard way too many horror stories about self-publishing. Being an author is absolutely about the writing, but the market really has a lot more to do with it than what a "true artist" might want. Having a team behind me and my novel would hands-down be the way I'd want it.

What's your writing space like? 

A chair that doesn't make noise and I can sit crossed-legged in. And a clean room. If I feel cluttered at all (besides a contained notebook of scraps and outlines) it will drive me mad and nothing gets written. The chair and the cleanliness are really all I'm particular about. 

What/who are some books/authors that have influenced you the most in your writings? 

  Meg Cabot and Jane Austen influenced a lot of my early writing, kind of giving me my fundamentals, I guess you could say. Currently, I'm heavily influenced by Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk. As you can see I have slolwy gone from witty romance to a darker thriller, but I still find myself split between those two sides. I guess it's the Gemini in me -- haha!

Blog: http://www.artonne.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/atonne

Sunday, February 10, 2013

[Insert Author Name] cannot write!

The inspiration for this blog post came from my MLIS book entitled, "The Essentials of Young Adult Literature" by Carl M. Tomlison and Carol Lynch-Brown.

I was reading Chapter 4 "Modern Fantasy" when I came across black lines on the page:

This is page 63:


This is page 67:


Guess what is marked out.

"An example is Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. The first book in the suspenseful vampire romance saga, Twilight, published in 2005, became a best-seller and has been made into a popular movie" (Tomilson, Brown 2010),

"In Stephenie Meyer's vampire novel, Twilight, a teenage girl falls in love at her new school with a handsome, though, tortured vampire." (Tomilson, Brown 2010).

Okay.

Now, I don't know why sentences in my book are blacked out (and the person who owned this before me could have just...hated Twilight the book, but I'm not sure), but this brings up something I have had to come to terms with over the course of my maturing as an author: AS A WRITER, YOU SHOULD NOT BASH OTHER WRITERS.

It is a waste of time.

I mean, you can dislike a book, I am not saying you can't. I'm also not saying you can't write one-star, two-star reviews of books. I will be honest, Twilight is not my favorite book. I even attempted to reread the book as a 22-year-old, and I felt like Bella was super-depressed. When I was younger, I would say some bad things about it. But one day I realized I was being ridiculous. You know how I realized that? I read someone else's ridiculous post. Guess what they said: "Stephenie Meyer can't even spell her name right, what makes you think she can write a book?"

Okay. Okay.

Shut up. Really.

Stephenie Meyer's name is spelled that way because her father's name is Stephen.

Attacking an author in that way is super ridiculous. You might not think she can write, but really the point is, she created a world people LOVE. You might not like the characters she created, either. The point is, she created characters people can identify with, characters people LOVE even if YOU didn't.

Anyone read An Uphill Climb by Dave Sargent? I read that book when I was in the 7th grade. In the book, he describes how he had no ability to use grammar...but his words...man, those words had potential.

Here is a good blog post by Nathan Bransford: What People Talk About When They Talk About Bad Writing

Here's another: Virtual Witch Hunts

Bransford also says in another post titled "The Reverse Snobbery of Low Literary Aspirations":

Writers ignore good writing at their peril. In order to have a book published it doesn't have to be literary literary literary, but the writer has to do something very well. While there is an insanely common sentiment in the comments section that so many books published are trash and oh well anyone can do it: that's really not the caseYou may not like it, but quite a few people along the way did in order for it to find its way to the bookshelf.
Not every talented writer is a published author, but (nearly) every published author is talented. Even if you think they suck.

Meyer, even if you don't like her, DOES do things very well. She came up with a unique idea, she builds sexual tension like a maniac, and I loved the Cullen family and their dynamics.

Yeah, some of her descriptions are a little odd, but sometimes you're so engrossed in books, you don't realize that while you're reading until someone points it out, Reasoning with Vampires.

Personally, I keep my like and dislike of books to myself. It's easier that way. I've also made a point to find merit in writing I don't like. It's a good exercise.

Love,

Ashley

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Piece of a Dream

Hey everyone!

I know I am doing my blog series, but it is on hold...JUST this week, because I have something more important to announce.

Now, I know announcing that you have an agent is probably a better post, but I've been writing for....around ten years. Within those ten years, I have gotten a lot of rejections. I know I wasn't ready to query. My manuscript wasn't read to be read, either. In April, I rewrote my book and it only took four months.

I've been doing revisions, and working hard on a query and synopsis with the help of some great writer friends.

Thursday I got my first FULL request from an agent!

I was in tears.

Tears because it felt so wonderful. Because my goal when I began to query was to only reach that step. I told myself, "It'll be great if I can just get to the next step..."

And I did!!

I am ecstatic. In my mind, even if I get a rejection, I have proven I can make it to the next level. I'm so much closer to achieving my dreams!