Monday, November 28, 2011

December to Remember.

So I haven't blogged lately, even if I do have a lot to blog about.  I haven't told you guys about YALLfest yet, which I still plan to do.  I haven't blogged about what I've read, which is just bad because I think we now know, if I don't blog it, I don't remember it.  Lots of things.

And we'll still have to wait another day for those because I have December on the brain today.

See, now that I've all but finished the first draft on my NaNoWriMo book, which is titled HOOD, by the way, I feel like I'm kind of floating in the land of unknown.  I always feel lost when I finish a book anyway but after writing one in a little over three weeks, I feel like my center of gravity is off.  You know how when you've been swimming for a while and then you get out of the water and suddenly you're all, "Why is walking so hard?!"  That's how I feel about stepping back into the world after being hunched over my laptop for a month.

It also just so happens that my life isn't going to be very busy in December.  My semester ends this week, NaNoWriMo is over... hell, even Sons of Anarchy's 4th season ends in two weeks.  Besides normal life stuff, my schedule is significantly lighter.  Which would be an awesome time to write a book, except that I just finished one.

So I plan on making December The Month Of Creativity!  First off, I want to do a few rewrites on HOOD before putting it up for a little bit.  Then I have revisions to do on MISFITS and some pretty big rewrites on KILLER CUPCAKES.  I'm literally going to be up to my eyeballs in my own books!  I'm pretty excited about it.

I also plan to brainstorm a lot, listen to a lot of music and write down every single idea that pops into my head for the new year, in which I'm hoping to write three books and jump back into QueryLand.  That's right.  Bring it, 2012!

So while I am kind of staring wide-eyed at December, I'm also really excited.  It will be nice to not have major goals and to just let the creativity flow.

So, to other NaNo-ers and No-NaNo-ers, what are your plans for December?

Brandy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The End and being thankful.

So I'm having trouble ending my current WIP.  Right now, I'm about five thousand or so words from finishing my NaNoWriMo project (3k from 50k!) and I've put it off for the last two days.  Tomorrow I'll finish it because I'm planning a major write-a-thon, but still.  I'm sad.

Because, you guys, I love my characters.  Oh boy, are they messed up.  They do things they shouldn't all the time and they have weaknesses that go for days but I love them SO much I almost don't want their story to end.  Seriously, my heart squeezes when I think about them.

But it does have to end, and I'm sure that if they were real, they would want it to end because I am a mean, mean writer who does horrible things to her characters and likes it.  I even have that whole evil laugh thing down.

But I still love them.

I was thinking earlier about Thanksgiving coming up in a few days and what I have to be thankful for, and obviously my family, friends, and especially my cats, top that list, but writing is so far up there as well. 

I joke with my friends all the time when they ask me what I've been up to and I tell them I'm creating worlds, what are THEY up to?  But it's true.  I create worlds, and maybe those worlds aren't published for everyone to read yet, but I live for the feedback and enjoyment from the people that do get to read them now, and most of all, I get to write them.  And love them.

I can't even tell you how thankful I am for that.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quick Monday post.

So, I would like everyone to take a minute to look over to the right at my word counter widget and see that I'm 40% DONE WITH MY NANO WIP!!  Eeeee!

Okay, seriously,  I'm under no illusion that a) what I'm writing is fantastic just yet or that b) I can keep this kind of writing up.  My eye twitch and nightly headaches are making me crazy but watching other people's word counts go up, paired with being excited about what I'm writing makes me pro-duc-tiiive.

I have tons of work to get done before I leave for South Carolina for YAllFest and a mini family vacation that it will probably be hard to write everyday this week, but I feel good that I've got a little stockpile of words to fall back on.  Also, I can't wait to listen to all of those awesome authors give out advice and then be able to post about it!

Back to NaNoWriMo for a sec: Being the person that I am, I'm excited about how much I've written but mostly, I'm suspicious about all of these words.  Clearly, none of them can be good if they're flowing that freely, right?  Surely at some point I'm going to hit a wall... or something.

I know I should just enjoy it, I do.  But it's strange, guys.  Very strange.

So, how's everyone else's NaNo going?  And the NoNaNo folks?  What's it like outside?

Brandy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A few things...

First off, I didn't do a reading post last week and so when I went to post about what I've read this week, I was completely lost.  My life and this blog are way to entangled now.  I have no idea what I've read because I didn't post it here.  Ridiculous!

Right now, I'm working my way through Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter.  I feel a weird connection to Ally because when I first started writing seriously years ago, she was one of the first writer blogs I actually followed to see how this whole thing worked.  At that point she was just putting out her first Gallagher Girl book and it did pretty well but then her series blew up and now she's a bestseller! It was so fun to see that happen to her and it's no surprise at all because all of her books, whether it's the Gallagher Girls series or the Heist Society books, are so incredibly cute.  Really the only reason I haven't read it all yet is because of NaNoWriMo. 

I'm sure... no, I know I've read something else in the last two weeks but for the life of me, I can't remember.  I've got writer brain, so I'm sure it will come to me at a random time, like while I'm brushing my teeth or something.  I'll make sure to update it here when this happens.  Probably more for me, than for you but whatever. :)

So... NaNoWriMo!  Since my characters were beating on my brain to get out, I decided to do some midnight writing on November first, and I'm happy to announce that I've written over 4000 words since then.  I felt a little wishy-washy on my story as I was writing it, but today on my way home (while listening to Band of Horses) I was thinking about the WIP and how everything would unfold, and or at least what I know right now, and I fell in LOVE with my characters.  Like that tight chest and butterflies feeling.  I'm so excited!  Selfishly, the main point of me writing these stories is because I want to love these characters... it's just that I also want to get published so tons of other people can love them to.  But first, I have to love them and I do.  I totally, totally do.

This WIP is a little bit of a struggle for me though because I'm trying something that I've never done before.  I've written about bad people, or people that do things that everyone knows they shouldn't but my main characters aren't normally the ones who do them.  My MCs tend to be funny, smart and overall, very good and moral.  Sure, they mess up, but in the kinds of books I write, there is a pretty big line between good and bad and they are securely on the good side.  This book, not so much.

I've always found stories where the MC is very flawed and on the wrong side of life very interesting because most of the time, we the reader, watcher or whatever, are still pulling for them.  So I wanted to play with that line a little bit, to see if I could create someone who isn't necessarily good but still someone the reader can pull for.  We shall see!  I love her, so I figure that's a good start!

Oh and a quick little update/Brandy is crazy moment:  In my last reading post, when I talked about Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, I wrote that the next book, Crescendo doesn't come out for another year.  Imagine my surprise when I was in B&N today and see it staring out at me from the book shelf.  Not only is it out but it's been out for a looong time.  Like, since last year.  I have no idea how I messed that up because I know I googled it but whatever.  I'm happy I'm wrong.  So go read that too.  I know I will, but first I have to finish what I'm reading and then I'm finally starting Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

One more thing:  For those of you NaNo-ing, this is my profile come and be my buddy and yell at me if my word count doesn't move, k? Thanks!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy NaNo Eve! Oh, and Halloween too!

So while everyone else is eating candy corn and celebrating Halloween, I am completely focused on NaNoWriMo.  I'll go ahead and admit that I did all of my Halloween things this weekend, which mainly included watching documentaries on Vlad the Impaler and eating WAY too much candy, so it's not like I wasn't festive.

My NaNo idea is bubbling over the top of my brain, so I'm ready to write, but as always, I have to walk the fine line between letting the story play out in my head to plan a little bit and letting it play out so much that I don't feel like writing it anymore.

I'd love to say my pantser quality is all about letting the story flow freely from my brain, through my fingers and out into the world but that's not entirely true.  While planning stories does make me jumpy in a way that only a person with commitment problems can, my main problem with plotting is that if I let the ideas flow too much and I see the whole story in my head, I don't feel like writing it anymore because, to me, it already happened.  I know that's probably weird but that's just how I am.  My very first book took me a year and a half to write and I firmly believe that it's because I, trying to plan like I saw so many awesome writers talking about online, got tired of that story and it slowed me down. 

Knowing exactly what happens in my story takes me out of the game very early, so I try to keep the planning to a minimum (who the main characters are and the conflict), which is what I'm fighting right now waiting for NaNo to start.  I actually think I'm going to jump in at midnight because these characters are screaming at me!

I'm ready! And nervous.

I didn't do my regular blog posts last week, because I was trying to take a break from the computer in preparation for NaNo as well.  I developed a really awesome eye twitch while writing MISFITS, so this time I'm trying to be really careful with my eyes.  But I do plan on keeping the blog updated in November to document my breakdown experiences during NaNoWriMo.

Happy Halloween/NaNoWriMo Eve!

Brandy

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Meme, except not really.

I was going to do my normal Monday Meme about writing today, but my mind is totally, and completely full of NaNoWriMo.  So I thought that instead of answering questions about writing, I would talk about my game plan for writing 50k words in thirty days.  *deep breath* No, I'm fine.  Totally fine.  Not overwhelmed at all. *deep breath*

So last night I realized that there was not only a week left in October but that November, does in fact, come after October.  You do the math, people.  NaNoWriMo is coming up fast.  So, being the list person that I am, I sat down with my planner and figured out, with my schedule for November (which is nuts) what I'll have to write to make my goal.

November is the month where school work piles up in preparations for finals in early December.  It's also the month of my birthday and my mom's birthday.  It also includes a trip to South Carolina for YALL Fest and my niece's softball tournament, Thanksgiving and a midnight showing of Breaking Dawn.  Plus ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS.  But I figured it out!

All I have to do is write no less than 2k words most days, and on non-busy days, crank out 5k words, which I did every Wednesday while I was writing MISFITS.  That will help make up for the days, like the SC trip, where I highly doubt I'll write at all.  If I keep up with my schedule, I should actually hit around 60k before the end of the month, which is pretty much my norm for first drafts.

Besides being overwhelmed to the point of dizziness, I'm still SO excited.  This is my first NaNo, and it's something I've always wanted to do but my work schedule never allowed.  This year though, I'm in!

So, is anyone else around here doing NaNoWriMo?  I'd love to have a few people to keep up with, and hopefully help keep each other motivated.

-Brandy

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reading.

So apparently I've been in one of my I'm-just-going-to-watch-TV-instead-of-reading-a-book moods, because up until a few days ago, I hadn't touched a book all week.  I blame this on a few things: Number one, I was busy and using my brain to read felt like a huge deal and I wasn't into the idea of it, and Two: I'd been plowing through a lot of books and I think I burned out a little.  Either way, I've made a nice recovery the last few days and this was helped by really good books.

Honestly?  I completely imagine you all groaning and clicking the red X every time I mention the Vampire Academy series because it's all I talk about, but I can't help it this time!  I finally gave in and read Bloodlines by Richelle Mead this week, which is a companion book to the VA series.  I'd put off reading it because, while every book in the VA series was out when I started reading them, this book is brand spanking new and I knew I'd have to wait for the next one.  And I also knew what the last line of this book was and understood that I would be in physical pain if I read it now and had to wait until summer 2012 to read the next book.  But I'm a masochist, so I read it anyway.

Fantastic.  Just fantastic.  I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy this book as much because I was never a huge fan of Adrian in the original series and thought I'd be bored with him, but not so!  I mean, sure every time I saw the name Belikov, I giggled and Adrian isn't giggleworthy for me, but it's still very, very good.  Can't wait until The Golden Lily comes out next summer.

Last night I sat down to read the first few chapters of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick just to see what it was about and whether I should be excited to read it.  I. Read. The. Whole. Thing.  Granted, I got very little sleep last night, but still.  I'm pretty interested in the whole nephilim/angels thing being a big fan of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare but I haven't actually read that many books about them.  This was good.  Yes, it's very Twlight-esque, and some things the main character's best friend did made me want to slap her very hard, but in the end, I read the whole damn thing in one sitting.  That says something.  Also, this book probably has one of the most kick ass covers I've seen in a along time.  And of course the next book in the series, Cresendo, doesn't come out for another year.  *forehead slap*

Soooo, what are you reading?

Brandy

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Writing Meme

Which words do you use too much in your writing?   "Just" haunts me.  I probably use "anyway" waaay too much.  And in the latest WIP I'm revising, I wrote the word "alien" like it was my job.
Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?  I've noticed a lot of "startled" lately.  Characters startling all over the place.
What’s your favourite piece of writing by you?  I can't really choose.  I love all of them differently.
What blog post do you wish you’d written?  Oh, I don't know.  I'm sadly not up-to-date on popular blogs.
Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn’t written?  I wish I hadn't taken so much time off from writing a few years ago. 
How has your writing made a difference?  For my life, writing kind of keeps me sane.  My head starts to get very jumbled when I don't write.  I don't sleep well and am just in general not fun to be around.  Although, I've been told I'm not fun to be around when I'm really into a WIP either, so who knows...
Name three favourite words  Any curse word, asshat and fantastic.
And three words you’re not so keen on  I'm not really sure.  I'm not big on all of the startling, that's for sure.
Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?  Everyone who writes is an inspiration to me.  I like knowing everyone's stories and processes.
What’s your writing ambition?
Just to make people not want to put my book down, to meet readers and write books until I run out of ideas.


 

Friday, October 14, 2011

When big ideas don't work and NaNoWriMo

So I've had this BIG IDEA rumbling around in my head for a while.  I've talked and talked and blogged and blogged about The New Project over the last month and yet every time I sit down to write it, I feel a little... weird.  I still love the idea and really love the characters but something is just off about this book, which I planned to write before NaNoWriMo in November.  Then, seeing how little progress I was making on figuring out what's wrong, I figured that I would just write The New Project for NaNoWriMo and spend this month planning.  I normally don't plan at all but this kind of idea needed it, mainly because I had no idea what I was writing about and there was a little bit of a historical background that I planned on using... and none of this has helped.  The idea feels lost.

I really hate that because I'm normally one of those, If You Start It, You Finish It, kind of people but I'm thinking this idea needs to go to the back burner for a little bit.  Or maybe it needs to marinate!  Or maybe I should stop watching The Food Network!  Either way, it doesn't feel like the right time to write this story.  I will write it someday, but now apparently isn't the time.  Does that happen to anyone else?  How do you deal with it? 

So with all of that said, I think I've finally settled on what I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo.  This is another idea that I've had for a while, with a folder on my phone and all, for when I think of something while I'm mid-conversation with someone, or when I'm grocery shopping.  It's growing in my head every time I think about it, so I'm taking that as a good sign.  For NaNoWriMo, you just kind of have to GO and this is the kind of idea I can jump out of the gate with.

And quickly, can I just tell you how excited I am for NaNoWriMo?  It's my first go round, although I've always wanted to participate.  With my last job, November was entirely too busy to dedicate to writing a whole book, but this year is different, so I'm going for it.  Is anyone else participating this year?

Have a good weekend!

Brandy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading.

As I mentioned in my last post, this last week was nuts and my reading shows that.  I didn't read as much as I normally do but I did take a million exams, so I guess that's something.  Anyway!  It's quality over quantity, right?

In last week's Reading post, I told you all that I was a few chapters into The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.  Let me tell you something, I read that book so quickly, albeit with one eye closed because of the creepiness, but still.  I tore it up... and I mean that in the good, eating cake really fast way and not the page ripping kind of way.  Michelle Hodkin wrote a fantastic book, even though there is a cliffhanger, and it borders on bothering me just because I still don't know who in the eff Mara Dyer is, I liked it.  So I guess if you're going to write a cliffhanger, write it like this one.  Great book.  I can't wait for the next one.

I also read Nightshade by Andrea Cremer and really enjoyed the read.  I have that sinking feeling that I may not like how this story will turn out because I'm firmly on the opposite side of the guy the MC ends up with in Nightshade, but I still enjoyed the book a lot.  The second book, Wolfsbane came out this summer, so I'm going to check that out soon.  The third in the series, Bloodrose, is out in January.

And that was it.  I only read two books this week.  But like I said, there was life and all of the things that needed to be done.  I'm trying to revise a lot and hopefully doing a lot of beta reading, so we'll see how much reading I get done besides that this week.

So, what are you reading now? TELL ME. ::ahem::  Thank you. :)

Brandy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Writing Meme

Hey everybody! I hope you had a good weekend.  Last week was The Week of Crazy and between emergency vet visits, school and life, I'm happy it's Monday.  I know.  I'm surprised too.  Anyway, here is the Monday Meme!  It's about books this week because I thought maybe I was hitting the writing memes a little too hard and wanted a break.  As always, no rules.  Let me know if you use it so I can check it out. ;)

1) What book character would you say is the closest to yourself?  Ugh, you guys.  You've got to be sick of me talking about the Vampire Academy but Rose Hathaway is so much like me that when I told my mom about her, she went, "Oh, so she's a hot head like you, huh?" So yeah...

2) Who is your favorite protagonist of all time?  Probably Stephanie Plum.  She just bobbles and stumbles through life but with an fantastic sense of humor, which makes her awesome.  She's followed VERY closely by Izzy Spellman.

3) Who is your favorite secondary or minor character? Ron Weasley. Best BFF ever.

4) Who is the most annoying character in any book you've ever read?  Ah, dangerous questions.  Hmmm... okay, so I'm not wimping out, I just can't think of one.

5) Who is the best villain or love-to-hate character? I love so many villains! Snape comes to mind but he wasn't really a villain.  I really loved the Volturi in the Twilight series.

6) Who is your favorite romantic couple? Rose and Dimitri in the Vampire Academy series.  Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman.  Oh and Anna and St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss.


7) What is the most unbelievable romantic couple?  I hate picking on books, so I won't.  I'll just say that I've recently read a book that I didn't buy the couple.  I felt like I was being TOLD to believe they loved each other instead of actually seeing it in the writing.

8) Which character would you love to see in another book, and what book is it? Any of the shadow hunters from the Mortal Instruments books fighting with the Guardians in the Vampire Academy books.  Major ass-kickage.

9) What is your favorite ensemble cast of characters?  Every single character in the Stephanie Plum series.  From Morelli to Lula, I love them all.  I think this is a huge part of why the series is so successful.

10) What ending do you wish had turned out better for a character, and how would you re-write it?  I'll just say that I was Team Gale in the Hunger Games, so you know...


11) If you were casting your favorite characters in a movie (whether it's been made or not), who would play them?  Oh jeez.  Here's my thought on this.  I find that if I can't easily picture an actor as one of my characters OR any other character, than they are a really good.  Or I hope that's true because I haven't seen one actor that I thought looked just like any of my characters.  This isn't to say that if I CAN picture someone that the character's bad though.  I pictured Alex Pettyfer as Jace through the whole Mortal Instruments series and that character rules.

Okay, so that's it.  Remember to let me know if you use the meme!

Brandy

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reading.

So it turns out I like writing about what I'm reading.  I also like having things to blog about every week and since I read as much as I breathe, I figured this will become my Wednesday post.  Some weeks this will be slower than it has lately because I tend to read a little less when I'm writing, but The New Project isn't happening the way I want it to.  I've mentioned before that when I get writer's block, I take it as a sign that something's not right, so I'm sitting back and taking a good hard look at that WIP.  It just so happens I have two other WIPs to revise, so I'm not going to be bored or anything.  I'll figure out what's next for me in time for NaNoWriMo, which I'm stupidly excited about.

Anyway, here is what I've read in the last week and my thoughts.  Remember to let me know what you're reading in the comments, so I can add to my TBR pile!

I picked up Firespell by Chloe Neill kind of randomly at the library last week.  Somehow, I'd never heard of her but being the cover lover that I am, I picked it up and wasn't disappointed at all.  This is a nice little book and the first in The Dark Elite series with a feisty MC that I'd like to be friends with. I'm going to pick up the next book, Hexbound, soon.

You'll notice as I write these posts that I'm a habitual re-reader.  I have books that I read at certain times of the year, every year.  Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer is one of those books but that's for another post!  This week, I re-read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins to prepare for her next book.  I'm pretty sure I've written about Anna before on the blog, but I simply cannot tell you how cute this book is.  It also makes me want to work harder in my French class so I can run off the Paris one day.  The inner dialogue in this book cannot be beat.  The "does he or doesn't he?" aspect kills.  It's just so good.  Anyone writing contemporary YA (or any one else on the planet) should read this book.  This is my third read, just to put it into perspective.

Naturally, the next book I picked up this week was Lola and the Boy Next Door, the companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I was a tiny bit worried about this book, only because it is a companion book and I was concerned I would be too caught up wondering what Anna and St. Clair are up to instead of focusing on Lola but that was unnecessary. Lola held her own even in scenes with the couple and, let me just say, Cricket is the best love interest.  I constantly wanted to hug him, so I figure that's a good sign.  I had major laugh out loud moments and overall, really enjoyed it.  It's absolutely worth the read.  I can't wait for the third book, Isla and the Happily Ever After that comes out next fall. 

I'm on the second chapter of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin right now, so I'll have my thoughts on that next week.

Sooooo, what are you reading? I have a pile of books on my bedside table but I could always use more!

Brandy

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Writing Meme

Hey everybody!  I hope you had a good weekend.  Mine was spent with words, so obviously it was fantastic.  I swear, what drives me to work so hard throughout the week is to simply make time to read or write.  And I'm totally fine with that.

Anyway, here are some random questions for the Monday Meme.  You know the rules: there are none.  Just let me know if you post it so I can stalk you check it out.

1.  When did you decide to take a real swing at writing?  Or have you yet?  I have.  I remember writing my first book, finishing it and being all, "Well, no one's allowed to read that mess!"  But then I wrote my second book and thought I should let someone read it.  The safest person was my best friend and she demanded to read more and I thought maybe I was on to something.  I've been dedicated to writing ever since.

2.  Who is your writing role model? Any one who writes everyday while living and working like a "normal" person is my hero.  It's so hard and so admirable.  Also, J.K. Rowling.  She wrote these little books that I'm sure you've never heard of and I remember reading the first chapter and hoping someday I could take someone to another world like she took me.

3.  If you've been published, what is your favorite part of your job?  If not, what do you look forward to?  Not published YET. :)  I would love, love, love to sit and talk to people about books, mine or others.  Since I write mostly YA, the idea of sitting down with teens who love reading makes my heart grow like the Grinch's. Also, just holding my own book would blow my  mind.

5. What inspires you? I love finding out how people deal with weird things.  I'm a people watcher and, even when I was little, I would watch people and wonder what their lives were like.  Then I would think that maybe they looked normal but really they were a secret superhero or a government agent and wondered how they dealt with that.  This explains all of my books so far.

6. What traits shows up in all of your characters, if any?  Hmm, they all have secrets and I put them in odd situations.  And most of the guys are tall.  That's a personal preference from the writer. ;)

7. Biggest pet peeve in books? Probably cliffhangers that don't answer the questions that are posed in the beginning of that book.  Some loose ends are fine but... we'll just say that there have been times I've read the first book, didn't have any answers and refused to finish the series because of it.

8. Have you ever based a character on a real person?  Not totally.  I take little traits from people I know and use them sometimes.  The mom is KILLER CUPCAKES reminds me a lot of my mom.  All of my guy friends had a crush on my mom and she thought that was awesome. ha!


9.  Do you tell people that you're writing a book?  Sometimes.  I still feel a little silly telling some people what my books are about or that they are YA.  I hate that, "Oh, so you're writing another Twilight?" question because A) I wish, and B) People that ask those questions are helplessly ignorant.

10. Pantser or Plotter?  And why?  Pantser and mainly because writing an outline makes me feel itchy and committed, and I hate that feeling.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reading.

So, I thought about something today while pondering what to blog about, (besides my beloved Monday Memes) and I realized that I don't talk about reading much.  I mean, yes, I've talked about my love of the Vampire Academy books but besides that I don't talk about what else I'm reading.  And you guys, I read A LOT.  Like, when I sit back and wonder where my time went, there is a big, blinking, neon sign that points to the hours spent on my couch reading.  I've literally told friends that I can't go out because I'm in the middle of a book.  It's what I do. 

Anyway, I figure I'll mention some of the books I've read recently and my thoughts on them and then I'm going to ask (plead, beg, wimper) for reading suggestions from you all.  Deal?  Deal.  Here we go:

So, probably a week ago I finished a re-read of the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead.  I won't talk about them that much because I feel like it's all I do, but I'll just say that they are SO GOOD.  Not only well written but well thought out, heartbreaking, ballsy and everything that a book should be.  Read it.

A quick non-fiction book, which is kind of weird for me, but I read If You Have to Cry, Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone.  If you're not familiar with her, look her up.  I guess I like ballsy ladies because she tells it like it is, while also digging deep into her flaws to help you get to a better place.  The title says it all and is my own personal, non-crying motto.  Also, you've probably seen her on The Hills and her show on Bravo a while ago.  I. Love. Her.

I made my way back into fiction with Wildefire by Karsten Knight, who I totally have a crush on.  Maybe it's because there aren't enough male writers my age out there, but it's probably because he's totally cute and he wrote a really, really good book.  I mean, it's about a Volcano Goddess.  Also, it has a killer cliff hanger/shut-up-no-he-didn't moment.  Again, read it.

And I just finished Across the Universe by Beth Revis and then promptly googled when the next book in the trilogy will come out because it was amazing.  I've always loved that books can make you feel things and this book literally makes you feel claustrophobic right along with the main character and also giggly when the cute stuff comes up.  It tackles really huge societal issues (Hello, liberal studies major here! Love that!) while still letting the MC's be teenagers.  Full. Of. Goodness.  Read it, and then prepare to read the next book, A Millions Suns in January. 

Okay!  So that's my reading... for the last week.  I know!  But remember, I have no life so this is completely normal.  My friends and family understand this.  Sort of. 

Before you ask, yes I do come across books that I don't like, but I won't be talking about them here.  I don't bash people because of my opinion... although I might say that I'm just not crazy about it, but still.  It's not something I'll be doing a lot.  Some of them are best sellers and that would just make people mad.  I sure as hell won't tell you to read them, though. ;)

So!  What are you reading?  What should I read?  Tell me!  Seriously.

Brandy

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Writing Meme.

1.  Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.
I really love the world in the WIP I'm revising, MISFITS.  I think it's because there are SO MANY possibilities.  I actually started MISFITS as a creative exercise by just throwing everything at it and it turned into a book!

2.  How many characters do you have?  I normally have one MC and a group around her.  I think the people around an MC make them who they are, so friends and family are important to me when creating characters.


Do you prefer males or females? I've only written from the female POV but I think a lot about writing a male.


3.  How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)? It's a big deal.  I'm very picky about names, although in MISFITS the names are so silly and obvious that I just kind of went with it.  I also tend to give my female MC's names that could also be male.  I don't know why but there it is.  As for places, I pick a place that makes sense for the story.

4.  Tell us about one of your first stories/characters! My first story, which I found not long ago, was about me and a lot of danger.  Like, chocolate was dangerous.  I was five-ish.  I've written kind of dramatic my whole life.


5.  Where are you most comfortable writing? My couch.  I try other places but no matter where I go, I get the most done on the couch.  At what time of day? Whenever it hits me, although I make an effort to write during daylight times because if I write too late, I can't sleep. 

6.  Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters? I need quiet to write.  Or if the TV is on, it's very low and on something that I won't pay attention to.

7.  What’s your favorite genre to write? YA contemp, or fantasy-ish YA.  To read? Same. Although I work in non-YA too.

8.  How do you get ideas for your characters? I start with their personality and quirks.  Charlie, my MC in KILLER CUPCAKES is very driven by what goes on around her and how she wants to change that.  Ali, from MISFITS, doesn't deal with emotions well and uses jokes to lighten things up.  My new MC is a complete headcase but I think I love her.   

9.  What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Hell.  One has woken up spooning with a guy in front of her grandmother and almost shot a raccoon.  Another has ridden a were animal.  It's complicated.

10.  Who is your favorite character to write? The group of life-long friends in INHERENTLY DANGEROUS is really fun to write.  They have so much complicated history and there really aren't many secrets between them, so the dynamic is fun.

11.  In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding?
 I kind of suck at worldbuilding, so I'm not sure.  It's definitely not my strongest suit.  I'm working on it.


12.  What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not? Any and all.

13.  How do you map out locations, if needed? Honestly?  I've never felt the need to.  I take creative liberties while trying to be realistic about everything around my characters.


14.  Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not! Richelle Mead but I'm not talking anymore about it.  If she finds out (doubtful), she'll think I'm obsessed and I'M NOT.

15.  Do you write romantic relationships? Sure do.  How do you deal with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? Well, I write mainly YA, so I try to be smart about it.  Interestingly enough, if I ever write my second books to KC or MISFITS, I'll have to deal with this more head on, I think.

16.  What are your favorite character interactions to write?  I lurrve awkward scenes.

17.  Do any of your characters have children? No, but boy would that complicate things!

18.  Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not. Not sure what this means, but we'll go with I don't have one. :)

19. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?   
First draft takes about a month, revisions take MY WHOLE LIFE!  Kidding.  But that takes longer.  I would say the whole process takes three months before betas get it.
20.  How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? If it needs to happen, then it does.  What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone? I don't know if I can answer this.

22.  Do any of your characters have pets? Yes, and they're cats.  Always.  This says a lot about me.

23.  Do appearances play a big role in your stories?  I think so.  In MISFITS especially there are a lot of small details that I thought were important.


24.  Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities?  I think there is something a little bit wrong with all of my characters but nothing that I would classify as a disability.

25.  How often do you think about writing?  All. The. Time.

Whew!  That was longer than I thought it would be.  Fill out at your own risk.  :)

Brandy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Joining!

So, I think I've mentioned before that I'm a little bit of a loner, but guess what, you guys... I'm going to JOIN!

Well, probably.  The idea for now is that I'm totally PLANNING on going to YallFest in November.  What made me want to be a joiner, you ask?  First, it's in Charleston, which is amaaazing and relatively close to home.  Also, there are going to be some awesome YA writers there who I will take diligent notes from and try not to stare at.  I'm so excited!



So, here's the questions. Have you all gone to any conventions, festivals and so on?  If so, did you have fun and do you have any tips for me?

Let me know!

Brandy

Here's some info on YallFest, just in case you want to come and stare at people with me.  Click here!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Writing Meme

Just like last week, a writing meme!  I swear I won't only have memes on the blog from now on, it just ended up that way this week.  Pinky swear.  

You know the rules: there are none.  If you end up doing the meme, let me know.  If not, just comment and say hi, okay?  Because I'm fragile like that.
 
1. List one of your writing goals for the upcoming month and how likely you are to accomplish it.

Well, I have two goals for the next month.  The first is to FINALLY, FINALLY finish revising MISFITS.  I would also, in a really happy world, like to finish my first draft on The New Project.  MISFITS will happen, for sure.  I'm not sure about TNP.  It's taking a while to form in my head, so it may end up being my NaNoWriMo project.  Not sure yet.

2. What genre or subject would you like to write about that you aren't currently?

I don't know.  I'd love to write something like The Mortal Instruments series by Cassie Clare but I don't know if I can put myself through that.  If I still hung posters, Cassie Clare's pic would SO be up there.  Also, a book like Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.  She is insanely amazing.

3. What is your writing lifestyle, habits? How do you manage the interruptions with your writing? How do you stay positive? Believe in your writing success?

a) Writing lifestyle - I'd like to say that I'm really structured and sit down from 9-5, or whatever, to write but I don't.  If I wanted to work from 9-5, I'd go get a real job instead of trying to write books.  I do, however, like to give myself wordcount goals, so I try to write 2k words a day.  On Wednesdays, I like to double the word count, a day I've dubbed Double Up Wednesday.


The only real habit I have is that I make notes after writing for the day, so I know what my thought process was when I start the next day.  It keeps me on track.

b) Interruptions - I mostly glare at people.  Is that wrong?

c) How do I stay positive - Oh boy.  I don't know about this one.  I think I go back and forth between thinking my stories rule to thinking I suck at life.  One day I'm all, "Working on my future best seller right now!" and the next I'm all, "I should just go and get a factory job and never write another word!"  So I really don't know.  I have people who tell me I don't suck.  That helps.

d) Believe in my writing success - I've gotten good feedback, even with rejections and that helps.  It lets me know that I'm close but still need to work harder.  So I keep working.

4. Are you a pantser or plotter? - Pantser.  I love the idea of planning while it also gives me hives.  I feel that if I plan out the whole book, I won't feel like writing it anymore.  I also worry that I'll plan myself into a box.  In general, I know who my characters are when I start and within the first few chapters I have a basic idea of what's going to happen and that's all.  This is the problem I'm having with The New Project right now.  I have NO IDEA what's going to happen and don't want to write more until I do. *shakes fist at ceiling*

5. Who are two of your favorite current authors and why? - Oh my.  This is a ridiculous questions to ask me! Or for me to ask myself!  Okay, okay, OKAY!

I'm going to go with Richelle Mead first because of my obsession with The Vampire Academy.  Also because she is so ballsy, and let me be honest, the person who created Dimitri Belikov deserves a poster on my wall.

Second, I'll go with Stephanie Perkins because she is just GOOD.  I read Anna and the French Kiss in one day, put it down, sent texts to all of my friends telling them to read it, and then picked it up and read it again.  So cute.  I just gave it to a friend as a birthday present, actually.

6. How does your family feel about your writing? - My mom is my biggest fan.  She's Person Who Tells Me I Don't Suck #1.  My sister thinks it's cool but is still silently waiting for me to grow up.  My niece hopes I'll make tons of money so I can buy her a new wardrobe and softball gear.  My dad's side of the family doesn't really know that I write that much.... I kind of never told them.  Don't worry!  I'll send them a book when I get published! *crosses fingers*

Okay, that's it!  Happy Monday!

Brandy

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Writing Meme

Because I like answering questions about writing, I found this while googling random things and decided I want to try and do something like this every Monday.  The only rule for this is simple, if you want to do it, DO IT!  You don't even have to do it on a Monday.  We are REBELS, people.  REBELS.  If you don't want to do it, read mine and laugh at me or comment.  Either way!

What’s your favorite genre of writing? Hmm, contemporary or fantasy-ish YA.  I think I'm still figuring out where I'll land on this.  Maybe I won't land at all.

How often do you get writer’s block? Not very often.  If I get writer's block, mostly I'll just trudge thru it, or take a serious look at where I'm at and what I'm doing in a WIP.  I take writer's block as a sign more than a problem.

How do you fix it? Like I said above, writing thru it.  Also, reading more and going to the movies.  Anything that gets the creative juices flowing.  I've also been known to put on some headphones and stare at the ceiling for a while.

Do you type or write by hand? Mostly typing.  If there is a scene I want to flesh out more before getting serious about it, I'll write it out.  Writing by hand is also another thing I do if I feel stuck.  I feel less committed when I'm only writing by hand.

Do you save everything you write? Yes.  I have SO MANY first few chapters of books I've never finished saved.  Even when I'm revising, I save the scenes I cut out.  My excuse is that someday, people may want to see them.  Hoarder-ish?  Yes.  Presumptuous? Totally.  I do it anyway.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? Oh, yeah.  This is why I save everything!  If you look at my projects bar on the side, INHERENTLY DANGEROUS is the first book I ever wrote, except it takes place ten years after the first book happened.  The first book sucked but I will finish ID.  New spins on old ideas are the best.

Do you have a constructive critic? I do and she's awesome.

Did you ever write a novel? More than a couple.

What genre would you love to write but haven’t? I've never finished a non-YA book. I'd love to do that. 

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? Horror/thriller.  I'm a total wuss with that stuff.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? Three.  But I'm focusing mainly on two.

Do you write for a living? Do you want to? I don't but it would be the best thing ever.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper? Magazine, no.  Newspaper, yes.  I would jump at the chance to write for a magazine though.

Have you ever won an award for your writing? Nope, just a contest.

Do you ever write based on your dreams? No, but I wouldn't rule it out.  My dreams are nuts.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? Oh lord, I could write a whole post on this one.  I like endings with closure.  It doesn't have to be happy, although I like them the most.  I just want the questions that are posed in that book answered.  Even if it's a cliff-hanger, I think a good author can wrap up their story and still leave something to look forward to in the next book.

If you do end up doing this meme, let me know in the comments so I can check it out.  Or just leave me a few thoughts in general.  :)

Brandy

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Writing frustrations.

I'm sure I'm not the only struggling writer out there that reads books that are so good, so consuming that you just want to throw things and shake your fist at the sky while yelling, "I want to write like this!" Right?  RIGHT?  Because that's what I've been doing the last few days.

I know I've tweeted about my love of the series The Vampire Academy but I don't think I've mentioned it on the blog before.  I'm in serious love with these books.  Yes, I'm a few years late but still, it's love.  I also know that there are a lot of people who will shake their head and sniff at vampire books because they're so overdone and "on the way out" but I. Love. Them.

I'm reading the series for the second time and I've done so just as fast as I did the first time and with the exact amount of awe as well.  For me, these books aren't even about vampires but amazing characters that I find myself thinking about throughout the day.  In fact, a friend asked me what I'd been up to the other day and I answered honestly, "Well, I'm wondering what Dimitri Belikov is up to."  It's just the way I think.  I can't help it.

What's so impressive though is how ballsy Richelle Mead is.  If you've read the series, you know what I'm talking about.  The end of the third book and all of the fourth are heart wrenching, gut twisting and breakdown inducing.  By nature, I'm not a crier, but I think every time I put down the fourth book in the series, Blood Promise, I bawled my eyes out.  And in a show of how good the story is, the next day, I picked the book right back up, tissues in hand.  I'm also about to read that book for the second time, ready to cry for a few days again.  But Mead went there anyway.  She KNEW that she was turning the world she created upside down and she pushed on.  Even when you think things are about to get better for poor Rose Hathaway, they don't.

I've also heard people complain about decisions that Rose makes throughout the series, calling her selfish or immature, but that's because she is.  Mead allowed Rose to be imperfect and to do things that the readers may disagree with because it's what made her real.  She got away with this because the story is just that good and because it's honest. This is so brave and as a struggling writer, SO admirable.

I have a lot of the same feelings about the writing on Sons of Anarchy.  You just don't leave seasons hanging the way Kurt Sutter does.  You don't flip the whole world around, leaving everyone at risk.  You can't write characters that do horrible things and expect people to pull for them.  Except that he does.  What makes these stories so good is that when I either put the book down or walk away from the TV, my mouth is hanging open and my heart is pounding.  I can't believe these writers went there and that they continue to go there.

I haven't read Bloodlines yet, the companion book to the Vampire Academy series, but I have heard what the very last line of the book is.  Mead went there again, leaving us hanging yet trusting her that she'll bring it next time.  And I'm positive she will.

*shakes fist at ceiling*   Why must they set the standards so high? Why??

So, what story, book, TV or otherwise, leaves you shaking your fist?  I'll be sure to grab a pen and paper so I can check them out too.

Brandy

Monday, September 5, 2011

The last two weeks, in pictures.

It's been too long!  Quick recap: My sister got married, I hung out with family in Delaware, didn't sleep much.  Returned home only to wake up the next day with the flu/cold/death sickness that didn't go away for almost a week in a half.  The fall semester started, I've revised MISFITS a little, started planning out a new project, read some books, watched Sons of Anarchy season 3, reorganized my bookcases and then started this blog post.  That doesn't really capture how crazy it's been.  Maybe pictures will?  Let's see...

The view from the balcony at my sister's wedding.

My Sick Kit on the couch.

Cat # 2, Blaze. Another part of the Sick Kit.

Also Cat #1, BooBoo.

Then school started and these started piling up.

New notebook, which I love.  Science? Not as much.

Me & my BFF's obsession.  If it's wrong, I don't want to be right.

I hit up Borders and needed to find a home for these.

My fav bookcase and fav books.

The whole thing. Almost full. Must add on.

This is now!

So anyway, that's been my life, in pictures, for the last few weeks.  Exciting, huh?

Real blog posts (with words!) coming soon.

-Brandy

Monday, August 15, 2011

The voices in my head won't shut up.

This post might make me seem a little crazy... well, a little more crazy than I've already admitted to being, anyway.  But I'm going to admit it: There are people living in my head and they won't shut up.

As you know, I've been working on revisions of MISFITS.  I'm at the print-it-out-and-be-picky stage, which I'll start this weekend.  I've held back from writing MISFITS 2, so I don't get anything mixed up between the two and to give myself a bit of a break.  But then, last Wednesday I woke up with this girl in my head telling me about her life and how the first chapter of her story will start. 

Obviously, I don't actually have voices talking to me but I have all of these people, stories and worlds in my head and it makes me feel a little bit nuts.  I have three stories taking up room in my mind that have me researching some things for The New Story, trying to add oomph to MISFITS and thinking about how that story will continue in the sequel.  It's so much that I'm having trouble sleeping.  My mind simply won't turn off!  I love the new ideas but oh, how I love good sleep...

On the other hand, I can't even tell you how excited I am about this new idea.  It's way out of my comfort zone, the new main character is going to be a handful and I'm thinking I'll actually start working on it when I finish my revisions on MISFITS with hopes of being done before November.  This means I can spend NaNoWriMo working on MISFITS 2.  I would wait on this new idea for November but it's going to involve a lot more research and as much planning as I can do without going crazy. None of that lends itself to writing quickly for me.

Um, crazy is a huge theme of this post.  Let's ignore it, huh?

Anyway!  I'm headed out of town on Wednesday for my sister's wedding, (second time's a charm!) and will be away from humanity, (read: In Delaware) until Saturday.  Maybe a long drive will help clear my head.

So, am I really crazy?  Or are these people in my head something all writers deal with?  Or are we ALL crazy?

-Brandy

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Setting the mood.

So, I'm finally getting everything back in order after The Month of Suck that took me away from writing/blogging/email and so on.

I've spent my first few days as a free woman brainstorming over my revisions of MISFITS as well as what's to come of MISFITS 2.  Every time I think about the fact that I'm writing a sequel to an ms that isn't repped yet, I shake my head.  But it's more like therapy for me right now than anything else, so I'm going with it.  Yesterday I spent most of the evening with headphones on listening to Pandora with a notebook nearby and just letting ideas come to me.  That helped a lot but it actually got me thinking about a few other things.

First, music helps me a lot with ideas.  I can't write with music on though.  I prefer an empty room with complete silence when I'm writing but there is a way that I think music is going to help me this time.  The one thing I've been struggling with while writing and revising MISFITS is really setting the mood for scenes and adding that extra oomph of emotion with my characters.  Last night, while I was listening to music, I added little notes about what songs I felt matched the emotion I wanted in certain scenes and I actually think that may help!  I know a lot of writers do playlists, so I guess this is my spin on that.  I'm really excited to start working on this tonight.

I also realized that every time I read this ms, I get distracted a lot in the beginning, but always, always read the last half in one sitting.  I'm taking this as a sign that I need to make some changes to the first half.  I'm toying around with re-writing it, (at least the first chapter) just to see what I end up with, so we'll see how that turns out as well.

I'm really excited about this book.  I hate saying that because it makes me nervous, but I just do.  Hopefully someone ::cough:: agents ::cough:: will be just as excited as I am.  :)

So, does music help you too?  Or are you the silent type?

-Brandy

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quick hello!

It's been over a month since I blogged last! How in the world did that happen?

Well, actually I know how.  For some reason I thought it would be smart/fun/a good idea to sign up for three intense summer courses (I'm desperate to graduate, really) and these courses basically stuff everything that you would learn in a full four month semester into one month.  It's not just my online friends who haven't seen me lately... no one has.

I haven't returned e-mails, I haven't tweeted as much and obviously, I haven't blogged.  So if you're waiting to hear from me, give me a day or two and I'll be back in action.  I'm currently procrastinating while I should be finishing a final project, and decided to post something to explain my absence.  So I'm not back for real quite yet.

A quick book/writing update:  Somehow, I found time to do my first round of revisions on MISFITS during these intense classes.  I still love this book and actually can't wait to dig into it for the second time... I'm thinking I'll end up doing three to four rounds, reading it a different way each time, whether on my Nook, laptop or on paper.  I have three weeks off before a very full, but not nearly as intense, fall semester starts and I'd like to be done revising by the end of August.

Also, while I'm revising MISFITS I'm working on a new WIP.  I swore on Twitter I wouldn't talk about it, but I'm among friends here, right?  Right.  So, the other night I accidentally sat down and wrote the first chapter of MISFITS 2.  I know, I know.  You shouldn't write a sequel to a book that hasn't been repped or sold yet.  I know.  But I've been in a tiny (read: HUGE) funk lately and while I sat around wondering what I could do to cheer myself up, I realized it was writing the next story for my MISFITS characters.  I'm only doing this for me, and I swear I'll write something new in November for NaNoWriMo.  MISFITS 2 is really just me wanting to write it, without thoughts of what will happen when I put MISFITS 1 out to agents.

Oh, wow... so this wasn't as quick of a post as I thought it would be.  I should go finish this project.  After that, I'll be back for good though.

I MISSED you all!

-Brandy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who ARE you?

So one of my friends checked out the blog and had a few comments, (and if you follow me on Twitter, you know my friends don't hold back) the conversation went as follows: Friend: It's cool. Me: Just cool?  Friend: Well, it's kind of boring.  All you do is talk about writing.  Me: *stares* Well, it's a blog about my WRITING.  Friend: It's just that you're also a person.  People are probably reading your blog and thinking who IS this chick?  Me: Huh...

So that got me thinking, (and re-reading every post) and I realized that I don't actually talk about myself that much.  Just writing.  So, for my friends and anyone else who reads this blog, here are ten things about me that have NOTHING to do with writing.

1. I was raised by a single mom. Again, if you follow me on Twitter, you know about my mom.  But I think this fact says the most about me because I was totally shaped by my mom's crazy antics and unmeasurable strength.  I'm hardheaded, independent and just a titch crazy.  I owe all of this to my mother.

2.  I'm a typical second child.  My sister is seven years older than me and, I believe, was raised by aliens and then planted at our house because we're nothing alike.  She LOVES rules and I hate them.  She was a beauty queen and I used to draw on the back of the auditorium seats at her pageants.  She has never dyed her hair a strange color on purpose and well, I like color.  She's freaked out by tattoos and I love them.  The only things we have in common are a mother, (so she SAYS) and a thirst for knowledge that has kept us in college for far too long.  Oh, and she's a little crazy too.

3.  I'm not big on marriage.  Don't get me wrong, I love when other people get married and I love weddings.  My best friend Meg, who I met on the school bus when we were eleven, got married almost two years ago and it was the best.  I even let her set the date for the day after my birthday because I was so excited.  (Side note:  The year after her wedding, she had a baby on the day BEFORE my birthday.  She's taken over my life.)  Anyway, I can't commit to a pair of shoes or a hair color, so settling down with a guy for the rest of my life just seems out of reach.

4.  I love sports.  Seriously, I'm a sports junky.  From football to racing to baseball and tennis; I'm obsessed.  My guy friends have to tell ME to calm down while watching sports in public.  I'm That Girl.

5.  My cats are amazing.  I have two: Blaze is seven, all black with yellow eyes.  He's a loner like me.  BooBoo is twelve, a Maine Coon (read: HUGE) and has dependency issues.  I got BooBoo when I was fourteen and for the life of me can't remember why I named him that.

6.  I'm addicted to Netflix.  Oddly enough, I don't watch many movies on Netflix; I stick to TV shows.  I'm working my way through the complete series of Friday Night Lights now.  Netflix is where I discovered Veronica Mars and Sons of Anarchy.  I will be forever grateful.

7. This past January, when my job was "restructured" I was offered a promotion to stay with the company and turned it down to finish school and really give writing a shot.  There is a lot of budgeting involved but I'm giving myself a chance to do what I've always dreamed of doing.  I know, I know, this is about writing but it's relevant.  I'll never ever stop writing, even if I'm never published, but this is a time to focus on it full-time, (along with finishing school) so that when I'm seventy I won't look back and wish I'd gotten a chance to write all of those books I was always thinking about.

8.  When I was in college for my associate's degree, I worked at a newspaper but was bored to tears with all of the facts.  I like making up stories much better.

9.  I don't like Shakespeare.  I think he should have just gotten to the point, although I do enjoy his sonnets.  This may not seem like a huge deal to a lot of you, but try being a Liberal Studies major in literature class and admitting this.  I think they wanted to kick me out. 

10.  I love to cook.  There is nothing more relaxing than baking things, except maybe chopping them.  I don't know why but it calms me down.  This is why Martha Stewart, Paula Deen and Ina Garten are my heroes and why I watch The Food Network WAY too much.

Okay!  So there are some random facts about me.  Hopefully this shows my personality a little more so I'm not just that girl who blogs only about writing 24/7.

-Brandy

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can't stop, won't stop.

So, last week, a week before my self imposed deadline to finish my current WIP, I wrote the last word of my first draft.  Exciting!

As I mentioned in my last post, I'd kind of been immersed in writing , so much so that my friends were begging to talk about something else and my first readers were tired of the 20 questions (fine, 100) that followed everything I sent them.  I'm not saying I was mean, really, just... focused on getting answers.

Anyway, I love what I have, although since the book took a little bit of a turn as I wrote it, I know I'm going to have to re-write a lot of the beginning.  After my last revisions on KC, I feel like I have a better idea of my revision process although, (like I do about everything else in the writing world) I worry that it's completely the opposite of what I should do and what everyone else does.

First off, when I'm working on a WIP, I write 2k words a day.  I'm a pantser, so I don't outline or anything, I just jump right in.  I'd like to say that I don't write on weekends but that kind of goes out of the window when I really get into the groove of writing.  I actually took two days off before finishing this WIP and started recapping when I wrote again, like I was starting the second book and needed to remind the reader what happened.  It was a mess and I think I was doing it for me because I felt like I hadn't written in MONTHS but really I just took the weekend off.  Anyway!  I don't like taking time of from writing.

I always read and revise the previous chapter before I write a new one, just to get back into the groove of what my characters are up to.  These aren't in depth revisions or anything, I'm basically catching myself every time I write "my" instead of "me" which I do ALL THE TIME and I don't understand why.

On Wednesdays, a slow day life-wise for me, I double up.  I've dubbed this Double Up Wednesday, which is really just a way for all of my friends and family to know that when it's DUW, I don't want to be bothered.  On these days, I try to write between 4-5k but I split up my writing.  I've got this weird eye thing happening, where my eyes get really sensitive to light if I'm on the computer for a while, so I take a break and go to a bookstore, lunch or even grocery shopping.  Anything to get away from the WIP and the computer.  The bookstore always helps get me motivated to write more because I see all of those fancy, shiny books and I want one to be mine.  I love DUW.

All of this means it normally takes me about a month to write a first draft.  I know a lot of people say to walk away from your WIP for a long time but I can only last about a week, which I'm in the middle of right now.  It sucks.  Next week though, I'll dig back in.

What I feel is weird about me, (in a long list of weird things) is that I don't cut down my word count during revisions, so much as add them.  Sure, I cut scenes that I don't think are needed or that slow down the pacing but I still end up adding words.  I word build a lot during revisions, and add things that only finishing the first draft can show me need to be added.  During my last revision of KC, I added 4k words.  And I cut out a lot.  Weird.

Then, of course, I read the WIP somewhere around 9,849 times.  I read it on the computer, on my nook, printed out, on the comp again, maybe one more on the nook, who knows?  It's just a lot.  And this time, I'm going to send this (as well as KC) out to beta readers.  I'm on the hunt now in fact, so if anyone is interested in reading my stuff, let me know.  I'd totally be willing to swap too.  And then maybe we'll be friends forever.  Probably.  In my head, we will be.

So July is my revision month and hopefully I have a new, shiny idea for another book while that's happening, so August can be a writing month, followed by September being another revision month.  We'll see how that goes with school.  All I know is, November is officially reserved for NaNoWriMo.  I'm so stoked for this because I've never been able to participate because of The Old Job, which maybe I'll talk about soon.  The only thing that will interrupt this will be a day to celebrate my birthday and a day to celebrate my little baby niece's first birthday. (And of course, if an agent wants to sign me before or during November, I will do whatever the hell the ask me to do.)  Other than that, I'm writing.  I need a doorknob hanger for that!

So what's your process like?  And don't forget, anyone interested in being a beta for me, let me know.  Remember the lifetime of friendship, okay?

-Brandy

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Update and Writing is Like...

I've been writing.  That is all.

I swear that's what my life feels like these days.  I have other things going on but it seems like all I can think, talk and dream about is writing.  I'm positive my friends are starting to hate me but there is no cure for being close to finishing a book.  And if there is, I really don't want one.

I'm in the home-stretch of MISFITS and more often than not, I'm in love with this MS.  It's easily the funniest and yet darkest book I've written and the intensity is about to pick up as I get closer to the end.  I have a friend who likes to read as I write and she said she's going crazy waiting to see what's going to happen.  As a writer, there are no sweeter words.

MISFITS will be my third completed book and I've realized that each one is a different experience.  My first was so hard to write and took forever to finish.  After it, I figured it was perfect and that revising was for those who weren't as blessed as me.  That book is horrible.  Someday I will rewrite it because I love the idea but *shivers* that book is just bad. 

My second book, KILLER CUPCAKES, took a month to write and years to revise.  Since I wrote it, I've revised it more times than I can count and read it more times than I want to think about.  The funny thing is, I've only queried it for a short amount of time and to a very low number of agents.  I think I've mentioned before that I took a break from writing.  I'm talking YEARS from writing, to see if something else was what I really wanted to do.  It wasn't.  But KILLER CUPCAKES was written before that break, I queried a small number of agents, got good feeback and then did something else for three years.  Six months ago, I decided that my Something Else wasn't what I wanted and that writing was.  Five months ago I entered a contest with KC and won, and I've revised it (a few times) again since then.  I've sent a small number of queries out again and am waiting for more feedback.  I'm optimistic.

Then I realized that if I'm really serious about being a writer I needed to write again.  So a few months ago I pulled out a story that I started after KC (before the break) and loved it.  I'd only written a few thousand words at that point but everyone that I'd let read it really liked it.  That book is MISFITS.  I started seriously working on it again about two months ago, but with revisions of KC in the mix, I've probably only really put a little over a month's worth of work into it.  I plan on finishing MISFITS is about three weeks.  I'm totally, completely absolutely positive there will be a good amount of revisions because as I've worked on it, things have changed and I've realized that there should be more worldbuilding. 

So I guess it's different, and yet kind of the same, every time.

I was tagged by Marian for a Writing is Like post (thanks for the tag, Marian!) and I couldn't think of anything to compare writing with until I wrote this post.  I realized as I wrote that for me, writing is like climbing a mountain.  It's a different mountain every time, but the process is pretty much the same.  I make my way up the mountain, figure out which is the best way to go and dream about the easier climb down.  As I reach the moutaintop, I can see the finish and the way down and then the end of the book is the easiest and most exciting.  And each mountain I climb, I'm more comfortable with the journey, I know how best to get to the top and I know how amazing it is to finish.

And I'm almost done climbing my third mountain!

I'm going to tag:
1: Ashley Graham
2: Jennifer Pickrell
3: Kimberly from Meetings with My Muse

If you want to play, post what writing is like for you and then tag three others.  :)

-Brandy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Going dark.

No, not my hair.  My mom, who if you follow me on Twitter you are well aware, is the injection of humor, reality and gravity in my life, looked at me oddly when I announced, "I'm going dark!"  "Well," she shrugged, "I was hoping you'd go blonde, but if you need to go darker, that's fine.  Less roots."

But what I meant was that my current WIP is going dark.  I don't know when this happened but all of a sudden all of my work has this edge to it.  My current WIP started out very funny, and my MC is still a smartass but I realized as the manuscript took this hard left toward intense and harsh topics that I'm going to break her.  It sounds horrible but, as a pantser, there's no way that I a) can stop this or b) could have predicted it.  To show how little initial control I have, I changed a little scene in KC and had to delete it afterwards because the intensity didn't match the story or my characters.  I made myself lighten up to make it work but other than that, I've apparently crossed over the the Dark Side.  It's just what's flowing out of my fingertips right now, and I'm not dumb enough to stop that sort of thing.  I'm taking a wait and see approach to this darkness.

I'm also reading dark stuff too.  Not thriller, scary stuff because... well, I'm kind of a wuss.  I don't watch scary movies, I don't read scary books and I sure as hell don't put myself in the situation to live (write) scary things for months at a time.  I never really thought I'd end up writing anything like this, to be honest.  Although my friends, (who also get many mentions on twitter) are not surprised.  Apparently, I have a dark personality, or at least a perceived dark personality.  Who knew?

Anyway, I'm excited to follow where the words take me.  I'm hoping this level of intensity is within my skill set... and you know, it may change and still end up the book I thought it would be but I won't know until I finish.  I love adventures!

So what about the writers out there?  Has your writing ever turned in a direction you didn't expect?  Pantsers (or Plotters), how many times have your stories changed before you realized what was happening?  Or is that just a me thing?

-Brandy

Friday, April 15, 2011

Digging in.

Sometime in the next week I'm going to start some revisions on KILLER CUPCAKES.  Obviously I've done revisions before because you don't send a book out to agents without revising, but these are different and pretty important.  I'm actually really excited about digging back into that book because a) I miss those characters a lot and b) I like making my book better.  I've also been working on WIP 1 and WIP 2, but these revisions have been on my mind. A lot.

I pulled out (and dusted off) some of my old style books, read through grammar books and am trying to soak up as much information as possible to make sure that I'm ready to make these revisions count.  These are all things that I've studied before, first as a Communications major and then as a Liberal Studies major but a little refresher can't hurt.  In life, I'm not a grammar freak, (Please, don't be shocked as you read this and find errors. ha!) but I do try to find obvious issues when I read and write.  But like I said, these revisions are important.  So I'm pulling out my fine-tooth comb and referencing Grammar Girl constantly to make sure I'm doing a good job.

I've hit up the library too, just trying to find advice from other authors. I'm trying to read every blog and every tip on Twitter.  I'm also at the end of a narrative class this semester and I have LOVED that class.  I registered for that one at a good time.  As my high school English teacher would say, I'm turning into a spunge.  I'm soaking up everything I can get my hands on to make sure I'm the best writer I can be.

I've had good experiences so far with KILLER CUPCAKES.  I've gotten a lot of good feedback and have had great talks with agents about how good it is, but also how much better it can be.  So I feel good about my book, but I'm also very determined to make it one million times better.  And it's not only that, I'm working on two other books and I want them to be two million times better than KILLER CUPCAKES.  No pressure!

So I'm immersing myself in writing.  Digging in.

So, what about you?  What do the four (I joke. There might be five.) of you do to make yourselves better?  Do you have any tips and tricks that you can spare?

Oh and quickly, I'm going to actually talk about what KILLER CUPCAKES is about soon. (Hint: not a killer baked good)  I'll also talk a little bit about my other two WIPS soon as well.

Also, does anybody know where I can get a good word counter for my blog? I want one really, really bad.

-Brandy

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Writing.

I've always wanted to title something "On Writing" and now I have. That's exciting!

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot lately on the different ways to write a novel... or anything, really.  I wrote for a newspaper for two years in college (for my A.S.) and I was always interested in how all of us wrote in different ways.  Some of us liked the office, some went home to write, most of us wrote in between classes on campus. (The staff was young... our editor was in her mid-twenties.  We were shaking things up in a very small town!) One of my best friends to this day was on staff with me and he would plan and plan until his article was perfect.  I, on the other hand, would pick out the best quotes and figure it out as I went.

I've noticed that a lot of authors also write in different ways as well, and it's become even more apparent since I joined Twitter.  People write at home, out in public and many different places and of course there are plotters and pantsers.  Some people keep their plots top secret, others blog about their stories as they write.  On top of that, there are critique partners, word challenges and writing groups. Tons of ways to write!

I find that I write the best at home and late at night.  My need for some sort of normalcy keeps me from writing until 4am every night.  I've stepped out of my box a lot lately and have written as much as I can during the day.  I even go to Panera sometimes to get out amongst the people!  I'm totally growing as a writer and a person, I think. 

I write pretty quickly and I'm also a pantser.  I wrote KC in a month by only scribbling down what I wanted to write about the next day.  I had no clue how the book would end, even though I did know who was responsible for everything.  I'm doing the same thing with my current WIP.  I have a friend who likes to read as I write, so she gets really bummed when she asks me questions and I don't have the answers.  I enjoy it though.  I wrote my first novel by planning out every last detail.  I was new to the whole fiction thing and tried every writing technique I came across.  I had planning boards, notebooks of character backgrounds and color coded post-its.  It was nuts.  I think I planned so much that I was tired of the book and that's what took me so long.  I should have known I would be a pantser since I don't even like figuring out what I'm going to have for dinner when I make a grocery list.

I've considered trying to find a critique partner but I'm kind of clueless on the process, so I don't know.

What about the four of you?  How do you write?  Also, what info can you give a girl on critique partners?

-Brandy

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting things in order.

When I started this blog (a little more than a week ago) I had planned on having some time to tinker with it and then slowy make my way into having people read it and so on.  But then I won The Speed Date 2 Contest with The Knight Agency (yay!) and that sped up the process a little bit.  And quickly, can I just say how awesome The Knight Agency is for having contests like that? Amazing.

Anyway, I've finally gotten around to getting things how I like them, and I'm sure I'm not done yet.  I feel better though... it feels like it's mine now.  Oh and I have a blog title!  I picked Just Write because that's kind of my motto.  A lot goes into trying to get published but the most important (in my humble, unpublished opinion) thing is to make sure you're writing.  Also, it's what I yell at myself when I get stuck staring at my computer.

This week has been a little hectic in the writing department, mainly because of the contest which took up a lot of my time.  And by "took up a lot of my time" I mean checking and re-checking my e-mail, asking everyone who knows me if they thought I was good enough and then re-checking my e-mail... serious stuff.  So now I'm diving into a few small projects and continuing the work on my current WIP.

I can see the end in sight for my WIP and that's really exciting.  I'm only half way done but I have a clear path now, which is always nice.  I'm a bit of a pantser when I write but around a quarter to a half way in, I can see the path I'm going to take to the end pretty clearly.  If that doesn't happen, I know I have a problem.  Luckily I didn't run into that with this project and I'm hoping to finish the rough draft around the first week in May.

Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I hope everyone (yes, all four of you) enjoy the new look!

-Brandy

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rough patch.

No, I'm not talking about agent rejections.  Although I have gotten a few of those this week.  But let's be honest, rejections are a little bit a part of life when you're sending out queries and that's okay.  You eat ice cream and get over it.

What I'm talking about though, are rough patches in your WIPS.  I hit one recently and I was really having trouble getting through it.  I had just wrapped up a few dramatic scenes and everything I wrote after that seemed a little boring.  So I did the worst thing you can do.  I just didn't write.  For a week!  I had been on such a roll too, writing every day (night) and my word count was growing and my story was unfolding and then BOOM.  Rough patch.

Luckily I found a great blog by Jenny Torres Sanchez and she mentioned a twitter challenge she does called #1Kwordchallenge, which is basically writing 1,000 words in an hour.  Seemed like a good idea to me!  I thought perhaps just powering through the rough patch would help me move on.  It turns out that I really liked what I wrote during the challenge.  Not only that, I wrote almost 2,000 words in an hour because I wasn't thinking too much.  Fantastic!

So anyway, I guess my advice of the day would be to power through any rough patches you have.  Of course you may have to go back to edit and make it make sense later but that's better than just staring at it, right? Right.

So go kick that rough patch's butt!

-Brandy

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adventures in QueryLand.

I have to say that there is nothing more exciting than the query process.  I'm sure there are some aspiring authors out there that hate it, and trust me, there have been times when I've received rejections and hated the whole thing.  But it's just so exciting.  I was talking to a friend about it today and although you are basically putting yourself out there and saying "judge me!" there is still a sense that something big is about to happen.  And that's how I feel.

Here's the back story on... well, my story.  I wrote my current manuscript, KILLER CUPCAKES, over three years ago.  It was my second completed MS and I wrote it in thirty days.  It was the easiest book I've ever written.  My first took a year and a half, I never sent it out and while I love it, it didn't just come together like KILLER CUPCAKES.  I'm a third of the way into my third MS and it feels a lot like KC did, although it's taking more than thirty days.  Anyway, I sent KC out once I'd finished and edited it and got a good response from agents, but then I got a job that took all of my attention away from the book.  I know, not smart at all.  But it's just what life gave me at the time and I accept that.  But I'm back on my game now and I'm getting good responses again, and I've even made it to the final 3 out of 150 in an amazing agency's contest.  It feels good.

There are a lot of differences this time besides my age though.  I feel like I know more about the process now and I also know what it feels like to be in the middle of finishing an MS, sending it out and all the while, trying to continue writing.  You get so wrapped up in the idea of QueryLand with agents who can finally give you your big break.  You're creating a blog, twitter and anything else to get your name out there.  You love this book so much, you're envisioning the cover and what you'll wear to book signings.  It's fun.  What I've learned though, is that you have to stay focused on writing.  You spend so much time loving your finished book that you lose a little bit of that word monster you've been for however long it took you to write your book.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with getting your name out there because... hello, this is my blog.  And I'm on twitter.  But what is most important when trying to become a published author is that you write.  Period.  Not only because you have to keep your mind off of QueryLand for your sanity (because you totally do) but because you don't want to be a One Book Wonder, ya know?

So write.  And so will I.  Then we'll all put our heads together to figure out what we'll wear to our book signings. :)

-Brandy