Monday, November 24, 2014

Geeky Monday Moment--With a Sister!


This has been the best two weeks, guys. My sister finally came home from Cape Verde!! She was on a mission for our church on the tiny African island for 18 months. My sister and I are, without a doubt, best friends. So I've been spending this time with her.

Isn't she cute? I got sick not long after she got back, and that put me in "I don't give a flying fart" mode, so that's why I didn't update here. Also, you know me. I have very little motivation for blogging except that I love you netizens and author friends, and I don't want to lose touch with you.

Okay, so here's why this is a Geeky Monday Moment. When Lindsay and I sit together on a couch, there's just a position we automatically assume. Backs against opposite arm rests, my feet on the outside, hers on the inside, and finally...insert our cold toes under the bum of the other one. What? It's warm! We thought we were pretty weird, but then I found this:


THERE'S A NAME FOR IT!!!!






So I'll leave you with that. Everyone, I'm a nurdeler?

Also it sounds creepy when I say, "I'm going to nurdel you now." But you could try it with whoever is closest to you (and I don't mean emotionally. I'm talking proximity here) and see what happens.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

If you're American. If you're not American, then I'm deeply sorry for you.

Merica.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Geeky Monday Moment 11.10.14 Sailor Moon!

Okay, so we need to talk about another geeky love of mine. Sailor Moon.

I have loved this show since I was a kid. At first I watched the dubbed versions. You know, the ones that would come out every week, and she was named Serena, and the voice actress sounded like a female gopher who had been drinking? And then I got older and watched the whole thing in Japanese. And then again. And then again. I've watched the whole show from start to finish several times. Usually when I was pregnant and feeling ill, believe it or not. It sort of became a comfort thing.

I'm not much into anime, but Sailor Moon? This one is seriously the best for me. Just look at the ROMANCE!



I bring it up because there's a remake of the show airing RIGHT NOW (every first and third Saturday of the month) and its fantabulous. I guess it follows the manga, although I've never read the manga so I wouldn't know. But I'm totally geeking out over all of this. Are you watching the show?

So in honor of my love, Sailor Moon, I bring to you our Geeky Monday Moment.

Me wearing Sailor Moon buns:

Yeah I'm not sure what came over me. I randomly thought I might want to try making the buns, so I did. And then I started laughing because I'm such a dork, so I figured it would be a perfect Geeky Monday Moment to share with you. Behold, the nerdiness. At some point I'm going to get too old to post pictures of myself doing absurd things, but I figure I can still get away with it. For now.

And yeah I took those down pretty much right away. My kids laughed at me, and the bobby pins were spearing my scalp. How does Sailor Moon do it? Fight bad guys AND feel her hair pinching all the time? She's tough as nails; don't underestimate her.

Have an awesome week my fellow geeks!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Fail at NaNoWriMo

Welp. I'm a giant failure this year.






I wanted to join in on NaNoWriMo to get this "super secret project" that we've been writing just done and over with. I love this book to pieces, and I want it written so I can move forward with it! But alas. I fail. I'm supposed to be writing what...2000 words a day?

Try 1000 in 6 days. Epic failure there.

In my defense, I have three children, whom I homeschool, and a house to keep moderately acceptable looking. My hubby is working a side contracting job while he looks for the right career after his internship, and after we get the kids in bed there's laundry to fold and birthdays to plan...freaking Christmas around the corner.




Why does it have to be in November? Why can't national novel writing month be a time when nothing else is going on? Like...March. Freaking March. Nothing even happens in March! We're all depressed and missing Christmas.

Anyway. I fail at writing a book in a month this year, and I don't think its going to happen with everything going on. I guess I'll try again next year! The kids will be one year older. Possibly less work? (Yeah right, nice try Alyssa.)

As for Plane Walker, it's totally on the back burner. :( Poor Plane Walker. It's such a good book! You know what, I'm making a pledge right now. I'm putting it on the webiverse to make it final:

I'm going to submit Plane Walker to 2 agents/publishers this week.

So there. And maybe next week I'll have more to report on that front.

I know I said this before but...writer's blogs are so boring! Haha. I can't show you my half-done project like I could if I was all crafty.

THAT'S IT. I will create a craft to visually represent the progress of my book. It'll be brilliant. Like...a sweater. Or a giant wreath. Or some kind of macrame. What do you think? What should I make to visually represent the progress of my book?

This is going to be hilarious. 
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Don't Take a Dump on your Readers--How to Avoid Information Dumping

Jamie stepped into the subway, threading through a cluster of businessmen standing near the door, and made her way to the emptier space near the back. Looking at her reflection in the window, she blinked at the brown eyes that seemed glazed and dull. Her brown hair hung in limp strands around her pallid face. For fifteen years she had worked the same job. She was a receptionist at a paper company. Eight to five. Monday through Friday. On weekends she had some friends she got together with if she was in the mood, but that seemed more and more rare these days. Growing up, she had had such promise. Her parents cherished her, and her siblings were her best friends. She did well in school, and got straight A's in college. But in her senior year as an undergrad, everything had changed. The car accident stole everything from her.

Whew. Now that I've got the character set up, I can get on to the fun stuff! Right?

Wrong.

I mean seriously, that was boring to read, right? I'll bet you skipped most of that. Optimistically, you skimmed it. That's because I dropped a giant, stinking load of information on you, and thus suffocated you under the banal string of automated descriptions that should have gotten you interested in the back story of my character. Instead, I basically said, "I'm giving you back story now!" Like a good reader, you'd probably try to swallow the horse pill of information to digest for later, but where's the fun in that?

Information dumping is one of those things that agents and publishers especially hate. They don't want to be told about the character's past. They want to experience it. And if you're a writer who's been in the game for more than a few days, then you probably know this. But how to avoid it? There's usually a lot of information you have to get to the reader, and if you're creating a fantasy world then good luck! Because even the greats struggle with feeding information on a silver spoon instead of shoving it down your throat.

I'm no expert, but there are a few things I've picked up along the way. I built a fantasy world, after all. I've had to talk to other writers and circumvent information dumping many times.

1.) Tell the story outside the character's head. This is an interesting one, and I can't claim credit for figuring it out on my own. I have my husband to thank for this. See, in the early stages of writing Lunula, I came to my husband with a problem. I needed to tell the lore of my world and my character right off the bat. It was crucial that readers know that Wynn was a witch of light, and that she was being chased by a warlock. And I needed the readers to know the story behind it.

Originally, I had her contemplating the story in her head. Boring. Predictable. Information dumping. My husband read it and shook his head, stating that I'd never get published if it started off that way. And then he came up with an absolutely brilliant idea. Since the back story happened to be lore that all citizens in my world knew, he suggested someone else tell the story. And then we came up with the idea of someone in the town square putting on a marrionette performance. My character is occupied with other things, but she can see and hear the story being performed by the puppets. My readers thus got all the story they need, and it was in an interesting way:



A crowd had gathered around a puppeteer’s stage, and I had to ask several onlookers to move. I stood at the edge of the puppet show’s audience, waiting behind an older man and his ancient mare to speak to the stable hand. The crowd hushed as the performers began.
            “In the beginning of time,” a sonorous male voice began, “the Fates gathered to create our world.”
            I tilted my head and caught a glimpse of the seven puppets that represented our deity. They clopped back and forth on a wooden stage, the back of which hid the puppeteers. The common depictions of the Fates were three black-clad beings of differing heights on the left, three slim, white clad Fates of equal height on the right, and a gray-clad, towering Fate in the middle.
            “The Fates of chaos and Fates of order, ever at war, but always necessary for the balance of life, bickered over their weapons of control.” One of the Fates of chaos gave a white-robed fate a bonk on the head. Several children giggled. “The median Fate, always seeking balance but limited in power, decreed there would be born, every one hundred years, one gifted weapon for each: a warlock for the dark and a witch for the light.”  
The man in front of me moved toward the stables just as I realized what the story was really about. There were many tales of the Fates, but of course this is the one I had to be hearing. I urged the two horses forward and tried to block out the performance, but the puppeteer’s voice rose.
            “And so the witch of light and warlock of darkness were born,” he said ominously. “One with the gifts of good and right, and the other,” I could hear them switching out the puppets, “given the powers of darkness.” The children oohhed and aahhed at the figures on the stage. I couldn’t resist—I had to see what I looked like. My puppet was slender and supposedly beautiful, with flowing blond hair over the faceless wooden head. She wore white, of course, and the performer made her movements delicate and fluid. The warlock wore black, with messy, chaotic black hair spiking up from his more masculine head. His dark robes flowed behind him as he moved restlessly back and forth across the stage.
            “Miss?” the stable hand asked, bored.
            “Oh.” I turned my attention to the horses. “I need two stalls.”


That's just a little snippet, but as Wynn is distracted trying to get a stable, she can't help but overhear her own story being told by the puppeteers. I've gotten quite a few compliments on the scene...and its not even really mine! Thanks honey! But the basic idea here is to tell your character's back story outside their head. A home movie in the background, overhearing friends talking about them, etc. There are lots of ways you can play with this, and they are all more interesting than an inner monologue.

2.) Don't do it all at once. If you need to tell the back story in the character's head, then try to break it up. In my first paragraph there, it would have been much better to just pick one of those back details, and then leave it hanging. I could have then introduced more later. For example, maybe she is offered a ride home, but she resists because of her fear of riding in cars after her car accident. The person who offered her the ride might then say something like, "Oh I'm so sorry. I forgot. Your accident."

Introduce the details in snippets. Not only does this avoid dropping a figurative deuce on your audience, but you also lead them along and keep them interested. Sometimes less is more.

3.) Don't do it in the beginning. Like I mentioned above, publishers and agents absolutely hate information dumping in the first chapter. For some reason this is like the automatic axe to your work. If they see a bunch of paragraphs of story and no action, they're pretty likely to just move on. But what if you really need to introduce your character's tortured inner soul? And stuff.

Put it off. Seriously, it's much more interesting to everyone if you keep your character and even your world cloaked in some mystery.

By the way, I'm terrible at this.

I always want to launch into my character, and their background, and the world, and all that good stuff. Because really, we worked the hardest on all that! It's what we think is most interesting. But alas, to readers, what is most interesting is the action. Usually. So going back to advice number 2, go ahead and reveal a few things. But you can't just lay out all your cards in the first chapter--don't even feel obligated to tell us what century it is if you don't want to. Show us, certainly, but don't launch into an inner monologue in the first chapter. Reserve that first one for action, and lots and lots of showing. More show, less tell. If you really MUST drop a load of info somewhere, save it for later when you've already got us engaged.

4.) Don't forget to write it. Wait, but I thought you said don't write information dumps? That's not what I'm saying here. What I mean is don't forget to be a writer when you write it. Don't just list off all the stuff that happened like I did in that first paragraph. Once again, if you really must put forward a chunk of information (and its going to happen. That's just part of writing), then write it well. Pay very very close attention to this part so that it is your best writing, and not your monotonous writing. It can be hard to be interested in a list of ingredients that will later make up the spicy KAPOW of your book, but try. Make that dump smell like posies.

5.) One character at a time. I can't tell you how many times I've read a fellow writer's work and thought to myself, "There are too many people here." Having too many characters in the beginning is bad enough. But if you're information dumping for all of them?
Too much, man. Too much. I mean, it just drowns the reader in information. If your readers feels like they should pull out a pad of paper and make a chart to keep track of who has stormy blue eyes, and who has the back story with the killer squirrel, then you the writer are doing it wrong. It's okay if you have lots of characters, but give them a red carpet of some kind. One at a time. Focus your camera on one guy at a time, and slowly give us his back story so that we can get to know the character and actually care about his background first. Easier said than done, but its worth the effort.

So there you have it! My five tips for avoiding information dumping when you can. And honestly, this is a personal pet peeve of mine. I'm not saying I never do it, because I really do...all the time. I have to constantly check myself and rewrite things that ended up being too much at once. It's one of those things that, if given proper attention, will take your writing to the next level.

How about it? Do you have any tips for avoiding the information dump? Any examples from your own work? I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Geeky Monday Moment 11/03/4

Well speaking of me being a mom and focusing on my family, I found this totally adorable fan art about Disney princesses. I know, I know, I post way too many Disney princess things. Feel free to avert your eyes from the sparkly Disney-ness.

So here's your Geeky Monday Moment:



What do you think? Pretty adorable right? I like how all the couples have one cute little baby, but Shang knocked up Mulan right away. Such a stud.

Also, there's a good reason my posts are short right now. NaNoWriMo! My mom and I are participating! Even though we're not writing a *whole* novel in a month, we're endeavoring to write the *rest* of our novel this month. I'll post word count updates once a week! And I'll be checking up with my fellow authors to see how you all are doing, so I hope you're writing too!

It just occurred to me that author blogs are awfully boring. It's not like we craft and share our crafting. We just sit here and write.






I'll try to be entertaining.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wait...Who Am I?

Holy cannolis it's my blog!

I'm pretty sure no one is showing up to this thing anymore. Sorry, peeps! Life got a little *too* busy, and my occupation as a writer/blogger got put on hold. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband had to go to Germany for 2 months for an internship, while I stayed at home with our 3 kids. During that time I took a vacation with him before he left, and then I started homeschooling our kids, and we had 2 Birthdays, his homecoming, and now Halloween.

So I'm a housewife, not a writer.

I haven't queried, I haven't written much, and I haven't marketed one tiny bit for any of my already published works. I guess as much as I love writing, my world as a wife and mother totally overwhelmed me, and I just succumbed to it.

Let the frump just wash over you, Alyssa.

Anyway, I just wanted to peek in and say, "I'm still here!" and give the update that our last query didn't yield any results. But I haven't given up! I just have to devote some time to querying. In the meantime, I'm still working on our "super secret writing project," and I feel really good about it. It's just slow going because when writing is your side job, sometimes the "day job" gets in the way.

Pretty lame.

I would like to get involved in the writing community again soon, especially with NaNoWriMo coming up in a week here, so I'll come up with some bloggity blog things to...blog. And then I'll get back to you.

Peace out writers!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Publishing Journey Week 3--Help us with our Query!

Hi fellow writers!

Well it came. The third rejection. 


So there was that. Here is the actual rejection letter:

Thank you for your query.  Unfortunately we do not think the project is right for us. 
 
We receive so many queries that it is not possible to reply in detail on an individual basis.  We appreciate your writing and wish you success in your publishing career.
 
Cordially,
Sarah Yake, Literary Agent
Frances Collin, Literary Agent

Ouch. The burn. So final.
  
In light of that, we can now say we have had 3 rejections to our 3 queries, and that tells me that if no one has had interest in at least reading more, that our query needs work. With Lunula I at least had publishers and agents asking to see more material based on the query. If they aren't asking, then our query isn't intriguing enough.

So I'm going to put it out here and ask you to tell us what you think. What part of our query needs adjusting?

 Dear Ms. Yake,
 
We have co-authored an 80,000 word YA supernatural novel, titled Plane Walker, which will appeal to teenagers, new adults, and adults alike with its fast pace and unique narrative. It is the first book in a planned series. 
 
Jack has always known there was something different about his sister Morgan, as if she belonged to another world. Then he sees a shadowed creature in his college apartment, and when it follows Jack home, the secrets of Morgan's hidden life are revealed. Not only can his sister see spirits and the planes they walk, but Jack discovers his own ability to cross over into the spirit realms. What he finds in their depths is a dangerous battle that extends from the highest spirit planes down to a castle in Europe, where a family with its own supernatural legacy has hid for centuries. Is it a coincidence that Morgan's new friends, twin brothers Nicolas and Roman, happen to belong to that secretive family? They are all part of a mystery that could change the war between heaven and Hell.
 
Alyssa Auch has published two YA fantasy novels; Lunula with Malachite Press and Inito. Lunula has won awards such as Indie Book of the Day, and Blogger Book Fair Reader's Choice Award in both Fantasy and Action/Adventure categories. She has a Bachelor's in Professional Studies with a minor in English from Brigham Young University Idaho. She and her husband have three children, and live in Pennsylvania.
 
Eileen Sharp self-published Certainty, a YA paranormal romance. She has also self-published a YA Fantasy, The Unspeller and the Book of Days. She studied Journalism at Brigham Young University Idaho. She is married to Richard Sharp, and they have four children, one of which is Alyssa Auch.
 
Blending the voices of a seventeen-year-old girl and her twenty-year-old brother, Plane Walker brings the reader on a thrilling journey told from both perspectives. It was an amazing experience for both of us to write one book, and we are confident that our writing styles add a new flavor to the paranormal book world.
 
We would be happy to send part or all of the completed, fully edited manuscript for review upon request. Thank you for taking the time to consider our work, and we look forward to hearing from you soon. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Eileen Sharp
Alyssa Auch
     
So what do you think? What should we tweak here? Leave your opinions in the comments!



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Can Do It! Publishing Journey Week 2


I had a cold this week. And unlike most mothers, who pull up their bootstraps and SALLY FORTH, I'm actually more like a man. I lay on the couch, surrounded by crumpled tissues, bemoaning my bad luck and asking the nearest person to bring my will because I obviously don't have much time left on the Earth. It's pretty pathetic, actually.

So that's my excuse for lazy blogging.

But I pulled it together and made a fun video for you! This time its with my co-author since our projects are being done together anyway. Also, my videos keep getting more elaborate every time. Not sure if its because I know the program better or I'm bored with my own videos...

Either way, I'll type it all out down here for those of you who prefer to get the info without the...show.

In this update, my co-author (Mom) and I gave a brief update on Plane Walker, which we have stalled in editing because, frankly, its too boring. We're tired of looking at it. We're pretty sure that if we get a request to see the full manuscript, we'll just spend a day going, "AHHHHHHH!!!" and finish the last little edits in a handful of hours. It's pretty much fully polished. Just little things to quick smooth over that we don't feel like doing.

2 Queries were sent. Both Rejected

1 additional query I sent this week to Frances Collin Literary Agency.

I'll keep you updated on when I get a response from them, and we'll keep sending out queries because that, at least, is quite polished. Maybe I should share the query letter? It's a thought.

As for the Super Secret Project--the one we were using the "Pixar Method" for--we hit a wall with our super detailed planning.

Here's the thing with trying to plan out every minute detail. We did our darnest, but honestly, we didn't have a good feel for the characters. So what we discovered, if you're trying to fully plan a book ahead of time, it's nigh impossible to know HOW your characters are going to react to conflict if you haven't actually written them yet. So we got about half way before we decided to start writing and see how things go.

My mom is writing the first chapter. I'm watching Youtube videos.

So there you have it! Seriously though, our video is worth peeking at. I'm a writer, so I like my writing to be...you know...entertaining. But the vlog is fun, too. So at least watch the bloopers. :)

OH!
In the video we had a little debate, and I want your thoughts:

Is it harder to write beginnings or endings?

What's your experience? Let me know in the comments, and have a fantastic week!  


Monday, July 7, 2014

Can We Do It? Publishing Journey Week 1...and Some Guy's Abs


 Hello there everyone!

I hope your Fourth of July weekend was fun and patriotic. 'MERICA.

This week I've made a video! But don't worry; if you don't feel like watching my face I am typing it up here for you. Although you'll miss the abs without the video. And the bloopers at the end. I love bloopers.

So basically, because I'm starting at square one with finding an agent for Plane Walker, I thought it might be (mildly?) interesting if I shared my journey and everything with you all. Lunula was picked up by a publisher once already, and Plane Walker is a dang good book. So my hopes for finding an agent are, at this early stage, high-ish. I'd really like to see that happen! I think an agent would be good for this work in particular, as its not something I'm keen to self-publish, and I'd like to see what markets to can be thrown into.

Week 1 of Publishing Plane Walker!

1.) It's fully written.

2.) It's in the last editing phase with a couple copy editors going through it.

3.) One query has been sent to Trident Media Group. It's been about a month and no response, so I'm thinking that's a bust. REJECTION.

It's okay. We authors have to handle it.

Moving on to Untitled Romance Novel. This is something I'm in the middle of writing, but I'm going to use it like a guinea pig for this blog. I'd like to make a post in the near future where I try out a bunch of different book plotting methods. Crazy ones like story boards and playdough. Then I'll take pictures and report back to you on what I thought.

Sounds interesting, right? Should be fun. If you think of any you want me to try, say so in the comments so I can add it to my list!

Last, but not least, you should really skip to like the middle of the video for this bit. I'm sharing my SUPER SECRET UNTITLED PROJECT with you. My co-author (*cough cough* mom) and I have just started the planning phase, but we're utilizing some cool planning methods I thought would be better captured on film than described.

And then there's that guy's abs. Don't forget the abs.

Okay, okay, fine if you REALLY don't want to watch the video, here is the system in a nutshell. We have one notebook with all the detailed information like characters (personalities, ticks, background, notable facts, pictures, etc.) and a colored tab to represent each of them. And then place holders for each "chapter" so that we can write the chapters in rough draft form to start out with. To aid us in that, we also have a macro timeline so that we can write down big events so the little ones all line up and make sense. For all those random scenes we come up with while driving or doing the dishes? We have a wall of notecards--color coded of course--that we use to roughly line up sequence of events so they find a home in the overall plot.

Genius, right? It's going really well. We learned from doing Plane Walker, that the more detailed you are in plotting it all out ahead of time, the easier its going to be on both writers.

So there you have it. What are you working on right now? Share a link to your blog or website so I can visit you and say hello, too!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Which an Author is Served Pie


There comes a time, as a newly published author, when you realize that you're really not "all that." It's a jarring moment. The viscous cloud of self-righteousness you have been prancing upon suddenly disintegrates and plummets you back to the realm of mere mortals. And you realize that you are, in fact, just human. And even if a publisher thought you were hot stuff, you're not exactly Salinger just yet.

For me, this happened in a library.

Yes, I was bursting with misplaced ego, my newly published book in hand and a satisfied grin on my face. "Oh, hello library patrons," my imperious eyebrow raises said. "There's a REAL writer in your midst."

I had come that day to donate my book to the library. The fact that the library wouldn't BUY my book after I myself had requested them to seemed irrelevant. It didn't even really bounce off my self-inflicted shield of presumptuousness, really, because I just figured that it had something to do with my publisher's distributor, and I would donate the first one for free. On the house. You're welcome.

I slapped my Fantasy novel onto the counter with verve (seriously, you could hear the confidence there), and then waited with a patient smile for the librarian to finish typing something into the outdated computer before her.

Wait, guys. This lady. Let me explain something to you here: The librarians in the Madison Library are cranky people. This is just a fact that we, the people of Rexburg, had simply come to accept. When we brought children, we would be shushed. If our books were late, the fee would be paid. With interest. No exceptions. They didn't want to hear about the death of your loved one or the spleen you had removed. And this one, of all the librarians, was the scariest. Because she looked nice. White curly hair, cute glasses on a beaded chain, dimples, a rosy, round face, and twinkling blue eyes. She was like Red Riding Hood's grandmother. She looked like she smelled like freshly baked cookies.

But when she looked up I could tell right off the bat she was kind of evil.

No matter. I was an author after all. She would still be impressed.

I slid the book across the counter toward her, and with a dignified smile said, "I would like to donate this book."

"Alright." She barely even looked at me. She just pulled up a window on her computer.

Dude, she didn't even look at the book! I nudged it a little closer to her. "I mean I want to donate this book."

"Uh huh. One second."

I blinked in confusion. "Actually it's my book."

This got me eye contact. Derisive eye contact. She finally spared the book a glance and then looked back at me. "Yours?"

Oh crap, wait, what was that stare? What is that? I had never seen that stare before. Every time I had told someone I had a book published it was all, "Really? Did you? Oh my gosh!" But this lady looked at me like I had a booger resting above my upper lip. I quickly explained, "Like, I'm an author. I just had it published. By a publisher. It's a book," I finished lamely.

Not even a glimmer of interest. "What's the title?"

My jaw almost dropped. I wanted to wave the book in her face and reiterate, "I WROTE THIS BOOK. Me. I wrote it. And it's published. WHY AREN'T YOU IMPRESSED?"

Instead I answered her question. She took down the book's information, and I even restated the fact that I was the author by saying, "Alyssa Auch. That's me because I wrote it." Like a five-year-old repeating themselves in case you didn't hear what they said the first ten times.

"We'll inspect the book to make sure it fits the parameters, and if it does, it'll be put into the system."

A little sweat gathered at the back of my neck. There was a screening process? "When will that be? How will I know?"

Her cold, dead eyes rolled over to me with an exasperated expression of apathy. "What?"

"Like, how will I know it passed?"

"It will show up in the system."

"What does it have to do to pass?"

"There's a lot of things. We have our cataloging employee take care of it."

"It has a publisher."

"I see that. We'll add it to the list, as I said. And it will then get cataloged."

"How long will THAT take?" I was getting agitated.

"I am not sure. A few weeks."

"WHA-" I cleared my throat and lowered my voice back to a whisper as a mother and child jerked their heads my way. "Weeks?"

"Ma'am there's a line behind you."

I looked back. Sure enough, several average humans were waiting behind the quickly deflating superior author. Me. That's me.

So I thanked her, watched her toss my precious, amazing book onto a pile of other random donated books, and walked to the door a slightly less confident, and kind of bewildered woman. In my head I had imagined an excited response, a string of questions about how I did it, and profuse adoration at my incredible feat.

Instead I received cranky grandma's humble pie.

At least now praise is a pleasant surprise. Better to know you are just a lucky person of average intelligence and receive unexpected praise than the opposite.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, it did eventually get cataloged. See? People even read it, I hear.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rescue Prince Charming

Somebody needs to rescue Prince Charming.

Well here I come, Charming, armed with words and my righteous indignation.

My husband and I just returned from watching "Maleficent," and while there is an entire post I could devote to the giant missed opportunity that was this film, that's not what I'm here to rant about. I'm taking on a larger issue, here. The problem is that I saw Prince Charming's death coming from a mile away, and as soon as I realized what they were going to do with his true love's kiss, I nearly chucked my box of Raisinettes at the projector. 

Let me clarify: Prince Phillip did not die in this movie. But his importance did.

And his true love's kiss has not been the only one to be pushed aside for more politically correct, palatable types of love. Frozen just did it. Brave did it. The Princess and the Frog did it. And that's just recent Disney. Lots of other books and movies seem to be in love with this idea that its weak for a woman to depend on the love she has for a man. Eat, Pray, Love told women that you should love yourself entirely and completely before you let a man love you. The prevailing message in many books and romantic movies even, is that women shouldn't rely on the love of a man to love themselves. That they don't need a man to feel whole.

But what if you do?

What in the world is wrong with a woman feeling more complete with a man?

I feel like Hollywood and media in general have suddenly become afraid to portray a scenario where a woman is a better person because of her love for a man. It's like they fear if they show that a princess really did need the prince to come and kiss her that they are belittling the princess.

But can't they both need each other equally desperately?

In High School, I had very little self esteem. Don't ask me why, because honest to goodness, I was a cute little thing, and it didn't make a whole lot of sense. But I thought my curves were "fat," and my nose was big, and my eyebrows were ugly...blah blah blah the list goes on. My mother told me every day how beautiful I was. My daddy adored me. I was surrounded by love in great heaps from all kinds of places, but it didn't seem to touch my self esteem--or lack thereof.

Enter Dan.

He waltzed into the lunch room as a transfer student, and the minute I saw that cool swagger he had, I fell head over heels. We were friends at first, and then at the ages of 16 and 17, we fell in love. And I suddenly had all the confidence in the world. This hot guy thought I was pretty? Thought I was smart? Thought I was precious?

It made me feel on top of the world.

Did I need his love to make me a better, happier person?

Yes! 

A thousand times yes! And I still do, many years, a marriage, and three kids later. I need my man. And I'm not afraid to say it. He is a good man who treasures me, and reminds me every single day how beautiful I am inside and out. And you know what? I'm willing to bet there are millions of women and girls who are a lot like me.

I think the problem we have in our world is that bad men lie to good women. They use their woman's need for love and abuse it. They abuse those beautiful women, and we look at that and say, "Why did you rely on him? You're so lovely. You don't need that bad man to tell you that."

I've seen enough abuse first hand to realize how heart-rending it is. I can see why a woman in that situation would need to run away and find herself without someone else telling her how incredible she is. I wouldn't blame them a bit. I would hug them and tell them that indeed, they are so precious and loved, and they do NOT need that man to tell her that for her to know it.

But not every love is like that. Sometimes it really is a fairy tale. Sometimes those people really do make each other better, happier, more confident. Sometimes leaning on a man is a beautiful thing, and because of the ugliness that frightens us so much, we shy away from admitting that relying on a man could be a good thing.

And isn't that what a fairy tale is? A fairy tale is a story about the good love. It's a story about how
magnificent love can be when a woman sees her beauty looking back at her in the glimmer of a man's adoration. It's a story about how he feels fulfilled, confident, and at home in the embrace of the one woman made just for him.

Hollywood--it's okay to write stories about that. Disney--it's okay if the princess really does get saved by Prince Charming. It's okay if his love saves her.

It's nice to see movies about different kinds of love, and I had all the warm fuzzy feels after watching Frozen. The love I have for my sister is something I hold very dear. But I wanted it to be said that fairy tale love isn't going to get old. And maybe some will scoff at it and scorn it, but in the hearts of young girls everywhere, I think we're always going to wish for a love that makes us happy. I don't think that's a bad thing.

Bad men do bad things. But that doesn't mean that love is to blame.

Let Prince Charming give her love's true kiss! Let him be her other half.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Bad News is Good News

But wait. Before we get to the news, I have to show you this thing.

First, we need to give Adam Haviaras a round of cyber applause because he found this for me. He's my History writing buddy, so I guess I'm not totally surprised he came across it. Look at THIS:



I realize this probably looks like the foil from the top of my yogurt cup, but I assure you, it is far cooler. See, the necklace in my book, the lunula, was based off an ancient Greek necklace that was often worn by young women. THIS, right here, is an actual lunula. It was recently found by this guy:

David Spohr. Adam brought this to my attention, and I had to geek out over it. Lunulas are very rare! Especially the magical variety that could end the world. Just saying.

Okay, so now that we've had a moment to geek out together, here's the bad good news for me, personally. I'm leaving Idaho two months early and flying out to Pennsylvania with my kids and my mom. Turns out, our insurance company is terribly stingy, and if I want to treat my persnickity spine, then I've got to do it out there. Which is cool, because I miss Pennsylvania, and I'll enjoy being there.

It's bad because I've got to leave this guy behind:
Just look at that face. I have to be away from that manly guy for 2 months while he finishes school. I'm not going to lie. I'm really bummed out about it. But we don't really have a choice, either, since staying on happy pills--while hilarious and definitely entertaining--isn't a healthy option. I've only got so many brain cells to spare, here.

The reason I mention it at all is to explain any possible absence from my blog for a little bit. I'm not saying I won't post, because I might, but if I don't, then try not to hold it against me. It all depends on the magnitude of chaos. So for now...




TO GLORY!

Or, you know...physical therapy. It's all the same.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tips for Co-Authoring a Book

While my back heals (or rather, while we wait to see if things have gone Lord of the Flies, and I'll need to introduce utter chaos to my family with back surgery), my mom has taken over all my inglorious mothering tasks to keep my three offspring alive. Fortunately, when she was here last year for the very same reason, we wrote a book together. Ta da! Aren't we crafty? 

In case you are wondering how all that went down, we talked about our experience here. But I also wanted to give some general tips if you had considered doing it yourself. Because really, how hard could it be? Allow me to illuminate:

1.) Use the appropriate writing tool--What we mean here is pick a program that allows you both to write the document without the need to email back and forth all the time. We used Google Documents, and it was perfect. Google Docs lets you edit the same document together in real time. You can make comments, and the person you shared the document with will get email updates when you do, so they know where to find it. This was invaluable for us because sometimes we needed to write together. Or we would go through and edit together on the phone, making changes as needed. I'm not sure what else is out there, but this is free, and its a heck of a lot better than emailing and downloading who knows how many versions of the book in the process of writing it together.

2.) Plan meticulously--My mom is a pantser. If you don't know what that is, it means she likes to write "by the seat of her pants" instead of planning the details. I'm the opposite, and I like to map things out before I go anywhere. We butted heads on that a little bit, but in the end we both realized that detailed planning is essential when you are writing a book with someone else. You have to write down all that back story, the lore, the nefarious reasons for evil deeds, etc. Sometimes when we writers are hammering out a piece, we'll have all these things floating around somewhere in our heads, and they'll come forward when needed. But when you're writing with someone else, all that floating matter needs to be nailed down in a document so your partner knows what's up. Whatever method you use for planning, find it and use it! Use it a lot.

3.) Man up--Yeah, I said it. You gotta grow a pair. Your writing partner will see your work in all its stages, and that includes the parts so bad, you'd have to scrape them off of the bottom of your shoe before disposing of them. And when said partner points out your string of turd words, you're going to have to man up and not get offended. That takes a lot of practice. Or oblivious optimism. Whichever works best for you. Either way, you have to toughen up and take criticisms for the team, because without them, you'll just tell each other how lovely your dog poo is, and then hurl your feces into the face of agents, feelings in tact but writing reputations in doggy bags. That was a lot of poop metaphors. What I'm trying to say is clean up your crap, and don't get churlish about it. Honesty is what will take your work from fun writing exercise to serious novel.

4.) Read it out loud--Even though writing with someone else means you have two sets of eyes, there will still be things you both miss while going through the editing phases. What we found best was the long, and sometime grueling method of reading each chapter out loud over the phone. I would read her chapters, and she would read mine, and we were both able to catch a lot of errors that way. You have to mentally pull up your britches for this part, because it really does suck hearing your work read out loud for the purpose of being nitpicked. But painful as it is, it was necessary and super helpful. Take the time to do that before sending it to beta readers.

5.) Be respectful--I know I just did a whole speech about putting your big girl panties on when it
comes to honesty, but its also important to remember that this is your co-author's soul on paper, too, so try to be kind while you're shoveling the poop. Even though she's my mom and I'm her daughter, I sometimes had a hard time delivering my thoughts kindly, I think. I get that from my Dad. A spoonful of sugar and all that, people.

6.) Compromise--There will be times when your ideas don't jive. You'll want to take it one direction, and your partner will want to go another way. This is where things get really dicey, so I think your choice of writing partner is going to matter the most here. You need to choose someone who has similar (if not identical, preferably) tastes, and can think along the same lines. I know that diversity brings new ideas and all that, but at the same time, you need to come up with a cohesive plot that feels like it was written by one person. My mom and I are quite different, but we still like the same things, generally. So if she came up with an idea I didn't like, I would just try to take that element and tweak it. Same with her. Or I guess sometimes I would just flat out say, "That's interesting, but I'm not sure that's where I want this to go." It's hard, but that's where trust in one's partner comes into play. I don't suggest doing this with a friend, because friends can be offended. It's got to be someone where honesty won't hurt.

7.) Set aside specific times--I'm a busy mom, and my mother had a job, AND we lived in different time zones. So finding the right time was hard, but generally we would set aside 3:00 as writing times, and then if we needed more time that day, we would set aside a time after my kids were in bed. The important thing is that we carved time out to plot and write and edit. It would be even better if I had the luxury of considering this a job, and we professionally sat down somewhere every day to keep it productive and business-like. If you can swing that, totally do it! It will make things go much faster.

8.) Organize--We didn't do this originally, and we kept forgetting important plot points and stuff. Use spreadsheets and documents, make up character profiles with pictures (you'd be amazed how many times we forgot the physical characteristics of people), and even Pinterest. We used Pinterest for research and as a place to gather pictures and materials. I have a little tutorial on using Pinterest as a writer here. However you do it, write everything down, and make it easily accessible between the two of you so you can both get to the information whenever you need it. There's nothing more awkward than writing about a red-headed, green-eyed, gangly youth when he's supposed to be a burly brunette, and getting called out by your partner for total negligence.

9.) If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. If it turns out that this process is agonizing for you or your co-author, please do yourselves a favor. Don't do it! It's supposed to be fun, and fairly smooth as a process. If you're struggling to make it through a plot you don't like, or if you aren't getting along with your partner, it's going to show in the writing. So even if you start and it doesn't work out, that's okay! Nothing ventured nothing gained, you know. But it's a waste of both your time if you keep going with something that you aren't pumped up about.

10.) Symmetry--I needed a tenth something. So here it is. Because ten.

I hope that was a little helpful to you if you are thinking about writing a book with someone else. It's certainly a challenge, but it's dang fun, too!

And hey. You only have to do half the work. What's not to love? If you want to know more about our project Plane Walker, check out our initial introduction of it here.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Busted

There's this little saying I heard growing up as a kid: "Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back."

Well, I'm just going to put this out there, but my kids need to lay off the crack. My back is totally busted again. On a trip to the library with my kids, ye olde back decided to crap out, stranding me in the parking lot and forcing my husband to run over a mile to get to us and drive us all home.

Brilliant.

So as I lay here waiting for my mother to fly 2000 miles to rescue me again (you can bet we'll be writing another book while she's here), I decided I would share some Auchward writer happenings with you. I don't have anything else to do, except maybe watch kdramas.

First of all, let me tell you a story about me on heavy painkillers. If you think I'm a little nerdy, a little
predictable, and almost painfully average as a stay at home mom, you'd be right. But when I'm on the giggle pills? No, no. I'm Fun Alyssa. Fun Alyssa does things like curse (I don't use curse words normally because I'm Mormon), and talk almost exclusively in puns, and come up with semi-brilliant but still a little on the coo coo side ideas. I send "drunk" messages to people on Facebook, and lot of them are inappropriate jokes I found on the internet while "drunk" surfing.

There was one time when I decided to train for a 5K, and only after my back seized up and nearly killed me as I flew off the treadmill did I realize that people with squishy discs can't run three miles every other day. So that night I needed a giggle pill while I healed. According to my husband, I popped up out of a dead sleep, staggered over to the coat rack, grabbed the keys, and was about to walk out the door barefoot and in my underwear. When he asked me where I was going I said, "I'm going to a hotel because it's loud in here."

I'm not exaggerating when I say that he pushed three different types of furniture and a few heavy books up against the front door to keep me from sneaking off.

Besides all that, I also do this other thing when I'm Fun Alyssa. I go shopping. That's right, I go shopping when I am, essentially, high. One time I bought $70 worth of kids clothing, and didn't remember a bit of it until I got the confirmation email the next day.

Also, I bought these:

 Nerd glasses. Why? I have no idea. I just did. I felt like I needed them to complete my...je ne sais quoi. They cost 10 dollars, and my husband couldn't lift his head from the table for a full two minutes when he saw the billing statement.

There are nerd glasses on my blog, so clearly I needed to own a pair even though my eyesight is perfect. I'll wear them when I write blog posts to channel Fun Alyssa.

Besides my baked purchases, I actually made a very sane purchase not too long ago, and it finally arrived this week. Whenever people find out that I have books published, they always ask at least one (sometimes all) of these three questions:
What kind of book?
What's it about?
Where can I buy it?

Because of that, I decided that I would skip the awkward "elevator pitch" that always sounded like I was selling my own work to my friends, and I would get some business cards made up. Here they are!
 
 They have a really shortened version of my blurb, my contact info, and where to buy them. It's perfect! I chose to just do Lunula instead of both books because I thought it would be more simple. Besides, odds are if they like Lunula, they'll know there is a sequel and search for Inito anyway.

I haven't gotten the chance to actually hand them out anywhere (see entire above post), but I imagine these will really come in handy. I think I'll ask to leave a few at the library, and maybe have friends and family carry them around for me. Who knows? Maybe it'll help with sales!

Any other authors out there use business cards? Do you have any experience with them? I'm curious to see if they help.

Also, send me a message any time, because I love to talk to other readers/writers/authors. I'll be here. On the couch. And subsequently the computer. For a while...




Thursday, May 15, 2014

Personal Post

I feel like, since this is my blog after all, I ought to put up a few personal things. Just so you all don't think I'm some random writing chick with nothing else going on. Being a writer is but a very small part of my very busy life!

First of all, I'm a mom. Take a look at these kids:

Aren't they cute? They take up most of my time. Lilianna is four, Rowan is three, and Rosalie is 19 months. I homeschool the oldest two, and I actually plan on homeschooling them all permanently. I've got a Bachelor's, but I don't work, so I might as well put to to good use giving them a rockin' education.

Also, I'm madly in love with my husband, who was my high school sweetheart. I call him the world's best husband. Don't believe me? He had a day off today, and he woke up early with the kids and let me sleep in, and then while I went grocery shopping he cleaned the house. Then after the kids were in bed he announced that it was "date night" and we watched Korean dramas and ate chex mix. And he does this all the time, people. He's a freaking knight in shining armor, and I don't know how I got so lucky.


Dan will be graduating from school (finally! Huzzah!) in July, and I couldn't be happier. I feel like we've been poor students forever. Oh, wait. We have been.

The best part is that he'll be doing his internship in Oberammergau, Germany. DUDE! It's the coolest thing ever. The not cool thing is that I might not be able to go with him. Flying 3 kids and a wife out there is expensive, and not to mention stressful with finding living accommodations. We're still figuring it out, but either way, my hubby will be chillin out in THIS place:

Lucky dog.

In addition to writing, I also like to do wifely things like crocheting, and sewing, and general crafting. I wasn't into that stuff before I had kids, but since I'm cheap, I discovered that if I just learn how to do something myself, I can save money. Yay for cheap housewifery! (I really made these dolls...created the pattern and everything. I'm flippin amazing.)

 Um, but I hate cooking. It's not that I'm bad at it...I just don't enjoy it. Odd, because I love food.

OH and I have a cat. His name is appropriately nerdy. The only video game I have ever played all the way through, and obsessively love in all its versions is Zelda. So his name is Link.






So there you go. Stuff about me! Like every other human being on the planet, I have a lot of different sides that I don't always get to show off. I thought I'd show you the "mom and wife" side, because honestly, I rather love that part about me. I make cute babies! And I enjoy raising them.

I hope you have a fun weekend, and please remember to comment and share your blogs, too! I love connecting with other bloggers. If you comment or leave your blog, I will definitely go see what you're all about. People are fun.