Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I've always thought of myself as a good writer. As a kid, I hated grammar and paid as little attention to English class as possible, but I also read voraciously and wrote for fun. I wrote everything - short stories, poetry, abortive attempts at novels, essays. I wrote essays for fun. I studied vocabulary for fun. I'd usually go through my vocabulary workbook by the end of September and then spend the rest of the year making up my own vocabulary lessons that no one ever wanted to do.

Basically, I was a little geek until you planted me in front of an English workbook and told me to diagram sentences, at which point my Love of Learning evaporated in a sad little puff of smoke.

Also, I don't do things I don't want to do, as a general rule, unless you offer me money. And no one did that in fifth grade. So I never really diagrammed any sentences. I did develop what I believe is a decent ear for English and a very natural, thoughtless approach to writing. That approach served me well enough throughout my school career and into work -- despite the fact that I struggle to recall what the difference is between an adjective and an adverb.

But I've been realizing lately that's not enough. Two people recently critiqued two different pieces of my writing where I used 'laid' when I should have written 'lay'. Reading 'Reasoning with Vampires' (which, besides being snarky as hell, is also pretty educational) has made me wonder about my indiscriminate use of commas (the comma is never wrong!) and perhaps excessively enthusiastic love of the em-dash. And, well, the parentheses. If you read my blog, you probably know how I feel about parentheses (LOVE! I'd make sweet love resulting in baby (parentheses) if I weren't already married). 

I want to be more than a good writer. I want to be a great writer. That might mean breaking rules of English composition on occasion, but it should be deliberate, not because I write the way I talk.

So I have some studying to do. But seriously?

I'm still not diagramming any sentences.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This weekend I saw Limitless at the theater. It was my reward to myself for a) writing a ten page paper about Adidas' acquisitions (not exciting) and b) adding ten thousand words to my novel (exciting!).

And it was a perfect reward. Limitless was an amazing movie - one of the best I've seen in a while.

Limitless is a sci-fi flick about a down-on-his-luck writer who gets the chance to try out a miracle drug that allows the user to access every part of their brain, every memory of everything they've seen and read, every bit of analytical power.

Too bad it has some side effects. And that everyone wants a piece of the guy with the drug...

I loved that the main character is a writer (watch the trailer!), although I must admit they didn't exactly write publishing exactly (an advance on his novel before it's written? um, about that...).  I love the voice in this movie - the humor, the narrative was a little reminiscent of what I liked about fight club.  It had a great concept, and a plot that made the ending as perfect as the beginning.  It's just a fun sci-fi action flick.

Also, the lead Bradley Cooper is wicked hot.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Brenda Drake is holding this very cool blogfest/contest where you post the first 250 words of your story for the chance to win a crit from agent Natalie Fischer! Get all the details here to check out all the participants and/or sign up yourself! The idea is that we crit each other's first 250 words and then send the polished versions in for judging.

Here are my first 250 words for the current YA mystery WIP, RECOVERING SARA:

I would never have been at a support group, on a precious Saturday no less, if my mother hadn’t pulled out every maternal threat that still worked at sixteen. Mostly, that if I did not stop sulking and get in the goddamn car so she could drive me to the Y, she would not drive me anywhere I actually wanted to go. I swear the only reason people move out to suburbs when they have children is so that they can hold them in thrall.
 “Okay guys,” Reggie said, swiping at her fangs of chin-length black hair. Reggie led the Young Adults With Ulcerative Colitis Support Group. So far, she wasn’t what I expected from a support group leader. I thought she’d be more bouncy and enthusiastic. She smiled a lot, but beneath the false cheer she seemed irritated.  Ulcerative colitis does that to us all.  “Let’s go around and do introductions. I see some new faces here tonight.”
 I gnawed on one shiny pink fingernail while I waited for the introductions to come around to me.  There was a small girl with dark hair and glasses sitting across from me. She looked like she should be across the hall at a support group for Second Graders With Ulcerative Colitis. 

I stole a glance at the boy on my right, not wanting him to catch me looking. He was red haired, the kind of tall and gawky that doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with hands and knees. He crossed his legs at the knee and then uncrossed them yet again. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

I joked on Twitter the other day, after the sad early deaths of our dishwasher and car, that bad things always seem to come in threes and that was giving me a sort of dread.

Apparently merited. Because something else moderately horrible happened this week. Unfortunately it's not my story alone, so it's not being posted on the blog (at least not yet) - but yeah, serious bad luck and general yuckiness in my life right now.

Also, I got four rejection letters this week. Right when I needed them. Thanks, universe!

However, I'm still pretty happy - now that I believe fate is finished having its twisted way with me for the moment. I still have MJ and Starbucks frappucinos and good books and writing to do and long runs to take, all of which cheer me. 

So in that vein, I thought I'd share a bit of the WIP. It's a YA mystery about a girl, Dia, trying to figure out why her best friend Sara tried to kill herself. Sara's currently in the hospital with drug-related amnesia. Dia's just returned from a fact-finding mission, trying to fill in the blanks of Sara's memory. Dia and her mom have a loving, but strained, relationship.

After Danny and I said goodbye, I wanted to head up to my room to think in private. But Mom intercepted me before I even made it to the stairs.
“How was it?” she asked, smiling.
“Fine.” I said, in that tone of voice that’s meant to indicate a stupid question.
“So,” she said. “He looks cute.”
I turned and glanced out the windows. The Mustang was pulling away from the curb. “His car is cute. You couldn’t really see him from here.”
“He’s cute,” Mom said. “I saw enough.”
“He’s not boyfriend material." I headed for the stairs.  "Not that I’m girlfriend material.”
 “You are. Any guy would be lucky to have you.”
“Really?” I asked. The incredulity in my voice was genuine for once. “You say that even though I must annoy the shit out of you too?”
“Oh, Dia.” Mom’s expression was sad, a little shocked. She didn’t even scold me about language.
“Danny’s just a… friend,” I said. The last word stuck on my lips a little. Danny and I barely knew each other.  But he was trying to be a friend, and that was nice. I managed a smile at Mom and went up the stairs.
“You don’t annoy me, sweetie,” she said to my back. “I love you.”
“Not exclusive!” I called back, before I went into my room and shut the door.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Last weekend, MJ and I started a big home reno project. Right now we had a mud room between our garage and family room that's pretty, well, sad looking.

Standing open on the right is the door from the garage; this is the view standing in the doorway to the living room. The green carpet from when we moved in, despite numerous vacuumings and deep cleanings, still feels squicky to me to walk across with my bare feet.  It's a great space, but we're making a bunch of changes to it. Beginning this past weekend, when we ripped out all those built-ins and shelves you see in there now and started tearing up the carpet.

Then Sunday night, we loaded the dishwasher and it made the most horrible noises. There was a distinct smell of burning.

Monday morning, MJ texted me to let me know the car had died on the way to work.

By Wednesday, we had a quote on the car that was equal to the actual value of the car.

By Thursday, we'd been to Home Depot twice. New dishwashers are expensive.

So.  Now my house is a mess, with the canned goods and extra toilet paper and coats that live in the mud room ordinary piled up in the family room. I have no dishwasher until we buy and install the new one. We have to shop for and buy a new car, which is pretty much hell for me.  We still have the non-minor home reno project in the mud room (ripping up carpet, installing a wall and door, painting, tiling). 

And, of course, there's still work and grad school.  We don't want to talk about how grad school is going - my manta is "Six more weeks" right now. I've postponed my planned vacation to Europe because there's no time in my work schedule for me to take two weeks off, so I'm vaguely hoping things open up in the fall, maybe?

I'll be a happy Guin when this particular season of my life is over.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chanelle Gray of Beyond Words is hosting a very neat Twitter pitch contest with agent Michael Carr. You provide your 140 character pitch and the first 3 sentences, and not only will there be a winner, but there might be some manuscript requests! All genres.

You can check out the contest, if you'd like to enter, and the contenders here:
If you're entering, you have until there are 75 entries OR March 7th, whichever comes first. There's still time, so go check it out!

Here's my pitch:

After the Goddess of Vengeance co-opts Lauren's body to punish wrongdoers, Lauren fights to bring justice, not vengeance, to the suffering.

That's 139 characters, so I have a whole character left over to spare, too (If you think of a good use for it, let me know).

Even if you're not entering, it's a brutal interesting exercise. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I know, I'm crap at posting lately. I'm writing and revising frantically, but I don't have much to say about writing. I can't really base entire posts around SO REVISIONS ARE HARD WORK and OMG WHY DID I WRITE THIS IN PRESENT TENSE NOW I HAVE TO FIX IT. :)


So I'm officially taking my blog in a bit of a different direction.  I'll still post about writing, publishing, and books when I have something to say. But there are other things I'd like to talk about - yet I don't really have the content (or time) to support a whole 'nother blog. Plus, I love this one. And I love you guys who read me!  :)

I'd like to post more about the other things that are also Not My Day Job but still my passions: animal rescue, running, cooking. Movies. Travel. MJ. Life. Art. General geekery.

I hope you guys will bear with me as I figure out what I'm doing here and try to make my blog into something shinier and funnier! It's about to get a little random... but really, I'm a little random too.