Feb 28, 2010

Solution Sunday: Contest Prizes Revealed; Kelly, Robert, and Mariah

(I had a contest way back. Forgot? Me too. Kinda.)

You may remember three weeks ago I had a contest. Yup, I did. The prize was a cover designed by moi (that's 'me' in French. Oh, you knew that, you just gave me that look because moi is pretentious to use? What'd you expect, I have a 1:2 scale photo of myself as my banner). Well, I have finally completed the covers, two weeks late. Well, I took on a bit too much in February. Without further ado, here are the covers! Please click on them to get a larger and clearly view.

Also, check out the winner's blogs! Just click their name below their cover. They may have been randomly picked out of a hat, but they happen to be some of my favorite blogs to visit each and every day.


Winner: Kelly Polark
WiP submitted: Rock'n'Roll Princesses Wear Black


WiP submitted: Romeo, Romeo


Winner: Mariah Irvin
WiP submitted: Jane's Air

One-sentence summary: When Jane Hawkes, 17, runs away from her abusive family, she ends up running towards the dangers and deadly secrets the Wild West holds.


Please check in tomorrow as I kickoff my March is Classic event. I am only reading classics for the whole month and will post the final tentative list tomorrow.

My heart goes out to Chile.

11:00 EDIT: Also, John and Hank Green, the VlogBrothers, have asked us, the community, for support. Please oblige.

Feb 27, 2010

SAMS (something about me saturday)

Please follow up with your own answers in the comments!!

Not grossness, just TMIness

Kelly asked:
SAMS: What vegetable do you not care for very much? :)
Technicalities aside, I hate, hate, hate tomatoes.  They taste sour and have that odd fuzzy texture on the inside.  Plus, I have major digestive issues and tomatoes give me horrible heartburn.  I do not like raw zucchini either.  Cook it and I like it.

SAMS: Who do you think is the hottest celebrity? Which one gets on your nerves the most?
Kelly, Kelly, Kelly...I hope you realize the can of worms you've opened.  Okay, in order for you to see the full scope of how my mind works, I have created categories: 
Guys: Sam Worthington!!, Christian Bale!!, Gerard Butler, Ryan Reynolds, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Gibbard*, John Krasinski, Chris Pine, James McAvoy, Channing Tatum, Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Shia LaBeouf!!, Anita's nephew, Taylor Lautner (I know, I'm a pedophile, but he's a hometown favorite!).
Gals: Keira Knightly!!, Natalie Portman!!, Kristen Stewart!!, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Zooey Deschanel, Drew Barrymore, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Aniston, Alexis Bledel, Ellen Page, Live Tyler, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Julie Andrews!!, Angela Lansbury, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Sean Penn, Julia Roberts, Maryl Streep, John Cusak, Nathan Lane, Sally Field!!, Brangelina, Cate Blanchett, Johnny Depp.
Ricky Gervais, Jason Bateman, Seth Green, Elijah Wood, Tina Fey, Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Goldie Hawn, Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Steve Zahn, Dakota Fanning, Kate Winslet, Rachel McAdams, Debra Messing.
Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrel, Dolly Parton, Brendan Fraser(how can one person enthusiastically make so many crappy movies?!), Brittany Murphy (RIP, I killed her), Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barbara Streisand.
Meg Ryan!!, Nicolas Cage!!, Kate Hudson, Eddie Murphy.

Just a few off the top of my head.  (You asked.)

*Lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service and married to Zooey Deschanel.  Just think you should know he was the first love of my gay life.
Heather asked:
Here's a SAMS question: If you had to choose between being able to fly, and having unlimited food, which would you choose? Would it matter if potatoes were taken out of the equation?
Without any qualms I would definitely choose an unlimited supply of food.  I would still make that choice if potatoes were taken out of the equation.  The entire world survived without them until the 15th century.  It would be difficult.  I really have no desire to fly, Superman style at least.  In Every Soul a Star, the idea gained in stock as Jack taught Bree to 'fly', so in a round about way I could have both.

Don't forget to follow up with your own answers in the comments!!
(If you'd like to offer your own SAMS question, do so during the week, just as Kelly, Heather, and Anita have done so loyally.  Any day, anytime, any question.  I'll answer everything on Saturdays.)

Feb 26, 2010

FuFri and, well, my future.

The one where I discuss my future, the present, and occasionally the past.

Are you like me? I know we're different, but in a way we're all the same. Sure we are at different levels of writing skill. We live in different parts of the world. But, aren't we all here for the same exact thing? Seriously, I'm asking. What are you here for? Here being this electronic virtual blogosphere that we would've considered SciFi when we were younger. I mean, this is the new future. Oops, I meant this.

If our realities about future technologies are changing from what we thought as a kid, are other things changing too? We've all been paying attention to the development of eReaders and the potentially profound affect they'll have on the literary world. What about the basic idea of a book? A beginning, a middle, an end. So, we log on every morning or so and see how others are going about their book. Where are they? In the beginning. The beginning of the beginning? We all write in our own process, but if you're like me, you need someone to forged a path ahead of you. Most of us are that way. How many times have you compared yourself to a published author? Lowry, DeCamillo, Mass, Black, Hiaasen...the list goes on and on. They've all made it. Did they have the help of tubular blogger friends or did they make their own path. We know Lowry didn't have blogger friends, Al Gore hadn't invented the internet yet, and somehow she managed to change my life. In five years, when my book comes out, will my acknowledgements be five pages long as I attempt to list all my virtual buddies? Will I even have a novel coming out in five years or will my ADHD prevented me from finishing because I've spent all my time on here? Lots of questions, very few answers. I am not necessarily asking you, my dear friends, to answer them for me, I am just babbling here.

Admission: I am a sick, twisted person addicted to blogging. It's really gross.
Proclamation: I am taking drastic measures. I will continue to blog everyday, but I am going to develop a template by which every post will be derived. Unless I am nervously sharing my writing or my progress, each post will be under four hundred words, this also excludes captions and SAMS days. I am doing this for so many reasons: 1. to save me time 2. to save you time 3. I believe it'll teach me the value of a word 4. I don't want to be a time-waster anymore! 5. I am trying to cut down on my use of commas. At first, the quality of my posts may suffer, so I beg of you, please bear with me as I become acclimated to using such few words. I am excited to see how well I handle this as I still try and accomplish my goals by March 11.

You srsly have to head over to Ali Cross's blog today. She has a vlog that will have you ROFL. Also, Sarah's blog made. me. pee! And Heather has another great interview. You must check it out, or we are so over! TFTBA.

If you noticed that this post makes zero sense, then we are more alike than I thought.

Feb 25, 2010

Thesaurus Thursday and butt, fanny, tush

Lazily expanding my vocabulary one commenter's synonym at a time...

...like, buttinski, as in, "Nothing big to ponder, just some fun stuff to think about today and then get your buttinski to work tomorrow!" Well, sorry, Kelly, (the author of that quote) my break has become a monster! Yesterday I readied future posts all day. I got all the way to next Monday.

Alright, a few people have mentioned deadlines. Deadline, term, time allotment, time frame - uber scary stuff for me, but...since I haven't been getting any work done and I have my five days of unpluggage coming up (look right under my banner), I have decided to set deadlines. Realistic, no-excuses, firm, I will do this thing kind of deadlines. With me? Alright! I am in love with John Green.

Here's my list of goals:
Begin plot map using this article from Skotos. EDIT: I totally forgot to cite Heather Kelly as the source.
Complete a character profile for Scottie, Justin, and Janna (Scottie's best friend)
Apply these to me WiP board of funness
(A secret auxiliary project)

I am going unplugged on March 12, so I have fifteen days to accomplish these goals. The fourth has a firm deadline, I'll skip mentioning it here since it cannot be changed. For the plot map, I state that I will begin the process. My word usage is part getting out of having to commit to any specific number of things and part keeping my options open. More the latter J. I am giving myself until Thursday, March 11. That way I can focus on my other goal, creating character profiles for Scottie (1/10 done), Justin, and Janna. I give myself until Sunday, March 7.

There you have 'em. Goals and deadlines. Now, I need to transfer them to my planner, wherever it is.

I almost forgot. Here's the one truth.

Feb 24, 2010

wTf? wEdNeSdAy! My WiP and a Cop Out...again

wTf? wEdNeSdAy! Everyone needs a day to say wtf? What day is better than Hump Day?

Today is my one-month anniversary of NO POP(soda)!!

It's been a week since I debuted my sexy WiP board of funness. Well, it's also been a week since I stored it away. I have been at wits end. So, since you all encouraged me to take a break yesterday...I am extending that into today as well, for a few hours. (Also, I worked yesterday afternoon and evening, so I can't count that as time not writing) Today, I will work on writing. Yes, that is what I will do, today, starting this afternoon. But, for today's post, I totally have some unfinished awards business to deal with. This is where the cop out from my title comes in. I have been feeling against awards lately. They are generic and frilly and have been clogging up the blogosphere. But...I do love one thing about awards, they distract people from noticing the lack of work I am doing.

Award #1
I received the Creative Writing Award given to me by Shannon O'Donnell. I think you'll join me in considering this award the most appropriate for a writer to receive. Therefore, I feel honored that the great SO'D would think of me. She has like 2 million followers and does cool things on her blog, like giving away Query Queen Elana Johnson's Ebook. Here are her words about my words: "I think we can all agree that when it comes to creativity and making others happy, Jon is a master." Holla! I have always wanted to be a master of something. The rules of this award state that I am I am required to name 10 things that make me happy and to pass the award along. My rules are that I will give the award to only one person and ignore all award rules, but since I like to be happy, I think I can pump out a list of ten things.
1. Red Vines
2. Green olives
3. Local wine
4. Celery
5. Carrots
6. Black olives
7. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
8. Boiled potatoes with french onion dip and shredded cheddar
9. Sweet potato fries
10. Food, in case you didn't notice
My recipient of this fun award is Tina Lynn. She makes me happy because she doesn't take any crap and she totally tells it like it is. Want to improve your writing? Befriend this spitfire.

Award #2
Kelly Polark, whose name I consistently spell wrong, has given me (and my best buds Heather and Tina) the "Creative Writer Blogger Award", which I believe is the knockoff of the award up above. That doesn't make me like it less! Especially coming from Kelly who's like a smile in a box! Also, she asks the best SAMS* questions! Seriously, if you could bottle her up, you'd have the next big thing. Here are this award's rules:
X 1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link them.X 2. Add the award to your blog.X 3. Tell six outrageous lies about yourself and one truth.
1. The color purple induces a mean throw up fit every February 29.
2. I have seven thumbdrives.
3. In the year 2006 I read three books.
4. My stage name is Harlequin Romantique
5. I have a blue belt in the marital arts.
6. My iPod is chartreuse.
7. I once dated a guy named Mar'Quinn
X 4. Nominate six creative liars ... I mean, writers and link them. (I am breaking my rule for this too.)
Kristopher - He is hilarious and honest! I seriously need you to go check out his blog. He recently moved from, get this, Idaho to Maine!
Marybeth - She gave up Facebook and Twitter for Lent and I want you to go give her some blogosphere lovin'.
Sarah Dooley - She's one cool cat and gives me some great advice. She's been here since the beginning. Also, she has a book coming out!
Robert Guthrie - Mostly because he has helped me gain some major perspective over the last few weeks, but partly because Heather will award this to him too and I want to do it first. Ha! Also, I love to read, especially when it's his writing!
Dena Daw - One of my Children's Picture Books crit partners. She has short sweet posts and they make me laugh every time. Especially when she takes my advice about garden gnomes.
Marisa Hopkins - Another of my PB crit partners. She is an uber talented illustrator and a blogger extraordinaire. I aspire to be like her. Also, she and I share an affinity for self-deprecation that I find quite impressive.
5. Let your nominees know they've been nominated.
I'll be doing this soon, if you don't see it already.

Please note the resistance of boomerang awardage.

Kelly said:
SAMS: What vegetable do you not care for very much? :)
SAMS: Who do you think is the hottest celebrity? Which one gets on your nerves the most?
Nothing big to ponder, just some fun stuff to think about today and then get your buttinski to work tomorrow!
Tune in Saturday to find out my answers and be thinking of your own answers. kelly, I hope you are ready for an eye-full. I made lists and categories. I can reassure you that there will not be any charts on the snowfall of, what did Anita say, "I didn't know your town was that small!," so, yeah, no more facts and figures about little old Lud.

Not much of a cop out, this post took me two hours. Good night, I mean morning, well, technicolorly it is Wednesday for me.

Morning run.
Snow day! 9", we're not sure why either...

Feb 23, 2010

Tubular Tuesday and Grasping at Straws

A week of torture and look how far I've come...to...nowhere.

I have absolutely no idea what to post today. (This is where you yell at me to get to work!) I dibbled and I dabbled yesterday. Scottie and I tried to hang out, but he was too busy trying to figure out who he is. So, today, I have nothing to post about. Stat Counter is so not going to like this post. Tina suggested I create a metaphor using my puppy as the Snowflake Method, which is funny since Mariah suggested the same thing yesterday. Uh...considering Puppy is one of the major factors in my writing neglect, I think she can be ignored on the blog for a bit. The biggest thing my writing and Belle share is the intense production of a lot of crap. Heather is so going to yell at me for the self-deprecation.

Okay, I'll make a goal for the day: I will begin my plot map and allow the first three steps to click and fall into place in my head. Then, when that happens, I will share. Deal?

Have I redeemed myself?

No, well, fine, here's a little bit of Puppy for you then.

(Belle is on the left, we are baby-sitting Louie on the right while his fam is in Florida)
Here, have some sunrise.
It's criminal for someone with so much to do to be this bored...

Feb 22, 2010

Meanie Monday and moving on to Step 3


One week, one sentence. Wow, I'm making progress. No, but seriously. I have learned an absurd number of things in the last week that pertain to every aspect of my life as a writer. Today, I would like to leave Step 1, a one-sentence summary, behind and focus on step 3. I'll go back to step 2 shortly, I just really need to move on today.

Step 3) The above [steps 1 & 2] gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells:
  • The character's name
  • A one-sentence summary of the character's storyline
  • The character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline
An important point: You may find that you need to go back and revise your one-sentence summary and/or your one-paragraph summary. Go ahead! This is good--it means your characters are teaching you things about your story. It's always okay at any stage of the design process to go back and revise earlier stages. In fact, it's not just okay--it's inevitable. And it's good. Any revisions you make now are revisions you won't need to make later on to a clunky 400 page manuscript.
Another important point: It doesn't have to be perfect. The purpose of each step in the design process is to advance you to the next step. Keep your forward momentum! You can always come back later and fix it when you understand the story better. You will do this too, unless you're a lot smarter than I am.

The first character that I am am sharing with you is Scottie.
name: Andrew Scott, called Scottie by friends
one-sentence summary about characters storyline: Scottie does a lot of reflecting on being gay as he attempts to look forward and come out.
The character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?): He wants to find confidence and acceptance AKA an identity, within himself and from others, so he can move on.
The character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?): Scottie wants friends that he doesn't have to lie to.
The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?): First boyfriend syndrome, mixed with running away from things he doesn't know or understand: Justin
The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?: His life is about him, he has to make the decisions that will move him forward.
A one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline: Scottie reflects back on the beginning of his life and realizes that he's known he's gay for a long time. Once he makes this discovery, he tries to figure out if this is what defines him, and if so should he hide it, flaunt it? When Justin comes into the picture, it's the perfect setup, until they realize they are to become stepbrothers. Scottie finds himself dealing with his and Justin's problems, while Justin just ignores them both. Scottie 'kidnaps' Justin.

Okay, so you see I have a start. I had written more out, but lost it, yay. So, this is off the cuff, so not my style, but here it is. What I am looking for, in the way of comments and feedback, is probing questions that you think will help me to further define and specify who Scottie is. Of course, I'd be happy with anything, except..."Looking good, Jon!"!

Also, head over to Ali Cross's blog, she has does an awesome vlog segment called Ask Ali, where she answers all of our pressing writerly questions. Today, she is answering my question about staying focused. Ch-ch-ch-check it out!