Sunday, January 31, 2010

Know your competition...

I got some good advice this morning that I should know what the competition is writing. This piece of advice came because I submitted a pitch for my novel Haven, and the 100 words sounded like the story is similar to Vampire Academy.

I have to admit, when I started writing Haven I didn't know what was out there... but now, I watch them like a Hawk (and to tell you the truth, there are at least four novels that take place at a vampire school)... so, if I knew that when I started working on the novel outline (well... idea for the novel because I technically couldn't keep to an outline) would I still have written one that takes place at this mythical school? The answer is... I have no clue.

Now I'm stuck looking into the barrels of three guns. One, I could rewrite the character (hey, I've got all three species to work with, vamp, witch and werewolf... but will making her a witch remind agents of Harry Potter?) or two, I could throw it out the window (yeah, doesn't that look great considering I've spent the past five years creating the world, story and characters... hey, my werewolves look like giant echidnas/porcupines cross bred with birds who dragon snouts), or three, I could continue submitting, hoping that agents will be able to see that my story is different from the previously mentioned novels (and yes, since discovering them I have consumed them, so I do know what the competition has written).

Now I'm working on a couple of other novel ideas and I'm devouring novels from Airhead (Meg Cabot) to Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and everything in between to see what is out in the market place at the moment.

So, does every one look at the competition before jumping into a novel, or do you try to stay away from novels of the same type that you're writing in case it influences (subconsciously even) the way you write and what you write?

P.S. Once again I've just gotten home from work and I've learnt another valuable lesson... Don't drink energy drinks after midnight because it tends to hinder the chances of getting some sleep... oh well, there's plenty of blogs to read until the buzz wears off.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hi, my name's Cheree and I'm a writingholic...

*Loud group response "Hi Cheree"*

I have to admit I love to write, actually I'm addicted to it... but, tonight when I was working all I could think about was my story. As I walked around the restaurant I tried to piece things together... why would my character do that? what's the bad guy's motives? So many questions flowed through my head, but really should I be thinking about these sort of things when I'm supposed to be working (and no, I don't have a desk job to write down all my brilliant ideas, I just have to keep them in my head).

In fact, it's after midnight here and all I could think about when I got home from work was to write up a blog post and catch up on all the blogs that I've missed during my time at work.

Does any one else have the same problem of not being about to get your stories out of your head (or am I just nuts)? If I'm not alone, feel free to tell the group, nearly everyone's supportive around here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where does inspiration come from?

I'm hard at work trying to plot out my next story "Jacked In", my YA dystopian (and here I was swearing that I would stay away from sci-fi). Inspiration for the character seems to be flying in, but when it comes to the story it feels like I'm standing in a giant hole with a shovel, trying to get out but only finding that hole's getting bigger.

Where am I getting inspiration for my characters? The answer: all around me. Isn't that where all inspiration comes from?

My main sources are from two places: - which is a hospital in Japan who uses an anime character to help recruit blood donors. This just intrigued me with the use of someone using a character to sell medicine.


Vocaloid-Sonika - which is a programm that creates a virtual singer.

And voila... I have my character. Now, I just need to figure out a story to go with it... I have a bare bones thing that could be stuck together and resemble something, but I guess it will take a little bit longer to work out what's going to happen.

So, where does everyone come up with their story ideas? And do you often start with a plot or a character?

And, on a final note, I would like to introduce Lexi (well, at least the voice) behind my new story Jacked In.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've gone and done it now...

I've gotten myself a website.

I can't even count the number of times I've started designing one. I've got heaps of templates lying around on the computer with half-started web content, but I never knew exactly what to say to put on the web.

Last year I started this blog, and also got a Facebook page. Now, the website... where can I go next? Maybe get a Myspace page or a Twitter account (even though I swore that I would never Tweet in my life)... and then my world domination would be complete oh, I mean, I'll have my web presence established.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Time for a change...

Apart from working a lot at the 2 restaurants I'm at, I've been doing a lot of designing of my website. So, I decided that a change was in order to this blog (which will also help with the colour scheme a bit as well), while I didn't actually design this template, I thought it was cute and would be a good fit.

I don't like cliches, but I live by the "change is as good as a holiday" slogan, and since I can't afford a holiday, boy do I like a change.

When characters are too lifelike...

To be considered realistic.

Here I am again (I never learn, do I?) trying to type up a blog post at the same internet cafe in the middle of a busy shopping centre (or a mall, if you can count what we have in Australia as malls). I know I really should wait until I get home but where would the fun be in that? I got the sudden urge to create a post after a lot of people caught my eye.

When writing a story (whether long or short) people keep saying that you have to flesh out the characters, make them realistic or the reader won't believe the story. What about going from one extreme to the other, from flat 2d characters to characters that have very unique personalities that people cannot believe - because, nothing like that ever happens in reality.

But, what if real life unbelievable to begin with?

After seeing a woman trying to cope with five kids all under the age of five as they scream and cry and trying not to gawk at a grandma with short spiky hair that is coloured blue, purple and green, it made me think (oh no, here I go "thinking" again... no wonder my head hurts) that characters people can be boring, almost 2d in some aspects, or they can be outgoing and adventurous with little tidbits that most normal people would think were not possible or realistic.

How do you create boring characters without them seeming like they don't have a life, and what about characters that seem too extraordinary to be real, what do you do to tone them down?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Get your priorities straight...

The other day I was told that I don't have my priorities straight... just because I was working on my story (well, actually scouting the location to be able to describe it better) instead of stressing out over a job interview. There was two times for the interview, so I knew that I would be back in plenty of time to attend the second time slot... but still, since I was more focused on my writing all my priorities are screwy.

This made me think. What some people count as important may seem like procrastination to another... like writing. Because writing isn't centred around my real-world job or making money (at the moment) it shouldn't be counted as a high priority task, but to me it does.

How does one decide what needs to be done now or what can be left till later? Also, does anyone else have the problem that people don't take you seriously after learning you're a writer or think it's a waste of valuable time?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ahhh... stupid computer...

I've been very busy lately with working two jobs and trying to find time to keep up with my writing commitments (oh yeah, and there's the family obligations that I have to deal with as well). So, silly me chose to write a blog post while on break between both jobs at an internet cafe and, as soon as I pressed the "publish" button... poof... the whole blog post vanished into nothingness all because the computer didn't handle cookies so I was instantly signed out once it went to a new page...

Oh well... I'll have to create my ramblings at another point in time, very soon...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When revisions are due?

I just received some very helpful criticism about the beginning chapters of my novel which is making me think a revision of the start is beyond due before I submit to any more agents. How do you know, or can judge, whether a comment or suggestion should be taken?

I have made mistakes when I was starting out with my crit group where I took everyone's advice (that's definitely not to be advised)... I then had to learn the hard lesson that no matter how hard you try, you can't please everyone.

I have decided that the beginning of Haven needs to be altered. A few people have pointed this out to me, so since there's more than one I know there's a problem... and it's hard for me to admit it. I know changing it will be good for the story as a whole.

So, how does everyone know when it's time to make some changes? Or, when it's time to make changes based on some critique you've received?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nobody likes a Critic...

But unfortunately, they are necessary.

Today was my first day at a new job (a very busy coffee shop) and the person who was training me addressed every single thing I did wrong. I know it was to help me grow and let me correct anything that I'm doing wrong, but it was, well, just damn annoying (give me a break, it was, afterall my first shift).

I just had to keep reminding myself that she was just helping me assimilate into the role without making the same errors over and over again. This situation is the same in anything we do, there will always be someone with more knowledge, someone with more skills, or just someone with more opinions to help perfect the task we're performing.

This is a perfect example when it comes to writing. No one likes to hear that someone (anyone) doesn't like a story that you've poured your heart and soul into writing, afterall, everyone should like it... it's the best thing that's ever been written (don't tell me you never had this thought before), but sometimes getting a second (or third.. or fourth... so on) opinion from someone not as close to the work will help to improve it...

So yeah, while nobody likes critics... everyone needs one once in their life... I don't think my stories would be anything without my harshest critics (my brother and sister, and they say family shouldn't be critics... mine tears my story to shreds and has no problem telling me what sucks and what doesn't)

How does everyone else handle criticism? Have you joined a crit group? Or have close readers that help to point out any plot holes or character mulfunctions? Or is your writing (or whatever else you do) a solo act.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dressing to Please (Reaching the Right Audience)

No matter what you do you always have to dress to the occasion/audience you're addressing. In writing it's the same issue. If you, like me, write YA then there's no point in trying to get adults attentions, but how do you reach the right audience without going to the extreme and holding  neon sign above your head that screams "Look Over Here." - and even that might not work.

I recently attended an interview for a job at a big event on the Gold Coast where the audience (interviewer) was different than I was used to. Where professional suits and smart casual attire usually was the way to go, I chose to dress down because I was applying for a job at a music festival... lucky I did because I would have felt like an idiot amongst all the jeans and tees. So, knowing the target auience is a good thing, no matter what the occasion.

But how? Knowing the desired audience is one thing, reaching them is another matter entirely. The internet provides lots of opportunities to target the crowd you want, whether it's through Mypace, Twitter or even YouTube. Making use of the right networks will be a step closer to finding that audience.

P.S. I got the job, so now I get to  go to a old out festival, and better yet, get paid to do so.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Finally got myself a website...

I don't know how many times I've gone to design a website. I've got heaps of templates floating around my computer with failed attempts of what some could describe as a website... why?

It could be that I'm easily distracted and love to keep moving on, but the main reason is that I've never exactly known what to put on the website.

But, I thought I'd be adventurous. Last year I started this blog, this year I'm going to try and top that by designing a website, getting myself a Myspace page and even looking into this thing called "Twitter"... kidding, I'm not that old, but I seriously never even considered tweeting, but I swear I'll have an account by the end of the year.

I surprised myself that I was actually able to get this website up. It took me what seems like forever to design the template and then figure out what program to use... but it's done... now onto conquering the world I mean getting a Twitter account.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I love contests...

And, author Elana Johnson has one to kick off the new year at where the prize is a $25 gift voucher from Amazon. Go and check it out.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I hope everyone's off to a great start for the new year. And, what would a new year be without some resolutions. I got told last night that resolutions are only in your head - which could be true - but it's fun making them and gratifying if when achieved.

So, my resolutions are:
1. To focus on submitting Haven to agents.
2. To complete the first draft of my new story Jacked In.
3. To find myself a new job.

So, what are your resolutions going to be for the year to come? And, do you think you'll accomplish them?
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