Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Which logline is better?

I tried to get the logline for my young adult science fiction, Star Tripped, entered into the critique rounds at Miss Snark's First Victim blog, but I didn't get randomly picked, so I thought I'd request help from my readers here. 

In fact, I have two very different loglines, and I'm not even sure which one to use. So tell me which one you like best, and why (pretty please?) and ANY suggestions for improvement are greatly appreciated.

Logline #1, 40 words:
Blinded in a freak accident, seventeen-year-old Camria is tempted by a mysterious young man's offer to restore her sight, in exchange for her memories which she discovers are not her own but belong to another girl who lives light-years away.

Logline #2, 56 words:
Camria and her twin sister Liz were the first children ever born on the International Space Station. Seventeen years later, Cam just wants to live a normal high school life. But when she’s blinded in a freak explosion, and Liz disappears, she’ll do anything to get her sister and her sight back: even risk a journey light-years away.

Thank you for your feedback!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How important are character names?

Maleficent: love this name
What started out as a Top Ten list veered off into thoughts on "me vs. them". As in, when I pick a name for a story I'm writing, vs. characters in books I read, already named.  (If you don't want to bother with my musings, feel free to skip down to the Top Ten list part!)  Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top ten list theme (all related to books) every Tuesday (see the full list here).
Loki: another great name.
OMG, these two characters need to meet!

When I'm reading a book, the name isn't important to me: what's important is if I connect with the character in some way. She (or he) can be called ZxlotiHlu  and I won't mind too much (but it would be nice if they could have a nickname like Hlu that I can figure out how to pronounce).  I might get a little cranky over common names (there seems to be lots of Abbys, Addies, Annas lately!) but even that is so very minor in the scheme of things when it comes to enjoying a book.

On the other hand, when I have to pick a name, it's very important to me, and I'm very picky. Whenever a new pet has been acquired, I don't name them right away: I take my time getting to know them, mulling over different names till one seems just right. (This didn't work so well with my kids. Baby born, hospital wants a name. Husband wants a name. Grandparents want a name. A middle name, too. You can imagine the frustration when we had twins and a total of four names had to be decided on in a rapid manner.)

Same goes for naming the characters in my stories. I might give them a temporary name in order to get started writing, but some small neuron elf in the back of my brain is chewing over a database of names I've heard over the years, until The Name clicks into place.  I don't know exactly how my brain knows it's The Name. Sometimes The Name is simple; sometimes it's elegant; sometimes it's exotic (e.g. foreign, or made it up myself because I liked the sound). Sometimes it has a connection to something I love (I have a character named Lander, named after one of my favorite towns in Wyoming).

Whoa. Just got an idea for a new story. Characters in search of their names.

So back to the point.... my own creations/possessions: very picky about names. Otherwise, as long as there's a little diversity, no pickyness about character names at all.  However, there have been a few fictional characters with names that made me smile before I even got to meet the character:

1. Temeraire from His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik.  Elegant! Intellectual! Fits this unusual dragon so well.

2. Harry Crewe from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.  I discovered this book after I read the Harry Potter books, so I was already fond of the name Harry, and I just loved that it was a girl's name, in this case!

3. Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. It's different, unusual, a little exotic, but simple at the same time.

4. Bree and Hwin, from The Horse and His Boy, by CS Lewis.  A perfect pairing of names for two very different characters.

5. Captain Navarre from LadyHawke (the movie, must get around to reading the book!). Elegant and attention-getting.

6. Cho from the Harry Potter series. Simple, but uncommon.

7. Marcus from The Voice in The Wind by Francine Rivers. This might be a case where I loved the character so much, I ended up falling in love with the name (another character name I loved so much I named one of my daughters after her).

8. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (the Disney movie). It's just such a perfect name for her. And proof that I can fall in love with a name even from a villain. (Loki is another one, though in lore he's really more of trickster than a villain).

9. Tabari from the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. She's a minor character, but I love the foreign tang of this Arabic/Persian name.

10. Nell, from the My Friend Flicka series by Mary O'Hara. This is an odd one, because I don't care for the name Nellie (Laura Ingalls being a large reason why, from the Little House series. Nellie was her nemesis). But shorten it to Nell, and it becomes a completely different name. I would have named one of my daughters this, except for the sheer terror everyone would start calling her Nellie.

What's your favorite character name?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reader/blogger wishlists on Twitter #RBWL

Once or twice a year (ha ha) I actually spend some time on Twitter, and tomorrow October 21st is one of those days. I missed the last time wishlists went wild on Twitter, but not this time. Here's the details, as a repost from Shae @ Shae Has Left the Room

Agents on Twitter get together every so often to tweet about their manuscript wishlists under the hashtag #MSWL. It’s their chance to really delve into the nuances of what they’re looking for from writers. I love reading their answers as a reader, because I get to see what they’re looking for and, consequently, what will most likely be arriving on my shelves in the future. (Hopefully.) 
However, I wanted to do more than just read the wishlists. I wanted to contribute!
On the spur of the moment, I whipped up #RBWL (Reader/Blogger Wishlist), a hashtag for reader and bloggers to compile their own wishlists on Twitter. [Read the recap here.] Not only is it a great way to compare desires with fellow book-lovers, but we even had a few authors and agents sniffing around our thread. Who knows, if a specific idea is shown to have enough pull in the market, maybe someone within the publishing behemoth will give us our wish someday. 
On Monday (October 21st) at 12 EST, we’re going to tweet our wishlists on Twitter. #RBWL will then continue until no one’s contributing anymore. The last one literally ran all day, so it was easy for people across time zones to jump on when they had time. 
To recap: 
Who: Every reader everywhere!
What: #RBWL, a chance to tweet your reading wishlist and compare with other readers
When: October 21, 2013 from 12 PM EST (9 AM PST) until we decide to stop :)
Where: Twitter
How: Just tweet what you’d like to see (sci-fi? a new type of retelling? a contemporary in a specific setting?) and tag #RBWL at the end of your tweet
The more people we have, the more ideas will fly, the more fun we’ll have, and the more others will notice, so spread the word! Tweet about it, write a post, Tumbl, text a friend, but don’t forget to show up on Monday and tell us YOUR ideas!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ten reasons why the Croods make me happy

 I've been waffling over whether to post this, because it seems kind of silly. The Croods isn't an epic movie, or even a particularly memorable one. But I'm going to call this a celebration of imagination.

1. Earlier this year, one top ten prompt was concepts/settings we'd like to see more of, and I wanted some more settings like Avatar. Dangerous and beautiful, outrageously imaginative, with lots of new animals. Thank you, makers of the Croods, for feeling the same way. This prehistoric fantasy world blends leopards with owls, macaws with saber-tooths, elephants with mice, birds with piranhas, whales with...rhinos? For someone crazy about mythical creatures, these creature-concoctions were pure delight.

2.  The animation. The scene when Eep sees fire for the first time - the dance of embers in the night sky - so beautiful. And the scene with the stars. Even displayed our old, old TV, about as far from high definition as you can get, the stars were amazing. Oh, and that tropical water? Most delicious water I've ever seen.

3. The love of story telling. When I start reading or telling a story to one of my kids, the other three will magically appear to listen, too. So when the Croods get a chance to hear a new story, told by Guy, I loved how they waited with wide eyes, breathless to hear him tell a story.

4.  Great voices. Emma Stone voices Eep, and I could close my eyes and listen to her voice all day. Grug is voiced by Nicolas Cage.

5. A different kind of beauty. Eep's face is odd-shaped, her body is squat and compact, and she's incredibly strong. She's not built like a supermodel or a Barbie, but she's beautiful.

6. Guy is THE cutest boy I've ever seen, animated or not. My personal opinion, people, don't judge me :)

7. Belt, Guy's pet,  is pretty cute too.

8. "Release the baby!"

9. "I thought he was a wart hog, but he turned into a boy." "Strange, usually it's the reverse."

10. "He was a hunter, I was a gatherer. We were quite the scandal."

What silly or imaginative thing has made you happy lately?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The worst roads in America

After the terrible floods in Colorado three weeks ago, just an hour away from where I live, I'm cringing as I write about the snow storm that hit our town on Friday. It's just so minor in comparison. But I just have to say, we have the worst roads in America where I live. I don't have scientific data to prove this, but I'm originally from Buffalo, NY, which is infamous for its blizzards, and I don't remember ever seeing so many horrible accidents when I lived there as I do here in Laramie, Wyoming.

 During last week's snowstorm while dropping off/picking up kids from school (because we've NEVER had a snow day in this city), I saw three separate car wrecks.  On the highway between Laramie and Cheyenne, it's fairly routine to see accidents like this (there's even a webpage detailing them) and the saying goes if you are an unfortunate commuter on this highway: "it's not IF you have accident, it's WHEN you have accident."

It was sunny and 70 degrees here today, and all the snow's gone. But at 7200 ft and surrounded by mountains, we can get snow any time of the year from September through June.

Okay, on to more typical topics.

What I'm reading: just picked up an interlibrary loan of the second book of the Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik, because SHOCKINGLY our library did not have a copy of this book! Can't wait to start reading it. I do so love Regency era proper British dragons.

What I'm writing: I'm in planning mode for NaNoWriMo. I'm not writing anything at the moment except random notes. I'm also still kind of in a writing slump that I talked about last week.

What's inspiring me right now:  I took my 12 and 9 year old daughters to the Colorado Ballet production of Giselle on Saturday, and the dancing is still going on in my dreams. And I'm also mulling over this dark fairytale, wondering if I could write a modern-day retelling of it.

What's inspiring you currently?

Oh, and many apologies for not returning comments on my post last week. I'm frightfully behind but I promise I will get caught up!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Insecure, exhausted, and scared of NaNoWriMo

The first Wednesday of the month
 is time for Insecure Writers
 Support Group, hosted
by Alex Cavanaugh and his
excellent team. 
Click here for a list
of all the participants and to join in.
A big change in life has really thrown a wrench in my writing.

For many complicated reasons, I took on home schooling two of my daughters this fall. It's been a tough adjustment, but worthwhile. Very worthwhile.

But it's consuming and exhausting, and I'm still working my part time job on top of it. Something had to give to make this all work, and it's been my writing (and exercise... now that the days are getting shorter, I'm really missing my evening walks).

I was holding out hope that once the girls and I were adjusted to the new schedule - say, about six weeks - that I would be able to start writing again on a regular basis. But the insecurity I'm facing as I start my sixth week of home school is that writing isn't ever going to regain its foothold.

I absolutely love NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, and this will be my 7th year participating. This is the first year I haven't been looking forward to it. I just can't see how I can fit in two hours of writing daily (that's about how long it takes me to meet the 50,000 words in a month challenge) on top of my already insane schedule. There's not much left I can cut back on. I'm not one of those moms that has her kids signed up for lots of extra-curriculars:  they each get to choose one extra-curricular activity a week (but there are four of them). My own social life has already thinned down to one night w/friends a week. Dropping that during November will help just a few hours a week.

October is usually my big planning/outlining month getting ready for NaNo, but I've even been dreading October, not even sure I want to start planning for something that I don't think I can complete.

But then last night, it happened.


The story that wants to get written suddenly came alive and took over my brain and flooded me with ideas, and even more important, with passion (a rough draft of a historical fantasy, A Handful of Scars, from 2010, that needs to be completely rewritten).

I realized that my passion for the past six weeks has been funneled into a new project: getting started homeschooling. I needed to be passionate and single-minded about this huge new thing, especially to get through the initial tough period of adjustment. But we're getting into the routine, and while I don't want to lose my passion for teaching my kids, I am far enough along with it now that I think the passion can spread into a new side project.

Now that my passion has been ignited for this new project, I think I might be able to do it. At least, I'm hopeful and eager to try, and I'm not going to beat myself up if I only get 25,000 words instead of 50,000... if I can only manage an average of one hour a day instead of two.

Passion might just be the antidote to insecurity.

I think!? What do you think?
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