Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Check-in

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!! Hope everyone is ready for October to be over. That's crazy.

Welcome to another installment of our Monday Check-In. Each week (or most weeks) we share where we are with our writing. The goal is to keep ourselves accountable for our goals and to encourage one another to keep going when we're in a writing funk. So without further adieu, here is today's check-in.

Cindy's Check-in: Still revising. Lots of revising. (Cindy is also without power since Saturday evening. Booo!) 

Danielle's Check-in: NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. OMG. EEP. I can't even handle this. I'm determined to succeed. Determined. My housemate and Patricia are both doing it as well, so hopefully the three of us will force each other in submission. I'm ready to start! If anyone else is participating, add me!! DanielleEWrites 

 Christina's Check-in: I met my goal for last week and finished another chapter. This week, my goal is to write another chapter and start on a critique that I have waiting for me. 

Patricia's Check-in: Between being sick and gearing up for NaNoWriMo, I have done a spectacular amount of nothing this week when it comes to reading and writing. I did get ahead on some projects for work and lessons planned/homework done for my classes through November. I know I'm ready because I've started getting that jittery combination of anticipation adrenaline and completely terrified sickness at the thought of starting. Today and tomorrow I am going to try to finish my super-loose outline so I have some sort of path to head down as I start my crazy 50K journey on Tuesday.

Drea's Check-in: Drea is alive. She's on a little break right now. Catching up and resting. We love her and send her hugs. 

What are your goals for the week? Let us know in the comments. And, if you're doing NaNo, let us know that too!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fix It and Forget It: A Confidence Process

Fix-it and Forget-it does a lot of things right. Did you know the creator of the popular cooking series, according the website, is "especially concerned for those who don't have enough time to cook, as well as those who lack the confidence to cook."

I was thinking that we as writers fit this category. Subsititute "cooking" for "writing" and the sentence looks like this: "especially concerned for those who don't have enough time to write, as well as those who lack the confidence to write." Pretty fitting.

Fix-it and Forget-it prides itself on the concern it has for those who don't have enough time. Writer's never have enough time. There is always something that comes up to distract us--and we are easily distracted, even by our own thoughts. The other goal, the lacking confidence one, is so valid. We doubt many of the words we write--that's why we do so many revisions before we share it. Or we share it as we go so people can give us encouragement. I'm guilty of both areas, depending on the project.

Confidence to writers is a double-edged sword. If you have too much, you aren't as willing to listen to advice. If you don't have enough, you could find yourself face-down in a corner somewhere, your words in shreds on the floor.  Confidence is something every author needs to suceed (whether you are writing book #1 or #101) and it is the first thing to be lost at signs of trouble.

Fix-it and Forget-it is on to something. I'm sure that once Sally (our new pretend friend) cooks a few successful dishes, her confidence increases. Sally will branch out and try new things. If she ruins the dish, then she will probably feel like she will never be able to cook anything, ever. Sally has two choices: eat fast food until she dies OR figure out what she did wrong.  So, Sally will retrace her steps. Maybe she will re-read the ingredients. She can check the timer. She can even just try it all over again. There are many other options but the point is that Sally can figure out what happened--but she has to try to succeed first. And sometimes, she has to fail.

The same can be applied to writing. If you write a good scene then you are ready to write another one...and another. If you write a bad scene, it's so easy to go to Twitter instead. It's this time when you need to figure out the problem. Maybe your character is off or a motivation is missed. Maybe she the last sentence she said was completely wrong. Maybe he wants to go here instead of here. You can always figure out the problem--but you have to write something first. Life is a series of trial and error but eventually, Sally will cook something that tastes good and you will figure out where you need to go next.

What if you have tried--and failed? What then? Well,  Fix-it and Forget-it still applies.

I love my crockpot. I love finding recipes and adjusting them--or making up new ones with whatever I have on the shelf. When I use it, I gather all the ingredients and throw them in the pot. Let them simmer, cook all the way through and then go with it. There's no fear of messing it up, because you're just experiment. Maybe you should try this. Take your plot, characters, arcs, ideas--let them all simmer together. Play around with them. Toss in other things. Remove some things. See what happens. You can't mess it up, because you have the original recipe. The worst that happens? It doesn't work. The best? It does.

Is this post instilling confidence in you? It should. (At the very least you should be getting hungry!)

The whole purpose of this Fix-it and Forget-it franchise is to show people who don't know how to cook that they can, in fact, cook. The plan isn't that they will always use the crock-pot to cook every meal, but that they will have the confidence to grow and move beyond that and to something else.

When you have the confidence and drive to start writing, eventually you should have the confidence to continue writing. And to grow in your writing skills, pursuits and challenges. It's like learning to walk. It doesn't start there. We scoot, we crawl, we walk, we run. If we didn't have all the other steps before it, we'd never have the confidence to run. Confidence is slow building, but totally needed if you want to succeed. One great way I've found to build confidence is in other writers, through being challenged and encouraged.

Christina and I became CP's as I finished the first draft of my first-ever-official novel. She was so good at all the things I struggled with. She could pull a description out of something I wrote and ask me to go deeper and explain things I didn't even see as relevant. "It's so awesome!" I would say. But it wasn't. I could look at Christina's WIP and show her the things that weren't adding anything to the story. We both learned from each other and now I can (usually) write descriptively with more ease. (Note: Ease isn't always confidence. I tend to make Patricia read the really descriptive scenes as I write them. When you struggle with something, it's always worse in your head. I still think they suck and need the encouragement that they don't! Confidence is a slow process, just like with the crockpot!)

Chime in! 
  • What are some areas in writing you need to build confidence? 
  • What are some areas you are confident enough in? 
  • Are their people around you struggling in some areas that you excel? 
  • Can you help each other build confidence in these areas? 
  • What are some things in your project that you can apply the "fix and forget" method to?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

YA Spooktacular: Story One Prize Pack

We're really excited be part of the YA Spooktacular, hosted by Frenzy of Noise & Wicked Awesome Books. Yesterday, you got to follow along with Story 1: The Pond in The Forest and follow the adventure. Today, you can enter the Story Prize Pack.

But first--we have a final trick for you--a final chance to get another goodie, but of course you have do something first.  Do you want to one EXTRA ENTRY into the Halloween Grand Prize Pack? Well, you should because here's what you can get in the Grand Prize Pack:

All you have to do is complete this Tweet Challenge:

Tweet one thing that you love about the #YASpooktacular. Be sure to use the #YASpooktacular hashtag in your tweet. Be creative with it. You can quote a line, an author participating, a choice from the adventure--anything you want.  

**If you're new to the story, click on the picture to take you to the very beginning, where Beth Revis starts off the event!**

Now, you just have to fill out the form to enter to win the Story One Prize Pack. Here's what you can win!!
  • Finished copy of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
  • Miss Peregrine's poster
  • A tote bag from Quirk Books
  • Signed copy of Swoon and Swear by Nina 
  • Finished copy of Fury by Elizabeth Miles
  • Signed copy of Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
  • ARC of After Obsession by Carrie Jones
  • ARC of Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
  • ARC of Envy
  • Finished copy of  Deadly Cool
  • Finished copy of The Mark and The Vision by Jen Nadol
  • Finished copy of The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses by Ty Drago
  • and lots of swag!

Check out Story 2, which starts tomorrow at Reading Teen with author, Tessa Gratton!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Check-In

Welcome to another installment of our Monday Check-In. Each week (or most weeks) we share where we are with our writing. The goal is to keep ourselves accountable for our goals and to encourage one another to keep going when we're in a writing funk. 

So without further adieu, here is today's check-in:
Danielle's Check-In: This weekend I got to hang out with Patricia and Christina. It was so much fun--lots of writing talk and no writing. Unfortunately, this week is going to be super busy with the YA Spooktacular (check it out here!!) and my time is all about promo. I'm also taking care of some personal and school stuff. Writing will probably be non-existent. I AM going to plot some things because NaNoWriMo starts in a week!!! Eeek!

Christina's Check-In: I didn't get more than a page written this week. I was sick all week so I just basically worked, slept, or read books. And this weekend was SUPER busy hanging out with two of our Tangled girls, Danielle and Patricia, along with the some other awesome people too! I plan to get some written this week though! I really need to. Someone yell at me if I haven't gotten at least one whole chapter finished by next check-in!

Cindy's Check-In: I had family in town for over a week for my oldest son's fourth birthday and had very little writing time. That put me behind, but I'm still hoping to finish this round of revisions by the end of October. I've been working on some pacing issues I feel like the WIP has and have been moving/deleting/adding things to fix the problem. Wish me luck! 

Friday, October 21, 2011


I'm too tired.

My house needs cleaning.

I need to get caught up on some reading.

My dog peed on the floor.

I don't have enough time to write anything substantial. 

My laptop is upstairs/in a different room/in the car/on the other couch.

I have no idea what to write.

I'm too distracted today. I'll do it tomorrow. 

This tv show looks really interesting.

I'll get up early in the morning to make up for not writing today.

I'm just too stressed out.

My writing sucks. I'll never be good enough.

Do any of these sound familiar? Do you make excuses when it comes to writing? 

I do it all the time. In fact, all of the excuses listed above are actual excuses I've made in the past for not writing. No lie. 

It's now time to stop making excuses and to be accountable for my dream to have this book published. I have a no tolerance excuse rule right now. Every single day I will write. It may not be as much as I'd hoped to get done, but I will write something. No excuses. 

What about you? Would you like to join me in my no excuses rule? I'd love to have you!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some Things You Should Know About NANOWRIMO

November is the bane (or joy) of every writer's existence. It's the time when nation-wide, all the people buckle down and attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. Some authors/writers/agents/etc love NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month) Some hate it. Some have no opinions--at least none they're willing to voice.

Whatever your opinion of NaNoWriMo, it doesn't matter. It's a GREAT challenge for anyone who calls him/herself a writer.

Why? Quite simply: it makes you write.

There's a way to track your progress in pretty little charts. Other people get to actually see what you're doing and if you're writing. There's encouragement, accountability, persistence--all the things we talk about on Tangled. Sometimes, you won't finish--because 50K in 30 days is kind of crazy. Honestly. When we attempt it, we're basically saying "I have no experience in hiking but I'm going to climb this mountain and not die." Especially when you have other things going on in your life.

But there's something about attempting that's so fulfilling. And then, on the off chance you succeed---well. That's just about one of the coolest things ever.

Last year was my first year doing NaNoWriMo. And guess what? I won! *insert happy dance here* The problem with that is when I look my life this year, I'm not quite sure that I will win again. There's just so much going on with school, work, life, and all the things in between. I know the odds of me winning  have decreased. I know it will be a treacherous hike. I know that I have a massive 10-12 page paper, plus my normal homework, plus the Spooktacular all happening in the next three weeks.

Maybe attempting NaNo is already labelled a disaster. But you know what? I don't even care!

So why am I telling you all this? A few reasons.

1) Patricia and I are both doing NaNo. We'll be talking about it on the blog through November. If you are participating, you should add us! We want to connect with you. I'm @danielleewrites on NaNo site and Patricia is @patriciaeriley.

2) Even if you don't participate, there's still A TON of good writing advice out there about NaNo and writing and all the things in between. Here are some things I found last year that you may find useful, encouraging and challenging whether you're doing NaNo or not.

Writing Prep for NaNoWriMo from Persephone Magazine
Rules for Writers from the late L.K. Madigan (Mermaid's Mirror, Flash Burnout)
You Gotta Believe from Myra McEntire (Hourglass)
My Pro-NaNo Rant from Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey series)
Remember to Suck from poet E. Kristen Anderson
Why NaNoWriMo Rocks My Life by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire)

3) It makes you think about what you want, when you want to do it and how you will accomplish it. We do weekly check-ins, but think of this is a monthly check-in. Set a goal and do everything you can to achieve it. Even if it seems crazy. It may be crazy, but that doesn't mean it won't be fun.

4) I really wanted an excuse to post this video. Because I love it. So much.

Are you participating in NaNo? If so, leave us your username so we can find each other!

What are some goals you have for November?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Autumnal Inspiration


Photo inspiration credited to the incredibly wonderful

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Procrastination, FTW...?

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours. ~ Anonymous

The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing. ~ Anonymous
I mastered this technique in college called procrastination. It's something that I needed to learn desperately so I could fully excel at school and spend exuberant amounts of time with my friends. I am not alone in my love for this incredibly unique mastery. When I dominated this technique, it completely changed my life--and not always for the better.

In fact, I say A LOT in the check-in posts that I have homework to do, and then days later I still have to do it. I work on it some; I try to focus in my minute amounts of time, but my brain is mush. I can't. This is where procrastination is my enemy! It is so much easier to do nothing--or to find things to fill the time--than to to do the things you need to do. 
Indulge in procrastination, and in time yon will come to this, that because a thing ought to be done, therefore you can't do it. ~ Charles Buxton

Thanks, Charles. I get it.

Homework isn't the only area I tend to procrastinate while "trying" to do it. Another place is WRITING. *gasp* I know. I love writing. It's my heart. But how many times do I find other things to do instead? How many times do I replace that time with blog things or reading or sleep? Or even, twitter? A lot.

I look back on my college years and wonder what things would have been like without all the procrastination. I bet my grades would have been better. My sleep would've increased and my stress decreased. And my writing! Gosh, I could be double where I am right now if I used my time wisely. I wouldn't have to carry around the stress I do now. I'm a procrastinator. I always have been--but that doesn't mean I can't work on changing that now. In fact, I would probably enjoy so many things a lot more.
To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing. ~Eva Young
Easier said than done, I know. But there is hope! (Kinda.) The best way to break a cycle?  Well....
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~Walt Disney  
What can you stop talking about in your life and start doing??

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Inspiring Wednesdays

Inspiration on a Wednesday!

We all have a love/hate relationship with our WIPs, don't we? At some point you feel frustrated or stuck with it, or maybe you're distracted by a shiny new idea like Patricia mentioned yesterday in her post

For me, I'm at a point where I'm starting to diverge a little from my outline. This happens to me with every WIP, so I'm used to it. But that doesn't mean I like it. It makes me feel scattered. That's the best word for me to describe me and my writing life right now. I still LOVE my WIP. I mean really love it. But I feel scattered deviating from the outline, even though it's really not by much. It makes me write slower, get frustrated easier, and think that maybe everything I'm writing actually is crap. I end up feeling like I'm missing something in that chapter(s). Not a good feeling.

So what do you do when/if you feel like this?

I can tell you what I do. First, I share my chapter(s) that are giving me trouble with my beta reader and crit partners. They encourage me and point out things I miss. I have two amazing crit partners, Danielle here is one (she's a bit busy with school right now & hasn't seen much of my current WIP) My other crit partner is equally amazing and really helped me tonight. She pointed out exactly what my last chapter was missing. I think it's so important to have good writing partners and friends!

But what I also do (which yes, I'm tying this all into the topic of inspiration) is really delve into music and photos and anything else that will draw me into the world of my WiP and into my character's head. So without further rambling, here are some my inspirations (which have really help me this week)

(I've been listening to a lot of Manchester Orchestra lately. The general mood & feel of this song always makes me want to work on my WIP. The lyrics aren't completely in-tune with my WIP but at the same time they still work too. [ps-this is the 1st time I've seen the video for this song and kudos to anyone who thought, 'Are you my mummy?' at all while watching this.])

And here are some photos that remind me of my WIP
(Why yes, my WIP might be a little creepy, why do you ask? You can check out a taste of the creepiness on this teaser post if you want)

So how about you guys? Any of you in slumps and use different types of inspiration to help out? Any of you just have an amazing piece of inspiration that you found/used this week and want to share?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writer Crack: The Shiny New Idea
I am addicted to Shiny New Ideas. You know the ones I mean. The ones who show up out of nowhere, in the sparkly little dresses, just as the world of your current WIP is starting to look a little drab and boring. The ideas that delight in making you question if you picked the right story to dedicate weeks/months/years of love, sweat, frustration, and tears to. I have LOTS of these ideas. 


Because the shiniest, most sparkly ideas never show up when you need a new idea. At least mine don’t.   

Usually the advice from friends and other writers is split 50/50. The first half will say: “Ignore it! Don’t let it distract you! Save it for later! It’s evil!” The other half will say: “Maybe it’s better than your current story. Maybe you should try it. Maybe it’s the most brilliant idea ever and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t stop everything you’re doing and work on it!” Some will say both.

When it comes down to it, you can’t get upset about the split advice, because it’s the same split you’ve got going on internally. And like everything true about your writing, only YOU know what’s best. 

I’ll admit the story I’m currently drafting was a Shiny New Idea that showed up about 6 or 7 months into another project. And despite the research, plotting, and writing I had done already, I dropped it all because I KNEW that THIS Shiny New was THE ONE. The book I NEEDED to write. RIGHT NOW.
And now here we are a few months later. The shininess is wearing off a little. My WIP and I are starting to fight. We ignore each other for a few days here and there. The honeymoon is over. Not surprisingly, after a few weeks of feeling slumpish my writing brain woke up the other day. And sure enough, it was flirting with a Shiny New that could not be more different from my current WIP.

For the whole day I was on a Shiny New High. I was head-over-heels in love with the idea. I wrote scenes they made me laugh. I found characters that talked to me SO much more clearly than the ones in my current WIP.  I called/texted/emailed my crit partners to tell them all about this wonderful Shiny New. They loved it and were split down the middle as laid out above when it came to advice. (And I love them for it because, as they always do, they told me everything I needed!)

So that night I sat down and made a decision. I was going to write down everything I could think of and then put this Shiny New away with a slightly whistful “It’s not you, it’s me.” I may not be on the honeymoon with this current WIP, but I do still love it. A lot. And that’s not something I’ve ever had with a WIP before. Which is what tells me that despite my struggles lately, this is still THE ONE. The book I NEED to write. RIGHT NOW.
A wise man once told me, “You can’t be good at everything. You’re not Zooey Deschanel.” So until I find a way to be Zooey, I’m going to be grateful to my imagination that it gives me such bright, sparkly, Shiny New Ideas. And I’m going to keep reminding myself that despite the fact that drafting is my greatest struggle in writing, I KNOW that I’m working on the right story.

So tell me: How do you deal with Shiny New Ideas? How do you decide whether to work on it or ignore it? Have you ever worked on more than one story at a time? How did that work for you? Any tips/tricks/ideas you can share with me?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Check-In

Welcome to another edition of the Monday Check-In.

We hope that your writing is going well and that you are meeting your goals. If you'd like to join us each week to keep yourself accountable to those goals, we'd love to hear from you.

Each week we try to update on another on how we are doing and hope that this will keep us motivated to keep writing. Here are the updates for this week:

Danielle's Update: This week I am starting some work on future homework and catching up with friends! I get to write this scene that I have been plotting in my head and SO SO excited about for almost two weeks!!! I can't wait to do it. It will really move my story along I think and things are gonna fly!

Christina's Update: This last week I didn't get two chapters done like I'd hoped but, I did get one written and added a few things I needed to some of my older chapters. I also edited a few chapters for my sister who is trying to get into writing and worked on some background stuff for my WiP. This week I'm hoping to write at least two chapters, I think I should have a little more time for writing coming up, so let's see if I can do that! 

Patricia's Update: This week I accomplished all of my goals from last Monday! On Thursday I was ambushed by a Shiny New Idea (something I'll share more about in my post tomorrow!) but I survived it and if nothing else am happy to be writing again. Free time is shrinking as my son starts having homework he needs help with and I realized this week I need to cut out more TV and spend that time writing. This week I'm planning to get ahead on all the things I need done so I can focus on NaNoWriMo...which starts in 22 days!

Cindy's Update: I'm still revising. I don't have much more to say than that. It's an ongoing process but I'm hanging in there. :-) 

So how about you? What were you able to accomplish in the past week? 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Teaser!

It's time for another Sunday Teaser! Here you go and we hope you enjoy it!~

“Help!” a girl cries out. “Someone help us!”
My feet pound on the floor, no longer a light tapping. I’m not sure what I can do, but I can’t just leave.
I turn left around a corner and call out to the girl, trying to let her know that at least someone is here. Whether I can actually help or not is another matter altogether.
“Is anyone there?” Her voice sounds tinny now, more distant.
“Where are you?” I shout and spin around, taking the other turn.
“Here,” she calls. “It’s my dad! He’s hurt.”
I round another corner and suddenly they’re in front of me. The girl crouches with her father, hazel eyes large as she turns to me. She holds him up halfway, the rest of him slumping to the floor.
“Please,” she says. “Help me. I can’t carry him.” She turns to her father. “Dad? It’s okay. It’s…” Her voice dwindles as he looks up. Purple spots creep over his dark skin, spreading as we watch. It wraps like conduit wiring around his neck and up his face. But it’s his eyes that stop me from helping. They’re tinted yellow with bright red veins that streak through them, just like Elder Gale’s were. He pulls his lips back, revealing his teeth, and a growl emanates from him.
I pull the girl by her arm, away from her father, and shout. “Run!”

Don't forget we'd love to share your work too! So, if you have a snippet of something you are writing/have written, please feel free to email it to christinaferko(at)gmail(dot)com We'd love to feature some of our followers writing on our Sunday Teaser posts!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Character Prompt

Here's something really random for you. You know how writing prompts give you a line and then you write something from that point? Today, I'm giving you a character prompt. It may totally fail. It's an experiment--but all good experiments need to be tried. (or something like that). We're testing creativity today. There are a lot of things that can be discovered in random moments. Maybe this will prompt a new idea for you, a new aspect of your own character or even get you writing again. 

In this post, there are pictures of random people/characters. Tell a story about them. Write a line about what they are doing. You can be creative, straightforward, random. Doesn't matter. Use these pictures and think of a story. Write something and then leave it in the comments.

Is this character the protagonist? The antagonist? Supporting? A random stranger? You can choose.









 Did you write a story?? Leave us a piece (or all of it) in the comments with the number you used.