"I am very much enjoying the story."

*big huge girly scream*

Yes, that was me on Monday when I received an email from an agent who was reading a partial and requested the full. Now, this whole time I've been what I like to call "cautiously optimistic", which in my mind means, I don't think my work sucks, but I don't have the sheer confidence yet that this is going to happen for me. I want it to, boy do I want it to. But, I'm afraid to let my heart become hopeful. I just don't want it to be broken. I always expect an agent to come back with an R. Is that healthy? I don't know. People tell me I should be excited, thrilled to have been getting the sort of response I have, and I AM--but I'm not. *sigh*. It's a tricky situation.

Part of me wants to revel in the success of hearing those words ("I am very much enjoying the story"), but another part tells me to forget it because it will ultimately end in an R. I really want to be positive, to let my hope through, but I'm having a really hard time with that. It should be enough of a reassurance that the agent in question likes the portion she's read so far and has requested the full manuscript, and you know what? It kind of is. I mean, that in itself is a huge milestone. A partial to a full is an amazing step that many writers don't reach (this is my first!). I'm trying to keep that in perspective, because even if it ultimately ends in the dreaded R, at least I've reached this next level in my querying career. And it does feel good. Amazingly so.

In an industry where everything is subjective and really relies on right time, right story, right agent, right author, it's extremely hard to stay upbeat. To take each success as they come instead of dwelling on the failures. It's a hard concept to grasp, but I'm trying. Most of us end up on the dwelling end, but if we stay there too long we end up bitter. I don't want that to be me. I want to enjoy the ride as long as I can. I want to say 'yeah, I did that', when my day comes. So the words, "I am very much enjoying the story" will sustain me until I hear (read) the next huge phrase, "When would be a good time to call you?"

Oooh, that one makes me shiver... ;)

Um, yeah...

So, I haven't posted in, oh, like 2 months! Yeah, nice, right? Sigh. Mostly that's because well, my life is really REALLY boring. No joke.

Lets' see, what have I been doing...well, I finished my 'final before querying' edits of UNBOUND aka KISS aka REAPER'S KISS, and started the querying process all over again. Right off the bat I received four, yes, FOUR requests to read more! Two fulls and two partials. Not too shabby at all. But then--nada. Zilch, zero, zip on other queries still out. Not a word. I assume the agents must be uber busy so I'm not shaking in my boots over it.

In the meantime I sort of stalled out on UNBOUND's sequel. I guess it's the nerves of...'why am I wasting my time if this never pans out?' But, I don't know, I really like the characters and the story, so maybe I'll just finish it for me anyway? I've still been writing though--so that's good.

Some things I've noticed this query-go-round. I'm totally not stressing over it. Last time I was practically screaming 'OMG OMG OMG! Why aren't they ANSWERING?' But this time I've actually sort of forgotten about it. I wonder why that is? Maybe it's because I've resigned myself to the fact that it's out of my control from this point on. No matter how good I think my story is, not everyone is going to see that. Things are tough everywhere and that includes in publishing. Agents need to fall head over heels for your story before taking a risk on it. I understand that and I hope to find that perfect agent that will love it as much as I do. Heck, even if they would like to see some revisions, I'm all for that! I am fully open to hearing suggestions--not that all suggestions would work for the story, but you never know!

Anyway, that's what's going on with me right now. Still writing, still loving every moment of it. :)

Are you a 'panster' or an outliner?

I've seen these terms tossed around the writing world quite a bit and am always curious about how different writers get their ideas down on paper. Lets talk about what I mean by these terms before we begin.

Panster - basically this just means you start writing and see where it leads you. There's not really a plan in place. Maybe you have a rough idea where you want to end up, and possibly a few key points in between, but the ultimate path is unknown to you.

Outliner - well, that's pretty self-explanatory. Basically you outline your story so that you know where you're going to go with it all. You figure out many of the twists, character arcs, plot timeline, etc before you start writing. There are many different ways to do this, but for this blogs purposes this is what we'll go by.

I am a big time pantster. I've tried on several occasions to outline a story. I tried with Kiss, but failed miserably. Honestly, having the outline drained my creative juices. I had to crumple it up and throw it away before I could write a single word. To ME, outlining feels like I'm trying to force the story, and I can't work that way. I am in complete awe of those who can outline and use it well. It just doesn't work for me.

Then again, I like writing from the hip. For example, when I was writing Kiss, I knew how it began, I knew a couple of key points, and then I knew the end. That's it. I didn't know how my MC got from point A to point B, let alone from Y to Z, I just knew she did. Sometimes that proved frustrating, but it ALWAYS comes to me, sooner or later.

Just the other day, I started writing a scene for Sacred (Kiss 2), and it started out one way, but half way through the scene changed and went in a totally different direction -- a better direction. My characters surprise me on a daily basis. I may go in thinking one thing, but then they say, 'Um, no, we aren't doing that today. This is how it goes...', and the silly thing is, I LISTEN! The characters are in charge, not me. Have you ever tried to go in a direction other than where your characters want to go? Yeah, no it doesn't work. At least not for me. I've tried in the past and almost immediately a mental block goes up. It's almost like they say, 'Hey, if you don't go where I want you to go then you can't see what else happens". It's craziness, I know.

So, I've learned to just do what they want. If I do, they let me see the right path. No one understands this mentality but other writers. I've tried to tell my husband about it but he just looks at me like I've lost my mind (maybe I have?).

What's my point? I don't really know. I guess I'm just trying to say that whatever works for you to get your story down is the right way for you to write. As a 'pantster' I can't understand how people can write with an outline. There are probably some outliners who wonder how the heck we 'pantsters' keep everything on track (Psst...we don't always -- which is what revision is for! ;) ). Regardless of how you write best, keep it up! There is no wrong way, there is only the way that works for you.

On an unrelated note: GO GALAXY! WOOT!! (I'm a soccer geek -- love me some Beckham!)

I love the CW...and here's why

Yesterday's post brought about a new world of possibilities for me as a blogger. I started this as a means to talk about my writing -- which I still plan to use it for by the way (oh, hush! You know you love it!) -- but, it's also fun to use as a place to post my observations. About what? Well, I guess that remains to be seen, but most likely will have nothing to do with anything important. Such as today's subject.

The CW. Oh, how I love it. Every show I've ever felt 'must see this show or I may die' about has been on the CW (aka the WB). I started my love affair with them when Dawson's Creek was on. Oh, how I loved that show. So much angst...*sigh*. I adore angst.

Now, I have grown up a bit in the years since Pacey made me swoon, but not as much as my husband probably would have liked. I still enjoy the mortification of the one boy you think you can't live without, rejecting you. But now, I enjoy it even more with a bite in the neck or some demons chasing you through an abandoned asylum. It's just better that way, don't you think? As if high school wasn't traumatic enough...

As I've stated multiple times before, my favs are The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. Who can resist a tortured bloodsucker in love or a pair of sexy demon hunter brothers? Not I, not I. What I love most about the CW is that they will take a semi-serious show such as Supernatural, which is based on two brothers who hunt down monsters and ghosts, effectively saving the world on a daily basis (not to mention the obvious big deal of the apocalypse looming this season!) and they saturate it in gut busting humor. I swear, I laugh more while watching that show than I do in any show labeled a comedy. The writing is genius. Pure genius. Seriously, it is.

So my recommendation? Tune in on Thursday's and check out both The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural. I promise you won't be disappointed. You will find yourself being intrigued with and possibly even crushin' on Stefan, Damon, Dean and Sam. But just remember -- Sam is mine. I'm staking claim, right here and right now. (Get it? Staking? *snort*) ;)

Let's talk about hair...

Okay so I know what you're thinking, 'Hair? What does hair have to do with writing?". And my answer to that question would be -- absolutely nothing. Fo Shizzel. So why on EARTH would we talk about hair? Well, for two reasons. 1. Because I love it, and 2. Because this is my blog and I can talk about what I want, and today I want to discuss hair. And to add a third reason, because unless you'd like to hear me continue to gush over my newest project, this is where it's at!

Now, when I say I love hair, I mean GUYS hair. Not just plain old hair -- that'd be weird. Some would say I have a minor obsession with lovely locks, and they would be mostly right. Except that my obsession is not minor, it's like full blown crazy. You women know what I'm talking about -- remember the craziness surrounding Robert Pattinson cutting his gorgeous mop last spring? Yeah, see, I'm not the only one!

So, I ask myself, what is it about hair on men that make women go bonkers? Honestly, I haven't a clue. I just know it does. For me, long, messy, shaggy hair is where it's at.

Now first we must examine the god of crazy hair. I don't care if you think he's cute or not, you've GOT to appreciate the loveliness of that mop on his head, you just do:

Oh, Rob. Please don't ever change!

And then, we must look at my latest hair obsession:

Oh, Jared! Why must you torture me so!

So, truly, what is it about hair that makes us women squirm? Because I really can't figure it out for myself. Yeah, this is a crazy post, I know, but it's also so true -- you've got to admit it. And those of you who are shaking your heads saying 'what a weirdo' about me, you know you love it just as much as I do. Come on, admit it, then you and I can be hair-pals. :D Okay, I guess I'm through, hope you enjoyed this stop over in hair-crazy town and enjoy the loveliness posted above. :D

Yeah, you can say it...

I suck. Bring it on, I know it's true. You don't have to be nice about it.

I've abandoned you while chasing my own whims. I admit it. But if you can forgive me for my selfishness, I have some super bad*** news! I finished Kiss a.k.a Reaper's Kiss a.k.a Snatched last week!! Yes, I changed the name again, don't judge. And -- oh no, I'm not stopping yet -- I'm 17,000 words into it's sequel which I've named Sacred! YES! Go me! While Kiss is resting and waiting for revision, I'm going to continue on with Sacred.

I cannot begin to express how excited I am about this series. Even if it only stays between me, my couple beta readers and my hubby, I'm still going to be immensely proud. I have fallen head over heals for the characters and I'm having a blast getting to know them and telling their story. I've read writers blogs and interviews where they talk about how their characters talk to them. At first I was like 'what a bunch of crap!' -- until mine started doing the same thing to me. Sometimes they literally make me laugh out loud, sometimes they make me want to cry, and sometimes (like the other night) they make me so mad I stomp my foot like a little girl.

I even had someone mention to me recently how funny they thought it was that I talked about my characters like they were real people (you know who you are ;) ). I laughed because, honestly, that does sound kind of weird. But then it made me think ... is that not the norm? Am I totally losing my mind here? Because for me, those characters actually are sort of alive. They have their own personalities. They speak in ways I don't. They use language I would NEVER use sometimes. They do things I don't approve of, etc... But as we all know, they are a part of us, somewhere, somehow.

My husband tells me I'm an extremely passionate person (to a fault sometimes). I agree. When I write, I write in first person. I like getting right in that characters head and experiencing everything she experiences. When she cries, I cry. When she laughs, I laugh. When she falls in love, I fall in love, too. I can't help it. She is so ingrained in me that when I'm writing it's hard to separate where I end and she begins. We just sort of morph together.

I write a lot of raw emotion into my work. I'm not sure if that's good or bad -- probably subjective just like everything else in this business. My goal in this whole thing is to present a piece of work that will make you cry, laugh, and fall in love too. I want to provide a place you can escape from everyday doldroms and go back to a time when everything was new, exciting, and RAW. This is why I love YA. The emotion is so powerful, so real, so passionate. That's me in a nutshell. When I fall for someone, I fall HARD. When I want something, I want it bad. And what I want more than anything is to share my love for these characters, their story, and their emotion with others. Honestly, I don't think there is anything in the world better than creating characters and stories that make people feel deeply. Make people care. Make people fall in love with the people and world you've created as much as you have. I can't think of anything better.

Music as inspiration

Many writers use music as a way to inspire or stave off writer's block. I'm no different in that regard. When I wrote Mythic I had a playlist of around 20 songs on my i-pod that I played over and over and over as I wrote. Some scenes in my book actually revolved around one song in particular, for example: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday was a huge inspiration for one scene in particular, Everything by Lifehouse was for another. The other songs were ones that really just put me in the right frame of mind to get into the world and kept the creative juices flowing.

This time as I've been writing Reaper's Kiss, I've had a playlist, but I haven't used it as much. I'm not sure why? Maybe because the whole book has such a dark/sad undertone that most of the songs had a sad feel. But I wrote most of it without music -- maybe that's why it was a harder book to write? I have no idea.

There were a few scenes that certain songs played a big roll in. Sara Barielles' Gravity was a big help in writing one scene -- a very heartbreaking scene in my mind. *sniff*. But yesterday, I was writing a scene that was in essence a goodbye scene. I wanted it to be beautiful, passionate, and heartbreaking. I needed inspiration, and I found that inspiration in music  again. I found the perfect song that conveyed everything I wanted to say in the scene, and then some. I love it when that happens. When everything clicks into place and it all suddenly makes sense. It proved to me, once again, that music can be a huge driving force behind the creative process. I make a playlist for each book I write, containing songs that pertain specifically to the book itself and others that just helped keep me on track while writing. I think it's a really good idea for every writer to use what works for them to keep writing. Whatever that may be. 

So, in closing, I'll share the song that inspired me to write a very heartbreaking yet beautiful scene yesterday. The song still makes me want to smile and cry at the same time. Powerful words, powerful message.

If Today Was Your Last Day (Album Version) - Nickelback</div>

Happy Endings

This is something that's been on my mind since I finished the last book of a series last night (the last book that' s out right now -- more to come!). I absolutely hate when books end leaving me feeling sad or angry. I really do. When I read the third and fourth installments of this particular series, I was so upset with the author for doing what she did to one of the characters. Actually, I was mad at the end of the second too, but not quite as much. Now, I'm all for an emotional experience when reading, in fact, I prefer it. But, I guess I'm just a sucker for a happy ending. No matter how much the character goes through, I want there to be a light at the end of that long, dark, dismal, tunnel. I don't like when that light just seems further and further away.

When it comes to romantic story lines, I want those characters to end up together -- no matter what. Most authors are very good at making their characters suffer to be together, or to make being together some sort of challenge. But in the end, I want them together. Period. In this series I'm reading, throughout the whole 1-3 books, these characters fight falling in love, and when that fails they fight being together, but finally, FINALLY in the 3rd book they get together. Only to have the MC's love interest sort of die in the next chapter. I say sort of because it's a vampire story and he gets turned. So I read on to the next book, hoping against hope that he'll be the 'good vampire'. That somehow he'll beat the odds and maintain his soul (like Angel!). But no, he's evil so of course SHE has to kill him -- but she fails. So now, we go into the 5th book with hope that she can somehow save him from being evil -- again.

What makes me so angry is that through 4 books, the MC has suffered, in one way or another, and now, she's supposed to kill the man she loves? Nuh uh, no fair! I have a feeling by the real end of the series things will end happily, but if they don't I'll seriously be steaming mad. I just don't like a sad ending. Real life is sad/hard enough that I want to read 'happily ever after'. Maybe that's sappy or stupid, but it's my preference. I want to read about people getting what they want in the end -- after all their struggles, why shouldn't they?

What is so funny about this whole issue is that in my WIP, the ending is not necessarily happy. Just in case it ever get's out there I'm not going to spoil it but, well, there it is. So, am I a hypocrit then? Maybe so, I don't know. Maybe I just know what's best for my characters in the end so it doesn't FEEL wrong to end that way? I can't really explain it or defend myself in any way. I like the ending, but I'm pretty sure some people won't. The more I think about it, even though my heart aches after reading that book yesterday, maybe that's the sign of a good story, a compelling story. Even though it made me sad and angry, it still made me leave feeling something. I guess that's the point. Maybe a sad ending isn't such a bad thing after all.

Let there be light!

At the end of the tunnel that is! I see it, a tiny bright point growing larger as I approach it. It pulses in soft waves, drawing me closer and closer to the promise of warmth and relief. Yes, that end is sight. What end is that? The end of my rough draft of Reaper's Kiss of course! It has taken me a couple months to get this far, but I am really loving the process! This time, I honestly can't wait to dive into revisions. Really! I know, I know, I must be crazy. But I've really grown to love these characters. It wasn't a love at first 'sight' type of deal. I liked them all right but I wasn't 'in love'. It took time for them to grow on me, and if I am being honest, it's a much deeper, more real kind of love. Because of this profound love, I can't wait to go back and hear what else they have to add to the story -- I know there's more. I can feel it in my bones.

I'm one of those writers who allow the characters to direct the story. As I wrote Reaper's Kiss, I had no idea where the story was taking me. Honestly, it was kind of a scary way to write. With my last novel, I had sort of a mental outline of where the story was going. I knew most of the elements that got the characters where they were meant to go. I knew all their secrets and how those secrets would come out. It made writing the story much easier. But with Reaper, my characters kept me in the dark pretty much the whole time. No amount of begging got them to budge even a centimeter in their silence. They were just bent on making me suffer down to the last second. They slowly, but surely told their story in my head and I just typed it out.

Now, if I had my way, I'd be a bit more organized in my writing endevor, but unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be how I roll. Sometimes I wonder if there's something wrong withmy brain because it absolutely does NOT work in any sort of organized fashion. If I even attempt to outline, my mind shuts down -- I'm talking completely blank. Why is this I wonder? Is it because I'm just not an organized person (ask my husband. I'm sure you'd get an earfull). Or is it simply because if I try to force my characters to act a certain way they rebel? I'm thinking it's the latter. These characters are alive in my mind. For real. So much so that sometimes I fear my husband might think I'm having a mental breakdown.

For example: I don't swear, like, at all. I really don't. The worst thing I say is dang and I never say 'God' in any sort of vain way. But my character says 'Oh my God!' and the like all the time. Another character says certain non-vulgar swear words. I don't know how to explain to people (like my husband who looks at me incredulously when he sees my character swear) that it isn't me, it's the character. It makes me sound crazy to say, "That's how Zoe talks!". He doesn't get it. But as writers, we get it. As much as these characters are us in some way, they are also themselves. They speak the way they do. They act the way they do. We can't change that because if we try, it sounds wrong on the page. It glares out at us and says : "Really? You know d*** well I would never say this! What are you trying to do here?". At least that's what they say to me. But like I said, maybe I'm a little bit crazy here. ;)

Nah. I doubt it. I know lots of other writers and most of them will say the same thing. We're not really in control. The characters are. They let us know when we go astray, when we haven't been true to them. I'm kind of grateful for that, almost like I've got a partner in writing -- sort of. I love what I do, and I love telling these stories. It's just as much fun for me to discover their journey as it is for others to experience it through what I write. I truly hope that someday I can share these characters with a larger audience. That would be the ultimate dream come true -- for all of us. :D

Gotta love a bad boy

Seriously, what is wrong with us women? Why do we insist on getting our panties in a bunch over bad boys? What is it that is so devastatingly attractive about them? Why does danger lure us in and ensnare us it is web? Think of some of the most loved male characters, the ones who have girls screaming, crying, and throwing themselves on the floor in shrieks of adoration. 99.9% of those characters are the epitome of badness (word?).

In writing my newest WIP, my male character is not necessarily a 'bad boy', but he's not really a 'good boy' either. He's drop-dead (pun intended) gorgeous, sarcastic and gruff -- who doesn't love that? His ability to be nasty is what makes me swoon at writing him.

Now let's talk about a new recently released title. I bought (yes on release day) Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzgerald. She has done an AMAZING job of making her male hero (or whatever he is because I haven't read far enough to know yet!!), Patch, just seep sexiness. How has she done this? By making him seem dangerous. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, but oh, boy do we want to know. He's mysterious, dark, and provocative. You can't help but want more -- even though a small (or maybe large) part of you is a little afraid of him. Your heart starts thumping at just the mere mention of his name or the sly way he barely grins. It's magnificent. Really.

There is nothing I love more than a bad boy. It's a sickness, really. But just what is it about them that makes us crazy?