Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Couple of Good Reads

I'm off to my local RWA chapter meeting this AM, so here's a quick post with a couple of interesting articles that have appeared in the last week. Good info on e-publishing, both for those who are familiar with the growing industry and those who aren't.

An Entire Bookshelf in your Hands

A Look at E-Publishing

OK, I have just enough time to give the cat his morning medication, grab a Starbucks latte, and drive the hour or so to my chapter meeting.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, August 10, 2007

TGIF of a Verrrrrrrrry Long Week!

Great news! My cat came home from the hospital yesterday!! He's pretty weak, but I suppose I would be too if I'd just spent 3 days away from home being poked and prodded and shot full of drugs. He hasn't eaten anything since last Sunday, so the goal now is to try and get something down him. I'll try and post some pics of my beautiful guy in the next few days.

And now for the Friday Feast!

What is your favorite kind of pie?

Believe it or not, I'm not a big fan of pie. I think this goes along with my aversion of cooked fruit (I only eat fruit raw). But my husband's great aunt makes a mean coconut cream pie, so I'd pick that as my favorite.

Name something that made you smile this week.

When I got the news my kitty was coming home!

What do you do to cool off when the weather is hot and humid?

Take a dip in the pool, of course :)

Main Course
You receive $1,000 in the mail with a letter that says you can only use the money to redecorate one room in your home. Which room do you pick, and what do you buy to spruce it up?

Tough one. Probably the master bathroom. It's small, so for $1,000 I could probably re-tile the floor and buy a new sink/vanity. We haven't done a thing to that room since we moved in 18 months ago, and it needs some help!

Fill in the blank: My _________ says __________, but I __________.

My hubby says I worry too much, but I prefer to think I'm just overly aware about the world around me :)

P.S. If you didn't get a chance to see it, click on my newly created book trailer (in yesterday's post or linked on the sidebar) and let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Very First Book Trailer!

Well, here it is: the book trailer for One Night in Boston. It was my first attempt, but I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. For anyone who's interested, I used these links for help: Creating Multi-Media Slide Shows and How To Make a Book Trailer. Altogether I'd say it took me 10-12 hours to complete and cost me $6.00 total (to download the sound clip from this site.

The one thing I'm trying to figure out now is how to format it into a .flv or .mov file (right now it's in a .wmv file). Anyone know if this is possible?

Update on my sick kitty: thanks to everyone for the positive thoughts and prayers. After a bit of touch and go, it looks as though he's going to be coming home either today or tomorrow. He's older, 12 years old, and the poor thing has been diagnosed with heart disease. This means medication for the rest of his life; it also means the rest of his life is going to be anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. But you know what? He's coming home, which is the most important thing.

Makes you realize how much you take things for granted.

Enjoy the trailer!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Writers' Wednesday: How To Take the First Steps Toward Publication

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday!

(No new word on the kitty front, by the way. Should find out more later this AM)

A few days ago, a friend of mine emailed to ask me how one goes about getting published. She'd written a few novels, see, and wanted to see if she could publish them. Considering I've spent the better part of the last 5 years learning about the craft of writing and the business of publishing, it was hard to articulate in just a few sentences where she should start.

But then I thought, well, other people will probably ask the same question at some point, when they find out I'm a writer.

So I thought I'd share my top 5 places to start learning about writing and publishing for aspiring writers. All but one is an Internet resource, because I think the online world is rich with information. Plus it's fairly accessible for most people. Here you go. Feel free to disagree or add your own!

1. Writers Village University - I would strongly suggest taking a class or two on the craft of writing. Even if you have a degree in English or Communications or something related, creative/fiction writing is much different. This online "university" offers both classes and study groups where you can post your lessons and assignments. I cannot over-emphasize how helpful WVU has been to me in my pursuit of publication.

2. Absolute Write - Another hugely helpful onlne forum, with groups devoted to everything from the craft of writing (genre by genre) to promotional ideas to ways of dealing with frustration and rejection. AW has a huge membership that is more than willing to share ideas and advice with newbies. Plus it's free!

3. Agentquery - At some point, most aspiring writers will want to query literary agents for representation (only because it's increasingly difficult to sell your project to a publishing house without an agent). This site allows you to search by genre or keyword. Most listings give you pretty good information as far as what the agent's looking for, how to query, etc. Another couple of helpful agenting sites: Kristin Nelson's blog and Jessica Faust's blog. Both agents discuss with candor what authors need to know to compete in the publishing world.

4. Preditors and Editors - Unfortunately, there are many people/sites/companies out there that market themselves as successful agents or publishers, when in fact they aren't. This site can help you search by name and see if anything negative has been reported about a particular agent or publisher. (Piers Anthony is another good resource for this kind of search, though he does electronic publishers only)

5. Writers' Market - This is the only resource that isn't an online one. I would really suggest getting a copy of this guide. Published annually, it gives very specific information about a variety of publishers, agents, and markets for writers in all genres. Also usually includes some articles by established writers on various aspects of writing and approaching different markets.

That's really just a start, but I hope it gives new writers (or even seasoned ones) a place to explore. The best thing you can do? Research! And don't think you'll find out everything you need to know's a long process for most of us!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

No Blog Today...

...because I spent most of yesterday and last night taking my very sick cat to 2 different vets and ended up leaving him overnight in an animal hospital. He's my buddy, the first pet I owned as an adult. I've known him longer than I've known my husband.

Prayers, please.

Monday, August 06, 2007

And the Journey Goes On

Yesterday I spent a great deal of time working on my latest WIP, One Night in Memphis. It was actually really nice to have almost a day to work on it. I'm near the end, which makes me happy, but the last 4 chapters now staring me in the face have some serious work ahead of them. I've changed where and how this story ends 3 times, and I'm still not sure I'm satisfied with it. On the bright side, however, I love my villain. It's only the second time I've had a really bad guy in a story, and I'm pleased with the way his character has emerged. Either that or I'm scared at how easy it is to write him!

I also played around with making a book trailer to promote One Night in Boston. We're such a visual, techonologically-oriented society these days that I suppose it was inevitable I start thinking about it. Anyway, while some production companies can charge $100s or $1000s of dollars to make you one, most people also have Windows Movie Maker as part of their computer software package, and lo and behold, it's pretty easy to use!

I played around a lot yesterday and had a great time. It didn't take me that long, either. So tomorrow or the next day I'm hoping to have it up for your viewing pleasure!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Today, Some Movie Reviews

I've had a chance to watch a few movies over the last week or so (oh, how I love summer vacation...)

Stranger Than Fiction - Emma Thompson plays an author with writer's block. Will Ferrell plays the man who turns out to be the real-life incarnation of the main character she's trying to kill. Great cast, with Dustin Hoffmann, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah playing some of the minor roles. It's a little off-beat, but it has a nice message about how Ferrell's character decides to finally live his life, when he discovers he's supposed to die according to the novel that stars him. It's also a neat little commentary on how authors really can bring their characters to life...and as an author, that was kind of cool to see. My husband turned to me when it was done and said, "Well, there you go!" B+

The Painted Veil - Deeply moving, beautifully filmed love story starring Naomi Watts and Ed Norton (who also both produced the movie). It's a Greta Garbo remake, based on one of Somerset Maugham's stories and set in 1925. Two young Americans marry in haste and move to China, where he's a bacteriologist for the government. She's a spoiled young wife who's bored and has an affair almost immediately. When he finds out, however (in a terrific scene that's loaded with tips on how to show the multiple sides of a character), he tells her he'll divorce for adultery unless she ends the affair and goes with him to a small town thousands of miles away, where he has been called to deal with a cholera epidemic. With no choice, she goes with him...and the rest of the movie is the story of how they deal with the affair and, eventually, fall in love again. Beware: this does not have a traditional happy ending, but it's a great story, terrifically acted, and it was filmed in China, so the scenery is gorgeous. A

Little Miss Sunshine - This is the wacky movie that came out recently starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Steve Carrell, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin. They're all lumped together in a VW bus driving across 4 states to get young Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in CA. What a group of misfits! And yet that's the whole point, how they're such a dysfunctional family and yet they pull together and know what's important, especially when they get to the pageant and see nothing but falsities everywhere around them. There are both hilarious and touching moments in this movie; it was a good one A-

The Bourne Ultimatum - Saw this latest Matt Damon thriller in the theaters last Friday and liked it just as much as the first 2 Bourne movies. Again, there's great action and suspense, good acting, and enough fights and car chases to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Some really great plot twists that are delivered well, too. A-

Half Nelson - This was an independent film that never made it to most theaters, I believe. It stars Ryan Gosling (I think he's a terrifically talented author) as a quirky but talented middle school teacher/basketball coach who also has a serious drug problem. One day, a student finds him smoking crack in the girls' locker room, and from that moment the two develop a bond that's both painful and touching. He wants to protect her from that life, even as he's living it, and she wants to both look up to him and take care of him. It's a complex situation and one that's frustrating and painful to watch at times. However, the ending does show us the redemptive power of human companionship along with the message that often people find it in the places they least expect. It's not a particularly pretty movie, but it's well-done. B

So that's my Sunday morning movie review. Have you seen any movies lately that you loved (or hated)??