Thursday, August 26, 2010

My blogging fail...

I have blogged very little this month, and I feel bad about that. Not because the world is on the edge of their seats waiting for my next post (I'm not Hyperbole and a Half, after all), but because I like to blog regularly.

Moving and revising--plus regular life activities--are taking most of my energy right now, but I expect to be blogging more regularly again in September.

BUT I did post a review of ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton on YA Highway today, and I guest blogged for Adventures in Children's Publishing yesterday (and very much appreciated them asking me! I've never guest blogged before). So I haven't been totally MIA.

And I hope to also be a better blog commenter again in September too. Hold me to it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

RTW: What does your character hide in their underwear drawer?

...or other secret location.

We borrowed this prompt from Carolyn Mackler's presentation on creating characters, which several of us attended at LA SCBWI, and loved!

This was harder than I thought it would be, to be honest. Some of my characters are just not that into hiding things, others have nothing they need to hide. But here we go:

-Olivia: I'm sure if I dug deeper I could think of something else, but the first thing that comes to mind is the letter she hides in her diary (in the story).
-Grayson: Anything he felt he needed to hide, he would destroy or throw out. Having a secret item hidden somewhere in his room would make him too uncomfortable.
-Olivia's brother, Taylor: His room is so messy that his mom avoids it whenever possible, but I think he would probably hide things like condoms and boy magazines in his underwear drawer, just in case (and maybe an issue of Cosmo he bought to try and learn more about girls...)

-Emma: Doesn't have many possessions to hide, or really any privacy at all. But she does hide poison inside a mattress.
-Dusty: A book he stole. Haven't figured out exactly where he'd hide it, though (again, lack of privacy in this world) but he's resourceful. He'd find somewhere.

What about you? What would your characters hide in their underwear drawers? Visit YA Highway to link your post and read others!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Revisions and Kitchen Nightmares

I know this sounds random, but I swear it isn't. And I also know that I've kind of blogged about this topic before, but not with such an awesome analogy.

This morning, my fiancĂ© and I watched an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, and as I watched some of these people who clearly knew they needed help (otherwise, why did they try to be on the show?) refuse to see the problems Gordon Ramsey pointed out to them, I thought, this reminds me of something. What was that something? Revisions.

The restaurant owners know they are struggling. They come on the show on the brink of having to shut down. There are few (or no) customers. Usually the reason for this is pretty obvious. Their food tastes like regurgitated cat food. Their kitchen is effing disgusting. They are unable to communicate properly with each other and get food out in a timely manner. etc. Watching it, even knowing nothing about how to run a restaurant, usually these things are glaringly obvious to me right from the start. And they are very obvious to Gordon Ramsey, who is experienced and knowledgeable enough to be in a position to give these people excellent advice. Some of them are dying for it, are eager to take his advice and improve their restaurants.

And yet.

Almost always, someone doesn't want to listen. The chef refuses to believe his food isn't The Best Food Ever. The owner refuses to accept that they don't need 147 items on their menu. Or pretends they just cleaned the walk-in fridge last week, despite the rotting food inside it. And as an outside observer, it's so hard to understand why. You think they're just being arrogant or stupid or both. At least, I always have.

And then today I thought about it.

Truthfully, I tend to take suggestions from betas (and my lovely agent!) pretty well. Sometimes there are suggestions I decide not to take, and sometimes suggestions feel overwhelming at first, but I can't remember the last time I got truly pouty over a suggestion. Most serious writers are like this, I think. We are the people who get advice from Gordon Ramsey our agents/editors/betas and do the best we can to keep our restaurants from failing make our mss sparkly perfection. Some of us have trouble accepting the truth at first and call Gordon Ramsey horrible names gripe about how much work we have ahead of us (privately, I hope). I think this is fairly normal. Sorting through all the advice for what we can and cannot use is sometimes quite a feat.

But then, others of us diva out entirely and tell Gordon Ramsey he is an idiot and we are perfect before slamming out of our restaurant *forever* passive-aggressively attack agents/editors/betas/human-kind via twitter, forums, or other public venues while refusing to take any advice because our manuscript is perfect and everyone Just Doesn't Get It. These last people are the ones who keep shows like Kitchen Nightmares on the air. Some of you feel bad for them (I usually do, unless they're an epic douche), some of you just roll your eyes at them, all of you are oh so glad you don't work with them.

So I guess what I learned this morning was that criticism pops up everywhere in life, and that learning how to use it is valuable whether you own a restaurant or write a book. Or maybe I already knew this. But until today, I had never so clearly seen the parallel. We writers aren't so unique in our struggles after all! Which is kind of a nice thought.