Where Stories Come from

Posted by houndrat on Thursday Mar 25, 2010 Under writing

And here we are, to the 4th and finally installment of Corrine Jackson’s How Writers Do It (Bom Chica Bom Bom–yeah, I’m still totally snickering at that title). This week’s topic is Where Stories Come From: From the time you get the idea for a novel to the day you first put your fingers to the keyboard, how does the story come to you? (i.e. Can also explore prepping to write your novel here)

Where do stories comes from?? That’s easy. Two simple words:? my butt.

Now that's what I call bootylicious

Now that's what I call bootylicious

Yeah, I was just dying to say that—unavoidable consequence of hanging out with a 6-yr-old boy. Sorry. But it’s pretty much true. I mean, prepping? What’s that? Does grabbing a chai latte and booting up my computer count?

Prepping, here I come!

Prepping, here I come!

I’m a pantser, through and through (although I’m trying to reform. Ask me how well that’s going once I’m halfway through my next novel. And don’t hold your breath.)

As much as I’d love to be different, I’m just not one of those fancy schmancy plotters—you know, those writers with the cute little outlines and the plot boards and highlighters and note cards. My novel ideas typically come to me randomly: while I’m in the shower, while I’m driving (sans kids, of course—the only thing that comes to me when I’m in the car with them is a serious need for Calgon and the Super Nanny). Oh, and hugely, when I’m running. Although I usually can’t write with music on, many, many a scene has been created while running to my favorite songs. Basically, an entire scene pops into my head. I hear the dialogue and feel the emotion, and then, run home to jot it down on paper.

My first novel Tainted was written almost entirely by madly typing out scenes that came to me while running, then piecing them together. And I didn’t even start at the beginning. Nope, I started with a scene about 2/3 of the way in (I think I just heard Laura McMeeking wince all the way from England.)

Seriously, though, I’ve been trying to change. With my WIP, I’ve been pondering things a great deal in my head before plunging recklessly on (I’ve got about 10k right now). It’s really challenging to nail exactly who my MC is, and I want to get it just right. So I’ve been putting her through some mental drills. I have a feeling, though, I’m not *really* going to know what she’s all about until I commit her more to paper. Writing is a pretty organic thing for me.

Wow. Organic Coke?  Really?

Wow. Organic Coke? Really?

In Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell talks about both the non-outliners (NOPs) and the outliners (Ops).

Of the NOPs he says:

The joy of being a NOP is that you get to fall in love every day. The heartache comes when you look back and see nothing resembling plot.

Admit it. All you outlining types are gloating just a little right now (and stroking your note cards lovingly—STOP THAT!) But not so fast. Here’s what he has to say about the Ops:

The value of the OP approach is that, with experience, one can virtually guarantee a solidly structured plot. The danger, however, is the lack of freshness and spontaneity the NOPs are known for.

His solution? Try a little of both. Use structure/attention to plot prior to writing, yet give yourself freedom to vary from your outlines or note cards. But whether you’re a NOP or OP, the two things he definitely recommends doing before starting to write your story are:

1) Use the LOCK system to flesh out your story. LOCK stands for Lead, Objective, Confrontation, and Knockout—a set of principles he thinks guides all successful novels.

2) Write the back cover blurb

Hope this was informative helpful didn’t totally put you to sleep! Thanks again to Corrine Jackson for her great prompts on the writing process! Don’t forget to visit her blog and the other 8 writers who posted on this subject. Plus, PRIZES–YAY!

Happy Writing!

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Demon Guard Teaser: When a Kiss Goes Wrong

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Jan 12, 2010 Under writing

Another Teaser from Demon Guard, because, hey–what else to I work on these days? But I finally have a FINISHED ROUGH DRAFT—WOOT!

Anyway–this scene comes in pretty close to the story’s climax. Shade just found Summer talking to Cody in a deserted hallway during the school dance. The boy clearly isn’t in good shape, not at all, and he’s wanting to know if there’s something going on between our heroine and another guy. Here goes:


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Demon Guard Teaser!

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Jan 5, 2010 Under writing

In case anyone is wondering what DG is about, a fellow crit group member (the amazing Amy Bai) summed it up as Mean Girls meet Harry Potter. That totally works for me–although, I could also go with Veronica Mars meet Something-Vampire-Academy-esque-But-Without-the-Vampires. Um, yeah. Maybe I should stick with my crit partner’s version.

At any rate, this Teaser follows shortly after the one a few weeks ago, where the MC Summer discovers that a lewd photo of her and Billy, a guy she despises, was photo-shopped and sent around the school. This is Billy catching up with her afterwards. Oh, and, if this is your first time–the MC has been hearing voices for a few days now. As usual, all comments welcomed and appreciated!


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Teaser Tuesday for the Magically Challenged

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Dec 15, 2009 Under writing

Okay, so here’s another scene from The Demon Guard I worked on recently with my fellow AWers in FNW. (*shout out to my FNW peeps*).

The set-up: The MC Summer is in Magics class, where she and Shade are both in the magically-challenged group. She’s a little skeptical of Professor Taggert’s teaching methods. (Oops–should also add–she’s been hearing voices for the past few days.)

Taggert noticed Shade at the same time I did. “Mr. Freemont—that is no way to help yourself tap into your innate abilities. Please, set the pen down and close your eyes.”

Shade capped his pen with a huge flourish and closed his eyes. An instant later, he started humming under his breath. I tried not to snort when I recognized the tune: an old Police song called Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.

“Ms.Chance? The same goes for you.”

I hastily squeezed my own eyes shut.

Taggert’s raspy baritone suddenly turned soft and soothing. “Now, try to envision yourself in the most relaxing place you can imagine. For many it’s water, but some of you with an affinity for other elements might feel drawn to them. Just let your brain take you where it wants to go. Let your muscles relax. Your feet and toes, then your legs—release them. Let them drift away.”

His voiced continued in its mellow pitch, and surprisingly, my body followed his commands. My muscles relaxed and softened into liquid mush at his prompting, like I was lying in the backyard of our old house, soaking up the heat of the sun. A few moments later, and I felt Mom’s presence there, smiling down at me. Relief and happiness crashed over me in tranquil waves. So warm. So peaceful.

“Don’t chase the Magic—let it come to you. Let it slip softly into your mind, filling you up completely. Do you feel it?”

I felt—something. A distant humming, but soothing this time. Warmer.

“Good. Now, gently try to touch the Magic with your mind. Let it lead you to where it wants you to go.”

The humming grew louder. I was still in the backyard, but suddenly, I heard voices. Lots of voices. Some happy, some sad. More and more chimed in, until they filled my brain, expanded it. Too many voices. All shrieking, talking at the same time, commanding me to listen.

The voices intensified even more. They shoved against the inside of my skull, swooping with a crazed frenzy down into the rest of my body, until every inch of me thrummed with electric pain. The pressure—God. It was killing me. It was too loud. Too much.

A gut-wrenching scream stabbed into my head, drowning out the voices entirely. I ricocheted out of my chair and jerked my eyes open. Only to find my hands plastered over my ears, and the entire classroom staring. At me.

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Okay, so I was named in this Thanksgiving meme by Amy Bai over at PurplePatch, about the 10 Things I Am Thankful For. Yeah, yeah, I realize I’m a wee bit late, but just go with it, okay? We’ll pretend it’s still timely. Anyway, every even numbered item has to be related to writing, and the rest can be about other stuff. Like mounted heads.

And we’re off!

1. I’m thankful this is my blog and nobody can give me smack for not doing this meme on time. My blog, my timeline. Yay!

2. I’m thankful for the awesome 10 inch laptop hubs bought me for X-Mas last year. It’s super light, which is a must, since I cart around about a billion pounds of paper in the same bag, and oh-so-cute. Although, its cuteness factor actually gets in the way of writing sometimes—people often interrupt me mid-thought to ask me ridiculous questions. Like, “Does that really work?” (um, no—this is just my new mime routine) or “Wow—can you SEE that screen?” (of course not—computers with actual visuals are passé). Maybe I need to knit a disguise for it—like, a little computer sweater. That way, they’ll think I’m nuts and leave me alone.

3. I’m thankful my house hasn’t burned down, flooded, or otherwise imploded while hubs has been on kid duty lately. If you’re familiar with my family life, you’ll understand.

4. I’m thankful for my amazing writing peeps on AW—both my Purgies and my OPWFTers. There’s no way I could undergo this crazy writing process without you—at least, not and preserve my sanity. No, the latter part of my statement is not up for debate. Oh, and I’m especially thankful for freaky Krampus Kringle making an appearance in the forums last night—because it means somebody’s sense of humor is more warped than mine.

5. I’m thankful for my wonderful family—the kidlets, the hubs, and yes, even the doggage–although there are times I think the small demented Rottie might look good mounted over my fireplace. In fact, there are times when I think hubs and the kids might look good there, too. But that’s only like 5% of the time—okay, 6%. Which means I don’t think about how peaceful the house would be if they were stuffed and mounted like, 94% of the time—and I consider that a major victory. And no–my sanity, still not up for discussion.

6. I’m thankful for Boudin, the place where I go to write and terrorize the staff. Their caffeinated iced-tea has saved me from permanently imprinting my keyboard on my forehead on many occasions. I’m especially thankful for the baker there, who gives me free chocolate chip cookies.

7. I’m thankful for chocolate, without which the baker could not give me free cookies. We wouldn’t want to put a damper on her altruism. Or my expanding tushy.

8. I’m thankful for my laser printer, cranky and decrepit as it is. Even if the blasted thing does decide to take unscheduled breaks halfway through printing my manuscript—only to start over from the beginning.

9. I’m thankful for my AWESOME husband, who is more supportive of my writing than I could ever hope for. Also, I’m convinced there’s no other father alive who spends this much time with his kids and enjoys it so much. No, you may not have him—go find your own.

10. I’m thankful for all of the wonderful YA writers, agents, editors—everyone in the industry who makes those YA books come to life. Without you, there’d be no wonderful stories to read—and no dreams of publishing my own one day.

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Teaser Tuesday: things you never want to see on your cell phone.

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Dec 1, 2009 Under writing

Here’s a scene I worked on in Friday Night Writes with my AW peeps awhile back.? Still needs some finessing, but I think it’s kind of fun.? Hope you enjoy!? ? :)


? ? ? ? ? ? The second I set foot inside the cafeteria the next morning, I could feel the tension crackling in the air.? The buzz and whispers were back—and with tsunami-like force. ?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I paused, inhaling slowly and forcing a smile. ? Maybe it was just my nerves. ? After all, they were understandably twitchy from my scheduled B&E debut later today. ? But then my gaze caught on a nearby table. The cluster of girls sitting there glanced up at me before consulting their cell phones and dissolving into fits of giggles. ? Great. Something was definitely up, and whatever it was? ? Not really doing much to xanax my whole jittery thing.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I stalked over to where Cody was slamming his own cell phone shut and flung my backpack on the table.? “Let’s see it,” I said, thrusting out my hand.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? He tried to push the phone into his pocket, but I grabbed his wrist. His cheeks flamed; he looked like a kid who’d just been caught reading porn by his mom.? “Look, why don’t you just let this go?” he said.? “I think you’ll feel better if—Hey!”

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I wrestled the phone out of his grasp and flipped it on.? “Give me a break.? I’m going to see whatever’s making everyone act all freaky sooner or later.? Let’s just get it over with.”

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? He hesitated with his hand hovering over mine, but one look into my determined eyes and he caved.? “Fine.? But don’t say I didn’t warn you.? Here.”? He pressed a few buttons.? Seconds later, a photo popped up.?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? The identity of the couple on the tiny screen didn’t register right away—only that the girl’s skirt was pushed up to her waist while her bare legs were wrapped around a guy’s back.? A naked guy.? “What the heck…?” It was then I started noticing the details.? The silver go-go boots, the white tube top. ? The red hair.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? My mouth gaped open, and my heart froze in my chest. Holy shit—it was porn. Only somehow, I was the freaking star.

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Cut parking lot scene from Demon Guard

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Nov 24, 2009 Under writing

Okay, so today I’m posting a cut scene from Demon Guard.? I actually ended up going in a whole different direction with the plot.? I hadn’t even remembered it until about two hours ago, when I dug it up in all it’s unedited glory.? I did spend some time trying to revise it a bit– because, hey, how else was I going to procrastinate working on REAL scenes?–but it’s still mighty rough-ish.? Maybe I can find a home for it in my sequel. *snicker*? ? Hey, a? girl? can dream, right??

Anyway, here’s the set-up.? Summer (the MC’s) old friends Kat and Allie go to spike demons in a parking lot to join the Academy, only–they’re not the meek little Stage Ones they’re supposed to be.? Rather, it’s an ambush, with three fully embodied demons waiting to attack.? ? Kat and Allie? are captured.? Summer and her friends Cody and Shade try to fend them off and save the girls, but will their efforts be enough?? Read on:


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Top Ten Reasons Why Revisions are Better than Sex

Posted by houndrat on Friday Oct 30, 2009 Under procrastination, writing

As some of you may know, I’m eyebrow-deep in revisions right now for Demon Guard, with serious hopes of finishing the main stuff before NaNo starts.? So, in the interest of procrastinating whipping my muse into shape, I’ve come up with a little blog post.? It’s a list of the Top Ten Reasons Why Revisions are Better than Sex.? Feel free to add your reasons as well, and procrastinate whip your muse right along with me.? Giddy-up!

10.? You don’t have to get naked to do revisions (Although, you can if you want–just be sure to switch your webcam off first.)

9.? Your revisions don’t care if you pause in the middle of the action to check out Glee or Gossip Girl.? I mean, it’s Chuck Bass!

8.? Performing revisions in your favorite coffee shop will not result in you being booted, arrested, or getting latte with extra froth in unmentionable places.

7.? The satisfaction of a good revision won’t wear off in, say, five minutes.

6.? You won’t feel bad about eating that extra piece of chocolate cake before jumping into revisions.

5.? Your children can be present during revisions without fear of scarring them for life.

4.? Multiple partners can help with your revisions—and you won’t be labeled kinky.

3.? You can curse your revisions with as many creative obscenities as you like, and it still won’t affect your chances of getting lucky with them.

2.? The only way revisions will result in an expanding belly is if you pig out on Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche and In-N-Out burgers while writing.

1.? You never know—the perfect revision may lead to a long-lived and prosperous career.? The perfect sexual encounter?? Not so much.? Unless said career involves thigh-high boots and a tube top.? (Okay, so maybe the second career is more prosperous, but still…..)

Now, quit being so productive and take a moment to name yours!

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Too lazy for a Teaser? You decide–the Spreading Book Lurve Challenge

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Oct 27, 2009 Under writing

So, I’m writing a book review today based on a challenge I saw posted on a friend’s blog.? No, really–it’s not because I was too lazy to get a Teaser ready.? Ahem.? Anyway, I saw the challenge on Amy Bai’s The Purple Patch, and I guess it originated from Lisa and Laura Write.? The challenge is to write about a book you read and loved.? Wow–finally a challenge I can meet!? Short, sweet, and something I love to do—blab about books!

So, because my attention span rivals that of? a gnat (although, do gnats have attention spans?? Or brains, even?? And hence we see my short attention span at work) I pretty much only read Young Adult novels these days.? While there are so many great ones to choose from, the novel I’m going to spread some love to is:

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr? ? I really can’t say enough good things about this book.? The author tackles a sensitive subject–a small town, thirteen-year-old? girl who’s caught having sex in the back of a car with a seventeen-year -old by her dad–and turns it into something both funny and profound.? Two years after the incident, Deanna Lambert still struggles with other people’s perceptions of her–most notably, her father’s–with wit and angst and the occasional bad choice.? The story chronicles how one? moment can define your entire life—if you let it.? ? ?

I love the voice in this book, how it’s not preachy at all, and how it shows Deanna ultimately conquering her past and her fears to move on with her life.? ? The humor isn’t over-the-top, but sly and perfect. Oh, and did I mention–it’s a National Book Award Finalist?? To me, Story of a Girl represents contemporary YA fiction at it’s finest.? Don’t pass up an opportunity to read it.

Now, with my gnat-like (or brainless-like–did we decide yet about gnats and brains?) attention span, I’m off to surf Greek fanvids on YouTube procrastinate on writers forums learn how to hand roll pasta work on my revisions.? Um, wish me luck?

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Late night scene from trunked novel: Tainted

Posted by houndrat on Tuesday Oct 6, 2009 Under writing

I’m doing another Teaser Tuesday today! (Okay,? if you? must know–it’s still Monday in? West Coast time. But, hey, for most of you it’s already Tuesday–that counts for something, right?)? This scene features one of my favorite characters from? my trunked? novel Tainted: ? Justin.

Set-up:? The MC is trying to recover from a karaoke fiasco a few nights ago, where she inadvertently tapped into her growing powers to enthrall the frat boys into love zombies while singing.? Most of the effect has worn off, except for the random guys still knocking at her door late at night, declaring their love for her.? Justin is a sort of mysterious character, a guy with strong mental powers, who seems? a little? odd and has questionable motives.? He’s an old acquaintance/friend of the love interest, the MC’s Protector Logan.? Beyond that, the MC doesn’t know much about him.? In this scene he just randomly shows up for a visit in the middle of the night.


By the time the third night after the karaoke-debacle rolled around, I was done.? At the first crack of a fist on my door, I staggered out of bed and stumbled to switch on my desk lamp, squinting into the harsh light.? Whoever was out there was about to get a lesson in the principles of harmonious dorm living.? Rule number one being: ? if you pounded on my door after midnight, I had free rein to kick your ass.

Whatever loitering moron awaited would be un-enthralled tonight, if I had to cut off his head to do it.? Between the enthrall-ees and the nightmares, sleep was becoming a distant memory.? Really not okay.

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? I stalked toward the door, the icy wooden floor pulsing goosebumps up my legs. ? I was about three feet away when I heard an unexpected noise:? the lock clicking.? A millisecond later, the door burst wide open. ? I shrieked and jumped back, grabbing a hair brush off my dresser for protection.

And then my grasp on the hairbrush loosened when I saw who it was.? Justin.? Leaning casually against the door frame, like nothing was amiss.

“What, is there a sign out there that says AM-PM market or something?? Believe it or not, I am not open all night for business.? And I so did not just say that,” I moaned.? It wasn’t my fault, though.? Who expected anyone to function at their finest at—I glanced at the mocking digital glow from my dresser—1:23 a.m?? It was bad enough that the love zombies kept knocking after midnight.? Now I had to deal with a strange and possibly half-crazy Gifted guy as well?? ?

? I whirled around and stomped back to bed, plunking myself down before glaring over at him.? I chucked the hairbrush at my dresser with a satisfying crack.? “Look, I don’t know on which planet you learned proper etiquette, but here on Earth, we like to wait for people to actually answer the door.? You know, before we just go ahead and burst in using our special Gifts.? And what the hell am I saying?”? Argh.? I desperately needed sleep.? Was that really too much to ask?

Apparently so, because Justin strolled into my room, as though 1:00 am was a perfectly acceptable time for a social call.? “Sorry—I was afraid you wouldn’t answer.”? He pivoted my desk chair around and straddled it with annoying grace, crossing his arms over the top and resting his chin on his fist.

? “Yes, and there would have been a good reason for that.? I.? Was.? Sleeping!” I said.

? I didn’t know if it was lack of sleep, cheap dorm light bulbs, or some whacked out magic that lit his sardonic blue gaze with a suddenly appealing gleam. “Well, see?? That’s why I went ahead and opened it.”

“OH!”? Something was whacked, all right—him.? I clapped my hands to my cheeks and squeezed my eyes shut.? “I give up,” I finally said.? “Please, just tell me why you’re here, so I can go back to sleep. Sooner versus later would be nice.”? I sagged back against the wall and hugged my knees to my chest, reaching down to pull the snugly comforter over my frigid toes.

“Okay,” he said calmly, obviously not perturbed in the slightest by my outburst.? “I was just thinking—since you spend so much time training with Logan, it puts him at a ? bit of an unfair advantage.? So I thought I’d remedy that by coming by.”

I eyed my warm pillow with wanton longing before turning to address him.? “Huh?? What are you talking about?? What unfair advantage?”? And then it hit me—why was I even trying to have a logical conversation here?? The guy was an absolute loon.? “Oh my God, did you really come here in the middle of the night just to start spouting crazy?? Because, sorry, my mind only comprehends loony rants after nine o’ clock a.m. and about three cups of coffee.”

His forehead creased. “I’m not spouting crazy.? I’m talking about the possibility of our futures being linked.”

Loon or not, he had my attention now.? Unfortunately.? My mouth gaped open and I blinked several times. “Say what?”

“Logan hasn’t told you anything?”? He seemed perplexed, which was odd for Justin.? Usually his repertoire of emotions ranged from “bored” to “slightly less bored”.? Not that I knew for sure—I couldn’t read him at all, and quite frankly, I was okay with that.? There was no telling what insanity was going on in his pretty but demented head at any given time.

“Um,” I said, “if by anything you mean linked futures and unfair advantages, apparently not.”? And it still sounded like crazy spoutage to me.


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