Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How Do You Know?

I'm waxing philosophical today. Lots of people write. Like, tons. And there are so many people out there who think they are publishable. As we all saw on Nathan Brandsford's blog, most writers think they are above the curve. And even if they don't, they still write. Lots of people also talk about why they write—the drive, that's who they are, they love it, they want to be published, etc. But I have a different question, though it seems to be in a similar vein.

How do you know you have writing skills?

Really, with so many styles and genres and so-called tastes out there, how do any of us know if we are good writers or not? We all think we're capable of writing a good book. What's the measuring stick you use on yourself?

Do you base your skill level on other people's opinions? Like, since your critique group or family like your work, you have faith that you have some talent. Or do those four stars on Amazon deem you as a four star writer?

Is this why we all seek publication? Is that was finally deems you as a skilled writer? But then so many people complain that published work is "sub par." Seems a tad contradictory.

Or do you base your level of skill on how accurate your punctuation and grammar is? The better you are at the technical stuff, the better the book? I'm not so sure.

Maybe it's something less tangible? Like the ability to observe life, to imagine, to make sense of all the nonsense and put it in words that makes a good writer. The ability to entertain, perhaps?

I personally claim to have some skill in writing, but I have no idea why I think that. All I know is that I love to write and I get better everyday. Maybe someday I'll figure out why I think I'm any good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ninja Query

I should be finishing Relax, I'm A Ninja this week, and for some reason I wanted to start writing the query for this book today. I figured if I got a good start now, I could refine it as I work through edits and such.

UPDATE: Revision
Toshiro Ito is a pro at secrets—that's what ninjas do best. He thought no one did it better until he discovered a ninja in the unlikeliest place: a cheerleader's bedroom. Spying on super hot Courtney Petersen was supposed to provide a peek at her bra strap. Instead, Tosh finds his neck at the edge of her blade.

When teenagers start turning up dead around the city, Tosh is certain Courtney's somehow involved. But she isn't exactly interested in spilling information. After several failed attempts to break Courtney, Tosh enlists Amy Sato (new ninja recruit and his best friend's crush) to help. They are determined to make her talk—not an easy task when their covers are role-playing, calculator-toting, uber nerds and Courtney can use her meathead boyfriend as a shield.

After they have a run-in with the murderer and no luck with Courtney, Tosh worries he and Amy are next on the list. Together they decode the strange events, and Amy's charm steals his heart in the process. Who knew their first kiss would unlock not only Courtney's secrets, but those of an ancient ninja battle raging around them? All he wanted was a girlfriend.

I hope you will consider Relax, I’m A Ninja, a YA novel finished at 80,000 words.

So here it is. Feel free to offer your assistance if you see something that doesn't make sense.

Toshiro Ito keeps secrets—that's what ninjas do best. He just doesn't realize how deceptive other ninjas are until he discovers one in the unlikeliest place: a cheerleader's bedroom. Getting dared to spy on super hot Courtney Petersen wasn't supposed to provide more than a peek at her bra strap. Instead, Tosh finds his neck at the edge of her blade. Clearly there's more going on in San Francisco than he knew about.

When a mysterious ninja nearly murders Tosh's friend and teenagers start turning up dead around the city, he's certain Courtney’s somehow involved. But she isn't exactly interested in spilling what she knows about the murderer. Tosh determines to make her talk—not an easy task when his cover is a role-playing, calculator-toting, uber nerd and Courtney can use her meathead boyfriend to fight her battles.

After several failed attempts at breaking Courtney, Tosh enlists Amy Sato (new Clan recruit and his best friend's crush) to help. He expects Amy to decode the strange events they've witnessed, but never guessed her charm would steal his heart in the process. Who knew his first real kiss would unlock not only Courtney's secrets and the identity of the murderer, but those of an ancient ninja battle now raging around them? All he wanted was a girlfriend.

I hope you will consider Relax, I’m A Ninja, a YA novel finished at 80,000 words.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Well, You Asked...Or Didn't

Wow, thank you for asking questions, everyone! I fully expected to be writing my own today. And these are way better than what I was coming up with. This was fun, hope you enjoy the answers. I'm sure you tossed in your sleep in anticipation.Blogger

sraasch said...Serious question: What inspired "Relax, I'm a Ninja"?
Honestly, this one is kind of hard to pinpoint. I've always loved martial arts and such, so I started joking around on the blog that I was a ninja. Then, no joke, I saw these Flair buttons on Facebook that had that phrase "Relax, I'm A Ninja." I just thought that was so funny—I decided I had to do some book about a ninja kid. Toshiro's voice almost immediately popped into my head. He started telling me about how people think ninjas run around in black garb, but they're really a lot smarter than that. Kiersten told me to write the first paragraph for Nathan Brandsford's contest (okay, okay, I'll admit there was only a first paragraph when I entered!), and it kinda took off from there.

Not-serious question: If you could be a season, which season would you be and why?
I think I'd have to say Autumn. So many fun things happen in Autumn. And if I was the season, I'd like to watch kids run to their first day of school, see the parents rejoice, smile at all the Halloween costumes, smell the yummy apple pies, and laugh at the leaf pile jumping contests.

Kiersten said...Can you please make up some questions?
Um, sure. But just for you!
What deodorant do you use? Dove, gotta love soft armpits.
What do you eat for breakfast? Usually cereal, lately I've had no appetite and have been going for a glass of OJ and a multi-vitamin.
How well do you sing? As long as the song doesn't go too high, I'm a freaking rock star:P

Deletelotusgirl said...What is your favorite animal?
Pet-wise, I do love cats. I had two (Calvin & Hobbes) growing up and they were great. In theory, dogs are great, too, but I know I'd struggle with the extra "maintenance" they require. Just any old animal? I think horses are beautiful. My little sister rides, and I'm so jealous.

What is your ideal place to write?
Anywhere there aren't kids! What? Impossible? Oh yeah. Um...I usually sit on the couch with my laptop, which I enjoy, or in my bed when I need a change of scenery. If I'm being totally unrealistic, I'd say a house in New Zealand overlooking a forest. With a waterfall somewhere, cuz those are cool.

Never Settle said...Q #1:Would you be willing to play a game of chubby bunny with some of your cult members? Oh, wait. I'm sorry. Kiersten has the cult. You just have regular old followers. ;) So, would ya?
You know, I've never played this game! I'm not a fan of marshmallow or stuffing a lot of stuff in my mouth. Devastating, I know.

Q #2:How many miny tootsie rolls can you smush into your mouth at once?(I can fit 27.)
I have no clue. I am also not a fan of tootsie rolls. A brown, chewy log? Yeah, no thanks. But if I HAD to guess, I'd say like 24. That sounds reasonable.

Kasie West said...Are you more parts ninja or cyborg? Or are you relatively equal in both areas?
Hmm, excellent question. I would actually say I'm more cyborg. Hello? I just hit 55k in ninjas...didn't I JUST finish Sealed? Yeah, I'm wired to write, etc. The ninja training came after that (to defend my allies in the Query War). So technically, I would say I'm a cyborg with some ninja skills.

Renee Collins said...If your books were people, and you HAD to marry only one of them, which one would you marry?
Oh. My. Gosh. Why are you doing this to me, Ren? This hurts. Okay, here goes, I'm going to say that I would marry Void. Why? It really boils down to the message of this book. Coral Starfall is born to a wizarding family, but has no magic. Instead of moping or sitting back and letting people tell her she's damaged, she takes control of her life, goes out on her own, and stays true to what she loves (technology, which is banned in the wizarding communities). She meets a beautiful, flawed boy. And instead of thinking she can change him into prince charming, she realizes that everyone has flaws and she needs to decide which ones she can live with. I'd want to "marry" a book that sends that kind of message.

When thinking/daydreaming about your books, what do you think about? Do you envision future scenes? Work out current plot problems? Dream about your characters in wacky/outlandish situations that will never show up in the story?
Mostly my daydreams about books come in "dialogue form." I'll get key conversations and they'll build up in my head, pushing me to get to that point in the book so they just SHUT UP. Furture scenes will often come (as dialogue), but plot usually unfolds for me as I write, not daydream. They never show up in weird places that don't go in the story...don't know why, that sounds fun.

Whirlochre said...Who could you beat in a bo stick fight?
Man, who could I NOT beat? I'd say anyone but Chuck Norris and...um...Chris Brown I could totally beat in a bo stick fight.

Kiersten said...Does your brain ever, ever turn off?
Unfortunately, no. Not even when I'm sleeping. I have wild dreams every night. I don't think I've had a second of blank thought in years and years. Just saying that makes me tired. I'd take a nap, but well, it wouldn't help.

Do you intend on writing every story worth writing and leaving the rest of us with nothing left to do?
Not intentionally, though it may happen anyway. You can petition my cybernetic programmer if you have any more complaints. They might consider redjusting my chip.

Do you have crushes on your love interests/male leads while you are writing them? (I love Renee's question about marrying one of your books, btw...)
Ha, I'm not sure. Maybe? I do love them, but in my head they belong to their girl, if that makes sense. Keira and Rune, Coral and Luke, Lily and Tuck, Adrie and Ren, Tosh and Amy...they just go together. I could never imagine interferring, though I do "fall in love" with them as I write. Maybe more in a creative way than a crush way.

If you could pick anyone to direct the movie of any ONE of your books, which book would you pick and who would you want to direct?
Um, I don't really know directors, so I don't have a great answer for this one. I think of all my books, I'd love to see Allure on screen. Just for the pure fact that I'd want to see my dragons as "tangible" entities (that would take millions in CG to get right, heh). And if anyone could do that right, I guess I'd say Peter Jackson, as long as he got WETA to help.

Lady Glamis said...Is that picture of you and your hubby (profile pic) at the Castle Theater?

Do you ever get jealous of others' writings? Especially in your own genre?
YES. I'm wildly jealous of Kiersten's WIP Paranormalcy. (Don't worry, I've already told her several times.) It's deliciously awesome, and I'm jealous I didn't come up with it because I can't daydream about it. I just have to sit here and wait for her to write and blow my mind away. As for published books, sometimes I'm jealous I didn't come up with an idea because I think I could have executed it better. But only a little jealous. I really do have a lot of ideas of my own...