Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What happens when you reference Ke$ha in literature

I mean besides the universe imploding in on itself because Tik Tok made it's way into fine literature.

Referencing current cultural phenoms is a habit of mine, probably from watching so much television (thanks a lot, P-i-C). Hollywood is so about the "now" that everything becomes five minutes ago. We're such a satisfy-me-now culture that we need to constantly be fed new entertainment. This has fed into our television shows, movies, and celebrity blogs in the form of ripped from the headlines stories. Jokes about Lindsay Lohan's ankle monitor abound (I may or may not have made a joke about that myself yesterday), TV shows like Law and Order televise episodes about the latest political scandal, and Saturday Night Live continues to amaze me by making skits about stuff I've never even heard of.

And all of that is fine for those mediums because they are instant. TV shows get scripted, revised, shot, and aired in a matter of months. Live shows like SNL happen every week. They can afford to reference the here and now, and in fact they have to if they want to stay current. And I'm as big a sucker as anyone else for a good Britney joke.

But literature doesn't work this way. Books can take several years to write, and several more to get published and out into the market. It doesn't matter if you're writing a YA novel, an adult contemporary, or even a graphic novel - keeping your work current means keeping current references out of it. Slang, celebrity references, and memes will date your work. Sometimes this works, like Brett Easton Ellis novels, but sometimes it doesn't. This is especially true in young adult writing, but it happens in all genres. Any references that tie your work to a specific time/place/decade may make it stale for future readers.

Even popular books suffer from this affliction. For instance, I bought How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie a few years ago. A timeless book, right? Well, not exactly. A note was included in the beginning of the book that many references to popular figures were updated for a current reading market. The book was written in the late 1930's and included examples of well-known businessmen of the time that are not so well-known now. They didn't foresee the success of the book at that time, so they didn't think to make it less referential.

So the key to keeping your book "classic" is to avoid timely references to events, unless that's the specific topic of your book. And if that's the case, you can make all the Britney jokes you want. Don't worry, I'll laugh right along with you. If they're funny.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Um, you dudes need to check this contest out

Angela Ackerman at The Bookshelf Muse is hosting a super way awesome contest for reaching 1,000 followers. She's offering her MENTORSHIP for three months. As someone who doesn't yet have crit partners and would love some feedback on her writing, I am all over this bad boy. Check the deets below:

1,000 Followers Contest and Mentorship Contest
General Drawing:

5-First Page critiques
2-First Chapter critiques

Special Drawing Challenge

It's simple: SPREAD THE WORD about this contest! If you do, I will include you in a special drawing for a three month mentorship with me. 

What the mentorship will entail:

--A three month partnership where I will help you in any manner I can toward stronger writing, publication, increasing your online platform and helping you with agenting questions/search

--I will help you build or improve your query (if needed)

--A full read of your manuscript, offering advice on improvements and helping to brainstorm solutions if desired.

--An in depth look at your web presence and suggestions to hone your blog, increase followings and make suggestions with other social media to strengthen your online exposure

--Emails to answer any questions you have about writing, blogging, getting an agent, leaving an agent or how the agent relationship works

--General support! 

Horrible fortune cookies

Because I'm feeling random and grouchy today.

I got a fortune cookie yesterday with this fortune: "Old dreams never die; they just get filed away."

What the crap is that? It's not inspirational, it's not prophetic, it's not even funny. It's mainly sad with a side of bittersauce. And for the universe to send such a fortune to someone who's trying to be a WRITER? Not cool, universe. Not cool.

So I thought I would take this side of bittersauce and turn it into a whiskey sour! That has bitters in it, right? Whatever, insert whatever drink has bitters in it there, then. I figured I could top that fortune with even more passive-aggressively negative messaging. Feel free to contribute your own in the comments, I know you peeps are hilars.

You will find great love in the wrong place.

A great fortune will befall you. The IRS will get half.

You will look better today than you did yesterday.

Through failure you will find more failure.

Write fortune here.

Sigh, I clearly missed my calling.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What are you worried about?

It was so nice to hear everyone's check points on their WIPs on Friday! I find it encouraging to be in the trenches with all of you :).

Continuing that discussion, what are you worried about in your writing right now? It doesn't matter if you're just getting started, working on revisions, or looking to sub, there's always something niggling us in the back of our minds (or maybe that's just the voices in mine). What's bothering you, keeping you up at night?

For me, I'm worried about repetitive sentence structuring. I think I tend to use the same sentence constructs throughout my writing, but I'm not ready to go back and look at it in edit mode to figure out how to break those up, or if it's even noticeable.

Oh, and I'm worried about losing control of the plot line halfway through :). That's a small one, though. Who pays attention to plot anyway?

So what's weighing on your mind about your writing? Plot, characterization, sentence structure, word choice, genre, lay it on me!

Friday, September 24, 2010

WIP Update

I passed 31K words today and going strong! Gotta love those early morning train rides. I've still been able to hold out against the siren call of sharing my work, too, so I think I've earned a piece of chocolate cake (don't friggin argue with me).

How are your WIPs or edits coming? What are you excited about? What do you dread? Do you wish you also had a piece of my chocolate cake (HANDS OFF)?

Muchos happy Fridays, everybody!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'm 20K words deep into my current WIP and feeling good. Characters are talking to me, plotlines are coming together, jokes are keeping me entertained, I'm in the zone. I've fought a fourth of the battle and am looking forward to the next three fourths. Every time I read a joke for the third time and it's still funny, I'm happy.

But now I want to share. It's an impulse that's caught me before, and I've blogged about being careful when you send your work out to readers, but I'm talking about my alpha beta reader - the P-i-C. He's read along chapter by chapter with the last two WIPs and I desperately want to hand it over to him. I want to hear him laugh, have him ask questions, tell me how much he likes XYZ, all the things a good cheerleader does. I also want confirmation that I'm not spinning off into some bizarro world where I think everything is great and rocking along but I'm actually writing about bunnies and communism.

But I'm a little older and a little wiser after the last two WIPs. His encouragement was indispensable in getting over the mid-WIP-blues, but it also affected my vision. Any time he came back with a comment, good or bad, it changed the way I thought about the story. Which is good for improving a book, but not so good when you're still writing it. Different writers function different ways, but I'm experimenting with keeping it to myself until it's complete, even for my alpha beta reader.

To be honest, though, it's getting really difficult. I'm having to fight the idea of handing over a chapter, or just a snippet, or just a funny conversation. I occasionally give in and read an exchange out loud, but I've kept these outbursts to a minimum. Or tried to. But I've still got about 60K words to go. I don't know how long I can hold out.

How do you like to handle your first draft? Do you like to keep it to yourself until it's completely polished, or do you like to hand it over chapter by chapter?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Promise I'm not dead, Lola

I love to see the effect the blogging community can have! Thanks for checking in on me, Lola. I've been meaning to write a blog post lately but my life exploded, and as I'm sure everyone knows when that happens enjoyable things like blogging fall by the wayside.

But I haven't been idle in other areas. I finished up round two of revisions on my last WIP and am letting it settle while I work on another one. I'm also taking a writing class at the local community college here (which is tonight), so both of those activities have been keeping me busy.

I promise to swing back by more often, and I'll be visiting everyone's blogs to catch up on the last couple of weeks. I've got some good stories from my writing adventures, and I hope to have some good advice gleaned from my writing class.

See you all soon!