Thursday, March 27, 2014


Caitlin here. I was originally going to talk about which was worse: the wait or the rejections. However, I did an informal poll over Twitter, with about thirty responses, and it was unanimous. The wait is much, much harder.

That had been what I was leaning toward too. In fact, I’ve gotten some rejections that made me giddy they were so positive. And, as for the soul-hurting rejections, at least you know. You can deal with it by taking a long shower, going for a long walk, or building a long, miniature house out of Lincoln logs. Whatever makes you feel better. And then you move on.

But the wait. THE WAIT. I hate it.

You just want your email to ding but it doesn’t!! It refuses to ding. So you do what you can do. You stalk twitter feeds and wonder why an agent with your full is tweeting about her favorite brand of yogurt instead of reading your brilliant MS. You refresh your google analytics five times in ten minutes and then visit your own site just so you can stop looking at the “0” for visits. You read an interview by the editor and slam some foreheads (okay, just yours!) into some desks because he said he wanted projects with violet Victorian dresses and construction-themed cakes and yours has violet Victorian dresses and construction-themed cakes!!! So why isn’t he reading it! Was he lying about wanting violet Victorian dresses and construction-themed cakes??  Why would he do that!?

You turn back to your empty email box, take a deep, cleansing breath and shake your head. This is so silly, you say to yourself with a chuckle. Agents and editors are busy. Be patient. It's okay. Yes, you "convince" yourself to move on...right before you dive back into your twitter feed.

Early on I used to kid myself and say I was doing research. I should know what this agent/editor is tweeting—every.single.tweet—if I want to work with them. But, the truth is, it’s horribly unproductive and makes an already hard wait much more excruciating than it needs to be.

I’m not saying I don’t still fall victim to these, um, let’s call them “tactics,” because, oh…I do! But after having gone through a few waits, I’ve learned a few tricks:

  • Write something else. You’ve heard this before. It’s because it is the best antidote to THE WAIT. And it’s just a smart thing to do.
  • Read amazingly good books. The kind that don’t just keep you up at night, they wake you up in the morning with their pesky, yet-unresolved plot points (and I’m not a morning person). The kind that you get so caught up in, you forget you have to go to work in…twenty minutes ago. And, hmm, employment matters aside, weren’t you waiting on something. An email of some sort? Oh well, back to this great book!
  • Hang out with friends and family. You finished a book! Reward yourself! Treat yourself to the things you enjoy most.
  • Make a list of everything you want to get done before whatever you’re waiting for happens. Then it’s like a race! I have to get X, Y, and Z done before so and so gets back to me, so I better get moving! Bonus points if X, Y, and Z involve violet Victorian dresses and construction-themed cakes.
  • Remind yourself that life is short and, if you are successful this time, you just have another “wait” ahead of you. Publishing is waiting. You wait for an offer from an agent. You wait for an offer from an editor. You wait for your cover reveal. You wait for your advance book reviews. You wait for the book to publish. You wait for…..etc. etc. etc.  And you don’t want to wait your whole life. You want to live (and write). So, you know, get on that.

How about you guys? Have you learned any other ways to beat the wait?

Karlie: Number four on your list is my favorite thing to do when I'm waiting for anything. It just seems to work so well! Glad to know I'm not the only one. :)

Another thing that helps is going for a very long run. Or telling myself that I'm only checking my email twice today, end of story. 

And I'm usually working on at least two projects at once - so that helps keep my mind off of it, too. I'm one of those people that are really bad at waiting in general, LOL.

Lisa: I'm pouncing on your number two trick. So many of us forget that reading is so important. If we don't read, it's like a playwright (yes, that's the correct spelling; I would've never guessed) never watching plays, a cook who doesn't like to eat, a teacher who doesn't like kids. Books are the end product of what we do, so we have to read in order to continue honing our craft and familiarizing ourselves with what is getting published. If we aren't reading, we're also being left in the dark about certain cliches or "tired" character traits. Unless you've been reading, you won't know that the readers of the world are tired of really pretty girls who don't know they're pretty. So, we need to read anyway, so why not absorb ourselves in something that will make the time seem to go by faster?

Will that said, I like all of your tricks, Caitlin, and I have none to add. Okay, maybe I'll add something onto one of yours. Spending time with family and friends away from home, away from a cellphone signal, will do wonders for your brain. No cellphone signal will prevent you from checking your email plus it'll allow you to just let go. Destress. Where isn't there a signal nowadays? I recommend Cape San Blas, FL. It's a peninsula. Find a peninsula, they're often short of cellphone towers. Or go to the middle of an ocean on a cruise ship. A signal is hard to come by out there too. Or just restrain yourself from technology. Turn the internet or data use off on your phone. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Turn it up Tuesday: I Found a Reason

Hi, all. It's me - Lisa - and I've found the perfect song to share for Turn it Up Tuesday. It matches my main character's backstory perfectly. Kara lost her boyfriend and her grandfather in a crash. She lived with her grandfather, so it's safe to say that her world really did fall apart. But what pushed the hurt even further was how close she was to her boyfriend.

Oh I do believe
In all the things you see
What comes is better
Than what came before

He had become more to her than what was healthy. Healthy for a teenage girl anyway. When your life is so intertwined, it's hard to look at your relationship realistically. Given that she was taking care of her cancer-ridden grandfather, it wasn't a surprising evolution.

Enjoy the song!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Procrastination kills our writing time!

Hey, everybody. It's Lisa today.

Let's talk about procrastination. I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes procrastination is worse for me than real life detractors. It sucks my time away and hinders my writing progression.

What are your weak spots? Youtube? Pinterest? Television? Goofing off on your online writing community? Sometimes our procrastination crutches are embarrassing (or maybe that's just me), so maybe you'd rather not say. If so, answer this question: how do you stop the procrastination?

Mine is one of the embarrassing ones, so I'll be the first to 'fess up.
I play Call of Duty Black Ops II on the XBox. *hides face* For those of you lucky enough not to know what that is - it's a video game. My younger daughter got me addicted last year, but I finally broke the habit. Then, me being the nice mother that I am, I bought her a gold card (it's for getting the game online and playing against other people all over the world) for Christmas. Guess who's playing the game again.

But I am hereby declaring myself a Call of Duty-free zone once again. How am I stopping the procrastination? NaNo kept me on track really well, so that's what I'm going to do. Set myself daily goals whether it be writing, editing, plotting, etc, I'm going to make sure I know what I'm supposed to be doing writing-wise every day. When I don't complete those goals, it better not be because of a stupid video game.

Karlie: While work takes a good chunk out of my writing time, I also have to admit my procrastination does a number on it, too. I love to browse my favorite websites, I get distracted by fan fiction far too often than is healthy, and sometimes it's a lot easier to pick up a book than write one.

And...Lisa tends to distract me with long conversations. ;) But I can't really point fingers at her, because she also does word wars with me a lot, which does wonders for my word count.

How do I stop the procrastination? Well, I've found that writing on a schedule helps me, too, and when someone is holding me accountable. Like when we do word wars - that spurs me to not only write something, but put forth an effort into making it good, too.

And I've heard that the first step to overcoming a problem/addiction is admitting you have a problem in the first place. So...*turns and faces the camera*

My name is Karlie Hart, and I am a procrastinator.

Caitlin: In a weird way writing has helped me not be as much of a procrastinator with other things. I think, I should write that scene...but I have laundry to do, I need to buy train tickets for the upcoming trip, etc. etc. And I do those things first, because, even now, I'm a teeny bit afraid of writing. What if what I write isn't good? That's why I agree that writing goals are so useful. You have to get SOMETHING down. It doesn't have to be good, it just has to be done (at least at first). But I still find myself tweeting or emailing much more than I should. And, I completely agree, Karlie, sometimes it's much more tempting to pick up a book than write one!

What are you procrastination habits? Have you broken free of them and how? Are you still working on that? If so, what's your plan?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Turn It Up Tuesday: Clarity

Hiya! Karlie here. :) Sorry for the late post!

Okay, so I just discovered this song not too long ago, and it's kind of scaring me how perfect it is for one of my stories. Clarity by Jacquie Lee (I don't like the original version, sang by Zedd, so I'm going with Jacquie's Voice performance).

Their love was a tragedy - but it allowed them both to see clearly for the first time in their lives. Even in the darkness, they found clarity.

Hot dive into frozen waves
Where the past comes back to life
Fight fear for the selfish pain
It was worth it every time
Hold still right before we crash
Because we both know how this ends

She's forced to relive the past; he refuses to let it lie. She teaches him how to live for the moment, and he shows her that she is not responsible for what happened so long ago.

Yes, they both know how it will end. But they let themselves love anyway.

(The first video is the full version; the second is her singing it live on the Voice. It's a shorter version, but it's worth it to see her sing it.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Basing Characters on Real People: Where Should You Draw The Line?

It's Karlie again, and here's your question for consideration.

A lot of writers (me included) tend to base their story people on folks they actually know. While some - or most - of your relatives might be thrilled to discover they've been immortalized, the truth is they might see something they don't like. And despite your best efforts to assure them that you used only some of their habits and mannerisms, when the character does the name of your plot, they might be offended. Like picking their nose. Or drinking too much beer. Or telling too many corny jokes. Or blowing up the world.

And that can make for a lo-ong Thanksgiving dinner. Know what I mean?

All joking aside, it's way too easy to succumb to the urge to write your best friend into your manuscript.  But do you really want to do that? Think about the'll have to use some flaws, whether they're his/hers or not. And that's really easy to take the wrong way.
Personally, I've used some real-life people in my stories - but they're always disguised, and I never tell the person that I based So-and-So on them. Chances are they won't notice anyway - and even if they do, I've diluted the character enough to barely be recognizable.

So what about you? Where do you draw the line? Do you inform the person of their place in your story world?

Lisa: I'm usually too worried to base a character off of someone in real life, but I have "borrowed" names and life events. For example, my mother's friend died of cancer when I started my first book, so I started toying with the idea of using his name, Phaethon. I knew this was a mythological character, and when I researched the character, I couldn't believe how well this would fit. And the basic life event that happens to Phaethon, dying too young in a crash, is borrowed from my own high school boyfriend. This story basically started from a what if moment concerning my own life. So you could say I based this on my own life event...? Maybe I need therapy. :)

Oh, I think I just had an epiphany. I've almost given up on the idea of getting this first book, White Star, published. The circumstances surrounding my first story are too personal for me to be objective. I can't kill some of my scenes because the story is too close. So maybe it's not a good idea to write a story that's so close to your heart.

CaitlinThis is obnoxiously sweet, I know, but I’ve based most of my leading love interests off of my husband. He knows this (and likes it for the most part :) ). However, “base” is a strong word. I have friends and family who read my work and they’ve never, to my knowledge, recognized that these love interests are similar to my husband. Also, I see each character as being pretty separate from the other characters. How can this be when they’re all “based” on the same person?

What I’m actually doing is taking a few aspects of my husband, expanding/exaggerating/flexing those aspects, and adding additional aspects that aren’t related to him at all. Voila! I have a character that is new but still feels like someone I know.

Even the aspects that I directly use aren’t directly applied. For example, I noticed the dichotomy between my husband’s “professional” side, which often has to deal with serious criminal issues, and his “fun” side, which can be rather silly. Some days, the more serious the case he has to handle, the more he has to make jokes and be funny later, while he’s unwinding with me. I applied that exact attribute to a leading character in my book. However, the character doesn’t have the same profession as my husband. He just has a profession (cop) that would deal with similar issues and also often requires a stern demeanor. Again, nobody noticed that the way he vacillates between somber professional and goofy boyfriend was based on my husband.

I do “base” other characters on other people I know, but, as mentioned above, I play with them to the point that they are just a glimmer of their original muse once I’m done with them. Still, having a real-life person as inspiration is helpful.

What are your thoughts on the matter? We'd love to hear your opinions/experiences!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Turn It Up Tuesday: Lost

Hiya, it's Karlie in the house, ready to depress you some more. ;)

My song today is Lost by the lovely and talented Faith Hill. The book is Clarity, a novella inspired by Beauty and the Beast.

Skye Rencrest has always lived in the shadow of her mother's past, which might be why she craves the sunlight. So when she is cursed to wander in darkness, she fears she'll go crazy before she can break the enchantment.

Then she meets Adam in the dark maze, and suddenly being lost doesn't seem so bad anymore.

If being lost means never knowing how it feels without you
I wanna stay lost forever
Stay lost forever...

But eventually Skye breaks the curse, and returns to her old life. Was Adam only ever part of the enchantment? She still sees him when she walks into a room. In the night sky, when the stars draw his face. He couldn't have been her imagination. No love this real could have been imagined.

I never did believe in anything I couldn't hold in my fingers
But the way you make me feel is just so real, the way it lingers

Suddenly the sunlight is too bright. And all Skye wants is to be lost again. With him.

Everything I have don't mean a thing if it's without you
If this is a dream don't wake me up
I'll scream if this isn't love
If being lost means never knowing how to live without you
Let me stay lost forever

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Do you turn your internal editor off during first drafts?

Hey, it's Caitlin!

I am a big believer in turning off your internal editor during those first drafts. I may not always do it (as I’ve definitely caught myself fixing a spelling mistake, or, worse, rephrasing a sentence over and over), but my goal is to just fly through that first draft. I want to get down the actions and the gist of things before I start getting into the nitty gritty. I also enjoy the freedom that comes with knowing that no one will ever see that first draft. It’s just a document for me to splash around and have fun in.

That said, for the most part, these first drafts are not good drafts. They are nowhere near ready to go. In fact, I think writing the first draft probably only takes about 10-15% of the total time I spend writing a novel. I spend 85-90% rewriting, revising, and editing, which is exactly why it’s so important, for me at least, not to get too hung up on things like diction and grammar and clarity in that very first, rough go. After I’ve got everything down, I may realize six scenes have to be cut and six others need to be very different. But, even though I outline, I won’t know that till everything is down. It would be a waste of time to fine-tune and make things perfect before I had a stronger sense of the plot and pacing.

However, I know other writers who are great at writing amazing first drafts. They carefully consider each sentence before they write it and, when done, they have something close to completion. Yeah, it makes me a little jealous.

How about you? Are you a wild banshee while writing the first draft, or do you lay the words down carefully?

Karlie: I belong in the second category. I used to write first drafts without looking back, but it never worked out for me. I've found that my finished project is MUCH better when I edit as I go. I know a lot of people are exactly the opposite; they prefer to just get it down on paper, then rewrite as needed. But I  just do better the other way.

It's impossible for me to turn off my inner editor, (or at least extremely hard) but I've learned to put her to work in my favor. I would say I spend 60% of my time on the first draft and characters/plot, then 40% further developing the plot and characters and rewriting accordingly.

Lisa: Ah...Great question. *looks around for my soap box*

This goes back to the quote I just came across that really stuck in my craw. Many variations of the quote exist, "There are very few good writers. Most successful authors are just good editors." I don't exactly prescribe to it. I think (hope) there will come a day that writing comes easier and easier to writers as they gain more and more experience. I believe that editing can be a quick and nice experience, even entertaining because you wrote well in the first place and you're enjoying your book.

The reason I try to hone my craft is so I'll become a better writer, not a better editor. I want to write it better so that the correct way comes more and more fluent the first time. Even now, I have to do less and less editing. I don't have to go back and take out the telling and replace it with showing nearly as much as I used to; I don't have to remove so many ly adverbs anymore; I don't have to rework my description so much because I already wove it through activity.

Writing is already becoming easier to me. So, in my opinion, that saying up there only rips merit away from authors like me actively working at improving their writing craft. It devalues us. Like anyone could be a fiction author as long as they learn to edit (which is a hard thing by itself). There's nothing special about us. But there is!

With that said, I do leave myself room for later fixes such as research, the naming of a hospital, etc. If I know something might take time and I can easily fill in the blank at a later date, I don't stop and possibly hinder what might be an awesome creative flow to do research. And I also understand that with some writers, especially new ones, turning your inner editor off is the only way to get that book finished (NaNoWriMo is especially big on this), and I don't see anything wrong with it. Actually, I don't see anything wrong with anyone doing it. Just don't try telling me that I'm not that great of a writer - just a good editor, or I might bite your head off and spit it down your throat. *blink blink*

What are your thoughts on the matter? We want to know your opinion, so speak up!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Turn It Up Tuesday

Except I missed Tuesday. It flew right by me without noticing. I blame Karlie. She was distracting me with Camp NaNo stuff.

My belated song is Dollhouse by Melanie Martinez. I LOVE this girl. Even though she looks kind of scary for this video, she is adorable (yes, that's a wide gap in her front teeth that you see). She's also insanely talented and creative. You might also watch her live performance of Cry Baby; I don't think she's made an official recording of it yet.

Anyway, Dollhouse is about children and outsiders tricked into believing their family is something it's not, and that's the case with the Moncrief brothers in my book Tricolor. The boys thought they had a typical American life until their parents go missing and their heads show up on their doorstep. Yes, it's creepy and messed up which is why this song is perfect. I would point you to specific lyrics that relate to my book but really they all do except the part about the son smoking cannabis. :) They don't have time for drugs.

(Grr, it wouldn't let me uploaded the original version, so here is a low definition with the lyrics across the screen)