Monthly Archives: May 2013

Friday Fun: Mermaid Edition

Tomorrow marks the beginning of JuNoWriMo. I don’t know if I’ll make 50,000 words, but I’ll try. If I do, I’ll have about half of Torn re-written, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s a story of adventure, questions about whether love can last when it happened too quickly (seriously, why is this not addressed more in YA literature?!), kidnappings, poison, revenge… and the return of two of my favourite secondary characters from Bound, who just happen to be mer-folk. Yay! Missed those guys.

In honour of their return, I’m going to leave you guys with this song by Great Big Sea (and if you’re not familiar with them, you’re missing out). This song is perfectly Newfoundland: the accents, the music, the theme, and the fact that the whole thing is basically a set-up for the kind of off-colour joke your grandpa might tell after a few too many drinks at Thanksgiving. The mermaids in this song aren’t quite the same as mine (mine have grey skin, not blue, and legs aren’t an issue), but I think they’d love this song anyway.

I’m posting the live version because these guys are fantastic in concert, and the banter is adorable. Also, the mermaid dance. I LOVE THESE GUYS. Below it you’ll find the studio version, which sounds better but is notably lacking in both dances and banter. Take your pick and make your click. 🙂

And with that, I leave you. I’ll be around, but please yell at me if I’m posting here more than 3x a week and not making my JuNoWriMo daily goals. I do procrastinate like that, you know.


…Because I’m an Idiot, That’s Why

JuNoWriMo starts in two days. Technically less than two days. My brain has been wandering everywhere lately– that is, everywhere except where I want it to go, which is writing.  I need fewer distractions in my life, especially for the next month, when I’m going to be trying for 2,000 words a day (and hopefully most of those before the kids get up in the morning, fingers crossed, yeah right).

So what did I do today?

I WENT TO THE EFFING LIBRARY.

ImageNot only did I go and look at books, I also got out more books than I could hope to finish in a normal two-week period, never mind one when I’m supposed to be writing all of the time.

I picked up a few books I’ve heard a lot about but never went OH MY GOODNESS I HAVE TO READ THAT RIGHT NOW and a few that have been recommended to me personally. Maybe it’s not fair to the books, but here’s how this is going to go: they have maybe three chapters, depending on length, to win me over. If I’m not intrigued/excited/curious/whatever (really, I’m open to a host of possibilities) by then, I’m not wasting my time on it.

Is that unreasonable? All we hear as writers is that it’s our job to hook readers in the first pages. The first paragraphs, even, if you’re talking about querying agents. Is it my responsibility as a reader to give a book more than three chapters to win me over? Even if the story isn’t in full swing by then (and I’m not saying it needs to be; I can enjoy a slow build or a quiet beginning), it needs to have promised me something that will keep me going.

It’s no different from dating, I guess. First dates don’t have to be perfect, but you’ve got to make a good impression. I don’t need to know everything about you by the third date (and please, I don’t need to have SEEN everything by then), but there’s got to be chemistry there. If there’s not, there are other people I could be spending time with who might work out better. It’s not you, it’s not me, it’s just not working.

I guess that’s an advantage of library books, at least for readers. If I spend money on a book, I’ll probably push harder to finish it. Now, if it’s not a good book this also means I’ll hate it more by the end, but I’ll at least try to finish it. If I have no money invested, I’m much more likely to leave it and go find something I DO enjoy.

So that’s the plan for these books. I’m going to give them a fair shot when I have time (and thank goodness for library renewals!), and I hope I’ll enjoy all of them.

And no, I won’t be reviewing/talking about any that I don’t finish. 🙂

How do you approach books? Do you feel like you HAVE to finish a story once you’ve started it? I used to. Do you think books deserve a chance to get good in the middle, or do you expect to be hooked/entertained right away? What pulls you in to a book? Voice? Action? A world that you want to take up permanent residence in? Characters who are interesting, either because you love them or hate them? What turns you off right away?

PS- if you’re a blogger friend and I have your book, I promise it’s still on my TBR list, but I’m waiting until I have time to really enjoy it. Yours get more than 3 chapters. 😉


Pen Names (and also tangents)

nom de plume

I’ve never really thought about using a pen name.  I can see the benefit if you want to keep your personal and writing life separate (I know I wouldn’t want my grandparents to know I wrote smut, if I did that. NEVER happens. *cough*), but I want my own name on my work when it goes out into the world.

Well, kind of my real name… in real life, I’m not Kate. I’m Kathleen. I know, SHOCKING. The weird thing is, I spend so much time on this blog and commenting on others, with critique partners and at write-ins on Twitter that I now think of myself as “Kate” and have to stop to think when I introduce myself to people in real life. Do you know how awkward it is when someone asks your name and you have to stop to think about it? So much worse than forgetting your own phone number…

Anyway. I’ve wanted my own name on my books for a long time. Definitely since I started thinking about publishing anything. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem.

Quick, how do you spell my last name?

Did you have to look? That’s OK, everyone does. Please don’t feel badly if you’re someone who does/has done it in the past, because it’s not just you. Everyone writes my name as “Kate Sparks.”

It’s a fine name, if you ignore the fact that the name “Sparks” in writing leads you to thinking of sappy, tear-jerker romances. But it’s not my name. I’m Sparkes with an “ES,” and  like it. It’s not the name I was born with, but it’s actually a pretty cool name. It’s a shortened form of the word “Sparrowhawk,” for one thing, which is a tiny little badass bird. Fine by me!

So what’s the problem? If readers can’t remember how to spell my name, they can’t find me. If someone tells a friend, “I read this amazing book by Kate Sparkes” and their friend is all “AWESOME, I’m gonna look for that” and they search for “Kate Sparks”…

nope

See the problem? Especially for someone just starting out, I mean. If Stephen King changed the spelling of his last name to “Kyngge,” we’d still find him. For me, someone not finding my work on their first Amazon search could equal them saying “screw it, I’m reading the Hunger Games again.” And who could blame them? Fantastic book.

I’m getting off track again, aren’t I?

I’m not changing the spelling of my name to make it more searchable. I’m not changing it to Tallulah Fandongola, even if that is the name I give when I call the pizza place and it might be more recognizable (and is spelled phonetically). Most people probably search for books by title, so I’ll be OK as long as those are easy to remember (not like these ones), but still…

Questions! Will you publish/are you published under your own name? If not, why not? Do you recommend authors to people, or just books? Do you think Kate Sparrowhawk would be a good pen name HOLY CRAP THAT WOULD BE THE BEST PEN NAME EVER! What was I saying? Oh, any other thoughts on pen names, weird spellings, searchability on Google or Amazon? Anything, really. Tell me all of the things. ALL OF THEM! I’m not so much looking for advice or reassurances, since I already know what I’m doing. I just want know what you think.

(Also, if the day ever comes when someone searches on Google for “Kate Sparks” and it says, “Did you mean Kate Sparkes?” I will throw a huge party. Just saying.)

(Also also, have you ever read your own name so many times that it stops making sense and you begin to wonder whether you’re spelling it right? That’s me, right now, editing this post.)


WIPpet Wednesday: Back at it

*scrambles for something to post*

Yep, this one sneaked up on me, mostly because I fail at writing right now. Since I can’t handle that, I’m reading over Bound and making more notes (the never-ending cycle), which makes that my active work in progress, which makes that the one I’m posting from this week. Apologies to anyone who wanted more vampires, I’ll get back to them after JuNoWriMo. Probably.

Since I haven’t revised chapter 29 yet (and I’m fiddling with chapter divisions, anyway), let’s go with the 29th scene, which also happens to be the one I was revising when I decided to take a little break. Coincidence? Absolutely. 🙂

Just a few things you need to know: Rowan and Aren are on the road, trying to find a cure for her *mumble mumble* and headaches before Aren’s brother finds them, and he wants them because of all of THE EVIL REASONS (I swear it’s explained better in the story). They were stuck out in a rainstorm with a lame horse and with people chasing them, so when the opportunity to spend the night with a group of semi-nomadic performers presented itself, Rowan decided they should take it, in spite of Aren not wanting help from anyone he doesn’t know and trust. They were welcomed by a man named Bartilae, who is the community’s leader, and Rowan gave him fake names when she introduced herself and Aren. We already know that Bartilae’s daughter is named Patience… and I think that’s all you need to know. Oh, and this chapter is told by Aren.

A thin-faced girl with bright ribbons braided into her hair stumbled out of the crowd of running children and dropped onto the cushion between me and Bartilae. “Will we have a show, Father?”

“I think not tonight, my love. We haven’t unpacked here, an our guests are weary from their travels. Another day.” The girl pouted, and when the children passed by again she flounced off to join them. Bartilae sighed. “Sometimes I wonder why we name our children before we know them well. I’m not holding much hope of that one growing into hers.”

When the meal was finished, many of the adults bundled into their shawls, capes, or jackets and headed out into the storm. Two white-haired old women stayed behind, huddled close to a cluster of burning torches, and half a dozen other adults sat talking, occasionally sending curious glances our way. The tent smelled of damp wool and burnt wood, but it was far more pleasant than being outside.

Rowan scooted closer to me. “How was your meal, dear?”

“Just wonderful, Penelope, oh light of my life,” I replied dryly, and she stifled a giggle behind her hand. “Nice names. Where did those come from?”

“I once had a goat named Penelope.”

“And Doug?”

“I have no idea.”

I didn’t want to talk too much about what we were doing, not with other people possibly listening, but it couldn’t be avoided completely. “We can’t stay here. We know nothing about these people.”

She rolled her eyes. “Do you think everyone is after us? They’re Wanderers. I really doubt they’re working for Severn; they barely acknowledge a king on either side of the mountains. If anything, they’re staying out of it. They don’t know who we are, anyway. You’re too suspicious.”

“And you’re too trusting!”

“Well, I guess that evens it out then, doesn’t it?”

I didn’t know how to answer that. There wasn’t time to, anyway; a woman we hadn’t met yet was coming toward us with clothing folded over both arms. “Hello, my dears. I’m Alys. Jein thought you might like to borrow some dry things while your own are drying.” I reached into my pack. Everything was damp.

“Thank you,” I said, and she nodded.

“If you go through the door over there you can get changed in the storage space. It’s small, but I don’t suppose that will be a problem.” She winked, then walked toward the old women. Rowan flashed me a smug smile and carried both piles of clothing toward the storage room.

We took turns changing in a small space that was packed with piles of boxes and burlap sacks, and that smelled of onions and spices. Alys took our wet things and disappeared through another flap in the side of the tent, returning moments later. “How big is this place, anyway?” Rowan asked me, stretching to try to look through the doorway.

“It’s probably a few interconnected tents. I’m sure when you spend most of your time traveling, you figure these things out.”

“I guess. Bartilae was right, though. Odd time of year for them to be out. Wanderers only ever visited in the summer, back home.”

Patience dashed in out of the rain wearing a pink dress that she had to hold up to keep out of the mud, and a floppy red hat that dripped rainwater everywhere. She was followed by a motley band of seven other children, the youngest just a few years old, all dressed in odd and colorful clothes. “Ladies and gentlemen and extinguished guests!” she bellowed, and Alys chuckled. “Preeeeeesenting the finest show in the entire world!”

“Oh, I love the theatre,” Rowan said, and joined in the scattered applause that was nearly drowned out by the rain. Patience’s voice had no such problem. She bellowed out a rough program that sounded like it would drag on for hours. When she finished, Rowan clapped again, then stood. “Come on,” she said. “We should get better seats.”

“You’re joking.”

She frowned down at me. “Douglas Anderson, are you telling me that you’re too important and busy right now to enjoy a show performed by the great actors of the future?” Once again I didn’t know how to argue with her, and we took seats close to the area the children were clearing for their show.

I wish I could keep going; this leads into one of my favourite scenes in the whole book, an odd little semi-tangent with an entertaining and disorganized play, a bit of character development and OH THE FEELINGS, but I haven’t finished revising that yet.  It would be too long to post here, anyway.

So that’s it for this WIPpet Wednesday. This little party is hosted by K.L. Schwengel over at My Random Muse; stop by to say hi, and click on the linkie to see the other WIPpeteers’ posts and to add your own if you’d like to join in. The only rules are that you post a bit from a work in progress, and that it relates to today’s date on some way (29 lines, chapter 29, something to do with a 5 for the the month… WIPpet math is very flexible!)

For today’s #ROW80 update… sadly, I’ve got nothing. I’m taking this week to do a bit more reading and revising on Bound (maybe… this is not a good time for me to be judging my own work) and to get my notes in order for working on Torn next month. I’m hoping I’ll get my writing mojo back so I can do my 2,000 words a day for JuNoWriMo (and OK, am I the only one who says that and hears Agador from The Birdcage asking why I’m not writing more? “Why ju no wri’ mo? When ju gonna let me be in your cho’, huh? Wait, dere’s CHRIMPS!”)

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Something Different

I usually post something writing-related on Tuesdays. This week, I’ve pretty much got nuthin’. So what I’m offering is a picture, and a question.

I’ve been enjoying everyone’s comments on my first-draft-ish vampire… stuff… the past few weeks. I know it’s not perfect, and I know that you all know that (and you know that I know that you know that, etc), but it’s very encouraging, especially when I usually show that kind of stuff to NOBODY. That’s how special you all are to me. One pass for typos-and-grammatical-faux-pas special.

So here’s a picture of something different. This is a printed page of my third (fourth? Fourth-and-a-half? Seventeenth? I don’t know anymore) draft of Bound. Not every page gets this many notes, but I think it gives a pretty good idea of how I usually struggle through revisions. That is, with a lack of focus, a lot of questions, some music, a few notebooks (and a pirate hook, apparently) and a whole lot of doodling in the margins. Don’t bother trying to blow it up to see what I’m changing, it doesn’t matter. The point is, DEAR LORD THE RED PEN.

IMG_1955

Ugh. The wases. The missteps. The questions that could have been better answered elsewhere, the too-much-backstory, the could-I-cut-this. *sobs*

So here’s the question: how do you do it? Do you print out your work and mark it up like a high school teacher (with significantly more funky flowers and birds, in my case), or do you revise electronically? Are you still changing this much after numerous drafts, or do your stories come out pretty much the way you wanted them to in early drafts, and you’re just changing a phrase here and there? Do you prefer to doodle spiderwebs, cats, car chases or perhaps sharks on your work? What’s your process?


Smile, It’s Monday!

20130524-160709.jpg


An Open Letter To The New York Times Magazine

“It’s a cage that tells you that if your sexuality is too big, then you’re a slut. It’s a cage that tells you that if your sexuality is too small, then you’re a prude. It’s a cage that tells you that if you step inside or outside of that box, then your value as a human being has disappeared.”

Really interesting thoughts on this topic, and a beautifully expressed argument.

The Z-Axis

To the New York Times Magazine Editorial Staff – 

Today you published an article with a deceptively casual title: “Unexcited? There May Be A Pill For That”. On its face, the article bears a simple enough premise: Studies have shown that levels of sexual arousal for women drop off after about one to four years of being in a committed relationship, whereas for men they tend to plateau but remain largely the same. This leads to all sorts of tension, anxiety, and lack of connection between partners. So a few researchers are doing clinical studies to find out whether there is a pharmaceutical compound that could boost these poor women’s libidos and make them desire their partners more, so that their marriages and relationships are happier and no longer in jeopardy. 

At first, it seems innocuous enough: Women want better sex lives. What’s wrong with that? Why not, then, create…

View original post 1,119 more words


#ROW80 Update- Depressed Edition

No, it’s nothing you did. It’s nothing anyone did, it’s nothing that happened. It just is what it is. It happens. I have depression, it’s being treated (usually very successfully), but there are days when my brain goes all wacky anyway. I think it might be hormonal. Who am I kidding, it totally is. Both times I was pregnant, I spend 40 weeks wanting to be dead. Not wanting to kill myself, just kind of not wanting to exist anymore.

Stupid chemicals.

So yeah, my brain is topsy-turvy today, which lets in the negative thoughts that I have to fight off, but also leaves me with no energy to do so. Nice twist there, Mother Nature. Send someone to attack me, and magically make all of the knives in my kitchen disappear and paralyze me so I wouldn’t have been able to use them anyway.

Not much I can do except keep pushing back (praying, reframing and challenging negative thoughts, breathing deeply and trying not to scream at my family to leave me alone), and reminding myself that it will pass in a day or two. And yes, even at times like this, I’m grateful for the fact that I can assume that now. One of the worst things in the past was not knowing if or when it would get better.

Seriously, guys, depression sucks. I son’t recommend it.

ROW80LogocopyAnyway, #ROW80. I doubt I’ll get much done today… Wednesday’s write-in with the writing ninjas* was great; I was only on for an hour and a half and got 1,500 words in, which is 150% of my daily goal. I clearly need more small-group word sprints in my life. I doubt I’m going to finish this novella before JuNoWriMo starts, so that’ll have to be put on hold for a while starting on the first.  I’ve decided to re-draft Torn for JuNo, which I guess means that WIPpet Wednesdays next month might take us back to the world of Bound, which will be fun. For me, anyway.

Since my word count goals will have to shoot up next month to 1677 words a day (I prefer 2000 to give myself some wiggle room), I’m going to give myself some time off this week. Not OFF off… I’ll still be writing. I’m just not going to put a lot of pressure n myself to get 1,000 words a day in. That’s the beauty of ROW80, right? Real life interferes, you adjust your goals.

As for my reading goals, I’m not getting much done there, either.  I need to shut down the computer more often and just read.

For more (and probably more cheerful!) Updates from the ROW80 crew, click here. 🙂

I’m going to leave you with a very deep thought that came to me through my “pending comments” folder. Somehow, this little gem slipped past the WordPress spam filter and made it to the “awaiting moderation” section.

“Your buy cheap viagra online chance to makeher adore you”

OH IF ONLY LIFE WERE THAT SIMPLE.

*Wednesdays at 8PM EST on Twitter, #NinjaWI. Sign up here… but I keep forgetting to update. :/


Underwhelmed

I like to try to leave you guys with a little something positive to take into your weekend when I can, so here’s a song from WAY BACK in 1993 (holy crap!) that makes me happy. Something for all of the grammar and spelling geeks out there. Seriously, read the lyrics, the song is too funny. I’m partial to “I told her affection has to F’s, especially when you’re dealing with me.” 🙂


(there is an official music video for this, but it’s weird and has nothing to do with the song, so… yeah.)

Underwhelmed
(C. Murphy/Sloan, lyrics from sing365.com)

She was underwhelmed
If that’s a word
I know it’s not
‘Cause I looked it up
That’s one of those skills
That I learned in my school

I was overwhelmed
And I’m sure of that one
‘Cause I learned it
Back in grade school
When I was young

She said, “You is funny”
I said, “You are funny”
She said, “Thank you”
And I said, “Never mind”
She rolled her eyes
Her beautiful eyes

The point is not the grammar
It’s the feeling
That is certainly in my heart
But not in hers

But not in hers
But not in hers
But not in hers
But not in hers

We were talkin’ about people
That eat meat
I felt like an ass
‘Cause I was one
She said, “It’s okay,”
But I felt like
I just ate my young

She is obviously a person
With a cause
I told her that I don’t
Smoke or drink
She told me to loosen up
On the way to the L.C.

She skips her classes
And gets good grades
I go to my courses
Rain or shine
She’s passin’ her classes
While I attend mine

While I attend mine
While I attend mine
While I attend

She wrote out a story
About her life
I think it included
Something about me
I’m not sure of that
But I’m sure of one thing
Her spelling’s atrocious

She told me to read
Between the lines
And tell her exactly
What I got out of it
I told her affection
Had two F’s
Especially when you’re dealing with me

I usually notice
All the little things
One time I was proud of it
She says it’s annoying
She cursed me up and down
And rolled her R’s
Her beautiful R’s

She says I’m caught up
In triviality
All I really wanna know is
What she thinks of me
I think my love for her
Makes me miss the point

I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point

Hey mister…

(Note: For anyone not familiar with the term, the “LC” is the liquor commission. The booze store. It’s funnier if you know that.)

(Further note: I’ve seen people say that the girl in this song must be a non-native English speaker because of things like “you is funny.” Clearly they’ve never been here. Sloan is from Nova Scotia, but “you’s funny” is something a lot of people here in NL would say. A lot of Eastern Canada, definitely. Ever heard of “I’s the b’y?” Exactly. Not to perpetuate stereotypes, not everyone does it and even people with great educations do it in casual speech. Jut throwing my two cents into the “foreign girl” debate. I know plenty of people with horrible grammar/who can’t spell who grew up with English as their first and only language. NOT JUDGING.)


Expanding Engrish

Yes, I found a new store with very much of Engrish for your infinite pleasure of perusal. Click to make the pictures bigger! Technology!

Enjoy. 🙂

IMG_2341

“Now with severed feet!”

Holy Bratz rip-offs, Batman!

Holy Bratz rip-offs, Batman!

^This one was actually a cute concept: world-travelling dolls with passports and edumactaional  opportunities. It’s not the best Engrish, but I did enjoy “feel the amorous of each other countries.”  It’s Eat, Party, Love. I also love how in the picture two of the girls have soulless, dead eyes, while the others have sparkling little reflections. Whatever countries they’re representing, I think it’s safe to assume that the zombies have won.

"Transcend B/O" Don't we all wish...

“Transcend B/O” Don’t we all wish…

IMG_2348

Engrish toys have the best back-stories. Seriously.

IMG_2340

Sucking up AND the hard sell. This one wins.

Sucking up AND the hard sell. This one wins.


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